Regional Threats Loom Large over Obama’s Israel Trip

P. David Hornik is a freelance writer and translator living in Beersheva and author of the book Choosing Life in Israel. 


Speculations that President Obama was coming to Israel to keep pursuing a blind obsession with the Palestinian issue appeared, fortunately, unsubstantiated by the time of his press conference with Prime Minister Netanyahu on Wednesday evening.

Both leaders’ words were devoted mainly to the Iranian and Syrian issues; Obama’s own words on the Palestinian matter expressed a lowering of expectations and an acknowledgment that the “solution” he had often stridently pursued during his first term was more elusive than he had thought.

In their three-hour talk before the press conference, Netanyahu was accompanied by his national security adviser Yaakov Amidror and his military attaché Yair Zamir; Obama by his security adviser Tom Donilon and Secretary of State John Kerry. The makeup clearly connotes that security issues were paramount.

A grim preface to Obama’s visit was a statement earlier in the day by Yuval Steinitz—Israel’s finance minister in the previous government, now minister of intelligence and strategic affairs—that chemical weapons had been used in Syria. Steinitz did not claim to know whether it was the regime or rebel forces that had used them. AP reports that a “senior [Israeli] defense official… concurred…[based] on intelligence reports.”

Obama has called the use of chemical weapons in Syria a “red line” possibly prompting U.S. military action. Asked about the matter during the press conference, Obama said the U.S. would investigate whether the weapons were used and that “the Assad regime must understand that they will be held accountable for the use of chemical weapons or their transfer to terrorists.”

Lebanon’s Daily Star had reported two days earlier that Israeli planes had dropped flare bombs in southern Lebanon—a possible response or warning about Syrian weapons making their way into Hizballah’s hands.

Obama, in other words, is entering a war zone, not a playground for peace fantasies. Although his visit to Palestinian Authority headquarters and address to Israeli university students on Thursday may yet hold surprises, indications so far are that he has sobered up about Israel’s neighborhood and the real issues it faces.

More critical yet, of course, than the Syrian crisis is Iran’s ongoing march toward a nuclear bomb. Netanyahu told the assembled reporters: “A nuclear Iran is a grave threat. The U.S. is committed to deal with it, Israel is committed to deal with it. Israel has a right to independently defend itself from any threat.”

Obama responded with words that did not negate that right of Israel’s and appeared aimed at making Tehran nervous. Stating that “there is not a lot of daylight between our countries’ assessments as to where Iran is right now, in its nuclear weapons program,” Obama went on to say:

Each country has to make its own decisions. Israel is differently situated from the US. I would not expect that the prime minister would defer decisions on his country’s security to other countries. I would not do that regarding my country’s security.

I have said to Bibi that I think there is time to solve this diplomatically. Will Iran seize that opportunity? It would be in Iran’s interest if this were solved diplomatically.

As if to shore up the claim that the two countries are not too far apart on the Iranian issue, the chemistry between the two leaders appeared comfortable and good—clearly unlike in previous joint appearances.

Obama is well aware that a new government has taken the reins in Israel. Its more dovish factions, Hatnuah and Yesh Atid, account for 25 mandates (out of Israel’s 120-seat Knesset); while the solidly hawkish Habayit Hayehudi faction and Netanyahu’s Likud—with a more hawkish composition than in the previous government—account for 43.

It is not, in other words, a government looking to make reckless concessions.

One would like to think Obama is also aware of such data as the Palestinian Authority’s official daily stating in an op-ed on Tuesday—one day before his visit—that America itself was behind the 9/11 attack and Hitler was a noble statesman, superior to Roosevelt and Churchill.

After the press conference the two heads of government were to be joined in a working dinner by the abovementioned top security official Yuval Steinitz and Israel’s new defense minister, Moshe Yaalon. On the Israeli side it was a particularly intelligent and reality-oriented crew. One would like to think the discussion was serious and realistic all around.

