The recent snafu between Israel and the US is well documented: US VP Biden went to Israel to reaffirm the strong ties between the countries and was met by a decision that completely undermined the peace process and pulled the rug from beneath the VP’s feet. The Obama Administration understandably took a hard stance on the situation, publicly criticizing the Netanyahu Administration for both killing the peace process and embarrassing Biden.
Predictably, AIPAC – the biggest group in the Israeli lobby – released a statement saying that the Obama Administration needs to calm down and make nice with Israel. Unfortunately, most mainstream media are taking a similar line; Israel is walking all over America and the American media is blaming Obama.
Yesterday, AIPAC released a statement that spoke about Obama’s aggressive rhetoric, but had no mention of Israel’s refusal to try for peace:
The Obama Administration’s recent statements regarding the U.S. relationship with Israel are a matter of serious concern. AIPAC calls on the Administration to take immediate steps to defuse the tension with the Jewish State.
Predictably, republicans in Congress are using this as political fodder against the Obama Administration. In addition to being strong allies with AIPAC, most republicans are using the crisis as an opportunity to attack the democratic White House. House Minority Leader John Boehner (R, OH) recently said: “The administration’s decision to escalate its rhetoric following Vice President Biden’s visit to Israel is not merely irresponsible, it is an affront to the values and foundation of our long-term relationship with a close friend and ally.”
The ridiculous attempt by politicians with AIPAC funding is unsurprising and slightly depressing. But, unless you are an avid fan of CSPAN, you probably missed Boehner’s comments. Unfortunately, the mainstream press has joined the bandwagon on the road out of logic.
To be clear: Israel upended American policy with decisions and remarks that are perhaps endangering US lives, and the American media is blaming, well, America.
[tweetmeme] In the Washington Post, an editorial chastised Obama for “deliberately plung[ing] into another public brawl with the Jewish state.” It correct says that Obama went too far last year by demanding a full settlement freeze without the power to pressure for one. But to simply accept Netanyahu’s apology for the timing of the announcement (he stands by the content) without any other condemnation of the Israeli decision, make the US lose credibility all across the globe and completely throws peace talks away. It is important for the Palestinians to see an America that is not afraid of Israel. Standing up for American prestige is not only a patriotic decision, but one that is necessary for peace.
Furthermore, by drawing comparisons between Obama’s settlement demands last year and the current crisis, the Post is holding up apples and oranges. Last year, Obama was asking for a freeze out of the blue – simply as a gesture towards peace. This time, Obama is reacting to something even Israelis see as an enormous strategic error from the Netanyahu Administration.
The Financial Times jumps on Obama as well, saying that Washington is trying to make a diplomatic crisis out of a blunder. This was indeed a blunder, but one that clearly demonstrated how the US relationship with Israel has tarnished American standing in the world. Netanyahu has given Obama the chance to take back some control of the US Middle East policy. Instead of focusing on what is good for the US, these editorials are concerned with Israel’s image.
Interestingly, the typically pro-Israeli Richard Cohen wrote a piece for the Post today that called the US response “harsh and appropriate.” He even concludes that settlement expansion must stop for peace to be made. At least one person at the Post still has control of their mind. Keep an eye on the republicans in the next few days as they are most likely going to try to continue their attack on the White House.
Photo from The Cable