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    Benjamin Netanyahu Tag

    Earlier today we provided full coverage of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's remarks to Congress, and watched the country react as the man many are now calling the de facto leader of the free world completely and utterly devastated President Obama's plans to strike a nuclear deal with Iran. During the speech, I noted that once things got rolling, the loss of the boycotting Democrats was barely noticed. What was noticed was how proud the membership in the chamber was of Netanyahu, and his resolve in the face of not just enemies in the Middle East, but also opposition from the US, historically one of Israel's closest allies. After the speech, Obama...he didn't give a statement. He pitched a fit:
    Later, at the White House, Obama took issue with Netanyahu's comments as well as the invitation that led to his speech. "On the core issue, which is how do we prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, which would make it far more dangerous and would give it scope for even greater action in the region, the prime minister didn't offer any viable alternatives," he said. Asked before a meeting with Defense Secretary Ash Carter about Netanyahu speaking before Congress, Obama said the U.S. has a system of government where "foreign policy runs through the executive branch and the president, not through other channels."
    Obama's response was bad. Pelosi's was almost worse:

    We've provided extensive coverage of the drama surrounding Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's address to Congress---and now, the day has finally arrived. We'll be providing tweets and commentary below the fold. Where will Obama be while Netanyahu is speaking? Huddled in the situation room:
    Obama will hold a video conference at 11:30 a.m. to discuss Ukraine and other foreign policy issues with British Prime Minister David Cameron, French President François Hollande, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and European Commission President Donald Tusk, according to an updated schedule released this morning.
    Feed goes LIVE at 11 am: (Video troubles? You can also watch HERE, via C-SPAN.) Background: Obama Launches Preemptive Interview on Bibi Speech Netanyahu wins narrative at #AIPAC2015 Congressional Choice not Bibi v. Barack – but Western Civilization v. Iranian Mullahs Netanyahu at #AIPAC2015 (Live) Administration Attacks on Bibi Spur Bipartisan Support for Israel

    Bibi will address Congress Tuesday morning to discuss the dangers of a nuclear Iran. At the time this post was published, 34 members of Congress have confirmed they will not be attending the Israeli Prime Minister's speech. To commemorate the occasion, Secure America released this seriously rad video:

    We will have live coverage of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's speech at AIPAC, scheduled to start at 8:30 a.m. Eastern. But of course, it's running late (the slipped in a panel discussion), so stay tuned. Amy is in the room and will send photos and reports. Her Twitter feed is at bottom of post. (Update 10:30 - speech over, will embed video when available)(video added)

    The administration continues in its attempt to marginalize Prime Minister Netanyahu ahead of his speech on Iran. And the efforts appear to be backfiring. Jeffrey Goldberg tells some important truths in today's column, Danger Ahead for Obama on Iran:
    I’m fairly sure Netanyahu will deliver a powerful speech, in part because he is eloquent in English and forceful in presentation. But there is another reason this speech may be strong: Netanyahu has a credible case to make. Any nuclear agreement that allows Iran to maintain a native uranium-enrichment capability is a dicey proposition; in fact, any agreement at all with an empire-building, Assad-sponsoring, Yemen-conquering, Israel-loathing, theocratic terror regime is a dicey proposition. The deal that seems to be taking shape right now does not fill me—or many others who support a diplomatic solution to this crisis—with confidence. Reports suggest that the prospective agreement will legitimate Iran’s right to enrich uranium (a “right” that doesn’t actually exist in international law); it will allow Iran to maintain many thousands of operating centrifuges; and it will lapse after 10 or 15 years, at which point Iran would theoretically be free to go nuclear. (The matter of the sunset clause worries me, but I’m more worried that the Iranians will find a way to cheat their way out of the agreement even before the sun is scheduled to set.) ... This is a very dangerous moment for Obama and for the world. He has made many promises, and if he fails to keep them—if he inadvertently (or, God forbid, advertently) sets Iran on the path to the nuclear threshold, he will be forever remembered as the president who sparked a nuclear-arms race in the world’s most volatile region, and for breaking a decades-old promise to Israel that the United States would defend its existence and viability as the nation-state of the Jewish people.
    And as Goldberg noted, three years ago Obama promised in one of Goldberg's columns, “We’ve got Israel’s back.”

