Skip to main content

  • Still, with the pundits in Jerusalem and Washington writing endlessly about the irreparable damage being done to the special U.S.-Israel relationship, it is important to seek some historic perspective.  In 1948, as David Ben Gurion was preparing to declare independence for a Jewish state for the first time in two thousand years, he received word from the State Department that it would be best to delay the announcement to allow time for more negotiations with the world powers and our Arab neighbors.  Ben Gurion of course declined to heed this advice.  He was later reprimanded by the Americans in 1949 for declaring Jerusalem to be Israel’s capital.

    In May of 1967 Egypt’s Gamal Abdel Nasser closed the Straits of Tiran, enforcing a naval blockade on Israel, ordered the international UN peacekeepers out of the Sinai desert, and began amassing his armies on our southern border.  Israel’s Prime Minister Levi Eshkol was told by the Johnson Administration not to attack, but rather to give time for a possible diplomatic solution.  Thankfully, Eshkol did not wait too long and Israel’s preemptive attack on the Egyptian and Syrian armies ensured the very survival of the Jewish state.

    Similarly, in 1981 Prime Minister Menachem Begin warned the Reagan administration that Iraq was building a nuclear reactor southeast of Baghdad.  While Saddam Hussein contented that the reactor was only for peaceful civilian use, it was clear to Israeli intelligence that Iraq was developing a military nuclear program. Prime Minister Begin ordered air strikes to destroy the reactors and was subsequently condemned unanimously by the UN Security Council – including the American representative. 

  • none of these isolated incidents induced long-term damage to the American-Israeli relationship.

  • When President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took office early in 2009, there were plenty of reasons to expect their relationship would be difficult.


    The cerebral president and the brash prime minister have stark differences in personality, politics and world view.


    Still, few could have predicted the downward spiral of backbiting, lecturing and outright name-calling that has occurred.


    Start with the differences between Obama and Netanyahu, add in disagreements over Iran's nuclear program, a Republican-led Congress trying to assert itself and the coming Israeli elections, and it becomes "the perfect storm of potential broken crockery in the U.S.-Israeli relationship," says the Wilson Center's Aaron Miller, who was a Mideast adviser and negotiator for Republican and Democratic administrations.

  • "I have a moral obligation to speak up in the face of these dangers while there is still time to avert them," Netanyahu said during an address to a pro-Israel lobbying group in Washington.

  • Crucial details about the pending Iran agreement have yet to be ironed out or publicized. But "the deal that seems to be taking shape right now does not fill me — or many others who support a diplomatic solution to this crisis — with confidence,"says Jeffrey Goldberg at The Atlantic. Still, he adds, what's the alternative? "Netanyahu has no actual ideas — other than strategies that lead to endless sanctions of diminishing effectiveness and bombing runs of similarly dubious long-term effectiveness."
  • In a rosier scenario for Netanyahu, Obama is thwarted and... something happens. Maybe a new anti-Iran coalition forms in the Middle East, where deep-pocketed Sunni Arab states put aside their (at least rhetorical) concern for the Palestinians to focus on a mutual enemy with Israel. Or perhaps some cyber-espionage tool will succeed in crippling Iran's nuclear program. It could turn out that Iran is not actually interested in developing nuclear weapons, as it insists.
  • All those scenarios are possible — and unlikely. Netanyahu seems to have already hurt his chances to influence the current deal being negotiated in Switzerland. If he has a brilliant alternative plan, maybe he will share it with Congress and the world on Tuesday. If not, the large number of people who want to maintain the status quo — Israel the only nuclear-armed country in the Middle East — should wonder if they want Israel's prime minister to succeed in Washington.

  • Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu knows what’s in a potential nuclear agreement with Iran and will ask the U.S. Congress to pose questions that may delay a deal, according to an official traveling with him.


  • Obama administration officials have said an attempt by Congress to intervene would wreck chances for an accord between Iran and world powers and the president would veto such a measure. Netanyahu will tell lawmakers they should press for a delay in a deadline at the end of this month to agree on the framework for a deal and should change the agreement if they aren’t satisfied with it, the official traveling with the prime minister said.


  • “We don’t want to see this turned into some great political football,” Kerry said in an interview on ABC’s “This Week” program.


  • The leadership of the most powerful pro-Israel lobby in the U.S. publicly broke Sunday from the White House over the issue of Iran policy during the first of a three-day policy conference in Washington attended by 16,000 of its members.

    Leaders of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or Aipac, outlined a strategy moving forward of working through Congress to disrupt any nuclear agreement with Tehran that is deemed too weak in denying the country a nuclear weapons capability.

  • Mr. Kohr and other Aipac leaders believe any final agreement with Iran must involve the complete dismantling of Iran’s nuclear infrastructure, something                  Obama           administration officials have said is no longer on the negotiating table.

