"In the weeks after the UN vote [in November to upgrade the status of the Palestinians], Obama said privately and repeatedly, 'Israel doesn’t know what its own best interests are.' With each new settlement announcement, in Obama’s view, Netanyahu is moving his country down a path toward near-total isolation.
And if Israel, a small state in an inhospitable region, becomes more of a pariah -- one that alienates even the affections of the U.S., its last steadfast friend -- it won’t survive. Iran poses a short-term threat to Israel’s survival; Israel’s own behavior poses a long-term one.
The dysfunctional relationship between Netanyahu and Obama is poised to enter a new phase. Next week, Israeli voters will probably return Netanyahu to power, this time at the head of a coalition even more intractably right-wing than the one he currently leads."
For the moment, let's ignore Israel's plans to build 3,000 new housing units in the E1 area between Jerusalem and Ma’aleh Adumim and just focus on Obama's "repeated" declarations that "Israel doesn’t know what its own best interests are" prior to Israeli elections. Can you imagine the outrage if Netanyahu had declared prior to US elections in November that current US policy involving Iran and the rest of the Middle East is not in its own best interests? Or US economic policy is not in its own best interests? Or Obamacare is not in America's own best interests?
Obama knows what's in Israel's best interests? The reality is that Obama knows next to nothing about Israel or the Middle East apart from what his virulent anti-Israel confidants told him in the past; e.g., the Reverend Wright and Rashid Khalidi.
The planned E1 housing units? I favor a two-state solution along the 1967 lines with appropriate land swaps; however, in order to arrive at such a solution, there needs to be a counterparty willing to recognize Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state. The Hamas charter calls for the murder of all Jews, not just Israelis, and rejects any negotiated settlement with Israel. Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority, has steadfastly refused to recognize Israel as a Jewish state.
Moreover, the planned E1 housing project must be placed in context. The housing would be situated in an area which, as agreed in prior Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, would ultimately remain part of Israel in exchange for territories to be ceded by Israel. Let's also not forget that Israeli settlements are situated on territory comprising less than two percent of the West Bank.
Regarding isolation of Israel, putting "daylight" between the US and Israel has been the cornerstone of Obama's foreign policy since his 2009 inauguration. Although Obama, as president, visited Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Turkey, he refused to step foot in Tel Aviv or Jerusalem.
Although Obama has made a point of highlighting his strong friendship with Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan, Obama has avoided complaining about Ankara's global leadership in the imprisonment of journalists (see: http://www.cpj.org/europe/turkey/) and about its oppression of its Kurdish minority, and he has also reneged on his commitment to recognize the Armenian Genocide.
Similarly, Obama has avoided any reference to a myriad of Saudi human rights abuses, e.g., the beheading of a Sri Lankan maid on Sunday (see: http://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2013/01/20131146361222980.html).
Egypt? Let's see if Obama even a mumbles a word concerning Egyptian President's Morsi's 2010 declaration that Egyptians should "nurse our children and our grandchildren on hatred" for Jews and Zionists and that "these bloodsuckers who attack the Palestinians, these warmongers, the descendants of apes and pigs" (see: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/15/world/middleeast/egypts-leader-morsi-made-anti-jewish-slurs.html?_r=0).
Worse still, consider Obama's conduct regarding Syria. Senator John Kerry, who was repeatedly sent by Obama to meet with mass murderer Bashar al-Assad and who labeled Assad his "dear friend," is now being appointed Secretary of State. Obama has been all but mum regarding the death of 60,000 innocent civilians in Syria's ongoing civil war, yet he remains obsessed with Netanyahu.
In fact, Obama's contempt for and obsession with Netanyahu, as best evidenced by his open microphone gaffe in a conversation with Sarkozy (see: http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.co.il/2011/11/sarkozy-obama-and-netanyahu-obama-never.html), has contributed mightily to Israel's isolation.
How might Jeffrey Goldberg's revelation affect Obama's nomination of Hagel as Secretary of Defense? Objecting to Hagel's nomination, The Washington Post went on record as saying that Hagel's positions place him "well to the left of those pursued by Mr. Obama during his first term — and place him near the fringe of the Senate" (http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/chuck-hagel-is-not-right-for-defense-secretary/2012/12/18/07e03e20-493c-11e2-ad54-580638ede391_story.html). Well, we are now seeing that Chuck Hagel's positions place him very much in line with those of a second term Obama, who, no longer facing re-election, has the "flexibility" to remove his veil and let his true thoughts be known.
Senate approval of Chuck Hagel now boils down to the decision of Senator Chuck Schumer of New York. Will Schumer vote according to his conscience or along party lines? If I had to bet, I know where I would place my money.