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Bad Week for Bibi - Joe Klein

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Scurrilous Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Mar-24-10 12:19 PM
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Bad Week for Bibi - Joe Klein

"The passage of health care reform has, rightly, stolen most of the media oxygen this week, but there's also been a visit from Israel's prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and, despite an eloquent (if wrong-headed) speech to the AIPAC lobbyists, this has not been a very successful week for him. As the Times points out today, Netanyahu has faced setbacks on both sides of the Atlantic.

Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton have refused to bend in their dispute over Israel's illegal settlements; meanwhile, the British Foreign Minister David Miliband--who is Jewish--announced that Britain had expelled an Israeli diplomat because of the use of false British passports by the assassins--likely Mossad agents--who killed a Hamas operative in Dubai last month. (Add: And, of course, there is the fact that the U.S. military, led by General David Petraeus, has gone public with its belief that Israel's intransigence on settlements is endangering American troops in the field.)

This Washington Post report about Netanyahu's meetings with President Obama is interesting because of the body language: First of all, for the second consecutive visit, Netanyahu rated none of the pomp that usually attends the visit of a head of state. Second, there were two meetings. Obama met with Netanyahu. Then Netanyahu consulted his aides in the Roosevelt Room. Then Obama and Netanyahu met again. This would seem to indicate that Obama was driving the conversation, either by making a new offer or continuing to insist on an Israel settlement freeze...and Netanyahu repaired to the Roosevelt Room to consider it. Chances are the offer was rejected, or a definitive answer was put off, since there was no public photos after the second Oval Office meeting. Chances are that any sort of concession is difficult for Netanyahu, given his right-wing coalition straitjacket.

Finally, recent polling by Haaretz in Israel and J Street in the United States indicate that Netanyahu's position isn't entirely popular with Israelis or American Jews. The J Street polling--which conforms with other recent surveys--suggest that American Jews approve of the active role the Obama Administration is taking in the middle east negotiations...and that American Jews also, by wide margins, approve of U.S. efforts to get both sides in the dispute to make sacrifices for peace. The Haaretz poll indicates that feelings toward Obama aren't as negative as commonly portrayed--though not exactly positive, either--and that feelings about Netanyahu are decidedly mixed."

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Scurrilous Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Mar-24-10 12:35 PM
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1. The fallacy of Netanyahu's worldview - Carlo Strenger
Netanyahu seems to believe there is no tie between how Israel conducts itself and Arab rejectionism


"During the last two weeks, the media spotlight has focused on the immediate crisis between Benjamin Netanyahu and the Obama administration. Gigabytes have been filled with speculations about whether the crisis initiated during Joe Biden's visit reflects a rift between Israel and the U.S. But behind the immediate crisis there looms a much deeper problem which pertains to a fallacy in Netanyahu's worldview that is reflected in all his actions.

In his speech to AIPAC, Netanyahu has repeated a mantra that has defined his thinking throughout his adult life. He said that hatred of radical Islam for Israel has nothing to do with what Israel does, but stems from the fact that Israel is the West's outpost in the Middle East. Ergo, his reasoning implies, Israel can continue doing whatever it wants: it can build in East Jerusalem, it can expand settlements, because this is not the reason for Arab rejectionism. Furthermore he assumes that time is on Israel's side; that every year in which Israel continues its current policy enhances its status. This has now led him to tell Nancy Pelosi that peace talks with the Palestinians may have to wait another year, because their demand for a complete freeze of settlement construction is unacceptable.

The fallacy in Netanyahu's argument is fateful: He takes a grain of truth and builds the wrong argument around it. While there are indeed deep reasons for some aspects of Arab rejectionism, Netanyahu's way of thinking and his policies have become a self-fulfilling prophecy, and are making peaceful coexistence of Israel with the Arab world impossible in the long run.

An alternative point of view has been defended by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in her address to AIPAC: She has pointed out that Israel's security is ever more jeopardized by changes in rocket technology, and that both Hezbollah and, to a lesser extent, Hamas, are being armed with rockets that reach farther into Israel and have more destructive power than ever before. Under these circumstances Israel gains no security by holding on to parts of the West Bank, because the threat now has a longer reach. Hence only striving towards ending the conflict with the Palestinians can give Israel the West's unflinching political backing against any political or military threat, and strengthen Arab moderates."

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BunkerHill24 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Mar-24-10 02:26 PM
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2. from the Telegraph:
"Officials added that Israel had received assurances that the diplomat asked to leave could be replaced within six weeks, once the general election was over."
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Scurrilous Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Mar-24-10 09:16 PM
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3. Netanyahu leaves U.S. disgraced, isolated and weaker

"Details emerging from Benjamin Netanyahu's visit to Washington remain incomplete, but the conclusion may nonetheless be drawn that the prime minister erred in choosing to fly to the United States this week. The visit - touted as a fence-mending effort, a bid to strengthen the tenuous ties between Netanyahu and U.S. President Barack Obama - only highlighted the deep rift between the American and Israeli administrations.

The prime minister leaves America disgraced, isolated, and altogether weaker than when he came.

Instead of setting the diplomatic agenda, Netanyahu surrendered control over it. Instead of leaving the Palestinian issue aside and focusing on Iran, as he would like, Netanyahu now finds himself fighting for the legitimacy of Israeli control over East Jerusalem.

The most sensitive and insoluble core issues - those which when raised a decade ago led to the dissolution of the peace process and explosion of the second intifada - are now being served as a mere appetizer."

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