  • Aipac also is seeking to impose new sanctions on Iran if there is no agreement by a late March deadline and to legislate an up-or-down vote in Congress. The White House is opposing both legislative actions.

  • “I went out to play golf — I never play golf — with three of my Jewish buddies,” recalled Representative Alan Lowenthal, a Jewish Democrat from Southern California who only this weekend decided he will attend Mr. Netanyahu’s address to a joint meeting of Congress. “One said, ‘You must go,’ one said, ‘You definitely should not go,’ and one said, ‘I’m in the middle.’ That literally reflects the American Jewish community.”
  • “It’s a tipping-point moment,” said Rabbi John Rosove, an outspoken liberal and head of Temple Israel of Hollywood. “It’s no longer the Israeli government, right or wrong. The highest form of patriotism and loyalty is to criticize from a place of love.”
  • So far, 30 Democrats — four senators and 26 representatives — have said they will not attend the speech. Nearly half are African-Americans, who say they feel deeply that Mr. Netanyahu is disrespecting the president by challenging his foreign policy. But a half-dozen of those Democrats planning to stay away are Jewish, and represent 21 percent of Congress’s Jewish members.

    “I stand with Israel, always have stood with Israel, and always will, but this speech is not about Israel,” said Representative Steve Cohen, Democrat of Tennessee, who accused the prime minister of politicking in Congress with an eye on Israel’s March 17 election. “Netanyahu is not Israel just like George W. Bush wasn’t America.”

  • Earnest said Obama had laid out “a clear strategy” to stop Iran, while Netanyahu hadn’t.


  • Earnest also said he does not believe Netanyahu’s opposition to the deal “will have much of impact on the ultimate outcome.”


    He said “he doesn’t believe” Obama watched Netanyahu’s speech at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee policy conference in Washington, DC, earlier that day, nor did he think Obama would watch Netanyahu’s speech to Congress Tuesday.

  • Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu plans to deliver one of the most controversial speeches to a joint session of Congress by a foreign leader ever, and Vice President Biden and a number of top Democrats won’t be attending.

    Netanyahu is expected to criticize the White House’s negotiations on Iran's nuclear program in his March 3 speech. While Biden has cited a scheduling conflict, other Democrats are staying away from the speech to protest what they see as an attack on President Obama.
  • Democrats face a difficult decision on whether to attend the address. Many will want to show support for the White House but will be wary of snubbing the leader of an important U.S. ally.

  • But while this argument may address Netanyahu’s personal partisan calculus for accepting Boehner’s invitation, it still fails to explain why he thought the Israeli public would reward him for exacerbating the rift with the U.S. To understand this, we have to consider what’s on the forefront of Israelis’ mind ahead of the country’s elections: not Iran, not security, but the economy.
  • According to a poll released Sunday by Israel’s Channel 10, 56 percent of Israelis said that what they care most about is the country’s “high cost of living.” Only 27 percent said the security threat.
  • even though the prime minister’s scheduled speech may have brought U.S.–Israel relations to an all-time nadir, Netanyahu can still consider it as an effective smoke screen—even at the cost of creating a rift with the White House. To put it bluntly, every day in which Netanyahu manages to deflect conversation away from the economy is a good day for him.  


    “Obama is our best campaigner,” an unnamed member of Netanyahu’s Likud Party told Yossi Verter of Haaretz over the weekend. “Last time around, the Palestinians and their bombings did our job for us. Now it’s the president of the United States.” So far, Netanyahu’s gamble appears to have paid off, but only barely: 42 percent of Israelis said they were in favor of his speech and 37 percent said they were against it, according to Israel Radio. He may be hoping that this break-even support for the speech, coupled with glowing reviews after will be enough to quell voters' economic concerns and guarantee him a next term in office. 

  • "America and Israel are more than friends. We're like a family. ... And we must always remember that we are family," Netanyahu told the audience of 16,000 at the annual policy conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, receiving one of many standing ovations.


  • "My speech is not intended to show any disrespect to President Obama or the state office that he holds. I have great respect for both," Netanyahu said. "The last thing I would want is for Israel to become a partisan issue. Israel has always been a bipartisan issue. Israel should always be made a bipartisan issue."


  • "American leaders worry about the security of their country. Israeli leaders worry about the survival of their country," Netanyahu said. "I think that encapsulates the difference."


  • But with congressional action unlikely in the short term, a trio of high-profile Democrats on Tuesday wrote to the president and urged him to use executive power to stop inversion.

    Democratic Sen. Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Jack Reed of Rhode Island said that even though they’ve introduced legislation to end the practice, the president shouldn’t wait any longer.

