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August 30, 2016 / 26 Av, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘deal’

‘Trump Would Never Push Deal On Israel’

Thursday, July 7th, 2016

While Donald Trump’s daughter and son-in-law may be the most public Jewish faces of his campaign, a softer spotlight shines on newcomer Jason Greenblatt. Named by Trump as one of his Israel advisers several months ago, Greenblatt serves as executive vice president and chief legal officer to Trump and The Trump Organization. Having worked for Trump for almost twenty years, the Orthodox father of six from Teaneck, New Jersey, is emerging as a positive and constructive force in his boss’s campaign.

I met with Greenblatt in his Trump Tower office in hopes of better understanding the Republican candidate through the lens of his trusted employee, confidant, and Jewish friend.

While Greenblatt feels “incredibly fortunate” in his role as Trump’s liaison to Israel, he does not take his job lightly. “I daven to Hashem each day,” he told me, “to give me the wisdom, skill, knowledge, and ability to be able to help Israel and the people of Israel and the United States in the best possible way.”

In the course of our interview Greenblatt pledged to “do the best job I possibly can in whatever role, large or small, Hashem may destine that I play in this historic election.”

Lehmann: Trump has resonated with many who are increasingly disenchanted with political correctness and the establishment, yet finds himself under unabated attack. What is the best way to respond to a Trump hater?

Greenblatt: What I find is that Trump haters are very surface-oriented people. They’ll grab a sound bite or something they either heard or misheard in a debate or read in a newspaper that’s already been transformed into multiple messages with a reporter’s or editor’s bias. My goal when I speak to people is not so much to convince them to vote for Donald, although of course I’d love to be able to do that, but to have an intelligent conversation about what he really means and also, where does Hillary stand on this issue.

I would like to see more unity on the Republican side. It doesn’t compute for me when staunch Republicans are saying, “Well, I’m not going to back him and I’m not going to vote.” That essentially means they’re voting for Hillary. You might not agree with everything Donald says, but either you’re going to back him or you’re going to back the other side. Certainly Jewish people need to think long and hard about where Hillary is on the issues as opposed to where Donald is. Particularly when it comes to security, because unfortunately now terrorism is also within our borders and not just in Israel.

What do you think Trump represents to Jewish voters and what would his election mean to them?

Trump is incredibly strong and supportive of Israel. He recognizes the very precarious area that Israel exists in, even more so in the past period of time because of the terror that has happened on our own shores. He recognizes that the terror is in large part caused by the preaching of hate to Palestinian children and he recognizes that Israel is doing its absolute best to keep its citizens safe. He isn’t someone who is going to undermine Israel’s ability to secure its borders and its people.

In a perfect world he would love to be able to achieve peace. He sees his skills, his knowledge, his ability to talk to people as the traits that are necessary for someone who will come into a room with both sides and see if some sort of peace deal can be worked out. But he would never impose that deal on Israel or the Palestinians for that matter. No peace deal is worth anything if some other country or countries try to impose it on them.

Would Trump agree that Palestinian recognition of Israel as a Jewish state should be a precondition to any deal?

Yes. He was very clear in his AIPAC speech that Israel is a Jewish state and will always be a Jewish state. Whether you couch it as precondition or some other creative way to do it, he absolutely agrees that it has to be a Jewish state forever. If the Palestinians come to the table and say we want all of Israel and want the Jews kicked out, there’s no point in having a discussion. But if they come to the table with some other reasonably acceptable standard, reasonable to the Israelis, not just to Mr. Trump, then maybe the conversation can continue. But it’s a little hard to predict, because there is no partner right now at the table.

Can you comment on the criticism leveled at Trump for what some see as a tepid denouncement of anti-Semitic supporters?

I know that there’s been a lot of discourse in the Jewish community about how he hasn’t gone far enough to condemn some of his followers who are anti-Semitic. I think that’s very unfair criticism. Having worked here for twenty years as a frum person, I can tell you that Donald has been enormously respectful of my being Shomer Shabbos. He has bent over backward to help me succeed in the company despite my being Shomer Shabbos. That’s who he is. He respects all kinds of people for who they are because he realizes that everyone brings something to the table.

