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Saturday, March 27, 2010

Why has Obama treated Bibi so rudely?

Glenn Reynolds has an interesting post on why President Obama treated Prime Minister Netanyahu so rudely at the White House this past week. This is Glenn's theory (Hat Tip: Memeorandum):
But it’s also possible — I’d say likely — that there’s something else going on. I think Obama expects Israel to strike Iran, and wants to put distance between the United States and Israel in advance of that happening. (Perhaps he even thinks that treating Israel rudely will provoke such a response, saving him the trouble of doing anything about Iran himself, and avoiding the risk that things might go wrong if he does). On the most optimistic level, maybe this whole thing is a sham, and the U.S. is really helping Israel strike Iran, with this as distraction. The question for readers is which of these — not necessarily mutually exclusive — explanations is most plausible.
It's an interesting thought, but I really doubt it would work. Since I'm convinced at this point that there is no way in the world that Obama will attack Iran, I'd be happy at this point if Obama would just stand down and let the IAF do the job. But if he thinks that we're going to attack Iran and they won't retaliate against the US, I'm afraid he's fooling himself.

I also wonder whether an attempt by Obama to disassociate himself from an Israeli attack will also mean going along with all the inevitable UN condemnations, cutting off arms sales to Israel (to the extent not cut off already), etc.

William Jacobson (who sends me lots of readers by the way - thanks!) has some interesting thoughts on why Americans have been very affected by the way Obama treated Netanyahu (yes, fellow Israelis, this has been big news in the US too).
Part of it certainly is that the foreign leader in question was the leader of Israel, which is tremendously popular with Americans. In Israel the clear majority of Americans see a democratic nation surrounded by implacable enemies who also are our enemies, doing what it takes to survive and thrive. In so many historical, religious and political ways Israel is our kindred spirit, more than just one among many nations.

But that cannot explain the intensity of the reaction. Obama has shown disrespect for our British friends, with whom we share an even more intense historical relationship. There are very, very few countries in the world whose soldiers would die for us, and Britain is one of those countries. Yet the reaction to Obama's treatment of Britain has been muted.

I think the reaction to Obama's treatment of Bibi Netanyahu hits home because it was so personal in nature, and because it epitomized how the American people have been treated by Obama and the Democrats, with arrogance and disdain.
Hmmm. I wonder how many Jewish Democrats have been woken up by this past week. But I'm glad to hear that so many Americans feel all warm and fuzzy about Israel.

I spent the last day or so in Samaria in what some of you might call a 'settlement.' This is the first live post I've done since about 2:00 Friday afternoon, so for those of you who are wondering where your comments disappeared to, they should be up shortly.


At 11:35 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

Updating Moshe Dayan's famous dictum:

"I prefer Jerusalem without peace to peace without Jerusalem."

The original:

"I prefer Sharm El Sheikh without peace to peace without Sharm El Sheikh."

At 12:48 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

Moshe Dann argues persuasively that amputating Yesha to save Jerusalem won't work. If the former doesn't belong to the Jews, Jerusalem doesn't either. What Netanyahu has failed to recognize is that Obama has unilaterally changed the rules of the game. More unilateral concessions will not save Jerusalem for the Jewish people. More here:

Israel Won't Be Bullied By Obama But Bibi's Tactic Could Fail as Well

Read it all.

At 1:24 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

Another reading of Netanyahu's predicament. Basically, Israel can surrender to Obama's demands, to have the Jewish State be carved up salami-style, by a never-ending cascade of demands for more concessions or Israel can say "no" and face diplomatic, cultural and economic isolation from the rest of the world. That's called a Hobson's Choice.

Or Israel can reshuffle the deck by attacking Iran. There is no longer a need to coordinate strategy with a hostile US Adminstration.

More here from Noah Pollak:

Bibi's Predicament

Read it all.

At 2:21 AM, Blogger Y.K. said...

The argument given in Pollack's piece is sound, but I believe attacking Iran may not be the only/best method. IMHO, In order to "reshuffle the deck", Israel must threaten Western interests, and show that isolating it carries the price of destabilizing the Middle East and rising oil prices. To achieve this, Israel may need to pull other moves along/separate of an Iran strike operation. Some things I can think of:

A) Letting Hamas take over the West Bank. There's little difference for us between Fatah and Hamas anyway, but this will destroy any semblance of the process. If there isn't any zombie process anymore, It would be difficult to demand more concessions from Israel.

B) Declaring Gaza is an enemy state and closing the border to it. Denying use of Israeli shekels to Gaza.

C) Embarrassing and undermining Arab regimes (even so called "friendly ones") as much as possible (e.g. by publishing fake cooperations with the "Zionist entity". I'm sure many other schemes are possible). Israel should not be concerned about Islamists gaining power except for Egypt. In other countries, there'll be no real change anyway in hostility.

At 5:21 AM, Blogger NormanF said...


Israel does have options to make life very difficult for its enemies. Its time to drop the "peace process" and go on the offensive. I would begin by having Israel annex Yesha and giving the Arabs a choice between autonomy under Israeli or leaving voluntarily. Launch a massive settlement program in sovereign Israel. Of course such steps would enrage the world but it can't stop Israel from securing its future on its own terms.

And it offers tangible benefits that giving unilateral concessions to an ungrateful America doesn't. What stops Israel from acting on its interests? Fear of American disapproval? That's happening anyway and there is no more need to pretend things are going to get better. The Palestinians don't want peace and now is the time to act forcefully against them. They made their choice and Israel shouldn't lose sleep over it.

In the end, the world will respect a strong Israel. No one respects an Israel that begs for a non-existent peace. A change of course is needed and Israel should retract its two-state solution offer on grounds the Palestinians don't want it. Its perfectly legitimate for Israel to unilaterally cancel its offer just as America unilaterally canceled its promises to Israel.

That is realpolitik and Israel can also play this game.


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