minister benjamin netanyahu

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Benjamin Netanyahu

The Israeli Prime Minister – Benjamin Netanyahu – addressed the UN General Assembly on September 27th, 2012, shortly after Mahmoud Abbas gave his address. You can hear the talk via the video or read the full transcript below.

I know I am not unbiased in these matters but I do wonder how many people are still buying into the world-view that the Israeli Prime Minister is selling, with Israel as an Island of civilisation amidst a sea of medieval Islamic terrorism.

Certainly some of the key assertions in this speech need to be called into question:

  • That all people are equal under Israeli law
  • That Israel is making the world a better place
  • That Iran is on the verge of acquiring nuclear weapons
  • That Iran is the greatest threat to world peace

The most blatant falsehood though, in my opinion, is Netanyahu’s assertion that his government is genuinely committed to some ‘peace process’ with the Palestinians. All the evidence, unfortunately, suggests the opposite.

Father Dave.

A Transcript of Netanyahu’s speech

Thank you very much Mr. President.

It’s a pleasure to see the General Assembly presided by the Ambassador from Israel, and it’s good to see all of you, distinguished delegates.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Three thousand years ago, King David reigned over the Jewish state in our eternal capital, Jerusalem. I say that to all those who proclaim that the Jewish state has no roots in our region and that it will soon disappear.

Throughout our history, the Jewish people have overcome all the tyrants who have sought our destruction. It’s their ideologies that have been discarded by history.

The people of Israel live on. We say in Hebrew Am Yisrael Chai, and the Jewish state will live forever.

The Jewish people have lived in the land of Israel for thousands of years. Even after most of our people were exiled from it, Jews continued to live in the land of Israel throughout the ages. The masses of our people never gave up the dreamed of returning to our ancient homeland.

Defying the laws of history, we did just that. We ingathered the exiles, restored our independence and rebuilt our national life. The Jewish people have come home.

We will never be uprooted again.

Yesterday was Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the Jewish year.

Every year, for over three millennia, we have come together on this day of reflection and atonement. We take stock of our past. We pray for our future. We remember the sorrows of our persecution; we remember the great travails of our dispersion; we mourn the extermination of a third of our people, six million, in the Holocaust.

But at the end of Yom Kippur, we celebrate.

We celebrate the rebirth of Israel. We celebrate the heroism of our young men and women who have defended our people with the indomitable courage of Joshua, David, and the Maccabees of old. We celebrate the marvel of the flourishing modern Jewish state.

In Israel, we walk the same paths tread by our patriarchs Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. But we blaze new trails in science, technology, medicine, agriculture.

In Israel, the past and the future find common ground.

Unfortunately, that is not the case in many other countries. For today, a great battle is being waged between the modern and the medieval.

The forces of modernity seek a bright future in which the rights of all are protected, in which an ever-expanding digital library is available in the palm of every child, in which every life is sacred.

The forces of medievalism seek a world in which women and minorities are subjugated, in which knowledge is suppressed, in which not life but death is glorified.

These forces clash around the globe, but nowhere more starkly than in the Middle East.

Israel stands proudly with the forces of modernity. We protect the rights of all our citizens:  men and women, Jews and Arabs, Muslims and Christians – all are equal before the law.

Israel is also making the world a better place: our scientists win Nobel Prizes. Our know-how is in every cell-phone and computer that you’re using. We prevent hunger by irrigating arid lands in Africa and Asia.

Recently, I was deeply moved when I visited Technion, one of our technological institutes in Haifa, and I saw a man paralyzed from the waist down climb up a flight of stairs, quite easily, with the aid of an Israeli invention.

And Israel’s exceptional creativity is matched by our people’s remarkable compassion. When disaster strikes anywhere in the world – in Haiti, Japan, India, Turkey Indonesia and elsewhere – Israeli doctors are among the first on the scene, performing life-saving surgeries.

In the past year, I lost both my father and my father-in-law. In the same hospital wards where they were treated, Israeli doctors were treating Palestinian Arabs. In fact, every year, thousands of Arabs from the Palestinian territories and Arabs from throughout the Middle East come to Israel to be treated in Israeli hospitals by Israeli doctors.

I know you’re not going to hear that from speakers around this podium, but that’s the truth. It’s important that you are aware of this truth.

It’s because Israel cherishes life, that Israel cherishes peace and seeks peace.

We seek to preserve our historic ties and our historic peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan. We seek to forge a durable peace with the Palestinians.

President Abbas just spoke here.

I say to him and I say to you:

We won’t solve our conflict with libelous speeches at the UN. That’s not the way to solve it. We won’t solve our conflict with unilateral declarations of statehood.

We have to sit together, negotiate together, and reach a mutual compromise, in which a demilitarized Palestinian state recognizes the one and only Jewish State.

Israel wants to see a Middle East of progress and peace. We want to see the three great religions that sprang forth from our region – Judaism, Christianity and Islam – coexist in peace and in mutual respect.

