Over at The Atlantic, Jeffrey Goldberg woke up from what must have been a self-imposed stupor and declared, “The Crisis in U.S.-Israel Relations is Here.” How did he come to this shock and awe (not) conclusion? A “senior Obama Administration official” called Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu a “chickensh*t” when speaking with Goldberg.
And apparently that’s the first time in history Goldberg’s heard a political official use a dirty word to describe another political official. Wait, actually, it’s not. Goldberg explains:
Over the years, Obama administration officials have described Netanyahu to me as recalcitrant, myopic, reactionary, obtuse, blustering, pompous, and “Aspergery.” (These are verbatim descriptions; I keep a running list.) But I had not previously heard Netanyahu described as a “chickensh*t.”
Goldberg makes it clear that he agrees with the Obama administration on the infamous two-state solution, the issue that “sits at the core of the disagreement between Washington and Jerusalem,” making him an impartial source, indeed. His observations about Netanyahu’s “near-pathological desire for career preservation” aren’t anything new. Ask any Israeli you meet and they’ll tell you Netanyahu will forge a coalition with any party, including the Ultra-Orthodox, to avoid early elections. Perhaps Americans like Goldberg are just shocked at the idea of a politician actually having to work, not play golf, to maintain his position of power.
What Goldberg’s thesis really boils down to is this:
Much of the anger felt by Obama administration officials is rooted in the Netanyahu government’s periodic explosions of anti-American condescension.
In other words, Netanyahu’s boys don’t spare their own Jeffrey Goldbergs from hearing what’s on their minds. If they were a private enterprise, the Obama administration’s company logo would be “You’re mean.” And Abe Foxman over at the ADL would be wearing the t-shirt:
“The Israelis do not show sufficient appreciation for America’s role in backing Israel, economically, militarily and politically,” Abraham Foxman, the head of the Anti-Defamation League, told me.
I wonder if Foxman, or any of the “mainstream American Jewish leaders” who are apparently irked by the Israeli habit of telling it like it is, have actually been to Israel lately. If they had been, they’d know Israelis show great appreciation for America, from our pop culture, to our vigorous independence, to our unfailing support for Israel. If anything, they may question Obama himself.
Goldberg ends his article with a theory-veiled threat that once again proves he isn’t quite out of his stupor yet:
This also means that the post-November White House will be much less interested in defending Israel from hostile resolutions at the United Nations, where Israel is regularly scapegoated. The Obama administration may be looking to make Israel pay direct costs for its settlement policies.
Next year, the president of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, will quite possibly seek full UN recognition for Palestine. I imagine that the U.S. will still try to block such a move in the Security Council, but it might do so by helping to craft a stridently anti-settlement resolution in its place. Such a resolution would isolate Israel from the international community.
Just last week the Jerusalem Post reported that a full 20% of the “incoming U.N. Security Council has no ties with Israel.” Israel knows what it is up against there. Which is perhaps why the Obama administration is so quick to call Bibi a “chickensh*t,” especially with regard to Iran. They’re afraid he’ll use the international stage to call their bluff.
Goldberg theorizes that Netanyahu’s coalition platform reads: “The whole world is against us. Only we can protect Israel from what’s coming.” He comments that while that theory may be “charming” (because Zionists always get a kick out of possible annihilation?) it’s a “formula for disaster” in Israel-U.S. relations. In other words, Goldberg’s solution is to do what diaspora Jews have always done in the face of threatening governments: Cave to their wishes. Israel should cave to Obama’s demand to segregate Jews and Palestinians, to cease building homes, and to stop threatening Iran, for that matter. Israel should just calm down and play ball.
Hey, Jeffrey, I hear your mudslinging buddies in the White House have a t-shirt that’s just your size.