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April 17, 2014 / 17 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Barack Obama’

Obama Boycotting the Knesset and Ariel University

Wednesday, March 13th, 2013

U.S. President Barack Obama has decided not to address the Knesset during his visit to Israel next week. Senior U.S. officials said that, after long deliberations and discussions, the White House decided that the president will address students from universities in Israel at the ICC (Binyaney Ha’uma) in Jerusalem.

That initial snub did not go unnoticed. The Prime Minister’s Office and a number of Knesset members passed messages to the White House saying they would be much happier if the speech took place in the Knesset. But senior U.S. officials have insisted that Obama decided to deliver his messages directly to the Israeli public, especially the younger generation, not just to politicians in the Knesset.

Has the president been following the recent changes in the Knesset? Many of the new elected MKs wouldn’t know a politician if they ran one over on their mountain bikes. But, obviously, Obama does not think much of national institutions in third world countries, or he wouldn’t be spending so much treasure overturning them.

On Tuesday it turned out that the White House has little respect for Israeli academic institutions as well. According to Reshet Bet, almost all of Israel’s universities received invitations to hear the president’s speech in the big hall in Jerusalem – with the noted exception of Ariel University.

Habayit Hayehudi MK Yoni Chetboun revealed this latest snub to Reshet Bet Wednesday morning, saying this was unacceptable, as Ariel is an officially accredited university, and its students—Jews and Arabs—are part of the Israeli public.

Ariel has over 600 Arab students, as well as the largest number Ethiopian university students in all of Israel.

The White House has refused to comment on Obama’s refusal to endow with his message of hope and peace Israelis who go to school on the wrong side of the “green line.”

MK Chetboun called on Ariel students to come greet President Obama outside the national auditorium in Jerusalem, if only to prove to him that they, too, exist.

According to recent news stories, the U.S. embassy (in Tel Aviv) is in charge of sending out the invitations to some 2000 Israelis, as well as 300 members of the press. It is possible, then, that the boycott against Ariel was not necessarily conceived in Washington, but right here, on Hayarkon Street on the shore of the Mediterranean.

Perhaps the White House will clarify this later today.

US Arabs: Obama Blames Israel, Congress for Slacking Peace Progress

Wednesday, March 13th, 2013

Most reports about the meeting between U.S. President Barack Obama and several representatives of various Arab American organizations which took place on Monday, March 11, have been fairly sketchy.

But at least some participants at that meeting provided three rather startling revelations to an Arabic news source.

First, they said the U.S. president blamed the stalled peace process on the Israeli government for refusing to offer concessions, and second, that he blamed the U.S. congress for providing cover to the Israelis whenever the president tries to apply pressure on the Jewish State.  The implication the sources came away with was that Obama said he will get around those problems when he is in Israel by bypassing the Israeli government and going directly to the Israeli people.

The third surprising revelation from the meeting was that President Obama plans to hand over half a billion dollars in additional aid to the PA during his visit.

As with Obama’s meeting with representatives of Jewish organizations a week ago, his get together with Arab and Muslim leaders was not part of the president’s public schedule, and participants had been asked not to comment about the confidential conversations which took place.

Most reports about the meeting merely mentioned the names of some of the participating organizations, which included the Arab American Anti-Discrimination Committee, the American Task Force for Palestine, the Arab American Institute, the Arab Federation of Ramallah, and the Muslim Public Affairs Council.

As was also the case with the Jewish representatives’ meeting, there were some Arab American participants who discussed some details of the meetings, a few with attribution and others on condition of anonymity.  Several sources at each meeting told members of the media that the president told their group that he was not going to attempt to kickstart a new Arab-Israeli peace initiative.

But one story in an important Arab media outlet quoted participants as having provided a reason for the U.S. president’s unwillingness to push a peace initiative during this trip.  That anonymous Arab and/or Muslim participant told Al Arabiya.net reporters that Obama said to the group: “since the Israeli government has not been willing to make concessions, there is no point in pushing [for negotiations] right now.”

In addition, the U.S. president expressed solidarity with the plight of the Arab Palestinians. “‘The only people more frustrated than me,’” Obama was quoted by a source as saying, are the ‘”Palestinians living in West Bank and Gaza – it’s a legitimate frustration,’” Al Arabiya‘s source said.

The U.S. congress also came in for criticism by the U.S. president. “Every time the pressure gets to the Israelis, they go to Congress.”

The message understood by that source who was present at the March 11 meeting was that Obama believed he could get around the interference of the U.S. congress and the obstructionist Israeli government by speaking directly to the Israeli people. The source said, “He wants to find a way around that, that’s why he wants to talk to the Israeli public directly.”

In other words, the Israeli elected government should be sidelined because President Obama believes he knows what is best for Israel, and he will deal directly with the Israeli people this time, rather than with their elected government.  At least that is the message some meeting participants either believed or want others to believe.

There was one additional piece of information in the Al Arabiya article that was not reported elsewhere.

President Obama, who has been railing against what he describes as the Republican-imposed sequester, “will take with him a cash infusion of $500 million – which Congress will soon release – of much needed financial aid to the Palestinian Authority.”

