Here’s the result as I see it: President Obama makes a speech in which he condemns Palestinian attempts to declare statehood and pledges the United States government to stop any such action, he repeatedly confirms that Israel is a Jewish state, he states that American commitment to Israel’s security is absolute (no matter what Israel does), he rejects any dealing with a Palestinian unity government that includes Hamas, and he mentions the settlements but without any context of their being a “problem.” He then states his belief that Israel and the Palestinians should negotiate a settlement of their respective borders, though he omits Jerusalem from the process, and uses as a benchmark the 1967 borders, which has been more-or-less US policy since the time of Jimmy Carter.
Benjamin Netanyahu reacts furiously to the mention of 1967, berating Hillary Clinton over the phone before the speech, seeking to have the date removed. Interestingly, Netanyahu’s intervention means he received a copy of the speech before it was given. Netanyahu then angrily and publicly rejects using the 1967 borders and simultaneously announces that 1500 new housing units are to be built on the West Bank near East Jerusalem. Most of the US mainstream media climbs on to the Netanyahu bandwagon. The Israeli newspaper Haaretz scores the exchange as a major victory for Netanyahu. He gets full and unquestioning American support for anything Israel does, does not have to stop settlement construction, and can delay peace talks indefinitely. And he still gets his $3 billion per year from the US taxpayer. As a friend of mine put it, Bibi got 100% but wanted 150% with the avoidance of any mention of the 1967 borders issue – in effect, he wants the United States government to declare itself Zionist and came close to achieving that objective. One expects John McCain to intone “Now we are all Zionists.” Maybe he has already said that. Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachmann, and Joe Biden certainly have.
When they meet the next day, Netanyahu publicly berates Obama in the White House and before the cameras. He says that Obama does not understand the situation and that Israel needs the extra land for security. Congress then piles on with both Democrats and Republicans supporting Netanyahu rather than their humiliated president.
Obama then completes his journey to Canossa at AIPAC and reiterates his firm commitment to Israeli security etc etc, adding that Washington will use all its power to make sure that no UN vote will ever create a Palestinian state. As Israel is not interested in peace as long as it can continue to acquire “Judea and Samaria” piecemeal and expel its inhabitants, the United States is signaling that there will never be a Palestine. Rest of the world take note. And he is also signaling that the UN is meaningless unless it supports Israel as blindly as Washington does.
Score a big win for AIPAC and Netanyahu and another journey into the abyss for the United States. Never before in the history of the world has a small nation so dominated a larger one, to our shame. We can expect more terrorism directed against us and have guaranteed the hatred of a large part of the world with no net gain for the American people. There will be more wars, count on it. I’ll bet Bibi mentions Iran a few times tomorrow at AIPAC and when he speaks to an adoring congress on Tuesday. Obama is a smart man and he must understand exactly what he is accomplishing, but he believes that he cannot go up against the Lobby and expect to become president again in 2012. He might be wrong in that but he is not about to take any risks.