Kirsten Gillibrand on Israel: If You Can’t Say Something Nice, Say Something Stupid




Israeli diplomat Abba Eban once famously remarked of the endless conflicts in the Middle East, “The Arabs never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.”  New York senator Kirsten Gillibrand seems to have taken that adage to heart, except that in her case she never misses an opportunity to make herself look like a vapid caricature of a politician–think William J. Lepetomane from Blazing Saddles, but without the charm and savvy.

Not content with swearing up a storm during a stump speech (pro tip, Kirsten:  if you can’t find more creative uses for the f-word, don’t bother), Gillibrand recently chastised Benjamin Netanyahu, the Prime Minister of Israel, for not having a plan for peace with the Palestinians.  Unfortunately, as our friends at the Reagan Battalion pointed out, her timing kind of stunk given what just happened over there:

Yes, that’s blood on the floor in the picture on the left.  It belongs to four members of a Jewish family who were getting ready to sit down to a Shabbat dinner.  When they heard a knock on the door, they assumed it was a guest who had arrived–but when they opened up, a Palestianian terrorist who wanted to die a martyr forced himself in and started stabbing them.  Before a neighbor could rush over and shoot the man, three members of the family were dead and a fourth wounded.

As for the terrorist, he didn’t get his wish.  He survived, and was rushed to a hospital.  That didn’t stop large crowds of Palestinians from celebrating the murders, though–because that’s what Palestianians do.



So, Senataor Gillibrand from the great state of New York–how exactly do you propose that the prime minister of Israel make a plan for peace with people like that?

Golda Meir once wrote, “Peace will come when the Arabs love their children more than they hate us.”  Not much has changed in the 44 years since that time, during which the Palestianians have steadfastly refused to recognize the existence of the state of Israel.  And therein lies the problem:  You can’t make peace with somebody who wants you dead.  Oh, the Palestianian Authority may talk differently for Western audiences, saying that they want to coexist–but the actions of their people say differently.  Those who would celebrate the death of innocents are infected with a hatred that has been taught from a very early age.  People like that are not interested in peace.

If Senator Gillibrand doesn’t understand that, she’s an even bigger fool than she makes herself out to be.

Trump Unloads On Abbas: “You Tricked Me!”

Donald Trump has been a true believer in the idea of peace between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, but, according to an Israeli TV report, the bloom may be off that rose.

The president met with Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority last week in Bethlehem, and Trump unloaded on Abbas for deceiving him when it comes to the Palestinians’ commitment to peace.

“You tricked me in DC! You talked there about your commitment to peace, but the Israelis showed me your involvement in incitement [against Israel],” Trump is said to have shouted at a shocked Abbas.

The TV report said the outburst was followed by several minutes of shocked silence from the Palestinians, and that the meeting was very tense before the two sides managed to get back on track.

Palestinian sources denied the report, saying the meeting was good and to the point.

Israeli television reported on the exchange in Hebrew, but one reporter tweeted about the meeting in English.

Publicly, Trump continued to maintain his own commitment to a peace process and gave assurances that the Palestinian leaders are interested in working things out as well.

“I am committed to trying to achieve a peace agreement between the Israelis and the Palestinians, and I intend to do everything I can to help them achieve that goal,” Trump said. “President Abbas assures me he is ready to work toward that goal in good faith, and Prime Minister Netanyahu has promised the same. I look forward to working with these leaders toward a lasting peace.”

And:

At Trump’s final appearance in Israel, at the Israel Museum on Tuesday afternoon, the president declared that Abbas and the Palestinians “are ready to reach for peace.” Departing from his prepared text, he added: “I know you’ve heard it before. I am telling you. That’s what I do. They are ready to reach for peace.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, for his part, doubted the assertion that Abbas is ready for peace by noting that, had the Manchester attack been carried out by a Palestinian terrorist, Abbas would have rewarded the terrorist’s family financially.

