Last month, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu did much to both disrespect and discredit President Obama during his scorched-earth campaign through Washington.
The highlight came when, during his rabble-rousing speech before Congress – before Republican lawmakers eager to eat from his hand for their own short-term political gains – Netanyahu rejected Obama's terms for restarting peace negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians while condescendingly lecturing our naive, ignorant President on the realities of life in the Middle East.
Netanyahu then flew back to Israel with a swagger as pundits in America called it a performance for the ages, called it a knockout, called our President "Obama the Weak."
And now, breaking news coming out of Israel – which may be a game-changing moment in the Middle East – also is signaling something all of us have known: when you publicly take unfair and ill-advised swings at Obama, he will quietly, behind the scenes, dismantle your false bravado and politically-constructed facades until all that remains is the fragile shell which you call a backbone.
In other words, Obama don't take no mess.
Last month, when the White House began heavily investing in restarting Middle East peace talks, Obama articulated publicly that negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians must begin at the 1967 borders with mutually-agreed land swaps – the place from which every serious negotiation has begun in the last 20 years.
Netanyahu publicly and brazenly rejected Obama's demand as "indefensible" ahead of his visit to the White House, rallying the right (including some conservative, American Jews and Republican lawmakers) to, well, give Obama hell, despite the fact that Obama was reiterating a long-standing U.S. policy. And so they did. (Anyone remember Mitt Romney and his "Obama has thrown Israel under the bus" choreographed song and dance?)
After being publicly disrespected and characterized as a weak leader, as a feeble leader, did Obama publicly chastise Netanyahu? No.
With the Obama administration working feverishly to head off a Palestinian effort to unilaterally declare statehood at the U.N. in September by reigniting peace talks between Abbas and Netanyahu, did Obama publicly call Israel's leader out for his dishonesty and bombastic statements? No.
What the Obama administration has been doing in the past weeks, however, is privately, and very quietly, "pressuring" Netanyahu to accept Obama's terms for restarting negotiations.
Or else. (The "or else" ultimatums that Obama reportedly presented Netanyahu have not been leaked. But some observers in Israel think that the U.S., itself under pressure from Europe, may have let Israel know that if it did not accept Obama's terms, it might not get a veto in the U.N. Security Council from the U.S. in September on the question of whether or not Palestine should be admitted as a member.)
Today, news has broken that – SURPRISE – Netanyahu "agreed to peace talks based on 1967 borders on the condition that the Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state and solve the Palestinian refugee issue outside of Israel's borders" in talks with presidential advisor Dennis Ross and acting Middle East enjoy David Hale.
In other words, Netanyahu today, it is reported, has agreed, more or less, to Obama's terms – those same terms he spent many a glorious hour defaming and ridiculing while being hosted by our President in Washington, while here as our guest.
Now, Netanyahu, if reports coming out of Israel are accurate, is eating those words. And who do you think is the one making him chew?
Yes. Obama don't take no mess.
Author's Note 1: Two things. First, Netanyahu's communications office "denied" that today's reports are true that the Prime Minister accepted 1967 as future borders. However, this denial, it seems, is purely cosmetic, for the denial itself doesn't actually address what Netanyahu is reported to have agreed on, which is "peace talks based on 1967 borders." Second, the significance of Netanyahu's bending to Obama's will, if true, is, in and of itself, a game-changer in the Middle East with reference to a possible negotiated settlement between Israelis and Palestinians. However, that analysis will have to wait for another diary (or for your comments below).
In other words, take your shoes off and come on in.
Author's Note 2: If it isn't already known, the title of this diary is a riff on James Brown's famous song "Papa Don't Take No Mess."
I chose this title because of the playful similarity, from an alliterative standpoint, between Papa and Obama. That added to the fact that I'm a ridiculously large JB fan.
However, if the title is seen as offensive to others, I will consider changing it.