Oklahoma Republican Sen. Tom Coburn will seek to offset federal aid to victims of a massive tornado that blasted through Oklahoma City suburbs on Monday with cuts elsewhere in the budget.> more ... (0 comments)
[I]n the case of allegations of anti-Semitism, Hagel has not even apologized. He has remained silent… Why would anyone think he was an anti-Semite? … Nebraskan Jewish activists and officials have said he was hostile, and none … have come forward to counter that allegation. [...] Perhaps there are answers, and perhaps Mr. Hagel actually has no problem with “the Jews.” But one purpose of confirmation hearings should be to find out.
I just don’t think this is going to happen:
“Bottom line, I think Netanyahu is frightened and scared, and feels that the fate of Israel rests on his shoulders. This is not all a show. In addition, I think he feels he is helping Romney by whipping up Israeli-US tensions. He understands Romney is in bad shape and thinks he is making things uncomfortable for Obama this way.”
Of course, Liel says, this is a high stakes game of risk. For now it appears Obama is likely to win the election, “and then there will be the price to pay. Not on Iran. Those differences will disappear after the elections, but on every other issue, Obama will exact his revenge.”
For example, “Obama will not lift a finger to support Israel when the Palestinians request to be recognized as a sovereign state at the UN, and we will lose 150 to 15.”
Agreed on Iran. There’s no reason to believe he won’t follow his stated course there, stupid as it might be, though I agree with Emily that Iran isn’t about Iran. As for the last point, anything’s possible, but I find this extremely unlikely. Obama ordering Susan Rice (or whoever replaces Rice should she ascend to become Secretary of State) to abstain from a veto on a Palestinian sovereignty resolution would not only mark a dramatic U-Turn, it would be an optimal mixture of bad politics and bad policy. Ultimately, a UN Resolution is merely a piece of paper–Palestine’s future as a nation is contingent upon Israel granting it, and there’s no reason to think the UN would make the Netanyahu government more likely to enter negotiations. The Resolution would be interpreted as a slight and an insult domestically, which would benefit Netanyahu politically, a man well versed in exploiting such situations because he learned how to do so from the best (i.e. Republicans). It would, in fact, most likely be counterproductive, strengthening the hand of settlers and colonists by making Israel even more internationally isolated. So Obama would have to take on a shitstorm of political controversy (including much of his own party’s Congressional wing) for something that would bring literally no benefit. Nothing Obama has done suggests he would take such an action merely out of pique, he’s not that petty or stupid.
In fact, while it’s hard to deny that Netanyahu is trying (and largely failing) to play a role in the presidential election, doing so will not have many direct consequences for him. Even if Democrats retake the House, there’s no way foreign aid to Israel gets cut or eliminated. While a second-term Obama would not have to face the voters again, both left- and right-wingers forget that he would still face constraints, including his own party’s Congressional Wing, which is far more AIPAC-friendly than its base (though there are, to be sure, some AIPAC supporters there too). I suppose it’s possible that Obama could order his UN Ambassador to abstain from vetoing some Israel-related resolutions, but even that might not happen. Antagonizing the pro-Israel types without really gaining anything elsewhere strikes me as bad politics, and again, while Obama’s thinking on many areas has been fuzzy, he’s given no indication that he even disagrees with the AIPAC contingent on this stuff.
No, the most likely scenario going forward is the status quo, only one in which Netanyahu’s complaints and suggestions are ignored by John Kerry’s State Department. Considering Netanyahu’s actions currently and for the past three years, the Obama Administration will have to conclude that they cannot trust the PM and that it will be impossible for them to have any kind of relationship with him, which is likely correct. Considering that Netanyahu is probably going to continue as PM after he faces the voters next year, it means a few more years of wariness and mistrust between the two leaders until one or the other leaves office. This will probably be worse for Israel than the U.S., but it won’t make all that much of a difference. I suppose it’s possible that Netanyahu’s actions in America will weaken his reputation in Israel as an effective politician, as the article suggests, but I wouldn’t expect much more to come of all this.
