Press Feed
Pages Menu

Russell Sitrit-Leibovich

Obama to Pressure Israel in Future Visit

American president Barack Obama will be visiting Israel for the first time during his presidency in early March. While he will likely not be introducing any new peace plans, presumably he is coming to push to restart negotiations with the Palestinians, and not just for the Israeli spring weather. As always, the president will want some sort of Israel concession, as a “goodwill gesture” towards the Palestinians. Already, US Secretary of State Kerry will be visiting Israel ahead of the president’s visit to prepare the ground. The Europeans, led by French President Hollande, are encouraging Obama to put more pressure on Israel.Prime Minister Netanyahu has emerged from Israeli elections weakened. The Israeli electorate, taking his reelection for granted, preferred to vote on domestic issues, such as lowering the cost of living and ultra-Orthodox conscription to the army. However, Netanyahu is the only one able to form a coalition. Obama’s visit comes just as Netanyahu is trying to cobble together the shape of his government. Despite the unfavourable circumstances and enormous pressure, Netanyahu must stand firm against demands to establish a Palestinian state.The once-celebrated Arab spring has emerged an Islamic winter. To the south, the Muslim Brotherhood has been eroding civil liberties in Egypt while giving power to religious authorities. The Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty is virtually worthless. The Egyptian president has revealed his extreme anti-Semitism, saying that Muslims must  “nurse our children and our grandchildren on hatred for them: for Zionists, for Jews.” Egyptian children “must feed on hatred; hatred must continue,” he said. “The hatred must go on for God and as a form of worshipping him. In Gaza, the Brotherhood’s ideological kin and spawn, the Hamas terrorist organization, has come out strengthened from its most recent conflict with Israel. While there have been no rockets fired on Israel’s south… Read More

Obama’s terrifying trio

President Obama’s first term saw tremendous shifts in Middle Eastern regional dynamics, with several key pro-Western regimes being overthrown and replaced with Islamist oriented government. The Muslim Brotherhood has risen to power across North Africa and al-Qaeda has reestablished itself as a dangerous force amidst the chaos. Meanwhile, Iran comes ever closer to crossing the nuclear threshold, which would provoke a regional arms race, mark a retreat of American influence and threaten the interests of the US and its allies. While one could have reasonably expected the Obama administration to realign its policies with changing realities, the president’s recent nominations argue for the negative. CIA director-nominee John Brennan has been a leading advocate for the Obama administration’s downplaying of the Islamic nature of threats facing the United States. For context, such a strategy is as self-defeating as the refusal to examine Marxist-Leninism in Soviet thought during the Cold War. Addressing the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in May 2009, Brennan said that “describing our enemy in religious terms would lend credence to the lie propagated by al Qaeda and its affiliates to justify terrorism; that the United States is somehow at war against Islam. The reality, of course, is that we have never been and will never be at war with Islam. After all, Islam, like so many faiths, is part of America ... Nor do we describe our enemy as jihadists or Islamists because jihad is holy struggle, a legitimate tenet of Islam meaning to purify oneself of one's community.” Regarding Iran, Brennan argued in a 2008 article in Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science that the bad relations between the two countries stemmed largely from American “Iran-bashing”, not Iranian policies. Brennan also criticized President Bush in 2007 for continuing to apply pressure on… Read More

