During a stage interview with Yousel al Otaiba, the UAE ambassador to the United States, Jeffrey Goldberg made it clear that even when acting as a representative of The Atlantic and helping facilitate a forum in Aspen, Colorado, he still sees himself first and foremost as an Israeli.
When the ambassador pointed out that Iran’s nuclear program presents a greater risk to the UAE than it does to the US — the US being separated from Iran by two oceans — Goldberg requested clarification. Was he being addressed as an American or as a “representative of the Jewish people”? In Goldberg’s mind, to be Jewish means to have ones heart in Israel irrespective of where one might reside on the planet.
As Goldberg’s blog posts after the interview also made clear, when it comes to Iran, the topic that interests him above all else right now is pumping up support for a military strike against Iran. When the UAE ambassador pointed out that Palestine is the core issue in the region, Goldberg simply glossed over the fact.
This is the key section of the interview — the part Goldberg ignored, as did his friend Eli Lake at the Washington Times, when pumping out this week’s rendition of Israel’s Arabs-united-against-Iran narrative. Here the ambassador makes it clear that the only significant leverage Obama has on the issue of Iran is to push hard for the creation of a Palestinian state.
YOUSEF AL OTAIBA: I think President Obama has inherited two very difficult campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq. He has inherited the worst financial crisis since 1929. He is now dealing with what seems to be an unfixable oil spill, not just environmentally, but economically, from an energy standpoint. So President Obama has his hands full.
Do I think he recognize the threat from Iran? Yes, I do. Do I think he has very limited options and not necessarily a lot of ability to fix it? Yes. I think President Obama is just constrained with the lack of resources and tools at his disposal. And if he’s heard anything from the Arab leaders that he talks to, most of them, and I’m fairly sure that King Abdullah when he was here mentioned the same thing.
For him to really make progress on the Iran issue and to deal with extremism and to deal with terrorism in the region, to deal with radicalized home-grown terrorism in the U.S., you need to address the peace process. That is the one core issue everyone tends to blame, and that’s what the people hang all their problems on.
Well, the Palestinians are, you know, they are — they don’t have a country, they are abused, they are oppressed, and the U.S. always sides with Israel. So the sooner U.S. appears to be objective and impartial and create a Palestinian state, we take that argument away from everyone, and that is in everyone’s best interest.
JEFFREY GOLDBERG: Why would that stop Iran from developing a nuclear weapon?
OTAIBA: It won’t stop. It will get you all the Arab countries more aligned on containing Iran because now they use Palestine as an excuse, and the Palestine issue is a deep political problem. And I’m not saying it’s only the U.S.’ fault, I’m saying it is as much Israel and Palestine’s fault for not making any progress on it themselves. But lack of their kind of commitment, the U.S. needs to step in and say, you need to do this. And you need to do this for your sake, for our sake, and for the region’s sake. [Emphasis mine.]
So, contrary to the claims being made by Jeffrey Goldberg and others in the Israel lobby, the principal call coming from the Arab world is not for the US to strike Iran but rather that it apply its influence on Israel and hasten the creation of a Palestinian state.