The week has barely started but I think it is safe to announce the candidates for this week’s Chutzpah of the Week Award. (No, this is not a regular occurrence on this blog even though the daily news provides us with plenty of material).
First up for the Award is Vladimir Putin, President-for-life (at least for the moment) of Russia, who announced last week that they have lifted the ban on selling S-300 anti-aircraft missiles to Iran.
Any delivery of an air-defense system would complicate airstrikes on Iranian nuclear facilities by Israel or the U.S. should the diplomatic track fail.
Iran thinks that Russia will deliver the missile system this year, Ali Shamkhani, secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, told the Interfax news agency in Moscow on Tuesday.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the defensive systems didn’t come under the U.N. arms embargo, and that Russia implemented the S-300 ban voluntarily. “This was done in the spirit of good will to stimulate progress in the negotiations,” he said, adding that it was no longer necessary.
The White House professed themselves shocked! Shocked I tells you! that the Russians managed to restrain themselves for so long.
President Barack Obama said on Friday that he was “surprised” that Russia had waited as long as it did to seal a deal to sell missile defense systems to Iran, given the tensions between Russia and the United States, Reuters reported.
Obama said on Friday that the sale was initially set to occur in 2009, but Russia put it on hold at the United States’ request. Putin said on Thursday the sale was resumed because of progress in nuclear talks with Iran.
Responding on Thursday to the S-300 sale, the top United States military officer, Martin Dempsey, said it will not affect America’s ability to strike at Tehran’s nuclear facilities if necessary.
“We’ve known about the potential for that system to be sold to Iran for several years and have accounted for it in all of our plans,” Dempsey told a news conference.
The Russians managed to put even the White House to shame in their use of weasel words to justify the sale, overriding Israel’s objections:
Russian president Vladimir Putin has said he believes that lifting the ban could encourage Iran to finalize a nuclear deal with the six world powers by the end of June. He has reassured Israel that the S-300 does not endanger the Jewish state.
Sure, the missiles themselves don’t endanger Israel, but the nuclear missiles that those S-300s are protecting certainly DO endanger the Jewish state! How easy it is to twist words into meaning whatever you want them to mean, just like Humpty Dumpty.
But maybe Putin’s perfidy wasn’t so unexpected, since Russia has always liked to play both sides against the middle, anything to prop up the faltering ruble and the sinking Russian economy.
What was shocking though, even to seasoned Israeli analysts, was the equanimity with which Obama reacted to the news of the Russian missile sale:
Israeli analysts expressed shock and amazement Friday night at US President Barack Obama’s stated openness to Iran’s demand for the immediate lifting of all economic sanctions, and his defense of Russia’s agreement to supply a sophisticated air defense system to Iran.
There was no immediate official Israeli response to the president’s comments, which were made after the start of Shabbat in Israel, when politicians generally do not work.
“Jaws dropped” around the studio, said the Channel 10 News diplomatic commentator Ben Caspit, as news broke of Obama’s declared empathy for Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to supply Tehran with the S-300 missile defense system.
“Obama is something else,” Caspit added. “He’s decided to take America out of the wars…”
The station’s news anchor, Alon Ben David, chipped in, “He’s amazed that the Russians honored an agreement with him [for this long]? That’s what is astonishing.”
Responded Caspit, “This is the new America. We had better get used to it.”
I would remind readers that Israel’s Channel 10 is not exactly known for its right-wing views (to understate madly), which makes this criticism all the more noteworthy.
Adding to the general insanity of Obama’s reaction is the fact Iran marked its Army Day with calls of “Death to America”. You’d think they’d show more gratitude to the man who has effectively set them on the road to nuclear freedom. And let’s not even think about their calls of “Death to Israel”. That was a “non-negotiable” point for Iran, and the US let them get away with it.
Just a couple of days following the stunning announcement of the missile sale, Putin warned Israel not to dare sell arms to Ukraine, because, you know, what’s sauce for the goose is most definitely not kosher for the gander.
Russian President Vladmir Putin warned Israel Saturday against a “counterproductive” sale of weapons to Ukraine, in response to his own divisive decision to supply the advanced S-300 surface-to-air missile system to Iran.
“It’s the Israeli leadership’s choice,” the Russian leader said. “It’s their right to do what they think is appropriate.” But, he warned on Russian state-run media, “It will only lead to another round of conflicts, to a rise in the number of victims — and the outcome will be the same.”
Putin defended his decision to sell the system to the Iranians, saying Russia’s 2010 ban against it was voluntary and not connected to other sanctions against the Islamic Republic.
US officials say the sale is more a sign of Russia’s economic woes and less a desire to cause controversy in the West.
Russia has found itself under a mounting series of sanctions from the West since it annexed Crimea last March and was then accused of supporting militants fighting Kiev’s forces in eastern Ukraine.
“It actually does indicate that Russia’s willingness to engage in a controversial transaction like this one is an indication of how weakened their economy has become,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Thursday.
“It isn’t a particular surprise that Russia may be pretty desperate to generate some income,” Earnest told reporters.
So that’s all right then… I’m sure that’s going to reassure Israeli citizens as they see the Iranian nuclear weapons program being protected by Russian missiles.
The next candidate for the Chutzpah of the Week Award goes to the ICC who is refusing to investigate ISIS for war crimes:
As Shimon Samuels of the Simon Wiesenthal Center says, it is a betrayal of the Nuremberg Tribunal:
Coming in the context of this 70th Yom HaShoah, the statement by Fatou Bensouda, the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC): “…I have come to the conclusion that the jurisdictional basis for opening a preliminary examination into this situation [the crimes of ISIS] is too narrow at this stage” — is a betrayal of the ICC’s original aspiration to follow the historic example of the 1945-46 Nuremberg Tribunal.
The politicization of the ICC has added to the emptiness of the “Never Again” catch-phrase, compounded by the “ever again” fear of the “G-word” (Genocide) political and financial repercussions.
The insult is doubly insulting since the Palestinians, those bastions of progressive liberalism, officially joined the ICC on 1st April specifically in order to sue Israel for war crimes. What’s the betting that the ICC will exonerate ISIS and find Israel guilty?