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October 1, 2016 / 28 Elul, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘presidential’

Brushing Up On The Presidents

Thursday, May 31st, 2012

About a decade ago the Monitor recommended a bunch of books on U.S. presidents and the Middle East and then updated the list a few years later. With interest in the 2012 presidential race heating up, another look at the list seems in order.

These are not necessarily the best presidential biographies but are strong in terms of presidential attitudes and policies toward Israel.

Truman, the Jewish Vote and the Creation of Israel by John Snetsinger (Hoover Institute Press, 1974): In-depth account of the struggle for a Jewish state during the first three years of the Truman presidency. Very strong on how the 1948 presidential election influenced U.S. policy.

A Safe Haven by Allis and Ronald Radosh (Harper, 2009): The most recent addition to the Truman/Israel library, the book makes use of newly released documents but is a little too sympathetic to Truman, whose vacillation on the issue of a Jewish state was punctuated by anti-Semitic outbursts.

Eisenhower and the American Crusades by Herbert S. Parmet (Macmillan, 1972): A thorough look at the Eisenhower administration, with considerable attention paid to the Suez Crisis of 1956. Despite its having been written before the release of many classified Eisenhower-era documents, the book has aged well.

“Let Us Begin Anew”: An Oral History of the Kennedy Presidency by Gerald S. and Deborah Hart Strober (Harper-Collins, 1993): Real inside stuff here; the Strobers interviewed dozens of surviving Kennedy-era officials and opinion-makers who spoke candidly and on the record, many for the first time, on the major issues of the day.

Support Any Friend: Kennedy’s Middle East and the Making of the U.S.-Israel Alliance by Warren Bass (Oxford University Press, 2002): A worthwhile read, though Bass gives Kennedy too much credit for the U.S.-Israel partnership that really began to blossom during the Johnson and Nixon years.

Flawed Giant – Lyndon Johnson and His Times, 1961-1973 by Robert Dallek (Oxford University Press, 1998): The second and concluding volume of an authoritative biography, with the focus here on Johnson’s vice presidential and presidential years.

Nixon: The Triumph of a Politician, 1962-1972 and Nixon: Ruin and Recovery, 1973-1990 by Stephen E. Ambrose (Simon & Schuster, 1989, 1991): Parts two and three of a magisterial three-volume biography of Nixon, with plenty on the evolution of Nixon’s Mideast views.

Nixon: An Oral History of His Presidency by Gerald S. and Deborah Hart Strober (HarperCollins, 1994): The Strobers do for Nixon’s presidency what they did for Kennedy’s (see fifth entry above).

The Presidency of Gerald R. Ford by John Robert Green (University Press of Kansas, 1995): The definitive history of the Ford administration has yet to appear, but this offers a good examination of the Kissinger-Ford Mideast policy.

The Presidency of James Earl Carter, Jr. by Burton I. Kaufman (University Press of Kansas, 1993): As with Ford, a comprehensive history of the Carter presidency has yet to be written; in the meantime, this account touches on all the important points, with interesting details on the Camp David negotiations.

President Reagan: The Role of a Lifetime by Lou Cannon (Simon & Schuster, 1991): A big book by a political reporter who covered Reagan longer than just about anyone else. Reagan: The Man and His Presidency by Gerald S. and Deborah Hart Strober (Houghton Mifflin, 1998): Yet another superb oral history from the Strobers.

George Bush – The Life of a Lone Star Yankee by Herbert S. Parmet (Scribner, 1997): Fair to its subject and rigorously researched, with a detailed account of the Gulf War and the Bush-Baker Mideast policy.

The High Cost of Peace by Yossef Bodansky (Prima, 2002): A smart and informed recounting of how U.S. diplomacy during the administrations of the first President Bush and President Clinton undermined Israel’s security and left the U.S. more vulnerable to Islamic terrorism.

American Presidents, Religion, and Israel: The Heirs of Cyrus by Paul Charles Merkley (Praeger Publishers, 2004): An examination of how the religious backgrounds of American presidents have influenced U.S. foreign policy.

Lost Years by Mark Matthews (Nation Books, 2007): The book’s subtitle – “Bush, Sharon and Failure in the Middle East” – makes the author’s bias clear, but this is a detailed and for the most part objective account of the U.S.-Israel relationship from 2001 through Ariel Sharon’s stroke in 2006.

