Monday, April 27, 2015

Biden's Bait of Bull

April 26, 2015

President Obama, having heard an earful from Democratic leaders, who had received complaints from their Jewish constituents over his treatment of both Israel and its prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has embarked on a let's secure the Jewish vote campaign. I am not sure that there is a real threat that America's liberal Jews would defect to what they view as the evil Republican Party, but the campaign is underway regardless. Of course, now that the campaign has begun, I, like many of my Jewish brethren, question the efficacy of appealing to anti-Israel Jewish groups, like J Street. But, as I already said, there is no need for a real campaign and it allows Obama to show that he made an effort, one that actually promotes his interests. Although he should be called out for making matters worse by going to J Street, he will not be. Obama's latest move was to parade Vice President Biden out in front of a group of Jewish leaders at the Israeli Embassy in Washington DC on Israel's Independence Day. What followed was more of the same Obama rhetoric, or what I will refer to as Biden's bait of bull.

To be fair to Biden, he did sound sincere for much of his speech. But, unfortunately, he lost credibility when he resorted to casting out the old familiar line baited with bull to see how great his catch would be. Are Jewish leaders still gullible enough to believe Biden when he said that Obama has Israel's back, as Obama and his Administration have consistently claimed? Or will they wisely let Obama's actions and true beliefs speak for themselves? As a word of caution, trusting Obama and disregarding his actions also would mean ignoring the crystal clear message emanating from Israeli officials, including Mr. Netanyahu.

Biden also boldly claimed that no American President has ever done more to protect Israel than Obama. He then cited some weak examples, one of which was nonsensical. Biden stated that during Israel's war with Hamas this past summer, Obama repeatedly stood up to the world and proclaimed Israel's right to defend itself. Maybe Biden was referring to a different Israeli war with Hamas last summer than the one I am aware of. In the war I followed, I repeatedly heard Obama and his Administration reprimand Israel for causing too many Palestinian casualties. In fact, I heard Secretary of State Kerry make some not so nice comments about Mr. Netanyahu and Israel. Sure, I did hear some half-hearted statements about Israel having the right to defend itself. But those statements did not end there. Instead, they were always followed up by emotional and derogatory remarks and demands for Israel to curtail its military response. The word response also is telling because it was perfectly clear and indisputable that Israel (yet again) was fighting a defensive war. Additionally, for some reason, which Biden and the rest of Obama's Administration have never explained, instead of insisting that Hamas cease its offensive war and aggression against Israel, that it stop targeting innocent Israeli civilians with rocket, missile and mortar fire, and that it stop using Palestinians in Gaza as human shields, Obama and his Administration chose to condemn Israel for defending itself. We also only heard crickets when it came to Hamas using hospitals, schools, mosques, U.N. facilities and the rest of the civilian infrastructure in Gaza to launch its terrorist attacks. It would have been fair and reasonable to expect Obama to harshly criticize Hamas' terror tunnels, but that was not the case. Already, as international aid goes to Hamas, it shamefully has restarted the process of digging these tunnels of death.

Israel has received more support and cooperation from Egyptian leader Al-Sisi than from Obama in combating Hamas, which also threatens the safety and security of Egyptians. Perhaps, Biden should have reserved his praise for the Egyptian leader. Biden also conveniently forgot to mention that Obama cut off weapons' supplies to Israel during the war and that he stopped flights into Tel Aviv Airport. A leader who really has Israel's back would not have taken these malicious actions. I wonder if the Jewish leaders in the audience had the same recollection. Or will they be reeled in on Biden's line of baited bull?

Biden also referenced the Iran nuclear deal, both the framework and the quest for a final agreement. Here too, his comments were striking. He said that an agreement that does not cut off Iran's path to the bomb will not be entered into. Or "no deal" as he kept repeating. But this statement is disturbing. Any agreement that is signed based on the framework will have sunset provisions. Not only will Iran's path to the bomb not be blocked, but Iran will be welcomed into the world community with open arms while being able to legitimately pursue a nuclear weapons program over time.

