Sunday, May 22, 2011

Sampler Of More Fallout From Obama's Mideast Speech 05/22/2011

From an email from DG:
1) Deja Vu

The NYTimes in an inspired move has reprinted a Benjamin Netanyahu op-ed from 1993, Peace in our Time

What will happen when terrorists attack Israelis in Jerusalem and return to nearby P.L.O. land? Or fire rockets from hills above Tel Aviv? The Israeli Army will have no right to enter the territory and root them out. This, believe it or not, is the "internal" responsibility of Yasir Arafat.
Astonishingly, this bizarre proposal that would result in Lebanese-style terror havens alongside Israel's cities was negotiated without carefully consulting Israel's military command. Deputy Chief of Staff Amnon Shahak was first shown the plan only minutes before it was brought to the Cabinet for approval. Chief of Staff Ehud Barak confesses that it poses "grave security problems" for Israel.
I can't believe that the motivation was "look how prescient he was."

2) Who idea was it?

Jackson Diehl wrote the other day that it was largely the President's idea to include mention of the Israeli-Palestinian issue in his Arab Spring speech. Articles last week also speculated about who was the dominant foreign policy voice in the administration - with the Wall Street Journal reporting that the State Department under Secretary of State Clinton was the primary voice the President listened to. The Washington Post reported last week:

Advisers describe one camp, led by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, arguing for Obama to set out a specific set of principles to resolve the conflict, including setting final borders, dividing Jerusalem and finessing the emotional question of whether Palestinian refugees should have the right to return to homes inside Israel....A more general statement would mark a victory for national security adviser Thomas E. Donilon and Vice President Biden, who have long professional histories with Middle East adviser Dennis B. Ross, a veteran of the Clinton administration’s peace efforts.Ross favors giving Israel more time to assess the region’s changing politics before adding new pressure to return to negotiations.
Now a new article by the same reporter, Scott Wilson breaks things down differently:
In choosing to outline his position on future borders but not on the more emotionally charged issues of dividing Jerusalem or resettling Palestinian refugees, Obama opted for a middle ground between those who advocated for a specific blueprint for peace and those who favored giving Israel more time. 
Among those in the former camp were Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who phoned Netanyahu before Obama’s speech to tell him what the president would say — and received an angry response. Others, such as Middle East adviser Dennis Ross and national security adviser Thomas E. Donilon, argued that Obama should generally encourage both parties to return to the negotiating table.
Not only does this put Clinton on the same page as Ross and Donilon, she also leaked the information to Netanyahu. If she hadn't ruled out challenging President Obama, one would think that she wanted this information out to boost her standing with the pro-Israel community. But why would she want anyone to know that she had given Netanyahu a heads up? Seems like not such a team player. 
(Note: I misread the latter and understood (incorrectly) that contrary to the previous report, the Secretary of State had agreed with Ross and Donilon. I went so far as to suggest that Secretary of State Clinton revealed the President's inclusion of the 1967 lines to Netanyahu as a way of drumming up support in the pro-Israel community.)

After carefully re-reading the paragraph, I see that just as before it was Clinton's advice to include specific ideas about the peace process in the speech. Clearly then she was informing Netanyahu at the President's behest. 
I'm sorry for my careless reading and subsequent mistakes)
Republicans see a chance to press their advantage.
In a statement, Sen. Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah) said he would introduce a congressional resolution next week “disapproving the president’s new policy towards Israel.” Hatch said the resolution would “affirm Israel’s right to maintain its territorial integrity.”
The article mentions that Jews have a 65% favorable rating of the President. I wish they'd given the American preference for Israel. Though the article suggests that the President could lose Jewish support because of his stand. But Israel is an American issue not strictly a Jewish issue.

Nice to see Wilson take the J-Street ideology as fact:
While in town, Netanyahu will attend the American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s annual convention. For the first time, Obama will also speak to AIPAC, the conservative pro-Israel lobby, in an address scheduled for Sunday.
Current president of AIPAC is Lee Rosenberg, who supported President Obama. How does that make AIPAC "conservative."

The New York Times underscored singled out Ross in a post meeting article. Co-written by anti-Israel reporter, Helene Cooper, the Times informs us:

Five days ago, during a closed-door meeting with a group of Middle East experts, administration officials, and journalists, King Abdullah II of Jordan gave his assessment of how Arabs view the debate within the Obama administration over how far to push Israel on concessions for peace with the Palestinians
From the State Department, “we get good responses,” the Jordanian king said, according to several people who were in the room. And from the Pentagon, too. “But not from the White House, and we know the reason why is because of Dennis Ross” — President Obama’s chief Middle East adviser. 
Mr. Ross, King Abdullah concluded, “is giving wrong advice to the White House.”
Subtlety is not the strength of this article as it is titled Obama’s Peace Tack Contrasts With Key Aide, Friend of Israel. I guess that means if he's pro-Israel (with dual loyalties) he's against peace.

