[Marxism] Netanyahu hears no discouraging words from Obama
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
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
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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