A Jewish man was stranded on a desert island for ten years. Then one day, quite accidentally a boat appeared out of nowhere to rescue the man. The man tells his rescuer, before he leaves the island that was his home for a decade, he wants to give his rescue a tour of the island to show him all the fine work he has done over the years. They two walk around the island and get to an opening with three wood buildings. The rescuer asks, “what are those?” The island Jew said, “well this is my home and that building over there is the Synagogue I built.”
“What’s the third building? The rescuer asked.
“Oh that!” said the Jew “FEH! That’s the Synagogue I would NEVER SET FOOT IN!!!
We really are descended from 12 brothers and we have always act, ed that way. Throughout our history Jews have spent almost as much time fighting our brothers as we have fighting our enemies. But each time we are attacked, in any way, we become a family and support our brethren like no other people in the world. And if you can describe Jewish people in general that way, it goes double for the multi-party world of Israeli politics.
Last time I checked there were 12 different political parties that received enough votes to be part of the Knesset, many of those parties are part of the governing coalition. Serving together in the same government does not make parties less partisan, and cabinet ministers have a lot more authority than what you would see in an American President’s cabinet, so the result can be wild at times.
If Barack Obama could understand the history and “soul” of the Israelis, he would be much closer to restarting talks between Israel and the Palestinians than he is today. His own arrogance, however, his refusal to believe that anybody would not see the world as he does, prevents him from achieving progress in the region. His arrogance is so strong that last week he made the exact same mistake on the settlement issue as he made just four months ago.
This past November I wrote this about the initial Obama/Clinton settlement bashing:
The entire settlement issue was caused by the Obama administration’s arrogance. What the President and his advisers perceived as a minor concession (a settlement freeze) was for Israel a grave sacrifice. This was a major error by the Obama administration. Their insistence on a freeze and their constant public berating of the Jewish State has turned the Israeli population against Obama, especially the Israeli left, whom Obama would look to for support.
His public blasting of Israel has weakened his support among American Jews, who initially bought into his promise that he was a friend of Israel. The news that Obama was breaking a Bush-era pledge to Israel regarding natural expansion in existing settlements only made things worse.
Last week, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton began lowering expectations on negotiations and praised what Israel is prepared to do — namely, refrain from constructing new settlements in the West Bank, but impart no limits on construction in East Jerusalem — as an “unprecedented” concession.
The fact is, there is nothing the President would like better than to weaken the Netanyahu coalition. If not to weaken it to the point of total collapse, at least to the level where Bibi is forced to make room for Tzipi Livni and the Kadima party to join the government (something he has tried to do anyway). Back in November, Obama’s one-sided, heavy handed criticism of Israel, especially on the issue of Jerusalem, caused the people to rally around the Netanyahu government and its support even stronger.
If any of the above sounds familiar, it should because it was all played out again this past week. Israel indeed screwed up with the timing of the announcement of 1,600 housing units when the American SCHMOTUS (Joe Biden) was in town. I would venture that many, if not most Israelis would say Obama was justified for his initial response. But they would also say that the moment Netanyahu apologized, the criticism should have started to ease
Instead, just as they did in November, the administration whose motto is “never let a good crisis go to waste,” saw an opportunity to try and weaken the Netanyahu coalition.
Accordingly Obama increased the pressure, sending David Axelrod onto American TV to bash Israel saying that she was not serious about making peace. He even directed Hilary Clinton to make a 45 phone call/lecture to the Israeli PM.
The majority of Israelis oppose halting construction in east Jerusalem. So just as in the case of past November, the combination of the increased pressure on Israel, and relaunching attacks on an that seemed to have been settled months ago, served to do the opposite of what Obama was looking for, it united the Israeli people against the US President, rather than against Netanyahu.
The New Republic is reporting:
The popular assumption is that Obama is seeking to prove his resolve as a leader by getting tough with Israel. Given his ineffectiveness against Iran and his tendency to violate his own self-imposed deadlines for sanctions, the Israeli public is not likely to be impressed. Indeed, Israelis’ initial anger at Netanyahu has turned to anger against Obama. According to an Israel Radio poll on March 16, 62 percent of Israelis blame the Obama administration for the crisis, while 20 percent blame Netanyahu. (Another 17 percent blame Shas leader Eli Yishai.)
Compounding Obama’s mistake is the fact that the Palestinians have seized upon the American over-reaction as an excuse to start rioting. Lets face it, they thought if Obama could beat up on Israel, why couldn’t they. The resulting riots are being called in some circles, Obama’s Intifada, placing the blame for the disturbance squarely where it belongs, on the head of the American President.
In less than six months President Obama has manufactured two political crises against Israel, a strategic ally, and the only democracy in the middle east. Each of the crises set back, rather than advanced his goal of moving the “Peace Process” ahead. Both crises could have been avoided with a little understanding of the people with whom he is dealing.
The President of the United States is an arrogant man, he doesn’t seem to care what may drive the decisions of others, which means he is doomed to repeat the same mistake over and over.
It was Albert Einstein who is credited with saying, Insanity doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. That would be a lesson the US President would be well served to learn.