American Elephants

The Limits to Tolerance: by The Elephant's Child


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu repeated a line that he used in the prepared statement he read at his Friday news conference on Fox News Sunday this morning. It warrants repetition. Israel and Hamas conduct in the current hostilities can be explained:

The difference between us is simple. We develop defensive systems against missiles in order to protect our civilians and they use their civilians to protect their missiles.

Here’s a brief cell phone video of “Summer Vacation In Israel” It conveys a sense of what it is like to live under constant threat of rocket attack, with only seconds to get to shelter.


The Unbelievable Arrogance of Inexperience. by The Elephant's Child

President Obama’s much heralded speech on the Middle East exhibited nothing so much as his failure to grasp the nature of the office of the presidency.  He has never understood that he represents, not his own prejudices and ideology, but the American people—all of them.  His personal interests must be subsumed in what is best for the country, its national security and its national interests.

The president clearly is consumed by the idea that the World hated us because of George W. Bush and the Iraq War, and Obama wants to make them like us again. Democrats hated George W, Bush, and assume that everyone else must hate him too. Obama was sure that he could succeed in creating peace in the Middle East  when he managed the “peace process.” Liking each other is not the point.  Nations have their own interests, and try to find ways to cooperate while securing those interests. America doesn’t need to be liked, we need to be respected.  Trying to be “liked” is an exercise in futility. Trying to be liked is childish.

The “peace process” is complicated by the fact that the Palestinians are “Refugees.” Being refugees means they are underdogs, and that seems to mean that any amount of rockets, killings, suicide bombers, attacks and lies before the United Nations must be accepted as the natural protests of underdogs. The Israelis, of course, are in the wrong because they insist on defending themselves. Besides, the Israelis are rich and don’t live in refugee camps.  That they have become a successful society due to their own hard work is beside the point.

There has never, in the history of the world, been a nation called “Palestine.” When Israel became a nation, their Muslim neighbors were invited to become citizens of Israel. Many did, and they are free Israeli Muslims who vote and fully participate in Israeli society.  When the Arab nations of the Middle East expelled their Jewish citizens, Israel took them in.  The Arab nations didn’t want the Palestinians, and have helped to keep them in refugee camps and urged them to blame Israel for all their problems.

If Israel’s Arab neighbors wanted peace, there would be peace.  They don’t. They want Israel eliminated.  President Obama doesn’t seem to know this complicated history, and assumes that the “Peace Process” depends on how much Israel is willing to give up.  Israel has the ability to destroy any and all of its large neighbors, and in spite of constant provocation, has never attempted to do anything except defend itself.  Hamas has it in its charter to destroy Israel.

The Arab states were unimpressed with Obama’s nice words about self-determination.  Uprisings against dictatorial governments have been going on since January, and the “Freedom Agenda” has largely been nowhere to be seen.  Months later, after all the dithering, they are not particularly interested. There’s a big gap between protesting in the street and wanting a despot overthrown— and democracy and self-determination.  These are people who have never in history had any experience of democracy.

Iraq had a lot of help in founding a government, holding free elections and writing a constitution.  They have an unbelievable number of political parties, and General Petraeus laughingly said it wasn’t exactly democracy, but “Iraqracy”— their beginning efforts to do it their way.  And that is good.  The administration has sanctioned Syria, but still believes that Assad is a potential reformer in spite of all evidence to the contrary.  The Arab Middle East erupted beginning in January. A statement that the United States supports self-determination in late May is more than a little late.

It is not up to the President of the United States to determine the borders of other nations. In the 62 years since Israel became a nation, the Palestinians have never offered a single concession in the interests of peace in the Middle East. They are not interested in peace, they are interested in the destruction of Israel and its people.

For the President of the United States to side with the Palestinians is shameful step, and breaks with the policy of every president since 1949, and disdains a long-standing friendship in return for — nothing, nothing at all.  He has created a weak and unreliable United States that is earning the contempt of the world.

A video of Bibi Netanyahu’s meeting with Barack Obama is available here.

Making the World a Little More Dangerous, One Step at a Time. by The Elephant's Child
June 6, 2010, 10:13 pm
Filed under: Israel, Middle East, Terrorism | Tags: , ,

(click to enlarge)

What’s going on with Israel?  World governments are busily condemning Israel over the flotilla incident in which Israeli soldiers, boarding a ship attempting to breach the completely legal blockade of Gaza, were attacked, beaten, and in danger of their lives.

