It wasn't the content of Netanyahu's lecture that I found so shocking -- Jews, over a few thousand years, have earned a great deal of our paranoia -- but that he chose to hector the American president, an American president who, the day before, gave Netanyahu two enormous gifts -- a denunciation of the radical Islamist terror group Hamas, and a promise to fight unilateral Palestinian efforts to seek United Nations recognition as an independent state -- in public...
Jeffrey Goldberg, Netanyahu Continues to Needlessly Alienate
In addressing Let's put aside what the tone of Netanyahu's "lecture" was. After all, no one felt insulted when Obama lectured AIPAC on what a good friend he is of Israel. A key point is what exactly Obama said in his Middle East speech on Thursday.
Did Obama, in fact, denounce Hamas?
In a previous post I noted that in Obama's speech, Assad Gets Ultimatum, Hamas Gets Homework.
While Obama gives an ultimatum to the murderous Assad:
President Assad now has a choice: he can lead that transition (to democracy), or get out of the way.in contrast, when it comes to the terrorist group Hamas,
In the weeks and months to come, Palestinian leaders will have to provide a credible answer to that question (of how Israel can negotiate with a group that does not recognize its right to exist).As I've noted before, Obama admits that Hamas does not recognize Israel's to exist--but does not recognize that the problem is that Hamas acts upon that policy.
And in spite of the fact that Fatah and Hamas are joined at the hip, Obama is urging that Israel talk to them.
There is no gift here, let alone an "enormous" one.
One the other hand, I concede that it is true that Obama said clearly and publicly that he will oppose Abbas's move to have the UN declare a Palestinian state. Israel should certainly appreciate that.
So let's make that one gift.
Now let's address Jeffrey Goldberg's other points:
1) President Obama actually does understands Jewish history: he understands it well enough to know that the permanent occupation of the West Bank would be an historical anomaly;
I have no idea what, if anything Obama knows about Jewish history. What I do know is that until September last year when Obama said that Israel was the Jewish 'historical homeland', Obama's statements expressed the belief that Israel's right to the land was based purely on the Holocaust. In any case, the issue of course is who is Israel supposed to negotiate to resolve this "historical anomaly," since after all--Netanyahu has said clearly that he is willing to accept the second Palestinian state.
2) Even if Obama didn't understand Jewish history, it is still off-putting for many Americans to watch their president being lectured by a foreign leader in his own house;
Yeah, I know what you mean--imagine how "off-putting" it was for Israel to hear about the time Obama left Netanyahu alone in a room while he left he went to dinner, telling him "let me know if there is anything new"
It is known that they are not the best of friends, and Netanyahu's point was to address the journalists and the public. Unlike Obama and Israel, Netanyahu knows he cannot afford to publicly humiliate the President.
3) The Prime Minister doesn't seem to understand what President Obama is trying to tell him: That Israel cannot maintain the occupation of the West Bank without becoming a pariah state (previous LIkud-bred prime ministers, namely Ariel Sharon and Ehud Olmert, both understood this);
One might think instead the problem is that Obama does not appreciate that there is no one to negotiate with--that Obama does not understand that a leader like Abbas, who regularly honors murderers of Israeli citizens is not an ideal partner for peace, especially when he joins up with a terrorist group like Hamas.
4) The Prime Minister desperately needs President Obama to defend Israel in the United Nations, and even more crucially, to confront Iran's nuclear program, which poses an existential threat to the Jewish state; angering him constantly doesn't seem to be an effective way to marshal the President's support;
While Israel may need US assistance against Iran, let's now forget the news already reported last year about Iranian missiles being placed in Venezuela can reach the US, so let's face it: Iran is an enemy of the US as well. Iran is in the process of installing missile bases in Venezuela and the presence of Hezbollah in Mexico is not Nasrallah's own idea.
5) Based on the mail I've been receiving, and conversations I've been having with Jewish leaders of various ideological persuasions, there is a great worry that Netanyahu, through his behavior even more than his policies, is alienating other of Israel's friends, needlessly.
If Netanyahu's policies offend unnamed Jewish leaders, that's too bad--all that matters is if Israelis as a whole support Netanyahu: and indications are that he does.
As far as Netanyahu's behavior goes, Carter was able to deal with Begin, whom he disliked--if Obama is interested in peace, he can do the same. Besides, Daniel Pipes argues that in fact--strong U.S.-Israel ties induce irreversible Israeli mistakes.
There is plenty to discuss about Netanyahu's policies, just as there is much to discuss about Obama's Mideast speech last week.
Jeffrey Goldberg makes a number of points that need to be addressed, but let's concentrate on the policies, and not how Obama and Netanyahu feel about each other.
Read Jeffrey Goldberg's Netanyahu Continues to Needlessly Alienate
Also, check out Elder of Ziyon's response to Jeffrey Goldberg
Technorati Tag: Obama and Netanyahu.