Monday, December 5, 2011

Open Thread


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We had our panel discussion last night at Nativot Shalom in Berkeley and I think that it went very well. The question that we discussed was whether or not the Obama administration has been good for Israel.

My answer, needless to say, was "no," of course this administration has not been good for Israel. I gave three reasons why this is the case.

1) Obama screwed up any potential peace deal by demanding "total settlement freeze" as a precondition for talks. He thus drove Mahmoud Abbas up a tree, where the Palestinian dictator resides to this day.

2) It has encouraged, or allowed, the rise of Political Islam. Before coming into office the Radical Jihad could lay claim to Gaza, Hezbollah, Iran and, I suppose, Darfur (I am not entirely sure just when that country went Islamist). Today, in measures greater and smaller, we need to add Libya, Turkey, Tunisia, Morocco and Egypt. This development is both historic and exceedingly worrisome, yet I get the distinct impression that very few people on the progressive-left really notice or care.

3) The ongoing failure to deter Iranian nukes. If Zionism means anything, it means that Jews will no longer allow ourselves to live or die according to the whims of non-Jews. If Iran gets the bomb then, yet again, Jews will live or die according to the whims of non-Jews and that is simply unacceptable.

The conversation went very well because people were willing to disagree without being disagreeable.

Also, our facilitator, Rachel Eryn, was top-notch and Michael Harris, of Stand With Us, is always an interesting guy. The third panel member, who argued that the Obama administration is, in fact, good for Israel, was Volleyboy1. (I am reluctant to post Volleyboy's actual name for obvious reasons, so I will not do so here.)

VB and I have a "gentlemen's wager" concerning the Jewish vote in the next presidential election. While about 80 percent of Jews voted for Obama in '08, I am betting that he will receive 65 percent or under in the next election. The stakes are dinner and cocktails.

We shall see.



  1. Sounds like it went well. Naturally, I agree with you.

  2. On items 2 and 3, I don't know how you can place any responsibility for that on Obama. Not sure anyone could have done anything that would have changed history.

    And on 1, we just disagree.

  3. I do not understand the weakness, the trepidation, the unwillingness to even take one's own side, of so many liberal American Jews.

    I do not understand the passivity in the face of threat.

    I do not understand the willingness to give fascist organizations, like the Brotherhood, a pass.

    Further, I do not understand the willingness to give the administration a pass as it practically gives it blessing to that very same organization.

    This is a very historic moment in world history.

    The Radical Jihadi Spring is going to have far-reaching consequences and most liberal Jews keep their eyes tightly shut.

    Israel will survive despite them.

  4. Caroline Glick
    sums it up nicely:

    "But when taken together with Clinton’s and Panetta’s speeches, Gutman’s remarks expose a distressing intellectual and moral trend that clearly dominates the Obama administration’s foreign policy discourse. All three speeches share a common rejection of objective reality in favor of a fantasy.

    In the administration’s fantasy universe, Israel is the only actor on the world stage. Its detractors, whether in the Islamic world or Europe, are mere objects. They are bereft of judgment or responsibility for their actions.

    There are two possible explanations for this state of affairs – and they are not mutually exclusive. It is possible that the Obama administration is an ideological echo chamber in which only certain positions are permitted. This prospect is likely given the White House’s repeated directives prohibiting government officials from using terms like “jihad,” “Islamic terrorism,” “Islamist,” and “jihadist,” to describe jihad, Islamic terrorism, Islamists and jihadists.

    Restrained by ideological thought police that outlaw critical thought about the dominant forces in the Islamic world today, US officials have little choice but to place all the blame for everything that goes wrong on the one society they are free to criticize – Israel.

    The second possible explanation for the administration’s treatment of Israel is that it is permeated by anti-Semitism. The outsized responsibility and culpability placed on Israel by the likes of Obama, Clinton, Panetta and Gutman is certainly of a piece with classical anti-Semitic behavior.

    There is little qualitative difference between accusing Israeli society of destroying democracy for seeking to defend itself against foreign political subversion, and accusing Jews of destroying morality for failing to embrace foreign religious faiths.

    So too, there is little qualitative difference between blaming Israel for its isolation in the face of the Islamist takeover of the Arab world, and blaming the Jews for the rise of anti-Semites to power in places like Russia, Germany and Norway.

    In truth, from Israel’s perspective, it really doesn’t make a difference whether these statements and the intellectual climate they represent stem from ideological myopia or from hatred of Jews.

    The end result is the same in either case: Under President Obama, the US government has become hostile to Israel’s national rights and strategic imperatives. Under Obama, the US is no longer Israel’s ally."

  5. Karma, perhaps this article
    has some of those answers.

  6. "This is an administration
    that sees Israel as a source of trouble, not an ally. Combined with the sorry history of three years of Obama’s picking fights with Jerusalem, the positions of both Panetta and Gutman give the lie to the notion this is an administration friends of Israel can trust.

    That the secretary of defense would choose to blast Israel in this manner just as Obama is starting to crank up his re-election campaign speaks to the cognitive dissonance many Jewish Democrats are experiencing. For Panetta to claim Israel is responsible for its own isolation just as Obama boasted of his friendship for the Jewish state shows either a lack of coordination between the Pentagon and the White House or a desire on the president’s part to signal the Arab world he is prepared to put the screws to the Israelis as soon as the election is concluded....Taken together, these two speeches paint a portrait of a government that is at its heart hostile to the Jewish state. Only a blind partisan would think such an administration could be trusted to deal fairly with Israel once the constraints of Obama’s re-election efforts are removed."

