Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Bibi Netanyahu, in Washington, wows the stooges of AIPAC and the Anti-Semites for Israel


The odious Bibi's House photo op today with Minority Leader "Sunny John" Boehner (in a rare moment of non-weeping), Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and Majority Whip Jim Clyburn

"Does there exist a Netanyahu 2.0, a Nixon Goes to China figure who will act with an awareness that demographic realities—the growth not only of the Palestinian population in the territories but also of the Arab and right-wing Jewish populations in Israel proper—make the status quo untenable as well as unjust?"
-- New Yorker editor David Remnick, in his "Comment"
piece this week, "Special Relationships"

by Ken

Don't tell me we've reached the point where anyone would pay the slightest attention to anything Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN) has to say about foreign policy. You could fit everything he knows about the subject on a Popsicle stick -- in big block-letter printing. (Of course you would then need a Hazmat team to convey the Popsicle stick to a toxic-waste disposal facility.)
"I never thought I'd live to see the day that an American administration would denounce the state of Israel for rebuilding Jerusalem," Rep. Mike Pence of Indiana said on the House floor Tuesday after meeting Netanyahu. "I urge the president to stop all this talk about settlements in Jerusalem and start focusing on isolating a threatening and menacing and rising nuclear Iran," he said.

Consarn it, I thought I told you not to tell me! It could be worse, though. We could be listening to House Minority Leader "Sunny John" Boehner (R-OH).
"We have no stronger ally anywhere in the world than Israel," said House Republican Leader John Boehner. "We all know we're in a difficult moment. I'm glad the prime minister is here so we can have an open dialogue."

Oh, for cripes' sake. Didn't "Weeping John" have a tanning-salon appointment to get to?

Of course, it wasn't all crack-brained Republicans. AP reporters Matti Friedman and Matthew Lee did begin their account of Israeli Prime Minster Binyamin "Bibi" Netanyahu's triumphant congressional photo op by devoting two grafs to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's "all-smiles" appearance, which included the declaration, "We in Congress stand by Israel. In Congress we speak with one voice on the subject of Israel."

At least by graf three the AP scribes have the sense to refer to Bibi's "awkwardly timed visit." True, our Bibi dpesn't really have any kind of timing except awkward? Still, not many people in his position would have the chutzpah to show up uninvited right after the stunt of waiting for Vice President Biden's recent visit to Israel to announce the building of yet more of those settlements guaranteed to derail any prospects for Middle East peace in East Jerusalem.

By now presumably Bibi's first meeting with the president has taken place. While there are bound to be efforts at spin from the various interested parties, I don't imagine we'll find out anytime soon -- probably not till "insider" diplomats and aides write their tell-all retrospectives -- what actually transpired. Nobody seemed to think any good was apt to come of it. Bibi, whose instincts are mostly thuggish and who now seems scared to death to offend the rightwardmost thugs in Israel, on whose support his fragile government depends, has hardened his position about yet more settlements, which do so much to ensure that there won't be peace in the Middle East, and nobody hardens a position harder than Bibi.


But one thing has changed conspicuously from the days when an Israeli leader could simply whisk into Washington and be greeted as a conquering hero by the combined Stooges of AIPAC (the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee) and the American right-wing coalition of Anti-Semites for Israel (whose primary interest, beyond the old-fashioned wisdom that far-right-wingers of a feather flock together, is having the Holy Land ready for enactment of their Rapture fairy tale). Those old-line Likud locksteppers now have to contend with J Street, a lobbying group for thinking American Jews.

As a colleague with long and wide experience of the nitty-gritty of U.S. politics notes, J Street not only speaks strongly and sensibly on the issues of Israel and the Israeli-American relationship but is politically extremely savvy, something that's essential considering how sophisticated AIPAC's penetration of Congress has become over the years. An awful lot of American Jews are sick and tired of having the strident, Likud-lockstep views of the hard-core American Jewish organizations passed off as "the voice" of American Jewry.

All didn't go according to script at yesterday's session of the AIPAC convention, according to a report in Haaretz. For one thing, there was the hoax report, actually passed on by NPR, that AIPAC was calling for an immediate freeze on settlement. (Ha ha!)

Then there was this scene, which I'm guessing is unprecedented in AIPAC convention history:
Later, conference-goers were surprised to find two representatives of the dovish lobby J Street in the hallway. J Street strategy chief Hadar Susskind told Haaretz that while his presence had raised a few eyebrows, "we're all on the same side."

