Dueling Israelis

    A news post that I can't put in the news section because it requires both links to be given equal attention. These two stories are both atop the New York Times website right now:

    Netanyahu Sets a Time Frame for Stopping Iranian Bomb by Rick Gladstone, 25 minutes ago

    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel told the United Nations on Thursday that he believes Iran’s ability to make an atomic weapon will be irreversible by next spring or summer and argued that a “clear red line” must be drawn.

    Leaked Israeli Report Urges New Sanctions on Iran By Isabel Kershner, 12:11 PM ET

    The Israeli report appeared to acknowledge that Iran’s nuclear program could be halted without a strike.


    You know, it seems to me that Iran's nuclear program could very easily be halted by a strike.  Now, how do we get Iran's nuclear scientists to demand a traditional pension and annual raises in excess of inflation?

    And seems to me that for them those concerns might be lower on the totem pole than making it to retirement age alive (and after that's secured, maybe better computer firewalls...)

    I don't know how many weeks of bad calls by replacement nuclear scientists I can live with.

    That one was a lol, acanuck.

    Yeah I have to agree, pretty funny. hahahahhaha

    But scary!

    I thought we already assassinated most of Iran's nuclear scientists for the crime of, you know, practicing nuclear science while Persian.

    Ugh... when dark humor and dark truth mix...

    How bold of them.  

    Netanyahu is so transparently trying to sway the Presidential election.  Would any other country's leader be given the unchallenged media coverage he gets if they tried the same thing?

    What makes it so transparent?  Think about it.  When did Israel ever seek permission, approval or assistance to do what it wanted to do militarily?  Or even care about what the world would think after?  The Six-Day War?  Entebbe?  Osirak?  These stand out in my memory but there are others.

    That they dared to go it alone against odds with supreme competence is what made them admirable -- to me at least.   I was always reflexively pro-Israel believing over time and with a place of their own that wounds from the Holocaust would heal or at least scar over, that they would make peace with the Palestinians and become a exemplar of the cosmopolitan multiculturalism promoted so strongly here by their supporters.  

    Naive?  I guess so.  But like most of us, I never really had all that much time to be a wonk on the subject and just accepted the MSM narrative.  Of course, it helped that the Jewish-Americans I know and worked with are genuinely nice people who mostly believed the same.

    Now, Israel seems like a completely different place than the one I imagined it to be.   And I am angry that Netanyahu and his ilk are so contemptuous of US.  It is such a dysfunctional relationship -- they expect us to always put Israel's wants and needs before our own.  Maybe we have done that enough.

    I still hope for apartheid-free Greater Israel but I am no longer reflexively pro-Israel.  For me, it will always be America first, not Israel.

    For me the most important things in life rank roughly as follows:

    #1. St Louis Cardinals first. No. Doubt. About. It.

    #2. Elvis.

    #3. Israel, circa 1200-800 BC.

    #4. Nietzsche.

    #5. Clean socks. 

    #6. Oral sex with this one Jamaican girl I knew. Wow.

    #6b. Bloody hell, Dick must've written that last one. I'm appalled.

    #6C. America. And South Africa. Tie. 

    #7. There is no 7th most important thing. Never has been, never will be.

    #8. Coconut cream pie.

    #9. My Mom, the Toronto Maple Leafs, Canada and God. They all tie for 9th because it's the holiest number. For instance, BOTH Gordie Howe and Bobby Hull wore the number 9. 'nuff said.

    #10. My old dog, Babe. * sniff *

    #11. Modern Israel. Sorry, modern Israel. So close. 

    #6,783,319, 005. Benjamin Netanyahu.

    I had thought to add Canada second, Australia third, Britain, fourth....

    Albionism?  Damn straight.


    Seriously though, what I said is something I have wanted to say for a while so I did.  Netanyahu and other zealots are undoing half a century of good PR.  Someone should tell them.


    I have real difficulty with the contempt shown as well. As for Netanyahu, as an individual, I am repulsed. I suspect a fair number of people feel this way. I think this course needs to change, and quite rapidly. For instance, Israel has hammered Canada's Conservatives into a truly knee-jerk set of pro-Israel policies, ones that out-run Canadian opinion by a long yard. Ultimately, that's not so useful. 

    Okay, I admit, my first real acceptance? of oral sex occurred in Jamaica.

    How in the hell did you know this?

    It was wonderful, but I brought her from America and she was German/American--as I recall.

    I mean I did marry her.

    I mean what choice did I have?


