For reasons which remain a mystery to all right-thinking people (of which there appear to be fewer every day), the Obama Administration has chosen to abandon Israel in the same manner as the Perfidious Brits.
In gob-smacking news yesterday we learned that the State Department confirmed a review on arms sales to Israel, in particular regarding the transfer of Hellfire missiles:
WASHINGTON — The State Department confirmed Thursday that weapons shipments to Israel would be undergoing additional review due to the war in Gaza, but denied reports that the Pentagon had engaged in weapons transfers to Israel behind the back of the White House and State Department.
State Department deputy spokesperson Marie Harf said that she “strongly disagrees with the notion that some of us didn’t know what was going on.”
She said that, “to her knowledge,” there had not been any unauthorized weapons transfers between the Pentagon to Israel, and that she did not hear that anyone had been “caught off-guard” by such transfers.
Harf described an inter-agency process, including the Pentagon, White House and State Department, to review such transfers, and said that she “would disagree” with a report Thursday in the Wall Street Journal to the effect that the State Department and White House were “surprised” that the Pentagon continued to provide weapons to Israel.
In its report, the Wall Street Journal said that the White House and State Department were angered by a transfer of Hellfire missiles to Israel and had blocked the delivery of a batch of Hellfire precision missiles as well as ordering greater oversight into future sales. At one point during her briefing, Harf said that she was not sure whether any transfers of Hellfire missiles were delayed or blocked, but later said that she was certain that no weapons transfers were being withheld or delayed.
A senior Israeli official had confirmed that the shipment of Hellfire missiles was canceled.
The State Department spokesperson worked to downplay the scale and implications of the additional review. “As I have said many times, the US has an unshakable commitment to Israel’s security,” Harf asserted, citing President Barack Obama’s recent approval of an additional funding package for the Iron Dome missile defense project.
“There has been no change in policy” regarding Israel’s security assistance, Harf insisted. She added, however, that given the situation, it is natural that there would be “additional care” taken in the review process. She emphasized that “additional steps” were not tantamount to an official “review” of US military aid for Israel.
The double-talk above raises many suspicions. If there was “no change in policy” then why the “review”? And why the tendentious leaks to the Wall Street Journal, a newspaper not known for conspiracy theories or antipathy to Israel. On the contrary, the WSJ is solidly reliable and one of the few media outlets friendly to Israel.
Arutz Sheva describes the tense relations between the Administration and Israel:
A senior Obama administration official was quoted in the report as saying the transfer shouldn’t have been a routine “check-the-box approval,” given Israel’s defensive operation in Gaza against Hamas, which is recognized as a terrorist organization by the US.
The decision to clamp down on future transfers was the equivalent of “the United States saying ‘the buck stops here. Wait a second…It’s not OK anymore,'” said the official.
A Israeli defense official confirmed the reports to Walla! on Thursday, saying “the US delayed a shipment of Hellfire missiles to the Israeli airforce.” He added “apparently it was (done) on the background of national tension” with Israel.
Obama has been at odds with Israel over the defensive operation in Gaza, making various attempts to press Israel into accepting a truce with the adamant terrorist organization of Hamas. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu reportedly responded to the pressure by telling the administration “not to ever second guess me again,” after Hamas committed one of its many ceasefire violations.
According to US officials cited in the Wall Street Journal report, the Wednesday night phone call between Obama and Netanyahu was “particularly combative.”
The report noted that on July 20, ahead of the Hellfire missile cancellation, the IDF asked the US military for various munitions such as 120-mm mortar shells and 40-mm illuminating rounds, without the knowledge of Obama’s administration.
Three days later the request was approved by the military, without Obama or US Secretary of State John Kerry being approached for approval, given that their approval was not required for such a transfer.
A US defense official added that the standard review process in such requests was properly followed.
The transfer without Obama’s unnecessary approval was followed by a similar incident ahead of the Hellfire cancellation, which occurred the same day as the July 30 IDF strike on terrorists adjacent to a UN school, which the US slammed as “disgraceful.”
On the same day as the UN school strike, US reports said the 120-mm and 40-mm rounds had been released by the US army to the IDF, with one Obama administration official saying “we were blindsided.”A US defense official responded, saying “there was no intent to blindside anyone. The process for this transfer was followed precisely along the lines that it should have.”
Demonstrating the tense ties between Obama’s administration and Israel, a senior official of the administration told the Wall Street Journal “we have many, many friends around the world. The United States is their (Israel’s) strongest friend.”
“The notion that they are playing the United States, or that they’re manipulating us publicly, completely miscalculates their place in the world,” added the official.
I find that last statement more ominous than the cancellation of the missile transfer. The implicit cold threat behind those words could have come from the mouth of Don Corleone. “Nice little state you got there, it would be a shame if something happened to it”.
You would think that the Obama Administration would be happy that Israel is doing the West’s dirty work in fighting the Jihadists of Hamas and Islamic Jihad. Apparently we were wrong.
The Administration’s decision is also particularly dumb in the light of the Hellfire missile’s specific ability to strike surgically. Abu Yehuda (previously the excellent Fresno Zionism blog who has just made Aliya) explains some of the Hellfire’s technical specs and how the Obama Administration is helping Hamas:
The cutoff of Hellfire missiles is especially silly if the US is upset about casualties from artillery or other non-precision weapons. The Hellfire is about as surgical a weapon as you can get, preferred for taking out a target as small as a car or motorcycle without collateral damage.
There is also a degree of hypocrisy involved, since the US has a far worse record than Israel of safeguarding civilians in its recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Sadly, the unity in Israel engendered by the war in Gaza has already started fraying, with Israeli politicians all weighing in on who is to blame for the tension in US-Israel relations. Of course the opinions are divided straight down party lines.