This isn't the first time that Ross has been smeared (inaccurately, I think) as being too pro-Israel to be effective. Early on in the Obama administration, there was a whispering campaign against Ross that I blogged about here. Roger L Simon noted this too.

3) A couple of short takes

Instapundit is great at using simple sentences to explain big ideas. 

“The larger problem is Obama’s failure to distinguish properly between friends and enemies.”
So is Don Surber:

Message to the world: America Cannot Be Trusted.
Plus, lots of stuff and memeorandum.

4) Washington 2 President Obama 0

In an editorial the Washington Post writes (h/t Omri Ceren):

Mr. Obama should have learned from his past diplomatic failures — including his attempt to force a freeze on Jewish settlements in the West Bank — that initiating a conflict with Israel will thwart rather than advance peace negotiations. He may also be giving short shrift to what Mr. Netanyahu called “some basic realities.” The president appears to assume that Mr. Abbas is open to a peace deal despite growing evidence to the contrary. And while he acknowledges that it is “very difficult” to expect Israel “to negotiate in a serious way” with a party — Hamas — that rejects its existence, Mr. Obama has been vague about what the Palestinians must do to resolve this concern.
The Washington Times systematically rebukes the President using his own words (h/t Omri again)

In 2008, Mr. Obama also told AIPAC, “We must isolate Hamas unless and until they renounce terrorism, recognize Israel’s right to exist and abide by past agreements. There is no room at the negotiating table for terrorist organizations.” In his speech Thursday, Mr. Obama simply reframed this deadly issue as a rhetorical question: “How can one negotiate with a party that has shown itself unwilling to recognize your right to exist?” For its part, Hamas called Thursday’s speech “a complete failure,” which lends some clarity to Mr. Obama’s philosophical musing.

5) Is there another worry?

Greg Sargent quotes Abraham Foxman to defend the President.

Foxman added that all the noise over that one sentence could distract from the fact that much of the speech was positive for Israel. “He said a lot of good things,” Foxman said. “All these things were overshadowed by one phrase. And even that, he put in context.”
“I see a lot of positive,” Foxman concluded. “I see changes in American understanding.”
I don't think that Sargent writes about foreign policy much. However he was a member of Journolist, and the Journolist crowd would usually have praised President Obama for putting Netanyahu in his place. (Like what Roger Cohen did.) I'm wondering if Sargent is covering for the President to prevent a significant loss of Jewish support.

6) Remember Cleveland?

In 2008, candidate Obama said in Cleveland:

"Because of the pressure that Israel is under, I think the U.S. pro-Israel community is sometimes a little more protective or concerned about opening up that conversation," he said. He added at another point: "There is a strain within the pro-Israel community that says unless you adopt a unwavering pro-Likud approach to Israel that you're anti-Israel, and that can't be the measure of our friendship with Israel."
Ed Lasky referred to this as Obama's coming out party.

For all the reporting on the tension between President Obama and PM Netanyahu, there hasn't been any mention (I've seen) of this statement. The election of a Likud PM would necessarily cause friction with Obama. (I think that President Obama would be nearly as frustrated with Tzippi Livni if she had been able to form the coalition in 2009.)

The absurdity of this is that Likud now is much different now from what it was in 1987, or even 1993 - a point recently driven home by Elder of Ziyon. But even if Likud is moderating, Fatah is not. Read Barry Rubin's assessment of the latest Fatah central committee elections (from 2009). Israel has become more moderate; the Palestinians are becoming harder line; and yet for much of the media, academic, political and diplomatic elites, it is Israeli intransigence that blocks a peaceful solution in the Middle East.

7) Dore Gold and JCPA

Dore Gold has an op-ed in the WSJ:

If the borders between Israel and the Palestinians need to be negotiated, then what are the implications of a U.N. General Assembly resolution that states up front that those borders must be the 1967 lines? Some commentators assert that all Mr. Abbas wants to do is strengthen his hand in future negotiations with Israel, and that this does not contradict a negotiated peace. But is that really true? Why should Mr. Abbas ever negotiate with Israel if he can rely on the automatic majority of Third World countries at the U.N. General Assembly to back his positions on other points that are in dispute, like the future of Jerusalem, the refugee question, and security? 
Dr. Gold's organization, Defensible Borders has put together a package of papers and videos explaining Israel's security needs.

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