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October 14, 2016 7:21 am

Obama and the Blame That Bibi Bears

avatar by Martin Sherman

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Netanyahu and Obama. Photo: Official White House Photo by Pete Souza.

Netanyahu and Obama. Photo: Pete Souza/White House.

“If the aim of the Israeli government is to prevent a peace deal with the Palestinians, now or in the future, it’s close to realizing that goal. Last week, it approved the construction of a new Jewish settlement in the West Bank, another step in the steady march under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to build on land needed to create a Palestinian state…The Obama administration, with every justification, strongly condemned the action as a betrayal of the idea of a two-state solution in the Middle East. But Mr. Netanyahu obviously doesn’t care what Washington thinks, so it will be up to President Obama to find another way to preserve that option before he leaves office.”

 — “At the Boiling Point with Israel,” the New York Times Editorial Board, October 6, 2016.

Last week, the New York Times descended to a new low, with the publication of a particularly infuriating and offensive anti-Israel editorial that was so distortive, deceptive and deceitful regarding the Jewish state and its democratically elected prime minister that some less charitable souls than I might almost be tempted to say that it would have done Der Stürmer proud.

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The New York Times’ anti-Jewish innuendo

Doubtless, many will claim that even the slightest hint that any such comparison is even vaguely valid is wildly inappropriate. True, the Times editorial did not sport a crude cartoon of a conniving, hooked nosed, money-grasping Jewish prime minister. But it did include virtually everything else.

It seized on the recent government decision to build 100 new homes in the existing community of Shiloh to unleash a vicious attack on Netanyahu, liberally peppered with the basest antisemitic innuendo portraying him as devious, sly and underhanded — a man whom those pesky Jews, inexplicably, keep electing in free and fair elections.

But the Times’ Judeophobic barbs were not limited to Netanyahu alone. The piece went on to allude darkly that it was the demonic powers of Jews that caused George Bush Sr. to lose his 1990 bid for re-election because of his withholding of US loan guarantees over a dispute regarding the “settlements.”

The thinly veiled accusation is unmistakably clear: The avaricious land-grabbing Jews are hell-bent on depriving the poor Palestinian Arabs for a chance of statehood. Nothing — literally nothing — about belligerent Palestinian rejectionism was mentioned, or even hinted at, as a contributing factor to the continuing conflict. Everything is the fault of the Jewish state — despite the wrenching concessions it has made, both politically and territorially, over the past decades.

Lies about the past; threats regarding the future

Virtually every line in the editorial was either entirely mendacious or egregiously misleading. Exposing the entire web of falsehood and deception that comprises this shamefully biased excuse for journalism would require at least an entire column — if not beyond that. This is a task I shall postpone for a later date.

Rather than deal with the blatant lies regarding the past, I should like to focus on the impending threats regarding the future that the editorial appears to herald.

Indeed, there are gathering signs, of which the Times’ editorial is but one, that the Obama administration is planning to exploit the presidential “interregnum” (between the election and the inauguration of the next president), in which there is no need to fear Jewish retribution, to unleash a savage diplomatic attack on Israel to compel it to accept far-reaching concessions on the Palestinian issue.

Thus, quoting senior congressional sources, The Weekly Standard (TWS) warns: “The Obama administration is manufacturing a crisis with Israel in anticipation of a post-election diplomatic push targeting the Jewish state, and this past week launched a series of broadsides criticizing the Israelis through the media and in press briefings.”

As the TWS points out, the current controversy and the administration’s contrived condemnation over the construction of about 100 new houses on state land within an existing settlement is merely “a pretext for eroding relations with Israel and potentially for setting up a broader diplomatic offensive.”

Hostile choreography not unexpected

Of course, the recent incident of the planned construction of a handful of new houses in the confines of an existing community has purposely been blown out of all proportion by the Obama administration.

According to TWS sources, “President Obama has been ‘waiting for an opening’ to condemn Israel. The recent decision [to build]… in an existing community that did not expand the boundaries at all [is] not something that should even make the news in Israel, let alone the US.”

