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Scathing denunciation of Obama Israeli policy … in The New Republic

Written by Yosi Klein Halevi, it explores a theme I contended a few days ago – that the recent confrontation was premeditated.  He also briefly points out that another Israeli reporter is wondering the same thing I did:

The administration, according to a report in the Israeli newspaper Yedito Aharonot, is making an even more insidious accusation against Israel. During his visit, wrote Yediot Aharanot, Biden told Israeli leaders that their policies are endangering American lives in Afghanistan and Iraq. The report has been denied in the White House. Whether or not the remark was made, what is clear today in Jerusalem is that Obama’s recklessness is endangering Israeli–and Palestinian–lives.

The last line is indicative of the entire tone of the essay. Halevi is merciless in his denunciation of the Obama administration’s handling of the recent confrontation.  “Recklessness” is not a term a contributing editor at TNR is likely to throw around lightly – especially when applying it to a Democratic president.

Astonishingly, Obama is repeating the key tactical mistake of his failed efforts to restart Middle East peace talks over the last year. Though Obama’s insistence on a settlement freeze to help restart negotiations was legitimate, he went a step too far by including building in East Jerusalem. Every Israeli government over the last four decades has built in the Jewish neighborhoods of East Jerusalem; no government, let alone one headed by the Likud, could possibly agree to a freeze there. Obama made resumption of negotiations hostage to a demand that could not be met. The result was that Palestinian leaders were forced to adjust their demands accordingly.

Obama is directly responsible for one of the most absurd turns in the history of Middle East negotiations. Though Palestinian leaders negotiated with Israeli governments that built extensively in the West Bank, they now refused to sit down with the first Israeli government to actually agree to a suspension of building. Obama’s demand for a building freeze in Jerusalem led to a freeze in negotiations.

Finally, after intensive efforts, the administration produced the pathetic achievement of “proximity talks”—setting Palestinian-Israeli negotiations back a generation, to the time when Palestinian leaders refused to sit at the same table with Israelis.

Ignorance? Amateurism? Halevi thinks it’s probably the latter – sort of:

That Obama could be guilty of such amateurishness was perhaps forgivable because he was, after all, an amateur. But he has now taken his failed policy and intensified it. By demanding that Israel stop building in Ramat Shlomo and elsewhere in East Jerusalem—and placing that demand at the center of American-Israeli relations—he’s ensured that the Palestinians won’t show up even to proximity talks. This is no longer amateurishness; it is pique disguised as policy.

While I agree with the assessment that it was “pique disguised as policy”, but I think it was as much ignorance and amateurism. Perhaps your remember Honduras. Halevi lays out the history explaining why the demands of the Obama administration are clueless and have actually set the peace process on it’s rear.

But Halevi isn’t done with the Obama administration – he has more:

In turning an incident into a crisis, Obama has convinced many Israelis that he was merely seeking a pretext to pick a fight with Israel. Netanyahu was inadvertently shabby; Obama, deliberately so.
According to a banner headline in the newspaper Ma’ariv, senior Likud officials believe that Obama’s goal is to topple the Netanyahu government, by encouraging those in the Labor Party who want to quit the coalition.

The popular assumption is that Obama is seeking to prove his resolve as a leader by getting tough with Israel. Given his ineffectiveness against Iran and his tendency to violate his own self-imposed deadlines for sanctions, the Israeli public is not likely to be impressed. Indeed, Israelis’ initial anger at Netanyahu has turned to anger against Obama. According to an Israel Radio poll on March 16, 62 percent of Israelis blame the Obama administration for the crisis, while 20 percent blame Netanyahu. (Another 17 percent blame Shas leader Eli Yishai.)

The “popular assumption” goes directly to what I said a couple of days ago. Despite White House denials, most of Israel is convinced this was a pathetic attempt at muscle flexing. Instead, it probably impressed no one and has instead alienated the Israeli pubic – a citizenry which is, in the majority, for a two-state solution.