Jason Maoz

Thousands Protest Egyptian Election Results, Set Ablaze Establishment Candidate’s HQ

Tuesday, May 29th, 2012

Thousands gathered overnight in Tahrir Square, Cairo, to demonstrate against Egypt’s election results which will pit deposed ruler Hosni Mubarak’s last prime minister Ahmed Shafiq against Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohamed Mursi in a runoff election on June 16 and 17, al Ahram reports.

According to Egypt’s Supreme Presidential Electoral Commission (SPEC) officially announced on Monday the results of the first round, with Mohamed Mursi at the head of the pack with 5,764,952 votes, and Ahmed Shafiq second with 5,505,327 votes.

46.42 per cent of eligible voters participated in the first round.

On Monday night, Shafiq’s presidential campaign headquarters in the upscale Dokki neighborhood in Cairo were ransacked and set on fire.

“They seemed to know what they were after and they went directly to the storage rooms and set them on fire using petrol bombs,” Ahmed Abdel Ghani, 30, a member of Shafiq’s campaign, told Reuters.

The main headquarters villa did not burn, but protesters destroyed computers inside.

Graffiti on the wall outside the villa read: “No to Shafiq, no to feloul” (an Arabic word referring to the “remnants” of Mubarak’s era).

“We are sending a message to the Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF) that we will never accept Ahmed Shafiq as our next president. He is the second Mubarak and was even in the Air Force like the ousted leader,” Aly, 24, a pharmacist, told al Ahram. “Personally I think the elections were rigged to put Mursi first, as it would have been a crisis if Shafiq was top – but, make no mistake, Shafiq is the military’s man.”

Soon the number of protesters in the square grew to thousands, led by former presidential contender and a left-wing labour lawyer Khaled Ali, who marched to Talaat Harb Square and around downtown Cairo before coming back to Tahrir Square.

“Smash Shafiq on his head,” the marchers chanted, holding Mubarak’s prime minister’s presidential campaign posters upside down with his face crossed out.

Others chanted “Down with the dogs of the military regime” and called on bystanders in balconies to join them.

One protestor held a poster saying “If Shafiq wins, we are all dead.”

Jacob Edelist

Romney to Meet with Jewish Donors

Thursday, May 24th, 2012

Mitt Romney is meeting with some 30 major Jewish donors to his presidential campaign as part of a “constituents day.”

The former Massachusetts governor and all-but-certain Republican nominee for president, will meet for about an hour with the donors in Boston on Thursday.

A donor who was invited told JTA that the purpose of the meeting would be an exchange of views.

There would be other meetings the same day with other constituent groups, the donor said, confirming reports of the meeting from a number of Jewish community officials.

Romney and President Obama have intensified outreach to Jewish voters and supporters in this presidential election year.

On Monday, the White House hosted some 70 Jewish leaders in a bid to reassure them that the Obama administration was determined to keep Iran from acquiring a nuclear bomb.

JTA

US Strategy: Stop Israel, Not Iran

Monday, May 21st, 2012

On Friday, the NY Times — which often speaks for the Obama Administration — published an article about the ongoing nuclear negotiations with Iran. There is a message between the lines, and it is not very well hidden. Here are a few excerpts with added emphasis, in case it isn’t obvious:

With signs that Iran is under more pressure than it has been in years to make a deal, senior Obama administration officials said the United States and five other major powers were prepared to offer a package of inducements to obtain a verifiable agreement to suspend its efforts to enrich uranium closer to weapons grade…

The major powers’ initial goal is to halt the activity that most alarms Israel: the spinning of thousands of centrifuges to enrich uranium to 20 percent purity, which is within striking distance of the level needed to fuel a nuclear weapon. That would buy time for negotiations…

For President Obama, the stakes are huge. A successful meeting could prolong the diplomatic dance with Tehran, delaying any possible military confrontation over the nuclear program until after the presidential election. It could also keep a lid on oil prices, which fell again this week in part because of the decrease in tensions. Lower gasoline prices would aid the economic recovery in the United States, and Mr. Obama’s electoral prospects…

On Tuesday, the American ambassador to Israel, Daniel B. Shapiro, sought to reassure an Israeli audience that the United States not only was willing to use military force to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon, but had made preparations to do so…

Analysts said it was hard to gauge what kinds of concessions from the Western nations, Russia and China would draw a positive response from Iran, beyond lifting the oil embargo. European officials have suggested that the European Union could suspend a ban on insuring oil tankers that has had a far swifter effect on Iran’s sales elsewhere in the world than originally intended.

