37 thoughts on “Bibi at the White House: ‘I am the Leader of a Much Smaller People’ – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم
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  1. I was disappointed to hear President Obama reject President Abbas’s UN statehood initiative. There is much in the press that is contradictory and confusing about the ability of Palestine to achieve UN statehood recognition without UNSC approval–it is looking more evident that the U.S. will veto any such effort. I have read somewhere that there is some kind of loophole, created during the cold war when the USSR had veto power in the UNSC, that would allow the General Assembly to recognize statehood without UNSC concurrence. But almost no press analysis mentions a loophole. What is the evidence for it?

    1. There is no way for Palestine to become a full member of the United Nations without a recommendation from the Security Council, but the General Assembly can adopt a resolution on Palestine which designates it as a permanent observer state, just like the Holy See.

      There is no veto over membership in the UN specialized agencies, such as the World Health Organization and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. So, Palestine could apply for full membership in the specialized agencies.

      Either of those forms of recognition would be sufficient to allow Palestine to become a state party to the Statutes of the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court. It would also allow Palestine to accede to or ratify treaties with depositaries, including the UN Treaty Organization, under the “Vienna Formula” or the “All States Formula”. See for example, Summary of Practice of the Secretary-General as Depositary of Multilateral Treaties

      The US threatened to withhold its own assessments the last time that Palestine applied for membership in the WHO and UNESCO, but it has subsequently supported the Quartet Road Map and the Security Council resolution which endorsed the Road Map. The Road Map has required the members of the UN to promote Palestinian statehood since 2003. In any event, the 2004 ICJ advisory opinion said that all states have an obligation to remove any impediment to the exercise of the right of self-determination by the Palestinian people. The AHLC donor states, the Secretary General’s Personal Representative for the Middle East, and the World Bank have stated that Palestinian institutions exceed the necessary requirements for statehood. So, the US would have to ignore the primary judicial organ of the UN, the rest of the international community, and withhold its assessments in order to prevent Palestine from being recognized. That would probably result in another Emergency Special Session of the General Assembly and another landmark ICJ advisory opinion in which Israel and the US would be on the loosing side once again.

  2. I’m not so disheartened or depressed. It should be remembered that Obama has to wage a re-election campaign that’s already started, which will constrain how far he can publicly oppose Netanyahu and his support for a Palestinian state.

    Its also about time the NYT’s is finally recognizing that a majority of Obama’s advisers support a more pro Palestinian posture regarding the I/P question, and that Ross’s posture is the minority. When Obama got into trouble in September 2009 over the settlements issue, I believed then that his transfer from state to the W/H was to play the part of the unwitting ‘block punt,’ running interference and cover until Obama and his team attained better footing.

    And as for US opinions about HAMAS or recognition of a Palestinian state, the internationalization of the I/P question is undercutting the US posture and making it irrelevant. A case can be made that US public support for the 67 borders is US acceptance of the postures of its partners in the Quartet, who unanimously and strongly supported Obama’s statement.

    Israelis are in for a brutal lesson all constituencies have learned regarding the real value of the bought loyalty of US Congressman. Palestinians don’t need the US and Congress is a friend not worth having. They should continue their independent drive towasrds reconciliation, unification, statehood, building civil society and massive non violent campaigns of civil disobedience.

  3. Do you support the idea of a right of physical return for those Palestinian refugees who fled or were expelled in 1948?

    Has your opinion on this issue changed over the past few years?

    Also, do you think it is important for Hamas to make some kind of official unequivocal statement renouncing terror as a legitimate means of resistance?

      1. Thanks for the suggestion.

        Doing a Google search for your thoughts on these topics has provided a response to my second question. From what I’ve found, you do feel that Hamas should renounce violence and have noted occasions where their leaders have (conditionally) done so.

        With respect to my other question, it appears that at one point you believed that Palestinians need to give up their idea of a right of physical return, but now you no longer believe that – you currently support the idea (and believe it’s inevitable).

        Is that accurate?

        Please forgive me if I misunderstood or misstated any of your past or current positions.

  4. HAMAS and Israel should both be required to renounce terrorism perpetrated against the other. That’s a two way street and neither are innocents in the matter. Ignoring murderous acts or leaning on one without equally pressuring the other are acts of hypocrisy and make any effort at peace making a big waste of time.

