TBR News September 23, 2012

Sep 23 2012

The Voice of the White House


            Washington, D.C., September 22, 2012: “To those in the know, the degree and extent that Israel has penetrated the higher levels of many important government agencies is amazing. It is redolent of the penetration by Josef Stalin’s people into the top levels of the Roosevelt administration and now, it has been discovered in the National Archives, instigated the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. At the present time, the Israeli foreign intelligence, the Mossad, has the closest relationship with the CIA and many of the mid-level personnel at Langley, and the new CIA base in Charlottesville, Virginia, are members of that organization. Like the Soviet spies of an earlier era, their aim is to protect and defend, not the United States but Israel. Once is was Moscow who got all America’s secrets and now it is Tel Aviv!”


The Mossad and the dead Ambassador

by Aaron L. Johnson


            On September 11, 2012, a group of extremist Libyan militia members stormed Benghazi’s US consulate on Tuesday night and killed U.S. Ambassador to Libya J. Christopher Stevens and four staff members.T

            The attack was purported to be the reaction in the Muslim world to an alleged US film satirizing the Prophet Mohammad. The movie in question is the two-hour-long crude and very amateur film titled “Innocence of Muslims”, which satirizes the life of the Prophet Mohammed.  The movie claims the prophet was a fraud and a philanderer who, among other sins, approved of, and practiced, sexually abusing children.

            The identical material was initially authored by one “Dr.” Phillip Kushner, then a part-time lecturer at the University of Texas at Austin and a full-timel employee of the Central Intelligence Agency. The University has courses in oil production that are heavily attended by Mid-Eastern students, hence the CIA interest.

            After his publication of the anti-Mohammad article (see below). Kushner fell afoul of the Muslim community and the CIA “relocated” him and he is now at one of their new facilities located at Charlottesville, Virginia. One of the CIA components is actively engaged, in cooperation with agents of the Israeli Mossad, in preparing material designed to inflame the militant Muslims and provoke them into attacking American interests, such as the murder of the Ambassador to Libya.

            When President Obama recently declined to attack Iran when visiting Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu virtually ordered him to launch an American bombing attack on Tehran in the sole interest of Israel, Bibi threatened to get even with him. He made these threats in the Israeli Embassy that has been thoroughly bugged by U.S. Army intelligence units.
            The independent film was allegedly produced and directed by one Sam Bacile, a 56 year-old Israeli-American real estate developer. According to Ynet, Bacile said he raised $5 million from about 100 Jewish donors, whom he declined to identify.
After being uploaded to YouTube, the film resulted in predictable violence among the more radical of the international Muslim community and sent its director, Israeli-American Sam Bacile, into hiding. Bacile later commented that Islam is a “cancer” that threatens Israel, and therefore needed to be exposed to the world.

            Although initially this crude incitement was stated to be Israeli-funded, later, a protective American media claimed that it was the work of two US-based Coptic Christians, based in Egypt.

“Sam Bacile’ turned out to be an Egyptian Jew, one Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, 55,who was arrested in June 2009 for his role in a check-kiting ring that stole nearly $800,000 from six financial institutions by using stolen Social Security numbers and identities. Nakoula was named in a six-count felony indictment accusing him and unnamed “co-schemers” of perpetrating the bank fraud.

            Nakoula has used the following aliases: Thomas J. Tanas, P.J. Tobacco, Ahmad Hamday, Kritbag Difrat, Amal Nada, Erwin Salamah, Daniel K. Caresman, Robert Bacily, and Nicola Bacili.

            Denied bail because of his Mid-Eastern family connections made him a flight risk,  Nakoula, a married father of three, was locked up at the Metropolitan Detention Center in L.A. when he began cooperating with Justice Department lawyers and federal agents. During a series of debriefing sessions, Nakoula provided investigators with a detailed account of the fraud operation and fingered the man who allegedly headed the operation, according to comments made by his lawyer at sentencing.
            Nakoula identified the ring’s leader as Eiad Salameh, a notorious fraudster who has been tracked for more than a decade by state and federal investigators. In his debriefings, Nakoula said he was recruited as a “runner” by Salameh, who pocketed the majority of money generated by the bank swindles, according to James Henderson, Nakoula’s attorney.
            As a result of Nakoula’s cooperation, Henderson told Judge Christina Snyder, “We all know what’s gonna happen. Salameh is gonna get arrested some day and based on the debriefing information turned over, he is gonna enter a guilty plea or if he doesn’t, then Mr. Nakoula is gonna be called on to testify at trial.”

Later investigation disclosed that Pastor Terry Jones of Gainesville, Fla., who burned Qurans on the ninth anniversary of 9/11, said he spoke with the movie’s director on the phone Wednesday and prayed for him.

            Jones, the Florida pastor, was not involved in production, only promotion. Last year he visited Los Angeles and tried to whip up Coptic attendance at a Qur’an-burning protest outside the Egyptian consulate, said Bishop Serapion, head of the Coptic diocese in southern California.

“He encouraged the Copts to attend, but very few did because we don’t believe in insulting other religions. We are against such things.”

Jones, who was accompanied by Sadik, the Washington-based Copt activist, blamed the bishop for the low turnout, he said. “In fact I didn’t need to tell people not to go, they knew not to go,” Serapion said. At the protest Jones read verses from the Qur’an and tore pages but did not burn it.

            Nakoula, who claims to be an Egyptian-American Coptic Christian, but is an Israeli members of whose family are currently engaged in espionage efforts against a growingly hostile Egyptian fovernment,has reportedly expressed fears of retaliation amid growing evidence that he is Sam Bacile, the pseudonym of the blasphemous video’s director and writer.

California police also visited a production company called Media for Christ, a Christian non-profit in Duarte, California, after it was identified as the one which obtained a film permit for the shoot.

            Nakoula commissioned Media for Christ to shoot the video at Blue Cloud studios in Santa Clarita, also known as Blue Cloud Movie Ranch, according to the Pasadena Star-News.

Cast and crew, recruited through a trade magazine, said in a statement on Wednesday they were told the film was set in Egypt 2,000 years ago and would be titled Desert Warriors.

It was shot quickly and cheaply with green screens. Post-production dubbing inserted insulting references to Islam and turned one character, Master George, into a murderous, sex-obsessed version of the prophet Muhammad.

            In the English language version of the trailer, direct references to Muhammad appear to be the result of post-production changes to the movie. Either actors aren’t seen when the name “Muhammad” is spoken in the overdubbed sound, or they appear to be mouthing something else as the name of the prophet is spoken

It had a budget of just $100,000, Jimmy Israel, a realtor linked to the production stated that Nakoula had briefly visited Isreal to raise funding for the movie and trailer The film was screened once earlier this year to a largely empty cinema in Hollywood.

