Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Audacity of Arrogance . . .

Binyamin Netanyahu humiliated
after Barack Obama 'dumped him for dinner'

For a head of government to visit the White House and not pose for photographers is rare. For a key ally to be left to his own devices while the President withdraws to have dinner in private was, until this week, unheard of. Yet that is how Binyamin Netanyahu was treated by President Obama on Tuesday night, according to Israeli reports on a trip viewed in Jerusalem as a humiliation.

After failing to extract a written promise of concessions on settlements, Mr Obama walked out of his meeting with Mr Netanyahu but invited him to stay at the White House, consult with advisers and “let me know if there is anything new”, a US congressman, who spoke to the Prime Minister, said.

It was awful,” the congressman said. One Israeli newspaper called the meeting “a hazing in stages”, poisoned by such mistrust that the Israeli delegation eventually left rather than risk being eavesdropped on a White House telephone line. Another said that the Prime Minister had received “the treatment reserved for the President of Equatorial Guinea”.
Thus reports the Times of London. (HT: Robert Spencer)

All Americans should be ashamed of this willful insult to the leader of a nation against which the entire Islamic world has arrayed itself, and whose enemies will take Obama's treatment of Netanyahu as a signal that Israel no longer has reliable U.S. support. This from the president who reverts to diplomatic niceties when "negotiating" with Iranian mullahs and the thuggish psychopath who does their bidding. Our president has fallen all over himself trying to ingratiate himself to some of the most notorious tyrants of our time, apologizing as he goes for America's sundry sins.

To my mind, it is a day to feel deep remorse. At the same time, it is, I fear, a harbinger of things yet to come.

5 comments:

Rick said...

It never ends with that guy.
I never saw the attaction then, and I sure as hell don't see it now.

Dean said...

Gil,

This couldn't have anything to do with your already unambiguous contempt for Barack Obama now, could it?

Kevin Sullivan:

"I challenge the increasingly marginal number of pundits, pols and bloggers who are blaming this incident on the Obama administration to explain to me exactly where and how Obama has changed U.S. policy on Israel in any material or substantive fashion. Joe Biden went over to Israel to make nice and say in no uncertain terms that "there is no space between the United States and Israel when it comes to Israel's security" against the Islamic Republic of Iran...for some reason which clearly escapes me, there is a faction - albeit a tiny one - pinning blame for the fallout on the Obama administration. Worse yet, this same faction for the most part believes that this event is somehow consistent with a record of disinterest or hostility toward a nation that hasn't had any aid guarantees seriously challenged since 2005, while President Bush was still in office. Simply mind boggling."

Ha'aretz:
"There is one reason for the crisis: Netanyahu's persistence in continuing construction in East Jerusalem, in placing Jews in Arab neighborhoods and evicting Palestinians from their homes in the city. This is not a matter of timing but substance. Despite repeated warnings and bitter experiences, he stokes the flames over the conflict's most sensitive issue and is bound to get himself in trouble. Netanyahu has made it clear by his actions that American support for Israel, especially essential now in light of the Iranian threat, is less important to him than the chance to put another few Jews in the Sheikh Jarrah or Ramat Shlomo neighborhoods. Even if Netanyahu's adversaries in the U.S. administration have exploited his misstep to push him into a corner, as his "associates" will certainly argue, a statesman as experienced as he should have been especially careful."

Daniel Larison:

"Dependence of one state upon another creates perverse incentives for both. The unconditional backing of one side in a conflict does not encourage compromise but devotion to maximalist positions. Likewise, if a patron receives no reciprocity for its support, only the client state benefits from the relationship, creating an increasingly untenable situation for the patron. Maximalist demands backed by a patron’s support tend to be detrimental even to the client state in the long run—because they shield the client from the consequences of its actions.

Conservative and Republican critics of Obama cannot point to any decrease in Obama’s actual support for Israel, because there has been no decrease of any kind, so they are reduced to talking about “subtle shifts in perception,” feelings, moods, and changes in style. These shifts are so subtle that they can only be seen by the trained eye of the ideologically-motivated pundit. As I have said before, Obama’s critics were once obsessed with his supposed superficiality, and now it is they who cannot stop talking about purely superficial things when criticizing him,"

Daniel Levy:

"Under the U.N. partition plan of 1947, a Jewish national home was to be accorded 55% of Mandatory Palestine. After its war of independence, Israel was in possession of 78% of that territory. Many in Israel apparently see no reason why 78% cannot become 80% or 85% or 100%. The pragmatic, state-building and solidifying variety of Zionism is now in a life or death struggle with its maximalist, expansionist and sometimes messianic twin brother, and the latter is winning almost without breaking sweat. "
(continued)

Dean said...

