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No peace plan and lots of photo-ops: White House sets low expectations for Obama visit to Middle East

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Obama and Netanyahu
President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu at a May 2011 meeting.

The White House is setting low expectations for President Barack Obama’s visit to the Middle East next week, with no new peace initiative planned for when he touches down in the region. Instead, the visit will focus on symbolic events and diplomatic meetings with the leaders of Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority (PA) that touch on a wide range of issues. The emphasis of Obama’s trip will also be on speaking directly to Israelis, particularly Israeli youth.

“We’ve been very clear that this visit is not about trying to lay down a new initiative,” said Ben Rhodes, the top Obama communications aide on national security, in a conference call with reporters yesterday afternoon. “There’s value in traveling precisely at a time when there is a new government in Israel and a new government in the United States and just having a broad strategic conversation.” Rhodes did say that the U.S. still wanted a two-state solution.

During the call, Rhodes confirmed many details that had been previously reported on Obama’s trip. He emphasized that the president is prepared to discuss a broad agenda in his short, three and a half-day trip to the region, including the situation in Syria, Jordan, the peace process and Iran.

The president will arrive in Israel next Wednesday, where he will take part in discussions with Israeli President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who recently convened a government that, as Haaretz writer Barak Ravid noted, will “be filled by settlers and their supporters.” Obama will also partake in events like the viewing of an Iron Dome battery, laying a wreath at the tombs of Theodor Herzl and Yitzhak Rabin and visiting Yad Vashem and the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. The viewing of the Iron Dome system, which is funded by the U.S. and has been hailed as key to Israeli security, comes after reports have emerged that the the system may not be all that its cracked up to be.

“We felt like this was an important opportunity for the President to go to the region,” said Rhodes. “In Israel, we felt that with a new Israeli government coming into place and a new U.S. term here, this is an important opportunity for the President to consult with the Israeli government on the broad range of issues where we cooperate.” Rhodes said that Obama has spent more time with Netanyahu than any other leader since Obama took office. Left unspoken on the call were any mention of illegal West Bank settlements and the blockade of Gaza.

U.S. Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro was also on the call, and he spoke of the “excitement” Israelis were feeling about Obama’s “historic” trip. The trip is a “manifestation of the close, enduring and warm ties between our two democracies, countries that share common interests and common values. And it’s a reaffirmation of our commitments to each other, including the United States’ strong, really unbreakable commitment to Israel’s security,” said Shapiro.

Tellingly, Rhodes said that the president would visit the Israel Museum to see the Dead Sea Scrolls, which, he said, “are a testament, of course, to the ancient Jewish connection to Israel.” That comment was a nod to Jewish leaders, who in a meeting about the upcoming trip urged Obama to say that Jews had Biblical connections to the land. Obama had miffed some Jewish leaders by implying in his Cairo speech that the Holocaust was a justification for the creation of Israel.

Also emphasized on the press call was America’s commitment to bolstering the Palestinian Authority, which has had to deal with increased Palestinian anger at the economic situation in the West Bank. “It’s a very important time for us to also reinforce U.S. support for the Palestinian Authority…Of course, the United States has made a significant investment in the Palestinian Authority.” According to the Congressional Research Service, the U.S. annually gives the PA $200 million in direct budgetary assistance and $100 million in “non-lethal” security assistance. The PA’s security forces have cracked down on armed resistance to Israel, as well as on dissent against their own rule.

While President Obama will meet with Prime Minister Salam Fayyad and a group of young Palestinians, Palestinian activists have already planned to protest Obama’s visit. The youth group Palestinians for Dignity has “rejected” Obama’s visit and has called for protests against “against the possible return to negotiations.”

“The visit aims to achieve three goals,” the Palestinians for Dignity group said in a press release. “First, to relieve the pressure off the Israeli government, which is suffering increased international isolation (albeit with words more than actions). Second, to restrain the frustration of the Palestinian street simmering in solidarity with Palestinian prisoners and finally, to prolong the expected lifetime of the PA, which after 20 years is becoming more and more disconnected from its people.”

The impact of the Arab Spring on Israel and the Iranian nuclear program were also topics that Rhodes touched on in response to questions from reporters. “In [Obama’s] speech in May 2011, he made his point that as governments in the region are more responsive to popular opinion, and the aspirations of their people, it’s going to change the broader political dynamic in the region,” said Rhodes. “It’s obviously a good thing that the people of the region are seeking to express themselves politically…Israel, as it makes peace, is going to have to recognize the broader role of public opinion in peacemaking.”

Rhodes also touched on what the Obama administration expected of Egypt. “We’ve been very clear with the Egyptian government, the democratically elected government in Egypt, that they need to uphold their responsibilities, including their international agreements, which obviously includes the peace treaty with Israel, and thus far they have done that.” Additionally, the Muslim Brotherhood-led Egyptian government recently cracked down on smuggling tunnels into Gaza that are a boon to the Hamas-run government. While the Egyptian leadership’s rhetoric may have changed on Israel/Palestine, the policy has remained largely the same, which is how the U.S. wants to keep it.

Rhodes also reaffirmed the administration’s commitment to stop Iran from getting a nuclear weapon and rejected the option of containment, though U.S. intelligence director James Clapper recently said that “we do not know if Iran will eventually decide to build nuclear weapons” and that the world would know if Iran did move to develop a weapon. Rhodes praised the current international sanctions on Iran, and said that while the U.S. wants to resolve the issue peacefully, “we will do what we must as a country to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon.”

