….And The Dog Doesn’t Wag?
So Bibi had a temper tantrum. Israel has been the tail that wags the dog for decades but Obama is not going along.
About a week ago The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Of Staff, General Martin Dempsey, told reporters in London that attacking Iran’s nuclear facilities would not stop their program and would do more harm than good. This week Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Bibi would not be getting his red line. Now today Bibi demands a meeting with Obama and is told it can’t be scheduled on such short notice.
Over at The American Conservative Scott McConnell thinks Bibi Needs a “Time-Out”
Bibi’s having a meltdown, it looks like. First General Martin Dempsey, and then Hillary have told him that the United States will deal with Iran’s nuclear program according to its own timetable, and in accordance with its own national interests. Now President Obama has apparently put off Bibi’s request for a meeting in September. A scheduling issue, the two won’t be in New York (for the UN General Assembly) at the same time. The White House calmy noted that top administration officials, like Hillary, will be available to meet with Bibi. This is big news in Israel, and sure to be used by Romney: trying to talk Israel out of starting a destructive war, or refusing the demand that America fight its war for it, will be portrayed as “throwing Israel under the bus.” Noam Sheizaf of the indispensable Israeli website 972 analyzes the faceoff here.
As McConnell points out Israel is used to seeing that when it says jump the U.S. President says how high – the tail wagging the dog. But Obama refuses to jump.
One reason why Bibi might be inclined to overreach: the fawning reception he has previously received from the US Congress. Peter Beinart tells an interesting story about this in The Crisis of Zionism. When Bibi came to speak before the Congress, about two and half years ago, AIPAC was in town for its annual convention, including many major donors to congressional campaigns. Bibi was then in the midst of a confrontation with the administration over Israel’s expansion of settler colonies on the West Bank. Each congressman received one gallery pass for Bibi’s speech, and most gave it to their largest donor. So the gallery was AIPAC packed. DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz orchestrated, giving hand signals to the Congresspeople about when to stand and applaud (at Netanyahu’s most belligerent lines). So between an AIPAC gallery, and Congress playing their role as toadies for AIPAC funders, Bibi clearly got a very exaggerated impression of how easily he can move America. More people are paying attention now. I think (and pray) that this time he’s in for a very unpleasant surprise.
I also agree with McConnell that this is a not too subtle attempt by Bibi to influence the U.S. election. Support for Israel is in a downward trend anyway and I can’t see how this will help.
Cross posted at Middle Earth Journal