Monday, March 29, 2010

Our Dear, Departed Special Relationships

If you were worried that Obama's humiliation of the Israeli Prime Minister bespoke a hostility to Israel and Jews, David Remnick is here to set your heart at ease. Remnick assures us that some of Obama's best friends are Jewish. Link here.

As editor of the New Yorker Remnick is a pace-setter in the world of New York opinion. He, along with Frank Rich and Tom Friedman, guides people toward correct leftist opinion. When he wrote an article called "Special Relationships" last week, people took notice. They also took notice when Joe Klein, over at Time magazine, weighed in on the American-Israeli flap. Klein's piece was entitled: "Neoconservatives, Loyalty, and Logic." Link here.

Two quick notes about these titles. Remnick's article appeared at the same time that a committee of the British Parliament declared that the "special relationship" between Britain and America was effectively over. Link here.

In the space of little more than a year Barack Obama has succeeded in destroying the "special relationship" that has existed since the time of Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt. In fact, the term "special relationship" was invented by Churchill.

At the very least, no one is going to blame that on the Likud. Obama has consistently shown contempt to traditional American allies and amity toward America's sworn enemies. That has been the basis of much of his foreign policy. So when we get around to discussing the dustup between Obama and Israel, let us not view it in isolation.

Nor can we forget that Israel represents distinctly American values in the Middle East. If Obama wants to cozy up to Syria and Iran, countries that, we hope, do not represent our values, while trashing the one country that does represent them, then you have to start asking what his own values are.

If he believes that Israel represents American values only when it is ruled by the Labor Party, then he must count as the most partisan of presidents. And if he believes that we need not enjoy a special relationship with the nation that most resembles us-- Great Britain-- you have to ask yourself what his real values are.

As for Klein's title, it says that when neoconservatives criticize Obama they are being disloyal, unpatriotic, and treasonous. This is disgraceful rhetorical hyperbole, easily exceeding what is required for libel. It is fair to say that it does not advance the debate or the discussion. Keep in mind if anyone had ever said that a Democrat who wanted to surrender in Iraq-- as Frank Rich explicitly proposed-- was being less than patriotic, he would have been excoriated by the likes of Joe Klein.

Both Remnick and Klein present the correct leftist opinion about the current problems between America and Israel. They tell us that the fault lies with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu. There is not even the whiff of a suggestion that Obama might have played a role in it.

Both absolve Obama of any and all responsibility for blowing up the relationship with Israel. The fault lies entirely with Israel. It is sobering to think that this is the best that two of America's most prominent Jewish journalists can do.

Klein does pay lip service to Palestinian intransigence. Remnick does not even do that.

As for Obama's humiliating the Israeli Prime Minister, both writers suggest that he had it coming to him. Thus, that it was his fault. They are much more agitated at the horror that befell poor Joe Biden whose trip to Israel was marred by a sub-functionary announcing the building of apartments in an area of Jerusalem that everyone had agreed was always going to be a part of Israel.

Klein is also horrified at the unspeakable humiliation that Palestinians must undergo every day when they have to pass through checkpoints on the way to work. Surely, the same high dudgeon would apply to the existence of the fence separating Israel from the West Bank territories.

Klein never really addresses the question of why the Israelis have felt obliged to introduce such Draconian security measures. If you read Remnick and Klein you would have to assume that they are doing it as a gratuitous insult to the Palestinian people. Neither mentions the fact that the Palestinians continue to be at war against Israel and refuse to recognize its right to exist at all.

As dedicated leftists Remnick and Klein see Israel as a colonial power, engaged in an imperialist occupation of territories that rightfully belong to the Palestinians. Of course, the Palestinian authority, to say nothing of Hamas, believes that Israel is a colonial power, engaged in an imperialist occupation of territories that rightfully belong to them. The only difference is that the Palestinians think that the state of Israel itself is an unjust occupation of Muslim lands, where Remnick and Klein believe that building settlements on the West Bank are an unjust occupation of Muslim lands.

Neither of them will even pay lip service to the fact that Jews have lived in land that is now called Israel for 3,000 years. When Netanyahu tried to explain it to Obama, the American president blew him off, and refused to allow any commemoration of their meeting.

No one should be surprised that Remnick and Klein save their fire for American neoconservatives and the Likud party of Israel. They are not at war against Palestinians, or with terrorists. They are preoccupied fighting their true enemies... Republicans and conservatives.

If the Israeli Labor Party had done what Netanyahu did, these same writers would surely find a clever rationalization for their actions. And if a Republican president had behaved the way Obama is behaving toward Israel, Remnick and Klein would be leading the march to have him impeached for being an anti-semite and anti-American.

I was reminded of this fact while watching Pres. Obama deliver a fine speech justifying the Afghanistan war yesterday in Kabul. During that speech Obama declared that Americans would stick with its Afghan allies, because Americans do not quit.

A noble sentiment, with which we can all agree. No one in the mainstream media has yet to call out Obama on the fact that this has not always been his position.

And yet, keep in mind that this was the same Obama who voted dozens of times to defund the Iraq war and redeploy the troops out of Iraq. Was it treasonous to want to follow Frank Rich and raise the white flag of surrender? Surely not. The Democrats can muster the courage to support a war, as long as they stand to gain politically from it.

Some of the more radical elements in the Democratic party opposed the Iraq war because they simply do not believe that America, or anything else, is worth fighting for. Others opposed it because they were horrified at the prospect that victory in Iraq would mean more years of Republican power.

Democratic opposition to the Iraq War was pure and simple political expediency, nothing more or less. I thought you would like to know. Keep in mind that Joe Biden recently declared that the Iraq war is one of the Obama administration's greatest successes!

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