Is Obama’s Treatment of Netanyahu Anti-Semitic?
In answer to the question, “Why has Barack Obama treated Netanyahu so ‘rudely’?”, Glenn Reynolds responds:
Possibly Obama just hates Israel and hates Jews. That’s plausible — certainly nothing in his actions suggests otherwise, really.
This is absolutely absurd. First of all, I wouldn’t characterize the President of the United States not completely kowtowing to a foreign prime minister as being ‘rude.’ The President and the Secretary of State have made it clear that the United States wants Israel to re-engage in the peace process and, in the meantime, does not want Israel to build more settlements in disputed territories. When Netanyahu completely disregarded this and approved more settlements in East Jerusalem, what could he honestly expect? Love and kisses?
It’s important to point out that at the present time, exactly what American interests are in the Middle East region. Those interests are not “unconditional support for Israel.” Those interests include (in no particular order): 1) supporting all of our allies in the region, including, but not limited to, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the U.A.E, Kuwait, and Israel. 2) Maintaining access to Middle Eastern supplies of oil. 3) Countering Islamtic fundamentalist, particularly fundamentalist terrorist organizations.
In order to protect all of these interests, it is important that the United States maintain an image of being a “fair broker” in Israeli-Palestinian relations, and that the United States continue to encourage the peace process. As Centcom Commander General David Petraeus stated in his testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee earlier this week:
The enduring hostilities between Israel and some of its neighbors present distinct challenges to our ability to advance our interests in the AOR. Israeli-Palestinian tensions often flare into violence and large-scale armed confrontations. The conflict foments anti-American sentiment, due to a perception of U.S. favoritism for Israel. Arab anger over the Palestinian question limits the strength and depth of U.S. partnerships with governments and peoples in the AOR and weakens the legitimacy of moderate regimes in the Arab world. Meanwhile, al-Qaeda and other militant groups exploit that anger to mobilize support. The conflict also gives Iran influence in the Arab world through its clients, Lebanese Hizballah and Hamas.
Thus, when Israel acts against American interests by formenting conflict, it is the President’s job to stand up for the United States. It is not his job to roll over and let Israel do whatever it wants to, regardless of the cost to the United States.
Let’s not forget, too, that Netanyahu’s government has also angered our oldest, and most reliable ally, the United Kingdom, by using counterfeit British passports for its agents in an assassination operation in the U.A.E. As a consequence, the United Kingdom has expelled an Israeli diplomat from its borders. This action by Israel is also worthy of condemnation by the United States, too. Especially in a conflict with Britain.
It’s also worth mentioning that, among Israeli citizens, a strong majority do not believe that Obama is hostile to Israel. Indeed, on the recent visit of Netanyahu to the United States, a majority of Israelis believe that Netanyahu is acting irresponsibly, and 70% believe that Obama is either “friendly” or “balanced” in his relationship with Israel.
Of course, in order to distance himself a little from the absurd charge of accusing the President of the United States of being a racist, Reynolds suggests that, maybe, Obama’s just pretending because he’s engaged in a conspiracy to wage war on Iran!
But it’s also possible — I’d say likely — that there’s something else going on. I think Obama expects Israel to strike Iran, and wants to put distance between the United States and Israel in advance of that happening. (Perhaps he even thinks that treating Israel rudely will provoke such a response, saving him the trouble of doing anything about Iran himself, and avoiding the risk that things might go wrong if he does). On the most optimistic level, maybe this whole thing is a sham, and the U.S. is really helping Israel strike Iran, with this as distraction.
I don’t even know where to start with this completely ludicrous idea, except to observe that an Israeli attack on Iran would be a disaster for the United States. It would put our Middle Eastern allies in the uncomfortable position of defending Iran–strengthening their power in the region and limiting ours. It would cause Iran to re-double its efforts towards developing a nuclear weapon. It would strengthen the hard-liners in Iran and weaken reformers. It would make Iran less likely to deal diplomatically with the West and almost certainly strengthen its relations with China and Russia. The list goes on. (That an Israeli strike on Iran would also be bad for Israel goes without saying, but Bibi Netanyahu’s willingness to act in the long-term interests of Israel is often very limited.)
Honestly, I don’t know why certain segments of the right believe that supporting anything but the most pro-hardline Likud foreign policy is somehow “anti-Israel” or even “anti-Semitic”, but there it is.