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April 23, 2014 / 23 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘U.S.-Israel relationship’

The US-Israel Win-Win Relationship

Sunday, May 12th, 2013

Straight from the Jerusalem Boardroom #179.

While struggling to turn around an expanding (5%) budget deficit, Israel sustains its unique role as a pipeline of commercial, defense and homeland security technologies to the U.S. and the Free World.  Israeli technologies, shared with the U.S. industry, have enhanced the U.S. employment, research & development and exports.

1.  Facebook about to acquire Israel’s Waze for $1BN.  In January, Waze turned down Facebook’s offer of $500MN (Israel Hayom, May 10, 2013). Warren Buffett completed acquisition of Israel’s Iscar – $2BN for the remaining 20% of Iscar.  $4BN were paid for 80% (Globes, May 1).  NYC’s KKR Private Equity acquired (from NYC’s Warburg-Pincus Ventures) 75% of Israel’s Alliance Tires Group for $500MN (Globes, April 15).  Israel’s Prolor was merged into Miami, FL’s Opko for $480MN (Globes, April 25).  San Jose, CA’s Avago Technologies acquired Israel’s Cyoptics for $400MN (Globes, April 12).  China’s Fosun Pharma acquired Israel’s Alma Lasers for $240 Million (TechTime, April 29).  J.P. Morgan sold 21% of Israel’s CaesarStone (held by Israel’s Tene’ Investment Fund) for $170MN, on NASDAQ (Globes, April 15).

2.  Japan’s Sony extends its medical tech investments, investing $10MN in Israel’s Rainbow Medical investment fund, joining prior giant investors: Minnesota’s Medtronic, Illinois’ Abbottand Italy’s Sorin.  Sonny is seeking Israeli acquisitions. Israel is a research & development hub for GE Healthcare, Phillips, Medtronic, Johnson & Johnson, Boston Scientific and Switzerland’s Roche, which have acquired Israeli companies and have invested in scores of Israeli start-ups (Globes, May 9). GE inaugurated a software research & development center in Israel (May 1).

3.  London’s Amadeus Capital led a $17MN round of private placement by Israel’s ClickTale (Globes, May 1).  Israel’s Micronet Enertec raised $8MN on NASDAQ (May 6). Waltham, MA’s Battery Ventures participated in a $6MN first round of private placement by Israel’s FTBpro (Globes, May 9).

4.  The scope of Leviathan’s offshore proven natural gas reserves is larger (19 Trillion Cubic Feet) than expected (17 TCF), according to Yedioth Achronot, May 2).

5.  Israel’s unemployment decrease to 6.5%, during the first quarter in 2013, derives from increased integration – by Arabs and ultra-orthodox Jews – into the job market. The average unemployment rate is 10.9% in the EU, 12.1% in the Euro Bloc and 25% among the youth of the Euro Bloc.

6.  “In January, Intel executive Greg Slater noted that many of his company’s major innovations over the past three decades started in Israel—including the latest ‘Ivy Bridge’ and ‘Sandy Bridge’ microprocessors, which accounted for 40% of Intel revenues in 2011….Microsoft’s founder, Bill Gates, said in 2006 that ‘the innovation going on in Israel is critical to the future of the technology business….’ Scores of major U.S. manufacturers—from General Electric GE to General Motors, GM, Microsoft, IBMGoogle, Apple and others—have R&D centers and technology incubators in Israel…. Israel [contributesto the U.S. economy thousands of skilled professionals, hundreds of joint patent applications, and hundreds of coauthored scientific and technical papers…. (Wall Street Journal, March 21, 2013).”

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The Real Accomplishment

Wednesday, May 1st, 2013

The special relationship between Israel and the U.S. is not a cliché. Polls and in-depth surveys repeatedly show that America relates to Israel positively in the most fundamental way – despite, to the contrary, the tireless efforts of the Jews influencing the New York Times and Haaretz.

We share common values, based on the Bible. America’s Founding Fathers saw their new country as a rebirth of the nation of liberty and its universal message. These common goals should have been the basis for the relationship between Israel and the U.S. “And I will bless those who bless you, and those who curse you shall be cursed,” God says to Abraham. That is the motto of some 80 million American Evangelicals who are convinced that American prosperity is contingent on its significant alliance with Israel. Hardship, they believe, happens when the U.S. takes a stand against Israel.

