US-Is­rael rup­ture can bring noth­ing good

The Jewish Chronicle - - NEWS - BY DOVID EFUNE

SIT­TING WITH Knes­set Mem­ber Dov Lip­man ear­lier this week, I could not re­sist ask­ing, tonguein-cheek, who was less pop­u­lar in Is­rael nowa­days — Ha­mas chief Ismael Haniyeh or US Sec­re­tary of State John Kerry.

“Kerry is cer­tainly not pop­u­lar on the Is­raeli street right now,” he an­swered, as only a politi­cian could.

Jok­ing aside, in my es­ti­ma­tion, a poll to find out who is hated more would ac­tu­ally put them quite close.

As a re­sult of his con­stant at­tempted im­po­si­tions, con­de­scen­sion, dou­ble stan­dards, hypocrisy, strate­gic blun­der­ing and harsh con­dem­na­tions through­out Is­rael’s Op­er­a­tion Pro­tec­tive Edge, Mr Kerry, and by ex­ten­sion his boss Pres­i­dent Barack Obama, are both per­sonas non grata in Is­rael.

In truth, nei­ther were that well liked be­fore­hand and their cred­i­bil­ity as peace bro­kers was di­min­ished af­ter the re­cently con­cluded, nine-month peace run. But now, Mr Kerry and Mr Obama’s stand­ing in the Jewish state has been dam­aged be­yond re­pair.

Ac­cord­ing to some re­ports, at cer- tain points dur­ing Is­rael’s strug­gle against Ha­mas in Gaza, it ap­peared as if the United States was ea­ger to open a sec­ond, diplomatic front against the Jewish state.

In one week, the US had to deny hand­ing the Is­raelis a cease­fire pro­posal that all but adopted Ha­mas’s de­mands. There was also a harsh phone call be­tween Is­raeli Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu and Mr Obama in the midst of an Is­raeli cabi­net meet­ing in which the pres­i­dent called for Is­rael to uni­lat­er­ally end its cam­paign against Ha­mas.

The US in­sis­tence on loop­ing Ha­mas al­lies Turkey and Qatar into dis­cus­sions was a source of un­told frus­tra­tion for Is­rael, as was the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s in­sis­tence on is­su­ing strongly worded con­dem­na­tions ev­ery time Ha­mas-tied au­thor­i­ties in Gaza claimed civil­ian ca­su­al­ties from an Is­raeli airstrike.

This stance was espe- cially ob­jec­tion­able af­ter Mr Obama him­self ex­plained that civil­ian ca­su­al­ties are among the nec­es­sary hor­rors of any war in an in­ter­view with the New Yorker ear­lier this year.

“The way I’ve thought about this is­sue is, I have a solemn duty and re­spon­si­bil­ity to keep the Amer­i­can peo­ple safe. That’s my most im­por­tant obli­ga­tion as Pres­i­dent and Com­man­der-in-Chief,” Mr Obama said, ap­ply­ing a cal­cu­lus the gen­eros­ity of which he did not grant to the Is­raeli peo­ple. But to ob­servers of the US-Is­rael re­la­tion­ship un­der Mr Obama, the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s ap­proach to the war will come as no sur­prise and nei­ther will Mr Ne­tanyahu’s re­ported de­mand that Mr Obama never “sec­ond guess me again”. It has been widely re­ported that the two have crossed swords re­peat­edly over the years over both pol­icy mat­ters and on a per­sonal level.

The lat­est spat has led ea­ger Repub­li­can Party sur­ro­gates to yet again pre­dict the demise of Jewish sup­port for Mr Obama’s Demo­cratic Party. But we have seen that claim be­fore, and it has only ever ma­te­ri­alised to a min­i­mal de­gree.

The real, ir­re­versible dam­age has been done to Amer­ica’s stand­ing among the Is­raeli pub­lic. This will have con­se­quences for any fu­ture US at­tempt to bro­ker a peace deal be­tween Is­rael and the Pales­tinian Au­thor­ity. The cred­i­bil­ity gained dur­ing Mr Obama’s widely hailed March trip to the Jewish state has now been frivolously squan­dered. By de­sert­ing Is­rael in its hour of great­est need, the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion has ef­fec­tively dis­qual­i­fied it­self from main­tain­ing a con­struc­tive role in fu­ture peace­mak­ing ef­forts in the re­gion. The au­thor, based in New York, is the Edi­tor-in-Chief of The Al­ge­meiner and Ex­ec­u­tive Direc­tor of the Ger­shon Ja­cob­son Foun­da­tion


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