Israel’s friends call on a man to save Israel who could never be elected there (Obama)

The new theme in the liberal press following the Israeli election is that Obama has trumped Netanyahu, so now is the time for Obama to push on the two-state solution. The New York Times implores him to go to Israel at last and explain why the two-state solution is in Israel’s security interest. Peter Beinart offers this exciting scenario, which he only halfway believes himself:

if Obama wants, he’ll be well-positioned to hasten Netanyahu’s demise, and push Israel toward elections that just might produce a Lapid-led government more open to a viable Palestinian state. It’s still a relative long-shot.

It’s not going to happen. Obama will not expend political capital on two states. He tried four years ago and got his head handed to him. His recent speeches have contained nothing about the Israel/Palestine issue, he is just hoping it will go away. And Tuesday’s results tell Obama that it will be too hard to achieve anything that even looks like a handshake on the White House lawn, let alone a fair deal, because Israeli society is now lost to the settler movement; Yair Lapid has no ability to counter it, or desire to.

But Obama is supposed to fly across the Atlantic to a country that if he were living there would regard him as a second-class citizen and lecture these people about their national interest? Mark Landler reports the grim truth in the Times today:

Nor, after the frustrations of his first term, does Mr. Obama appear any more likely to invest heavily in Middle East peacemaking. The president scarcely mentions the subject these days.

The New York Times editorial page has the crust to lecture Obama on how to kiss the lobby’s behind:

Unlike the bungled effort in his first term, though, he needs to carefully prepare the political ground, including making his first trip to Israel as president and explaining to the Israeli people how any peace plan will enhance their security.

“The political ground.” That means the lobby. But the Israel lobby is on Israel’s side; it will not abandon a broadly centrist Jewish government, and Obama has to defer to the lobby. Look how much work he had to do not to attack Iran. Look how many backflips he has had to do to get Chuck Hagel nominated to be secretary of Defense. And you think there will be a fair peace resulting from the forces coming to bear on Obama? Dream on. I am told that Dennis Ross and Mort Zuckerman were on Charlie Rose last night blaming the Palestinians for a lack of progress on peace. Obama will never get a deal even like Clinton’s deal of 2000, which was not fair to Palestinians.

If anyone has to prepare the political ground, it’s the New York Times. It needs to start explaining Israeli political culture to liberal Americans, it needs to lay out the fact that 20 percent of the Israeli population — Palestinians — will be written out of whatever governing coalition emerges in the next weeks, in the type of Jim Crow power-division that we had in the South under desegregation.

In fact, these desperate appeals to Obama are another sign of the dangers of Jewish sovereignty–  in which American friends of Israel must turn to non-Jews to save the Jewish state from the patent danger of an all-Jewish governing coalition.

The only chance for change in months to come is from Europe and the BDS movement. They are the only means of changing the calculus of the future. The rest is just the bogosity of hope.

About Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.
Posted in Israel/Palestine

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

  1. Ramzi Jaber says:

    Three comments:

    1) Beware the ILLUSION of change. Regardless to political party, they are all united on the core issue: take as much Palestinian land as you can, as quickly as you can. They differ on approach. That’s about it.

    2) No colonial power in history has relinquished land without resistance. I certainly hope our next step resistance will be non-violent only. But for how long before the occupation is over?

    3) The US Zionist Lobby (whose members are almost all Jewish!) must be exposed before peace has any remote chance to work. When will the American people realize the chokehold of the Zionist Lobby on their political system?? When will a whistelblower emerge from AIPAC’s grip???

    • Krauss says:

      Ramzi:

      The US Zionist Lobby (whose members are almost all Jewish!) must be exposed before peace has any remote chance to work.

      Well, yes and no. If you look at the totality, there are far more Christian Zionists in America. However, quality beats quantity here. Of those that matter, AIPAC, ADL, AJC, Conference of Presidents and so on, almost all of them are Jewish. This became apparent in the anti-Hagel firestorm where virtually all of the early coordinating opposition was coming from Jewish orgs.

      No colonial power in history has relinquished land without resistance.

      You basically sum up in a nutshell what is the problem. These pleas are desperate ‘liberal’ Zionists asking Obama to save Israel. But how can he do that when the NYT refuses to, as Phil writes, to prepare the ground for him? It’s cowardly and Obama is right to ignore the issue, he knows he cannot get anywhere. Yet he can’t say the truth, he will be impeached. Thus, his only chance is the liberal media but again, NYT refuses to state the truth. Why? Because of the ingrained Zionism in the paper.

      They are all united on the core issue: take as much Palestinian land as you can, as quickly as you can. They differ on approach. That’s about it.

      Again, yes. And this will become apparent in the coming years even if ‘liberal’ Zionists will continue to blame the Palestinians for everything.