But instead of reinforcing our status as the eternal People of the Book and the source of American values, we Israelis have chosen to market ourselves as a young nation searching for its place among the established nations and under their patronage. Our relationship with the U.S. has become – through our own volition – a father-son relationship.

American aid, merely 1.5 percent of Israel’s income, is not something Israel really needs. In the long run, it harms us economically, politically and militarily. But our insistence on receiving it stems from a psychological need. When our pocket money continues to roll in from across the ocean, it shows that “Father” is still there and that we are not alone among the nations. When we try to escape from our Father in Heaven, we must look for a weak replica in foreign lands.

This flawed mentality was the source of the “Obamania” that we experienced during President Obama’s recent visit to Israel. Thus, relations that could have been based on shared values were instead based on dependence.

Israel, fleeing its identity and constantly evading open adoption of those common goals, has consistently based its connection with the U.S. on a completely different foundation. The main goal that we touted was our right to self-defense. Instead of the Shrine of the Book and sites that attest to our biblical foundations here in Israel, our honored guests are always taken to the Holocaust Memorial Museum, Yad Vashem. After viewing those horrific images, nobody was supposed to be able to ask any questions. That was good for us; no need to deal with the questions of our identity and the justice of our national existence in this land.

But the Holocaust “lemon” has been completely squeezed out. A new generation has risen in Europe, a generation that is no longer willing to pay for the sins of its predecessors with silence. This generation sees the Palestinians demanding justice as the new Jews, bereft of a homeland, while they view the Israelis who demand security as the new Nazis.

Prime Minister Netanyahu’s insistence on restoring the focal point of Obama’s visit from the Holocaust Museum to our deep historical foundations in Israel; his assertive speech in the U.S. in which he explained that Yad Vashem is not the foundation of our existence; rounding out this approach by bringing President Obama to the Shrine of the Book; the explanation that Obama received there that every Israeli child can read what his forefathers wrote here over 2,000 years ago – were, in my opinion, the most important accomplishments of Obama’s visit.

I was in the Channel 2 studio when Professor Shalom Rosenberg of the Shrine of the Book explained to the viewers what the American president was looking at, at that very moment.

“You don’t have a Palestinian scroll to show him?” I asked, unable to withhold my thought. “Not from 1,000 years ago, not from 100 years ago, or less than that. Nothing?”

The professor shifted his weight uncomfortably.

“This is the most important outcome of Obama’s visit and Netanyahu’s major accomplishment,” I said. “It is not about Obama, but first and foremost about Israeli society that has been trained to see Auschwitz as the justification for our existence.”

Who knows? Maybe next time we will take our visiting VIPs to the altar built by Yehoshua bin Nun on Mount Eval just 40 years after the Exodus from Egypt. The Dead Sea Scrolls are certainly important. But our history in this land does not begin 2,000 years ago. It begins more than 3,300 years ago.

Self-Respect: the Antidote to Foreign Pressure

Wednesday, May 1st, 2013

Sovereign peoples act accordingly, but, ”When you have no self-respect, you cannot expect anybody else will respect you,” as Rabbi David Bar-Hayim of Machon Shilo noted last year concerning Operation Pillar of Defense.

Why did Israel agree to a cease-fire with Hamas in November? Why did it surrender Joseph’s Tomb in 2000 and destroy Gush Katif in 2005? In present day, why has Israel granted terrorist Samer Issawi early release following a hunger strike?

A common response from supporters of Israel is that these decisions result from pressure by the American government. In response to the Palestinian Authority’s current demand for 120 terrorists to be freed, MK Orit Struck (HaBayit HaYehudi) has made a similar claim.

The assertion of American pressure in these contexts is simultaneously valid, irrelevant, and pernicious. Of course different American governments have pressured Israel—all too successfully—to make decisions that endanger citizens’ lives and betray Judaic duties.

