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September 25, 2016 / 22 Elul, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘deal’

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

Ben Rhodes’s Fiction Behind the “Iran Deal”

Wednesday, May 11th, 2016

{Article by A.J. Caschetta, originally posted to the Gatestone Institute website}

That the Obama administration’s Iran deal is a work of fiction has been known all along, but now Ben Rhodes, Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications, is taking credit as its author. In a long interview with New York Times reporter David Samuels on Sunday, the world learned that Rhodes is “the master shaper and retailer of Obama’s foreign policy narratives” who “strategized and ran the successful Iran-deal messaging campaign.” Samuels lauds Rhodes as “a storyteller who uses a writer’s tools to advance an agenda packaged as politics.”

Welcome to the post-modern techno-presidency where everything is a text, easily manipulated by skilled writers and disseminated in 140 or fewer characters. Don’t like the facts? Change the narrative. What really counts is “the optics.”

In the midst of his fawning profile, Samuels exposes a number of lies behind the Iran narrative, or rather quotes Rhodes himself doing so. For instance, the first outreach to Iran came 2012, not in 2013. I’d bet it came even earlier. Rhodes even acknowledges that there is nothing “moderate” about Iranian leaders Rouhani, Zarif or Khamenei. But these dates and facts conflicted with the narrative, so they were finessed, rewritten and sold to the public with different plot-lines and different themes. Outside Washington, D.C. this behavior is sometimes called lying.

The Rhodes narrative, at its core, is a simple tale in which a hero, armed with special skills and weapons, goes on a quest that requires a fight against the forces of evil. It incorporates elements of the ancient epic, the medieval romance and the eighteenth-century novel, with elements of drama splashed in here and there.

The hero, of course, is Rhodes’s real-life hero, Barack Obama (with whom he “mind melds,” as he apparently tells anyone who will listen). The hero’s special weapon is diplomacy — in the case of Iran, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), a.k.a., “Iran Deal.” But Rhodes himself is also the hero of his tale. As he tells Samuels in one particularly dewy-eyed moment: “I don’t know anymore where I begin and Obama ends.”

In his tale, Iran is recast into a moderate regime through the magic of fiction, while the new villains are all who oppose the JCPOA, recast into warmongers: Benjamin Netanyahu, Ted Cruz, the majority of Americans. As Samuels puts it: “Framing the deal as a choice between peace and war was Rhodes’s go-to move — and proved to be a winning argument.”

But it was not really a winning argument. Neither the American public nor Congress was persuaded, which is why Obama did not submit it as a treaty for Senate ratification. At best, Ben Rhodes is the author of a Pyrrhic victory ensuring that the 45th or 46th president will face the same choice Obama faced, but against an Iran armed with nuclear bombs. At worst, Rhodes is the author of a tragedy he does not understand.

Rhodes’s narrative is not even particularly good fiction. Mistaken identities, fudged timelines, villains in disguise, and a two-dimensional hero are clichés. But the quality of fiction does not matter as long as consumers line up to buy it. And this is where Rhodes truly excels, as a relatively shallow thinker, adroit mostly at influencing even shallower thinkers and hoodwinking people too busy to bother learning.

Rhodes is proud of the way he manipulates a gullible and hungry media comprised mostly of repeaters pretending to be reporters. From his White House “war room,” he and his assistant, Ned Price, reach out to their media “compadres” who are waiting by their iPhones, ready to transform the daily storytelling sessions into facts for the uninformed. Boasting that he “created an echo chamber,” and unable to conceal his contempt for the minions who amplify his fiction, Rhodes calls them “27 year olds who literally know nothing.” Enter the storyteller who provides them with lines. Samuels shows us he is in on the joke too, by pointing out that “Rhodes has become adept at ventriloquizing many people at once.”

In his daily conversation, Samuels tells us, Rhodes lumps together nearly everyone who came before Obama (Kissinger, Clinton, Bush, Gates, Panetta) as “the Blob” — the establishment that damaged the world so badly that only a magical hero can repair it. Rhodes tells Samuels that the “complete lack of governance in huge swaths of the Middle East, that is the project of the American establishment.” This is what happens to foreign policy when it is entrusted to the unqualified and undereducated.

In eight months, Ben Rhodes can get back to his former life — as he puts it, “drinking and smoking pot and hanging out in Central Park.” And presumably writing more fiction — this time perhaps the honest kind that does not pretend to be non-fiction. The entire world, except perhaps the world of fiction, will be better for it.