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  • http://www.adinakutnicki.com AdinaK

    While the Mid East, on its best days, is a regional basket case, it is not for nothing that a hell fire is unleashed during the POTUS's second term. In fact, during his first term, he paved the way for the events unfolding before our horrified eyes. Yes, he did. None of it is happenstance.
    As such, this is where we are at, and it is just their opening gambit – http://adinakutnicki.com/2013/03/10/a-hellfire-un

    Many Israelis are prepared with gas masks, at least I hope they are. Many also have food stuffs stored in their machsans/storage units. But make no mistake, there will be hell to pay, thanks to "The One's" jaw – jaw with the mullahs, plus his empowerment of the Brotherhood throughout the region, as well as abroad. This is the G-d's honest truth. G-d have mercy!

    Adina Kutnicki, Israel http://adinakutnicki.com/about/

    • WildJew

      You say, "Many Israelis are prepared with gas masks, at least I hope they are." I thought I read a while back in the Jerusalem Post, you are a recent oleh?

  • 11bravo

    It would be "almost" better to have WWIII now than this slow walk of Islam through western civilization. In the end we are much better at industrialized killing than the Arabs/Muslims. That is what will happen. We will let the situation fester until we will be killing muslims by the 100's of thousands, and driving them back into the desserts.
    Why wait? Do it now since we have superiority.

    • WildJew

      I agree, "we will let the situation fester until we will be killing Muslims by the 100's of thousands." My guess is it will be more like 100s of millions given Islam's rush toward nuclear weapons. By that time Islam could conceivably be killing non-Muslims in the West by the 10s or 100s of millions in return. The prophet wrote, "Therefore, the inhabitants of the earth are burned, and few men are left." It will be the consequence of letting the situation fester and by Israel's leaders placing their trust in Barack Hussein Obama. Obama says "there is not a lot of day light between us…" Why is there any day light between us unless Obama will "solve this diplomatically" by buying Iran's Mullahs precious time?

      • dzi9r

        I agree. If BO looks like he is standing with Israel. look again.
        This man never tells or appears to tell the truth.
        Taqyia is the Muslim way.
        He is posing for his American Jewish followers.
        Buyer Beware. He speaks with forked tongue.

    • Drakken

      Unfortunaley the west will wait until after midnight to strike, and then when we do, the total war concept will be dusted off and enough of this nation building nonsense, the time will be that nation destroying will be the order of the day.

  • beez

    Obama has no intention of taking this country to war to help Israel. He's a Marxist and a Muslim sympathizer if not a Muslim. Sad to say, but Israel is on its own, and there's not one damn thing we can do about it.

    • WildJew

      Obama told the Muslim world at al-Azhar University, Cairo (June 2009) he comes from a long line of Muslims on his father's side. That means Obama was born Muslim, just as I was born a Jew. I will remain a Jew even if I were an atheist, non-practicing or if I converted to another religion – in that case I would be an apostate. Unlike Islam, apostasy is not a capital offence in my faith. Is there any way out of Islam? I don't think so. I wonder what percentage of Muslims worldwide believe Obama is anything other than a fellow Muslim, even if he is a non-practicing Muslim. I believe Obama is a Muslim.

      • Spider

        It's not a matter of belief Wildjew it is a matter of Is-lamic law. Obama senior was a Mu-slim so that makes Obama Junior a Mu-slim. Anyone who changes religions always has a story to tell about how and why they converted. Has anyone ever heard Obama tell the story about his conversion to Christianity ? No because there was no official conversion. Therefore he is a Mu-slim.

        • objectivefactsmatter

          "No because there was no official conversion. Therefore he is a Mu-slim."

          The version I heard was the Wright told him he could attend a Christian church under those circumstances without rejecting Islam.

  • Mladen Andrijasevic

    Israelis are quite aware that President Obama supports the most virulently anti-Semitic and anti-American Muslim Brotherhood. As Barry Rubin put it in his article Note to Obama:

    “ The problem Israel has with the Obama administration is mainly about a US policy of helping radical Islamists who are anti-Semites and openly call for wiping Israel off the map to get into power."

    But even more puzzling is how is it possible that Americans are indifferent to their President supporting these ugly movements whose values are diametrically opposed to American values? Is it just ignorance, or has America changed so drastically?

