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August 28, 2014 / 2 Elul, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Clinton’

No Red Lines: The Prime Minister Strikes Back

Tuesday, September 11th, 2012

Yesterday, I wrote about Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s rejection of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s sound call for the U.S. and the international community to delineate “clear red lines” for Iran.

(On the same day that Netanyahu told the Canadian Broadcasting Channel that the U.S. and Israel were discussing “red lines,” Clinton gave her own interview saying that the U.S. would not be setting such “deadlines”).

As I explained, Netanyahu’s repeated calls for “clear red lines” are Netanyahu’s way of begging the U.S. to do something which will enable Israel to avoid having to go it alone in striking Iran, something the U.S. has made it publicly known that it opposes. But the U.S. has rejected this too.

Tם add to Israel’s embarrassment, State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland reiterated yesterday the Secretary of State’s rejection of Israel’s demand for a “deadline,” saying that “it is not useful to be parsing it, to be setting deadlines one way or the other, red lines.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded to the U.S. position today in a press conference with reporters in Jerusalem with the Prime Minister of Bulgaria Boyko Metodiev Borisov.

Here is the Prime Minister in his own words – responding to a reporter’s question about the State Department’s position:

“I will answer your question in English as you are asking me a question that many in the world are certainly interested in by now.

“We can say with confidence that the diplomacy and the sanctions are not working. The sanctions have harmed the Iranian economy but they have not harmed the Iranian nuclear program. [Note: Clinton had said the best method to resolve the situation are sanctions and diplomacy]. That is a fact. And it is a fact that every day that passes, Iran is getting closer to a nuclear weapon.

“If Iran knows that there are no red lines, if Iran knows that there are no deadlines, what will it do? Exactly what it is doing. It is continuing without interference toward nuclear capability and nuclear bombs.

“The world tells Israel ‘Wait, there is still time.’ And I say ‘Wait for what? Wait until when?’

“Those in the international community who refuse to put red lines in front of Iran, don’t have a moral right to put a red light in front of Israel.”

No Red Lines: Another US Rejection of Israel’s Security Concerns on Iran

Monday, September 10th, 2012

Over the last two weeks, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been repeatedly calling for the U.S. and the international community to set “clear red lines” for Iran. Just this weekend, for example, he made this demand no less than three separate times.

It seems that Netanyahu is practically begging for the U.S. to give Israel an out from having to strike Iran on its own;  some kind of guarantee that if it doesn’t the U.S. will or at least some deterrent factor which will cause Iran to slow down its nuclear program.

Otherwise, it seems, Israel will have no choice but to strike, something the U.S. does not look favorably upon.

This morning’s news seemed to bear good tidings for Netanyahu’s “clear red lines” campaign. In an interview with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation last night, Netanyahu said that the U.S. and Israel were currently discussing the issue of red lines.

(The host asked: “Who do you think would follow Canada with some kind of red line?” Netanyahu answered: “Well, we’re discussing this right now with the United States.” Here’s the video.)

The implication being that such red lines might be set, and Israel could thereby avoid or at least push off the agonizing decision of whether, when and how to strike Iran’s nuclear program.

The Jerusalem Post ran with the story, providing the following lead headline this morning: “PM: Israel discussing red lines for Iran with US.” But by 9:30 the Post replaced the lead headline with an almost opposite report from Bloomberg News: “Clinton: US ‘not setting deadlines’ for Iran.”

Apparently, the U.S. Secretary of State also gave an interview yesterday on the same topic, spoiling any positive implications Israelis could glean from the fact that such discussions were taking place.  Clinton was asked whether the U.S. will set any “sharper red lines” for Iran and answered, “We’re not setting deadlines” for Iran and said that negotiations are the best way to resolve the situation.

This is yet another public rejection by the U.S. of Israel’s position on Iran’s nuclear program. It comes shortly after the Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey said that he and the U.S. by extension, “don’t want to seem complicit if they [Israel] choose to strike.”

If only this were some public facade meant to utterly confuse the Iranians as the U.S. secretly prepared to fulfill its responsibility as leader of the free world and protect its own interests by striking Iran.

