Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Three great articles on the US-Israel Crisis

One of Israel's leading journalists on the moderate left, Ami Issacharoff, who doesn't like Netanyahu, have written a great article repeating the basic points I've been trying to make with excellent clarity about how the Obama Administration is alienating Israelis:

"America's response to the government's approval of 1,600 new housing units in Ramat Shlomo in northeast Jerusalem is excessive. While it extends a hand to Iran, which continues in its effort to acquire a nuclear bomb; and reaches out to Syria as it arms Hezbollah with advanced weapons, it seems the Obama administration has made a conscious decision to aggravate a diplomatic crisis with the Netanyahu government."

They add:

"Attempts to imply that Israeli policy is endangering the lives of U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan, and even Iraq, verge on an insult to the intelligence - U.S. citizens particualrly. Afghans don't care about Ramat Shlomo, or about the Palestinians and Netanyahu. They have problems of their own to deal with. As far as extremist Islamists are concerned, the seven-year presence of American forces on Iraqi soil is a good enough excuse to attack Americans.

"Efforts by Obama's senior adviser, David Axelrod, to imply otherwise in television interviews are dishonest. The only people who to suffer from Israeli policy decisions are the Palestinians and neighboring states that have peace agreements with Israel - Jordan and Egypt. Not a single U.S. soldier in Afghanistan is at risk because of 1,600 housing units in Jerusalem."

 And they note that this U.S. policy actually damages any chance for a peace process, or even quiet, by making the Palestinians feel they can get more by being more aggressive in demands and perhaps through violence:
"But perhaps what is most important is this: Palestinians see the Obama administration's decision to attack Israel as an invitation to adopt a more confrontational line....But the PA has smelled blood....So why not start a riot and blame the Israelis, especially when the U.S. government is doing the same.
Meanwhile, the Washington Post gets it, too in an editorial

"Mr. Obama risks repeating his previous error. American chastising of Israel invariably prompts still harsher rhetoric, and elevated demands, from Palestinian and other Arab leaders. Rather than join peace talks, Palestinians will now wait to see what unilateral Israeli steps Washington forces.... If the White House insists on a reversal of the settlement decision, or allows Palestinians to do so, it might land in the same corner from which it just extricated itself....If this episode reinforces that image, Mr. Obama will accomplish the opposite of what he intends."

Then there's David Rothkopf at Foreign Policy:

"The bigger message that will be unintentionally have been delivered to the world at the end of all this is that the United States is willing to get fierce with its friend Israel over a perceived insult but that we are likely to remain ineffective in the face of self-declared Iranian enemies' efforts to destabilize the entire Middle East with nuclear weapons. This is not only a problem for the president because the outcome is so dangerous. It's also that "tough on your friends, weak with your enemies" is neither a common trait among great leaders nor is it a particularly good campaign bumper sticker."


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