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January 17, 2017 / 19 Tevet, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘President Barack Obama’

Full Text: Speech by Secretary of State John Kerry at State Department

Thursday, December 29th, 2016

SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you very, very much. Thank you. (Coughs.) Excuse me. Thank you for your patience, all of you. For those of you who celebrated Christmas, I hope you had a wonderful Christmas. Happy Chanukah. And to everybody here, I know it’s the middle of a holiday week. I understand. (Laughter.) But I wish you all a very, very productive and Happy New Year.

Today, I want to share candid thoughts about an issue which for decades has animated the foreign policy dialogue here and around the world – the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Throughout his Administration, President Obama has been deeply committed to Israel and its security, and that commitment has guided his pursuit of peace in the Middle East. This is an issue which, all of you know, I have worked on intensively during my time as Secretary of State for one simple reason: because the two-state solution is the only way to achieve a just and lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians. It is the only way to ensure Israel’s future as a Jewish and democratic state, living in peace and security with its neighbors. It is the only way to ensure a future of freedom and dignity for the Palestinian people. And it is an important way of advancing United States interests in the region.

Now, I’d like to explain why that future is now in jeopardy, and provide some context for why we could not, in good conscience, stand in the way of a resolution at the United Nations that makes clear that both sides must act now to preserve the possibility of peace.

I’m also here to share my conviction that there is still a way forward if the responsible parties are willing to act. And I want to share practical suggestions for how to preserve and advance the prospects for the just and lasting peace that both sides deserve.

So it is vital that we have an honest, clear-eyed conversation about the uncomfortable truths and difficult choices, because the alternative that is fast becoming the reality on the ground is in nobody’s interest – not the Israelis, not the Palestinians, not the region – and not the United States.

Now, I want to stress that there is an important point here: My job, above all, is to defend the United States of America – to stand up for and defend our values and our interests in the world. And if we were to stand idly by and know that in doing so we are allowing a dangerous dynamic to take hold which promises greater conflict and instability to a region in which we have vital interests, we would be derelict in our own responsibilities.

Regrettably, some seem to believe that the U.S. friendship means the U.S. must accept any policy, regardless of our own interests, our own positions, our own words, our own principles – even after urging again and again that the policy must change. Friends need to tell each other the hard truths, and friendships require mutual respect.

Israel’s permanent representative to the United Nations, who does not support a two-state solution, said after the vote last week, quote, “It was to be expected that Israel’s greatest ally would act in accordance with the values that we share,” and veto this resolution. I am compelled to respond today that the United States did, in fact, vote in accordance with our values, just as previous U.S. administrations have done at the Security Council before us.

They fail to recognize that this friend, the United States of America, that has done more to support Israel than any other country, this friend that has blocked countless efforts to delegitimize Israel, cannot be true to our own values – or even the stated democratic values of Israel – and we cannot properly defend and protect Israel if we allow a viable two-state solution to be destroyed before our own eyes.

And that’s the bottom line: the vote in the United Nations was about preserving the two-state solution. That’s what we were standing up for: Israel’s future as a Jewish and democratic state, living side by side in peace and security with its neighbors. That’s what we are trying to preserve for our sake and for theirs.

In fact, this Administration has been Israel’s greatest friend and supporter, with an absolutely unwavering commitment to advancing Israel’s security and protecting its legitimacy.

On this point, I want to be very clear: No American administration has done more for Israel’s security than Barack Obama’s. The Israeli prime minister himself has noted our, quote, “unprecedented” military and intelligence cooperation. Our military exercises are more advanced than ever. Our assistance for Iron Dome has saved countless Israeli lives. We have consistently supported Israel’s right to defend itself, by itself, including during actions in Gaza that sparked great controversy.

Time and again we have demonstrated that we have Israel’s back. We have strongly opposed boycotts, divestment campaigns, and sanctions targeting Israel in international fora, whenever and wherever its legitimacy was attacked, and we have fought for its inclusion across the UN system. In the midst of our own financial crisis and budget deficits, we repeatedly increased funding to support Israel. In fact, more than one-half of our entire global Foreign Military Financing goes to Israel. And this fall, we concluded an historic $38 billion memorandum of understanding that exceeds any military assistance package the United States has provided to any country, at any time, and that will invest in cutting-edge missile defense and sustain Israel’s qualitative military edge for years to come. That’s the measure of our support.