    The Muslim Brotherhood. Is this what Americans stand for? http://www.madisdead.blogspot.co.il/2012/11/the-m

    • Cassandra

      They are people in this country who are trying to fight the Muslim brotherhood and the sharia but not enough. Obama has put the Muslim brotherhood in the government and in the army. Unless Obama is removed how can you fight that. Do you have a good idea?

      • Mladen Andrijasevic

        I don’t know. Most Americans have never heard of the Muslim Brotherhood, let alone that their credo is: "Allah is our objective; the Quran is our law, the Prophet is our leader; Jihad is our way; and death for the sake of Allah is the highest of our aspirations.” And these are the people the Obama administration is helping get into power!

        As dangerous as they are, the threat from the MB is not as imminent as the threat from Iran which is even less understood by the American public. Here the threat compared to the coverage of the threat ratio is several orders of magnitude worse than in the case of the MB. http://madisdead.blogspot.co.il/2011/11/deterrenc

        In his book The Rise of Nuclear Iran, former Israeli ambassador to the UN Dore Gold writes, “Mahdi Khaliji, an Iranian Shi’ite scholar… has noted that there are apocalyptic hadiths [received Shi’ite traditions] that the Mahdi will not return unless one-third of the world population is killed and another third die. But Ahmadinejad and his followers believe man can actively create the conditions for the Mahdi’s arrival in the here and now…”

        So we have a potential danger of the Iranians starting a nuclear war with the ultimate goal of killing 2/3 of humankind and I bet you less that 1% of the American population ever herd of this. And those who have heard it dismiss it a priori as nonsense even though well known Islamic scholars like Bernard Lewis, Raphael Israeli, Moshe Sharon, German scholar Matthias Kuntzel, ex Pentagon official Harold Rhode and former CIA spy Reza Kahlili all believe Iran is capable of starting a nuclear war regardless of the consequences.

        So what to do? . I really do not know. I started my blog MAD is Dead precisely because I wanted people to at least be aware of opinions of some scholars of Islam like Bernard Lewis. It could be that Bernard Lewis is wrong. But at least his opinions should be known and refuted with arguments by other scholars – but there is no discussion whatsoever. I live in Israel and I am 100 percent confidant that at least 2 people in the present government, PM Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon are fully aware of the magnitude of the Iranian therat.

        What you could do is at least make more people aware of what these scholars think
        In this context, the deterrent that worked so well during the Cold War, namely M.A.D. (Mutual Assured Destruction) , would have no meaning. At the End of Time, there will be general destruction anyway. What will matter is the final destination of the dead– hell for the infidels, and the delights of heaven for the believers. For people with this mindset, M.A.D. is not a constraint; it is an inducement…
        Why are Bernard Lewis's views on MAD ignored? http://www.madisdead.blogspot.co.il/2012/05/why-a

        or what Raphael Israeli, a Hebrew University scholar of Islam, says about MAD:

        According to Shi'ite eschatology, the end of the world will come with the return of the Imam, whose arrival will be announced by violent pangs, unrest, wars, injustice and misery; and all the more, the more imminent his coming. Namely, mad leaders like Ahmadinejad, who are full of hatred and bellicosity, and imbued with messianic zeal and unimpressed by any worldly circumstances or restrictions, might very well, especially when controlling nuclear powers, decide to use them regardless of the costs or the consequences, as long as it will hasten the return of the Imam. For then, even the worst errors made by human leaders would, in their view, be redressed in an instant by the omnipotent Imam in the new post-apocalyptic world.
        MAD Deterrence and Mad Leaders http://www.madisdead.blogspot.co.il/2011/10/mad-d

        or a German scholar, Mattias Kuntzel:

        There are other dictatorships in the world. But only in Iran are the fantasy-worlds of antisemitism and religious mission linked with technological megalomania and the physics of mass destruction. The specific danger presented by the Iranian nuclear option stems from the unique ideological atmosphere surrounding it – a mixture of holy war and high-tec, of antisemitism and weapons-grade uranium, of death-wish and missile research, of Shiite messianism and plutonium

        Matthias Küntzel – Antisemitism, Messianism and the Cult of Sacrifice:The Iranian Holy War http://www.madisdead.blogspot.co.il/2012/09/matth

        or a former Iranian diplomat
        Former Iranian diplomat: 'Iran would definitely use nuclear weapon on Israel' http://www.madisdead.blogspot.co.il/2013/01/forme

    • mlcblog

      You ask the $64,000 question!! This is a mystery to me, too, a true American.