Brilliant.  Now the talks are back to square one after Rahm Emanuel bragged that the two-state solution would be realized in Obama’s first term (it better be since hopefully that’s all he’ll get).

As it turns out, this has become a fiasco. Instead of a cool head prevailing and calming the waters, the situation was inflamed and escalated.  Now the Palestinians have used it as a reason to desert the process and the administration is stuck demanding Israel do something it has always refused to even talk about.  It’s interesting that a denunciation of these idiotic demands by the administration isn’t just coming from the right, but from leftist publications such as The New Republic.

Even they could no longer ignore the amateur in the White House.



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29 Responses to Scathing denunciation of Obama Israeli policy … in The New Republic

  • Every Israeli government over the last four decades has built in the Jewish neighborhoods of East Jerusalem
    Note these were “Jewish neighborhoods”
    Obama’s move was like telling Blacks that they couldn’t build in the Bronx, and then calling the announcement of the building of a Black youth center in Harlem … inflammatory.

  • Oh, don’t worry.  It’s just diplomatic song and dance.   Real interests will drive the process, and reports are now that the two sides have patched up their differences.  Obama had to prove to the Arab world that he wasn’t an Israeli patsy, he did that.   The Israelis understand.   Your ODS causes you to see disaster everywhere, it’s a bit funny.

    • Given O’s complete failure so far in foreign affairs (except where he stayed with the Bush plan), that’s a bizarre asessment.

    • The Israelis understand.

      They seem to understand that Obama is bungling his Mideast foreign policy pretty badly.

    • “Reports” – your secret sources in the State Department?   Mossad have you on a direct line?

  • Even they could no longer ignore the amateur in the White House.

    The rats are leaving the sinking ship.
    This broadened today as several media outlets decided not to ignore or gloss over the procedural trickery the Democrats are pulling in Congress. I think for some of them, that finally didn’t pass the smell test.

  • It gets some press and alleviates the healthcare focus.
    It make lefties and Arabs cheer. Makes him look faux tough.
    and what are the Israelis gonna do? Get new allies?
    OK, that’s the easy part…now how about this:
    Israel is going to hit Iran very soon. So the USA has the public spat with Israel to draw off some of the collateral heat.
    too crazy?

    • Collateral heat from whom? Most of the Arab countries in the region tacitly approve of such a strike (and SA has even let it be known that Israelis can transit their country if necessary).

      • The Arab Street so to speak. You may not worry about the Street’s opinion, but I bet Obama does.
        SA really gave them the OK? I guess that makes realpolitik sense. Was that okay public or not?

  • I’m really rather surprised to see that lefties – ANY lefties – are displeased at Imeme’s Israel (ahem) policy.  After all, they’ve spent YEARS building up the image of Israel as an aggressive, imperialist, genocidal country intent on oppressing and slaughtering the Palestinians who are merely trying to assert the right to live in their country without being ruled by bloodthirsty, Zionist American puppets.

    My guess is that most lefties, here and especially abroad, are satisfied with Imeme’s policies.  “Yeah!  That’s right!  Stick it to those damned Jews!”

    One wonders how liberal Jews in America feel about it, though…

  • Obama is a far left nut who has spent the last 30 years associating with every Jew hating loon who came within his range of contact.  So why is anyone surprised that this angry adolescent man lashes out at Israel? 

    But nothing will please his far left supporters more than seeing a few hundred or thousand Jews in Israel murdered by the “peace loving” Palistinians again.  We know that Obama’s spiritual advisor, Jeremiah Wright will be happy tonight that his harpy has stuck it to the Jews.

