Kerry Said What?

Kerry from 0:55:00 to 1:00:00 is not portraying Israel as the villain; in fact, he goes out of his way to praise Prime Minister Netanyahu.

— Steve Sheffey

Secretary of State John Kerry, a strong supporter of Israel, testified last week that both parties — Israel and the Palestinians — have recently taken unhelpful steps, but he continues to work to bring the two sides together, as he should.

Don’t want to deal with the implications of climate change? Deny it! Don’t like the Obamacare sign up numbers? Make up your own! Don’t want Israel to give up the West Bank? Wish away the demographic facts! Don’t like how your candidate is doing in the polls? Invent your own numbers! (No link — just ask President Romney how to do it.)

Experiencing cognitive dissonance because contrary to everything you were told or secretly wished to believe, President Obama has turned out to be a strong friend of Israel? Then invent a conflict!

During President Obama’s first term, we were treated to rumors about a snub of Prime Minister Netanyahu at the White House that turned out to be completely false and headlines about forcing Israel to return to the 1967 borders that turned out to be utter nonsense. Last week, the Republican Jewish Coalition and others claimed that Secretary of State John Kerry blamed Israel for the latest impasse between Israel and the Palestinians.

More after the jump.
Fortunately, Kerry’s April 8 testimony was videotaped. Here in relevant part is what he said (bolding emphasized in Kerry’s voice):

Both sides, whether advertently or inadvertently, wound up in positions where things happened that were unhelpful. Clearly, [the Palestinians] going to these treaties is not helpful, and we have made that crystal-clear… Unfortunately, prisoners were not released on the Saturday they were supposed to be released. And so day went by, day two went by, day three went by. And then in the afternoon, when they were about to maybe get there, 700 settlement units were announced in Jerusalem and, poof, that was sort of the moment. We find ourselves where we are.

Ron Kampeas:

“Memo from reality: Reciting an accurate chronology is not ‘blaming,’ it is reciting an accurate chronology.”

State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said that “John Kerry was again crystal clear today that both sides have taken unhelpful steps and at no point has he engaged in a blame game. He even singled out by name Prime Minister Netanyahu for having made courageous decisions throughout process.”  

I haven’t been able to find a transcript of the hearing, but if you really care about this, at least watch just the key five minutes where this issue is discussed. At about 55:00 (the video is 2-1/2 hours long) Kerry says that the administration supports recognition of Israel as a Jewish state and the question is when (not if) during the negotiations the Palestinians will recognize Israel as a Jewish state. Kerry next explains what led to the impasse. Watch Kerry from 55:00 to 1:00:00, just five minutes, and you’ll see that Kerry is not portraying Israel as the villain; in fact, he goes out of his way to praise Prime Minister Netanyahu.

Jeff Goldberg is right:

Kerry, one of the last of a generation of intuitively, emotionally pro-Israel Democratic leaders, is not delusional to think that Israel is in trouble. Nor is he delusional to believe — as he does — that the average Palestinian on the West Bank is made miserable by the policies of Israeli occupation authorities. Nor is he delusional to believe that Palestinians already inclined to hopelessness might rise up in the absence of a Palestinian state and begin a third uprising…

Kerry believes that Netanyahu is capable of [risking his political career for a final deal]. Which is why he is sticking with the peace process, despite all the criticism. Kerry may be wrong about Netanyahu, and he may be wrong about Abbas. But he is not wrong to keep trying.

The peace process is not a favor to the Palestinians. No matter how unreasonable the Palestinians may be, no matter how incendiary their rhetoric and counterproductive their actions, it remains in Israel’s best interests to reach an agreement that will allow Israel to vacate most of the West Bank. Israel cannot occupy the West Bank indefinitely and remain both Jewish and democratic. We might not like it, but that’s reality.  

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My Republican Haggadah: An oldie but goodie

Editor’s Note: This “Republican Haggadah” first appeared in the Huffington Post in 2012. However, except for the references to the 2012 Presidential election the humor is timeless. Enjoy!

— by Steve Sheffey

Jewish history is littered with sects, groups of people kind of like Jews who celebrate the same holidays and have many of the same customs, yet are somehow different.

Today’s sect is known as “Jewish Republicans,” few in number but very loud. Like most Jews, they celebrate Pesach, but they’ve got their own Haggadah. The differences between their Haggadah and ours are instructive.

After drinking the first cup of wine, most Jews wash their hands, but the Republicans stay seated and wait for the water to trickle down.