The unfortunate reality, however, is that the Obama administration is still clinging to the naive belief that if America is respected enough and patient enough, and puts enough distance between itself and Israel, the international community will line up behind it (or in front of it, according to the “lead from behind” strategy”), and Iran will willingly give up the one thing that will make it immune from foreign intervention and give it the chance to create that “new international order” the Ayatolla was talking about.

This approach has failed.

The 120 countries and the U.N. Secretary General who participated in the Non-Aligned Movement Summit in Tehran proved that the international community is not lined up behind the U.S. and that Iran is not diplomatically isolated.

The negotiations between the Permanent Members of the Security Council and Germany (the “P5+1”) and Iran dragged on and on, went no where and all the while Iran sped up its nuclear program, doubling the number of centrifuges at its nuclear facility buried in a mountain near Qom.

Sanctions might have had time to work had Obama had gotten moving with them at the start of his presidency instead of chasing the holy grail of an Israeli-Palestinian peace accord (starting even before Israel held its own elections by dispatching George Mitchell to Israel) and apologizing to the Muslim world with his “address on a new beginning” at Cairo University in which he recognized Iran’s “right to access” nuclear energy.

Aside from more time for sanctions, for the soft-power approach to work, it also would have needed to be backed up by the threat of hard power: a credible military threat, something Israel has long demanded. To be credible that threat would have to have some trigger point, e.g., those “clear red lines” that Netanyahu is begging for but which Clinton said yesterday the U.S. would not set.

U.S. Presidents And Israel

Wednesday, August 8th, 2012

Several years ago the Monitor ranked the U.S. presidents (from Truman through Clinton) in terms of their relationship with Israel. Since then, readers occasionally have asked whether time and added perspective have had any effect on the list and where Barack Obama would place on it.

The following is a somewhat updated ranking, subjective and open to argument as such things always are. It goes from worst (12) to best (1) and is based on an overall assessment of a president’s attitude, actions and consistency as well as whether his decisions and policies were a help or hindrance to Israel.

12. Jimmy Carter (1977-1981): He mediated between Egypt and Israel at Camp David, but Anwar Sadat’s initiative had caught him completely by surprise after he’d foolishly agreed to bring the Soviets into Mideast talks. He never hid his intense dislike for Menachem Begin and the Carter foreign policy team was unusually ill disposed toward Israel.

11. Dwight Eisenhower (1953-1961): Though the atmosphere improved a bit during Ike’s final three years in office, the relationship between the U.S. and Israel ranged from chilly to lukewarm throughout his tenure.

10. Barack Obama (2009-): Appears to lack any instinctive warmth toward Israel and has had an adversarial relationship with Prime Minister Netanyahu, but he’s maintained strong Israel-U.S. defense and intelligence ties and last year stood against the world at the UN to prevent the unilateral declaration of an independent Palestinian state.

9. George H.W. Bush (1989-1993): His administration successfully pushed the UN to rescind its 1975 “Zionism equals racism” resolution and rushed anti-missile batteries to Israel during the Gulf War, but his 1991 lectern-pounding attack on pro-Israel lobbyists and the hostility toward Israel exhibited by his secretary of state overshadow any positives.

8. Gerald Ford (1974-1977): The Kissinger-Ford “reassessment’’ of American policy caused a strain for several months, but U.S.-Israel relations remained strong for the duration of Ford’s brief term.

7. John Kennedy (1961-1963): Viewed in his day as friendly toward Israel, his Mideast policy was in fact nearly as “even-handed’’ as Eisenhower’s. Constantly hectored Israel concerning its nuclear program and in 1962 wrote a craven letter to Egypt’s Nasser pleading for friendship and implying that he – Kennedy – had supported Eisenhower’s tough line toward Israel during the 1956 Sinai war.

6. Bill Clinton (1993-2001): After enjoying an excellent relationship with the Rabin-Peres Labor government, he showed a much colder face to Likud prime minister Netanyahu. Showered terror chief Yasir Arafat with respect and affection, inviting him to the White House more often than any other foreign leader.

5. Harry Truman (1945-1953): Supported partition in 1947 and statehood in 1948 but refused to sell arms to Israel and whatever economic aid he extended was belated and miserly. His recognition of Israel would have been meaningless had the Arabs prevailed militarily.

