[Marxism] Netanyahu hears no discouraging words from Obama

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Wed Jul 7 12:18:22 MDT 2010

Netanyahu hears no discouraging words from Obama

By Dana Milbank
Wednesday, July 7, 2010; A02

A blue-and-white Israeli flag hung from Blair House. Across 
Pennsylvania Avenue, the Stars and Stripes was in its usual place 
atop the White House. But to capture the real significance of 
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's visit with President Obama, 
White House officials might have instead flown the white flag of 

Four months ago, the Obama administration made a politically 
perilous decision to condemn Israel over a controversial new 
settlement. The Israel lobby reared up, Netanyahu denounced the 
administration's actions, Republican leaders sided with Netanyahu, 
and Democrats ran for cover.

So on Tuesday, Obama, routed and humiliated by his Israeli 
counterpart, invited Netanyahu back to the White House for what 
might be called the Oil of Olay Summit: It was all about saving face.

The president, beaming in the Oval Office with a dour Netanyahu at 
his side, gushed about the "extraordinary friendship between our 
two countries." He performed the Full Monty of pro-Israel 
pandering: "The bond between the United States and Israel is 
unbreakable" . . . "I commended Prime Minister Netanyahu" . . . 
"Our two countries are working cooperatively" . . . "unwavering in 
our commitment" . . . "our relationship has broadened" . . . 
"continuing to improve" . . . "We are committed to that special 
bond, and we are going to do what's required to back that up."

An Israeli reporter attempted to summon the effusive American back 
to reality: "Mr. President, in the past year, you distanced 
yourself from Israel and gave a cold shoulder to the prime 
minister. Do you think this policy was a mistake? . . . Do you 
trust Prime Minister Netanyahu?"

Obama assumed an amused grin. "Well, let me first of all say that 
the premise of your question was wrong, and I entirely disagree 
with it," he said. He said he had always engaged in "a constant 
reaffirmation of the special relationship" with Israel, and "I've 
trusted Prime Minister Netanyahu since I met him before I was 
elected president."

So that business about Hillary Clinton calling Israel's settlement 
action "insulting" and the State Department accusing Israel of a 
"deeply negative signal" that "undermined trust and confidence in 
the peace process and in America's interests"? You must have 
imagined it.

Obama came to office with an admirable hope of reviving Middle 
East peace efforts by appealing to the Arab world and positioning 
himself as more of an honest broker. But he has now learned the 
painful lesson that domestic politics won't allow such a stand.

On Pennsylvania Avenue outside the White House on Tuesday, liberal 
activists protested what many of them see as a betrayal. "We want 
to appeal to Obama to stand up for once, to get a little 
vertebrate in his invertebrate back and speak to Netanyahu in no 
uncertain terms," protester Ray McGovern shouted into a bullhorn. 
Obama, he added, is "a president who by all indications is what we 
call in the Bronx a 'wuss': a person who will not stand up for 
what he knows is right."

Even before Obama's surrender to Netanyahu, Muslims were losing 
faith that he would be the transformational figure who spoke to 
them from Cairo last year. A Pew Research Center poll last month 
found that the percentage of Muslims expressing confidence in 
Obama fell from 41 percent to 31 percent in Egypt and from 33 
percent to 23 percent in Turkey.

Obama snubbed Netanyahu at their last meeting, shortly after 
Israel's announcement during a visit by Vice President Biden that 
it would build new housing in a disputed area of Jerusalem. No 
statement or photograph of the meeting was made public. But Israel 
didn't back down, and neither did it heed administration pleas to 
use "caution and restraint" before the deadly raid by Israeli 
commandos on an aid flotilla bound for Gaza.

Netanyahu arrived at the White House to see bulldozers and piles 
of rubble along the West Wing driveway from a construction project 
on the North Lawn. Inside, he found more construction underway: 
Obama feverishly rebuilding the U.S.-Israel relationship. The 
president's opening statement in front of the cameras contained 
not a word of criticism of the Jewish state.

"Well, I just completed an excellent one-on-one discussion with 
Prime Minister Netanyahu," he began. For those tuning in late, he 
added at the end: "So I just want to say, once again, that I 
thought the discussion that we had was excellent."

Netanyahu was pleased with the pandering. "Mr. President, I want 
to thank you for reaffirming to me in private and now in public, 
as you did, the long-standing U.S. commitments to Israel."

Obama didn't even mention Israel's settlements until a reporter 
inquired -- and then he declined to say that Israel should extend 
a moratorium on settlements that expires in September. Avoiding 
any criticism of Israel, he instead directed Palestinians not to 
look for "excuses for incitement" or "opportunities to embarrass 

Netanyahu celebrated victory. "To paraphrase Mark Twain," he said, 
"the reports about the demise of the special U.S.-Israel 
relationship aren't just premature, they're just flat wrong."

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