Thursday, March 25, 2010


In an otherwise unimpressive ("the liberal Democrat Lanny Davis" -- oh please) column for Pajamas Media, Ron Radosh does say one thing of importance right at the start: describing the "fabricated crisis" between Israel and the United States. That's very true, but not in the way he means. Who is calling this flare-up a "crisis"? Not the Obama administration. Not the Netanyahu administration. The only people who seem desperate to characterize this as a crisis are Obama's right-wing Republican opponents.

Which raises the question of "why?" Why are conservatives so eager to turn what would seem to be a rather routine, if somewhat high-profile, dispute between allies into a "crisis"? Here, they strike me as the equivalent a sad-sack lover, searching frantically about for cracks between the the Democratic Party and Israel, and the Democratic Party and its Jewish base. Oh no, they're having a fight!, they moan, as (not too far) inside their hearts leap with glee. Maybe she'll leave him! Maybe then she'll come rushing into my arms, the man who always loved her most!

It's kind of pathetic. The American/Israeli relationship is not so fragile that any public disagreement represents a "crisis". This is something recognized by the Americans, the Israelis, and pretty much every sane commentator around the world. The only folks who don't get are the ones on the outside, looking in. Creepers.


N. Friedman said...


You write: "The only people who seem desperate to characterize this as a crisis are Obama's right-wing Republican opponents." That is incorrect.

Well, the British paper, The Guardian, calls it a "crisis." Perhaps, given where The Guardian stands politically, they want to exaggerate what is occurring. Then again, so does Haaretz: "Throughout the latest crisis between Israel and the United States ..." The Washington Post calls it a "crisis" as well. In fact, that term also appears in the paper's editorial section ("True, this U.S.-Israel crisis began with a provocation ...").

So, this is not a right or a left wing thing. It is a term to describe a substantial disagreement. I think the most apt interpretation of the entire affair comes from Jackson Diehl - who does not use the word "crisis" in his article -, who blames this on Obama and calls him an ideologue who is vindictive. In his words:

A new administration can be excused for making such a mistake in the treacherous and complex theater of Middle East diplomacy. That’s why Obama was given a pass by many when he made exactly the same mistake last year. The second time around, the president doesn’t look naive. He appears ideological -- and vindictive.

The mistake referred to is making a stink on an issue about which Netanyahu (or any other Israeli PM) could not back down. So far as I know, Diehl is pretty liberal, since he is deputy editorial page editor of The Washington Post, a liberal paper, by and large.

My support of Obama is undermined by this. While I do not care whether the Israeli keep all of Jerusalem or only part of it, this is all nuts. The upshot on all of this is that Obama is making it less, not more, likely that the dispute will settle. And, the chances of settlement were already small.

Perhaps, that is the point. Perhaps, the idea is to beat up on the Israelis on the theory that such will make the US look good to the Arab regions. Perhaps, he wants the Israelis to object. That's just a thought ... But, explaining a crisis that does not have to be and that should have been avoided could only be because Obama is an ideologue or a person of no moral fiber who is using the Israelis as punching bag to rescue the reputation of the US in the eyes of Arabs. No doubt, however, you will have some better explanation. Oh wait, you think there is no "crisis" even though prominent left and right wing papers call it a crisis.

David Schraub said...

I think they're exaggerating -- media bodies like to make things bigger than they are (helps assure their relevancy). I don't think the American/Israeli relationship is so frail that a public disagreement constitutes a crisis.

N. Friedman said...


The President is so far off line that, frankly, I shall never vote for him again.

I have never been a one issue voter. Never and not even once. However, I think his administration is an abomination. I say that notwithstanding my view that healtcare reform is a good idea.

I think he is the opposite of a liberal, as I have noted elsewhere on your pages.

One has to ask: since the Israelis are not going to back down, what logic is there in pushing this matter the way Obama is doing so. He is making it a "crisis."

You can say that the papers are hyping the matter. I think you are wrong. I think his aim is to downgrade the relationship with Israel by creating a series of crises. This is something which is entirely consist with his activities before becoming President. Back then, he was characterized as a believer in the "even-handed" - i.e. pro-Arab - approach.

David Schraub said...

Which is distinguished from the "even-handed, i.e., even-handed" approach, how? I don't think Obama differs from you in that he's anti-Israel and you're pro. I think he differs in that he thinks even-handedness is possible, and you don't. I think the proactive approach he's taking is quite sensible; and I think calling out the Israelis for gratuitously humiliating the US and the Palestinians is quite warranted. Even Leon Wieseltier thinks the Israeli action was dickish, not to mention folks like Eric Yoffie.

Look, you're welcome to vote against President Obama. But I suspect that, your hyperventilation notwithstanding, the 92-year streak of Jews voting for Democrats will continue more or less intact. And there is no vote of confidence like the actual votes themselves.

PG said...

The media declares a "crisis" in U.S.-Israel relations at some point every several years. In November 1971; in August 1979; in December 1985; in December 1990; in March 1992; in June 2005 (when Yuval Steinitz, chairman of the Israeli parliament's foreign affairs and defense committee, stated that Israel's sales of arms to China had precipitated the crisis)... yawn.

N. Friedman said...


Well, I do not think the US should be "even-handed," something that has always, in the US, been code word for pro-Arab. In any event, I think the US should support Israel. I think that Leon Wieseltier's comments are way off base. The land in question is not going to become Arab territory, nor should it. So, Obama is making a stink over something that has no importance to the peace process but which the Israelis cannot, on principle, give in on.

I do not think I am alone in thinking that Obama is a disaster for Israel. I think that such view is rather common among Israel's friends. Consider that his approach is, more or less, the same approach that has been adopted throughout Europe - and has led to Israel being seen as a pariah state. Such approach has also caused a wave of Antisemitism in every country it has been tried in - no exceptions. This is not to call Obama a supporter of such outcome but, frankly, it is the inevitable accompaniment of such a policy.

I rather doubt that a majority of Jewss will vote for Republicans. And, since I am not a Republican, I would not advocate that. However, I think that the percentage of Jews who will vote for Obama will be sufficiently less that, in a close election, it would cost him Florida. I know that my wife and I and all of our friends have reassessed Obama and are deeply disappointed. I know some of my friends intend to work against his re-election. So, frankly, I think you underestimate the negative impact of a pro-Arab policy to Israel's friends.