      I can only think the propaganda machine is that powerful. It is pervasive here in so many ways, in the schools for years, also they have coopted the vote, as well as imposing draconian measures which tend to snuff out our very lives in the area of business and family.

      Obama did not win with a mandate (in fact some of us believe not only that he nis ot even eligible to be in the office, but also there was so much corruption at the polls we could not even document it plus there was some sort of kibosh on talking about any of this, in the press and in general). He only had about half of the people voting for him. Half does not mean everybody.

      So, just know that as of this date, many (probably over half, say 60-65%) oppose him vehemently. Also, American elections are notorious for correcting things, with a whole new regime voted in, overturning things that were seemingly so well entrenched.

      I try not to despair. Hope that there is a real possibility we can recover our wonderful land of freedom for all based on a democratic republic and the principles laid out by our forefathers and conducted by moral men. Our hope is in the younger generation, schooled by wiser ones.

      • Mladen Andrijasevic

        You write “I try not to despair. Hope that there is a real possibility we can recover our wonderful land of freedom for all based on a democratic republic and the principles laid out by our forefathers and conducted by moral men. Our hope is in the younger generation, schooled by wiser ones.”

        You may be right that even after 8 years of Obama the US will recover, although I am beginning to have serious doubts whether the checks and balances are working any more. We in Israel are under much greater danger since this is a one bomb country and the margin of error is getting narrower. President Obama has already done irreparable damage with his support for the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, giving $900M to Hamas, but the worst is his incomprehension and appeasement of Iran. We can only rely on our own leaders and Bibi and Bogie know what they are doing.

  • Chezwick

    The threats today are minor to what they'll be in a few short years. The proliferation genie is about to exit the bottle, never to be returned. Soon, everybody in the region (and their mother) will have nukes…and that includes non-state entities. And given the psychological and cultural proclivities of Muslims, you can be sure that these weapons will likely be used, sooner or later.

    Israel's only hope is deterrence. So down the road, when the international conference is inevitably called to de-nuclearize the Middle East, the Israelis best be prepared to resist any and all pressure to give up their arsenal. We know all too well the fidelity Muslims display towards their agreements with infidels.

    • mlcblog

      One hopes for a rosier scenario.

      • Daniel Macdonald

        One hopes in vain.

        • mlcblog

          This is a matter of opinion, or, more correctly, of the heart.

          Ideas have changed history.

          • defcon 4

            Really? 1400 years don't seem to have changed the ideology of islam much.

          • patriothere

            Same can be said about jews.

          • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nLNn2YflwNs Roger

            Oh, do they use suicide bombs based on surah 9?

  • Poupic

    Barack Hussein making nice in Israel will never erase his speech in Cairo to the world Muslims and his yearning to hear the Muezzin call to prayer in the early morning of his childhood. His refusal to speak to the Knesseth and not to allow Students from Judea to attend his public speech to university students speaks volume about an unchanged Barack Hussein. Kabdehou ve Chashdehou. There is less than four years for the Jewish nation to suffer this anti- Semite. Every day that passes is one less day. How great is that?

    • mlcblog

      Plus his handout of billions to Egypt, now run by the Muslim Brothers.

    • defcon 4

      If the next presidential election is rigged like the 2012 election why would you think anything better would be elected in 2016? Shrillery anyone?

      • Poupic

        You are probably right. The next elections may not bring someone better. On the other hand I am sure they could not bring someone much worst than Barack Hussein.

  • STEVEN CHAVEZ

    DON'T BE SURPRISED if he converts to Islam on this trip. Is the Dome of the Rock on his agenda?