However, combative pro-Israel commentator Alan Dershowitz interrupted the conversation and said that J Street was "splitting the Jewish community."

"It's a shame that J Street has set itself up as an independent lobby," Dershowitz said. "They should join AIPAC. I reject J Street because it spends more time criticizing Israel than supporting it. They shouldn't call themselves pro-Israel," he said, adding that he too opposed settlements. "But I spend 80 percent of my time supporting Israel," he said.

The more the hard-liners of the Likud-abiding major American Jewish organizations yell and scream about J Street, the more you know it's changing the face of the American relationship with Israel. As a prime example of the political savvy the colleague referenced above points to, J Street makes it clear -- to everyone who's really listening, unlike Alan Dershowitz, who hears what he wants to hear -- that it is forthrightly pro-Israel.

But to the relief and delight of more and more American Jews, being "pro-Israel" no longer means having to grin and bear every outrage perpetrated by the Israeli Hard Right, now so beholden to the crackpots of the Israeli religious right, notably the ultra-Orthodox, who played no role whatsoever in the founding or early survival of the state of Israel, not only sitting on their hands but in many cases actively opposing it, only to take the state hostage decades later to its agenda of insanity and criminality.

Just today J Street released the results of a new poll it has taken of American Jews' views on Israel, and found widespread support for its position "that peaceful resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a core Israeli and American interest and that the United States should take an active leadership role in achieving peace." You can find a breakdown of the interesting results here.


The notion that the U.S. should have just grinned and bore the calculated provocation of the East Jerusalem settlement announcement clearly timed to the Biden visit is simply ridiculous. The blithering of right-wing U.S. pols that all Israel is doing is "rebuilding Jerusalem" reflects such gross and willful ignorance of the actual issues that if they had any shame they would never open their mouths again.

I don't see any possibility that the timing of the settlement announcement relative to the Biden visit was coincidental. If so, then the Netanyahu government should resign immediately on grounds of terminal ineptitude. As far as I can see, the "convergence" can only have been designed to make Bibi seem like a big man to his wavering radical right supporters, to show that he has American wrapped around his little finger, that the Israeli Right can do whatever it damned pleases.

I encourage everyone interested in the subject to read New Yorker editor David Remnick's interesting "Comment" piece in the March 23 issue, "Special Relationships," which begins:
For decades, mainstream Israeli politicians have taken pride in their fingertip feel for the subtleties of American life and politics. Israeli diplomats know the meeting halls of the Midwest almost as well as they do the breakfast room at the Regency Hotel. So it has been disturbing to see, during the 2008 Presidential race and after, that some right-wing members of the Israeli political élite, along with some ordinary Israelis, often seem to derive their most acute sense of Barack Obama from Fox News and the creepier nooks of the blogosphere.

Polls and conversations with right-leaning Israelis have long reflected a distrust of Obama and a free-floating anxiety about what they imagine to be his view of the world—specifically, his indifference to Israel. At the margins, and sometimes within them, one even hears the familiar aspersions about the President’s middle name, his childhood interlude in Indonesia, and his marination in a South Side milieu supposedly composed of incendiary preachers, black nationalists, fading Weathermen, and (Oy! Vey ist mir!) Palestinian intellectuals.

And it concludes:
In Israel, however, Netanyahu’s Likud-led government strangely misperceives the currents of American opinion. Netanyahu and his ministers are in the habit of speaking directly to adoring audiences at AIPAC and other groups led by older, conservative philanthropists; they largely overlook younger, more liberal constituencies, which for years have been more questioning of Israel policy. They have shown distinctly less affection for J Street, the newly formed lobbying group intended as a counterweight to AIPAC.

In fairness, many Americans see Israeli politics in atavistic terms, too, yearning for a Labor Party that shattered long ago. Even as they rightly deplore the injustice of the occupation and last year’s war in Gaza, they fail to recognize the complexity of trying to reach a final resolution when the Palestinians are so deeply and ruinously divided and when so many Israeli supporters of a two-state solution have, after Oslo, Camp David, and Taba, despaired of getting a workable deal.

