Our political/international Quote of the Day comes from RealClearPolitics’ Kevin Sullivan who (like some other Americans) seems weary of the 24/7 polemical political wars which have spilled over into commentary over the recent frost in U.S. Israel relations sparked by the annoucement that Israel would build more settlments — an announcement made right when Vice President Joe Biden was visiting there to try and jumpstart the Middle East process:
I challenge the increasingly marginal number of pundits, pols and bloggers who are blaming this incident on the Obama administration to explain to me exactly where and how Obama has changed U.S. policy on Israel in any material or substantive fashion. Joe Biden went over to Israel to make nice and say in no uncertain terms that “there is no space between the United States and Israel when it comes to Israel’s security” against the Islamic Republic of Iran. The point of the trip was to provide conciliatory rhetoric to the already ample and obvious aid and support that the United States has allocated to Israel for FY2010.
But instead, Biden got sandbagged. Bibi either knew what was coming and anticipated the diplomatic kerfuffle for domestic political gain, or he didn’t and demonstrated for all the world to see that he leads an unsteady government incapable of managing even its most precious and important alliance. Either way, the blame falls solely on Netanyahu. And as Tom Friedman, Walter Russell Mead and the Jerusalem Post editorial board all noted, this move made the Israeli government look completely incoherent and incompetent. That this is something coalition saboteurs have engineered in the past should be irrelevant. As Martin Indyk pointed out, never before has it been done to such a high ranking American official, and never, I would assume, to an American public official with a legislative record so staunchly pro-Israel as Biden’s.
This was in fact a direct shot at Israel’s staunchest ally, during a visit from one of its most ardent supporters.
There more so go to the link and read it in full.
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UPDATE: Bradley Burston, writing in the the Israeli newspaper Haarezt, lends credence to Sullivan’s take on this by calling the settlements’ development Israel’s “Titanic moment”:
Hamas calls this its Day of Rage. Why, then, the smiles on the faces of Mahmoud Zahar and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad?
Perhaps it’s because after more than 22 years of costly trial and error, Hamas has finally come upon the secret of how to bring down the Jewish state:
Let the ship sink itself.
This month, down here in the engine room of the Titanic, a single coherent order continues to sound from the officers shrouded in fog on the bridge: “More power!”
To the delight of Mahmoud Zahar and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Israel’s homemade weapons of mass destruction – pro-settlement bureaucrats with conflicts of financial and ideological interest – have done in one meeting what Israel’s foes have sought for generations: driving a stake through the heart of Israel’s relationship with the White House.
We should have known. But in the swamp of anomaly and impossibility that is Jerusalem, you can easily lose sight of, and belief in, the basics:
One of the curses of endless war, is the tendency to become one’s own worst enemy – in every sense.
Forget, for the moment, the parallels with Iran. Forget, also, that Ahmadinejad would like nothing more in life than to focus Muslim anger and Western displeasure on Israel’s policies in Jerusalem.
Consider, instead, that with Hamas literally at the gates, Israel is not only doing the Islamic Resistance Movement’s bidding – Washington is beginning to relate to the Netanyahu government as if it were Hamas.
Israelis woke on Tuesday to an Army Radio report that George Mitchell had abruptly cancelled his scheduled visit to Israel, and that the U.S. Mideast envoy would not resume his discussions with Jerusalem until Israeli leaders agreed to three conditions set by Washington – an uncomfortably familiar echo of the U.S. position on contacts with Hamas.
One focus of debate in Israel was the question of how an insulted and insensed Obama administration preferred to see the imbroglio turn out. Specifically, is the president after Benjamin Netanyahu’s head?
There is a lot more so go to the link to see his analysis on this.
Joe Gandelman is a former fulltime journalist who freelanced in India, Spain, Bangladesh and Cypress writing for publications such as the Christian Science Monitor and Newsweek. He also did radio reports from Madrid for NPR’s All Things Considered. He has worked on two U.S. newspapers and quit the news biz in 1990 to go into entertainment. He also has written for The Week and several online publications, did a column for Cagle Cartoons Syndicate and has appeared on CNN.