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

October 21,

Soft-Shoe Diplomacy Is Failing: It’s Time for Obama to Get Real... and Get Tough

Dear Friend of FLAME:

Two weeks ago we reported that the Palestinians had dropped their request that U.N.'s Goldstone Report be enforced. Judge Richard Goldstone, you recall, recommended that Israel be hauled to face war crimes before the International Criminal Court if it didn't sufficiently investigate itself (and presumably find itself guilty).

Now, under pressure from many quarters in the Palestinian body politic, President Mahmoud Abbas has reversed himself and pressed the ironically named United Nations Human Rights Council to move the Report's recommendation forward, which the UNHRC cheerfully did just last week, by a large majority.

The Obama administration had apparently convinced Abbas---momentarily---to withdraw support for the Goldstone Report.  Obama's team argued that because the Report's recommendations are so inflammatory and insulting to Israel, Palestinian support would kill the chance for further peace negotiations.  (Duh!)  Abbas, however, obviously concluded that this was the preferable option.
Even more troubling, because it deals with the very survival of the Jewish state: Israel's escalating fear of Iran's nuclearization just got more validation as Hilary Clinton was rebuffed by Russia's foreign minister and Vladimir Putin himself, who are refusing to insist on tougher sanctions against the Islamic terrorist state: Sanctions would be "counterproductive" say the Russians.

Now, more than ever, Israel needs solid U.S. support---especially if it is to trust the United States in peace efforts and if it is to be patient about Iran's increasing nuclear threat.  In other words, the Obama administration has to deliver---acceptance of the Jewish state by the Palestinians and harsh sanctions against Iran.

But in order for Obama to deliver---to Israel, to its other allies and to the American people---the U.S. needs support from the world's most important leaders.  Unfortunately, President Obama is not getting that kind of international cooperation: His strategies are not working---not working for Israel and not working for United States interests.

This week's FLAME Hotline comes from Barry Rubin, installments from whose syndicated column we have featured often.  This brief piece from his blog, the Rubin Report, argues that world leaders are either ignoring Obama's pleas or, worse, outright exploiting his conciliatory instincts.

Isn't it time for President Obama to stop playing patty-cake with rogue states, terrorists and other evil doers?  Isn't it time to align firmly with Israel, which is after all, still our strongest ally by far in the Middle East and whose very existence is threatened by Iran?

Best regards,

Jim Sinkinson
Director, FLAME


Upon his election, President Obama offered an outstretched hand to the sworn enemies of the United States and to those of Israel.  Little good it has done.  Israel's Prime Minister, Binyamin Natanyahu, has also offered the Palestinians a peace deal---and their own state---which they promptly rejected. To find out why the Palestinians refused this perfectly reasonable offer, which is unlikely to improve over time, please review the recent FLAME position paper---"Mr. Netanyahu's Offer (II): Are the objections of the Palestinians justified?" It shows, among other things, why Obama's insistence on Israeli concessions to the Palestinians is misguided and futile to boot.  This editorial piece has run in national media delivering more than five million impressions, including to college students and all U.S. Senators and Representatives.  Above all, if you agree that FLAME's outspoken brand of public relations on Israel's behalf is critical, I urge you to support us. Remember: FLAME's ability to influence public opinion---including the administration's tendency to hold Israel solely responsible for peace in the entire Middle East---comes from Israel's supporters 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---from the U.S. Congress, from President Obama, and from the American people.

P.P.S. President Obama has asked for input from U.S. citizens on his Middle East policies.  To give him your opinion about the need for crippling sanctions to stop Iran's nuclearization now, please write the President---immediately.

The Common Theme: Stomp on Obama's Policies Because He Won't Do Anything about It
Barry Rubin, October 14, The Rubin Report

Note two developments of the last day which have a common theme. First, Secretary of State Hilary Clinton's visit to Moscow failed to move the Russians regarding sanctions on Iran. A short while ago, the New York Times listed as one of President Barack Obama's great achievements that he got Russia to consider—not agree but consider—higher sanctions on Iran. Now it is clear that Russia has no intention of supporting Obama's efforts.

This comes after the U.S. unilateral concession not to build missile sites in the Czech Republic and Poland, an action taken without fully consulting these allies and on the anniversary of the Russian invasion of Poland.

A lot of the media quoted and the Obama Administration played up Putin saying that if engagement wouldn't work out then sanctions might be possible, but here's what he said immediately afterward in a speech in Beijing:

"There is no need to frighten the Iranians. We need to look for a compromise. If a compromise is not found, and the discussions end in a fiasco, then we will see."

Second, while nothing may come of it in the end, Fatah (which controls the Palestinian Authority, PA) signed a unity deal with Hamas after the United States publicly stated that it opposed such a step. This comes immediately after the PA's reversal—against U.S. wishes—to try to get massive international sanctions against Israel for alleged—and phony—"war crimes."

Will the Obama Administration react to these slaps? Because clearly knowing that you can cross the United States with no consequences is leading countries to step on U.S. interests and policies.

How many examples are needed to make the administration learn this lesson?

One final point: Regarding the debate on the Goldstone report discussion in the UN. Basically, what happened is that a radical, anti-Semitic terrorist group seized control of the Gaza Strip through violence (no international response); then attacked Israel through rockets, mortars, and cross-border raids (no international response); then broke a ceasefire and restarted the war (no international response).

Israel defended itself in the only way it could—especially given the lack of any international effort. Hamas used human shields, turned homes and mosques into firing positions, and put its military headquarters in a hospital. Then there was an international response: to send a commission many of whose members had already made up their minds to hear witnesses who were almost all Hamas supporters or at least people who sought Israel's destruction. Without doing any independent investigation of its own, the commission then condemned Israel for "war crimes."

This report has now gone to an international body which is chaired by Libya and where the largest voting bloc is led by Sudan, and whose Human Rights Committee is run largely by countries like Iran, Russia, and Algeria. The charge to demonize Israel and put sanctions against it is led by the Palestinian Authority, its supposed negotiating partner for peace and the victim of Hamas's murders and tortures which—by the way—is trying harder to make a deal with Hamas than with Israel.

Sanity check, anyone?


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