Monday, March 03, 2014
Obama's feigned dismay at the isolation of Israel
David M. Weinberg
President Barack Obama's true feelings about Israel and U.S.-Israel relations were revealed in his repeated use of the word "manage" in his outrageous and ultimately hostile interview with Jeffrey Goldberg in Bloomberg View this week.
"If you see no peace deal and continued aggressive settlement construction -- and we have seen more aggressive settlement construction over the last couple years than we've seen in a very long time -- if Palestinians come to believe that the possibility of a contiguous sovereign Palestinian state is no longer within reach, then our ability to manage the international fallout is going to be limited. ... There comes a point where you can't manage this anymore, and then you start having to make very difficult choices," Obama said.
Obama then cautioned that Israel can expect to face international isolation and possible sanctions from countries and companies across the world if Prime Minister Netanyahu fails to endorse a framework agreement with the Palestinians and continues settlement building.
If and when Israel is isolated, Obama will not be able to so easily defend Israel: "In today's world, where power is much more diffuse, where the threats that any state or peoples face can come from non-state actors and asymmetrical threats, and where international cooperation is needed in order to deal with those threats, the absence of international goodwill makes you less safe," Obama said. "The condemnation of the international community can translate into a lack of cooperation when it comes to key security interests. It means reduced influence for us, the United States, in issues that are of interest to Israel. It's survivable, but it is not preferable."
What we are hearing here from Obama is feigned dismay at the possible isolation of Israel. Also feigned is Obama's agonizing over America's inability to defend Israel well enough, if and when the big chill develops.
Alas, America doesn't have absolute power any more in today's "diffuse" world, and Obama just won't be able to "manage" the anti-Israel fallout. Alas, the burden of Israel will just be too much for America to bear, and Israel will just have to bear the consequences and "manage" on its own.
I'm sorry, but it's hard for me to hear too much anguish in Obama's words. It doesn't sound to me that Obama is too upset about the fact that America "will have reduced influence in issues that are of interest to Israel." It doesn't sound to me that he would mourn the helplessness of America with regard to Israel too much. It doesn't sound to me that he would be overwhelmingly upset if Israel was to become isolated and America distanced from Israel.
No, this all sounds very artificial and insincere. In truth, Obama is purposefully paving the way towards Israel's isolation and an American distancing from Israel, as he has been since his first day in office. He is leading the world in that direction, not truly lamenting it.
The give-away in this regard is Obama's total failure in this interview to place any onus of responsibility on Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas for advancement or retardation of the peace process. There is not a smidgeon of answerability that he attaches to Abbas. Only to Netanyahu.
Abbas' minions can savage U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, cast ugly aspersions on his motivations, organize demonstrations against him, brutally mock his proposals, intransigently reject any moves towards Israel, threaten renewed warfare against Israel, cozy-up to Iranian officials in preparation for such future battle, and glorify terrorism against Israel -- yet Obama remains mum.
Abbas says he will "never" recognize Israel as the national state of the Jewish People, "never" forgo the so-called right of return to Israel of Palestinian refugees, "never" accept Israeli security control of Jordan Valley and other key air and ground security assets, "never" allow Jews to live in Judea, and "never" accept Israeli sovereignty in any part of Old Jerusalem. Yet Obama has nothing to say about any of this.
Obama has nothing to say about Palestinian political culture that remains violent, anti-democratic, and wedded to historical lies. He issues no warnings of PA diplomatic isolation or economic collapse if Abbas doesn't compromise and advance the peace process. He has no intention of pinning any failure of the process on the recalcitrant and defiant Palestinian Authority. Failure would be blamed only on Israel. But of course, Obama would truly regret that day.
In the meantime, Obama is fixated on a phony issue, settlements -- the ultimate way to delegitimize and demonize Israel -- and on the consequences for Israel of its impending isolation. Ostensibly, this worries him.