Who ran from Iran?

The cartoon in today’s Haaretz made me smile:

The Hebrew says “Who is the commander?”


It didn’t take much to work out that Iranian activity in the Straits of Hormuz would be directed towards British interests. It’s unclear if the Royal Navy has the capacity to protect all such interest, but my guess is that it’s not possible. Smaller, faster attack boats and helicopters can run rings round frigates and the like. So, Britain is stuck. Banning its own ships won’t go down well. (Though insurers may effectively bring about that result.) A military response is unlikely. Either Britain caves – a diplomatic disaster – or it weighs in with its own sanctions and gets ready for the long haul.

Or a war breaks out between Iran and the US. And maybe with the Europeans. I hope not.

On a related point, I do remember Obama or Kerry hectoring Israel about what would happen if Iran broke its pledges under the nuclear deal. Why, the sanctions would snap back. Israel had nothing to worry about.

Well, Iran broke its pledges and the sanctions by the Europeans are unsnapped. So, if Israel were relying on the Europeans to keep them safe, they would be wasting their time. In this regard, Bibi is right.

Haaretz and Rodes

This is interesting:

An Israeli Echo Chamber? Haaretz and the Iran Deal

Haaretz’s cheerleading for the Iran Deal raises the question: Were they a willing part of Ben Rhodes’ “echo chamber”?

“Echo chamber” — two words that Ben Rhodes uttered to the New York Times Magazine were enough to expose the media’s failure. The issue has been raging in the US for over a week now, since David Samuels’s piece first appeared, but aside from some minimal coverage, it has received almost no attention in Israel. And that’s very strange, because what Obama’s Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications said about the gaggle of “freshly minted experts cheerleading for the deal” is very serious: “They were saying things that validated what we had given them to say,” Rhodes bragged.

This was primarily aimed at the American media, but it has an Israeli aspect: Haaretz newspaper.

Those who have followed the Israeli media certainly remember how coverage of the Iran Deal looked from Schocken Street’s perspective: Haaretz did not even bother hiding that it had taken a side, and its reporters constantly echoed White House talking points in Israel. Now, in light of Rhodes’s confession and the storm he caused, very serious questions have arisen regarding Haaretz’s conduct in the affair, its journalistic prestige, and its professional reliability.

So, was Haaretz part of the press echo chamber that did exactly what the White House wanted, and ditched all objectivity and independent thought? It sure looks that way. Read it all, here. (The original David Samuels piece is here.)

Is it any wonder Bibi doesn’t trust Obama?

From the Times of Israel:

“A senior official in the Obama administration acknowledged that the background to nuclear talks with Iran was misrepresented in order to sell the impression of a more moderate Iranian regime and thus gain greater American public support for an agreement.”

Obama’s ‘misrepresentation’ went further than that.

It appears that the administration were concerned Israel might launch a military attack. So, Israel was told that the US would take such action rather than have Iran acquire nuclear weapons. With that assurance, Israel filed its attack plans. And now? There is no way the US will take military action against Iran, unless the Ayatollahs are stupid or reckless enough to attack the US directly.

It appears that Obama’s world view remains childishly optimistic, naive, and is infused with a hippy like belief that war is to be avoided at all costs. Israel has extensive experience that proves sometimes there is no option but to fight. And Obama’s weakness in the face of the Iranian regime may well bear poison fruit for years to come.

Is it any wonder Bibi doesn’t trust Obama? Maybe Obama’s dislike of Bibi is because the Israeli leader won’t keep quiet about the US leader’s ‘misrepresentations.’

Read the whole piece, here.

Ross reveals his view of Israel and Obama

Dennis Ross is not an out and out Israel supporter. Therefore, when his newly published book – Doomed to Succeed: the US-Israel relationship from Truman to Obama – fingers the personalities in the White House who have been working so hard against Israel, I’m inclined to believe him. He describes the factions and their respective positions, with varying degrees of animosity towards Israel. Not, it should be said, against Israel’s existence. But very much animosity towards Israel’s actions.

The Times of Israel has some details here, from which I offer one extract:

From the outset, this factionalism on Israel characterized nearly every choice presented to the president. Ross pushed for a landmark speech to the Muslim world delivered from Cairo and then immediately followed by a trip to Israel, but was overruled by Obama aides Dennis McDonough and Ben Rhodes, who convinced the president to forgo an Israel stop on that trip, arguing that it would be “too traditional.”

So Obama went to Egypt, and left Israel out of the picture. From there on, it was largely downhill.

The book would appear to give us a better understanding of the source of Israel’s woes with the Obama administration. The question is whether its replacement can be persuaded to see things in a different way. I would like to think that logic will prevail, and an objective assessment of the US’s position in the world will clearly demonstrate that what has happened has been bad for the United States, and there needs to be a change for its sake. But, there are vested interests in play, and no guarantees. All we can do is hope and pray.

