Netanyahu remains defiant

As Bill Clinton famously said about Benjamin Netanyahu in 1998, “Who the fuck does he think he is? Who’s the fucking superpower here?”

Twelve years later there is no sign that Bibi’s hubris has been tempered. In the midst of what Israel’s ambassador to the United States, Michael Oren, has told the country’s diplomats is the worst crisis in U.S.-Israeli relations in 35 years, what does Israel’s prime minister do? He declares that “building in Jerusalem – and in all other places – will continue in the same way as has been customary over the last 42 years.” In other words, Netanyahu reaffirms that Israel will continue on the same course that precipitated the crisis.

Meanwhile, Israel’s foreign minister today followed what appears to have now become standard diplomatic protocol in the aspiring pariah state by snubbing a visiting head of state, Brazil’s president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, because the latter declined to pay homage to Zionism.

I imagine that in fairly short order Israel’s leaders will no longer have the task of figuring out new ways of insulting their guests; they simply won’t have any guests to insult.

Even so, Netanyahu has persuaded his loyal American supporters that he has eaten enough humble pie. For that reason it seems hard to imagine that he will go very far in meeting a set of demands that Haaretz says were put on his plate when he got lectured by Hillary Clinton on Friday.

These were the demands:

1. Investigate the process that led to the announcement of the Ramat Shlomo construction plans in the middle of Biden’s visit. The Americans seek an official response from Israel on whether this was a bureaucratic mistake or a deliberate act carried out for political reasons. Already on Saturday night, Netanyahu announced the convening of a committee to look into the issue.

2. Reverse the decision by the Jerusalem District Planning and Building Committee to approve construction of 1,600 new housing units in Ramat Shlomo.

3. Make a substantial gesture toward the Palestinians enabling the renewal of peace talks. The Americans suggested that hundreds of Palestinian prisoners be released, that the Israel Defense Forces withdraw from additional areas of the West Bank and transfer them to Palestinian control, that the siege of the Gaza Strip be eased and further roadblocks in the West Bank be removed.

4. Issue an official declaration that the talks with the Palestinians, even indirect talks, will deal with all the conflict’s core issues – borders, refugees, Jerusalem, security arrangements, water and settlements.

The report continued:

Two advisers of the prime minister, Yitzhak Molcho and Ron Dermer, held marathon talks Sunday with senior White House officials in Washington and U.S. Mideast envoy George Mitchell and his staff to try to calm the situation. Mitchell will return to Israel Tuesday and expects to hear if Netanyahu intends to take the proposed steps.

At the beginning of Sunday’s cabinet meeting, Netanyahu tried to convey a message that there was no crisis in relations with the United States. But he sent precisely the opposite message to Oren in Washington.

In Oren’s Saturday conference call with the Israeli consuls general, he said that the current crisis was the most serious with the Americans since a confrontation between Henry Kissinger and Yitzhak Rabin in 1975 over an American demand for a partial withdrawal from the Sinai Peninsula.

At Sunday’s cabinet meeting, Netanyahu said the matter had been blown out of proportion by the media. He added: “There was an unfortunate incident here that was innocently committed and was hurtful, and certainly should not have occurred.”

He said steps would be taken to prevent such cases in the future. “It is extremely important to understand that the State of Israel and the United States have common interests,” he said, adding that those interests “also require us to take decisions to change the situation in the country.”

Four consuls discussed the conference call with Haaretz. Some noted that in previous conference calls with Oren, the ambassador took pains to make clear that relations with the United States were excellent. This time, however, Oren sounded extremely tense and pessimistic. Oren was quoted as saying that “the crisis was very serious and we are facing a very difficult period in relations [between the two countries].”

Oren told the consuls to lobby congressmen, Jewish community leaders and the media to convey Israel’s position. He said the message to be relayed was that Israel had no intention to cause offense to Vice President Biden and that the matter had stemmed from actions by junior bureaucrats in the Interior Ministry and was caused by a lack of coordination between government offices. “It should be stressed that [our] relations with the United States are very important to us,” Oren reportedly said.

Several of the consuls suggested waiting, but Oren hinted that his approach reflected Netanyahu’s wishes. “These instructions come from the highest level in Jerusalem,” he was quoted as saying, adding that the utmost must be done to calm matters.

If only Washington could be more understanding and recognize that Israel has a dysfunctional bureaucracy. The Jewish state should be seen as a Middle Eastern version of Pakistan, then all these misunderstandings could be resolved. That at least is the counsel offered by Israel’s pre-eminent American booster, the Anti-Defamation League’s, Abe Foxman.

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7 thoughts on “Netanyahu remains defiant

  1. delia ruhe

    What?!? Is Hillary in competition with Obama and Biden to see who can be most publicly humiliated by Israel? When AIPAC gets finished with her at the upcoming annual US-Israel love-fest she should hold the gold medal.

  2. Barb

    Hey, what more can you expect from the Zionists? It’s the Lenten season. By the time Holy Week rolls around, the Jews will be at fever pitch in any and all manner of disruption in order to discourage Christian pilgrims from visiting Jerusalem. In 2002, during the first Holy Week after the events of 911, the Zionists tried to destroy the Church of The Nativity and conveniently blame it on the Palestinians.

  3. Lysander

    I hope Bibi remains defiant and that his defiance brings him all the domestic political success he could hope for. My biggest fear is that the US narrative becomes one of Netanyahoo being the problem. Israel itself is perfect the way it is. Then, Livni replaces Bibi and conducts the same policy as always but with better manners and finesse.

