U.S.-Israel Relationship in Crisis

The sickness behind Washington's verbal assault on Netanyahu.

ShowImage.ashxThe Obama administration’s contemptible hostility towards Israel has descended into the proverbial cellar.  According to an October 28th article appearing in The Atlantic by Jeffrey Goldberg, a high-level Obama administration official has recently added "chickensh*t" to other derisive terms used in ad hominem verbal attacks on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, such as “recalcitrant, myopic, reactionary, obtuse, blustering, pompous, and ‘Aspergery.’”

Prime Minister Netanyahu responded to the latest diatribe in his remarks to the Knesset on October 29th that "I am being attacked because I am willing to defend the State of Israel."

Needless to say, other Israelis were more direct in expressing their outrage at the reported epithet. For example, Economy Minister Naftali Bennett said that “severe curse words against the Israeli prime minister are harmful to millions of Israeli citizens and Jews worldwide." Former Israeli United Nations Ambassador Dan Gillerman described such name calling as “shameful,” “abusive,” and “counter-productive.”

The White House has tried to do some damage control regarding the "chickensh*t" remark, as it usually does after stepping into its own mess. U.S. National Security Spokesperson Alistair Baskey said in response to the latest imbroglio that “such comments are inappropriate and counter-productive. We do not believe there is a crisis in the relationship. The relationship remains as strong as ever and the ties between our nations are unshakable."

With all due respect, Mr. Baskey, the relationship between Israel and the United States is at a historic low. The White House’s petty vindictiveness was illustrated again just last week when Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon was given a cold shoulder by various high-profile Obama administration officials, who were instructed not to meet with the defense minister during his visit to Washington. These officials included Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State John Kerry and National Security Advisor Susan Rice.  Aside from a routine meeting with his counterpart Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, Defense Minister Ya’alon did manage to meet with the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power, despite attempts by the administration, which came too late, to block the meeting. In any event, Ambassador Power focused her attention during the meeting on the settlements issue.

As Jeffrey Goldberg wrote in his article in The Atlantic:

The relationship between these two administrations -- dual guarantors of the putatively "unbreakable" bond between the U.S. and Israel -- is now the worst it's ever been, and it stands to get significantly worse after the November midterm elections. By next year, the Obama administration may actually withdraw diplomatic cover for Israel at the United Nations, but even before that, both sides are expecting a showdown over Iran, should an agreement be reached about the future of its nuclear program.

While Jeffrey Goldberg correctly identified the problem, he mistakenly blamed Prime Minister Netanyahu as the main cause of the problem. Goldberg parroted the Obama administration line that, if it were not for the Israeli government’s settlements policies, a peaceful two-state solution would be achievable. He referred to what one Obama administration official described as the administration’s “red-hot anger” at the Israeli prime minister “for pursuing settlement policies on the West Bank, and building policies in Jerusalem, that they believe have fatally undermined Secretary of State John Kerry’s peace process.”

Indeed, Secretary of State John Kerry has gone public in blaming the Jewish state and its settlements policies for the failure of his feckless pretentions to be a peacemaker between the Israelis and the Palestinians.  He even went so far as to repeat without any rebuttal, at a White House reception earlier this month held in honor of a Muslim holiday, a contention that Israel’s intransigence was contributing to the rise of jihad in the Middle East.

The crisis in the once close relationship between the two countries originates from the very top of the Obama administration. President Obama himself has set the tone for the unprecedented verbal assaults from members of his administration on the leader of the only real democracy in the Middle East, and one of the United States’ closest allies – until now.

Back in November 2011, for example, Obama and former French President Nicolas Sarkozy were caught on an open microphone complaining about the Israeli prime minister. After Sarkozy said that he “can’t stand” Prime Minister Netanyahu and called him a “liar,” Obama replied: "You're tired of him; what about me? I have to deal with him every day."

In 2010, Obama is reported to have snubbed Prime Minister Netanyahu, declining to join the Israeli leader and his delegation for a White House dinner.

Obama came into office in 2008 with a decidedly pro-Palestinian bias. He absorbed the anti-Semitic rhetoric of his long-time pastor in Chicago, Jeremiah Wright, and of his friend from his teaching days at the University of Chicago, Rashid Khalidi.

