by Jerry Gordon (April 2010)
A crisis arose between Washington and Jerusalem during a visit to Israel by US Vice President Biden. Simultaneous with his visit the Israeli Interior Ministry announced approval of the fourth stage in the process of building 1600 new apartment units for poor Orthodox Jews in the Ramat Shlomo development located in north Jerusalem. The Ramat Shlomo project has been in existence since 1995. The Obama Administration erupted in scathing attacks against Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu for “insulting” Vice President Biden and imperiling the flagging peace process by building “settlements” in East Jerusalem. This crisis erupted as Washington was about to dispatch Special Envoy former US Senator George Mitchell to hold so-called ‘proximity talks’ between Palestinian Authority leaders in Ramallah and the Netanyahu government in Jerusalem.
The verbal diatribes directed at PM Netanyahu from Secretary of State Clinton and David Axelrod, senior political counselor to President Obama, had the untoward effect of emboldening leaders of the Palestinian Authority (PA). PA negotiator Ahmed Qurei and leaders of the extremist Northern Branch of the Islamic Movement (Hamas inside Israel) incited protests by calling for “days of rage” by Palestinians in East Jerusalem. The pretext for those protest actions was the re-dedication of the Hurva synagogue that Netanyahu and other Israel officials had attended following the departure of Vice President Biden. The Hurva synagogue was destroyed by Jordanian Legionnaires when they occupied the Jewish section of the Old City of Jerusalem during Israel’s War for Independence in 1948.
PM Netanyahu in his speech at the AIPAC Washington Policy Conference made it plain why Israel would not stand down:
The connection between the Jewish people and the Land of Israel cannot be denied. The connection between the Jewish people and Jerusalem cannot be denied.
The Jewish people were building Jerusalem 3,000 year ago and the Jewish people are building Jerusalem today. Jerusalem is not a settlement. It is our capital.
In Jerusalem, my government has maintained the policies of all Israeli governments since 1967, including those led by Golda Meir, Menachem Begin and Yitzhak Rabin. Today, nearly a quarter of a million Jews, almost half the city’s Jewish population, live in neighborhoods that are just beyond the 1949 armistice lines. All these neighborhoods are within a five-minute drive from the Knesset. They are an integral and inextricable part of modern Jerusalem.
Everyone knows that these neighborhoods will be part of Israel in any peace settlement. Therefore, building them in no way precludes the possibility of a two-state solution.
The unfolding drama of the conflict between President Obama and PM Netanyahu was evident in strained meetings in Washington following his AIPAC Policy Conference speech. Prime Minister Netanyahu, according, to news reports was ‘snubbed’ by President Obama. There was no joint press statement and no photos were released. The U.K. Telegraph noted:
Mr Obama was less inclined to be so conciliatory. He immediately presented Mr. Netanyahu with a list of 13 demands designed both to the end the feud with his administration and to build Palestinian confidence ahead of the resumption of peace talks. Key among those demands was a previously-made call to halt all new settlement construction in east Jerusalem.
When the Israeli prime minister stalled, Mr Obama rose from his seat declaring: “I’m going to the residential wing to have dinner with Michelle and the girls.”
As he left, Mr Netanyahu was told to consider the error of his ways. “I’m still around,” Mr Obama is quoted by Israel’s Yediot Ahronot newspaper as having said. “Let me know if there is anything new.”
For over an hour, Mr Netanyahu and his aides closeted themselves in the Roosevelt Room on the first floor of the White House to map out a response to the president’s demands.
Although the two men then met again, at 8.20 pm, for a brief second meeting, it appeared that they failed to break the impasse. White House officials were quoted as saying that disagreements remained. Shimon Peres, the Israeli president, added: “Apparently they did not reach an understanding with the United States.”
“There is no humiliation exercise that the Americans did not try on the prime minister and his entourage,” Israel’s Maariv newspaper reported. “Bibi received in the White House the treatment reserved for the president of Equatorial Guinea.”