A man who answered a phone listed for the Vine Theater, a faded Hollywood movie house, confirmed that the film had run for a least a day, and possibly longer, several months ago, arranged by a customer known as “Sam.”Not in question is the fact that in July a 13-minute video in English purporting to be a trailer for a full-length film was posted on YouTube under the pseudonym Sam Bacile.

            It was subsequently promoted by a Washington DC-based radical Coptic activist, Morris Sadik, and the Qur’an-burning Florida pastor Terry Jones. An Arabic-language version was posted on YouTube on September 4. Five days later it was being denounced by media and Muslim clerics in Egypt, prompting the assaults on US diplomatic missions in Cairo and Benghazi. Google Inc., which owns YouTube, pulled down the video in Egypt, citing a legal complaint. It was still accessible in the U.S. and other countries.




The Kushner Case: The Mohammad attack article



            Kushner is a strange person from almost any angle.
            He claimed, falsely, that he received a PhD from Stanford in Earth Sciences. He never attended Stanford and he does not have a PhD. He was a staff member at the University of Texas  (Austin) as a part-time lecturer since 1999.
            While at the Texas university, which hosts many Mid-Eastern oil industry students, Kushner became known for loudly attacking anyone who expressed negative attitudes towards Israel in the school paper and in a series of hysterical rants he posted on the university academic web site..
            Kushner is a fanatical Zionist and has said, in print, that he was going to “prevent a new Holocaust” which he is certain is being planned.
            He attacked his fellow-teachers in 2006 when they refused to sign a petition he circulated praising the IDF for killing civilians in Lebanon.

            He co-authored a bizarre article on Pearl Harbor intelligence, along with Mohan Srivastava and Thomas K. Kimmel in the August, 2009 issue of “Journal of Intelligence and National Security.” Kimmel, grandson of Admiral Kimmel of Pearl Harbor fame, retired from the FBI and, according to his personal website,  worked subsequently for the CIA. Kimmel, among other things, supports the thesis that the 911 attacks were part of a sinister plot. Srivastava, an Indian intelligence officer, was found to be working with Israeli Mossad technicians in Vancouver, Canada, on the development and use of the Stuxnet computer virus, used earlier to sabotage Iranian computers engaged in that country’s atomic energy programs.

            Kushner subsequently authored a long article in which he claimed that Mohammad was a pervert and child molester and sent this around to many websites. It was published by Cryptome and others, resulting in the quick disappearance of Kushner from the UoT staff and campus.
            There has been a very persistent rumor that Kushner was heavily involved with NAMBLA (North American Man-Boy Love Association) and when these allegation appeared in print, Kushner never refuted them.
            “Picture this: Illegible writing, incomprehensible speaking, suspenders, jean shorts with an iron on Tazmanian devil, and a fedora (not just any fedora… a dark purple velvet one with plaid and a skull and crossbones). My only saving grace for his stats class was that I took it in high school.”

            “Terrible professor, avoid him if at all possible. Completely disorganized, lazy, awful teacher. He expects you to figure out everything for yourself, does not respond to e-mail, and specifically tries to lower your grade. Grating personality, thinks he’s hilarious (he’s not). DO NOT TAKE HIM!”

             “Terrible professor. People who gave good rating were probably his favorites or good at math. Very unclear. Couldn’t even clarify my questions no matter how many different ways I asked. The grading was unfair. There was homework and spontaneous quizzes. Grading was unfair on all these. His explanations were shady and incomprehensible.”




The Strange Cult of Mohammad: The Coming Grand Expulsions

by Dr. Phillip L. Kushner

Head of Mathematics Department

University of Texas (Austin)


TBR News September 13, 2010


What is Islam? Who was Mohammad?

            Islam is a strictly monotheistic religion, articulated by the Qur’an, a text considered by its adherents to be the verbatim word of God and by the Prophet of Islam Muhammad‘s teachings.

Muslims believe that God is one and incomparable and that the purpose of life is to worship God They regard their religion as the completed and universal version of a primordial, monotheistic faith revealed at many times and places before, including, notably, to the prophets Abraham, Moses and Jesus. Islamic tradition holds that previous messages and revelations have been changed and distorted over time. Religious practices include the Five Pillars of Islam, which are five obligatory acts of worship. Islamic law touches on virtually every aspect of life and society, encompassing everything from banking and warfare to welfare and the environment.

The majority of Muslims belong to one of two denominations, the Sunni and the Shi’a. About 13% of Muslims live in Indonesia, the largest Muslim country.31% in the Indian Subcontinent, 20% in the Middle Eastand 15% in Sub-saharan Africa. Sizable communities are also found in China and Russia, and parts of the Caribbean. Converts and immigrant communities are found in almost every part of the world. With about 1.57 billion Muslims comprising about 23% of the world’s population (see Islam by country), Islam is the second-largest religion in the world and arguably the fastest-growing religion in the world.

            Islam’s fundamental theological concept is the belief that there is only one god. The Arabic term for God is Allah. Other non-Arabic nations might use different names, for instance in Turkey, the Turkish word for God, “Tanrı” is used as much as Allah. The first of the Five Pillars of Islam, declares that there is no god but God, and that Muhammad is God’s messenger. In traditional Islamic theology, God is beyond all comprehension; Muslims are not expected to visualize God but to worship and adore Him as the Protector. Muslims believe the purpose of life is to worship God. Although Muslims believe that Jesus was a prophet, they reject the Christian doctrine of the Trinity and divinity of Jesus, comparing it to polytheism. In Islamic theology, Jesus was just a man and not the son of God;

            Muhammad (c. 570 – June 8, 632) was a trader and camel-breeder and who later became  a religious, political, and military leader. Muslims now view him, not as the creator of a new religion, but as the restorer of the original, uncorrupted monotheistic faith of Adam, Abraham, Moses, Jesus and others. In Muslim tradition, Muhammad is viewed as the last and the greatest in a series of prophets—as the man closest to perfection, the possessor of all virtues. For the last 22 years of his life, in 610, beginning at age 40, Muhammad started receiving what he claimed were “revelations from God.” It now also appears that Muhammed suffered from some form of Alzheimer’s Disease and that his final days were given to long and senseless utterances that his supporters claimed were ‘revelations.’ The content of these revelations, known as the Qur’an, was memorized and recorded by his companions.

