Jewish Advocacy Group Criticizes U.S. Snub to Israeli Defense Minister Ya’alon
Bilateral relations between the United States and Israel were further bruised this week when it emerged that Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon was prevented by the Obama Administration from meeting with key officials during an official visit to Washington, DC and New York.
While Ya’alon did meet with his opposite number, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, as well as with Samantha Power, the US Ambassador to the UN, his requests to meet with other top officials, including Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State John Kerry, and the National Security Adviser Susan Rice, were turned down.
Ya’alon has been regarded with suspicion by the White House ever since an Israeli newspaper reported him saying privately that “the only thing that could save us is Kerry winning a Nobel Peace Prize and leaving us alone.” Ya’alon is also said to have described the Secretary of State as “messianic” and “obsessive.” Ya’alon subsequently issued an apology.
“This kind of public rebuke will be misinterpreted by all of the wrong people for all of the wrong reasons,” Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, told The Algemeiner. “We’re in a time of tremendous uncertainty in the Middle East, and it’s the wrong signal to send to friend and foe.”
Cooper added that the episode demonstrates that Israeli concerns frequently encounter a “tin ear” in Washington. “When you take the Ya’alon incident and combine it with the Israeli perception that the US is soft on [Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud] Abbas, that it hasn’t responded to his statement that Jews have no right to pray on the Temple Mount, which is what Hamas also says, the overall impact is to drive up the numbers of Israelis who are less amenable to making concessions in a peace process which the Secretary of State has devoted hundreds of hours to,” Cooper said.
Meanwhile, an unnamed U.S. official has said that Ya’alon should not have been surprised by the snub he received. “We were shocked by some of the comments that he has made in the past, so it should come as no surprise that he wasn’t able to get some of the meetings he requested,” the official told The Jerusalem Post.