Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is likely to receive a red carpet reception
from President Barack Obama at the White House combined with a reaffirmation
about the “unshakeable US-Israel alliance.” However we should not delude
ourselves. It is clear that Obama’s recent charm campaign was primarily in
response to pressure from the American people and in particular from Jewish
Democratic supporters shocked into action by the administration’s increasingly
negative approach toward Israel and the crass reception accorded to Netanyahu
during his last visit.
The bonhomie was intended to assuage domestic
anger to avert loss of votes and funding for the forthcoming congressional
elections. Even though administration officials, including Rahm Emanuel,
conceded that they “had screwed up the messaging” and are unlikely to repeat
their previous boorish humiliation of Israel, there are no signs that the US
administration is about to modify its policy.
TWO RECENT events reaffirm
this. The greatest disappointment was the US betrayal at the Nuclear
Nonproliferation Treaty Review Conference. Obama reneged on his promise
maintain the policy of former US administrations and continue to veto
Arab efforts to isolate Israel at these conferences. He endorsed a
which omitted any mention of Iran but specifically targeted Israel,
that it sign the NPT and submit to inspections of its facilities. While
subsequently disingenuously shed crocodile tears expressing
Israel had been singled out, his willingness to sacrifice the Jewish
such a crucial security issue heightened concerns that the US is no
In the aftermath of the vehement international
condemnation following the Gaza flotilla interception, Obama made little
to curb the anti-Israel hysteria.
Instead, he pressured Israel to co-opt
international observers to its inquiry and failed to condemn the
Nations Human Rights Council demand for an international inquiry which
unquestionably be a replay of the outrageous Goldstone Report. In this
Vice President Joseph Biden’s positive declaration endorsing Israel’s
blockade ships to prevent the smuggling of arms to Gaza sounded somewhat
good cop, bad cop routine.
The perception of the US failing to support
long-standing allies was highlighted by its tepid response to the
sinking of the South Korean naval corvette by a North Korean submarine.
Israelis, this conveyed a chilling interpretation of Obama’s concept of
His inability to retain the support of traditional US allies
was also exemplified when Turkey and Brazil displayed their contempt by
undermining the minimal Iran sanctions the US was finally able to impose
grudging approval from Russia and China.
US appeasement and renewal of
diplomatic relations with Syria, Iran’s surrogate state, only encouraged
Damascus to strengthen its relations with Teheran, supply Hizbullah with
and intensify its aggressive posturing.
ON A broader level, Obama has
reiterated that the US could neither afford nor desired to remain the
of the world, preferring to delegate and conduct global affairs in
with other countries and international organizations. To abdicate
the free world during these perilous times is a bad omen, especially if
implies delegating more influence to Europe, Russia or worse to the
dysfunctional UN, dominated by Islamic countries.
The most bizarre policy
proclamation came from White House counterterrorism adviser John
Following a National Security Council pronouncement stipulating that the
“extremist and militant Islam” should no longer be employed, he made the
extraordinary assertion that Hizbullah was not “purely a terrorist body”
that he intended to cultivate the “moderate elements.”
Subsequently in an
address to the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Brennan
Islamic fundamentalism to al-Qaida and opined that the term “war on
should be excluded from the American political lexicon.
“Our enemy” he
said “is not terrorism because terrorism is a tactic or a state of mind,
Americans we refuse to live in fear.”
He added, “Nor do we define our
enemy as jihadists or Islamists because jihad is a holy struggle, a
tenet of Islam to purify oneself or one’s community.”
Such remarks from a
high-ranking US official are mind boggling.
IN RELATION to the
Israel-Palestinian conflict, the US had warned that it would confront
indulging in provocative statements or acts. Yet while expressing
regarding Israeli celebrations on Jerusalem Day, the administration
silent as the PA lobbied the OECD to block Israel’s affiliation. Nor did
respond when PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, the most “moderate”
leader, personally participated in a burning ceremony to promote a
boycott products manufactured over the Green Line, a direct violation of
Oslo Accords. They even failed to react when Fatah leaders reiterated
right to launch armed resistance unless their demands were
American friends of Israel should thus be aware that despite
Obama’s charm offensive, US policy is no less ominous now than it was
Netanyahu’s previous visit to Washington. However public opinion is a
that a Democratic administration does take into account and Israel can
comfort in the fact that support from the American people and both
Congress have strengthened considerably since the Gaza flotilla
In this context, Netanyahu must now clearly spell out his game
plan and ensure that Israel is not again confronted by accusations of
misled the administration.
When he meets with Obama, he should assure him
that short of endangering its security, the country will do all in its
avoid embarrassing the US. But he must be definitive and inform the
administration which areas are negotiable while simultaneously drawing
which his government cannot contemplate crossing.
He must emphatically
reject returning to the 1949 armistice lines on the grounds that it
would pose a
longterm existential threat to the Jewish state.
He must reiterate that
Israel will only extend concessions based on reciprocity and that the
Palestinians must cease their provocations and incitement.
clearly elucidate building policies in Jerusalem and make it known that
irrespective of what happens, the building freeze will not be renewed in
major settlement blocs that the Bush administration had agreed would
If Netanyahu fails to reach a full understanding over
Iran, he must request greater transparency in the relationship and be
that Israel will be kept fully informed and able to provide input. He
also request unequivocal American support against global boycotts and
at the UN and other international organizations, including an assurance
future the US will divert pressures against Israel’s ambiguous nuclear
Instead of whispering and making light of differences,
Netanyahu must speak plainly and unequivocally to ensure that Israelis
friends abroad understand our position.
Should he continue fudging the
issues by basking in the superficial warmth of pleasantries, he will be
us up for a second and possibly much more unpleasant confrontation with