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Is Obama’s Treatment of Netanyahu And Israel Anti-Semitic? No, Now Stop Asking Stupid Questions

by @ 9:06 am on March 28, 2010. Filed under Barack Obama, Foreign Affairs, Israel, Politicos & Pundits, Politics


Glenn Reynolds is a usually pretty reasonable guy, so it pretty much shocked the hell out of me when I read this:

WHY HAS BARACK OBAMA TREATED NETANYAHU SO RUDELY? “Obama would never treat the president of Equatorial Guinea that way.”

Possibly Obama just hates Israel and hates Jews. That’s plausible — certainly nothing in his actions suggests otherwise, really.

Seriously ?

The fact that the President and the Israeli Prime Minister might not be getting along on a personal basis means that President Obama doesn’t like Jews ? For one thing, I’ve got a feeling that would be news to his Chief of Staff, his Senior Advisor, the Director of his Office Of Management And Budget, his Solicitor General, and a few other people.

And I’m sure it would be a hell of a shock to the people attending the second annual White House Seder.

Moreover, while I thought that Obama’s actions last week were disrespectful toward a key ally, I do have do agree with Alex Knapp when he makes this point:

I wouldn’t characterize the President of the United States not completely kowtowing to a foreign prime minister as being ‘rude.’ The President and the Secretary of State have made it clear that the United States wants Israel to re-engage in the peace process and, in the meantime, does not want Israel to build more settlements in disputed territories. When Netanyahu completely disregarded this and approved more settlements in East Jerusalem, what could he honestly expect? Love and kisses?

It’s important to point out that at the present time, exactly what American interests are in the Middle East region. Those interests are not “unconditional support for Israel.” Those interests include (in no particular order): 1) supporting all of our allies in the region, including, but not limited to, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the U.A.E, Kuwait, and Israel. 2) Maintaining access to Middle Eastern supplies of oil. 3) Countering Islamtic fundamentalist, particularly fundamentalist terrorist organizations.


Honestly, I don’t know why certain segments of the right believe that supporting anything but the most pro-hardline Likud foreign policy is somehow “anti-Israel” or even “anti-Semitic”, but there it is.

At least on the right.

Reynolds goes on to posit another theory, though:

But it’s also possible — I’d say likely — that there’s something else going on. I think Obama expects Israel to strike Iran, and wants to put distance between the United States and Israel in advance of that happening. (Perhaps he even thinks that treating Israel rudely will provoke such a response, saving him the trouble of doing anything about Iran himself, and avoiding the risk that things might go wrong if he does). On the most optimistic level, maybe this whole thing is a sham, and the U.S. is really helping Israel strike Iran, with this as distraction. The question for readers is which of these — not necessarily mutually exclusive — explanations is most plausible.

I agree with Joe Gandelman that the Reynolds’ second theory is more plausible than the first, but that doesn’t make it any better.

War with Iran, whether by the United States or Israel, would be a disaster. It would be the Iraq War on steroids, against a military that is far better trained in a country nearly four times as large. It may become necessary some day, but we sure as hell better hope that day never comes because the consequences, politically and economically, would be far-reaching and long-lasting. The idea that the President is secretly conspiring with Bibi Netanyahu to attack Tehran just strains credulity.

But, that’s a side issue, I’m more disturbed by the assertion that anyone who isn’t 100% in lock-step with the most far-right political party in Israel is anti-semitic. That’s not a debating point, it’s a smear.

8 Responses to “Is Obama’s Treatment of Netanyahu And Israel Anti-Semitic? No, Now Stop Asking Stupid Questions”

  1. Ken says:

    The suggestion that Obama is acting out of anti-Semitism resembles what the Right used to call (sometimes aptly) “Bush derangement syndrome” — an eagerness to believe and justify any criticism, however fatuous, about the other guy, just because you hate him so much.

  2. Rob Miles says:

    It also resembles the current attitude on the left, that if you disagree with Obama’s economic policies you are racist.

  3. Rob,

    As someone who was told twice in the last week that my opposition to ObamaCare is based on the color of the President’s skin, I agree.

  4. Ken,

    I’ve been cataloging examples of Obama Derangement Syndrome since a week after the election. I even gave it it’s own blog category.

  5. Timmy says:

    Ha, maybe he was rude because he’s uncomfortable with the Israeli persecution of Palestinians?

    Considering he’s the first president in awhile with anything resembling moral fiber it seems like a completely plausible explanation to me…

  6. Noelle says:

    I find it incredibly frustrating that people translate Obama’s presumably “rude” behavior as anti-Semitic. It repulses me namely because of the number of occasions former president Bush blatantly refused to meet with the late Yassar Arafat due to Arafat’s supposed tolerance for terrorism. The media at no point questioned Bush’s moral grounding as he was believed to be displaying American values. I cannot express how incredibly disheartened I am by this; military cruelty, systemic occupation, and genocides are condoned in the name of national security.
    Regardless of Obama’s intentions I think it was an important gesture, one that I find absolutely essential.I would never accuse him of being anti-Semitic; disagreeing with national (Israeli) policies and being anti-Semitic are absolutely unrelated.

  7. Sujen says:

    In Game theory, there is a high successful strategy to playing the iterated prisoner’s dilemma called Tit for Tat. The iterated prisoner’s dilemma is a game that can be used for a lot of what goes on in politics, and this President has used this strategy several times so far. This strategy is dependent on four conditions that has allowed it to become the most prevalent strategy for the prisoner’s dilemma:

    *Unless provoked, the agent will always cooperate

    *If provoked, the agent will retaliate

    *The agent is quick to forgive

    *The agent must have a good chance of competing against the opponent more than once.

    Now the President wanted Isreal to re-enter the peace process so he sends the Vice President to talk with Israel. Israel provokes the administration by announcing settlements during Biden’s visit (a diplomatic slap if ever there was one, and embarrasing to Biden). By not having dinner with Bibi, there is the retaliation. Netanyahu was deeply embarrased. Oddly enough, Israel is now seriously talking about some of the conditions that the Administration wants in a favorable light. If Israel “comes around” on a few points, then the President will be quick to forgive.

  8. Sondra says:

    Why would Bibi feel insulted by the person who is our U.S.president? Obama is an embarrasment for our country he doesn’t even have the respect to wear our flag pin or honor our God, no National Prayer Day, however he honored the Islamic religion by having 50,000 of them at the capitol, removed his shoes and had prayer w/them. Shame on him and shame on us. If one wanted to compare the man Bibi and the man obama it would be like comparing a flying nit to a Boeing 707 in character, and intellect, of course Bibi being the 707.

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