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Tag Archives: Obama Israel trip 2013

Mr. President: Don’t Free Jonathan Pollard

One of the most prominent features of President Obama’s trip to Israel has been the incessant stream of demands he incurred for the release of convicted Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard.

Press pool reports say the motorcade route is often stocked with people holding signs to free Pollard. Obama was heckled during his Jerusalem speech by someone demanding Pollard be set loose.

And no doubt, Obama was importuned by Prime Minister Netanyahu, who has been a tireless advocate for Pollard and who even, while out of office, visited him in jail. And with Obama on the trip was Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), one of the leading congressional proponents of Pollard’s release.

It would be an inestimable disgrace if Obama decided to make freedom for Mr. Pollard part of his Israeli Pacification Campaign.

Pollard, as you may know, was a U.S. citizen who pleaded guilty to espionage and was sentenced to life in prison in 1987. He is now a citizen of Israel but remains in U.S. federal prison.

Pollard was well paid by the Israelis for his work and allegedly promised much more. He is believed to have passed information to other countries as well.

He is a traitor, and a venal one at that, and he should stay right where he is instead of being released to Israel to bask in glory and, once he writes his book, wealth.

I don’t care who he spied for, he gave thousands of documents to the Israelis, possibly betraying more secrets than any spy in U.S. history. He damaged U.S. national security and endangered those who work to secure it.

Pollard had no idea what the Israelis would do with the information he gave and the knowledge of sources and methods they gained. Israel is a friend but a foreign nation, and it has its own concerns that don’t involve U.S. security. Who knows who they traded this information to, or how securely they were able to keep it from spies within their own ranks?

The U.S. government made a decision based on national security to keep this information secret. Jonathan Pollard had another idea, and decided to sell it instead.

In rare example of exemplarily pellucid thought, Vice President Biden is one of the administration’s most ardent opponents of releasing Pollard.

Mr. President, listen to Joe, and leave Pollard to the jail cell he so industriously earned.

Obama Departs The Holy Land Safely

Let me just say, Obama is in the air, and I’m glad he’s safe. This trip had to have been a security nightmare.

My gravest concern was during his visit to the Palestinian territories, which are about as well organized and predictable as a colony of penguins on LSD. Who knows what was in the minds of the troops Obama reviewed with President Abbas – or even the guy with the sharp looking sword who led them around?

Let’s hear a round of applause for the Secret Service, which hasn’t allowed a serious attempt on a president’s life in more than 30 years, and to the Israeli and Palestinian officials who worked to keep our president secure. They did a great work in jobs that offer little credit when things go well, and lots of blame when they don’t.

May the rest of his trip, which includes a stop today and tomorrow in Jordan, be safe.

The Real Reason Behind Obama’s Israel Trip

You can barely read an article about President Obama’s sojourn in Israel that doesn’t say the visit is without substance because Obama lacks a grand plan to end the conflict between the Palestinians and the Jews. That he’s not even bothering to try to negotiate.

Indeed, he’s not. His speech today to Israelis, given in typical Obama style to an audience of admiring children, was heavy on platitudes about Arabs and Jews putting aside differences and working for a better future. It wasn’t particularly serious stuff.

Many have written that the trip is kind of a grand photo op, noting cloying effort to portray goodwill. It’s to repair relations, as if that was an end in itself.

But something very substantive is in fact being done.

The best analysis of Obama’s visit I’ve seen is by Power Line’s Paul Mirengoff, who gets right to the point:

It seems clear to me, however, that Obama’s trip is primarily about Iran, not “peace” between Israelis and Palestinians.

When Obama asks himself what can go wrong in his second administration, an Israeli attack on Iran must rank high on his list. Such an attack would scramble the playing board in unpredictable ways. Possible consequences include oil shortages, war in the Middle East, and terrorist attacks on U.S. interests.

It follows that dissuading Netanyahu from attacking Iran almost certainly is the primary objective of Obama’s visit.

There can be no other reason.

Obama is not only repeatedly assuring Israel that the United States fully intends to bomb Iran’s nuclear program if need be, but he’s obsequiously snuggling up to Netanyahu every chance he gets.

