The Celebrate Israel Festival on May 31 at Pier 94, slated to be the largest gathering to date of Israeli-Americans in New York.
No one can envy President Obama’s current dilemma over Syria.
His decision to begin arming the Syrian rebels challenging Bashar Assad’s regime drew charges that the rebel forces are driven by jihad movements, particularly al Qaeda. Further, many rebel spokesmen have regularly denounced Israel and suggested that once in power they will end Mr. Assad’s policy of not rocking the boat with Israel. How, then, critics ask, could the president align the U.S. with the rebels?
On the other hand, Mr. Assad is directly supported by Iran and Hizbullah and, at least equally as significant, by the Russian government. If he were to overcome the rebel challenge and remain in power, it would represent a great step forward for Iran in its drive to become the preeminent power in the region.
Similarly, Hizbullah would come away with greatly enhanced stature and further erode any challenge to its leading role in Lebanon. As for the Russians, they will have established a beachhead in the Middle East from which to challenge the United States. How, then, could the president not act to thwart the supporters of the Assad regime?
When you connect the dots, the centrality of Russia to the current dynamic in the Middle East as it relates to U.S. interests becomes clear. Indeed, many will recall that when President Eisenhower refused to meet Gamal Abdel Nasser’s request for funding his pet project, the Aswan Dam, the Egyptian president turned to the Russians, who were more than happy to do business with him.
Russia’s cooperation with Iran and Hizbullah in the Syrian imbroglio has received much attention. But it passed without much notice almost two weeks ago that Russia announced the deployment of a permanent, powerful naval presence in the Middle East. The newspaper Israel Hayom, citing Russia’s military chief of staff, reported that Russia has stationed sixteen warships and three ship-based helicopters in the region.
This was the first such move since the Soviet era, and Israel Hayom quoted Russian President Vladimir Putin as saying that the employment was not “saber rattling”; that the Middle East “is a strategically important region and we have tasks to carry out there to provide for the national security of the Russian Federation.”
However, Russia also held large-scale naval maneuvers near Syria several months ago and sold state of the art weapons, including antiaircraft missiles, to the Syrians. And as a permanent member of the UN Security Council, it torpedoed any serious action against Syria there. It also offered to station Russian troops on the Golan Heights, between Israel and Syria, as part of the UN peacekeeping mission to replace the Austrian forces that recently pulled out after a spillover of the fighting between the Assad regime and the rebels.
After a two-hour meeting this week between President Obama and President Putin that focused on Syria, Mr. Putin told reporters that “of course our opinions do not coincide.” President Obama added, “We have different perspectives on the problem.”
So President Obama’s Syria dilemma must properly be seen not only in the context of the major jihadist component of the rebel forces, but also the Russians’ drive to restore their superpower role and the aspirations of Iran and Hizbullah.
Sadly, these seemingly intractable problems are largely of his own making. The president hit the ground running after his first inauguration with a vision of resetting the relationship between the United States and the Muslim world. This led to his terrible misstep in trying to force Israel to embrace much of the Palestinian narrative, with destructive results to the peace process. He failed to fully take into account the Arab penchant for demanding unilateral concessions and pocketing every concession while reneging on their own promised compromises.
More to the point, it also led Mr. Obama to fully embrace the Arab Spring. He seemed intoxicated with the notion that the boiling over of honest dissent in several Arab countries meant that democracy was about to break out all over the area. So he abandoned longstanding American policy that called for cooperation with some nasty Mideast leaders who were able to keep the lid on dissent and constituted an international order of sorts, while delivering relative stability to the region.
Much to the president’s dismay, however, what followed the overthrow of the dictators was a chaos stemming from the religious rivalries that had been kept in tow by the deposed strongmen. Moreover, as it turned out, the only organized elements in countries across the Middle East were the very militant religious movements that had been suppressed and were now sniffing victory.
In turn, the divisions unleashed by the Arab Spring presented opportunities for the projection of Russian power in the Middle East and for new targets of opportunity for Iran and Hizbullah.
As The New York Times reported earlier this month,
The Syrian civil war is setting off a contagious sectarian conflict beyond the country’s borders, reigniting long-simmering tensions between Sunnis and Shiites, and, experts fear, shaking the foundations of countries cobbled together after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire.
Mr. Obama was so taken up in the dream of being on the right side of history that he was unable or unwilling to realize that the Muslim countries of the Middle East were just not ready for the emergence of democracy. As the Prophet Hoseah said, “They have sown the wind and reaped the whirlwind.”
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On his shloshim, I want to discuss a term I’ve heard countless times about Rav Aharon: Gedol HaDor
After obsequious claims of devotion to Israel, Obama took to criticizing Israel on peace process
Mr. Obama, Israeli voters have democratically chosen to apply Israeli sovereignty over Judea&Samaria
Ronen Shamir’s just the latest tenured Leftist convicted of sexual misconduct with his own student
NY Times precious front page ink is only reserved for portrayals of Israel as the aggressor.
Although I loved law school, I doubted myself: Who would come to me, a chassidish woman lawyer?
American Jews who go gaga for Obama are first and foremost “Liberals of the Mosaic Persuasion”
“Illinois is the first state to take concrete, legally binding action against the BDS campaign”
Many books have supported the preferability- not to be confused with desirability- of the status quo
Consider the Pope’s desperation, reading daily reports of the slaughter of Christians by Muslims
The contrast between a Dem pretending to love Israel & a Dem who truly loves Israel is CRYSTAL CLEAR
Pentecost, derived from the Greek word for 50, is celebrated 50 days after Easter.
U.S and European demands for the creation of a Palestinian State in the West Bank is world hypocrisy.
We take a whole person approach, giving our people assistance with whatever they need.
“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.”
The president is unwilling to cede any of what he considers his exclusive powers in the area of foreign policy and has struggled mightily to keep the Senate away from any role in the kind of deal to be negotiated.
A committed Religious Zionist, he was a sought-after adviser on Zionist affairs around the world.
More important, Mr. Obama is simply acceding to Iran’s position on the timing of the lifting of sanctions.
For our community, Mrs. Clinton’s foreign policy record will doubtless attract the most attention. And it is a most interesting one.
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