Wednesday, March 31, 2010 v12.0

Is Obama Good For Israel?
©2010 By David Talbot

I’m having a running debate, a friendly discussion, with a friend about the dust up over the Israeli Government’s decision to build 1,500 homes in East Jerusalem. And, whether the treatment Prime Minister Netanyahu received was, in fact, a snub? And, if it was, was it intentional? Here’s my opinion.

After the war in 1967, Israel took control of Jerusalem from Jordan. As the Jordanians left, they destroyed the city, taking particular care to demolish all Jewish holy sites, desecrate Jewish cemeteries, and obliterate all Jewish historical monuments. Fast forward to 2009 and the Gaza Strip. The Israeli government agrees to evict all Jewish settlers and turns the strip over to the Palestinians. And what do the Palestinians do? They repeat what the Jordanians did, leaving Jerusalem.

When did East Jerusalem, and new settlements become an issue for the Palestinians? It was President Obama, during the Middle Eastern Apology Tour, who unilaterally declared, “no new settlements in Jerusalem,” as a precondition to peace talks, not the Palestinians. Palestinian PM Abbas jumped on this as yet another reason to delay peace negotiations. This is not the first time the Palestinians wrestled defeat from the jaws of success. Time after time, Israel has offered concessions, including a 2-state solution, going all the way back to the Carter Administration. And, time after time, from Arafat to Abbas, the puppet masters pulling the strings from oppressive regimes in the Middle East, yanked defeat out of the arms of success.

Now, after so many years, Israelis weary of the build up of arms along it Northern frontier with Lebanon and inside Gaza, elected a conservative government which has stated loud and clear: Jerusalem is not a settlement, it is our capitol!

Did Obama snub Netanyahu? Of course he did. Was it intentional? Of course it was. The “meeting” was scheduled past “prime time” in Israel, and Mr. Netanyahu was denied all of the usual protocol normally given to a heads of state, friend and foe alike. Mr. Obama can bow to a Saudi Prince, cuddle up to Hugo Chavez, but the only ally the United States has, and can count on, in the Middle East, is treated to the most humiliating display of a school yard bully I can remember in my lifetime, by a sitting president.

In covering the worsening relations with Israel, the world press is ignoring the 2,000 lb gorilla in the room: Iran. The United States has all but given up on Iran and Israel can’t afford to wait much longer. I believe that Israel’s stance on so-called settlements is a warning to Iran that Israel needs support from the United States, but will, when push comes to shove, take care of itself even if it has to go it alone. As late as March 30th, Obama and French President Sarkozy, meeting in Washington, continue calling for “tough sanctions” against Iran. But it’s all talk, and Iran knows it.

Other questions that American can ignore, but Israel can’t. Who speaks for Palestinians? The PA has authority only in the West Bank. It’s Hamas that controls the Gaza Strip. Hamas has no intention of making peace with Israel. What about Lebanon? Hezbollah, financed by Iran through its Syrian surrogate, has amassed over 40,000 rockets on the border with Israel. Has the Administration taken any action to diffuse the situation in Southern Lebanon?

When many Palestinians were displaced in 1948, after Palestine was partitioned by the UN, where did they go? Most went to Jordan and Egypt. The Arab world wants Israel to pay compensation to the displaced families, and repatriation to Israel. Why? Weren’t they fully integrated into the Muslim societies where they waited for the full destruction of the new State of Israel? No. The were kept as second class citizens in refugee camps with no facilities, no opportunities for work or study, and treated like prisoners.

What about the Jewish residents of Arab countries in 1948? Many were killed, and almost 100% were evicted from there homes and exiled to other countries, mostly Israel. Anybody notice any country, anywhere, calling for compensation and repatriation of these refugees?

There is still time for Israel and the Obama administration to repair the damage, but I doubt it will happen. And, as prophesized, Israel will go it alone, and that’s not in anyone’s best interest. No, Obama is not good for Israel.

Anyway, that’s my opinion.


David Talbot

Friday, March 26, 2010 v11.0

A Real Tragedy
©2010 by David Talbot

Metro-Phoenix, Arizona. The Phoenix Jewish News, in a story published March 26th, tells of a local beloved Rabbi being arrested in the parking lot of his synagogue for the rape of a seven year old girl, in 2000. The details of the alleged rape are not revealed, and neither is the question as to why the young woman waited until 2009 to report the incident.

The Rabbi has been the spiritual leader of Temple Beth Shalom in Chandler, a few miles Southeast of Phoenix, since August 2006. The President of the synagogue, as quoted in the Phoenix Jewish News, made the following comment regarding the arrest: “We’re mortified by the allegations. It is our goal to make sure that our community stays whole. …We take very seriously the safety of our children and our members.”

Here’s what’s bothering me. If he did the crime, he’ll do the time. But I was totally shocked that the congregation didn’t give any indication of support for the Rabbi or his family. There is a concept in American Jurisprudence that everyone is innocent, until proven guilty in a court of law.

I have no sympathy for child molesters. But I do believe in fair play. Nine years is a long time for someone to recall events and places accurately, especially someone who was only 7 years old at the time the alleged incident occurred. The Rabbi was living and working using his legal name in a highly public profession. And, there has been no indication of unusual behavior, or warning signs, since 2000, reported by the authorities.

Perhaps the authorities have evidence to support the allegations, which will be presented in court. Perhaps he actually did the crime. Perhaps he may found guilty of an offense at some time in the future. If so, it (the rape) would be a real tragedy and he would deserve the max. However, until that time, I wish the congregation would consider a public addition to their statement to include something outlining all the good he has done in the Chandler Jewish Community. This would not be an acceptance of any prior bad act, but an acknowledgement of his good work. Even if he is found innocent of all charges, his reputation is all but destroyed and that too is a real tragedy.

Anyway, that is my opinion.


David Talbot