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February 4, 2015 11:47 pm

How Netanyahu Damaged American-Israeli Relations

avatar by Alon Ben-Meir

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Netanyahu, Obama meeting, Sept. 2014. Photo: GPO

President Obama told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that the US opposes the Palestinian bid to Join the ICC. Photo: GPO

There is no doubt that Prime Minister Netanyahu’s acceptance of House Speaker John Boehner’s invitation to address a joint session of Congress on Iran is extraordinarily damaging to Israel-U.S. relations. The damage, however, transcends the bilateral relations as it reverberates and impacts adversely on Israel’s relations with scores of other countries. Netanyahu and his messenger boy, Ron Dermer (Israel’s Ambassador to Washington), thought they had cleverly outmaneuvered the White House by concocting such a cynical ploy, but they will soon realize – if they haven’t already – that they have sunk into such disrepute that it will haunt them for the rest of their political careers.

Many Congressional Democrats are incensed by Netanyahu’s diplomatic transgression. They have decided to drop new legislation to impose additional sanctions on Iran until after the March 24 deadline, when an agreement will have to be achieved in principle between Iran and the P5+1. By his own shortsightedness, Netanyahu risked the bipartisan Congressional support of Israel and ended up with precisely the opposite of what he wished to achieve.

Irrespective of who the President is and which political party he is from, Americans have high esteem for the Executive Office of the President. Netanyahu has not only snubbed Obama, but dishonored the office that holds such awesome constitutional powers, which is apparently beyond the grasp of an arrogant caretaker prime minister.

No leader with any self-respect would have dared to do what Netanyahu has brazenly done. Even if Netanyahu ends up canceling the visit, the damage to Israel has already been done, while inflicting extreme harm to the US’ strategic interests.

The repercussions of Netanyahu’s ill-conceived and poorly-executed scheme are numerous, which only a reckless person could fail to consider.

The erosion in the bilateral relationship between Israel and the U.S. will only harden the position of Israel’s staunch enemies, including Hamas, Hezbollah, and Iran, who will seek to exploit it. Indeed, the greater the tension between Israel and its sole defender, the greater the resistance will be from Israel’s enemies, as they see no reason to relent or be flexible.

America’s European allies, including the U.K., France, and many of the Scandinavian countries, who have serious disagreements with Israel’s policies on the settlements and the continuing occupation, have not taken serious punitive actions against Israel, only because of American urging not to do so. They will now feel more emboldened to go after Israel in the international arena – giving support to BDS and seeking other punitive measures as they see fit.

For the Arab states who believe that the U.S. is in Israel’s pocket, Netanyahu’s defiance of the White House only confirms their belief, especially as they will likely witness several standing ovations (albeit undeserving and contrived) from the floor of the House of Representatives during Netanyahu’s speech.

This will not only further undermine U.S. interests in the Middle East, but will also erode America’s influence on the leading Arab countries that can pressure the Palestinians to make important concessions to Israel, especially in the peace process.

As Senator John McCain of Arizona, speaking on CNN’s “State of the Union,” said about the state of U.S.-Israeli relations, “It’s the worst that I’ve ever seen in my lifetime, and that in itself is a tragedy.”

There are those typically arrogant Israelis who have no clue how critical the U.S.’ political, military, and economic support is to Israel’s very survival, and who take America’s support for granted.

Even if Israel could manage without American financial aid and somehow survive without military support, it cannot endure without America’s crucial political backing, which is no longer a given because of Netanyahu’s six years of defiance and deceit.

I want every Israeli to think for one moment what will happen if the U.S. votes in favor, or even abstains, the next time the Palestinians push for a UNSC resolution to establish a state based on the 1967 borders -which they will be encouraged to reintroduce in the wake of the US-Israeli crisis.

Within a few days, more than one hundred countries would recognize it. Israel would become an occupier of another state, subject to massive international sanctions. Many countries would withdraw their ambassadors, further isolating Israel and making it a pariah state. Scores of its officials would be threatened with facing the International Criminal Court for human rights violations.

There are those Israeli fools who suggest that Netanyahu is absolutely correct that Obama is a paper tiger and will not do anything against Iran. Suppose this is true – who will do something about Iran? Netanyahu? He has been bluffing for years, and even if he wasn’t bluffing, can Israel do it on its own and pray that the U.S. comes to its rescue?

