It seems I am not the only American unnerved by the way in which Israel's Prime Minister, Binyamin Netanyahu – who meets with President Obama today in Washington – has cast his words after Obama's Middle East speech.
In a post today entitled "Dear Mr. Netanyahu, Please Don't Speak to My President That Way," Atlantic columnist Jeffrey Goldberg brings the wood.
When Mr. Goldberg becomes the voice of reason concerning Israel's leadership, it's a sure sign that said leadership has sunk to unfortunate depths.
Support our President – join me over the fold.
Mr. Goldberg's central issue with Netanyahu springs from one of his many statements yesterday, statements that came fast and furious after President Obama championed the 1967 borders as those which should serve as the basis for a new, Palestinian state (with mutually-agreed land swaps to compensate for large Jewish settlements).
[It should be noted here, as it was in my last diary, that this policy of using 1967 as the basis of any border between Israel and Palestine is long-standing US policy going back to the CLINTON administration.]
Mr. Netanyahu stated, boldly, that in his meeting with Obama today, he "expects to hear a reaffirmation from President Obama of U.S. commitments made to Israel in 2004, which were overwhelmingly supported by both House of Congress."
Goldberg, and many others, did not quite appreciate Netanyahu's usage of one word: expects. And here is where Goldberg begins to bite:
So Netanyahu "expects" to hear this from the President of the United States? And if President Obama doesn't walk back the speech, what will Netanyahu do? Will he cut off Israeli military aid to the U.S.? Will he cease to fight for the U.S. in the United Nations, and in the many international forums that treat Israel as a pariah?
Why Netanyahu thinks such presumptuous political posturing serves his own political interests or the interests of Israel is beyond my comprehension. In my view, it seems emotional, lacks calculation, and has no tactical or strategic value, particularly after Israel gained significant concessions in Obama's speech:
1. There was no mention of settlements needing to be halted.
2. There was an agreement that any pullback by the Israeli army from Palestine would need to be done slowly, an Israeli position.
3. Obama rejected the Palestinians' desire to unilaterally declare statehood at the UN as a strategy doomed to failure, and one the US would not support.
So the "hissy fit," as Goldberg characterizes Netanyahu's reaction, is completely unwarranted. I'll allow Goldberg to finish it off for me:
[Netanyahu's response] was not appropriate, and more to the point, it was not tactically wise: If I'm waking up this morning feeling that the Israeli prime minister is disrespecting the President of my country, imagine how other Americans might be feeling. And, then, of course, there's this: Prime Minister Netanyahu needs the support of President Obama in order to confront the greatest danger Israel has ever faced: the potential of a nuclear-armed Iran. And yet he seems to go out of his way to alienate the President. Why does he do this? It's a mystery to me.
It's a mystery to us all.