    I prefer Israel totally and publicly humiliate the US in a way that even the most docile of sheeple can’t miss it. I’m afraid we’ll have to hit rock bottom before we start climbing back up.

  4. hquain

    The heart of the matter is this: “building in Jerusalem – and in all other places – will continue in the same way as has been customary over the last 42 years.” The Israelis are simply proceeding incrementally in one direction, as they have pretty much always done in the last 4 decades and more; you could probably plot the data and predict when the process will reach its goals. There have been interesting developments along the way, in particular the rightward ideological drift into a purer, more strident form of 1920’s-style ethnic nationalism; but this too has been quite steady, and is perhaps equally predictable. The only remaining surprise is that anyone can still be puzzled, astonished, or suddenly angry.

  5. pabelmont

    One hopes that US diplomacy is engaged elsewhere (as well) for example by urging the EU folks to start taking positions MORE EXTREME than US pols can take.

    Imagine it EUers began calling for removal of all settlers (and not merely for a cessation of new building) and removal of the wall (on the unexceptionable argument that settlements and wall are illegal). They could begin be terminating Israel’s favorable trade relationship to EU until the removals are completed.

    If Obama/Clinton cannot ask the diplomats for this, perhaps McChrystal and other military types can ask their military contacts to push in this direction. After all, America’s empire is a MILITARY empire!

  6. DE Teodrou

    Thanks Mr. Woodward for very concise and enlightening analysis. For half a century, just as it was with the Communist version of history, we’ve been hog-tied to ONE version of the Holocaust that is extremely dangerous because it is so cartoon-ish. The greatest danger from that is to the Jews, for in indoctrination to a prescribed simplistic version of how that catastrophe happened we never learn how to prevent it, or stop it at the last minute, or minimize it if all else fails. From the slight of hand by which as children we were made to think that Jews were put into ovens alive to the allegedly hereditary “anti-Semitism” of Europeans that has made them slaves of Islam, turning Europe into “Eurabia.,” we’ve been fed this notion of innocent victims who cared so much for us and were compensated for their trouble with jealousy, according to ADL chief Abe Foxman, because they are God’s chosen people. Always, the integrated Diaspora Jews, the real Jewish Holocaust scholars and the humane Zionists who wanted Israel to become “a light onto the nations” are blended into the Diaspora background, seen only as cultural and professional luminaries of their various Diasporic homelands, while the psychotics exploiting the Zionist notion get to insist that they alone are the voice of the world’s Jewish people.

    Zionism, sadly, has fallen out of the hands of the Zionists morally wrestling with the “original sin” of murdering Palestinians in taking from them the land from, thus seeking some sort of cohabitation and due recompense to their victims; it fell instead into the hands of the Zionazis who just can’t feel their “mensch-hood” unless they are outdoing Nazi conquest and massacre in the way they, as Zionazis, are treating the Palestinians. And then there are those who are Zionists for profit. No one hears that they’ll gladly move to ANY place else in Israel if only given the same incredibly cheap deal they got for moving into Palestinian lands. After all, they didn’t come to Israel to expand Zionism; they’re there for the free house and welfare at US taxpayer’s expense.

    Between these is Netanyahu who, like Sharon, recognized the possibility of another collapse of the Temple because Jews as Israelis did not sign on to perpetrate endless abuse of Arabs and the prospective future that hate will make them disciplined fighters one day who’ll get the upper-hand and get even with mankind for the Holocuast. Israel is becoming historically irrelevant because despite Foxman’s insane war on Diaspora Jewish assimilation, most Jews think of themselves as American- Jews, for example, meaning Americans of Jewish faith. The Zionist racist “blood” line myth has become irrelevant to most of them. As a result, Israel is becoming a nice place to visit but not to live. Most Jews– except those for who the “settlements” are a fantastic deal at US taxpayer’s expense that they could not pass up—have rich lives raising their kids as nationals of the countries where integrated. Jews see the Zionist ledgerbooks; these can’t be doctored: more Jews are EMIGRATING from Israel than IMMIGRATING to it. Zionism has thus fallen by default to the Zionazis. Netanyahu is trying to fight back while disguised as one of them. So far it ain’t working because he can’t run a one-man cabinet. He had to put the psychos in it thinking that it’s safer to have them there than running around on the street. Apparently he was wrong for they now, in their old age, seek to show their “mensch-hood” acting like Zionazis. It’s getting harder and harder to think that the super-shyster will eventually out-shyster the crazy ones in order to save Israel. Still, knowing how much he loves the Israel, the only thing he has to bequests to his children, I hope he succeeds in integrating the Israelis and the Palestinians as a model of how together they can modernize the region. Obama should stop thinking like a lawyer and start acting like a psychiatrist. for he and Netayahu—together– will have to do an end-run around the shysters and psychos to save Israel by saving the Palestinians and integrating both nations into the Arab Middle East. I pray that they succeed for I know that Bibbi is more like a sabra than a Holocaust dellusional psychotic like the Zionazi hasbaraists who still consider massacre under cover victimhood a good excuse for lebensraum by bloodbath with American weapons, “gift from the people of the United States.”

  7. Barb

    ……After all, they didn’t come to Israel to expand Zionism; they’re there for the free house and welfare at US taxpayer’s expense……

    Italian-Americans who can prove their ancestors were still Italian when they gave birth to offspring in the United States are moving back to Italy, except of course, on their OWN dime. No free house, no welfare at US taxpayer’s expense. Yeah, I can “see” it now. Italian-Americans destroying thousands of olive trees and not getting along with their neighbors. It must be something about a free ride that just spoils people rotten.

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