Before I discuss those tough times, I want to recommend that you read my Front Page Magazine article critiquing Abbas’s speech at the UN. Just about everything he says is a distortion or outright misrepresentation; calling him on his positions is important. So, after you’ve read it, please share the URL widely. This is no time for reticence; people must be provided with facts:
And then, please, prayers for little Zakkai, the almost three year old who has had multiple surgeries on his spine because of a recurring (benign but very aggressive) tumor.
Very recently he had a less invasive technique applied for freezing a tumor nodule that had been discovered. It is not yet known if this technique was fully successful — more will be known when a scan is done. But what is known is that three other small nodules were discovered — that have not been treated yet. (It never seems done, which is the horror of this situation!). What is more, his spine is so damaged by all of the efforts to eradicate the tumors that he’s probably facing spine surgery in a matter of months.
Rephael Zakkai Avraham ben Yakira Avigael
Now, as to those tough times…
Toughest of all the problems we face is the very real threat presented by Iran, which is a huge promoter of terrorism, and on the verge of going nuclear.
Iranian president Hasan Rouhani is currently engaged in a new technique – popularly known as the “charm offensive” – for forestalling interference with his nation’s goals.
That offensive rose to a new level on Friday, when, for the first time since 1979, the leaders of the US and Iran spoke with each other by phone (via interpreters). As I am reading it, some feelers were put out by Iran, but the phone call was actually placed by the US. The Iranians are saying the call was strictly the initiative of the US.
Whatever the case, the call is being hailed at the White House as an historic diplomatic breakthrough, with Obama enthusing, after the call, that “I believe we can reach a comprehensive agreement.”
But the president is best advised to hold his horses and not yet speak about the “deeper relations” with Iran if a nuclear breakthrough can be achieved. For the cold, hard reality is that while Rouhani is behaving ever so graciously — and ever so differently from his predecessor — there is absolutely no indication of a change in Iranian policy with regard to nuclear development.
Enter Prime Minister Netanyahu, who left for the US last night.
Convinced that the Iranian outreach is a “fraud,” he’s coming with a message that Obama is not going to want to hear; he will be delivering it to the president tomorrow, and then to the UN General Assembly on Tuesday.
On his departure he said:
“I will represent the citizens of Israel, our national interests, our rights as a people, our determination to defend ourselves and our hope for peace.
“I will tell the truth in the face of sweet-talk and the onslaught of smiles.
“One must talk facts and one must tell the truth. Telling the truth is vital for the security and peace of the world and of course for the security of Israel.”
To put it simply, my friends, what he is doing takes integrity and guts. He is not going to be well received in New York or Washington, and he knows it. But he’s acting as he believes he must.
Obama is not likely to be very appreciative of someone who is attempting to block his easy way out with Iran (no matter the cost to the world). But one Israeli official commented that Netanyahu is used to playing the role of “spoil-sport”: as he did when he gave warnings about the “Arab Spring.”
According to the Sunday Times (London), Netanyahu plans to tell the General Assembly that Iran already has 219 kilograms (482 pounds) of enriched uranium, which is enough to produce a nuclear weapon. What is more, that “Iran has made significant progress in its nuclear program since the new president Hassan Rouhani was elected.”
The Times further said that Netanyahu is carrying an intelligence dossier for Obama, providing evidence that Iran is stepping up its nuclear program.
Oh, to be a fly on the wall, during the closed door session between Netanyahu and Obama.
Netanyahu has instructed all Israeli ministers and representatives to refrain from speaking on the subject of Iran, as he moves into his difficult diplomatic situation.
His position, about which we will hear more in the next couple of days, is that four criteria must be met by Iran in order for the world to know that it has genuinely abandoned its nuclear development:
Halting all uranium enrichment; removing all enriched uranium from the country; closing the Fordo underground uranium enrichment facility near Qom; and stopping the plutonium track.
Last week, Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Jarad Zarif met with P5 + 1 (Britain, France, Russia, China, and the US, plus Germany), and then Zarif met separately with his counterpart, John Kerry. There was a whole lot of talk about the encouraging change of tone and the work to be done. But statements made at this meeting give us a clue as to where all of this is heading:
Kerry, in a statement to CBS, spoke about the possibility of Iran demonstrating good faith by opening Fordo for inspection. But wait! that’s a long way from closing down the plant.
