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Sunday, March 23, 2014

Yaalon's comments continue to reverberate

The politicians and the media continued to take sides for and against Defense Minister Moshe Boogie Yaalon's Charles Krauthammer imitation over the weekend. Add to that President Hussein Obama's temper tantrum insisting that Yaalon must explicitly apologize. To me, at least, the debate over Yaalon's comments reflect a double standard both as compared with US criticism of Israel, and as compared with how other allies have criticized the United States. This is from the next-to-last link.
How about when that openness and honesty is not Washington criticizing Israeli policy, but rather Jerusalem passing judgment on Washington’s policies? Then, as was evident again this week with Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon’s latest critique of American foreign policy, the US is far less forbearing.
For whatever the reason, the US cannot seem to tolerate words of criticism from Israel.
But this time Ya’alon’s criticism was not personal at all. No mention of the Nobel Prize or the messiah. It was, rather, a general critique of US policies. It was also not stated in a high-profile public forum, but rather in a private discussion that was leaked.
And what did he say that was so egregious, that ignited the wrath of the administration to such a degree that it trotted out an official to say that “given the unprecedented commitment that this administration has made to Israel’s security, we are mystified why the defense minister seems intent on undermining the relationship?” On Iran, Ya’alon did not break any new ground, criticizing the US for letting the Iranians off the ropes with the current round of negotiations, and saying that Washington was being out-negotiated by the Iranians. His line about the Iranians being better negotiators in a Persian bazaar is one he has used often in the past.
Where Ya’alon skated on thin ice was his comments about American military aid.
“The aid must be put in proportion,” he said. “It is not really an American favor, it’s an interest. It is not as if we only take, we also give not a little,” he added, saying that Israel gives the US “quality intelligence and technology.” Among the technological developments he ticked off were the Iron Dome, the wings of the F-35 stealth fighter, and the Arrow anti-ballistic missile – all Israeli inventions.
He said that with Israel, the US has an “aircraft carrier” in the Middle East which “begins in Metulla, and ends in Eilat.”
This week’s incident demonstrated again the administration’s very thin skin when it comes to criticism from Israel. It seemed to go beyond mere annoyance at Ya’alon’s comment about the aid. The defense minister’s overall critique of the US policy seemed to step on a raw nerve.
He gave voice to a trend many in the world are noticing: Washington’s ability to bend the will of others to its desired goals is diminishing.
But rather than getting furious at Ya’alon for stating what for many is the obvious, the administration should consider that if this is what a senior leader of one of its greatest friends in the world is thinking – a friend that wants to see a powerful and respected US – then what is going through the minds of those who do not wish the US well.
The administration should also bear in mind that Ya’alon is not some flaky, obscure minister who is easily dismissed. According to a Channel 2 poll three weeks ago, taken on the one-year anniversary of the government being sworn in, Ya’alon is the most popular minister in the land. And that poll was taken after he called Kerry messianic and obsessive.
Squeezing yet another apology out of Ya’alon for hurt feelings risks ignoring his message – and that message, even if clumsily delivered, is not one that should be summarily dismissed, even if it is uncomfortable for some in Washington to hear.
And what do other allies say to the US?
Let’s see. I would assume that most of us would agree that the United States, in seeing its brave soldiers die to stop the Taliban from taking over Afghanistan, not to mention spending a trillion-odd dollars in the war there, has done a great deal more for Afghanistan than Israel. Yet, here is President Hamid Karzai’s official pronouncement about the United States, just this past January 17:
“As a result of bombardment by American forces last night … in Siahgird district of Parwan province, one woman and seven children were martyred and one civilian injured. The Afghan government has been asking for a complete end to operations in Afghan villages for years, but American forces acting against all mutual agreements … have once again bombarded a residential area and killed civilians.”
This follows a pattern of Karzai of attacking American troops—who have saved his country from Taliban Neanderthals—as killers, rapists, marauders, etc. Just two days ago this wretched ingrate actually had the temerity to say that in the 12 years NATO troops have been in Afghanistan his country has gone backward. Yet, I have searched in vein on Susan Rice’s Twitter feed for a condemnation of Karzai for his absolutely disgusting remarks about our heroes in uniform.
Less so have I found a State Department spokesman condemning the Afghan president as having no right to falsely accuse American troops.
No, it seems that Israel alone is prevented from offering a dissenting opinion from the United States.
Here's another example:

The State Department downplayed the appearance of mounting geopolitical friction between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia on Monday — a day after the former head of Saudi intelligence assailed the Obama administration’s shifting policies in the Middle East and accused Washington of waffling on Syria and Iran.
“The U.S. and Saudi Arabia have a long and close strategic partnership,” said Marie Harf, the State Department’s deputy spokesman. “One of the hallmarks of a good partnership is the ability to have quite frank conversations, even, maybe, when we disagree about these very important issues.”
Her comments marked the second time in as many months that the Obama administration has sought to paper over tensions with Riyadh, and were in response to harsh words from Prince Turki al-Faisal.
Prince Turki lambasted the administration during a speech Sunday in Monaco at the World Policy Conference, an annual event that brings together officials and analysts from the Middle East, North Africa and Europe.
He accused President Obama of reneging on promises and asserted that Washington’s attempt to make peace between Israel and the Palestinians will be in vain if Mr. Obama does not set clear guidelines for the process — and sticks to them.
“We’ve seen several red lines put forward by the president, which went along and became pinkish as time grew, and eventually ended up completely white,” Prince Turki said, according to a report by the New York Times. “When that kind of assurance comes from a leader of a country like the United States, we expect him to stand by it.
 You don't think there's a double standard now, do you?

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At 2:43 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

I'm sure the US is very indebted to Israel for inventing the Iron Dome. Who was it who noted, that the only country in the world which would view Iron Dome as the solution to incessant rocket attacks was Israel?

At 2:47 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

And of course, there is the small matter that the US obligated itself to provide Israel military aid as a condition for the Israel-Egypt peace treaty.


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