Towards the end of the call, in response to a question, Rhodes said that Obama’s Cairo speech laid out a “framework that holds.” In that speech, Obama said that “the United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements…It is time for these settlements to stop.” But Rhodes did not mention the issue of settlements during the call–and gave no indication that illegal colonies in the West Bank would be an agenda topic for when Obama meets with Netanyahu.

Alex Kane

Alex Kane is a freelance journalist who focuses on Israel/Palestine and civil liberties. Follow him on Twitter @alexbkane.

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47 Responses

  1. Reds on March 15, 2013, 9:13 am

    The latest from NPR. If one ever wanted to see unbridled propaganda listen to Oren. Even after NPR reported the new government doesn’t rejects a two state solution and Likud and it’s P.M. had made this clear. Oren decides to twist things to unheard of levels while the ‘sic’ reporter blinding goes with everything he said. Some cases added on to the spin by giving leading questions.

    Just read what the listener had to say to get the basis of Oren comment.

    “Mr. Inskeep, why did you let that propagandist run all kinds of nonsense past you with nary a whimper? He claimed that Israel withdrew from Gaza “in the interest of peace” …and look how that turned out–so we can’t do that in the West Bank. No, Israel withdrew because occupying it was a huge expense and blockading it and turning the screws to the populace would eventually make even the most stubborn call it quits and become refugees in some other spot than Greater Israel. Clearly, the Ambassador’s agenda is not talks without preconditions–or any negotiating with any representatives of the beleaguered indigenous inhabitants. Oh and once again we hear about the horrendous raining of thousands of rockets. How about we talk about white phosphorus? 129 Israeli children killed vs 1516 Palestinian kids”

    “Peace won’t emerge from all this whilst each side indulges in trash talk. It’s the job of journalists to clamp down on the deceit meant to sway the American public that emanates from each side. So far, in that respect as in others, Israel has the upper hand, obviously.”

  2. Kathleen on March 15, 2013, 9:19 am

    Walt has mentioned “knocking some heads” clearly not going to happen.

    Alex “Left unspoken on the call were any mention of illegal West Bank settlements and the blockade of Gaza.” Think it is so important to put ILLEGAL in there when it comes to ILLEGAL West Bank Settlements. When I do that some say that it is redundant and that settlements imply ILLEGAL. Best to say it ILLEGAL.

    Awhile back Dr. Zbig said Obama needed to go bold in the first six months of the administration on this issue. Clearly Obama is not taking his advice. I guess the most we can expect is Obama repeating “the United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements…It is time for these settlements to stop.”

    This might be repeated as everyone can hear the illegal structures going up on illegal settlements, bulldozers knocking down Palestinians homes, knocking over their olive trees, segregated buses on segregated roads..THE CLEAR SOUNDS OF APARTHEID.

    Ok in my dreams. How would it be if Obama were to get on one of the Palestinian segregated buses on the West Bank. Ok in my dreams..pulling a Rosa Parks

  3. on March 15, 2013, 9:38 am

    I have to assume Obama already visited Yad Vashem on his previous trip to Israel. (He was, after all, running for president.)

    New exhibition?

    • Citizen on March 16, 2013, 7:16 am

      @ broadside
      Yes, Obama did visit Yad Vashem in 2008. But if any place is seen as always a must stop, that’s it. Any trip to Israel is always subject to heavy negotiations between US and Israel.

  4. K Renner on March 15, 2013, 9:45 am

    Barack Obama = Joke. On many different levels.

    At least it’s better than Mitt “There is no Palestinian culture” Romney.
    Although I would have liked to see his binder full of women.

  5. seafoid on March 15, 2013, 10:24 am

    “The trip is a “manifestation of the close, enduring and warm ties between our two democracies, countries that share common interests and common values. ”

    Mainly torture, warmongering, mass incarceration of unwanted minorities , a Jewish elite and intense institutional hatred of Muslims.

    “And it’s a reaffirmation of our commitments to each other, including the United States’ strong, really unbreakable commitment to Israel’s security,” said Shapiro.”

    Imagine a husband who felt the need to say “my wife loves me deeply and my marriage is unbreakable ” every time he spoke to someone. Nobody would buy it.

    • Sumud on March 16, 2013, 10:13 am

      Imagine a husband who felt the need to say “my wife loves me deeply and my marriage is unbreakable ” every time he spoke to someone. Nobody would buy it.

      LOL seafoid – I have often thought something along those lines whenever I hear about another ziobot politician go on about the “unbreakable” bond. It isn’t unbreakable at all, it is shallow and brittle, as we shall all see soon enough.

  6. seafoid on March 15, 2013, 10:29 am

    Maybe Obama is playing a long game with Netanyahu, like he is with the Republicans. Waiting for the demographics to come through. Noisting them on their own paranoid petard.

    Alternatively perhaps he’s just another bought politician.

    • NickJOCW on March 16, 2013, 1:17 pm

      Long game? I have always thought that. No way can they be reduced to sanity by force, in fact they would relish someone trying. They have to be left to destroy themselves, a process already well in hand and destined to advance concurrently with increasing ostracism. By the way, petard is etymologically derived from the French word for the noisy emission of intestinal gas.

  7. US Citizen on March 15, 2013, 11:24 am

    Geez I think Rhodes was a little confused there for a minute in talking about Egypt, er, was it Israel? Yea, he must have meant Israel when he said, “We’ve been very clear with the Israeli government, the democratically elected government in Israel, that they need to uphold their responsibilities, including their international agreements, which obviously includes the peace treaty with the Palestinians, and thus far they have not done that.”

