Greetings from Boston, where I landed yesterday morning. A brief post and then back to work.
The Washington Post is reporting that the entire senior executive level at the State Department has resigned, apparently out of fear of what might happen in a Trump administration. Keeping in mind that most of the senior echelon in the State Department is Arabist, this may be good for Israel, notwithstanding reporter Josh Rogin's obvious discomfort with it.
[Secretary of State Rex] Tillerson was actually inside the State Department’s headquarters in
Foggy Bottom on Wednesday, taking meetings and getting the lay of the
land. I reported Wednesday morning that the Trump team was narrowing its search
for his No. 2, and that it was looking to replace the State
Department’s long-serving undersecretary for management, Patrick
Kennedy. Kennedy, who has been in that job for nine years, was actively
involved in the transition and was angling to keep that job under
Tillerson, three State Department officials told me.
suddenly on Wednesday afternoon, Kennedy and three of his top officials
resigned unexpectedly, four State Department officials confirmed.
Assistant Secretary of State for Administration Joyce Anne Barr,
Assistant Secretary of State for Consular Affairs Michele Bond and
Ambassador Gentry O. Smith, director of the Office of Foreign Missions,
followed him out the door. All are career foreign service officers who
have served under both Republican and Democratic administrations.
Kennedy will retire from the foreign service at the end of the month,
officials said. The other officials could be given assignments
elsewhere in the foreign service.
In addition, Assistant
Secretary of State for Diplomatic Security Gregory Starr retired Jan.
20, and the director of the Bureau of Overseas Building Operations,
Lydia Muniz, departed the same day. That amounts to a near-complete
housecleaning of all the senior officials that deal with managing the
State Department, its overseas posts and its people.
single biggest simultaneous departure of institutional memory that
anyone can remember, and that’s incredibly difficult to replicate,” said
David Wade, who served as State Department chief of staff under
Secretary of State John Kerry. “Department expertise in security,
management, administrative and consular positions in particular are very
difficult to replicate and particularly difficult to find in the
All I can think of when I hear about the State Department securing diplomats is Benghazi, although that was clearly Hillary Clinton's and Barack Obama's fault, and not that of the State Department bureaucrats.
More encouraging is the fact that 'Palestinian' chief negotiator bottle washer Saeb Erekat is expressing 'shock' at President Trump's silence on Israeli 'settlement building.'
On Tuesday, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman announced the approval of 2,500 housing units
in Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria, in order to accommodate the
housing needs of the residents and to return their daily routine to
The announcement followed the approval earlier this week of 566 new housing units in the Jerusalem neighborhoods of Ramat Shlomo, Ramot and Pisgat Ze'ev.
"Israel continues to be a huge ally of the United States," Spicer
said, when asked about Trump's perspective on the Israeli plan to
implement the construction plans.
"He wants to grow closer to Israel to make sure it gets the full
respect in the Middle East," he continued. "We'll have a conversation
with the prime minister."
Responding on Wednesday to the White House refusing to comments, Erekat told AFP,
"We used to hear condemnations, we used to hear American positions
saying '(Israel) should stop settlement activities, it's an obstacle to
"Not commenting, does that mean that President Trump is
encouraging... settlement activities? We need an answer from the
American administration," he added.
Life has sure changed for the 'Palestinians,' hasn't it? If they don't get to the table and negotiate (for real) soon without preconditions, there's not likely to be much left to negotiate about. This whiny series of diagrams regarding future Israeli building plans in Jerusalem appeared in Israel's Hebrew 'Palestinian' daily (HaAretz). If all of these plans go through, Jerusalem will thankfully be surrounded with Jewish children.
All of this follows on the heels of yesterday's news that the first act of the Trump-Tillerson State Department was to place a hold on the $221 million parting gift that former President Hussein Obama attempted to give the 'Palestinians' and that one of President Trump's first executive orders would suspend aid to the United Nations or any of its agencies if they recognize a 'Palestinian state.'
Much of this is, of course, a reversal of Obama administration policy implemented during the last administration's first days in office. But if it lasts, the world will be a very different place four or eight years from now.
