The Right Coast

Editor: Thomas A. Smith
University of San Diego
School of Law

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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Israelis starting to get Obama
Tom Smith

It's beginning to look like Obama wants to cram down a "peace" settlement on Israel the same way he crammed health care down on us Americans.  The two motives for this, I guess, are a general pro-Palestinian stance of the US left and that it would be yet another glorious achievement for our Great Leader.

How Israel should manage this, I don't know.  But one thing for her to keep in mind is that while Israel may be unpopular in the White House, she is enormously popular with the American people.  This strikes me as another good issue for the opposition to this Administration (may it be one term only!) to take up.

For a lot of Americans, Israel is not that hard to understand.  Here are a lot of people rejected in the strongest possible terms by Europe who decide to build a nation in Indian Country and have made a spectacular success of it.  Only in this case, they are like returning Indians.  The analogy is not perfect. While it may not be Wyoming or Utah, it's still pretty cool, and it has beaches. Of course their neighbors hate them.  If your neighbors don't hate you, you probably are not much of a success.  I realize it is infinitely more complex than this; I am just trying to think like an average American here.  But as complex as it is, I don't think it ever ends up at, let's tear down what has been built and call it justice. Sounds familiar, doesn't it?  That darn Obama.  He can be a very destructive fellow.  I wish there were some cheaper way to satisfy his ego.  The way he's chosen is very inefficient.

And pardon me for asking, but what exactly is our interest in setting up a Palestine?  We need another country we will have to fly predator drones over?  Oh right.  If we set up a Palestine, then the not-to-be-called-Islamo-fascists will not hate us so much, and peace and brotherhood will ensue in the Middle East. My personal view is that if we are going to set up new countries, they should be countries that will not be our enemies.  If the idea is to set up an enemy of the US, why not let Iran or somebody do it?  They have lots of useless desert.  They could put it there.

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Here is how Israel should manage: Don't give in to Obama, his options are limited, he needed Pelosi and Reid to give him Obamacare, he isn't getting Congressional support for punishing Israel. He may deny them active support in going after Iran but won't dare shoot down Israeli planes. He won't get Congressional approval to cut funding. And Israel certainly shouldn't give anything up to the Palestinians.

At the same time, Israel shouldn't go out of the way to be confrontational with Obama, as much as the public disagrees with Obama on the substance, Israel doesn't want to dis him and have the public rally to his support. They should continue to stress the shared values... while they respectfully decline to agree with Obama on the specifics of obtaining peace.

Put another way, Israel should treat Obama in the same the federal workforce treats Republican Presidents... as someone who be gone in just a few short years.

Posted by: steve sturm | Mar 30, 2010 2:30:15 PM

The idea that if we screw Israel the muslim terrorists won't hate us is almost as stupid as thinking the sun will rise in the north tomorrow.

Posted by: Don Simpson | Mar 30, 2010 8:49:39 PM

The only coherent argument I've heard for Obama's confrontational policy is that if he backs down now he'll look bad. Me me me.

I agree with Steve Sturm's post above. They need to stay off the American front pages and not overtly confront the US. They can safely wait President Obama out.

Though Steve's wrong on one thing: the Obama administration has been holding up arms sales since right after he was inaugurated. That was long before the current spat, so I think that clears up any question that he's ever intended anything other than hostility towards Israel. It's also a sign of things to come: continual harassment, attack, and demands for unilateral concessions that are only escalated when the Israelis give in.

Thanks, Mr. President, for alienating yet ANOTHER key ally (joining Britain, Honduras, Colombia, teh Czech Republic, Ukraine, Poland and Georgia). If Russia, China or al Qaeda could design our foreign policy for us, could they possibly do a better job of hurting us than our own President?

Posted by: Common Sense | Mar 30, 2010 9:34:43 PM

Treat him as a President who will be largely irrelevant, a lame duck, in November 2010, when the Republicans take back Congress. And gone shortly thereafter, a footnote in history, an effete, ineffectual president.

Posted by: apetra | Mar 30, 2010 10:02:17 PM

Dear Professor Smith: Steve Sturm is on target. You, however, seem to be swinging your fist at a mirror when you write:

"For a lot of Americans, Israel is not that hard to understand. Here are a lot of people rejected in the strongest possible terms by Europe who decide to build a nation in Indian Country and have made a spectacular success of it. Only in this case, they are like returning Indians. The analogy is not perfect. While it may not be Wyoming or Utah, it's still pretty cool, and it has beaches. Of course their neighbors hate them. If your neighbors don't hate you, you probably are not much of a success. I realize it is infinitely more complex than this; I am just trying to think like an average American here."


Good God. Are you trying to compete for the foot-in-mouth championship, presently held by this clown of which the meat is this bit:

"So it’s not surprising then that they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations."

Normally you are quite sensible, which is why it is so dismaying to see you so far off the beam while trying to "think like the average American."

