The president's speech last week, which was described by the White House in advance as a speech intended to reach out to the Muslim world, will probably go down as one of the least well-understood major presidential speeches in modern memory. Confusion concerning the president's words and intent cut across the lines of Jews, Christians and Muslims, Democrats and Republicans, neocons and paleocons, friends and foes of Israel, and friends and foes of the president.
For many serious commentators, the confusion lies on what the president meant by his statement that "We believe the borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps, so that secure and recognized borders are established for both states." Was this a shift of policy, no shift or a critical increase in U.S. presidential pressure on Israel in future peace negotiations?
Plugging an upcoming story on Tuesday’s CBS Evening News, anchor Russ Mitchell highlighted that “Congress gives Israel's Prime Minister dozens of standing ovations but,” Mitchell warned as if it were just as relevant or surprising, “the Palestinians are not buying his peace plan.” The Palestinians haven’t yet bought into the right for Israel to even exist.
Setting up the subsequent report, Mitchell repeated his formulation: “Nancy Cordes reports he got a standing ovation, but the Palestinians were not impressed.” Cordes emphasized how Benjamin Netanyahu “refused to compromise on the biggest prize: Jerusalem” and “an aide to Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas called that a ‘declaration of war against the Palestinian people.’”
For many in the media Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu's reaction to Barack Obama insistence that his country return to the 1967 borders was out of bounds. ABC's Christiane Amanpour declared she was "stunned" by his "public lecture" of the President and NBC's Andrea Mitchell hissed, "it was really rude," and charged he treated Obama "like a school boy." Mitchell didn't reserve her criticism to Netanyahu as she even went after Republicans who dared to take his side, accusing them of "piling on the President."
After an address to AIPAC supporters yesterday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will address a joint session of Congress today to discuss the importance of continued support to Israel in attempts to create peace between Israel and Palestine. His speech at AIPAC yesterday may be something of a preview of his address to Congress today. Check out the video below the break.
With friends like President Obama, who needs enemies? If you're Israel, you already have quite enough of those.
On May 14, 2011, the State of Israel observed the 63rd anniversary of its independence. But if the proposals made by President Obama in his State Department speech are implemented, that observance could be its last.
At the end of Sunday's Meet the Press, NBC chief foreign affairs correspondent Andrea Mitchell scolded Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for daring to criticize President Obama's call for Israel to return to 1967 borders: "...he criticized the President, and in such a fashion! He lectured him in the Oval Office....basically treating him like a school boy."
Mitchell went on to declare: "People even who work for Netanyahu, some Israeli officials, told him later that he went too far. That it was, it was really rude and that there would be blowback to this." The leading voice of criticism in Israel was Netanyahu's liberal political opponent, Tzipi Livini, who also called on the Prime Minister to resign.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel told President Obama on Friday that he shared his vision for a peace between Israelis and Palestinians, and then promptly listed a series of nonnegotiable conditions that have kept the two sides at an impasse for years.
Contrary to what NBC's David Gregory said Friday, U.S. News & World Report editor Mort Zuckerman believes that in the wake of President Obama's Mideast speech, "The Israelis do not feel they have the Americans at their back for the first time since the founding of the state of Israel."
Such was said during a heated debate about the subject on PBS's "McLaughlin Group" (video follows with transcript and commentary):
In the Washington Post article, "Israeli Troops Fire at Palestinian Protestors on Borders, Killing at Least 12, " writer Joel Greenberg recount the creation of thousands of Palestinian refugees around the time of Israel’s founding in 1948 without noting that Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, and Iraq all declared war on the Jewish state, sending thousands of Palestinians from their homes.
Greenberg vaguely recounted that a war "followed Israel’s declaration of independence." Greenberg:
Most Americans are probably familiar with outspoken Kiss star Gene Simmons, but likely didn't know that he was born and partially raised in Israel.
With this in mind, when he was asked by CNBC's Jane Wells what he thought about President Obama's suggestion that Israel's borders be redrawn to pre-1967 levels, Simmons replied, "He has no f--king idea what the world is like because he doesn’t have to live there" (video follows with transcript and commentary):
In lockstep with Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg, who scolded Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to "please don't speak to my president that way," MSNBC anchor Andrea Mitchell cautioned of the "political pitfalls" for Republican presidential candidates who dared to challenge Barack Obama's speech on the Middle East.
