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An e-newsletter delivering updates and analysis on current issues about Israel and the Middle East conflict

June 23, 2009

Rather than focusing on an unattainable Israeli-Palestinian peace, President Obama should focus on the looming danger of Iran

Dear Friend of FLAME:

President Obama has spent a fair amount of time in his early months as the leader of the free world focused on "solving" the Palestinian-Israeli problem.  He has met with the leaders of both sides, sent his envoy George Mitchell to the region on a couple of occasions, and made very public his views that the largest impediment to peace between the two peoples is Israeli settlements.  Like many presidents before him, Obama apparently thinks that the US knows what is best for the Israelis, even better than the Israelis or their democratically elected leader Prime Minister Netanyahu.

He has also expressed his unwavering intent to engage Iran---the same Iran that terrorizes the Middle East via its proxies Hezbollah and Hamas, and the same Iran whose leader routinely denies the veracity of the Holocaust and calls for Israel's very destruction.  Iran also happens to be on a straight-line path in a quest to obtain nuclear weapons making, President Ahmadinejad's vision of a Judenrein (Jew-free) Middle East all the more obtainable.

Ahmadinejad was up for election last week and by most accounts was in for quite a fight to remain as President.  Amazingly, he "won" by an astonishing margin.  In an article in the Wall Street journal, Amir Taheri writes that "Mr. Ahmadinejad was credited with more votes than anyone in Iran's history. If the results are to be believed, he won in all 30 provinces, and among all social and age categories. His three rivals, all dignitaries of the regime, were humiliated by losing even in their own hometowns."

We have all been witness to the events that have unfolded since the election. Ahmadinejad's main rival, Hossein Mousavi, has called for an investigation into the election.  His supporters (many of them students) rose up defiantly in a demonstration against the farce of an election. They were faced with extreme violence and brutality at the hands of paramilitary forces and state police.  They continue to protest and situation does not look like it will get better soon.

In the concise, well-written article below, Jeff Jacoby looks into President Obama's peculiar reaction to the popular uprising by the Iranian people.  The President has been stunningly silent since the violence erupted.  The few words he has said about the issue essentially amount to being concerned about the violence, but that he doesn't want to be seen as "meddling" in Iranian affairs.

This seems a little strange, especially considering the seeming willingness of the President and other members of his administration to meddle in Israel's affairs.  Israel is one the United States' closest allies, yet our President hesitates to speak out against the apparent stolen election by a man that is seen by many as the biggest threat to our ally.  In his recent speech, Netanyahu reiterated that "the greatest danger confronting Israel, the Middle East, the entire world and human race, is the nexus between radical Islam and nuclear weapons."   

Perhaps President Obama should listen to Prime Minister Netanyahu, who after all should be one of the world leaders he is closest to.  Rather than focus on an unattainable peace between Israel and the Palestinians (one only has to listen to Abbas, who is still unwilling even to recognize Israel as a Jewish state), he should be focusing on Iran.  And rather than worry so much about engaging with Iran, maybe he should re-think the morality of reaching out a hand to a country that is currently run by a dictator.

It was President Obama himself who said on his first day in office that those "who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent . . . are on the wrong side of history."  He should not be afraid to say this again at this moment in history, loudly and clearly.

Best Regards,
Dave Nogradi
FLAME Hotline Contributor


If you agree that the U.S. should concentrate its efforts on reining in Iran, rather than making Israel-Palestinian relations the linchpin of Middle East peace, please review the recent FLAME position paper---"The Deadly Threat of a Nuclear-Armed Iran: What can the world, what can the USA, what can Israel do about it?" This editorial piece has run in national media delivering more than ten million impressions, including to college students and all U.S. Senators and Representatives.  To learn more about President Obama's curious take on the Islamic world, please read an article written by Policy Watch's Robert Satloff, recently posted on our website: President Obama Speaks to the World's Muslims: An Early Assessment.  In his analysis of the President's speech to Muslims worldwide, Satloff highlights many of the numerous problems in Obama's speech.  Please review it and other "Outstanding Articles on the Middle East" posted on our website. Most of all, if you agree that this kind of public relations effort on Israel's behalf is critical, I urge you to support us. Remember: FLAME's powerful ability to influence public opinion comes from individuals like you, one by one. I hope you'll consider giving a donation now, as you're able---with $500, $250, $100, or even $18. (Remember, your donation to FLAME is tax deductible.) To donate online, just go to Now more than ever we need your support to ensure that Israel gets the support it needs, especially from the political leaders of the United States.