There is a lot more, but that is more than enough. Is the message clear? If not, I’ll spell it out:

1. The immediate problem, in the view of the Obama Administration, is that Israel might attack Iran, causing a spike in gas prices in the US and hurting the President’s chances for re-election. The Iranian program itself is a longer-term issue.

2. Anything that can delay a confrontation is ‘good’. Negotiations can be used to stay Israel’s hand, not so much by holding out hope for a solution, but by undercutting support for Israel if she should attack while they are going on.

3. Any kind of agreement with the Iranians, whether or not it is tough enough to be effective, will also isolate Israel if she chooses to attack.

4. The strategy for obtaining agreement, rather than increasing pressure on Iran,  will be to “make concessions,” even reducing those sanctions which have proven effective. Since Iran and the administration have a common interest in preventing an attack, the administration can be hopeful that they will be ‘successful’.

Although the US has stressed that contingency plans for an American raid exist, the Iranians know that nothing short of a public test of a nuclear device could make it happen before the election (even that is uncertain). In the meantime, Iran hopes to push its program to the point that it will be immune to an Israeli attack. The regime is confident that it can stay behind the American red line after that, while still obtaining a capability to assemble weapons in a very short time frame.

Placing concessions on the table before serious negotiations even begin will be read as a sign of weakness. And the P5+1 (US, Britain, France, Russia, China, Germany) demands are below what Israel considers the minimum to guarantee that Iran will not get a weapon. For example, Israel wants the Fordow enrichment facility dismantled, while the P5+1 only asks for activities there to stop. And this is before the hard bargaining.

These negotiations will not enhance Israel’s security. Rather, they will do the opposite. They represent a strategy of appeasement rather than the use of power. What should happen is that the West should deliver a credible ultimatum to fully dismantle the program or face sharply increased sanctions — or, ultimately, military action. Instead, they have chosen to weaken sanctions and to try to remove the only real military threat!

Vic Rosenthal

Ahmadinejad, Putin Outline Prospects for Future Cooperation

Saturday, May 12th, 2012

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has congratulated Russian President Vladimir Putin on his victory in the presidential election, the Kremlin said in a statement on Saturday.

“During a telephone conversation, the two leaders outlined the prospects for future contacts,” the statement read.

According to the Kremlin, Putin and Ahmadinejad expressed readiness to help enhance cooperation between the two countries.

The Iranian news agency MNA reports that Tehran and Moscow have common views on many regional issues, including the crisis engulfing Syria.

The two countries have opposed foreign interference in Syria’s internal affairs and have disapproved of certain countries’ calls for military intervention in Syria.

Russia has also on several occasions expressed support for Iran’s nuclear program.

Jewish Press News Briefs

Elections Bring Egypt to the Edge of Abyss

Sunday, May 6th, 2012

About a year after the fall of Hosni Mubarak’s regime, the crisis in Egypt has brought the country to the edge of abyss.

The political crisis escalated shortly after the Muslim Brotherhood decided to appoint its own candidate for presidency. This decision came after the Brotherhood, together with the Salafists, obtained an overwhelming majority in the Egyptian parliament.

Shortly after this decision it became clear that the Brotherhood and the Supreme Council for the Armed Forces (SCAF), which has governed Egypt since Mubarak’s fall, are not on the same page any more. Their differences involve key issues such as the drafting of a new constitution and the power of the Egyptian parliament.

In addition, negotiations regarding a much needed IMF loan ended without a deal because of lack of political support for acceptance of the IMF conditions.

Another complicating factor is the lack of progress in drafting the new constitution.

Tensions further increased after several presidential candidates, including Khairat al-Shater, the Muslim Brotherhood’s candidate, and Salafist leader Abu Ishmail, were disqualified as presidential candidates.

The disqualified candidates appealed against the decision of the supervisory body of Egypt’s election committee, but their appeals were dismissed. The Muslim Brotherhood then simply appointed a new candidate: Mohammed Mursi, the leader of the Freedom and Justice Party.