The real penalty for America will come with the next big terror attack at home or abroad. Then Americans have to face the mirror with the hideously shaming knkowledge that they allowed The One to act toward Israel and the Israelis just as Chamberlain did to the Czechs.

Sincerely yours,
Gregory Koster

Posted by: Gregory Koster | Mar 30, 2010 10:38:43 PM

The logic of a US and European arms embargo against Israel escapes me. Israel is probably sufficiently well armed even without new ams shipments to deal militarily with the Palestinians for now and for the foreseeable future. More uncertain is their ability to deal with a hostile and bellicose Iran. At the present, Israel *may* be well enough armed to ensure its security against Iran, but that might not be the case 4 or 5 years from now if a strict arms embargo continues. The effects of an extended arms embargo against Israel might tip the balance in favor of Iran, and so the Israeli military and political leadership must be weighing the short- and long-term risks very carefully. If Israel sees a conflict with Iran as inevitable, Obama's continuing arms embargo by the US can only serve to drive her into a conflict with Iran sooner rather than later (or not at all). The alternative, which I presume Obama is counting on, that such a fear of insecurity will eventually force Israel to go the negotiating table and offer concessions to the Palestinians seems like a very unlikely outcome to me.

Posted by: Mr. Biswas | Mar 30, 2010 10:40:38 PM

israel is socialist and already has socialized healthcare.
israel is acting Illegally by expanding into borders no nation except israel recognizes.
israel put the united states at risk of further attack by provoking arab states
israel has no economic incentive for us to trade with, no markets or resources.
the Palestinians are fighting for their land and the country as our founding fathers did while resiting occupation. they are closer to the principles of america than israel. why support israel?

Posted by: mikey | Mar 30, 2010 11:04:37 PM

"the Palestinians are fighting for their land and the country as our founding fathers did while resiting occupation"

I must have missed those suicide bombings and dancing in the streets to celebrate the mass slaughter of innocents in my American history texts. Oh wait, it was covered up by da Jooooos!!

Posted by: Gary Rosen | Mar 30, 2010 11:40:03 PM

"israel is socialist and already has socialized healthcare."

Your stereotype is about 25 years out of date. Read "Start-up Nation". Israel has more entrepreneurs per capita than any country beside the US. That's per capita, in a country of 6 million people. Yes, Israel has universal healthcare. I don't know exactly how it works or how good it is. What does that have to do with the Palestinian question?

"israel is acting Illegally by expanding into borders no nation except israel recognizes."

Since - according to UN resolutions - no borders have been negotiated, the temporary armistice lines are not legal boundaries. Nations and NGOs may THINK Israel should be this size or that - I'm just quoting the UN. The borders have not been negotiated because every time the parties get close to a settlement the Palestinians pull out. Thank God I say, because the last few times they were offered way too much, and they would have continued to attack Israel anyway.

"israel put the united states at risk of further attack by provoking arab states"

Even if you could make a case for that - tough shit. Let them get over it. You want our foreign policy run by the Arabs? They get veto over our alliances by threatening to attack us if we're friends with someone they don't like? Well, that is Obama's attitude and that's one of many reasons I didn't vote for him.

"israel has no economic incentive for us to trade with, no markets or resources."

You just pulled all this out of your ass, didn't you? You were asleep since the mid-60s and just woke up, still under the impression that israel's main export is Jaffa oranges?
You can read the book I mentioned, or here's a summary: http://www.city-journal.org/2009/19_3_jewish-capitalism.html
There are lots of lists of all the inventions and commercializations of same of Israeli high-tech sector, you can google them. If you ever get sick your life will probably depend on something invented by Israel. If you use a PC with an Intel chip or Windows OS, or a cell-phone, you are using products developed to a large extent in Israel.

"the Palestinians are fighting for their land and the country as our founding fathers did while resiting occupation. they are closer to the principles of america than israel. why support israel?"

If you substitute "Jew" for "Palestinian" you will have historical accuracy. And our founding fathers didn't wade into crowds of families shopping in a market or celebrating a wedding or a holiday and blow themselves up, deliberately killing and maiming children and grandmothers.

Posted by: Jswtx | Mar 31, 2010 12:38:16 AM

PS....A big reason the Arabs hate Israel so vehemently is that Jews are supposed to be dhimmis. Arabs feel toward Israel like white southerners right after the Civil War felt toward newly freed black slaves. "How dare they stand up and act like they are as good as a white man." Rage and humiliation fueled lynchings and massacres and blockage of equal rights into the middle of the 20th century. According to Islam, Judaism and Christianity was superceded by Islam, and Jews and Christians are supposed to be ruled by Islam. Muslims know Israel was the Jewish nation, they know Jews were there first, and here are the Jews now, free people sovereign again in their own nation, not only that, making the deserts bloom and inventing modern technology and giving gays equal rights and beating the Arabs in wars, and it drives the Arabs NUTS. Why should we cater to their inferiority complex? They need to grow the fuck up.

Posted by: Jswtx | Mar 31, 2010 12:52:03 AM