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Daniel Levy on ‘boxing in Bibi’

Israel/PalestineUS Politics
on 24 Comments
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Cabinet meeting in Jerusalem.  Sept 8, 2013 (Uriel Sinai / AP)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Cabinet meeting in Jerusalem. Sept 8, 2013 (Uriel Sinai / AP)

Expect all eyes on Netanyahu over the next few days, having arrived in the US for a 3 day visit which includes a meeting with Obama tomorrow culminating in a much anticipated address to the UN General Assembly on Tuesday.

The Jerusalem Post cites an Israeli official “We are aware that in this atmosphere we are swimming against the current” and the Guardian quotes one senior researcher at Herzliya’s Interdisciplinary Centre,  Jonathan Spyer, saying it would be “an enormous challenge for Netanyahu to reverse that trend.” The trend being the euphoria that’s swept the American public over the prospect of a breakthrough with Iran.

Daniel Levy’s current article at Foreign Policy, Maximum Bibi, breaks down Netanyahu’s urgent dilemma given the “diplomatic opening” created by the election of Rouhani as Iran’s president. Explaining why Netanyahu doesn’t want the US to cut a deal with Iran, Levy posits Netanyahu doesn’t want Iran powerful and independent, Israel likes its hegemony in the region, uncooperative neighboring regimes are ok if they’re considered “beyond the pale” by U.S. standards, nothing we don’t know. But I became excited when Levy cited Iran as being ‘extremely useful’ at diverting attention away from Palestine. I think more and more people are putting the pieces together, not that Levy just discovered this, but that fear-mongering over Iran is roundly recognized as linked to Palestine:

Israel’s leadership would consider the emergence of a third type of regional actor — one that is not overly deferential to Washington but also is not boycotted, and that even boasts a degree of economic, political, and military weight — a deeply undesirable development. What’s more, this threatens to become a not-uncommon feature of the Middle East: Just look at Turkey under Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, or Egypt before the July 3 coup, or an Iran that gets beyond its nuclear dispute and starts to normalize its relations with the West.

There are other reasons for Netanyahu to oppose any developments that would allow Iran to break free of its isolation and win acceptance as an important regional actor with which the West engages. The current standoff is an extremely useful way of distracting attention from the Palestinian issue, and a diplomatic breakthrough with Iran would likely shine more of a spotlight on Israel’s own nuclear weapons capacity. But the key point to understand in interpreting Netanyahu’s policy is this: While Obama has put aside changing the nature of the Islamic Republic’s political system, Israel’s leader is all about a commitment to regime change — or failing that, regime isolation — in Tehran. And he will pursue that goal even at the expense of a workable deal on the nuclear file.

……………. The prime minister is nothing if not consistent: He was similarly intractable when the Palestinian leadership and the Arab League put forth pragmatic proposals. While the PLO’s leadership accepts Israel’s existence, the 1967 lines, and an accommodation on Israeli settlements (including in East Jerusalem) by way of land swaps, Netanyahu has shifted the goal posts — rejecting the 1967 lines and refusing to take yes for an answer. With the Arab League’s “Arab Peace Initiative” offering recognition of Israel and comprehensive peace in exchange for withdrawal from the occupied territories, Netanyahu is again following this pattern of rejectionism.

There’s more and I recommend the whole article. Levy concludes by saying Obama needs to become “defter” at outmaneuvering Netanyahu, and “the interests of global and regional security” might “require a short, sharp burst of boxing in Bibi.”

And that’s music to my ears.

annie
About Annie Robbins

Annie Robbins is Editor at Large for Mondoweiss, a mother, a human rights activist and a ceramic artist. She lives in the SF bay area. Follow her on Twitter @anniefofani

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24 Responses

  1. W.Jones
    W.Jones
    September 29, 2013, 9:36 pm

    Yes Iran is helpful to distracting attention from homegrown Apartheid / Separation. But they could find other distractions, and even if they didn’t America would still “have Israel’s back.” Barring some other issue like a change in the balance of forces, media control, the US government actually caring, etc.

  2. DICKERSON3870
    DICKERSON3870
    September 29, 2013, 10:13 pm

    RE: “Levy concludes by saying Obama needs to become ‘defter’ at outmaneuvering Netanyahu . . .” ~ Robbins

    TAKE ACTION! ! ! HELP OBAMA BOX IN BIBI! ! !