There appears to be a yawning and dangerous cognitive disconnect. It is reflected in the opposing views on the Israeli Arab conflict within the Obama White House National Security team, including senior levels in the Pentagon. That was graphically illustrated by the contrast between a closed session at the White House between the two national leaders, followed by a warm public bi-partisan Congressional welcome for Netanyahu on Capitol Hill.
The Obama Administration presents the troubling appearance of isolating Israel. Those views reflect appeasement by the Obama Administration of the supremacist agenda of the 56 nation Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), led by Saudi Arabia. That OIC agenda seeks to establish a world Caliphate ruled under Islamic Sharia law and removal of Israel, the Jewish state, from the Arab Muslim heartland.
PM Netanyahu drew attention to that threat in his Washington AIPAC conference address:
Our soldiers and your soldiers fight against fanatic enemies that loathe our common values. In the eyes of these fanatics, we are you and you are us. To them, the only difference is that you are big and we are small, you are the Great Satan and we are the Little Satan. This fanaticism’s hatred of Western civilization predates Israel’s establishment by over one thousand years. Militant Islam does not hate the West because of Israel. It hates Israel because of the West, because it sees Israel as an outpost of freedom that prevents them from overrunning the Middle East. When Israel stands against its enemies, it stands against America’s enemies.
The Obama Administration misses this fundamental point raised by PM Netanyahu. Palestinian Hamas, and Fatah leaders, and the OIC recognize that doctrinal Islam considers Israel a usurper of the Waqf (‘the trust’) conferred by Allah when the area was conquered in the great initial wave of Jihad nearly 1400 years ago. Thus, under Islamic Sharia Law there is no other solution than elimination of the usurper and retaking of Waqf lands including Israel. The areas of Spain, the Balkans, even Central and Eastern Europe also fall into this category under Islamic Sharia. That Islamic doctrine may explain a great deal about the lack of any resolution of the long festering Israeli Arab conflict.
Bat Ye’or said:
….the whole world is a trust kept by Allah for his Muslim community, elected above all others to govern the world. This is the trigger and sacred duty of the Jihad. Muslims have the duty to take back from the infidels the lands that belong to them.
Cliff May, executive director of the Foundation of the Defense of Democracies affirmed these arguments in a weekly column:
Members of Hamas object to Israel’s existence on theological grounds. According to their reading of the Koran, what we call Israel is an “endowment from Allah to the Muslims.” As such, it cannot be given away – not a square inch – to Jews or other infidels, no matter what concessions are offered in return.
Willfully blind to all this, the peace processors insist that the obstacle to peace is Israel which persists in taking such provocative steps as planning to build homes for its citizens not in Gaza or the West Bank but within the municipal boundaries of Jerusalem, a city the United States years ago recognized, officially and under law, as the “undivided” capital of Israel.
Melanie Phillips correctly observed in a Spectator blog post, “Israel as Czechoslovakia” that what we are witnessing in the current Netanyahu Obama faceoff may be eerily akin to what happened to that country at the Munich Conference in September 1938. The Munich agreement led to the fall of the Czechoslovakia when subsequently Nazi forces marched into Prague unopposed by Britain and France in March, 1939 – a prelude to WWII and the Holocaust or Shoah. Phillips noted the outrage in diplomatic circles when former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said, “Israel would not play the role of Czechoslovakia in the thirties.”
Opinion polls in this country reflect overwhelming support for Israel generally- more than 63% in a recent Gallup poll. Another recent poll commissioned by The Israel Project revealed that Americans would support Israel by a margin of 8 to 1 should a conflict erupt between Israel and its Arab neighbors, including the Palestinians. However, the Obama White House appears indifferent to public sentiments. It seems we have a President with a mixed Muslim Christian background who is endeavoring to perfect his role as the intermediary between these opposite world views. Islam is intent on replacing Judeo Christian values reflected in our U.S. Constitution with Sharia-Islamic law via stealth Jihad. Obama sees Israel as obstructing U.S. rapprochement with that rejectionist Muslim world order.
