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and from Jack , written by Ted Belman
Ted, look past what George Bush said to what his administration did. It is not so different from what Obama has planned. Truthfully, I prefer dealing with the open hatred of Obama's people. Clinton's administration perfected the strategy of "loving the Jews to death." It continued into the Bush administration and there are Jews who really believe that Clinton was the best friend the Jews ever had in the White House. There are people who believe the same about Bush. Both are wrong. Jews know how to react to open Jew-haters, anti-Semites in their guts and bones. With Bush 41 and Baker, the situation is clear. Jews do not know how to react to anti-Semites who smile at us and say nice things. Jews will trust them and walk straight into the ovens for them, God forbid! I prefer Jew-haters who tell the truth about where they stand. Bring 'em on!
The stunning news that the U.S. plans to provide some $900 million to help rebuild Gaza is just one indication that the "change" President Obama promised is upon us and that Israel is in for a tough ride. Plainly, the notion that Hamas should feel inhibited out of fear of a repeat of Operation Cast Lead has now been rendered laughable.
Equally comical are the administration's assurances that the money will be funneled through the PA so as not to benefit Hamas. Of course, Hamas is firmly in charge in Gaza and would inevitably have a hand in all reconstruction and receive the lion's share of credit for any improvement in Gaza's landscape and infrastructure.
On Tuesday came the news that a former U.S. envoy to Saudi Arabia who happens to be a leading advocate for the Arab side in the Middle East conflict is President Obama's choice to chair the National Intelligence Council, which coordinates the work of U.S. intelligence agencies. (See front-page news story.)
And there is more. A little over a week ago, the Obama administration did an about-face with respect to the next Durban conference. That UN-sponsored conclave, touted as an international forum to confront racism, served in 2001 as a vehicle for savaging Israel. The Bush administration accorded it pariah status. The Obama administration is now preliminarily involved in Durban II and suggesting that the conference has redeeming value.
Prior to the recent Israeli elections, as it became increasingly clear that Benjamin Netanyahu would be the next Israeli prime minister, there was a series of White House leaks suggesting a looming confrontation between President Obama and Mr. Netanyahu concerning the latter's position on settlements. At the same time, in a direct reversal of Bush administration policy, President Obama's Mideast envoy, George Mitchell, expressed support for Egyptian efforts to forge a Palestinian national unity government, indicating that America was taking a dramatically new approach to Hamas.
In other words, Bibi no, Hamas yes.
It seems the newly minted U.S. senator from New York gets the new order of things. In a February 14 interview, Kirsten Gillibrand, a Democrat, rather haughtily if somewhat clumsily declared, "You never know: as the leader, Mr. Netanyahu may find that when he works with America, he may broaden his view. He may decide that in the interest of peace is a two-state solution. That may well indeed be the path to peace."
Asked whether she would advocate this position in the Senate, she said "I will certainly offer what I think is the best policy, regardless of what Netanyahu says is what he wants to do. I will always be an advocate for the solutions that I think will be most effective."
As for President Obama applying pressure on Israel, she said, "I think the president will use all the means and all the tools in his toolbox to reach a solution for peace in the Middle East. And if he offers positive reinforcement or negative reinforcement, that will be a strategic decision for the administration and our secretary of state."
Back in May 2007, we cautioned about what might be expected from a Democrat in the White House in the course of our comments on some startling statements made by Congressman Gary Ackerman, Democrat of Queens and chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia. In his opening remarks at the outset of his subcommittee's hearings on "Two Sides of the Same Coin: Jewish and Palestinian Refugees," Cong. Ackerman had said,
For Palestinians, the refugee question, more than any other, embodies their cause. It carries the weight of their dispossession and collective anger against Israel; their frustration with the inability of their leaders to resolve their national crisis; their sense of abandonment by the world.
Even as these claims have lingered and the grievances of the refugees have hardened, time has not stood still. The reality is that an exchange of populations has taken place; that the Jews of Iran and the Arab countries are not going back to those lands; and that the Palestinian refugees will not be returning to homes in the State of Israel.
President Bush made as much clear in his letter of April 2004 to Prime Minister Sharon, wherein he acknowledged that "It seems clear that an agreed, just, fair and realistic framework for a solution to the Palestinian refugee issue as part of any final status agreement will need to be found through the establishment of a Palestinian state, and the settling of Palestinian refugees there, rather than in Israel.
While including the words "agreed, just, fair and realistic," President Bush nonetheless took some liberties with Palestinian options. I'm not certain this was wise. Even though I agree with the president's assessment of what is, and what is not possible, I have deep concerns about the wisdom of the United States handicapping one party to a negotiation before the deal-making begins. If you're going to run a high-stakes card game, you have to let the players handle their own cards.
Cong. Ackerman went on to say that even if Palestinian negotiators "were prepared to move forward within the confines described by President Bush, the outcome of any negotiations initiated on this basis wouldn't be acceptable or considered legitimate by the Palestinian people."
So the Palestinians were in effect told that a key congressional figure in the area of the Middle East policy - one with a reputation as a respected supporter of Israel - acknowledged the overarching justness of their "right of return," which, given the Arab defeats in several wars of aggression, has no precedent in modern history. And they were made to understand that they had someone in a very high place who understood why they must be catered to in the course of negotiations.
But George W. Bush was president then, and despite the efforts of the likes of Mr. Ackerman, Israel was not forced to accept unreasonable bargaining chips from the other side. Now one cannot be so sure. Indeed, Cong. Ackerman raised the same concern less than two weeks ago in another introductory address at one of his subcommittee's hearings. And while he carefully insisted he was not suggesting any notion of "moral equivalence," he decried a "spiraling downward" in the Middle East that he explained as follows:
The downward pressure comes from terrorism and the march of settlements and outposts; from the firing of rockets and the perpetration of settler pogroms. It comes in daily images of destruction and the constant reiteration that "they only understand the language of force." It comes in the form of a political party that's always just a few months away from reform and in the form of governing coalitions whose chief purpose is avoiding new elections. It comes in the form of promises that bloodshed is what God desires and declarations that dirt and stones mean more than human life. It comes from tunnels in Gaza and from digging in Jerusalem as well. There is no moral equivalence between these acts but they are part of the same destructive dynamic.
The message to the Palestinians, both of the Fatah and Hamas stripe, is clear. Despite all the formulaic declarations of honoring the special relationship between the U.S. and Israel, there is in the Democratic Party mindset an insistence on moral equivalence and a determination to establish a Palestinian state at the substantial expense of Israel. Granted, such a mindset may not countenance the outright physical destruction of the Jewish state, but pretty much anything short of it is in play.
This is the "change" Barack Obama promised. Believe it.
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