Obama Administration Finally Identifies The Middle East’s Biggest Problem: Israel
David Harsanyi
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The Atlantic’s Jeffery Goldberg has written a piece detailing the deteriorating relationship between Israel and the Obama administration. The chief purpose of Goldberg’s piece is to humiliate Benjamin Netanyahu. None of this is especially shocking, considering the antagonism the administration has shown towards the Jewish State from the start. It’s the sort of antipathy Goldberg identified as Jewish paranoia back in 2008.

Goldberg begins his piece with the following:

The other day I was talking to a senior Obama administration official about the foreign leader who seems to frustrate the White House and the State Department the most. ‘The thing about Bibi is, he’s a chickenshit,’ this official said, referring to the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, by his nickname.

Most people have focused on the name-calling, and Goldberg keeps a list of pejoratives used by U.S. officials to describe Netanyahu, including “aspergery.” On that front, it’s worth noting that the person being repeatedly being called “chickenshit” by an anonymous officials volunteered for the Israeli Defense Force, saw combat, and was the leader of an elite special-forces unit deployed on numerous missions, including the freeing of hijacked Sabena Flight in 1972, where he was shot. Granted, this might not be as courageous as hopping the Amtrak from Delaware to DC each day or rallying the troops at a fundraiser in Greenwich, but God knows we can’t all be heroes.

Is Netanyahu a political coward? Perhaps. But not for any of the reasons offered by the administration. Is he arrogant? I’m sure he is. Is being anti-Netanyahu tantamount to being anti-Israel? Well, no. Though it’s certainly fair to point out that the administration’s public demeaning of an ally’s elected leader—almost certainly with the blessing of higher ups—is nearly unheard of.

But you know what is unmistakably anti-Israel? Gloating over how the United States has strong-armed Israel into living with a nuclear Iran, which seems like significant news to me:

This official agreed that Netanyahu is a ‘chickenshit’ on matters related to the comatose peace process, but added that he’s also a ‘coward’ on the issue of Iran’s nuclear threat. The official said the Obama administration no longer believes that Netanyahu would launch a preemptive strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities in order to keep the regime in Tehran from building an atomic arsenal. ‘It’s too late for him to do anything. Two, three years ago, this was a possibility. But ultimately he couldn’t bring himself to pull the trigger. It was a combination of our pressure and his own unwillingness to do anything dramatic. Now it’s too late.’

At the United Nations a few years, Obama reportedly offered to do whatever it took to prevent Iran from producing atomic weapons in exchange for Israeli assurances that it would not attack Iran’s nuclear sites before the presidential election in 2012. (And to think, Obama officials have the audacity to whine about Netanyahu’s “near-pathological desire for career-preservation.”) One side kept its promise. Obama has repeatedly vowed, since his first run for president, to stop Iran from becoming a nuclear power. Maybe that promise that never should have been made. Now, though, the administration claims it’s too late. Now it claims American pressure helped dissuade Israel from defending itself. And now, there is nothing Israel can do about it.

Knowing this, why anyone would expect Israel to trust John Kerry or Barack Obama to forge a peace deal with a Fatah-Hamas unity government is a mystery.

Israel isn’t completely innocent in this mess, of course. Cabinet member Moshe Ya’alon, for instance, was quoted referring to Kerry as “obsessive and messianic” earlier this year. But Ya’alon has since apologized a number of times. But earlier this month Ya’alon was in Washington—the defense minister of our closest ally in the Middle East—and his requests to meet with senior members of the Obama administration were declined. The administration waited until the visit ended before leaking the snub to humiliate the Israeli defense minister. It’s the sort of thing that’s been going on since 2008.

So what happens next? Well, considering his access, when Goldberg “imagines” what’s coming, I imagine someone in the know told him what to imagine. So, if Abbas asks for recognition of Palestine in the United Nations, as he’s expected to do again, the United States will likely block the initiative in the Security Council. But, as Goldberg notes, the Obama administration may also participate in a “stridently anti-settlement resolution” that would isolate Israel from the international community and pressure it to create a judenfrei West Bank and an indefensible Jerusalem.

Now, that would be anti-Israel, too.

Netanyahu, and the even more hawkish ministers around him, seem to have decided that their short-term political futures rest on a platform that can be boiled down to this formula: ‘The whole world is against us. Only we can protect Israel from what’s coming.’ For an Israeli public traumatized by Hamas violence and anti-Semitism, and by fear that the chaos and brutality of the Arab world will one day sweep over them, this formula has its charms. But for Israel’s future as an ally of the United States, this formula is a disaster.

Not really. It’s unlikely we’re going to elect another president driven by a similarly hostile inclination towards Israel. Maybe the American public will turn on Israel at some point, but that point isn’t here yet. Even if it were, one imagines that any Israel government, Left or Right, would have to take its chances alone rather than participate in setting up another mini terror state on its border.

It must be very frustrating to believe that a nation acts in its own best interests rather than the interests of an American political party. Despite Bibi’s assurances that he wouldn’t mess with the president’s 2012 campaign, it is he, out of all the leaders in the all the world, who frustrates Obama most. Not Russian autocrats who invade sovereign nations. Not genocidal Arab dictators. Netanyahu. I forget which sycophantic liberal pundit pointed out on Twitter that this makes sense since we’re prone to be frustrated more by our friends than our enemies. For that to be true, one would have to accept the dubious notion that the president ever considered Israel a “friend” in any special sense.

Is there any other friend treated similarly? Trust me, you’re never going to hear a senior State Department official refer to Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan as a chickenshit theocrat. In fact, when the United Arab Emirates and Turkey, both friends of ours in the Middle East, were justifiably called out by Joe Biden for their roles in helping to strengthen the Islamic State, the vice president was quickly dispatched to ask for forgiveness from both the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Turkish President Erdogan. Apologize to the leader of Turkey. Call the leader of Israel a coward. That about encapsulates American foreign policy the past few years.

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David Harsanyi is a Senior Editor at The Federalist. Follow him on Twitter.

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