Most Jews then eat a green vegetable, but the Republican Haggadah follows the ruling of Rabbi Reagan that ketchup qualifies as a vegetable. Ketchup is not green, but green is the last thing any Republican would want to be. (Reagan does have this in common with Moses: Neither ever set foot in the land of Israel.)

More after the jump.
Next we break the middle of the three matzot. Most Jews break the middle matzah into two roughly equal pieces, replacing the smaller piece on the Seder plate and hiding the larger piece as the afikoman. The Republican Haggadah asks the leader (or in Republican parlance, the Seder CEO) to keep 99 percent of the matzah for himself and let the other participants share the remaining 1 percent.

The Torah speaks of four sons, but the Republican Haggadah speaks of four candidates: The simple candidate (Santorum), the wicked candidate (Paul), the candidate who does not know how to answer (Romney), and the simple candidate who thinks he’s the wise candidate (Gingrich). They have no wise candidates.

The highlight of the Republican Haggadah is its version of “Dayenu” — “it would have been enough.” The Republican motto when it comes to President Obama is “nothing is enough” — no matter how much President Obama does for Israel, it’s never enough for some of our Republican friends:

President Obama has called for the removal of Syrian President Assad.
But that’s not enough for our Republican friends.

President Obama ordered the successful assassination of Osama bin Laden.
But that’s not enough for our Republican friends.

President Obama has done more than any other president to stop Iran’s illicit nuclear program.
But that’s not enough for our Republican friends.

President Obama restored Israel’s qualitative military edge after years of erosion under the Bush administration.
But that’s not enough for our Republican friends.

President Obama increased security assistance to Israel to record levels.
But that’s not enough for our Republican friends.

President Obama boycotted Durban II and Durban III.
But that’s not enough for our Republican friends.

President Obama has taken U.S.-Israel military and intelligence cooperation to unprecedented levels.
But that’s not enough for our Republican friends.

President Obama cast his only veto in the U.N. against the one-sided anti-Israel Security Council resolution.
But that’s not enough for our Republican friends.

President Obama opposed the Goldstone Report.
But that’s not enough for our Republican friends.

President Obama stood with Israel against the Gaza flotilla
But that’s not enough for our Republican friends.

President Obama organized a successful diplomatic crusade against the unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state.
But that’s not enough for our Republican friends.

President Obama immediately intervened to rescue Israelis trapped in the Egyptian embassy.
But that’s not enough for our Republican friends.

President Obama gave orders to give Israel “whatever it needs” to put out the Carmel fire.
But that’s not enough for our Republican friends.

President Obama maintained the U.S. policy of ambiguity on Israel’s nuclear weapons.
But that’s not enough for our Republican friends.

President Obama has repeatedly condemned Palestinian incitement against Israel and attempts to delegitimize Israel.
But that’s not enough for our Republican friends.

President Obama pulled out of joint exercises with Turkey after Turkey excluded Israel.
But that’s not enough for our Republican friends.

There’s probably nothing President Obama can do to convince some Republicans that he’s pro-Israel. If President Obama split the Sea of Reeds and walked through it dry-shod, they’d accuse him of not being able to swim. They made their mind up before he was elected that he could not be trusted and they ignore everything that contradicts their biases.

The ultimate message of the real Haggadah is hope (sound familiar?). Let’s hope that just as the vast majority of American Jews voted for Barack Obama in 2008, the vast majority of us will remember who we are and what we value and vote to re-elect President Obama in 2012.

Should Pollard Be Freed to Keep Peace Talks Alive?

A “We Want Pollard Home” sign in Israel.

— by Steve Sheffey

Last week, unconfirmed reports indicated that the U.S. might free Jonathan Pollard in return for concessions from Israel on the peace process.

Pollard was sentenced to life in prison in 1987, for spying for Israel against the U.S. He will be eligible for parole in November 2015. Presidents Bush, Clinton, Bush and thus far, Obama, have refused to release him.

Some have argued that his sentence was excessive, and may have been motivated by anti-Semitism.

Some, seemingly in a position to know, maintain that the damage Pollard did to our intelligence network was so great that his sentence was not excessive; while others seemingly in a position to know maintain that he has served enough time, and is no longer dangerous.

More after the jump.
Israel has repeatedly asked for Pollard’s release. As Dennis Ross of The Washington Institute for Near East Policy explained last week, “He has taken on the aura of being a soldier who was left in the field, and the ethos in Israel is that soldiers are never left behind.”

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) believes that Pollard should be released, but not as a rationale for peace talks.