He doesn’t need Jewish votes anymore, and his Israeli-pleasing actions – not visiting the tomb of Yassir Arafat while laying a wreath at that of Zionism founder Theodore Herzl, for example – must really be pissing off the Palestinians.

That’s not normal behavior for Obama. Mirengoff is right, he must have something else in mind. He wants to control the Iran situation, to convince Israel to back off while his sanctions finally, somehow, work their elusive magic.

Netanyahu will buy into the Obama’s charm at great peril to Israel’s security. I think he knows that. I think he knows Obama is about as reliable on stopping Iran as he is on reducing the U.S. deficit.

That’s why while Obama is talking about a year until Iran has a bomb – and Israel agrees with that timetable – Netanyahu said during Wednesday’s press conference his focus is on when Iran will have enough enriched uranium to build one. Because then the Mullahbomb will be unstoppable. And that moment is sooner, maybe much sooner, than a year away.

Kerry Commends Abbas on His Tie

Secretary of State John Kerry showed off to the world his subtle diplomatic skills today when he complimented Palestinian National Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on his tie.

Abbas today wearing his killer tie
Abbas earlier today sporting his killer tie

“Nice tie, Mr. President,” Kerry said as he, Abbas and President Obama waited for the press to be rolled in to witness a pre-meeting photo op at the Muqata Presidential Compound in Ramallah.

No, this is not satire.

It takes knowledge not only of international relations and Palestinian sensibilities but a real sense of fashion to come up with such a line. I can’t imagine than any of the world’s great diplomats, from Talleyrand to Kissinger, would have been able to produce such pitch-perfect insincere flattery.

There was no word on the response from Abbas, who was not really known as a style icon until today. No doubt JC Penney and The Tie Barn will be sold out of Mr. Abbas’s neckpiece within hours.

So Kerry, who recently dreamed up the country of Kyrzakhstan, is off to a good start solving the Middle East peace crisis.

Obama Gumming Up Meetings With Netanyahu, Abbas

President Obama appeared to be chewing Nicorette gum today during separate gatherings with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and Palestine National Authority President Abbas.

According the the White House press pool report, Obama appeared to be chewing at both a technology exhibition he and Netanyahu attended in Jerusalem and later in the day as he and Abbas sat together for photographs just before meeting in Ramallah.

I suppose this is less disrespectful than if he simply lit up during the proceedings.

Obama is believed to chew Nicorette to feed a nicotine addiction he has failed to shake since he stopped smoking a few years ago. The White House has touted Obama’s success at quitting smoking without noting he hasn’t yet done the hard part – getting off nicotine.

Here’s some video of him chewing away during the G20 meeting last year.

Chuck Todd Tries to Conduct His Own Press Conference

Updated March 21 at 7:28 am ET

I really hate it when White House reporters get so impressed with themselves that they ask forty questions. Chuck’s a nice guy and not normally a blowhard, but he seems here to have temporarily lost a sense of his own importance relative to the rest of the universe.

I’m glad President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu called him out. This is really quite amusing.

The worst I’ve ever seen – among many floor grabbers – was ABC’s Martha Raddatz, who would act as if the daily White House briefing had been arranged mainly for her personal use. NBC’s David Gregory had an excellent sense of the essentialness of his own questions too.

At least Chuck is asking good questions. But you are much more likely to get a good answer with one carefully crafted question buttressed by a precise follow up after your subject tries to dodge. Otherwise, the questions are about you, not about getting responses.

H/T to Dylan Byers of Politico.

UPDATE: I thought some more about this, and I want to note that this was one of those bilateral press conferences the president holds with foreign leaders at which questions are limited, in this case to two for the American press and two to for the Israelis.

With only limited access to the president, it’s quite possible Chuck was motivated more by a desire to get as many questions in as possible in order to get as much information as possible than he was by a desire to hear himself speak.

Wasserman Schultz Hitches Ride on AF1 to Israel

Democratic National Committee Chairman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) is accompanying President Obama to Israel, adding a decidedly political element to Obama’s first trip to the Holy Land as president. Wasserman Schultz, who is Jewish, was joined on Air Force One by another House Democrat, Rep. Eliot Engel of New York, who is also Jewish. No… Continue Reading