Yet the medieval forces of radical Islam, whom you just saw storming the American embassies throughout the Middle East, they oppose this.

They seek supremacy over all Muslims. They are bent on world conquest. They want to destroy Israel, Europe, America. They want to extinguish freedom. They want to end the modern world.

Militant Islam has many branches – from the rulers of Iran with their Revolutionary Guards to Al Qaeda terrorists to the radical cells lurking in every part of the globe.

But despite their differences, they are all rooted in the same bitter soil of intolerance. That intolerance is directed first at their fellow Muslims, and then to Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, secular people, anyone who doesn’t submit to their unforgiving creed.

They want to drag humanity back to an age of unquestioning dogma and unrelenting conflict.

I am sure of one thing. Ultimately they will fail. Ultimately, light will penetrate the darkness.

We’ve seen that happen before.

Some five hundred years ago, the printing press helped pry a cloistered Europe out of a dark age. Eventually, ignorance gave way to enlightenment.

So too, a cloistered Middle East will eventually yield to the irresistible power of freedom and technology. When this happens, our region will be guided not by fanaticism and conspiracy, but by reason and curiosity.

I think the relevant question is this: it’s not whether this fanaticism will be defeated. It’s how many lives will be lost before it’s defeated.

We’ve seen that happen before too.

Some 70 years ago, the world saw another fanatic ideology bent on world conquest. It went down in flames. But not before it took millions of people with it. Those who opposed that fanaticism waited too long to act. In the end they triumphed, but at an horrific cost.

My friends, we cannot let that happen again.

At stake is not merely the future of my own country. At stake is the future of the world. Nothing could imperil our common future more than the arming of Iran with nuclear weapons.

To understand what the world would be like with a nuclear-armed Iran, just imagine the world with a nuclear-armed Al-Qaeda.

It makes no difference whether these lethal weapons are in the hands of the world’s most dangerous terrorist regime or the world’s most dangerous terrorist organization. They’re both fired by the same hatred; they’re both driven by the same lust for violence.

Just look at what the Iranian regime has done up till now, without nuclear weapons.

In 2009, they brutally put down mass protests for democracy in their own country. Today, their henchmen are participating in the slaughter of tens of thousands of Syrian civilians, including thousands of children, directly participating in this murder.

They abetted the killing of American soldiers in Iraq and continue to do so in Afghanistan. Before that, Iranian proxies killed hundreds of American troops in Beirut and in Saudi Arabia. They’ve turned Lebanon and Gaza into terror strongholds, embedding nearly 100,000 missiles and rockets in civilian areas. Thousands of these rockets and missiles have already been fired at Israeli communities by their terrorist proxies.

In the last year, they’ve spread their international terror networks to two dozen countries across five continents – from India and Thailand to Kenya and Bulgaria. They’ve even plotted to blow up a restaurant a few blocks from the White House in order to kill a diplomat.

And of course, Iran’s rulers repeatedly deny the Holocaust and call for Israel’s destruction almost on a daily basis, as they did again this week from the United Nations.

So I ask you, given this record of Iranian aggression without nuclear weapons, just imagine Iranian aggression with nuclear weapons. Imagine their long range missiles tipped with nuclear warheads, their terror networks armed with atomic bombs.

Who among you would feel safe in the Middle East? Who would be safe in Europe? Who would be safe in America? Who would be safe anywhere?

There are those who believe that a nuclear-armed Iran can be deterred like the Soviet Union.

That’s a very dangerous assumption.

Militant Jihadists behave very differently from secular Marxists. There were no Soviet suicide bombers. Yet Iran produces hordes of them.

Deterrence worked with the Soviets, because every time the Soviets faced a choice between their ideology and their survival, they chose their survival.

But deterrence may not work with the Iranians once they get nuclear weapons.

There’s a great scholar of the Middle East, Prof. Bernard Lewis, who put it best. He said that for the ayatollahs of Iran, mutually assured destruction is not a deterrent, it’s an inducement.

Iran’s apocalyptic leaders believe that a medieval holy man will reappear in the wake of a devastating Holy War, thereby ensuring that their brand of radical Islam will rule the earth.

That’s not just what they believe. That’s what is actually guiding their policies and their actions.

Just listen to Ayatollah Rafsanjani who said, I quote:  ”The use of even one nuclear bomb inside Israel will destroy everything, however it would only harm the Islamic world.”

Rafsanjani said: “It is not irrational to contemplate such an eventuality.”

Not irrational…

And that’s coming from one of the so-called moderates of Iran.

Shockingly, some people have begun to peddle the absurd notion that a nuclear-armed Iran would actually stabilize the Middle East.

Yeah, right…

That’s like saying a nuclear-armed Al-Qaeda would usher in an era of universal peace.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I’ve been speaking about the need to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons for over 15 years.

