web analytics
September 19, 2014 / 24 Elul, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Barack Obama’

Israeli Shoe on America’s Foot, Swapping Taliban Terrorists for a Soldier

Monday, June 2nd, 2014

U.S. President Barack Obama is finding himself in the same position as Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu – having to explain a controversial decision to outraged lawmakers and a questioning public.

Obama faced the nation on Saturday night to defend his directive to negotiate a prisoner swap with the Taliban terrorist organization in order to free the lone American soldier held hostage by the group in Afghanistan for the past five years.

Like that of former Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, the background behind the capture of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl was less than heroic. Shalit was not in combat when he was kidnapped by Arab terrorists in a cross-border raid in southern Israel in 2006. According to a blog post by prominent U.S. civil rights attorney Jonathan Turley, Bergdahl was taken prisoner after leaving his base in east Afghanistan on June 30, 2009.

On Saturday, the 28-year-old army soldier was released by his Taliban captors in exchange for five Taliban members who were freed from the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The deal was reached after a week of intense negotiations mediated by Qatar, which allegedly will maintain custody of the Taliban detainees for one year.

U.S. officials said efforts to negotiate the soldier’s release began in November 2010 and that his return became a top priority in May 2011. The opportunity to resume talks over the issue emerged several weeks ago, Turley wrote.

The U.S. president called the deal part of America’s “iron-clad commitment to bringing our prisoners home.” Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said in making the announcement that he informed Congress on Saturday of the decision, adding that the U.S. had “coordinated closely with Qatar to ensure that security measures are in place and the national security of the United States will not be compromised.” He thanked the Emir of Qatar for that and for his “instrumental role in facilitating the return” of the soldier.

But the United States has also had a legal “iron-clad commitment” not to negotiate with terrorists, as it happens.

Turley quoted a joint statement expressing outrage and concern over the swap by top U.S. Congress member Howard P. McKeon, (R-CA), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, and Senator James Inhofe (R-OK), ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

“Like all Americans, we celebrate the release of Sergeant Bergdahl from terrorist captivity,” the two lawmakers said. “However – we must carefully examine the means by which we secured his freedom.

“American has maintained a prohibition on negotiating with terrorists for good reason. Trading five senior Taliban leaders from detention in Guantanamo Bay for Bergdahl’s release may have consequences for the rest of our forces and all Americans.”

Hm. Sound familiar? Perhaps an echo of the fears expressed by the Israeli public over endless “good will gestures” forced on its government by the U.S. State Department to free convicted Arab terrorists in order to keep the Palestinian Authority at the negotiating table? Or the outrage expressed by families of victims of terror when more than 1,000 bloodthirsty jailed terrorists were freed in exchange for the lone Israeli soldier held hostage for more than five years by the Iranian-backed Hamas rulers of Gaza?

Yes – the same Hamas terror organization with which PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas now intends to unite his Fatah faction in a Palestinian Authority “unity” government. Mind you, most of those freed terrorist murderers are still at large, armed and dangerous, working on their next “projects.”

Gee.

America’s lawmakers also pointed out that President Obama “clearly violated laws” requiring him to notify Congress 30 days prior to the transfer of terrorists from Guantanamo Bay. Those laws require him to explain exactly how the threat posed by those terrorists was substantially mitigated.

US Lawmakers Meet with Cuba’s American Jewish Prisoner, Alan Gross

Tuesday, May 6th, 2014

Four U.S. lawmakers met in Cuba on Monday with imprisoned American Jewish hostage Alan Gross. The legislators visited the jailed social worker at a prison hospital due to his medical condition, which is precarious.

Gross was arrested in December 2009 while visiting Cuba to provide internet access for the Jewish community there. According to a report posted by the Havana Times he was employed at the time by Development Alternatives, Inc., and contracted by USAID, an American government agency.

