The MSN link to the Newsweek article cited below stated "What Israel risked by slapping Biden's Face". The truth is they risk nothing. The Obama/Biden administration has already made clear that they intend to snuff America's allies and court her enemies. President Obama was not nearly so quick to condemn the political farce that was the Iranian elections, or the related violence perpetrated by the government, as he was to denounce Benyamin Netanyahu's decision to continue building on lands he believes to belong to Israel. Israel risks little as Obama has already proved he does not have her back.
The following Newsweek article is a blatant hatchet job on Israel and Benyamin Netanyahu. The author does not even bother to pretend to be unbiased while bashing Israel and her leaders.
A Rotten Deal
Israel didn't just spit in Joe Biden's face last week. It jeopardized America's willingness to protect it from Iran.
The subtitle presumes facts not in evidence; i.e. that America (Obama) was willing to protect Israel to begin with.
Vice President Joe Biden's visit to Israel last week was rightly hailed as a catastrophe—but not because of settlements. After a tense year in which Washington had failed to stop Prime Minister Benyamin "Bibi" Netanyahu from settling more occupied land, Biden had come to shore up the relationship. Instead, officials in Netanyahu's government caught both men off guard by announcing plans to build more in contested East Jerusalem. True, that was a snafu. But the real disaster was what it may cost Israel. Biden had come to offer not just friendship, but support (and protection) against Iran—Israel's greatest bogeyman—in exchange for a few concessions from Netanyahu. Instead, he got a finger in the eye.
Where to begin? First off referring to Iran as a bogeyman seems to indicate that there is no real threat there. That highlights the ignorance of the author. The next point of contention would be the presumption that America has any right to tell Israel that they cannot build on land that they believe to be theirs. Just because it is contested does not mean that Israel has no claim. I wonder if Obama and his sycophants would feel the same if Mexico contested our ownership of Texas?
When President Barack Obama and Netanyahu took office last year, consensus opinion expected a confrontation between the United States and Israel. It was almost a no-brainer—America was moving left as Israel was moving right. Obama's grand design for a new, peaceful, and pro-American Middle East (featuring a new Palestinian state) stood in stark contrast to Netanyahu's long-held support for Israel's control of the West Bank and East Jerusalem. But Netanyahu thought that if he tacked between his rightwing coalition—committed to expanding settlements in the West Bank and moving more Jews into East Jerusalem—and Obama's desire for peace talks, he could keep U.S. support against Iran and even start from scratch with the Palestinians. And until last week, Netanyahu seemed to pulling it off: he got indirect talks with the Palestinians in return for a limited and temporary settlement freeze that excludes East Jerusalem. His coalition survived intact. And his public popularity skyrocketed to 50 percent in February—which Israelis knew only in the Ariel Sharon period (while Obama's approval ratings plummeted).
Of course Obama was going to succeed where every other had failed. Barack Obama was going to wave his magic wand and peace would befall a region that has not known peace in centuries. I am hard pressed to decide if it was naivete, delusions of grandeur or, simple arrogance that would lead him to believe such a thing. In any case the way to peace in the middle east does not include shunning our one and only ally in the region.
Maybe the reason Netanyahu has soared in popularity and Obama has crashed is because one is listening to the people while the other is listening to David Axelrod and Rahm Emanuel. Just a thought
Then Biden came to town. On the face of it, this was just about assuring Israelis, directly and in their own country, about America's love and support. It seemed like good politics in a tough election season back home, and Biden was a natural choice as messenger: alone in the high echelon of the Obama administration, the veep—an old-line Zionist—has come to consider "Bibi" as a close personal friend over a three-decade acquaintance. If anybody could reach out to Netanyahu, it was the former senator from Delaware.
Throwing out any claim of journalistic integrity the author launches into a paragraph better befitting a biography of Biden than news print. I noted throughout the remainder of the article no such glowing reviews are to be found of Netanyahu.
Biden's trip had a deeper motive, though. He was there to offer Israel a deal: we'll support you on Iran—keeping "all options on the table"—in return for Israeli flexibility in the West Bank. Obama would continue flogging sanctions relentlessly (he had made some of his own concessions to obtain sanctions support from allies) and refuse to discount the possibility of force. Or, in Biden's more diplomatic lingo during a speech at Tel Aviv University: "We are determined to keep the pressure on Iran so that it will change its course. And as we do, we will also be seeking to improve relations between the Israelis and Palestinians. They are connected indirectly, but there is a relationship."
Why would Israel believe a thing that comes out of the Obama administration? Thus far they have openly snuffed Israel while openly courting Iran. Obama has lost credibility on this issue and Israel is right to do what they believe they must to protect their self interests.
The settlements-for-Natanz idea (a reference to Iran's uranium-enrichment facility) has been around for a while. And it makes good sense: if Israel views Iran's would-be nukes as the gravest existential threat ever, and if Israel needs American support in confronting the threat, then it should give America something in return. That logic is how Netanyahu got his right-wing political partners to agree on a partial settlement freeze in November—against their beliefs. The freeze coincided with an upgrade in American-Israeli security cooperation. Biden simply made the linkage more explicit.
So now quid pro quo is the order of the day. Long gone are the days of protecting democratic societies for anything so noble as "doing the right thing". Now America must receive something in return? Sounds awfully pragmatic for a nation founded on ideals and principles.
But with the settlement announcement timed to embarrass Biden, Israel seemed to be casting aside that deal. For Obama and his inner circle, it brought back memories of Bibi's first term, during the Clinton years, when he appeared as an untrustworthy spoiler of peace, despite commitments from his predecessor. So the president decided on a showdown. As Biden's plane left the Israeli airspace, Washington launched a multichannel diplomatic offensive: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton chewed out Netanyahu by phone and made the conversation public so he couldn't brush it aside, and top aides like David Axelrod flooded the Sunday talk shows to decry the "affront." The idea was to shame Israel into accepting Biden's bargain.
So Netanyahu is an "untrustworthy spoiler of peace"? Maybe he is doing what the people of Israel want. what a novel concept; representatives acting in accordance with the will of the people the represent. I wonder if that is what Obama finds so reprehensible about Israel's actions?
Thing is, it's not working. Netanyahu apologized for the "bad timing" of the housing announcement, but he vowed to keep building in East Jerusalem. Knowing that concessions in the disputed city could bring down the Israeli coalition, Obama was asking Netanyahu to choose between American support or his right-wing political partners.
I think the choice is more along the lines of choosing between an American president who has time and again proven his naivete and unwillingness to act decisively in matters not related to self-aggrandizement or choosing to act in the interests of his own nation. Another concept that Obama has proven himself ignorant of.
And Netanyahu turned right. He rallied American Jewish groups against the administration's "dressing down," anticipating a warm welcome at the AIPAC annual conference next week in Washington. His ambassador in Washington called the crisis "the worst in American-Israeli relations since 1975," when then–secretary of state Henry Kissinger announced a "reassessment" of the relationship. And even Netanyahu's key coalition member from the center-left, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, backed the prime minister, securing the prime minister's political position at home.
So now it's down to a high-stakes test of wills: will Netanyahu, following his show of partisanship, concede on settlement building—or will Obama back down under the pro-Israel-lobby pressure? Isolating Israel could push it to attack Iran's nuclear plants. But caving to Israel could strengthen anti-American feelings throughout the Middle East. It's not clear who will blink first, but it's obvious that, where once there was an understanding, today there is only a contest.
Its funny how the author likens Netanyahu's actions to partisanship when he is clearly acting in the interests of Israel. We should be so lucky as to have leaders who actually do the same.