    And if he didn’t mean that then he and the Obama administration are the blazing hypocrites they always were. Obama knows no shame.

  8. Brown-Eyed Girl on March 15, 2013, 12:11 pm

    “Tellingly, Rhodes said that the president would visit the Israel Museum to see the Dead Sea Scrolls, which, he said, “are a testament, of course, to the ancient Jewish connection to Israel.” That comment was a nod to Jewish leaders, who in a meeting about the upcoming trip urged Obama to say that Jews had Biblical connections to the land. Obama had miffed some Jewish leaders by implying in his Cairo speech that the Holocaust was a justification for the creation of Israel.”

    Comment 1: The idea that since Jews lived in Israel 1400-1600 years ago, they have a right to go colonize it today is ludicrous. Others lived in that land as well and more recently, why is the Jewish link more important to the people who were living there and using it in 1948. Alas, that is a rhetorical question. Of course God gave it to them. How can we–intelligent Americans–allow this foolishness to continue today. We think Muslims are crazy for wanting to live under ancient Sharia law in the 21st Century, how crazy is it that most Americans want international borders in the Middle East to jibe with the borders “God” drew. (Not that I actually believe that).

    Comment 2: Obama’s implication that the Nazi holocaust was justification for the creation of Israel. Why? The Palestinians did not do it; they did not send one Jew to a gas chamber. They were in Palestine trying to get the British and off their backs.
    It had always enraged me that Palestinians were made to pay the ultimate price for European antisemitism. Why weren’t they simply given a piece of Germany? Has any American ever had the courage to challenge that notion? To state that the displacement of the Palestinians is an injustice.

    Obama is only going on this trip because during the debate Romney kept hitting him for visiting the Middle East to speak to the Muslim world and not going to Israel. Remember he said it at least 3 times; when he also spoke about throwing Israel ” under the bus.” Oh, but only if we would. Obama’s trip is a show of weakness, a capitulation and everyone–except him, knows it. I can only hope the PA and leftist Israelis put on one hell of a loud, peaceful counter-demonstration that puts Obama and Netanyahu to shame. Show him the apartheid wall, show him segregated bus lines, show him the ghetto that is Gaza. Somehow, I doubt that will happen and I can only fear the coverage the main-stream media will give to this made-for-tv show.

    • Citizen on March 16, 2013, 7:23 am

      @ Brown-Eyed Girl

      The dead sea scrolls were discovered in the West Bank. Obama would not be visiting them in Israel but for Israel’s illegal retention of Palestinian land Israel took control of by military conquest in 1967.

  9. Citizen on March 15, 2013, 12:21 pm

    Looks like Obama’s trip’s goal is to shore up & gain more big Zionist donors for his party’s planned takeover of Congress next voting cycle. In accordance with such timing, the Obama official said Iran is more or less one year away from a nuclear bomb, if and when Iran decides to go for it.

    Obama’s rep said: There’s no substitute 4 explaining directly 2 Israeli people, face to face, his POV or thinking re US-Israel ties. What about US people? Don’t they deserve a face to face explaining on this subject too? via @WSJ

    This is a massive terrible joke on the American people. World War 3 hangs in the balance.

  10. ramzijaber on March 15, 2013, 12:32 pm

    Then why go there??? Photoshop would do the job better and with no expense to US taxpayers ;-)

  11. jimbowski on March 15, 2013, 12:56 pm

    Love that photo of Netan-yee-haw and Obama. I noticed Reuters has a story today that quotes Obama saying that Iran is “one year away” from a nuke. Never mind that Iran has been “one year” away from a nuke for the last 30 years. I predicted in 2006 that it wouldn’t be Cheney who bombs Iran, that it would be a Democratic president who does that. I predict my prediction comes true!

  12. Blank State on March 15, 2013, 1:36 pm

    Is this supposed to be a suprise? What, he was gonna go over there and bitch slap DC’s puppeteers? Yeah, right.

    Is Hagel going with him? If so, I wonder if the media will comment on his new leash, or just content themselves with a few shots of him groveling and crawling forth to kneel before Netanyahu’s, and pledge his undying love for the Jewish State??

    “The trip is a “manifestation of the close, enduring and warm ties between our two democracies, countries that share common interests and common values”

    Feels good sharing “values” with a racist bunch of murderers, child abusers, human rights violators, and land thieves, doesn’t it? Well, we both value our cluster bomb inventories, anyway, among other despicable policies, machinations, and morally reprehensible practices.

    “Common values”…indeed. Sadly, a truer parallel has never been made about our collusion with Israel.

  13. DICKERSON3870 on March 15, 2013, 1:38 pm

    RE: The trip is [according to Shapiro] a “manifestation of the close, enduring and warm ties between our two democracies, countries that share common interests and common values.”

    MY SNARK: Yes, common values like due-process-deficient targeted assassinations (even of U.S. citizens)! ! !

    SEE: “Obama’s kill list policy compels US support for Israeli attacks on Gaza”, By Glenn Greenwald,, 11/15/12
    The US was once part of the international consensus against extra-judicial assassinations. Now it is a leader in that tactic.