Will Donald Trump usher in the Messiah? (Jewish textual and numerical proofs and a little personal stuff)
I know I haven't posted in quite a while - I have been crazy busy with work, and that's what puts food on the table (and pays the debts).
And I know that it's already been the Sabbath in Israel for several hours, but I am in Seattle (yes, really) where there are still several more hours to go.
And today is Donald Trump's inauguration as President of the United States.
For those of you who are ambivalent or worse, here are some grounds for optimism - a video I received from my son who became a groom (yup, he's engaged) a bit less than two weeks ago (in fact, on the same day as I last posted).
A truck rammed into a group of soldiers on a
promenade in the Armon Hanatziv neighborhood of Jerusalem, killing at
least four of them, in a vehicle-ramming attack on Sunday afternoon,
Police chief Roni Alsheich called the incident a vehicular terror attack.
The soldiers were getting off a bus at the
promenade, a popular tourist spot in southern Jerusalem, when a large
flatbed truck ran into them.
At least 16 more people were injured, two of them very seriously, according to Jerusalem hospitals.
The four soldiers — three women and one man — who died were in their 20s, the Magen David Adom rescue service said.
According to police, the terrorist accelerated as he struck the group.
Eyewitnesses said that after the driver hit
the soldiers with his truck, he put the vehicle in reverse and ran over
them a second time.
Footage of the incident taken from a security
camera showed the truck run into the group of soldiers as they stood
next to a bus. The driver then attempts to turn the truck around and run
over the group again as people scramble for cover.
The driver of the vehicle was shot by both soldiers and by a civilian guide, police said. He died of his wounds.
Senator Ted Cruz (R-Tx) issued the following statement.
“Today we saw yet another horrific attack by a Palestinian terrorist in
Jerusalem. The United States stands unshakably with our ally Israel, and
with the Israeli Defense Forces soldiers who were the targets of this
attack. IDF soldiers bravely defend the people of Israel, protect them
and keep them safe. The terrorists targeting them are the enemies of
peace, which can never be achieved while terror groups like Hamas incite
violence and the destruction of Israel. Our prayers are with the IDF,
and with the victims of this attack and their families.”
Some of the newspapers in Europe are comparing this to an Islamic State attack. But we've had these kinds of attacks dating long before Islamic State.
Netanyahu thanks Congress for slapping Obama in the face
Shavua tov everyone.
On Friday afternoon, just before the Sabbath started, Prime Minister Netanyahu released a video thanking Congress for slapping President Obama in the face. No, Obama's name isn't mentioned, but it's pretty obvious. He thanked Congress for reflecting the will of the American people.
Congress to freeze State Department funding until embassy moves to Jerusalem
In yet another slap in the face to President Hussein Obama, the Washington Free Beacon reports that the Republican-controlled Congress is freezing State Department funding until the US Embassy to Israel moves to Jerusalem.
A delegation of Republican senators is moving forward with an effort to
freeze some funding to the State Department until the U.S. embassy in
Israel is formally moved to Jerusalem, according to new legislation.
The effort is being spearheaded by Sens. Ted Cruz (R., Texas), Marco
Rubio (R., Fla.), and Dean Heller (R., Nev.), all of whom support
efforts by the incoming Trump administration to move the U.S. embassy to
Jerusalem after years of debate.
“Jerusalem is the eternal and undivided capital of Israel,” Cruz said
in a statement. “Unfortunately, the Obama administration’s vendetta
against the Jewish state has been so vicious that to even utter this
simple truth—let alone the reality that Jerusalem is the appropriate
venue for the American embassy in Israel—is shocking in some circles.”
“But it is finally time to cut through the double-speak and broken
promises and do what Congress said we should do in 1995: formally move
our embassy to the capital of our great ally Israel,” Cruz said.
The legislation orders the White House to identify Jerusalem as
Israel’s capital, which the Obama administration has refused to do. The
bill will freeze a significant portion of the State Department’s funding
until it completes the relocation.
In the past, the Obama White House has been caught scrubbing captions
on official photographs that labeled Jerusalem as part of Israel. The
administration also was entangled in a Supreme Court case when it
refused to permit an American family to list its child’s birthplace as
Heller said the legislation could help repair America’s relationship
with Israel, which has become strained under the Obama administration.
