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January 20, 2017 / 22 Tevet, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘Obama’

High Anxiety Continues Over Obama in the UN Until January 20

Friday, December 9th, 2016

Anxiety continues to roil through the pro-Israel world over a possible last-minute political move by the Obama administration that could permanently alter the Israeli-Palestinian geo-political landscape.

Forty-eight hours after the November 8 election, I flew to South Florida for a series of lectures and briefings organized by StandWithUs, NOVA Southeast University and other organizations as part of the State Department’s International Education Week, this to analyze the prospects regarding relations with Israel in the last weeks of the Obama administration. Everywhere, audiences were on the edge of their seats asking whether President Obama would take extraordinary passive or active steps in the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) to recognize a Palestinian state or impose a peace settlement, including a territorial mandate following the lines of the 1948 truce. Unlike General Assembly resolutions, which are not binding, the UNSC generally creates lasting pillars of international law.

As we approach Noon, January 20, 2017, uncertainty continues to abound among even the most astute of political insiders.

President Barack Obama remains personally silent. Administration assurances in recent days proffer comfort to those hanging on every word to discern a course of action. But embedded ambiguities in each of those assurances only increases the speculation.

For example, in recent days, unnamed administration sources were quoted by the Associated Press suggesting that President Obama “has nearly ruled out any major last-ditch effort to put pressure on Israel over stalled peace negotiations with the Palestinians.” The phrase “nearly ruled out” shines brightly in that report to emphasize that no decision has been made.

A few days ago, America’s ambassador to Israel, Dan Shapiro, told Israel’s Army Radio that America “will always oppose one-sided initiatives,” adding that this position “is a long-term policy. Whenever there were one-sided initiatives, we opposed them in the past and we will always oppose them.” Skeptics note that “opposing” such a UN move is not the same as blocking it with a veto.

Those who know the administration best remain queasy that a sudden and unexpected move may play out in the UN Security Council in coming weeks. Obama has circumvented Congress on the Iran nuclear deal and many other issues where the President has explained he can unilaterally use his “phone and pen.” Among the un-reassured is House Foreign Relations Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce, R-Calif., who emphasizes Obama’s “unpredictability.”

Royce told an interviewer, “If you are heavily signaling that you’re not going to oppose and veto U.N. Security Council resolutions that seek to impose one-sided solutions, the consequence is others will take your measure, and the momentum will build, given the natural attitudes at the U.N.”

The most likely scenarios for Obama action in the UNSC are variations of the following three:

* First: unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state within specified or approximate borders following the 1948 armistice lines where no Palestinian state ever existed. In virtually all world forums, this would more juridically move the status of Israel’s administrative presence in Judea and Samaria from disputed to occupation.

* Second: abstain from vetoing a pending French resolution that would impose settlement lines and/or recognize a Palestinian state within 18 months absent agreement by the parties.

* Third: impose a territorial settlement within a two-year deadline if the parties do not craft one themselves.

Any of the three measures would subtract the need for negotiations and bring Israelis and Palestinians closer to an entrenched stalemate.

The suspense has been intensified by developments in recent days.

On November 28, 2016, former president Jimmy Carter authored a passionate op-ed in the New York Times titled “America Must Recognize Palestine.” Carter advised President Obama to exercise one final chance of “countering the one-state reality that Israel is imposing on itself and the Palestinian people.” Carter continued, “Recognition of Palestine and a new Security Council resolution are not radical new measures, but a natural outgrowth of America’s support for a two-state solution.” Carter warned, “The United States can still shape the future of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict before a change in presidents, but time is very short.” Carter has not been a lone voice but part of a chorus of Democratic voices urging such a move by Obama to thwart any Trump policy moves after January 20, 2017. Trump is expected to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Israel, and Vice President-elect Mike Pence repeated that stance December 1 in Cincinnati just moments after Trump concluded his first “victory rally.”

That same day, December 1, President Obama once again signed a six-month extension of the presidential override preventing the implementation of the Congressional mandate moving the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. President-elect Trump has promised to move the Embassy. Since each presidential override binds the American government for six months, the Trump Administration could not move the embassy until the end of May 2017. At the same time, the delay would constitute a heavily-weighted bargaining chip in the Trump administration’s expected pressure on the Palestinian Authority to achieve a final resolution with Israel.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is fully aware of the dynamics, and as recently as a few days ago, confirmed that he continues to stay in close contact and coordination with the French government over its pending UN resolution. Abbas has repeatedly assured his people and the world that the UN would deliver independence in 2017. French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, speaking at a December 1, 2016 press conference in Paris alongside Irish Minister of Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan, reaffirmed that France was determined once more to convene an international peace

conference before the end of 2016. If that conference is unsuccessful, France could unilaterally recognize Palestine—within what territorial lines remains unclear.

Already, 88 American senators have written a pointed bipartisan letter to Obama warning him not to exercise a lame-duck effort at the UN. Likewise, after his electoral win, Trump’s Mideast advisor sent a private message to the White House warning against any such action in view of overwhelming popular and congressional sentiment against it.