Notwithstanding the continuing American public support of Israel, other than refusing to meet Netanyahu, the President should take punitive action to convey to the Israelis that their leaders cannot commit such political lapses with impunity.

At a minimum, the White House should declare Ambassador Dermer, who should have known better as a former political consultant for the Republicans, persona non grata for his conniving and deliberate breach of diplomatic protocol to prevent such sad episodes from ever happening again for Israel’s own sake.

Netanyahu must remember that Obama knows that if Tehran comes any closer to reaching the breakout point in its nuclear weapons program, the US will shoulder the responsibility because only the U.S. can do something about it.

Considering the turmoil sweeping the Middle East and the danger Israel faces, any Israeli leader must safeguard Israel’s relations with the US because its national security depends on the US’ commitment.

Although relations between Israelis and Americans, as people-to-people, is strong and more enduring than the transient relations between the two heads of state, a misguided leader such as Netanyahu has, nevertheless, inflicted probably irreparable damage to the ties between the two countries, which only sober and wise Israeli leaders can mend.

The Israelis must deny Netanyahu another term in office because should he win, his victory will demonstrate that they are following a blind shepherd who is systematically destroying Israel’s vital relations with the US at a time when Israel is in dire need of America’s unmitigated backing.

Dr. Alon Ben-Meir is a professor of international relations at the Center for Global Affairs at NYU. He teaches courses on international negotiation and Middle Eastern studies.

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  • Todd Parker

    With all do respect, Obama is not respected by most of our country, the Presidency as an office is respected, but the office is only as respectable as the man in the chair and he is not.

    I think you are mistaken. I think the finger should be pointed at Obama because one state leader sponsors terror and one is fighting it. Whose side are you on? I think you should be getting behind your own leader who is trying to fight it and I think you should be calling Obama a child who is throwing a temper tantrum when he doesn’t get his way.

    Make no mistake, when our house extended the invite to Netanyahu and he accepted; it was because the american public and its congressional leaders (now with a republican majority) needs to talk to the people who know about terror and how to fight it specifically because for 6 years our President has allowed it to run wild; as terror increases all the more his antipathy increases all the more. Obama’s response is childish and petulant, it wreaks of someone who has something to hide and I believe that something to hide is just how unconstitutional and unilateral our President has acted as a state sponsor to Islamic terror organizations like hamas, the muslim brotherhood, and hezbolah as well as the state sponsorship of terror states, namely Iran.

    The point of your article is political capital and how Netanyahu has lost it. My point is that it is high time for all the politicians to stop acting political. Do your job and protect the people. Do what is right under God…period.

    • Armond Barboza-Ross

      hopefully you are from a state which has legalized drug use…or afraid…you might need to use the mental health treatment provisions…afforded you…under ObamaCare

      as last time looked…Iran’s nuclear program…as well as that in Israel…both developed…under republican presidential administrations

      in fact the program in Israel made Eisenhower so mad…that he banned the sale of military equipment to Israel…so they then bought their weapons from their good friends…in Communist Czechoslovakia

      but then again you expose you true issue…which is your religious beliefs…which are no different than those…who claim Islam gives them all right to the land

    • Bip Bob

      You Sir are wrong about Obama. Your PM is using Congress address for political gain and to usurp American’s right to address their foreign Policy without outside interference. Obama is correct to say that back in Western days, cowboys with guns would sit down and put their guns down and try to mediate a resolution. If it fails, everyone empties and a gun fight would ensue to settle the fight. The last thing you want is someone going guns blazing in the middle of a negotiation. It just does not help. Heaping more sanctions on Iran will make them leave the table. Let Obama do his job and secure a peaceful settlement with Iranians and please tell your PM to butt out.

  • judorebbe

    How did this putz escape from Ha’aretz?

  • JohnWV

    Of today’s Americans, 2% are Jews. Of today’s American millionaires, 50% are Jews. As in Weimar Germany, they are organized and cunningly extract enormous amounts of money from our economy without contributing value. Wall Street has become a Jewish run casino serving itself and Jewry. Our news media is mostly Jewish owned and blatantly Israel/Jew biased. Our electoral process has been corrupted by AIPAC, the Jewish Conference of Presidents and more enormous amounts of Jewish money. Israel has occupied not just Palestine, but America too. The Wall Street felons remaining unpunished, AIPAC actually writing congressional legislation, and lack of treason indictments attest to the depth of the occupation. The Jewish state instigated 9/11, all our Mideast wars, and benefited from all. None were in American interests, yet we did the dying and suffered the Great Recession. Our diminished America is being overthrown from within and has become subservient to an envisioned world dominating Jewish apartheid ultrapower.