Gross was subsequently sentenced to 15 years in prison for “crimes against the integrity of the State.” Cuban authorities said he was caught “carrying sophisticated telecommunications equipment prohibited on the island, working for a well-funded, secret USAID program designed to topple the Cuban government.”

Speaking to reporters in Havana following their visit, delegation leader U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee said in a brief statement, “It is in the interests of both our countries to start negotiations, not just talks. It is time for both countries to make a serious commitment to enter into negotiations without preconditions.”

For years, Cuban leader Raul Castro has been trying to persuade the Obama White House to enter negotiations to free the “Cuban Five” — spies who were caught and jailed for espionage in the United States in 1998. Two have already been released, having served their terms. One is serving a double life sentence. President Barack Obama has reportedly shown no inclination to discuss the matter with Cuban officials, and no apparent interest in a swap deal for Alan Gross.

(Likewise Obama has had no interest in discussing a deal to commute the sentence of American-Israeli agent Jonathan Pollard to time served. After having agreed to a plea bargain, Pollard was nevertheless sent to prison on a life term in 1987 on a single count of passing information to an ally. Often jailed under harsh conditions at the prison where he is held in North Carolina he is presently in extremely frail health. Hundreds of appeals to U.S. presidents through the decades have left all unmoved — including Obama, who has been approached by the current Israeli government.)

U.S. Representatives Gregory Meeks (D-NY), Sam Farr (D-CA) and Emanuel Clever (D-MI) also took part in the delegation to Cuba. They met with Alan Gross for 90 minutes, according to the report. The delegation reportedly then met with Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez.

There have been no diplomatic relations between Washington and Havana in more than half a century. But Gross, age 65, has vowed that by the end of this year, he is determined to return home to the United States, either “dead or alive.”

Will Kerry Be On Hot Seat at Obama Meeting?

Tuesday, April 8th, 2014

Oy. He’s logged thousands of hours flying back and forth, meeting with leaders from Israel, the Palestinian Authority and surrounding Arab nations. Sleepless nights, endless days, Middle Eastern food and where has it all led?

Back to Square One by anyone’s estimation – and very likely in the eyes of President Barack Obama at the White House.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry reports today (Tuesday) to the president so both can decide what to do next about the persnickety tangle that just won’t untangle in the Holy Land.

The problem is, after the better part of a year, John Kerry may have almost nothing to show for all of his efforts and a massive bill to boot. It’s a credibility problem for him – did he read the situation wrong? Or was it simply a matter of the Western mind not understanding the typical Middle Eastern Arab mentality again? And again. And again. Ad nauseum.

Because we who live here have already seen this before in our neighborhood. There have been so many train wrecks down this gorge, we’ve lost count of the number of peace plans we’ve complied with here in the Land of Israel. Most were American.

And Mr. Kerry is another one lacking the basic understanding of Middle Eastern mentality, the Arab mind and how it works, and the way it goes in this region. Briefings on “Arab culture” don’t cut it when it comes to shuttle diplomacy here. It is just not enough when it gets to the nitty gritty.

The Europeans already know better. They make dry observations, back the Arabs (who they know they can rely on to pull out rather than comply) and then fade out before the sun sets in the West. Of course, ‘intel’ ties always continue with Israel; it would be silly to ignore the needs of national security, right?

But the U.S. has yet to learn that Arab leadership is not reliable. The Palestinian Authority talks one way in English and the other way in Arabic and its word is never its word. Peace is not a concept this entity can understand. The definition of ‘honor’ in this culture is not the same as that of the West – it is defined differently in the Middle East.

Think ASIA when you think of PA government “honor.” That is the closest analogy one can summon. It does not involve life, but death – truly. And age doesn’t count. Babies do qualify. Everyone is expendable.

John Kerry is a well-meaning guy. He really thought he could pull this off. And he did have a peace partner. Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu braved his entire coalition to make this last attempt – and almost lost his government over it. In fact, he still might. Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman and Labor leader Isaac Herzog are both taking a shot at widening the fractures so they can climb all over it when new elections come around – and they both hope it’s sooner rather than later.

