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    Benjamin Netanyahu Tag

    Jeffrey Goldberg has carved out what for a journalist covering the Middle East is an enviable niche -- vigorously pro-Israel yet not anti-Obama. When Bibi Netanyahu lectured Obama on the Middle East in a White House press conference in 2011, Goldberg leapt to Obama's defense with the following declaration:
    Dear Mr. Netanyahu, Please Don’t Speak to My President That Way
    That niche is why Goldberg landed an interview with Obama on the eve of Netanyahu's visit to the White House, detailed in Goldberg's column today, Obama to Israel -- Time Is Running Out. The interview is best described as preparing the public for what is to come: The Obama administration twisting Bibi's arm off as to John Kerry's "framework" under the threat of the U.S. stepping aside from defending Israel against the worldwide, decades-long lawfare and boycott movement. It's the same threat John Kerry made several weeks ago, but now it's coming from Obama's own lips, as Goldberg noted (emphasis added):
    On the subject of Middle East peace, Obama told me that the U.S.'s friendship with Israel is undying, but he also issued what I took to be a veiled threat: The U.S., though willing to defend an isolated Israel at the United Nations and in other international bodies, might soon be unable to do so effectively. “If you see no peace deal and continued aggressive settlement construction -- and we have seen more aggressive settlement construction over the last couple years than we’ve seen in a very long time,” Obama said. “If Palestinians come to believe that the possibility of a contiguous sovereign Palestinian state is no longer within reach, then our ability to manage the international fallout is going to be limited.”
    For Goldberg to characterize Obama's statement as a "veiled threat" is pretty significant. To me, it wasn't a veiled threat, it was just a threat.

    Anyone who has read this blog the past months knows that I take the international boycott threat against Israel very seriously. It is a venomous movement conceived by propagandists that has had some success in Europe, but few victories in the U.S. Israel has lived all of its existence under boycott. The current boycott movement is a shadow of the Arab League boycott that started even before Israel was a nation and grew with great force as Arab oil wealth grew in the 1970s. Yet somehow Israel's economy survived and prospered nonetheless, helped in great part by U.S. anti-boycott legislation that mostly kept the boycott disease from our shores. The Israeli economy is more diverse, high tech, and privatized than it was in the 1970s. Israel also is less dependent on Europe, and a sought-after participant in the global economy, most of which wants no part of the boycott movement.  The leverage of Europeans who capitulate to anti-Israel groups is much less than in the past. The U.S. Congress also could significantly deflate the boycott movement once again by extending current legislation to cover the new form of boycott movement.  Congress should do so now, and in so doing will aid the peace process by letting the Palestinians know that they cannot achieve more through international boycotts than through negotiations. While it seems invincible because largely unchallenged, the boycott movement is susceptible not only to legislation, but the type of pushback academic boycotters in the U.S. are receiving. The boycott movement, while it should be taken seriously and combatted, should not be allowed to dictate Israel's strategic security needs as part of peace negotiations. Doing business with a few extra European banks will be a hollow achievement if the West Bank is turned into another Gaza-style Iranian missile base. Don't let the boycott tail wag the security dog. Yet John Kerry is playing the boycott card to pressure Israel, running around like chicken little screaming that the sky is falling.

    I don't think it's overstatement to say that Obama successfully has isolated Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu by bringing the major world powers plus Germany into an Iran nuclear agreement publicly opposed by Netanyahu (and quietly by many Arab countries). The perennial thorn in Obama's Mideast side stands almost alone in publicly opposing the deal.  The agreement helps keep the Mullahs in power through removal of sanctions while normalizing Iranian uranium enrichment.  More than that, the statements accompanying the deal announcement treat Iran as the regional power to resolve a host of issues, including Syria. In exchange, Iran agrees to slight compromises that push back the "breakout" period to produce a nuclear weapon by a few weeks or months at most. Jeffrey Goldberg assesses Israel's isolation, In Iran, Obama Achieves 50 Percent of His Goals:
    U.S. President Barack Obama has had two overarching goals in the Iran crisis. The first was to stop the Iranian regime from gaining possession of a nuclear weapon. The second was to prevent Israel from attacking Iran’s nuclear facilities. This weekend, the president achieved one of these goals. He boxed-in Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu so comprehensively that it's unimaginable Israel will strike Iran in the foreseeable future. Netanyahu had his best chance to attack in 2010 and 2011, and he missed it. He came close but was swayed by Obama’s demand that he keep his planes parked. It would be a foolhardy act -- one that could turn Israel into a true pariah state, and bring about the collapse of sanctions and possible war in the Middle East -- if Israel were to attack Iran now, in the middle of negotiations.
    I think it's much broader than forestalling an Israeli attack.