      And finally, Phil wrote:

      If anyone has to prepare the political ground, it’s the New York Times. It needs to start explaining Israeli political culture to liberal Americans, it needs to lay out the fact that 20 percent of the Israeli population — Palestinians — will be written out of whatever governing coalition emerges in the next weeks, in the type of Jim Crow power-division that we had in the South under desegregation.

      Read the editorials from the 1960s from the NYT. There was no ambiguity there. They even compared opposition to the 1965 Act to eugenics and the KKK.

      Have you seen anything they have written about the anti-black pogroms in Israel? I mean, the NYT is happy to publish articles about local soccer teams in Israel, so it’s clearly a country they are incredibly interested in. They can’t be in the dark about it.

      The same is true on Jim Crow. The NYT didn’t mince words. Or go look at the editorials from the 1980s on Apartheid. The same is true there.
      The NYT was giving no cover to racists by muddying or misleading their readers.

      Yet Israel is special, Israel gets the cover. And the NYT is silent on most of the systematic abuses. Instead it scolds Obama to be more supportive of the state.

      It refers to outright racists and pro-ethnic cleansers as ‘right-wing’ and nothing else. And yet no liberal dares to take on this bias because they know what happens if they do.

      Obama sees all of this, and frankly, he’s probably disgusted by it too.

      • Ramzi Jaber says:

        Thanks for the detailed comment back, Kraus. Indeed the Zionist Lobby also includes a large number of Chiristian Fundamentalists, but they are sparsely active compared to the (much less in number) American Jews who are in the Zionist Lobby.

        Totally agree with you about the NYT. Just another tool for the Zionist Lobby.

  2. pabelmont says:

    Weiss: “In fact, these desperate appeals to Obama are another sign of the dangers of Jewish sovereignty– in which American friends of Israel must turn to non-Jews to save the Jewish state from the patent danger of an all-Jewish governing coalition.

    The only chance for change in months to come is from Europe and the BDS movement. They are the only means of changing the calculus of the future. The rest is just the bogosity of hope.”

    Maybe Obama and/or anyone (else) who actually wishes for a “just and lasting peace” per UNSC 242 must wait for things to get much worse — as the settler-culture and the explicitly-peace-refusing Israeli politicians rise to the fore — before acting. There may not be a right time to act for a long while, but it may well be that Obama’s political judgment is that, in any case, that time is not now.

    Just as Obama has been waiting to speak up about climate change for 4 years, during which years the strangling noose of the out-year effects of ever-increasing greenhouse gas emissions has been constantly tightening — waiting for the politically accessible time (apparently the time after Hurricane Sandy) — so too it may be that he is waiting for a sufficiently appropriate time to oppose The Lobby and work for an end of settlements, end of occupation, and peace.

    While we work (at BDS) and otherwise wait, we should remember the lessons of geo-politics so clearly written in the history of the occupation — that nations sometimes wish to be seen as caring about human rights, or international law, or peace, or justice, but rarely wish to act, and in fact do not act, whether to save people from the misery of tyranny or war or starvation unless with a geo-political reason (usually hope for the availability of oil).

    Richard North Patterson’s novel “Eclipse” which deals with an imaginary African oil country (perhaps modeled on Ken Saro-Wiwa and the devastation of Ogoniland in Nigeria) makes clear what pro-Palestine folks are up against when geo-politics is concerned, and it is neither pretty nor encouraging.

  3. Bumblebye says:

    I had to look up ‘bogosity’.
    Your usual optimism must be having a flatline day.

  4. ToivoS says:

    Not only is Obama powerless to make Israel do anything right but he shouldn’t even try. The lobby has gotten its way so they should just live with the consequences. In some respects the road ahead is simple as Phil points out. BDS in Europe along with non-violent resistance in Palestine is the only plan that makes sense. Serious economic pain is the nudge that Israel needs.

    It is difficult to believe that writers of that editorial can even believe what they are suggesting. If they do, it is a sign of serious delusion — they would have to be completely oblivious to what Israel has become.

  5. ritzl says:

    Yup, “Obama should go to Israel…” simply reeks of please “save us from ourselves (i.e. our own past and future inability to be sensibly critical and direct on this issue).” It’s positively passive-aggressive.

    Why can’t the NYT, et. al., just say the obvious, directly? What stops them? Seriously.

    But then, they’re pretty much incapable of being investigative and direct on any divisive issue, so it seems this is just a reflection of the general state of things.

  6. thetumta says:

    Maybe Phil, you need to re-consider the personal ramifications of letting go, completely. It’s very hard.

    Is there any other dispute on the Planet that you’re willing to put this much energy into?

    Hej! Tumta

  7. The only hope for change is what that one guy who you used to let post on here believed, his blog was ethnic ashkenazimagainstzionistisrael, ( i think his name was martillo, i may be wrong) but he understands that force pretty well..his belief was that only an economic collapse could do it.