    ● FROM AMERICANS FOR PEACE NOW
    Tell your Senators TODAY: Sign the Feinstein letter on diplomacy with Iran
    Last time it was the House; now it’s the Senate.
    Last time thousands of APN activists responded to our call to contact their elected members of the House of Representatives and urge them to sign onto a letter supporting reinvigorated U.S. diplomacy with Iran. The result was an historic letter to President Obama, signed by a bipartisan group of 131 members of Congress. Now we are reaching out to you, APN’s activists, once again. This time, we need you to contact your senators and urge them to sign the letter being circulated by Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA).
    Like its House counterpart, Senator Feinstein’s letter boils down to a simple message to President Obama, summarized in the letter’s opening paragraph: “We urge you to seize the opportunity presented by the inauguration of Iran’s new president, Dr. Hassan Rouhani, by reinvigorating diplomatic efforts to secure a verifiable agreement that ensures that Iran does not develop nuclear weapons.” We couldn’t agree more.
    Tell your Senators to support diplomacy.
    TO EMAIL YOUR SENATORS – http://wfc2.wiredforchange.com/o/8682/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=9354

    ● FROM FRIENDS COMMITTEE ON NATIONAL LEGISLATION (FCNL):
    Your Senators Can Seize New Iran Diplomacy
    Senator Dianne Feinstein (CA) is urging Obama to seize the opportunity presented by Iran’s election of Hassan Rouhani 
    to renew diplomatic efforts with Iran. Will you urge your senators to seize the opportunity to advance a crisis-ending deal with Iran?
    TO EMAIL YOUR SENATORS – http://www.capwiz.com/fconl/issues/alert/?alertid=62790056&type=TA

    ● FROM “JUST FOREIGN POLICY”
    Urge Obama: In Iran Diplomacy, Go for a Feasible Deal Now
    President Obama committed numerous times to pursuing diplomacy with Iran during the presidential campaign.
    While the U.S. and Iran are currently on a path of confrontation, the Obama Administration has reportedly drafted a confidence-building measure in which Iran would halt its 20% uranium enrichment and the West would provide fuel for Iran’s medical research reactor, which is used to treat Iranian cancer patients.
    Urge President Obama to vigorously pursue this proposal, using this form.http://org.salsalabs.com/o/1439/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=9321

    ● FROM Avaaz.org
    To US President Obama and President Rouhani of Iran:
    As citizens around the world horrified by the slaughter of innocents in Syria, we call on you to put aside your differences and meet to find a diplomatic path forward that brings all parties to the table to negotiate a ceasefire and peace. You are in a unique position to help broker such a solution. There must be a bold diplomatic breakthrough.
    We are calling on you to create one and start saving lives.
    TO SIGN THE PETITION – http://www.avaaz.org/en/solution_for_syria_loc/?slideshow

  3. American
    American
    September 29, 2013, 11:07 pm

    There’s more and I recommend the whole article. Levy concludes by saying Obama needs to become “defter” at outmaneuvering Netanyahu, and “the interests of global and regional security” might “require a short, sharp burst of boxing in Bibi.”

    Obama needs some real advisors –bring in Zbigniew Brzezinski or Jim Baker or Kissinger or all of them.
    The circle of amateurs, friends of donors and I -Firsters he has surrounded himself with is unbelievable.
    Or he could just call me–or anyone at MW—-we could tell him exactly how to handle Netanyahu.

  4. dbroncos
    dbroncos
    September 29, 2013, 11:16 pm

    “And that’s music to my ears.”

    Mine too. Let’s hope Obama finds the chops to make it happen. To win this battle, he’ll have to establish himself as the HMFC for the first time since taking office.

  5. Walid
    Walid
    September 30, 2013, 12:31 am

    Israel is terrorized by this apparent rapprochement because Iran would never stop beating the drum for the overdue justice for the Palestinians. Yom al-Quds, led by Iran, will continue being commemorated all over the world on the last Friday of Ramadan until Israel ends its evil occupation. For Israel, a world-friendly Iran waving the Palestinian flag would not have the same effect as an “axis of evil” Iran.

  6. anthonybellchambers
    anthonybellchambers
    September 30, 2013, 1:22 am

    Netanyahu is a latter-day Senator McCarthy, ranting and raving about Iran’s non-existing nuclear weapons whilst concealing 300 WMD in his back pocket. A nuclear-armed Israel is a dangerous threat to world peace that needs urgent defensive action by Europe.

    Let the EU start with suspension of trade until Israel agrees to a Nuclear Weapons Free Middle East within 12 months, failing which, the EU-Israel Association Agreement that gives Israel free access to European markets, needs to be torn-up and economic co-operation, aid and trade, discontinued.