A condition-free gift to the PA of half a billion dollars in additional aid from the U.S. is hard to imagine given all the cuts being imposed because of the sequester.  For one thing, several hundred million dollars is due to be cut from Israel’s portion of the defense budget, but more importantly, as this is U.S. taxpayer money, are the statements made by the president that the U.S. is reducing naval warpower in the Persian Gulf because of the sequester.  This came up recently in the context of a dust-up between the White House and liberal journalist Bob Woodward of the Washington Post.

Pre-Israel Visit, Obama Says Middle East Peace Possibility ‘Bleak’

Friday, March 8th, 2013

U.S. President Barack Obama met with more than a dozen representatives of American Jewish communities on Thursday, March 8, in advance of his trip to Israel.  That trip is expected to begin on March 20.

The meeting, which was not on the president’s public list of activities, included a range of political interest representatives, mostly from the centrist to politically left.  Although participants were not supposed to discuss the names of those present or what was discussed, enough information became available throughout the day to draw a general sense of what transpired.

The Anti-Defamation League, solidly centrist enough to be included in virtually every government gathering, was represented, along with several other typical participants such as the American Jewish Committee, the Conference of Presidents of American Jewish Organizations, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee and the Simon Wiesenthal Center.  Harvard Law School professor Alan Dershowitz was there, as were representatives from the radical leftist Americans for Peace Now and from an organization the political life of which practically began with the Obama presidency, and which seems to be on the decline, J Street, was also represented.  Based on many reports it appears there was no one from the unflaggingly pro-Israel end of the spectrum, such as the Zionist Organization of America.

The meeting participants made suggestions of places to visit and some urged the president to take a stronger stand against Iran.  Obama’s response was reportedly that “Iran needs to be able to climb down without humiliation.”

The topics of Syria, Turkey and Iran were discussed, but several participants said that the primary focus was on the “Israeli-Palestinian peace issue.”  The two day trip will include a two hour trip to Ramallah, during which Obama is expected to meet with PA leader Mahmoud Abbas.

Ardent supporters of Israel had been fearfully speculating over the past week that during his trip President Obama would once again make heavy demands on the Israeli government to engage in unilateral concessions.  Those fears appear to be unfounded.

All reports of the meeting reflected the sense that the U.S. president is conscious of the turmoil throughout the Middle East and the constraints that places on parties in the region.  Obama reportedly said that he has no intention of “delivering a grand peace plan” during this trip.

Perhaps the U.S. president is unwilling to repeat a major failure of his first term, when he practically demanded there be progress on the “peace process,” but, when met with the reality of the situation, had to chalk up that goal as a failed one.

It appears that what has been widely criticized might actually be good news: without an Israeli governing coalition in place, President Obama can point to that instability as the reason for disappointing those who are insistent that peace be made at all costs – even when that cost is guaranteed to mean war.

The single biggest news that came out of the White House meeting is that it appears even President Obama may have actually learned that the conflict in the Middle East has no simple answers.

Who knew that a president’s pronouncement that the possibility for Middle East peace is bleak would be such a welcome statement?

 

The Cost to Israel of Obama’s Visit

Friday, March 1st, 2013

The confirmed visit to Israel by U.S. President Barack Obama for later this month is no longer a sure thing.  The trip will not go forward if Israeli Prime Minster Binyamin Netanyahu fails to put together a ruling coalition in advance of the announced March 20 trip date.  But if the stars align and Obama decides to go through with his current plans to visit Israel, will the cost be worth it?

The cost to Israelis who are waiting for permits for housing in certain parts of Israel has already been discussed: Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu has placed a freeze on construction anywhere beyond the 1967 Armistice Line until after Obama leaves the country.

Also well known and anticipated is the pressure the U.S. president is likely to place on Israeli leadership both to return to the negotiating table in order to move forward the “peace process,” as well as to let the big boys – i.e. the U.S. and the EU – decide when, and whether, to put a complete stop to Iran’s march to nuclear weaponization.

But there is another set of costs that Israel will have to bear if Obama and his entourage make the planned but still tentative visit to Israel.

As the Israeli news outlet YNet explained, the three-day visit is expected to cost the state of Israel more than $ 2.5 million.

The greatest chunk of the cost will be in enhanced security as thousands of additional Israeli police and military officers will be stationed in an expansive, mobile cocoon surrounding Obama and his entourage at all times.  During all travel within the country, there will be helicopter as well as automobile ecorts.

As with other heads of states visits, Obama will be staying at the famous King David Hotel in Jerusalem, where entire hallways will be closed off to the general public.  For a visit of a dignitary such as the U.S. president, additional costs will be racked up in special floral arrangements, re-furbishing of furniture and other amenities at the hotel.  Extraordinary communication arrangements and the provision of emergency medical contingencies supplies will also be made available during the president’s visit.

A senior Israeli treasury official told YNet that the cost to Israel of a visit by President Obama is likely to be as much as 10 times the cost of a visit from any other head of state.  “There is no doubt the visit is worth the extra expense,” he hastened to add.