Former Ambassador John Bolton, on behalf of the President-elect, was far more audible in an interview on November 20, 2016, when he publicly warned Obama against any UN action that imposes peace or recognizes a Palestinian state. On November 29, 2016, the House of Representatives passed a nonbinding bipartisan bill urging President Obama to continue blocking any UN resolution that would unilaterally impose a one-sided peace, including by a failure to veto such a resolution in the UN Security Council.

Most interesting is an examination of comments, made several days ago, by State Department Spokesman John Kirby that “our view hasn’t changed that we believe the preferred path for the Palestinians to achieve statehood is through direct negotiations.” Putting aside “the preferred path” and the policy to “oppose one-sided initiatives,” all it would take to allow a French measure to succeed in the UN Security Council is for the Obama administration to do nothing.

The world could still see a US abstention backed by all sorts of fortified rhetoric about “painful decisions” and “historic moments” that would nonetheless completely retreat from American policy and create an irreversible demarcation under international law.

If push comes to shove, some observers suggest that Israel may have an unforeseen ally in Russia. Russian President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev are in regular communication with Israeli officials, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Putin, as many observe, would love to frustrate the Obama administration, as he has on Syria, and openly coordinate with the incoming Trump administration to fulfill an already-started effort to

oversee a peace conference between Palestinians and Israelis. For his part, Abbas met with Medvedev just last month in Jericho, and reportedly even named a street after him.

The most recent punctuation to the anxiety is a series of condemnations over Israeli settlement policy by Secretary of State John Kerry December 4 at the annual Saban Forum. Kerry would not rule out a UN veto unless the resolution “is a biased, unfair resolution calculated to delegitimize Israel.”

Until 11:59 a.m. on January 20, 2017, no one knows whether President Obama will add another notch to his legacy or allow the future destiny of Israel and Palestinians to be written by others, including the parties themselves.

Edwin Black

Report: President Trump to Expose ‘Indefensible’ Iran Deal Documents

Tuesday, December 6th, 2016

Future senior Trump administration officials are discussing which unseen documents about the 2015 Iran nuclear deal they will make public after the inauguration, The Daily Beast reported Monday. The report cites chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Bob Corker, possibly President Trump’s pick for secretary of state, who said, “My guess is that they will be very forthcoming. […] They’ll be more than desirous in ensuring that’s the case.”

The report also cites Congressman Peter Roskam (R-Il), who said, “The American people know the Iran deal is bad. I can tell you it’s even worse than most people think. The Obama Administration has long known its position is indefensible, so they’ve chosen to hide unclassified documents from the public.”

In March 2015, Senator Tom Cotton (R-Ark) sent a letter, signed by 46 out of 53 Republicans in the Senate then, to Iran’s leaders, stating that any deal between Obama and the Iranian leadership would amount to only an “executive agreement” that could be undone by Congress or a future president. “The next president could revoke such an executive agreement with the stroke of a pen and future Congresses could modify the terms of the agreement at any time,” Cotton warned.

In November 2016, Cotton told Bloomberg, “In January, a President Trump and a Republican Congress will begin a new policy of resolve toward Iran’s ayatollahs.” Of course, by now the US has eliminated the sanctions against Iran, paid the Islamic Republic in cash to settle claims regarding an arms sale to the Shah, and unfroze billions in Iranian bank holdings. As Bloomberg put it, “at this point, a clear statement from the US that it was abandoning the nuclear agreement would only affect Iran’s obligations, such as international monitoring of its nuclear program and temporary limits on its centrifuge production and stockpile of nuclear fuel.”

In July 2016 the Obama Administration, following a law mandating a congressional review of the nuclear deal, used a clever trick in order to conceal unclassified documents by submitting them together with a single classified item – making the publicizing of any of this information illegal. Republican staffers are itching to make these unclassified documents public as soon as there’s a new sheriff in town.

According to The Daily Beast, one such document, “Elements of Iran’s R&D Plan,” is based on the “safeguards confidential plan [between] Iran and the IAEA,” describing how Iran’s research and development on its nuclear program, including on its centrifuges, could progress over time, despite the deal.

According to multiple US media reports, the documents the Trump team are weighing for publication come in three groups. The first group includes 17 unclassified annexes, appendices, and related agreements handed to Congress in July 2015 under the the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act, a.k.a. Corker-Cardin. These feature letters from Kerry assuring US business institutionsthey could trade and deal with Iran, which may indicate the deal was never sustainable but for those US urgings; and information regarding the precise restrictions on Iran’s centrifuge development, which Iran has reportedly violated several times.

The second group includes documents describing the transfer of $1.7 billion cash to Iran, the release of 21 Iranian operatives, the Iranians’ leveraging of American hostages, and the lifting of international sanctions stemming from Iran’s ballistic missile development, which were described in August by the Wall Street Journal. The State Department denied much of the above, warning that revealing the identity of banks involved in the cash transfer would hinder future deals.

The third group are documents from the Joint Commission overseeing the implementation of the deal, which secretly permit Iran to violate its terms. The very existence of these exemptions proves the deal – from its inception – depended on the US turning a blind eye on its violations.