            During this time, Muhammad preached to the people of Mecca, imploring them to abandon polytheism. Although some converted to Islam, Muhammad and his followers were persecuted by the leading Meccan authorities. After 12 years of preaching, Muhammad and the Muslims performed the Hijra (“emigration”) to the city of Medina in 622. There, with the Medinan converts and the Meccan migrants Muhammad established his political and religious authority. Within years, two battles had been fought against Meccan forces: the Battle of Badr in 624, which was a Muslim victory, and the Battle of Uhud in 625, which ended inconclusively. Conflict with Medinan Jewish clans who opposed the Muslims led to their exile, enslavement or death, and the Jewish enclave of Khaybar was subdued. At the same time, Meccan trade routes were cut off as Muhammad brought surrounding desert tribes under his control. By 629 Muhammad was victorious in the nearly bloodless Conquest of Mecca, and by the time of his death in 632 (at the age of 62) he and his followers ruled over the Arabian peninsula.

            n 630 A.D. Mecca was re-taken followed by the battle of Hunain wherein the army under command of the Prophet, the non-Muslim tribes were defeated , and a large number of the enemy were killed but, under the Prophet’s order, no child was harmed. Often, after such a murderous battle, Muhammad had young children, both boys and girls, brought before him, had them stripped naked and then chose ones he wished to lie with.
            One day after battle, Muhammad came back home and said to his daughter Fatima, “Wash the blood from this sword and I swear in the name of Allah this sword was obeying me all the time.” .

            The number of military campaigns Muhammad led in person during the last ten years of his life is twenty-seven, in nine of which there was hard fighting.  The number of expeditions which he planned and sent out under other leaders is thirty-eight


Muhammad’s last speech to his followers on Mt Arafat:


            …..”I descended by Allah with the sword in my hand, and my wealth will come from the shadow of my sword.  And the one who will disagree with me will be humiliated and persecuted.”

  Muhammad told Abu Sufyan: “Woe to you! Accept Islam and testify that Muhammad is the apostle of God before your neck is cut off by the sword.” Thus he professed the faith of Islam and became a Muslim. This man, Abu Sufyan, was not a believer at first, but he quickly “believed” after he was threatened by death.’

             So, even before Muhammad pagans were worshipping this black stone in the Kaba.  Are we surprised that although Muhammad  proclaimed only one God, he continued to participate in idol worship at this pagan shrine (Kaba); and Muslims still do idol worship there today.  The black stone of Ka’aba is nothing but a holdover within Islam, from pre-Islamic paganism.

            There is evidence that black stones were commonly worshipped in the Arab world.  In 190 A.D. Clement of Alexandria mentioned that “the Arabs worship stone”.  He was alluding to the black stone of Dusares at Petra.  In the 2nd century, Maximus Tyrius wrote; “The Arabians pay homage to I know not what god, which they represent by a quadrangular stone”.  Maximus was speaking of the Kaaba (Ka’ba) that contains the Black Stone.

            Muhammad led 27 military campaigns against innocent villages and caravans and planned 38 others


 I am the prophet that laughs when killing my enemies. 


            Muhammad posed as an apostle of God, yet his life was filled with lustfulness (12 marriages and sex with many children, both male and female, slaves and concubines), rapes, warfare, conquests, and unmerciful butcheries.  The infinitely good, just and all holy God preached by Muhammad simply cannot tolerate anything in the least unjust or sinful.  What Muhammad produced in the Qur’an is simply a book of gibberish consisting of later evil verses superseding earlier peaceful verses. These verses in Arabic poetically “tickle” the ears of Arab listeners.    

Modern Islam is a caustic blend of paganism and twisted Bible stories.     

            Muhammad, its lone “prophet”, who made no prophecies, conceived his religion to satiate his lust for power, sex, and money. He was a terrorist. And if you think these conclusions are shocking, additional research will easily uncover the evidence mostly from Islamic historians 70% of what is here is from Muslim and ex-Muslim historians – back to the 8th century.

            Accordingly, after a degenerative disease of which the main symptom were headache, loss of memory, increasing skin eruptions and incontinence, he died in the arms of his favorite wife, Aysha, on Radiulawwal 11 A.H.633 A.D.

              After an objective and lengthy study of the life of Muhammad, the only rational conclusion is that Islam’s lone prophet was a ruthless terrorist, a mass-murderer, a thief, slave trader, rapist and aggressive pedophile.

            In his personal life, Muhammad had two great weaknesses. The first was greed. By looting caravans and Jewish settlements he had amassed fabulous wealth for himself, his family, and his tribe

            When we turn and look at the life of Muhammad we find that he clearly killed and robbed people in the name of Allah according to the Quran. He taught his disciples by example, command, and precept that they could and should kill and rob in Allah’s name and force people to submit to Islam.
            His next greatest weakness was women and young boys. Although in the Quran he would limit his followers to having four wives, he himself took more than four wives, numerous concubines and young boys and girls into his bed.
            The question of the number of women with whom Muhammad was sexually involved either as wives, concubines or devotees was made a point of contention by the Jews in Muhammad’s day.
            “All the commentaries agree that verse 57 of Sura 4 (on-Nesa) was sent down after the Jews criticized Mohammad’s appetite for women, alleging that he had nothing to do except to take wives”

            Since polygamy was practiced in the Old Testament by such patriarchs as Abraham, the mere fact that Muhammad had more than one wife is not sufficient in and of itself to discount his claim to prophethood. But this does negate the fact that the issue has historical in terms of trying to understand Muhammad as a man.
            It also poses a logical problem for Muslims. Because the Quran in Sura 4:3 forbids the taking of more than four wives, to have taken any more would have been sinful for Muhammad. He not only exceeded this fiat many times but also added young boys and girls to his harem in direct contravention of his own pronouncements.
            While in Islamic countries an eight or nine-year old girl can be given in marriage to an adult male, in the West, most people would shudder to think of an eight or nine-year old girl being given in marriage to anyone   

            This aspect of Muhammad’s personal life is something that many scholars pass over because they do not want to hurt the feelings of Muslims, or, more pragmatically, they do not want to experience a knife in the dark. Yet, history cannot be rewritten to avoid confronting the facts that Muhammad had unnatural desires for little girls and, even more reprehensible, little boys.
            The documentation for all the women in Muhammad’s harem is so vast and has been presented so many times by able scholars that only those who use circular reasoning can object to it.

            Though a forbidden subject, pedophilia and homosexual practices were an active part of Muhammad’s life. Today, homosexuality and pedophilia is a very strong part of Muslim life. Adherents of Islam believe that these activities are fully approved, not only by the writings in the Quran but also by the examples set during his lifetime by the Prophet Muhammad himself. His harem did indeed have many women but many of them were as young as nine and there were also a significant number of pre-pubescent boys among them

             In brief summation, the Prophet of the Muslim faith does not come off as a spiritual leader. He lied; he cheated; he lusted; he failed to keep his word, He was neither perfect nor sinless. By Western standards of the present time, Muhammad was a fraud, a common murderer, a lecher and a pedophile.