Is President Trump naive enough to believe that the Palestinians really want peace with Israel? Or has he fallen for Abbas’ smooth talk? Time will tell if Trump’s statements at the end of the Israel trip demonstrate a true belief or if they’re just rhetoric.

President Trump Should Be Applauded for Bolstering U.S.-Israeli Relations

President Donald J. Trump is breaking new ground with respect to U.S.-Israeli relations.

First and foremost, he became the first sitting American president to visit the Western Wall in Jerusalem, Israel. If you recall, former President Barack Obama was photographed visiting this sacred site in summer 2008–but he did so as then-candidate Barack Obama. Moreover, Trump’s administration said in a memo of his joint talk with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that Jerusalem is formally located in Israel–a bold move considering Israel antagonists dispute Jerusalem being the eternal, indivisible capital of the Holy Land.

While Trump has expressed an interest in bolstering relations with Israel, his administration hasn’t been entirely free of missteps or errors in their attempt to restore positive relations. Although he campaigned to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, Trump has held off on this move for now so as to not provoke Arabs who are sympathetic to the Palestinian cause. Back in February, Trump also said the construction of new settlements in the West Bank would stifle peace talks. However, Trump likely changed his tune given the speech he delivered yesterday short of endorsing a Palestinian state–which is encouraging news.

 

Ties between the U.S. and Israel are said to be stronger than ever since Trump assumed office earlier this year. It was quite evident that U.S.-Israeli relations were strained under Trump’s predecessor. However, happier times with our greatest ally in the Middle East seem to be unfolding now as evidenced by the picture below.

https://twitter.com/zlando/status/866984952214192128

President Trump is currently participating in his first official trip abroad, hitting up both Saudi Arabia and Israel. Up next on his itinerary is a visit to the Vatican to meet with Pope Francis, who previously questioned Trump’s Christianity.

We shall see what transpires during that meeting.

Nevertheless, U.S.-Israel relations seem to be in a much better spot than before. Let’s hope the State Department and rest of the Trump administration will get Israel policy right rather than kowtow to enemy forces.

BREAKING: Trump and Netanyahu Joint Statement From Jerusalem

President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a joint statement welcoming the president to Jerusalem.

Netanyahu spoke of their personal friendship. “I think we understand each other,” he said of Trump. “I have no doubt that, as we work together, you and I, the alliance between our countries will grow ever stronger.”

The Israeli PM praised “the change in American policy on Iran,” in a swipe against former President Barack Obama, with whom Netanyahu shares a mutual and intense dislike. “I want to tell you also how much we appreciate the reassertion of American leadership in the Middle East,” he said.

Trump returned the compliment, speaking of the “incredible generosity” of the Israeli people, and of the beauty of the land. “I was deeply moved by my visit today to the Western Wall,” Trump said. “Words fail to capture the experience. It will leave an impression on me forever.”

“Today we reaffirmed the unbreakable bond of friendship between Israel and the United States,” the president continued. “A friendship built on our shared love of freedom, our shared belief in human dignity, and our shared hope for an Israel at lasting peace. We want Israel to have peace.”

Trump mentioned Saudi Arabia’s King Salman by name, as he previously named Netanyahu in his Riyadh speech. He spoke of how other nations, including those present at his meeting in Saudi Arabia, wanted peace and stability. He expressed how King Salmon really wants peace. “I got to know him well, and he really does,” Trump said, meeting Netanyahu’s gaze.

Trump framed the Iranians as the enemy, a threat “causing so much violence and suffering.” Addressing the Palestinians, Trump expressed the hope that progress can be made toward peace. “It’s not easy. I’ve heard it’s one of the toughest deals of all, but I have a feeling that we’re going to get there, eventually,” he said, then adding, “I hope.”

It was a historic moment, one that President Trump appeared eminently presidential, and one that Obama never got to share because of his own intransigence. Trump and Netanyahu brought a message of hope to a region marked by so much war, bloodshed, and death.