  7. amigo
    amigo
    September 30, 2013, 6:53 am

    “There’s more and I recommend the whole article. Levy concludes by saying Obama needs to become “defter” at outmaneuvering Netanyahu, and “the interests of global and regional security” might “require a short, sharp burst of boxing in Bibi.”AR.

    Only problem with that is Obama is surrounded by Zionists.These b——s , or at least some of them probably pass on details of conversations taking place, (supposedly secret) to Israel.

    Obama has to first clean shop and replace any known Israel firsters ,(traitors) with American Firsters.

    Show Samantha Power the back door and let her slinge out.She can get a job at aipac or J, street.

  8. NickJOCW
    NickJOCW
    September 30, 2013, 7:15 am

    Looking at the general climate of the ME within the world at large say three or four years ago and today it is possible to see Netanyahu with his Greater Israel dream to be in a weaker, more vulnerable position now than before. The inescapable reality is that Israel has nothing intrinsically useful to offer the world and its precarious position depends almost entirely on the coincidence of quasi-mythopoeic enthusiasms with hard nosed US global policy. Of course, there are many other connections between them but they only flourish under the umbrella of higher US interests. Back a few years the ME was reasonably stable, Israel erupted quite seriously from time to time and Palestine was festering but it was all more or less contained. Today it is anything but, in fact you need to ripple a long way out from the Holy Land before encountering stability and even that is threatened by social disorders arising largely from economic developments. Then there are the shadows cast by Russia and China, and increasing irreverence from much of South America. The pieces may be the same but the wider picture is much changed and the US position may appear less assured and necessarily more pragmatic; any attack on Iran would not ameliorate that. Israel cannot help the US, rather it is becoming something of a liability, like taking your pet rottweiler to board meetings. Many US thinkers have expressed this is various ways of late.

    Iran is at heart a more Western orientated nation, and the aspirations of its educated classes are towards the West, consider a man like Ali Akbar Salehi compared with Netanyahu, or Lieberman for that matter. Who would one sooner have to dinner? Iran cannot be fenced in forever; although the sanctions undoubtedly hurt the people and much else, the Bushehr reactor has just come on line, construction of the 2600 km Iran Pakistan natural gas pipeline is proceeding apace, oil exports to India, China and elsewhere continue and life goes on. Iran has much to offer aside from oil, it can be instrumental in bringing stability to Syria and assist the US in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq and many other places; in fact, unlike Israel, Iran does potentially have a lot to offer the US. It also possesses a trump in being able to undertake, were sanctions to be lifted, the pricing of future oil exports in US$ which is something even the money men would go for. For these reasons I believe US rapprochement with Iran is inevitable and it will be up to Netanyahu to choose whether or not Israel has some role in it or sits outside sulking.

    • ritzl
      ritzl
      September 30, 2013, 9:29 am

      Great analysis, NickJOCW.

      • just
        just
        September 30, 2013, 10:20 am

        It really is ritzl. Thanks, NickJOCW.

    • seafoid
      seafoid
      September 30, 2013, 10:12 am

      ” it is possible to see Netanyahu with his Greater Israel dream to be in a weaker, more vulnerable position now than before”

      They don’t give the impression that they know what they are doing or where they are going. Netanyahuism has run out of gas.

    • Ellen
      Ellen
      September 30, 2013, 10:30 am

      The US can’t afford phony wars and created enemies…..and yes, the US policies around Israel are a growing liability to US interests. Most Americans get it.

      Iran has much to offer aside from oil, it can be instrumental in bringing stability to Syria and assist the US in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq and many other places; in fact, unlike Israel, Iran does potentially have a lot to offer the US. What you say here, Nick, pretty much sums it up.

      The US/Israeli relationship is often (mosty by Israel and AIPAC operatives) referred to as a “freindship.” But countries never have freinds, and only interests.

    • American
      American
      September 30, 2013, 11:16 am

      Ditto for Nick–excellent and accurate imo.

