Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Israel headlines, November 22-25, 2013

Israel headlines tell a story. They tell you the news. But sometimes, they reveal some underlying truths.  

Return to this blog every Tuesday and Friday after Noon. You’ll see a sampling of headlines from Israel’s press—and some comments about those headlines.

Today’s headlines—and those comments--come from November 22 - 25, 2013.
The Arab-Israel conflict

-More Palestinians working in Israel, but unemployment rising sharply in West Bank and Gaza

-Fatah Video Publicizes Threats to Kidnap, Kill, Bomb Israelis

-PA Sheikh: Only Solution for Jews is the Sword


-Hamas Threatens Israel with Genocide

-Hamas: Our Rockets Will Reach North of Tel Aviv

America and Israel

-Poll [in US] shows ebbing Israeli support for Iran strike

-Obama’s failure of moral courage

-John Kerry: Iran nuclear deal makes Israel safer


-U.S. Official: Israel's Position on Iran Could Lead to War

-Geneva breakthrough: Iran and world powers reach interim deal on nuclear program

-Gulf States Worry Deal Boosts Iran's Ambitions

-Canada vows to keep its Iran sanctions after deal

-Kerry: Iran Deal 'Safer For Israel'

-Saudi prince to Iran: We won’t sit idly by

-Khamenei and Obama are Geneva’s winners, Netanyahu the big loser

- Jimmy Carter on Geneva deal: 'Historic opportunity' to rebuild relations with Iran

-Iran nuclear agreement a ‘historic mistake,’ Netanyahu says

-ADL: ‘Deep concern’ about flaws in Iran deal

-Nuclear breakout possible in two months, group warns

-Steinitz: Agreement liable to bring Iran nearer bomb

-Iranian President Rouhani says nuclear ‘rights’ sealed by deal

-Trumpeting deal, Iranians say agreement stymies ‘Zionist plot’

-Rouhani: Sanctions Regime has been Broken

- Obama advised Netanyahu of secret Iran talks in September

-Netanyahu: Iran Got What it Wanted

-PM: The More We Know, the Worse Iran Deal Is

-Almost 3 of 5 Israeli Jews: US Harmed Israel in Geneva

Israel politics

-Drama in Labor party: Herzog beats Yachimovich for chairmanship

-Herzog: Netanyahu sowing ‘unnecessary panic’ on Iran

-Liberman: No plan to break up union with Netanyahu

The Arab Middle East

-5 Jordanian Journalists Wounded in Syrian Bus Blast

-Report: Beirut-Bound Car Bomb Intercepted

-Scores killed as rebels fight siege of Damascus suburbs

-Syria War Has Killed More than 11,000 Children, Finds New Report

-Syria: More than 160 Dead in 2-Day Battle

-Syrian Rebels Unite, Call for Islamic State

The war of the Left against Israel

-Cabinet votes yea for Shai Nitzan as state prosecutor

Jews around the world

-New Australian government shifts  voting pattern on Israel at UN
-Conservative synagogues wrestle with non-Jews in the pews -UN Holds First Discussion on Rights of Refugee Jews

The big story in this news cycle was, of course, the nuclear deal with Iran. Some sanctions on Iran will now be lifted. But will Iran’s nuclear ambitions be stopped?

Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been saying for weeks that, to assure that Iran will not be in position to build a nuclear bomb, two steps had to be taken: an Iranian heavy water plant had to be closed (heavy water is essential to the running of some types of nuclear reactors used to produce nuclear weapons); and, second, Iran must be forced to stop enriching uranium.

Did this deal accomplish these two steps? No.

Nevertheless, the US hailed this agreement as a crucial step forward. Ex-President Jimmy Carter even called the deal, ‘an historic’ opportunity to rebuild relations with Iran.

In fact, Carter used the very word chosen by Netanyahu to describe the deal—except that Netanyahu didn’t characterize the deal as an ‘opportunity’. Netanyahu called the deal, ‘an historic mistake’--one that would bring Iran closer to a bomb.

What’s more important, building relations with an aggressive Iran, or stopping Iran from building a nuclear arsenal? Carter—and Netanyahu—have made their choices.

Netanyahu was quick to condemn the deal. The US was quick to celebrate a job well done.

Who was right? Was the US correct to call this deal a great one (one that would make Israel ‘safer’)—or were the Israelis correct to call it a bad one, one that would make war with Iran more likely)?

For an answer, don’t look at the US. Don’t look at Israel. Look to the Saudis.

The Saudis hated the deal. It is, they said, bad. They agree with Israel.

The Iranians agreed with the US. Teheran boasted that this deal cemented its nuclear ‘rights’. The deal also, Teheran said, ‘stymied the Zionist plot.

You couldn’t get any clearer than that.

The Saudis are angry. Do you remember the Wikileak scandal? From those leaks, we learned that the Saudis had been secretly telling the US—repeatedly—that the greatest threat to peace in the Middle East was Iran. The Saudis wanted the US to do something. The US did: it said repeatedly in public—and behind closed doors—that the greatest threat to peace in the Middle East was Israel.

The Saudis didn’t think that was funny. They believe that the US has been ignoring their pleas for a hard line against Iran.

For them, this deal is the capstone of a consistent pro-Iran scheme that the Obama administration has been pushing for years.  They are not happy.

They aren’t alone. Israel knew that the US had been holding secret negotiations with Iran—and the US had withheld that information from Israel. The Times of Israel reported that, while Obama first told Netanyahu in September that secret meetings with Iran had been held, the truth was that Israeli intelligence already knew that these secret meeting had been going on for seven month. Israeli media reported that Israeli officials ‘angrily denounced [this US] diplomatic outreach to Teheran’.

Now, during this news cycle, Israel media showed a picture of Catherine Ashton of the EU and John Kerry of the US in what can best be termed a triumphant embrace (at the success of their ‘deal’).  Israelis weren’t amused by their apparent glee. Three of five Israelis were reported to see the deal as actually harming Israel, rather than, as Kerry has suggested, helping Israel.

What could happen next to US-Israel relations?

Meanwhile as everyone focused on Iran, Hamas and Fatah (the PLO) reminded us that Israel is in the middle of ‘peace’ talks with the ‘Palestinians’. Naturally, everyone wants peace. The US and the EU accuse Israel of refusing to sign for peace. They want Israel to quit stalling. They want to see a peace treaty.

Why would Israel stall? Why would Israel not want peace?

Perhaps this news cycle gave us an answer: Hamas threatened Israel with genocide. A Palestinian Authority cleric declared that the only ‘solution’ for Jews is ‘the sword’. A Fatah video publicized Arab threats to kidnap, kill and bomb Israeli.

What ‘peace’ talks?


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