On the other hand, Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL) completely opposes Pollard’s release, saying last week that he hopes Pollard would “rot in hell in jail for a long time.” (So much for equating “pro-Israel” with support for the policies of Israel’s elected government.)

Last year, Brian Stephens wrote in the Wall Street Journal a column against Pollard’s release:

It does not help Israel to make a hero of a compulsive liar and braggart, fond of cocaine, who violated his oaths, spied on his country, inflicted damage that took billions of dollars to repair, accepted payment for his spying, jeopardized Israel’s relationship with its closest ally, failed to show remorse at the time of his sentencing, made himself into Exhibit A of every anti-Semitic conspiracy nut, and then had the chutzpah to call himself a martyr to the Jewish people.

(So much for equating “pro-Israel” with not second-guessing or criticizing Israel.)

In 2010, 40 Democratic members of Congress, including Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) and many other strong friends of Israel, urged Obama to grant Pollard clemency on humanitarian grounds, not because what he did was justifiable, but because he had served enough time in prison.

Now the question is whether Pollard’s freedom should be linked to the peace process.

The peace process is not a favor to the Palestinians. No matter how unreasonable the Palestinians may be, no matter how incendiary their rhetoric is and how counterproductive their actions are, it remains in Israel’s best interests to reach an agreement that will allow it to vacate most of the West Bank.

Israel cannot occupy (yes, occupy) the West Bank indefinitely and remain both Jewish and democratic.

The article by Ross, whose diplomatic career has included service in both Republican and Democratic administrations, makes more sense to me than anything else I have read about whether Pollard’s release should be tied to the peace process:

Whether one accepts the argument that Pollard’s sentence seems more severe than that handed out to other spies, it surely makes little sense to say that someone who has spent nearly 30 years in jail has not paid a severe price.

Thirty years in jail does not signal being soft on spies; it constitutes a potent deterrent against spying. And, at this point, when looking at the demographic make-up of those in the intelligence community, a significant percentage either were not born or were very young when Pollard was incarcerated. It seems unlikely that morale is going to be affected by his release.

If traditional arguments in the intelligence community bear little weight at this point, there is still the question of whether we should link the peace issue to Pollard.

Some may say that if he is so politically important, we should get something of value for his release. Perhaps, but at a time when the Middle East is characterized by upheaval and U.S. foreign policy needs to demonstrate effectiveness, we can ill afford a collapse of the current efforts to negotiate between Israelis and Palestinians.

If the release is part of a package of steps that not only manages this process but can give it a necessary boost — and also affect the climate between Israelis and Palestinians — then President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry certainly seem justified in acting on it.

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Netanyahu: Scarlett Johansson Should Be Applauded

— by Steve Sheffey

In his AIPAC keynote speech last Tuesday, Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, emphasized that Iran is an “outlaw terrorist state” that should not be permitted to enrich uranium:

Pressure is what brought Iran to the negotiating table in the first place, and only more pressure will get [them] to abandon their nuclear weapons program. Greater pressure on Iran will not make war more likely; it will make war less likely — because the greater the pressure on Iran and more credible the threat of force on Iran, the smaller chance that force will ever have to be used.

Netanyahu made a case for the peace process, noting that peace with the Palestinians would open up the possibility of establishing formal ties between Israel and the Arab world, leading to great economic and other gains in the region.

More after the jump.
Barak Ravid wrote in Ha’aretz that, “For the first time in a major speech, Netanyahu used ‘leftist’ language and stressed ‘the fruits of peace’ that Israel will enjoy if it reaches an agreement with the Palestinians. For a moment one could have thought that it was Shimon Peres at the podium or, God forbid, John Kerry.”

Bibi asked how anyone could “fall for the BS in BDS”:

Today the singling out of the Jewish people has turned into the singling out of the Jewish state… attempts to boycott, divest, and sanction Israel, the most threatened democracy on Earth, are simply the latest chapter in the long and dark history of anti-Semitism.

Those who wear the BDS label should be treated exactly as we treat any anti-Semite or bigot. They should be exposed and condemned. The boycotters should be boycotted.

Everyone should know what the letters B-D-S really stand for: bigotry, dishonesty and shame. And those who oppose BDS, like Scarlett Johansson, they should be applauded.

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Kerry Does Exactly What He Should

Kerry and Israel’s foreign minister, Avigdor Liberman.

— by Steve Sheffey

Secretary of State John Kerry has not even dropped a hint that the U.S. will force Israel to agree to terms it deems unacceptable during the peace talks with the Palestinians.