This commitment to Israel’s security is actually very personal for me. On my first trip to Israel as a young senator in 1986, I was captivated by a special country, one that I immediately admired and soon grew to love. Over the years, like so many others who are drawn to this extraordinary place, I have climbed Masada, swum in the Dead Sea, driven from one Biblical city to another. I’ve also seen the dark side of Hizballah’s rocket storage facilities just across the border in Lebanon, walked through exhibits of the hell of the Holocaust at Yad Vashem, stood on the Golan Heights, and piloted an Israeli jet over the tiny airspace of Israel, which would make anyone understand the importance of security to Israelis. Out of those experiences came a steadfast commitment to Israel’s security that has never wavered for a single minute in my 28 years in the Senate or my four years as Secretary.

I have also often visited West Bank communities, where I met Palestinians struggling for basic freedom and dignity amidst the occupation, passed by military checkpoints that can make even the most routine daily trips to work or school an ordeal, and heard from business leaders who could not get the permits that they needed to get their products to the market and families who have struggled to secure permission just to travel for needed medical care.

And I have witnessed firsthand the ravages of a conflict that has gone on for far too long. I’ve seen Israeli children in Sderot whose playgrounds had been hit by Katyusha rockets. I’ve visited shelters next to schools in Kiryat Shmona that kids had 15 seconds to get to after a warning siren went off. I’ve also seen the devastation of war in the Gaza Strip, where Palestinian girls in Izbet Abed Rabo played in the rubble of a bombed-out building.

Hana Levi Julian

PM Netanyahu Reveals Threat That Moved Egypt to Rescue Staff at Israeli Embassy in Cairo

Tuesday, May 10th, 2016

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu revealed Tuesday that only the threat of Israel sending its own commandos to rescue its embassy staff in Cairo moved then-President Mohammed Morsi to send Egyptian forces to save them.

Speaking at a Foreign Ministry ceremony to commemorate Israeli diplomats killed abroad in the line of duty, Netanyahu recalled the night when a mob of Egyptians rampaged unchecked through Israel’s embassy offices.

The six remaining security guards at the time were holed up in a safe room behind a sturdy metal door, on the phone with Prime Minister Netanyahu that night in September 2011. “Yoni, the State of Israel will get you out of there,” the prime minister told the head of security on the phone at the time.

But Israel never publicly revealed its own intervention in the matter, instead giving the credit – and the subsequent kudos on television – to U.S. President Barack Obama.

On Tuesday, the facade came to an end and for the first time, Netanyahu revealed that it was through the threat of sending Israeli commandos the Muslim Brotherhood-backed Egyptian president was persuaded to send in his own crack troops to resolve the problem.

“A mob came to slaughter our people, and we used all the tools at our disposal that night, including the threat of rescue operation by the IDF, which finally tipped the balance and led the Egyptian forces — then under the rule of the Muslim Brotherhood, together with careful coordination from here — that ultimately led to the successful conclusion of this event,” Netanyahu told Foreign Ministry staff.

He acknowledged that the service is no picnic for its staff, noting that 16 foreign service officers have been killed abroad since 1948.

“Our representatives are there to deflect political and propaganda attacks, and precisely because of this they are liable to turn into targets for physical attacks,” he said.

Netanyahu is currently serving both as prime minister and as foreign minister in Israel. He also served as foreign minister from 2002 to 2003 under then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, and from 2012 to 2013. He served as Israeli ambassador to the United Nations between 1984 and 1988, and as deputy chief of mission at the Israeli Embassy in Washington DC from 1982 to 1984.

Update: Defusing a potential international crisis, the Prime Minister’s office has issued a clarification stating that Israel’s intention at the time was to run a “coordinated” operation with the Egyptian army, and not to take unilateral action. The Prime Minister thanked the Egyptian army for handling the matter responsibly leading to a resolution to the problem.