Évian in Tehran

Tehran recently hosted representatives from 120 nations at the 16th annual Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) summit. Despite American claims of Iran’s supposed isolation, two-thirds of United Nations member countries, and the UN’s very own Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, attended the conference hosted in Iran.The foreign delegates were no low-level functionaries – present were 3 kings, 27 presidents, 8 prime ministers and 50 foreign ministers. Egypt’s new democratically-elected president Mohammed Mursi was also in Tehran, signaling a new rapprochement between the Islamic Republic and the largest Arab state; Iran having cut diplomatic ties after Egypt signed a peace treaty with Israel. Clearly, despite American wishes, Iran is not such a pariah state.While the Syrian delegate walked out after Mursi condemned the Iranian-funded slaughter in Syria, not a single leader or delegate protested as Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khameini delivered another virulently anti-Semitic speech, slamming the “ferocious Zionist wolves who digest the Palestinian people” and control the world media, before promising to eradicate the cancerous tumor known as Israel. Indeed, the Iranians must feel emboldened knowing that they can openly threaten genocide against the Jewish state without the smallest peep from two-thirds of the world’s nations.In 1938, representatives of 32 countries gathered in Évian-les-bains in France for a conference on the fate of Jewish refugee fleeing Nazi persecution. Hitler, before embarking upon the Final Solution, used the conference to test the waters regarding his own murderous plans. The conference turned into one giant Jew-rejecting festival, with the message coming across loud and clear: no one will lift a finger to oppose Nazi Germany’s designs. Évian served as Hitler’s green light from the international community.70 years later, Jews are no longer refugees in search of a safe haven. However, their homeland is openly threatened by a fundamentalist Iranian regime that promises to annihilate them. The… Read More

Escaping Fantasy Land

Since the beginning of Obama’s presidency, he has conducted his foreign policy, in general and in the Middle East in particular, on a number of flawed assumptions. Essentially, Obama thought that the United States could come to some sort of agreement with its worst enemies, whether they be Iran, Shia or Sunni extremists. He interpreted the hostility of the Muslim world towards the United States as a result of American “closeness” with Israel, while believing that it is Israel’s strength that provokes its neighbours’ enmity, as opposed to a fundamental opposition to its right to exist. Despite Obama’s good intentions of repairing ties with the Muslim world, on the eve of the 2012 presidential elections, the Middle East finds itself under Islamist influence, with the US’s remaining moderate Sunni Arab allies feeling rather hard-pressed.Obama made his grand gesture to the Muslim world in famous “New Beginning” speech in Cairo in January 2009. Three years later, the situation has come full circle as the new democratic Egypt seems to be more like an Islamist dictatorship. When Egyptian strongman Hosni Mubarak faced uprisings from his people, Obama quickly abandoned him, making it clear that he expected him to step down immediately. While Mubarak was no Mother Theresa, he served for decades as the United States’ beachhead into the Sunni Arab world, maintaining stability in the region and keeping the peace with Israel. Even though it was clear that the only competing force was the Muslim Brotherhood, Obama’s administration chucked the longtime US ally at the first instance. Since the election of Muslim Brotherhood Mohammed Morsi as president, he has been steadily dismissing any opposition, forcing the “retirement” of the secular-oriented military generals and silencing several news networks. The Sinai has become a terrorist free-for all, providing a haven for al-Qaeda and Hamas… Read More

Mark Kirk and the invented Palestinian refugees

On May 5th, the US Senate unanimously approved an amendment proposed by Republican Illinois Senator Mark Kirk that could shrink the number of Palestinian refugees recognized by the State Department from 5 million to 30,000. The amendment asks the State Department to distinguish between those Palestinians who fled during the 1948 War, numbering about 30,000 still alive, and their millions of descendants who still live in refugee camps.The original language of the amendment was watered down, due to the vehement objections of Senator Leahy. In a letter sent to the State Department, he expressed concern that: “This proposed amendment would be viewed around the world as the United States acting to prejudge and determine the outcome of this sensitive issue. The Department of State cannot support legislation which would force the United States to make a public judgment on the number and status of Palestinian refugees. This action would damage confidence between the parties at a particularly fragile time, undercut our ability to act as a mediator and peace facilitator, and generate very strong negative reaction from the Palestinians and our allies in the region, particularly Jordan…”Contrary to Senator Leahy’s assertions, the Palestinian refugee issue as perpetuated by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) practically precludes any sort of settlement. About 650,000 Palestinian Arabs became refugees in 1948, following a war of annihilation launched by six Arab states against the newly reestablished State of Israel. In his memoirs, Haled al Azm, Syrian Prime Minister during the war, admitted: “Since 1948 we have been demanding the return of the refugees to their homes. But we ourselves are the ones who encouraged them to leave. Only a few months separated our call to them to leave and our appeal to the United Nations to resolve on their return.”[1] In April… Read More
Page 1 of 812345...Last »