Friday, June 05, 2009

Obama's "interference" in Israeli politics.

And so the fightback begins. As Obama reaches out to the Muslim world, and has the temerity to question Israel's right to build settlements which are regarded as illegal under international law, so Israel's supporters take to the airwaves and to print to tell us that it is completely unreasonable for Obama to talk to Israel with the same frankness as he addresses the Palestinians.

Today's Jerusalem Post tells us that Obama, "has crossed the line into interfering in Israeli politics."

And AIPAC let it be known that Obama's public demands on Israel are simply unacceptable:

The pro-Israel lobby AIPAC last week got the signatures of 329 members of Congress, including key figures in both parties, on a letter calling on the administration to work “closely and privately” with Israel — in contrast to the current public pressure.
In other words AIPAC would prefer the arrangement which Israel enjoyed when George Bush was president when Israel and the US would say one thing publicly but have a private "understanding" that the rules which they had publicly expressed did not actually apply to Israel. That, although Israel had publicly promised to end settlement building, both the US and Israel "understood" that she would not. Wink, wink.

This is the kind of thing which has always undermined Arab confidence in the US as an honest broker, the feeling that the US is firmly in the Israeli camp and that the US and Israel have secret deals and "understandings" which they know about and the rest of us don't.

This is the very thing which Obama has promised to end and it was why he received such a huge round of applause in Cairo when he stated:
"We will say in public what we say in private. To Israelis and Palestinians and Arabs."
So, AIPAC can reprimand Obama as much as they want but the secret deals and "understandings" which they enjoyed during the Bush years were part of the problem, not the solution.

Which is precisely why AIPAC are calling "foul". For years the Israelis have pretended to seek peace whilst all the while acquiring more and more Palestinian land. Obama is publicly and loudly telling them to stop. This is what they can't bear and this is why they are now, farcically, claiming that Obama has strayed into "interfering in Israeli politics".

Glenn Greenwald has a good take on this:

Similarly, businesses are free to make whatever decisions they want about how they are to be run -- as long as they remain independent. But if they go to a bank – or the federal government -- and plead for a loan, then the lender is perfectly justified in imposing all sorts of conditions ("we’ll lend to you only if you spend more responsibly, refrain from paying your executives more than X, not use the funds for Y," etc.). If banks and other companies want to be free of what conservatives and libertarians complain is undue influence from the federal government, then they shouldn’t seek loans and bailouts from the federal government.

Identically, if Israel wants to be free of what it and some of its U.S. supporters call "interference" from the Obama administration, that’s very easy to achieve: Israel can stop asking for tens of billions of dollars of American taxpayer money, huge amounts of military and weapons supplies for its various wars, and unyielding American diplomatic protection at the U.N. But as long as Israel remains dependent on the U.S. in countless ways, then Obama not only has the right -- but he has the obligation -- to demand that Israel cease activities which harm U.S. interests.

Obama made it clear yesterday that it is, "in Israel's interests, Palestine's interests, America's interests, and the world's interest" that a two state solution be found where both Israel and Palestine can live side by side in peace.

The thing which is causing fury and befuddlement amongst Israel's supporters is the feeling that this guy sounds as if he is actually serious about this.

Ha'aretz describes the reaction in Israel:
Nonetheless, no one can ignore the speech given by Barack Obama: The mountain birthed a mountain. Obama remained Obama. Only the Israeli analysts tried to diminish the speech's importance ("not terrible"), to spread fear ("he mentioned the Holocaust and the Nakba in a single breath"), or were insulted on our behalf ("he did not mention our right to the land as promised in the Bible"). All these were redundant and unnecessary. Obama emerged Thursday as a true friend of Israel.

The prime minister ordered the ministers to say nothing, but of course they could not help but invade the studios. Uzi Landau said that a Palestinian state is tantamount to an "Iranian state." Isaac Herzog appeared even more ridiculous when he said that the problem with the settlements is one of "public relations." In essence, both were busy with the same problem: How can we manage to pull the new America's leg as well? Israeli politicians have never before appeared as pathetic, as small as they did Thursday, compared to the bearer of promise in Cairo.
One must always bear in mind, when we hear of complaints coming from AIPAC and the Likud party, that they represent only the Israeli right wing position. It is clear that Ha'aretz and the Kadima party and all the others on the Israeli left are applauding Obama for having the courage to say what he has said.
This is the thinking of a great leader, who walked with wisdom and sensitivity between the Holocaust and the Nakba, between Israelis and Palestinians, between Americans and Arabs, between Christians, Jews and Muslims.

Our right-wingers were disappointed that he did not approve at least of Gush Etzion, and the peace lovers were disappointed that he did not offer a timetable. But a speech is just that, and the time for carrying things out is still to come.
And the latest right wing taking point, that Obama has no right to interfere in another democracy's business is simply too hypocritical to be taken remotely seriously.

No-one surely forgets that when Hamas were democratically elected that the Israelis immediately started starving the Palestinian population for having the temerity to elect a party which they opposed?

No, Obama is doing okay, which is why the Israeli right have started screaming so loudly. They have a dreadful feeling that he might not be as easy to con as some of his predecessors.

Click title for full article.


daveawayfromhome said...

I'm curious if they think the U.S. is "interfering" when it is giving them gobs of money, also.

Kel said...

Exactly, Dave. You can't take the dosh and the weapons and then say another country is "interfering" when they remind you of what's in their interests.