The attitude towards Israel being expressed by the Obama government is vile, obscene, intolerable.
This is the scenario. Sort of a diplomatic soap opera:
Obama considers that his reputation in foreign affairs depends upon a “victory” here — which means getting Israel and the PA back to the negotiating table.
Netanyahu over the course of months has made several conciliatory gestures. Too conciliatory by far, for my taste. Especially since it’s a bottomless pit, and no matter what we do it’s always, “What have you done for us lately?”
While our prime minister was making politically correct statements about a two-state solution and how peace is coming soon, the PA was being totally adamant about not cooperating.
Netanyahu instituted a very disruptive 10-month partial construction freeze for our communities in Judea and Samaria– from which Jerusalem was explicitly exempt. The US, and especially Hillary Clinton, praised this “progress.” But this was unacceptable, said Abbas. As he is not really in a position to negotiate a settlement in any event, he is quite happy to find excuses as long as the onus is on Israel. He continued to demand a total freeze (even though he had negotiated with Olmert when building was going on in Judea and Samaria). The US proposed “proximity talks” — which would have allowed Abbas to avoid facing Israelis — but this still was not acceptable for him.
But then Abbas was stuck up a tree when that total freeze wasn’t forthcoming and the US was getting more and more antsy. Until the Arab League, reluctantly, tentatively, with all sorts of provisos attached, bailed him out by saying he could join “proximity” talks. But this wasn’t the end of it, for when Mitchell came here he indicated there was a gap between positions of the parties regarding the form and content of the talks, which would not continue for more than four months in any event — with the PA refusing to move on to face-to-face talks unless we froze all construction.
Enter Vice President Biden last week, here at the behest of Obama, to soften us up. In the course of his visit, our Ministry of the Interior announced plans for building 1,600 apartments in the Ramot Shlomo neighborhood of northern Jerusalem, outside the Green Line.
Oi vey! A crisis. A major diplomatic goof. A sin of considerable proportions. Or so we would be led to believe from the furor that has ensued ever since. We are terrible people, demonstrating lack of desire for peace, and not supportive of our ally, America. We “embarrassed” our guest, upset plans for negotiations, demonstrated behavior that makes it impossible for the Palestinian Arabs to trust us. And on and on. Instead of dying down, this has simply escalated.
We might ask — we should ask — precisely what the big deal was, as we had made it clear from the get-go that a united Jerusalem was our sovereign capital and would remain such eternally. We might inquire as to why anyone was shocked by the announcement when we had said already that Jerusalem was not included in the freeze.
Carrying this a bit further, we might also ponder the fact that the US is silent about the continued PA incitement, which, you might say, “destroys trust” on our side. I cite, from Palestinian Media Watch, this specific incident:
“March 11th, 1978 was the date of the worst terror attack in Israel’s history, when 37 people were murdered in a bus hijacking known as the ‘Coastal Road Massacre.’ Official Palestinian Authority TV opened its broadcasting last week on the 32nd anniversary of the terror attack by praising it as:
“‘A glorious chapter in the history of the Palestinian people… [near Tel Aviv] in the heart of the occupation state. The operation shocked the occupation entity.’
“PA TV’s praise of the attack was part of the introduction to an interview with Rashida Mughrabi, sister of terrorist Dalal Mughrabi, who commanded the attack. She also praised the attack and called for further terror against Israel, to whom she referred as the Zionist enemy’:
“‘This is a day of glory and pride for our Palestinian people and a blow to the Zionists… we must unite, and our rifles must unite, against the enemy who steals our land..'”
Then, a public square in Ramallah was dedicated on the very same day to the memory of Dalal Mughrabi, who led the deadliest terror attack in Israel’s history, the Coastal Road Massacre, in 1978 — a bloody rampage that left 38 civilians, 13 of them children, dead.
The PA had cancelled a ceremony in connection with this because of Biden’s visit. But the naming of the square proceeded, under the auspices of Fatah (the key party of the PA). “We are all Dalal Mughrabi,” declared Tawfiq Tirawi, a member of the Fatah Central Committee. “For us she is not a terrorist.”
This is OK according to the US? It doesn’t merit public chastisement? It’s not an embarrassment to those promoting negotiations?
As would be expected, the Arabs latched on to the announcement about building in Jerusalem as a reason to say negotiations were off, or at least postponed. First it was the Arab League, and then Abbas picked up the requisite position.
A major monkey wrench in US plans for negotiations. Undoubtedly a good deal of frustration and anger ensued. So, who do government officials get angry at? Not the PA for being obstinate, but Israel. Why? Because the expectation is that Israel can be moved, in a way the Arabs cannot. Israel is the perpetual fall guy. It is the Arabs who must be appeased. That’s the guiding policy.
Biden had already “condemned” the announcement when he was here, at least twice. And received apologies that were fairly groveling. That should have been the end of it. But it wasn’t.
Hillary Clinton has now called what happened “insulting,” and had sharp words for our prime minister by phone on Friday.
Naturally, the international community is all too happy to pick up the theme, as squeezing Israel is one of the favorite pastimes of its leaders. Thus the EU is now suggesting that it might use trade as “leverage” against us. And the Quartet has condemned our announcement.
ADL National Director Abe Foxman released a statement expressing deep concern about Washington’s “public dressing down of Israel…We are shocked and stunned at the administration’s tone…”
Of greatest concern to Foxman was the statement by Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs P.J. Crowly, who said Israel “undermined trust and confidence in the peace process, and in American’s interests.”
