Israeli Leaders Must Choose Their Own Course
Our president isn't satisfied proving that he has difficulty running one country. Now he wants to run two: the U.S. and Israel. Jeffrey Goldberg reports that President Obama told close confidants that "Israel does not know what its own best interests are," as if he does, of course.
The Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg, writing in Bloomberg View, has revealed that U.S. President Barack Obama said repeatedly recently that Israel does not know what its own best interests are.
When informed about the Israeli decision to approve construction plans in the E1 area, "Obama, who has a famously contentious relationship with the prime minister, didn't even bother getting angry," wrote Goldberg. "He told several people that this sort of behavior on Netanyahu's part is what he has come to expect, and he suggested that he has become inured to what he sees as self-defeating policies of his Israeli counterpart.
The leader of Israel's rapidly shrinking left, Tzipi Livni, jumped at the opportunity to lampoon Israel's Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu:
"Everybody who has not yet awakened, everyone who still thinks things will be fine -- got up this morning to very sharp and clear statements by the U.S. President who said that the Israeli Prime Minister is leading the State of Israel towards severe isolation."
Livni must be disheartened by her dwindling political support in her never-ending quest to become prime minister. That helps to explain her strident call for support using Obama's kneejerk opinion as backing for her position. In Israel today, that's like leaning against a dry reed for support. It won't help you, and it may hurt you.
The E1 controversy is very easy to assess when you reduce it to the essential question: does Israel have the right to build in its capital, Jerusalem. The answer is "yes." Israel has as much right to build in Jerusalem as the U.S. has to build in Washington and its suburbs. That fact wasn't in dispute even among Palestinians until recently proving yet again that there can be no peace between Israel and the Palestinians because there will always be another issue down the road that Palestinians can use to rally support from useful idiots around the world.
Unfortunately, one of those useful idiots has been re-elected to serve a second term as president of the United States and another one desperately wants to become Israel's prime minister. For four more years, that's a reality with which Israeli leaders must contend.
Prime Minister Netanyahu is right to proceed with development in Jerusalem even if it stimulates confrontation with President Obama. In the end, Israeli leaders must set their own course, and the man at the helm in Israel doesn't temporarily reside in Washington, D.C.
Along a related vein, it won't be too much longer before the world appreciates the implications of the U.S. spending itself into oblivion. The almighty dollar is strong now relative to other currencies primarily because of people's perceptions about what the dollar used to be, but that will change. Eventually, understanding about the new reality will take hold broadly, and when it does, the Israeli people will be delighted that Netanyahu chose to ignore Obama and Livni and do what's in Israel's true best interest.
Neil Snyder is the Ralph A. Beeton Professor Emeritus at the University of Virginia. His blog, SnyderTalk.com, is posted daily.