They hate him that rebukes in the gate (or in Congress), and they abhor him that speaks uprightly. – Amos 5:10
Before I take questions, I’d like to say just a word about the framework with North Korea that Ambassador Gallucci signed this morning. This is a good deal for the United States. North Korea will freeze and then dismantle its nuclear program. …The entire world will be safer. …The United States and international inspectors will carefully monitor North Korea to make sure it keeps its commitments.– President Bill Clinton, 1994
The speech to Congress has been given. The quislings both in America and in Israel have commented. The truth has come out that Obama lied, knowing all along that Iran’s nuclear breakout time is two to three months—just as Prime Minister Netanyahu stated.
Speaking to reporters and editors at our Washington bureau on Monday, Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz acknowledged that the U.S. has assessed for several years that Iran has been two to three months away from producing enough fissile material for a nuclear weapon. When asked how long the administration has held this assessment, Moniz said: “Oh quite some time. … They [Iran]are right now…enriching with 9,400 centrifuges out of their roughly 19,000. … If you put that together it’s very, very little time to go forward. That’s the 2-3 months.” (Eli Lake, Bloomberg, 04/21/15)
The recent Israeli elections are over. The electorate voted democratically for a right-of-center government, to the dismay of the American administration. That’s democracy for you. Secretary of State John Kerry claims the Iranians have agreed to a “virtual” framework agreement, while the Iranians unequivocally characterize the “American administration as a bunch of liars” – proving Prime Minister Netanyahu right again in his warning that it would be a bad agreement. Oddly, Saudi Arabia and Israel are now “frenemies,” both accusing the U.S. government of ineptitude and betrayal.
The New York Times’ Carl Hulse covered the speech under the headline, “Netanyahu Event Similar to a State of the Union Address, but More Electric” (March 3, 2015), noting that Democrat Nancy Pelosi was “saddened by the insult to the intelligence of the United States.” This from a politician who publicly hurled this insult at the American people: “You have to pass [Obamacare] before you know what’s in it.” But she does represent San Francisco. On the other side of the aisle, Hulse quotes Republican Senator Mitch McConnell, “No country understands better the threat that a nuclear-armed Iran presents than the Israelis. … We appreciate his coming.” Hulse described the speech as “a powerful draw for politicians and for prominent American Jews.”
Democratic Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois remarked that never before had so many lawmakers – dozens on the Democratic side [no Republicans] – gone public with plans to boycott a speech, wrote Hulse. “That’s never happened before. It was much more partisan and political than it ever should have been,” said Durbin. Piling on from the Obamacratic side, Representative Jared Huffman of California berated Netanyahu as “a prime minister who has never seen a war that he did not want our country to fight.” Really? Let’s see: Vietnam–no Israeli inducement. Gulf War–no Israeli inducement. Afghanistan –no Israeli inducement. Never is a pretty long time. I guess history wasn’t Jared’s best subject, but what would you expect from a vacuous California beach volleyball jock with too much sand on the brain?
In defense of Netanyahu, Democratic Senator Joe Manchin from West Virginia concluded, “I just think basically what we heard is a passionate plea. … And you know what? I wanted to very much hear the speech…”
Finally, the Times reporter quoted Obamacratic Congressman Steve Cohen of Tennessee, resident Jew boy, who did not attend the speech: “It was putting [Netanyahu] on an equal level with the president of the United States. … And that was wrong.” Only a Jew could show such contempt for his own people.
Netanyahu described Iran as “stretching from Syria to Iraq to Yemen. … At a time when many hope that Iran will join the community of nations, Iran is busy gobbling up the nations. …Iran’s ideology is deeply rooted in militant Islam. … Iran and ISIS are competing for the crown of militant Islam. …Both want to impose a militant Islamic empire first on the region and then on the entire world. They just disagree among themselves who will be the ruler of that empire. In the deadly game of thrones, there’s no place for America or Israel. …So when it comes to Iran and ISIS, the enemy of your enemy is your enemy. The framework agreement doesn’t block Iran’s path to the bomb; it paves Iran’s path to the bomb. … Why should Iran’s radical regime change for the better when it can enjoy the best of both worlds: aggression abroad, prosperity at home? … Before lifting those restrictions, the world should demand that Iran…stop threatening to annihilate my country, Israel, the one and only Jewish state.” Obama claims he didn’t hear anything new. Was he too busy watching reruns of his demeaning interview with GloZell Green-lips in her bathtub?
Turning to the gallery, Netanyahu said, “I wish I could promise you, Elie (Wiesel), that the lessons of history have been learned. I can only urge the leaders of the world not to repeat the mistakes of the past; not to sacrifice the future for the present; not to ignore aggression in the hopes of gaining an illusory peace. But I can guarantee you this: The days when the Jewish people remained passive in the face of genocidal enemies, those days are over! … As Prime Minister of Israel, I can promise you one more thing. Even if Israel has to stand alone, Israel will stand! … Moses gave us a message that has steeled our resolve for thousands of years. … Hazak, hazak,
v’nit hazek! Be strong and resolute, neither fear nor dread them.” And feckless Jewish American leaders, stomachs turning, ran to the bathroom.