Last Wednesday unknown assailants shot dead 11 Salafist protesters in Cairo’s Abbaseya neighborhood. The Salafist protesters demonstrated against the disqualification of Abu Ishmail.

On Friday new clashes broke out in the same neighborhood prompting the army to impose a curfew. Most Egyptian media accused the SCAF of being behind the bloodbath in Abbaseya.

Several political parties, among them the Muslim Brotherhood Freedom and Justice Party, announced new demonstrations in Tahrir Square and decided to boycott meetings with the SCAF.

Constitution

As a result of the increasing violence it seems all but sure that the presidential election, which starts May 24-25, will take place as scheduled.

To complicate matters, Islamists and liberals are demanding that there should first be an agreement on the new constitution before the presidential elections can take place.

The Islamists, who have a large majority in parliament, want to use the new constitution to minimize the power of the new president, and to increase of the power of the Egyptian parliament.

The SCAF recently decided to dissolve the parliamentary committee that was in charge of drafting a new constitution. This decision was made after a disagreement over the composition of the council, which consisted mainly of Islamists, whereas liberals, Copts and women were under-represented.

The SCAF in turn had its own reasons for dissolving the Constitutional Council. In this way it is trying to influence the drafting of the new constitution and the scope of presidential power.

Transfer of power

Both liberals and Islamists fear that the Army will not really transfer all its power to the democratically elected parliament and president.

This distrust is also evident from the recent demonstrations that call for the resignation of the SCAF. During these demonstrations the protesters also demanded that Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi resigns and even called for his execution.

On April 13 for example, Islamists held a mass demonstration in Tahrir Square against members of the Mubarak era, meaning SCAF officials and the now disqualified presidential hopeful Omar Suleiman.

The protesters shouted that the people “will force the Field Marshal (Tantawi) to resign” and that “the remnants of the old regime should be removed.”

Suleiman

Omar Suleiman is the former vice president and director of Egypt’s intelligence service (Muchabarat), who recently signed up as a candidate for the presidency.

Suleiman is considered to be a henchman of Mubarak, and was accused of being an ‘Israeli agent’. He and Mubarak were pictured on placards together with a Star of David.

In turn, in an interview with the Egyptian newspaper Al-Youm Al-Saba’a Suleiman accused Israel of trying to look for reasons to reconquer the Sinai desert.

Disqualification

The April 14th decision by the Election Committee of the Supreme Court to disqualify a large number of presidential candidates has significantly aggravated tensions.

Omar Suleiman was disqualified because he did not have enough signatures from supporters (according to Egyptian law, a presidential candidate must have at least 30,000 signatures).

The Salafist Abu Ismail (al-Nour party) was rejected because his mother was a U.S. citizen (according to Egyptian law, the presidential candidate, his parents and his spouse should all hold Egyptian nationality).

The Muslim Brotherhood’s candidate, Al-Shater, was disqualified because he supposedly had a criminal past.

The disqualifications came at a time when Egypt was already struggling with severe tensions between the various political and religious groups.

The Salafist leader Abu Ishmail even predicted an Islamic revolution if the decision to disqualify him was not reversed.

Economy

Besides the political crisis, there is Egypt’s economic mayhem which has brought the country to the brink of disaster.

Missing Peace

President Obama Declares Jewish American Heritage Month

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012

US President Barack Obama on Tuesday declared May “Jewish American Heritage Month”.

In a ceremony kicking off the month, the president praised Jewish Americans for bearing “hardship and hostility” with the “deep conviction that a better future was within their reach”.

He also noted the achievements and national contribution of Jewish Americans such as Supreme Court Jusice Louis Brandeis, physicist Albert Einstein, and writer and art collector Gertrude Stein.

“Our country is stronger for their contributions, and this month we commemorate the myriad ways they have enriched the American experience,” Obama said.

The first Jewish American Heritage Month occurred during the presidential term of George W. Bush.  It was introduced by Jewish Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D- FL) and passed in December 2005.

In Washington DC, events for Jewish American Heritage Month will take place at the Library of Congress, National Archives, National Gallery of Art, and the US Holocaust Memorial Museum.  Events will also take place in various locations throughout the United States.

Malkah Fleisher

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/president-obama-declares-jewish-american-heritage-month/2012/05/02/

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