Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Obama Refuses to Speak to Netanyahu

US President Barack Obama has refused to answer phone calls from Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu "more than once," according to Kuwaiti news source Al-Jarida.

In a deliberate snub, Netanyahu's calls have instead been forwarded to US Secretary of State John Kerry.

An American source told Al-Jarida that Jewish American politicians have been keen to fix the situation, which has steadily been deteriorating over the past month, and are attempting to set up a meeting between the two world leaders at the White House.

The news is the latest in a series of public spats between the two nations, whose differences about the handling of a nuclear Iran threaten the traditional US-Israel alliance.

Obama, issued a direct warning to Congress against further sanctions on Iran last Thursday, saying that a deal in the works could prevent the "unintended consequences" of war.

"If we're serious about pursuing diplomacy, there's no need for us to add new sanctions on top of the sanctions that are already very effective and that brought them to the table in the first place," Obama said.

Obama has also reportedly been in the process of lifting the sanctions for over 5 months - without a deal with Iran or express Congressional approval.

The statements follow controversial remarks by Kerry last Wednesday, who told Republican senators who were briefed about recent talks with Iran to “ignore anything the Israelis say” about the issue.

Kerry's visit to Israel this past month to facilitate peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority was something of a diplomatic disaster, after he reportedly threatened a third intifada and then pledged over $75 million in financial support to the Palestinian Arabs.

Netanyahu, meanwhile, has been urging world leaders to avoid the deal, in a bid for both Israel's national security and international safety from a nuclear Iran. "Israel prefers the diplomatic option over any other option. But we want a genuine diplomatic solution that dismantles Iran's military nuclear capabilities,” Netanyahu said in remarks at the Bloomberg Fuel Choices Summit.

“The proposal that was put on the table, the details of which we are familiar with, is a bad deal. It leaves Iran with nuclear capabilities for military objectives, and provides it with a significant easing of sanctions. The additional danger is that it gives Iran legitimacy to be a nuclear threshold state. That goes against the interest of the international community,” he stressed.

The war of words has trickled down the political ladder this weekend; Naftali Bennett and Jewish Home members continue to rally US support for the Israeli stance on the issue, while US ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro has reportedly approached the Israeli media in attempts to win over Israeli public support.

Shapiro's words may fall on deaf ears, however; a poll recently revealed that most Israelis believe that the IDF could and should strike Iran on its own



Israel said to be working with Saudi Arabia on Iran strike

Israel is working on coordinating plans for a possible military strike with Saudi Arabia, with Riyadh prepared to provide tactical support to Jerusalem, a British newspaper reported early Sunday.

The two countries have both united in worry that the West may come to terms with Iran, easing sanctions and allowing the Islamic Republic to continue its nuclear program.

According to the Sunday Times, Riyadh has agreed to let Israel use its airspace in a military strike on Iran and cooperate over the use of rescue helicopters, tanker planes and drones.

“The Saudis are furious and are willing to give Israel all the help it needs,” an unnamed diplomatic source told the paper.

The report comes as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is in the midst of a blitz to lobby against a deal and cobble together an international alliance opposed to an agreement that allows Iran to continue enriching uranium.

On Sunday, Israel will welcome French President Francois Hollande, who a week earlier put the kibosh on a deal between six world powers and Iran that would ease sanctions in return for initial steps toward curbing enrichment.

Netanyahu on Friday urged France to remain firm in its pressure on Iran ahead of a new round of talks on the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program in Geneva, kicking off Wednesday.

After meeting Hollande, Netanyahu will head to Moscow on Wednesday to meet with President Vladimir Putin and lobby against the deal.

Iran’s bid for the bomb “threatens directly the future of the Jewish state,” Netanyahu told CNN recently, in a short preview clip of an interview broadcast on Saturday. As the prime minister of Israel, he stressed, he had to care for “the survival of my country.”

CNN reported that Netanyahu also said in the interview that he would do whatever it was necessary to do in order to protect Israel. The full interview will air Sunday morning.

Should a deal be reached at talks set to resume in Geneva on Wednesday, according to the diplomatic source, a military option would be back on the table. Saudi tactical support, in lieu of backup from the Pentagon, would be vital for a long-range mission targeting Iran’s nuclear program.

Saudi Arabia, a Sunni Muslim country across the Persian Gulf from Iran has long been at odds with Tehran, and fears a nuclear weapon would threaten Riyadh and set off a nuclear arms race in the region.



When the translator has more sense than the politicians

A United Nations interpreter translating the proceedings of the General Assembly on Thursday was caught – not realizing her microphone was still piping her voice into the chamber – expressing her dismay that the world body is so focused on condemning Israel while ignoring every other country in the world.

Following votes at the General Assembly’s Fourth Committee which includes all 193 UN member states, nine resolutions were adopted condemning Israel. Not one resolution was adopted targeting any other country, not even Syria where more than 100,000 have been killed in just two-and-a-half years.