But this malicious choreographing of conflict should hardly have been unexpected. Indeed, it is strongly reminiscent of the 2010 hullabaloo the Obama administration made over the approval for future construction in the northern Jerusalem suburb of Ramat Shlomo. The approval, decided upon during the visit of Vice President Joe Biden, was deemed a grave insult to the US — despite the fact that Biden himself had co-sponsored several Senate resolutions stipulating that Jerusalem should remain Israel’s undivided capital, under Israeli sovereignty. Indeed, as Daniel Greenfield caustically points out in “The deadly Israeli house,” Biden then feigned outrage “when the Israelis actually took him at his word.”

Thus, although this kind of animosity towards the Jewish state in not new, this time it appears “far more coordinated and aggressive” — perhaps spurred on by the fact that after the elections and before the inauguration, Obama knows harsh anti-Israel measures can be undertaken with relative impunity and with immunity from deleterious political repercussions from the dreaded pro-Israel lobbies.

Blame that Bibi bears

But for all the recognition of the innate anti-Israeli predilections of the Obama administration, and sympathy for the Israeli governments that have had to contend with it, there is still significant blame Netanyahu must bear for the accumulating US pressure on Israel.

After all, ever since he assumed office in January 2009 (and, arguably, well-before that), the inherent antipathy that Obama harbored towards Israel — together with his undisguised Islamophilic proclivities — has been painfully clear to anyone with the intellectual integrity to read the abundantly unequivocal signs.

Yet, despite the fact that Netanyahu has been in power continuously for well over half a decade, he and his government have done virtually nothing to put in place effective mechanisms to contend with the pernicious effects of the White House’s predilections.

Depressingly, this is a matter I have raised repeatedly in the past years, warning time and again of the gravely detrimental repercussion that would inevitably result from such dereliction — to no avail. See, for example, “If I were Prime Minister…“; “My Billion-Dollar Budget: If I Were PM (Cont.)”; “Dereliction of Duty“; and “Intellectual Warriors, Not Slicker Diplomats.”

The pitiful amounts allotted by Israel for the fight for the hearts and minds of the international community have all but left what British journalist Melanie Phillips termed “the battle field of the mind” to its adversaries — whether this be the Palestinians and their well-oiled propaganda machine or the inimical politically-correct mainstream media, exemplified by the New York Times.

Not a paucity of funds

Until recently, the total budget allocation for Israel’s global public diplomacy effort was less than the advertising budget of the Israeli “Osem” food company.

With such a feeble effort made to establish Israel’s case in the world, there should be little surprise that the Palestinian narrative, portraying the Palestinian Arabs as down-trodden, dispossessed victims of the Zionist ogre, has dominated the international discourse on the Israeli-Arab conflict.

This dismal situation is not a result of a lack of funds. It is, rather, a lack of political resolve and awareness of the crucial role public diplomacy plays in the nation’s strategic arsenal.

After all, with a state budget of around $100 billion, allotting a mere 1% for public diplomacy would make a sum of $ 1 billion dollars available for making Israel’s case in the world and, no less important, debunking that of its adversaries.

Such resources would not be devoted to attempts to win over implacable adversaries of Israel and the Zionist endeavor, but to the creation of a political climate in which their positions are exposed to be ridiculous, self-contradictory, immoral and irrational — and, hence, untenable as the basis for any policy decisions by any incumbent government.

Bibi’s bitter Bar Ilan fruits

Regrettably, Netanyahu has hamstrung much of the freedom needed for any official diplomatic effort to rebuff adversarial diplomatic initiatives against Israel by his unfortunate acceptance of the idea of Palestinian statehood in his 2009 Bar Ilan speech.

For having committed himself to the perilously impractical idea of two states, he cannot articulate arguments that show it to be a totally unfeasible and counterproductive objective, which will precipitate outcomes, both moral and practical, that are the diametric opposite of those its proponents claim it will achieve.

For example, when the Times urges Obama to use his interregnum immunity to undertake drastic measures to preserve the option of a two-state solution, it is in fact urging preservation of the option to establish yet another homophobic, misogynistic, Muslim-majority tyranny, characterized by gender discrimination, persecution of homosexuals and the suppression of political dissidence.