But why has American pressure succeeded? To borrow from the national anthem, it is because Israel does not conduct itself as an am chofshi b’artzenu (free people in our Land). Rabbi Bar-Hayim has described the preoccupation with American pressure as “a remnant of the galut [exile]” and elaborates as follows:

The extent to which the Americans can really influence our actions is in my view almost entirely dependent on ourselves. If we give them the reason to believe…that we can be pressured into doing something, they’ll of course do as they wish to do. If we, however, conduct ourselves in such a way by which we make clear to all and sundry that we’re not about to listen to what anyone has to say about what we should do—but rather we’re going to do what we think we should do—I believe in a very short space of time most of these pressures would cease to exist. (See 1:18:10 here.)

Focus on American pressure is pernicious because it evades from holding Israeli leadership accountable for its failure to protect citizens. This often turns into rationalization by way of “explanation”—the “Bibi’s hands were tied by Obama” sort of mentality. The evasive focus on America then perpetuates a state of affairs where Israelis suffer anxiety about mundane activities like children walking to school and driving in fear of lethal rock attacks.

When Israel decides to be a sovereign country in substance and not just name, these disgusting realities will change. Blaming foreigners, however hostile they may be, yields only further self-delusion and suffering.

Obama to Palestinians: Accept the Jewish State

Thursday, March 28th, 2013

One key shift in U.S. policy was overlooked in the barrage of news about Barack Obama’s eventful fifty-hour visit to Israel last week. That would be the demand that Palestinians recognize Israel as the Jewish state, called by Hamas leader Salah Bardawil ”the most dangerous statement by an American president regarding the Palestinian issue.”

First, some background: Israel’s founding documents aimed to make the country a Jewish state. Modern Zionism effectively began with the publication in 1896 of Theodor Herzl’s book, Der Judenstaat (“The Jewish State”). The Balfour Declaration of 1917 favors “a national home for the Jewish people.” U.N. General Assembly resolution 181 of 1947, partitioning Palestine into two, mentions the termJewish state 30 times. Israel’s Declaration of Establishment of 1948 mentions Jewish state 5 times, as in “we … hereby declare the establishment of a Jewish state in Eretz-Israel, to be known as the State of Israel.”

Because of this tight connection, when Arab-Israeli diplomacy began in earnest in the 1970s, the Jewish state formulation largely disappeared from view; everyone simply assumed that diplomatic recognition of Israel meant accepting it as the Jewish state. Only in recent years did Israelis realize otherwise, as Israeli Arabs came to accept Israel but reject its Jewish nature. For example, an important 2006 publication from the Mossawa Center in Haifa, The Future Vision of Palestinian Arabs in Israel, proposes that the country become a religiously neutral state and joint homeland. In brief, Israeli Arabs have come to see Israel as a variant of Palestine.

Awakened to this linguistic shift, winning Arab acceptance of Israel no longer sufficed; Israelis and their friends realized that they had to insist on explicit Arab acceptance of Israel as the Jewish state. In 2007, Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert announced that unless Palestinians did so, diplomacy would be aborted: “I do not intend to compromise in any way over the issue of the Jewish state,” he emphasized. The Palestinian Authority immediately and unanimously rejected this demand. Its head, Mahmoud Abbas, responded: “In Israel, there are Jews and others living there. This we are willing to recognize, nothing else.”

Only six weeks ago, Abbas again blasted the Jewish state concept. The Palestinian rejection of Jewish statehood could not be more emphatic. (For a compilation of their assertions, see “Recognizing Israel as the Jewish State: Statements” at DanielPipes.org).

When Benjamin Netanyahu succeeded Olmert as prime minister in 2009, he reiterated this demand as a precondition to serious negotiations: “Israel expects the Palestinians to first recognize Israel as a Jewish state before talking about two states for two peoples.” The Palestinians not only refused to budge but ridiculed the very idea. Again, Abbas: “What is a ‘Jewish state?’ We call it the ‘State of Israel.’ You can call yourselves whatever you want. But I will not accept it. … It’s not my job to … provide a definition for the state and what it contains. You can call yourselves the Zionist Republic, the Hebrew, the National, the Socialist [Republic] call it whatever you like, I don’t care.”

American politicians, including both George W. Bush and Obama, have since 2008 occasionally referred to Israel as the Jewish state, even as they studiously avoided demanding Palestinians to do likewise. In a typical declaration, Obama in 2011 sketched the ultimate diplomatic goal as “two states for two people: Israel as a Jewish state and the homeland for the Jewish people and the State of Palestine as the homeland for the Palestinian people.”