      Emma disapproves of the Entebbe rescue? Rescuing hostages from terrorists is a bad thing?

    Take some deep breaths until your knees stop jerking then reread slowly.  Perhaps then you will understand what I wrote.


    Aaron, you need to work on your reading comprehension.  On Entebbe, Osirak and the Six Day war Emma said:

    That they dared to go it alone against odds with supreme competence is what made them admirable -- to me at least. 

    What makes Israel unadmirable today is in part Netanyahu, but even more so, radical Jewish 'settlers', and settler veneration of violence, as with the mass murderer Baruch Goldstein.

      You're right; I screwed up big time.

    Interestingly, Ha'aretz's political analyst thinks Bibi's speech was all about Israeli politics, not American, and they have that piece headlined on their home page right now. (Warning: they've switched to the 10-free-articles-per-month per registered user thing)

    And Robert Wright at The Atlantic, going on at length about Netanyahu's speech, thinks this was backing down from past threats, which he thinks is a big win for Obama:

    [....] none of this should obscure the upshot of Netanyahu's talk: Without quite saying so, he has now backed off of the limb he had gotten himself out on. Whereas only weeks ago he was suggesting that Israel might bomb Iran before he finished his next sentence, the upshot of today's speech was that Israel won't bomb Iran before spring.


    God knows I have in the past been critical of President Obama's handling of the Iran issue. But I think today's Netanyahu speech has to be counted as an Obama success. A few weeks ago, Netanyahu was implicitly threatening to bomb Iran any moment and trying to get the U.S. to make its declared policy on Iran more hawkish. Now Netanyahu has backed down from his threat, and Obama didn't have to change U.S. policy in order to get that result. What's more, if Obama is re-elected, he now has at least a few months to impart momentum to negotiations with Iran without fearing that Netanyahu will start acting hysterical in the meanwhile. (Granted, with Netanyahu you never know, but now that we have a picture of that red line, for him to start freaking out again while Iran is clearly shy of it would destroy what credibility he has left.) [....]

    While Jeffrey Goldberg at the same much more simply suggests he is being laughed at in  the White House:

    I just don't get it anymore. [....]

    Maybe I'm misunderstanding the impact of the bomb cartoon -- it is true that everyone is talking about it, after all. But not in a good way.

    On the other hand, we know exactly where his red line is now. On the other other hand, he wants President Obama to take him seriously? [....]

    People are laughing at him in places where he can't afford to be laughed at -- I don't mean Twitter, where everyone is perpetually laughing at everyone else -- but in actual important offices of the United States government.[....]

    Nice work AA.  There are indeed many competing voices in Israel on the issue of halting Iranian efforts to build a nuclear weapon.  Bibi does not speak for every Israeli; he's a politician, an opportunist, and one who is absolutely dependent on some of the most extreme elements of the Israeli electorate.  And, in that respect, as you point out above, it seems more likely to some pretty serious analysts that Bibi's speech was aimed at the precincts in Ariel and nowhere within range of Peoria or even Broward County, and was also designed to extend an olive branch, and not antagonize or damage, the Obama Administration.

    Here's an update from Jeffrey Goldberg this morning:

    The speech also showed that Netanyahu might not know how to draw -- it appears he may have placed his red line in the wrong place on his now-famous Wile E. Coyote ACME bomb cartoon.  It also showed him to be a condescending person (I've heard from several people in the hall -- including a couple of people, rare for the UN, who don't hate Israel, who felt that the bomb drawing was Netanyahu's way of saying, "Look at this, you idiots.") Mainly, what the speech might be about is Netanyahu's upcoming reelection campaign. This from Yossi Verter:

    Thursday's speech also had political ramifications that presumably were not lost on the speaker: If, at the start of the Knesset's winter session in around two weeks, Netanyahu calls for early elections (probably in February ) it's clear that the election campaign will be centered on the Iranian threat. In an election campaign that has a security-diplomatic, even existential character, less experienced politicians or political wannabes like Labor's Shelly Yacimovich and Yesh Atid's Yair Lapid, who are pushing a socio-economic agenda, will find themselves in terra incognita, with little to sell the public.

    The Wile E. Coyote cartoon makes sense in this context: Netanyahu was playing almost entirely to a domestic audience. His soothing words about the U.S. were obviously meant to calm down the White House, which has reached the point where it is getting infuriated -- inappropriately, I think -- over idiotic tweets from low-level Israeli government officials. But the audience was Israel. Israelis certainly don't mind a prime minister who condescends to the U.N., an organization that regularly scapegoats their country.

