Iran

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Secretary Kerry’s determination to get the Palestinian-Israeli issues finally resolved seems to be making Netanyahu increasingly nervous.  President Obama has sent General Martin Dempsey’s to Israel because there are concerns that Israel might be planning a strike on Iran’s nuclear program. General Dempsey is the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, a post once held by Colin Powell.  What will Dempsey and Bibi be talking about today? 

US Senator John McCain has called General Dempsey’s warning against attack on Syria ‘disingenuous’.  (AIPAC, CUFI, Lindsey Graham and the NEOCONs stand in agreement with Senator McCain.)  The general public’s attention is solidly fixated on the sexual shenanigans of three American Jews (Anthony Weiner, Eliot Spitzer and Bob Filner) whose stories are much more titillating than Dempsey’s.  Nevertheless, please read the following news report carefully.  The highlights are mine. 

President Obama needs the support of America’s peacemakers now more than ever before.  Contact the White House.   

Peace, Roy  

Father Roy

Father Roy

source: www.timesofisrael.com…

Top US general visiting Israel amid Iran, Syria worries

Martin Dempsey to meet Israeli leaders from Sunday evening; Netanyahu warns that new Iranian president won’t change policy

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey will be the guest of Israel’s chief of staff, Maj. Gen. Benny Gantz, and will also meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon.

Dempsey’s visit, first reported on by Israeli daily Yedioth Aharonoth, comes amid concerns that Israel might be planning a strike on Iran’s nuclear program. On Sunday, Iran was inaugurating new president Hasan Rouhani, touted by some as a relative moderate who may attempt to open a window to the West. Netanyahu, however, told his cabinet Sunday morning that the new leader would continue the policies of his hardline predecessor.

With at least some Hezbollah forces tied down in the fighting in Syria, and the organization experiencing political blowback in Lebanon for its support of the Assad regime, the US may be concerned that Israeli leaders believe the cost of an Iran strike — especially in terms of rocket strikes on Israeli cities from across the border — has dropped significantly, according to the report.

In July, Netanyahu told NBC’s “Face the Nation” that Iran was getting “closer and closer to the bomb,” and that “they’re edging up to the red line.”

Netanyahu said, “They haven’t crossed it yet. They’re also building faster centrifuges that would enable them to jump the line, so to speak, at a much faster rate — that is, within a few weeks.”

“I won’t wait until it’s too late,” Netanyahu vowed at the time.

A report by the US-based Institute for Science and International Security last week said that Iran could break out to a nuclear bomb by mid-2014 if it went ahead with a plan to install thousands of new centrifuges. Tehran maintains its program is peaceful.

Last August, Dempsey demonstrated the gap between the Israeli and American sense of urgency over the Iranian nuclear program when he told a press conference in London that an Israeli strike would “clearly delay but probably not destroy Iran’s nuclear program. I don’t want to be complicit if they [Israel] choose to do it.”

He said that intelligence was inconclusive when it came to Iran’s intentions. An American-led international sanctions regime “could be undone if [Iran] was attacked prematurely,” he added.

Just hours ahead of Dempsey’s visit, Netanyahu upped his rhetoric against Iran’s nuclear program, citing Rouhani’s anti-Israel oratory as proof of his hawkish views.

“Two days ago, the president of Iran said that ‘Israel is a wound in the Muslim body.’ The president of Iran might have changed, but the regime’s intentions did not,” Netanyahu told the cabinet. “Iran intends to develop nuclear capabilities and nuclear weapons in order to annihilate the State of Israel, and that’s a danger not only for us or the Middle East, but for the whole world. We are all responsible for preventing it.”

Netanyahu’s statement appeared to be reiterating his previously withdrawn criticism of an inaccurate translation of a Friday speech by Rouhani.

According to Iran’s semi-official ISNA and Mehr news agencies and Western wire services, Rouhani had said, “The Zionist regime has been a wound on the body of the Islamic world for years and the wound should be removed.”