Mark January 20 on your calendars. That's the date US-Israel relations make a significant change for the better.
Christmas spirit: UN quietly appropriated money on Christmas eve to create a blacklist of Israeli companies to target for BDS
Thanks to Barack Obama and John Kerry, the United Nations quietly appropriated $138,000 on Christmas eve to create a blacklist of Israeli companies for boycotting, divestiture and sanctions (BDS).
Lost amid the angry words that followed the Dec. 23 UN Security
Council vote that critics called an American betrayal of Israel was a
Christmas Eve appropriation of $138,700 to fund a database of companies
doing business in the West Bank. The measure puts UN prestige behind the
anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign, say
“The types of data they are talking about acquiring
would be to form the basis for future sanctions against companies that
did business on the West Bank,” Fox News contributor and former U.S.
Ambassador to the UN John Bolton told FoxNews.com. “That’s the only
purpose of it that I can see.”
The request for funding, first adopted last April,
would “investigate the implications of the Israeli settlements on the
civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of the
Palestinian people throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory,” which
extends to East Jerusalem, and would “produce a database of all
business enterprises” working in territories disputed between Israel and
Bolton said the database is an “effort to lay the
groundwork” for the UN Security Council to follow up on its
anti-settlement declaration by imposing costly economic sanctions.
The US opposed the appropriation, but in the General Assembly, it does not have a veto. This appropriation is yet another consequence of Obama-Kerry stabbing Israel in the back on the Security Council vote. The only thing Congress can do in response is to stop funding the UN.
“Jerusalem is the eternal capital of the Jewish state of Israel, and
that's where America's embassy belongs,” Rubio said in a statement.
“It's time for Congress and the President-Elect to eliminate the
loophole that has allowed presidents in both parties to ignore U.S. law
and delay our embassy's rightful relocation to Jerusalem for over two
A statement from Heller said that some State Department funds would be withheld until the embassy was relocated.
The GOP measure is in line with President-elect Donald Trump's support for moving the embassy. His pick for ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, also supports that pledge.
“Jerusalem is the eternal and undivided capital of Israel,” Ted Cruz
said in a statement. “Unfortunately, the Obama administration's vendetta
against the Jewish state has been so vicious that to even utter this
simple truth – let alone the reality that Jerusalem is the appropriate
venue for the American embassy in Israel — is shocking in some circles.
And that's the best part: Once this bill makes its way through Congress and lands on the President's desk, the President will be Donald Trump, and not the Jew-hating mamzer who currently occupies the White House.
At least Israel and Iran can agree on something. Obama and Kerry are unreliable liars.
For the last two weeks, the lame duck Obama administration has been trying to depict itself as totally passive in allowing UN Security Council Resolution 2334, condemning Israeli 'settlements' in Jerusalem (among other things), to pass.
Last week, Israel Radio reported on an Egyptian newspaper report that put out a transcript of what was said to be a White House meeting with 'Palestinian negotiators.' Now, MEMRI has translated that report into English. It's devastating. Among other things not previously reported, the 'Palestinians' asked that Obama cancel the designation of the PLO as a terrorist organization, and insisted that the 'Palestinian leadership' be allowed to move freely in the United States. Look for Obama to issue executive orders on these issues in the next two weeks.
On December 27, the Egyptian daily Al-Youm Al-Sabi',
which is close to Egyptian intelligence services, published an exposé
of the minutes of the secret talks. According to the report, by Ahmed
Gomaa, the Palestinian delegation included PLO Executive Committee
secretary and negotiating team leader Saeb Erekat; Palestinian general
intelligence chief Majid Faraj; Husam Zomlot, strategic affairs advisor
to Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud 'Abbas; Palestinian Foreign
Ministry official Dr. Majed Bamya; Palestinian negotiations department
official Azem Bishara; Palestinian intelligence international relations
department chief Nasser 'Adwa; and head of the PLO delegation to
Washington Ma'an Erekat.
