The uproar over Netanyahu’s scheduled speech to the Congress in March has landed on the front page of the Times today. The thrust of the article headlined “A Strained Alliance…” by Peter Baker and Jodi Rudoren is that things are very bad in the view of many Israel-watchers, but the two countries had better get over the problem soon. A friend says it is “conservative.” To me it reads like a dispatch from the Israel lobby.
The last paragraph is handed over to Josh Block, a right wing Israel supporter, who tells the countries’ leaders to grow up.
“It would be nice if a level of maturity kicked in and we did not allow the personality-driven issues and political issues to overwhelm what are incredibly important common global issues,” said Josh Block, president of the Israel Project, a pro-Israeli education group in Washington. “It’s important we focus on what really matters.”
The article quotes no Palestinians. None. Maybe they think this rift is a good thing? Maybe John Mearsheimer thinks it’s a good thing? Yousef Munayyer? Munayyer says on twitter today:
Imagine a pre-1994 MSM discourse on US-South Africa that entirely excluded black south africans
It quotes a number of Israel supporters and Israelis, from Block to Martin Indyk to Efraim Halevy to Eytan Gilboa (“Of course this is a crisis”) to Richard Haass.
It makes scant reference to all the substantive causes of a fallout between the countries, for instance the latest announcement of Israeli colonies in the occupied West Bank.
It is worried about what John Kerry might do because of the crisis:
[H]e may be emboldened to pursue an Israeli-Palestinian peace plan through the United Nations or outside powers without waiting for Mr. Netanyahu’s assent.
I guess you could argue that it is about the US-Israeli relationship and so Palestinian comment is unnecessary, but I don’t buy it, especially when people are quoted as saying how the two countries share common values and so the relationship shouldn’t be turned into one between two political parties.I don’t think Ta-Nehisi Coates knows enough about the I/P conflict to comment, but if he ever immerses himself in the subject I suspect he might say that we do share common values, but not in a nice way. We share a common interest in self-mythologizing and whitewashing our crimes. The spiel about common values reminds me of the long period from the late 1870s until the 1960’s when whites in both the North and South agreed that the Civil War was a war of brother against brother, good intentions on both sides, tragic, and wasn’t it great that we were reunited and one big happy family, while Jim Crow in the south and sundown towns in the North were a constant reminder of who wasn’t part of the big happy family.
There is also not the slightest clue in this piece that Obama’s disdain for Israel may reflect real currents in US public opinion reflective of Israeli policy, for instance the slaughter of 500 children in Gaza last summer. The Times of Israel reports today: “Britons Loathe Israel More than Iran.” It shows that there has been a massive shift in attitudes in the last two years:
Britons feel more “unfavorable” to Israel than any other country worldwide except North Korea, a survey found.
The survey — taken in August and published Thursday by Chatham House, the Royal Institute of International Affairs — showed a massive surge in negative attitudes toward Israel since the previous such study, two years earlier. Thirty-five percent of Britons said they “feel especially unfavorable towards” Israel in the 2014 survey, compared to 17% in 2012.
Many Americans are also feeling this way. The core constituents of the Democratic Party are increasingly alienated by U.S. policy on Israel (Shibley Telhami reports): Hispanics, blacks, the young, and women.
In other words, Obama and other Democrats may feel that it is not just important but politically feasible to thumb their noses at a warmongering foreign leader. But you’d never know it from the Times.