  • ze-ev ben jehudah

    Why has Mr Barack hussein Obama 500 mlj dollars in his pocket to hand over to Abas?

    • mlcblog

      For real? I have not heard about this.

  • chris gleason

    If we get lucky, maybe a bomb will find him.

  • mlcblog

    Wow! O gets a dose of Reality first-hand.

    "Obama, in other words, is entering a war zone, not a playground for peace fantasies."

    Will he be able to recognize it?

  • JacksonPearson

    "Obama, in other words, is entering a war zone, not a playground for peace fantasies."
    Will he be able to recognize it?"

    Obama recognizes only what's on his teleprompter.

  • Arlie

    More talk of "fairness" and who decides what is "fair"? Courts. There are already laws. Does 0 care? NO. He is erasing and changing laws himself making himself judge of what is "fair". I would say that now Lawlessness is rampant in the world. Chilling to the bone..beyond contempt for law. Why can't more people SEE and HEAR what is happening?

  • Rifleman

    “Obama Urges Israelis To Compromise For Peace.” AP (Associated Propaganda) headline.

    That’s not news. Now, “Obama Urges Palestinians To Compromise For Peace,” would be news.

    Obama’s amazingly dense, even without taking into consideration the palis are rubbing his face in their latest rocket barrage, timed for his visit.

    • defcon 4

      It's just too bad the zero's speech wasn't held within range of the rockets.

      • Rifleman

        Nah, it would be fun to watch him fill his pants, but he and his security detail might get hit by one.

        I was thinking a cartoon of rockets detonating on the horizon with him cluelessly giving a peace speech, or thinking it's a fireworks display to honor his visit, which it kinda is.

        • defcon 4

          "He and his security detail might get hit by one." You say that like it's a bad thing…

          • Rifleman

            It is…or rather, would be a bad thing He is the president of the USA, and his detail works for the office, not the man. He's a despicable disloyal commie who had several of what have traditionally been deal killers for the nomination and the office, but he's there now. The president is to be protected from physical harm, regardless.

  • patriothere

    We already went to war with Iraq for israel, we already blocked resolutions on the illegal settlements. To hell with all this Iran talk! Make peace, withdraw from the occupied territories or we will apply sanctions!

    • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nLNn2YflwNs Roger

      You Iranian paid hacks have the strangest talking points.

      • patriothere

        Facts are not talking points. Facts are stubborn things.

        • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nLNn2YflwNs Roger

          And talking points are not facts. Facts are stubborn things.

          • patriothere

            And you're stupid.

          • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nLNn2YflwNs Roger

            You can say that, but I'm not the one that thinks gravity isn't a fact in the morning until it's tested and proven.

          • patriothere

            I can say whatever I want. Unlike you I'm not bound by any stupid religion.

          • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nLNn2YflwNs Roger

            Yes, and no one here has to take a paid hack troll seriously.

            6 minutes ago @ Breitbart.com – Protests to greet Ahma… · 1 reply · 0 points
            I'm like jesus, I'm gonna chase you money changers out of the temple and out of town and of course out of this forum. Me and ohsoquiet and a few other REAL AMERICANS who are being PAID to be here like you Israeli PR men. I'm here to chase you filth out.

    • Drakken

      I see a very bright flash in your future hadji, inbred savages like you will push us too far and when you do, God might forgive you, but we won't.

    • gee59

      Considering that we advised against going into Iraq – how could the US possibly be doing to us? We said before you did that it was stupid.

      The only illegal settlements are by the Jordanian colonists occupying our lands.

      Take your threats and put them where your brains are located

    • defcon 4

      Patriothere, there meaning dar al islam right?

  • Lan Astaslem

    as hussein obama said, Israel isn't going anyway, She's here to stay – get used to it nakba face!

  • Lan Astaslem

    the comment above is for 'patriot' but I'm not sure it knows how to read

  • Ghostwriter

    Unfortunately,President Obama is living in a fantasy world. He believes that most Palestinians want peace. They've repeatedly shown they don't. We need leaders who live in the real world not a fantasy one. Sadly,our current president is living in a fantasy world.