The unnamed interpreter, unaware she was still being heard both by delegates and online via a live webcast, said, “I mean, I think when you have five statements, not five, like a total of ten resolutions on Israel and Palestine, there’s gotta be something, c’est un peu trop, non? [It’s a bit much, no?] I mean I know… There’s other really bad sh** happening, but no one says anything, about the other stuff.”

After the translator spoke, the delegate chairing the meeting could be seen trying to suppress his laughter. This as other delegates laughed audibly after hearing the interpreter’s candid opinion about their work, including her use of an expletive.

Once she realized what was happening, the translator said, “apologies” after which the Secretary of the meeting commented, “I understand there was a problem with interpretation?”  The translator could then be heard saying “The interpreter apologizes.”

UN Watch, a non-governmental organization which monitors events at the United Nations, first caught the gaffe and posted a recording of it on YouTube.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday played the clip of the interpreter’s candid assessment at the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem. Should her job be threatened, Netanyahu said she would have a place to work in Israel, Ynet reported.

“I would like to tell this translator that she has a job waiting for her in the State of Israel. There are moments that tear the hypocrisy off the unending attacks against us and this brave translator did so,” he said according to a translation of the text posted by the Prime Minister’s Office website.



Desperation:  Bush resurrected

The NYT acknowledges Obama's in trouble by reminding us that Bush was really, really bad. Remember?!!

At the website front page the teaser headline  — which is also the headline in the paper version — is:  "As Troubles Pile Up, a Crisis of Confidence for Obama." But if you click to the article, the headline becomes "Health Law Rollout’s Stumbles Draw Parallels to Bush’s Hurricane Response."

I can think of a whole bunch of non-parallels:

1. Bush's political party didn't design and enact Hurricane Katrina.

2. Bush didn't have 5 years to craft his response to the hurricane.

3. Bush didn't have the power to redesign the hurricane as he designed his response to it.

4. The Republican Bush believed he could not simply bully past the Democratic Mayor of New Orleans and the Democratic Governor of Louisiana and impose a federal solution, but the Democrat Obama and his party in Congress aggressively and voluntarily took over an area of policy that might have been left to the states.

5. The media were ready to slam Bush long and hard for everything — making big scandals out of things that, done by Obama, would have been forgotten a week later (what are the Valerie Plame-level screwups of Obama's?) — but the media have bent over backwards for years to help make Obama look good and to bury or never even uncover all of his lies and misdeeds.

6. If Bush experienced a disaster like the rollout of Obamacare, the NYT wouldn't use its front page to remind us of something Bill Clinton did that looked bad.

But let's check out the asserted parallels in that NYT article by Michael D. Shear:

"The disastrous rollout of his health care law not only threatens the rest of his agenda but also raises questions about his competence in the same way that the Bush administration’s botched response to Hurricane Katrina undermined any semblance of Republican efficiency.  But unlike Mr. Bush, who faced confrontational but occasionally cooperative Democrats, Mr. Obama is battling a Republican opposition that has refused to open the door to any legislative fixes to the health care law and has blocked him at virtually every turn."

Oh, well, that's another nonparallel. Republicans oppose Obama, unlike those Democrats who sometimes helped Bush. And the NYT reinforces my point #5 (above).

But think about it this way, NYT. What if Bush and the Republicans had created the hurricane, and the Democrats adamantly believed it would be better not to have a hurricane? Would the Democrats have been "occasionally cooperative" to Republicans who smugly announced that they won the election and they've been wanting this hurricane for 100 years and canceling the hurricane was not an option?

"Republicans readily made the Hurricane Katrina comparison."

Oh? Note the wording. It doesn't say that important Republicans were bringing up Katrina on their own. I suspect that the journalist, Shear, asked various Republicans to talk about Bush and Katrina and some of them did.

“The echoes to the fall of 2005 are really eerie,” said Peter D. Feaver, a top national security official in Mr. Bush’s second term. “Katrina, which is shorthand for bungled administration policy, matches to the rollout of the website.”

Okay, so Shear got Feaver to put a name on the assertion that Republicans made the comparison. No other Republican is named. Shear moves on to Obama's "top aides" and tells us — here's my point #5 again —  that they stressed how unlike Katrina it is, since "Mr. Obama is struggling to extend health care to millions of people who do not have it. Those are very different issues."

I agree. The health care screwup isn't a natural disaster. Obama and the Democrats made their own disaster, stepping up to do something they should have known they weren't going to be able to do well, and they lied about what they were doing to get it passed.

And yet they meant well. They wanted to help people. Unlike Bush, who — what? — asked for that hurricane?


There is a  new  lot of postings by Chris Brand just up -- on his usual vastly "incorrect" themes of race, genes, IQ etc


For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC,  AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten.

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