The report gave the details of the
Palestinian delegation's schedule during the visit, noting that "the
Palestinian side began its meetings on December 12, when Saeb Erekat and
Majid Faraj met with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. The next day,
the two met with National Security Advisor Susan Rice. The entire
delegation met with an American team that included four representatives
of the Secretaries of State and Homeland Security, for a six-hour
political-strategic meeting. Majid Faraj concluded his visit with a
lengthy meeting with the CIA chief."
According to the report, the
minutes of the "top secret" meeting of Kerry, Rice, Erekat, and Faraj
reveals U.S.-Palestinian coordination leading up to the UN Security
Council vote on Resolution 2334 regarding Israel's settlements, which
was adopted December 23. It states that the sides "agreed to cooperate
in drafting a resolution on the settlements" and that the U.S.
representative in the Security Council was "empowered" to coordinate
with the Palestinian UN representative on the resolution.
The meeting also, according to the
report, was aimed at coordinating Kerry's attendance at the upcoming
international Paris Conference set for January 15, 2017, in order to
promote a further international move regarding the Israeli-Palestinian
conflict. Kerry, it said, offered to propose his ideas for a permanent
arrangement "provided that they are supported by the Palestinian side."
the meeting, Rice pointed out the "danger" of the incoming Trump
administration's policies, the report stated, adding that both she and
Kerry had advised President 'Abbas to make no preliminary moves that
might provoke the new administration. Rice even offered to help arrange a
meeting between the Palestinian delegation and a representative from
the Trump team, by enlisting the help of World Jewish Congress president
Also at the meeting, Erekat warned
that if the U.S. Embassy was moved to Jerusalem, the Palestinians would
call to expel U.S. Embassies from Arab and Muslim capitals, the report
The report added that Kerry and
Rice had fulsomely praised 'Abbas's policies and how he handled matters,
and harshly criticized Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu,
saying that he "aims to destroy the two-state solution." ... U.S.
Representative To The Security Council Coordinated With Palestinian UN
Representative On The Issue Of The Resolution Condemning The Settlements
According to the Al-Youm Al-Sabi' report, "the minutes of the
meeting – which was attended by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and
National Security Advisor Susan Rice, and on the Palestinian side by PLO
Executive Committee Secretary and negotiations team leader Saeb Erekat,
and head of Palestinian general intelligence Maj,-Gen. Majid Faraj –
reveals that the sides agreed to collaborate regarding a resolution on
the settlements." According to the report, "during the meeting, the
American side focused on coordination of positions between Washington
and Ramallah regarding the resolution on the settlements, which was
brought to a vote in the Security Council and adopted several days
The report stated that "the minutes of the meeting reveal
American-Palestinian coordination regarding the resolution on the
settlements" and that Kerry and Rice stressed that "they were willing to
cooperate with a balanced resolution, and that Washington's UN mission
was authorized to discuss this matter with the Palestinian
representative to the UN, Ambassador Riyad Mansour." It continued: "The
U.S.'s representative to the Security Council coordinated with the
Palestinian ambassador on the issue of the resolution condemning the
Coordinating Kerry's Attendance At International Conference In France
The delegation also attempted to coordinate Kerry's attendance at the
Paris Conference, which will take place January 15, 2017, to promote a
further international move for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,
according to the report. "As for the French initiative, U.S. Secretary
of State John Kerry said that he could not attend [the conference if it
were to be held] December 21-22, but stressed that he could [attend it
if it were to be held] after January 9. The Palestinian delegation
stressed that 'Abbas had contacted the French side, and that it had
expressed its willingness to postpone the international conference [in
Paris] so that the American secretary of state could attend."
Possibility Of Kerry Presenting His Ideas For Permanent Solution
According to the report, "Kerry raised the
possibility of presenting ideas for a permanent solution, provided that
they are supported by the Palestinian side... and this refers to
principles that have already been raised as part of the Framework
He also proposed that the Palestinian delegation travel to Saudi Arabia
to discuss these points, but according to the minutes, he did not
contact the Saudis on this matter. [Additionally,] according to the
minutes of the meeting, National Security Advisor Susan Rice rejected,
and ridiculed, the offer to propose ideas, arguing that the [incoming]
administration of Republican President Donald Trump will completely
Rice "Stressed The Danger Posed By The Trump Administration"
Rice, the report stated, "stressed the
danger posed by the Trump administration, which could take a position
different from that of all American administrations since 1967 on the
issue of Palestine and Israel. She emphasized that she took seriously
statements about moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem and the Trump
administration's view of the settlements."