4. Ronald Reagan (1981-1989): Probably felt personally closer to Israel than any other president save George W. Bush, but his administration had a number of serious policy disagreements with various Israeli governments through the 1980s. Nevertheless, U.S.-Israel ties grew immeasurably stronger during his two terms in office.

3. Lyndon Johnson (1963-1969): Dramatically increased economic aid and upgraded military sales to Israel. In contrast to Eisenhower in 1956, did not squeeze Israel to unilaterally retreat after the Six-Day War.

2. George W. Bush (2001-2009): Despite being the first U.S. president to call unambiguously for an independent Palestinian state, he had a visceral affection for Israel. Former treasury secretary Paul O’Neill disclosed that just ten days after his inauguration Bush met with his national security team and declared: “We’re going to correct the imbalances of the [Clinton] administration on the Mideast conflict. We’re going to tilt back towards Israel.”

1. Richard Nixon (1969-1974): His support for Israel was not as sentimental as that of Lyndon Johnson or as heartfelt as that of Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush, but the bottom line is he saved the state from catastrophe in the 1973 Yom Kippur War with a massive month-long arms airlift in the face of European non-cooperation and a retaliatory oil embargo imposed on the U.S. by Arab states. That alone qualifies him for the number one spot on a list of this kind.

Pollard supporters call Clinton’s remarks a ‘slap in the face’

Wednesday, July 18th, 2012

Supporters of Jonathan Pollard called Hillary Clinton’s remarks rejecting his possible clemency “a resounding slap in the face” to Israel’s leaders and its people.

“With respect to Mr. Pollard, he was convicted of spying in 1987, he was sentenced to life in prison, he is serving that sentence, and I do not have any expectations that that is going to change,” Clinton, the U.S. secretary of state, said Monday night during a news conference in Jerusalem in answer to a reporter’s question about Pollard, a civilian U.S. Navy intelligence analyst who was convicted of spying for Israel.

The Committee to Bring Jonathan Pollard Home and Justice for Jonathan Pollard said in a statement issued Tuesday that Clinton’s remarks “stunned her Israeli hosts and marred the warm reception she received from the Israeli public.” The statement noted Pollard’s “unprecedented 27 years in prison.”

Pollard supporters expressed anger in the statement that Clinton offered no explanation “as to why the U.S. wants to keep the aging and very ill Pollard in prison forever” and called for an official response to numerous formal requests for clemency for Pollard from Clinton’s boss, President Obama.

Clinton, while campaigning for the U.S. Senate in 2000, said that she had concerns about “due process issues regarding Jonathan Pollard’s sentence.”

Pollard has been at the Butner Federal Correctional Complex in North Carolina since his arrest in 1986. A succession of presidents has refused to grant clemency to Pollard since he was sentenced to life in 1987.

The calls to release Pollard, who is said to be in ill health, have intensified in recent months, with pleas from lawmakers and former top officials of both parties.

Hillary: She Was Radiant, She Was Funny, and She Was Almost Two Hours Late

Wednesday, July 18th, 2012

The lobby of the David Citadel Hotel in Jerusalem was quiet and calm on Monday evening as journalists trickled in to see Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speak as part of her 13-day foreign tour. The atmosphere before the event was subdued, with only a few Israeli soldiers and navy blue, blazer-clad security agents milling about to give away the magnitude of what was coming.

After going through an intense security screening, we awaited her arrival…and waited. And waited.

About 45 minutes after she was scheduled to begin, there was still no sign of her. The anticipation and excitement were building as chatter filled the press room. A lady then took the microphone…to tell the crowd that Hillary would be another 40 minutes.

Finally, at close to 10:45 PM, an hour and forty-five minutes later than promised, Hillary stepped up to the podium.

When she entered, the sound of flashing cameras immediately flooded the room. It was the only noise to be heard—minus the soft click-clacking of her shoes.

She looked serene, calm and prepared.

It was a short conference, lasting less time than the wait for her arrival. She spoke for a few minutes about her recent trip to Egypt and reiterated her commitment to peace in the Middle East. It was clear that she knew what topics would be asked about, as her eyes regularly glanced down to her notes before she responded. Even so, there was one answer that was not so expected, and actually yielded a quite shocking response:

Speaking about the fate of Jonathan Pollard, Secretary Clinton said she believed that he would never be freed from his life sentence in America. The room was stunned by the blunt nature of the statement, and jolted as that harsh reality was brought out into the open.