In pointing out that the status quo is not sustainable, and that Israel will face increasing diplomatic isolation and boycotts if talks fail, Kerry is describing reality. We might not like it, but that is the world we live in.

Every U.S. administration has had disagreements with Israel, including on settlements and building in Jerusalem. But unlike many other administrations, the Obama administration has never threatened Israel, let alone taken action against it.

More after the jump.
President Obama has never turned his back on Israel at the U.N., never failed to veto an anti-Israel resolution, and never withheld or even threatened to withhold aid to Israel. Military and intelligence cooperation between the U.S. and Israel is stronger than ever under Obama.

Kerry is doing exactly what he should be doing: trying to broker a negotiated agreement that allows Israel to retain its Jewish and democratic existence by withdrawing from the West Bank, and allowing Israel to retain its physical existence with adequate security arrangements. Adequate in whose eyes? Israel’s.

Last week Kerry said, “One thing I know a hundred thousand percent is that you can’t turn to the people of Israel with the prospect that what you are offering is going to turn the West Bank into Gaza.”

Israel’s security is iron clad as a priority in this issue. And I have said that from day one.

I don’t want this to be a leap of faith, but a leap of rationality and a choice based on a very understandable and tangible set of guarantees.

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Hagel, Power, Malley: Obama’s New Appointee Will Silence Critics

Robert Malley.

— by Steve Sheffey

The pattern is predictable: President Obama appoints someone, the far right waxes hysterically about how horrible he or she is for Israel, and then, once the person in question is appointed, none of the dire prophecies come true.

When was the last time you heard about Chuck Hagel or Samantha Power from our Republican friends? Remember the wailing and gnashing of teeth that preceded their confirmations?

After taking office, Hagel issued a statement firmly reiterating our support for Israel and our commitment to stopping Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. Then, he went to Israel and finalized a huge arms deal with the Jewish State.

After taking office, Power reiterated our determination to preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. She recently announced that the U.S. “strongly supports Israel’s candidacy” for a seat on the U.N. Security Council and that she will “never give up” on that effort.

Last week, Obama appointed Robert Malley to the National Security Council, and those of us who are subscribed to the “right” emails are now being treated to another round of Republican hysteria, courtesy of recycled smears from 2008.

More after the jump.
Dennis Ross, Sandy Berger, and Martin Indyk wrote in The New York Review of Books that those attacks on Malley were “unfair, inappropriate, and wrong.”

Gershom Gorenberg wrote in The American Prospect that “Of all the recent efforts to smear Barack Obama, none strikes me as stranger than the claims that one of his informal advisers on foreign affairs, Robert Malley, is anti-Israel.”

But don’t worry. Once Malley takes office, you will hear nothing but crickets from our right-wing friends.

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AIPAC Breaks With GOP on Iran Sanctions

Reps. Mark Kirk (R-IL) and Bob Menendez (D-NJ)

— by Steve Sheffey

The Kirk-Menendez bill started out as a bipartisan effort to increase pressure on Iran. It was introduced in December with 13 Democratic and 13 Republican cosponsors, amidst concerns that the clock was ticking and the interim agreement with Iran had not yet been implemented.

But once the interim agreement took effect, and after the administration shared more details about the plan, support for a vote on Kirk-Menendez began to evaporate, especially among Democrats. It began to look less like a bipartisan effort to do the right thing and more like a vehicle for Republicans to drive a wedge between pro-Israel Democrats and President Obama.

The bottom finally fell out on Thursday, when Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL) and 41 other Republican senators sent a letter demanding a vote. Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ), the bill’s co-author, responded by warning against making the bill a partisan issue.

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) released a statement saying that, “We agree with the Chairman [Sen. Menendez] that stopping the Iranian nuclear program should rest on bipartisan support and that there should not be a vote at this time on the measure.”

More after the jump.
The Senate majority leader, Harry Reid (D-NV), said that Iran is “a serious, serious situation. For me to receive a totally partisan letter, we should not make this a partisan issue, and that’s what 42 Republicans have done. And I think it’s wrong.”  

One of AIPAC’s core principles is that support for legislation it backs must be bipartisan. This sometimes means compromise, but AIPAC knows that the U.S.-Israel relationship could be irreparably damaged if even the perception exists that congressional policy on Israel and Iran depends on which party is in power.

