Jeffrey Goldberg, an indefatigable defender of the president when it comes to Israel, has done the president no favors by revealing President Obama’s deep-seated arrogance and lack of respect for our democratic ally Israel. Goldberg writes:
In the weeks after the UN vote [on Palestinian observer status], Obama said privately and repeatedly, “Israel doesn’t know what its own best interests are.” With each new settlement announcement, in Obama’s view, Netanyahu is moving his country down a path toward near-total isolation. . . . On matters related to the Palestinians, the president seems to view the prime minister as a political coward, an essentially unchallenged leader who nevertheless is unwilling to lead or spend political capital to advance the cause of compromise.
He envisions a more hostile stance in the future and the prospects for an imposed peace deal: “When such an issue arises again, Israel may find itself even lonelier. It wouldn’t surprise me if the U.S. failed to whip votes the next time, or if the U.S. actually abstained. I wouldn’t be particularly surprised, either, if Obama eventually offered a public vision of what a state of Palestine should look like, and affirmed that it should have its capital in East Jerusalem.”
The infantilizing of Israel, the only country deemed to be unfit to look after its own interests, is personified in the president’s language. He is also seriously ignorant.
The cause of Israel’s “isolation” is the international campaign to delegitimize the state of Israel, given fuel when our European allies perceive there is no downside to bashing Israel. The delegitimization campaign, which goes to its very existence as a Jewish state and not the number of apartment buildings in Jerusalem is, only worsened when, for example, the president joins the chorus demanding an international investigation of the flotilla and has his ambassador to the United Nations kick Israel in the shins with a display of vitriol from the U.S. unprecedented at the United Nations Security Council. (“We reject in the strongest term the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlement activities. For more than four decades Israel’s settlement activities have undermined Israel’s security and eroded hopes of peace and security in the region.”)
When the president adopts as U.S. policy a pre-1967 borders negotiating stance contrary to Israel’s expressed position, he adds to the impression that others should determine Israel’s fate.
Moreover, Obama’s assumption that building precludes a peace deal is just false. Israel has taken down settlements, evacuated territory and gained what? More violence. The prime minister of Israel froze settlements and then extended the settlement freeze. That did not induce the Palestinians to come to the table. The existence of settlements — until the Obama administration adopted the Palestinian view that this was a show-stopper in the “peace process” — was not previously elevated to this level of importance. As a result, the entire Oslo Accords process has come undone.
The problem is not settlements. The problem is a U.S. president so hostile to the state of Israel that he has encouraged its foes and demonstrated no downside to bullying the Jewish state. His nomination of Chuck Hagel is part and parcel of this. By selecting a secretary of defense with a pronounced record of disrespect for the Israel- U.S. relationship he sends the message: The United States doesn’t have Israel’s back. I wonder what Sen. Chuck Chumer (D-N.Y.) thinks of the president’s comments. He can ask Hagel at the confirmation hearings.