I spoke about it in my first term in office as Prime Minister, and then I spoke about it when I left office. I spoke about it when it was fashionable, and I spoke about it when it wasn’t fashionable.

I speak about it now because the hour is getting late, very late. I speak about it now because the Iranian nuclear calendar doesn’t take time out for anyone or for anything. I speak about it now because when it comes to the survival of my country, it’s not only my right to speak; it’s my duty to speak. And I believe that this is the duty of every responsible leader who wants to preserve world peace.

For nearly a decade, the international community has tried to stop the Iranian nuclear program with diplomacy.

That hasn’t worked.

Iran uses diplomatic negotiations as a means to buy time to advance its nuclear program.

For over seven years, the international community has tried sanctions with Iran. Under the leadership of President Obama, the international community has passed some of the strongest sanctions to date.

I want to thank the governments represented here that have joined in this effort. It’s had an effect. Oil exports have been curbed and the Iranian economy has been hit hard.

It’s had an effect on the economy, but we must face the truth. Sanctions have not stopped Iran’s nuclear program either.

According to the International Atomic Energy Agency, during the last year alone, Iran has doubled the number of centrifuges in its underground nuclear facility in Qom.

At this late hour, there is only one way to peacefully prevent Iran from getting atomic bombs. That’s by placing a clear red line on Iran’s nuclear weapons program.

Red lines don’t lead to war; red lines prevent war.

Look at NATO’s charter: it made clear that an attack on one member country would be considered an attack on all.  NATO’s red line helped keep the peace in Europe for nearly half a century.

President Kennedy set a red line during the Cuban Missile Crisis. That red line also prevented war and helped preserve the peace for decades.

In fact, it’s the failure to place red lines that has often invited aggression.

If the Western powers had drawn clear red lines during the 1930s, I believe they would have stopped Nazi aggression and World War II might have been avoided.

In 1990, if Saddam Hussein had been clearly told that his conquest of Kuwait would cross a red line, the first Gulf War might have been avoided.

Clear red lines have also worked with Iran.

Earlier this year, Iran threatened to close the Straits of Hormouz. The United States drew a clear red line and Iran backed off.

Red lines could be drawn in different parts of Iran’s nuclear weapons program. But to be credible, a red line must be drawn first and foremost in one vital part of their program: on Iran’s efforts to enrich uranium. Now let me explain why:

Basically, any bomb consists of explosive material and a mechanism to ignite it.

The simplest example is gunpowder and a fuse. That is, you light the fuse and set off the gunpowder.

In the case of Iran’s plans to build a nuclear weapon, the gunpowder is enriched uranium. The fuse is a nuclear detonator.

For Iran, amassing enough enriched uranium is far more difficult than producing the nuclear fuse.

For a country like Iran, it takes many, many years to enrich uranium for a bomb. That requires thousands of centrifuges spinning in tandem in very big industrial plants. Those Iranian plants are visible and they’re still vulnerable.

In contrast, Iran could produce the nuclear detonator – the fuse – in a lot less time, maybe under a year, maybe only a few months.

The detonator can be made in a small workshop the size of a classroom. It may be very difficult to find and target that workshop, especially in Iran. That’s a country that’s bigger than France, Germany, Italy and Britain combined.

The same is true for the small facility in which they could assemble a warhead or a nuclear device that could be placed in a container ship. Chances are you won’t find that facility either.

So in fact the only way that you can credibly prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon, is to prevent Iran from amassing enough enriched uranium for a bomb.

So, how much enriched uranium do you need for a bomb? And how close is Iran to getting it?

Let me show you. I brought a diagram for you. Here’s the diagram.

***   

This is a bomb; this is a fuse.

In the case of Iran’s nuclear plans to build a bomb, this bomb has to be filled with enough enriched uranium. And Iran has to go through three stages.

The first stage: they have to enrich enough of low enriched uranium.

The second stage: they have to enrich enough medium enriched uranium.

And the third stage and final stage: they have to enrich enough high enriched uranium for the first bomb.

Where’s Iran? Iran’s completed the first stage. It took them many years, but they completed it and they’re 70% of the way there.

Now they are well into the second stage. By next spring, at most by next summer at current enrichment rates, they will have finished the medium enrichment and move on to the final stage.

From there, it’s only a few months, possibly a few weeks before they get enough enriched uranium for the first bomb.

***

Ladies and Gentlemen,

What I told you now is not based on secret information. It’s not based on military intelligence. It’s based on public reports by the International Atomic Energy Agency. Anybody can read them. They’re online.

So if these are the facts, and they are, where should the red line be drawn?

The red line should be drawn right here…

Before Iran completes the second stage of nuclear enrichment necessary to make a bomb.

Before Iran gets to a point where it’s a few months away or a few weeks away from amassing enough enriched uranium to make a nuclear weapon.

Each day, that point is getting closer. That’s why I speak today with such a sense of urgency. And that’s why everyone should have a sense of urgency.