Clinton’s politics have been discussed only slightly more than her appearance in the media. It’s often to my disappointment (if she were a man, it would never be such a point of discussion), but I will say that she was poised, confident and well put-together. Known for pastel colors, the Secretary of State updated the inevitable pants suit look to a clean black and cream.

The media often use the pants suits as fuel to criticize a masculine air, but tonight Secretary Clinton was both feminine and assertive. She even generated laughter in the room a couple of times. A few days ago tomatoes and shoes were thrown at her motorcade in Egypt, but Clinton remained un-phased, even joking that she felt bad that good tomatoes were wasted. When referencing the incident seriously, she explained it as people expressing a new type of freedom, even though their assumptions and conclusions were wrong.

A busy woman, it was clear that she was tired. But she charmed the crowd when, in the beginning, she said that although her traveling team is anxious to get home, she’d like to be hanging out in Jerusalem.

Personally, I also wish we could have hung out with her for a little longer in the holy city. The room covered the basics, such as Iran’s nuclear threat and U.S. involvement in the future, but we were still left with unanswered questions. One reporter made a last attempt by shouting that he wanted to ask about Turkey as Hillary stepped out of the room. Whisked away immediately to her awaiting motorcade, Clinton did not respond to the shout.

In reference to Egypt’s current situation, Clinton said, “Never in the 5,000-year history of Egypt have they ever had this opportunity or challenge.”

The Obama Administration doesn’t have 5,000 years. With Mitt Romney’s visit to Israel only a month away, Obama’s side needs its Israel creds to garner the Jewish American vote.

Clinton Says US Commitment to Israel ‘Rock Solid,’ Wants Support for Palestinian Authority

Tuesday, July 17th, 2012

In meetings Monday with Israeli leaders, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called on them to take steps to strengthen the Palestinian Authority.

According to the website Inyan Merkazi, Clinton has received a promise from Egyptian president Muhammad Morsi that he would not end the closure of the Gaza Strip.

During Monday night’s news conference, which began an hour late, Clinton reiterated that the U.S. “commitment to Israel is rock solid. By strengthening Israel’s security we are strengthening U.S. security.”

In her meeting with President Shimon Peres, Clinton said:

“I am here in Jerusalem on such a beautiful day at a moment of great change and transformation in the region. It is a time of uncertainty but also of opportunity. It is a chance to advance our shared goal of security, stability, peace, and democracy, along with prosperity for the millions of people in this region who have yet to see a better future.”

She added: “And it is in moments like these that friends like us have to think together, act together. We are called to be smart, creative, and courageous.”

According to Clinton, Israel and the United States are on the same page on Iran, Clinton later told reporters in Jerusalem.

“We remain focused on relaunching peace talks,” Clinton said to the reporters, adding that the international community can help but it was up to the parties to do the work.

Clinton also said that during her meetings with Egyptian authorities in Cairo, she offered the message that the U.S. wants the new leadership in Egypt to uphold its peace treaty with Israel.

Clinton arrived in Israel on Monday and met first with President Shimon Peres, where she said they spoke about “Egypt and Syria, peace efforts, Iran and other regional and global issues.” She then met with Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salaam Fayyad before holding the news conference.

She will return to the United States on Tuesday, capping a 12-day, nine-country trip. It is her first visit to Israel in two years and possibly her last as secretary of state.

U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta is scheduled to arrive in Jerusalem next week for talks on Iran’s nuclear program and the situation in Syria, which has been called a civil war by the International Red Cross.

The U.S. National Security Council said Sunday that National Security Advisor Tom Donilon visited Israel over the weekend for consultations with Netanyahu, Barak and his Israeli counterpart, Gen. Yaakov Amidror.

In a statement, NSC spokesman Tommy Vietor told reporters on Sunday evening that Donilon had reaffirmed the “unwavering commitment” of the United States to Israel’s security. He said Donilon’s visit was the latest in a series of ongoing U.S. consultations with Israeli officials on a range of regional security issues.

