Obama won't restrain Israel - he can't
IndependentUK: March 19, 2010
All you can say is, we've been here before. "Who the **** does he think
he is? Who's the ******* superpower here?" Bill Clinton spluttered in
fury to his aides back in 1996. The "he" in question was Benjamin
Netanyahu, then as now the Prime Minister of Israel.
Barack Obama, a cooler character than the last Democrat to be president,
may not have used quite such salty language about the behaviour of the
current Netanyahu government that has so incensed the US. One thing
though may safely be predicted. Mr Netanyahu will get away with it.
More than a week on, the in-your-face effrontery of the announcement
that a new swathe of Israeli homes will be built in disputed East
Jerusalem still amazes. Not only was it another pre-emptive strike on
one of the toughest issues to be resolved in the two-state solution to
the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to which even Mr Netanyahu pays lip
service. It came just 24 hours after painstaking diplomatic efforts by
Washington had secured agreement on "proximity talks" in which both
sides agreed to talk to each other, albeit indirectly. The fate of even
these modest contacts are now in the balance.
And it came at the very moment that Vice-President Joe Biden – a true
friend of Israel if ever there was one – was in the country promising
America's "absolute, total and unvarnished" commitment to Israel's
security. Mr Netanhayu maintains he was blindsided by the announcement.
But close friends don't treat a superpower protector like that.
Worse still, Mr Netanyahu raised his two fingers just when there was an
opportunity to move the tectonic plates of the Middle East crisis.
Israel and the moderate Arab states are united in their fear of a
nuclear-armed Iran bestriding the region. Serious progress on the
Palestinian dispute would not only remove the biggest obstacle dividing
them; it would also blunt Iran's most potent appeal to the region's
Islamic population, as the one champion Palestinian rights that dared
stand up to the Israeli and American oppressors.
Now that opportunity has all but vanished. For the Palestinians and
other Arabs, Israel's move has confirmed what they suspected all along,
that the Jewish state – at least under its present management – is
concerned not with concessions, even symbolic ones, but with creating
facts on the ground. Mr Netanyahu however believes he can call Mr
Obama's bluff and ride out the storm. The plan to build 1,600
settlements, he says, will go ahead, whatever Washington's demands to
the contrary. And on all counts, he's probably right.
And the reasons for such confidence? The first is his calculation that
for Washington, whatever its anger at Israel's behaviour, the need for
strategic co-operation with its closest ally in the Middle East against
the Iranian nuclear threat will trump its concern for the Palestinians –
even if the two issues are connected. The second is his confidence that
the President will never ultimately defy the mighty pro-Israel lobby in
Beyond the shadow of a doubt, Mr Obama is more sympathetic to the plight
of the Palestinians than any recent president. In his Cairo speech last
June, he spoke movingly of the daily humiliations faced by a people
living under occupation: the situation for the Palestinian people, he
said, was "intolerable." He followed up by demanding a total freeze on
settlements, as proof the Israelis were serious about a peace deal.
But Mr Netanyahu said no, and the Obama administration, essentially
folded. It was forced to content itself with a limited and partial
freeze, from which East Jerusalem was excluded. When Hillary Clinton
praised this modest step as "unprecedented," disappointed Palestinians
and Arabs concluded that for all the fine words in Cairo, it was
business as usual in Washington. When push came to shove, the proclaimed
"honest broker" tilted invariably and irretrievably in favour of the
Mr Obama's defenders now say that if he misplayed his hand, it was
because he had too much on his plate, obliged to corral up crucial
healthcare votes one moment, plot the future of the US banking system
the next, and then make a flawless move in the three-dimensional chess
game that is Middle East policy. In fact, his greatest error was not to
think through the clout of America's pro-Israel lobby.
