Meir Panim implements programs that serve Israel’s neediest populations with respect and dignity. Meir Panim also coordinated care packages for families in the South during the Gaza War.
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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Myth #1: It is easy to be a B’nai Noach. It is extraordinarily hard to be a B’nai Noach.
The question of anti-Semitism in Europe today is truly tied to the issue of immigration.
Polls indicate that the Palestinians are much more against a two state solution than the Israelis.
Emigration from Israel is at an all-time low, far lower than immigration to Israel from Europe.
Leon Klinghoffer’s daughters: “‘Klinghoffer’ is justified as ‘a work of art’…This is an outrage.”
Do you seriously think that as you kidnap our children we should medically treat and help yours?
Sometimes collective action against the heinous acts of the majority is not enough. The world should not only support the blockade of Gaza; it must enforce the dismantling of Hamas.
The Arab Spring has challenged Jordan with the task of gradual reform with regard to its monarchy.
Israel offered Syria the entire Golan Heights, only to find that the Syrians were demanding MORE!
Israeli hasbara too can be described at best as pathetic, at worst non existent.
A ‘good news’ story from the Nepal avalanche disaster to warm your heart. Take out your Kleenex.
Journalists see the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as morality play: Israel=evil; Palestine=innocent
Warsaw Ghetto: At its height, the Nazis walled in some 500,000 Jews within the1.3 square mile area.
While police officers face dangers every day on the job, Jews also face danger in their daily lives.
That key is the disarming of Hamas and the demilitarization of Gaza – as the U.S., EU, and others agreed to in principle at the end of Operation Protective Edge.
Given the vitality of Hamas, Israel can hardly rely on the commitments, even if sincere, of PA President Mahmoud Abbas for its security.
Is the president oblivious to polls saddling him with some of the lowest presidential popularity rankings in recent history?
There is not even a hint of recognition that Hamas deliberately fires rockets at civilian targets in Israel while storing arms and rocket launchers among its own civilians in Gaza.
No one with any sanity would dream of rationalizing or justifying the depredations perpetrated on the Arab world by ISIS.
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