While, after the meeting, Zarif addressed Iran’s need for speedy relief from sanctions:
“Of course as we move forward, there has to be removal of sanctions and in the end game there has to be a total lifting of all sanctions and both bilateral sanctions, unilateral sanctions as well as multilateral sanctions and U.N. sanctions and we hope to be able to move in that direction within a short span of time.”
What would be the minimum Iran would have to do before Obama would be motivated to begin prematurely reducing American sanctions?
Evidence of US gullibility (or, perhaps, readiness to be “had”) abounds. There is, for example, this report by MEMRI (Middle East Media Research Institute):
September 29, 2013 Special Dispatch No.5461
The Success Of The New Iranian Strategy (I) – The U.S. Administration Swallows The Lie About Khamenei’s ‘Fatwa’ Against Nuclear Arms
“In his address to the U.N. General Assembly (September 24, 2013), U.S. President Barack Obama stated: ‘The Supreme Leader has issued a fatwa [religious ruling] against the development of nuclear weapons.’ In fact, such a fatwa was never issued by Supreme Leader Khamenei and does not exist; neither the Iranian regime nor anybody else can present it.
“The deception regarding ‘Khamenei’s fatwa’ has been promoted by the Iranian regime and its spokesmen for several years. Each time it was mentioned, the ‘fatwa’ was given a different year of issue – for example, 2005, 2007, or 2012 – but the text of the ‘fatwa’ was never presented.
“MEMRI has conducted in-depth research with regard to this ‘fatwa’ and has published reports demonstrating that it is a fiction. The Iranian regime apparently believe that their frequent repetition of the ‘fatwa’ lie will make it accepted as truth. To date, the Europeans refuse to accept it. According to unofficial sources, the legal advisors of the EU3 made an official request to the Iranian regime in 2005 to provide a copy of the ‘fatwa,’ but in vain.
What hangs over all of us, here, is the question of whether Israel will in the end act unilaterally against Iran. Time is truly running out.
YNet now reports that:
“Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will tell Washington that Iran’s nuclear program must be dismantled and not merely supervised when he visits the White House on Monday, Israeli media reported.
“According to the diplomatic correspondent of Israel’s Channel One television network, Netanyahu will tell US President Barack Obama that Israel will abandon the diplomatic path on Iran’s nuclear program [i.e., take unilateral military action] if it is not completely dismantled.” (Emphasis added)
Genuine intent, or empty threat?
The second biggest headache we face is the nonsense regarding “negotiations” with the PA. The negotiations that are farcical in light of the behavior of the Palestinian Arabs, and, even more significantly, in light of Israeli rights — too rarely enunciated — to the land.
The first encouraging news in this regard I’ve seen comes via a report from Maariv, cited by Israel National News:
“Negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority have arrived at an impasse, according to an evaluation by a senior foreign diplomat who is aiding in the brokering of an agreement between the two, as reported this morning (Sunday) by the Israeli daily, Maariv.
“According to the report, the subject of borders was first raised during the seventh round of talks, which were held before the Jewish holidays. During the discussions, Minister of Justice Tzipi Livni and Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu’s representative, Yitzhak Molcho, refused to consider the exchange of territory in exchange for keeping existing Israeli settlements in their places. Molcho also is reported to have made it very clear to the PA that Israel intends to maintain her territories and communities therein…” (emphasis added)
If this is true (have no clue who the “senior foreign diplomat” is), then it is very good news, and negates a host of rumors regarding all that Israel was said to be surrendering. Although I will confess that some of those “rumors” have come from pretty reliable sources.
But in any event the news is hardly all good. Is it ever?
The unnamed official commented that, “Until either the U.S. intervenes, or Netanyahu meets with Abbas – negotiations are futile.”
I’m uncertain what would change if the two met — assuming that their representatives are speaking in their names — and far more uncertain that they would be willing to do so.
What rings bells is the suggestion of US intervention.
What I want to do here is consider the possibilities of what we may be looking at down the road with regard to this situation.
