White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel has admitted the Obama administration has “screwed up the messaging” about its support for Israel.

rahm emanuelThe Obama Administration has “screwed up the messaging” about its support for Israel over the last 14 months, and it will take “more than one month to make up for 14 months,” White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel said Thursday to a group of rabbis called together for a meeting in the White House.

“During the elections there were doubts about President Obama’s support for Israel, and now they have resurfaced,” Emanuel said, according to one of those who participated in the meeting. “But concerning policy, we have done everything that we can that is in Israel’s security and long range interests.  Watch what the Administration does.”

Dennis Ross, who runs the Administration’s Iran policy, allayed fears during the meeting that by calling for a nuclear free Middle East the US policy regarding Israel’s nuclear capabilities was changing.

Since 1995, Ross explained, the Administration’s policy, supported by Israel, was to support a nuclear free Middle East in conjunction with comprehensive peace. Emanuel, according to a participant in the meeting, said  “We understand Israel’s full layer of deterrence.”

These comments came during the second of two White House meetings with a carefully selected slate of 15 rabbis from across the US representing the Orthodox, reform and Conservative streams.  The first meeting took place on April 20, shortly after Obama was widely perceived to have treated Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu shabbily during their last White House meeting.

In addition to Emanuel and Ross, the other Administration officials in the meetings were Dan Shapiro, the deputy national security adviser who supervises policy for Israel and its neighbors; Susan Sher, the chief White House liaison to the Jewish community; and Danielle Borin, Associate Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement and Special Assistant to Vice President Joe Biden.

Ross opened Thursday’s meeting, saying he hoped that the rabbis “had seen the manifestations of the change” of the Administration’s tone since they met the first time a month ago.

Ross quoted Defense Minister Ehud Barak, who last week in Washington declared that regarding defense and security the relationship between Israel and the US has never been stronger.

Ross said that the US was providing Israel with everything it needed “in a tough neighborhood,” integrating Israel into America’s “military architecture,” especially in the missile defense sphere.

Ross said that both he and Shapiro were meeting Israeli officials on a weekly basis, either in Jerusalem or Washington, regarding defense issues.

Shapiro pointed out the Administration on Thursday announced a $205 million allocation for the Iron Dome missile defense system,  on top of the annual $3 billion in military aid.  One of the participants in the meeting quoted him as saying there could be no two state solution without effective missile defense and no successful peacemaking if others perceived any gap between the US and Israel.

Emanuel said, according to a participant in the meeting, that he has worked for two US administrations, and was a congressman during a third, and that the cooperation between the two countries on security issues has never been better.  But, he said, things have been “static” at “the top,” which has created “some angst” out there.  He pointed out that the US pushed Israel’s acceptance this week into the OECD.

Regarding Iran, Emanuel said that the US could not unilaterally impose sanction and have them effective.  He said that if the US would move before sanctions pass the UN Security Council, it would give a gift to Russia and China and get them off the hook as far as having to take a stand on sanctions.

The sanctions that are being drawn up will not be incremental and will impact the Iranian economy in a serious way, Emanuel was quoted as saying.  But the sequence is important, he said, and has to be first UN sanctions, followed then by EU ones and then finally by steps from Washington.

Emanuel said that the Administration’s priorities in the Middle East centers around three issues: isolating Iran, “removing America’s footprint in Iraq” which is perceived as an intrusion into Arab and Moslem lands, and the Israeli-Palestinian peace process which he said is key to Israel’s security, and also helps both Isarel and the US

Regarding the proximity talks, which will enter a second round later this week with the arrival of US envoy George Mitchell, Ross said both sides needed to create an atmosphere where the talks could succeed. He said the US was not looking to impose a settlement, but that when the sides reached an impasse in negotiations they often needed a third party to suggest a way to bridge the gaps.

During the first meeting in April, Emanuel, according to a participant at that meting, said that Obama understood why Israelis were cynical of the peace process, since bilateral negotiations – the Oslo process – led to the terrorism of the Second Intifada; and unilateral action – withdrawal from Lebanon and disengagement from Gaza – left them with a strengthened Hamas and Hizbullah.

He also said that no Israeli government could make peace without security, and that Israel needed to know that the US was behind them.

Jack Moline, a Conservative rabbi at Congregation Agudas Achim in Alexandria, Virginia, initiated the two meeting meetings after a talk he had Emanuel about the Obama administration’s perceived deficit of friendliness toward Israel.

The two meetings were part of a charm offensive after the Obama-Netanyahu meeting last month.

In recent weeks, several high-profile US Jewish communal figures have slammed the Obama administration over the intensity and public nature of its criticisms of Israeli actions on these fronts.

Moline said the rabbis, all of whom attended both of the meetings, were selected because of the high profiles they have in their communities, and because they had concerns about how the Obama administration was conducting Middle East policy ­ but they had not displayed outright hostility to the president.