Construction and Housing Minister Uri Ariel on Thursday accused the Obama administration of applying a double standard when it comes to Israel.
“I don’t accept in any way that President [Barack] Obama can attack in Iraq and harm citizens, women and children, but when it comes to us, it’s not permissible,” he told Israel Radio. “I said in the past and I’ll say again that the Americans don’t understand what is happening in the region – not in Syria, where they don’t intervene in the daily murders; in Iraq, where everything is collapsing; in Egypt; or here.”
MK Danny Danon (Likud) said he was not troubled by the Obama administration’s behavior, because its time in office is limited and polls show the American people support Israel.
“We have to take into account that in two-and-a-half years, Obama will not sit in the White House and we will remain here with the threats and challenges,” he said.
Ministers and MKs on the Left defended Obama and blamed Netanyahu for the deterioration of relations with the American administration.
Labor MK Shelly Yacimovich called on Netanyahu to restrain his party’s MKs, who she said were competing over who could insult America better. She called the Likud lawmakers’ criticism irresponsible, stupid and dangerous and said it shows they are disconnected from reality.
Interestingly, Prof. Jacobson at Legal Insurrection, a very strong supporter of Israel, warns Netanyahu not to overplay his hand with America (emphases are mine):
This paragraph, though, highlights that Bibi may be overplaying his cards:
Now, as Egyptian officials shuttle between representatives of Israel and Hamas seeking a long-term deal to end the fighting, U.S. officials are bystanders instead of in their historic role as mediators. The White House finds itself largely on the outside looking in.
While Israeli officials have privately told their U.S. counterparts the poor state of relations isn’t in Israel’s interest long term, they also said they believed Mr. Netanyahu wasn’t too worried about the tensions. The reason is that he can rely on the firmness of Israeli support in Congress, even if he doesn’t have the White House’s full approval for his policies. The prime minister thinks he can simply wait out the current administration, they say.
Bibi is miscalculating. The overwhelming support of the American people for Israel, reflected in Congress, can only go so far.
Congress has no control over military deliveries. Or U.N. votes.
As I have said many times, there is only one person in the world who can destroy Israel, and it’s the President of the United States, who can do so by not acting, by doing nothing, and by not resupplying Israel in time of need.
These are extremely worrying words of advice.
David Horowitz, editor of the Times of Israel, has produced another excellent article, saying: “US livid with Israel? Hamas can’t believe its luck“:
t becomes ever harder to understand what the US administration thinks it is doing in the Middle East. Its influence is waning across the region. It appears insufficiently robust — to put it mildly — when dealing with the region’s most dangerous regimes, notably Iran. Its ill-judged lack of enthusiasm for Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi — apparently blamed by Washington for ending an elected Muslim Brotherhood presidency, even though president Mohammed Morsi would likely have ensured no further elections — is pushing Egypt ever closer to Russia. And now ties with the region’s only democracy are fraying.
Some in the administration appear to labor under the delusion that if only Benjamin Netanyahu — described by some US officials in Thursday’s Wall Street Journal as “reckless and untrustworthy” — could be weakened and eased aside, Israelis might elect a leadership more inclined to follow its thinking and consider territorial compromise in the cause of a rejuvenated peace process with the Palestinians. The fact is, of course, that an Israel attempting to de-fang Hamas, concerned at the possibility of rising tensions in the West Bank, aware that Hezbollah in Lebanon is many times more powerful than Hamas is, and watching Iran working to outwit the West on its route to nuclear weapons, is as likely to veer left as Hamas is to voluntarily disarm. Far from being the most obdurate prime minister, Netanyahu is the most moderate that Israel can be expected to choose in the foreseeable future.
It is frankly astounding to the overwhelming majority of Israelis that Israel is being blamed for and pressured to end a war it manifestly sought to avoid — against a terrorist-government sworn to its destruction that repeatedly breaches the ceasefire efforts Israel consistently accepts. That the conflict is widely misrepresented, and that hostile governments are critical, is bad enough for Israel. Far, far graver is that key allies, to one degree or another, are turning upon it.
Rather than criticizing Israel for seeking to protect its civilians from Hamas, and moving now to limit its capacity to do so, the US, UK and the rest of the international community should be emphatically backing Israel in its struggle against the cynical Hamas — for the sake, too, of the civilians of Gaza. They should be insisting that Hamas disarm. And they should be making clear that they share Israel’s and Egypt’s concern that lifting the blockade is not tenable so long as any easing of restrictions would be exploited by Hamas.
From Hamas’s point of view, it must be a source of immense delight to witness the strains, and practical fallout, in the relationship between Washington and Jerusalem. It wins an election in which the US insisted it be allowed to take part, even though it has never renounced terrorism. It murders its way to control of Gaza. It diverts Gaza’s resources to turn the Strip into one great big terrorist bunker. It hits Israel, over and over and over again. It intimidates international journalists to not report on and film its attack methods. And the international community condemns Israel, the UN sets up inquiries into Israeli war crimes, and Israel’s allies limit its arms supplies.
All it needs to do, Hamas can only conclude, is keep firing at Israel’s towns and villages, forcing Israel to respond, confident that this will bring still more criticism down on Israel as well as growing restrictions on Israel’s ability to defend itself. Wow, the Hamas leaders must be thinking, the free world is just so dumb.
And they would be right.
Who’s left, besides Australia and Canada, to side with Israel after its abandonment by Britain and the US? I’m not even counting the UN who, as far as I’m concerned is an active participant and ally of Hamas.
The nausea and depression pile up.