By Arlene Kushner
In case you still had doubts about Obama’s positions regarding jihadi terrorism, I provide here just one more instance that makes it clear how eager he is to deny what is in front of all our faces.
Two days ago, in the course of an interview with Matthew Yglesias of Vox.com, the president referred to the Islamic jihadis who shot up the kosher store in Paris after the Charlie Hebdo attack as “vicious zealots” who “randomly” shot “a bunch of folks in a deli in Paris.”
The “vicious zealots” are not identified as Islamists. (They never are so identified by Obama, are they?) As he sees it, the choice of a kosher deli was just a coincidence. And the shooting victims were merely “a bunch of folks,” and not Jews, specifically.
Mind blowing, really.
You can see the video in which he says this, here:
Ah, but there is more that illustrates how Obama perceives matters – or purports to perceive them at any rate. It is “legitimate,” he says, to be concerned about these vicious zealots and to devote resources to dealing with them, just as a big city mayor acts to cut crime.
This too indicates an obfuscation of the genuine underlying problem that we are confronting: that problem being the ideology of radical Islam. Dealing with street criminals is not parallel at all. This analogy serves to underplay the seriousness of what is threatening the free world right now.
Lastly, I mention this, more for a laugh than anything else. Obama says it is good to allocate resources to dealing with these “zealots,” but it is important to also devote attention to “future threats” such as “global warming.”
Is this man for real? I am certain that all of my readers across the east coast of the US have spent inordinate amounts of time this winter worrying about the imminent threat of global warming. (Actually, satellite data indicates there has been no global warming for about 20 years.)
A great deal of energy was expended following these remarks by Obama, in attempts to justify what he meant.
White House press secretary Josh Earnest, for example, explained that: “the individuals who were killed in the terrible tragic incident were killed not because of who they were, but because of where they randomly happened to be.”
This is pathetic sophistry. No, the victims of the massacre were not singled out by individual identity. But does anyone imagine that the terrorists’ selection of an establishment where kosher food is sold, on a Friday afternoon when Jews would be shopping for Shabbat preparations, was just random? Is there anyone even half-way honest who truly believes that the fact that it was Jews who were killed was purely a random happening?
State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki also dealt with this. She was asked the question: “Does the administration believe that this was…an attack on the Jewish community in France?”
She replied: I don’t think we’re going to speak on behalf of French authorities and what they believe was the situation at play here…”
The questioner persisted: “But if a guy goes into a kosher market and starts shooting it up, he’s not looking for Buddhists, is he? Who does the administration expect shops at a kosher (store)? …I’m not sure I can understand how it is that you can’t say this was a targeted attack.”
Her response: “I don’t have more for you…it’s an issue for the French government to address.”
After the attack at Hyper-Cache, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said, “How can we accept that in France, we still hear about the death of Jews? How can we accept that people are killed because they are Jewish?”
What I ask is how we deal with this: that the French prime minister was able to accept an ugly reality, while the American president and those who speak for his administration dance around it?
I see this state of affairs as alarming.
Meanwhile, Prime Minster Netanyahu continues to make it clear that he intends to speak to Congress and the American people about a matter that is existential for Israel. He will speak in Congress, because the Congressional role may be important, and he will speak before March 24th. (He has clarified this in response to suggestions that the venue of the talk or its timing be changed.)
You can see a short video of his statement here (all emphasis following is added):
“At a time when there are those who are dealing with protocol and politics, a bad deal is being put together in Munich that will endanger Israel’s existence.”
“Israel’s survival is not a partisan issue. Not in Israel, nor in the United States…
“I am going to the United States not because I seek a confrontation with [U.S. President Barack Obama], but because I must fulfill my obligation to speak up on a matter that affects the very survival of my country.”
“Disagreements over Israel’s security have occurred between prime ministers in Israel from the Left and from the Right and American presidents from both parties.
“None of these disagreements led to a rupture in the relationship between Israel and the United States. In fact, over time, our relationship grew stronger.
[He refers here to some major US-Israel disagreements over time.]
“But we do have today a profound disagreement with the United States administration and the rest of the P5+1 over the offer that has been made to Iran. This offer would enable Iran to threaten Israel’s survival. This is a regime, Iran, that is openly committed to Israel’s destruction. It would be able, under this deal, to break out to a nuclear weapon in a short time, and within a few years, to have the industrial capability to produce many nuclear bombs for the goal of our destruction.
“This is not a personal disagreement between President Obama and me. I deeply appreciate all that he has done for Israel in many fields. Equally, I know that the president appreciates my responsibility, my foremost responsibility, to protect and defend the security of Israel.”
Bibi is diligently seeking to separate out the political accusations from genuine security concerns. And yet, those opposed to what he has to say (read, those supporting the Obama administration) continue to try to delegitimize his efforts to speak out on Iran by accusing him of playing politics, making the matter partisan, etc.
Once again, I urge that if you are in the US, you contact your elected representatives in Congress. Tell them that Iran’s threat to Israel is not a partisan matter. Encourage them to listen to what Israel’s prime minister will be saying on March 3. And most especially, urge them to support the Kirk-Menendez bill.
For your Congresspersons:
For your Senators:
One of the accusations made early on, regarding the Netanyahu talk in Congress, is that it was planned without (it was claimed) prior notification to the White House. This was said to be a serious lapse of protocol. Well…I thought I’d take a minute to look at how Obama observed protocol when he was here here in Israel.
As Aaron Lerner of IMRA describes the situation:
”Back on 21 March 2013 President Barack Obama declined to address the democratically elected Knesset and instead chose to speak to a crowd that was screened by the American Embassy in Tel Aviv to preclude Israelis who did not share Mr. Obama’s outlook on Arab-Israeli affairs. The White House termed this selected group ‘the People of Israel.’”