Another of Obama’s men is anything but a friend of Israel

From the Washington Free Beacon:

Obama Admin’s Iran Point Man Promotes Anti-Israel Conspiracy Theories

Personal posts promote anti-Semitic authors, websites

I know nothing about the Washington Free Beacon, but the article content rings true. Is that because it conforms to my belief, or because it is true, or both?

Try this extract:

“A State Department official closely involved in the Obama administration’s Iran push has been promoting publications from anti-Semitic conspiracy sites and other radical websites that demonize American Jewish groups and Israel, according to sources and documents obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.

Alan Eyre, the State Department’s Persian-language spokesman and a member of the negotiating delegation that struck a nuclear deal with Iran earlier this year, has in recent months disseminated articles that linked American-Jewish skeptics of the deal to shadowy financial networks, sought to soften the image of Iranian terrorists with American blood on their hands, and linked deal criticism to a vast “neoconservative worldview.”

Eyre described the one article, penned by the anti-Israel conspiracy theorist Stephen Walt, as having an “interesting thesis.”

Insiders who spoke to the Free Beacon about Eyre’s private postings pointed to a pattern of partisanship and called it a sign that key officials at the State Department are biased against the state of Israel. Such criticism has dogged the team Obama since the early days of the administration.

What do you think? Surprised? I’m not. It appears to explain a lot.

Incidentally, I had to laugh when I read:

“Such criticism has dogged the team Obama since the early days of the administration.”

To my mind, there’s one good reason for the enduring criticism: because it is true!

Read the whole thing here and judge for yourself.

I can see clearly now

I’m not sure if I will ever understand Obama and his foreign policies. As I have said before, even excluding Israel (where I obviously have a vested interest) it seems difficult to me to suggest that Obama’s policies have put the USA in a stronger place in the world than it was when he took power. Indeed, most would argue the USA is in a weaker position. But, on the assumption that was not Obama’s goal, where was he getting his planning, positioning, and opinions from? Thanks to Hillary and her email server, we have some new clues:

Hillary and her team are fans of Max Blumenthal, Peter Beinart, J-Street

The Hillary Clinton emails that were just released show that she and her team are far more to the left, and far more interested in promoting the leftist J-Street view of Israel, than she lets on publicly.

The Elder of Ziyon has the story, here.

Note his conclusion:

Based on the relatively narrow timeframe of last night’s email dump the overall tone is that Israel is obstinate and not interested in peace, the Zionist American Jewish community must be marginalized, the Palestinians are victims and not responsible for any of their actions, and that Hillary must still publicly cultivate the AIPAC crowd while working behind the scenes to undermine it. Haaretz is liberally quoted but no conservative analysis about Israel ever reached Hillary’s eyes through her handpicked, trusted advisers.

Does that sound like anyone else? Someone in an even more powerful position?

The problem may not (only) be with Obama. The problem may be with the advisers.

The bigger problem? Obama is on his way out. Hillary may be on her way in. I hope Bibi is paying attention.

So, about this Iran deal…

The arguments about this deal have in many cases ignored the content of the deal, and targeted instead the people for or against. Thank goodness for some good old fashioned common sense from Jonathan Greenblatt (national director of the Anti-Defamation League):

Congress and the American people are focused on what everyone agrees is a historic, serious and consequential foreign policy decision — the fate of the nuclear deal with Iran.

While we all hope for a debate based on substance and conducted with civility, the truth is that political debates today are often characterized more by slogans and fearmongering than by evidence-based deliberations. Some of the rhetoric around the debate over the Iran deal has been far from edifying and downright worrying.

He then mentions some of the offenders on both sides, like Mike Huckabee’s over the top comment about Obama leading Israel “to the door of the ovens.”

He also notes:

A number of liberal advocacy groups have impugned the reputation of Sen. Charles Schumer, who is Jewish, describing the New York Democrat as a warmonger, a puppet of the Israeli prime minister and a traitor. Such accusations are baseless and unhelpful.

You may take it that “unhelpful” is an understatement.

In passing, while he affirms the underlying support of Obama for Israel, he does criticize that establishment for being involved in:

“characterizations that in the eyes of many members of the Jewish community recall malicious accusations about Jews.”

In short, he’s saying that – perhaps unwittingly – they have made common cause with anti-semites. It would be good if the White House paid attention.

Meantime, Greenblatt’s closing comments are to be applauded:

Our message to both sides is clear: Debate this policy on the facts, without engaging in personal attacks on the intent or character of our leaders. Stick to your arguments and lobby hard. Express concerns without demonizing your opponents. Realize that accusations may linger long into the future. Let all of us, liberal or conservative, hawk or dove, commit to reject personal attacks and to avoid innuendo and stereotypes, whether intentional or not.

But will the applause be matched by the involved parties following the good words with good actions?