The rabbis who were in this group were chosen because they’re in touch with their different congregations in different parts of the country, Moline said.

One source said the meeting was a sign that the Administration was concerned they may “be losing the Jews.”

Not all the rabbis came away entirely mollified, but they were impressed at the seriousness of the outreach.

Efrem Goldberg, the rabbi at Florida’s Boca Raton Synagogue, which is Orthodox, said he left the meeting still wondering if the administration is on the right track, but cautiously optimistic because of the depth of commitment to Israel he heard.

I left with a clear impression that these individuals have a real passion about Israel, even if he did not agree with them on tactics, Goldberg said.

There was a lot of highlighting of the actual activities and policies of the administration, Moline said ­and some frustration that what the Obama administration has done for Israel has not been comprehensively and accurately reported. They emphasized that whatever the messaging has been over the past year and half, the policies have been in place.

Updates (Israel time; most recent at top)?

6:40PM: Keeping the trash out.

6:20PM: Has the world gone completely bonkers?

Via Honest Reporting:

Recently, the Comedy Central TV network censored an episode of the popular South Park cartoon following threats from Islamic extremists offended at the show’s portrayal of the Prophet Mohammad. But while Comedy Central was perceived to have caved in on a matter of free speech, it appears that the network exercises double standards when it comes to producing genuinely offensive material.

Currently appearing on Comedy Central’s website is a game called “I.S.R.A.E.L. Attack!”. The premise of this game has nothing to do with Israel and, as such, is nothing more than an insidious attempt at association. The game’s introduction begins with a character who states:

You lied to me, Jew Producer

referring to a character who has failed to carry out a mission to destroy other child-like cartoon characters. If this piece of anti-Semitism isn’t bad enough, a robot – the Intelligent Smart Robot Animation Eraser Lady – is sent to do the job that the Jew Producer failed to achieve.

The character openly calls the robot by its acronym – ISRAEL – and the association created by those behind this game is unmistakable – Israel the child killer.

The game then involves the robot destroying everything and everyone in its path, including children and animals.

Read here for more on getting this vile excuse for antisemitism-masquerading-as-humor removed.

2:40PM: The North Koreans are not happy with Israel, nor Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman.

North Korea on Saturday angrily denied previous Israeli allegations that Pyongyang is spreading weapons of mass destruction, denouncing Lieberman as an “ultra-rightist” and “an imbecile in diplomacy” and vowing not to tolerate Israel’s alleged slander.

The North’s Foreign Ministry said Saturday the country has nothing to do with the spread of WMDs. It also said it would never pardon Israel for daring to slander the dignified (North) by concocting “sheer lies.”

Because up until now, relations between us and the North Koreans were just swell.

2:15PM: Following this little performance by a member of the Muslim Student Union at UC San Diego comes this one by one of their invited guests at UC Irvine – pro-terrorist Malik Ali.

StandWIthUs writes:

Write a letter to the administration at UC Irvine.

Tell them that on Thursday, May 13th, the Muslim Student Union (MSU) has once again hosted a speaker, Malik Ali, who clearly stated in the video below that he supports terrorist groups and Jihad on campus. The MSU invites him to speak on campus once a year or more.

Tell the UC Irvine administration that enough is enough. The MSU continues to host hateful speakers on its campus, inciting division and marginalizing Jewish students who support the state of Israel as the “new Nazis” on campus.

Tell the UC Irvine administration that this is dangerous and needs to stop. MSU should be sanctioned and placed on probation because they foment hatred against one specific group on campus: the Jewish group.

MSU is absolutely irresponsible in their choice of speakers, as this video proves.

Please send the link to the video, and your own note to:
chancellor@uci. edu
mngomez@uci. edu
president@asuci. uci.edu
president@ucop. edu

Please send a copy to info@standwithus. com

1:48PM: It looks like no-one is immune from the recent iPad ban.

And I mean no-one.

bar refaeliIt’s only been a couple of weeks since Israel lifted its ban on the iPad and both are back in the news again.  This time, international supermodel and 2009 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit cover girl, Bar Refaeli, is in hot water for not declaring her iPad when she recently entered her native country for a short visit.

According to an interview on Israeli television, Refaeli didn’t declare the iPad because she believed it was in a suitcase that had been lost in transit.

Israeli customs requires all items valued over $200 be declared upon entering the country.  Unfortunately for her, Refaeli must now pay 650 shekels (approximately $170) in fines and taxes to get her iPad back.

No doubt the customs guys wanted to rummage through her belongings anyway..

6:40AM: Canned peas peace.

Cold peace with Jordan: Israelis good were burned in Jordan Saturday, during protests against Israel in the Hashemite Kingdom’s capital marking Nakba Day.

