Sunday, March 14, 2010

Obama's turn against Israel

Last week during Vice President Biden's trip to Israel, a mid-level Israeli official announced that the government had approved a planning stage for the construction of 1,600 housing units in north Jerusalem.  Joe Biden responded by keeping Prime Minister Netanyahu and his wife waiting 90 minutes before showing up for dinner.  The Prime Minister apologized profusely, and explained that the announcement was not timed to embarrass Biden or the U.S.   Nevertheless, Secretary of State Clinton used the diplomatic faux pas to launch a blistering attack against Israel.  The Wall Street Journal questions the rationale and wisdom of the intentional escalation:

Since nobody is defending the Israeli announcement, least of all an obviously embarrassed Israeli government, it's difficult to see why the Administration has chosen this occasion to spark a full-blown diplomatic crisis with its most reliable Middle Eastern ally. Mr. Biden's visit was intended to reassure Israelis that the Administration remained fully committed to Israeli security and legitimacy. In a speech at Tel Aviv University two days after the Israeli announcement, Mr. Biden publicly thanked Mr. Netanyahu for "putting in place a process to prevent the recurrence" of similar incidents.

The subsequent escalation by Mrs. Clinton was clearly intended as a highly public rebuke to the Israelis, but its political and strategic logic is puzzling. The U.S. needs Israel's acquiescence in the Obama Administration's increasingly drawn-out efforts to halt Iran's nuclear bid through diplomacy or sanctions. But Israel's restraint is measured in direct proportion to its sense that U.S. security guarantees are good. If Israel senses that the Administration is looking for any pretext to blow up relations, it will care much less how the U.S. might react to a military strike on Iran.
Scott Johnson at Power Line delivers a scathing rebuke to the Obama administration for its response:
The apparent purpose of this public display of animosity toward Israel is the extraction of some concession to offer to Israel's Palestinian non-interlocutors. In the purported peace talks that the administration seeks to facilitate with the part of the Palestinian Authority over which Mahhmoud Abbas presides, Abbas's representatives do not deign to meet face to face with Israel. Such obstruction does not merit condemnation because the administration sympathizes with Abbas's need to keep up appearances with the fans of Hamas who forthrightly pledge the destruction of Israel.

In the part of the Palestinian Authority over which Abbas presides, Abbas's followers held an illuminating ceremony following Vice President Biden's departing flight from Tel Aviv on Thursday. According to theNew York Times, dozens of Palestinian students from Abbas's Fatah party gathered in Ramallah to dedicate a public square to the memory of a woman who in 1978 helped carry out the deadliest terrorist attack in Israel's history. The woman and her terrorist crew killed an American photojournalist, hijacked a bus and commandeered another, embarking on a bloody rampage that left 38 Israeli civilians dead, 13 of them children.

The Palestinian Authority deferred the ceremony until Vice President Biden left town, but Abbas's crew has not stinted in the honors for the terrorist woman: "The Palestinians also named two girls high schools, a computer center, a soccer championship and two summer camps for Ms. Mughrabi in the last two years."

The Obama administration has also sharply criticized Israel for having designated Hebron's Tomb of the Patriarchs and Rachel Tomb as national heritage sites marked for renovation and preservation. In line with the Abbas's description of the designation as "a serious provocation," State Department spokesman Mark Toner said the administration viewed the move as "provocative" and unhelpful to the goal of negotiations.
The Zionist Organization of America issued a statement refuting the provocation claim:
“These biblical sites are thousands of years old, among the holiest places in Judaism and their sanctity to Judaism predates the emergence of Islam. To call the heritage listing of these sites a ‘provocation’ is to be expected from a terror-supporting regime like the PA, but it is not worthy of a friend and ally like the United States.
The Obama administration continues its upside down foreign policy of coddling our enemies and humiliating our allies.  The result, according to Jack Kelly:
For the first time in a long time, the president of the United States is not trusted by our allies or feared by our adversaries and is respected by neither. But Americans, understandably focused on the dismal economy and Mr. Obama's efforts to nationalize health care, have yet to notice.

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