JTA content was used in this report.

Anti-Islamist Protesters Pelt Hillary’s Motorcade with Tomatoes, Shoes

Monday, July 16th, 2012

As U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s armored car motorcade was riding through the Egyptian port city of Alexandria where she had given a speech on democratic rights, a tomato hit an accompanying Egyptian official in the face, and shoes and a water bottle were thrown at Hillary’s car, Reuters reports.

According to a senior U.S. official, said Clinton herself was not hit, since her vehicle had already turned a corner by the time of the incident. But she may have been able to hear the taunts of “Monica, Monica” which the protesters were chanting, a reference to the extra-marital affair conducted by her husband, former President Bill Clinton. Others had chanted the Arabic equivalent of ” Clinton go home,” according to an Egyptian security official.

According to Al Ahram, several liberal and Christian politicians and public figures condemned Clinton’s visit to Egypt, accusing the United States of favoring Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist groups. There were several large demonstrations by liberal parties and movements, including the Free Egyptians party and the Front for Peaceful Change, against Clinton’s visit outside the U.S. embassy in Cairo, the presidential palace and the Four Seasons hotel in which Clinton was staying. The demonstrators were joined by supporters of Mubarak-era vice president Omar Suleiman.

A large group of Christian politicians – including Coptic MP Emad Gad, rights activist Michael Mounir, former MP Georgette Qeleini and business tycoon Naguib Sawiris, refused to meet with Clinton during her brief visit to Egypt.

In a joint statement on Sunday, they expressed their displeasure with Clinton’s decision to meet with members of Egypt’s Coptic-Christian community following earlier meetings with Muslim Brotherhood members and Salafists. They asserted that Clinton’s move served to “promote sectarian divisions.”

Clinton met with women and Christians, two groups with reasons to fear repression under a Muslim Brotherhood government.

“I will be honest and say some have legitimate fears about their future,” Clinton told reporters. “I said to them … no Egyptian, no person anywhere, should be persecuted for their faith, or their lack of faith, for their choices about working and not working. Democracy is not just about reflecting the will of the majority. It is also about protecting the rights of the minority.”

Clinton said the U.S. had learned that “the hard way,” pointing out that the U.S. constitution originally did not protect the rights of women or slaves.

Al Ahram reported that on Saturday the Front for Peaceful Change, a pro-revolution youth group, issued a statement calling on the Egyptian public to participate in the protests to register its rejection of perceived U.S. interference in Egypt’s affairs and its deal-making with the Muslim Brotherhood.

Al Ahram cites accusations of a secret agreement which was hammered out between the U.S. and the Brotherhood, which the paper says is a common refrain among the opponents of Clinton’s visit.

Emad Gad, a Coptic-Christian member of Egypt’s recently dissolved lower house of parliament, saw Clinton’s visit to Cairo in the context of an alleged U.S.-Brotherhood deal that enabled candidate Mohamed Morsi to assume Egypt’s presidency.

“In exchange for Morsi’s being named president, the Brotherhood is expected to protect Israel’s security by pressuring Hamas – the Brotherhood’s branch in Palestine – not to launch military attacks against Israel, and even accept a peace agreement with Tel Aviv,” Gad told Al-Ahram.

Gad, whom Al Ahram introduces as a prominent political analyst, told the paper that the U.S. was also supporting the Brotherhood in return for maintaining Mubarak-era agreements not to restore ties with Iran.

On Saturday night, according to Reuters, protesters outside Clinton’s Cairo hotel chanted anti-Islamist slogans, accusing the United States of engineering the Muslim Brotherhood’s rise to power.

In her speech at the recently re-opened U.S. consulate in Alexandria, Clinton rejected suggestions that the United States, which had been an avid supporter of the deposed Mubarak, was backing one faction over another in Egypt.

“I want to be clear that the United States is not in the business, in Egypt, of choosing winners and losers, even if we could, which of course we cannot,” Clinton said.

“We are prepared to work with you as you chart your course, as you establish your democracy,” she added. “We want to stand for principles, for values, not for people or for parties.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/anti-islamist-protesters-pelt-hillarys-motorcade-with-tomatoes-shoes/2012/07/16/

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