Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Saving the world and sticking Obama, all before lunch.

    When Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu began his speech before Congress Tuesday, I viewed him simply as a foreign right winger imported by our own homegrown right wingers to embarrass the president in a novel fashion. I was listening with one ear, happily tweeting snark like, "Netanyahu: 'I deeply regret some see my being here as being political. That was NEVER my intention.' Then you should have come in April, pal" when the import of the Iran situation began to sink in a little, enough to at least make me worry that I was being glib about something truly dire, and about this deal that's being brokered, which I really don't know much about. It's not like the administration has been talking much about it. Anyway, I pulled back, and wrote this. Maybe I'm a cheap date, and the talking heads say he wasn't very persuasive, in their jaded eye. But he made enough sense for me to worry, which perhaps was the point. That, and to get himself re-elected in two weeks. And embarrass the president. 

     Bibi Netanyahu used to hang around the Sun-Times.
     In the early 2000s. After a vote of no-confidence, Netanyahu had lost the prime minister's office to Ehud Barak in 1999 and was wandering the wilderness. He toyed with retiring from politics, but that wasn't going to stick. Now he was groping, trying to find his way back. It seemed like he was always stopping by here, and why not? He had a powerful, rich, fanatically loyal pal in our owner, David Radler, who liked to have him around, I suppose, because it made him feel connected and international and generally Israeliffic.
     I remember glancing into an editorial board room, seeing Netanyhu, and tiptoeing quickly away, thinking, "Why don't you get a job?"
     He has a job now, once again prime minister of Israel, for the past five years, overseeing the nation's hard right turn, which might come to a halt in a fortnight, should his Likud party slide in the March 17 elections (Israeli has a parliamentary system, so prime ministers are elected by the dominant party and whatever coalitions it forms). The latest polls are about split.
     Of course that was before he addressed Congress. He's back stateside (or should I say, "he's baaaack"?) not haunting the Sun-Times offices, thank God, but assisting the Republicans in their constant quest to embarrass Barack Obama before he gets out of their clutches and is handed over to history, which is sure to be kinder to him than current events have been.
     John Boehner invited him to address Congress, and he came, to plug the hard-line Israeli view that Obama and his lackey, Secretary of State John Kerry, are about to hand the keys of doom to the Iranians and urge, in their thin, Barney Fife voices, that they please drive carefully.
     Not if Netanyahu can stop it.
     "We must all join together to stop Iran's march of conquest, subjugation and terror," Netanyahu said, to rapturous applause....

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24 comments:

  1. We have kowtowed to Israel too long and gotten ourselves in international trouble over it. I despise the Republicans even more for this latest dig to the President. However, if the option is a weak Israel with Muslim nations wreaking even more havoc, I'm going to side with Israel.

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    1. p.s. good one about Net. getting a job

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  2. Down with Apartheid "israel"

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  3. Way too much Jewish money lining the pockets of our elected bobbleheads for anything to change.

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  4. Ah, geeze, did you have to fall for the pile of horse manure that Bibi is selling?

    This isn't about an existential threat to Israel. This is about Israel wanting Iran to remain isolated from the world, and the regional politics of the region.

    Slate has a great headline- "Bibi never saw a war that he didn't want the U.S. to fight."

    And of course, if Bibi didn't want Iran being stronger in the region, maybe he shouldn't have egged us on to wrecking Iraq.

    To listen to Bibi talk, it's like Iran and Israel have switched military positions. Good gravy, this entire speech could've been written by Dick Cheney in 2003.

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  5. Bibi's attitude seems to be, Keep up the sanctions until Iran capitulates completely. Doesn't seem very realistic.

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  6. then some will act as if we don't agree with Israel, it means we are anti semites, not at all

    it galls me when some Jews raised in the U.S. or Europe will join the Israeli army but not the U.S. one, of course that's not as bad as non mid eastern muslims joining isis overseas

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  7. STATEMENT OF ROBERT REICH, FORMER SECRETARY OF LABOR

    If Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is entitled to speak to Congress and the American people on his disagreement with American foreign policy, a lowly former U.S. Secretary of Labor (who also happens to be Jewish) has every right to address the Israeli people on an issue over which he disagrees with official Israeli policy. (He doesn't have a formal way of communicating, so if you know any Israeli’s please forward to them the following message.)