P.P.S. President Obama has asked for input from U.S. citizens on his Middle East policies.  To give him yours, please go right now to write the President.

Obama's Restraint on Iran
by Jeff Jacoby, Boston Globe, June 17, 2009

TWENTY YEARS ago this month, the first President Bush refused to condemn China's communist rulers when they unleashed a violent assault on pro-democracy demonstrators in Beijing.

For weeks Bush had refrained from encouraging the student-led reform movement that had blossomed around the country. "Clearly we support democracy," he said, adding that it wouldn't be appropriate for an American president to endorse the protesters' pleas for more freedom. "Exactly what their course of action should be," he demurred, "is for them to determine." Even after the massacre in Tiananmen Square, Bush - unwavering in his commitment to engagement with Beijing - would say nothing that might offend the Chinese government. "Not the time for an emotional response," he told reporters. He even spoke respectfully of the Chinese troops. "The army did show restraint. . . They showed restraint for a long time."

In reacting to the recent Iranian election and to the protests that erupted after Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was declared the runaway victor, the Obama White House seems to be taking a page from the elder Bush's 1989 playbook.

"The administration has remained as quiet as possible," the Washington Post reported on Monday, even as images streaming out of Iran showed the mullahs' basij thugs bloodying unarmed protesters. Vice President Joseph Biden told "Meet the Press" on Sunday that while there were "doubts" about the election's fairness, the administration was "going to withhold comment" until a more thorough analysis could take place. But even if the election results were fraudulent, engagement with Iran's theocratic government would go forward, he said.

Not until Monday evening did Obama himself finally address the crisis in Iran, and when he did it was Bush-on-Tiananmen all over again - halting, mealy-mouthed, passive. "I want to start off by being very clear that it is up to Iranians to make decisions about who Iran's leaders will be," he said, as if that isn't precisely what the mullahs rigged the election to prevent. "I am deeply troubled by the violence that I've been seeing on television," he continued, without a word of censure for the despotic regime committing that violence, let alone a demand that it stop.

Like Bush Sr. in 1989, Obama made it clear that he was not going to lift a finger for the courageous throngs in the streets - and that he was keen to engage the junta, no matter how vicious its behavior. "We will continue," he said, "to pursue a tough, direct dialogue between our two countries." He repeated yesterday that he does not like to see "violence directed at peaceful protesters," but that it would not be "productive" for the president of the United States "to be seen as meddling" in Iranian affairs.

But neutrality is not an option. By not supporting the Iranian protesters, Obama is aiding their oppressors. Reporting from Tehran, CNN's Samson Desta noted that Iranian students have repeatedly approached him with an "appeal to President Obama. They say, 'Is he going to accept this result? Because if he does, then we are doomed."'

Should it really be so difficult for a president who campaigned on the themes of hope and change to raise his voice on behalf of the brave Iranians who are risking their lives to bring hope and change to their country? Obama proclaimed on his first day in office that those "who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent . . . are on the wrong side of history." If he could say it at his inauguration, why can't he say it today?

"Engagement" with the foul Ahmadinejad and the turbaned dictators he answers to has always been a chimera; if that wasn't clear before last week's brazenly rigged election results, surely it is clear now. Iran's ruling clerics, headed by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, didn't just endorse the Ahmadinejad approach - the pursuit of nuclear weapons, the vile anti-Semitism, the demonization of America, the partnership with terrorists, the trampling of human rights. They unreservedly embraced it. Ahmadinejad's fraudulent reelection was hailed by Khamenei as "a divine blessing" and "a glittering event." With such a regime, no compromise is possible. Neither is impartiality. Like it or not, the White House must choose: Will America stand with the mullahs and their goons, or with the endangered people of Iran?


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