Hundreds of members of the Anti-Normalization Committee, which fights against normalization of economic relations with Israel, set fire to hundreds of fruit and vegetable crates imported from the Jewish neighbor.

The protest, held in Amman’s central marketplace, came a day after Jordanian clerics issued a religious edict that forbids purchasing merchandise from Israel.

Director of Jordanian trade unions Dr. Ahmed al-Armouti said that these activities reflect the Jordanian people’s stand in respect to normalizing ties with Israel. According to al-Armouti, such normalization will serve as a recognition of the “occupation’s legitimacy and existence,” and lead to “economic, political and security dangers that might threaten Jordan’s stability.”

Al-Armouti said the Jewish state is “an entity that plans to destroy al-Aqsa Mosque and expel the residents of Palestine.” Those who have normal ties with Israel are “godless people devoid of humanity,” he said, adding that the Anti-Normalization Committee plans to announce the names of Jordanians who maintain normalized relations with Israel in the near future.

The religious edict issued on Friday forbids purchasing merchandise produced in Israel. London-based publication al-Quds al-Arabi reported that 51 religious clerics announced the collective edict on Friday, and called on all Muslims to boycott products made in Israel, because it was “the enemy that plunders Muslim land.”

The religious edict also ruled that all Muslims are required to support Jihad by all means necessary, in order to abolish the occupation and back the residents in “occupied lands.”

Nice to see they’re burning food while their brethren “starve” in Gaza.

But let it be said as long as they’re importing our food, what they do with it is their business. Heck, perhaps these burning activities will increase our exports to Jordan.


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28 thoughts on “The Day In Israel: Sunday May 16th, 2010”

  1. Obama's 'smart diplomacy' is failing massively. Russia is as much as spitting in his face and he is seeing that Israel's neighbors, including Iran, are stock piling arms for a conflict. He marketed himself as a uniter but he has created divisions were they didn't exist before and made worse the ones that did.
    Because of his vaunted 'smart diplomacy' none of this will end well.

    1. Rahm has been a big disappointment in many ways, most surprisingly (to me anyway) in the lack of his much-vaunted political savvy. Good grief, he can't get the Democratic congress to unite, and he seems to fumble on foreign affairs. It's nice to see a semi-admission ("messaging") but I'm not sure he can get things done at the highest level. Peter Principle at work?

      1. Michael Zvi krumbein

        I don't know. If the Peter Principle worked, Obama would have stayed in the Senate, which was already his "level of incompetence". Maybe it doesn't work in politics. (I actually think Peter himself is a good example of his rule; he got out of his depth afterwards.)

        1. Jim from Iowa

          I think there must be exceptions to the Peter Principle. Skillful politicians fool the electorate all the time. Pols are judged on their ability to speak in soundbites and tell the voters what they want to hear at any particular point in time. They are not judged on their ability to govern effectively. The Peter Principle does seem to apply to Fox News comentators, though. Beck, Hannity, O'Reilly–a very low bar to reach there.

          1. Michael Zvi krumbein

            Why? Are they competent entertainers, or not? Rush Limbaugh, while he undoubtedly means what he says, has always referred to himself primaily as an entertainer.

            1. Jim from Iowa

              I think Rush is actually smarter than apparently you think he is. I agree that he is a talented entertainer, but I don't believe he always believes some of the things he says. He's on the air to entertain his rightwing listerners. The truth is a secondary consideration. Fairness and balance are too boring and thus banned from his show. But Rush Limbaugh is entertaining, I'll give you that.

              1. Michael Zvi Krumbein

                I think he's extremely smart, which is why he says the things he does. But if it makes you feel better to believe that people who disagree with you are stupid, have fun!

                1. Jim from Iowa

                  People who listen to Rush Limbaugh are not stupid. People who listen/watch Glenn Beck and believe he has some penetrating insight into the world in which we live are stupid. People who listen/watch Sean Hannity are…are…um…words just escape me. I don't know why anyone would tune into his dreadful radio and tv shows on a regular basis. Some people like blood sausage, too. That's the best explanation I can come up with.

                  A Twitterer sent Olbermann a Tweet which summed up Hannity's support for President Reagan: "Listening to Hannity talking about Reagan is like listening to a five-year-old talk about Superman."

              2. Michael Zvi Krumbein

                Why should Rush be fair and balanced? First of all, he's a commentator. Second of all, he's simply providing counter-balance to the Voice of the Left, that is, the network news on the hour.

            1. Jim from Iowa

              Rachel Maddow, actually. I watch the whole MSNBC lineup of leftwing commentators and I would stack them up against Fox's anytime. They are better educated, more willing to invite those with opposing points of view (except Olbermann), and can better handle themselves in a political debate of ideas. Fox gets much higher ratings because their narrow-minded viewers only want spoonfed rightwing propaganda. They have nowhere else to go for this kind of political "debate."