The last thing Israel needed was to free dozens more terrorists, let alone open the roadblocks to create a new free entrance on to Highway 60 from the Arab side of Hevron. But that’s what Israel did at America’s insistence for the U.S. attempt at new talks with the PA, knowing it was likely to come to naught.

It would be a pity if President Obama were now to rake John Kerry over the coals for following his orders and extending his own personal good faith in the process.

Mr. Kerry is not a young man either, and the constant flights could not have been easy. The stress of struggling to deal with Arab leaders fighting your every effort to reach a compromise could not have been fun. And having to second-guess everyone’s thoughts, words, actions and decisions following each session – although that is the job for which he was trained – must have been the stuff of nightmares.

4 Dead, 16 Wounded in Ft. Hood Shooting

Thursday, April 3rd, 2014

At least four military personnel died and 16 others were wounded, some critically, in a shooting spree Wednesday about 4:30 p.m. local time at Fort Hood, in Killeen, Texas.

The base, located near Waco, was immediately sealed off and held on lock-down for nearly four hours, until the “all-clear” could be sounded.

The shooter, 34-year-old combat veteran Spc. Ivan Lopez, killed himself at the end of the shooting spree with a single shot. He used a .45-caliber Smith and Wesson semi-automatic pistol he had recently purchased in the area, and had not registered at the base, officials said.

In November 2009, a military psychiatrist with Arabic ancestry proclaimed jihad against the United States at Fort Hood and went on a similar rampage, killing 13 people.

Military officials stressed that this time the cause seemed to be a personal dispute, unrelated to terrorism.

The gunman “walked into one of the unit buildings, opened fire, got into a vehicle, fired from [the vehicle], got out of the vehicle, walked into another building, opened fire again and was engaged by local law enforcement here at Fort Hood,” according to Lt. Gen. Mark Milley, who spoke with reporters.

U.S. President Barack Obama also made an effort to play down the terror factor but acknowledged that something indeed had gone terribly wrong and needed to be dealt with.

In a statement following the shooting, Obama said, “We’re heartbroken something like this might have happened again. We’re following it closely. I want to just assure all of us we are going to get to the bottom of exactly what happened… Obviously this reopens the pain of what happened at Fort Hood five years ago. We know their incredible service to our country and the sacrifices that they make. Obviously our thoughts and prayers are with the entire community, and we are going to do everything we can to make sure the community of Fort Hood has what it needs to deal with a tough situation, but also any potential aftermath.”

Lopez was in the process of being evaluated for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), which Lt. Gen. Milley described as “a lengthy process.” He added that the soldier – whom he did not identify at any time during his briefing — was also “undergoing behavioral health, psychiatric treatment for depression and anxiety and a variety of other psychological and psychiatric issues” at the time of the attack. He added that he also had a self-reported traumatic brain injury.

Lopez had served four months in Iraq during 2011. He remained on active duty and was subsequently assigned to the 13th Sustainment Command based at Fort Hood.

The tragedy ended when a female police officer drew her weapon, according to Lt. Gen. Milley, who said that in response, the armed soldier “put his hands up and then reached under his jacket. He pulled out the gun, and she engaged, and he put the weapon to his head.” He paused. “It was clearly heroic, what she did at that moment in time.”

His body was found in a parking lot near the First Medical Brigade area. Three of the victims died in local hospitals. Seven of the injured were admitted to nearby Scott & White Memorial Hospital. Three of the injured are in critical condition and being maintained on respirators. Five are listed in serious condition with gunshot wounds to abdomens, chest, necks and extremities, doctors told reporters. Other victims are being treated on base at the Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center.

“Experience has taught us many things here at Fort Hood,” Milley said. “The soldiers who have served so bravely through the last 13 years in Iraq are strong, and we will get through this.”

