Monday, November 8, 2010

"We May Have Lost Tom Friedman" Bibi

From Monday's and Wednesday's Israel Analysis posting by Marc Schulman.

Once again, Netanyahu meets Biden and the meeting is undermined by the announcement of additional construction. Whatever one's views are on the future of building in the West Bank, or in East Jerusalem, (where I am sure the buildings that are being built will remain in Israeli Jerusalem), you cannot underscore the fact that the Iranian threat is THE existential threat to Israel. Why then would you do something so utterly stupid, like announcing new construction, while the Prime Minister is in the US trying to gain US support for Israel's position on Iran. To get further depressed, read the article by Bradley Burston: Bibi, Tom Friedman, and U. S. Jews divesting from Israel.

It seems the well timed announcement of continued building in the East Jerusalem is the result of an order given by the Minister of the Interior, Eli Yishai of Shas. Yishai ordered his ministry to approve as many building plans in East Jerusalem as possible. With both the Ministry of Housing and the Ministry of the Interior in the hands of Shas, we have an important part of Israel's position in the world being held hostage by a group of people who have no understanding of the world. These officials barely have the qualifications.

On his way to the airport to come to America, Bibi is said to have remarked: We may have lost Thomas Friedman, but I don't think we lost America." He's certainly trying his hardest to! See also this from the Jerusalem Post

Here is what Friedman said to the Israeli people this weekend on Israeli television, according to Bradley Bursten of Ha'aretz:

"You are losing the American people," Friedman warned. "Not to dislike, not to opposition - they are fed up, fed up with the Palestinians, believe me, fed up with the Mideast in general.
"But they're also fed up with Israel. When they see their president working hard to try to tee up an opportunity. All we're asking is just test - go all the way to test whether you have a real partner.

"And you say 'No, first pay me - let Pollard out of jail, have Abu Mazen sing Hatikva in perfect Yiddish, and then we'll think about testing.' It rubs a lot of people the wrong way."

Given a consensus among Israeli analysts, rightly or wrongly, that the man they called the world's most important commentator was speaking not only for himself, but directly for Barack Obama as well, you can bet that Benjamin Netanyahu was listening.
It says everything about the Netanyahu government's attitude toward America, however, that what the prime minister heard was the polar opposite of what Thomas Friedman said.

"Israel doesn't have to worry about me," Friedman had stressed early in the interview. "At the end of the day, Israel will have my support - it had me at hello."

But many Americans, Friedman continued "just are fed up with this conflict, and over time, that will become a national security problem for Israel, given the fact that the United States is your only friend."

Long term, American emotional divestment, Jewish and non, may well prove more of a threat to Israel's future than Ahmedinejad and his bomb factories, or Nasrallah and Mashaal and their rockets.

See also these commentaries more sympathetic to Netanyahu: Settlement Kerfuffle Follows the Script (Tablet) and Never Helpful (Commentary)

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