Is Hillary’s ‘deeply negative signal’ a deeply positive signal?

The Obama Administration finally realized its credibility was in tatters after the shenanigans of this week in Israel. With the President apparently sedated and the Vice President hoarse from crooning love songs to Israel, it was decided to have the top wimps step aside and let the only one in the Administration with any guts crack the whip.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton not only called Prime Minister Netanyahu today, she also had her spokesman P. J. Crowley inform reporters that for forty minutes she delivered "a stinging rebuke" to Netanyahu "to make clear that the United States considered the announcement [this week of new Jewish housing in East Jerusalem] to be a deeply negative signal about Israel’s approach to the bilateral relationship and counter to the spirit of the Vice President’s trip."

"The secretary said she could not understand how this happened, particularly in light of the United States’ strong commitment to Israel’s security and she made clear that the Israeli government needed to demonstrate not just through words but through specific actions that they are committed to this relationship and to the peace process."

Significantly, spokesman Crowley "stressed that the United States objected to both the content and timing of the announcement" and said Clinton had "reinforced that this action had undermined trust and confidence in the peace process and in America’s interests."

Considering Obama’s current political problems, it is hard to believe that this week’s events could be a tipping point in U.S. – Israeli relations. But considering the hole that the administration has dug for itself in the Mideast, it is not impossible that the Israeli slap in the face served as a wake-up call. The Quartet – which denounced the Israeli settlement announcement shortly after Clinton’s phone call was made known – is scheduled to meet next Friday in Moscow. What actions the Quartet takes will give a better indication whether this is a one week flap or an actual change in U.S. policy.

About Bruce Wolman

Bruce Wolman is a citizen journalist who has lived in Norway and the Washington area.
Posted in Israel/Palestine, Israeli Government, US Policy in the Middle East, US Politics

{ 45 comments... read them below or add one }

  1. AM says:

    Honestly I feel its just a drama that is being played out. Have Israel insult the US, then have the US act tough and get angry so it doesn’t seem they are complicit in what is happening, and move along. We’ll forget about what happens over the next month anyways.

    • it’s happened before.

      After Israel bombed the Iraqi reactor on June 7, 1981, using U.S.-supplied F-16s and F-15s, the Reagan administration said, “The United States government condemns the reported Israeli air strike on the Iraqi nuclear facility, the unprecedented character of which cannot but seriously add to the already tense situation in the area.” Most other nations joined in denouncing the action. link to

      To “punish” Israel, Reagan instructed the Defense Department to halt planned shipment of aircraft to Israel.
      Israel howled.
      After a few months, Reagan relented.

      when HRC calls up Haim Saban and reams him for 43 minutes, THEN I’ll begin to hope for “change you can believe in.”

      • Bruce says:

        I agree. When Hillary flips Haim off, we know she is finally serious.

        Actually, it’s a good idea. Why bother telling Netanyahu? Tell Saban directly and ask him to pass the message on. It would be more effective this way.

  2. Oscar says:

    Bruce, great post, and this whole situation has me LMFAO. Biden went to Israel to pledge allegiance, and to proclaim there is no space — none! — between the US and Israel when it comes to Israel’s security.

    My take is that there was a heavily-negotiated, carefully-choreographed charade — an agreement between the US and Israel that first and foremost, Biden would promise undying, puppy-dog loyalty to Israel, in return for Israel going through the motions of pretending to be committed to indrect discussions to give the illusion that George Mitchell had revived the “peace process.”

    The entire exercise is designed to give a headfake to the Arab world that the US is committed to being an “honest broker” in the Israel/Palestine situation (the humanitarian crisis of which is finally being denounced vocally by the rest of the civilized world — except the US).

    Essentially, the US and Israel had a pinkie promise on how this was going to play out. If Israel plays ball, the US will pressure the rest of the Arab world to ostracize the Iranians. But so certain is Israel that the US will bend-over at will for even the most egregious of its outrageous acts, that the Interior Minister (reportedly an outspoken hater of the concept of peace with the Palestinians) decided to put out his incendiary press release to coincide with the arrival of the American Vice President.

    It’s almost a surprise that they didn’t go so far as to sit Biden’s ass in a kindergartner’s chair, as Danny Ayalon did with the Turkish ambassador.

