Well, now it’s clear. Not only did President Obama address the AIPAC (American-Israeli Political Action Council) national conference with words almost identical to his Middle East speech last Thursday night, he received repeated applause. Among other things, Mr. Obama reiterated the formula ‘1967 plus swaps’ from Cairo.2. And astonishingly, after rebuking the President days before, PM Netanyanu was quoting his authority:
“Now, the precise delineation of those borders must be negotiated. We’ll be generous about the size of the future Palestinian state. But as President Obama said, the border will be different than the one that existed on June 4th, 1967. Israel will not return to the indefensible boundaries of 1967.”(Emphasis added)
What is going on? For four days, Mr. Netanyahu went out of his way pointing a finger at Mr. Obama’s Cairo.2 formulation. Now he’s quoting it! I didn’t see any news reports that Mr. Netanyah apologized for misrepresenting the President’s remarks from the time he arrived until his speech to Congress.
President Obama was gracious in telling AIPAC attendees that his remarks were “misrepresented several times.” Words diplomatically chosen: Obama’s remarks were misrepresented, they were not misunderstood. If they had been misunderstood the two leaders would have clarified their respective stands during a two-hour meeting the next day. Instead, the meme that President Obama had thrown Israel ‘under the bus’ became established media truth and was milked for every ounce of political blood it could draw.
Conservative media and politicians outdid themselves in whipping up false debate about what Obama never said, and the so-called East Coast ‘liberal’ press was not better.
There’s simply no excuse: not one major reporter or commenter thought or had the guts to interrupt another corrupt feeding frenzy and say:
“I think Mr. Netanyahu made a mistake here. We are contacting Netanyahu’s press secretary now to clarify exactly why Mr. Netanyahu is interpreting the President’s remarks in a way seeming at odds with the record. We’ll return with the Israeli response asap…….Meanwhile, in other news……”
The politics on display over the past week are hardly new. The PM stayed far away from real issues for which he had no answer, and avoided ones like settlements on which Israel is most vulnerable. To fill the space, Mr. Netanyahu blew up the 1967 non-issue with symbolic importance and divisive meaning. Mr. Netanyahu wanted and created a controversy, giving the signal to his conservative partisans in the US, now smelling blood, to go on attack
Dissecting Mr. Netanyahu’s speech to a Joint Session of Congress confirms this scenario. The speech said nothing original, creative or in any way profound.
Most telling? The PM failed to respond to President Obama’s challenge to AIPAC that the time for peace is running out because 1) demographic changes will mean Israel losing either its Jewish or democratic nature in the near future; 2) the changes in Arab states will put more pressure on Israel because it can no longer depend on the Mubaraks of the region suppressing a popular youth movement impatient for a Palestinian state; 3) for better or worse, the Palestinians have world opinion on their side.
What is Israel going to do? I’d like to know. So would a lot of others. Does Netanyahu disbelieve challenges cited by President Obama? Is he in denial? Is he racing head strong into his own self-imposed prophesy?
Sad to say it took the President of the United States to raise the level of discussion over Israel’s future by defining the strategic issues facing it. The Israeli PM seemed content with a dog-fight.