The essential question for Israel is not whether it has the friendship of the White House—it does—but whether Netanyahu remains the arrogant rejectionist that he was in the nineteen-nineties, the loyal son of a radical believer in Greater Israel, forever settling scores with the old Labor élites and making minimal concessions to ward off criticism from Washington and retain the affections of his far-right coalition partners. Is he capable of engaging with the moderate and constructive West Bank leadership of Mahmoud Abbas and Salam Fayyad, and making history? Does there exist a Netanyahu 2.0, a Nixon Goes to China figure who will act with an awareness that demographic realities—the growth not only of the Palestinian population in the territories but also of the Arab and right-wing Jewish populations in Israel proper—make the status quo untenable as well as unjust?

Without the creation of a viable contiguous Palestinian state, comprised of a land area equivalent to all of the West Bank and Gaza (allowing for land swaps), and with East Jerusalem as its capital, it is impossible to imagine a Jewish and democratic future for Israel. There is nothing the Israeli leadership could do to make the current fantasy of an indifferent American leadership become a reality faster than to get lost in the stubborn fantasy of sustaining the status quo.

That's smart enough that we can overlook the misuse of "comprised." (Hey, New Yorker, dontcha have copy editors? Or does the editor get to overrule them?)

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At 9:38 PM, Blogger Daro said...

Of course Pelosi is married to a Jewish, multi-millionaire real-estate tycoon so she's not exactly "independent" on any Israeli issue, is she?

Or does pointing that fact out make me a Nazi again?

At 4:05 AM, Anonymous Lee said...

PLEASE..its not just Pelosi. I had a Irish Catholic Congressmen run away from me in a parking lot when I tried to engage him in a conversation about AIPAC.I'm Jewish..and I wanted to let him know that not all Jews LIKE what Israel does or what "Bibi" does.

At 5:59 AM, Blogger Daro said...

You're right Lee... I went a bit far. There's all those Christian nutters too.

At 6:23 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is no way Bibi has a "Nixon goes to China" moment. At the end of the day (and this opinion might not be popular around here), Nixon was an immensely talented man and has been on the right side of the issue on more than one occasion (i.e. Civil Rights/JFK used Nixon's lifetime NAACP membership against Nixon).

Bibi is nothing more than a little thug who rose through the ranks of the hate-filled Likud. How many Nixon moments are we going to get out of Likud? Sharon hasn't been gone that long.

At 8:35 AM, Anonymous Balakirev said...

"Of course Pelosi is married to a Jewish, multi-millionaire real-estate tycoon so she's not exactly "independent" on any Israeli issue, is she?"

Only if we're to conclude that because John Kennedy was a Catholic, he was, as his opponents insisted before his election, nothing but a puppet of the Pope. In other words, one's religious beliefs aren't an absolute guide to one's political behavior on foreign issues; even less so, when they're the religious beliefs of one's spouse. Or the nominal religious beliefs, since we really don't know where along a very broad spectrum Pelosi's husband's beliefs are.

That said, there isn't a politician in DC who probably doesn't bow low before the militant Israeli lobby, and that goes for Catholics, Baptists, atheists, Jews, etc. They wield considerable influence, and J Street is as yet little more than a joke. Obama, in typical fashion, will let himself get rolled again.

At 11:20 AM, Anonymous mikbee42 said...

the cult of crap chosenality, like stated ,

"we're all on the same side."

this conspiracy against the non-chosen is not a singularity, blood is always thicker than water, jews will ALWAYS be thugs in defending themselves. scince rabbinical judism a million "vaticans" dominate this muliplicity,that spews its bigotry and racism from the bottom up, as compared to catholics who spew hate from the top down.
why haven't i heard anything on DWT about the death squad that killed that guy in dubai, on camera for the world to see. this is how isreal operates.fuck the world so the chosen have thier way because all others are not chosen.
where did they get 150 nuclear bombs from. why trust an swartzer american president. why not help destroy the global economy from wall street by the masters of the chosen universe. yeah fair and balanced ,just a few right wingers,
just a "singularity"

At 1:36 PM, Anonymous me said...

How is Israel our ally? What do we get out of the deal?

They send spies against us, sell our weapons secrets to China, attack our ships (look up USS Liberty), control our politicians, and make enemies for us all around the world.

And for these "benefits", we pay them several billion dollars every goddamned year! What the hell for??

Israel does nothing for us except cause us trouble. I say cut them off.


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