He condemned David Duke. Did he condemn him the second everyone wanted him to condemn him? Our community has this sort of focus that we want something done a certain way; we want it done right away. We’re not the only people in the country. He spoke to The New York Times, condemned Duke’s remarks, said very clearly anti-Semitism has no place in society. I think his broad condemnation of anti-Semitism is even stronger than had he merely condemned irrelevant Twitter trolls. People need to look at the whole campaign story and not a particular story, biased or unbiased, in a particular newspaper on a particular day.

As someone who has worked with Trump for almost twenty years, how do you react to people who attack his temperament?

In twenty years Donald has been nothing but extraordinarily respectful, not just to me but also my wife and my kids. He is warm, caring, and compassionate. I don’t think he’s impulsive; he’s energetic. He is excited to bring forth new ideas. That doesn’t mean he’s going to implement them without a lot of study and understanding.

He is a tough negotiator, absolutely, but that also doesn’t mean he isn’t capable of speaking thoroughly appropriately all the time. People see him on TV say something about a particular kind of person without understanding the context. Almost all those times he was attacked and was defending himself. He rarely goes on the attack but he’s definitely a counter-puncher. So if someone’s going to attack him, he’s going to attack back and attack strongly. But he’s going to do it within the bounds of what makes sense.

How do you respond to those who accuse Trump of having a vague platform or flip-flopping on issues?

Donald has tremendous intellectual capacity. There are some people who perceive his big-picture ideas as vague but you have to start with the big-picture idea. At least he’s coming to the table with a lot of change, meaning he’s saying the system doesn’t work. Take security – clearly the system isn’t working. Yes, he has some big-picture ideas and he will have teams of really smart people to help him develop them. But you have plenty of politicians who are extremely specific – and where does that get us?

Regarding his position on issues, look, he’s been a businessman all his life. He’s not been a politician. I personally don’t think there’s a problem if he learns more information and decides that his initial position on something maybe needs to be more nuanced or needs to change somewhat. I think of that as a strength, not a detriment. If somebody is going to dig in their heels and say this is the way it’s going to be, and they don’t want to change their mind after a lot of facts are given to them, that doesn’t make me feel comfortable. I think a leader does need to learn and maneuver as things come to light.

What would distinguish Trump as a president?

I think that what he brings to the table in a big way is looking at things the way I would want my president looking at things, not the way things have been done because they’ve always been done that way. That doesn’t serve our country well. Things are constantly changing. The world I’ve been raising my kids in during the last year and a half to three years is significantly less safe than even when September 11 happened. Therefore it does me no good to have a leader who has all this so-called experience in terms of being an insider in Washington. I’m not going to feel any safer for myself and my family just because someone has been in Washington for a long time. If anything, I’m a big believer in someone who thinks outside the box, somebody who looks at things with a fresh pair of eyes. And I think Donald brings that to the table.

I’m always amazed when I come to him with an issue on a deal – just how quickly he gets it and how quickly he proposes, not just one but often several possible solutions. Some of them are super creative. He is always willing to explore ideas to figure out the right approach as opposed to saying this is the way it’s done, this is the way it’s always been done, this is the way we’re going to do it.

Do you see Trump as Obama’s legacy?

Absolutely. Obama started out his presidency by apologizing left and right about who we are and who we stand for. We’re an amazing nation. I say that as a Jewish person able to live and work here and keep Shabbos. This is an incredible country for Jews and other minorities. So what is there to apologize for? We are a nation filled with incredible people.

Obama definitely put our country on the defensive very early on and we’ve lost respect around the world. I think there are other issues that he created for us, in particular regarding terrorism and security. Obama’s legacy has left a huge portion of our population dissatisfied, and I think the antidote to that is someone like Mr. Trump.

