US Secretary of State John Kerry walks to his plane after a private meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Tel Aviv, Nov. 8, 2013.
At the end of last week (Nov. 8), Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu put on his best frown and reiterated that Israel would know how to defend itself — in other words, to attack Iran’s nuclear sites. Netanyahu’s stormy diatribe against the United States and the five other members of the forum conducting negotiations with Iran is reminiscent of the incident dubbed “the hot cassette affair” of January 1993.
Netanyahu, who was running for Likud party leader, confessed in a live television interview to having had an extramarital affair. He claimed that “one man, surrounded by a small gang of criminals” had threatened that if he didn’t pull out of the race, a tape would be revealed showing Netanyahu allegedly having sex with a woman who was not his legally wedded wife. A police investigation launched after Netanyahu filed a complaint did not come up with any indication that Netanyahu had been the victim of extortion or that there was any sign of a cassette.
Now, as then, Netanyahu was quick to run off at the mouth about the “deal of the century” that the Iranian regime had managed to squeeze out of world leaders, before an announcement emerged in Geneva that a deal with Iran had been born. In fact, a day later it became known that an agreement had not been signed. In an interview with CBS, Netanyahu said, “Iran maintains its capability to enrich material for a nuclear bomb, … so Iran effectively becomes a threshold nation, threshold nuclear power nation. … Iran gives practically nothing and it gets a hell of a lot.”
One cannot discount Netanyahu’s claim that the agreement being negotiated in Geneva will enable the Iranians to enjoy a significant easing of sanctions and to continue developing their nuclear program. What’s more, many experts are warning that a six-month time period will allow Iran to reach the stage where a bombing of its nuclear sites will involve environmental damage similar to the proportions of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. This would mean giving up on the military option and enabling the Islamic Republic of Iran to become a nuclear power. On the other hand, these same experts have said again and again that bombing the reactors would delay completion of the Iranian nuclear program by no more than two years.
The United States was effectively faced with two options: The first, a rejection of Iran’s request to gradually lift sanctions in return for a temporary freeze of the nuclear program, a military strike against the nuclear sites without backing and perhaps at the cost of confrontation with Russia and China, and heavy casualties from Iranian retaliation against Israel, American and Jewish targets. All this to “gain” two years. The second option — an easing of sanctions and a limited trial period, taking a chance that Tehran is bluffing and that Netanyahu will go back to blaming the West for abandoning the Jews to their fate. The United States appears to prefer the second option.
Either way, as I noted in one of my previous articles, the opening of negotiations with Iran closed the door on an Israeli nuclear strike against Iran. If negotiations end in an agreement that will put the minds of the P5+1 at rest, but not that of Netanyahu, it’s doubtful whether even the right-wing government which he heads would authorize a military strike against Iran without international support. The prime minister will be hard pressed to find senior figures in the Israeli defense establishment — past and present — who would sanction a move that runs counter to international law and be so confrontational with the United States, Israel’s central ally. On the other hand, President Barack Obama has promised that should negotiations fail, the United States would not rule out any option to stop the Iranian nuclear program. Israel will be asked to watch from the sidelines, as was the case in the Gulf wars, while the US military and its European partners do the job.
Netanyahu believes that even if Iranian President Hassan Rouhani swears in the name of Allah and the Prophet Muhammad that Iran has given up its plan to develop nuclear weapons, and even if he signs an agreement in this spirit before the eyes of the world, he is bluffing. For many years, Netanyahu has claimed that the Iranians only understood force, and that the most severe sanctions would not stop their ambition to develop a nuclear bomb that could wipe Israel off the map.
Since realizing that the international community was unhappy, to put it mildly, with his threats and the way he expressed them, Netanyahu has focused his diplomatic and media effort on preventing the erosion of the sanctions. And now, it’s not enough that there’s no more talk of a military attack, the naïve American patron is giving a hand to the watering down of the sanctions in return for an interim agreement which provides the crafty Iranians with an opportunity to get closer to a bomb. That’s how things appear from Netanyahu’s vantage point.
The publicized confrontation between Netanyahu and the Obama administration over the Iranian nuclear program took place almost at the same time as the heating up of the public dispute between the prime minister and Secretary of State John Kerry over the settlements plan that Netanyahu insists on promoting. Netanyahu claims that the development of an Iranian nuclear bomb constitutes a violation of international law. Kerry claims that development of the illegitimate settlement enterprise will result in a new wave of violence in the region. One can add to the above revelations in the new bookDouble Down, Game Change 2012 by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin. Referring to Netanyahu’s demand to draw “red lines” for Iran, Obama told his aides, according to the book, “We all know that Bibi Netanyahu is a pain in the ass.”
The definition “pain in the ass” is appropriate to describe Netanyahu’s opinion of Obama, as well. The prime minister hasn’t bothered to say a kind word about the US president’s determination to remove the chemical weapons from Israel’s northern border — weapons whose real danger was many times greater than that of the Iranian nuclear program. Netanyahu is bothered by the US threat to present a peace plan that will force him to decide from what he would rather take his leave: from most of the occupied territories and the diplomatic, defense and economic support of the United States, or from most members of his Likud party and governing coalition.
The prime minister appears to want to have his cake and eat it, as did late Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir 20 years ago, on the recommendation of then-deputy foreign minister Benjamin Netanyahu, when he was forced to choose between freezing settlement construction and getting US loan guarantees. Both of them hopped over to Capitol Hill, over the head of President Bush the elder (who was also considered a “pain the ass” because he dared place US interests ahead of those of the Likud) in an attempt to force the president to provide Israel with the guarantees, while at the same time continuing to build in the settlements at the height of negotiations with the Palestinians.