    People of Israel: You should know that the new-found alliance between your Prime Minister and our Republican Party, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, and some wealthy right-wing Jews here (such as billionaire Sheldon Adelson), is poisoning the relationship between Israel and the United States. Netanyahu’s decision to address Congress on Tuesday to argue against a nuclear deal with Iran that’s one of the President’s highest priorities, and also to speak to Aipac – just two weeks before your own national elections – foists your own domestic politics onto ours. As such, it is having a polarizing effect here in the United States, pushing many Americans to side against Israel, and thereby posing a long-term threat to Israel’s security. Meanwhile, many American Jews who have refrained from speaking out against the right-wing radicalism that has taken hold in Israel – a radicalism that rejects a “two-state solution” and continues to build new settlements on the West Bank, and which we believe imperils the future of Israel -- are now feeling emboldened to do so. Aipac does not speak for us. House Republicans do not speak for us. Billionaires do not speak for us. We have been silent for too long.

    -- Robert Reich

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  8. A couple of real world points. If negotiations fall apart because of real or perceived Israeli meddling, it will be extremely hard to maintain economic and military sanctions against Iran, something the U.S. can't do alone. The Chinese will buy all the Iranian oil they have to sell. And if we're pushed into military action against Iran how will that sit with our newest, self-created ally, the Shia-dominated government of Iraq?

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  9. Forget the petty partisan politics. That's old news and will not abate as long as Obama is black...I mean, in the White House. The big picture is indeed as you portray it. This IS the time to hang tough and keep the pressure on Iran. The only thing they will ever be truthful about is their desire to obliterate Israel. Everything else they agree to, insist on, and maintain is vacant of truth, with no connection to reality. As usual, this is most tragic for the Iranian people themselves who just want to safely live in peace like the rest of us.

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  10. So if Obama went before the Knesset to argue for the treaty, Bibi would be OK with that?

    Or maybe Hillary Clinton should do it, weeks before the 2016 election.

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    1. Imagine a counter-factual: that a Left-leaning PM of Israel came to the U.S. to protest President Scott Walker's interference with a treaty Israel was negotiating for peace with Iran. Would there be outrage from the left about this blatant trasngression into our politics? I have a hard time imagining it

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    2. What many people failed to recognize was the implied threat Bibi made today to Iran. He made it clear that if the US didn't act to stop Iran's nuclear threat Israel would. They've already had permission to use the airspace over Saudi Arabia for such an event. They won't let this threat materialize now or later. Bibi is serious as will any other leader of Israel be no matter if they are left or right. Iran won't get the bomb without an Israeli military action. Count on it! Ed Hammerman

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    3. Anon-not-anon: That's just a little too hard to imagine.

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  11. his name is Benjamin

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  12. Israel has used us for enough years

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    1. Have you ever benefited from a medical technology patented in Israel? (Answer: almost assuredly so). Did you know that the New York Times has reported that Chinese military has hacked most Fortune 500 companies? Guess which nation is a leader in cyberwarfare technology - the one we co-developed Stuxnet with? There's more realpolitiks involved than you may have considered. Besides, it's not just Israel against Iran getting a nuclear weapon -- pretty much every Sunni-majority nation, including all our allies in the region -- are as well.

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  13. File this one in "only in opposition politics will doom us all" - whatever deal President Obama reaches, he's already signaled that he won't submit it to the senate, even though the deal will clearly be a treaty with a foreign power regardless of what name they give it. Will all the people on the left who criticized President Obama for failing to get proper approval from Congress for military actions be ok with that? We've already seen many progressives who fiercely condemned George W. Bush for picking and chosing what parts of the law to enforce support President Obama when he did the same thing. The combination to Bush Jr. and Obama has expanded the Presidency beyond Tricky Dick Nixon's wildest dreams.

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    1. Why should he submit it to a hostile Senate when he doesn't have to?

      If you think we're going to criticize Obama for playing by the same rules as Republicans, you'll wait a long time.

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  14. Because the deal will either be binding on future presidents, in which case it's constitutionally required, or it's a surreal use of presidential power that would render any law negatable at a whim. No, I don't expect people like you to criticize Obama for acting Nixonian - that's why I said such partisanship from both sides will doom us all. And no, it's not -only- the "same rules as the Republicans" - the GOP wins the presidency and hangs onto the senate, can't wait to see the way the judiciary will be reshaped now that the fillabuster was ended (save Supreme Court nominees). That game-changer came from the Democrats.

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    1. Oops, I missed an "if" there - (IF the GOP wins the presidency and hangs onto the senate).

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    2. I hate to tell you this, but international treaties are usually "negatable" if one party decides not to abide by them any longer. The only glue that binds is the perception that both parties have something to gain by sticking to them. That won't happen with Bibi's "give us everything we want" approach.

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  15. Israel cannot have a credible voice until it recognizes the right of other cultures to exist and have equal representation. Netanyahu is a racist. He demands respect but refuses the same for his neighbors.

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