Netanyahu’s original response said that Rouhani had “revealed his true face sooner than expected.” It added, “This statement should awaken the world from the illusion some have taken to entertaining since the elections in Iran. The president was replaced but the goal of the regime remained obtaining nuclear weapons to threaten Israel, the Middle East and the safety of the world. A country which threatens to destroy Israel must not have weapons of mass destruction.”

But other sources quoted Rouhani differently, and ISNA retracted its original report. “In any case, in our region, a sore has been sitting on the body of the Islamic world for many years, in the shadow of the occupation of the Holy Land of Palestine and the dear Quds. This day is in fact a reminder of the fact that Muslim people will not forgot their historic right and will continue to stand against aggression and tyranny,” Rouhani said, according to a New York Times translation.

Late Friday, Netanyahu’s office removed tweets criticizing Rouhani’s statement, and told the BBC that the prime minister had been responding to “a Reuters report with an erroneous translation.”

Netanyahu has consistently warned that the new Iranian president was merely putting on a “more hospitable face,” and that he has no power or intention to change the Iranian regime’s nuclear policy. Last month, he called Rouhani a “wolf in sheep’s clothing.”

Last Sunday, Netanyahu charged that Iran was going ahead with its nuclear program: “A month has passed since the elections in Iran, and Iran is going full steam ahead on developing nuclear weapons. Now, more than ever, given Iran’s progress, it’s crucial to strengthen economic sanctions against Iran and to provide a credible military option.”

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This is an insightful article by Huffinton Posts’ Robert Naiman. One can put a positive spin on Obama’s visit and speeches. While he didn’t promise to do anything to help the ‘peace process’ along, he didn’t seem to want to hinder it either – something that the Israeli government has relied on the US to do through successive administrations!

Indeed Obama would be doing the world a great service if he allowed some of Israel’s Arab and international neighbors to take a more intentional role in solving the Israel/Palestine debacle, and we all know that he has no personal desire to prop up Benjamin Netanyahu!

Father Dave

source: www.huffingtonpost.com…

Flotilla 3.0: Redeeming Obama’s Palestine Speech With Gaza’s Ark

There’s a half-empty way and a half-full way of looking at President Obama’s Jerusalem speech about the creation of an independent Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem.

The half-empty way of looking at it is: this was Obama’s white flag of surrender. To everyone around the world who for decades has been assuming that at the end of the day, the president of the United States would lead the way to resolution of the Israel-Palestine conflict, Obama was saying:

Don’t look at me. Just because the United States is the principal military, diplomatic, and economic protector of the Israeli government, doesn’t mean that I, as the president of the United States, will do anything about the military occupation of millions of Palestinian human beings. Bibi doesn’t want an independent Palestinian state, Bibi’s government doesn’t want an independent Palestinian state, AIPAC doesn’t want an independent Palestinian state, and Congress — which defers to AIPAC — doesn’t want an independent Palestinian state. Of course, many of them mouth the words — not Bibi’s government, they don’t even do that — but those who mouth the words oppose any practical measure that would help bring an independent Palestinian state into existence. They’re “two state fakers.” Settlement freeze? Impossible. UN membership for Palestine? Can’t be done. No, according to the two state fakers, the only option on the menu in the restaurant for the Palestinians is to return to negotiations without a settlement freeze, negotiations that for 20 years have brought more land confiscation, more settlements, more restrictions on Palestinian movement and commerce, more oppression. And so, Obama was saying, my hands are tied. Don’t look at me.

The half-full way of looking at it is this: it was a great speech. If you “price in,” as the markets say, acceptance that the U.S. government isn’t going to lead on this, it was a great motivational speech. President Obama made a very compelling case that someone else should do something.

