Thursday, November 08, 2012

How Israel Misread America

In today's Haaretz, Rabbi Eric Yoffie considers how Israel got everything so wrong and what its leaders must do to make peace with the White House.

Americans are resolutely centrist. Israel’s politics may be veering right, but America’s are not. Despite difficult economic conditions and high unemployment, America reelected a centrist president who speaks the language of moderation, compromise, and social justice.
...The hysterical, Obama-hating Jewish conservatives were wrong about everything. They said that Jews could be convinced to shift their votes to Republicans; they couldn’t. They said that Obama was an Israel-hating radical; he isn’t. They said that a Jewish alignment with the Republican Party was the only way to protect Jewish interests; it’s not.

Note to these conservatives: The Democratic Party has won four of the last six presidential elections, and has won the popular vote in five out of six.
...Conservative, white Evangelicals are less important than they once were. Americans voters showed little interest in opposition to gay marriage and abortion—the social issues that largely define these Evangelicals. In fact, the voters approved of gay marriage in several states and punished candidates who expressed radical views on abortion.

...Foreign policy remains far down on the priority list for American voters, despite claims to the contrary by neo-conservative leaders. Foreign policy was virtually absent from voter consciousness for most of the campaign. Bill Kristol and Charles Krauthammer have argued that it would have been a huge advantage for Romney if he had been more aggressive in raising the Libya/Benghazi issue, but there is no evidence to support this assertion. The simple fact is that when it comes to foreign policy right now, Americans don’t much care. 

...the bad news is that personal relationships matter as well, and it is hardly a secret to anyone that the Obama-Netanyahu relationship lacks the respect, openness and affection that previous presidents have had with Israel’s leaders. With an Iranian bomb looming, for this situation to continue is nothing less than a disaster for Israel.

And the key is for the Israel’s prime minister to take the initiative in repairing the relationship. This is not a question, as some commentators have suggested, of Obama and Netanyahu “learning to live with each other.” The election is over. The newly-elected president of the world’s most powerful country is the senior partner; Israel’s prime minister is the junior partner. Mr. Netanyahu needs to act accordingly and do what is necessary to build personal trust with the president of the Jewish state’s most important ally. And he needs to do so now.

It's hard to recall a small country so dependent on a large benefactor getting something like this so wrong.   Netanyahu, who did everything but stuff ballot boxes for Romney, has shown himself to be an inept bully who played his hand recklessly and came away with empty pockets.  Bibi may pay dearly if he doesn't go, cap in hand, to seek forgiveness from the president he so thoroughly disrespected.


Anonymous said...

And Stevie played along with Bibi in an effort to discredit Obama, during a close American Presidential campaign, when he closed the Iranian embassy for no good reason.

They're both going to need knee pads the next time they meet with the Americans.

The Mound of Sound said...

I think Harper's loyalties have long been suspect at the White House.