              1. Michael Zvi Krumbein

                Ah, yes, the pasty-white MSNBC line-up, who then complain that their opponents are all, er, like them.

                Fox gets good ratings because they have the market cornered on news without too much of a left-wing slant. As I said, if you wish to believe otherwise, you are welcome to your fantasy world.

                1. Jim from Iowa

                  Liberals haven't exactly cornered the market on identity politics. Conservatives Tom Tancredo on illegal immigration, Pat Buchanan on religious background of Supreme Court appointees, Sen Corker (R-TN) running racist ads against his African American opponent, former House Minority Leader and current Tea Party supporter Dick Army calling Rep. Barney Frank "Barney Fag" are just a few examples that have taken place in the last decade. These are things that really happened, Michael, not some fantasy made up by some Fox commentator to gain an audience share point.

                  1. Michael Zvi krumbein

                    Well, these are your fantasies about your oppponents' intentions. Have you actually read Buchanan's article? Breyer himself made the point, I believe. (Not that Pat doesn't have other things to answer for in that area.)

                    1. Jim from Iowa

                      Yes, I did read Buchanan's column on the Supreme Court. He wallowed in the worst kind of identity politics. He is obsessed with the idea that so many Jews are serving on the Supreme Court. He doesn't even argue against the Jewish appointees because of their views on the Constitution or their qualifications; he is against the appointments because they are Jews. He also points out that Democrats have lost support from ethnic working class Catholics for not putting their kind on the Supreme Court (an absurd idea). I suspect that Buchanan views the appointment of the third woman to the high court will turn it into a feminist collective.

                  2. Michael Zvi krumbein

                    As far as "some fantasy made up by some Fox commentator to gain an audience share point" is concerned, I have no idea what you are talking about.

  2. israeli exporters should run specials on foods to burn

    the clerics are right…the israelis are truly inhumane in how they deal with the palestinians….they should be more like the jordanians…and machine gun thousands in the streets

  3. Jim from Iowa

    I wonder if the Palestinians barbeque on their Naqba Day. A perfect opportunity to burn food, right AussieDave?

    Rahm Emmanuel is leading the charm offensive?!!? I like him for his political skills but I'm not sure diplomacy is his long suit. The Obama Administration needs someone special to be the point man/woman to work on this problem with the Israelis–say Jackie Mason or Richard Simmons.

    1. Great suggestions Jim. Personally I favor Jackie, but maybe a "tag team" of Jackie and Richard for some innovative shuttle diplomacy would make progress.

      1. Michael Zvi Krumbein

        Actually, Jackie Mason did a political column for quite a while with Raoul Felder. I doubt he would have anything to do with the current administration policy. (Yes, I know he was sarcastic.)

      1. Jim from Iowa

        Have you ever been in a room full of politically-active Democrats? It's a mess. You have to have someone to keep some kind of order in the place. Rahm seems to have this skill set–tell Dems when to stop bickering and get in line behind the President. Republicans have it in their DNA or something to get behind their leaders blindly.

        1. Michael Zvi krumbein

          Somone should have told that to all of the Rebulicans who stayed at home in the last election.

  4. Michael Zvi Krumbein

    So if I understand the administration properly, they believei n being a "cowboy" with Israel, but on consensus with Iran.

    One has to give the adminstration credit. Because of the complete lack of experience at the top (now wonder they just omminated someone with the same amount for the Court), they are actually acting out your average conservative's paranoid fatansies about Democrats:

    1. "Love your enemies; hate your friends".
    2. An actual appeasement-based foreign policy.

    I'm sure others could add to this; I am trying to stay with Israel-related issues.

  5. Jim from Iowa

    Not sure you guys heard the news in Israel, but Pat Buchanan, rightwing commentator and no friend of Israel, has said that with the confirmation of Elena Kagen to the U.S. Supreme Court, that would make 3 Jews on the court. That is too many for Buchanan (probably 3 too many for him). For some reason he didn't seem overly concerned with 6 Catholics on the court. I'd hate to think about the number of Jews on the Israeli Supreme Court. How a bout a trade? You send us Shimon Peres and Guy Pines (don't worry–we'll settle them in Miami Beach) and we'll send you Buchanan and a bigot to be named later.

    1. Michael Zvi Krumbein

      I read the article, and he did talk about Catholics (which he is). While I have my problems with Buchanan going back to the 70's, I did not find the arlicle problematic. Unfortunately, some of the comments made by the readers were paranoid anti-semitic. (AIPAC workign with Israel to destroy Christianlity. If anyone is working to destory Christianity in Amearica, it's the left-wing Protestants!)

      Reading the comments reminds me of why Jews get so sensitive about criticism; it doesn't take much to bring those people out.

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