U.S. Is Preparing for a Long Siege of Arab Unrest


September 15, 2012

by Peter Baker and Mark Landler

New York Times


            WASHINGTON — After days of anti-American violence across the Muslim world, the White House is girding itself for an extended period of turmoil that will test the security of American diplomatic missions and President Obama’s ability to shape the forces of change in the Middle East.

            Although the tumult subsided Saturday, senior administration officials said they had concluded that the sometimes violent protests in Muslim countries may presage a period of sustained instability with unpredictable diplomatic and political consequences. While pressing Arab leaders to tamp down the unrest, Mr. Obama’s advisers say they may have to consider whether to scale back diplomatic activities in the region.

            The upheaval over an anti-Islam video has suddenly become Mr. Obama’s most serious foreign policy crisis of the election season, and a range of analysts say it presents questions about central tenets of his Middle East policy: Did he do enough during the Arab Spring to help the transition to democracy from autocracy? Has he drawn a hard enough line against Islamic extremists? Did his administration fail to address security concerns?

            These questions come at an inopportune time domestically as Mr. Obama enters the fall campaign with a small lead in polls. His policies escaped serious scrutiny in the initial days after the attack that killed four Americans in Libya last week, in part because of the furor over a statement by Mitt Romney accusing the president of sympathizing with the attackers. White House officials said they recognized that if not for Mr. Romney’s statement, they would have been the ones on the defensive.

            As of Saturday night, the worst of the crisis appeared to have passed, at least for now. The Egyptian government, responding to administration pressure, cracked down on protesters in Cairo on Saturday, and in Libya the government rounded up suspects in the violence that killed four Americans on Tuesday. Leaders in Saudi Arabia and Tunisia appealed for calm.

            Still, images from the past week of American flags being torn down and burned, an Islamic flag being raised and embassies being overrun by angry mobs introduce a volatile element into a re-election effort in which foreign policy has been a strength. Some critics and commentators were already evoking the images of the Iranian hostage crisis that doomed another presidency.

            “After Obama’s success in killing Osama bin Laden, in killing Qaddafi and in not blowing up Iraq, I think Obama and his aides figured, ‘We’ve got this box pretty well taken care of,’ ” said Michael Rubin, a Middle East scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and a former Bush administration official, referring to Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi of Libya.

            “Now that gets thrown up into the air,” he said. “Instead of Obama being the successful guy that got Bin Laden, we’re talking about Obama as the second coming of Jimmy Carter, and that’s not something the campaign wants to see.”

            Mr. Obama came to office vowing to recalibrate America’s relationship with the Muslim world after the Iraq war and gave a high-profile speech in Cairo outlining a new era of fraternity. Caught off guard by cascading revolutions in the Middle East, he eventually supported rebels who overthrew Egypt’s longtime president and ordered airstrikes that helped bring down Colonel Qaddafi, who was later killed.

            But his administration has struggled to find a balance between supporting democracy and guarding national interests in the region as authoritarian governments have been replaced by popular Islamist parties much less tied to Washington. To the extent that the United States supports greater democracy, it may not defuse anti-American rage in a region with no real history of popular rule, and with deep economic troubles. His citing of Libya as a model of transition now looks suspect, and the United States has been powerless to stop a bloody crackdown in Syria.

            Administration officials say they are acutely aware of the risks, and they worry that the violence could rage for a while, because with every new protest more people are exposed to the inflammatory American-made anti-Islam video that has fueled so much anger. Al Qaeda’s branch in Yemen on Saturday called for further attacks against American embassies.

            “The reality is the Middle East is going to be turbulent for the foreseeable future and beyond that,” said Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations and a former State Department official in the Bush administration. “It’s going to present the United States with any number of difficult choices. It’s also going to be frustrating, because in most instances our interests are likely to be greater than our influence.”

            Administration officials say the people in the streets are not the ones who won the elections, but those who lost, and that the new governments largely have condemned the violence. Mr. Obama’s outreach, they said, has improved the position of the United States in the Muslim world. “We have made significant inroads in demonstrating that the U.S. is not at war with Islam, and isolating Al Qaeda as an element within Islam,” said Benjamin J. Rhodes, a deputy national security adviser. “But it clearly remains the case that there are persistent challenges in parts of the Arab world. It’s been building up for a very long time.”

            The twin challenges of dealing with the crisis overseas and the politics of it at home overlap in complicated and uncomfortable ways. Just hours after mourning in the Rose Garden last Wednesday for American victims of a Libyan attack, Mr. Obama flew off to a Las Vegas campaign event. After meeting their flag-draped coffins at Joint Base Andrews on Friday, he headed to Democratic headquarters for campaign meetings and then to an evening fund-raiser.

In his weekly address on Saturday, Mr. Obama referred to American anxieties about the unrest. “I know the images on our televisions are disturbing,” he said. “But let us never forget that for every angry mob, there are millions who yearn for the freedom and dignity and hope that our flag represents.”

            During marathon meetings at the White House since the killings of American diplomatic officials in Benghazi, officials have tried to anticipate the next developments and contemplate a response. But they were surprised when an American-run school was ransacked in Tunisia, which they considered a successful transition.

            Even as more Marines are sent to diplomatic missions, and two Navy destroyers patrol nearby, Mr. Obama has reached out to leaders like Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, and aides asked YouTube to review its posting of the video.

            More broadly, the Obama team is confronting the very nature of America’s presence in the Middle East. With embassies already fortified after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, officials are asking whether they can be further secured or whether some activities need to be curtailed, like assistance and public diplomacy programs that leave Americans more exposed, though there are no plans at the moment to do so. The State Department said Saturday that it was evacuating all family members and nonessential personnel from embassies in Tunis and Khartoum.

            The trade-offs of such choices are stark. Pulling back on American involvement in these countries would undercut the ability to build cultural bridges that in theory diminish the sort of hostility now vividly on display. Yet officials said continuing with business as usual seemed untenable as well, and they recognize that foreign aid, already a tough sell in a rigid fiscal environment, may become even tougher to extract from Congress.

            At home, the challenge is political but no less daunting. Republicans have had a hard time putting up a fight on foreign policy but believe the uprisings provide a new opening. Mr. Romney characterizes Mr. Obama’s approach to the Arab Spring as naïve and apologetic, and his campaign has criticized the president as not being supportive enough of Israel.

            In recent days, Republican critics like former Vice President Dick Cheney have opened up a new line of attack by accusing Mr. Obama of not paying enough attention to intelligence briefings.  Mr. Obama receives the briefing in writing every day, but does not always sit down for an oral presentation, as President George W. Bush did. “The hubris of a president who believes he does not need to meet regularly with them is astounding,” Marc Thiessen, a former speechwriter for Mr. Bush, wrote in The Washington Post.