Some who claim that even if Iran completes the enrichment process, even if it crosses that red line that I just drew, our intelligence agencies will know when and where Iran will make the fuse, assemble the bomb, and prepare the warhead.

Look, no one appreciats our intelligence agencies more than the Prime Minister of Israel. All these leading intelligence agencies are superb, including ours. They’ve foiled many attacks. They’ve saved many lives.

But they are not foolproof.

For over two years, our intelligence agencies didn’t know that Iran was building a huge nuclear enrichment plant under a mountain.

Do we want to risk the security of the world on the assumption that we would find in time a small workshop in a country half the size of Europe?

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The relevant question is not when Iran will get the bomb. The relevant question is at what stage can we no longer stop Iran from getting the bomb.

The red line must be drawn on Iran’s nuclear enrichment program because these enrichment facilities are the only nuclear installations that we can definitely see and credibly target.

I believe that faced with a clear red line, Iran will back down.

This will give more time for sanctions and diplomacy to convince Iran to dismantle its nuclear weapons program altogether.

Two days ago, from this podium, President Obama reiterated that the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran cannot be contained.

I very much appreciate the President’s position as does everyone in my country. We share the goal of stopping Iran’s nuclear weapons program. This goal unites the people of Israel.  It unites Americans, Democrats and Republicans alike and it is shared by important leaders throughout the world.

What I have said today will help ensure that this common goal is achieved.

Israel is in discussions with the United States over this issue, and I am confident that we can chart a path forward together.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The clash between modernity and medievalism need not be a clash between progress and tradition.

The traditions of the Jewish people go back thousands of years. They are the source of our collective values and the foundation of our national strength.

At the same time, the Jewish people have always looked towards the future. Throughout history, we have been at the forefront of efforts to expand liberty, promote equality, and advance human rights.

We champion these principles not despite of our traditions but because of them.

We heed the words of the Jewish prophets Isaiah, Amos, and Jeremiah to treat all with dignity and compassion, to pursue justice and cherish life and to pray and strive for peace.

These are the timeless values of my people and these are the Jewish people’s greatest gift to mankind.

Let us commit ourselves today to defend these values so that we can defend our freedom and protect our common civilization.

Thank you.

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Father Roy writes: Joshua Holland is an editor and senior writer at AlterNet.  Holland writes:  “While telling David Gregory, repeatedly, that he wasn’t going to be drawn into the American election, Netanyahu has inserted himself quite clumsily into the race.”  Then Holland explains why it’s not going to work.    Peace, Roy

Source: www.alternet.org……

Benjamin Netanyahu

Netanyahu Is Trying to Influence an American Election — 5 Reasons It’s Not Going to Work

Bibi’s fundamentally mis-reading America’s political landscape.

September 17, 2012

We can write irony’s obituary after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu went on Meet the Press to articulate his differences with the administration’s approach to Iran while telling David Gregory, repeatedly, that he wasn’t “going to be drawn into the American election.”

Netanyahu has inserted himself quite clumsily into the race. He recently demanded that the United States lay out specific “red lines” that, if crossed by Iran, would bring American military power to bear on the Islamic Republic (the administration has done so already, but Bibi doesn’t like them). He berrated our ambassador, Dan Shapiro, over the issue with an outburst that Alon Liel, a former Israeli foreign ministry official, characterized as “an attempt to help the Republicans in the upcoming election. The entire show… is meant to prove to the American public, and in particular to the Jewish community, that the rift between Israel and the United States is more significant and deeper than we thought.” And then last week a dubious story was leaked claiming that Netanyahu had requested a meeting with Obama only to be declined.

And Bibi isn’t just putting his thumb on the scale because of his decades-long friendship with Mitt Romney . Time magazine’s Joe Klein said of the blackmail attempt, “I don’t think I’ve ever, in the forty years I’ve been doing this – and I’m trying to search my mind through history – have heard of another example of an American ally trying to push us into war as blatantly, and trying to influence an American election as blatantly as Bibi Netanyahu and the Likud party in Israel is doing right now. I think it’s absolutely outrageous and disgusting…. it is cynical and it is brazen.”

It’s also the case that Bibi, who supposedly knows more about American politics than most American politicians, is fundamentally misreading the political landscape and, in doing so, playing a very weak hand.

Here are five reasons he’s getting the picture wrong.

1. Obama’s Support Among Jewish Voters Unchanged

Over the past three years, there have been dozens of breathless stories claiming that Obama was losing his hold on the Jewish vote, ostensibly because of the tensions that exist between the president and Netanyahu. And Bibi no doubt believed that to be the case – he believed that he could have a spoiler effect in Florida. But all those stories were nonsense – Jewish support declined from election night 2008 along with other Democratic-leaning groups. Obama’s post-convention “bounce” has been about those voters coming back into the fold, and Jewish voters are no exception.

Among Jewish voters, Obama beat John McCain 69-25 in 2008. According to Gallup, he now leads Romney by a 70-25 margin among those same voters.