When the university professors John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt
published The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy in 2007, some intitial
reaction was scornful. Critics dismissed the book's thesis as
exaggeration at best, sheer fantasy at worst. There was no sinister
lobby, only the instinctive collective sympathy felt towards Israel by
But power lies in the perception of power, and no organisation in
Washington is perceived to wield more power than AIPAC, the American
Israeli Public Affairs Committee. For proof, look no further than
January 2009, when most of the rest of the world was horrified at the
Israeli offensive in Gaza. At that moment the US House of
Representatives, by a vote of 390 to five, chose to blame the entire
crisis on Hamas.
Now the lobby is working to defuse the present row, naturally on
Israel's terms. First AIPAC expressed its "serious concern" at events,
reminding (or perhaps warning) of the "vast bipartisan support in
Congress and the American people" for the US/Israeli relationship. Then
the Israeli ambassador here issued a statement claiming he had been
"flagrantly misquoted" in reports saying he had warned his staff of the
worst crisis in 35 years between the two countries. By Tuesday evening
Ms Clinton herself, who last week was accusing Mr Netanhayu of insulting
the US, poured further oil on the already quietening waters: "I don't
buy the notion of a crisis."
And there we have it. The settlements in East Jerusalem will go ahead
whatever the US thinks. The proximity talks, even if they do proceed,
are doomed in advance. And next week AIPAC holds here what it bills as
the largest policy conference in its history. The Israeli Prime Minister
will be in town to address it, so will Ms Clinton.
President Obama however will be about as far away as possible, on a
long-planned visit to Indonesia and Australia. And probably just as
well. Grovels, even the most elegant grovels, are not an edifying spectacle.
- - -
From: "Suzanne de Kuyper" <email@example.com>
Sent: Friday, March 19, 2010 4:42 AM
Subject: Re: [R-G] Obama won't restrain Israel - he can't Rupert Cornwell
I respectfully suggest that the analyis that Netanyahu will fully dominate
Washington, the U.S. Presidentsy and the Eurooean Union
(by unwritten extention) may be very wrong. The Lisbon Treaty was passed
and is now animating the new actions of the twenty seven country Union. One
recent movement was to pass in the EU Parliment the gravity and accuracy of
the Goldstone Report. This is a legalized statement that covers every
Flowing from this is the present presence in Israel and Palestine of the
Baroness, checking how the yearly one billion euros sent to Palestine are
spent, among other things. Yesterday she met with Netanyahu, he graciously
diplomatic, feeling sure that no powers will be able to stop the 1600 new
Israeli homes or any other ethnic cleansing actions Israel is committed to
use, such as genocide.
He may well be very wrong because the rage engendered by Israei/USA ethnic
cleansing is becoming world-wide since Gaza started to make it visible.
Humiliating the U.S a week ago simply increases visibility that the
intention to control the Middle East is Israeli/U.S.A. goal. Up until the
passing of the E.U. Parliment legal approval of the Goldstone Report on the
Gaza War, passivity of the E.U. was assumed a shoe-in. Here is where the
reasoning of the Israel is so pathologically flawed. The U.S.'s is as well.
Europe has milions of well established former refugees of the Middle East
and of Africa that are also Islamic, part of the Umma, world-wide Islam. Up
to now that block of about two billion humans has not come together on the
issue of Israel genocide, U.S. decision to control the whole of the Middle
East for generations. This is in process of changing.
The violence in Palestine harks to only more violence throughout all Islamic
countries as Netanyahu is allowed to continue. Regardless of dramatic shock
and disagreement to Ben's actions by war loving Hillary and war increasing
Barak, stopping Israel is well within their hands. The article implies
otherwise. Also implying deep structural weakness and power vacuum. As
with The Hurt Locker movie, those not of the US forces are more than
marginal, rather non real.
The Baron expresses clearly that the EU cannot afford to endanger the peace
of it's joined counties and the abject deadly misery of Palestinians by
allowing this for television purported stalemate to continue.
The EU clout is new, it's revultion of state genocide is not.
On Fri, Mar 19, 2010 at 10:15 AM, Nick the Amazing <
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