Obama/Netanyahu Post-Election Reset
By Stephen Lendman
Neither leader says they’re sorry. Netanyahu bet on the wrong candidate. Relations with Obama have been strained for months. Both clearly dislike each other and show it.
Political necessity requires getting along. They’ll find a way. Israeli elections are in January. Netanyahu’s stuck with Obama for four years. His own political prospects are on the line.
On November 8, both leaders spoke by phone. Netanyahu offered congratulations.
“This was a vote of confidence in your leadership,” he said. “We will continue collectively fighting the challenges faced by both the US and Israel, and promote peace and security in the region.”
Earlier on Thursday, he rejected accusations of strained US/Israeli relations. He denied pro-Romney bias. Former Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert accused him of hurting US/Israeli ties by trying to undermine Obama’s reelection chances and offending him.
In damage control mode, Netanyahu told Obama:
“This was a vote of confidence in your leadership. We will continue collectively fighting the challenges faced by both the U.S. and Israel, and promote peace and security in the region.”
“We we have a strategic partnership (with America). We cooperate in all fields, but most of all in security, where the cooperation is deep, wide and firm.”
On November 9, Haaretz headlined “Betting on the wrong horse: The night Benjamin Netanyahu will not soon forget,” saying:
Obama’s reelection caught him off guard. He expected Romney to win. Close political advisor Arthur Finkelstein gave him bad advice. He predicted Romney by 4% in the popular vote and victories in all swing states.
Netanyahu was swayed. “In private conversations, he ridiculed anyone who advised him not to rule out a scenario in which” Obama would win. He did so despite most polls predicting it.
“For Netanyahu, (Finkelstein’s) word is sacred.” He also predicts Netanyahu’s reelection. Maybe he’s telling his boss what he wants to hear. He may end up making another “meta-mistake.”
Post-election, Netanyahu was in battle mode. He told cabinet members not to talk about Obama. Close associates rebuffed allegations that he tried to undermine the US president.
They and Netanyahu strained to explain why Romney was warmly welcomed on his summer Israeli visit. Their explanation fell flat.
For months, Netanyahu criticized Obama on Iran. He went out of his way to tell American Jews that a second Obama term for would be bad for Israel. They didn’t believe it. Don’t expect Obama to forget it.
“Netanyahu will remember the night between November 6 and 7, 2012 as” nightmarish. His former chief of staff, Naftali Bennett, was elected Habayit Hayehudi (HH) chairman.
In November 2008, he formed the right-wing religious party. Netanyahu hoped opposition HH candidate Zevulun Orlev would win.
Netanyahu associate Natan Eshel intervened in party politics to help him. He failed. If Netanyahu wins in January, he’ll need Bennett’s help to form a coalition government.
They’ll both work together but not comfortably. When Netanyahu led Israel’s opposition, he dumped Bennett for political disagreements. What happened before can happen again.
Haaretz contributor Aluf Benn believes Bibi can relax. Obama won’t punish him. Strategic US/Israeli ties matter more than personal feelings. Washington’s foreign policy won’t change. Nor will Israel’s.
Both sides will work with each other like always. Nuance differences only reflect relations between both countries depending on who rules either at any point in time.
Obama and Netanyahu have similar agendas. They’ll cooperate on regional issues. Expect nothing positive to emerge for Palestinians, relations with Iran, or Syrians enduring months of protracted conflict.
Both leaders deplore peace. Settlement expansion continues unabated. Over half a million West Bank and East Jerusalem settlers exclude a two-state solution. Whatever might have been possible earlier isn’t now.
Adherents ignore reality by supporting it. So does Abbas knowing it’s impossible. He, like others, know the only solution is one state comprised of Israel and the Territories. Nothing else will work.
PA leaders call current conditions unsustainable. They’re right. They identified the problem, not the solution. “The international community and Palestinians together need to exercise all possible efforts to preserve the viability of the two-state solution – or consider the alternatives,” they say.
How? They’re right saying “the only viable solution….is bringing an end to Israel’s (45 year) occupation.” They stop short of explaining how.
Netanyahu and Obama also pretend what neither leader supports or knows is viable as the only way forward. So do analysts who know better.
Gideon Levy thinks Obama and Netanyahu may prove a “winning duo, the ones who bring about an agreement with the Palestinians.” He doesn’t understand that both leaders demand Palestinian surrender, not justice.
It’s been that way for decades and won’t change now. If it was viable, it would have happened long ago under more conciliatory leaders on both sides. It didn’t and won’t now.
Palestinians are on their own to end occupation and live free. They won’t be helped by Israel, America, or all Western states that matter. Friendly rhetoric substitutes for supportive policies with teeth. None are forthcoming or planned longer-term.
Levy is misguided thinking Obama “will translate his anger against Netanyahu into pressure on Israel to finally end the occupation.”
“And those who know Obama personally have testified that his heart is in the Palestinian problem.”