2. Jews Don’t See U.S.-Israel Relations as a Key Election Issue

If you believe AIPAC or the Republican Jewish Coalition, as Netanyahu probably does, Jewish voters place an enormous amount of weight on U.S.-Israeli relations, and are always ripe for the picking by a Republican who shows sufficient fealty toward the Jewish state or hostility for Iran. The reality is quite different.

Back in March, the American Jewish Committee (AJC) released it’s comprehensive annual survey of American Jewish opinion . It asked Jewish voters to rank eleven issues by importance. Just 6 percent said U.S.-Israel relations was their top issue, and only one in five listed it among their top 3 issues. American Jews are, after all, Americans and have to live here – 29 percent said the economy was their number one issue, followed by healthcare (20 percent). Taxes, Social Security and national security all beat out Israel as issues of importance.

If Jews make up the same share of the electorate in 2012 as they did in 2008 – 2 percent – this means that 0.4 percent of American voters are Jews who rank Israel among their top 3 issues. Even in Florida, they’d make up only .08 percent of the vote.

3. Conservative White Evangelicals Won’t Vote for Obama Anyway

Although we don’t have the data necessary for an apples-to-apples comparison – with white Evangelicals ranking the same eleven issues as Jewish voters – it’s possible that this group puts more emphasis on the issue of Israel than Jewish Americans. A 2006 poll by Pew found that “seven-in-ten white evangelicals (69%) believe God gave Israel to the Jewish people and a solid majority (59%) believes that Israel is the fulfillment of biblical prophecy.”

According to a Pew poll last year, two-thirds of them said, “helping to protect Israel should be a very important policy goal for the United States in the Middle East” – a much higher share than among other Christian groups. What’s more, the study found that the conviction was stronger among more conservative Evangelicals – people who would never vote for Obama anyway.

4. Jewish Voters Aren’t Too Worried About Iran; Approve of Obama’s Approach

According to the AJC survey, just 4 percent of Jewish voters say that Iran’s nuclear program is their most important concern, and only one in seven say it ranks among their top three.

When the survey was conducted in March, Obama’s overall support among Jews was 9 points lower than it is in the latest Gallup poll, but the respondents approved of how Obama has handled Iran by a 61-37 margin.

5. Like other Americans, Jews Care About the Economy

Jewish Americans’ top four issues, according to the AJC survey, are the economy, health-care, taxes and national security (in that order).

Here’s how they rated Obama’s performance on those key issues back in March (again, when their overall support for Obama was around 10 points lower than it is today):

• Economy: 59 percent approved

• Health-care: 62 percent approved

• Taxes: 57 percent approved

• National Security: 69 percent approved

And while it wasn’t a top issue, Jewish voters approved of how Obama has handled the U.S.-Israeli relationship by a 58-40 margin.

All of this is why Netanyahu’s attempt to drive a wedge between Jewish voters and Obama is a fool’s errand. Give Obama some credit for calling his bluff.

Joshua Holland is an editor and senior writer at AlterNet. He’s the author of The 15 Biggest Lies About the Economy. Drop him an email or follow him on Twitter.

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Father Roy writes: The following article reports a detail of contemporary history while history is in the process of being made.  One must never misunderestimate the efficacy of details.  Benjamin Netanyahu is complaining (whining, really wailing) that President Obama has snubbed him, and some are making an issue of it.  There will be a sensation in the media.

Future historians will refer to today’s detail as "The Snub of September 2012".  Details are most interesting when we ferret out the significance in the process, so let’s read between the lines of the article pasted below.  Let’s notice the comedy in the situation as well as the human tragedy.  Let’s start figuring out what we can do to avoid another world war.

President Obama will address the UNGA on 25 September.  Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will address the UNGA on September the 28th.  If either of them starts telling lies in his speech, the International Community will be exceeding "annoyed".   There’s a possibility that there will be walk-outs.

Peace,

Roy

Image001

U.S. President Barack Obama Avoids Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu Meeting

By Matt Spetalnick and Allyn Fisher-Ilan

WASHINGTON/JERUSALEM, Sept 11 (Reuters) – In a highly unusual rebuff to a close ally, the White House said on Tuesday that President Barack Obama would not meet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a U.S. visit later this month, as tensions escalated over how to deal with Iran’s nuclear program.

The apparent snub, coupled with Netanyahu’s sharpened demands for a tougher U.S. line against Iran, threatened to plunge U.S.-Israeli relations into crisis and add pressure on Obama in the final stretch of a tight presidential election campaign.

An Israeli official said the White House had refused Netanyahu’s request to meet Obama when the Israeli leader visits the United States to attend the U.N. General Assembly, telling the Israelis "the president’s schedule will not permit that."

White House spokesman Tommy Vietor denied Netanyahu’s request had been spurned, insisting instead that the two leaders were attending the General Assembly on different days and would not be in New York at the same time.

