Is Obama walking away from Israel? Is he sick of the neverending narrative of occupation/brutality/and security concerns that the Israelis dump in his lap and just going through the motions till his administration ends, or the midterms are over? A few recent items suggest this may be the case.
In an interview with Bob Schieffer, Prime Minister Netanyahu said three times that he was “baffled” by the White House’s official criticism of his latest settlement in East Jerusalem– given that the matter hardly came up in his twelfth meeting with Obama. ‘I had a very good meeting with the president. And I was baffled by this statement.” We talked at a “general level,” Netanyahu said.
Obama’s public comments on that meeting were very pro forma. He left the criticism to his press secretary. You can’t blame Obama for putting no political capital into the peace process. The distance between the two sides is wider than ever, even Israel supporter Dennis Ross says; and as if to prove the point, Netanyahu’s foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman lashed out at Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas last week, saying he has no “legitimacy to speak on behalf of the Palestinian people” and “remembers every slight inflicted on him since he was born,” and has “lost his way.” Some diplomat.
Adam Kredo and Alana Goodman of the Washington Free Beacon report on former negotiator Martin Indyk’s speech at a Washington-area synagogue, Adas Israel, in which he said that the politics of Israel are shifting and Democrats are starting to walk away, because only 43 percent of Democrats support Israel:
“The U.S.-Israel relationship is critical, is essential to Israel’s survival,” Indyk told the audience. “And the relationship is in trouble.”
U.S. support for the Jewish state is “the bedrock that Israel has always relied on … and I worry that bedrock is crumbling,” Indyk said, laying partial blame at the feet of Democrats.
“We have a situation,” he said. “Support amongst Republicans for Israel is really high. … But the truth is that most Jews are Democrats, and amongst Democrats support for Israel is only something like 43 percent.”
“That’s a huge gap, which is indicative of the fact that it has become a partisan issue,” Indyk added.
Indyk bashed Israeli leaders for acting arrogantly. Three months ago Obama adviser Philip Gordon also warned Israel that it was going to be isolated and face a “tsunami” of international boycott and isolation if it didn’t end the occupation:
In contrast, if we fail to come back to peace talks, renewed efforts to isolate Israel internationally and legitimize Palestinian statehood unilaterally are all but certain. The United States will do all it can to fight boycotts and other delegitimization efforts. But in many of these realms, particularly outside the Security Council, our ability to contain the damage is limited, and becoming more and more challenging.
Well, it didn’t end the occupation. It just destroyed Gaza.
Some read Obama’s speech to the people of Israel in March 2013 as a challenge to them to do something, or he was going to walk away from the issue. Here are some excerpts of that speech, supporting that interpretation:
But today, Israel is at a crossroads…
Given the frustration in the international community about this conflict, Israel needs to reverse an undertow of isolation. And given the march of technology, the only way to truly protect the Israeli people over the long term is through the absence of war. Because no wall is high enough and no Iron Dome is strong enough or perfect enough to stop every enemy that is intent on doing so from inflicting harm…
[P]eace begins — not just in the plans of leaders, but in the hearts of people. Not just in some carefully designed process, but in the daily connections — that sense of empathy that takes place among those who live together in this land and in this sacred city of Jerusalem.
And let me say this as a politician — I can promise you this, political leaders will never take risks if the people do not push them to take some risks. You must create the change that you want to see. (Applause.) Ordinary people can accomplish extraordinary things.
But Israel hasn’t changed, it’s just gotten more obdurate. The people haven’t risen to Obama’s challenge, haven’t softened their hearts. So now is he checking out? Famously, that’s his style. I notice liberal Zionists in the U.S. routinely bashing Netanyahu, as if to say, Just get rid of him and everything could be fine. They see the danger; the U.S. government doesn’t care anymore.