The lead ship of the flotilla, a Turkish ship — the Mavi Marmara — manned by “peace activists” who advertised themselves as “adhering to nonviolence and nonviolent resistance on word and deed at all times.” The “peace activists” were waiting with knives, metal clubs, slingshots with steel balls and fire bombs.  All the usual people were shocked! shocked!  A deliberate provocation, staged with all sorts of planning by the phony peace activist pals of Hamas, turned into the hysterical headlines the organizers were looking for.

As Victor Davis Hanson said:

Turkey thought that the Gaza flotilla would be yet another clever way of confronting Israel: They would hype the hoped-for “overreaction,” then posture as regional defender of the faith to the world’s outraged Muslims. However, as more details of the incident emerge, more and more suspicion is falling on Turkish interests that seem to have gone out of their way to stage a violent encounter in order to showcase Turkey’s new Mideast role.

At the Wall Street Journal, Daniel Henninger added:

The world’s peoples may pay soon for their leaders’ display of such a disproportionate double standard. Recall that the other, recent instance when the world’s governments deployed their collective authority and wrath was last June, against Lilliputian Honduras. The conclusion is inescapable: The smaller the problem, the larger the world powers’ output of hot air. But if a problem is large or difficult—especially if the problem is nuclear—they blink and deflate, and will do so repeatedly. Example: It emerged this week that the International Atomic Energy Agency believes Iran is pursuing higher-enriched uranium and “the development of a nuclear payload for a missile.” The world yawns. Or hides.

Now Iran is threatening to send their Revolutionary Guard navy to safeguard another flotilla attempting to break the blockade.  The completely legal blockade conducted by Israel and Egypt.  Egypt too is threatened by Hamas.  The United States appears weak and indecisive, and enemies are always ready to take advantage of weakness.  Obama sort of said he would stand with Israel, while offering undeserved condolences to Turkey and insisting on an investigation.  This is what other nations understand as weakness.  And belligerents often overestimate weakness.

The present government of Turkey, led by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan,  is attempting a new Mideast role, reestablishing its long ago role as leader of the Ottoman empire.   The world’s powers feel free to pile on relatively small isolated nations.  They “find it easier to be blowhards than statesmen,” said Dan Henninger.  “And that means we have a problem.”

Building Peace, Small Steps at a Time. Without Obama’s “Peace Process” Efforts. by The Elephant's Child
June 1, 2010, 12:39 pm
Filed under: Foreign Policy, Israel, Middle East, Terrorism | Tags: , ,

According to Jake Tapper of ABC News Service:

I’m told there won’t be any daylight between the US and Israel in the aftermath of the incident on the flotilla yesterday, which resulted in the deaths of 10 activists.

Regardless of the details of the flotilla incident, sources say President Obama is focused on what he sees as the longer term issue here: a successful Mideast peace process.

“The president has always said that it will be much easier for Israel to make peace if it feels secure,” a senior administration official tells ABC News.

The suggestion is that US condemnation of Israel would further isolate that country, and make further peace negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians even more difficult.

The senior administration official says that President Obama spoke to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu three times on Monday. Mr. Obama pushed the notion that last night – as the United Nations Security Council met to issue a statement about the incident – was the moment when the US had maximum leverage, that the longer the statement was being debated the worse it would ultimately be for Israel.

Ultimately, as the statement was negotiated over night, the US succeeded in making it more neutral where other nations wanted it to criticize and condemn Israel.

What is important is for the U.S government to continue to support the Gaza blockade.  If the blockade is legitimate, then Israelis have the right to board the ships of those who refuse to respect it.  The Israelis have the right to defend themselves against attack.  Hamas is a terrorist organization pledged to the elimination of Israel.

Most Palestinians live in the West Bank, and Israel is quietly working to create the peace that will never be created by the so-called “Peace Process.”  Did you know that all this was going on?   I didn’t.  Perhaps it is best, going on quietly, without constant media attention.

ADDENDUM:  Obama apparently called the Prime Minister (President?) of Turkey to offer condolences on the deaths of their terrorist thugs.  Obama seems to clearly just not like Israel.  An odd position for an American President.