But if that was the manner in which the two-state option was portrayed, backed by the force of a $1 billion budget, driving pervasive social media campaigns, eye-catching billboards and impactful videos, together with a blitz of well-informed persuasive spokespersons across US campuses, it is doubtful whether any liberal leaning political party could embrace it for long.

Sadly, in light of his Bar Ilan speech, this is not a line of augment that Netanyahu can pursue officially and would necessarily have to work through “proxies,” government-funded NGOs able to express positions that might be too “forthright” for Israeli officialdom to adopt.

Mutually exclusive legitimacies

Yet here, too, the Netanyahu government has shown little initiative.

Recent additions to the public diplomacy budget have been directed (with some success) at the symptoms of Israel’s diplomatic predicament (the BDS movement) and not at its underlying causes (at attempts to delegitimize the notion of a Jewish nation state).

The reason for this is clear: Since the Palestinian narrative and Zionist narrative are mutually exclusive — at least in practice, if not in theory — any attempt to re-legitimize the Zionist narrative must, ipso facto, entail the delegitimization of the Palestinian narrative. But since the Netanyahu government is wedded to the two-state formula, which presupposes the legitimacy of the Palestinian narrative, it cannot work to undermine that legitimacy.

Thus, while foreign governments finance a myriad of NGOs, with hundreds of millions of dollars, to besmirch Israel’s name and to create an inclement political climate that facilitates hostile measures against it, the Israeli government does nothing to finance cash-strapped NGOs, fighting desperately on minuscule budgets, to defend Israel’s name and to create a favorable political climate that impedes hostile measures against it.

This is the grossly unlevel playing field that Netanyahu has created for himself and for Israel in the battle for international hearts and minds.

Laying the foundations for Israel’s demise?

Despite all the chatter about the unprecedentedly close intelligence and military cooperation between Israel and the US, a far from implausible case could be made for the claim that the Obama administration is — intentionally or otherwise — laying the foundations for Israel’s demise.

After all, a true nightmare situation for Israel would be the establishment of a mega-terror base in Judea-Samaria, 10 times that of Gaza, which would complete its encirclement in the north, east and south by radical Islamist forces that could wage an ongoing war of attrition against it under the protective umbrella of a nuclear Iran.

The Obama administration, greatly aided by the paucity of Israeli diplomacy, has already facilitated the latter (nuclear Iran). It now seems bent on laying the foundation for the former (a mega-terror base overlooking Israel’s urban megalopolis).

This is the grim specter that is emerging as the next session of the UN Security Council approaches – with an inimical US president, unshackled from any restraining electoral consideration, facing off against a beleaguered Israel. This is the existential storm that Israel may soon have to weather, very much on its own.

Blaming the storm?

This is a storm that has been long brewing.  Sadly, few measures have been taken to deal with it — measures that could, and should, have been taken.

So, if one knows a storm is brewing, but takes no measures to prepare for it, when the storm hits, who is to blame for the damage? The storm… or those who did not prepare for it?

Martin Sherman (www.martinsherman.org) is the founder and executive director of the Israel Institute for Strategic Studies. (www.strategic-israel.org).

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  • Abelardy

    Bibi has better cards to play, other than begging, to force Obama to rethink his plot against Israel.

    Israel can respond with strength, in the form of threats, which are in Israel’s power to execute, which can be bluntly explained Obama, in advance of his betrayal. Here are a few examples:

    1. Warn Obama that any diplomatic betrayal will be met with annexation of Area C, leaving the PA to administer the non-contiguous Areas A and B.

    2. A declaration that the Iran/Obama deal made the two state solution unworkable, justifying annexation.

    3. Israel will demand that the US either move its embassy to Jerusalem, or or close the US consulate in Jerusalem.

    4. Threaten to expel Abbas, and the PA, and negotiate with local groups on the WB. Threaten to expel the EU from the WB.

    5. Demand reparations from the PA (payable from US foreign aid, and tax money collected by Israel).

    You get the idea, and so will Obama.