Kerry and Rice "advised Palestinian
President Mahmoud 'Abbas to not take any preliminary steps that could
provoke the Trump administration, such as dismantling the PA, turning to
the International Criminal Court, or ending security coordination with
Israel," said the report, adding: "They [also] stressed the need to
avoid military action or martyrdom [attacks], as these would greatly
jeopardize the Palestinian position.
"They praised the substantial efforts of
the Palestinian security apparatuses, specifically Palestinian [general]
intelligence, led by Majid Faraj, as part of what they called 'the
struggle against terrorism.' [The two] maintained that
Palestinian-American collaboration in this area is among the closest of
all the coordination between American apparatuses and security forces in
Rice Offered To Organize Meeting Between Ronald Lauder And Palestinian Delegation
"According to the minutes of the meeting,
Susan Rice asked whether the Palestinian delegation could meet with a
representative from Donald Trump's team. She clarified that she could
request intervention and could organize this by means of World Jewish
Congress President Ronald Lauder. Saeb Erekat responded that he had
already asked but that Lauder could not. He added: 'We were told that
they were still organizing the new administration, and that once they
were done, they would officially meet with the Palestinian side.'"
Erekat: If U.S. Embassy Is Moved To Jerusalem, We Will Call To Expel U.S. Embassies From Arab And Muslim Countries
"When Susan Rice asked what the
Palestinian response would be if the U.S. Embassy was moved to
Jerusalem, or if a new settlement bloc was annexed, Erekat responded:
'We will directly and immediately join 16 international organizations,
withdraw the PLO's recognition of Israel, and cut back our security,
political, and economic ties with the Israeli occupation regime, and we
will hold it fully responsible for the PA's collapse. Furthermore, we
will [call] on the Arab and Islamic peoples to expel U.S. Embassies from
their capitals.' Rice answered Erekat by saying: 'It seems that future
matters could be very complicated, and we are all apprehensive about
sitting down with Erekat because of his absolute knowledge of these
matters, and because of his memory and his sincerity.' She expressed the
American side's respect and friendship for Erekat, and apologized for
yelling at him in March 2014."
"The Palestinian Delegation Officially Demanded That The Law... Designating The PLO A Terrorist Organization Be Rescinded"
According to the report, "the Palestinian
side officially demanded that the 1987 U.S. law designating the PLO a
terrorist organization be rescinded.
Furthermore, both sides agreed to establish a bilateral commission to
examine visa requests from Palestinians and entry and movement visas for
Palestinian leadership in the U.S."
'Palestinians' threaten violence if US moves embassy to Jerusalem
One of the first things Donald Trump did after he was elected President was to promise to move the US Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. Now that they realize that Trump is serious (and has named my college classmate Dave Friedman his ambassador to prove it), the 'Palestinians' are responding in the only way they know how. They are threatening violence.
The Trump team has said that the US president-elect considers moving the embassy a "very big priority."
his campaign for the presidency, Trump repeatedly said he would move
the US Embassy if elected – a political promise past US presidents have
frequently made, yet has never been held.
Longstanding US policy
is to treat the status of Jerusalem as an issue to be settled in
final-status negotiations with the Palestinians.
Longstanding US policy has also been to veto all anti-Israel resolutions in the Security Council, and not to let them pass, let alone orchestrate their passage. This is the best response of all to Obama's and Kerry's betrayal of Israel.
And if the 'Palestinians' kill each other in response, מה טוב.
In an interview with Army Radio on Sunday, Regev said "thank God that Obama is finishing his term."
"In Obama's world view we have moved closer to peace, but during
his term we have just gotten further from it," she said, adding that
"there have been more and more terror attacks in Berlin, Orlando and
yesterday in Turkey, what does any of this have to do with the [Israeli]
"It just cannot be the case that this is the way
the President of the United States, who thank God is finishing his term,
treats the State of Israel, as the weak link in the Middle East," she
In the Washington Post, Charles Krauthammer explains what was different about that UN Security Council resolution, and how the Obama administration stabbed Israel in the back by allowing its passage.