Settlement Construction Freeze Until Obama Goes Home

Friday, March 1st, 2013

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has ordered the suspension of all new construction procedures in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria until after U.S. President Barack Obama’s visit to Israel, on the eve of Passover, Makor Rishon reports.

According to a directive that was passed from the PM’s office to the appropriate echelons at the defense and housing ministries, in the next few weeks no new construction bids are to be issued in those three areas. Also, plans whose planning phase has been completed will not move on to the deposit phase while all additional bureaucratic steps concerning their public offering are to be delayed as well.

The suspension directive was issued through informal channels. Prime Minister Netanyahu, who conducted the phone calls with the relevant officials personally, emphasized that this is not a freeze—like the 10-month settlement construction freeze Netanyahu declared in November, 2010-—but “merely a temporary suspension in order not to embarrass the visiting president.”

Sources close to the prime minister reiterated that this time the freeze will be restrained and moderate, as befits the circumstances.

A major contributor to the move on the PM’s part was Housing Minister Eli Yishai (Shas) whose office publicized its construction plans for the Ramat Shlomo neighborhood in East Jerusalem on the very week Vice President Joe Biden was visiting Israel, unintentionally causing a serious crisis in Israel’s relationship with the White House.

Following that incident, Netanyahu was forced to block construction in Jerusalem for almost a year, to patch things up with the Americans.

Barack Obama Pic Flies Across Social Media

Wednesday, November 7th, 2012

President Barack Obama, who has won a second term as President of the United States, tweeted a victory photo which has garnered over 440,000 retweets across Twitter and over 1.6 million Likes on Facebook:

Major US Paper Endorses Romney, Went for Obama in ’08

Saturday, October 27th, 2012

On Friday, Oct. 26, The Sun-Sentinel, South Florida’s paper of record, formally endorsed Mitt Romney for President of the United States.

Why?

Because it really is the economy, stupid.

While the Sun Sentinel took a chance with Barack Obama in 2008, it is switching sides and endorsing Romney this time. After acknowledging the tough economic environment Obama inherited, the Sun Sentinel‘s editorial board doesn’t find a healthy plan for moving forward, and says that instead, “the president falls back on the tired talking point of increasing taxes for the wealthy.”  While agreeing that everyone wants the tax code to be fair, the problem is in seeing “how raising taxes is going to kickstart jobs in the private sector.”

Most fundamentally, this south Florida paper believes that President Obama squandered the best opportunity anyone could have been presented with to clean up the mess.  In its paper today:

The president had enormous opportunity when he took office, with Democrats controlling both houses of Congress. But he failed to focus on Job One: Jobs.

Instead, he tackled the nation’s health care system, something most people agree needs fixing. No one wants to see people with pre-existing conditions denied health coverage. Insurance costs are taking too big a bite out of family incomes. And employers want their work family to have access to health care beyond the emergency room.

But the way this president went about solving the problem — throwing the ball to Congress with little direction, refusing reasonable compromises, settling on a solution that satisfied few — left this nation bitterly divided and shook our confidence in his ability to solve tough problems.

In these uncertain times, we need a leader who will chart a clear course, sweat the details and get the job done right.

We believe Romney’s past performance is a predictor of his future behavior. He’s proven himself to be a successful businessman. He rescued the 2002 Winter Olympics from scandal and mismanagement. He worked with a Democrat-dominated legislature as governor of Massachusetts to close a $3 billion budget deficit — without borrowing and raising taxes.

So despite the some disagreements with some of Romney’s positions on social issues, “with our nation facing another fiscal cliff in January — when Congress again addresses the debt ceiling, tax hikes and spending cuts — social issues are not Job One.”

The Orlando Sentinal endorsed Governor Romney for president last week, and it too had endorsed Obama in 2008.  The Tampa Tribune also endorsed Romney.

However, the Tampa Bay Times, which is the largest Florida daily, has repeated its 2008 endorsement of Barack Obama for president.

In dropping Obama for Romney, the Sun-Sentinel becomes the second largest Florida daily to give up on the president in 2012. Last week, the Orlando Sentinel also endorsed Romney, although it endorsed Bill Nelson, a Democrat, to remain as U.S. Senator.  Similarly, The Tampa Tribune threw its support behind Romney, but supported Democrat Bill Nelson for the U.S. Senate seat.

Last Sunday, The Tampa Bay Times, the largest Florida daily, again endorsed Obama in 2012, just as it did in 2008.  Its editorial states:

We wish the economic recovery was more vigorous, and we would like the president to present a sharper vision for a second term. But Obama has capably steered the nation through an incredibly difficult period at home and abroad, often with little help from Congress. The next four years will not be easy for whoever occupies the Oval Office, but Obama has been tested by harsh circumstance and proven himself worthy of a second term.

The Miami Herald also endorsed Barack Obama for president.

Daylight: The Story of Obama and Israel (Video)

Friday, October 19th, 2012

According to the video: Barack Obama ran for president as a pro-Israel candidate — but his record tells a different story.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/politics/daylight-the-story-of-obama-and-israel-video/2012/10/19/

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