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

Mikey, alas your comment is quite mistaken. You write: Israel has no economic incentive for us to trade with, no markets or resources. By which, I assume you mean, the US has no economic incentive to trade with Israel. Quite wrong. Israel is an technological giant, second to none on a per capita basis. The world would be quite poorer without their technological innovations.

Posted by: Mike Rappaport | Mar 31, 2010 1:02:03 AM

A few additional reasons why Israel is generally popular with the US people:

1) Americans stick up for the little guy--which remains Israel in light of the unified vilification it gets from the Muslim world + Europe. Palestinian propagandists know this aspect of US culture well, and play to it whenever they can, with mixed success.

2) Protestant views of Israel from Biblical scripture mean large swaths of the populace are de-facto inclined toward the Jews as instruments of divine prophecy. The re-establishment of Israel is taken as a major milestone in said prophecy. Plus, they take the ancient blessing of "[I] will bless those who bless you, and curse those who curse you" very seriously. This means that even if particular actions and policies of Israel are not viewed favorably--they have not covered themselves in glory on many occasions, the integrity of the Jewish state will not be sacrificed for any reason.

--JC

Posted by: JC in KZ | Mar 31, 2010 3:14:55 AM

"Israel puts the US at risk of further attack by provoking Arab attacks"

mikey, read the Koran. It plainly states that the world is divided into the Dar al-Islam and the Dar al-Harb, which is to be warred upon until dead, enslaved or converted. There are whole libraries of statements that reveal that Islam still believes and practices this. Osama bin Laden himself proclaimed that one of the motivations for 9/11 was revenge for being kicked out of Spain in 1492. 500 years of hatred right there, not for Israel but for our religion, culture and ancestry! Will you ignore that until the blade bites through your neck?

Posted by: SDN | Mar 31, 2010 3:37:00 AM

I came up with the Indian analogy and in what important way is it not perfect?

Posted by: Brian Macker | Mar 31, 2010 4:59:08 AM

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?

You and Michael Moore can get together and discuss how AQ are 'freedom fighters'. The PA believes in freedom like the Taliban believe in womens equality. They're willing to live in peace with Israel - they live in peace in Palestine and the Israeli's rest in peace in the graveyard. If the PA unilaterally disarmed tomorrow there would be peace in the region. If Israel unilaterally disarmed tomorrow Intifada III would start the next morning.

Posted by: bandit | Mar 31, 2010 5:10:51 AM

The american Indian analogy is quite accurate. There is no need to confuse it with religious doctrines of "return" or "supercession," or "end-times prophecy."

Two other arguments butress our continued support of Israel. One, advanced by my Israeli friends, is that the Arabs have repeatedly attacked Israel, with murderous intent, in open war of aggression. Again the Arabs lost these war, and losing wars has consequences, among which is loss of territory.

The other has to do with the place of Israel in American politics as that place affects American foreign policy. A neutral, objective observer, as well as an American for whom his country's causes are primary, would see Israel as a pretext and anchor for a vigorous Middle Eastern policy.

Domination of the heartland of the world island, to put it in the language of the old Geopolitics, is the task and the responsibility of the great holder of world power. Great Britain did this once, briefly, but that scepter had long since pass to the United States. At stake are control over land and sea choke points and, on course oil as a strategic resource.

The United States plays geopolitics very well. We always have, and we continue to do so. We like to have pretexts for our brilliance, however. We need these, actually. Whether the Thornton Affair, the predations of Beast Weyler, those Belgian babies on bayonets, the Rape of Nanking, down to the stripping of Kuwaiti hospitals,--we have always taken care to have an articulable reason for doing good before doing well.

Israel does that for us now. Without Israel, we would have long since set down our burden as Grossweltmachthaber over the Middle East, with disasterous consequences for world civilization.

Posted by: Lou Gots | Mar 31, 2010 6:30:13 AM

Jswtx:

Israeli healthcare is among the best in the world. Her doctors are world-class, and she has more of them per capita than many developed countries, including the United States. This is paid for, in part, by extremely high taxes. (Living in Israel is not for sissies.)

That sounds contradictory, by American lights -- universal healthcare, paid for by high taxes, that works out well? I'm no expert in this; I know what I've seen, and I know that Israel doesn't work the way other countries do. (For example, the Israeli population is armed, which has a profound effect on keeping violent crime down. Israel also has stricter gun control than just about anywhere in the United States. For them, it works.)

Tom, I'm not sure I agree with your logic, but I do agree with your conclusions. Yes, Israel has a strong vested interest in getting along with the United States. On the other hand, in the areas where Israel is at odds with Obama -- such as the arms sales, or how to deal with Iran -- Israel is fighting for her life, and she knows it. Israel has had to go it alone before, and will do so again if necessary.

respectfully,
Daniel in Brookline

Posted by: Daniel in Brookline | Mar 31, 2010 6:49:34 AM

re you willing to teer down Israel just to feed the monster`s appetite?His ignorance of world politics is on par with his ignorance of affairs of state in the US.
What is interesting is that he hasn`t fooled the rest of the world,just the plain old simpletons like us and US

Posted by: John Calomiris | Mar 31, 2010 8:22:48 AM

Jimmy Carter, Jr.

Posted by: Fat Man | Mar 31, 2010 11:18:26 AM

A commentor above made a Reconstruction analogy. Great analogy! I hadn't heard it before. I think it can be extended.

After the Civil War, the white southerners made a direct attack on the blacks with the Black Codes, while the North was still relatively neutral (Congress and President split). The North swung heavily pro-black and crushed the Black Codes by force, making the white southerners feel even worse. For a while there was peace. Then the KKK and such got going, using terrorism where direct legislation had failed. The Northern Republicans got tired of it gradually, and eventually acquiesced because they cared more about purely Northern questions and less about idealistic helping of blacks in a different part of the country. The northern Republicans seemed oblivious to the fact that the Southern politicians would then unanimously be anti-North for 100 years--- as well as oppressing the blacks, many of whom left for the North, creating social problems there.

Posted by: Eric Rasmusen | Apr 1, 2010 5:47:05 AM

The nature of the relationship Islam demands with other religions and other peoples is analogous to the relationship a rapist has with his victim: it's about power and dominance. Why else would Muslims be so consistent throughout their history in building their mosques on the religious sites of other groups they have vanquished, razing non-Muslim churches and temples, and then building their mosques on top of the rubble?

Posted by: Mr. Biswas | Apr 1, 2010 1:03:15 PM

Israeli healthcare is among the best in the world. Her doctors are world-class, and she has more of them per capita than many developed countries, including the United States. This is paid for, in part, by extremely high taxes.

Posted by: Supra Skytop Black Grey Red | Apr 5, 2010 5:42:11 AM