Hana Levi Julian

WikiLeaks Reveals American NSA Snooping on Netanyahu-Berlusconi Talks

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2016

In 2010, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu placed a phone call to Italy’s President Silvio Berlusconi to ask for help in dealing with U.S. President Barack Obama over tensions regarding housing plans in Jerusalem. While Jerusalem’s line was secure, it is suspected that Netanyahu knew that the Italian’s line wasn’t secure and the Americans were probably listening in.

The call happened at one of the times when PM Netanyahu was receiving the silent treatment from President Obama and it appears Netanyahu used the tapped line to get his message across to the White House. which was otherwise refusing to communicate with him at all at that point.

On Monday night, the WikiLeaks website revealed that the U.S. National Security Agency was tapping the line and listening in to the entire conversation.

As a matter of fact, the NSA listened in on calls with three Italian officials, including the national security adviser and the president’s personal adviser.

“Netanyahu pleaded with Berlusconi to help him deal with Obama,” according to the website. The intercepted communication showed “Berlusconi promised to assist helping Israel in mending damaged relationship with the U.S.”

Here’s the original NSA text, unabridged, in the document released on the WikiLeaks website: (bold added for emphasis)

Italy Would Help Israel Mend Relations With U.S. (TS//SI//OC/REL TO USA, FVEY)

(TS//SI//OC/REL TO USA, FVEY) Israel has reached out to Europe, including Italy, for help in smoothing out the current rift in its relations with the United States, according to Italian diplomatic reporting of 13 March. Speaking with Italian Prime Minister (PM) Silvio Berlusconi, Israeli PM Binyamin Netanyahu insisted that the trigger for the dispute–Israel’s decision to build 1,600 homes in contested East Jerusalem–was totally in keeping with national policy dating back to the administration of Golda Meir, and blamed this mishandling on a government official with poor political sensitivity. The objective now, Netanyahu said, is to keep the Palestinians from using this issue as a pretext to block a resumption of talks or to advance unrealistic claims that could risk sinking the peace negotiations altogether. Continuing, he asserted that the tension has only been heightened by the absence of direct contact between himself and the U.S. President. In response, Berlusconi promised to put Italy at Israel’s disposal in helping mend the latter’s ties with Washington. Other Israeli officials, meanwhile, believed that this tiff goes far beyond merely the question of the construction plans, marking instead the lowest point in U.S.-Israeli relations in memory.

Hana Levi Julian

Obama Speaks Loudly and Carries Soft Stick on War on Terror [video]

Wednesday, January 21st, 2015

President Barack Obama delivered a rousing State of the Union address to Congress Wednesday night, an oratorical masterpiece that focused on a rebounding economy before shifting to a look through rose-colored glasses at the Iranian nuclear threat and worldwide terror.

Despite a headline on one Israeli news site that “Obama Condemns ‘Deplorable’ Anti-Semitism,” that was the extent of President Barack Obama’s reference to lethal attacks on Jews throughout the world, offset with a “nice Muslims” comment:

“We speak out against the deplorable anti-Semitism that has resurfaced in certain parts of the world. It’s why we continue to reject offensive stereotypes of Muslims — the vast majority of whom share our commitment to peace.

He was very careful not to describe terror as “Islamic,” which is fair enough since it can be assumed that most Muslims are not terrorists, just as most Jews are not Netura Karta anti-Zionists.

The problem with the politically correct speech is that it ignores the fact that radical Islam, whether it represents “true” Islam or not, drives terrorists into a the fanatic and unquenchable thirst for blood, especially Jewish blood.

“We stand united with people around the world who’ve been targeted by terrorists — from a school in Pakistan to the streets of Paris,” President Obama declared. “We will continue to hunt down terrorists and dismantle their networks, and we reserve the right to act unilaterally, as we’ve done relentlessly since I took office to take out terrorists who pose a direct threat to us and our allies.”

Part of the statement is true. The last part is not because the Obama administration does not back Israel when it comes down to hunting down and eliminating Palestinian Authority terrorists. It always calls on Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to act with “restraint” and not to “escalate” tensions.

That is not how the United States fights terror, but that is the way the President wants Israel to deal with it.

The is something Washington has not learned, despite Obama’s statement that “We’ve learned some costly lessons over the last thirteen years.”

He was referring to the failed policy of “Americans patrolling the valleys of Afghanistan.” That has been replaced by another failed policy in which “we’ve trained their security forces, who’ve now taken the lead.”