  • Abelardy

    Bibi has better cards to play, other than begging, to force Obama to rethink his plot against Israel.

    Israel can respond with strength, in the form of threats, which are in Israel’s power to execute, which can be bluntly explained Obama, in advance of his betrayal. Here are a few examples:

    1. Warn Obama that any diplomatic betrayal will be met with annexation of Area C, leaving the PA to administer the non-contiguous Areas A and B.
    2. A declaration that the Iran/Obama deal made the two state solution unworkable, justifying annexation.
    3. Israel will demand that the US either move its embassy to Jerusalem, or or close the US consulate in Jerusalem.
    4. Threaten to expel Abbas, and the PA, and negotiate with local groups on the WB. Threaten to expel the EU from the WB.
    5. Demand reparations from the PA (payable from US foreign aid, and tax money collected by Israel).

    You get the idea, and so will Obama.

  • RW

    The idea that Israel;s spending on public relations would materially affect world opinion is nonsense. There are fifty seven Muslim countries in the world and all but two have no relations with Israel. This has been true no matter who has been Prime Minister of Israel. Then are the countries who do business with the Muslim countries that far out weigh business done with Israel. And,finally the non Muslim counties with larger Muslim populations than Jewish populations practically all of the rest. No amount of publicity will change these fact.

    Our best hope is that at some point Arabs will come to the conclusion that working with Israel will do more them then fighting Israel. Indeed we are starting to see the first glimmers of that now.

  • Kwitcherbellyakin

    Israel owes nobody any explanation because of internal machinations that do not harm anybody inside or outside the country. Every president says he wants peace, including Bibi and Obama. But, at what cost? The United States has right to ask for whatever is right, be it in Israel, Syria, or even Russia. They can ask, but they have to be realistic.
    I have to look at Israel and realize that giving in to ridiculous requests that achieve nothing, should be ignored. There is no reason for a two-state solution when we already have the state we want. Is there a pressing need to create another Arab country within the borders of Israel? I think not. And, giving up land, or POW’s as a precondition has never worked for Israel.
    Israel offers jobs and opportunities to those who work for it. How many Arab and Christian doctors or teachers, or, for that matter, Members of the Knesset, do we need to prove equality exist?. There is no limitation of benefits to anybody lawfully living there. Indeed, you do not even have to live there to accept Israeli medical aid.
    President Obama wants to be able to say he made a difference. So did Jimmy Carter. They all do, as if it would create a new gold standard. It won’t. But, everybody who thinks they are even semi-important, wants to leave a legacy for the history books.
    Bibi is walking the line, waiting for the moment when he can see the world come to him for validation. There needs to be a day when Jerusalem is recognized, worldwide as the capital of Israel. No more carrot and stick manipulations. Obama is trying to pull out all the stops to make Bibi bend to his will. Bibi must resist, or risk the destruction of Israel, as a modern State. Those are their goals.

  • watsa46

    The SD and therefore the USA has since 1948 undermined the position of IL for they never made it clear to the Muslim world that IL is going nowhere. The purpose of the US is to keep the ME unstable!

  • atilla41

    Time is long overdue for the Mossad to cull its leftist traitors from its hierarchy and start doing what it used to be good at; assassinating Israel’s enemies.

    Starting with those in the US, Eurostan and then Israel itself.

  • kusema

    The point is clear.
    Bibi challenged the administration in Congress. No political leader worldwide would have the ‘hutzpeh’ to do that. Bibi keep settling in Judea and Samaria , sending a direct punch into the face of the administration that has once and again defy Israel policies in the territories.
    Bibi in order to satisfy settlers has put Israel relationships with this American administration into a clashing path. The result might well be America’s pulling back its veto at the SC.
    Now comes Sherman and more and less argues, that he would have punched the administration even harder. That is what these Americans especially an American liberal ‘shmock’ as Obama, understands. Sherman will send million intellectual warriors, and Benet would stand face to face with Obama and call him an antisemite.
    The striking thing is that these guys who want to surpass Bibi from the right really believe that those goyim are nuts. Just shout to them loud how antisemitic they are and they will yield. They will understand that Israel settlers are not colonizers, that there is no occupation and that Israel is mother Theresa.