Note the support of this dangerous prospect for the future of Israeli-U.S. relations given the views of National Security Council (NSC), diplomatic, defense and military officials closely allied with the Obama Administration.
Samantha Powers, formerly at the Harvard Kennedy School and on the NSC senior staff, has accused Israel of war crimes (Jenin 2002) and argued for use of multilateral forces to enforce unilateral peace agreements in Palestinian territories. Susan Rice, US UN Ambassador, has been a proponent of global nuclear non proliferation treaty that would force inspection of Israel’s nuclear arsenal while continuing the fiction of engagement with the Iranian Islamic Republic over nuclear enrichment.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has castigated PM Netanyahu on the bizarre grounds that approval for new apartments in Jewish Jerusalem was ‘insulting’ and a danger to the ever-flagging peace process. Meanwhile, so-called “crippling sanctions” in legislation passed by Congress, directed against the Iranian Islamic Republic nuclear threat, languish for lack of implementation by President Obama. Note this comment from Clinton’s AIPAC conference speech:
We objected to this announcement because we are committed to Israel and its security, which we believe depends on a comprehensive peace. It will require all parties – including Israel – to make difficult but necessary choices.
Her idea of providing security for Israel is forging “sanctions that bite” against a nuclear Iran at the UN Security Council. Russia and China undermine the Obama Administration quixotic quest for meaningful UN sanctions because of their own geo-political and resource interests. Contrast what Secretary Clinton and Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov said at a Moscow press conference about the startup of the 1000 megawatt Bushehr nuclear power plant in Iran:
Clinton: If [Iran] reassures the world, or if its behavior is changed because of international sanctions, then they can pursue peaceful, civil nuclear power. In the absence of these reassurances, we think it would be premature to go forward with any project at this time because we want to send an unequivocal message to the Iranians.
Lavrov: Russia is involved, and this project will be completed. This nuclear power plant will finally be launched, and it will generate electricity.
Gen James L. Jones, NSC advisor to Obama had previously been involved in supervising Palestinian security force training as Middle East security adviser to former Bush Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice after his retirement from the Marine Corps in 2006. Prior to that he had tours during the Bosnian Conflict and as SAC/EUR he oversaw NATO forces engaged in the Balkans. Lt. Gen. Keith Dayton his successor as US Security coordinator has been involved in creating a Palestinian gendarmerie force of five battalions of 500 men at facilities in Amman, Jordan. Ironically, this may have produced potential Fatah al Aksa Brigade and even Hamas cadres for terrorist actions against IDF security forces and Jewish settlements on the West Bank and Jerusalem. Jones’ views are in line with Marine General Anthony Zinni, a former CENTCOM commander and Middle East Special Envoy, who evinced anti-Israel positions on security and occupation issues in the Palestinian territories. At a Cornell visiting professor lecture in April, 2009, Zinni appeared to prefigure the controversy surrounding recent Senate Armed Services Committee testimony of General Petraeus:
The road to everywhere else starts in Jerusalem. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict a is a “core issue” in the global geopolitical landscape.
I hope that unlike other administrations, if [Obama] sees it not going anywhere, he doesn’t quit the process — because it’s too easy to get frustrated … and walk away from it. You have to stick it through.
Many current US general officers were products of the Bosnia-Kosovo regional conflicts and Gulf War I under the Bush and Clinton Administrations. The Balkan conflicts resulted in the establishment of two Islamic republics, Bosnia and Kosovo, supported by both Saudi and Iranian funding.
General Petraeus’ briefings with Admiral Mullin and his Senate Armed Services Committee testimony suggest that the lack of resolution of the Arab-Israel conflict produces anti-American animus among Arab allies and additional US force casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan. This we believe maybe behind his request to expand the territories under his CENTCOM jurisdiction to include Israel and the West Bank. In his statement Petraeus said;
The enduring hostilities between Israel and some of its neighbors present distinct challenges to our ability to advance our interests in the AOR [CentCom’s area of operation, which includes Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as much of the Middle East]. … The conflict foments anti-American sentiment, due to a perception of U.S. favoritism for Israel. Arab anger over the Palestinian question limits the strength and depth of U.S. partnerships with governments and peoples in the AOR and weakens the legitimacy of moderate regimes in the Arab world. Meanwhile, al-Qaida and other militant groups exploit that anger to mobilize support. The conflict also gives Iran influence in the Arab world through its clients, Lebanese Hizballah and Hamas. [Italics added.]