    “The only chance for change in months to come is from Europe and the BDS movement. They are the only means of changing the calculus of the future. The rest is just the bogosity of hope.”

  8. Rusty Pipes says:

    Obama should not visit Israel. A country that can’t even protect its own Prime Minister from rightwing loonies should not be entrusted with securing the well-being of ours. If we’re really lucky, Obama might instruct Rice to take a bathroom break every time Israel is raised in the Security Council (Did I miss a vote? Oops!). It’s much more likely that she will object loudly to every Palestinian upgrade (but possibly refrain from pressuring our European allies or small Pacific nations from doing likewise) and Palestine will have to continue pursuing its rights through means that neither Israel nor the US can block.

    Since November, HRC has been delegated the chore of taking Bibi’s daily calls. Perhaps Kerry will now take up that task.

    • Taxi says:

      I say let Obama go to israel and come what may! Let the israeli loons out en mass to meet him on the streets of tel aviv and Jerusalem. Let the media go into overdrive over his trip and let the American people see for themselves how “special” our dysfunctional relationship with israel really is. Sorry to say it but I wouldn’t mind one bit if some bad behavior was documented: settlers frothing at the mouth and burning the American flag in public, racial slurs on Obama etc.

      It’s time the freakazoid fake mask of friendship is RIPPED right off the face of israel!

      • Rusty Pipes says:

        If my comment wasn’t clear, I meant Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. The bad behavior of loony Israelis toward our President could have consequences much worse than racial slurs. I don’t care how much money our congresscritters need to raise from the Democrats’ ATM before 2014 and how much they need to posture. I do not trust the safety of my President in Israel’s hands.

  9. ToivoS says:

    I suspect that Obama passed on Rice for SOS because of the Libyan fiasco. Apparently she, Hillary and Samantha Powers were the voices inside the admin who pushed the policy of giving military support to the Islamist militias that provided the troops that defeated Khadaffi. These are the same group(s) that killed Ambassador Stevens, are fighting now in Mali and were likely involved in the Algerian incident.

    What an idiotic policy. Obama showed some sense not giving her a promotion.

    • Rusty Pipes says:

      Obama has said that the strongest influencer of his foreign policy has been a woman — clearly Hillary Clinton. The liberal interventionist policies of the State Department under her leadership clearly show an affinity with those of the neocons who preceded her. She is well-positioned to raise money from Israel Lobby donors for a 2016 presidential run.

      What indications do you see that Powers and Rice also were lobbying Obama for intervention in Libya?

  10. RE: “The new theme in the liberal press following the Israeli election is that Obama has trumped Netanyahu, so now is the time for Obama to push on the two-state solution.” ~ Weiss

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    • P.S. ALSO RE: “The new theme in the liberal press following the Israeli election is that Obama has trumped Netanyahu, so now is the time for Obama to push on the two-state solution.” ~ Weiss

      JOEL KOVEL 1-20-13:

      . . . As with everyone I know of in official political culture, Friedman assumes that Israel is a rational actor on the international stage who will obey the calculus of reward and punishment that regulates the conduct of normal states. The presumption is that if you tell it the truth, and even pull back US support, it will get the message, reflect, and change its ways. But Israel is not a normal state, except superficially. It will make adjustments, pulling back here, co-operating there, making nice when necessary, crafting its message using a powerful propaganda apparatus employing the most up-to-date social science. But this is simply tactical and no more predicts or explains the behavior of the Zionist state than an individual sociopath can be explained by the fact that he obeys traffic signals while driving to the scene of his crime. . .

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  11. Phil uses the term: “the dangers of Jewish sovereignty” as if it is something endemic in Jewish sovereignty that led to the current situation. I think not. Jewish sovereignty in itself is not in essence dangerous. But the current situation is. Israel’s dependence on American government largesse made possible by the combination of America in the Cold War and the American victory in the cold war and then the inertia of America as policeman of the world and the bloated defense budget, combined with the Israel lobby are the things that turned Jewish sovereignty into the danger that it has become.

    This is not to negate or dismiss the dangers of Jewish sovereignty in the specifics of the situation, as an immigrant group to the I/P geographic zone seeking to establish sovereignty through the exiling of the majority of indigenous in ’48 and “iron wall” or permanent war and the dependence on big power imperial largesse. These are factors, that as Judah Magnes pointed out, were doomed to lead to danger.

    It is not Jewish sovereignty per se, but Jewish sovereignty of the specific sort that has developed.

    Another point: If Israel had exhibited self restraint regarding settling the West Bank, this danger would be of a different sort. If Israel had limited its occupation of the West Bank to a military occupation and minimized friction with the occupied population by minimizing the presence of Jewish/Israeli civilians needing protection from rebelling occupied peoples, then the occupation would be essentially different. The Palestinians would still lack the freedom of self government, but the situation would not be one of near apartheid (and the word “near” is only there out of habit. It certainly looks like apartheid.) The apartheid situation will not last forever and at some point the Palestinians will demand the vote rather than an independent state and that situation might last longer than Israel bashers wish, but it will not last as long as Israel right or wrong advocates wish.