    [EXCERPTS] Israel’s escalating air attacks on Gaza follow the depressingly familiar pattern that shapes this conflict. Overwhelming Israeli force slaughters innocent Palestinians . . .
    . . . Meanwhile, most US media outlets are petrified of straying too far from pro-Israel orthodoxies. . .
    . . . Obama had no choice but to support these attacks, which were designed, in part, to extra-judicially assassinate Hamas military leader Ahmed al-Jabari as he was driving in his car. . .
    Extra-judicial assassination – accompanied by the wanton killing of whatever civilians happen to be near the target, often including children – is a staple of the Obama presidency. That lawless tactic is one of the US president’s favorite instruments for projecting force and killing whomever he decides should have their lives ended: all in total secrecy and with no due process or oversight. There is now a virtually complete convergence between US and Israeli aggression, making US criticism of Israel impossible not only for all the usual domestic political reasons, but also out of pure self-interest: for Obama to condemn Israel’s rogue behavior would be to condemn himself.
    It is vital to recognize that this is a new development. The position of the US government on extra-judicial assassinations long had been consistent with the consensus view of the international community: that it is a savage and lawless weapon to be condemned regardless of claims that it is directed at “terrorists”. From a 15 February 2001 Guardian article by Brian Whitaker on the targeted killing by Israel of one of Yasser Arafat’s bodyguards [emphasis added]:

    “International opprobrium was directed at Israel yesterday for its state-approved assassinations of suspected terrorists – a practice widely regarded as illegal. . .
    . . . “The United States, while also condemning Palestinian violence, made clear its disapproval of the assassinations. . .
    “State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said: ‘The use of Israeli helicopter gunships, Palestinian attacks against settlements and motorists, the use of mortars by Palestinians and the targeted killings by the Israeli Defence Force … are producing a new cycle of action or reaction which can become impossible to control. . .

    . . . As the Council on Foreign Relations documented in April of this year:

    “The United States adopted targeted killing as an essential tactic to pursue those responsible for the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. The Pentagon and the Central Intelligence Agency have employed the controversial practice with more frequency in recent years. . .

    In essence, what we find, yet again, is that the governments of the United States and Israel arrogate unto themselves the right to execute anyone they want, anywhere in the world, without any limitations, regardless of how many innocent civilians they kill in the process. . .


  14. VickiV on March 15, 2013, 1:49 pm
    • JennieS on March 15, 2013, 5:21 pm

      Thanks Vicki I did. Here are the final 2 paragraphs of Yossi Sarid’s article in Ha’aretz today on the same subject.

      A black man named Hussein showed up at the terminal and declared that he is a president, but our gatekeepers are experienced and have seen more than a few imposters in their time. Every African work migrant and infiltrator tells them stories, and the policy of the outgoing interior minister is still in force.

      After a brief interview it was determined that the individual had no idea why he was here or who was meeting him. If that were not enough, he refused to hand over a suspicious-looking black briefcase for inspection. He held onto it with all his might, as though the future of the world depended on it. So we had no choice; we called in the sapper robot, and that’s what happened.

  15. DICKERSON3870 on March 15, 2013, 1:55 pm

    RE: Rhodes said that the president would visit the Israel
    Museum to see the Dead Sea Scrolls, which, he said, “are a testament, of course, to the ancient Jewish connection to Israel.” That comment was a nod to Jewish leaders, who in a meeting about the upcoming trip urged Obama to say that Jews had Biblical connections to the land.
    ~ Alex Kane

    MY COMMENT: The Likudnik Revisionist Zionists desperately want everyone to acknowledge “the Jews’ 4,000-year connection” to their homeland* [Judea and Samaria (a/k/a the occupied West Bank)] so that it will legitimate Israel’s continued colonization and ultimate annexation of the West Bank.
    Consequently, the Likudniks were very upset by Obama’s having referred to the Holocaust, etc. as justifying Israel’s existence in his June 2009 Cairo speech.
    While the Holocaust, etc. might well justify the existence of Israel, the Eretz Israel crowd fears that the international community might not see the Holocaust as necessarily justifying Israel’s absorption of “Judea and Samaria”[a/k/a the “disputed” West Bank (f/k/a the occupied West Bank)] . To remedy this, the Likudniks/settlers want the “Biblical narrative” used to justify Israel’s existence because they see it as being more specific to “Judea and Samaria” (i.e. the occupied West Bank)
    By referring to Israel as the ‘historic homeland’ of ‘the Jewish people’ in his 2010 speech to the U.N. General Assembly, Obama has – for the settlers in the West Bank and their supporters – acknowledged that “Judea and Samaria” (i.e. the occupied West Bank) is/are a legitimate part of Israel. That was probably the final nail in the coffin of the two-state solution. Of course, the two-state solution had long been in an advanced state of Rigor mortis, so a proper Christian burial was probably in order.
    Obama is a Christian, right? I can never keep that straight.

    • DICKERSON3870 on March 15, 2013, 2:05 pm

      P.S. ALSO SEE: “New Study Shows Yeshiva University Researcher, Others Appear To Have Cooked The Genetic Books To ‘Prove’ Middle Eastern Origin Of The Jewish People When One May Not Really Exist”, by Shmarya Rosenberg,, 12/29/12