Is President Trump Really a Friend of Israel?

Trump talks the talk well enough on Israel and the fate of Jews worldwide, but so far, he’s very far from walking the walk

President Trump, when campaigning, made several promises in dealing with Israel and her existential threats. First, he promised to tear up the “disastrous” Iran deal. Second, he promised to move the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, in accordance with the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995 (JEA).

The devil is always in the details for these kinds of promises, and Trump has left both promises unfulfilled by echoing the same policies of his predecessor.

Every six months, in accordance with the JEA, the president must renew a waiver to suspend the move of the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, or face an automatic clawback of 50 percent of the State Department’s appropriated budget.

Every president since Clinton has dutifully completed this pro-forma exercise twice a year, while paying lip service (if even that) to the law’s other provisions. These are:

(1) Jerusalem should remain an undivided city in which the rights of every ethnic and religious group are protected.
(2) Jerusalem should be recognized as the capital of the State of Israel;

While Trump joked and smiled with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, he has also  reportedly decided to sign the waiver, just like former President Obama did.

And Trump gave the red carpet treatment to Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas, who is in a unity government with Hamas, a group unswervingly devoted to Israel’s destruction (regardless of what “moderating” story the media is pushing).

Further, Trump isn’t reticent to deal with Arab strongmen like Egypt’s Abdel Fatah al-Sisi. Obama had a very cold spot in his heart for strongmen, favoring an “Arab spring” giving the people power (we’ve seen how that worked out). Yet Abbas, al-Sisi and other Gulf Arab monarchs and emirs are much more comfortable dealing with deal-making Trump than the erstwhile president who preceded him.

But with Abbas being fêted in the White House, and standing next to the new American president, his status and authority as Palestinian president is practically unassailable. He joins those pro-American Arab leaders, almost all his regional allies, such as the Gulf Arab monarchs and Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, as one of Washington’s “traditional Middle Eastern partners” who were estranged under Obama but who are now being warmly embraced by Trump.

Netanyahu wasn’t smiling after Abbas’ public remarks from the White House, posting his response on Facebook.

“I look forward to discussing with President Trump the best ways to advance peace. This is something we fervently share with the President. I heard President Abbas yesterday say that the Palestinians teach their children peace. That’s unfortunately not true. They name their schools after mass murderers of Israelis and they pay terrorists. But I hope that it’s possible to achieve a change and to pursue a genuine peace. This is something Israel is always ready for. I’m always ready for genuine peace.”

The Israeli PM also slammed the media for their fawning over the Palestinian position and Hamas’ removal of its desire to kill all Jews worldwide from its guiding documents–they only want to kill Israelis now. At least Trump and Netanyahu have that in common: they both know how to call out “fake news.”

The question is what will Trump do in pursuit of a deal? At some point, the interests of Israelis in living within secure borders and without an internationally protected staging area for its enemies to launch invasions directly into its heart may come into conflict with the cause of obtaining “peace.” When that happens, where will Trump land?

The biggest near-term threat to Israel is nuclear annihilation by Iranian missiles. One dirty warhead launched into the heart of Tel Aviv is all it will take to destroy Israel. Iran is a big country. Even with Israel’s guaranteed nuclear response, Iran wins and Israel ceases to exist. This isn’t a negotiating point, it’s a strategic fact. The only option Israel has is to prevent Iran from ever getting the chance to execute this plan.

In 1981, Israeli F-16 pilots destroyed Saddam Hussein’s Osirak reactor. In the early 2000’s, the U.S., probably with Israel’s help, deployed Stuxnet, which wreaked havoc on Iran’s nuclear uranium enrichment facilities. Following that, the Obama administration negotiated the Iran nuclear deal with the P6+1.

Now Trump’s administration, in its required statement to the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency’s Board of Governors, has adopted language identical to the Obama administration.