    Now, the reason Hillary is having a hissy fit over this whole commotion is that the US is failing under her watch to make any progress in the “peace process” in over a year. Moreover, it’s kind of difficult for the US to pretend to be an honest broker in the Middle East when it bends over routinely for Israel, despite Israel’s growing reputation as a rogue nation with no respect for human rights. Hillary’s got a real chocolate mess on her hands, trying to get the Arab nations to turn against Iran, when the Palestinians are being starved to death in a slow-motion genocide. No Academy Award actress is she: Hillary bleats stuff like “it’s not helpful” in response, or otherwise remains silent when the Israelis Judaicize Arab neighborhoods in Jerusalem with modified, American-made, American-taxpayer-purchased, Rachel-Corrie-killing Caterpillars.

    The key is that Americans made a bold pronouncement just last week said they would hold both sides to account for transgressions in moving the peace process further. So maybe this is propaganda, then again, maybe it’s half for-real. Maybe it’s “hey, Bibi, we had an agreement and if you want the US to spend more blood and treasure going after Iran so you can be the sole nuclear power in the region by having Uncle Sam open open up a third front in the Middle East . . . ?” Well, it’s just NOT “helpful” if Israel doesn’t follow the script.

    Israel has an end-game already figured out, and it ain’t pretty. Here’s an apocalyptic vision from a noted Israeli military historian: link to

    Here’s the bottom line: Israel either pushes out all of the Palestinians from Greater Israel through forced expulsions, or . . . in the alternative, use the 200 nukes in its arsenal to wipe the European Union off the map. And we worry about Iran being an existential threat?

    In this day and age, the civilized nations of the world are not stupid enough to fall for the hasbaric charade of the peace process. Certainly, the people who follow Mondoweiss are definitely not.

    • MRW says:


      This link you gave is disturbing:
      link to

      I would love to get confirmation of this from someone like, or if someone could get a copy of the Israeli radio show and we could have Shmuel see if its accurate.

      • MRW says:

        Al-Jazeera also reported it. The copy was the same.

      • Sumud says:

        It’s also been reported here though the name of the historian is slightly different:

        link to

        I’m not sure PIC is a reliable source, they were reporting a few days ago that Israel was circulating invitations to the opening of a synagogue at Al Aqsa Mosque on 16/03/2010. There were other rumours floating around that Israel is planning to demolish Al Aqsa on that date. While there is a historical rabbinical prophecy that Third Temple construction would start on this date – as reported last year by Haaretz – I have trouble believing Israel would be dumb enough to try that.

        Having said that, there’s been a lot of provocation lately from Israel around Al Aqsa and the heritage site listing, well, a violent third uprising – which it would be if the right buttons were pushed – would neatly derail any peace negotiations for Israel.

        But then I think of threat of nuking Cairo that was made in 1973 to induce the US to send support. I’m actually more disturbed by Israel having nuclear weapons than Iran, by a long shot. That was the case before this article appeared.

      • link to

        The above is a link to Martin van Creveld, an Israeli military historian and theorist, that essentially says the same thing about Israel’s apocolyptic vision for the world.

        • Tikun Olam reports that the attribution of those views to van Creveld is a hoax and a slur.
          link to

        • Sumud says:

          Reading what van Crefeld actually said is only slightly less disturbing than the misquote. To suggest nuclear attack on “the world” is an appropriate response if Israel is beaten in battle is absolutely revolting. It’s madness.

        • agreed.
          If I recall correctly, Seymour Hersch reported in “Samson Option” that, in 1973, Golda Meir ordered the silos opened and missiles targeted on European capitals, when it was known US satellites would see the action. US was thus ‘persuaded’ to assist Israel with arms, tipping the balance in Israel’s favor. Arabs responded with the first oil shock in US. I recall odd-even gas lines, 2 hour waits for gas, and sweating getting to work and law school on time.

    • Oscar, it doesn’t so much matter whether this latest flap was orchestrated along some cynical conspiracy lines or not. The sad thing is, since the result is always the same–the US clucks and Israel does what it wants–and has been for decades, the reality is that any conscious conspiracy has long since been subsumed and reappears in reflexive, unconscious form.