Fred Kaplan:

"Israel annexed East Jerusalem in 1980, but no other country recognized the move. U.N. Resolution 478, passed soon after, declared the annexation to be in violation of international law and thus "null and void." (The Security Council passed the resolution with no dissent; even the United States merely abstained.)

By continuing to expand in East Jerusalem, the Israeli government's leaders demonstrate that they are not interested in a real peace. By doing so while simultaneously snubbing Vice President Biden (whose support for Israel is longstanding and undisputed), they are putting both the United States and themselves in an untenable position.

President Obama is forced to take one of two steps. Either he backs down and accepts what Israel does—in which case he loses credibility as an honest broker, and the United States loses power as a dominant player in Middle East politics—or he steps up pressure against Israel, in which case the (current) Israeli leaders stiffen their necks more tightly, and the region's anti-Israeli, anti-Western militants, sensing weakness, step up their aggression."

Fareed Zakaria:

"After watching Netanyahu's government over the past year, I have concluded that he is actually not serious about the Iranian threat. If tackling the rise of Iran were his paramount concern, would he have allowed a collapse in relations with the United States, the country whose military, political, and economic help is indispensable in confronting this challenge? If taking on Iran were his central preoccupation, wouldn't he have subordinated petty domestic considerations and done everything to bolster ties with the United States? Bibi likes to think of himself as Winston Churchill, warning the world of a gathering storm. But he should bear in mind that Churchill's single obsession during the late 1930s was to strengthen his alliance with the United States, whatever the costs, concessions, and compromises he had to make."

Glenn Greenwald:

"Here we have a major split between the U.S. and Israel, with key American military and political leaders explaining ... that Israeli actions are directly harming U.S. interests and jeopardizing American lives. And what is the reflexive, unambiguous response of virtually every American Israel-centric neocon? To side with Israel over the U.S. AIPAC, the ADL, Elliott Abrams, AIPAC-loyal Democrats in the House, Marty Peretz, Commentary, etc. etc. all quickly castigated the U.S. Government and defended Israel, notwithstanding the dangers to Americans posed by Israeli conduct and the massive price paid by the U.S. in so many ways for this relationship (by contrast, J Street called the administration's anger towards Israel both "understandable and appropriate").

"….incidents like this make it increasingly futile to try to suppress what is glaringly visible: that (as is true for numerous groups in the U.S.) a significant segment of the neoconservative Right (which includes some evangelical Christians and some American Jews) are guided in their political advocacy by their emotional, religious, and cultural attachment to another country, and want U.S. policy shaped to advance that devotion. There has been a long-standing effort to equate those who make this observation with anti-Israel hatred or even anti-Semitism."

What Obama wants to do in Israel

10 Reasons why East Jerusalem does not belong to Israel

Rick said...

Dean,
That’s a lot of cut and paste from many sources, I mean voices. Opinions, I think. Anyway, I didn’t make it very far. I’m not a big fan of quantity over quality. Allow me to ask a question in the interest of my time especially: Is your point that there is a seizure of property going on and that that is wrong?

Doughlas Remy said...

Dean, thanks for bringing in these perspectives. I especially appreciated what Glenn Greenwald had to say. The alliance between Israel and American evangelicals is extremely troubling, especially in view of the latter’s long-standing obsession with end-times scenarios in which Christians triumph over Jews once and for all. Can Israel have made a “deal with the devil?” Time will tell, but what we’re now witnessing in the Middle East is about the most noxious brew of religious passion and delusion that it is possible to concoct. These writers are completely justified in sounding the alarm over it. It is increasingly apparent that religious passions are one of the three or four major threats to the survival of our species. I believe that many of the most vexing questions of human co-existence on this planet can only be addressed by stepping outside religious frameworks altogether. It is nearly unimaginable that peace will ever be achieved in the Middle East without major paradigm shifts in religious thought and practice—particularly the potentially lethal conviction on the part of each of the three monotheisms that they are “chosen” and that God will help them triumph over the other two. I applaud writers like Christopher Hitchens, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Wafa Sultan, and Ibn Warraq for their boldness in asserting the need for radical review of supernaturalist belief systems. When religion behaves so destructively in the world, we have every right to demand an accounting of it. It’s time to “break the spell.”