On the May 20 edition of "Andrea Mitchell Reports," NBC's chief foreign affairs correspondent warned against criticizing the Democratic commander-in-chief and bewailed the "angry reception" he's received over his desire to see Israel surrender territory it acquired in the six-day Middle East war of 1967.
On Friday's Early Show, CBS called upon Clinton administration alumnus Jamie Rubin to act as a flack for the current Obama White House and to comment on the President's speech on the Middle East. Rubin lamented the President's poor approval rating in Israel: "Unfortunately- and this is unfortunate for everyone, I think...Obama doesn't have the huge popularity in Israel that, perhaps, President Bush had."
Anchor Erica Hill brought on the husband of ABC host Christiane Amanpour and first identified him as "Assistant Secretary of State Jamie Rubin, who is now executive editor of the Bloomberg View [the new opinion section of Bloomberg News] " However, she failed to mention at any point in the interview that Rubin served under former President Clinton, unlike Nicholas Burns, who appeared later in the program. Hill clearly identified him as "undersecretary of state under President George W. Bush."
President Barack Obama has made an unprecedented demand on Israel, Jewish leaders said Thursday, after the president called for Israel to redraw its borders to where they were in 1967 before the Six Day War. One rabbi said Obama was, in essence, asking for "ethnic cleansing" of thousands of Jewish families.
President Obama’s much-hyped speech Thursday on the Middle East called for a two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinians and endorsing Israel’s pre-1967 borders as the starting point for the negotiations. The New York Times’s lead story Thursday morning by Helene Cooper and Ethan Bronner, "Focus On Obama As Tensions Soar Across Mideast," set the table by sharpening the focus on Israel and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s "unyielding" recalcitrance as the main "stumbling blocks" to negotiations.
Mr. Obama, who is set to address Americans -- and, more significantly, Muslims around the world -- from the State Department on Thursday morning, may yet have something surprising up his sleeve. One administration official said that there remained debate about whether Mr. Obama would formally endorse Israel’s pre-1967 borders as the starting point for negotiations over a Palestinian state, a move that would send an oratorical signal that the United States expected Israel to make concessions.
Times reporting from Jerusalem is often hostile toward the conservative security-conscious Netanyahu, while whitewashing the terrorist origin of the Palestinian militants of Hamas, and there were traces of that on Thursday’s report from Washington.
Our good friend Mark Levin went on a tear yesterday about Obama's Mid East policy speech in which he called for Israel to go back to pre-1967 borders, an arrangement that would be perilous for Israel's national security and very existence.
Republicans have responded with widespread opprobrium to President Obama's speech on the Middle East. Mitt Romney epitomized GOP reaction in saying PBO had "thrown Israel under the bus."
Perhaps we shouldn't be too surprised, but at MSNBC, Obama was actually criticized last night . . . for not being hard enough on Israel. Cenk Uygur said "the president's speech was too much leaning towards Israel."
Uygur also disagreed with Obama's disapproval of any attempt by the Palestinians to stage an end-run on a negotiated peace by going to the UN to have their state established. And for good measure, Cenk accused Israel of the "oppression" of the Palestinians.
Update below the break: Although Zakaria said he would be "surprised" if any Israelis objected to Obama's "quite even-handed" call for pre-1967 borders between Israel and Palestine, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed clear disapproval of the idea Thursday.
CNN's Fareed Zakaria appeared three times on Newsroom Thursday to preview and evaluate President Obama's speech on the Middle East – but never revealed that he has recently had face-to-face meetings with the president on foreign policy matters.
Last weekend a comment by CNN prime time host Eliot Spitzer revealed that Zakaria was advising the president on foreign policy matters, but Zakaria later dismissed that observation and said he simply had off-the-record conversations with Obama on foreign issues. However, he still did not disclose that information when he evaluated Obama's foreign policy speech Thursday on CNN.
On CBS’s Sunday Morning show, during his regular commentary, right-leaning CBS contributor Ben Stein gave a pessimistic view of the "Arab Spring" movement to topple authoritarian governments in the Middle East, charged that America would regret allowing Hosni Mubarak lose power in Egypt, and predicted that the radical Muslm Brotherhood would take over there.
He also gave rare attention to the Muslim Brotherhood’s history of alliance with Nazi Germany during World War II. Stein:
The most potent political force in Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood, hates the U.S., loathes Israel, condemns the killing of bin Laden whom they praise as a martyr, and they've been wedded to terror for their entire existence. Oh, P.S., they were closely connected with Adolf Hitler. They'll probably take over Egypt completely sooner or later.