    The question of return is an item that must be on the table, addressed and resolved. However that’s accomplished is between the parties, but unilaterally dodging it and/or declaring refugee claims null and void is pure fantasy in light of the recent, non-violent mass demonstrations erupting out of refugee camps in Lebanon and Syria that marched towards Israel’s border. Ironically, Netanyahu and fellow Zionists had it all before the Palestinians Papers expose of Abba’s and company’s desperation to make a deal selling out those refugee claims. That game plan is gone forever.

    What Netanyahu, Zionists and apparently many other people aren’t comprehending is the evolution and changing nature of Palestinian resistance. They are getting smarter. Bibbi is crying about 1967. If he doesn’t start getting a clue he or his successors will find themselves struggling with the far bigger problem of 1947 before the Arab/Israeli war of 1948.

    1. I would have no problem with conditions that were bilateral as you suggest. As long as something is demanded of both sides & not just one. It would of course be best for each side to renounce violence against the other.

  5. Go To the 13:18 minute mark !

    This section of the video is crucial.

    “…even at the dearth, nadir…we never lost our dream of re-establishing a sovereign state in our ancient home the land of Israel…”

    Think Kethubot 111a. Jewish scholars will know what I am talking about.

    Both leaders spoke well. There is genuine warmth between the two of them. A public speech like this cannot be all things to all people. Bibi’s margin for error comment is prophetic. The geometries are pivoting on daily decisions now. There are a multitude of potentially explosive issues that need to be defused right now. The timeline is days not months. The upcoming Turkish flotilla in late June is one of them. Whether various groups will accept the status quo in the coming days is fascinating. I know G-d has a plan.

    “People crushed by law, have no hopes but from power. If laws are their enemies, they will be enemies to laws; and those who have much to hope for and nothing to lose, will always be dangerous.”

    – Edmund Burke

    1. There is genuine warmth between the two of them.

      What universe are you living in?? Warmth? If you could’ve visibly displayed the fire and anger on both sides it would’ve burned up the room. Didn’t you bother to read the NY Times article to which I linked which decisively contradicted yr claim?

      1. Someone I know may be seeing both of them in the not too distant future, so I want them to be on speaking terms. There are some sparks for sure but the glow of the fire is warm.


    RE: …he [Netanyahu] said that while Pres. Obama led “a great people” he (Bibi) led “a much smaller people” – R.S.

    Vincere, 2009, NR, 124 minutes
    Ida Dalser (Giovanna Mezzogiorno) falls for young Benito Mussolini (Filippo Timi) in Milan and sells everything she has to help the future dictator fund his newspaper, Popolo d’Italia. But when World War I separates the newly wedded couple, Mussolini marries another woman. Ida demands to retain her rights as Mussolini’s wife and the mother of his son, but the Fascists have other plans for the dictator’s dark secret in this gripping biopic. [Michael Ledeen would love this film because he is a such big fan of “Italian fascism”! – JLD]
    Director: Marco Bellocchio
    Language: Italian (ENGLISH SUBTITLES)
    Availability: Streaming and DVD
    NETFLIX LISTING – http://movies.netflix.com/WiMovie/Vincere/70118770

  7. [comment deleted for violation of comment rules–it appears you’ve mistaken this blog for Debka Files.]

  8. thank you richard for your honest assessment.

    obama’s sin is that he dared speak publicly the P-word Palestine in the presence of netanyahu. when netanyahu and israel-defenders like ross, satloff, and indyk start publicly saying the P-word (at least five times in a short exchange) i will not believe any word they say.
    by principle and just like netanyahu, these people don’t want a state of Palestine to ever come into existence and be recognized de-jure. (i know that from a first hand public face to face exchange i had with two of them).

    obama must be a SunTzu scholar in the way he let netanyahu overreach and put to shambles likud’s strategic goal of preventing a “Palestine” to come into being in the west bank the land the palestinians call “Ard Ismail” (Eretz Ishmael).

    if it is true that you must speak truth to power it is more true that you must never publicly disrespect and defy the president of the united states in public. netanyahu did exactly that which led some jewish-american israel supporter to say “i don’t like him speaking to my president this way”.

    like mubarak of egypt netanyahu of israel must now get out if we ever want to see in our lifetime an Israel and a Palestine living next to each other in stability, security, and peace.

    obama might help ease netanyahu out of the scene. with time on his hands, sharm eshSheikh would not be a bad place for him to go sip coffee and discuss politics with mubarak.