            The White House says the president receives plenty of briefings and meets repeatedly with security advisers. “The president’s record, when it comes to acting on — interpreting correctly and acting on — intelligence in the interest of the security of the United States is one that we are happy to have examined,” said Jay Carney, the White House press secretary.

            As for the broader debate, Mr. Obama’s defenders argue that the legacy of American support for Arab autocrats complicated the situation. “Obama did his best, in a very difficult situation, to get the United States on the right side of history,” said Martin S. Indyk, a former ambassador to Israel in the Clinton administration. “But we had a good 40 years of U.S. policy backing regimes that the people in the street overthrew.”

            Some analysts pointed to his failure to make progress between the Israelis and the Palestinians. “You didn’t have a track record to use with these Arab elites to say, ‘We’re doing the right things,’ ” said Daniel C. Kurtzer, a former ambassador to Egypt and Israel who teaches at Princeton.

            Over the last week, Mr. Rubin said, Mr. Obama suffered from an intelligence breakdown, much as Mr. Bush did before the Iraq war. “That’s not Obama’s fault,” he said, “but it’s going to make him look weak because he’s the one sitting in the Oval Office.”

            Netanyahu scolded and rebuked Obama for not sending American troops and spending American treasure to attack Iran because it is a potential rival or threat to Israel. Netanyahu is now openly backing Romney for president.

            A network of Evangelical broadcasters, publishers and schools churns out a steady stream of anti-Islamic fulminations. efforts by right wing ideologues to push the US into war against Iran. President Obama has so far stoutly refused to give in to war-mongering, no mean feat in an election year in which he is neck-a-neck with Romney



Battle in Benghazi as crowds attack militia blamed for US diplomat’s death


Angry protesters set fire to buildings at militia HQ but are met with machine-gun fire at second base


September 21, 2012

by Chris Stephen in Benghazi



The controversy over an anti-Islam film made in the US continued to fuel protests and extreme reactions in the Muslim world.

Scores of people were injured on Saturday in a clash in Bangladesh’s capital, Dhaka, between police and hundreds of demonstrators.

In Pakistan, where more than 20 people died on Friday in clashes with police in cities throughout the country, a cabinet minister offered a £60,000 reward for the death of the filmmaker.

The railways minister, Ghulam Ahmad Balor, said he would pay the reward out of his own pocket. He urged the Taliban and al-Qaida to perform the “sacred duty” of helping locate and kill the filmmaker.

The film Innocence of Muslims has sparked violent protests throughout the Muslim world that resulted in the deaths of dozens.

In Bangladesh, police fired teargas and used batons to disperse the stone-throwing protesters who burnt several vehicles.

Dozens of protesters were arrested at the demonstration and inside the nearby National Press Club, where participants took refuge, a Dhaka metropolitan police official said on condition of anonymity in line with police policy. Police and witnesses said scores of people were injured.

The clash erupted when authorities attempted to halt the demonstration, police said. Authorities have banned all protests near the city’s main Baitul Mokarram mosque since Friday, when more than 2,000 people marched and burned an effigy of the US president, Barack Obama.

The protesters announced a nationwide general strike on Sunday to protest against the police action.

In Pakistan, protests continued on Saturday, with more than 1,500 people, including women and children, rallying in the capital, Islamabad. The crowd was peaceful but angry over the film, which portrays the prophet Muhammad as a fraud, a womaniser and a child molester.

The protesters from the Minhaj-ul-Quran religious group marched through the streets then gathered near parliament, chanting slogans against the filmmaker and demanding stern punishment for him.

Thousands of people also protested on Saturday in Nigeria’s largest city, Kano. The crowd marched from a mosque to the palace of the emir of Kano, the region’s top spiritual leader for Muslims.

About 200 students in Srinagar, the main city in Indian-controlled Kashmir, chanted “Down with America” and “Long live Islam” in a peaceful protest. Some carried a placard that read: “There is no god but God and Muhammad is his messenger.”

Fierce fighting broke out on Friday night after crowds trying to storm the Benghazi base of a militia blamed for the death of US ambassador Chris Stevens came under fire.

Earlier in the evening protesters calling for an end to militia rule had stormed the headquarters of the Islamic Ansar al-Sharia brigade in the city, setting fire to buildings after pushing past guards who fired in the air.

But the protesters ran into a hail of fire when they moved south to storm a much larger secondary base of the militia, whose members are accused of the attack on the US consulate that left Stevens and three other diplomats dead.

Machine-gun fire burst out as the demonstrators tried to enter the compound, a former base of Muammar Gaddafi’s regime.

Later there was pandemonium as police and army vehicles jostled with civilian cars and ambulances trying to get the wounded through traffic to hospital.

Sirens, screams, car horns and the rattle of heavy machine-gun fire filled the air, with long bursts of fiery red tracer fired from inside the base going over the heads of panicked protesters.

Hours earlier, Benghazi had been quiet, its people toasting the peaceful end of a rally that saw 20,000 people gather in the city centre to demand an end to militia violence.

As the women and children left the rally, hundreds of young men stormed the Ansar al-Sharia base, and that of another city centre militia blamed for thuggery, meeting little resistance.

Live television pictures showed wounded men arriving in the city hospitals, some of the lesser wounded shouting Allahu Akbar – God is great.

A Guardian correspondent trying to approach the base was turned back by a bearded man in a long white coat traditionally worn on Friday, the day of prayer.

“You must go back, you must go back, foreigners are not safe,” he said.

The decision by the Ansar al-Sharia brigade to fight back rather than surrender its base has caused an immediate political crisis for Libya‘s head of state, Mohamed al-Magariaf, who has blamed the unit for involvement in the death of Stevens and linked it to al-Qaida.



The Waning of the Modern Ages: Time to Abolish the American Dream

September 20, 2012

by Morris Berman




La longue durée —the long run—was an expression made popular by the Annales School of French historians led by Fernand Braudel, who coined the phrase in 1958. The basic argument of this school is that the proper concern of historians should be the analysis of structures that lie at the base of contemporary events. Underneath short-term events such as individual cycles of economic boom and bust, said Braudel, we can discern the persistence of “old attitudes of thought and action, resistant frameworks dying hard, at times against all logic.” An important derivative of the Annales research is the work of the World Systems Analysis school, including Immanuel Wallerstein and Christopher Chase-Dunn, which similarly focuses on long-term structures: capitalism, in particular.

The “arc” of capitalism, according to this school, is about 600 years long, from 1500 to 2100. It is our particular (mis)fortune to be living through the beginning of the end, the disintegration of capitalism as a world system. It was mostly commercial capital in the sixteenth century, evolving into industrial capital in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and then moving on to financial capital—money created by money itself, and by speculation in currency—in the twentieth and twenty-first. In dialectical fashion, it will be the very success of the system that eventually does it in.

