US-Israel relations have never been better?relations between the United States and Israel have never been better. Really? David Remnick in the New Yorker.
Most of the ministers in Netanyahu’s cabinet are on the record opposing a two-state solution. American officials speak of Netanyahu as myopic, entitled, untrustworthy, routinely disrespectful toward the President, and focussed solely on short-term political tactics to keep his right-wing constituency in line. Netanyahu seems not to care if he insults the Administration. Ron Dermer, his ambassador to the U.S., secretly arranged with John Boehner for Netanyahu to speak before Congress without alerting the White House; Danny Danon, his envoy to the U.N., blamed Obama’s “lack of leadership” for Turkish and Iranian aggression; and Ran Baratz, whom Netanyahu appointed last month as his media chief, wrote on his Facebook page that the President was anti-Semitic and that Kerry had the mental abilities of a twelve-year-old.Well, at least Danon and Baratz are honest.... But really, is this any way to treat a friend?
Our 'friend' also tried really hard to give the Golan Heights to Syria. Thank God Netanyahu didn't listen.
Assad told Kerry that, in order to make peace with Israel, he had to get back the Golan Heights, territory lost in the 1967 war. For that to be considered, Kerry replied, Syria would have to cease the transit of arms through Syria to Hezbollah, in Lebanon, and to Hamas, in Gaza.
“We basically delivered him a pretty strong message of, ‘You better stop this or else,’ ” Kerry told me. “But I also engaged with him, because he wanted to talk about another subject—a relationship with Israel in the future. I don’t think I’ve ever talked about this publicly, but he was ready to make a deal with Israel. And the proof of that is a letter I still have that he wrote and signed proposing a structure by which he was willing to recognize Israel, have an embassy there, make peace, deal with the Golan, et cetera.” (A representative of the Syrian government denied that Assad ever wrote such a letter; he also denied that Assad took any oppressive measures in 2011.) Syria asked Kerry for economic assistance, including a pipeline to Iraq and aid for technology and health care. When Netanyahu was told of the discussions, he was reluctant. “Bibi came to Washington, and one of the first things out of his mouth in the Oval Office was ‘I can’t do this. I’m not going to—I just can’t.’ ”
The issue was rendered moot in March, 2011, when the revolution began in Syria. As the Syrian regime increased its level of cruelty from month to month—beginning with the police torturing young protesters and moving on to the indiscriminate killing of many thousands, using barrel bombs—all talk of the “soft-spoken British-educated ophthalmologist,” of Assad as the reformist hope of Syria, was eclipsed.
Kerry shook his head at the memory of it. At dinner in Damascus, Assad had told Kerry and Heinz about how his mother could no longer go to a local mosque dressed in a skirt. He talked about how female college classmates, professional women, were now in hijab. “We want to be a secular country,” Assad said, according to Kerry. “We don’t want to be inundated by this.”
Kerry went on, “I had an impression that this guy had serious business plans, growth plans, development plans, wanted to change.” When I pressed him to describe Assad in terms of his crimes, he backed off. “You know what? I want to try to talk common sense to him through this process, and I do not want to get into any—it’s just the inappropriate moment for me to . . .”