This was “especially troubling,” said Foxman, because Netanyahu had apologized and Biden had accepted the apology.
“Therefore to raise the issue again in this way is a gross overreaction to a policy difference among friends.
“We cannot remember an instance when such harsh language was directed at a friend and ally of the United States. One can only wonder how far the US is prepared to go in distancing itself from Israel in order to placate the Palestinians in the hope they see it is in their interest to return to the negotiating table.”
According to Khaled Abu Toameh, writing in the Post, the PA expects Mitchell to bring assurances that Israel’s plans to build in Jerusalem would be cancelled. Otherwise, said PA officials, they would “find it very hard” to resume talks.
But Mitchell is not in a position to guarantee anything of the sort. Although it is precisely on this that the US is likely to pressure us.
Netanyahu’s comment at a cabinet meeting this morning:
“We opened the newspapers today and read all kinds of commentaries and estimates about the crisis with the United States. I suggest that we avoid getting carried away and calm down.
“We have already seen crises and what we need is composure. There was an unfortunate incident here which should not have taken place. I asked the ministers not to talk about it. The United States and Israel have joint interests, but we will act in accordance with the State of Israel’s interests.” (emphasis added)
Earlier, Netanyahu said that he had thought the apology to Biden — especially as it had been personally coordinated with Biden himself! — was sufficient and that the matter was closed.
Understand, the issue is not that Biden is really still upset and insulted, it’s that his presence at the time of the announcement is being used against Israel.
With all of it, perhaps this is most disgusting and alarming:
According to Aluf Benn, writing in Haaretz:
“Instead of accepting Netanyahu’s partial apology and letting bygones be bygones, Obama issued a stern warning to the Israeli prime minister and is now demanding that he take ‘specific actions’ to show he is ‘committed’ to the U.S.-Israel relationship and to the peace process itself.
“Washington did not reveal the contents of the ultimatum or the list of demands reportedly presented to Netanyahu.”
Aaron Lerner, who put this up on IMRA, comments, however, that Aluf Benn religiously advances a “land for peace” formula and believes applying pressure on Israel is a good thing. It may be too soon to know how this will play out:
“…one can note that there have been numerous instances in the past that when the White House pressed too hard that the Israeli public (not the press – the public) reacted to the pressure by backing the Israeli government.” That’s our job now.
Lerner, commenting on yet another, related article on this issue, makes the point that the last thing we can do is take “risks for peace,” because we cannot trust the US to be with us. It’s all very conditional.
Lastly, Lerner pulled up from his archives the speech Obama gave at the UN last September, in which he said:
“The United States does Israel no favors when we fail to couple an unwavering commitment to its security with an insistence that Israel respect the legitimate claims and rights of the Palestinians.”
Same theme: they don’t commit to our security unless they get what they want from us.
OK. The situation is horrendous, and every bad thing we imagined would come from an Obama administration is materializing before our eyes.
We cannot simply be horrified. We absolutely must act. And at this juncture I would like to recommend a couple of specific things, with more to follow:
First, it is absolutely imperative that we give Netanyahu as much support as possible. Please, contact him! Large numbers make a difference. Tell him that:
 You are behind him and will support him as he stands strong for Israel.
 He must not be pushed into concessions that are not in Israel’s best interests because of threats from the Obama administration.
 He must take the offensive, missing no opportunity to expose the insincerity of the PA and its consistent incitement.
 He must, at all times, remember that Israel is a sovereign state and does not answer to the US. And that there is no need to apologize for this.
Fax: 02-670-5369 (From the US: 011-972-2-670-5369)
Phone: 03-610-9898 (From the US: 011-972-3-610-9898)
If you’re in Israel, please pass this to others in Israel who will deliver a supportive message to the prime minister.
Then there is something of considerable importance I ask of you if you are a Jew in the US:
The performance of most American Jewish organizations — which have shown themselves to be very politically correct and “progressive” — has been abysmal with regard to standing up for Israel, and against Obama when necessary.
The organizations that have been at the forefront in this regard, and are to be thanked for this, are all too few. Primarily: Americans for a Safe Israel (AFSI), Zionist Organization of America (ZOA), Young Israel, and in this instance ADL, as well as a handful of smaller groups such as ZStreet.
But there are a host of major, mainstream Jewish organizations that are silent. I have in mind most especially organizations like American Jewish Committee, American Jewish Congress, Hadassah, Jewish War Veterans, B’nai B’rith, ORT, Rabbinical Assembly, OU, etc. etc. Where were their members when a demonstration was held in support of the IDF last week?
Please, if you are a member of one of these organizations, it is imperative that you pressure your leadership to speak out strongly now on Israel’s behalf and to communicate great displeasure to Obama.
Obama has counted on American Jewish support. The best way to let him know that there is ire within the Jewish community about this and that his support is at risk is via organizations, so that the statement of one organizational leader speaks for many. This may be the only way to get to Obama now.
There is reason to believe that he hoped to curry favor with the citizens of Israel by sending Biden to speak his words of affection for Israel, and that this would reinforce the satisfaction of American Jews with him. But this has backfired badly. Obama must now be held accountable for his threats, disproportionate condemnation of Israel, and attempts to control Israel.
Contact information for many organizations can be found at the website of Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, found below.
But if your organization does not belong, please pursue contact information for its national leadership and strongly express your concerns as well.
It goes without saying, I think, that if you are Christian, and belong to a major Christian organization, it doesn’t hurt to encourage the leadership of your organization to deliver similar messages to the president.