The last time a change of this magnitude occurred was during the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, during which time the medieval world began to come apart and be replaced by the modern one. In his classic study of the period, The Waning of the Middle Ages, the Dutch historian Johan Huizinga depicted the time as one of depression and cultural exhaustion—like our own age, not much fun to live through.  One reason for this is that the world is literally perched over an abyss. What lies ahead is largely unknown, and to have to hover over an abyss for a long time is, to put it colloquially, a bit of a drag. The same thing was true at the time of the collapse of the Roman Empire as well, on the ruins of which the feudal system slowly arose.

I was musing on these issues some time ago when I happened to run across a remarkable essay by Naomi Klein, the author of The Shock Doctrine. It was called “Capitalism vs. the Climate,” and was published last November in The Nation.  In what appears to be something of a radical shift for her, she chastises the Left for not understanding what the Right does correctly perceive: that the whole climate change debate is a serious threat to capitalism. The Left, she says, wants to soft-pedal the implications; it wants to say that environmental protection is compatible with economic growth, that it is not a threat to capital or labor. It wants to get everyone to buy a hybrid car, for example (which I have personally compared to diet cheesecake), or use more efficient light bulbs, or recycle, as if these things were adequate to the crisis at hand. But the Right is not fooled: it sees Green as a Trojan horse for Red, the attempt “to abolish capitalism and replace it with some kind of eco-socialism.” It believes—correctly—that the politics of global warming is inevitably an attack on the American Dream, on the whole capitalist structure. Thus Larry Bell, in Climate of Corruption, argues that environmental politics is essentially about “transforming the American way of life in the interests of global wealth distribution”; and British writer James Delinpole notes that “Modern environmentalism successfully advances many of the causes dear to the left: redistribution of wealth, higher taxes, greater government intervention, [and] regulation.”

What Ms. Klein is saying to the Left, in effect, is: Why fight it? These nervous nellies on the Right are—right! Those of us on the Left can’t keep talking about compatibility of limits-to-growth and unrestrained greed, or claiming that climate change is “just one issue on a laundry list of worthy causes vying for progressive attention,” or urging everyone to buy a Prius.  Commentators like Thomas Friedman or Al Gore, who “assure us that we can avert catastrophe by buying ‘green’ products and creating clever markets in pollution”—corporate green capitalism, in a word—are simply living in denial. “The real solutions to the climate crisis,” she writes, “are also our best hope of building a much more enlightened economic system—one that closes deep inequalities, strengthens and transforms the public sphere, generates plentiful, dignified work, and radically reins in corporate power.”

In one of the essays in my book A Question of Values (“conspiracy vs. Conspiracy in American History”), I lay out some of the “unconscious programs” buried in the American psyche from our earliest days, programs that account for most of America’s so-called conscious behavior. These include the notion of an endless frontier—a world without limits—and the ideal of extreme individualism—you do not need, and should not need, anyone’s help to “make it” in the world. Combined, the two of these provide a formula for enormous capitalist power and inevitable capitalist collapse (hence, the dialectical dimension of it all).  Of this, Naomi Klein writes:

“The expansionist, extractive mindset, which has so long governed our relationship to nature, is what the climate crisis calls into question so fundamentally. The abundance of scientific research showing we have pushed nature beyond its limits does not just demand green products and market-based solutions; it demands a new civilizational paradigm, one grounded not in dominance over nature but in respect for natural cycles of renewal—and acutely sensitive to natural limits….These are profoundly challenging revelations for all of us raised on Enlightenment ideals of progress.”

(This is exactly what I argued 31 years ago in The Reenchantment of the World; it’s nice to see it all coming around again.) “Real climate solutions,” she continues, “are ones that steer [government] interventions to systematically disperse and devolve power and control to the community level, through community-controlled renewable energy, local organic agriculture or transit systems genuinely accountable to their users.” Hence, she concludes, the powers that be have reason to be afraid, and to deny the data on global warming, because what is really required at this point is the end of the free-market ideology. And, I would add, the end of the arc of capitalism referred to earlier. It’s going to be (is) a colossal fight, not only because the powers that be want to hang on to their power, but because the arc and all its ramifications have given their class Meaning with a capital M for 500+ years. This is what the Occupy Wall Street protesters—if there are any left at this point; I’m not sure—need to tell the 1%: Your lives are a mistake. This is what “a new civilizational paradigm” finally means. It also has to be said that almost everyone in the United States, not just the upper 1%, buys into this. John Steinbeck pointed this out many years ago when he wrote that in the U.S., the poor regard themselves as “temporarily embarrassed millionaires.” The Occupy movement, as far as I could make out, wanted to restore the American Dream, when in fact the Dream needs to be abolished once and for all.

Naomi then provides us with a list of six changes that must occur for this new paradigm to come into being, including Reining in Corporations, Ending the Cult of Shopping, and Taxing the Rich. I found myself writing “good luck” in the margins of much of this discussion. These things are not going to happen, and what we probably need instead is a series of major conferences on why they won’t happen. But note that part of the answer is already embedded in her essay: vested interests, in both the economic and psychological sense, have every reason to maintain the status quo. And as I said, so does the man or woman in the street. What would our lives be without shopping, without the latest technological toy? Pretty empty, at least in the U.S.  How awful, that capitalism has reduced human beings to this.

In terms of recommendations, then, Klein’s essay is rather weak. But it offers something very important by way of analysis, and also by implication: Everything is related to everything else. Psychology, the economy, the environmental crisis, our daily mode of living, the dumbing down of America, the pathetic fetish over cell phones and electronic gadgets, the crushing debt of student loans, the farce of electoral politics, Mr. Obama’s rather rapid conversion from liberal hero to war criminal and shredder of the Bill of Rights, the huge popularity of violent movies, the attempt of the rich to impose austerity measures on the poor, the well-documented epidemics of mental illness and obesity—these are ultimately not separate spheres of human activity. They are someone has to do something for history to occur, and at least the Occupy crowd was trying to throw sand on the wheels of the machine, so to speak, as have their counterparts in Europe.  But I confess that for a number of reasons, I was never very optimistic about the movement; at least, not as it existed in the United States. As many sociologists have pointed out, America has no real socialist tradition, and it is no surprise that the serious maldistribution of wealth that exists in the U.S. is no issue whatsoever in the forthcoming presidential election.  In fact, a recent poll by the Pew Charitable Trust revealed that most Americans have no problem at all with the existence of a small wealthy class; they just want to be able to join it—which takes us back to the quote from John Steinbeck. My own prediction, several months ago, was that OWS would turn into a kind of permanent teach-in, where the disaffected could go to learn about a “new civilizational paradigm,” if that would indeed be taught. This is basically the “new monastic option” I wrote about in the Twilight book. On one level, it’s probably innocuous; it hardly threatens the power elite. But that may not be the whole story, especially in the long run—la longue durée.  After all, as the system collapses, alternatives are going to become increasingly attractive; and you can be sure that 2008 is not the last crash we are going to live through. The two sides go hand in hand, and ultimately—I’m talking thirty to forty years, but maybe less—the weight of the arc of capitalism will be too onerous to sustain itself. In la longue durée, one is far smarter betting on the alternative worldview than on capitalism. Thus the biologist David Ehrenfeld writes: “Our first task is to create a shadow economic, social, and even technological structure that will be ready to take over as the existing system fails.”