      “My research refutes 40 years of genetic studies, all of which have assumed that the Jews constitute a group that is genetically isolated from other nations,” Dr. Eran Elhaik says.
      That’s because Jews were never genetically isolated
      , making those other studies fatally flawed and very often contradictory.
      Now Elhaik, in a study that is being called more profound than all of those that came before his combined, has exposed that fatal flaw and is the first to propose a viable way resolve those contradictions, Ha’aretz reports.
      The answer to the origin of the Jewish people Elhaik found is startling – for most of us, our Jewish origins really do begin with the Khazars, the Medieval central Asian people whose ruling elite (and perhaps its merchant class, as well) converted to Judaism.
      The 32-year-old does his work at the School of Public Health of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland. His study was published earlier this month as, “The Missing Link of Jewish European Ancestry: Contrasting the Rhineland and the Khazarian Hypotheses”, in the prestigious journal, ‘Genome Biology and Evolution’, which is published by Oxford University Press. This study is based on a complete analysis of the comprehensive genetic data published in preceding studies.
      But in the absence of genetic data for the long-lost Khazars themselves, Elhaik uses a procedure often used by researchers in his field – he used data from populations that are genetically similar to the Khazars, including Georgians, Armenians and Caucasians, populations that Elhaik says have all come from the same genetic soup.
      When doing so Elhaik discovered what he calls the Khazar component of European Jewry.
      According to his study’s findings, the dominant element in the genetic makeup of European Jews is Khazar. Among Central European Jews, this makes up the largest part of their genome, 38%. For East European Jews it does the same, at 30%.
      Elhaik found that European Jews genome is mostly Western European.
      “[They are] primarily of Western European origin, which is rooted in the Roman Empire, and Middle Eastern origin, whose source is probably Mesopotamia
      [a name for the area of the Tigris–Euphrates river system, corresponding to modern-day Iraq, the northeastern section of Syria and to a lesser extent southeastern Turkey and smaller parts of southwestern Iran – J.L.D.], although it is possible that part of that component can be attributed to Israeli Jews,” he told Ha’aretz by phone from Maryland.
      That possibility is important because, if it turns out to be true, it could connect European Jews to Israel. However, even if it is true, that connection is only a tiny part of the overall genome, a percentage so small that it would reportedly not be statistically significant enough to show that the origin of the Jews is the Kingdom of Judah in the biblical Land of Israel. . . . .

      SOURCE –

      • James Canning on March 16, 2013, 4:34 pm

        Notions that a group of people can remain “genetically isolated” from other people living in the same area, ususally are spurious. Human nature, hormones, etc. see to a good deal of mixing.

      • James Canning on March 16, 2013, 4:36 pm

        Khazar empire included many areas with populations that today share a common descent, to a degree.
        Culturally, one is hard put to distinguish between Armenians and Georgians, a millenium or so ago.

      • on March 16, 2013, 8:24 pm

        “The invention of the Jewish people”

        by Jamal Kanj

        The Invention of the Jewish People was a book written by Shlomo Sand, an Israeli professor of history at the University of Tel Aviv. The author wasn’t probing a belief system, but Zionist fabrications of a spurious common lineage for people of the Jewish faith.

        Sand argues the implausibility of Jews having a common ethnic identity as Judaism was originally, like Christianity and later Islam, a “proselytising religion”. The notion of Judaism as a “race”, rather than a religion of various races, is incompatible.

        The results of a recently published study by Israeli-American geneticist Dr. Eran Israeli Elhaik at John Hopkins University have scientifically and genetically validated Sand’s research.

        The idea of a “nation race” was progressively developed and reinforced over centuries of segregated Jewish communities in Europe. With the rise of German nationalism in the 19th century, Jewish historian Heinrich Graetz “retrospectively” crafted a discrete identity for the ghettoised people – mapping their origin to an old kingdom and wandering exiles.

        The exile tales transpired from a Christian myth of “divine punishment” imposed on Jews for rejecting the new religion. The parable was likely to have originated from the Old Testament story of Jews wandering the desert for disobeying God and worshipping the golden calf.

        Christians propagated the concept of exile to lure “disobeying” Jews to a new religion, becoming their saviour from another eternal banishment. Modern political Zionism, which otherwise rejects the Christian Bible, adopted the untested story of “Jewish exile” to establish mythical linkage between European Jews and the Middle East.

        But Jewish history tells us that Romans did not expel the original Jews from Palestine when they crushed the Simon bar Kokhba revolt in 136 AD, instead barring them only from city of Jerusalem – and even then they were allowed to visit it during Tisha B’Bv, the annual fast day on the ninth day of the month of Av in the Hebrew calendar.

        Followers of the first monotheistic religion continued to have a presence in Palestine hundreds of years after the waning of the Roman Empire. The last recorded history of an autonomous Jewish entity was under the tutelage of the Persian Empire in 614 AD, before it was dismantled by Byzantine forces in 625 AD. A little over 10 years later Palestine was conquered by the Muslims and became part of the new Arab and Muslim nation.

        Under Christianity and during the Roman Empire, a large number of native Jews converted to Christianity and – with the advent of Islam – most adopted the new religion and assimilated under the new power. In addition to the descendants of the Canaanites, the original denizens before patriarch Abraham’s arrival from Mesopotamia, Sand concludes that today’s Muslim and Christian Palestinians are actually the true progenies of the original Jews.

        So if there was no exile, where did European Jews come from? Sand suggested that most of today’s Jews did not originate from the Middle East. He argues that the Ashkenazi (European) Jewish ancestry can be traced back to the Caucasus region.

        In the 8th century, the Khazar’s subjects and subordinate tribes experienced the largest religious conversion in the history of Judaism.
        The recent study by John Hopkins geneticist Dr. Elhaik confirmed that the common genome structure of the Ashkenazi (European) Jew gravitated towards an origin in old Khazaria. “The majority of Jews do not have Middle Eastern genetic component,” he told Israeli newspaper Haaretz.