    • It is highly unlikely that an American official, be he or she the president, vice-president, or secretary of state would willingly submit to being publicly humiliated by anyone, including the prime minister of Israel. That includes Joe Biden, despite his professed love for the Jewish state. It also includes Obama who has been routinely humiliated by Israel to the point where it has earned him a reputation as someone who doesn’t need to be taken seriously on the international stage.

      What we have seen is just the latest example of the powers that be in Israel letting the powers that be in the US know that in any confrontation, the US Congress will stand on the side of Israel. This is what forced George HW Bush to go before the American people and attack the Jewish lobby on 9/12/91 when it became clear that both houses of Congress would overrule his veto of Israel’s request for $10 billion in loan guarantees.

      Despite the fact that 85% of the US public supported him in polls immediately afterward, that press conference of Bush Sr. sealed his fate as a one term president as members of his own party, in the pay of the “lobby” turned on him, as did friends in the press such as Bill Safire and George Will.

      Since the Democrats are arguably a virtually a subsidiary of the “lobby,” dependent upon it for at least 60% of its major funding (not to mention that of the unions which are also in the “lobby’s” pocket, the chance of a Democratic president seriously striking back are nil.

      That Hillary saw it necessary to make a phone call to Netanyahu was an attempt to clean the egg off Washington’s face since, clearly, the worm in the White House was not about to do it. And what was Israel’s response? To enforce a closure over the entire West Bank.

      Israel does not want or need any kind of talks because things are going according to plan and the Zionist International has apparently enough control over the major European powers, the UK, France, and Germany, to make sure that they keep their noses out of trying to pressure Israel to negotiate.

      As for the story contained on the link that MRW questions, it is most likely a fabrication. It seemed familiar when someone forwarded it to me yesterday and there was a good reason for it. The article, citing racist comments by Israeli professor Martin Van Crefeld, first appeared in 2003 (sic) and has reappeared a number of times since, the latest being in August of 2009.

      People need to be very careful not to believe and/or forward links to articles in which either a specific newspaper reference can not be found or a radio broadcast verified. Just because we want to believe what the article says is no reason not to check it out carefully before passing it on.

      • dalybean says:

        If you are saying that the closure of the West Bank is part of the “price tag” that is extracted every time anyone disturbs the settlement enterprise, does that mean the “price tag” is official Israel policy?

  3. dalybean says:

    Unlike most of the lovable cynics around here, I’m feeling quite positive about this. The Administration has really hurt Netanyahu, after trying so hard with that endless stream of high level visits. It will surely result in a better settlement freeze and it also reduces Netanyahu’s mobility to attack Iran or anyone else. I’m actually rather impressed.

    • James says:

      the diversity of opinion on this latest fall out or not, reflects an ongoing non event…. this has been repeated endless times and if one isn’t already disillusioned by a brief study of the history on us/israel politics, a few more years will surely fix it….

  4. VR says:

    At the end of each administration there should be an acting awards ceremony.

  5. hughsansom says:

    AM and dalybean are both right, I think. Oscar might be just a tad conspiratorial, but if I’m honest, the conspiratorial take on Israeli-American relations has usually proved right (witness the occasions of the US passing Middle East policy proposals by the Israel government for revision, or even complete authoring, before presenting them publicly).

    Here is my cynical take.

    Israel’s toying with the morons who pass for ‘leaders’ in the United States is nothing new. The difference is that Obama is of above average intelligence and, most important, has something resembling a conscience. George W. Bush was profoundly stupid and a true believer, a true racist, a true advocate of a Crusade to defeat Islam.

    Obama genuinely believes that Arabs, including Palestinians, have rights. That puts him in a bind never faced by Republicans or most Democrats. Like all but five or six Democrats, Obama’s main mission is the balancing act of pleasing the most powerful people as much of the time as possible — Wall Street, health insurers, military contractors, etc. — the American Oligarchs. But because he has something like a conscience, he actually believes in something like democracy — and (rare among Americans) not just for Americans and other members of the Judeo-Christian Western tradition.

    What to do then when Israel must be appeased to appease powerful interests in the US but justice actually requires saying no to the Middle East’s leading war criminal state? What to do when Israel is doing exactly what it has been doing for over 40 years and has promised to continue doing?

