By Daniel Chejfec
So what did Obama win by snubbing Netanyahu? Not much other than reinforcing the fears - justified or not- of many American Jews that this President has made a decision of switching sides in the Middle East, and also proving to his new Arab allies that he is not so pro-Israeli as his predecessors. While it is well known that Netanyahu and Obama do not exactly get along on a personal level, and in spite of the recent - fabricated - crisis over the ill-timed announcement of construction in Jewish neighborhoods in East Jerusalem, it is unprecedented for an American President to treat any head of State so shabbily. The message was clear: "Mr Netanyahu, President Obama is upset and you better believe it". It sounds to me like a President with few accomplishments since taking office and desperately trying to show he is "macho" and that he will therefore not stand for the Israelis spoiling his game.
Obama insists in pushing a mediated negotiation between Israelis and Palestinians to settle the conflict, but he is ignoring a few facts:
- Mediated negotiations are by themselves a setback in the process, which since 1993 have been conducted face-to-face
- Every time an agreement between the sides appeared close enough, fresh violence erupted in the Palestinian street with PLO incitement, the worst case being the Intifadah launched after the failed Camp David and Taba in 2000
- Israel is being castigated for building, while Palestinians are being begged to end anti-Jewish incitement in their Media and Educational System (am I missing something or this is not exactly symmetric?)
- While a major diplomatic crisis was fabricated out of an ill-timed announcement (which is in fact not different that many others made by Israeli governments in the past) the Iranian dictator is offered an extended hand of friendship and politely asked to stop his Nuclear program
Obama can claim to have bested all his predecessors in one score: he is the least popular American President ever among Israelis, with his popularity standing at 14 % and going down.
I personally believe that Obama's strategy of appeasement doesn't stand more of a chance than the similar strategy employed by the Europeans in Munich in 1938. We will have to wait and see if Obama's strategy pays off or not, and we will do it from the comfort of these shores. But if the gamble doesn't pay off, the price will be paid by the Israelis, and for that reason alone Netanyahu deserved better than what he got from the American President. Obama, who is still to show up as a speaker at ANY major meeting of American Jews, owes Israel, Netanyahu and the American Jewish community an apology.