    Goldberg concludes:

    What [Bibi] did was take a deadly serious issue and turn it into a cartoon. People may remember his speech, but not neccessarily for the right reasons.

    Oh, and by the way: If I were in charge of the Iranian nuclear program, I would spend the next six months accelerating the movement of all of my centrifuges to the underground Fordow nuclear facility.


    Many American Jews may not "reflexively" support Israel but you will find very few Israeli Jews who do not reflexively support America.

      We found one of those few at EOZ, namely Yoel.

    Thanks for posting this - I need to do quite a bit more research on this topic - do you have any other resources you recommend for this purpose?  Appreciate.

    If you truly mean this very specific topic, Netanyahu's opinions on what to do about Iran vs. anti-Netanyahu Israeli opinions on what to do about Iran, I can recommend this:

    Letter from Tel Aviv: The Vegetarian;
    A notorious spymaster becomes a dissident.

    by David Remnick  The New Yorker, September 3, 2012

    If you mean wider on Iran and nukes, I don't have any easy sources to recommend, as it's one of the most difficult news topics there is today. There is not much straightforward to find summary-wise, this is a book length topic. It's a "great game" issue, in which all the major powers are involved, with many competing interests. It's always a developing, it involves secrecy and purposeful disinformation from all sides, it's nearly always necessary to read between the lines, even with institutions like the IAEA, the UN, and our own government.  Some major journalists that write on it are used to send sort of coded messages from sources when those sources can't say what they want to say in formal diplomacy. (Even Iran has done that with the Western press, and they are relatively skilled at it if they want to be, cat-and-mouse wise.)  Everyone that's a leader involved in it has an agenda that they are spinning, most analysts and journalists have a relatively strong bias, and forums on it are filled with much worse.

    If I could recommend one thing, it would be not to waste much time worrying about Ahmadinejad's rantings. He is not taken seriously by the actual rulers of Iran, and has been in a lot of hot water with them since at least around the time of the "Green Revolution."  He is also a very lame duck, in the last year of serving, and it is general consensus that they won't allow a guy like him to run again.

    If you want our government's official stated policy, look at Iran policy page at State.gov, the menu along the left hand side, and "highlights on the right hand side and for Israel the same thing.

    As for Israeli politics, I like Ha'aretz.

    Edit to add: if you are debating with someone on topic about the wisdom of Israel attacking Iran, there is one poll noted in The New Yorker article that a large majority of Israelis are against doing it, especially without US approval, and it is easy to find more polls of that nature. I think that's something a lot of Americans don't realize.

    I think I'm well versed (enough) on Iran but not as much as I'd like on Israel, et. al. - really appreciate the resources, will definitely utilize. 

    #1 most popular article @ The New Yorker right now: Netanyahu Caption Contest.
    Posted by Robert Mankoff, Cartoon Editor. The picture he is using:

    Bibi throws in towel, designs Christmas ornament. Sleighbells & Santa hat next.


    Chuck? Is that you? Chuck Barris?

    Shocking, absolutely shocking. What a devastating indictment of Obama. Netanyahu makes a simple request to Obama to draw a red line and he completely shoots down our #1 ally in the Middle East. Netanyahu can draw a red line but Obama is seemingly incapable? Is he too damn cheap to buy a red marker? Here's a little help drawing a red line, Obama.

    Looks like one of those fund-raising charts.  Is Netanyahu telling the kids they have not sold enough fruit baskets and magazine subscriptions?

    And really, not to be ethnocentric or anything but if somebody next to you says Netanyaho, I mean somebody has to say gesundheit?

    I mean it is a German phrase afterall?


    Forget de bomb!  Defuse, Bibi, put out de fuse!

    The three Caption Contest winners, selected by Bibi (really):

    The Best Bibi Captions

    by Robert Mankoff

    Special thanks to Netanyahu for being such a good sport in agreeing to select the top three captions.

    Read more: http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/cartoonists/2012/09/netanyahu-capt...

    Lugar Backs Obama on Iran; Says ‘Hell to Pay’ With Attack
    By Roxana Tiron, Bloomberg News, September 28, 2012

    Senator Richard Lugar, the leading Republican foreign-policy expert in Congress, said President Barack Obama is following the right policy in Iran and warned of the dangers of war.

    “The idea of moving with our allies, as many as we can find, on effective sanctions on the country has been the right move” on Iran, Lugar said in an interview with Bloomberg Television’s “Political Capital with Al Hunt” airing this weekend [....]

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