That sentence breaks important new ground and cannot readily be undone. It also makes for excellent policy, for without such recognition, Palestinian acceptance of Israel is hollow, indicating only a willingness to call the future state they dominate “Israel” rather than “Palestine.” Then, in his Jerusalem speech last week, Obama suddenly and unexpectedly adopted in full the Israeli demand: “Palestinians must recognize that Israel will be a Jewish state.”

While not the only shift in policy announced during Obama’s trip (another: telling the Palestinians not to set preconditions for negotiations), this one looms largest because it starkly contravenes the Palestinian consensus. Bardawil may hyperbolically assert that it “shows that Obama has turned his back to all Arabs” but those ten words in fact establish a readiness to deal with the conflict’s central issue. They likely will be his most important, most lasting, and most constructive contribution to Arab-Israeli diplomacy.

Originally published at the Washington Times and Danielpipes.org, MArch 26, 2013.

A Quick Analysis of Obama’s Trip

Sunday, March 24th, 2013

What a far cry he is from his former pastor, Jeremiah Wright. I cannot think of two more opposite ends of the pole with respect to their views on Israel and the Jewish people. The President has already amply shown his support for us in both word and deed. Financially, militarily and in the world of intelligence cooperation. That is old news. But with this visit he exceeded even my own optimistic expectations.

The President’s visit to Israel ended this morning as he continues on to Jordan. But he has left behind a far better understanding between himself and Israelis… and dare I say even many Jewish people who have been skeptical about his true support – suspect of his underlying motives. Unless one is completely detached from reality, I don’t see how anyone can come away with anything but appreciation for what the President has done and what he has further committed to.

I have been paying pretty close attention to what he has been saying over the last couple of days. I am now convinced that he understands what Israel is all about. He understands the biblical connection and the millennia of yearning to return to our homeland. Up until now that was not clear. He also still recognizes the additional imperatives of Israel as a Jewish homeland because of the Holocaust. Where ‘Never Again’ can be worked upon with the freedom it requires.

The President understands our need for security as well as anyone. He knows that Israel is surrounded by enemies that would destroy her if they could. He recognizes that many countries in the world unfairly criticize Israel. And perhaps most importantly, he recognizes that any peace deal must be predicated on security. One cannot move forward without insisting upon it.

He also recognizes the amazing contrasts of our ancient biblical homeland and its modern contributions to humanity in medicine, science and technology; business and the arts. Israel has given the world 10 Nobel Prize laureates.

He respects Judaism and has even incorporated a Pesach Seder into the White House. Not that it is an entirely Halachic Seder. But that he knows enough about it to think it a valuable addition to the White House and its message of freedom as a lesson for his daughters to experience.

There are those who might cynically say that he says and does all of this just to get Jewish support. But I truly believe that is not his reason. I think he is genuine in his expression of appreciation – and even admiration for the Jewish people and the State of Israel.

And yet there are those who still compare the President to his former Pastor, Jeremiah Wright. How, they say, could he be a part of that church for so many years and not share Wright’s negative extremist views of both Israel and the Jewish people?

I can’t answer that question. But I do not have scintilla of doubt in my mind. He does not share those views. He truly repudiates them. Those who somehow still think he does must have a mental block against reality when it comes to him. I can only speculate why… and won’t attempt to do so here.

The issues I did have with him in the past have mostly disappeared on this trip. I did not think he had any warm feelings for Israel… and that his support was based on an intellectual understanding of “the right thing to do.” Which is one reason why I supported Romney in the last election. I felt his relationship with Israel was a much warmer one.

The President’s cool relationship with Prime Minister Netanyahu bothered me too. But I no longer feel that way. The relationship between the two leaders seems to have improved considerably. I never thought the two hated each other. But it seems from this visit that they might even like each other.

Not only that, but their positions on key issues are either identical or very close to it. They are on the same page with respect to Syria. They are nearly on the same page with respect to Iran. The President even went a step further than he has in the past supporting Israel’s right to act unilaterally against Iran. He understands that Israel’s proximity to Iran plus the constant threats to wipe it off the map pose a far more immediate and greater danger to Israel than the lesser but very real danger it poses to U.S. and the rest of the world.

Even his position opposing the settlements seems to have moderated a bit. Although he still opposes them – he seemed to understand the need for construction within established areas due to natural growth. His criticism in this respect was mild, but understandable as he still sees it as an obstacle to peace.

But he also understands that a bigger obstacle is the security that Israel requires before any peace deal can be achieved. A security that is far from being realized at the moment. The “Arab Spring” has toppled old despotic regimes but has caused instability. Egypt, the largest Arab nation has been replaced by Islamists far less sympathetic to Israel than the previous Egyptian government. That lessens – rather than increases security.

Barack Obama seeks peace in that region. He correctly says that peace is ultimately the only real way to achieve security. And he has repeatedly emphasized that to Israeli and Palestinian leaders. He also correctly says that there are many Palestinians who reject the violence of Hamas et al and their supporters. He feels that Abbas would be a partner for peace. I agree with him. Not that Abbas wouldn’t rather take over all of Israel and expel all the Jews if he could. But he knows he can’t. He is a realist. I think he would make peace if Hamas et al were not ‘players’ interested in undermining that goal.

My only difference with the President is that the religious fanaticism that has been driving much of the Arab Spring and has democratically elected an Islamist government in Egypt. It is the dominant force in the Middle East. Syria, Iran, Egypt, Gaza… all those places are governed and mostly populated by religious fanatics whose fanaticism outweighs common sense. Just yesterday in Syria 42 people were killed by a suicide bomber whose target was a cleric that supported Assad. Suicide bombers are what Israel sees when they think about security issues.

One cannot make peace with a realist like Abbas when the religious fanatics are in control. Increasingly so it seems. So the President’s idea about taking chances for peace are at best wishful thinking. But I agree with him in principle. If we could eliminate the Islamist terror, I think we could – and would – make peace very quickly. As of now. It is at best a pipe dream.

I wouldn’t be surprised if the President even understood that deep down – and only advocates “taking chances for peace” for political reasons. Secretary of State, John Kerry’s upcoming trip to “restart” peace negotiations is probably not going to produce anything. But it will at least send a message that the U.S. is trying.

The bottom line for me is that after this visit, the President leaves no doubt in my mind that he is a true friend of Israel and the Jewish people. Perhaps the best friend Israel has ever had. And I didn’t even vote for him. But I also know that there are those who refuse to believe it… and that they will always see him in a negative light.

Which is too bad. I think he deserves Hakoras HaTov for what he’s done, and what he has promised to do. Israel recognized that and that is why they presented him the Presidential Medal of Distinction – Israel’s highest honor… the first sitting President in history to ever receive it.

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Palestinians to US: We Hate You, So Please Pay Us More

Sunday, March 24th, 2013

Originally published at the Gatestone Institute.

The anti-U.S. protests that erupted in Gaza and areas under Palestinian Authority rule before and during President Barack Obama’s serve as a reminder that many Palestinians continue to loathe the U.S., primarily because of its support for Israel.

But U.S. support for Israel is not the only reason why such a large number of Palestinians — as well as Arabs and Muslims — hate the Americans with such intensity.

Palestinians who took to the streets during the week to protest against Obama’s visit chanted slogans not only against him personally, but also in denunciation of U.S. policies and actions toward the Arabs and Muslims.

In Ramallah, for instance, hundreds of Muslim fundamentalists chanted slogans condemning the U.S. for “perpetrating massacres and atrocities” against Muslims in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“America is the number one enemy of Islam and Muslims,” speakers at the anti-U.S. rally in Ramallah declared.

Palestinian Authority policemen, who are trained and funded by the U.S. and other Western countries, did not intervene even as the extremists also started criticizing the leaders of the Palestinian Authority for agreeing to meet with the “infidel” Obama.

Palestinian demonstrators in Bethlehem, who trampled on Obama’s pictures and sprayed Nazi swastikas over them before setting them on fire, also explained that they were protesting not only against U.S. support for Israel, but also Washington’s general attitude toward Arabs and Muslims.

“The Americans are the enemies of the Arabs and Muslims,” shouted a Palestinian activist standing near Manger Square. “The Americans do only what the Jews tell them to do and that is why they are against all Arabs and Muslims.”

The strong sentiments against Israel and the U.S. expressed by Palestinians are the direct result of decades of indoctrination and incitement.

Like the rest of the Arab and Islamic countries, Palestinians have been told that the U.S. is the “Great Satan” and number one enemy of all Arabs and Muslims.

Palestinians have been told by their media, leaders and mosque preachers that the U.S. is “controlled by evil Jews” who seek to humiliate Arabs and Muslims on behalf of the “Zionist Project.”

Many Arabs and Muslims hate the U.S. because it stands in the way of fulfilling their dream of destroying Israel. Without U.S. backing for Israel, they believe, the Israelis would not be able to survive for one day in the Middle East.

Today it is almost impossible to find one Palestinian who trusts the U.S. and believes it can act as an honest broker in the Middle East.

Even senior Palestinian officials in Ramallah said — in private briefings this week – that the U.S. has lost its credibility as an honest broker.

Still, much of the hate on the Palestinian street was also directed toward Obama personally. In this regard, Obama can only blame himself for the reason why he has become a hated figure in the Arab and Islamic countries.

Obama’s famous Cairo speech at the beginning of his first term in office created the impression among many Arabs and Muslims that this U.S. president was “one of ours” and would do everything they expected from him, including forcing Israel to make unimaginable concessions.

But as Obama has failed to rise to their expectations, Arabs and Muslims are condemning him as a Zionist agent and an enemy of Islam.

Now that Obama has chosen Israel as the first country to visit at the beginning of his second term, he should expect more anger and hatred from Arabs and Muslims. His statements upon his arrival, in which he repeated U.S. support for Israel, have already drawn strong condemnations from Palestinians.

But then one wonders: If Palestinians hate Obama and the U.S. so much, why not just boycott his visit and refrain from talking to any representative of the U.S. government?

The answer is simple. Palestinians badly need U.S. money. They know the U.S. will never endorse all of their demands or cut off its ties with Israel. Yet they will continue to ask for U.S. money, largely because their Arab brothers have turned their backs on them and are refusing to help.

The U.S., of course, will continue to shower hundreds of millions of dollars on the Palestinian Authority. In return, Palestinians will continue to harbor hatred for the U.S.

Obama’s Call for Protest in Israel

Sunday, March 24th, 2013

President Obama’s visit to Israel, and particularly his speech to 500 university students, was a winner at many levels including one he probably had not even considered. In how many countries can the President of the United States call forth the passions of the local people and have confidence that he is calling forth the “better angels”? He did it in Israel.

The President touched on deeply felt emotions for Israelis, worked hard at erasing the faux pas of relating Israel’s national origins to the Holocaust, twice declined to call Israeli settlements “illegal” while standing next to P.A. leader Mahmoud Abbas, and he praised Israeli technology, ingenuity, democracy and culture. Remarking on the upheaval in the Arab world he said, “So much of what people in the region are seeking is happening here [Israel].”

Yes, that is something he should have said in Cairo or Ramallah. And yes, he called for a “two state solution” that has little chance of success. And yes, yes, he made false analogies between Palestinians and Israelis. And yes, yes, yes, he called Abbas, whose single elected term expired in 2009 and who has been increasingly repressive and willing to incite against Israel and the U.S., a “partner.” And no, Israel cannot “reverse an undertow of isolation,” that is generated by other people in other lands who do not accept that, at the end of any “peace process,” Israel will still exist.

But okay. Those are things that should have been and were expected from President Obama. It was also expected that he would encourage his youthful, carefully selected, leftish college student audience to push the rightish government of Israel to do what he could not convince Prime Minister Netanyahu to do. He directly asked the audience to pressure its government.

In full campaign mode, Mr. Obama told them:

Speaking as a politician, I can promise you this: political leaders will not take risks if the people do not demand that they do. You must create the change that you want to see. (People can) overcome a legacy of mistrust that they inherited from their parents… Your voices must be louder than the extremists who would drown them out. Your hopes must light the way forward.

That is a call to protest, to political insurrection. The interesting part is that he assumed igniting a political firestorm in Israel would have a positive effect.

Unspoken — maybe because the President had not expressly thought it — was that if young Israelis “do it,” if they “create the change they want to see,” what they create will be a force for good. He assumed without saying it that the voices they would raise would be voices for peace. He assumed without saying it that Israeli hopes are hopes for peace. And he is right, although it should be said that hopes for peace reside all along the Israeli political spectrum. Those of the right want peace no less than those of the left; they just have different levels of skepticism.

But what if it is not peace in the hearts of the people, but something malign?

Mr. Obama referenced his Cairo speech to the Israelis:

Four years ago, I stood in Cairo in front of an audience of young people. Politically, religiously, they must seem a world away. But the things they want — they’re not so different from you. The ability to make their own decisions; to get an education and a good job; to worship God in their own way; to get married and have a family. The same is true of the young Palestinians that I met in Ramallah this morning, and of young Palestinians who yearn for a better life in Gaza. That is where peace begins — not just in the plans of leaders, but in the hearts of people.

Certainly the beginning of the Arab uprising in Tunis and in Tahrir Square was focused on jobs and justice (although not on “peace” with Israel or anyone else). But the result was not the flowering of education, work and peaceful relations. It was the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood, violence and the collapse of the Egyptian economy. And clearly many of the Brotherhood’s supporters are young Egyptians. Intolerance for Egypt’s Coptic citizens and the increasing violence in several cities attest to the dangers of calling for changes in or of government. Without wanting a return to the repression of the old government, it is safe to say that the revolution did not bring forth a better one.

Obama Visit ‘Strangles’ Israel

Wednesday, March 20th, 2013

Hundreds of thousands of Israelis will be adversely affected by United States President Barack Hussein Obama’s visit to Israel.  The Israeli media and political bigwigs may be all gaga with excitement, but most other Israelis are filled with total dread.  The main road from Ben Gurion International Airport a.k.a. Natbag (Ben Gurion Airport) will be closed for hours today and when he finally leaves.

The King David Hotel has been brimming with activity, getting dozens of suites ready for the “royal” entourage; the 15,000-strong police detail is gearing up to guard against security breaches; streets and highways are being cleared of cars and closed off; the foreign press is descending en masse from all corners of the globe and provided space in which to set up their computers, microphones, and cameras; the local media have been promoting the coverage they will devote to the hot event; menus are being planned, speeches crafted, and the newly crowned Miss Israel — an immigrant from Ethiopia — is excitedly awaiting the gala dinner at President Shimon Peres’ house, where she will be introduced to her counterpart, Mr. America.

And all this is in spite of Obama’s decision not to address the Knesset. Indeed, he claimed that the purpose of this trip was to “connect with the people.”

To this end, the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv invited college students from around the country to submit essays on why they should be selected to attend the president’s large-scale “meet and greet” at the Jerusalem Convention Center. Given Obama’s insistence on being surrounded by sycophants, one can only imagine the syrupy content of the chosen applications. One can also figure out why Ariel University students were told they may not enter the competition. (Ruthie Blum)

Many, many Jerusalem roads will be closed off periodically during the too long visit, as will roads going from his hotel, The King David, which is in the center of Jerusalem, to all of the various buildings he’ll be entering in addition to the south of Jerusalem when he goes to a from Bethlehem and the north of Jerusalem when he goes to Ramallah.  And that Ramallah visit means that the large, normally bustling commercial-industrial center Sha’ar Binyamin will be closed off from its only access road.

This visit, on the Eve of the Passover Holiday is so horrendously timed that all involved would be totally condemned for their incompetent thoughtlessness and selfishness.  I know that I have been blogging an awful lot about it issue, but I’m not exaggerating one iota.

We Jews are an ancient and distinguished people.  We should have the confidence to remember that.  We also must remember that our help and salvation comes from God Almighty, not from the United States.

What is the theme of Passover?

עבדים היינו לפרעה במצרים, עתה בני חורין Avodim hayinu liparoah bamitzrayim, atoh bnei chorin We were slaves to Pharaoh in Egypt; now we’re free men

Yes, that’s it in a nutshell.  It’s derived from the Bible,

Deuteronomy Chapter 6 דְּבָרִים. This is the time we’re supposed to remember that everything, including the State of Israel, our security, economic success and more are the gifts from God.  There is no human who can save us or help us.  This Obama-worship is a danger to the Nation, the People of Israel.

Davka, now on the Eve of Passover we should be remembering that our salvation will come only from God, not the President of the United States.

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