{A.J. Caschetta is a senior lecturer at the Rochester Institute of Technology and a Shillman-Ginsburg fellow at the Middle East Forum}

Gatestone Institute

Netanyahu to Putin: Israel Will Keep Golan “With or Without Deal”

Thursday, April 21st, 2016

By Jesse Lempel/TPS

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Russian President Vladimir Putin during a face to face meeting in Moscow on Thursday that Israel would not relinquish the Golan Heights. The meeting marked 25 years of Israeli-Russian relations.

“Israel has clear red lines for self-defense,” Netanyahu told Putin according to a statement released by the Prime Minister’s Office. “We act to the best of our ability to prevent the transfer of advanced weaponry from Iran and Syria to Hezbollah in Lebanon,” he said.

Russian troops and airpower are fighting alongside the Syrian army, Iranian forces, and the Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah against a host of rebel militias in Syria’s ongoing civil war. Netanyahu recently acknowledged that Israel conducts military airstrikes in Syria as well.

“I came here with one central goal: to strengthen the security coordination between us in order to prevent accidents, misunderstandings, and unnecessary conflict,” Netanyahu told Putin.

“As for the Golan Heights,” Netanyahu continued, “we will not return to the days when they fired on our communities and children from the heights of the Golan. Therefore, with or without a deal, the Golan Heights will remain under Israeli sovereignty.”

The firm declaration comes amid reports that some in the international community intend to demand that Israel withdraw from the Golan Heights as part of a peace deal in the Syrian civil war. Israel captured the northern territory from Syria in the 1967 war and formally annexed it in 1981 in a move not recognized by the international community.

To counter such an initiative, Netanyahu held a rare cabinet meeting in the Golan Heights on Sunday, vowing never to withdraw from the territory. Following the unusual public display, US State Department Spokesman John Kirby announced that “those territories are not part of Israel and the status of those territories should be determined through negotiations.”

Netanyahu and Putin also reached an agreement about pensions paid by Russia to citizens that have emigrated to Israel—a deal Netanyahu described as “a nice Passover present.”

After Putin offered a blessing for the Jewish holiday of Passover, which begins on Friday night, Netanyahu replied that “during the holiday, the people of Israel will sit at the Seder table, including over a million Russian-speaking Israelis, who form the living bond between our peoples.”

TPS / Tazpit News Agency

A New Coalition To Deal With The Get Problem

Thursday, April 21st, 2016

Over the past two years it has been my privilege to be involved with an organization called Tahel, the Crisis Center for Religious Women and Children. Based in Israel and headed by Debbie Gross, it serves Orthodox abused women and children. I presented lectures at both the 2014 and 2015 organizational conferences in Jerusalem.

During my first trip, a thought came to my mind after meeting attorneys from around the world who deal with one of the most troubling problems when it comes to divorce in the Orthodox community – the difficulties many women have in obtaining a Get.

My idea was to form an organization of attorneys that would essentially be a forum for the discussion, and eventually the implementation, of ideas that have worked in various venues that have substantial Orthodox communities. The organization would encourage collaboration between attorneys, dayanim, and lay leaders.

Based on my experience as an attorney who regularly practices in the Supreme Court and batei din, I knew the need existed for such an organization. My semicha from Rav Pam, zt”l, enabled me to understand and work through the halachic issues involved.

At Tahel’s December 2015 conference at the Ramada Hotel in Jerusalem, I introduced the organization I founded – the Yashar Coalition – to a wide array of mental health professionals, law enforcement personnel, rabbanim, and, of course, attorneys.

The principles of the Yashar Coalition are: (1) no representation of clients who will not give a Get at the conclusion of the matter; (2) facilitation of a prenuptial agreement accepted by a wider spectrum of the Orthodox community; (3) discussions of ideas and legislation that have worked in various communities in the U.S. and elsewhere, as well as creative measures that have been adopted by batei din throughout the world.

The Yashar Coalition is actively working on the draft of a prenuptial agreement with the goal, as mentioned in the organization’s founding principles cited above, of obtaining wider acceptance of prenuptials from community rabbis and rosh yeshivas both within and outside the United States.

Additionally, we have been meeting with local public officials regarding possible passage of new legislation to assist in this regard. Details will be forthcoming.

On the one hand, we will never have the police powers the state of Israel has in the area of religious divorce. On the other hand, we can attempt to introduce legislation, drafted with separation of church and state in mind, that can assist those who have been unable to obtain a Get.