    • Armond Barboza-Ross

      you are as right…as those in this comment section…who claim all America’s actions…should be those…as demanded…by Israel

      sorry for your genetic illness…but with ObamaCare and Obama’s federal support of stem cell research…it is today now possible…to cure your mental illness

  • elixelx

    I am shocked, even quite surprised, that Algemeiner should let this arrant nonsense reach your headlines.
    Exactly which other countries has Israel alienated? How does it manifest itself?
    We here in Israel could give a toss how these ‘alienated’ countries think or behave.
    And since when did Israel need or get “unmitigated backing” from the US? And will we get it in future?
    We Israelis are NOT in ‘dire need’ of anything from America; only these self-loathing New York Jooos (the writer of this article being Exhibit No1.) would prefer that we live forever on our knees in thrall to their messiah in the WHITE house.
    Go for it, Bibi! Slap his face, tweak his nose, box his ears, SHUT HIS MOUTH!

    • R.H. Traylor

      I don’t think you realize the extent to which the U.S. has supported Israel with billions of dollars, military assistance, and political backing that has kept the wolves away. You take our support for granted and you can do this for only so long. In fact, there is a growing impatience with Israeli demands that we Americans support whatever Israel does even when it comes to the killing of hundreds of children. Many of us don’t buy the line that terrorists are responsible for these deaths because they used these children as human shields. Civilized people don’t kill hostages to get at the bad guys. Many in the U.S. are waking up. Prime Minister Netanyahu is helping in this regard.

  • Michael

    Also, how do you get to see other comments about this. There are apparently 5 other comments, but I am unable to view them. I have tried clicking on the “5 Comments” hyperlink, but this just returns the original article. (I am using the Firefox browser)

  • Michael

    Why are you publishing this Left-winger’s diatribe without any comment? It looks like it is coming from Algemeiner. If this is indeed your opinion, I would protest even further.

  • tan

    Think Ben-Meir is correct.
    Staggeringly bad move, accepting that invitation. A disaster.
    Netanyahu cannot make that speech, not even after the Israeli election, if he wins.
    Just a truly dumb move.
    Dangerous to Israel’s interest….and will leave a nasty taste in the mouths of many Americans.
    Dumb as a bag of hammers.

  • Daniel Romischer

    Only time will tell and history will judge. Israel is still US’s biggest military ally in the region. The Obama administration has some explaining to do for it’s blatant support for the enemies of Israel.

  • How could the Algemeiner dare to publish an article that inflames anti Israel rhetoric and endangers Jews.

    Netanyahu said today : “Instead of demanding that Iran cease the terror it operates in the region and around the world, the leading elements in the international community { ie. Obama ) are rushing toward a deal which will allow Iran to arm itself with nuclear weapons… the deal being reached with Iran is very dangerous, dangerous to Israel, dangerous to the region, and dangerous to the whole world – and we will vehemently oppose it.”

    How could the Algemeiner muddy the waters by publishing articles that oppose what Netanyahu says ( ie. Notwithstanding that all the retired Mossad chiefs have opposed Netanyahu’s Iran position for 6 years)

    • Armond Barboza-Ross

      since you read…maybe you should try…a slightly different…perspective…from a source…you quote yourself

      but then again…Eisenhower…Reagan…and Bush I…all had issues with Israel…wanting all concerns to resolve…solely in their favor

  • DocReality

    So I guess it’s okay for Obama to continue to meet with members of CAIR and the Muslim Brotherhood. Are we still keeping the delusional belief alive that this president truly supports Israel? He’d welcome all the grand Mullahs of Iran before he extended an olive branch to Netanyahu.

    Obama hates America, hates white people, hates Jews, and hates Israel.

    • Armond Barboza-Ross

      understand…when there are issues between two sides…the smart man…only speaks to one…and only considers that one sides concerns

      but as Obama suggested on Cuba…if you been doing the same thing…since 1948…and nothing has changed…time to do…something…much more effective

      yet Doc…despite your claim…the only American President to conclude a deal with Iran…was Ronald Reagan…right about the time…that Iran…started it’s nuclear program

  • Salomon dayan

    Mr Ben. Meir, with all due respect the best way to answer you is to suggest that your leftist ideology blinds you.or ,may be you don t know whspat you are talking about ..wake up