In fact, he doesn’t give a damn and never did. He spurns equity, justice, and popular needs at home and abroad. He supports plutocratic governance and imperial wars for global dominance. He’s waging war on Islam. He exceeded Bush’s ruthlessness.
Levy thinks Obama first concentrated on political survival. Lame duck status frees him to do things he didn’t try in term one. He’s misguided saying:
“….Obama (now) is expected to have greater self-confidence and be less concerned with considerations of survival. This is where the great opportunity lies.”
“It is difficult to believe that Obama will capitulate in his second term as well. It is difficult to believe he will forgive the behavior of an Israel that talks about two states for two peoples but refuses even to freeze construction in the settlements.”
“This mask must be pulled from Israel’s face, and no one can do it better than a furious and moral president in his second term of office.”
Obama is both con man and moral coward. He’ll do nothing more for Palestinians now than earlier. He’ll ignore Israel’s worst crimes of war and against humanity.
He won’t demand occupation harshness end. He’ll let settlement expansions steal all valued Judea and Summaria areas. He’ll continue providing billions of dollars annually in military aid.
It helps Israel maintain control Palestine, keep Gaza besieged, bomb, shell, or invade with impunity, imprison resisters in gulag hell, and attack neighbors like Lebanon.
Levy calls Obama’s second term the “last chance to (end) the curse of the occupation.” American anger is vital to force it, he believes. Israel won’t act on its own.
True enough, but expect pro-Israeli pressure to remain strong no matter who’s in charge in Washington.
The entire Senate and nearly all House members provide one-sided Israeli support. They express it vocally, in legislation, and nonbinding sense of the Congress resolutions.
There’s no ambiguity. Palestine has no friend in Washington. Levy should visit sometime to see firsthand. His view would change markedly.
Congressional members for Palestine are ruthlessly targeted for defeat. Cynthia McKinney experienced it twice. She also faced threats and still does now. Others also had their political careers cut short.
The Israeli Lobby is Washington’s strongest. It’s ruthless. It plays dirty to get its way. It takes no prisoners. It’s willing to do practically anything to see what Israel wants it gets. It usually prevails.
Levy thinks Obama will be more motivated to be Palestinian friendly if Netanyahu and Lieberman prevail in January elections. He believes he’ll be “inflame(d)” to act.
He says it’s less likely if more moderate Israeli leaders gain power. He doesn’t understand that US policy stays firm no matter who runs either country. It’s been that way for decades and won’t change now.
Obama has “a well-developed sense of justice and a sophisticated sense of history,” claims Levy. He won’t “miss the last chance” to achieve something positive.
It’s hard imagining why someone who knows better would believe what patently isn’t so. Throughout his Illinois, Senate, and presidential career, Obama supported wealth, power and privilege. Nothing else mattered earlier or now.
In America, grand bargain betrayal looms. Democrats agreed with Republicans to cut $4 trillion or more in largely social programs over the next decade. Ordinary people most in need, seniors, and the disabled will be hit hardest.
Obama insists this be done. It’s the centerpiece of his second term agenda. He announced it on election night. His reward for supporters is greater human deprivation.
Programs Americans most value and need will be curtailed sharply en route to eliminating them altogether. Republicans on their own can’t do it. They never could even when in power. They need Democrat support for what they’d never try on their own.
Stealing from ordinary people and the poor for the rich reflects degenerate leadership. It defines Obama’s entire political career. He’ll be more hardline in term two than one. On election night, he announced it, saying:
“Last year, I worked with Democrats and Republicans to cut a trillion dollars worth of spending.”
“I intend to work with both parties to do more, and that includes making reforms that will bring down the cost of health care, so we can strengthen programs like Medicaid and Medicare for the long haul.”
Strengthen is code language for wrecking. So-called fiscal cliff cuts assure it. Neoliberal harshness is policy. It’s been true in Israel since the 1980s. Each country supports the worst of the other’s agenda. Expect it to be hardened ahead, not softened.
Levy and others like him should acquaint themselves with how Washington works. Harry Truman described it saying if you want a friend there, get a dog.
It’s not rocket science. It’s the same in Israel. Wealth, power, and privilege alone matter. Ordinary people are used and abused for that purpose.
Obama’s second term will harden policies. He’ll be sworn in on January 21. In America, it’s Martin Luther King day.
If alive today, he wouldn’t be pleased about a Black or White president supporting policies he opposed. Inaugurating Obama on his day adds greater insult to injury.
On the same day, Netanyahu seeks reelection in Israel. The irony won’t go unnoticed. If he prevails as expected, both leaders will ignore personal feelings and likely bouts of ingestion to get along.
It won’t be easy but expect it. Close ties and policies won’t change. At the same time, rhetoric and body language by both leaders bear watching. It’s never easy working with someone not trusted or liked.
US voters weren’t wise enough to vote independent and dispatch America’s duopoly. Israeli ones still have a chance. Don’t expect them to be wiser.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at email@example.com.
His new book is titled “How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized Banking, Government Collusion and Class War”
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.