An ordinary Israeli who lives or works in the Old City of Jerusalem
becomes an international pariah, a potential outlaw. To say nothing of
the soldiers of Israel’s citizen army. “Every pilot and every officer
and every soldier,” said a confidant of Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, “we are waiting for him at The Hague,” i.e. the International Criminal Court.
the resolution undermines the very foundation of a half-century of
American Middle East policy. What becomes of “land for peace” if the
territories that Israel was to have traded for peace are, in advance,
declared to be Palestinian land to which Israel has no claim?
The peace parameters
enunciated so ostentatiously by Secretary of State John Kerry on
Wednesday are nearly identical to the Clinton parameters that Yasser
Arafat was offered and rejected in 2000 and that Abbas was offered by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in 2008. Abbas, too, walked away.
mentioned none of this because it undermines his blame-Israel
narrative. Yet Palestinian rejectionism works. The Security Council just
declared the territories legally Palestinian — without the Palestinians
having to concede anything, let alone peace. What incentive do the
Palestinians have to negotiate when they can get the terms — and
territory — they seek handed to them for free if they hold out long
Indeed. The Post can look back at this column from 2009 and realize that the 'Palestinians' were correct.
on Wednesday afternoon, as he prepared for the White House meeting in a
suite at the Ritz-Carlton in Pentagon City, Abbas insisted that his
only role was to wait. He will wait for Hamas to capitulate to his
demand that any Palestinian unity government recognize Israel and swear
off violence. And he will wait for the Obama administration to force a
recalcitrant Netanyahu to freeze Israeli settlement construction and
publicly accept the two-state formula.
Until Israel meets his
demands, the Palestinian president says, he will refuse to begin
negotiations. He won't even agree to help Obama's envoy, George J.
Mitchell, persuade Arab states to take small confidence-building
measures. "We can't talk to the Arabs until Israel agrees to freeze
settlements and recognize the two-state solution," he insisted in an
interview. "Until then we can't talk to anyone."
And what the Post doesn't mention is that Netanyahu is reported to have offered even more in 2013.
If Hillary Clinton had won November's election, Israel would now have its back to the wall. Fortunately, Donald Trump won the election, and if he is willing to go to the wall in Israel's defense, perhaps this disgraceful resolution can be mitigated.
It's been just five days since I reported that Martin Indyk attacked the Washington Free Beacon's Adam Kredo for using anonymous sources after having been one so often himself. Now, there's a much more serious and well-substantiated charge against Indyk: He's a Jewish anti-Semite.
Martin Indyk — who served as President Bill Clinton’s ambassador to
Israel and assistant secretary of state for Near East affairs, followed
by a stint as the Obama administration’s envoy for Israeli-Palestinian
negotiations — is being urged to clarify comments he made in
a tape-recorded private conversation from 1989, in which he
reportedly said Israelis are “paranoid,” “arrogant” and “think the rules
of society do not apply [to them]” because “they are the goy’s rules.”
Indyk, who is Jewish himself, also reportedly applied this assessment
to the character of Jews generally, saying that Jewish people “would do
whatever they can to avoid paying taxes,” and believe it is justified
to “find a way to ignore the law or get around it.” He added, “In my own
family, my grandfather used to stay up nights to figure out how to
avoid paying taxes.”
Professor Eunice G. Pollack, an historian of antisemitism and co-editor of the Encyclopedia of American Jewish History, told JNS.org that Indyk’s reported statements “echo three of the most infamous centuries-old tropes of antisemites.”
“You have an updated version of the classic ‘Jewish swindler,’
combined with the ‘disloyal Jew’ who evades his patriotic duty to pay
taxes, and the millennia-old ‘arrogant Jew’ who, in a more religious
era, was accused of deriving his arrogance from his partner, Satan,”
Indyk’s alleged comments were made while he was executive director of
the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, and were brought to
light in 1995 by Amcha-the Coalition for Jewish Concerns, after Indyk
was nominated as ambassador to Israel. At that time, neither the news
media nor senators involved in his confirmation hearing gave the
allegations any attention.
Indyk has not responded to multiple requests for comment by JNS.org.