At the same time he was speaking, Iranian-linked terrorists took over the presidential palace in Sana’a, Yemen, in an attempt to overthrow the government that the United States has consistently tried to support.

Obama also has forgotten that Iraq, where U.S. Army personnel still are located, is in shambles.

And it was American soldiers, under the Bush administration, who trained Palestinian Authority forces and who were overwhelmed by Hamas in Gaza, not to forget that several of Abbas’s guards also have used their American–trained skills to attack Israelis, sometimes fatally.

ISIL (not “Islamic State” if you note the President’s language) is Obama’s popular target, but so far, American efforts have not stopped it from taking over more territory in Iraq and Syria.

“Instead of getting dragged into another ground war in the Middle East, we are leading a broad coalition, including Arab nations, to degrade and ultimately destroy this terrorist group,” he said Tuesday night,

In almost the same breath, he announced, “Tonight, I call on this Congress to show the world that we are united in this mission by passing a resolution to authorize the use of force against ISIL.”

Time will tell what that means. Obama has vowed never to send ground troops in to Syria, and “force” already has been used from the air.

He also kept on the tinted glasses when looking towards Iran.

“We’ve halted the progress of its nuclear program and reduced its stockpile of nuclear material,” he said.

Maybe. Maybe not.

The problem is he still is banking on negotiating with people who don’t understand the Western meaning of the term “halt”.

“Between now and this spring, we have a chance to negotiate a comprehensive agreement that prevents a nuclear-armed Iran; secures America and our allies — including Israel; while avoiding yet another Middle East conflict,” the President said.

But as Fred Fleitz point out in the National Review:

While it is true Iran stopped enriching uranium to the 20 percent uranium-235 level as required by the November 2013 interim agreement, and is diluting 20 percent–enriched uranium to reactor-grade, this concession has had a negligible effect in reducing the threat from Iran’s nuclear program.

Most of its enriched uranium stockpile happens to be at the reactor-grade level, and Iran can convert that material into enough weapons-grade fuel for one nuclear bomb in 2.2 to 3.5 months, only about two weeks longer than it would take to do so using 20 percent enriched uranium.

Iran enrichment chart

Obama admitted, “There are no guarantees that negotiations will succeed, and I keep all options on the table to prevent a nuclear Iran. But new sanctions passed by this Congress, at this moment in time, will all but guarantee that diplomacy fails — alienating America from its allies; and ensuring that Iran starts up its nuclear program again. It doesn’t make sense. That is why I will veto any new sanctions bill that threatens to undo this progress. The American people expect us to only go to war as a last resort, and I intend to stay true to that wisdom.”

He will try to hang on for two years and leave a much more dangerous Iran for the next president.

Watch the 2015 State of the Union address here:

The text of the 2015 State of the Union address is available here.

Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahu

Netanyahu’s Meeting with Obama Will Be Neither Friendly Nor Productive

Monday, March 3rd, 2014

In his Sunday interview with Bloomberg View columnist Jeffrey Goldberg, President Barack Obama said two different things to the two sides currently keeping up the appearance of negotiations.

Obama urged Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to “seize the moment” to make peace, saying time is running out to negotiate an Israeli-Palestinian agreement.

And Obama said he believes Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas “is sincere about his willingness to recognize Israel and its right to exist.”

See, I would have wanted my president (I voted for him in 2008) to say something along the lines of: Netanyahu and Abbas are both sincere and willing to recognize each other’s right to exist.

Alternatively, I would have accepted my president’s urging both Netanyahu and Abbas to seize the moment because time is running out—I don’t think time is running anywhere, but at least it should be running an equal distance for both sides.

I haven’t seen two consecutive American administrations—Bush 2 and Obama—bring so much violence and suffering to a region since the Johnson and Nixon administrations collaborated to decimate South East Asia. I’ve learned to always expect the worst possible reaction from my current president: he has botched Iraq, Afghanistan, Egypt, Syria, Turkey, Iran. He will now reek havoc on both Israel and the Palestinians. It’s his default setting. Because he is a new breed of American politician: the intellectual non-thinker.

Permit me an aside: I heard Secretary of State John Kerry rebuking Russian President Vladimir Putin for invading another country based on made up allegations, and I was thinking, wait a minute, name Iraq and name WMD don’t sound familiar to you?