    There are essential dangers in the establishment of a Jewish sovereignty in that area based upon exiling a large population and permanent war. But the nonessential settling of the West Bank is what “dooms” the enterprise in the short (35 to 75 year) range.

  12. American says:

    ”..in which American friends of Israel must turn to non-Jews to save the Jewish state from the patent danger of an all-Jewish governing coalition.”

    Yea, it just blows your mind doesn’t it? Really, just look at what the world, the US, has put into the Jewish dream, look at everything that has been done for them, it’s astounding …and for what?
    They wanted ‘self determination’, Jewish Rule, their own’ peoplehood nation’…..and look what they determined, how they rule, what their peoplehood nation has turned out to be.
    So now the Libs want us to save them from the *results* of their self determination, Jewish rule and peoplehood……so they can have *another* shot at self determination, Jewish majority/ rule and peoplehood?
    Aggrhhh…..hopeless.
    If the US doesn’t have the political balls to lock Israel down and clean it up then it should nothing, absolutely nothing…let Israel end up wherever it’s going to.

  13. Kathleen says:

    Great post Phil knocked it out of the park. “He tried four years ago and got his head handed to him” Definitely he and Biden’s cajones.

    And Dennis Ross and Zuckerman on Charlie Rose will have to watch that one. Free advertising for Israel. Rose did have the Leveretts on awhile back and Flynt corrected Charlie when he repeated Israel’s false claim that Iranian leaders have said ” wipe Israel off the map” That was the only time I have heard anyone interrupt the suckers repeating that false claim.

    Wondering if Obama has decided to not interrupt Israel from eventually sinking their own ship?

  14. American says:

    Appears there is a fight going on in the Episcopal Church leadership for the Church to take a harder line on Israel. I think the tide is with them and the Church will get in line with other mainlines that have already come out. This letter doesn’t mince around. Looking at the Bishops who signed on it appears to me they think they have enough congregational support to push it.

    link to episcopaldigitalnetwork.com
    excerpt….
    ”We ask the Executive Council of The Episcopal Church to look carefully at the full body of our Church’s policy on Israel and Palestine, and to implement those policies whenever the opportunity arises. The Episcopal Church General Convention held in July, 2012, adopted resolution A015 which reads in part: “Resolved, That that the General Convention reaffirms Resolution 1991 – A149, “Urge a Full Accounting of the Use of Foreign Aid to the Middle East,” adopted by the 70th General Convention,” which reads in part: “require(s) the State of Israel to account to the Government of the United States for all aid to Israel…in compliance with the Foreign Assistance Act.”

    As elected leaders of The Episcopal Church, we ask Executive Council to:
    Immediately send a message to Congress that the Episcopal Church supports our 15 ecumenical colleagues, who include the church leadership of the Lutheran, Presbyterian, Methodist, and United Church of Christ denominations, that wrote to Congress October 5, 2012, calling for accountability of Israel’s use of foreign aid from our government. The voice of The Episcopal Church is woefully missing in the request our colleagues made to Congress.
    Immediately move forward with our Church’s corporate engagement policy so that our financial resources are not being used to support the infrastructure of this suffocating occupation.
    We respectfully ask for a public accounting of the Executive Council’s work on these matters no later than the meeting of Council June 8-10, 2013.
    The truth that is so readily seen worldwide, except among our nation’s leaders, is that Israel imposes a matrix of control over the occupied Palestinian territories, locating Jewish settlements on prime Palestinian land, building segregated roads forbidden to Palestinians to connect the settlers to Israel proper, erecting a wall that causes havoc in the daily lives of Palestinians and serves as another pretext to occupy yet more land. We see check points that are used to control the movements of people on their own land where tactics of bullying, intimidation, and detention are practiced; and where the demolition of homes and the uprooting of olive tree orchards are commonplace causing further humiliation and insult, along with the destruction of livelihoods. We see what was once Palestinian East Jerusalem being subsumed through Israel’s settlement policy. We see the teeming population of Gaza held under confinement on land, in the air, and at sea.

    We ask today why is it that Congress and the White House are unable to see the injustice of the occupation, where Israel is the oppressor, and the Palestinians the oppressed? Why is it that our government could not recognize the rights of Palestinians to status as a non-member observer state at the United Nations? Why do our country’s leaders embarrass us as a nation by being on the short end of the UN vote, 138-9, and expose our irrational bias? We are mystified that Washington lives in a bubble of unreality in its blind support of an immense injustice perpetrated every day on the Palestinian people, and foments anger across the Middle East and the world.”