David Israel

An Obama Post-Presidency and Israel

Thursday, December 1st, 2016

{Originally posted to the Commentary Magazine website}

In recent months, there’s been a lot of speculation about whether President Obama would use his last months in office to take a parting shot at Israel. In his final seven weeks, there is still a chance that he will allow a dangerously anti-Israel resolution to go up for a vote at the United Nations Security Council without a U.S. veto. But even if he is constrained by either common sense or a commendable desire not to tie the hands of his successor with an act that can’t be undone, supporters of the Jewish state should not assume that Obama’s attitude toward Israel will be something they can safely ignore once he leaves the White House.

A reminder of just how much damage an ex-president can do comes today in the form of an op-ed by Jimmy Carter published in the New York Times. In it, Carter urges Obama to do just what Israel’s friends fear: allow the Security Council to recognize Palestinian independence with the borders of the territories Israel seized in 1967 without first compelling them to make peace with Israel. That would be a reversal of decades of U.S. policy and do incalculable harm to Israel while not advancing the cause of peace. Despite sharing an antipathy for Israel’s government, Carter and Obama are not close. If Obama does stab Israel in the back at the UN with a measure that will brand Israel as an outlaw state, it likely won’t be due to Carter’s influence. Yet the resurfacing of the 92-year-old Georgian at this crucial moment should alert the pro-Israel community to the possibility that Obama may use his post-presidency in a manner that will follow Carter’s pattern on the Middle East, but with the ability to create far more havoc than his predecessor.

Ever since he left the White House, Jimmy Carter has used the prestige of his former office to promote some anodyne causes like Habitat for Humanity. But he is almost as well known for his other post-presidential obsession: hammering Israel every chance he gets. Carter’s barely-concealed animus for Israel during his term in office was no secret, but it was overshadowed by Anwar Sadat’s courage in forging a peace with Israel for which the former president got more credit than he deserved.

Since then, Carter has stooped to false comparisons between Israel and apartheid-era South Africa and become a reliable apologist for anything the Palestinians do no matter how awful while never failing to attack Israel any chance he gets.

Carter left office as a defeated president and was labeled a failure. His presidency is chiefly remembered now, if it is remembered at all, as a prelude to the Ronald Reagan’s successful two terms, in which he presided over a robust recovery from Carter’s “malaise” and the defeat of the Soviet Union. Good works restored his reputation to some degree, but Carter’s standing at home and abroad has never been sufficient to lend the kind of weight to his attacks on the Jewish state that would have had an impact on American opinion or that of an international community already prejudiced against Israel.

That won’t be true of ex-president Obama.

Leaving office will not diminish Obama’s historic status as our first African-American president. History’s verdict on Obama’s major initiatives—ObamaCare and the Iran nuclear deal—may be that both were flops. But he exits the White House with sky-high approval ratings. Those numbers may grow in the next four years due to constant comparison with the mercurial Twitter-addicted Donald Trump.

That will place him in a unique position to influence a Democratic Party that has a growing faction that is unfriendly to Israel (as evidenced by the rise of Representative Keith Ellison as a likely next chair of the Democratic National Committee) and to sway international forums where his prestige will eclipse that of Carter or any other living president or world leader. Should Donald Trump keep his promises to stand by Israel, Jerusalem will not have to worry as much about its sole superpower ally as it has in the last eight years. But if Obama chooses to use the coming years of relative leisure to pursue his vendetta against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and to push for pressure on Israel or even to isolate it in the same manner as Carter, he could be almost as much of a problem for the Jewish state out of office as he was in it.

Jonathan S. Tobin

Obama Plans to Rule America Outside the White House

Tuesday, November 29th, 2016

{Originally Published in FrontPageMag}

Barack Obama has two faces. After Trump’s victory and Hillary’s defeat, the public Obama has been gracious and diplomatic. His lectures to Trump, directly and indirectly, are couched in praise. He echoed the feeling of millions on both sides when he said, “We are now all rooting for his success”.

That’s a lie. Or rather a disguise.

Obama and his aides had, in one insider narrative, decided to don the “mask of decorum”. The contempt for Trump still seeps through the mask. And the mask hides Obama’s next big move.

President Obama is over. He knows that. There are still some things that he can do before he leaves office, but everything except the most destructive, can be undone by his successor. The next phase of his campaign will not be fought from the White House. It will be fought against the White House .

The other Obama is emerging in conference calls with his supporters. “One of the challenges that I’ve discovered being president is I’d like to be organizer-in-chief, but it’s hard,” he said in one call.

Obama can no longer be commander-in-chief. Instead he’s plotting to become organizer-in-chief.

The infrastructure for the organization was put into place long before anyone thought that Hillary might lose. Organizing for Action gave him his own organizing hub. If Hillary had won, it would have been a pressure group.  Now that Trump won, it’s an axis to build a personal counterrevolution around.

In his post-election conference call with his OFA troops, Obama told them, “I’m giving you like a week and a half to get over it”. Then it would be time to “move forward not only to protect what we’ve accomplished, but also to see this as an opportunity”. What opportunity could there be in Trump’s win?