The interesting thing is that whether you see it as a great motivational speech or a white flag of surrender, the practical consequences for the public are largely the same: the initiative for justice is going to have to come from somewhere else. The best that we can probably expect from Obama is that if the initiative for justice comes from somewhere else, he won’t get in the way, or won’t get in the way very much. While that is much less than we are entitled to expect, it is much more than the Netanyahu government and its supporters want. They demand that President Obama do everything he can to get in the way of justice. So, if he doesn’t get in the way of justice, or only does so halfheartedly, he’ll be helping us more than they want.

Some people look to Europe. If Europe got serious about curtailing imports from Israel if the occupation doesn’t end, that’s something the Israeli business elite would take seriously, and they would put pressure on the Israeli government to compromise, rather than lose their export income. It’s striking to contrast how Europe is treating its trade with Israel to how it is treating its trade with Iran. In the case of Israel, Europe is toying with the idea of seriously curtailing imports from illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank. In the case of Iran, Europe has shut down virtually all trade, including trade in lifesaving medicines, in violation of international humanitarian law. Giving Israel a little more of the Iran treatment could go a long way. In addition, Europe could support membership for Palestine at the International Criminal Court, and then could support legal action against the settlements and land confiscation at the ICC. So, Europe certainly has a lot of room to get serious about ending the occupation.

Some people look to the Arab Spring. Since 1979, the Camp David Treaty as implemented has been a pillar of the occupation. As many Egyptians see it, it wasn’t supposed to be like that. Under the treaty, the Israeli military was supposed to withdraw from the West Bank. But of course, that never happened. What happened instead is that for 30 years the Mubarak regime traded compliance with Israeli policy towards the Palestinians for U.S. agreement to look the other way while the Egyptian government beat the Egyptian people. Now Egypt has a democratically-elected government. What if that government made ending the occupation a political and diplomatic priority?

read the rest of this article here

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According to this report from the Tehran Times, we’ve had yet another statement from the Iranian President in support of Palestine! It seems that the man is trying to position himself as a bridge-builder  between Shiite and Sunni Muslims through his open support of Hamas.

It would be interesting to know exactly what transpired between Ahmadinejad and Marzook on the subject of Syria. Syria is Iran’s main ally in the region and does not want to see the current regime overthrown. Hamas, on the other hand, have been channeling military personnel into Syria to help topple the Assad government!

Even so, however we understand Syria’s place in the equation, the basic picture for Israel is clear. Muslim countries are uniting more openly around Palestine and Israel is experiencing ever-greater international isolation. And already their last remaining ally – the USA – is starting to waver!

Father Dave

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

source: tehrantimes.com…

Liberation of Palestine, the goal of Muslims, freedom-loving nations: Ahmadinejad

TEHRAN – Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has said that the liberation of Al-Quds (Jerusalem) has become a common goal of all Muslims and freedom-loving nations.

He made the remark during a meeting with Mousa Mohammed Abu Marzook, a senior member of Hamas, in Tehran on Monday.

A glance at Zionists’ decades-long presence in the region proves that they are in a state of collapse, Ahmadinejad noted.

He added that the Palestinian question is a crucial issue for the whole world, and its liberation is tied with the destiny of the entire region.

The president also reiterated Tehran’s support for the oppressed people of Palestine until they achieve victory.

Commenting on the Syrian crisis, Ahmadinejad noted that it is a high time that all sides in Syria make efforts to settle the conflict through dialogue.

For his part, Marzook said Palestinians can achieve victory over the Zionists only through resistance, emphasizing the need to promote unity between the Islamic Ummah.

The Palestinian official also called for making efforts to resolve the Syrian crisis through mutual understanding.

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The answer to this rhetorical question of course is ‘NO’!

The following article that appeared in ‘The Times of Israel‘ is as ludicrous as it is unfounded. The US is not going to attack Iran as it would be suicidal – economically as well as militarily! 

If Iran is attacked, the Straits of Hormuz are closed and the US starts losing valuable petro-dollars. The only option it then has it to send in a ground force and create another terrible quagmire like Iraq and Afghanistan, except that the Iranian resistance to invasion will likely be stronger than both of these other countries put together.