  9. I see no reason to mock Netanyahu for a mistake he made during a talk in English. I don’t know how many speeches you gave in a second language to compare.

      1. Not quite:
        Netanyahu was born in 1949 in Tel Aviv. He was raised and educated in Jerusalem. Between 1956 and 1958, and again in 1963-67 his family lived in the United States.
        So he came to the US at the age of 7-9 and 14-17.
        Calling that “not a second language” and claiming he “was raised in the US” it going to far.

        1. He spent almost half of his first 18 yrs living in the U.S. It is not his second language. He has almost no accent. The only Israelis who speak English w almost no accent are ones for whom English is NOT their 2nd language.

          1. The years he spent in US are described below.
            He came first to the US at the age of 7 for 2 years and then at age 14 for 3 and you continue with your claims.
            Some people just cannot accept they may be wrong.
            The fact he speaks without accent may be contributed to the fact he is a hard worker who spent many hours practicing his English, or he may be very talented in absorbing languages, or he just very capable in mimicking other people.
            Anyways, I find the use of stereotyping quit disturbing “The only Israeli who speak English…”.

          2. People have mistaken me for an American before (even Americans themselves). Getting rid of an accent is something you learn and practice. That isn’t to say I don’t have one, but if I spend a few days speaking English it’s almost completely gone.

          3. If you spend the formative years of yr life in a foreign country then the language isn’t your 2nd language. It comes to you as fluently as your native language. Bibi’s English is as good as it is not because he has to work at losing his accent. But because he spent many yrs living in this country as a child & teenager. The language comes naturally to him. Unfortunately, he does violence to the language through the substance of his words, but that has nothing to do with his mastery of it.

          4. Bibi does NOT speak without accent, he has an accent though it’s not very pronounced. Most people who spent years of their childhood embedded in another language normally have absolutely no accent, they might loose the grammar and the vocabulary, but the ‘indigenous’ accent normally rest. I guess he just doesn’t have a very ‘musical ear’ ….he doesn’t even get the melody playing these days.

          5. You’re right, Richard, in this clip, his English accent is perfect. Last time I heard Bibi make a longer speech in English was at the UN in september 2009, and I noticed the way he pronounced Iran & Iranians – and he did pronounce that a lot 🙂 Maybe I’ve heard Bibi speak English with non-Native speakers. Sometimes you adapt your tone according to whom you speak, or maybe I’ve just too biased about what he say.

  10. Obama teaches Netanyahu a political lesson.

    On Friday, in the Oval office, President Barack Obama allowed Israeli Premier, Binyamin Netanyahu, to indulge in an attempted propaganda plea to the world to allow Israel to continue with illegal settlements as otherwise ‘Israel’s borders would be indefensible’. He attempted to persuade the President that account must be taken of all the illegitimate ‘facts on the ground’ that had changed the demographics of the area over the past years.

    In other words, if I steal your land, and continue to steal your land, you need to accept this criminal act because the UN is not a valid international body and we don’t recognise international law – or at least it doesn’t apply to us. Except, of course, the UN decision to establish the state of Israel in 1947 – which we accept.

    President Obama, a political master who represents the most powerful nation on earth, treated the performance with the contempt it deserved.

  11. your words: “In arguing against the Palestinian Right of Return, Bibi adds another lie to his presentation when he claims that Jews were “expelled from Arab lands in roughly the same number” as Palestinian refugees from Israel. First most Arab Jews, except in a few cases, weren’t “expelled” though many left feeling some sense of discrimination against them. And while it’s possible that 1-million Jews immigrated to Israel from Arab lands, they weren’t refugees driven from their countries in the same sense as the Palestinians were.”

