Archive for the ‘benjamin netanyahu’ category

A Bad Deal?

April 6, 2015

The Netanyahu-AIPAC-GOP Congress cry this week continues to be “a bad deal is worse than no deal at all”. These well tuned words underline an important difference of opinion, and quite frankly display flawed logic. Let me explain.

“No deal” is the current state. There are economic sanctions which have strangled the Iranian economy. The West lead by the US and abetted by Israel threatens the very Iranian existence claim the more conservative Iranian elements. The Iran Government, however, finds ways to continue pursuing nuclear technology, enriching uranium, developing missiles, deploying its troops and supporting its allies Hezbollah and Hamas in regional conflicts. Not a pretty picture to me.

So what can happen with the current situation? Iran, of course, could have a change of heart (like Kadafi and Libya did) and voluntarily destroy their nuclear facilities. Not likely.

More certain would be a continuance of the current nuclear programs with the ultimate development and deployment of nuclear weapons. The price of Middle East poker would go up.

Both Israel and President Obama (speaking for US policy) have said they will not allow Iran to development or obtain nuclear weapons. Hmmm. That must mean military intervention at some future time.

So what happens with a “bad” deal?

Iran could “cheat” or at least not follow the implied meanings of the “deal”. Sooner or later, under this scenario, Iran would in secret develop nuclear capability and deploy it on weapons. Hmmm. That sounds a lot like doing nothing…

The kindest words that can be said about all the rhetoric in opposition to the “deal” announced last week is that opponents want to characterize Iran as untrustworthy and those who would trust a deal are politically naive. Opposing the deal is a “no lose” position.

If the deal works, the world is better off. If the deal fails, the world is no worse than it is today but these opponents gain enormous bragging rights about how shrewd they are (and by implication why they should be elected).

It must be acknowledged that the “deal” is not done and awaits detailed, yet to be negotiated language. It is fully possible that no deal may emerge. It is also fully possible that a detailed document does emerge and Iran either cheats or interprets the document differently. And should the GOP gain the White House in 2016, it is not out of the question that a new GOP Administration might renege on the “deal” and Iran would restart its program.

Another argument against the “deal” being put forth by Prime Minister Netanyahu is that other Middle East countries will begin their paths to the bomb if this deal goes through. And Netanyahu wants us to believe status quo will prevent this possibility?

One thing the “deal” does accomplish is to squarely expose the Israeli flawed position on its negotiations (or lack there of) with the Palestinian Authority. No negotiation eliminates the need to make a “deal” and making a “deal’ opens the possibility that the deal could fail.

But I wonder whether no deal is a bad deal?

When Words Mean Something Different?

March 20, 2015

In the final hours of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s campaign to retain his leadership position, Netanyahu spoke to his conservative supporters, “there will not be a Palestinian State on my watch”. Singing to the choir, Netanyahu, a master politician, reached out to get the last vote possible in what was predicted to be a close race. The world’s reactions to his words were instantaneous.

In particular, President Obama said bluntly through his press secretary, that the State Department will review our overall relationship with Israel and in particular its negotiations with the Palestinians. The unbreakable bonds which all US Presidents invoke when referencing the Israeli relationship suddenly did not appear so firm.

As the election dust settle, Netanyahu realized he had a comfortable basis to form another government. And just as suddenly he had “clarifications” to make to his “no two states” pathway, and he wanted to make it to as many US press members as he could.

Netanyahu explained that his no two State solution referred only to the current Palestinian Authority which includes Hamas. Hamas is a terrorist organization, Netanyahu stressed. Hmmm.

Netanyahu’s point is that an independent Palestinian State would be a breeding ground for terrorists just as Gaza is today. Occupied territories (the current condition) minimizes that risk. So, with a completely straight face, Netanyahu announced he really did want a two State solution. Hmmm.

Hamas’s Gaza strategies, for example firing rockets indiscriminately into Israel, makes no sense when viewed from abroad. Instead of undertaking public works and education projects in Gaza, Hamas prefers building tunnels and smuggling rockets and munitions into Gaza later to be used against Israel. This dysfunctional behavior understandably severely clouds negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Hamas gratuitously provides Israelis committed to a one State solution all the arguments they need to make their point.

Netanyahu’s “no-I mean yes to two States” statements put in question also his objections to the Iranian nuclear weapons discussions. Netanyahu has said Iran can’t be trusted (hmmm, that must mean no agreement can be trusted). He has also offered no alternative path forward except an undefined “better deal”. So, what does Netanyahu mean? Is there a better deal possible with Iran or is it simply fruitless to negotiate at all? And where does that lead us?

