Unnecessary, really. The outcome was never uncertain. Since the Second Intifada, which resulted in the deaths of more than 1,000 Israeli Jews and perhaps 4 times as many Arabs, Israelis have lost interest in the left wing politicians that brought them the Oslo agreements. And it didn’t help that the withdrawal from Gaza led to a rain of rockets on southern Israel and three mini-wars. The only surprise in the election was that Netanyahu managed to move some voters for right-wing and centrist parties to the Likud, giving him a solid margin of victory.
But Obama was upset because he had done his best to help Netanyahu’s opponents (while maintaining plausible deniability, of course), and the plan had backfired! Netanyahu pointed to the foreign money and influence, and voters, afraid of having their country sold out from under them, flocked to him.
So now the President was, yet again, enraged, furious. Netanyahu’s remark that foreign-funded activists were working to get out the Arab vote was called “divisive rhetoric that seeks to marginalize Arab-Israeli citizens” by spokesman Josh Earnest in a press briefing the day after the election. Unnamed ‘administration officials’ called it “racism,” ringing the bell that causes Obama partisans in race-obsessed America to salivate and jump for Netanyahu’s throat.
I want to say a word about this because it’s revealing about the differences between Israel and America, differences that American liberals and especially Jewish ones, don’t get. Arab voters vote for Arab parties or for left-wing Zionist ones. They mostly do not vote for Netanyahu. Netanyahu said that “Arab voters are coming in droves to the ballot boxes. Left-wing NGOs bring them in buses” (the V15 group denied that buses were involved, but admitted working to get out the Arab vote).
The point was that it was an attempt to swing the election by using the Arabs, whose electoral turnout has historically been lower than that of Jewish voters. Most Israelis understood it that way, but when I heard it reported on the Israeli news I immediately thought: damn, that was stupid.
Stupid because it triggers the overactive American race-consciousness, playing into the false analogy between American blacks and Palestinian Arabs — whose situations have absolutely nothing in common with one another. But Americans eat it up, just as Europeans eat up the false analogy between Zionists and 19th century Belgian colonialists.
White house operatives grabbed onto the statement like red meat and the accusation of racism splattered all over the US media, from the NY Times to Facebook. A reason for the president, a victim of racism himself, to be furious! Except there was no racism, just an opportunity to get angry.
The other thing that fed his ‘rage’ (as Bret Stephens noted recently, Obama’s ‘fury’ and ‘rage’ are never directed in other directions, like at Assad, Putin or Khameini or even at Boko Haram and Isis) was the statement by Netanyahu that there would not be a Palestinian state on his watch. Later, he explained that what he meant (which in fact was exactly what he said the first time) was that a two-state solution was impossible for practical reasons, but that he still believed in the idea as expressed in his 2009 speech at Bar-Ilan University.
I don’t know if he believes in the abstract idea or not, but nothing is clearer than that today a sovereign Palestinian state in the territories is inconsistent with the peaceful existence of a Jewish one next door. I’m not going to repeat the argument which was definitively stated by Charles Krauthammer here.
But Thursday night, when Obama finally called Netanyahu to ‘congratulate’ him on his election, Israeli sources say that the call was 30 minutes of browbeating. Obama indicated that he did not believe in Netanyahu’s sincerity about the holy two-state idea, and that the US-Israel relationship would be “reevaluated.” And perhaps the US would stop using its veto to protect Israel in the UN Security Council.
Whether Netanyahu believes in his heart that “two states for two peoples” is theoretically a ‘solution’ is beside the point, because practically speaking it isn’t available. Obama says he wants it, but the realities of Palestinian politics and the chaos in the Middle East make it impossible. So either Obama’s anger is childish pique, like kicking a door because it won’t stay closed, or it really doesn’t have anything to do with the statement Netanyahu made about the peace process. Maybe Obama is using Bibi’s remark as an excuse to become “enraged.”
This takes me back to public school, the 5th grade. A boy told me that I had knocked his pencil off his desk and I should pick it up. I didn’t think I’d done that, but I picked it up. Why not be nice? Then he said that someone scribbled on his notebook and he believed it was me. I knew I hadn’t done that, and told him. Finally he said that he disliked my face. With each accusation, he seemed to get angrier. By the time he made the last remark, I understood that he wanted to be angry enough to fight.
That is what Obama is doing, and has been doing since 2009. I won’t list all of the manufactured ‘insults’ and transgressions that have caused Obama’s choler to rise, but Bibi has “picked up the pencil” more than once. Each time Obama gets angrier. Of course he is careful to let anonymous officials in the administration and the sycophantic media do his dirty work, like calling Netanyahu, a combat soldier who was wounded in battle more than once, “chickenshit” and a “coward.” Crap flows downhill, and by the time it gets to social media it’s astonishingly vicious.
This isn’t accidental, and it isn’t personal, really. It is an orchestrated campaign against the leader of the Jewish state, and if that leader were someone else, he would get the same treatment unless he were prepared to follow Obama’s instructions and lay his country on the Islamic chopping block. Like the 5th grade bully, Obama wants to generate indignation over the alleged chutzpah of Netanyahu in order to justify the steps that he would like to take — intends to take — against Israel.
So when, for example, the US votes to condemn Israel in the Security Council, demands a cease-fire in the next war that’s partial to Hamas, refuses to resupply Israel’s forces, supports European boycotts of Israeli products, etc., the New York Times readers and NPR listeners will say, “gee, that’s harsh, but Netanyahu’s a racist who spit in the president’s face and we need to teach him a lesson.”
What does Obama really want? Why does he invent reasons to punish Israel? Why has the administration leaked information about Israeli operations to interdict shipments of weapons from Syria to Hizballah, frustrated Israeli plans to attack Iran’s nuclear program, and pushed Israel to make itself defenseless by giving up strategic territory to the unstable Palestinian Authority? Why is it helping Iran overcome international law (the NPT) to obtain nuclear weapons?
If you have an answer other than the obvious, I’d like to hear it.