Wednesday, July 22, 2009

RETRO: The Current U.S. - Israeli Standoff

In May I posted some comments on this blog as the first face to face meeting between President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu was taking place in Washington, D.C. The post was titled A Pharaoh who did not know Joseph.

Here's the recap: "Don't be fooled by the cordial face of the meetings between Netanyahu and Obama earlier this week. The main issues have already been clearly defined: an intent to carve up Jerusalem and an insistence on stopping all Israel building in the disputed areas."

"Above is a photo I took in 2007 of Har Homa, which is a development just on the east entrance to Jerusalem coming from the Dead Sea. The last time Benjamin Netanyahu was Prime Minister, Har Homa was the battle ground, Arafat was the Palestinian head and Clinton was the man who wanted more than anything to deliver a final peace negotiation in the conflict.

"It didn't happen but there was intense international pressure applied to Israel the whole time. Expect more of the same now that there is not a President who understands Israel's rights."

That last comment, of course, was for all the Israel-supporting believers who were non-stop complainers throughout the Bush administration about Bush not doing enough for Israel. Israelis knew Bush was one of the presidents who most favored their situation. It was a no-brainer that the Obama administration was not going to be anywhere near as empathetic to Israel's plight.

Today I ran across this corroborating viewpoint from Makor Rishon editor Amnon Lord in a Jerusalem Post Op-Ed titled Obama's calculations were wrong:

"Instead, Obama chose to embark on a collision course. Among Netanyahu's advisers there are some who believe that those who set Obama on this course are close advisers like Rahm Emanuel who think they understand Israeli society and politics and who have detested Netanyahu from the time they served in the Clinton administration. Whatever the reason, this confrontation apparently started from day one of Netanyahu tenure: when he visited the White House for the first time a month and a half after taking office, he already encountered a chilly reception."

The average American citizen sees only the headlines about how some European leaders or the U.N. head has chimed in with Obama to "demand" Israel stop all construction. What they don't see is the history behind such demands, like those Clinton also made and failed to see any results from.

With Obama slipping mightily in the polls as the American people come to grips with the truth that the emperor has no clothes, the president might consider choosing his battles with Israel a little better than this. Rahm Emanuel is not serving him well if he is advising playing hard ball over the Shepherd Hotel construction project.

Obama administration demands are doomed to failure on this because, guess what? Obama is not the ruler of the world. He cannot demand anything of Israel and it was presumptuous to have assumed that he could. The President is the new kid on the block of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. A little humility, please, Mr. President. A little less style and a lot more substance required at your pay grade.

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