Forty-two GOP senators, led by “Partisan-in-Chief” Kirk, might want a vote right now, but AIPAC does not. It must have been hard for some AIPAC leaders to stand up to Kirk, but they made the right call. AIPAC stood up against partisanship on Israel, and in favor of its principles. We cannot let anyone turn Israel or Iran into a partisan issue.

AIPAC says it remains strongly committed to the passage of Kirk-Menendez. But unlike Kirk and his Republican partisans, AIPAC opposes an immediate vote on the legislation. No vote means no passage.

There may come a time when legislation like Kirk-Menendez is appropriate, but now is not the time. AIPAC’s position is very similar to the position the National Jewish Democratic Council articulated last month.

Chemi Shalev wrote in Ha’aretz last weekend that Kirk-Menendez “had no legs and no logic to stand on.”

Some of its supporters claimed that it was meant to strengthen Obama’s hand in the nuclear negotiations with Iran, when it was clear that they meant just the opposite: to weaken the President and to sabotage the talks. They couldn’t speak this truth outright, so they surrounded it, as Churchill once said, with a bodyguard of lies.

The bill’s supporters had no rational response to the Administration’s claim that the same conditional sanctions that the bill was pushing could be legislated in a day if the talks collapsed or if Iran reneged on its commitments. They could muster only disingenuous disclaimers to the unequivocal assertion, by both Washington and Tehran, that the legislation, if approved, would contravene the Geneva agreement and bring about an Iranian walkout.

Meanwhile, the Obama administration sent a clear signal that sanctions against Iran remain in place and are enforceable during the talks, by imposing sanctions on more than 30 individuals and entities last week.

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Kerry & Israel: A “True Friend” Tells the Truth

John Kerry and Avigdor Liberman

— by Steve Sheffey

Some on the far right are telling us that Secretary of State John Kerry threatened Israel with a boycott if peace talks with the Palestinians were not successful. In fact, Kerry and the U.S. strongly oppose and will oppose any boycotts of Israel.

Kerry was simply pointing out the irrefutable: If Israel is seen as unreasonably blocking peace negotiations, the chance of more boycotts against Israel will increase.

The State Department spokesperson, Jen Psaki, said on February 2 that, “At the Munich Security Conference yesterday, [Kerry] spoke forcefully in defense of Israel’s interests, as he consistently has throughout his public life.”

In response to a question about the peace process, he also described some well-known and previously stated facts about what is at stake for both sides if this process fails, including the consequences for the Palestinians. His only reference to a boycott was a description of actions undertaken by others that he has always opposed.

More after the jump.
A tweet by Ha’aretz writer, Chemi Shalev, brought to mind this analogy:

Suppose that a doctor tells a cancer patient that if he rejects a certain treatment, he will likely get worse. Is the doctor threatening the patient? Is the doctor telling the patient that if he rejects the treatment, the doctor himself will make the patient worse? Or is the doctor on the patient’s side, and simply pointing out that while the patient has a choice, and while the doctor will work with the patient regardless of the patient’s choice, choices have consequences?

Israel does not deserve to be boycotted, and the world should not boycott Israel based on lack of progress with the Palestinians. But justified or not, that is a real possibility. It is a reality that none of us like, and that all of us oppose, but it is reality. You would have to be blind not to see it.

That is just one of many reasons that the status quo is not sustainable.

Israel’s Foreign Minister, Avigdor Liberman, defended Kerry last week, and called him “a true friend of Israel.” Is Liberman an anti-Israel lefty too? I am going to go with Liberman on this one.

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Let Iran Be the Side That Failed the Talks

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has stated that under no circumstances would Iran agree to destroy any of its centrifuges.

— by Steve Sheffey

Those who favor the Kirk-Menendez Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act are not warmongers. They favor the bill because, in their view, it will increase the chance for diplomacy to succeed.

Those who oppose the bill are not soft on Iran and are no less concerned about Iran obtaining nuclear weapons. They oppose the bill because, in their view, the bill violates the interim agreement, would lessen the likelihood of a diplomatic solution, and weaken the sanctions architecture.

This is not some kind of a litmus test. There are strong friends of the U.S.-Israel relationship on both sides of this issue. No one should equate support for new sanctions with support, or lack of support, for Israel.

Some people are judging the interim agreement by the standards of what we hope will be the final agreement.

The purpose of the interim agreement is to delay, not end, Iran’s progress, so that Iran cannot run out the clock while we negotiate. It cannot and will not be the final agreement. If Iran does not fulfill its obligations under the interim agreement, it will lose even a limited sanctions relief.

More after the jump.
If talks with Iran fail, the world must know that they failed because of Iran, not because of the U.S.

