Monday, May 18, 2009

The moment of truth is at hand.

I have spoken before about how the Israelis are reacting to the Obama administration and it's more realistic approach to the entire Middle East.

There's an article in today's Ha'aretz newspaper which caught my eye simply because of the fear of it's author, Yehuda Ben-Meir, and the way he expects Israel to react to an Obama administration.

He begins by comparing Obama's administration to the administration of Jimmy Carter....

It isn't pleasant, but anyone reading between the lines is beginning to understand that the Obama administration is becoming increasingly like the Carter administration. For 30 years, Israel has not had to deal with as difficult - sometimes even hostile - a U.S. administration as the Carter one. I can personally attest to the brutal style and blatant threats that characterized the relationship between Jimmy Carter and Menachem Begin. Indeed, Carter is someone whose beginnings can be seen in the way he has ended up.
...And ends the paragraph with that not too subtle threat that American presidents who oppose Israel seldom do well.

And he clearly laments a time when the President would have no meaningful contacts with anyone whom Israel did not care for them to talk to.
The Obama White House, meanwhile, has been accepting and welcoming of those who spent years arguing that American foreign policy has been enslaved to Israel's interests and is influenced by the Jewish lobby, but were unable to get a foot in the door during the Reagan, Clinton and Bush administrations.
So, the implication is that Obama has been talking to the unhinged, those "who spent years arguing that American foreign policy has been enslaved to Israel's interests" whilst, simultaneously telling us that people who thought American foreign policy was slanted too strongly in favour of Israel "were unable to get a foot in the door during the Reagan, Clinton and Bush administrations."

Isn't he undermining his own point there? If anyone wanted to put a counter argument, suggesting that American interests and Israeli interests are not always synonymous, then this immediately rendered them too radical to be dealt with. That fact alone could be used as evidence of a very strong Israeli influence on American foreign policy.

But these are the changes that Ben-Meir regrets, along with changes he detects amongst the American Jewish communities:
Even within the American Jewish community - which has been a loyal ally of Israel and the bastion of its support in the United States - there have arisen some influential groups that are no longer willing to back every position of the Israeli government.
So, it's worrying to him that the time has passed when the American Jewish community were, "willing to back every position of Israel" and Israel's critics were simply "unable to get a foot in the door during the Reagan, Clinton and Bush administrations".

The very fact that Obama is allowing discussions which for the past thirty years - and at Israel's insistence - have been out of bounds, is enough to make him worry that Obama is Carter II. Please remember that all of this is occurring before Obama and Netanyahu have even met. But Obama has not made enough pro-Israeli noises for Ben-Meir's liking and he's hanging around with the wrong sort of people. The dangerous kind who think that US interests and Israeli interests might not be identical.

I am sure he was much happier before when Bush was slanting US policy towards Israel and Bill Kristol was declaring that Israel's wars were, actually, America's wars.

I mean it's not as if America's reputation was harmed by such bias, was it? Former CIA analyst, Bill Christison:
I believe it is a fact that a majority of the six and a half billion people in the world today literally hate most major U.S. foreign policies and that, while there are a number of reasons behind this hatred, one of the important reasons is the past 80 to 100 years of U.S. actions with respect to Palestine. When Noam Chomsky and Tariq Ali were recently in town, Chomsky commented that five years ago much of the world regarded the United States as a rogue state and the greatest threat to their existence. He then went on to say: "Since then, the situation has become far worse. It's now not much of the world . . . but most of the world. . . . George Bush has . . . succeeded in a few years in making the United States the most feared and often hated country in the world." Tariq Ali later made it clear that he agreed.
But he has a solution, a way to circumnavigate Obama:
However, the Netanyahu government can also weather this confrontation, as long as it is clever enough to steer such a conflict toward issues on which there is a consensus in Israel, and which are widely supported in the United States and around the world. Moreover, it must radiate action rather than words, broadcasting the message that this is a government that is pursuing peace, not rejecting it.

The U.S. Congress, American Jewry and American public opinion will support Israel - even over the opposition of a popular president - on anything related to rejecting the right of return and recognizing Israel as a Jewish state, as well as Jerusalem and the settlement blocs.
So he believes that even a popular president like Obama can be overcome as long as the arguments made by Israel are strong enough and carry a resonance with the American people.

He might have a point regarding Israeli demands that the Palestinians recognise Israel as "a Jewish state". I am sure most people will think that sounds reasonable without actually realising what is being asked of the Palestinians. But, he's pushing his luck if he thinks Israel can gain popular support for the illegal settlements.

After all, it's very hard to convince people that Israel is negotiating in good faith for a two state solution when Israel's retention of the settlements would make that solution almost impossible.

Amnesty International:
'As well as violating international humanitarian law per se, the implementation of Israel's settlement policy in the Occupied Territories violates fundamental human rights provisions, including the prohibition of discrimination. The seizure and appropriations of land for Israeli settlements, bypass roads and related infrastructure and discriminatory allocation of other vital resources, including water, have had a devastating impact on the fundamental rights of the local Palestinian population, including their rights to an adequate standard of living, housing, health, education, and work, and freedom of movement within the Occupied Territories."
And yet that's one of the areas where he thinks Americans will choose the illegal settlements over a popular president? Maybe Americans are more naive than I think, but that strikes me as a strange place to pitch your fight.

But, as the article makes clear, the Israelis are ready to fight the Obama administration.

I did hope that Obama was going to introduce a much fairer way of dealing with the Israel/Palestine dispute and, from the way prominent Israelis are circling the wagons, it looks like they think that's exactly what he's about to do.

Click title for full article.


nunya said...

." And ends the paragraph with that not too subtle threat that American presidents who oppose Israel seldom do well. "

and now my friend, you know how American politics work.

You don't make in national politics unless you suck up to Israel.

Too bad they don't teach us this shit in high school.


Kel said...

I think Obama is about to test that theory.