From 3/23/13

A lot of hype surrounded Obama’s visit to Israel. I will touch upon only four points in escalating order of importance.

1. The supposed reach over Netanyahu’s head to the “young” people of Israel

What a load of poppycock. Where do all these pundits get this total idiotic notion from? What do they think? That one speech to supposedly “young” people will put pressure on the government? How absurd. Obama is the least trusted U.S. president in Israel. His visit did a lot to mend fences but even if he was the most loved one, do these pundits really think that by telling people in one sentence in one speech to put pressure on their government that they will do it? Where in the history of the world did such approach EVER work? Give me a break! No, I have a lot of disagreements with president Obama’s policy on many things, but I never thought he was anything less than a very clever man. He preferred to talk to the “people” than to the Knesset (as his predecessors always did) because it is a less formal occasion and he did the same in Cairo four years ago. He generally prefers this type of venue. He does that in the U.S. too. He certainly does not think for one second that this will sway the Israeli government (with a fresh mandate after the elections) to make any concessions that they would have not otherwise made.

I am amazed by the naïveté, ignorance, laziness, and superficial thinking of all these pundits. Nothing new about my feelings toward the media—it is just becoming so frustrating.

2. The Palestinian issue-Settlements

If it was not for the fact that I believe and have been saying for years that the Palestinian issue is a side-show to the real problems in the Middle East, I would have declared this point as the most significant one. It clearly represents a 180-degree turnaround of significant proportions by the president. Four years ago, when Obama came to power, his first pronunciation on the Middle East crisis was to demand that Israel will put a stop to settlement activity before any negotiations take place. Now, he declared in Ramallah, in front of Mr. Abbas no less, that the solution of the settlements issue is a consequence of the peace negotiations (if they will ever re-start), not a pre-condition.

To understand the significance of this turnaround, one must understand the size of the blunder that he and his administration committed four years ago by making this demand then. This first-ever demand was singlehandedly responsible for the fact that for four years, there were no negotiations between Palestinians and Israel. I personally heard an ambassador to the UN of a major European nation call this declaration by Obama four years ago naïve, amateurish, and ill-advised (diplomats generally, and to the UN particularly, are not known as being straight and blunt). While the settlement issue was ALWAYS a major thorn in the … (shall we say throat) of the Palestinians and a source of clear rejection and objection by the U.S., it has NEVER before been made a condition to peace talks. By making it a condition to talk, Obama gave the Palestinians the excuse they needed to refuse to sit down with Israel. A rejection of the talks that has now lasted four years, even during the brief period of ten months, during which Israel did agree under pressure to this ludicrous demand to cease the settlements work.

Obama now understands that the only way to re-start the negotiations is to remove this obstacle and that, as was clear for twenty years of negotiations before and is to him now, the settlement issue will be resolved DURING the negotiations. Israel has uprooted settlements from Arab land twice already. First in north Sinai in 1978–9 as a result of the peace accord with Egypt, and then from Gaza in 2004, unilaterally in the hope of giving the Palestinians a chance to prove that they are worthy of a state of their own. A hope that was shuttered by the daily rocket attacks on Israel and the hell-hole that Hamas made of Gaza.

What the president and his advisors still fail to comprehend is that however much of a welcome and pushing hand they will give to the Palestinians, they simply do not WANT peace with Israel and nothing will help.

3. Israel-Turkey

Prime Minister Netanyahu phoned the Turkish prime Minster Erdogan on Friday and apologized for the “flotilla” event three years ago. Erdogan demanded that apology for three years and Netanyahu JUSTIFYINGLY rejected that for three years. Why now? Turkey does not deserve an apology. They were more to blame for what happened than Israel is. They were the perpetrators. So why now?
There are two possible explanations:

  • It is possible that Netanyahu agreed to do so under pressure from Obama as a quid-pro-quo for what Obama gave him (see below).
  • It is also possible that the Obama administration and Israel are fast coming to the conclusion that the situation in Syria will require a military intervention and that both the USA and Israel could do with support on this matter from Turkey.

Be the reason for the apology what it may—it was not deserved and Erdogan will remain a major problem. I predict that he will develop to be a bigger problem as time goes by. He has over the last decade tightened his stranglehold on Turkey’s politics. He is slowly making Turkey less of a democracy, and he clearly is the second most vociferous Israeli basher (after Iran) in the world. Watch this space—
this will be a problem for years to come.

4. Israel-U.S.-Iran

This by far is the most significant development of the visit. It is HUGELY significant. President Obama, in an open press conference, both in his prepared statement and in answering questions, gave Israel the green light to attack Iran. (See/listen for yourself here.) One simply cannot misinterpret what he said. He said it in so many words. There is no way to misinterpret what was said.

Given the major assault on Israel by the Obama administration just one year ago in the same context led by Secretary Panetta and the CJCoS, Gen. Dempsey, this is a huge turnaround. There is only one clear explanation for it—Obama was reelected and he does not care what Israel will do anymore. Before the election, it could have affected his precious reelection chances, now—let the boys play. Some pundits who are struggling to believe and comprehend this HUGE development are trying to suggest that maybe behind closed doors Obama played a different tune. Not in today’s media age. What will he say if Israel attacked: “I did not mean what I said to the world in the press conference”?

Whether or not the pundits understand or believe this development, one segment of those who heard it, a vastly more important one listened, heard, and COMPREHENDED it—Iran.

The reaction from Iran (threatening to annihilate Tel Aviv and Haifa) was aggressive, specific, swift and, most significantly, delivered not by Ahmadinejad, not by the head of the IRGC, but by the Supreme Leader himself. Ayatollah Khamenei’s reaction and the fact that HE made this statement is telling.

Iran understands that they will be attacked but they think that it will be Israel that will attack them. They are willing to suffer the less-than-devastating consequences as this will serve them in other ways. They will get Hezbollah to rain missiles on Tel Aviv and Haifa as he threatened, and that is just a taste of things to come if they do obtain nuclear weapons…

An attack on Iran WILL occur this year, probably in the summer.