Biden said that any sanctions relief would be phased in over time and, if not, "no deal". Obama and his Administration also previously stated this to be the case. The supreme leader of Iran and other Iranian officials, however, are demanding immediate relief from sanctions. There are now discussions of a possible $50 billion signing bonus if Iran agrees to the deal. If a signing bonus is paid to Iran, how would Biden square that with his comments? Deal or no deal?

Biden stated that a terrific inspection policy would be put in place so that Iran's compliance with the terms of the agreement could be verified. If not, "no deal". Iranian officials have made clear, however, that the type of inspections the Obama Administration expects to occur is not based on reality. They also have emphatically denied that inspectors will be permitted to have any access to their military facilities. This sounds like a very big disconnect.

Biden discussed the fact that the framework calls for fewer centrifuges and enriched uranium. But he left out the apparent capitulation to allow Iran to maintain approximately 6,000 centrifuges and some of its enriched uranium. He also overstated the reduction and limitations on Iran's nuclear infrastructure. He did, however, manage to blame Bush at one point, keeping consistent with the Obama doctrine.

Biden also applauded Obama for being the only American president to adopt an official policy preventing Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons. So what happened? As it turns out, it will be Obama who guides Iran down the path of getting the bomb. So much for official Obama policy. Biden also matter-of-factly pointed to the two-to-three month break out period for Iran to build the bomb, but emphatically noted that the deal would push that back to one year. But he did not explain when this break out period was reduced to two-to-three months. In fact, not too long ago Obama claimed that Mr. Netanyahu's estimation of an Iranian break out of several months was an exaggeration and that it would be significantly longer. So what caused the change?

To be clear, the framework of the deal allows Iran to legitimately adopt a nuclear weapons program over time. That is not even being debated. So then what did Biden mean when he said all options would be on the table, including military action, if Iran does not comply with the agreement? Is one to suppose that if Iran gradually drifts off course and achieves its real goals earlier than permitted under the agreement, the United States would take military action against a nuclear-armed Iran? Or maybe he just meant that they would or could if Iran violates the agreement sooner rather than later. That suggests that Obama might do so if the violation happens while he is still in office, as it would make more sense for Biden to be speaking on behalf of an administration that he is part of. But does anyone really believe that? Or maybe Biden meant that one of the other P5+1 countries could take military action, like Russia, which already has lifted its ban on shipping sophisticated surface-to-air missiles to Iran, or China. It does not seem logical that Russia would take military action against Iran after supplying it with arms that would complicate such military action. Would France or the U.K. take such action? Highly unlikely. So what did he mean? Perhaps just more of Biden's bait of bull.

Biden also referred to the growth of global Anti-Semitism and the need to constantly fight it, a notion he claimed is supported by Obama. Again, nice words, but one needs to ask, what do they mean? So far, these words are meaningless. What exactly has Obama done to combat rising global Anti-Semitism? He has uttered empty, emotionless words at best. He will not even acknowledge acts of Anti-Semitism when committed by Muslims. And there are plenty of those to go around. Instead, Obama is worried about non-existent Islamophobia. Biden certainly would have had more credibility singing Obama's praises to a group of Muslim leaders.

Finally, Biden pressed for a two-state solution. A few points on this topic. His words did not strike a demanding tone. He seemed to be deferential to Israel. But here he was inconsistent with Obama and particularly Obama's recent rants on the subject. Noticeably absent, consistent with Obama's position, was any recognition that Israel does not have a partner for peace and, even if it did, it could not rationally promote a two-state solution now with all of the radical Islamic terrorists that would encamp on its newer, more restrictive borders. Biden's failure to discuss the the threats posed by radical Islam to a two-state solution and Iran's belligerence in the region, spreading of terror and calls for Israel's annihilation is chilling. Then again, what could he honestly say about the latter point, that Obama's policies are strengthening Iran?

Biden's speech sounded good and was delivered well. But that, as we know all too well, is not the best way to judge a speech. The best test is to analyze the contents of a speech and to try to determine what is being said expressly and implicitly. Measured this way, I hope Jewish leaders will see Biden's speech as more of the same bait of bull.

Am Yisrael Chai.

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