So Much for the Famous “Reset Button.” by The Elephant's Child
May 13, 2010, 9:39 pm
Filed under: Foreign Policy, Islam, Israel, Middle East | Tags: , , , ,

President Obama has rolled out the red carpet for Afghan President Hamid Karzai.   Mr. Obama has realized that he has offended Mr. Karzai, and is attempting to mend fences.  It was widely publicized that the administration hoped to see Mr. Karzai replaced — not exactly the way to make friends among national leaders.

Obama’s success on the campaign trail, with enthusiastic crowds and an adoring press, may have given him the illusion that he could sway national interests with his charm and mellow baritone voice. But nations have interests, and the particular interests of the American president don’t trump the interests of other countries.  Working together requires putting aside the arrogance and refraining from telling other people what to do. George W. Bush may have been unpopular in the streets, but his relations with national leaders were, for the most part, excellent.

Obama  has told us over and over that talks are the ultimate goal.  If he could just sit down and talk with the Mullahs of Iran, they surely would find areas of agreement.  The Mullahs have no interest in talks, they have never had any interest in talks.  It hasn’t worked.

President Obama’s relations with other national leaders are not good. He has made no friends.  An exception was supposed to be President Dimitry Medvedev of Russia. They got along famously, we were told, the agreement enhanced by Obama’s willingness to give up our missile defense in Eastern Europe.

Now we learn that Medvedev has paid a state visit to Syrian President Assad in Damascus that resulted in Moscow’s full endorsement of the Arab agenda against Israel, plus a direct Kremlin challenge to American Mideast diplomacy.

In a joint communiqué with Assad, Medvedev added his own Middle East plan, including 1.) Putting the blame for Mideast tensions on Israel, 2.) Demanding a complete Israeli withdrawal to pre-1967 lines, 3.) Demanding that Israel join the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty as a non-nuclear state, 4.) Endorsing Palestinian demands for a “right of return” — a formula for the demographic destruction of the Jewish state.

Medvedev also offered nuclear plants to Syria. His next stop — Turkey to whom he has also offered a nuclear plant.

Obama has placed all his bets on getting his Mideast envoy, George Mitchell, to mediate indirect peace talks between the Israelis and the Palestinians.  The administration seems to be laboring under the illusion that the problems of the Middle East would go away, if Israel would just make peace with the Palestinians — whose stated goal is to “drive Israel into the sea.”

So much for the reset button, and so much for Obama’s role as the world historical figure who has brought peace to the troubled Middle East.  The Russian bear has other ideas, and they clearly involve a larger role in the Middle East.

In the Terrible Devastation of Haiti, Some Things Are Working. by The Elephant's Child
January 19, 2010, 1:32 am
Filed under: Politics | Tags: , ,

Countries all over the world are dispatching aid to devastated Haiti.  Many have sent planeloads of rescue teams, food water, medicines and other needed aid to the stricken country.  Saudi Arabia sent a letter of condolences to Haitian President Rene Preval.  Oil-rich Kuwait chipped in $1 million as did Morocco.  The Middle East, in general, was noted for their frugality.

Immediately after the quake, the Israeli Home Command dispatched two planeloads with 220 aid-and-rescue personnel and a complete field hospital capable of treating 500 patients a day.  It is the most modern medical facility in Haiti, staffed by 40 doctors.

The hospital is equipped with a medical lab, a pharmacy, an X-ray center, a children’s ward, an emergency room, a surgical department, two operating rooms, and a maternity ward.

Israeli doctors performed 25 life-saving surgeries and assisted in the births of three babies. One baby boy will be named “Israel” by his grateful mother.  The first couple of planes brought tons of medicines and other supplies, and a third planeload followed over the weekend.

Other sources confirmed the fine work the Israeli field hospital is doing, and the efficiency of their operation.  A nice counter to all the ignorant anti-Israeli propaganda.  And it’s nice to hear some positive stories amongst all the human catastrophe.

The Benefits of Daylight Savings by American Elephant
November 2, 2008, 6:38 am
Filed under: Humor, Politics | Tags: , ,

Back in 1999, terrorists on the daylight-saving West Bank built several time bombs, delivered to co-conspirators in Israel and scheduled to explode at a set time. Problem was, Israel had just switched back to standard time, so the only people injured were the terrorists themselves when the bomb detonated an hour earlier than they expected and killed them all. [read] more]

(h/t Mark Krikorian)


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