From Israel’s extreme left, prize-winning author David Grossman termed Obama’s approach toward Iran “criminal naiveté.” Political leftist and former prime minister Ehud Barak stated, “There is no agreement!” (Jerusalem Post, 04/08/15) In the Saudi Arabian daily Al-Jazirah, columnist Dr. Ahmad Al- Faraj agreed that Netanyahu was justified in his campaign against the proposed nuclear deal with Iran. “I believe that Netanyahu’s conduct will serve our interests, the people of the Gulf, much more than the foolish behavior of one of the worst American presidents,” wrote Al-Faraj, while Faisal J. Abbas, editor-in-chief of Al Arabiya English, suggested Obama take notes from Netanyahu on the extent of the Iranian threat. In his column titled “President Obama, Listen to Netanyahu on Iran,” Abbas noted that Netanyahu “hit the nail right on the head” when he said recently in Tel Aviv that “Middle Eastern countries are collapsing and that terror organizations, mostly backed by Iran, are filling in the vacuum.” (Algemeiner 03/03/15)
Most damning, a defector from the negotiating team, Iranian journalist Amir Hossein Motaghi, made the following assessment: “The U.S. negotiating team are mainly there to speak on Iran’s behalf with other members of the P5+1 countries and convince them of a deal.” (The Weekly Standard, 03/28/15) No wonder the other P5+1 members walked out in shame and embarrassment.
And yet, as I sat in a Conservative synagogue on the north side of Chicago, listening to a Shabbat sermon by its senior rabbi who was “deeply concerned” about the prime minister’s speech, it felt like the year 1938! The rabbi spoke of the “unintended consequences” of the Israeli prime minister addressing the U.S. Congress. For the rabbi, apparently his political purposes trumped the words of Isaiah: “For Zion’s sake I will not be silent, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not be still.” (62:1) The rabbi embarrassingly expressed his concern that “democratic leaders” (Obamacrats) intended to absent themselves from Netanyahu’s speech, noting as well that “many in the African-American community have taken umbrage at Mr. Netanyahu, intimating that the tension between the prime minister and the president is racially motivated.” When in doubt, pull out the old race card. What did the rabbi believe his pandering to Chicago’s black community would accomplish? Fearful that “anti-Semites who claim that Jews control Washington are having a field day” (shredding his close association with AIPAC), he worried that “We have no idea how President Obama will respond.” Leaderless, afraid to speak truth – no Esther or Mordechai in sight. “The American Jewish community is being further divided by this action. … The anti- Israel factions on college campuses are using this in their attacks on Israel.” FYI, Rabbi: The anti-Semites on campus were spewing their venom long before Bibi’s speech to Congress, and they’ll be at it long after.
Shaming and embarrassing himself, the rabbi’s obsessive fear of possible repercussions rendered hollow his professed unwavering support for Israel. Nowhere in his diatribe did he show a “smidgeon” of “deep concern” for Israel’s safety or security. Obama’s relationship with Israel is best described by Shakespeare: “He hath disgraced me…laughed at my losses, mocked at my gains, scorned my nation…cooled my friends and heated my enemies. … And what is his reason? I am a Jew.” (The Merchant of Venice) Might this rabbi have expressed his “deep concerns” if he were speaking on behalf of African-Americans? It’s always easier to advocate for others.
The rabbi is troubled by divisions in the Jewish American community yet fails to say a word about the division between Israel and the non-Orthodox Jewish American community. In Obama’s first run for president, Israelis didn’t get a thrill up their leg for him. Obama’s approval rating in Israel was hovering around 26 percent. When the Jewish American checks were cashed and votes counted, American Jews had dismissed Israel’s concerns and 78 percent had voted for Obama. After a tense and discomforting four years, well publicized for even liberal Jews to see, in 2012 elections Obama’s approval rating in Israel had sunk to 12 percent. Once again, Jewish Americans disregarded Israel’s concerns and 69 percent voted for Obama. If you factor out the Orthodox Jews who overwhelmingly voted Republican, the numbers for the non-Orthodox were even higher. If money and votes reflect priorities, it follows that for the vast majority of non-Orthodox Jewish Americans, Israel is not much of a priority – unlike abortion rights for a shrinking Jewish community. Now that’s a priority! Non-Orthodox rabbis nervously preaching “Sha! Shtil! (Quiet! Don’t make trouble!) tell a sad story of the weak and vacillating non- Orthodox Jewish community in the America of 2015.
Shlomo Avineri, professor of political science at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, observed:
Something more profound is now surfacing: a degree of nervousness, insecurity and even cringing on the part of the American Jewish community which runs counter to the conventional wisdom of American Jewry feeling free, secure and unmolested in an open and pluralistic society. … But the truth of the matter is simple: you, in America, are no different from French, German, Polish, Soviet and Egyptian Jews. Your exile is different – comfortable, padded with success and renown. It is exile nonetheless. … America, it now evidently appears, may not be your promised land.” (Jerusalem Post, 03/10/87)
Shabbat Shalom, 05/22/15 Jack “Yehoshua” Berger* * Back issues are archived at The Times of Israel.com