Sara Lehmann

Erdogan Rebukes Gaza Flotilla Organizers for Undermining Israel Deal

Thursday, June 30th, 2016

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Wednesday criticized the Turkish charity group IHH for sabotaging his reconciliation with Israel. The Turkish president insisted the deal is good for the Palestinians, for Turkey, and for Israel.

Erdoğan spoke during an iftar dinner (the meal at the end of the daily Ramadan fast) at the presidential complex in Ankara. He said that the flotilla organizers never asked his permission to sail to Gaza in 2010, when he was a prime minister, causing a needless diplomatic crisis erupted between Turkey and Israel.

Erdoğan’s frontal attack came after the Humanitarian Relief Foundation IHH on Monday criticized the deal saying it amounted to acceptance of the Israeli blockade.

“We were already delivering the same amount of humanitarian aid to Gaza, but without making a show of it. Now we have Israel’s promise, all aid supplies to Gaza will be permitted from now on,” Erdoğan said. He announced that a Turkish ship with 11,000 tons of humanitarian aid is ready to leave for Gaza this Friday, noting that this will become a routine from now on, no need for showboating, so to speak.

Last Monday, after months of talks between the two countries, Turkey and Israel announced that a deal normalizing their relations would be signed. Under the deal, Turkey would be allowed to send humanitarian shipments to Gaza which would be delivered to the Asdod harbor in Israel, examined for contraband and trucked to Gaza; and Israel will pay $20 million in reparations to the families of the Mavi Marmara casualties.

IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation is a conservative Turkish NGO, whose members are predominantly Turkish Muslims, active in more than 100 countries. Established in 1992 and officially registered in Istanbul in 1995, İHH provides humanitarian relief in areas of war, earthquake, hunger, and conflict. The İHH holds Special Consultative Status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council since 2004.

Two IHH employees were detained for alleged links to al-Qaida, in a Turkish anti-terrorism police raids on January 13, 2014. An IHH spokesman said that police searched its office in Kilis, near the border with Syria, and detained one of its employees. Another IHH employee was detained in Kayseri after police raided his home.

The current president of the İHH, Fehmi Bülent Yıldırım, has been under investigation by specially authorized prosecutors in Istanbul and Diyarbakır for allegedly financing al-Qaeda through his organization. Yildirim also led a memorial service for Chechen leader Shamil Basayev in 2006.

Erdoğan also said that the normalization of relations with Russia and Israel is based on a “win-win” principle. “In other words, both Turkey and Russia must win, both Turkey and Israel must win,” he said.

Earlier on Wednesday, Erdoğan had a phone conversation with Russian president Vladimir Putin, on the way to normalizing relations between the two countries, some seven months after Turkey had downed a Russian jet that it claimed crossed from Syrian into Turkish airspace despite repeated warnings.

JNi.Media

Liberman, Bennett, Shaked to Vote Against Turkish Deal

Tuesday, June 28th, 2016

So far, only two government ministers, Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz and Housing Minister Yoav Galant, both from Likud, are on the record as supporting Prime Minister Netanyahu’s deal with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to pay upwards of $21 million as reparations to the families of anti-Zionist Turkish activists who attacked IDF soldiers with metal rods, rocks and knives when they attempted to take over the ship Mavi Marmara back in 2010. The deal also included a public apology (check) and easing the Israeli blockade on Gaza, which always ends up as a wise move when dealing with Hamas.

The loud objections from both sides of the aisle which the Netanyahu deal has raised on Monday may be the reason that four ministers Netanyahu was counting on to support him are yet to say anything on the subject: Moshe Kahlon (Kulanu), Aryeh Deri (Shas), Gilad Erdan (Likud) and Israel Katz (Likud). Meanwhile, three ministers have erected a strong front against the deal: Avigdor Liberman (Yisrael Beiteinu), Naftali Bennett (Habayit Hayehudi), and Ayelet Shaked (Habayit Hayehudi).

Liberman this week denied reports that he had committed to supporting the deal, as part of his entering the Netanyahu government. In closed sessions he went as far as to say that if he thins the deal is bad, he would vote against it.