        Founded on a mélange of myths and manufactured historical tales, Israel has failed the archaeological test of time and is now exposed by DNA science.

        Today’s genetics prove unequivocally that in 1948, “the children of the original Jews” were replaced by 8th century converts with no roots in the Middle East.

        * Jamal Kanj ( is the author of “Children of Catastrophe,” Journey from a Palestinian Refugee Camp to America. A version of this article was first published by the Gulf Daily News newspaper.!+Mail

      • James Canning on March 17, 2013, 1:19 pm

        Fascinating post. The 19th century in Europe saw many Romantic notions of the “history” of one group or another, achieve creative enhancments in one way or another.
        The numerous peoples of the Caucasus afford endless study opportunities regarding the ebb and flow of culture and religion, and notions of origin of one group or another.

  16. Denis on March 15, 2013, 2:37 pm

    Alex, today (Mar15) Steve Inskeep interviewed Michael Oren on the Obama trip. I missed most of it but caught this final exchange, paraphrased here:

    Oren: Israel is ready to make some really hard decisions to bring peace with the Palestinians and achieve a 2-state solution.

    Inskeep: You mean like taking down the settlements in the West Bank?

    Oren: Whoa, dude. Let’s not get psychotic. After all, we wouldn’t want anyone to lose their home, would we?

    Inskeep: WtF you talking about, “nobody losing their home?” How many Palestinians have lost their homes, their livelihoods, and their lives since 1948???

    OK, Inskeep didn’t really say the last bit. The NPR drones are all on the same page w/ Israel. He just let Oren’s vomitus about nobody losing homes go. Not even a snicker. But at least Inskeep really did raise the settlement question.

    Here’s the 5 min interview:

    18 comments as of this writing – overwhelmingly taking Inskeep to task. Only 1 comment deigns to defend Oren or the interview. When will NPR get it – they are pissing off their grass-roots donation pool. Maybe the Pew Foundation or some other deep-pocket donor calls these shots.

    • JennieS on March 15, 2013, 6:04 pm

      Nice paraphrasing there Denis but of course Inskeep didn’t say that last bit as ‘everybody’ knows Palestinians do not exist and nonexistent people cannot lose anything. I have to assume that NPR feels that they can afford to ignore the tone of most of the commentators because they have been reading the same poll as Ha’aretz has under the headline “On the eve of Obama visit, US public’s support for Israel reaches all time high”

    • Citizen on March 16, 2013, 7:50 am

      @ Denis
      Thanks for sharing the NPR interview. I read those comments beneath the radio transcript–I wonder if NPR even reads comments. It’s been an hasbara arm for ages now.

    • Reds on March 16, 2013, 12:02 pm

      Check NPR donors list and you see whoses giving them funding…oh wait I guess if you check before 08 you can see whoses giving NPR corporate funding because after than they refused to show how much they get from It’s corporate donors. Heck it’s donors list is 3+ years old. In which it’s 10 list was just released a few months ago.

      Many of it’s member stations do get funding from the “Jewish World Services” and after JWS was taken to task by p\Pro-Israeli groups for not being partisan enough it got in line and just so happen many of NPR’s member stations now often refuse to have Palestinian guest on it’s shows instead using ‘sic’ experts from WINEP or Saban instead to ‘sic’ give the view of Palestinians vs ‘sic’ experts from AEI and the likes.

      I know people have repeatedly ask NPR why it’s stop listing how much it’s donors/corporate donors give it and have received silence in return.

  17. ToivoS on March 15, 2013, 5:07 pm

    This is good news. No more “peace process”. That entire process has been a cover for Israeli expansion into the WB. Now they will have to carry out their activities in the blazing light of day. Diplomatically, each move will allow the rest of the world to repeat their foreign policy statements criticizing Israel. The real action has to be with BDS and hopefully with some some nations in the EU imposing sanctions.

    We have all seen that Obama is powerless to force a change in Israeli behavior. But he is not powerless to do nothing. The next step will be to abstain in a UNSC vote.

  18. American on March 15, 2013, 5:16 pm

    Gallup is smelling fishier and fishier…evidently they are doing a poll every few weeks on the US public support for Israel…this is from last one from this past Friday, the second or third one I believe in the last month and a half.
    And Gallup included something really odd for a polling organization by coupling it to their own pronounce about Obama’s up coming trip ..’“Americans’ sympathy for Israel is at a high-water mark as President Obama travels there for what is being described as a ‘maintenance’ visit, not a high-stakes effort to restart the Palestinian-Israeli peace process.”
    Hmm…there is serious funny business going on with Gallup. I think we’re seeing a conversion to another zio organ in Gallup.

    “Americans’ sympathy for Israel is at a high-water mark as President Obama travels there for what is being described as a ‘maintenance’ visit, not a high-stakes effort to restart the Palestinian-Israeli peace process,” the Gallup survey concluded.

    According to a Gallup Poll released on Friday, American sympathies are lopsided in favor of Israel over the Palestinians, by a 64%-12% margin. Though sympathy for Israel is consistently over 60%, the last time it reached 64% was in 1991, during the Gulf War.

    • American on March 16, 2013, 3:12 pm

      P.S…on Gallup

      In trying to figure out what is going on with Gallup, it’s Editor in Chief popped up.
      Frank Newton has something going on with religion, whether it is connected in any way with Israel I haven’t been able to find or turn up his religious affiliation.
      But if you have a Editor at Gallup who is so personally into religion he has written several books on it’s value, travels making speeches on it and teamed up with Stuart Rothenberg (another reliog writer) to do an even more religiously encompassing one..AND….all the Gallup religion polls show result completely the opposite of all other polling org…AND…the exact opposite results that the US Census on Religion show…THEN…I’d say they can’t all be wrong and Gallup and Newton right. So I’d say if some Gallup polls are driven by their Editor’s personal agenda then chances are their other polls could be driven by the Editors agenda also.

