prime minister benjamin

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Father Roy writes: A fight over Chuck Hagel’s confirmation will reveal to American voters and taxpayers the extent to which Israel’s lobby influences the US Senate.  See my highlights in Reuters’ article pasted below.  Those of us who support Hagel’s confirmation can Contact the White House.  Internationals can write, too, of course.   Peace, Roy

www.reuters.com…

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Pro-Israel groups, neoconservatives and even some former colleagues on Capitol Hill are confronting President Barack Obama with a growing backlash against Chuck Hagel, the ex-Republican senator tipped as his leading candidate for defense secretary.

Obama’s aides have given no sign of dropping Hagel from consideration – even after several American Jewish leaders privately complained about his policy views, most notably on Israel and Iran, at a White House-hosted Hanukkah party last week, according to one attendee.

But what has become clear in recent days is that the Democratic president will have a Senate confirmation fight on his hands if he decides to nominate the former Nebraska lawmaker, regarded as a moderate Republican, to replace Leon Panetta at the Pentagon.

The White House is preparing for a major realignment of Obama’s national security team, possibly by the end of this week, sources familiar with the process have said. But the announcement could be delayed by the difficult “fiscal cliff” negotiations with congressional Republicans.

That could provide more time for Hagel’s critics to marshal opposition to his nomination, in public and behind the scenes. But even they are skeptical of being able to derail it.

Obama himself has faced questions from American Jewish leaders about his approach to close U.S. ally Israel, especially given his strained relations with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and may decide to take a risk with Hagel.

“This is a nomination that could be toxic to some degree for the White House,” a Senate Republican foreign policy aide said. “Do they really want this in the first months of a second term?”

Some of Israel’s leading U.S. supporters contend that Hagel, who left the Senate in 2008, at times opposed Israel’s interests, voting several times against U.S. sanctions on Iran, and made disparaging remarks about the influence of what he called a “Jewish lobby” in Washington.

William Kristol of the conservative Weekly Standard wrote in a recent column that Hagel “has anti-Israel, pro-appeasement-of-Iran bona fides.”

While declining to discuss Hagel’s record on Israel, White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters last Thursday that “the president thinks very highly of Senator Hagel.”

Hagel’s office has remain tight-lipped and had no immediate comment.

J Street, a liberal American Jewish group, said it was “appalled by efforts surfacing in recent days to question his commitment to the state of Israel and to Middle East peace.”

But The Washington Post weighed in late on Tuesday with an editorial declaring that Hagel was “not the right choice.”

It chided him for advocating deep defense cuts and said he was out-of-step on Iran for voicing skepticism that force might eventually be needed to stop its nuclear program.

read he rest of this article on reuters.com…

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Father Roy writes:   Political “experts” and the results of a recent Ha’aretz poll lead to the conclusion that Netanyahu will be re-elected.  Bibi is generally regarded as more suitable than the others to lead Israel into the future.  Attitudes can change, of course.  Regimes can change, as well.  Laura Friedman writes:  No More Excuses for Bibi.    I’ve done some highlighting in the article pasted below.   Peace, Roy

Poll: Netanyahu beats all comers

Tzipi Livni is best positioned against the prime minister in the race for the premiership.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has no serious challenger in the next election, political experts said after he launched the campaign for the 19th Knesset on Tuesday. A poll carried out for Haaretz on Wednesday appears to confirm this.

The poll, conducted by Dialog under the supervision of Professor Camil Fuchs of Tel Aviv University, shows that Netanyahu easily defeats all his possible rivals from the center-left bloc. As far as the public is concerned, Netanyahu is deemed much more suitable for post of prime minister than any of his potential rivals.

At the same time, the Likud-right wing-ultra-Orthodox bloc has increased its strength to 68 Knesset seats, while the center-left bloc has gone down to 52, compared to the blocs’ respective strength in the outgoing Knesset and the previous poll.

The candidate with the highest support after Netanyahu is Tzipi Livni, who has retired from political life. However, Livni, who is considering a return to political life, fails to muster more than half of the support attributed to Netanyahu (57 percent – 28 percent ).

Ironically, Livni, who failed as Kadima’s leader in the opposition, lost to Shaul Mofaz in the party primaries and was ousted from the political arena by her party members, is the leading opposition candidate.

Kadima members may regret voting for Mofaz as their party leader in March. No wonder many of them are hoping that she or Ehud Olmert will return. Or even both of them.

Support for the remaining potential candidates – former prime minister Ehud Olmert, who hasn’t decided yet whether he’s throwing his hat in the ring, Atzmaut leader Ehud Barak, Kadima chairman Shaul Mofaz and Labor chairwoman Shelly Yacimovich – is not impressive.

The poll results lead to the conclusion that Netanyahu will be the next prime minister.

The poll, conducted by Dialog, under the supervision of Professor Camil Fuchs of Tel Aviv University, shows that support for Netanyahu is even stronger than it was in the previous poll some two weeks ago. Asked about their satisfaction with Netanyahu’s performance as prime minister, 45 percent of the interviewees were satisfied and 45 percent were dissatisfied, marking a 15 percent improvement from the last poll, in which only 38 were satisfied compared to 53 who were not.

The improvement in Netanayhu’s position likely results from his presentation at the UN and perhaps from his announcement of early elections.

While the Likud receives a few more Knesset seats and Labor a few less, Yair Lapid is considerably stronger, according to this poll. Ehud Barak’s Atzmaut Party does not obtain the minimum required votes to enter the Knesset.

Future polls are expected to examine the repercussions of a party led by Olmert on the political map. However, in view of the right wing bloc’s strength, it is hard to imagine Olmert, with or without Livni, attracting enough cross-over votes from the right.