Ruby Rivlin, who was then Speaker of the Knesset, called the situation “worrying”:
”Three American presidents have spoken on the Knesset stage, as well as [Egyptian president Anwar] Sadat and leaders from Europe. President Obama should speak to the people of Israel through its elected representatives.”
Obama only focuses on protocol when it suits him.
Zahava Gal-On, head of the far left Meretz, had hoped to prevent the broadcasting of Bibi’s speech here in Israel, on the grounds that it constituted electioneering, two weeks before the March 17th election.
Israeli Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein has said, however, that there is no reason to block Israeli media outlets from carrying the speech, which “has a very clear news value…;” is “substantially related to the prime minister’s work, so that one cannot say it enters the realm of electioneering;” and “will deal with important matters relating to Israel’s foreign policy and which hold interest for the public.”
As to what is going on regarding the negotiations with Iran, let’s take a look at the latest:
John Hannah, of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, writes (emphasis added):
”Iran appears to be working systematically to advance all three of the elements essential to its nuclear weapons program: 1) the ability to enrich uranium to weapons-grade (by developing more powerful centrifuges); 2) a nuclear explosive device…; and 3) a delivery vehicle (the ballistic missile program). The Iranians have been using the breathing space provided by the interim deal to improve parts of their weapons program that aren’t yet quite up to snuff. In terms of sheer technical capability, Iran will be in a better position to breakout to a bomb in the aftermath of the interim deal than before it took effect.
“The pretense that this process was about compelling a rabidly anti-American theocracy that has been at war with America for four decades to surrender permanently its nuclear weapons ambitions is now out the window. In its place, what remains is the quixotic pursuit of some form of grand bargain, a rapprochement that – while leaving the bulk of Iran’s nuclear infrastructure in place – will somehow work over time to tame the Islamic Republic.
“We see today an Iran on the march throughout the region, plotting terror attacks in the Western Hemisphere, and actively seeking to advance key elements of its nuclear program in the middle of a negotiation whose very purpose is to end that program.”
This title presents its own commentary. Read it, my friends, and weep, or, far better stand up and scream bloody murder.
Senator Bob Corker (R-TN), who heads the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, made the following comment after emerging from a closed-door briefing on the status of negotiations with Iran (emphasis added):
“It’s evident that these negotiations are really not P5+1 negotiations anymore. It’s really more of a bilateral negotiation between the United States and Iran.”
This has been obvious for some time to anyone who has been watching closely. But now it’s being said publicly. And this is scary as hell. Do you realize how much power this gives Obama? And how critical it is that Netanyahu address the Congress?
The way I see it, those P5 + 1 powers that are not actively participating in negotiations have abdicated their solemn responsibility to be involved. I know that France, at least – and perhaps others as well – has been discontent with the Obama position, which is seen as too lenient.
And let’s see just how lenient the US is. As Omri Ceren provided a review of the situation two days ago:
“As always there are two things at stake: process and substance. Process is about the technicalities of the next few months: when are scheduled talks, what are deadlines for various agreements, etc. Substance is about what will ultimately be acceptable to the parties: the structure of the deal, centrifuge capacity, plutonium-production capability, etc.
“The American stance on process is that there’s a March deadline for a political agreement and a June deadline for a technical agreement. The stance on substance is that the West will trade phased sanctions relief for Iran meeting confidence building benchmarks.”
On Sunday, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei had given a speech laying out the conditions he would consider acceptable in negotiations. It took a bit of time for careful translation to proceed. This is the heart of what Ceren reports regarding the Ayatollah’s positions:
(1) Process – rejects political agreement – “I do not favor remarks that we should agree on some principles and later on details. I dislike it when they say that there should be a deal on general principles at one stage and then we can talk about details. Given our experience with the other side, they will use this as a tool for repeatedly making excuses regarding details. If they want a deal, they should cover both generalities and details in a single session, instead of leaving details for later and separating generalities which are vague and leave room for different interpretations. This is not logical.”
(2) Substance – rejects phased lifting of sanctions – “[T]hese are all meant for taking away the weapon of sanctions from the hands of the enemy. It is good if they can do this. However, the sanctions must literally be taken away from the hands of the enemy. The sanctions must be lifted. This kind of a deal [is favored]. Otherwise, if they achieve no success in this regard, the Iranian nation, statesmen, the honorable government and others have numerous ways and they must certainly take this path in order to nullify the weapon of sanctions.”
“So,” writes Ceren, “while it’s technically true Khamenei pressed for ‘progress,’ what that actually means is he rejected the US’s understanding of how talks should move forward. And while it’s technically true he embraced a ‘fair’ deal, what that actually means is he rejected the US’s understanding of how a deal should be structured.”
Khameni has been widely quoted as saying no deal is better than a bad deal, and that for him, a good deal means one that is good for his nation. In other words, he is not predisposed to compromises. He wants what he wants.
Fast forward one day. When Jen Psaki, our good old State Department spokesperson, was asked about the March deadline, she responded:
“Yes it is a goal, it remains a goal, but the secretary has been very vocal about that. We’ve never called it a deadline. We’ve called it a goal of when we want to achieve the political framework.”
The problem with this is that the date has been consistently called a deadline by US spokespersons. For example, on January 28th, White House Deputy Press Secretary Eric Schultz said, “…the president has made clear the importance of the end-of-March deadline…”
What we see, then, is that while Iran may be inflexible, Obama’s desire to seal an agreement is so strong that he will be unendingly flexible.