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It looks like Obama is checking out on Israel

on 37 Comments

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.

Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is senior editor of Mondoweiss.net and founded the site in 2005-06.

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37 Responses

  1. pabelmont on October 8, 2014, 1:23 pm

    Phil: “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.”

    True, and not for the first time. Nor is Israel the only country whose government marches to the beat of a drum other than the people’s drum. (UAS and big banks, big defense, big Zion, big fossil fuels).

    However, Israel is a democracy and could — in principle — react to pressure on the people and/or on the businesses. Hence the need for BDS aimed generally at Israel.

    Obama will not lead the BDS charge. Sadly. Although he hints at it’s power.

    EU begins with glacial (that’s the old glaciers, pre-golbal warming) slowness to pressure Israel (Sweden, UK) on Palestine, with Sweden promising to recognize Palestine as a state and UK considering the question.

    • Kay24 on October 8, 2014, 2:37 pm

      If the US will not do the right thing, chances are better some EU nations will.

  2. HarryLaw on October 8, 2014, 1:44 pm

    “The European Union is inconspicuously but determinedly threatening to reevaluate bilateral ties with Israel if the Netanyahu government fails to make progress toward a two-state solution and continues its current policy of allowing construction beyond the pre-1967 lines”. The labeling of products is mentioned in this times of Israel article here http://www.timesofisrael.com/eu-set-to-reassess-ties-if-israel-doesnt-move-on-peace/ the EU argue that labeling legislation is in place, but it has not been enforced to date, lets hope they take action instead of just talking about it.

    • Laurent Weppe on October 8, 2014, 5:08 pm

      the EU argue that labeling legislation is in place, but it has not been enforced to date, lets hope they take action instead of just talking about it.

      The European Union is a very byzantine institution, where the member states’ chancelleries still hold disproportionate power compared to the Parliament, which means that every european decision demands endless talks and negotiations before being acted upon: as they say it’s a feature, not a bug.

  3. HarryLaw on October 8, 2014, 1:49 pm

    Sorry about the double post, I had to fix the link which did not work in first comment.

  4. mudder on October 8, 2014, 1:54 pm

    If Obama refrains from using the US’s UNSC veto, then I will believe that he has indeed checked out. He may be given that opportunity soon. He surely knows that the US pays a diplomatic cost each time it uses the veto. In particular it gives a license to the other permanent members to use theirs. Since the U.S. last used the veto to block condemnation of Israeli settlements in the West Bank in 2011, Russia and China vetoed sanctions against Syria, and Russia vetoed condemnatation of the Crimea referendum.

  5. amigo on October 8, 2014, 1:56 pm

    “[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. ” Obama

    I read this the last time it emerged but one point escaped me and that is that Obama seems to be telling Jewish Israelis that they do not have exclusive franchise in Jerusalem.

    Arabs are not likely to be the recipients of empathy from Israeli Jews.We all know the stories about Rabbis demanding their followers to not rent to Arabs and the number of Arabs beaten by rabid racist thugs in the streets of the Holy City.

    Simply put, if there is to be peace , then Zionism must be defeated.Totally .Nothing must be left of this vile scourge.

    • just on October 8, 2014, 4:29 pm

      Israelis weren’t listening at all and don’t care:

      “RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — PLO Executive Committee Member Hanan Ashrawi said Monday that a new plan to allow Jewish Israelis to enter East Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque compound through a second gate was a “loud insult” to Muslims around the world.

      “Israel is creating a new reality at the expense of Palestinians, their religious rights, sites, and historical identity,” Ashrawi said in a statement.

      “They are violating the sanctity of religious sites without consequences, which completely terminates possibilities for peace and will ultimately drag the whole region into disastrous clashes.”

      Ashrawi, who is a Palestinian Christian, also said that Israel was using religion to control holy sites that do not belong to it.

      She called on the international community to hold Israel accountable for what she called “violations” against Muslim and Christian holy sites in East Jerusalem and the rest of Palestine.

      Army radio announced earlier that the Israeli ministry of tourism was working on a plan to allow Jews to enter the Al-Aqsa compound through the Cotton Merchants Gate, in addition to the Moroccan Gate which is already used as an entrance for non-Muslims.”

      http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=731861

      “JERUSALEM (Ma’an) — Clashes broke out early Wednesday at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound between Palestinian worshipers and Israeli police officers, leaving dozens hurt, sources said.

      Security guards at the mosque told Ma’an that Israeli forces stormed the compound at 7:30 a.m. ahead of expected visits by right-wing Israelis on the occasion of the Jewish holiday of Sukkot, or the Feast of the Tabernacles.