The double confrontation of Netanyahu with Obama and with Kerry fell like a ripe fruit into the hands of Netanyahu’s neo-conservative friends in Congress. Those friends do not miss on any opportunity to humiliate their loathed White House rival.
President Bush was at the time in the midst of a serious battle over being elected to a second term. Nevertheless, he refused to give in to politicians dubbed “friends of Israel” and to Jewish lobbyists dubbed “pro-Israel.” Shamir lost the guarantees and the Likud party lost the government. The late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, who in the twilight of his years understood the limits of power, rehabilitated the strategic ties with the US administration and decided to bring about a peace agreement with the Palestinians before Iran was to complete its nuclear program.
A week ago, Nov. 4, marked the 18th anniversary of the Rabin assassination — after which Netanyahu brought the Likud and the settlers back to the leadership of the state. Under his rule relations with the US administration are gradually eroding, peace with the Palestinians is growing distant and the Iranian bomb is growing closer. Will Obama — who already won his battle for a second term — manage to save Israel from its own leader?
Menachem Begin in December 1942 wearing the Polish Army uniform of Gen. Anders’ forces with his wife Aliza and David Yutan; (back row) Moshe Stein and Israel Epstein
(photo credit: JABOTINSKY ARCHIVES)
During the inauguration of a memorial to the victims of the Siege of Leningrad in Jerusalem’s Sacher Park on January 24, 2020, before the climax of Holocaust remembrance events at which Russian President Vladimir Putin was given a central platform, we were stunned to hear a rendition of The Blue Kerchief (Siniy
Giant figures are seen during the 87th carnival parade of Aalst February 15, 2015
The annual carnival in Aalst, Belgium, is expected to take place on Sunday with even more antisemitic elements than in previous years.
Aalst’s organizers have sold hundreds of “rabbi kits” for revelers to dress as hassidic Jews in the carnival’s parade. The kit includes oversized noses, sidelocks (peyot) and black hats. The organizers plan to bring back floats similar to the one displayed in 2019 featuring oversized dolls of Jews, with rats on their shoulders, holding banknotes.
Pope Francis waves as he arrives at the Basilica of Saint Nicholas in the southern Italian coastal city of Bari, Italy February 23, 2020. Photo: REUTERS/Remo Casilli.
Pope Francis on Sunday warned against “inequitable solutions” to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, saying they would only be a prelude to new crises, in an apparent reference to US President Donald Trump’s Middle East peace proposal.
Francis made his comments in the southern Italian port city of Bari, where he traveled to conclude a meeting of bishops from all countries in the Mediterranean basin.
Palestinians walk past a shop selling fruits in Ramallah, Feb. 20, 2020. Photo: Reuters / Mohamad Torokman.
Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) have reached an agreement to end a five-month long trade dispute, officials said on Thursday.
The dispute, which opened a new front in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, began in September when the PA announced a boycott of Israel calves. The PA exercises limited self-rule in the West Bank under interim peace deals.
Antisemitic caricatures on display at the annual carnival in Aalst, Belgium. Photo: Raphael Ahren via Twitter.
Disturbing images emerged on Sunday of the annual carnival at Aalst, Belgium, showing an astounding number of antisemitic themes, costumes, displays and statements.
Israeli journalist Raphael Ahren documented people dressed as caricatures of Orthodox Jews, a fake “wailing wall” attacking critics of the parade, blatantly antisemitic characters and puppets wearing traditional Jewish clothes and sporting huge noses.
Feb 02, 2020 0The remarks from the US official came in wake of the Palestinian decision to reject the administration’s peace plan. US PRESIDENT Donald Trump and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrive to...
The stench of anti-Semitism always hovers over Switzerland’s Lake Geneva when the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) is meeting there. The foul emanations reached a new nadir last week with UNHRC’s publication of a “database” of companies doing business in the disputed territories in Israel.
Following the publication of the list, Bruno Stagno Ugarte, deputy director for advocacy of NGO Human Rights Watch, stated, “The long-awaited release of the U.N. settlement business database should put all companies on notice: To do business with illegal settlements [sic] is to aid in the commission of war crimes.”
One of the many things that annoys me about politicians is how sure they are of themselves. Everything is black and white. Every idea is good or bad. Take globalism, for example. You either love it or hate it. It works or it doesn’t.
Another thing that annoys me is how so much of a politician’s life revolves around power: Do everything you can to get it, and everything you can to keep it.
Why am I ranting? Because, while our politicians have been consumed with power and the media with the fights over power, a threat to our nation has been virtually ignored.
Blue and White Party leaders Benny Gantz and Yair Lapid are establishing their diplomatic credentials in the immediate run-up to Israel’s March 2 election with an insult to a U.S. administration that has arguably provided Israel with more diplomatic gains than any previous administration.
The Times of Israel reported that at a campaign stop in front of English-speaking Israelis, Gantz accused Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “of neglecting bipartisan ties in favor of exclusive support from U.S. President Donald Trump’s Republican Party,” under the headline “Gantz pledges to mend ties with U.S. Democrats if elected.”
Bipartisanship was in short supply at the State of the Union address earlier this month—with one notable exception.
Nancy Pelosi had been looking dyspeptic, shuffling the papers she would later rip to shreds, when President Donald Trump reminded his audience that “the United States is leading a 59-nation diplomatic coalition against the socialist dictator of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro.”
Suddenly, the House Speaker applauded. Trump then introduced “the true and legitimate president of Venezuela: Juan Guaidó.”
The law professor Alan Dershowitz has thrown a legal hand-grenade into America’s political civil war by claiming to have evidence that former President Barack Obama “personally asked” the FBI to investigate someone “on behalf” of Obama’s “close ally,” billionaire financier George Soros.
He made his cryptic remark in an interview defending U.S. President Donald Trump against claims he interfered in the prosecution of his former adviser, Roger Stone.