Thursday, January 31, 2008

The Latest Threats From Iran & Reactions Inspired By The Ostrich

Yesterday Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadenijad, speaking in Bushehr, where an Iranian nuclear facility is expected to come on line in October, promised Israel's "imminent demise". Oh, he didn't use the name Israel, which Iran refuses to recognize, but rather referred to the "filthy Zionist entity". Here's some of what Ahmadinejad had to say:
"...abandon the filthy Zionist entity, which has reached the end of the line.


...stop supporting the Zionists, as [their] regime reached its final stage. Accept that the life of Zionists will sooner or later come to an end. What we have right now is the last chapter [of Israeli atrocities] which the Palestinians and regional nations will confront and eventually turn in Palestine's favor.


It has lost its reason to be and will sooner or later fall. The ones who still support the criminal Zionists should know that the occupiers' days are numbered."
That last bit is a threat aimed at the United States, of course.

Yet thanks to a National Intelligence Estimate that contradicts Israeli intelligence reports, the Bush administration is pretty much ignoring Iran these days. Certainly action in this election year now seems highly improbable at best. Prime Minister Olmert, who has been singularly responsive to U.S. pressure to act or not act based on American interests, seems unlikely to do anything about the Iranian nuclear program in general or Bushehr in particular.

For the first time in a long time I'm wondering if aliya really is a good idea. Yes, I'd like to live in Israel. I have no desire to die there in a nuclear holocaust anytime soon. Right now both American and Israeli policy towards Iran seems to have been inspired by the ostrich: ignore Ahmadenijad and maybe the problem will go away. It won't.

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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Republican Presidents Haven't Been All That Good For Israel

I originally wrote this in somewhat different form as a comment rebutting Tom's post on Blogs of Zion claiming that electing a Democratic President this fall would be "trouble" for Israel. History, including very recent history, suggests otherwise. It's also dangerous to take one statement out of context and assume that all of the Democratic party ascribes to far left positions. Anyway, here is my rebuttal in edited form:

Traditionally Democrats have been far better than Republicans for Israel, the sole exception in my lifetime being Jimmy Carter. The only Republican President who was a true friend of Israel was Richard Nixon. Dwight Eisenhower forced the return of Gaza in 1956 which directly led to another war. George H.W. Bush froze loan guarantees to Israel in 1992, a move repeated by the current President Bush in 2003. I could write a whole book on how President Bush has pushed Israel into actions contrary to the Israeli national interest. The latest NIE report is an example of the James Baker school of foreign policy. Who can forget Mr. Baker’s comment: “F-ck the Jews, they don’t vote for us anyway.” Both Secretary of State Rice and Secretary of Defense Gates are Baker proteges. At least Prime Minister Sharon had the backbone to remind this President that Israel cannot be treated the way Czechoslovakia was in 1938. Prime Minister Olmert lacks the backbone to do even that.

The anti-Israel view Tom describes as belonging to “the left” only belongs to the far left. Most Democratic leaders strongly support Israel. Since neither Dennis Kucinich nor Mike Gravel will win the nomination you probably have nothing to fear from a Democrat.

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OK, Make That Hillary Clinton For President

Today two friends of Israel, John Edwards and Rudolph Giuliani, dropped out of the race for the White House. Senator Edwards was the only candidate I really felt good about -- one I would vote for because I believe he'd make an excellent President, just not that he'd be less of a disaster than the opposing candidate. Mayor Giuliani was the only Republican in the race that wasn't totally unpalatable to me. There are a lot of Giuliani's positions that I'm uncomfortable with but from the Republican field he was the best available.

Of the choices remaining I have no doubt that Senator Hillary Clinton would make the best President. She is a two term U.S. Senator with what I consider an excellent voting record on the issues important to me. If I go by issues and not personality or campaign style there is no question that she has the qualifications and experience to be President. I don't believe the same can be said for Senator Obama.

The number one key issue to me is support for the State of Israel. I believe anyone who doesn't understand Israel's importance to the United States as a strategic ally in the Middle East doesn't have much of a clue about foreign policy. Since entering the Senate Hillary Clinton has been a steadfast supporter of Israel. She admitted early in her first term that it wasn't always so and many on the right will never forgive her for a certain meeting and photo op with Suha Arafat when she was First Lady. Senator Clinton claimed after entering the Senate that studying the issues in the Middle East forced her to alter her position. Whether that change was heartfelt or a political necessity for a Senator from New York I simply can't say. I can say that her voting record, her speeches since then, and her actions show that she understands the importance of Israel now. Once again, I am not sure I can say the same of Barack Obama. There isn't much of a record there.

Perhaps in four or eight years I'll be convinced that Senator Obama is ready for the Presidency. Perhaps then I will look at his record and extol his virtues. I can't do that yet and in a dangerous world we need an experienced leader. Senator Hillary Clinton is the best remaining candidate with the credentials to be that leader.

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Thursday, January 17, 2008

John Edwards On Gaza

The following is from the Vice Presidential debate between Vice President Dick Cheney and Senator John Edwards on October 5, 2004. Senator Edwards made perhaps the best, most concise, clearest defense of the Israeli government and it's fight against terror. He did so during an IDF incursion into Gaza which drew major international criticism, a situation which is being repeated now. This first appeared in this blog on October 6, 2004. Current events demonstrate that nothing has changed in the last four years and that Senator Edwards ' statement is as timely now as it was then.