    Richard, while I agree with just about all of the rest of your comments above, after 1948, the Jewish populations in Egypt, Morocco, Iraq, Algeria and other Arab countries were persecuted, sometimes executed, they were not allowed to work and their property was confiscated. They lived in fear, were forced to sign documents renouncing their citizenship and their belongings were searched on exit so that no valuables could be taken with them when they left. They had to resettle in Israel, the US, France, England and elsewhere, where they did not know the language and may not have had a support network. Their numbers are estimated at 800,000 to one million. It’s not accurate or fair to so trivialize so traumatic a collective experience of persecution, ethnic cleansing and loss of property, career and citizenship in the decades after the Holocaust…

    1. This is simply NOT true. The Algerian case for example: the Algerian native Jews became French citizens in the 1870’s by the Décret de Crémieux (a French Jewish politician) and thus integrated the colonial settler population, and got all the priviledges such a citizenship provides. Before and during the war of liberation (1954-1962) the Front de Libération Nationale addressed the Jewish population on various occasions, encouraging them to join the insurrection against the French colonial oppression. They didn’t – except a few on an individual basis, whereas French Jews in France were very active in the pro-Liberation solidarity movement – and after an eight years long, incredibly brutal, war, independance was achieved, and the Jews left, just as the rest of the colonial population. You can’t have it all !
      We could go on, case by case, and none of them ressembles the expulsion of the Palestinians. The closest we come is that of the Jews in Egypt during the Nasser-regime. And you forget to mention that many of these countries were still occupied by colonial powers when Israel was created. Morocco and Tunisia became independant in 1956, the role of the British in the anti-Jewish bombing in Baghdad, the role of the Jewish Agency, the Lavon-affair, and I could go on …..

    2. You are making sweeping generalizations that are only true in a few Arab countries. Just as one example, none of the things you describe happened in Morocco, whose king appealed to Jews to remain. In fact, Israeli shlichim in Morocco attempted to persuade the Jews that they had no future there, there only viable option was aliyah, etc. The result: while some Morroccan Jews made aliyah, the majority left for France & other places, leaving Morrocco almost w/o Jews.

      I didn’t trivialize what happened to Arab Jews. I said it didn’t compare with the suffering of the Nakba & it doesn’t. It is suffering for sure & it was unjust. But not on a scale with what happened to Israeli Palestinians in 1948. Saying so is NOT trivializing it. It is placing it in proper historical perspective, something historians do all the time.

      Nor are you acknowledging the horrible crimes committed by Israel itself in provoking violence against these Arab Jews so they would flee to Israel. Why have you left this out of yr account? Either you don’t know or it’s inconvenient to yr ideological perspective.

      1. “Nor are you acknowledging the horrible crimes committed by Israel itself in provoking violence against these Arab Jews so they would flee to Israel. Why have you left this out of yr account? Either you don’t know or it’s inconvenient to yr ideological perspective.”

        An extremely important topic, Richard, that should be brought to the forefront.

        iirc in his White House comments Bibi mentioned that reparations are due to “700,000 Jews who were displaced from Arab lands” and “found refuge” in Israel.

        Edwin Black and Mitchell Bard have been flogging this horse as well; Israel wants more money/reparations for Jews who left/fled Arab lands for Israel. Knesset passed legislation about two years ago that enshrines the right of such Israelis to claim reparations, and US Congress has included in numerous resolutions concerning resolution of I/P conflict that Israeli Jews ‘right of return’ should be compensated equally with Palestinian right of return or reparations in lieu.

        I find it sickening.

      2. Your habitual arrogance undermines your message, Richard. I am not speaking from an “ideological perspective”. I am attempting to introduce some balance to your diatribe. Unlike Bassam (other respondent) you don’t deny that this expulsion took place, that it was often (usually) unjust. Certainly many left because of Zionist idealism, but there is sufficient documentation to show that the rise of Arab nationalism after 1948 and 1967 resulted in revoked citizenship, appropriated property and threat to life. The Jewish population didn’t end up in refugee camps where they would be a continuing public relations reminder – they re-settled and assimilated, and that has made it easy to overlook their ordeal.
        I did not condone the violence that accompanied Israel’s statehood in 1948, and I am not condoning the occupation and institutionalized racism of modern Israel.
        By the way, the king in Morocco may have encouraged the Jews to stay, but there’s no evidence that he did anything to protect them and their assets.
        Maybe we both have more to learn.