3. What, then, is that alternative worldview, that “new civilizational paradigm”? In Why America Failed I lay out, unsurprisingly enough, the reasons for why America failed, and I say that it was primarily because throughout our history we marginalized or ignored the voices that argued against the dominant culture, which is based on hustling, aggrandizement, and economic and technological expansion. This alternative tradition can be traced from John Smith in 1616 to Jimmy Carter in 1979, and included folks such as Emerson, Thoreau, Lewis Mumford, Jane Jacobs, Vance Packard, and John Kenneth Galbraith, among many others. In England it is particularly associated with John Ruskin and William Morris, who argued for the need for organic communities with a spiritual purpose, for work that was meaningful rather than mind-numbing, and who did manage to acquire a large number of American disciples. In a forthcoming book by a colleague of mine, Joel Magnuson, entitled The Approaching Great Transformation, the author states that we need concrete models of a post-carbon economy, ones that break with the profit model of capitalism—and not in cosmetic or rhetorical ways. He gives a number of examples of experiments in this vein, ones that I would term elements of a steady-state or homeostatic economy: no-growth, in other words. After all, writes Magnuson, “permanent growth means permanent crisis.” Or as I have put it elsewhere, our job is to dismantle capitalism before it dismantles us. Again, this does not mean taking on Wall Street, which I don’t believe can succeed. But it does mean leaving the field: for example, seceding. (Movements for secession do exist at this point, Vermont being a prominent example.) And if that’s not quite viable right now, there is at least the possibility of living in a different way, as David Ehrenfeld suggests. My guess is that “dual process”—the disintegration of capitalism and the concomitant emergence of an alternative socioeconomic formation—is going to be the central story of the rest of this century. And I suspect that austerity will be part of this, because as capitalism collapses and we run out of resources—petroleum in particular—what choice will we have?

4. This does not, it seems to me, necessarily mean a return to some type of feudalism; although that could well happen, for all I know. But we are finally talking about the passing not only of capitalism, but of modernity in general—the waning of the modern ages, in effect. In her interesting biography of the Hegelian scholar, Alexandre Kojève, Shadia Drury writes: “Every political order, no matter how grand, is doomed to decay and degenerate.” As for modernity in particular, she goes on:

“[M]odernity’s inception and its decline are like those of any other set of political and cultural ideals. In its early inception, modernity contained something good and beguiling. It was a revolution against the authority of the Church, its taboos, repressions, inquisitions, and witch burning. It was a new dawn of the human spirit—celebrating life, knowledge, individuality, freedom, and human rights. It bequeathed to man a sunny disposition on the world, and on himself….The new spirit fueled scientific discovery, inventiveness, trade, commerce, and an artistic explosion of great splendor. But as with every new spirit, modernity has gone foul….Modernity lost the freshness and innocence of its early promise because its goals became inflated, impossible, and even pernicious. Instead of being the symbol of freedom, independence, justice, and human rights, it has become the sign of conquest, colonialism, exploitation, and the destruction of the earth.”

In a word, its number is up, and it is our fortune or misfortune, as I said before, to be living during a time of very large, and very difficult, transition. An old way of life dies, a new one eventually comes into being. Of this, the poet Mark Strand remarks: “No need to rush; the end of the world is only the end of the world as you know it.” For some odd reason, I find that thought rather comforting.

 interconnected, and this means that things will not get fixed piecemeal. “New civilizational paradigm” means it’s all or nothing; there really is no in-between, no diet cheesecake to be had. As Ms. Klein says, it’s not about single “issues” anymore.

What then, can we expect, as the arc of capitalism comes to a close? This is where Naomi shifts from unlikely recommendations to hard-nosed reality. She writes:

“The corporate quest for scarce resources will become more rapacious, more violent. Arable land in Africa will continue to be grabbed to provide food and fuel to wealthier nations.  Drought and famine will continue to be used as a pretext to push genetically modified seeds, driving farmers further into debt. We will attempt to transcend peak oil and gas by using increasingly risky technologies to extract the last drops, turning ever larger swaths of our globe into sacrifice zones. We will fortress our borders and intervene in foreign conflicts over resources, or start those conflicts ourselves. ‘Free-market climate solutions,’ as they are called, will be a magnet for speculation, fraud and crony capitalism, as we are already seeing with carbon trading and the use of forests as carbon offsets.  And as climate change begins to affect not just the poor but the wealthy as well, we will increasingly look for techno-fixes to turn down the temperature, with massive and unknowable risks….As the world warms, the reigning ideology that tells us it’s everyone for themselves, that victims deserve their fate, and that we can master nature, will take us to a very cold place indeed.”

To put it bluntly, the scale of change required cannot happen without a massive implosion of the current system. This was true at the end of the Roman Empire, it was true at the end of the Middle Ages, and it is true today. In the case of the Roman Empire, as I discuss in The Twilight of American Culture, there was the emergence of  monastic orders that began to preserve the treasures of Graeco-Roman civilization. My question in that book was: Can something similar happen today? Naomi writes:

“The only wild card is whether some countervailing popular movement will step up to provide a viable alternative to this grim future. That means not just an alternative set of policy proposals but an alternative worldview to rival the one at the heart of the ecological crisis—this time, embedded in interdependence rather than hyper-individualism, reciprocity rather than dominance, and cooperation rather than hierarchy.” She believes that the Occupy Wall Street movement—remember, it was quite vigorous last November—embodies this; that they have taken “aim at the underlying values of rampant greed and individualism that created the economic crisis, while embodying…radically different ways to treat one another and relate to the natural world.”

Is this true? Four things to consider at this point:

1. I personally never visited Zuccotti Park, but most of what I saw on the Web, including very favorable reportage of the Occupy movement, seemed to suggest that the goal was a more equitable American Dream, not the abolition of the American Dream, as I indicated above. In other words, the basic demand was that the pie be cut up more fairly. I never had the impression that the protesters were saying that the pie, in toto, was rotten. This reminds me of an anecdote about Martin Luther King, who apparently said to Harry Belafonte, just before he (i.e., King) was assassinated, that he thought he might have been making a big mistake; that he sometimes felt like he was herding people into a burning church. This is a very different insight, quite obviously, than the notion that black people should be getting a larger share of the pie. After all, who wants a larger share of a rotten pie, or to live in a church that is burning down?