    Answer: Orwellify! Send two messages designed to sound like one (or maybe I mean one message designed to sound like two). Have Biden prate about the ‘demographic threat’ to Israel while uttering the word “Palestine” (a word that the New York Times still can’t print, that Israelis still choke on). Have Hillary issue “strong language”. Behind closed doors — in Israel, at the Brookings Institution’s Saban Center, in speeches to AIPAC, etc. — promise that Israel will always enjoy the full backing of the US.

    The Orwellian game is complicated these days by the growing delusion in Israel that Israel has a divine right to whatever the hell it demands. There’s always been a minority that believed this, but that minority may now be a majority. Bad timing. The nation that enabled Israel’s national psychosis is weakened worldwide by almost twenty years of war crimes in Iraq, absurd military expenditures, a steady economic decline and its own national psychoses.
    An aside: Israel propagandist Martin Indyk has a piece on the Brookings website about Netanyahu’s political calculus behind humiliating the pathetic Biden.

  6. prem says:

    I think this is serious superpowers do not take kindly to public humiliation. Washington’s efforts to build a coalition against Iran will come to naught without Israel seriously engaging the palestinians in final status negotiations.

    • Larry says:

      Really? Well the whole US “coalition against Iran” is for Israel and Israel’s sake alone.
      So how does that figure?
      If Hillary Clinton whom I have always detested as a total liar and enabler – wanted to delivered “a stinging rebuke” to Netanyahu – she could have recommended and indeed cut Israel’s billions down to size. But she, Congress and Obama would never allow this to happen to our “special friend” and “the only democracy in the middle east.”

  7. Evildoer says:

    maybe, maybe, keep reading the tea leaves. Maybe the Master will finally become our friend.

  8. Citizen says:

    I am guessing hughsansom’s take on the internal Obama is on the mark. However, he
    withdrew his support of his church mentor for two decades, and ditto re ACORN, and, although he made his Cairo Speech, he subsequently has done zippo about it. He also
    must know something about the Fed-NY branch especially, and entities like Goldman Sachs–and has basically rubber-stamped that power partnership–all he’s done there
    is trim around the credit card corner a tad, a trimming that even as it is implemented will be already circumvented by the investor banks–no real consumer protection from the various forms of usury and fee triggers. And now, the annual AIPAC meeting is coming up–if not he, then at least Hillary is going to go there. I’m guessing Hillary won’t even mention this little teapot tempest–it having happened weeks ago…

    At any rate, we need to monitor the fallout and WH reaction from now until the
    scheduled Israel First speeches at the next AIPAC meeting. Should tell us a lot.

  9. Rehmat says:

    Hillary Clinton gives a “stinging rebuke” to her masters in Tel Aviv!! That must be the greatest joke coming from someone who along with her husband had played the role of AIPAC pimp in their political career.

    However, as Dr. Ahmadinejad in his December 2009 speech explained that Palestine conflict is not a “war between Jews and Muslims” nor it’s a “war between two countries” – but “the battle that is going on in Palestine today is the frontline of the conflict between Islamic world and the Oppressor World. It’s a battle of destiny that will determine the fate of hundreds of years of conflict in Palestine…….. With the excuse of having cleared the Gaza Strip to show their goodwill, they want a group of Muslim nations to recognize this coruupt (Zionist) regime, and I am very hopeful and pray to Allah that the Palestinian nation and the dear Palestinian groups will be cautious of such sedition…”

    So the day the American public and sepecially the Jewish communities realize that truth, that will be the end of the Zionist regime and the begining of the end of the miseries of Palestinians and foreign Jews now occupying Palestine.

    Is Zionist-regime doomed?
    link to

  10. Citizen says:

    I wonder if Beiden’s strong spurting spout about Israel’s declared continuation of settlement expansion being a threat to US GIs in the Middle East was related to his son Beau’s having been over in Iraq for a year? (Not over in Israel shodding Merkavah tanks)
    Maybe? At least simply due to that fact, Beiden must be aware on a very personal level
    just as Chaney became aware of Lesbian rights due to one of his daughters being one. Of course Beau was over there as a member of JAG, thus not much in harm’s way; still,
    he was there and may have told a few stories to his Dad that made old Dad more imaginative than he would otherwise be…

  11. bob says:

    Washington Post Company Sep 28, 1992
    High-profile staff members from various Washington lobbying firms are actively campaigning for Democratic nominee Bill Clinton. Among them: David Ifshin, adviser to Clinton on U.S.-Israeli relations and general counsel to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the leading pro-Jewish lobby, and Samuel Berger, a foreign affairs adviser to the Clinton campaign and a trade issues lobbyist. Charles Dolan, a senior vice president of Cassidy Associates, a D.C.-based lobby group, is also a Clinton adviser.