        1. Could you give us an example of expulsions of Jews – for the mere fact of being Jews, which is not the case in Algeria for exemple – other than Egypt, and that’s still a topic to discuss, as many were French or Italian citizens. Which country are you talking about ? What period ? Could you give us some serious links to books or articles ?
          For people who’re interested in the Iraqi Jews, I recommend the Israeli sociologist Yehuda Shenhav who’s of Iraqi origin himself. Avi Shlaïm, the great historian, wrote in his book review of the very biased Gilbert-book on Jews in the Arab world, that he didn’t consider his family as refugees (Shlaïm is from Iraq too).
          Here’s an article: “What do Palestinians and Arab-Jews have in common: (How the Israeli State has used the immigration of Iraqi Jews to offset the claims of the Palestinian national movement:

          An article “Hitching a Ride on the Magic Carpet”:

          The latest interference of the Jewish Agency was in Tunisia after the revolution. They made big attempts to ‘save the Jews’ from the new democratization. It’s in fact a big problem for the Zionist narrative that more and more Tunisian Jews residing in France buy a second residence in Tunisia. Doesn’t fit with the ‘expulsion-propaganda’.

        2. Your habitual arrogance undermines your message

          I suppose it is arrogant of me to correct your historical errors and ask why you neglected to include information that would point to a conflicting version of what happened to Arab Jews. It couldn’t possibly be purely as a result of my desire to maintain an accurate historical record, now could it? Yesterday, I ‘belittled’ the Arab Jewish suffering & today I’ve mounted a ‘diatribe’ against you. My but the rhetoric can get florid when you feel yr ox has been gored.

          I never called it an “expulsion.” You did. The truth (once again) which seems elusive to you, is that only in a few instances were there outright expulsions. In other instances Jews left voluntarily, in others they left because Israel itself had planted bombs which stampeded them out the country, & in others there were hostile acts against Jews & anti-Semitic rhetoric which frightened them enough to leave though they were not expelled.

          The Jewish population didn’t end up in refugee camps

          I’ve never seen such a mismosh of historical accuracy and historical illteracy before here. Have you ever heard of maabarot? What do you think they were? The Beverly Hilton? Sorry, these were refugee camps to which the refugees were subjected for years until housing could be built for them. Memories of their suffering & discrimination against them in these camps is still seared in the minds of many refugees & it shaped their consciousness as Israelis. You get an F for failure for neglecting yet another historical fact that inconveniences yr argument.

          Now, if you wish to argue that Israel eventually did remove these people fr. the camps and resettle them, you won’t get an argument fr. me. Though they were resettled in the poorest, most out of the way communities in Israel, which in many ways did them little favor.

          there’s no evidence that he did anything to protect them and their assets.

          Actually, there’s no evidence to support yr claim because you don’t offer any. This blog is a fact-based enterprise. When people wish to make claims it is a rule here that they support such claims, esp. when contested or controversial with credible evidence. You’ve just made such a claim, but offered no supporting evidence.

  12. May I ask, what is so dispicalbel and offensive about Israel being a Jewish State?
    “Obama again, in remarks after their two-hour meeting, noted that Israel was a “Jewish state” making no reference to the fact that it was also composed of a significant minority of non-Jewish citizens.”

    If I am not mistaken there are many Muslim and Christian states. Furthermore it is readily apparent that Freedom of Religion is common place in Israel, be you muslim, Christian, Coptic, Buddist or anything else.

    Sure there is a “significant minority of non-Jewish citizens”, whatever that means….A certain majority is Jewish. Furthermore, these minorities are significantly represented in the knesset, judicial system, cultural world and many other facets of daily life. What please tell me is the problem?

    1. There is nothing wrong with Israel being a Jewish state as long as it also can be a Palestinian state for its Palestinian citizens. In other words, it should be a multi-ethnic (not the same as bi-national) state, not a unitary state in which one religion prevails over another.

      Freedom of religion is “commonplace” in Israel? If you’re a Jew, yes. Muslim, not so much. If there was true freedom of religion the state would not have the power to veto appointments of Muslim imams as it does routinely.

      these minorities are significantly represented in the knesset, judicial system, cultural world and many other facets of daily life. What please tell me is the problem?

      I’ve already demolished this hasbara theme numerous times here & don’t have the patience to do it again. Suffice to say this is a specious claim. There is absolutely no parity in Israel between Jewish and non-Jewish rights. Palestinians citizens are 2nd or 3rd class enjoying far inferior political, judicial, economic rights; w. far inferior job & educational opportunities.

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