Bennett said on Tuesday morning that “the State of Israel must not pay reparations to terrorists who tried to harm the IDF. A rapprochement with Turkey is important for this time and for the interests of the State of Israel, but paying reparations to terrorists is a dangerous precedent the State of Israel would regret in the future.”

A Channel 10 News survey released Monday showed that 56% of Israelis object to the deal with Turkey, and 67% believe it should have been conditioned on the return of the bodies of IDF soldiers in Hamas’ possession, as well as two Israeli civilians believed to be alive.

David Israel

Israel and Turkey to Meet June 26, ‘Declare a Deal’

Tuesday, June 21st, 2016

Israeli and Turkish delegations are set to meet on Sunday (June 26) to “declare they have reached a deal” to end the six-year-long conflict between the two nations.

The two teams, headed by Turkey’s Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Feridun Sinirlioglu and Israeli special envoy Joseph Ciechanover, have been carefully negotiating for months.

But after Sunday’s “declaration,” the agreement will allegedly be finalized, according to a report by the Turkish Hurriyet Daily News, and then signed in July by Foreign Ministry undersecretaries of both nations.

Ambassadors will be reappointed in both countries and diplomatic relations will be normalized by the end of July, if all goes well, if the document is signed as expected, if there are no hitches and if everything else goes as planned. According to the report, if that takes place, the final obstacles will also be removed from joint military exercises, joint energy investments and joint defense investments.

If all goes according to plan.

All of Turkey’s demands have been met, in the wake of the 2010 Mavi Marmara flotilla incident that so angered Turkey’s then-Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan that he severed ties with Israel.

Years of talks — and in particular, these past months of negotiations — have led to creative solutions on both sides that allowed for dignity and saving of diplomatic face with Turkey’s demands still able to be met by Israel. It was a delicate task, given Turkey’s insistence on freedom for Gaza, and Israel’s need for security in the face of the Hamas dedication to Israel’s annihilation.

But that does not mean that the current President Erdogan cannot come up with new demands, or reinterpret those that were met — or suddenly reject Israel’s responses.

Should Israel suddenly take action in response to a national security issue that upsets or offends the Turkish president, it is quite possible he may dial back his nation’s agreement to re-establish ties.

Diplomats and officials on both sides are holding their breath.

Hana Levi Julian

Poll: Saudis, Egyptians, Want Regional Peace, Shun Trump, Palestinian Deal

Monday, June 13th, 2016

Ahead of the 16th annual Herzliya Conference, the Institute for Policy & Strategy (IPS) at IDC Herzliya has released the results of two surveys conducted in Egypt and Saudi Arabia relating to the upcoming US Presidential elections.

The key findings of the polls were as follows:

Q: Should the next US President promote an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement or a regional peace agreement?

Egypt: 25.5% – Israeli-Palestinian Agreement 32.1% – Regional Agreement 42.3% – Should Not Promote Peace with Israel

Saudi Arabia: 18.9% – Israeli-Palestinian Agreement 41.6% – Regional Agreement 39.4% – Should Not Promote Peace with Israel

Q: Will the next US President change relations between the US and the Arab world?

Egypt: 31.7% – Change for the better 19.2% – Change for the worse 49.0% – No change

Saudi Arabia: 27.6% – Change for the better 27.4% – Change for the worse 45.0% – No change

Q: Was President Obama a good president for the Muslim world?

Egypt: 2.5% – Very Good 14.2% – Good 38.1% – Mediocre 24.5% – Bad 20.7% – Very Bad

Saudi Arabia: 2.6% – Very Good 17.5% – Good 36.1% – Mediocre 23.8% – Bad 20.1% – Very Bad

Q: Will the next US President cancel the nuclear agreement with Iran?

Egypt: 19.7% – Will cancel 80.3% – Won’t cancel

Saudi Arabia: 13.6% – Will cancel 86.4% – Won’t cancel

Q: Will the next US President be ready to send ground troops to fight ISIS?

Egypt: 32.3% – Yes 48.3% – No 19.4% – Don’t know

Saudi Arabia: 17.9% – Yes 58.1% – No 24.0% – Don’t know

Q: Which (Presidential) candidate do you prefer?