If talks fail, we will need a unified international community to back us on increased sanctions or military action. If we impose sanctions that might contravene the interim agreement, the world will perceive — with some justification — that we, not Iran, are the intransigent party.

As Steven Spiegel wrote in Roll Call, “if the interim agreement is seen to have been upended by actions of the U.S. Congress, both the potential sanctions and military options will be threatened.”

It will be much more difficult, even almost impossible, to gain international support for sanctions and military action if the talks were seen to have broken down because of a controversial action by the U.S. Congress.

In that sense, voting for sanctions now could create the worst of both worlds: Iran will walk away from the talks as the offended party, and sanctions will be diminished as the Iranians develop an excuse to complete their nuclear ambitions. Congress should not give Tehran an opportunity for such a victory.

In a long but important article in the New York Review (I do not agree with all of it, but I agree with most of it), Jessica Matthews wrote that, “The bill’s authors, Senators Robert Menendez and Mark Kirk, argue that it strengthens the president’s hand. It does the reverse by making even more acute Iranian doubts that the president can deliver the relief from sanctions they are negotiating for.”

Its passage, as an act of bad faith on the U.S.’s part after having just agreed not to impose new sanctions during the term of the six-month deal, would probably cause Iran to walk away from the negotiations. Rouhani would risk political suicide at home if he did not.

Alternatively, in the all too familiar pattern of the past decade, he might stay at the negotiating table and match unacceptable American demands with his own so that blame for failure would be muddled.

America’s negotiating partners and others whose support makes the sanctions work would feel the sting of bad faith as well. The sanctions regime that has been so painstakingly built through ten years of effort by determined American leaders of both parties could easily unravel.

Mathews concluded that, “A final agreement is by no means assured, but the opportunity is assuredly here.”

The price of an agreement will be accepting a thoroughly monitored, appropriately sized enrichment program in Iran that does not rise over 5 percent. The alternatives are war or a nuclear-armed Iran. Should this be a hard choice? Astonishingly, too many members of Congress seem to think so.

In Bloomberg, Jeff Goldberg wrote that, “Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has just stated that under no circumstances would Iran agree to destroy any of its centrifuges. I would also like to note that this unequivocal statement, if sincere, means that there is no possibility of a nuclear deal between Iran and the six powers set to resume negotiating with it next month.”

And if that is the case, we will need all the international support we can muster for whatever comes next. Maybe now is not the time to muddy the waters with sanctions legislation that could scuttle the talks and undermine our international coalition.

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2013 in Review: U.S.-Israel Relationship Stronger Than Ever

— by Steve Sheffey

The U.S.-Israel relationship emerged stronger than ever in 2013.

  • Remember the right-wing hysterics about the nominations of Chuck Hagel and Samantha Power?
    Both have proven in word and deed to be solidly pro-Israel.
  • Remember the right-wing claims that once re-elected, President Obama would turn against Israel?
    Instead, shortly after his re-election, he unequivocally supported Israel’s right to defend itself in Operation Pillar of Defense.
  • Remember what our Republican friends told us about Obama when he ran for president in 2008?
    Here is what they did not tell us:
    • that Obama would always back Israel at the U.N.,
    • that he would never cut aid to Israel, and
    • that regardless of any disagreement with Israel, he would never even threaten retaliatory action against Israel.

    This is a far cry from the George W. Bush days, when loan guarantees were cut in response to settlement activity and when the U.S. stood idly by as the U.N. condemned Israel.

More after the jump including The Cartoon Kronicles’ review of 2013.
In March, Obama became the fifth sitting president to visit Israel. While in Israel, Obama received Israel’s Medal of Distinction.

Obama also worked hard in 2013 to find diplomatic solutions to Israel’s two existential threats: a nuclear-armed Iran and a permanent occupation of the West Bank. We will have a much better sense in 2014 of whether his efforts were successful.

No matter how good the U.S.-Israel relationship is, we always want more. That is why historical perspective matters.

Last week, Haim Saban wrote:

Observers may bemoan the lack of personal chemistry between Obama and Netanyahu, but international relationships needn’t be love affairs between leaders. They rest on common interests, common values and reciprocity.

This foundation is what has sustained an exceptional U.S.-Israel partnership through 65 years, 12 U.S. administrations and plenty of rocky news cycles.

2013 reviewed by The Cartoon Kronicles:

Cartoons Courtesy of Yaakov “Dry Bones” Kirschen and The Cartoon Kronicles @