Sep 26, 2011


Pres. Obama’s speech to the UN General Assembly can be understood on several levels.

It was an excellent speech. All Obama’s speeches deserve A plus for form, but this one also deserves A plus for content, both for what it included and for what it left out. There was nary a word about 1967 borders or settlements or other divisive issues.

It was a tribute to the quietly strong stance of P.M. Netanyahu since the previous speech at the State Department, the confrontation in the Oval Office, and the triumph before both houses of Congress.

An experienced negotiator presses the side he thinks is more likely to give in. If that side retreats, he presses them even more. For many months Obama thought Israel was the side on which to exert pressure. Bibi proved him wrong. That is another way to regard the UN speech.

Obama wants to be reelected to a second terms as president. His “tough love” stance toward Israel along with the failure of the American economy to recover despite Obama’s initiatives, have put that ambition in danger. This speech is part of a rescue operation. No one should think it will go on forever.

In his first two years Obama tried to appease the Moslem world and the UN. It hasn’t worked and now he is shifting gears.

The US provides more of the funding for the UN than any other country. If the majority of UN members think it is their job to “stick it” to the US, Obama wants to remind them of “purse principles”.

Two groups were very unhappy with Obama’s speech, the Palestinian Arabs and the Israeli Leftists. Both feel betrayed. The difference is that the Israeli leftists are not burning American flags, while the Palestinian Arabs are.

The Friday UN speeches of Abu Mazen and Bibi were reminiscent of the definition of a dialogue: First you must define monologue, which is one man talking to himself. A dialogue is two people talking to themselves.

Each man spoke to his own audience; Bibi in English to the Israeli public and the world, Abu Mazen in Arabic to the Arabs and the pro-Arabs in the General Assembly.

Abu Mazen made it clear his goal is an Arab Palestinian State without making peace with Israel—no recognition, no demilitarization, continued demand for “return” of all Palestinian Refugees; the whole tamale. This played very well with the Palestinian Arabs and the General Assembly.

The best thing Abu Mazen could do for himself now is resign immediately as “the Father of his country” and leave others to pick up the pieces. His place in the Palestinian history books would be secure and in any event his term actually ended two years ago. But, don’t hold your breath.

Bibi spoke to a very different audience, the Israeli consensus. He repeated again and again that he was ready to negotiate immediately without preconditions. But even though he was physically standing before the General Assembly, there was no chance he could convince the great majority of them, whose minds were made up in advance.

There is no chance the Palestinian Arabs will come back to negotiate one on one, unless Israel surrenders to their demands in advance, and that will not happen. When they rejected the offers of Barak in 2000 and Olmert in 2008 they showed that they will never agree to anything any Israeli government can offer. They will continue to try to internationalize the conflict and so the stalemate will continue.

Due to Pres. Obama, Israel came out not badly from this week at the UN, but the conflict will go on.

Sep 11, 2011


Our sages, of blessed memory of the Mishna and Talmud (חז"ל) were very wise people. We would do well to learn from their wisdom. They taught: A king cannot excuse insults to his honor. This is in contrast to an ordinary person, who can do so [[מלך המוחל על כבודו אין כבודו מחול.

In the Middle East honor is very important. The king, who represents the entire nation, cannot forgive insults to his honor, which is the national honor. If he does this, he is regarded by all our neighbors as weak, and invites further insults and injury. Perhaps he will be regarded differently in Washington or London or Paris, but they are not our neighbors in the Middle East.

Turkish Premier Erdogan began to “stick it” to Israel as early as 2009. On Jan. 29, 2009 at the World Economic Conference in Davos he publicly insulted our president before the eyes of the entire world. And not any president, Shimon Peres, the prophet of the “new Middle East”! Erdogan rose and deliberately and demonstratively walked out while Peres was speaking, in front of all the world media. He knew exactly what he was doing and achieved the effect he wanted.

What was Israel’s response? We figuratively wiped off the spittle from our faces and said, “It must be raining.” At that moment Erdogan saw Israel as weak and he has never stopped attacking us and insulting us ever since. The Mavi Marmara incident is instructive. Turkey was well aware of the plans and preparations of the IHH terrorists and encouraged them to try to break the blockade by force. It could have been a turning point, but after our soldiers heroically defended themselves from the terrorists who tried to kill them and killed those terrorists first, Israel slipped back into the routine of excusing and justifying ourselves and our actions.

Every time Erdogan insulted us again, we responded weakly. So the insults and injuries increased, until now they reach a new climax every day. Some Israelis and “friends” tell us, “Why don’t you apologize already and stop all these attacks on you.” Apologize for what, to whom and what good will it do?

Erdogan demands not only an apology for Israel’s killing the terrorists on the Mavi Marmara, but also payment of compensation and cancellation of the blockade on Gaza. Without the latter, the first two won’t help. And who will be crazy enough to cancel the blockade at Erdogan’s behest after the U.N. Palmer Commission declared it legal?

Next, apologize to whom? The man who sent the IHH terrorists on their mission? And why, because we foiled them?

Rather, we should look truth in the eye. For almost three years, Erdogan has been engaged in a campaign in which Israel is only a part. His first purpose, in which he has succeeded, was to become the dictator of the Muslim Republic of Turkey. To the surprise of many, he defeated the army generals who were his major obstacle and jailed many of them where they await trial for treason.

His second purpose is to become the leader of the Muslim world. He is well on his way to achieve this, especially after Mubarak fell and Egypt is in shambles, Iran is shunned, and Syria is engaged in bloody civil war. He is about to make a triumphal tour of Egypt, Tunisia and Libya, and is considering a stop in Gaza (which he may postpone at present.) To realize this ambition, he insults, denigrates and attacks Israel, its leaders, people, army and industry and will continue to do so. In Tsarist Russia the anti-semites had a motto, “Beat the Jews and save Russia.” Erdogan has modified this to, “Beat the Jews and conquer the Muslim world.”

So far he is succeeding and that is why, no matter what we do, he will not stop his anti Israel escalation. Israelis are not the only ones who do not understand this. The Obama administration is also clueless, which is why all they do is to keep repeating that Turkey and Israel should “make up”.

For quite a while Israel has been a favorite Turkish supplier of sophisticated military equipment. No matter what he says publicly, Erdogan wants this to continue. Note his complaint that Israel has not returned to Turkey unmanned aircraft which were sent back here for servicing. Also note the Turks are coming to the annual Israel Defense and Security Expo in October. No boycott there.

However, we must realize that any weapons system we supply to Turkey will end up in the hands of Hamas and Hezbullah, sooner rather than later. If we are not willing to supply anything directly to Hamas, we had better rethink the wisdom of supplying it to Turkey.

Israel’s response to Erdogan’s Turkey should be taken from Teddy Roosevelt’s famous advice, “Speak softly and carry a big stick.” There is nothing we need to say to drive Erdogan up a wall. He will do that all by himself. On the other hand there is really nothing we can say or do to conciliate him. He wants to beat us on the head as his stepping stone to Islamic hegemony and as long as that works (as it is working) he won’t stop.

Israel’s actions should be guided by the principle expressed by the Romans as, “If you want peace prepare for war.”