    The nuclear agreement with Iran is being touted by the Obama administration as a significant step in keeping Iran from moving towards nuclear weapons. In reality, the agreement is confirmation of Iran's uranium enrichment program at a relatively high level, although some of the highest level enrichment is supposed to be suspended. The fact is that in return for a weakening of sanctions that were putting great pressure on Iran, the centrifuges keep spinning, the facilities are maintained, and at best the length of time for an Iranian nuclear "breakout" has been lengthened for a short period. Eli Lake at The Daily Beast notes the significance:
    Under the interim agreement Iran will be allowed to enrich uranium at low levels. Iran's foreign minister, Javad Zarif said the deal recognized his country's nuclear program. This is a major victory for Iran whose leaders have insisted for nearly a decade that it has the right to enrich uranium under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Officially, the Obama administration has not recognized that any country has this right under the treaty. It has argued that Iran has to adhere to the terms of prior U.N. Security Council resolutions that prohibit Iran from enrichment.
    It is smoke and mirrors, allowing the Obama administration to declare diplomatic victory, change the subject, and create the straw man argument that anyone opposed to the agreement wants war. https://twitter.com/JohnCornyn/status/404624480837722112 https://twitter.com/dansenor/status/404626184865996800

    The full text is here. Scott Johnson at Power Line has some of the key excerpts exposing the history of Iran's new "moderate" President Hassan Rouhani. Rouhani is anything but moderate, he was a key player in numerous terrorist attacks and the building of Iran's nuclear program. Excerpts (and additional videos) after the video. But I'll start with the ending lines:
    In our time, the biblical prophecies have been realized: As the prophet Amos said: They shall rebuild ruined cities and inhabit them, They shall plant vineyards and drink their wine, They shall till gardens and eat their fruit. And I will plant them upon their soil, never to be uprooted again. Ladies and Gentlemen, The people of Israel have come home, never to be uprooted again.
    I feel deeply honored and privileged to stand here before you today representing the citizens of the State of Israel. We are an ancient people. We date back nearly 4,000 years to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. We have journeyed through time, we’ve overcome the greatest of adversities, And we reestablished our sovereign state in our ancestral homeland, the Land of Israel.... Well, Rouhani headed Iran’s Supreme National Security Council from 1989 through 2003. During that time, Iran’s henchmen gunned down opposition leaders in a Berlin restaurant. They murdered 85 people at the Jewish Community Center in Buenos Aires. They killed 19 American soldiers by blowing up the Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia. Are we to believe that Rouhani, the National Security Advisor of Iran at the time, knew nothing about these attacks? Of course he did.

    Another in my ongoing posts from Israel: Today was a rest day, with the only real activity some time at the beach in front of our hotel in Tel Aviv. The Mediterranean Sea was warm, and the waves and undertow strong.  It was great to ride the waves, but one man drowned just after we left the water. [caption id="attachment_60407" align="alignnone" width="553"](Tel Aviv beach in front of our hotel) (Tel Aviv beach in front of our hotel)[/caption] In the evening I did my part to break the boycott of Aroma Café, of which we have written before.  (Remember, Buycott Israeli companies to defeat BDS.) [caption id="attachment_60408" align="alignnone" width="413"](Aroma Café, Tel Aviv Seaport) (Aroma Café, Tel Aviv Seaport)[/caption] But the big news of the day was that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu released an Open Letter (read the whole thing) to the Israeli public signaling his intention to seek Cabinet Approval on Sunday to release all Palestinian and Israeli Arab prisoners convicted of security offenses prior to the 1993 Oslo Accords, thereby complying with a promise John Kerry had made to Mahmoud Abbas as a precondition to peace negotiations.
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