But enough about self righteous politicians—except, of course, that watching how America is defending the Ukraine from being molested by the bear next door does make one think about American security guarantees and in what anatomic context they could fit best.

I spent my morning reading through the interview transcript which Goldberg generously deposited online for the rest of us to dig into. I’ll try to quote lavishly without breaking copyright rules and Internet etiquette. Do go online to read the full thing—it’ll serve us all as a baseline in examining the coming Obama-Bibi matches.

GOLDBERG: Let me read you something that John Kerry told the American Jewish Committee not long ago: “We’re running out of time. We’re running out of possibilities. And let’s be clear: If we do not succeed now – and I know I’m raising those stakes – but if we do not succeed now, we may not get another chance.” He has also suggested strongly that there might be a third intifada down the road and that if this peace process doesn’t work, Israel itself could be facing international isolation and boycott. Do you agree with this assessment? Is this the last chance?

OBAMA: Well, look, I’m a congenital optimist. And, obviously, this is a conflict that has gone on for decades. And humanity has a way of muddling through, even in difficult circumstances. So you never know how things play themselves out.

But John Kerry, somebody who has been a fierce advocate and defender on behalf of Israel for decades now, I think he has been simply stating what observers inside of Israel and outside of Israel recognize, which is that with each successive year, the window is closing for a peace deal that both the Israelis can accept and the Palestinians can accept – in part because of changes in demographics; in part because of what’s been happening with settlements; in part because Abbas is getting older, and I think nobody would dispute that whatever disagreements you may have with him, he has proven himself to be somebody who has been committed to nonviolence and diplomatic efforts to resolve this issue. We do not know what a successor to Abbas will look like.

Kerry’s quote represents the fundamental evil of all the peace deals between Israel and the Arabs, possibly with the exception of Jordan. Israel has always been coaxed into accepting these deals not based on the inherent logic of the deal being offered, but on the threat of what would befall it should it refuse to sign.

Yori Yanover

Vive la France

Wednesday, February 12th, 2014

A member of the color guard holds a French flag as President Barack Obama listens to remarks by President François Hollande of France during the State Arrival Ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House, Feb. 11, 2014.

Your assignment is to identify which of the two men in the picture is the president of France.

Some folks would tell you they’re both presidents of France, but only one of them is married to Marie Antoinette.

And now, for your entertainment pleasure, hot off the editing table (actually, it was made in 2013): Vive la France.

Muzafar and Feruz are two good-hearted shepherds from Taboulistan… a tiny country in Central Asia that no one has ever heard of.

In order to bring his country into the international limelight, the son of the Tabouli president decides to try terror “advertising” and entrusts the two shepherds, more naive than evil, with the mission of a lifetime: destroying the Eiffel Tower!

To meet their objective, they have to move through the most hostile territory imaginable: France! A France far different from the West they had heard described: Corsican nationalists, over-zealous policemen, dishonest taxi drivers, violent sports fans, crabby employees, unfriendly waiters, Kafkaesque administrations and medical malpractice… they are spared nothing.

A little Sacha Baron Cohen, but what the heck.

Luckily they meet Marianne, a young and pretty reporter who mistakes them for illegal aliens and helps shows them another face of France… a hospitable, magnificent and generous land where the living is easy. Vive la France!

Yori Yanover

Shouldn’t He Invite them to Sit?

Tuesday, February 4th, 2014

Here’s President Barack Obama talking with Chief of Staff Denis McDonough; Kathryn Ruemmler, Counsel to the President; and Katie Beirne Fallon, Director of Legislative Affairs, in the Oval Office, Jan. 9, 2014.

They were probably talking about very important things.

And it doesn’t look like the president was in a hurry to get up and go someplace else.

So, why didn’t he ask them to sit down?

I’m a huge fan of the West Wing series, and I don’t recall President Josiah Edward “Jed” Bartlet ever letting his staff to remain standing like that during meetings. He always invited them to sit down and be comfortable.

Not this comfortable, though:

cuppacafe.com

cuppacafe.com

Yori Yanover

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/photos/shouldnt-he-invite-them-to-sit/2014/02/04/

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