2. The Annales historians, along with the World Systems Analysis thinkers, have been accused of projecting an image of “history without people.” In other words, these schools tend to see individuals as somewhat irrelevant to the historical process, which they analyze in terms of “historical forces.” There is some truth to this, but “historical forces” can become a bit mystical. Just as it is forces that motivate people, so it is people that enact or manifest those forces. I mean,


Israelis fear PM is meddling in US politics

September 22, 2012

by Josef Federmanv 

Associated Press 



JERUSALEM (AP) — It is a taboo for Israeli leaders to give even the slightest hint of favoritism in politics in the United States, Israel’s closest ally. So some Israelis are squirming over a perception that their prime minister is siding with Republican Mitt Romney in the U.S. presidential race, in the belief he will take a harder line on archenemy Iran if elected.

With President Barack Obama holding a narrow lead in opinion polls, Benjamin Netanyahu’s perceived strategy looks risky to Israelis who fear their alliance with the U.S. could be in trouble if the incumbent wins.

“If our prime minister doesn’t get along with their leader, it will hurt our relations,” said Shai Hugi, 20, a car rental clerk in Jerusalem. “The United States is Israel’s best ally, and it’s always good that you have a strong friend behind you.”

Netanyahu, convinced that Iran is close to developing nuclear weapons, says Tehran must be stopped. Claiming international diplomatic efforts and economic sanctions have failed, Netanyahu says the threat of force must be seriously considered. He has urged Obama to declare “red lines” that would trigger an American attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities, coupling his appeals with veiled threats of a unilateral Israeli attack on Iran.

Obama has rejected these calls, saying diplomacy and U.S.-led sanctions must be given more time and that Iran will never be allowed to obtain nuclear weapons. At the same time, American officials have pressed Israel not to attack unilaterally, a move that could set off regional mayhem just ahead of the November election.

Netanyahu has not backed down. In a message directed at the White House, he recently said: “Those in the international community who refuse to put red lines before Iran don’t have a moral right to place a red light before Israel.”

Israeli leaders have relied on broad bipartisan support in the U.S. for decades, but Netanyahu has had a rocky relationship with Obama, underscored by public differences over Iran. These agreements, coupled with his longstanding friendship with Romney, have created a perception that Netanyahu backs the Republicans.

“Whether or not it is true that he is actively taking sides . I don’t know,” said Alon Pinkas, Israel’s former consul-general in New York. “But the pattern of behavior clearly suggests this perception is founded in reality.”

Eytan Gilboa, an expert on U.S.-Israeli relations at Israel’s Bar-Ilan University, said Obama, if re-elected, may seek payback from the Israelis by pressuring Netanyahu to make new concessions to the Palestinians to overcome a deadlock seen as a key failure of the U.S. administration.

Gilboa also said support for Israel is increasingly being seen as a Republican, not bipartisan, issue in America. Recent polls have shown that Republican support for Israel is significantly higher than Democratic support, a reversal from 10 or 15 years ago.

In interviews on American television this week, the Israeli leader vociferously denied he is meddling in Obama’s reelection campaign and said he appreciated the importance of American support.

“God, I’m not going to be drawn into the American election,” Netanyahu told NBC television. “What’s guiding my statements is not the American political calendar, but the Iranian nuclear calendar.”

Ari Shavit, a columnist for Israel’s liberal Haaretz daily, accused Netanyahu of misreading the American political climate.

“Netanyahu not only argued with Obama, but turned himself into the declared enemy of many of Israel’s friends in the United States. He pushed himself into America’s extremist right corner – he pushed all of us into it,” he wrote.

Obama aides have sought to portray relations with Netanyahu as unshaken. But privately, American officials have grumbled about a perception that Netanyahu is telling Obama what to do.

When Netanyahu travels to New York this week, he likely won’t even see Obama. The U.S. president turned down a request for a meeting, citing scheduling issues. A subsequent phone conversation appears to have done little to ease tensions.

Differences between the men run deep.

Soon after Obama and Netanyahu both took office in early 2009, they clashed over Israeli settlements in the West Bank. Under American pressure, Netanyahu reluctantly agreed to slow down settlement construction for nine months in order to restart peace talks with the Palestinians. When the moratorium expired, Netanyahu refused Obama’s appeals to extend it, and a fresh round of peace talks quickly collapsed.

In one tense encounter, Netanyahu appeared to lecture Obama on the pitfalls of peacemaking as they sat in front of reporters in the Oval Office. During that same trip to Washington, Netanyahu was warmly welcomed in a speech to a joint session of Congress, sending a message that the Israeli leader maintained strong support on Capitol Hill.

The U.S.-educated Netanyahu thinks like a Republican on many key issues, whether it be his support for free-market capitalism and disdain for big government, or his security-first approach to foreign policy. Obama’s first major foreign policy act, reaching out to the Muslim world in a landmark speech in Cairo while failing to visit neighboring Israel, is still seen as an insult by many Israelis.

Netanyahu’s inner circle includes Ron Dermer, a former Republican activist in the U.S., and Sheldon Adelson, the American casino billionaire who has contributed tens of millions of dollars to the Republicans.

Netanyahu’s friendship with Romney goes back to the 1970s, when they worked together at a Boston investment firm. During the campaign, Romney has accused Obama of throwing Israel “under the bus.” And in comments to a closed fundraiser that were captured on videotape, Romney sounded as if he had received many of his talking points directly from Netanyahu as he listed reasons why peace between Israel and the Palestinians isn’t possible.

Few believe any damage in relations is irreversible, and officials in both countries say defense ties remain close. Pinkas, the former Israeli diplomat, said the Iranian nuclear program is so critical that the countries will find a way to work together. He suggested that Netanyahu move quickly in the coming months to repair his relationship with Obama, either through a face-to-face meeting or quiet “back channel” discussions.

Netanyahu is required to call new elections in the next year or so. Many analysts believe he will do so much sooner, perhaps by the end of the year. Standing strong in the face of American pressure would play well to his hardline Likud Party.

“Bibi is doing what he should be doing,” said Jerusalem bike shop owner Yitzchak Weiss, 66, referring to Netanyahu by his nickname. “I don’t think (Obama) will throw us into the sea. America is our strongest ally. He can never erase that.”

The radio in Weiss’ bike shop was tuned to a local Jerusalem station. As he spoke, a broadcaster announced: “Mitt Romney — let’s hope he wins.”


Daniel Estrin in Jerusalem and Matthew Daly on board Air Force One contributed to this report.


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