Minister Accompanying Netanyahu: Settlement Freeze Off the Table

Tuesday, March 4th, 2014

Likud Minister Yuval Steinitz, accompanying Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on his trip to the U.S., told Israel Radio Tuesday morning that Israel’s position both regarding the peace negotiations with the Palestinians and the Iran question are receiving wall-to-wall support in Congress.

According to Stenitz, the leaders of the Senate and the House understand that the main hurdle before the peace process is the Palestinians’ refusal to recognize the right of the Jewish people to their own country, and their terrible incitement against Israel.

According to the Washington Post, after his conference with Obama, Netanyahu met with House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) on Capitol Hill. Cantor said the Palestinians must “accept Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state” and “uniformly and aggressively” combat terrorism while confronting, not condoning, “incitement against the Jews.”

Steinitz added that the Palestinian demand for a freeze on settlement housing starts, as well as their insistence on prisoner release in exchange for extending the negotiations are simply not part of the discussion.

Leftist party Meretz Chairwoman Zehava Gal-On told Israel Radio that the settlement freeze would serve Israel’s interests more than it would the Palestinians’.

Labor MK Nachman Shai argues that the Ukrainian crisis is not diverting the world’s attention away from Israel and the peace negotiations, and is not improving Israel’s political situation.

But, despite MK Shai’s note to the contrary, AP reported that Secretary of State Kerry left Monday for the Ukrainian capital. The European Union’s foreign ministers, meantime, issued a Thursday deadline for Russia President Vladimir Putin to pull back his troops or face a rejection of visa liberalization and economic cooperation negotiations long in the works.

And the White House said Obama met for more than two hours Monday night with the National Security Council, including Secretary of State John Kerry and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, to discuss what steps the United States can take with international partners to further isolate Russia and persuade it to de-escalate the situation.

So, for now, nobody is pushing the 2-state thing. Maybe wait until after the Russian occupation…

Robert Malley and the Shift to Appeasement

Thursday, February 27th, 2014

Back in 2008 when Barack Obama first ran for president, one of the many signals he sent Jewish groups to reassure them of his good will toward Israel and his foreign-policy bona fides was to sever ties with Robert Malley, a Clinton-era National Security Council staffer best known for his stand blaming Israel rather than Yasir Arafat for the collapse of the 2000 Camp David peace summit.

Malley’s position as an informal adviser to the Obama campaign was a major liability for a candidate desperate to reassure Jewish Democrats that he could be relied on to maintain the alliance with Israel. But when it became known in May 2008 that Malley had met with Hamas terrorists, the Obama campaign severed ties with him.

It turned out that those who worried that Malley’s presence in the Obama foreign-policy shop was a sign of future trouble with the Jewish state were right. Despite his campaign promises and the fact that he failed to give an inveterate Israel-basher like Malley a job in his administration, Obama spent most of his first term picking fights with Israel before a reelection-year charm offensive.

But now well into his second term, the president is finally rewarding Malley for falling on his sword for him during his first campaign. It was announced last week that Malley is heading back to the White House to serve as a senior director at the National Security Council where he will be tasked with managing relations between the U.S. and its Persian Gulf allies.

While we are told the administration is making an effort to bolster its traditional ties to the region, Malley’s appointment sends a very different signal, especially to Israel.

At a time when Saudi Arabia and other allies in the region are worried that the U.S. has turned its back on them as part of the president’s misguided pursuit of détente with Iran, the president has called back to service one of the foremost defenders of appeasement of terror.

Though Malley is merely one more member of a second-term team that is increasingly hostile to Israel, his joining the NSC removes any remaining doubt about where American foreign policy is heading.

At the time he was working for the Obama campaign, his defenders, including a gaggle of high-ranking Clinton foreign-policy officials, denounced Malley’s critics for what they claimed were unfair personal attacks. But the problem with Malley was never so much about his motives or his father’s role as a supporter of the Egyptian Communist Party and the Nasser regime as it was his own beliefs and policies.