Obama is now the only major national figure still standing among the Democrats. After Hillary’s defeat, he’s worked hard to attribute the loss to her shortcomings, not his policies and decisions.  That’s not just to soothe his ego. If he’s going to dictate the future of his party, he can’t afford to be blamed for its latest disaster. And Obama is still determined to dictate the future of the party and the country.

In conventional politics, Obama is done. There’s no way back into the White House. And Hillary’s fate won’t leave much enthusiasm for nominating the uncharismatic spouse of a charismatic ex-president.

But Obama is not a conventional politician. He’s an organizer and a campaigner at the vanguard of a radical movement that seeks to control traditional institutions, but doesn’t feel bound by them. Unlike Bill Clinton, his plans don’t begin and end with the White House. As an organizer, Obama is equipped to build bases of power outside traditional institutions. And that is exactly what he is doing.

The demoralization of the Democrats is, as Obama put it, an opportunity. Social chaos is a time for the left to overthrow and undermine traditional institutions. Fear, anger and despair are radicalizing. The left has always operated by throwing bombs and then profiting from the fallout. That’s Obama’s agenda. Having wrecked the country and the Democrats, he sees that not as a setback, but as an opportunity.

“The network that you represent, you’re perfectly poised to do that,” Obama told his OFAers.  “In other words, now is the time for some organizing.”

While the leftist rioters in the streets are garnering the most attention, the real threat comes from the network of staffers dubbed Obama Anonymous which are beginning to organize and coordinate. OFA is Obama’s equivalent of the Clinton Foundation. The Clintons built Clintonworld around staffers, but its goal was harvesting money. Obama Inc. is being built around organizing and activism. Like Clintonworld, it will be a network encompassing a variety of political and non-profit institutions. Unlike them, it will be much less focused on directing money to its bosses in preparation for an election. Instead it will function like a traditional leftist movement, merging influence operations with crowdsourced mobilization.

OFA will be far more dangerous in the wild than the Clinton Foundation ever was. The Clintons hoped to ride back to power on a giant wave of money. Obama is taking a much more radical course.

The staffers exiting government are being wired into Obama Inc. whether or not they take jobs directly working for him. The OFA alumni are building networks across organizations while taking their marching orders from him. They expect Obama to lead them back from the wilderness and into the halls of power.

 He’s told them so.

“I’m going to be constrained in what I do with all of you until I am again a private citizen.  But that’s not so far off,” he assured them. “I’m still fired up and I’m still ready to go.” His next comments promised that radical political change could and would take place.

Obama isn’t going to retire. He’s not going to spend years puttering around with a presidential library. He’s not even going to set up a Clintonesque slush fund and try to make his wife president. Instead he wants to force radical change from outside the White House by using the network he’s built.

While the public Obama wraps up business at the White House, concludes yet another world tour, alternating between praising Trump and offering him condescending advice, the other Obama is preparing to deploy a network that will dominate the Dems and set the agenda on the left.

If Obama succeeds, then he will get another shot at picking his White House successor. But beyond that, he’s been handed the keys to an organizing machine that will allow him to set even more of the agenda for his party than ever before. And he has a cause that is sending the party reeling back into his arms.

Obama believes that he can rule America from outside the White House. And he might be right.

Political norms and old rules have been falling faster than leaves in an autumn wind. If Obama sets out to move the center of power outside the White House and into an organization that will control national politics through the left, it would be dangerous to assume that he can’t and won’t succeed.

The Democrats didn’t respond to their defeat, one of a sequence, by trying to move to the center. Instead there is every sign that they are moving further to the left. Keith Ellison, a radical leftist with an anti-Semitic past, is tipped to head the DNC. Schumer still has the Senate, but Elizabeth Warren may have it before too long. Combine that with Obama as the president-in-exile and the Dems will be more radical and extremist than they were even when Obama was sitting in the White House.

The Democrats are ceasing to be a national party. Instead they are becoming a nationalizing party. They are losing their presence in much of the country, from state legislature to state legislature, and becoming the party of major cities and the national government. Their agenda is to move power from local areas to central ones, from the villages and the suburbs to the cities, from states to D.C. and from locally elected legislators in D.C. to the satellite bureaucracies of the Federal government.

Obama sees Hillary’s defeat as an opportunity to burn the Dem’s last bridges with the larger country and its “bitter clingers”, to double down on nationalizing power and to define the political narrative around the agendas of urban elites. The left crippled the Democrats. Now it wants to utterly consume them.

Barack Obama is still being vague and coy about his plans. He informs reporters that he will attack Trump when it comes to “core questions about our values and ideals”. But the “faithful” are getting much clearer signals. “You’re going to see me early next year, and we’re going to be in a position where we can start cooking up all kinds of great stuff to do.”

The election was a catastrophic disaster for the Democrats, but it opened all sorts of doors for Obama.

Hillary’s defeat removes the Clintons, his only real internal rivals, off the stage. Trump’s triumph in working class areas cuts more ties with the traditional Dem base and transforms it into a party of left-wing urban elites and their radical agendas. And the popular figures on the left, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Keith Ellison, lack his national stature, speaking skills and organization.

Obama will move to consolidate the left. And then the Democrats. He will function as a president-in-exile heading up the opposition to Trump. When it comes to verbally challenging Trump, Obama will be more likely to be interviewed and heard than Ellison or Schumer. And his people will coordinate responses across the left from street level organizing to think tanks and policy moves.

Some of it is ego.

Obama believes that he can find the key to beating Trump in the traditional tactics of the left. But most is ideology and power. Obama is not done transforming America. And America isn’t done with him yet.

Daniel Greenfield

Report: Obama Talked Hillary into Conceding

Sunday, November 27th, 2016

President Barack Obama called Hillary Clinton on election night and talked her into conceding to Republican candidate Donald Trump, The Hill reported this weekend. Citing Clinton campaign sources, Amie Parnes and Jonathan Allen, authors of an upcoming book on the campaign from Crown Publishing, have told The Hill that Obama advised his former Secretary of State, “You need to concede.”

Obama made his move at 1:30 AM, according to the new book, after the AP had called the race for Trump. A while later, close to dawn, Clinton called Trump to concede her defeat.

According to The Hill, a fight has ensued between the Obama and Clinton camps over the wisdom of the concession so early in the process, and of trying to force a recount of three Rust Belt states: Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.

Several Clinton campaign sources are now saying the Democratic candidate would not have called Trump had Obama not pushed her to do it, because the numbers were very close. “If anybody knew what actually happened that night, no one would have conceded,” one source said.

Meanwhile, the Democratic National Committee does not want to be officially affiliated with Green Party candidate Jill Stein’s effort to recount the votes, because they are afraid of being perceived in a negative light as sore losers and as calling the elections rigged – something they criticized Trump for after the third debate. But the Democrats are nonetheless hopeful that Stein would succeed in proving an error in tabulating, if not worse, an outright hacking of the vote.

Stein filed her request for a recount in Wisconsin on Friday, hoping to be able to enforce a similar move in Michigan and Pennsylvania as well. Wisconsin registered just under 3 million votes, and the deadline to complete a recount is Dec. 13. Stein’s campaign needs to raise about $7 million for the effort, and so far its online crowdsourcing has picked up more than $6 million as of Saturday night.

President-elect Trump has tweeted furiously in response to the recount effort, stating, among other things, “Hillary Clinton conceded the election when she called me just prior to the victory speech and after the results were in. Nothing will change.” He also called the Green Party’s effort a “scam” to “fill up their coffers.”


INTO THE FRAY: Obama Unplugged: What To Do?

Sunday, November 20th, 2016

Obama’s final months in power are a unique opportunity to correct the record, and, more important, score an achievement that his successors could scarcely undo. (Nathan Thrall, “Obama & Palestine: The Last Chance,” New York Review of Books, September 10, 2016)

Israel’s most urgent diplomatic mission today is to develop and implement a strategy that will outflank President Barack Obama in his final eight weeks in power. (Caroline Glick, “Checkmating Obama”, October 27, 2016)

The US elections are over. The die is cast. The American people—more deeply divided than ever before—have made their choice. As the virtual monopoly that the US electoral process had over the media begins to wane, other issues begin to dominate the discourse.

For Israel, the issue that, arguably, is the most pressing, is how to forestall any vindictive initiative from the Obama administration in the eight week “interregnum”, until his successor is inaugurated.

Ominous interregnum uncertainty

True, the probability of such an initiative may have receded considerably following the trouncing of Obama’s Democratic Party, which may be too preoccupied with introspective soul-searching and internecine finger-pointing to open up a new confrontational front.

However, any complacency on this matter would be foolhardy. Indeed, far-from-implausible counter-arguments can be conceived of, that make the case that the stinging defeat might even stir the rancor of the outgoing administration towards Israel, increasing the probability of some inimical measure being undertaken against it.

Thus, in a recent New York Post article (November 14, 2016), Seth Mandel warns that Hillary’s loss may well accelerate “the Democrats’ turn against Israel” with the front-runner for the next Democratic National Committee chairman being Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison, “a fiery critic of Israel”.

Accordingly, no matter how optimistic some pro-Israel elements might be as to the new spirit the Trump administration might infuse into US Mid-East policy, they would do well to heed the warning of one political analyst that this “may well have little impact on activity that could happen in the next two months until Obama leaves office.”

The growing potential for anti-Israeli sentiment in the Democratic Party could well comprise a tail-wind for carrying out the veiled threats emanating from the administration. Thus, two days after the elections, at a November 10 press-briefing, the State Department’s deputy spokesman, Mark Toner, underscored that “we view [the establishment of a Palestinian state] as the only means to a long-term solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict…So it’s going to remain this Administration’s pursuit until the very final moments”. In response to a question he added, ominously: “…but I can’t rule out that there may be a new initiative before the end of this administration.”

Bracing for a “Lame-Duck Surprise”

In the weeks before the election, speculation was rife as to some kind of adversarial move by the Obama administration before it leaves office.