This is not the first time Indyk’s remarks about Israel have drawn criticism.
Adam Kredo, a senior foreign policy writer for the Washington Free Beacon, told JNS.org
that Indyk “is known among reporters for anonymously criticizing Israel
in the press, for planting stories meant to pressure the Jewish state
into making concessions [and for] leading the Obama administration’s
efforts over the years to discredit Israel and blame it for the failure
in peace talks.”
I'm sure that Indyk would say much worse about Israel and Jews today (I once watched him have a shouting match with several participants at the President's Conference in 2011). And I'm sure that $14 million donation from Qatar to the Brookings Institute, which Indyk heads, would have nothing to do with that. Of course not. It's why Qatar gave him the money in the first place.
It's the last day of Chanuka, so I couldn't resist the graphic.
Some 2,300 years after the Hasmonean's Chanuka military victory (caused by some miracles from God), Daniel Pipes argues it's time for another Jewish victory.
I propose an Israeli victory and a Palestinian defeat. That is to
say, Washington should encourage Israelis to take steps that cause
Mahmoud Abbas, Khaled Mashal, Saed Erekat, Hanan Ashrawi, and the rest
of that crew to realize that the gig is up, that no matter how many U.N.
resolutions are passed, their foul dream of eliminating the Jewish
state is defunct, that Israel is permanent, strong, and tough. After the
leadership recognizes this reality, the Palestinian population at large
will follow, as will eventually other Arab and Muslim states, leading
to a resolution of the conflict. Palestinians will gain by finally being
released from a cult of death to focus instead on building their own
policy, society, economy, and culture.
While the incoming Trump administration’s Middle East policies remain
obscure, President-elect Trump himself vociferously opposed Resolution
2334 and has signaled (for example, by his choice of David M. Friedman
as ambassador to Israel) that he is open to a dramatically new approach
to the conflict, one far more favorable to Israel than Barack Obama’s.
With his lifelong pursuit of winning (“We will have so much winning if I
get elected that you may get bored with winning”), Trump would probably
be drawn to an approach that has our side win and the other side lose.
Victory also suits the current mood of Israel’s prime minister, Binyamin
Netanyahu. He’s not just furious at being abandoned in the United
Nations, he has an ambitious vision of Israel’s global importance.
Further, his being photographed recently carrying a copy of historian
John David Lewis’s Nothing Less than Victory: Decisive Wars and the
Lessons of History signals that he is explicitly thinking in terms of
victory in war: Lewis in his book looks at six case studies, concluding
that in each of them “the tide of war turned when one side tasted defeat
and its will to continue, rather than stiffening, collapsed.”
Finally, the moment is right in terms of the larger trends of
regional politics. That the Obama administration effectively became an
ally of the Islamic Republic of Iran scared Sunni Arab states, Saudi
Arabia at the fore, into being far more realistic than ever before;
needing Israel for the first time, the “Palestine” issue has lost some
of its salience, and Arab conceits about Israel as the arch enemy have
been to some extent abandoned, creating an unprecedented potential
#CHANGE Moderate Arab states ignore Obama-Kerry initiative
If the moderate Arab states were supposed to latch onto Secretary of State Kerry's 'peace proposal' and use it, along with United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334 to pressure Israel, someone forgot to tell them that. Or, as is more likely, they have read the handwriting on the walls, and have realized that they will have to work with Donald Trump for the next 4-8 years.
But the official responses in Cairo, Riyadh and Amman seemed
calculated to make an impression on the incoming Trump administration
rather than to impel any immediate or urgent follow up on the Kerry
proposals. That was not expected, given that Kerry and President Barack
Obama have only three weeks left in office and Donald Trump has signaled
there will be a friendlier approach towards the policies of Prime
Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
"Now, with the imminent change in the White House, Kerry's noble
views may very well remain a small footnote in the history books," the Jordan Times wrote in an editorial Thursday.
Egypt and Saudi Arabia are, to some extent, groping in the dark,
uncertain about what Trump policies that will strongly impact their
futures will look like. By giving essentially positive responses to
Kerry's proposals, "they are trying to show they are pro-peace, useful
and very relevant as mediators and mainstays of the process and trying
also to anticipate what the new administration in Washington wishes to
do," said Gabriel Ben-Dor, a Middle East specialist at Haifa University.
The countries also have their sights set on being relevant in advance
of the January 15 conference bringing together some 70 foreign ministers
in Paris whose goal is to reaffirm the necessity of a two-state
As Tel Aviv University Middle East scholar Bruce Maddy-Weitzman has
noted, close scrutiny of Cairo and Riyadh's reactions to Kerry indicate
that neither Arab country has the sense of urgency that Kerry conveyed
in his speech. Egypt's Foreign Ministry said that Kerry's principles
were "mostly consistent with the international consensus and Egypt's
vision but in the end what is important is the will to implement those
Saudi Arabia welcomed the proposals,
according to an official at the Saudi foreign ministry, who said Riyadh
views them as being in accord with the majority of the resolutions of
international legality. Riyadh said that Kerry's proposals have elements
of the Arab Peace Initiative proposed by Saudi Arabia and adopted by an
Arab summit at Beirut in 2002. It added that the proposals represent an
"appropriate basis" for achieving a final settlement of the
But, Maddy-Weitzman noted "there is no operative clause in the Saudi response to move forward fast and do this or that."
suggests the Saudis understand there won't be significant movement any
time soon as a result of the speech," he said. "They recognize there is a
new administration coming in that is expressing itself differently on
Middle East issues. Saudi strategic priorities are elsewhere. There are
more acute issues occupying their thinking. The Palestinian-Israeli
issue is lower down. That doesn't mean they don't care and would go
along with anything the Israeli government would do."
point, the Saudis won't take the lead on Palestinian-Israeli diplomacy
unless the Trump administration takes the initiative or something forces
them to, like a new intifada." But Riyadh will try to persuade the US
not to move its Israel embassy to Jerusalem, Maddy-Weitzman predicted.
In its reaction to Kerry, Egypt was mindful of Trump's intervention a
week earlier against its sponsorship of the security council resolution
specifying that settlements have "no legal validity." Egypt withdrew its
sponsorship in deference to Trump and it formulated its response to
Kerry with Trump in mind, not wanting to appear to be confrontational
Cairo, which viewed the Obama administration as
selling out Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak during the Arab spring
revolt in 2011 and of subsequently backing the Muslim Brotherhood, has
high hopes for closer ties with Trump. Egypt is relieved to have an
administration coming in that will not make an issue out of its human
rights abuses in crushing the brotherhood and other opposition. "The
leaders of this 'terrorist' organization and those regional and Arab
powers that lend them support should realize that the election of Donald
Trump will usher in new directions for US foreign policy, which will
discontinue the 'interventionist' policies of the two previous US
administrations," wrote Hussein Haridy, a former foreign ministry
official, in al-Ahram weekly. "If this happens, there will be
much more effective cooperation between the American and Egyptian
governments in dealing constructively and successfully with existing
challenges and threats across the Middle East."
I haven't felt this optimistic since 2008, despite Obama-Kerry's attempts to incinerate Israel over the past two weeks. They're called 'lame ducks' for a reason.
President-elect Donald Trump’s advisers want to invite Israeli
President Benjamin Netanyahu to the inauguration or arrange a meeting of
the two leaders before then, a source close to the transition said.
Transition leaders led by Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner have been
aggressively courting Netanyahu and want him to attend the Jan. 20
festivities, the source said.
“There’s a plan for Trump to meet with Netanyahu,” the source said.
“They’re talking all the time. And Netanyahu is talking about possibly
going to the inauguration.”
This time, there is real hope for change. And not a moment too soon.
I am an Orthodox Jew - some would even call me 'ultra-Orthodox.' Born in Boston, I was a corporate and securities attorney in New York City for seven years before making aliya to Israel in 1991 (I don't look it but I really am that old :-). I have been happily married to the same woman for thirty-five years, and we have eight children (bli ayin hara) ranging in age from 12 to 33 years and eight grandchildren. Three of our children are married! Before I started blogging I was a heavy contributor on a number of email lists and ran an email list called the Matzav from 2000-2004. You can contact me at: IsraelMatzav at gmail dot com