    Los Angeles Times Sep 30, 1991

    “This is not just a typical flash point in U.S.-Israeli relations of the kind every President has,” said Stuart E. Eizenstat, a former domestic adviser to President Jimmy Carter who is active in Jewish affairs. “This one is over a basic policy disagreement that has been there since 1967-a fundamental difference over trading land for peace. The United States believes in that; the Shamir government does not. . . . It is going to be a continuing and major source of problems.”

    On the surface, the dispute is a simple one: Israel has asked for the $10 billion in loan guarantees over the next 10 years so it can obtain commercial financing to build housing for Jewish immigrants from the Soviet Union.

    But the Administration objects for fear that a commitment to further settlements on the West Bank would make it more difficult for the Arabs to compromise in preparation for a Middle East peace conference that Washington, together with the Soviet Union, hopes to sponsor next month.
    The tough White House stance also has created a rift between Bush and the American Jewish community.

    “This did some damage,” said Rabbi Alexander M. Schindler, a former chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. “It wasn’t so much the position he took as the tone he used-an imperious tone, an insulting tone.”

    Another Jewish activist was more strident: “The most important lesson of this was that George Bush can be a mean s.o.b.,” he said. “We never knew he could turn on the Jews the way he did. . . . After this, we can’t trust him.”

    Bush’s decision to take a stand against Shamir’s government flew in the face of advice from some of his political lieutenants-including Vice President Dan Quayle and top Republican Party officials-who had privately implored him to avoid a confrontation over the issue at the start of an election year.

    “I’m catching hell from the party,” Bush complained, a U.S. senator who met with him recounted. “They’re afraid we could lose some Senate seats out of this-especially in California.”

    The outcome of the sometimes-bitter battle, which provoked one Israeli Cabinet minister to call [George Bush] an anti-Semite, reveals much about the fast-changing dynamics of the U.S. relationship with Israel-and Israel’s waning political clout in Washington.

    At first, the White House pessimists looked as if they might be right: Bush’s stand touched off furious resistance from Israel’s friends in Congress, who vowed to pass the $10 billion in loan guarantees whether the President liked it or not. In California, where GOP operatives were worried about a backlash among Jewish voters and campaign donors, Democratic Senate hopeful Dianne Feinstein quickly issued a blistering statement calling Bush’s position “reprehensible.”

    The White House moved quickly to try to repair the damage. Bush wrote a conciliatory letter to Shoshana Cardin, the chairwoman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. He gave a major speech calling on the U.N. General Assembly to repeal its 1975 resolution equating Zionism with racism. And both Bush and [Dan Quayle] met privately with officials of pro-Israel organizations, seeking to soothe hurt feelings.

  12. Citizen says:

    How much things apparently change, yet really remain the same, especially as to US relationship with Israel. Vice President Dan Quayle? Oh, yeah, that was Sarah Palin in another life. Imagine if the Prez had died and Quayle became POTUS? What were Americans thinking?

    • Citizen says:

      Dumb as a Mud Fence:

      Even a casual reading of Quayle’s quotes makes it clear that he has serious trouble thinking. Quayle was a poor student at DePauw university, with a 2.4 grade point average, and numerous Ds in political science, his major.

      He got into the University of Indiana Law School despite a policy they had to reject all applicants with averages below 2.6. Quayle told frat brothers that he applied to law school because he heard that “lawyers make lots of money and do little.” The Dean of Admissions was G. Kent Frandsen, a Republican city judge who was always endorsed by the local Quayle-family-owned newspaper. The Quayles gave lots of money to the law school, and the Admissions Dean later officiated at Quayle’s marrige, and served as his campaign manager in Boone County when Quayle ran for senate.

      Even with all of these connections, the only way Quayle was admitted was as part of an affirmative action program designed for disadvantaged students, primarily black students.

