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Sunday, November 14, 2010

Bibi, Barack and The New York Times, the Official Organ of the Obama Administration

Let's examine the timeline:

October 29, 2010 -- His pre-election attempt to create the framework for Israeli-Palestinian peace having gone up in smoke, Obama stares failure in the face. Obama had invested much effort in pulling a rabbit out of a hat, including the much publicized summit in Washington, but now appears more of a foreign affairs diletente than ever. Although furious with Netanyahu for refusing a package of goodies intended to bribe Israel into extending the building moratorium for another three months, he conceals his personal wrath owing to the upcoming elections. By sheer coincidence, The New York Times publishes on this date an editorial, "Enough Game-Playing" (, which says that both the Palestinians and Israelis are responsible for the breakdown in talks, but places the onus on Netanyahu:

"President Obama made a very generous — too generous, we believe — offer to Israel, to get Mr. Netanyahu to extend the moratorium. It included additional security guarantees and more fighter planes, missile defense, satellites. Mr. Netanyahu still refused, insisting that the hard-line members of his coalition would never go along. He then added to the controversy by proposing that the Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state.

. . . .

Enough game-playing. Mr. Netanyahu should accept Mr. Obama’s offer and be ready to form a new governing coalition if some current members bolt."

Remarkable how the editorial board of The New York Times , from their ivory tower in Manhattan, was prepared to offer advice to the Israeli prime minister concerning the composition of his ruling coalition. Sheer hutzpah, or was there more to this than meets the eye?

November 5, 2010 -- Obama sets out on a 10-day journey to Asia, which includes visits to India, Indonesia, South Korea and Japan. The "road trip", on the heels of the Democratic midterm election disaster, costs the American public tens of millions of dollars, but fails to yield tangible results. Obama's use of teleprompters for purposes of an address to the Indian congress is greeted with derision, and his failure to to sign a free trade agreement with South Korea, which had been considered a slam-dunk before he reached Seoul, raises eyebrows. Obama is growing increasingly desperate to dispell the aura of diplomatic naivete and bumbling that have come to characterize his administration. See:

November 11, 2010 -- Hillary meets with Netanyahu, and over the course of a six-hour meeting, the two, who admire one another, hammer out the guiding principles of a deal for a further construction moratorium in the West Bank. Bibi, however, must delicately convince his cabinet, so there is no announcement to the press. Given that Obama is still in the Far East, there is also a delay in briefing the U.S. president.

November 12, 2010 -- For the second time in less than two weeks and using the same language, The New York Times again lambastes Netanyahu in an editorial entitled "Politics Over Peace" (

"What Mr. Netanyahu does not seem to realize is that a peace deal with the Palestinians is not a favor to President Obama. It is vital to Israel’s long-term security. If he squanders this moment, the only ones who can celebrate are the extremists.

Both Palestinians and Israelis need to do more to salvage the negotiations. Mr. Netanyahu has refused President Obama’s request to extend a moratorium on construction in the Jewish settlements for a modest 60 days. Mr. Abbas has refused to meet until the building stops. Still, we think the burden is on Mr. Netanyahu to get things moving again. Resuming the moratorium will in no way harm Israel’s security or national interest.

The Obama administration deserves credit for not throwing up its hands. In her marathon session with Mr. Netanyahu, Mrs. Clinton plugged away on a package of generous (overly so, to our minds) incentives and security guarantees that might induce him to revive the moratorium and get back to the bargaining table."

Whereas in its prior editorial, the editorial board of The Times took it upon itself to counsel Netanyahu concerning the composition of his ruling coalition, now, in a fit of pique, the would-be omniscient editorial board declares that the moratorium "will in no way harm Israel’s security or national interest." Needless to say, the editorial board has not been notified by the Obama administration concerning the deal struck with Netanyahu.

November 13, 2010 -- Tom Friedman also has not learned of the deal from his friend, Obama, who is still in the Far East, and Friedman launches a savage attack against Netanyahu in a New York Times op-ed entitled "I Believe I Can Fly" (

"Well, first there’s Israel’s prime minister, Bibi Netanyahu, who has been telling everyone how committed he is to peace with the Palestinians while refusing to halt settlement building as a prerequisite for negotiations. At a time when Israel already has 300,000 settlers in the West Bank, Bibi says he can’t possibly take another pause in building to test whether the Palestinian government of President Mahmoud Abbas — a man Israelis say is the best Palestinian security partner Israel has ever had — can forge a safe two-state deal for Israel. The U.S. is now basically trying to bribe Bibi to reverse his position. Maybe he will, but it’s unseemly to watch and doesn’t bode well. Rather than take the initiative and say to Arabs and Palestinians, 'You want a settlement freeze? Here it is, now let’s see what you’re ready to agree to,' Netanyahu toys with President Obama, makes Israel look like it wants land more than peace and risks never forging a West Bank deal — thereby permanently absorbing its 2.5 million Palestinians and eventually no longer having a Jewish majority. That’s the sudden stop at the end — unless the next war comes first. But, for now, Bibi seems to think he can fly."

A deal with Abbas is going to forestall a war between Israel and Hezbollah in the north? Get real, Friedman. Any such contention ignores Iranian aspirations for regional hegemony. Moreover, as has been acknowledged by Abbas, he is perfectly content to go without a deal:

"I will wait for Hamas to accept international commitments. I will wait for Israel to freeze settlements. Until then, in the West Bank we have a good reality . . . the people are living a normal life."

In fact, Abbas and Fatah are now at a loss what to do with the Clinton-Netanyahu agreement. As reported by the Jerusalem Post:

"Palestinian Authority officials said on Sunday that they were 'surprised' [i.e. distraught - JG, Caesarea] to hear about the latest US proposal for a three-month settlement freeze in return for a package of incentives to Israel.

Some officials in Ramallah did not hide their disappointment with the 'sudden change' in US policy which, they explained, puts the PA in a difficult situation. However, they stopped short of rejecting the US offer in public."

Let's make one thing clear: this stillborn attempt at brokering a deal between Israelis and Palestinians currently has absolutely nothing to do with the best interests of Israelis and Palestinians. It also has absolutely nothing to do with derailing Iranian aspirations to achieve regional hegemony or to build an atomic bomb. Rather, it has everything to do with the monumental ego of President Obama, who knows nothing of the Middle East or the manner in which negotiations are conducted in this region of the world, but who is still attempting to prove his "Nobel worth" to an ever more dubious world.


  1. Jeffrey,

    You write: "Hillary meets with Netanyahu, and <...>, the two, who admire one another<...>" I think, you forgot to put quotes around the word "admire". As far as I know, in the famous "43 minutes yelling session", only one side yelled - and not about love.

  2. Hi Marina,

    Hillary is also a consummate narcissist, and her interests are no longer aligned with those of Obama. She has gained nothing by being a team player, and over the next several months (until she abandons her position as Secretary of State), expect a more independent line.

  3. Hi, Jeffrey

    You speak about Hillary as if you know something we are not allowed to know yet. So far, it is my impression that Hillary has no independent line, and never had one. She is nothing more than a team player - it is just Obama my become less and less important in this team.

  4. Hi, Jeffrey

    Did you read R. Cohen about Hillary today?! His point is: she is now pro-Palestinians, but Israelis still trust her. Your posts about Hillary confirm that he is right about Israelis, and her behavior confirms that he is right about her pro-Palestinian attitude.

  5. Marina,

    As you surely know by now, I have no respect for Roger Cohen. Note his use - again - of a quote from an anonymous Clinton aide.

    Bottom line: Hillary is pro-Hillary.