Netanyahu has had a strained relationship with Obama, but they have met on all but one of his U.S trips since 2009. The president was on a foreign visit when the prime minister came to the United States in November 2010.

By withholding a meeting, Obama could alienate some Jewish and pro-Israel voters as he seeks a second term in the Nov. 6 election. Republican rival Mitt Romney has already accused Obama of being too tough on Israel and not hard enough on Iran.

The White House’s decision could signal U.S. displeasure with the Israeli leader’s intensifying pressure for Obama to set specific red lines on Iran.

Word that the two men would not meet came on the same day that Netanyahu said the United States had forfeited its moral right to stop Israel from taking action against Iran’s nuclear program because it had refused to be firm with Tehran itself.

Netanyahu has argued that setting a clear boundary for Iran’s uranium enrichment activities and imposing stronger economic sanctions could deter Tehran from developing nuclear weapons and mitigate the need for military action.

In comments that appeared to bring the possibility of an Israeli attack on Iran closer, Netanyahu took Washington to task for rebuffing his call to set a "red line" for Iran’s nuclear program, which has already prompted four rounds of U.N. sanctions.

"The world tells Israel ‘wait, there’s still time.’ And I say, ‘Wait for what? Wait until when?’" said Netanyahu, speaking in English.

"Those in the international community who refuse to put red lines before Iran don’t have a moral right to place a red light before Israel," he added, addressing a news conference with Bulgaria’s prime minister.

"UNPRECEDENTED ATTACK"

The website of Israel’s daily newspaper Haaretz called his words "an unprecedented verbal attack on the U.S. government".

Iran makes no secret of its hostility to Israel, widely assumed to be the region’s only nuclear-armed power, but says its nuclear program is purely peaceful.

Netanyahu’s relations with Obama have been tense because of Iran and other issues, such as Jewish settlement building in the occupied West Bank.

But he has never framed his differences with Obama – who has pledged he will "always have Israel’s back" and is deep in a re-election campaign – in moral terms.

Obama has been seeking to shore up his advantage over Romney with Jewish voters – who could make a difference in election battleground states like Florida and Ohio – by recently stressing his rock-solid support for Israel’s security.

He received 78 percent of the Jewish vote in the 2008 election, but a nationwide Gallup poll in June showed him down to 64 percent backing versus Romney’s 29 percent.

While seeking to put Netanyahu in his place might not go down well with pro-Israel voters, the White House may also be trying to avoid the prospects of an embarrassing encounter at a difficult time in U.S.-Israeli relations.

When the two men met in the Oval Office in May 2011, Netanyahu lectured Obama on Jewish history and criticized his approach to Israeli-Palestinian diplomacy.

Netanyahu’s office had offered a solution to the leaders’ scheduling problems by having him visit Washington before his U.N. speech on Sept. 28, the Israeli official said. But the White House did not accept the idea.

Obama, who is keeping up a busy schedule of campaign rallies around the country, is expected to take a break to address the United Nations on Sept. 25.

Netanyahu’s harsh comments on Tuesday followed U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s remarks on Monday that the United States would not set a deadline in further talks with Iran, and that there was still time for diplomacy to work.

U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said on Tuesday that Washington would have little more than a year to act to stop Iran if it decided to produce a nuclear weapon.

Iran has threatened to retaliate against Israel and U.S. interests in the Gulf if it is attacked, and any such conflict could throw Obama’s re-election bid off course.

DEADLINE

Netanyahu did not mention Clinton by name but pointedly parroted her use of the word "deadline," saying:

"If Iran knows that there is no ‘deadline’, what will it do? Exactly what it’s doing. It’s continuing, without any interference, towards obtaining a nuclear weapons capability and from there, nuclear bombs …

"So far we can say with certainty that diplomacy and sanctions haven’t worked. The sanctions have hurt the Iranian economy but they haven’t stopped the Iranian nuclear program. That’s a fact. And the fact is that every day that passes, Iran gets closer and closer to nuclear bombs."

Despite the recent tougher Israeli rhetoric, over the past week, Netanyahu, in calling for a "red line," had appeared to be backing away from military action and preparing the ground for a possible meeting with Obama.

Opinion polls suggest that a majority of Israelis do not want their military to strike Iran without U.S. support.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak seemed to criticize Netanyahu’s assault on the Jewish state’s biggest ally.

"Despite the differences and importance of maintaining Israel’s independence of action, we must remember the importance of partnership with the United States and try as much as possible not to hurt that," a statement from his office said.

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Miko Peled is a passionate activist on behalf of Palestinian human-rights. That in itself is unusual for a Jew. What makes Miko unique though is that his father was one of the leading Israeli generals in the war of 1967!

It is hard not to respect someone who gives up a life of privilege for the sake of their commitment to justice and peace. Miko is a great man. He is also a man of extraordinary insight into Israel/Palestine that has come from his unique upbringing. I met Miko in person last year when he was in Sydney. Indeed, we had the privilege of having him address our community here in Dulwich Hill (and you can see the videos here).