First, the Israeli people not only have the right to defend themselves, they should defend themselves. They have an obligation to defend themselves.

I mean, if I can, just for a moment, tell you a personal story. I was in Jerusalem a couple of years ago, actually three years ago, in August of 2001, staying at the King David Hotel.

We left in the morning, headed to the airport to leave, and later in the day I found out that that same day, not far from where we were staying, the Sbarro Pizzeria was hit by a suicide bomber in Jerusalem. Fifteen people were killed. Six children were killed.

What are the Israeli people supposed to do? How can they continue to watch Israeli children killed by suicide bombers, killed by terrorists?

They have not only the right but the obligation to defend themselves.

Now, we know that the Prime Minister has made a decision, an historic decision, to unilaterally withdraw from Gaza. It's important for America to participate in helping with that process.

Now, if Gaza's being used as a platform for attacking the Israeli people, that has to be stopped. And Israel has a right to defend itself. They don't have a partner for peace right now. They certainly don't have a partner in Arafat, and they need a legitimate partner for peace.

And I might add, it is very important for America to crack down on the Saudis who have not had a public prosecution for financing terrorism since 9/11. And it's important for America to confront the situation in Iran, because Iran is an enormous threat to Israel and to the Israeli people.
Replace Arafat with Abbas and that might have been a speech yesterday rather than four years ago.

I am supporting John Edwards for President, just as I did four years ago. Of the three main contenders for the Democratic nomination he is the only one who has shown consistent, unwavering heartfelt support for Israel throughout his political career. Ignore the pundits who have pronounced his campaign as all but dead. These are the same folks who assured us Senator Obama would win big in New Hampshire. The latest polls show Senator Edwards in a statistical dead heat with Senators Obama and Clinton in Nevada. A win in the Nevada caucuses could propel him to a win in South Carolina, the state where he was born and a state which he won in 2004. If a Democrat is going to win the White House in 2008 lets make sure American Zionists, both Jewish and Christian, help select the right Democrat. I believe that's John Edwards.

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Another "Massacre" That Wasn't

On Tuesday approximately 50 rockets and mortars slammed into Israel from Gaza wounding five Israelis. Yesterday 40 more rockets were fired into Israel, injuring 10 people, all civilians. The Israeli Air Force responded and eight Palestinians, including three civilians, were killed in air strikes yesterday.

In recent days the usual suspects have been crying "massacre" and blaming Israel for derailing the peace process. For those who always blame Israel for all the ills in the Middle East the facts simply don't matter. It doesn't matter that Israel wouldn't have taken any action against Gaza at all if rockets weren't raining down on Israeli cities and towns. It doesn't matter that the Israeli military never deliberately targets civilians and that most of those killed in Gaza recently were Hamas gunmen or Islamic Jihad terrorists who were firing the rockets. It doesn't matter that the Qassam and Katyusha rockets are always aimed at Israeli civilians. After all, there was no international outcry when a Qassam rocket struck a kindergarten near Ashkelon. If a Palestinian child is tragically killed, though, the world cries and condemns Israel. Why does nobody condemn the Palestinian terrorists who fire on Israel from heavily populated civilian areas? International law clearly places the brunt of responsibility on those using human shields.

Despite President Bush's rather delusional assertion that peace could be achieved in a year I don't think anyone in Israel believes anything like that is remotely possible. Perhaps Prime Minister Olmert is shrewder than we give him credit for being. He makes all the requisite conciliatory speeches to keep President Bush and the American Congress happy while adding that there will be no peace while terrorism continues. He knows there is, at present, no Palestinian leader strong enough or even willing to do anything about terrorism.

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Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Bush Administration Opposition To Har Homa Contrary To U.S. Law

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice has expressed the Bush administration's absolute opposition to construction in Har Homa:
Har Homa is a settlement the United States has opposed from the very beginning.
She went on to explain that "the United States doesn't make a distinction" between settlement activity in the West Bank and in east Jerusalem. This position completely flies in the face of U.S. law which, since 1995, demands that the U.S. Embassy be moved to Jerusalem and which also explicitly recognizes Israeli sovereignty over all of Jerusalem. Yes, folks, that includes east Jerusalem, which in turn includes Har Homa. The Dry Bones Blog did an excellent little piece on this yesterday. The entire text of the Jerusalem Embassy Relocation Act can be found here.

What is especially galling about the Bush administration's new found support for Palestinian claims to east Jerusalem is that Bush himself promised to move the U.S. embassy to the site the U.S. owns for that purpose during his 2000 election campaign. Guess where that site is? Yep, it's in the eastern part of the city. He also expressed strong support for an undivided Jerusalem as Israel's capital at that time.

I'd also like to invite everyone to reread my post on the history of east Jerusalem from last year. Palestinian claims to the city fly in the face of history as well.

I can only hope Prime Minister Olmert shows some backbone on this issue and stands up to the Bush administration on the issue of Jerusalem. A cooling of relations with President Bush won't mean much after a new President takes office a year from now.

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