These comments, taken out of context, gave rise to blog posts by Mark Perry at Foreign Policy.com and others endeavoring to paint General Petraeus as being anti-Israel. Note what Perry said that caused the eruption of concern:
The January Mullen briefing was unprecedented. No previous CENTCOM commander had ever expressed himself on what is essentially a political issue; which is why the briefers were careful to tell Mullen that their conclusions followed from a December 2009 tour of the region where, on Petraeus’ instructions, they spoke to senior Arab leaders. “Everywhere they went, the message was pretty humbling,” a Pentagon officer familiar with the briefing says. “America was not only viewed as weak, but its military posture in the region was eroding.” But Petraeus wasn’t finished: two days after the Mullen briefing, Petraeus sent a paper to the White House requesting that the West Bank and Gaza (which, with Israel, is a part of the European Command — or EUCOM), be made a part of his area of operations. Petraeus’ reason was straightforward: with U.S. troops deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan, the U.S. military had to be perceived by Arab leaders as engaged in the region’s most troublesome conflict.
This is not the first time that General Petraeus had made controversial comments about the Israel Palestinian conflict promoting terrorism in the Middle East. In June, 2009, N.M. Guariglia noted in a Pajamas Media post:
Gen. Petraeus spoke with the Arabic-language al-Hayat newspaper, published by the Lebanese Daily Star, and blamed the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for the existence of Hezbollah. “Hezbollah’s justifications for existence will become void,” Petraeus said, “if the Palestinian cause is resolved.”
Among those supporting Petraeus’ views was another FP.com blogger, Harvard Kennedy School Professor Stephen M. Walt, co-author with John J. Mearsheimer of The Israel lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy.Professor Walt had this comment about General Petraeus’ Senate testimony in an FP.com post, “Who are Israel’s true friends (hint it isn’t AIPAC)”:
Achieving a two-state solution is obviously in America’s strategic interest as well, because it would remove one of the major sources of anti-Americanism in the Arab and Muslim world. The vast majority of Muslims reject al Qaeda and its murderous methods, for example, but they share its harsh views about U.S. policy towards the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. A two-state solution won’t solve all of our problems in the region, of course, but it would make a lot of them easier to address. It’s clear that the U.S. military, which now has a lot of experience in the region, thinks so too. As CENTCOM commander General David Petraeus told the Armed Services Committee earlier today.
Gen. Petraeus’ thesis is available on-line at the History News Network website –see here. It is entitled “The American military and the Lessons of Vietnam: A Study of Military Influence and the Use of Force in the Post-Vietnam Era.”
On p. iii of his thesis under Acknowledgements, Petraeus lavishes praise on Walt. He notes:
Professor Stephen Walt also deserves my gratitude. As my second faculty adviser – replacing Professor Barry Posen during the writing of my dissertation – Professor Walt offered numerous sound suggestions and comments. Like Professor Ullman, he displayed tremendous competence not only as an academic, but as a teacher as well.
In the swirl of controversy following his Senate testimony, General Petraeus was
interviewed by Phillip Klein of The American Spectator (TAS) at St. Anselm’s College in Manchester, New Hampshire – watch the interview here. Petraeus said that he considered Perry’s posts to be inaccurate. Note Petraeus’ comments as reported by Klein of the TAS:
… Petraeus poured cold water on the controversy, explaining in detail why “all three items…were wrong, frankly.”
To start with, Petraeus said he never requested to have the West Bank and Gaza added to his responsibilities as leader of the military’s Central Command. He said that “every year or so” commanders submit a plan that takes a geographic look at their areas of responsibility, and then there’s discussion about whether it would make sense to redraw the boundaries.