In the following article Miko is not optimistic the future. Can anybody stop Israel from taking a preemptive strike against Iran? Certainly he recognises that the violent rhetoric wasn’t always serious but he clearly believes now that Israel is 100% serious about war. I hope he is wrong.

Father Dave

Father Dave and Miko Peled
Father Dave and Miko Peled in 2011

Can Sparta be Stopped?

by Miko Peled

source: Miko’s Blog – Tear Down the Wall

A senior Israel government official, who is strongly believed to be Israel’s Defense Minister General Ehud Barak, was quoted in Haaretz saying “The blade that rests on our neck today is more dangerous than the blade that threatened us in 1967.” In spite of evidence that clearly proves Israel was not under any threat in 1967, the legend of the1967 war where Israel was supposedly under an existential threat and therefore had to engage in a pre-emptive strike against it Arab neighbors, continues to live on in the minds of Israelis. Now this myth is being manipulated to justify an attack on Iran. General Barak and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are recreating 1967 in order to spread fear among Israelis and solidify their arguments for an attack on Iran.

Until recently it seemed that Israel wanted the so-called Iranian threat so it could use it as a smoke screen. It was easy for Israel to hide behind an Iranian threat so that the state can continue its atrocities and gross human rights violations against the Palestinian population. But now, as the 1967 scenario is being re played it seems that Israeli decision makers want more than just the threat, they want the war.

In the weeks and months leading up to the war of June1967, several elder statesmen warned of a pending disaster if Israel acted alone and they pleaded that Israel must not act until US approval was clearly given for an attack. Today, Israeli President Shimon Peres came out of his non-political post as citizen number one, and said Israel must not attack without the US or “It will remain friendless”. Line by line, this too was taken from the script of the 1967 play.

Clearly Israel is the Sparta of today where war is just a game. Seventy five million Iranians who have done no harm must suffer sanctions and live in fear of an impending attack. Israel is known to be a nuclear power and it has a history of aggressive, one would argue irrational and violent behavior. The question is who has the power to stop Sparta, and the answer, sadly, is: No one.

In a world where stockpiles of weapons need to be replaced so that new ones can be manufactured and sold, and politicians running for office confuse war mongering with leadership, an entire nation is once again seen as collateral damage. Iranians may be victims to the war hungry state of Israel and money hungry US arms manufacturers and contractors.

Just as in the case of Iraq, once the guns are silenced and the dead have been counted, and whatever it is that these blind, war hungry megalomaniac generals and politicians did not foresee happen does happen, only then will people ask, “why?” Why was this war necessary? Why did we allow the rogue Zionist state that has already delegitimized its very existence by practicing ethnic cleansing and mass murder of civilians to go ahead with this act of terrorism against Iran? Then politicians will claim they opposed this from the get-go and that they were misinformed, and the look for a scapegoat will begin. But by then the damage will already have been done, the destruction will not be undone and the dead will not be brought back to life.

What will it take to stop Sparta? Palestinians, who suffer daily under the yolk of Israel’s oppressive and brutal regime, have been calling out for years but their cries fall on deaf ears. Israel continues the slow and methodical ethnic cleansing campaign that began six decades ago, but the world looks the other way. Now it seems that Israel is preparing for its most dangerous, indeed most deadly escapade and still politicians in the US and around the world either sit idle or add to the beat of the war drums with their absurd claims of an Iranian threat. One wonders what would it take for millions to start protesting in front of Israeli embassies and consulates around the world and demand Israel stand down the threat of war.

On June 1967, Israel’s government was pushed into the war by an irresponsible, trigger happy, overly confident group of young generals who wanted to conquer land and destroy the Arab armies. No thought was given to the future of the state or to the consequences the war may bring, but because they were victorious their irresponsible actions were forgotten. Today, a government that is blinded by a desire to fight, destroy and of course win leads Israel. They are certain that victory is within reach and they seem willing to sacrifice whatever it takes to act on their urge to attack. They are Sparta.

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This is an excellent article by Glenn Greewald, highlighting the way that media propaganda drives the West’s militaristic political agenda, while reminding us that it does not have to be this way, and that genuine ‘acts of journalism’ do still take place!

I suspect that we will look back on this period of history one day and see it as the era of media manipulation, where journalists and TV presenters took on the role once played by brown-shirted secret police – sanitizing approved criminal acts on the one hand and silencing dissidents on the other.

I note that the links in this article are very much worth following. Dave

As published on Salon.com…

Journalism v. Propaganda

By Glenn Greenwald, Salon

22 July 12

The US and Israel blame Iran for the suicide attack in Bulgaria, but offer no evidence for the accusation.