“The United States will approach questions of JCPOA interpretation, implementation, and enforcement with great strictness indeed,” the statement to the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) 35-nation board said, citing the deal’s full name: the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

So much for tearing up “the worst deal ever negotiated.”

As bad as Obama was in dealing with Israel–which was mostly a personal vendetta against Netanyahu, who he despised–the former president supported Israel’s defense. In 2014, Obama approved $225 million to fund the expansion of Israel’s Iron Dome system, after previous rounds of funding for the system’s initial development.

In the end, Obama, despite the mutual antipathy with the Israeli PM, continued every policy of military cooperation and funding for Israel, even going beyond former President George W. Bush. Only at the very end did Obama’s petty, parting shot find its mark in the anti-Israel UN.

Sure, Trump’s position in the UN, and his absolutely terrific UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, are much friendlier to Israel than the Obama-Kerry cold shoulder. But, really, the UN is a dog with very little bite, unless the U.S., Russia, or China decide to do something. The UN is basically window dressing, while the pressing issues of Israeli security require dealing with details.

Trump talks the talk well enough on Israel and the fate of Jews worldwide, but so far, he’s very far from walking the walk. Continuing Obama’s Israel and Iran policies might not make him more of an enemy within liberal Jewish political groups (most of whom hate him simply because he breathes air), but it doesn’t necessarily make him Israel’s friend either.

The jury is still out on that question. There are still many opportunities for Trump to keep his promises, but I think he’s more interested in deals than promises.

Netanyahu Illustrates the Appropriate Response to Fake News

You can tell a lot about a person by the way he responds to his enemies. A man who is self-confident and recognizes his strengths and weaknesses either responds calmly and with reason or doesn’t respond at all.

Today’s case in point: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

In response to news declaring that Hamas was “moderating” its position on a prospective Palestinian state, Netanyahu recorded a public message to remind the world that Hamas is a terrorist organization bent on the complete annihilation of Israel.

The PM begins by specifically calling out CNN, Al Jazeera, and The Guardian for presenting fake news before making his case.

“Hamas murders women and children. It’s launched tens of thousands of missiles at our homes. It brainwashes Palestinian kids in suicide kindergarten camps.”

Netanyahu’s calm demeanor and rational presentation of facts is a primer on how to handle fake news, and it concludes with a great mic-drop moment.

See for yourself:

 

Nikki Haley Will Do Just Fine At The UN Because She ‘Gets’ Israel

Kudos to Nikki Haley. She obviously “gets” Israel. She also “gets” that the UN is singularly out to get Israel.

After attending her first Security Council regular monthly meeting on Middle East issues, she remarked that it “was a bit strange.”

The Security Council is supposed to discuss how to maintain international peace and security. But at our meeting on the Middle East, the discussion was not about Hizballah’s illegal build-up of rockets in Lebanon. It was not about the money and weapons Iran provides to terrorists. It was not about how we defeat ISIS. It was not about how we hold Bashar al-Assad accountable for the slaughter of hundreds and thousands of civilians. No, instead, the meeting focused on criticizing Israel, the one true democracy in the Middle East. I am new around here, but I understand that’s how the Council has operated, month after month, for decades.

Haley is beginning to understand the diplomatic challenges Israel faces in an international community all but committed to its destruction. If the UN could roll back every agreement that gave legal provenance to Israel’s existence, starting with the Balfour Declaration, I think they would do it, but for the U.S.

And the U.S. wavered at the end of the Obama era with the cowardly abstention on Resolution 2334. Haley blasted the double-standard.

The double standards are breathtaking. Just a few days ago, the United States sought unsuccessfully to have the Security Council condemn a terrorist attack to Israel, where the terrorist opened fire on people waiting for a bus and then stabbed others. The Security Council would not hesitate to condemn an attack like that in any other country. But not for Israel. The statement was blocked. And that’s downright shameful.

Haley gets it.