Caroline Glick, in her most recent column, addresses the issue of a president of the US who is overtly hostile and pressures Netanyahu unremittingly. She says that both the ten-month freeze on building that Netanyahu instituted and his Bar Ilan speech embracing a “two state solution” came as a result of Obama’s pressure (which includes such threats as a readiness to refuse to veto Security Council resolutions hostile to Israel).
I’m not sure if this is good news or bad news. On the one hand, it suggests that – contrary to the belief of many – it appears that Netanyahu is not really ideologically committed to a “Palestinian state.”
But on the other hand, it also suggests that Netanyahu does not have the capacity to buck Obama’s demands.
Glick says Israel cannot always refuse what the Obama wants, and that sometimes it’s wise to give in to him. But, she says, Obama has limits to his power because the American people are solidly pro-American. Israel, she maintains, has to make her case with the American people:
“Netanyahu can set out the international legal basis for Israeli sovereignty over Judea and Samaria and explain why Israel’s rights are stronger than the Palestinians’.
“The government can expose the fact that the demographic doomsday scenario that forms the basis of support for the two-state formula is grounded on falsified data concocted by the PLO.
“Demography, like international law, is actually one of Israel’s strategic assets.”
Well, it’s now or never, it seems to me. And there is more to Israel’s case than even the factors she mentions here. We cannot and must not cave to “US intervention” aimed at pushing us out of the land that is ours.
I’ve been engaged in dialogue with associates these past few days on the issues raised by Glick – primarily the issue of how much latitude Israel has to say “no.” I’ve never know Caroline Glick to be a shrinking violet and yet she believes that sometimes our prime minister is caught.
It’s important for us to recognize how much goes on behind the scenes and what extraordinary pressure is placed upon Netanyahu – no one should imagine that he makes his decisions lightly.
But it’s equally important for us to have the expectation that our prime minister is there to refuse the American president when he makes demands that are not in our best interest – and for us to communicate that to Netanyahu strongly now: Bravo on your strength in telling the truth on Iran. Now please, also tell the world the whole truth about Israel’s ancient and historical rights in Judea and Samaria and the impossibility of considering the PA a “negotiating partner.”
Glick herself comments on the way in which Menachem Begin, as prime minister, bucked the whole world when attacking the Iraqi nuclear reactor. There are multiple similar examples.
See http://www.israelhayom.com/site/newsletter_opinion.php?id=1689 for examples provided by Yoram Ettinger. “Just say NO” is one of Ettinger’s recurring themes.
Netanyahu is likely to touch on the subject of “negotiations” in his UN talk. More significantly, he is giving a second Bar Ilan talk in a week, at which he will be announcing new policy.
Rumor has it that he will be saying that a final deal is impossible now and that he will opt for an “interim” Palestinian state without final borders set. That would be very bad news — and I’m aware of persons in the government already alarmed by this possibility. (Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon spoke out against this at a Likud meeting – saying anyone who was for an interim state did not belong in Likud – and was subsequently chastised by the prime minister.)
An “interim” state would create the legality of a Palestinian state, with the leverage that sovereignty would imply for the Palestinian Arabs, without also including “end of conflict” and giving us any assurance about issues of borders or settlements or Jerusalem having been resolved. How could they sign on “end of conflict” when they would not know what their final borders would be? And so, we would have given them a legal reality while we would still be confronting “resistance” of the not so peaceful sort, as well as increased diplomatic pressure. On top of all of this, I would assume that there would be a core region within that “interim” sovereignty that would be off-base for the IDF, and thus permit a breeding ground for terrorism.
We don’t want to see anything of the sort offered, but I do note here that Abbas has categorically said he will not accept such a deal. It is my opinion that he could not go back to his people with this and survive, not when so many are radicalized and disapprove of any negotiations with Israel.
And then, I end here with one very tentative, but potentially positive, thought: In essence, Netanyahu is saying “no” to Obama now, by refusing to sign on to the charm offensive. He refuses to do this because he sees it as the primary existential issue for Israel – his back has apparently been stiffened by this reality (although the true and final test comes with his readiness to act militarily).
It could yet be – and in truth we do not yet know – that at the end of the day, our prime minister will find he has the courage to refuse a Palestinian state, as well, because of the deprivation of rights and security threat it would represent for Israel. A thought that does not, I confess readily enough, negate the niggling unease I feel. But it is a thought to be considered. And worked for.