The US is not going to attack Iran, and if she was considering such an insane move it would be for the sake of her own strategic interests and not Israel’s. Enough said.

Father Dave

source: www.timesofisrael.com…

Obama to tell Netanyahu US gearing up for Iran strike

During upcoming visit, president will convey message that window for American military operation opens in June, TV report says

When he visits Israel next month, US President Barack Obama will tell Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that a “window of opportunity” for a military strike on Iran will open in June, according to an Israeli TV report Monday evening.

Obama will come bearing the message that if diplomatic efforts and sanctions don’t bear fruit, Israel should “sit tight” and let Washington take the stage, even if that means remaining on the sidelines during a US military operation, Channel 10 reported. Netanyahu will be asked to refrain from any military action and keep a low profile, avoiding even the mention of a strike, the report said, citing unnamed officials.

In London Monday, Secretary of State John Kerry said an Iran with nuclear weapons was “simply unacceptable” and warned the time limit for a diplomatic solution was running out.

“As we have repeatedly made clear, the window for a diplomatic solution simply cannot remain open forever,” said Kerry, on his first international tour as America’s top diplomat. “But it is open today. It is open now and there is still time, but there is only time if Iran makes the decision to come to the table and to negotiate in good faith.

“We are prepared to negotiate in good faith, in mutual respect, in an effort to avoid whatever terrible consequences could follow failure, and so the choice really is in the hands of the Iranians. And we hope they will make the right choice,” Kerry added.

A fresh round of high-level diplomatic talks were set to begin Tuesday in Kazakhstan — the first since last June’s meeting in Moscow failed to convince Iran to stop enriching uranium to a level close to that used for nuclear warheads.

You can read the rest of this article here: www.timesofisrael.com…

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This article from Gulf News no doubt reflects the pessimism of much of the Middle East with regards to Obama’s potential to make a meaningful contribution to the so-called ‘peace process’ between Israel and Palestine.

Obama’s up-coming trip to Israel might be a ground for hope though, as the author points out, there was nothing in his Union address to suggest that peace between Israel and Palestine was a priority. Even so, there was plenty to suggest that Afghanistan and Iran were priorities and only a fool would think the issues could be easily disconnected.

Father Dave

source: gulfnews.com…

Israel-Palestine peace push not a priority for Obama

State of the Union address shows issue is far off President’s radar

In his first State of the Union address in his second term, US President Barack Obama laid down the plans for his legacy years — but reaching a comprehensive peace deal between Israel and Palestine will not be on his foreign policy agenda.

Obama’s speech was that of a president preoccupied with reviving a moribund economy, increasing the basic wage for full-time workers, getting legislation through a divided Congress and being able to put reasonable limits on America’s gun culture. For immigrants living in the shadows of illegality, it offered hope that they would become free and equal members of US society.

But in all of the words, the standing ovations, the platitudes and the rhetoric, Obama neither uttered the word “Palestine” nor the word “Palestinians” even once. It shows how far off the radar this pressing issue has fallen for the president of the US. In his political judgement, there is no need for his administration to become embroiled in an arm of foreign policy where he feels there is little prospect of success or realistic hope of enduring peace.

However, Obama did utter the word “Israel” — if only briefly — saying he and his administration would stand steadfast with the Jewish state in pursuit of peace and lasting security. What we have learnt is that Obama is committed to winding down the US military presence in Afghanistan, committing to bringing home 66,000 troops and wrapping up the mission by the end of 2014.

Obama is more committed than ever to enforcing security through drone operations — going to great pains in his address to note that the US had developed a legal framework to allow for the continued and intensified drone campaign against militants in the border areas of Pakistan, Afghanistan and Yemen.

And Iran is very much on the Oval Office radar, with Obama urging Tehran to sit down and talk about its nuclear programme. He also added the rider that the US “would do whatever is necessary to prevent them from getting a nuclear weapon”.

At least, we know now how little to expect.