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Thursday, March 11, 2010

Biden's message of reassurance

Some comments from Shmuel Rosner on Biden's speech (I guess he didn't wait for the questions). I'm sticking my comments in between his.
2. Netanyahu's advisers asked that Biden will make it clear that there's no "crisis" between the governments. It is clear to me that both sides do not want this to become a crisis. Generally speaking, Biden stuck to the initial goal of the visit, and made this speech about reassuring Israelis, about making them more trustful of the Obama administration.
I agree, but I found that somewhat surprising. What we saw over the last two days was real anger from Biden. Now, I have the sense that the crisis is blowing over.
3. It's enough for both sides to have the crisis with the Palestinians not wanting to re-ignite negotiations. With the Palestinians one knows it's an excuse, not the reason: When they agreed to join negotiations they knew Israel weren't freezing east Jerusalem construction. What they do now is one of two things.

A. Taking the opportunity to withdraw from talks they didn't even want to join (but were forced to do so under American pressure).


B. Trying to prolong the crisis just to score a couple more points and make Israel look bad for couple more days.

In other words: The Palestinians move is either against the Americans (option A) or against Israel (option B).
Well, Thursday morning's paper said that the 'Palestinians' would enter into the talks (which was why I wrote what I did in the previous post), but now that appears to have changed.
5. It is time for Americans to realize that mentioning Golda Meir and praising her doesn't really make Israelis swoon. This isn't the first time for me to write this - to no avail. But I have patience:

I heard the speech made by Speaker Nancy Pelosi to the Israeli Knesset. It was a fine speech but revealed, yet again, a common cultural misunderstanding by Americans in regard to former Prime Minister Golda Meir. Americans still adore this unique and courageous woman, Israelis remember her mostly for her failure in the 1973 war. No Israeli leader in his right mind would bring up Golda as an example of excellence and distinction, but I heard many Americans do it.
100% correct.
6. Biden was here "to remind you" - namely Israelis - that the US is a friend, that the Obama administration will continue this "chain" of friendly Presidents.That's the goal - that's the key statement made in this speech. The rest is commentary.

7. "Make no mistakes about America's resolve". Repeating this sentence twice can be a sign of, well, resolve. Or an attempt to compensate for luck of resolve by raising ones voice - twice. I'm sure Biden knows that many Israelis do question America's resolve. That many Arabs believe there's no such thing as America's resolve. That what's happening with Iran in recent years is not a sign of resolve - the repeated "we-will-not-allow" speeches followed by insufficient means of prevention - is a demonstration of weakness, not one of resolve.
The fact that Obama did not come here, the fact that Obama and Clinton have both made statements confirming that the goal is to avoid war and not to stop Iran from going nuclear, and the fact that Clinton has admitted that sanctions will take 'months,' speak much louder than Biden raising his voice.
8. A nuclearized Iran will be a "sorry outcome" - meaning it is also a conceivable outcome. Not one that the US will not allow, or will not tolerate.

9. Note the crowd: They were cheering Biden most loudly when he condemned the east Jerusalem construction announcement. If Biden is smart he will realize that other Israeli might be ashamed of the sloppy behavior of their government in recent days, but aren't as enthusiastic about having their government condemned by foreign leaders.
Yes. The student body at Tel Aviv University - from which much of the crowd presumably came - is far to the Left of Israel's mainstream.

I stand by my characterization. Biden is the Shimon Peres of the US. Anyone in the US agree or disagree? (I have been in Israel for 18.5 years and don't really have that much exposure to Biden). By the way, the Biden-Peres comparison is why I thought the graphic at the top was particularly appropriate.


At 2:25 PM, Blogger Ashan said...

I suspect that the real reason US leaders invoke Golda all the time is mostly because she was an American. They must think that it follows that since Israeli's love America, they also love Golda.

Biden just spoke to the most of the members of the 4% of Israelis who approve of POTUS Hussein.


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