“Typically, there’s a question of should we ask to have Israel and Palestinian territories included, because what goes on there is obviously of enormous interest to the rest of the Central Command area, which is the bulk of the Arab world,” Petraeus said. However, he emphasized that it was “flat wrong” to claim he actually requested responsibility for the areas.
“We noted in there that there was a perception at times that America sides with Israel and so forth. And I mean,that is a perception. It is there. I don’t think that’s disputable. But I think people inferred from what that said and then repeated it a couple of times and bloggers picked it up and spun it. And I think that has been unhelpful, frankly.”
He also noted that there were plenty of other important factors that were mentioned in the report, including “a whole bunch of extremist organizations, some of which by the way deny Israel’s right to exist. There’s a country that has a nuclear program who denies that the Holocaust took place.”
Petraeus said, he spoke to Gabi Ashkenazi, chief of staff of the Israel Defense Forces, and reassured him that the reports were inaccurate. He also said he sent Ashkenazi a blog post written by Max Boot of Commentary, which he said “astutely” picked apart the erroneous information that’s been floating around.]
US Secretary of Defense Gates’ cancellation of the F-22 Raptor production requested by Israel, Australia and Japan, delays in F-35 production and alleged diversion of promised bunker buster bombs from Israel to US bases on the British island of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean, deprive Israel of the conventional weaponry and delivery systems to undertake a military option against Iran’s nuclear facilities.
Obama foreign policy advisor, former Carter Administration National Security Advisor, Zbigniew Brzezinski holds peculiar views suggesting that the US consider shooting down Israeli aircraft and missiles over US –controlled airspace in any possible unilateral action against Iranian nuclear weapons development targets. Brzezinski also refers back to the Cold War era US strategy of Mutual Assured Destruction, Should the Islamic Republic develop nuclear weapons, he apparently believes that what worked during the cold war will work with the mullahs. A New York Times article noted what Brzezinski said at a recent University of Oklahoma speech:
Mr. Brzezinski argued that either an Iranian bomb or an attack on Iran would be “a calamity, a disaster.” He said containment could work because Iran “may be dangerous, assertive and duplicitous, but there is nothing in their history to suggest they are suicidal.”
However, in a Foreign Affairs article, “After Iran Gets the Bomb”, authors, James Lindsay and Ray Takeyh demurred and presented these alternative scenarios:
… the Iran case differs substantially from the cold war ones, and that a successful strategy today would have to recognize that fact. They urge Mr. Obama to prescribe three explicit no-go zones for the Iranians: “no initiation of conventional warfare” against another nation; “no transfer of nuclear weapons, materials, or technologies”; no increase in support for terrorists. The penalty, they argued, would have to include “military retaliation by any and all means necessary,” including the use of nuclear weapons.
The Obama Administration appears to be attempting to reassure the nervous Gulf emirates as well as the Saudis by strengthening their defenses against possible conventional threats by Iran. However, even the offer of a nuclear umbrella deterrent won’t defend against nuclear devices secreted by terrorist groups –a realistic risk that Israel must contend with given Iran’s proxies Hezbollah and Hamas on its borders. Further all bets are off in coping with nuclear warheads delivered by missiles that would threaten an area encompassing South Asia, the Middle East, Russia, Central Asia and Europe.
We must not lose sight of the history that Brzezinski and Carter abetted the Islamic Revolutionaries and forced the capitulation of the Shah of Iran that lead to the US embassy crisis in Tehran in 1979 that ended 444 days later on the eve of the inauguration of President Ronald Reagan. Moreover, during the Carter Administration, as documented in Steve Coll’s book, Ghost Wars, Brzezinski kick-started the covert war against the Soviet-backed regime in Afghanistan with the aid of Islamic governments, notably Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.