Thus, the Wall Street Journal ran a piece entitled Israel Surprise?: Fears grow of a final days presidential ambush at the U.N. ( Oct. 31, 2016). Two weeks earlier, Dan Arbell, senior fellow, at the Brookings Institute posted his assessment, Does Obama really have a November surprise planned for Israel and the Palestinians? , (October 17, 2016), in which he predicted: “…Obama will not leave the White House without addressing the Israeli-Palestinian issue, one final time, as president”.

Likewise, Rafael Medoff posted an article in Algemeiner (November 7, 2016) headlined Israel, Jewish Groups Fear an Obama ‘December Surprise’ at the UN, detailing various proposals, reportedly under consideration by the outgoing administration (from unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state to punitive action against the “settlements” and their US supporters); and warning of the long-lasting detrimental impact they are likely to have on Israel and on any prospect for reducing Palestinian intransigence.

This largely reflects the concern expressed earlier by Gregg Roman , director of the Middle East Forum in Obama’s November surprise (The Hill, September 26, 2016): “Some say the surprise will be a speech laying down parameters for a final settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian dispute or some type of formal censure of Israeli settlements in the West Bank, but the scenario generating most discussion is a decision to support, or perhaps not to veto a UN Security Council resolution recognizing a Palestinian state.”

Warning against any post-election complacency, Jonathan Schanzer, vice-president of the Washington based think -tank, Foundation for Defense of Democracies, cautioned that Trump’s victory over Clinton could, in fact, make Obama feel “less encumbered” about launching an end-of-term lame-duck Israeli-Palestinian diplomatic initiative.

Some proposed remedies

However, while the media abounded with ominous warnings as to possible hostile diplomatic initiatives from the White House, few, if any, of those sounding the alarm offered any formula of how to confront, contend and counter such moves.

One notable exception was Caroline Glick, who in a column Checkmating Obama, posted just prior to the elections (October 27, 2016) predicted: “Open season on Israel at the Security Council will commence November 9. The Palestinians are planning appropriately. Israel needs to plan, too. Israel’s most urgent diplomatic mission today is to develop and implement a strategy that will outflank President Barack Obama in his final eight weeks in power…Obama has waited eight years to exact his revenge on Israel for not supporting his hostile, strategically irrational policies… he has no interest in letting bygones be bygones.”

Glick, however, did not restrict herself to cautioning as to the prospective dangers looming on Israel’s political horizon. She also attempted to set out a recipe for dealing with them.

While her proactive problem-solving approach is in itself admirable, sadly the remedies she prescribes are highly unlikely to be effective.

If I understand her proposal correctly, these measures involve trying to enlist countries allegedly friendly to Israel (New Zealand and Uruguay are mentioned) to draft and submit a “balanced” resolution to the UN Security Council to stymy the passage of any one-sided anti-Israel resolution that Obama might refrain from vetoing, while trying to enlist Russia to support the former, and veto the latter—by “offer[ing] Putin to lobby Congress to cancel US sanctions against Russia over Russia’s annexation of Crimea”

Too little, too late, too tenuous…

I do not wish to dwell in great detail on the glaring defects in these proposals, or on their low probability of success, which Glick herself acknowledges, admitting “There are many more ways for Israel to fail than succeed”.

Suffice it to say that as a response to an inimical initiative by Obama, they are far too little; far too late; and far too tenuous.

Thus, while Glick is correct in her overall approach of demonstrating that “attacking Israel is no longer cost free” and that “We are not powerless in the grip of circumstances. We have cards to play”, the measures she is proposing are hardly commensurate with the threat they are meant to counter. Moreover, there is probably not enough time to gear for their implementation, while their success is heavily dependent on the good will and reliability of others. Instead, Israel needs to fashion a response which it can implement on its own, without requiring the collaboration of others, on its own timetable and which will be strong enough to effectively forestall the threat it was designed to deal with.

Such a response is entirely within Israel’s reach. All it requires is sufficient political will to carry it out.

Responding to unilateralism with unilateralism

I have been advocating this kind of response for over half-a-decade, ever since the Palestinians raised the possibility of making a unilateral bid for independence at the UN in September 2011 – see Come September (August 18, 2011), where, much like Glick’s call in her recent article, I urged that “Israel must credibly convey that support for unilateral Palestinian statehood will not be a cost-free decision for whoever acts to effect it – or fails to act to foil it”. I have advanced it repeatedly in subsequent columns –see Israel’s only option (December 25, 2014).

Accordingly, should any measures, not mutually agreed upon, be instituted in international forums to advance the establishment of a Palestinian state, Israel should announce that, since consensual resolution of conflict has proved unattainable, it will seek other alternatives – now unavoidably unilateral.

Next, the Israeli leadership must muster the intellectual integrity not only to identify the Palestinians for what they really are – and what they themselves declare they are: an implacable enemy. It must also to undertake a policy that reflects this underlying and undeniable truth—now made even more starkly obvious by the recent Palestinian sponsored UNESCO resolution, denying any Jewish connection to the Temple Mount.