      Israeli forces forcibly removed worshipers, attacking some of them with clubs, the guards said.”

      http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=731949

  6. Kay24 on October 8, 2014, 2:35 pm

    When is the US going to get it that doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results is the dumbest thing to do, and that the entity they protect and cherish, is not doing the right thing – that includes stopping world condemned illegal settlements and importantly, ending the occupation. The more the US leaders shower love, send arms, and aids them, the more arrogant and violent Israel becomes throughout the years. Obama must be fed up of the lies, the run around during peace negotiations, the endless trouble we get into because of Israel, and cleaning up after it’s major blunders. This is a parasitic nation, and has been a burden to the US. Time we banned foreign lobbies from contributing to political candidates, and broke away from this poison. Obama obviously does not want to be “controlled” by this pesky nation, and it would be great that he start cutting the aprons strings, showing them tough love, and stopping the aid, but we all know that it is not in his hands, and that as long as our congress is bought by AIPAC, their loyalties are not to the US first.
    I will only vote for candidates who do not shameless suck up to Israel, like most of them do now.

  7. seafoid on October 8, 2014, 2:55 pm

    I wonder what’s going on in the background. Saudi probably has more leverage over the lobby now given the ISIS mess. Are they more likely to put pressure on Obama to stop sucking Israel ? There is a lot of geopolitical instability bubbling up and Israel is as useful as a chocolate fireguard in dealing with any of it.

    • just on October 8, 2014, 4:15 pm

      ” There is a lot of geopolitical instability bubbling up and Israel is as useful as a chocolate fireguard in dealing with any of it.”

      rotflmao!!!

      (Never mind that our “special relationship” with Israel and Israel’s own junk has contributed mightily to it)

  8. seafoid on October 8, 2014, 2:59 pm

    Krauss was talking yesterday about Islam being violent

    I came across this today :

    http://finance.yahoo.com/news/10-states-worst-quality-life-164909712.html
    “Many Louisiana communities are also quite dangerous. There were nearly 11 murders per 100,000 people in the state in 2013, the highest homicide rate nationwide and in the worst 10% of all OECD regions”

    I think Louisiana is in north America and as far as I know it’s not a Muslim state.

  9. American on October 8, 2014, 3:32 pm

    ” 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..”

    Oh brother!…. their ‘projection’ of their own attitudes onto others and and the hypocrisy is so obvious. Abbas doesnt speak for Palestine but Isr speaks for Jews?
    Everything I am seeing coming from the Zios now is full of this kind of ‘projection’….their own hatred and motives ascribed to everyone else.
    Their language in describing their ‘foes’ is as smelly as the skunk juice they use on Palestines.

  10. American on October 8, 2014, 3:38 pm

    ” 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. “”

    Hummm…..I think it would be more accurate to say political leaders will not step up for the ‘right thing’ unless ‘they are put at risk’.

  11. a blah chick on October 8, 2014, 3:51 pm

    “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'”

    What do they say about broken clocks?

    • Rusty Pipes on October 8, 2014, 5:40 pm

      Israel’s top diplomat’s words are most “unhelpful” and downright “uncivil.”

  12. a blah chick on October 8, 2014, 3:58 pm

    “Indyk bashed Israeli leaders for acting arrogantly.”

    When haven’t they?

  13. Blownaway on October 8, 2014, 4:17 pm

    There is no downside to Israel of Obama checking out. If Netanyahu slapping him upside his face for the last 6 years didnt do anything what will this do?

  14. seafoid on October 8, 2014, 4:33 pm

    Obama dropping Israel reminds me of Germany dropping nuclear. Show me what is going to replace the funding/energy and I’ll believe it.

    • Laurent Weppe on October 8, 2014, 5:16 pm

      Show me what is going to replace the funding/energy and I’ll believe it

      Here

      • seafoid on October 9, 2014, 10:43 am

        Coal and gas are very bad for the climate. Nuclear will be back.

  15. John Salisbury on October 8, 2014, 4:47 pm

    But Bill Maher isn’t checking out.He loves Israel no matter what they do.Strange position for somebody who says he is an avowed liberal.

    • Kay24 on October 9, 2014, 9:07 am

      He attacked all Muslims and Islam while his beloved Israel was sending deadly bombs into homes, Mosques, and UN shelters. He did not hesitate to condemn the brutal slaughter of little babies and kids, he did not utter a word about the UN shelters being attacked despite many warnings by the UN. No, he simply turned on his diatribe tarring all Muslims as violent, insulted the religion, and just shrugged his little shoulders and said it was war, and in war people die (in his bigoted mind I guess it was okay because they were all Muslims).
      Imagine the tantrum and outrage he would have shown had these been helpless Israeli Jews who were slaughtered by deadly bombs. Even the fact that the casualties suffered by Israel was so minor compared to the over 2000 lost by Palestinians with no iron domes to protect them.
      He is a soul- less person.

    • Horizontal on October 14, 2014, 11:50 am

      @John Salisbury ~

      I’d classify Maher more as a Libertarian than a classic liberal. He could also be a racist, which would account for his blanket support of Israel.