Almost immediately after a suicide bomber killed five Israeli tourists in Bulgaria on Wednesday, Israeli officials, led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, blamed Iran, an accusation uncritically repeated by most Western media outlets even as Bulgarian investigators warned it would be a “mistake” to assign blame before the attack could be investigated. Now, Israel, along with the U.S., is blaming Hezbollah and, therefore, Iran for the attack. Today’s New York Times article by Nicholas Kulish and Eric Schmitt – headlined “Hezbollah Is Blamed for Attack on Israeli Tourists in Bulgaria” – uncritically treats those accusations as confirmed fact despite no evidence being offered for it

American officials on Thursday identified the suicide bomber responsible for a deadly attack on Israeli vacationers here as a member of a Hezbollah cell that was operating in Bulgaria and looking for such targets, corroborating Israel’s assertions and making the bombing a new source of tension with Iran. 
One senior American official said the current American intelligence assessment was that the bomber, who struck Wednesday, killing five Israelis, had been “acting under broad guidance” to hit Israeli targets when opportunities presented themselves, and that the guidance had been given to Hezbollah, a Lebanese militant group, by Iran, its primary sponsor. Two other American officials confirmed that Hezbollah was behind the bombing, but declined to provide additional details. 
The attacks, the official said, were in retaliation for the assassinations of Iranian nuclear scientists, for which Iran has blamed Israeli agents – an accusation that Israel has neither confirmed nor denied. “This was tit for tat,” said the American official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation was still under way. . . . 
A senior Israeli official said on Thursday that the Burgas attack was part of an intensive wave of terrorist attacks around the world carried out by two different organizations, the Iranian Quds Force, an elite international operations unit within Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, as well as by Hezbollah.

By “identified,” “confirmed” and “corroborated” Iranian and Hezbollah responsibility, what The New York Times means is this: American officials asserted that this was so, even as they “declined to provide additional details” and even though “the investigation was still under way.” Indeed, this accusation is, as the NYT sees it, “confirmed” and “corroborated” even though “no details yet about the bomber like his name or nationality” are known; even though their anonymous American source “declined to describe what specific intelligence – intercepted communications, analysis of the bomber’s body parts or other details – led analysts to conclude that the bomber belonged to Hezbollah”; even though “the Bulgarians are still trying to figure out how the bomber entered the country, how he traveled around and where he stayed”; and even though the Bulgarian Foreign Minister said: “We’re not pointing the finger in any direction until we know what happened and complete our investigation.” All The Paper of Record knows is that U.S. and Israeli officials have blamed Iran and Hezbollah, and – as usual – that’s good enough for them. Identified, Confirmed and Corroborated.

By stark contrast, The Washington Post’s Karin Brulliard, reporting from Jerusalem, commits an act of actual journalism with her story on this event. She, too, notes the official accusations of Hezbollah and Iranian responsibility, but, as Think Progress’ Ali Gharib points out, she heavily qualifies that in the third paragraph of her story: “Israel offered no concrete evidence tying the bombing to Iran, and Bulgarian officials cautioned that it was too early to attribute responsibility.” That’s called basic journalism: instead of just repeating official claims, treating them as “confirmed,” and shaping the entire article around those assertions, she prominently notes that there is no real evidence to lead anyone to believe these accusations. She then adds more skepticism: “U.S. intelligence officials said it was ‘plausible’ that Hezbollah carried out the attack but that analysts at the CIA and other agencies were still evaluating the intelligence surrounding the bombing and had not reached a conclusion.”

I have no idea who is behind the attacks. If it turns out to be Hezbollah and/or Iran, that will not shock me: after all, if it is perceived that you have sent hit squads onto a country’s soil to murder their nuclear scientists, it’s likely that the targeted nation will want to respond with violence of their own. But there is no evidence to confirm the American and Israeli accusations. A reader of the New York Times article would not know that, while a reader of Brulliard’s article in the Post would. That’s the difference between journalism and propaganadistic stenography. It’s really not that difficult or complex, when repeating government claims, to note clearly and prominently that no evidence has been furnished to support those claims.

Following up on the argument I made about the Syria bombing – that Western political and media circles would treat the attack on Syrian officials as something to praise: the U.S. State Department, even when assuming it was a suicide bomb, refused to denounce the attack and came close to praising it, while The New York Times referred to the rebels’ “brazen assassination of top security officials.” While denying responsibility for the Bulgarian attack, Iranian officials noted this posture

The speaker of Iran’s Parliament, Ali Larijani, criticized the United States for not condemning the bombing in Damascus on Wednesday that struck at President Bashar al-Assad’s inner circle, killing three senior defense officials. “By not condemning the assassination in Syria, the Americans show that they believe in good assassinations and bad assassinations,” he said, according to the Fars news agency.

Indeed, in one of the grandest understatements of the year, State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland, when asked about U.S. policy toward Israeli human rights abuses, recently acknowledged: “We are not always consistent.” That’s true even when it comes to the question of what counts as Terrorism and whether it is good or bad.