    Obama knows he's vulnerable on Iran, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's impending visit to the U.S. and Congressional address isn't doing him any favors when it comes to gaining a vote of confidence from lawmakers and other world leaders. The White House expects Netanyahu to hit back against its efforts to strike a nuclear deal with Iran---and they're already rebutting what they anticipate Netanyahu will say:
    In a briefing for reporters, senior administration officials contended that even an imperfect agreement that kept Iran’s nuclear efforts frozen for an extended period was preferable to a breakdown in talks that could allow the leadership in Tehran unfettered ability to produce enriched uranium and plutonium. “The alternative to not having a deal is losing inspections,” said one senior official, who would not be quoted by name under conditions that the administration set for the briefing, “and an Iran ever closer to having the fissile material to manufacture a weapon.”
    Since House Speaker John Boehner announced the invitation, reactions from Democrats and the White House have unraveled, from boycotts, to snubs, to outlandish statements like one from national security advisor Susan Rice, who said that the address would be "destructive" to the U.S. - Israel relationship. This is nothing new. The tension began the moment Obama took control of the White House.

    Democrats are running on overdrive in an attempt to derail Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's upcoming address to Congress. What started as an attempted Democrat caucus boycott has morphed into a halfhearted-if-vocal D minority boycott bolstered by efforts from the White House to temper enthusiasm for what is sure to be an indictment of the Administration's current policy toward Iran. Now, Secretary of State John Kerry has lashed out against Netanyahu's opposition to a proposed deal between the U.S. and Iran about Iran's budding and controversial nuclear program. Via Talking Points Memo:
    "Israel is safer today with the added time we have given and the stoppage of the advances in the nuclear program than they were before we got that agreement, which by the way the prime minister opposed," Kerry said during a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing. "He was wrong." Kerry was later asked to address Netanyahu's criticism of a hypothetical deal with Iran as a threat to Israel. "The prime minister was profoundly forward-leaning and outspoken about the importance of invading Iraq under George W. Bush," Kerry replied. "We all know what happened with that decision." The secretary of state again pointed out that while Netanyahu opposed the interim deal reached with Iran in 2013, that accord froze the country's nuclear program. He warned that the prime minister shouldn't make another premature judgment about the nuclear talks going forward. "We won't take a backseat to anybody in our commitment to the state of Israel, but [Netanyahu] may have a judgment that just may not be correct here," Kerry said.
    Expected diplomatic bluster from a man who is nothing if not consistent in his willingness to downplay the dangers of a fully nuclear Iran. The only problem? Kerry also supported the invasion of Iraq even as he criticized Bush's handling of the occupation:

    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu didn't flinch when Democrats called for a boycott of his upcoming address to a joint session of Congress. Most would agree he had no reason to---for all of their bluster, only 23 dems signed on to a trumped-up letter demanding the speech be cancelled; Nancy Pelosi put out a statement insisting Netanyahu stay home, but Netanyahu is famous for ignoring those who insist he go away. The man is no stranger to backlash. That Netanyahu will address Congress is becoming increasingly inevitable; but the White House is still busy making moves to rebut the speech while bolstering the President's controversial upcoming nuclear deal with Iran. From ABC News:
    Among them: a presidential interview with a prominent journalist known for coverage of the rift between Obama and Netanyahu, multiple Sunday show television appearances by senior national security aides and a pointed snub of America's leading pro-Israel lobby, which is holding its annual meeting while Netanyahu is in Washington, according to the officials. The administration has already ruled out meetings between Netanyahu and Obama, saying it would be inappropriate for the two to meet so close to Israel's March 17 elections. But the White House is now doubling down on a cold-shoulder strategy, including dispatching Cabinet members out of the country and sending a lower-ranking official than normal to represent the administration at the annual policy conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the officials said. Vice President Joe Biden will be away, his absence behind Netanyahu conspicuous in coverage of the speech to Congress. Other options were described by officials, who spoke only on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss internal deliberations.

    Benjamin Netanyahu posted a video as part of his campaign. It's the type of statement I can only imagine Netanyahu, among current Israeli politicians, giving. I don't know how the election will go, and I don't pretend to understand how Israeli voters will view it, but sitting here on the other side of the ocean, it's just wow. Unfortunately (as of this writing) the YouTube version does not have English subtitles, and the Facebook version with subtitles does not allow embedding. Here's the Hebrew version and a couple of screenshots from the English subtitles version, which you can view at Facebook: Here is the translation, via Israel National News:

    Some Democrats are planning to boycott Benjamin Netanyahu's speech to Congress next month because they view John Boehner's invitation to Netanyahu as an insult to Obama. Senator Marco Rubio spoke out on Thursday, urging Democrats not to boycott the speech. The Washington Free Beacon reported:
    Rubio Urges Democrats to Not Boycott Netanyahu Sen. Marco Rubio (R., Fla.) strongly urged his Democratic colleagues to stand with Israel during his floor speech Thursday, stating they should not boycott Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s March 3 address to Congress.
    “Don’t do this to a people that are in the crosshairs of multiple terrorist groups with the capability of attacking them,” Rubio said. “Don’t do this to a nation whose civilians are terrorized by thousands of rockets launched against them at a moment’s notice. Don’t do this to a country that’s facing down the threat of a nuclear weapon annihilating them off the face of the Earth. Don’t do this to a people that are being stigmatized all over the world, even as we speak, who are being oppressed. Don’t do this to a country that in forum after forum has become the subject of de-legitimatization as people argue that somehow Israel’s right to exist is not real."
    Here's the video: Rubio's sentiment has been echoed by Nobel Peace Prize winner and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel.

    As threats of congressional boycotts by Democrats swirl, and as his political enemies in Israel and the U.S. seek to use the controversy against him, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu just issued a statement that he still plans to speak before Congress next month:
    10/02/2015 Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued the following statement: "First, on behalf of the people of Israel, I wish to send condolences to President Obama, the American people and the family of Kayla Mueller. We stand with you. Israel’s survival is not a partisan issue, not in Israel nor in the United States. This doesn’t mean that from time to time Israeli governments have not had serious disagreements with American administrations over the best way to achieve the security of Israel. Israel's first Prime Minister, David Ben-Gurion, declared Israel’s independence in the face of strong opposition from US Secretary of State George Marshall. Likewise, Prime Minister Eshkol’s decisions at the start of the Six Day War, Prime Minister Begin’s decision regarding the nuclear reactor in Iraq, and Prime Minister Sharon’s decisions to press ahead with Operation Defensive Shield; these were all strongly opposed at the time by American administrations.

    It all is proceeding as planned. A nuke deal with Iran, with the quid pro quo of assisting Iran's expansion into a regional power, is working its way forward. For that, Iran gets to keep most of its nuclear program, because it likes it. There are two things standing in the way: (1) Congress, and (2) Bibi Netanyahu's persuasive powers. The Obama administration needs to get rid of both, and it has seized on the opportunity of John Boehner's invitation to Netanyahu to speak before Congress as the tool to accomplish that mission. The White House spun a false tale through anonymous administration comments to reporters, that the invitation was a breach of protocol and that the White House was blindsided. Separately, the White House has been attacking the Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer as the supposed mastermind. In fact, Boehner came up with the idea, approached the Ambassador, conveyed that Boehner would notify the White House of the invitation (which he did), and Netanyahu did not accept until after the White House was notified. The false narrative spread by Obama's operatives has the goal of pulling Democrats away from opposing a nuke deal and attending Netanyahu's speech, by forcing a false choice of Obama or Netanyahu. The third choice -- what is best for America in keeping nukes out of the hands of a regime that still calls us the Great Satan and chants Death unto U.S. -- is not on the table. Obama puts his own cult of personality before anything. I don't believe that he's sincerely offended; he's just not going to let a manufactured crisis go to waste. Interesting thing is, the Editorial Board of The Washington Post pretty much shares Netanyahu's concerns about an impending bad deal, and stands against Obama's attempt to shut Congress out of the process, The emerging Iran nuclear deal raises major concerns:

    There's something bizarre about seeing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promoting himself in a lighthearted campaign ad; but the latest spot from the Likud party brings a nice slice of humanity into an otherwise-bitterly contested election, and offers up a laugh or two in the process. Via the Israel National News:
    "Look, it's either me or Tzipi [Livni] and Buji [Herzog],” he explains to the bewildered couple. The couple immediately protests that their children would need to babysit Herzog, and not the other way around. In addition, “by the time we return we'd have no house... he'd even hand over the carpets” – a play on the Hebrew words “shtichim” (carpets) and “shtachim” (territories). As for “Tzipi” – the woman says she doubts that she would stay in the same place for two hours, and Netanyahu agrees she would probably have gone over to the neighbors' by the time they returned. This, of course, is a swipe at Livni's frequent migration from one political party to another. At one point in the video, Netanyahu can be seen sitting in the couple's living room, watching Likud's earlier, banned campaign video, which featured Netanyahu as a kindergarten teacher trying to control rowdy children, who played the roles of Livni, Yesh Atid's Yair Lapid, Jewish Home's Naftali Bennett and Yisrael Beytenu's Avigdor Liberman. The video was banned because of the illegal use of child actors, but it seems the new video is a spin-off of sorts. When the couple returns and greets him with the word "Shalom" - hello - but also the word for "peace", Netanyahu responds "but not at any price."
    You can watch here:

    Claims by anonymous sources that the Obama administration is deeply offended by a "breach of protocol" in the planned appearance by Benjamin Netanyahu at a joint meeting of Congress are increasing. The New York Times quotes an unnamed official as saying the anger goes beyond John Boehner and Netanyahu, to the Israeli Ambassador:
    The Obama administration, after days of mounting tension, signaled on Wednesday how angry it is with Israel that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accepted Republican leaders’ invitation to address Congress on Iran without consulting the White House. The outrage the episode has incited within President Obama’s inner circle became clear in unusually sharp criticism by a senior administration official who said that the Israeli ambassador, Ron Dermer, who helped orchestrate the invitation, had repeatedly placed Mr. Netanyahu’s political fortunes above the relationship between Israel and the United States.
    William Kristol argues that Obama views Netanyahu as an impediment to appeasement of Iran, much as Churchill was viewed with regard to the rise of fascism in Germany:
    It is Obama's failures that explain his anger—his failures, and his hopes that a breakthrough with Iran could erase the memories of failure and appear to vindicate his foreign policy. Israel stands in the way, he thinks, of this breakthrough. Prime Minister Netanyahu stands in the way. And so Obama lashes out.

    On January 21, 2015, Josh Rogin and Eli Lake at Bloomberg News reported Israeli Mossad Goes Rogue, Warns U.S. on Iran Sanctions:
    The Israeli intelligence agency Mossad has broken ranks with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, telling U.S. officials and lawmakers that a new Iran sanctions bill in the U.S. Congress would tank the Iran nuclear negotiations. Already, the Barack Obama administration and some leading Republican senators are using the Israeli internal disagreement to undermine support for the bill, authored by Republican Mark Kirk and Democrat Robert Menendez, which would enact new sanctions if current negotiations falter.
    In a rare move, the head of Mossad issued a statement denying the reports that he is against sanctions. Israel Matzav has the details and translation:
    The above was just posted on TwitLonger by Israel Radio reporter Chico Menashe. Here's my translation: Reaction of the Mossad Chairman to the new crisis with Washington: On 19 January 2015, Mossad Chairman Tamir Pardo met with a delegation of American Senators. The meeting took place at the Senators' request, and with the Prime Minister's approval. Contrary to the report, the Mossad Chairman did not say that he opposes additional sanctions against Iran. In the meeting, the Mossad Chairman emphasized the unusual effectiveness of the sanctions imposed on Iran a number of years ago in bringing Iran to the negotiating table.

    Is there anyone who gets Obama more upset than Bibi Netanyahu? It's not for nothing that unnamed senior administration officials called Netanyahu "chickenshit" and mocked Israel's failure to attack Iran. There is no love lost in that relationship. Remember when Bibi lectured Obama in front of reporters in 2011, setting off a furious reaction? And Obama left Bibi in the White House to go have dinner with the family. And on, and on. Oh, and when Bibi got more standing ovations during a speech to a joint session of Congress than Obama did in his State of the Union? The way Netanyahu dealt with a heckler was classic:

    Almost since the beginning of this website in the fall of 2008 I have been sounding the alarm about, and documenting, the rise of anti-Semitism masquerading as anti-Zionism in Europe. It's been a toxic marriage of anti-Jewish Islamists and anti-Israeli leftists, resulting not just in fatalities, but in the inability to be publicly Jewish.  Walking while Jewish is not possible in most of Europe. It's worst where the marriage of Islamism and Leftism is most complete, in cities like Malmö, Sweden, but the Malmö Syndrome has spread almost everywhere in Europe. It's what allows a BBC anchor today to berate a French woman complaining about threats to Jews in France after the murders at the kosher supermarket, with a harangue about Israel. Remember the riots in Paris and elsewhere in Europe last summer in which gross anti-Semitism was on full display under the guise of anti-Zionism. Jeffrey Goldberg in The Atlantic has a fascinating interview with French Prime Minister, Manuel Valls. When you read it, keep in mind that it too place before the recent killing at the Hyper Cacher kosher supermaket, French Prime Minister: If Jews Flee, the Republic Will Be a Failure:
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