Egypt: 35.9% – Hillary Clinton 3.8% – Donald Trump 8.5% – Bernie Sanders 10.4% – Ted Cruz 41.4% – None of them

Saudi Arabia: 30.2% – Hillary Clinton 6.0% – Donald Trump 7.3% – Bernie Sanders 6.0% – Ted Cruz 50.3% – None of them

The polls were conducted in Arabic over the past 6 weeks using a random sampling from the regions of each country.

471 respondents in Egypt; margin of error +/- 4.5% 464 respondents in Saudi Arabia; margin of error +/- 4.6%

The 16th annual Herzliya Conference starts tomorrow, June 14 and runs through June 16.

JNi.Media

Netanyahu Was Right On Iran Deal

Wednesday, May 11th, 2016

It wasn’t all that long ago that our nation was transfixed by President Obama’s full court press to close a nuclear arms deal with Iran. It will be recalled that the administration spared no effort in this regard, beginning with its miscasting of the deal as an agreement rather than a treaty requiring Senate approval. And when an irate Congress, enacted legislation requiring a period for a measure of Congressional review, the president engaged in blatant procedural legerdemain to neutralize that legal mandate.

All of this took place in the context of overwhelming popular opposition to the deal. Further, virtually every member of Congress who ultimately signed on to the agreement did so with reservations, saying there was no real choice and that any deal was better than none.

And now we know that while the president was using every procedural trick in the book to prevent Congress from killing the deal, an even more insidious effort was being mounted under the radar.

You really can’t make this kind of thing up. A major piece by veteran journalist David Samuels in Sunday’s New York Times Magazine focuses on Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes, the person President Obama relied upon most to “sell” the Iran nuclear deal as critical to U.S. national interests. Mr. Rhodes came to the job with a background as a writer of fiction, a talent in the use of modern communication technology, and absolutely no foreign policy experience.

The article was built around an interview Mr. Samuels conducted with Mr. Rhodes and clearly shows how the public and Congress were purposefully misled.

Thus, the Obama administration successfully pitched the Iran deal as designed to take quick advantage of the election of a so-called moderate president, Hassan Rouhani, which presented an opportunity for a breakthrough in U.S.-Iran relations. And many members of Congress have said this argument weighed heavily on their minds when they voted to approve the deal even though they had serious misgivings about the specific terms of the agreement.

In truth, however, it now appears the negotiations were begun two years before Mr. Rouhani’s election when the notorious Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was still the president of Iran. Indeed, Mr. Rhodes acknowledged that President Obama planned an outreach to Iran soon after he took office in 2009 and the contrary spin was simply his –Mr. Rhodes’s – fabrication.

In other words, the notion that the Iran deal was the choice of peace over war did not arise out of any facts on the ground but was manufactured out of whole cloth by the imaginative Mr. Rhodes. And thanks to the administration’s fanciful narrative, legislators came to believe the proposed nuclear deal with Iran represented the only way to avoid war with Iran.

How did this all come about? Here is how Mr. Samuels put it:

Rhodes is a storyteller who uses a writer’s tools to advance an agenda that is packaged as politics but is often quite personal. He is adept at constructing overarching plotlines with heroes and villains, their conflicts and motivations supported by flurries of carefully chosen adjectives, quotations and leaks from named and unnamed senior officials. He is the master shaper and retailer of Obama’s foreign-policy narratives, at a time when the killer wave of social media has washed away the sand castles of the traditional press.

Mr. Samuels quoted Mr. Rhodes to this effect:

All these newspapers used to have foreign bureaus. Now they don’t. They call us to explain to them what’s happening in Moscow and Cairo. Most of the outlets are reporting on world events from Washington. The average reporter we talk to is 27 years old, and their only reporting experience consists of being around political campaigns. That’s a sea change. They literally know nothing.

Mr. Samuels continued:

In the spring of last year, legions of arms-control experts began popping up at think tanks and on social media, and then became key source for hundreds of often clueless reporters. “We created an echo chamber,” [Rhodes] admitted, when I asked him to explain the onslaught of freshly minted experts cheerleading for the deal. “They were saying things that validated what we had given them to say.”

When Mr. Samuels suggested that all of this manipulation seemed out of place in an America that reveres the principle of rational debate as the bedrock of democracy, Mr. Rhodes countered with, “I mean I’d prefer a sober, reasoned public debate, after which members of Congress reflect and take a vote. But that’s impossible.”

Editorial Board

Key Obama Adviser: We Misled Nation To Sell Iran Nuclear Deal

Wednesday, May 11th, 2016

A lengthy New York Times Magazine profile of Ben Rhodes, President Obama’s deputy national security adviser for strategic communications, portrays him as a spinmeister contemptuous of the foreign policy establishment who fed credulous journalists a misleading narrative to sell the Iran nuclear deal to the American people.

According to writer David Samuels, Rhodes oversaw a “war room” whose task was to sell the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) to Congress ahead of crucial votes last fall that failed to kill the agreement.

“In the spring of last year, legions of arms-control experts began popping up at think tanks and on social media, and then became key sources for hundreds of often-clueless reporters,” Samuels wrote.

“We created an echo chamber,” he quoted Rhodes as admitting. “They were saying things that validated what we had given them to say.”

According to Samuels’s piece, the strategy included the White House’s TheIranDeal Twitter feed. Rhodes used groups like the Ploughshares Fund, which advocates the elimination of nuclear weapons and lobbied for the JCPOA.

“We drove them crazy,” Samuels quotes Rhodes as saying of the opponents of the nuclear deal.

Samuels wrote that Rhodes does not think much of the journalists the war room was using to spread its narrative: “The average reporter we talk to is 27 years old, and their only reporting experience consists of being around political campaigns,” Rhodes was quoted as telling him. “They literally know nothing.”

According to the article, the administration put out a deliberately misleading narrative about the way the nuclear negotiations came about, linking them to the rise in 2013 of the “moderate” President Hasan Rouhani at the expense of “hardliners,” ushering in a supposedly new political reality in Iran.

In fact in 2012 State Department director of policy planning Jake Sullivan – a close aide of then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton – began holding talks with the Iranians in Oman and elsewhere, and he and Deputy Secretary of State William Burns drew up the framework of what would eventually become the JCPOA three months before the election that brought Rouhani to office.

Obama was known by insiders to have wanted to make a deal with Iran from the beginning of his presidency in 2009, but the idea that the rise of “moderates” provided the opportunity was “largely manufactured for the purpose for selling the deal,” Samuels wrote.

Samuels argued that the misleading narrative was useful for the administration.

“By obtaining broad public currency for the thought that there was a significant split in the regime, and that the administration was reaching out to moderate-minded Iranians who wanted peaceful relations with their neighbors and with America, Obama was able to evade what might have otherwise been a divisive but clarifying debate over the actual policy choices that his administration was making,” he wrote.

He characterized the approach as part of a broader strategy – helping the U.S. to extricate itself from existing regional alliances with countries like Saudi Arabia, Israel, and Turkey, with the ultimate goal of U.S. “disengagement from the Middle East.”

It’s an objective, Samuels said, that Rhodes – a determined critic of the Iraq war – views with a sense of “urgency.”

The profile depicts Rhodes as being comfortable in spinning the issue to the American people.

“I mean, I’d prefer a sober, reasoned public debate, after which members of Congress reflect and take a vote,” Samuels quotes Rhodes as telling him. “But that’s impossible.”

Rhodes holds a dim view of the foreign policy establishment, according to Samuels, referring to it contemptuously as “the Blob,” and including in that grouping Hillary Clinton; Obama’s first defense secretary Robert Gates; and “editors and reporters at The New York Times, The Washington Post, The New Yorker and elsewhere.”

Patrick Goodenough

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/terrorism-news/key-obama-adviser-we-misled-nation-to-sell-iran-nuclear-deal/2016/05/11/

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