Monday, 30 May 2011

In the American Congress, Netanyahu could have bitten more than he can chew

Zionist Israel Prime Minister gave a combative speech in the American Congress on 24 May 2011, the combative speech delivered in what some say as Israeli Occupied Territory namely the Congress has drawn much flak in the media:

The Netanyahu Speech: 

Full Text of Netanyahu Speech to Congress

The antics of America's Congressmen during  Netanyahu's speech was a subject of ridicule by Uri Avery:

Bibi and the Yo-Yos
It was all rather disgusting.
There they were, the members of the highest legislative bodies of the world’s only superpower, flying up and down like so many yo-yos, applauding wildly, every few minutes or seconds, the most outrageous lies and distortions of Binyamin Netanyahu.
It was worse than the Syrian parliament during a speech by Bashar Assad, where anyone not applauding could find himself in prison. Or Stalin’s Supreme Soviet, when showing less than sufficient respect could have meant death.
What the American Senators and Congressmen feared was a fate worse than death. Anyone remaining seated or not applauding wildly enough could have been caught on camera – and that amounts to political suicide. It was enough for one single congressman to rise and applaud, and all the others had to follow suit. Who would dare not to?
The sight of these hundreds of parliamentarians jumping up and clapping their hands, again and again and again and again, with the Leader graciously acknowledging with a movement of his hand, was reminiscent of other regimes. Only this time it was not the local dictator who compelled this adulation, but a foreign one.
The most depressing part of it was that there was not a single lawmaker – Republican or Democrat – who dared to resist. When I was a 9 year old boy in Germany, I dared to leave my right arm hanging by my side when all my schoolmates raised theirs in the Nazi salute and sang Hitler’s anthem. Is there no one in Washington DC who has that simple courage? Is it really Washington IOT – Israel Occupied Territory – as the anti-Semites assert? Read More here.

News as reported by Haaretz:

Erekat: Netanyahu's Congress speech 'full of lies,' hampers peace

Many Americans were disgusted by Netanyahu's arrogant  speech and probably President Obama, the President of the most powerful nation on earth will not let it pass so easily:

Netanyahu was powerful, and misguided
May 28, 2011 01:17 AMBy Rami G. KhouriThe Daily Star

By any standard, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s performance in Washington this week was stunning in its audacity and intensity.

However, his speech before the U.S. Congress will probably be seen as negative rather than positive for Israel in the long run, for the fault lines it revealed and the precedents it set.

Netanyahu’s performance exposed four major breaches that may be damaging for Israel:

those between him and President Barack Obama;

between the American presidency and the Congress; 

between the pro-Israel lobby in the United States and the rest of the country; 

and between the Israeli people and their government.

All four dynamics have their ups and downs, but when they converge, as may be the case now, Netanyahu the brash star performer in Washington, may be seen as a political jerk, in Israel and in the U.S.

Netanyahu’s extraordinary reception in the Congress, full of hysterical adulation and blind, rabid support for any position that he took, clarified an important point in current American-Israeli ties: Congress is Israel’s most important terrain and its main line of defense in the United States, which Israel controls with unheard of unanimity. This is due to the very simple fact that every American member of Congress lives in absolute fear of being denounced by the pro-Israel lobbies as unfriendly to Israel, which would immediately result in that member losing their seat in the next election. This has happened enough times in the recent past, affecting people like Charles Percy, Paul Findley, Pete McCloskey and others, to make incumbent members refrain from testing the immense power of pro-Israeli forces to destroy an American political career.

Such practice is perfectly legal and normal in American political terms. However it is distasteful to most Americans to see Congress becoming a manipulated tool in the hands of a foreign power that uses it as a platform to challenge the American president.

Congressional subservience to Israel revealed itself as so exaggerated last week that many Americans took notice – and some started to speak out. Analysts, columnists and ordinary Americans alike started asking if they should put up with a foreign leader lecturing the president in the White House, and wondering if their Congress represents American or Israeli interests in the Middle East.

This attitude will once again open the debate that started a few years ago (after the publication of the book “The Israel Lobby”) about whether the pro-Israel lobbies are healthy or destructive for Americans. When the American and Israeli leaders mistrust or dislike each other and each other’s policies, and when foreigners intervene between the U.S. 

Congress and presidency, this can only spell trouble for Israel down the road, if these breaches are not quickly repaired.

The Obama position that Israeli-Palestinian negotiations for a permanent peace accord should be based on the 1967 lines with agreed swaps is not new. But it is significant for the fact that it marks the second major issue (the Israeli settlements freeze demand being the other) on which Obama has publicly declared the preferred American policy as one that is independent of Israeli policy.

Israel cannot accept that the U.S. and its president take positions on issues of strategic concern to Israelis that diverge from the Israeli position. That the U.S. president has now done this twice in two years is the equivalent of an existential threat from Israel’s perspective. That is why Netanyahu went berserk and showed how Israel can effectively dictate the position of the Congress on Middle East-related issues.

Netanyahu also faces problems at home, to judge by a new poll in Israel showing that 57 percent of the population thinks he should have agreed with Obama rather than oppose him. The Israeli public knows that the U.S. is Israel’s most important long-term strategic ally, and one not one to be alienated. The events in Washington last week showed that Israel relies heavily on the U.S. for its strategic wellbeing and survival, but also that Congress, in turn, relies heavily on Israeli approval for its own wellbeing and continued incumbency.

With the U.S. Congress now finding its extreme position on Israel somewhat isolated from the relatively more balanced position of the American president and public, Israel is slipping dangerously toward a point where its political support in the U.S. is as much a consequence of frightened, nearly prostituted, legislators as it is a reflection of the deep and firm support for the security of Israel that the United States traditionally saw as a worthy goal in its own right.

These fascinating movements in the Israeli-American relationship are worth monitoring. While being dazzled by Netanyahu’s powerful, self-assertive, performance in Washington, we should pay more attention to the underlying fault lines that such a dramatic show reveals.

Source here. The Daily Star .

Sure is interesting times in the Middle East, but somehow my gut feeling says  that Netanyahu might have bitten more than he can chew. He has delivered himself into a corner despite his arrogant bravado in Congress.

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