      ”In 2013, the accuracy of Gallup polling on the question of religious faith has also been questioned.[13] In particular, the fact that Gallup editor-in-chief Frank Newport has an agenda in seeing religious faith in God as not declining, as he outlined in his book God Is Alive and Well: The Future of Religion in America,[14] is seen as likely indicating bias in Gallop polling intention. Gallup’s polling on the issue produced somewhat different results[15][16] than other studies on religious “nones,” including a 2012 study by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, which found that those who lack a religious affiliation or identity were a fast-growing demographic group in the U.S

      In hs book:
      Newport’s discussion on how the business community and government might tap into the strongly positive role that religion has on wellbeing. He is correct to note that business and government are quick to recommend that we stop smoking, start exercising more, eat a more healthy diet, and the like. Should they not be just as vociferous in offering incentives for employees to become more religious? I would take it further: If those of us who take our religion seriously are less likely to be a healthcare burden on others, should we not be rewarded in some way?

      4 Dec, 2012 16:00 CET
      By Frank Newport, Gallup Editor-in-Chief
      For more information, contact:
      Lauren Kannry
      202-715-3050 or [email protected]
      Washington, D.C. — December 4, 2012 — Popular books by the “New Atheists” dismiss religion as a delusional artifact of ancient superstitions. “However, millions of Americans’ religious beliefs and behaviors should not be tossed aside that quickly,” says Dr. Frank Newport, Gallup Editor-in-Chief and noted public opinion expert. “It is possible that religion will be more significant in years ahead, and we may be on the cusp of a religious renaissance.”
      In his new book, GOD IS ALIVE AND WELL (Gallup Press; Hardcover; December 4, 2012), Dr. Newport finds that religion is as powerful and influential as it’s ever been in America. “Whether or not God is a ‘delusion,’” says Newport, “religion has enormous personal and social consequences, particularly for those who are extremely religious.”
      The book is based on more than a million interviews Gallup has conducted since 2008. Dr. Newport analyzes this unparalleled and unprecedented database of information about Americans and their religions — revealing just how powerfully intertwined religion is with every aspect of society.
      Dr. Newport looks at religion in America through the lenses of age, gender, class, race, family status, geographic region, and more. He reveals that baby boomers are likely to become more religious as they age, discusses the growing trend toward “unbranded religion,” and highlights Americans’ migration to more culturally religious states.
      According to Newport, the votes of religious Americans may become the next major partisan battleground in American politics. “The Republican Party’s monopoly on the loyalty of religious white Protestants has given it a highly motivated core of voters. This has in turn had a profound effect on American politics. That could change,” says Newport. “The Democratic Party is increasingly aware of its weak positioning among religious Americans, and it knows it must ‘get religion’ to win votes in the future.”
      Dr. Newport also predicts that Americans will increasingly recognize the mounting evidence that religious people have higher wellbeing, better emotional health, and in some instances better physical health than those who are not religious. “Baby boomers will increasingly look for ways to maintain or expand their wellbeing and happiness in future years. They may increasingly seek out religion as part of that quest,” predicts Newport.
      America will likely become a more religious nation in the years ahead, albeit different than it is today. “The evidence in this book suggests that America could continue to blaze its own religious trail with religion changing, morphing, and transmuting itself into new but still vibrant forms,” says Newport.”

  19. Ecru on March 15, 2013, 5:27 pm

    Whilst Bush will probably go down in history as one of the USA’s worst Presidents, Obama will probably go down as its most pathetic.

  20. Blank State on March 15, 2013, 7:19 pm

    Well, well. So now our illustrious President, before a Jewish audience, declares that “Iran is a year from developing a nuclear weapon”.

    So, he simply lies, stating a premise he knows to be false, all to appease a foreign power. On what evidence does he make this claim? None exists, at least according to the IAEA and our own intelligence agencies, to my knowledge.

    Maybe RJL will clue us in. After all, apparently he and Obama read from the same script. Fiction. Written in Israel. Obama the Hasbarist. How nice.

    • MHughes976 on March 16, 2013, 1:00 pm

      Well, he’s a deep and clever man, though there’s something wrong with him. He didn’t,as far as I can see from the ABC report, use the typical alarmist ‘Iran is a year away from a nuke!!’ but the more evasive ‘Iran is more than a year or so away’, thus giving his Israeli television audience the impression that he speaks their language (language they have been spreading round the western world through sympathetic journalists and academics for a couple of decades) while not actually tying himself down. He’s not a complete fool and he knows that a war with Iran would be disastrous. He and Netanyahu dislike each other manifestly.

  21. on March 15, 2013, 7:41 pm

    I find this trip by Obama as an insult to the USA. The leaders of israel openly campaigned against him and now he is going to get another lecture on some sort of ancient history….

    Gotta wonder if Cantor gets to fly on Air Force One with Obama….so he will get the warm-up act before he gets full-monty….

    No country can stay standing when it allows one small group of people to control so much…and the control has gotten worse and worse and worse over the decades….

    the US congress does absolutely nothing for the people they represent….

    and cannot do enough for a foreign country and the people that support it

    simple sad

  22. dbroncos on March 16, 2013, 12:24 am

    Ben Rhodes:
    “Israel, as it makes peace, is going to have to recognize the broader role of public opinion in peacemaking.”