You had to know this was coming:
Haaretz reported an Israeli official as saying that Netanyahu asked for a meeting with Obama after attending the opening of the UN general assembly in New York in late September. The Israeli prime minister offered to travel to Washington but, according to the Israeli official, the White House said Obama was too busy.
News of the apparent snub came as Netanyahu warned the White House that it had no moral right to block an Israeli attack on Iran‘s nuclear facilities if Washington is not prepared to set firm “red lines” for Tehran, including a deadline for it to meet western demands for a halt to uranium enrichment.
The US national security council spokesman, Tommy Vietor, rejected the idea that Obama is snubbing Netanyahu. He said there will be no talks, because the pair are not in New York on the same day. But Vietor did not address the report that the Israeli prime minister was prepared to meet in Washington.
I’m actually kind of irritated that Obama didn’t meet with Netanyahu. Sure, it won’t accomplish anything, but there’s no risk to it. Declining it outright means another round of “Jews flirting with the GOP?” stories, instigated by Republicans like Shelly Adelson, who are obsessed with this notion in spite of decades of history and every poll ever published. Great. Meeting the guy wouldn’t have annoyed anyone, and no bad press would be involved.
This brings up a strange tendency on the part of the Obama Administration–on a semiregular basis, one sees signs of provocative, aggressive action and rhetoric that are immediately reversed as soon as anyone raises a stink. In this case, I sort of understand it because diplomacy is involved. In countless other cases–I don’t know. Remember how the president tore apart Paul Ryan’s budget plan right in front of him, and then didn’t follow up on it? Or the populist speech in Kansas whose themes lived on only subliminally in the campaign? There are simply too many examples to count during the debt ceiling crisis. And the Administration’s “War on FOX News” that lasted, what, a weekend? Most recently, the deeply silly capitulation to needlessly reinsert the word “God” into the party’s platform. Admittedly, the Netanyahu thing is most likely accidental, Obama’s staff doesn’t realize how dangerous domestically Netanyahu can be–he used to campaign for GOP candidates during his time out of power, lest we forget–and he must be handled very, very carefully. Anything they don’t get just right, he’ll use against them. But time and again, this crew just doesn’t follow through after it throws an elbow, and more often than not, looks impotent and silly walking it back or shrugging it off. This doesn’t apply so much to the campaign, but I really do wonder, finally: what the hell are they afraid of?
Israel’s Kadima party has left Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government in a dispute over military conscription for ultra-Orthodox Jews. Kadima, the largest party in the Knesset, had only joined the coalition in May to avoid an early election. But it failed to reach an agreement with Mr Netanyahu’s Likud party on the so-called Tal Law, which lets seminary students defer their military service. In February, the Supreme Court declared that the law was unconstitutional.The coalition lasted 70 days. Bizarre. Apparently taking on baggage with religious voters was more of a threat to these guys than decimation at the ballot box.
Emily Hauser’s conclusion on the new Israeli government:
Overall, this strikes me as a marriage of convenience between two men who will eventually tear each other apart. [Prime Minister Netanyahu and Opposition Leader Mofaz] both needed a crutch, and when one of them doesn’t need a crutch anymore? It’ll all come crashing down.
At any rate, regular elections are scheduled for October 2013.
Israeli governments so rarely manage to get through an entire four year term that it’s easy to forget that terms actually exist. But they do, and this one is nearly 3/4 done. Whatever these power-grasping politicians manage to do together, it will be with a very keen eye toward grasping yet more power — likely from each other — in another 16 months.
I don’t agree with some of the comments I’ve read to the extent that this is some way of skirting democracy–this standard policy in parliamentary systems. Of course, I don’t really think the plurality that voted for Kadima wanted to ultimately see their party join up with Netanyahu at all.
Really, this strikes me as fairly shrug-worthy. The longer Netanyahu stays in office, the bigger the chance he dynamites himself and his party, just like he did in the ’90s. He’s fairly good at leveraging disparate fears into getting an unpopular agenda passed–his close alignment with Republicans over the years has clearly taught him a few things there–but he’s essentially a fraud and time will out that. It took a while for people to figure out that Dubya didn’t have what it took to govern the country well, and Netanyahu is so much like Dubya so as to make no difference.
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