Khalidi was a big fan of Yasser Arafat’s terrorist organization, the PLO.  He described Israel as a “racist” state and “basically an apartheid system in creation.” In 2003, at a farewell dinner for Khalidi, who was about to leave the University of Chicago for a position at Columbia University, Obama hailed Khalidi’s insights as an influence on his own thinking. Khalidi later returned the favor, telling pro-Palestinian audiences that Obama deserved their help in winning a U.S. Senate seat, stating: “You will not have a better senator under any circumstances.”

From the beginning of his first presidential term, President Obama signaled his intention to come down hard on Israel by initially demanding a complete freeze on settlements – including on any growth in existing settlements. He also outlined his concept of a final peace agreement that would require Israel to withdraw virtually entirely to the pre-June 1967 lines, but with no reciprocal requirement that the Palestinians renounce completely once and for all its assertion of a so-called “right of return” of millions of "refugees" to lands within pre-June 1967 Israel.  He has clearly bought into the self-serving narrative of Palestinian victimhood.

All that the Obama administration wants to talk about are Jewish settlements, failing even to distinguish between actual settlements in the West Bank and expansion of housing for Israelis living in certain Jewish neighborhoods in Jerusalem that happen to fall within the revisionist construct of a divided “East Jerusalem” that the Obama administration helps to perpetuate. Historically, Jerusalem has been an undivided city that has had a Jewish majority population and has in the past been the capital for the Jewish people. Jordan’s illegal occupation between 1948 and 1967 resulted in the artificial division of Jerusalem that the Palestinians, with help from the Obama administration, seek to make permanent. Jerusalem is whole again as it should be, but – unlike during the years of Jordan’s occupation – the holy sites are open to worshipers of all faiths.

During an “emergency” United Nations Security Council meeting convened on October 29th to discuss Israeli plans to build more Jewish housing in “East” Jerusalem, the U.S. representative speaking to the Council called Israel’s “unilateral” actions, including in Jerusalem, “deeply concerning” and provocative. This followed the usual Israeli-bashing by the United Nations bureaucracy. United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Jeffrey Feltman, said during the meeting that "Israel's construction plans in East Jerusalem - if they go ahead - raise grave doubts on its willingness to promote peace."

Israel wants peace, but not how the Palestinians, backed by the Obama administration and the Palestinians' allies at the United Nations, would define it.

Gaza was a test case of the Palestinians’ ability and willingness to establish a model for an independent state after Israel withdrew completely in 2005 and turned over economic resources and responsibility for security to the Palestinian Authority. As has happened so often when the Palestinians had a chance for a truly peaceful two-state solution, they blew the opportunity. Hamas, whose genocidal charter calls for the destruction of Israel and the murder of Jews worldwide, took over Gaza in 2007 and turned it into a launching pad for above-ground rocket and underground tunnel attacks against Israeli civilians living in Israeli towns and cities. In Jerusalem itself, just last week, a Hamas affiliated jihadist deliberately drove his car into a group of pedestrians, killing a 3-month old baby, who, it turns out, was an American citizen. The response from Palestinian President Abbas’s Fatah party was to call the baby murderer a “heroic martyr.” A Hamas spokesman called the murder a “natural response” to the “invasion of our land by the Jews.”

Abbas did not express outrage or remorse over the senseless murder of the baby. Indeed, his own incendiary remarks calling for the use of “any means” to stop Jews from visiting or worshipping at the Temple Mount may have helped incite this violent attack. Hanan Ashrawi, a prominent member of the PLO Executive Committee, added her own fuel to the fire by saying that allowing Jews to visit the Temple Mount (which is holy to Jews as well as to Muslims) is a “declaration of war against Islam.” President Obama himself did not speak out publicly regarding such inflammatory rhetoric, the subsequent murderous attack itself or the disgusting reaction of the Palestinian leadership to the attack.

Abbas and the Hamas leadership play “good cop-bad cop” in terms of tactics, but their end-game is the same – the extinguishment of Jewish self-determination in any lands the Palestinians falsely consider their birth-right. There is no room for any Jewish state anywhere between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, in their own vision of the region.

The Obama administration turns a blind eye to the Palestinian pathology of hatred of Jews, some of which is rooted in Islamic supremacism. Preached in mosques and taught in Palestinian schools to poison the minds of generations of Palestinians, such hatred prevents the realization of any true two-state solution which recognizes the right of self-determination of the Jewish people as well as the Palestinian people to live side by side in peace and security.

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