By claiming as he did in an infamous article in The New York Review of Books in August 2001 that the Camp David summit’s failure was Israel’s fault rather than that of Arafat, Malley demonstrated extraordinary bias as well as a willingness to revise recent history to fit his personal agenda.

Malley absolved Arafat from blame for refusing Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak’s offer of an independent state in almost all of the West Bank, Gaza, and a share of Jerusalem. In doing so he not only flatly contradicted the testimony of President Clinton and other U.S. officials present, but his justification of Arafat’s indefensible behavior also served to rationalize the Palestinian terror offensive that followed their rejection of peace.

In the years since then, Malley has remained a virulent critic of Israel and an advocate for recognition and acceptance of the Hamas terrorists who rule Gaza as well as engagement with Iran and other rejectionist states.

All this should have been enough to keep him out of any administration that professed friendship for Israel. But by putting him in charge of relations with the Gulf states, Obama is also demonstrating that he is determined to continue a policy of downgrading relations with traditional allies in favor of better relations with Iran and other radicals.

Determined to Get Kerry a Nobel, Obama Planning to Squeeze Netanyahu

Thursday, February 27th, 2014

The man who brought peace to Iraq, Afghanistan, Egypt, Libya and Syria (did I forget anything? Yes – Turkey!), our own President Obama, is about to throw his weight into the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, the NY Times reports this morning.

When he welcomes Netanyahu to the White House on Monday, tye White House leaked to the Times, Obama will press him to embrace the Secretary of State John Kerry framework for a “conclusive round of Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations,” which is being drafted as we speak. Then, a few weeks later, Obama will meet with PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, “to make the same pitch.”

By the end of April, if all goes according to plan, both sides will have a road map (didn’t we already have one of those?). In April the self-imposed 9-month time limit will expire, and in a television-driven political world, a date is a date, ergo the big gun.

“Now is a very timely opportunity for him to get involved,” a senior official told the Times, setting up the newest great expectation in a tone that didn’t convey much conviction: If the two sides agree to the framework, which would set out general terms on issues like Israel’s security and the borders of a future Palestinian state, the negotiations could be extended, with a new target of completing a treaty by the end of 2014.

Of course, should things not work out as expected, we could always come up with new shticks, rename the whole thing, possibly divide the topics of discussion into columns A and B and pick targets Chinese restaurant fashion, slap a new target date on it and go on with the show. The idea is to keep having a peace process—never mind the peace.

If they keep doing this through the 2016 presidential election, there’s a good chance Kerry could still get the Nobel Peace Prize even if he doesn’t get anything accomplished peacewise. After all, Obama got it just for being black and promising – couldn’t Kerry take one for being tall and lanky? Good teeth? No?

It is far from clear, notes the Times, that Mr. Obama can pull off what has so far eluded his secretary of state. Here’s another thing that’s been eluding the Americans – over the past several weeks, the Arabs and the Jews haven’t been meeting face to face. They talk to Kerry and to his special envoy, Martin S. Indyk, and that’s it. It means, “analysts say,” that there’s been no movement on anything.

If you ever sold cars for a living, or watched any sitcom or movie about selling cars, you know that the time to bring in the owner is after it’s been established that the customer really wants the car, he just needs to discuss terms. You bring in the boss, right away he knocks of two grand off the list price, everybody’s smiling – and you close. But to bring the boss in before both sides are buying anything, anything at all, that has desperation written all over it.

Aaron David Miller, a former Middle East negotiator who is a senior fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, told the Times that bringing the president in at this stage is admission of defeat on Kerry’s part. “What is it going to take to get to a comprehensive deal if the president has to do heavy lifting?”

It means Kerry has little credibility left with either side. And the Jews hate him for the boycott threats, which he has since been backtracking from so fiercely, you worry he’d hit his head on the end of the pool.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/determined-to-get-kerry-a-nobel-obama-planning-to-squeeze-netanyahu/2014/02/27/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: