Friday, September 07, 2012

The Middle East Media Sampler 9/7/2012 Democratic Platform Reflects Obama's True Jerusalem Policy

From DG:

1) Platform diving

Ed Lasky writes that President Obama knew that there was no mention of Jerusalem and still approved the publication of the platform like that.
It was only when blowback occurred that could hurt his political prospects that he stepped forward and inserted the language to assuage critics. 
Furthermore Lasky writes (in agreement with what Shmuel Rosner wrote) that it was likely Robert Wexler who contributed the language about the Middle East.

Rick Richman showed that the administration has a history with Jerusalem:

Initially approving a platform that omitted the prior provisions, and then demonstrating in the process of restoring one of them that the omissions were not inadvertent, is the culmination of a longer process: (1) administration spokespersons who repeatedly refused to identify the capital of Israel; (2) a formal warning to the Supreme Court against even symbolically recognizing Jerusalem as being in Israel on the passports of Americans born there; (c) doctoring pictures on the White House website regarding Vice President Biden’s 2010 visit to “Jerusalem, Israel” (and similar references in State Department documents); and (4) failing to visit Jerusalem despite requests by liberal Israeli columnists, every Jewish Democrat in Congress, friendly rabbis, and the Israeli prime minister.
Related opinion from memeorandum.

In support, In Context shows that the omission of Jerusalem from the platform is historically unique:
Since 1968, with the sole exception of the rather odd platform (more like a manifesto) adopted in 1988, every Democratic party platform has included language similar to that quoted above from 2008.  Note that recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, a point to which every Democratic (or Republican) administration has refused to acquiesce once safely in office, was always explicitly acknowledged.
Seth Mandel observes that what we saw at the convention reflects what is going on in the Democratic Party:
In fact, not only is the Democratic Party divided on Israel, but as Ari Fleischer pointed out on CNN right after the debacle, the Democrats are practically split down the middle on this. He cited a Gallup poll from earlier this year showing that only 53 percent of Democrats—versus 78 percent of Republicans—side with Israel in the Middle East conflict. 
Which leads to a larger point about the issue and the reason the Democrats went into damage control last night: the Democratic Party’s base is pulling it away from Israel. It’s disturbing that only half of Democrats sympathize with Israel, but as yesterday’s events showed, among the base sympathy for Israel is not nearly that high.
It could be concluded that the Obama administration's disinterest in Israel reflects an unfortunate trend within the Democratic party.

2) Bibi blows his stack

I had originally discounted recent reports that Prime Minister Netanyahu had gotten angry with the American ambassador to Israel, Daniel Shapiro in a meeting. Now a third person who was at the meeting confirmed the story. Rep. Mike Rogers, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee told his version of the meeting on a recent radio show. Jeffrey Goldberg reports on the comments in Intelligence Committee Chair Describes Explosive Confrontation Between Netanyahu and American Ambassador. (via memeorandum)
Beckmann then asked: "Is it inaccurate to say it was a shouting match?" Rogers answered: "I can say that there were elevated concerns on behalf of the Israelis." When asked if he had "ever seen that sort of thing before," Rogers answered: "No not that directly. We've had sharp exchanges with other heads of state and in intelligence services and other things, but nothing at that level that I've seen in all my time where people were clearly that agitated, clearly that worked up about a particular issue where there was a very sharp exchange." 
Rogers went on to describe what he understands to be the Israeli frustration, and, apparently, his frustration, with the impact of sanctions: "Here's the problem. ....I support the sanctions. But if you're going to have a hammer you have to have an anvil. You have to have at least a credible threat of a military option. So it's having an effect, yes, it's having an effect on the Iranian economy. It is not impacting their race on enrichment and other things, and that's very very clear." He went on, "I think the Israeli position is, 'Hey, listen, you've got to tell us -- I mean, if you want us to wait' -- and that's what this Administration's been saying, you've gotta wait, you've gotta wait, you've gotta wai -- got that -- 'but then you've gotta tell us when is the red line so we can make our own decisions about should we or shouldn't we stop this particular program." 
And Rogers had harsh words for the Administration, which he says has made it very clear to the Israelis what they shouldn't do, but hasn't delivered a message to the Iranians with the same clarity: "There's a lot of pieces in play on this. But I think again, their frustration is that the Administration hasn't made it very clea -- they've made it very clear to Israel in a public way that they shouldn't do it, but haven't made it very clear to Iran in a public way that there will be tougher action, which could include -- and I argue peace through strength, so you just need to let them understand that that's an option so we can deter them from their program. And right now the Israelis don't' believe that the Administration is serious when they say that all options are on the table, and more importantly neither do the Iranians. That's why the program is progressing."
There has been a tendency (in the New York Times for example) to portray PM Netanyahu (as well as Defense Minister Barak) as overanxious to attack Iran. While Netanyahu certainly comes off as impatient here or at his "wits' end" it seems it is precisely because he's trying to avoid military action. What seems to be motivating Netanyahu is not aggression, but how best to defend his nation. The lack of a clear commitment form the Obama administration has put Netanyahu in an untenable situation.

David Weinberg observes:
In sum, many private agendas are impacting on the Iran debate and not enough people are taking the Iranian threat seriously. Left-wing Israelis eager to isolate Netanyahu and Barak beg to be reassured by the US. Some American Jews seek to distance themselves from Netanyahu and Barak – for fear of being accused again of dragging the US (or of Israel dragging the US) to war, as was the case with Iraq – so they mock Israeli leadership as nuts. Conservatives seek to portray Obama as a weakling for electoral purposes. Obama seeks to deflect attention from the fact that his ineffective diplomacy let the issue slide for the past four years. His defenders are preparing public opinion for a sell-out deal with the Iranians in 2013 that ignores Israel. As I said, everybody is playing kick the can. Meanwhile, the Iranian centrifuges keep spinning…
3) A Kinsleyesque gaffe in Jordan 
A gaffe is when a politician tells the truth - Michael Kinsley
Two months ago in Israel is in good shape, Barry Rubin wrote:
Then there are the surviving regimes – notably Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the five Gulf emirates – who know the main threat to them is from Iran and revolutionary Islamists at home, not Israel. In fact, they realize Israel is a kind of protector for them since it is motivated and able to strike against those who also want to put their heads on the chopping block.
The Centre for Jewish and Israeli Affairs recently reported on a meeting its members held with King Abdullah of Jordan (h/t Elder of Ziyon):
King Abdullah engaged in a very open discussion about the challenges in the region – and in particular, those faced by Jordan. He noted that Jordan was carrying the economic brunt of the conflict in Syria. In particular, Jordan has been overwhelmed with almost 200,000 refugees, with an additional 100,000 expected. The cost – housing, food, school and medical care – is enormous and burdens an economy already strapped for cash, energy and water. We were asked to convey the message that Jordan requires immediate and increased foreign aid and investment in order to meet this challenge. 
Of particular note was the King’s acknowledgment that Israel – which he views as Jordan’s key regional ally – has been highly responsive to his requests in the context of efforts to bring about a resumption of direct talks between Israel and the PA. King Abdullah further expressed the belief that achieving peace on the Israel-Palestinian front will make immeasurably easier the task of confronting other – even existential – challenges facing the region, including the ability to garner support from other Arab nations in relation to the Iranian nuclear threat.
(emphasis added by Elder of Ziyon)

I'm surprised that King Abdullah would acknowledge this. I guess like his father and unlike his Prime Minister, he likes reading Barry Rubin.

4) There's a reason it's not called the Sisterhood

The New York Times recently published a rather negative account of a woman's place in Egypt of the Muslim Brotherhood, Family Life According to the Brotherhood:
Those broader efforts at shaping a conservative religious society, played out over decades by the Brotherhood, were seen as partly responsible for helping elect Mohamed Morsi president in June. At the time, Mr. Morsi, who resigned from the Brotherhood after taking office, gave assurances that he would protect the rights of women and include them in decision making. Less than three months into his presidency, though, Mr. Morsi has not fulfilled a campaign promise to appoint a woman as a vice president. Instead, he named a team of 21 senior aides and advisers last week that included three women.
Many analysts and critics of the Brotherhood see that kind of philosophy, one that gives women independence so long as they maintain their traditional obligations, as effectively constraining women to established gender roles.  
“There is an absence of a well-defined vision, so they use words like ‘religious restrictions,’ ” said Ibrahim el-Houdaiby, a researcher of Islamic movements and a former member of the Brotherhood. “O.K., sure, so what exactly are those restrictions, so we can know them and figure out how to deal with them? As long as we don’t define what those limits are, then we can expand them to the point where women, practically speaking, cannot work.”

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