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Barack Obama

  • The Iranian nuclear threat and other phantoms

    The 'framework agreement' announced Thursday night in Lausanne is a lot better than no agreement. But an approach to Iran involving no sanctions and no hysteria would have been best of all. NOTE: This post has been changed to reflect the author's happy surprise that the framework agreement was not the dud he thought it would be - even after it was first announced - but is, according to all accounts, a very meaningful step.   Remember the threat of North Korea going nuclear? The sanctions, the scare rhetoric from the United States, the specter of the craziest, cultiest nation…

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  • Obama, Netanyahu and the Palestinian conflict: What's next?

    Something indeed changed in the Israel-U.S. relationship, the question is what actions will the U.S. take and how Netanyahu reacts — from the Security Council to Gaza. I just got back from the annual J Street conference. The atmosphere was very different from the 2013 conference. Back then it was all about the Kerry mission. This year, talk of peace was replaced by a certain state of shock from Netanyahu’s victory at the polls. Most of the conference participants get their information about those elections from the American media, which was in turn fed by the Israeli media, which presented…

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  • Israelis elected a non-democracy

    Obama must understand that these elections were more than just a referendum on Netanyahu — they were a referendum on Israel's character, and Israelis did not vote for democratic ideals. Many on the center-left in Israel are still trying to wrap their head around Netanyahu's victory. They simply cannot grasp that most Israelis really want another right-wing government led by Netanyahu. In Tel Aviv and Haifa, the only two of Israel's 10 largest cities where the Zionist Union got more votes than the Likud, some people seem to be rationalizing the victory with the anti-Arab, fear-mongering campaign Bibi led in…

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  • There is no reason to trust Benjamin Netanyahu

    Netanyahu can backpedal all he wants, but now it is clear even to his biggest champions that he is no longer interested in the two-state solution. Now it's up to the White House to take a stand. Prime Minister Netanyahu's landslide election victory on Tuesday stunned even the biggest pessimists. What looked like a possible upset turned very quickly into an easy win for the incumbent, giving his Likud party 30 seats in the upcoming Knesset. Isaac Herzog's Zionist Camp, Netanyahu's main opposition, won only 24 seats. Like most other major political figures, Netanyahu said nothing about the occupation or the…

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  • Stop giving Netanyahu publicity

    The best way to object to Netanyahu, his Congress speech and his policies, is to ignore him. Since the Netanyahu Congress speech episode began last month, the press, and specifically foreign press, has been flooded with items on the Israeli prime minister. Not a day has gone by without a headline about Netanyahu's lavish spending, incompetence regarding the housing crisis, his assault on media and academics, and of course his incitement against centrist political rivals. Netanyahu has redefined the phrase, "bad publicity is good publicity," since none of this appears to be hurting Netanyahu in the least at home. As Gershom…

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  • Netanyahu speech: A dilemma for U.S. Jews — not for Israelis

    For the first time, American Jews are getting the feeling that they might have to choose between Israel, and their loyalty to the country in which they were born and have become successful to a degree almost unprecedented in the history of the Jewish people. In remarks that shook American Jewish leaders with their bluntness, National Security Advisor Susan Rice said on Tuesday that Benjamin Netanyahu's decision to address Congress on March 3 was "destructive of the fabric of the relationship" between the United States and Israel. Rice was speaking to Charlie Rose on his PBS news magazine show Tuesday…

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  • Netanyahu is not Ben-Gurion, and 2015 is not 1948

    The Israeli prime minister is not using his Congress speech to gain votes in this election, rather, he is using his election campaign to gain favor for the Congress speech and serve his megalomaniac vision of being the savior of Jews worldwide. Netanyahu's recent campaign video, released Saturday night, has nothing to do with the Israeli election and certainly does not target the Israeli voter. It is intended for U.S. President Barack Obama, the White House, American Jews and more broadly, U.S. Democrats. The video compares David Ben-Gurion's decision to declare independence in 1948 over the objections of then U.S. Secretary…

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  • How an Israeli and a Palestinian ended up lighting Obama's menorah

    Just weeks after Jerusalem's Jewish-Arab school was attacked by arsonists, President Obama met with two students to light the Hanukkah menorah. Inbar Shaked Vardi talks about her whirlwind trip to Washington DC, and why she has decided to stay at the school despite the threat of violence. By Inbar Shaked Vardi It all started with a Hanukkah menorah. Dan Shapiro, the U.S. ambassador to Israel, asked the Max Rayne Hand in Hand Jerusalem School to prepare a Hanukkah menorah for a competition. The winning menorah would be lit by President Obama during the White House's ceremonial Hanukkah reception. The Jerusalem bilingual school's menorah was…

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  • The hand that holds the status quo together

    The Palestinians put forward a Security Council resolution calling for the end of the occupation by 2017. The Obama administration, which has supported essentially every Israeli policy toward the Palestinians, has promised to use its veto power. The Kingdom of Jordan on Wednesday submitted a resolution draft to the United Nation Security Council, which calls for the establishing of a Palestinian state as well as a deadline for the occupation: 2017, two years from now. The proposal, which could be voted on at any time, was drafted by the Palestinian Authority in the aim of breaking the diplomatic impasse in efforts to…

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  • The difference between Israel’s violent, racist cops and America’s

    It’s in how Israel and America, especially their respective leaders, react to these cops' most outrageous crimes. Israeli police are not the only ones with a habit of getting trigger happy when they come up against members of a feared and hated ethnic minority. While many Israeli cops (and soldiers) have a tendency toward overkill with Arabs, many American cops have the same tendency with blacks. But there’s a crucial difference – not necessarily between American and Israeli police, but between the way American and Israeli society, especially their leaders, react to such killings. After police in Ferguson, Missouri killed…

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  • After ‘chickenshit’ remark, FBI finds traces of ‘truth serum’ in West Wing [satire]

    The FBI has found traces of sodium thiopental in several areas in the White House, causing staff to stop holding back their true feelings on Israel.  Just 24 hours after a senior administration official called Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “chickenshit,” FBI agents found traces of sodium thiopental, also known as the "truth serum," in several areas of the White House. The findings could explain the remarks given to Jeffrey Goldberg in his Atlantic interview. According to FBI agent Dana Mulder, traces of the liquid were found “in the Oval Office as well. We’re still conducting some tests, but it…

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  • 'Chickengate:' In the confrontation between Bibi and Obama, Palestinians are only a sideshow

    The rift between Washington and Jerusalem has to do with the changing American interests in the Middle East and internal Israeli politics, not with an end to the occupation.  In a story in The Atlantic Tuesday, Jewish-American journalist Jeffrey Goldberg cited a White House official calling Netanyahu "chickenshit," blaming him for lack of political vision or guts. Relations between Jerusalem and Washington have reached the lowest point he can remember, Goldberg wrote. This was the top story in the Israeli media this morning. Even the pro-Netanyahu, free tabloid Israel Hayom quoted Goldberg. In his response, Netanyahu maintained the confrontational tone, saying…

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  • Israeli settlements, U.S. policy: The gap between values and actions

    The only thing odder than Netanyahu's "un-American" comment is the White House's response. Although the latest Israeli announcement of settlement expansion in East Jerusalem drew the usual verbal slap on the wrist from the U.S., the media didn’t make much of it – until, that is, when Prime Minister Netanyahu decided to call that criticism un-American on American TV. The White House of course felt compelled to respond. On Monday Deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest called Netanyahu’s choice of words “odd” – another in a series of adjectives that U.S. government spokespersons pull from their thesaurus to show their dismay…

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