  16. wondering jew on October 8, 2014, 5:32 pm

    Netanyahu = Israel?
    currently he is the prime minister of israel and the one placed in charge of Israel. Certainly he is the most uncooperative (vis a vis America) prime minister since Shamir. The occupation is obviously older than that and there is a tendency to equate Israel through and through as equal to Netanyahu or worse and to negate the center, those whose stake in the settlement enterprise is minimal and not all that sympatico. I do not think Netanyahu is doing a good service at this point. He was always a P.R. man. (P.R. is a type of euphemism for B.S. or soft soap). he entered the business by being a voice or a face on Nightline and then the UN and by now he is preaching to the converted and there’s no need for a P.R. man who has limited himself to the choir. A P.R. man by definition needs to reach out. It is not clear who will come after Netanyahu. I would think Saar before Lieberman or Bennet. I think Likud is still the voice of lots of dark skinned Mizrahi Jews and I think Likud will go in the direction of Saar, but Likud is the place to watch for who comes after Netanyahu.

    apres moi, le deluge? i think those who hate Israel like to play with optimism as to how soon this deluge will come upon Israel.

    I give Netanyahu one more election.

    Interesting the other day the chief of staff of the Israeli army commented that the degradation of Hamas capabilities was an advance, but the need is to give Gazans a stake in the future that will curb the desperation that views the rockets as a useful tool. How will Netanyahu navigate the future vis a vis Gaza after the next elections. and until the next elections?

    • just on October 8, 2014, 6:01 pm

      Zionism= Israel.

      All of their leaders are nuts.

      • Kay24 on October 9, 2014, 9:08 am

        Nuts and violent, a dangerous combination.

    • W.Jones on October 9, 2014, 12:45 pm

      “According to the poll, the Right would win 84 of the 120 Knesset seats, up from its current 61.”
      http://www.jpost.com/Arab-Israeli-Conflict/Post-poll-IDF-not-Israel-won-in-Gaza-372726

    • Mooser on October 11, 2014, 1:53 pm

      “and to negate the center, those whose stake in the settlement enterprise is minimal and not all that sympatico”

      No, Yonah, there is nobody in Israel “whose (sic) stake in the settlement enterprise (sick) is minimal. If the settlement “enterprise” (that’s some “enterprise”) doesn’t go into outright annexation, what will Israel do with all those people? Everybody in Israel depends on the settlement “enterprise”.

  17. Keith on October 8, 2014, 9:07 pm

    PHIL- “Is Obama walking away from Israel?”

    No. The empire (including Israel) is utilizing ISIS/ISIL/IS as a proxy army to destroy Syria (Lebanon? Hezbollah?) and remove Assad as part of the neocon originated plan to remake the Middle East. Additionally, Iran, Russia and China are experiencing imperial attempts at destabilization. The empire is on a rampage, Obama the spokesman not the architect although he seems to approve. Both Obama and Natanyahu are consumate liars and should never trusted. These inferred public spats are of little importance.

  18. on October 8, 2014, 9:13 pm

    “”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. “”

    The big problem is that many of these talking heads including Schieffer are Jews – they have a huge conflict of interest in many case when they deal with Israel and they are shameless and irrational apologists for Israel. America has deteriorated dramatically in this respect during the last 20 years.

    • Horizontal on October 14, 2014, 11:46 am

      @unverified ~

      Agreed. Shieffer’s commentary during the Gaza assault was disgusting, though typical of our American media “voices of reason.”

  19. Dan Crowther on October 8, 2014, 9:19 pm

    I dunno, I’m a little skeptical about all of this. Seems like a distraction to me. Like I’ve been saying, the black flags are on Israel’s borders; a large scale ethnic cleansing is very possible in the very near future – all of this talk about misgivings won’t matter when it really hits the fan.

  20. JLewisDickerson on October 8, 2014, 10:32 pm

    RE: “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.” ~ Weiss

    SEE: “EU set to reassess ties if Israel doesn’t move on peace”, by Raphael Ahren, timesofisrael.com, October 8, 2014
    Fed up with settlement expansion, officials in Brussels are working on punitive measures to be implemented as soon as the political leadership wants to do so
    LINK – http://www.timesofisrael.com/eu-set-to-reassess-ties-if-israel-doesnt-move-on-peace/

  21. Vera Gottlieb on October 9, 2014, 11:36 am

    Dare to disagree with israel and you’ll get the finger, no matter who/what/where you are.

  22. Horizontal on October 13, 2014, 7:46 pm

    I dunno. I’d love to think that Obama has reached some kind of, what? Breaking point? Realization? Awakening? But I’ve got a really hard time seeing anything hopeful or different coming out of the WH from here on out.

    Instead, it’s pretty much the same mealy-mouthed empty threats that I’ve heard 100 times before whenever some Israeli official goes out of their way to publicly humiliate an American Official. As far as I know, Obama approved rearming Israel during their latest murder spree and in fact told the head murderer that I (being an American Citizen) was proud to have helped out by arming Iron Dome during said murder spree.

    I’m not certain what the president could do personally to stop this runaway trolley, but he could at least use his Bully Pulpit to speak out about it loudly & clearly. This, I’m afraid, ain’t gonna happen. And so what’s left? Obama sulks and sticks his head in the sand for another year or so while the status quo just marches along? Isn’t this where about every American President for the last 20 years ends up at about this time in their administration?

    I wish it were otherwise.

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