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During the run-up to the confirmations of Secretary of State Kerry and Secretary of Defense Hagel, we and others forcefully challenged the latter over statements he had made about Iran and Israel, and were more favorably inclined toward the former.
How perceptions have changed. To be sure, both are agents of and take direction from President Obama. But because there is always some wiggle room at that level of government, what both gentlemen had to say this past week really turned heads.
Mr. Hagel arrived in Israel on Sunday and from the start was effusive about the importance of solidarity between the United States and Israel. He described a massive U.S. arms deal with Middle East states directly threatened by a nuclear Iran – Israel, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates – which Hagel said was “another very clear signal to Iran” that the U.S. is determined to thwart Iran’s nuclear ambitions. He declared that as a sovereign nation, “Israel will make the decision that Israel must make [about the threat posed by Iran] to protect itself, to defend itself.”
He also said Israel would get the kind of modern weaponry that would allow it to easily maintain its qualitative military edge against enemies in the region: “We are committed to providing Israel with whatever support is necessary for Israel to maintain military superiority over any state or coalition of states and non-state actors.”
But while Israel will be getting the KC-135 military refueling plane – something the Bush administration refused to provide – which would permit Israeli aircraft to reach targets far from its airbases, and missiles that can disable an enemy’s air defense system, both key weapons if Israel were to decide on a unilateral attack on Iran, Israel’s request for so-called bunker buster bombs that could penetrate reinforced concrete and reach deeply buried Iranian nuclear sites was denied.
That would seem to be a clear indicator that the Obama administration still has deep misgivings about Israel possibly going it alone on Iran. And despite Mr. Hagel’s comment that there is no light between the U.S. and Israel over Iran’s nuclear ambitions, Dore Gold, a veteran Israeli diplomat and a member of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s inner circle of advisers, says there is, and it is significant:
It’s about timetable. If you say the goal is to halt Iran in the enrichment [i.e., of bomb-grade uranium] phase, you don’t have much time. If you are waiting for Iran to weaponize [the Obama administration’s position] maybe you can give it another year or more.
Differences over Iran aside, Mr. Hagel’s words to reporters as he made his way to the Middle East were quite a departure from the usual diplomatic jargon:
I’m going to Israel first because it is a nation that has had a very special relationship with the United States. And it is a nation today in a very dangerous, combustible region in the world, that in many ways finds itself isolated. And it’s very important for the people of Israel to know that the United States is committed to their security and that special relationship.
This straightforward and clear “lean” toward Israel cannot but signal Israel’s adversaries that the United States is not about to pressure Israel into making concessions it does not want to make.
But compare Mr. Hagel’s declarations with some of the things Secretary of State Kerry has been saying of late.
For one thing, though he’s been pressing Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan to speed up compliance with the rapprochement between Turkey and Israel brokered by President Obama, he seems so far to have succeeded only in convincing Mr. Erdogan by such frenetic importuning that Turkey has a good degree of leverage respecting Israel’s position on Gaza and Hamas.
Last week Mr. Kerry also offered to pull back U.S. missile defenses in East Asia as a sop to North Korea, saying, “We’re prepared to reach out, but we need the appropriate moment, appropriate circumstances.” Telling the Pyongyang regime that, in effect, its nuclear blackmail is working is hardly a message designed to encourage Iran to restrain its efforts at achieving nuclear capacity.
And Mr. Kerry decided as well to dust off an old Arab League proposal for Middle East peace. It will be recalled that eleven years ago the league floated the idea that Israel should largely meet the Palestinians’ demands and in return Israel essentially would be granted recognition by the Arab world. We would have thought that sensible people were beyond this Alice-in-Wonderland nonsense, but here is an American secretary of state touting unilateralism as a solution and drawing attention away from the real issues of borders, Jerusalem and Jewish population centers in the West Bank.
Further, what is one to make of Mr. Kerry’s comparison of the victims of the Boston bombings to those killed in the Mavi Marmara flotilla action by the IDF:
I know it’s an emotional issue with some people. I particularly say to the families of people who were lost in the incident: We understand these tragedies completely and we sympathize with them.
And nobody – I mean, I have just been through the week of Boston and I have deep feelings for what happens when you have violence and something happens and you lose people that are near and dear to you. It affects a community, it affects a country. We’re very sensitive to that.
Can he be serious? Israel’s conduct in pursuing its security interests in the Gaza embargo is to be equated with the terrorist actions of the two Chechnyan brothers who planted those bombs at the Boston Marathon? Has Mr. Kerry not seen the footage of the passengers on the Mavi Marmara who, according to plan, beat Israeli soldiers with metal sticks and chairs? And, recall, the flotilla was organized in order to break Israel’s Gaza embargo, which an international tribunal ruled was within Israel’s right to mount.
Mr. Kerry is fast reminding us why we so vigorously opposed his election to the presidency in 2004.
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Few Arab Israelis found anything positive in the decision of its MKS to join any Gaza flotilla.
US Jews prefer to be like their non-Jewish liberal friends complaining about “settlements” and Bibi
New Israel Fund & its supporters must be countered; Israel’s in the midst of an unprecedented storm
Haym Solomon, overlooked hero of the Revolutionary War, was America’s “Funding Father.”
Latvia, July 4, 1941 they forced many Jews in the shul putting it on fire; everyone was burned alive
There’s blood on the reporters’ hands AND New Israel Fund for funding groups feeding lies to the UN
Respect & appreciation for our country is not only a civic value but an essential Jewish one as well
When words lose meaning, the world becomes an Orwellian dystopia; a veritable Tower of Babel
Israel, like the non-radical Islamic world. will be happy see the ISIS beheaded for once.
Kids shouldn’t have “uninstructed” Internet access, better to train them how to use it responsibly
What if years from now, IS were to control substantial territory? What world havoc would that wreak?
Rambam writes the verse’s double term refers to 2 messiahs: first King David; 2nd the final Mashiach
The Gaza flotilla has been rightfully and legally blocked by Israel’s Navy, with greetings from Bibi
Can adoption agencies limit the placement of children to heterosexual couples only?
It wasn’t too long ago that Mr. Erdogan, in his determination to burnish Turkey’s credentials as an Islamist state at the cost of the secularism that had brought much economic and political success to Turkey, upended his country’s decades-long cooperative relationship with Israel.
Does the pope really believe that Father Dehon’s destructive anti-Jewish calumnies do not disqualify him from the highest honor of the Catholic Church because in his time everyone did it?
There was something else of great importance in play – something we would have liked to see him take into account before deciding to stand with the boycotters.
“Let’s get something straight so we don’t kid each other…[the Iranians] already have paved a path to a bomb’s worth of material,” said Mr. Biden. “Iran could get there now if they walked away in two to three months without a deal.”
Beyond the particulars of this tragic death, however, we should all be concerned about the possibility that a criminal prosecution in a major American city is being driven by fear of mobs in the street.
Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/editorial/kerry-vs-hagel/2013/04/24/
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