The Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg has written a piece detailing the deteriorating relationship between Israel and the Obama administration. The chief purpose of Goldberg's piece is to humiliate Benjamin Netanyahu. None of this is especially shocking, considering the antagonism the administration has shown toward the Jewish state from the start.
Most people have focused on the name-calling, and Goldberg keeps a list of pejoratives used by U.S. officials to describe Netanyahu, including "aspergery." On that front, it's worth noting that the person repeatedly being called "chickens–t" by anonymous officials volunteered for the Israel Defense Forces, saw combat, and was the leader of an elite special forces unit deployed on numerous missions—including the freeing of a hijacked Sabena flight in 1972, where he was shot. Granted, this may not be so courageous as hopping the Amtrak from Delaware to D.C. each day or rallying the troops at a fundraiser in Greenwich, Connecticut, but God knows we can't all be heroes.
Is Netanyahu a political coward? Perhaps. But not for any of the reasons offered by the administration. Is he arrogant? I'm sure he is. Is being anti-Netanyahu tantamount to being anti-Israel? Well, no. Although, it's certainly fair to point out that the administration's public demeaning of an ally's elected leader—almost certainly with the blessing of higher-ups—is nearly unheard of.
But you know what is unmistakably anti-Israel? Gloating over how the United States has strong-armed Israel into living with a nuclear Iran, which seems like significant news to me. Here's what Goldberg had to say:
The official said the Obama administration no longer believes that Netanyahu would launch a preemptive strike on Iran's nuclear facilities in order to keep the regime in Tehran from building an atomic arsenal. 'It's too late for him to do anything. Two, three years ago, this was a possibility. But ultimately he couldn't bring himself to pull the trigger. It was a combination of our pressure and his own unwillingness to do anything dramatic. Now it's too late.'
At the United Nations a few years ago, President Barack Obama reportedly offered to do whatever it would take to prevent Iran from producing atomic weapons in exchange for Israeli assurances that it would not attack Iran's nuclear sites before the presidential election in 2012. (And to think, Obama officials have the audacity to whine about Netanyahu's "near-pathological desire for career-preservation.") One side has kept its promise. Obama has repeatedly vowed, since his first run for president, to stop Iran from becoming a nuclear power. Maybe that's a promise that never should have been made. Now, though, the administration claims it's too late. Now it claims American pressure helped dissuade Israel from defending itself. And now there is nothing Israel can do about it.
Knowing this, why anyone would expect Israel to trust Secretary of State John Kerry or Obama to forge a peace deal with a Fatah-Hamas unity government is a mystery.
So what happens next? Well, considering his access, when Goldberg "imagines" what's coming, I imagine someone in the know told him what to imagine. So if Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas asks for recognition of Palestine in the United Nations, as he's expected to do again, the United States will likely block the initiative in the Security Council. But as Goldberg notes, the Obama administration may also participate in a "stridently anti-settlement resolution" that would isolate Israel from the international community and pressure it to create a Judenfrei West Bank and an indefensible Jerusalem.
It must be very frustrating to believe that a nation acts in its own best interests rather than the interests of an American political party. Despite Netanyahu's assurances that he wouldn't mess with the president's 2012 campaign, it is he, out of all the leaders in all the world, who frustrates Obama most. Not Russian autocrats who invade sovereign nations. Not genocidal Arab dictators. Netanyahu. I forget which sycophantic liberal pundit pointed out on Twitter that this makes sense because we're prone to be frustrated more by our friends than by our enemies. For that to be true, one would have to accept the dubious notion that the president ever considered Israel a "friend" in any special sense.
Is there any other friend treated similarly? Trust me; you're never going to hear a senior State Department official refer to Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan as a chickens–t theocrat. In fact, when the United Arab Emirates and Turkey, both friends of ours in the Middle East, were justifiably called out by Vice President Joe Biden for their roles in helping to strengthen the Islamic State, Biden was quickly dispatched to ask for forgiveness from both the crown prince of Abu Dhabi and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Apologize to the leader of Turkey. Call the leader of Israel a coward. That about encapsulates American foreign policy during the past few years.
Start your day with Reason. Get a daily brief of the most important stories and trends every weekday morning when you subscribe to Reason Roundup.