But what I find ironic, and troubling, here is the main stream media’s reaction to Haley’s remarks. While CBS News published the remarks in full, they led with the headline “U.S. envoy Haley: U.S. supports 2-state Israel-Palestinian solution.” They focused on trying to create a gap between what Haley said and what President Trump said in a joint news conference with Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu.

CBS mentioned “two-state” seven times in their article, based on Haley’s answer to a reporter’s question. CBS didn’t publish the question. Here’s Haley’s answer:

First of all, we absolutely support a two-state solution. Anyone who says the U.S. doesn’t support a two–state solution … that would be an error. We absolutely support a two-state solution, but we are thinking out of the box as well, which is: What does it take to bring these to sides to the table? What do we need to have them agree on? At the end of the day, the solution to what is going to bring peace in the Middle East is going to come from the Israelis and the Palestinian authorities. The U.S. is just there to support the process.

Sounds to me that Haley is absolutely in lock-step with her boss, Donald Trump. A one-state, solution, a two-state solution, either one is acceptable if they make a deal work. That’s Trump’s position.

What CBS wanted to hear is that the U.S. is committed to a two-state solution. Under previous administrations, that was the American position. Obviously it hasn’t worked. Now Trump’s position is to support either solution but be committed to neither, only to a peace deal. I think that’s a more reasonable policy.

Haley gets it, but the media doesn’t.

NEW: Trump, Netanyahu Express Optimism, But Trump Asks PM To ‘Hold Back’ Settlements

President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu today held a long-anticipated meeting, where both leaders expressed optimism, and the president asked Netanyahu to “hold back” on new settlements in pursuit of a “peace deal.”

In a joint news conference, Trump called Israel a “symbol of resilience in the face of oppression.” He said, “we will never forget what the Jewish people have endured.”

Trump honed in on Iran’s nuclear ambitions, criticizing the agreement signed by former President Obama. “One of the worst deals I’ve ever seen,” he said, “is the Iran deal.”

“I will do more to prevent Iran from developing–and I mean ever–a nuclear threat,” Trump added.

In a direct reference to Obama’s parting shot abstention on the UN Security Council’s deplorable statement on Israel’s settlements, the president expressed his rejection of “unfair and one sided actions against Israel at the United Nations.”

Harking back to pre-Oslo American mid-east policy, Trump said that the “parties themselves” need to directly negotiate a peace agreement. “[Both] sides will have to make compromises,” the president said, then turning with a smile to directly address Netanyahu, “you know that, right?”

“I’d like to see you hold back on settlements for a little bit,” Trump said.

Netanyahu spoke optimistically about forging a regional approach with “our new Arab partners,” and said “I greatly look forward to discussing this in detail” with Trump. “I think that if we work together, we have a shot.”

Trump said “the Israelis are going to have to show some flexibility, which is hard.” Expanding on Netanyahu’s comments, the president said that Israel could show more flexibility than before because of a “bigger canvas.”

“I wouldn’t be happy, and I wouldn’t be here, and I wouldn’t be as optimistic as I am,” Trump added. “From the standpoint of Bibi and the standpoint of Israel, I really believe they want to make a deal.”

“I think the Palestinians have to get rid of some of the hate that they’re taught from a very young age,” Trump said. “I’ve seen what they’re taught.”

Trump gave one precondition: Palestinians will have to acknowledge Israel. “There’s no way a deal can be made if they’re not ready to acknowledge a very very great and important country.” Hamas in particular has never acknowledged Israel’s right to exist, and in fact denies Israel in their charter.

While that condition has proven insurmountable in the past, Trump referenced other “high level” players that might make this “easier for both the Palestinians and for Israel to get something done.” He did not reference who those players might be.

Doing the same thing and expecting different results is one definition of insanity. It appears that Trump and Netanyahu have begun to hammer out an effort to make progress without repeating the mistakes of the past. This can only be the start of something much, much better than what we’ve seen for the past eight years.

Watch the news conference below.