    • annie
      annie
      September 30, 2013, 12:05 pm

      unlike Israel, Iran does potentially have a lot to offer the US. It also possesses a trump in being able to undertake, were sanctions to be lifted, the pricing of future oil exports in US$ which is something even the money men would go for. For these reasons I believe US rapprochement with Iran is inevitable

      i think it is inevitable too. this reminds me of a conversation i had in gaza w/a hamas official as we (members of our delegation) were stranded on a bus. i told him i thought the situation would change w/palestine, but not in a way people expected. more likely the US would begin to align more w/iran, a potentially much more valuable ally in the ME than israel.

      one of the people in the delegation approached me about 10 minutes later, outside the bus as we were waiting in the shade, to ask me (ever so ‘politely’), in so many words, to please stfu and that i was talking too much. as if having political conversations w/a member of hamas was out of my range. but he listened and sounded interested in my ideas.

      i will never forget that conversation, or me saying to the woman ‘are you telling me to shut up’? and then i sort of smiled at her, like she was an idiot, which she was. and she was in no position of authority on this delegation, just a person who thought she had her finger on the pulse of the right way to interact w/a hamas official. demure/silent perhaps? i have no idea.

  9. Justpassingby
    Justpassingby
    September 30, 2013, 10:19 am

    And US and Israel should be allies? Sure..
    Israel should be considered an enemy of peace and america after trying to spoil this.

  10. seafoid
    seafoid
    September 30, 2013, 10:24 am

    “Netanyahu is a deeply ideological leader with an unshakeable belief in a Greater Israel and regional hegemony. ”

    Everyone knows that Israel’s regional hegemony is built on unflinching US support. Take that away and Israel would be as regionally powerful as Armenia.

  11. Les
    Les
    September 30, 2013, 11:35 am

    Eric Schlosser’s “Command and Control” needs to be translated into Farsi to warn Iranians of the dangers of having nuclear weapons. It as well needs to be translated into Hebrew to scare Israelis who have already put themselves at risk.

    • just
      just
      September 30, 2013, 12:16 pm

      Plenty of Iranians read/speak English. So do plenty of Israelis.

      Iran does not want or have nukes. Israel, on the other hand, does……….

  12. American
    American
    September 30, 2013, 12:04 pm

    A World in Which No One Is Listening to the Planet’s Sole Superpower
    The Greater Middle East’s Greatest Rebuff to Uncle Sam
    By Dilip Hiro

    http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175753/tomgram%3A_dilip_hiro%2C_the_mystery_of_washington%27s_waning_global_power/#more

    This is really good, non-ideological examples that shows just how stupid US FP has been.
    >>>>>>>>>

    And the obvious question is why no one is listening to the world’s sole superpower?
    However, I dont think it can all be laid on Obama, the seeds of the superpower rejection were sown way before Obama, it just all came to a head during his adm.

    First on my list for reasons would be US-FP dictated by US Foreign Lobby money and influence —leading then to hypocritical policies and actions favoring one country and not another, punishing who we shouldnt, not punishing who we should, using the big stick instead of just carrying it as a last resort…for starters.
    The US of A has no FP of its own—that why its all illogical, incoherent and hypocritical.
    Think how much simpler and less expensive and bloody it would be to just have some fundmental US principles for FP and stick to upholding international law.

    • just
      just
      September 30, 2013, 12:18 pm

      Succinct and true.

      Thanks for that, American.

    • Ellen
      Ellen
      September 30, 2013, 1:43 pm

      American, you might find this book interesting:

      The Brothers: John Foster Dulles, Allen Dulles & Their Secret World War
      by Stephen Kinzer

      Propelled by a quintessentially American set of fears and delusions, the Dulles brothers launched violent campaigns against foreign leaders they saw as threats to the United States. These campaigns helped push countries from Guatemala to the Congo into long spirals of violence, led the United States into the Vietnam War, and laid the foundation for decades of hostility between the United States and countries from Cuba to Iran.

      http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17286725-the-brothers

      The Dulles brothers were sons of Protestant Missionaries. A missionary zeal mind-set with little regard and respect of context and culture explains so much.

      • American
        American
        September 30, 2013, 2:24 pm

        @ Ellen

        Thanks for reminding me of Dulles.

        And for why my preferred method of dealing with zealots of all stripes is a Special Preemptive Swat Squad.

  13. sandhillexit
    sandhillexit
    September 30, 2013, 4:17 pm

    The arrogance of this man is breathtaking. He lives so far inside the bubble that he does not know just how much Not-MOT Americans despise him. No one has forgotten the show before Congress, the Roman fanfares, the mafia-like bodyguards, the hectoring lectures. And of course if you asked him if Not-MOT opinion matters he would tell you, ‘not at all.’ It is the equivalent of being told to step off the sidewalk to make way. Hubris and its tell-tails.

  14. James Canning
    James Canning
    September 30, 2013, 6:49 pm

    Yes, Iran indeed has been “useful” in distracting world attention from insane illegal colonisation programme of Israel in the West Bank.

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