Then there is the persistent rumored Obama Administration support for a unilateral declaration of a Palestinian State proposed by Palestinian Authority PM Salam Fayad. This is akin to the Kosovo unilateral declaration of independence recognized by NATO, the US and the EU, but objected to by Russia during the final year of the Bush Administration. Note what Bar–Ilan University Professor Gerald Steinberg said in an Ynet News comment about the implications for Israel:
This is the same exact strategy that Former Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat had championed back in the day. “He wanted UN forces to come into the Palestinian territories in order to pave the way for a unilateral declaration of independence….. The Palestinians might see what is going on in Kosovo and wonder if it’s not worth another try……
The Obama Administration openly supports the Saudi peace plan trumpeted by New York Times pundit Thomas Friedman. Note what Max Boot said in a Commentary Contentions blog post about Saudi Prince Turki Al Faisal’s Financial Times commentary on the Saudi peace initiative at the start of the Obama Administration:
The prince darkly warns Obama to adopt the Saudi peace plan for Israel…or else. The plan, in case you’ve forgotten, calls on Israel “to withdraw completely from the lands occupied in 1967, including East Jerusalem, returning to the lines of June 4 1967; to accept a mutually agreed just solution to the refugee problem according to the General Assembly resolution 194; and to recognize the independent state of Palestine with East Jerusalem as its capital. In return, there would be an end to hostilities between Israel and all the Arab countries, and Israel would get full diplomatic and normal relations.
Boot goes on to note this about Turki:
Moreover, Prince Turki’s protestations of peace and goodwill are severely undercut by the rabid hostility his article exhibits toward Israel. He writes that the Israeli armed forces have “murdered more than 1,000 Palestinians” in the course of their “bloody attack on Gaza.” He also refers to Operation Cast Lead as a “calamity,” “butchery,” “the slaughter of innocents,” and a “disaster.” He lays almost all the blame for what happened at Israel’s feet — it was “Israeli actions that led to this conflict, from settlement building in the West Bank to the blockade of Gaza and the targeted killings and arbitrary arrests of Palestinians.”
And so on, in the typical way of anti-Israel zealots. Prince Turki concludes with a plea: “Let us all pray that Mr. Obama possesses the foresight, fairness, and resolve to rein in the murderous Israeli regime and open a new chapter in this most intractable of conflicts.”
The American and Israeli people no longer trust the Obama White House to provide the support for Israel to defend itself.
In the summer of 1938, Czechoslovakia had extensive fortifications in the Sudetenland and the most modern motorized military force in Central Europe opposing the Nazi onslaught. Nevertheless, she was dismembered at Munich by British and French efforts at appeasement in order to ‘achieve peace in our times’ with Hitler and Mussolini.
It would be an ironic twist of history for the Obama White House to eerily sacrifice Israel to mollify the totalitarian Jihadist doctrine of Islam so admired by Hitler whose Nazi forces murdered six million European Jewish men, women and children during the Shoah. PM Netanyahu, the body polity of Israel, many US Members of Congress and most Americans are united in stopping another prospective Shoah by a nuclear armed annihilationist Iran. In spite of this overarching existential threat, the Obama Administration rejects this nation’s long standing special relationship with Israel. Instead, the Obama Administration aggressively pursues the OIC with its world Islamic dominance agenda and rapprochement with apocalyptic nuclear Iran. The relentless pursuit by the Obama Administration of such policies in the Middle East and outreach to the Muslim ummah endangers and contradicts the Judeo Christian values of liberty and freedom that are the foundational precepts of Israel, America and many western democratic nations. Obama is treating Israel in the same way that British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain did Czechoslovakia at the Munich Conference in 1938 – as a country whose existance should be sacrificed for the hope of peace. You may recall the grainy news film imagery of Chamberlain arriving at London’s Croydon Airport waving a piece of paper from Herr Hitler muttering about achieving “peace in our time”. A peace that became a death warrant for pre-war Czechoslovakia and millions of European Jews. It is now up to PM Netanyahu and Israel’s American allies to prove history and Obama wrong by preventing this nightmare from happening again “in our time.”
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