The attorneys of the Yashar Coalition come from South Africa, Australia, England, Canada, Israel, and the U.S. We will be holding a symposium in New York on May 23. To register, go to registration @yashar coalition.org.

Readers interested in becoming involved with the Yashar Coalition can e-mail Yasharcoaltion@gmail.com or call my office at (212) 321-7092.

Martin E. Friedlander

Will Israel be ‘Trumped’ by the US Presidential Elections?

Thursday, March 10th, 2016

There is a great deal at stake for Americans voting in this year’s U.S. presidential elections — but at least as much is riding on the results for the State of Israel.

GOP frontrunner Donald Trump has been one of the few candidates in the race to insist he would maintain neutrality when dealing with Israel and the Palestinian Authority from the White House.

Israeli Jews surveyed so far have nevertheless expressed more faith in his ability to deal fairly with Israel than any of the other candidates.

This may be due to Trump’s blunt, “in your face” style – the very characteristic that so alienates some of his American audiences – but which is similar to a large percentage of Israelis in the Jewish State.

It is far easier to deal with a person who is “up front” about their intentions, one might say, than a smiling politician who hides the weapon. Moreover, Trump pulls no punches about dealing with tough situations in a like manner – a necessary Middle Eastern attitude.

But probably the biggest factor in his popularity has to do with his willingness to simply say he will be neutral in dealing with both sides.

At an MSNBC town hall meeting in South Carolina on Feb. 17, Trump described a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority as “probably the toughest deal in the world right now to make.” What he did promise was that if he were elected president, he would “give it one hell of a shot.” This was a deal in which he would act as “sort of a neutral guy,” he said. Wisely, when asked whose fault it was that no agreement had been reached so far, he deflected the question – and did not blame either side.

That is the mark of a real negotiator, one who has the seasoned skills of someone who has been at the table for a very long time. It gives the lie to those who claim Trump lacks foreign policy experience; they forget that Trump has been dealing with political leaders around the world for years while cutting deals in nations on different continents for his various business interests.

Israelis have too often heard American politicians claim their undying support of Israel only to throw the Jewish State under the bus as they try to “bring peace” to the Middle East.

However, at a Republican debate held on CNN, Trump did comment at one point: “It doesn’t help if I start saying, ‘I am very pro-Israel, very pro, more than anybody on this stage… With that being said, I am totally pro-Israel.” But he was unwilling to go farther, and made no promises whatsoever. Certainly no promise to ‘bring peace to the Middle East.’

Nearly every single U.S. presidential candidate has vowed to move the American embassy to the Israeli capital of Jerusalem – and not one has done it once taking office.

Every American president swears up and down about the “unbreakable bond” between the two countries – but that didn’t stop President Barack Obama from freezing the supply of basic military equipment and ordnance in the middle of Israel’s defensive counter terrorist war with Hamas in the summer of 2014.

Promises are one thing and action is quite another, and if Israelis have learned anything, it is to know not to depend on fancy promises. So when a guy like Trump says he will be neutral, after flowery vows of endless support – that gets the attention of Israelis who are really sick of making that run for the bomb shelters.

Trump’s style and substance is straightforward, simple and different. He’s making no promises and no pretensions to expertise. He is an executive who says he’ll run the country pretty much the same way – by hiring top experts to do what they do best, in the areas of their specialization.

Hana Levi Julian

Russia Claims Iran Nuclear Deal ‘Within Reach’

Thursday, July 9th, 2015

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told reporters on Thursday that he believes a nuclear deal with Iran is “within reach.”

Lavrov said he is ready to return to Vienna for more talks together with other negotiators for the delegation of world powers led by the United States.

“We are close to a comprehensive agreement,” Lavrov told reporters on the sidelines of the BRICS summit in the Russian city of Ufa. “It is within reach.”

U.S. President Barack Obama made an effort to lower expectations earlier this week, telling lawmakers at a closed-door meeting Tuesday night that “the chances at this point are below 50-50,” according to CNN.com, quoting Senator Dick Durbin (D-Ill), a close Obama ally.

Nevertheless, a report by Iranian Press TV claimed this Friday’s deadline might again be blown for a sixth time, and the talks could be extended till next Monday, July 13. A Western official denied the report when questioned by Reuters, however.

Hana Levi Julian

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/russia-claims-iran-nuclear-deal-within-reach/2015/07/09/

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