  • With rumblings about a full-scale revolt from within the ranks should Boehner put a funding bill on the floor that doesn’t explicitly block implementation of President Barack Obama’s immigration executive actions, there was talk Friday night from senior House Democratic aides of Republicans having found a face-saving procedural gambit that would ultimately end in full funding for Department of Homeland Security for the remainder of the fiscal year.



  • Clause four of House Rule XXII (not to be confused with the more-often cited Senate Rule XXII) provides: “When the stage of disagreement has been reached on a bill or resolution with House or Senate amendments, a motion to dispose of any amendment shall be privileged.”


  • Because such a motion is “privileged” that would then trigger a vote on sending the Senate-amended full year Homeland Security appropriations bill to Obama’s desk without any of those riders designed to block his executive actions on immigration.

2 more annotations...

  • A majority of House members present and voting would be required to oust the speaker, Huder said. Before that vote can be taken, a series of procedural steps are required, and those earlier votes would require help from House Democrats to pass…


  • A couple things become immediately clear: Alexandria, a pricy, sustainable-living community, has been largely sheltered from the grim reality of the outside world, and Rick and co. are expected to contribute their survival skills in exchange for being allowed in.
  • I'm never more impressed by post-apocalypse storytelling than when it gets me to identify with its characters' frightening survivor mindset.
  • I love the idea of the group becoming antiheroes.

  • Still, all that has led to some feelings of unease among policy experts and Republican insiders that Walker, for all his outward popularity, might be headed for difficulties over the substance of policy. Yes, he has a huge record of achievement as a governor. But will that be enough to get him through a long campaign?


    In contrast, other Republican candidates — some with less impressive records of accomplishment than Walker — have shown a lot of fluency with national and international issues. From Jeb Bush, with his long exposure to both state and national governance, to Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, senators who speak with some authority on big issues, to others like Bobby Jindal, and potentially John Kasich and Mike Pence, who have experience on both the state and federal stage — other candidates are ahead of Walker in their ability to come up with sharp and well-argued statements on domestic and foreign policy. Walker will have to reach beyond his record to compete with them on the issues and present himself to voters as a potential president.


    It's not clear whether Walker's problem is temporary or longer lasting. Part of the difficulty is that he has found himself far ahead of where he thought he would be at this stage in the race, and is thus under a much hotter spotlight than he might have imagined. In our conversation, I asked whether the campaign had shifted under his feet. "Totally," Walker said, without a moment's hesitation.


    "We thought all along if we got in, it would be kind of this slow and steady, don't worry about the other guys, just keep focused on moving forward, and as candidates chose not to get in or fell off, we'd be in a position to make a compelling case to them," Walker explained. "We had no idea that after that Iowa summit there would be that kind of acceleration to the race. But we're here, and we're not going to complain about it."

  • What Walker appears to be doing here is playing a game of semantics. He is defining “amnesty” to be something different from what the immigration hawks he is trying to court with his supposed change of heart believe it to be. To immigration hawks like Iowa Rep. Steve King, amnesty is any pathway to normalizing the immigration statuses of America’s illegal population, no matter whether those illegals would be forced to pay a financial penalty or even prevented from gaining citizenship.

  • “The only reason is that it’s not the best possible outcome is that they didn’t pass the full-year funding,” an Obama aide said, reflecting on what happened Friday night. “The fact that they’re going to next week, and that we avoided a shutdown, was 99 percent of what we wanted.”
  • After spending last year keeping Congress at a distance, Obama aides said they’d been optimistic about finding a way to work with Republicans on some issues in 2015. Now, while the year looks like it will offer fewer opportunities for deals, the White House will be able to exert more pressure on Republicans when they get the chance.

    Obama and his advisers believe the lesson for the House GOP is that going forward, they’re going to have to work together with the White House and Democrats to put together bipartisan majorities to pass legislation, abandoning their preference for relying on all-Republican majorities that include the tea party wing.

  • “The only change in all this is: Does their responsibility to govern at all impact their calculus in their willingness to compromise?” the Obama aide said.

  • es to fund the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) because they haven't also rolled back Pr
  • House Republicans who have opposed measures to fund the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) because they haven't also rolled back President Obama's executive action on immigration need to be louder, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) said Sunday.

    "We haven't made the case strong enough. We know it's unconstitutional and we know it's unfair," Jordan said on CNN's "State of the Union."
  • The conservative lawmaker played down a potential coup against Boehner should the Speaker introduce a "clean" funding bill for DHS that does not include measures to roll back Obama's executive actions, saying he was "most interested" in upholding the Constitution.

    "That's not gonna happen. That's not the issue."

1 - 20 of 25041 Next › Last »
20 items/page

Highlighter, Sticky notes, Tagging, Groups and Network: integrated suite dramatically boosting research productivity. Learn more »

Join Diigo