As NewsBusters previously documented, Nazi Germany helped build up the Muslim Brotherhood in the 1930s to spread anti-Jew hatred in the Middle East.
Not waiting for history to play out, a New Times caption writer, below a picture of celebrants of Obama Bin Laden's demise outside the White House, has written: "As crowds gathered outside the White House, there was little question that Mr. Obama's presidency had forever been changed."
While it was suggested during February's coverage of anti-government protests in Egypt that the radical Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood movement only had the support of a minority of Egyptians, a recent Pew Research Center poll finds that over 70 percent of the Egyptian public holds a favorable view of the Islamist organization. The same poll also notably finds that the more secular April 6 movement has a similar appeal.
The Haaretz Web site contains the AP article "Poll: More Than Half of Egyptians Want to Cancel Treaty with Israel," which notes: "The conservative Islamist Muslim Brotherhood and the largely secular April 6 movement - two groups closely involved in the uprising, had the highest approval ratings in society, with over 70 percent seeing them in a very or somewhat favorable light."
On the February 8 NBC Nightly News, correspondent Richard Engel had estimated the group's appeal to be between 20 and 40 percent.
And, as the headline alludes to, 54 percent of poll respondents expressed the view that Egypt's thirty-year treaty with Israel should be ended: "According to the poll results, only 36 percent of Egyptians are in favor of maintaining the treaty, compared with 54 percent who would like to see it scrapped."
As previously documented by NewsBusters, Helen Thomas - former columnist and White House correspondent for both UPI and Hearst Newspapers - was scheduled to speak at a left-wing anti-Israel rally next month during Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's upcoming visit to America. But the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reports that Thomas "withdrew her participation fearing she will become the focus of the events."
Thomas, who last year infamously was recorded declaring that Israeli Jews should "get the hell out of Palestine" and "go home" to Poland and Germany, was quoted as saying of the upcoming protest, "I am delighted that people are coming together for this gathering, and I want to make sure that the focus stays on AIPAC and U.S. policy, not me."
A statement released by the organizers of the "Move Over AIPAC" Rally reads:
New York Times Jerusalem Bureau Chief Ethan Bronner and reporter Jennifer Medina summarized on Wednesday the outcry after the dramatic reversal earlier this month by Judge Richard Goldstone. The judge authored the notorious "Goldstone report" for the United Nations Human Rights Council, blaming the state of Israel, but not the terrorist group Hamas, for making targets of civilians during the three-week Gaza war in 2008.
In an April 3 op-ed for the Washington Post (one rejected by the New York Times), Goldstone admitted that the data vindicated Israel’s concerns about his report: “If I had known then what I know now, the Goldstone Report would have been a different document.”
After relegating to page A16 the stabbing slaughter of five members of a family of Israeli settlers on March 12 at the hands of Palestinians, the New York Times mustered front-page sympathy for Vittorio Arrigoni, a pro-Palestinian activist murdered in Gaza by a fringe Islamic group. Fares Akram and Isabel Kershner reported from Gaza for Saturday’s front page, “Killing of Pro-Palestinian Activist In Gaza Deals a Blow to Hamas.”
For Vittorio Arrigoni, an Italian pro-Palestinian activist who friends said fought peacefully for justice, the end was as violent as it was incongruous.
On Wednesday’s NBC Nightly News, chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel informed viewers that he is "worried" that a major war between some of the Arab countries and Israel could be in the not too distant future because of the "ferociously anti-Israel" sentiment of the "Arab street" that is likely to gain power in countries like Egypt. He ended up concluding: "But I think, over time, this thing ends in Jerusalem."
After host Brian Williams and Engel had discussed the likely prosecution of former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, and the disappointment of Libyan rebels at the level of assistance to their cause supplied by NATO, Williams posed the question: "You’re back here in New York for a few days. The question I’ve seen most people ask you: Where does this all end?"
Engel sounded more pessimistic than he did during the protests in Egypt from January and February. Engel:
This whole movement in the Middle East, and I'm worried about it because while people in the region deserve more rights and they want more rights and they're embracing more of the will of the Arab street, well, the will of the Arab street is also ferociously anti-Israel, against Israel.
The children had been invited to an already scheduled meeting between Bieber and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as the prime minister sought to draw attention to the plight of children living in Israeli towns near the Gaza Strip which have in recent months come under increased fire from rockets launched by Palestinian terrorists.
According to Haaretz, Netanyahu canceled the meeting after his attempt to include the children was turned down.