Clearly, as an implacable enemy, Israel has no moral obligation or practical interest in sustaining their economy or social order.

Independence implies…independence

Consequently, should Israel be confronted with an un-vetoed resolution to promote Palestinian statehood, it must convey in unequivocally clear terms to the Palestinians – and to their supporters – that if it is independence they demand, then independent they will have to be.

As a result, Israel will cease, forthwith, to provide all services and merchandise that it provides them today. In other words, no water, electricity, fuel, postal services, communications, port facilities, tax collection or remittances will be supplied by Israel any longer.

After all, what possible claim could be invoked to coerce one sovereign entity to provide for another allegedly sovereign entity – and an overtly adversarial one at that?

Indeed, when Israel declared its independence, no Arab country rushed to help it develop and evolve. Quite the opposite: The Arab world imposed embargoes and boycotts on it – and on anyone with the temerity to conduct commerce with it.

These proposed measures will vividly expose the farcical futility of the Palestinians’ endeavor for statehood, who almost two decades after the Oslo accords, and massive investment, have not produced anything but an untenable, divided entity, crippled by corruption and cronyism, with a dysfunctional polity, an illegitimate president, an unelected prime minister, and a feeble economy that, with its minuscule private sector and bloated public one, is unsustainable without the largesse of its alleged “oppressor.”

Nothing could do more to lay bare the absurdity of the Palestinians’ total dependence on the very body from which they seek independence.

Interregnum silver lining?

It is still too early to judge whether fears as to some spiteful anti-Israeli initiative at the UN or elsewhere by the outgoing president will be borne out, or whether his party’s sweeping defeat across the board will have left him chastened enough for him to choose to forego any further adversarial engagement until his successor takes office.

While Israel must be alive to the dangers any such initiative may entail, and be prepared to weather them, it might also present an opportunity for Israel to reiterate that should any one wish to impose on it the establishment of yet another homophobic, misogynistic Muslim-majority tyranny, that in all likelihood would become a forward base for radical Islamist terror, they will have to shoulder the costs to sustain it themselves.

That just might have a chilling effect on their enthusiasm for the whole idea of Palestinian statehood.

Dr. Martin Sherman

Campus Warrior Tells High School Seniors About College Anti-Semitism

Friday, November 18th, 2016

Last Wednesday, Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, co-founder of the AMCHA Initiative which combats campus anti-Semitism in America, spoke with 25 Brighton High School students in Rochester, NY. Later, in the evening, she spoke to an audience of 150 concerned parents, educators and community members. Both events were organized by Roc4Israel.

In early November, the Rochester Campus Times reported confrontations between pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian students at an event organized by the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) after the screening of “The Occupation of the American Mind: Israel’s Public Relations War in the United States.”

Noah Spivak, president of the Jewish Student Union at the high school, told JNi.media via an email from an AMCHA activist: “Soon we will each be applying for colleges and we are very concerned by the recent rise in anti-Semitic behavior on campuses across the country. Thanks to today’s meeting with Tammi, many of us feel better prepared for what we might encounter.”

Rabbi Shaya Kilimnick of Congregation Beth Sholom in Rochester, also told JNi.media via the same email: “Recently our campuses have become the battleground for anti-Semitic and anti Israel activities, mostly  by pro-Palestinian protests orchestrated by experienced hate groups — under the blind eye of University administrators. This has left our Jewish students vulnerable and exposed to  hatred and under attack.”

“Last evening, Tammi Rossman Benjamin of AMCHA provided us with leadership and offered us a selection of opportunities to engage in, so that we can be able to approach this challenge successfully. We encourage all who are concerned for our Jewish children to become involved.”

Tammi Rossman-Benjamin summarized her message, saying: There’s bad news and there’s good news. The bad news is that as a result of BDS and other anti-Zionist activity, Jewish students are experiencing alarming and unprecedented levels of anti-Semitism on campuses across the country.  The good news is that the Jewish community and its allies are uniting at last to do something about it, and you can help.”

Following is a portion of Tammi Rossman-Benjamin’s talk, generously transcribed for JNi.media.

●  ●  ●

As you might imagine, anti-Zionist sentiment and activity have had extremely negative consequences for many Jewish college and university students. The injection of the anti-Zionist movement, and particularly BDS, onto campus in the past decade has fueled a significant resurgence and increase in anti-Semitism.  The lines between appropriate political discourse on Israeli policy and discrimination toward Jewish students have become blurred. Jewish students report that anti-Zionist activists single out, harass, intimidate, and even assault them, regardless of their personal feelings on Israel. And far too often, anti-Zionist expression is laced with centuries-old classic anti-Semitic stereotypes. The anti-Zionist activists target not only pro-Israel students, but anyone presumed to support Israel, first and foremost Jewish students, regardless of their actual personal feelings on Israel. As a result, Jewish students engaging in Jewish activity having nothing to do with Israel — wearing their Jewish sorority or fraternity letters, displaying Star of David necklaces, walking to Hillel for Sabbath dinner – report fearing for their safety and well- being. In addition, because of their support, or even just presumed support, for Israel, Jewish students report being rejected from progressive social justice activities such as pro-choice rallies, anti-rape demonstrations, Black Lives Matter events and racial justice conferences.In addition to ostracizing and alienating Jewish students from certain areas of campus life, anti- Zionist students repeatedly attempt to shutdown events organized by Jewish students and suppress their free speech about Israel and other topics. Sadly, Jewish students are being targeted, discriminated against and ostracized, and their civil rights are being egregiously violated.
That’s the view from 30,000 feet.  Now let’s get down to what I hope will be helpful specifics.