You can read the whole thing, here.

President Rivlin and President Obama

First, some background.

To most objective observers, Arutz Sheva is on the right of the political spectrum in Israel. The far right to some. It is not mainstream, and so far as I can tell from anecdotal evidence, has a somewhat restricted audience.

It occasionally publishes worthwhile material, but such as with the venomous Guardian, you need to wade through a lot of dross.

And in that regard, it is important to note that so often as is practically possible, I try not to ‘shoot the messenger.’ In other words, I want to look at the story, check the facts, and think about it for myself, before I reject something just because it has been written by a particular person, or published in a particular place.

Now down to business.

President Rivlin has some tough shoes to fill. Peres seemed to be able to step between the cracks most nimbly. Rivlin has made a decent start, but with one or two cracks very definitely stood on. For example, his encounter with the Conservative religious movement was not handled well. On the other hand, I thought he was statesmanlike with the issue of discrimination against the Ethiopians.

Rivlin won’t cowtow to Bibi, and on several occasions has said things that put hime in direct conflict with the Prime Minister. So Bibi’s supporters are not always Rivlin supporters.

Arutz Sheva has an article about Rivlin’s marking of Jordanian Independence Day:


If you read the article, you will get the flavor of Arutz Sheva’s dislike of Rivlin or the Jordanians or both. Some of the points made are valid. But it is not fair to criticize Rivlin for being a diplomat and avoiding controversy. There was no need for Rivlin to create a storm by rubbing the Jordanians’ noses in it. However, I do hope that in private sessions, Rivlin will make clear how Israel views some of the nonsense Jordan has been getting up to.

But if you view the Arutz Sheva home page, you will see how somebody has decided to add a telling caption to the synopsis:


You may take it that “Our own Obama?” is not an indication of respect for either Obama or Rivlin. It is telling that people with this political viewpoint are trying to suggest Rivlin may be as bad as Obama. (And if the leaks from Michael Oren’s new book are half true, Obama has been bad, bad, bad towards Israel.) This little mark is a useful reminder of the issues that loom large in Israeli politics. Here there are also undercurrents of racism or Islamaphobia: Rivlin is like Obama because he is sympathetic, or not at war with Islam the religion. And in these quarters, that’s not a plus.

There’s nothing significant in the events reported on, but it is probably material that Rivlin can expect this type of comparison (and insult!) from the right. He won’t care, for now. But he will know these are the risks of being in his role. One veteran Israeli told me that Rivlin will do whatever he thinks is right (correct!) regardless of the criticism, and will make efforts to take the Israeli public with him. Clearly that includes the Arab citizens. So his remarks about Islam are not just window dressing.

Definitely a case of ‘watch this space’ for further developments.

A different type of FFS

Earlier this week I posted about the new album from FFS. This post is about a different FFS. It’s the FFS I found myself saying on reading this at the Times of Israel:

A former intelligence chief for the Obama administration on Wednesday tore apart an emerging nuclear deal with Iran, describing it as a “placeholder” suffering from “severe deficiencies” based on “wishful thinking” and warning that Iranian leaders would never give up their nuclear ambitions.

Speaking to the House Foreign Affairs subcommittee, retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn systematically criticized three key elements of a deal aimed at curbing the weapons aspects of Iran’s nuclear program: inspections of sites, the removal of sanctions, and how long the agreement would delay an eventual Iranian bomb.

Only one man’s opinion, but a rather well informed and knowledgeable one.

The article includes this quote from Flynn:

“We, the United States of America, must comprehend that evil doesn’t recognize diplomacy and nations such as Iran will still maintain the intent of achieving nuclear weapon status.”

My reaction is that it is not the USA that needs to comprehend this; it’s Obama. The buck stops with him.

Oh, FFS!

Read it all, here.

Why doesn’t Obama get it?

I don’t hate Obama; I don’t even dislike the man. I just don’t understand him. How can a highly intelligent individual get the situation in Israel so gloriously wrong? Time and time again, his assessment and vision seem off, and not by a little.

Obama’s Tuesday night interview with Israeli television made it clear that Obama still doesn’t get it. Don’t take my word for it. Here’s what David Horovitz – no Bibi fanatic or extremist, by any stretch of the imagination – said in his Times of Israel editorial:

Discussing Israeli reservations about the Iran nuclear deal you are so energetically pushing, Mr. President, you asserted in your striking, heartfelt Israel Channel 2 interview broadcast Tuesday that “I can say to the Israeli people: I understand your concerns and I understand your fears.”

But here’s the thing, Mr. President: You don’t. And your interview made that so unfortunately plain. You don’t fully understand our concerns and our fears — not as regards the ideologically and territorially rapacious regime in Tehran, driven by a perverted sense of religious imperative, and not as regards the Palestinian conflict.

After establishing his credentials, Mr H goes on to make several key points.

For example: Continue reading