  • This is the New Republic, not some arbitrary generic representative Leftist Publication. They’ve always been generally pro-Israeli in a moderate, peace-process/two-state way, at times to the point of being so well-informed, and so concerned with finding a just and livable solution for both sides, that you’d mistake them for right-wingers. I seem to recall they were pro-GWOT for a while, many years ago.
    To the TNR, as with any leftist, the world is divided into “Us” and the “Other”. Unlike the rest of the left, TNR’s “Us” includes Israel instead of Hamas. Seeing Dear Leader’s stupidity, childishness, incompetence, and cheap demagoguery from the receiving end may ultimately help turn TNR against the creep, but he’s not likely to lash out gratuitously at any group the rest of the left regards as “Us”.
    Obama’s trouble with the rest of the left at the moment is their slowly-dawning realization that he’s not Hugo Chavez. They begged to be ruled by a drunken vengeful toddler with dynamite and a machine gun, and all they got was a drunken vengeful toddler with a hammer.

  • I’m sorry, don’t you understand that The New Republic is primarily a pro-Israel publication, and has been throughout the tenure of Marty Peretz? They’ve never supported any politician who blew cold on Israel.

    • Why not deal with the substance of the article rather than trying to kill the messenger? It seems the author makes some pretty telling points. If you dispute them, then do so. They’re laid out in the post

      • Probably because you wrote this in the classic “even the leftist The New Republic” genre.  Marty Peretz is a likudnik nutcase who thinks the only good Arab is a dead Arab.  He’s not a source any rational person should associate himself with.  His points are stupid.  Petreaus is the one who said Israel was endangering US lives and goals, which they are.  Biden may have too; “as reported” isn’t exactly a denial.

        • Marty Pretez didn’t write the article. I mentioned the Petreus briefing in another article that is linked but you obviously didn’t bother to read. And it was the White House that issued the denial.

          Now, you were saying?

          Thanks for stopping by, Retief, with your usual clueless trolling.

          • A denial that said the words were wrong as reported.  Not a very strong denial of something that everyone and his dog knows is true anyway.
            Obviously well-known-racist-Peretz didn’t write the article.  He just edited it after having his pet write it for him.  Biiiiiig difference.
            Meanwhile in both this post and the linked one you fail to address the obvious truth that Israel’s forty years of abject failure to figure out what to do with all the Arabs they conquered does endanger US lives and goals.  There is your substance.  Tu Quoque.

          • Wow … reduced to calling someone who didn’t write the article a racist to try and win your point.

            Pathetic, Retief – even for you.

          • Surely you don’t disagree that Peretz determines TNR’s line on Israel.
            Surely you also won’t disagree that Peretz denigration of Arabs and likudnik myopia is well documented.
            Surely you’d like to address the substance and stop fretting about the messenger.

          • Peretz has zip to do with the article.

            What part of that don’t you understand?

            Deal with the substance of the article or you can find somewhere else to troll – clear enough?

          • Anybody here can go read The Spine and see what the owner and editor of “the leftist TNR”, where the article was published, thinks about Israel and Arabs.
            On substance: yes slapped in the face.  Even your linked article acknowledges that.

            Initially, when the announcement about building in Ramat Shlomo was made, Israelis shared Vice President Biden’s humiliation and were outraged at their government’s incompetence. The widespread sense here was that Netanyahu deserved the administration’s condemnation, not because of what he did but because of what he didn’t do: He failed to convey to all parts of his government the need for caution during Biden’s visit, symptomatic of his chaotic style of governing generally.

            Of course this wouldn’t be TNR if he didn’t pretend that was changing, but a Haaretz poll out today contradicts that wishful thinking.

          • Just can’t let it go, can you Retief?

            And it’s obvious you don’t want to take on the substance of the article, so buzz off, race baiter.

  • Someone, perhaps writing for the National Review, remarked that the New Republic will come up with a detailed, nuanced argument why someone like John Kerry was wrong about something or other, and still conclude that you should support Kerry in the general election. Something to that effect.

  • As for your question re whether the US government was looking for a fight with Israel, here is an answer.  Israel slapped Biden publicly in the face.  The Israeli press  all know that perfectly well even if people here refuse to recognize it.  Biden and Obama et al have done the bare minimum necessary to respond to such treatment.

  • Israelis support Obama overwhelmingly.   So much for the idea Israelis have no respect for Obama.  Reality.