    Just one conclusion. The Sherman’s like are out of mind. If Bibi’s diplomatic navigation wont work, less will work Sherman or Benett’s direct action. Who the f cares about them? Obama?

    • Martin Sherman

      As usual, you miss the point entirely.

      The whole point of a massive strategic public diplomacy offensive would be to re-structure the political context of the Israel Arab debate, to make anti-Israel measures increasing difficult and costly politically by mobilizing the huge pools of pro-Israel support in the US public (over 4 to one in Israel’s favor relative to the Palestinians). To re-capture the campuses, to revitalize pro-Israeli elites and to de-legitimize the fallacious Palestinian narrative.

      On the other hand, we could just surrender and accept the establishment of a yet another homophobic, misogynistic Muslim majority tyranny, on the fringed of greater Tel Aviv that would soon become a mega-Gaza and forward base of Islamist terror groups operating under an Iranian nuclear umbrella – which I assume is your preferred option

    • scottrose

      “Bibi” agreed to and carried out a ten month settlement freeze, with the aim of bringing the Arabs to the table for peace negotiations.
      The Arabs did not come to the table — nor did Obama put any public pressure on them to do so (nor did the New York Times publish an op-ed urging the Arabs to come to the table).
      In September at the U.N., “Bibi” invited Abbas to address the Knesset and said that he would go to Ramallah.
      That was a clear proposal for getting peace talks started.
      Where was Obama? Where was the NY Times editorial board?

    • Kris Kristian

      I hope that the US Jews and their supporters will show Clinton the door to get out
      Jews voted for a Muslim as President. Did they not realize who this drek is
      He is a Muslim hater of Jews and Israel.
      How dare he blame Bibi for the fact that there is no PA state? No peace?
      Maybe he should look up history where Ehud Barak and then Ehud Olmert offered the Palestinians a state on Jewish Biblical land, Judea and Samaria, now called the west bank.with a shared Jerusalem as the capital of both Israel and Palestine
      What was the result?
      The intifada. Buses being blown up. Shops restaurants and pizza shops were blown up. A Passover dinner was blown up.
      People walking in the street, were murdered.
      Israel had to build a wall to keep those murderous terrorists out of Israel., and the murder of Israeli Jews has gone down considerably since the wall was built
      PM Netanyahu has offered that terrorist leader, Abbas, many times to sit down and talk peace.
      Abbas made demands that Israel must stop building for 10 months, after which Abbas will sit and talk peace.
      What happened after the 10 months? Abbas made more demands.
      And to this day, refuses to sit and talk peace. Instead, he calls murderers of Jews, heroes.

      He and Obama have been and are now trying to destroy the Jewish state.
      There must never ever be a PA state.
      That would be like putting a noose around Israel’s neck. Gaza, with Hamas who in their charter have the total destruction of Israel and the murder of every Jewish man, woman and child. Israel must maintain the blockade of Gaza, so that no weapons can be brought in.
      A Palestinian state will be militarized and the result will be that Israel is being threatened by those Islamic states.
      Lebanon in the north with a threat to destroy Israel and murder every Jew. Weapons supplied by Iran.
      NO MR OBAMA, THERE MUST NEVER EVER BE A PALESTINIAN STATE.
      ISRAEL MUST BUILD ON ALL GOD GIVEN JUDEA AND SAMARIA.
      Israel must warn Hamas and Hezbala that any rockets fired into Israel will be a declaration of war. No mercy. Gaza (Hamas) and Hezbala must be destroyed, flattened.
      I hope to GOD that the Americans will wake up as to who that witch, Hillary really is.
      As crude as the clown Trump is, he will save America, and send all the illegals back to the deserts
      He WILL declare Jerusalem the eternal Capital of the Jewish state of Israel. He will move the US embassy to Jerusalem.
      May TRUMP be blessed and be the next POTUS

      • Lynne Marton

        I so easily agree and echo your opinion on this.

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