    A nod to the growing opposition to Zionism but of course Mr. Rhodes won’t even whisper its name, neither will the peace prize winner.

    • flyod on March 16, 2013, 7:52 am

      rhodes is another liberal zionist, interventionist, con artist. why else would he be featured in today’s ny times? an up and coming dennis ross

    • Reds on March 16, 2013, 12:27 pm

      I called it years ago.

      As the outcry against Zionism rises so will the deep disdain,hatred and near frantic behavior by such “peace loving Zionist” supporters of Israel. I recently found out that the State Department actually has someone that goes around and reports and roots out antisemitism. One of the big ones is comparing Israel to other bad actors or singling out it’s behavior without first going on a tired list of what other countries do. Amazing enough this isn’t done for any other country in the world and if someone were to say be talking about China one wouldn’t have to list off human rights abuses in Israel or be consider hating all Asians.

      By this “special envoy” standards pointing out the brazen power of AIPAC is antisemitic, pointing out the unfair coverage in favor of Israel is antisemitic.

      To top it all off this guy gets paid with our tax money to go on witch hunts.

      Under Michael Kozak

      it doesn’t stop there. Another such monitoring group was created by Gregg Rickman( Deputy Director, Policy and Government Affairs at AIPAC,
      Director of Congressional Affairs Republican Jewish Coalition) until 09 in which Hannah Rosenthal(former head of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs) replaced him

  23. clubroma on March 16, 2013, 5:25 am

    One of the things that encourages me when I read this blog is the number of American posts that are waking up to the State of Isreal. Unfortunately, I think its a bit too late and too muted. You can’t just voice your frustrations on a blog, you have to get out there and protest outside the Isreali Embassy and the media organisations that support the State of Isreal. Of course, you will be branded ‘anti-sematic’, which is in fact a perfect example of how well the American public has been indoctrinated.
    How can American diplomats travel around the world and preach about freedom , democracy and human rights when it is the major supporter of the State of Isreal. Your a JOKE!!! Your no longer the ‘shinning light on the hill’. Isreal has dragged the United States into a moral and financial abyss which you can’t get out of. You’ve been masssively sucked in!!!
    I’d like to take this opportunitey to inform the American public, that not only will you pay for the war with Iran, more Americans will die directly/indirectly than Isreali’s in the course of this conflict. Its a sad story, can you do anything to change the final chapter?

    • annie on March 16, 2013, 1:26 pm

      I read this blog is the number of American posts that are waking up to the State of Isreal.

      actually most of the pro palestinian voices here have been awake for awhile, there are not that many newbies here.

      Your a JOKE!!! Your no longer the ‘shinning light on the hill’. Isreal has dragged the United States into a moral and financial abyss which you can’t get out of. You’ve been masssively sucked in!!!
      I’d like to take this opportunitey to inform the American public, that not only will you pay for the war with Iran, more Americans will die directly/indirectly than Isreali’s in the course of this conflict. Its a sad story, can you do anything to change the final chapter?

      probably about as much as you.

  24. HarryLaw on March 16, 2013, 8:34 am

    On Obama’s plan to see the Dead Sea Scrolls, he should be reminded that these artifacts are Palestinian property and should not have been moved, to do so is a serious breach on International Law see “Palestinian legal options concerning the Dead Sea Scrolls ” Al jazeera here…

    • Woody Tanaka on March 16, 2013, 10:31 am

      Exactly. This is just another example of the Israelis acting as cultural thieves, stealing other people’s property.

  25. James Canning on March 16, 2013, 4:30 pm

    Yes, many Jews did, and do, have a genetic connections with the people who lived in Palestine 2000 years ago, as do many Palestinians too.

  26. on March 16, 2013, 8:12 pm

    Low expectations should be Obama’s middle name. Barack Low Expectations Obama. It has a nice ring to it. And not just on the issue of Isreal and Palestine but on everything else that has to do with fairness and justice, right and wrong.

    • James Canning on March 17, 2013, 1:13 pm

      MK_Ultra – – Obama appears to be doing rather well with Burma (Myanmar). Are you following events in that country?

  27. NickJOCW on March 17, 2013, 10:10 am

    Obama had miffed some Jewish leaders by implying in his Cairo speech that the Holocaust was a justification for the creation of Israel.

    Well, it was and it wasn’t. There was a bunch of Jews whose names I don’t recall, one was self-consciously simple and rode around on a bicycle while others were rich and owned things, who so pestered the post-war administration in the UK, and possibly the US as well, that the solution was finally adopted to achieve a bit of peace and quiet as much as for any other reason. I was growing up in a literate environment and the concept of the holocaust simply didn’t exist, we were shocked by concentration camps but not more so than by the devastation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the bombing of London, the destruction of Cologne and Chichester; the whole thing had been a nightmare in which no one had not lost at least one relative. The primary hope was that no such mad event would ever happen again, which is where the origins of the EU lie. Most people slowly recovered during the 1950s and tried to put the whole thing behind them and by the 60s you could really feel a resurgent spirit rising from the ashes. As far as Israel was concerned we had hoped this bold experiment would lead to a new stage in human social life, an example to the world of how starting from scratch an ideal society could come about. That hope was, alas, like the seed that fell on stony ground and by the early 1970s it was dead. Now the Western world is like a sentimental family that tried to raise a cuddly lion cub.

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