We know in the world of “political speak” words do not always mean what they say. Prime Minister Netanyahu has plenty of fellow travelers in the US Congress and that should make for more fireworks in the months ahead.

Closing In On Apartheid

March 19, 2015

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced this week that if Israeli voters returned him to office, there would be no Palestinian State on his watch. If past actions were any measure, most observers had already concluded what Netanyahu finally put into words. Did Netanyahu just draw a free card or will there be consequences?

To repeat the obvious, the Middle East and specifically the Israeli-Palestinian situation iremains complex and carries a huge history of contradictions.  Recognizing specific consequences tied to his statement might be difficult.   Netanyahu’s announcement (contradicting his statements in the past) will, however, remove any remaining world opinion about “poor Israel” being the victim of unreasonable neighbors. The possibility of many other nations or the UN recognizing the Palestinian Authority as the legitimate government in the occupied lands is real.

Gone, also, will be the notion that the only obstacle standing in the way of Middle East peace was a stubborn and intractable Palestinian Authority. Israel now owns the cause for continued Arab terrorism against Israel.

Does this mean that Hamas and Hezbollah would have chosen non-aggression had Israel confirmed its commitment to a 2 State solution?

Very unlikely. Hamas and Hezbollah are surrogate organizations financed by Iran and would have been expected to continue their extremism even if Israel had sincerely attempted to find a 2 State solution.

The two State solution, however, is driven by other considerations, namely the alternative one State solution will lead to apartheid and still present the same level of external risks towards the existence of Israel.


The one State solutions in democratic Israel will inevitably lead to restrictions being placed upon non-jewish residents. If not, Palestinian demographics will soon put the Palestinians in the voting majority.

Netanyahu undoubtably recognizes this outcome.  He also recognizes that world opinion will isolate Israel economically (as it did South Africa). He never the less made his announcement in a desperate attempt to win the election.  Live today, die tomorrow.

While Netanyahu might want to walk back his statement, he is stuck with it (and all the consequences) for the near future.

Easy Decision

February 26, 2015

Senate Democrats, for reasons not clear, invited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to meet with them in a “closed door” session during his upcoming Congress visit. Netanyahu declined for reasons most likely related to trying to keep Democrats from mass boycotting his speech to Congress. So tell me again why Netanyahu is speaking before Congress?

AIPAC (America Israel Public Affairs Committee) is meeting during the same week that Netanyahu visits. AIPAC is an un-apologist for all matters dealing with Israel and solid supporter of its conservative lead government. AIPAC is also quick to intimidate or congratulate (with $$$) US political figures based upon their level of unquestioning support for Israel. Netanyahu is a regular visitor to AIPAC conventions. Hmmm.

So in the world of Washington dysfunctional politics, Speaker John Boehner’s invitation to Netanyahu to speak before a combined session of both Houses of Congress, two weeks before the next Israeli general election, while unprecedented, came as no surprise. Netanyahu’s acceptance, however, was surprising.

Netanyahu undoubtably knows that Boehner is not leading a well oiled machine. With a huge majority in the House, Boehner’s majority has voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act and to deny funding for the Homeland Security Department (by attaching conditions which he knows in advance cannot pass in the Senate). His legislative activity is not exactly speaking for all Americans.

But then Netanyahu’s views for Israel do not speak for all Israelis, or for the best interests of Israel’s neighbors. Divide and conquer, however, is and has been a well known strategy to win in tactical situations. Why not try it in Washington.

President Obama has done well to keep his rhetoric controlled and above the gutter where Speaker Boehner and Netanyahu seem comfortable. The President and Vice President will be out of town or unavailable to meet with Netanyahu, and now Congressional Democrats must decide whether they will attend Netanyahu’s speech. (I can imagine the pressure which the combination “threat and reward” AIPAC money can mean in the life of Democrat Congress members.)


Any Congress member who wants to know Netanyahu’s thoughts (as if they don’t already) can go to the AIPAC meeting. Republican members will understandably follow Boehner’s lead and attend the Congressional speech. But why should Democrats even think about this for a moment?

Netanyahu’s speech is a partisan speech and unfit for the floor of Congress. It should be an easy decision to spend the day instead at the National Gallery where Congress members could learn something.