  7. Rubin weighs in:

    "The Clinton and Panetta speeches explain the new policy. Have no doubt that all of these statements are coordinated along with many others. The talking points have gone out to everyone. The phrases and concepts–like the idea that Israel is isolating itself–have been used more than once. These are not isolated errors but rather following the White House-designated script....Summary: Muslims good; Islamists moderate; No peace? Israel’s fault; ears closed. Have a nice day!

    In brief, the Obama Administration encourages and supports the coming to power of fanatically anti-Israel groups, then have the nerve to say Israel is becoming isolated because it isn’t making enough concessions! They encourage and support the rise of regimes that are totally against any peace with Israel or any two-state solution, then have the nerve to say that Israel can defuse the situation by making peace."

  8. I will just chime in with this blurb from EoZ regarding the PA and the Quartet:

    The recent comments from Howard Gutman and especially Leon Panetta indicate that despite soothing words the Obama administration has hardly tilted towards Israel.

    However, it is fascinating that Palestinian Arabs have managed to irritate three White House administrations in a row that had started off very supportive of them.

    Clinton did more than anyone to turn Arafat from a terrorist into a respected politician, only to be rebuffed and insulted during negotiations in the final months of his presidency.

    George W. Bush started out quite sympathetic towards Palestinian Arabs, but Arafat's lies to him during the Karine-A incident made him publicly call for a change in the PA leadership.

    They will screw Obama, too. This is what he is still missing. When he understands that a Palestinian state includes all of Israel, and therefore Israel is the victim, he will join the American consensus, who marvels at Israel for accomplishing what it has under the conditions that no one else faces. It may be too late for him.

    It's speculative how much real effect he could muster to prevent what is happening. Not everything can be controlled by the USA, nor should it be. There will be a price to pay, however, for trying too hard to be too nice, especially with those who see it as weakness and something to be exploited.

    I somehow believe that a Gingrich would make things worse, particularly on the domestic front. I think the anonymous quote at the top of the blog applies. We need some new leaders from all sides to come forth in the country, that's for sure.

    Neither side has proved it has what it needed to lead, yet I remain a Democrat on principle. In the end I a more a liberal than anything else, and find trouble that the liberal West, generally, is so inept to understand and act when the tools of democracy are wrongly used as a means to destroy democracy itself. The UDHR in Articles 29 and 30 does not allow a valid assertion of rights for such purpose.

  9. I just can't believe how many Jewish people are willing to turn a blind eye to the anti-Israel aggression of this administration.

    They refuse to either see or acknowledge what is obvious and what is obvious is that the Obama administration has not only failed viz-a-viz the "peace process" but also displays a definite hostility toward the Jewish state.

    I don't see how anyone can deny that given the administrations behavior... but they do.

  10. All one needs to do is reflect even for a moment on Biden's trip that turned into a ridiculous kerfuffle over a housing announcement.

    I just couldn't believe it.

    And then Hillary lambastes Netanyahu for 40 minutes over the phone?

    Furthermore, of course, the administration was pressuring Israel to accept what it has always accepted, the need for two states in a negotiated settlement, while failing to pressure Abbas to accept what the Palestinians have never accepted, which is two states in a negotiated settlement.

    The whole situation is absurd, Doodad.

    Both irrational and unjust.

  11. When will Hilary ever lambaste any Palestinians for 40 minutes? The 4th of Never; that's when.

    "In his book American Evita,
    Christopher Anderson writes.
    At a time when elements of the American Left embraced the Palestinian cause and condemned Israel, Hillary was telling friends that she was "sympathetic" to the terrorist organization and admired its flamboyant leader, Yasser Arafat. When Arafat made his famous appearance before the UN General Assembly in November 1974 wearing his revolutionary uniform and his holster on his hip, Bill "was outraged like everybody else," said a Yale Law School classmate. But not Hillary, who tried to convince Bill that Arafat was a "freedom fighter" trying to free his people from their Israeli "oppressors." (1)....It was during this trip to his home state that Bill took Hillary to meet a politically well connected friend. When they drove up to the house, Bill and Hillary noticed that a menorah-the seven branched Hebrew candelabrum (not to be confused with the more common and subtler mezuzah)-has been affixed to the front door.

    "My daddy was half Jewish," explained Bill's friend. "One day when he came to visit , my daddy placed the menorah on my door because he wanted me to be proud that we were part Jewish. And I wasn't about to say no to my daddy."

    To his astonishment, as soon as Hillary saw the menorah, she refused to get out of the car. "Bill walked up to me and said that she was hot and tired, but later he explained the real reason." According to the friend and another eyewitness, Bill said, "I'm sorry, but Hillary's really tight with the people in the PLO in New York. They're friends of hers, and she just doesn't feel right about the menorah." (2)"

  12. BTW....STILL waiting for one single Democratic member of Congress to speak up against Gutman's remarks. Anyone? Helloooooooooo out there Democrats. Anyone still breathing?