Anti-Israel student groups such as Students for Justice in Palestine, or SJP, whose very mission includes the promotion of BDS, are found on hundreds of U.S. campuses. (I know that at University of Rochester, the group Students for a Democratic Society, SDS, has spearheaded considerable anti-Zionist activity on campus, most recently the screening of an the film “Occupation of the American Mind,” a film which not only demonizes and delegitimizes the Jewish state, its whole premise is based on the classic anti-Semitic tropes popularized in the “Protocols of the Elders of Zion,” of Jewish wealth, power and mendacity being used to control the government and media). SJP and similar groups, besides promoting BDS on their Facebook pages and other social media, on the large “apartheid walls” they build, in op-eds they publish in student newspapers and at events they host quite regularly, groups like SJP are responsible for organizing campaigns to get their own schools to boycott Israeli products like Sabra humus, to terminate their school’s academic exchange programs with Israel, and, most frequently, to have their student governments vote on resolutions demanding that the university divest from any of its financial holdings in businesses which do business with Israel. More than 90 anti-Israel divestment resolutions have found their way to about 50 U.S. campuses across the country.  About half of all resolutions have passed, but this number is, frankly, irrelevant, because any school whose student government or student body even considers such a resolution is racked with divisiveness, hostility, and animosity for weeks on end. And whether a resolution ultimately passes or not, the anti-Israel forces have used these campaigns as opportunities to inject enormous amounts of anti-Zionist and anti-Semitic sentiment onto campus.

And it’s not just student groups like SJP, whose members are devoted to anti-Israel activity, that are involved in these efforts.  In this age of “intersectionality,” where the grievance of one group is opportunistically linked to the grievance of other groups, SJP has deliberately forged alliances with many other minority student groups on campus, who frequently add their groups’ names to the sponsorship of BDS-promoting events and the endorsement of anti-Israel divestment resolutions. For example, SJP has made common cause with Black Lives Matter, and students from both groups frequently co-host rallies and events linking Blacks and Palestinians and promoting BDS. Last year at the University of Rochester a talk by Reverend Graylan Hagler entitled “Connecting the dots: From Ferguson to Palestine,” which demonized and delegitimized Israel and promoted BDS, was sponsored by several student groups, including an Arab group, an Indian group, a Muslim group, the Black Students’ Union, and a multi-ethnic fraternity.

In addition to that, thousands of faculty on hundreds of campuses have also publicly endorsed BDS efforts, especially the boycott of Israeli universities and scholars, as well as the divestment resolutions of students on their own campus. Some faculty boycotters bring their anti-Israel animus and activism into their classrooms, and it is not unusual for academic departments to sponsor virulently anti-Israel talks and symposia, some of them even including calls for the boycott of Israel.  For example, earlier this year at Vassar College, a talk by women and gender studies professor Jasbir Puar, in which she falsely accused Israel of maiming and murdering Palestinians and harvesting their organs, and she actively encouraged her audience to endorse the BDS movement, was sponsored and funded by 6 academic departments, including Women’s Studies, English, International Studies, Political Science, Africana Studies, and Jewish Studies.  Indeed, since 2015 we have documented more than 60 departmentally sponsored events like this, on campuses across the country.

Given the sheer number of students and faculty who have positioned themselves squarely against Israel, even to the point of opposing its very right to exist, it’s no wonder that many Jewish students who identify with the Jewish state feel like the whole campus community is united not only against Israel, but against them.

Unfortunately, it gets worse. In a recent study that our organization carried out, looking at the prevalence of anti-Semitic activity and the factors that affect it on more than 100 US campuses with the largest Jewish students populations, we found that on close to half the campuses we investigated, students are threatened because of their Jewish identity, sometimes regardless of their personal feelings on Israel. They are assaulted, harassed and intimidated, their places of residence defaced with swastikas and other anti-Semitic graffiti, their participation in campus activities shunned, the events they organize disrupted and shut down, and more.

If you are a member of a Jewish or pro-Israel organization — perhaps Roc4Israel or a synagogue-affiliated group — or if you would consider forming an organization, perhaps an alumni group concerned about anti-Jewish hostility at your alma mater, please consider spearheading or participating in a campaign, say, to get the president of the University of Rochester or of your alma mater, to follow in the footsteps of the UC Regents.  We can help!   AMCHA will work with your group to develop a plan, provide you with our research on anti-Semitic activity at your school, advise you as you carry out your plan, and help you network with other groups across the country.

Together, we can make a real difference.


Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/campus-warrior-tells-high-school-seniors-about-college-antisemitism/2016/11/18/

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