If Olmert joins the campaign, he will no doubt affect the power balance in the center-left bloc dramatically. Yacimovich will weaken, Lapid will weaken even more. Mofaz will probably have to renounce his place as Kadima leader. It is not clear, however, whether this will change the outcome for Netanyahu.

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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

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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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Father Roy writes: Peers, if another big war breaks out in the Holy Land, American voters and taxpayers will have no trouble figuring out who’s responsible.  See:  U.S. Still Believes Iran NOT On Verge of Nuclear WeaponI’m copying Mark Regev on this post.  The highlights in the article pasted below are mine.   Peace, Roy  

Decision To Attack Iran is Almost Final

PM believes Iran’s regime is aiming to ‘destroy the Jewish people,’ does not think Obama will resort to force.Nuclear drive ‘further ahead’ than previously thought. In a year, Israeli action could have only ‘negligible effect’

By Times of Israel staff

August 11, 2012 “Times of Israel” –Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak have “almost finally” decided on an Israeli strike at Iran’s nuclear facilities this fall, and a final decision will be taken “soon,” Israel’s main TV news broadcast reported on Friday evening.

Channel 2 News, the country’s leading news program, devoted much of its Friday night broadcast to the issue, detailing the pros and cons that, it said, have taken Netanyahu and Barak to the brink of approving an Israeli military attack despite opposition from the Obama administration and from many Israeli security chiefs.

Critically, the station’s diplomatic correspondent Udi Segal said, Israel does not believe that the US will take military action as Iran closes in on the bomb.

The US, the TV report said, has not provided Israel with details of an attack plan. President Obama has not promised to attack Iran if all else fails. Conditions cited by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta for an American attack do not calm Israeli concerns. And Obama has a record of seeking UN and Arab League approval before action. All these factors, in Jerusalem’s mind, underline the growing conviction of Netanyahu and Barak that Israel will have to tackle Iran alone, the TV report said.

Israel’s leaders have also noted that president George W. Bush vowed repeatedly that North Korea would not be allowed to attain a nuclear weapons capability — a vow that proved empty.

Obama does not want to intervene militarily before the presidential elections in November, and it is doubtful that he would act afterwards, runs the Israeli assessment, the TV report said. Obama may believe that the US can live with a nuclear Iran, but Israel cannot, the report quoted those in “Netanyahu’s circle” as saying.

As for presidential challenger Mitt Romney, he takes a more forceful position, but would probably not have the domestic support necessary to act in the first year of his presidency, if elected, and after that it would be too late.

The US can live with Iran as a “breakout state” — on the edge of attaining a bomb, the report said the prime minister’s circle believes. But “for Israel, a breakout state is a nuclear state.”

Netanyahu, for his part, “is convinced that thwarting Iran amounts to thwarting a plan to destroy the Jewish people,” Channel 2′s Segal said. The prime minister considers Iran’s spiritual leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to be acting rationally in order to achieve “fanatical” goals.

Segal said that, when considering the imperative to attack, Netanyahu and Barak reason that “we may have reached the moment of truth” after which it would be too late to stop Iran, and that “the price of an attack is far lower than the price of inaction.” It will be “a matter of a few months” before it is too late, Segal said — before, that is, Iran would be immune from damage by an Israeli strike.

The TV report cited intelligence information suggesting that Iran “is much further ahead” than previously thought in its uranium enrichment and in other aspects of its nuclear weapons program.

Segal said Israel’s capacity to impact the Iranian program was dwindling, and the “window of opportunity” was closing. “Four years ago,” he said, an Israeli strike could have set back the Iranian program “by two to four years.” A year from now, an Israeli strike “would have a negligible impact.”

Netanyahu was reported to have said in private conversations that “if no one attacks, Iran will get the bomb” — underlining that he does not believe sanctions will thwart Tehran.

The extensive TV report detailed what it said was the Israeli leadership duo’s thinking on the military, diplomatic and economic consequences of an Israeli strike, and the consequences of Iran getting the bomb.

Militarily, an Israeli strike would prompt missile attacks on Israel, attacks by Hamas and Hezbollah from the south and the north, and upheaval on the Arab street, in the leadership’s assessment. The assessment is that Syria’s President Bashar Assad would not get involved, since this would finish him off, the report said. But if Iran got the bomb, the missile threat would be escalated, Hamas and Hezbollah further empowered, and there would be a danger of any crisis escalating into a nuclear crisis.

Diplomatically, an Israeli strike would prompt a confrontation with the US, global protests, international isolation for Israel, delegitimization, and a situation in which Israel was seen as the aggressor. But if Iran got the bomb, Israel would be defeated and humiliated diplomatically, and would become a liability to the US, the TV report said Israel’s two key leaders believe.

Economically, an Israeli strike would deepen the economic slowdown and lead to a suspension of foreign investment. An Iranian bomb would end foreign investment in Israel, however, and prompt an exodus of Israel’s best brains.

Netanyahu and Barak were said to believe that an Israeli military strike, though opposed by Washington, would not shatter ties with the US. Survey figures that have impacted their thinking suggest significant US support for an American and for an Israeli strike on Iran, the TV report said.

Israel would not be planning to draw the US into a war with Iran by striking at Iran’s nuclear facilities, the report said. And Israel does not believer an attack would prompt regional war.

The TV report made much of a recent speech by Netanyahu, at the scene of Sunday’s terror attack thwarted by Israel at the Gaza-Egypt-Israel border. Visiting the area on Monday, Netanyahu said Israel “must and can” only rely on itself to safeguard its security.

“It becomes clear time after time that when it comes to the safety of Israeli citizens, Israel must and can rely only on itself. No one can fulfill this role except the IDF and different Israel security forces of Israel, and we will continue to conduct ourselves in this way,” Netanyahu said.