      Check out on what seats he sits today–feel happy?

  13. Citizen says:

    Somehow, I keep thinking of the professional handling of Butterbean in the boxing sector whenever I think of world politics and (lack of) values from the USA or Israeli government POV.

  14. potsherd says:

    More empty promises:

    U.S. Middle East envoy George Mitchell promised Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas that the U.S. will bring a halt to Israeli building in East Jerusalem, a Palestinian official told the newspaper Al-Quds Al-Arabi on Saturday.

    “In a telephone conversation, Mitchell said the U.S. would make sure Israel stops building in the area,” the Palestinian official told the London-based Arabic daily newspaper.

  15. Donald says:

    I think Clinton’s rebuke was real, but I wouldn’t read too much into this just yet. Her husband got similarly furious with Netanyahu back in the 90′s over some other humiliation (I forgot what it was), but even though Clinton did put some pressure on the Israelis from time to time, when the chips were down he and Barak both blamed Arafat for the failure at Camp David, though even Shlomo Ben Ami (no fan of Arafat) said the deal offered there was inadequate for Palestinians.

    It’d be nice if this incident was a harbinger of a new era, where the US really was an honest broker, but I won’t get my hopes up about that.

  16. RE: “let the only one in the Administration with any guts crack the whip” – Wolman
    MY COMMENT: Hillary the Dominatrix? Yes! Yes! I like it! Even better than Coulter. Oh, yes! Use the cat o’ nine! Faster please! I’m so glad I switched to daily CIALIS ® (tadalafil)! America is truly “to die for”!
    Cat o’ nine tails – link to

  17. RE: “…considering the hole that the administration has dug for itself in the Mideast…” – Wolman

    Working with Israel, said Aaron David Miller, “is like dancing with a bear. Once you start, you can’t let go.”

    SOURCE – link to

  18. radii says:

    60% of the money flowing to the Democratic Party (according to Mondoweiss) comes from Jews … it is an election year …

    Hillary’s “rebuke” should be the start of a 10-point plan to put israel in its place (1. Cut off loan guarantees, 2. Cut off military funding, 3. Ban all U.S. money that supports settlement building, 4. Demand an immediate and permanent halt to all current and planned settlement construction, 5. Compel a transparent and impartial investigation based upon the Goldstone report, etc etc) … but we all know better

  19. Citizen says:

    Well, at least MSNBC aired Hillary saying Israel insulted Beiden and the US–and Andrea Mitchell did the interview–very, very short. I don’t think that happened when Candy Rice was insulted the same way on her visit to Israel. OTH, did Obermann or Rachel cover it? Did Fox? Any US couch potato would have drawn a blank from the inverview of Hillary
    as no context was provided. Just the word “Settlements” and an Israeli flag as lead-in to very short interview.

  20. Citizen says:

    M J Rosenberg seems to be betting that the Obama crew will back down, its spine melting back to the puddle on the floor the US has been for decades when it comes to Israel, that is, Israel First party donors here in the good old US of A, where 60% of Democratic funding comes from AIAPC-directed types and 30% of Republican funding (plus those
    tithing Christian Zionists)–he says, watch what happens in a few weeks at the annual AIPAC genuflection–Hillary and the Big N are both set to attend:
    link to

  21. Citizen says:

    Sucker (Yiddish). Pejorative.
    “Freier” is Yiddish for sucker and no Israeli … wants to be seen as one. Following the recent breakdown of talks with the Palestinians, the Prime Minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, proudly told Israeli journalists: “I’m no freier.”

    “We are not suckers,” he said, using the Hebrew slang word “freier,” which means sucker, or chump. “Israel cannot give and give and not get anything back in return.”

    • Citizen says:

      OK. Now, for Americans, the question is: When will we stand up for our own interests, and when will our government support us? When will we too refuse to be suckers, freiers? How long will the US give and give to Israel, at the expense of our own desperate citizens, and not at least meekly ask Israel it should give us something in return?

      The last four decades plus shows the US as purely a freier nation. That is to say,
      the average American is a freier when it comes to Israel. Our Congress and WH
      are not freiers; they get to obtain and retain power and perks. It’s a bargain–except for
      the US masses, the ultimate rubes at the circus and carnival.

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