‘The world doesn’t get it’ — Highlights of Netanyahu’s alienation tour

Israel/Palestine
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Some more of the fallout from Benjamin Netanyahu’s anti-charm offensive in the U.S. this week. Amazingly, Netanyahu has managed to offend: Charlie Rose, David Harris of the American Jewish Committee, Roger Cohen, and Ali Abunimah.

The prime minister did fireside chats with Charlie Rose and NPR. Rose grew more and more impatient with the prime minister. At 33, he busts Netanyahu over the settlements, as undermining the security of the Jewish state.

Rose: You can’t make the case that settlements, which you have continued… are essential for the security of the Jewish state. They may do damage to the security of the Jewish state… The question is, most people want to ask… Why is it necessary… I still don’t understand why you think that building settlements in East Jerusalem is necessary… when the world believes its stand in the way…

Netanyahu: The world believes a lot of things, but the world doesn’t get it.

Rose: I think the American president believes that….They stand in the way of a solution…

Netanyahu: Charlie you’re not going to escape this..I gotcha.

Rose, bridling: No you don’t have me….

Rose was also good on Netanyahu’s Iran palaver. “Somehow you get Iran if you withdraw from the West Bank?” he says.”That doesn’t have to be the alternative, and you know that.”

In the NPR chat, Steve Inskeep pressed Netanyahu about the double standard on Israel’s nukes and Netanyahu refused to talk about Israeli nukes. Good for Inskeep (Though this valentine to Netanyahu by the interviewer was embarrassing).

The New York Times also helped to undermine Netanyahu’s message. Jodi Rudoren and David Sanger reported that Obama successfully played Netanyahu, by getting him not to strike Iran by promising action down the road, which the U.S. has no intention of undertaking. Thus Netanyahu’s angry tone.

Mr. Netanyahu sounds like a man who regrets not acting when he had the chance. In his speech this week at the United Nations, followed by a media blitz and a series of private briefings, he has only grudgingly endorsed the negotiations between the West and Iran expected to start Oct. 15 in Geneva. As leaders in Washington and Europe increasingly acknowledge that Iran will most likely retain some nuclear fuel production capability, Mr. Netanyahu set out what most experts see as unrealistic conditions — a complete dismantlement of key nuclear facilities — and has repeatedly warned against relaxing sanctions until a deal is done. But while his United Nations address included the most explicit warning to date of a unilateral strike — “If Israel is forced to stand alone, Israel will stand alone” — Israeli and other analysts say that Mr. Netanyahu’s hands are now all but tied.

Yesterday, Times columnist Roger Cohen published a withering attack on the Prime Minister’s fearmongering, said he was crying wolf (Nima Shirazi and Annie Robbins have been saying this for weeks). Cohen said Netanyahu was spouting “tired Iranian tropes,” and that even supporters like David Harris of the American Jewish Committee are turning against the P.M. Cohen:

as Rouhani’s election shows, Iran is no Nazi-like totalitarian state with a single authority but an authoritarian regime subject to liberalizing and repressive waves. No, Netanyahu’s credibility issue is rooted in the distorted priorities evident in a speech that was Iran-heavy and Palestine-lite…

Netanyahu should cut the bluster and shift focus, instead, to Israeli-Palestinian talks. In the past, he has been able to turn to Congress and leading American Jewish groups for support when he felt isolated. During Obama’s first term, when tensions were high between the two leaders, he got 29 standing ovations in Congress. But today Harris’s questioning of Israel’s approach is not the only sign of shifts.

Cohen refers to this piece in Haaretz from David Harris of the American Jewish Committee complaining that Netanyahu’s “shrill” speech “will only give offense and alienate” world opinion.

unless Israel wants to continue to find itself largely alone on the world stage, it will have to find new ways to make its case

I think we must all agree that Benjamin Netanyahu is the best thing that ever happened to anti-Zionism. He is personally so unappealing, and his rhetoric is so over-the-top, that he exposes the worst side of Israeli society; and no one in the power structure there seems to appreciate it.

As Ali Abunimah sharply commented, right after the U.N. speech on Tuesday:

Iran of course is angry at Obama’s deference to Netanyahu, and the State Department’s declaration that the U.S. is in “lockstep” with Israel.

Here’s a stunning tweet today from the account said to be of Iran’s Supreme Leader:

Thanks to Adam Horowitz, Scott Roth– and Harold Hjalmarson, who gave me the words “fireside chat.”

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