view counter
Bibi Takes On The World

Jeffrey Goldberg, correspondent at The Atlantic, cites this editorial in his own warning to the Israeli leader. 

Tue, 10/28/2014 - 20:00

The diplomatic rift between Washington and Jerusalem reached a new low this week. Israeli Defense Minister Moshe “Bogie” Yaalon’s snub by senior members of the Obama administration was made public here, a week after his U.S. visit, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced plans to build more than 1,000 new units in Jerusalem neighborhoods beyond the Green Line, fully aware of the negative response it would receive in America and in the international community.

And it did, with the State Department calling the plans “incompatible with the pursuit of peace.” A European Union spokeswoman went further, asserting that the move “once again” calls into question Israel’s commitment “to a negotiated solution with the Palestinians.” She also warned that “the future development of relations between the EU and Israel will depend” on Jerusalem’s “engagement towards a lasting peace based on a two-state solution.”

Netanyahu responded by saying that Israel will “continue to build in our eternal capital,” adding: “I heard the claim that our building in Jewish neighborhoods in Jerusalem makes peace more distant, but it is the criticism itself that makes peace more distant.” He said the criticism feeds the Palestinians’ false hopes and is “detached from reality.”

But it’s fair to ask just who is more detached from reality these days, the president of the U.S. and leader of the free world, or the leader of a small country almost totally dependent on American support? (It’s not so much the $3 billion a year in U.S. aid that counts as much as its support at the UN and in countless other ways that would be felt should the relationship continue to erode.)

Netanyahu and his defenders point out that despite the many concessions Jerusalem has made over the last few years regarding the peace process, from a 10-month settlement building freeze, to releasing dozens of Palestinian prisoners “with blood on their hands,” to agreeing to every proposed cease-fire this summer in the war with Hamas, the world continues to blame Israel for the lack of progress on the peace front. The prime minister has let it be known of late that he has, essentially, given up on repairing his relationship with Obama and is relying on Congress for support, especially on the negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program.

But key Israeli leaders like Yair Lapid, the treasury minister, and Tzipi Livni, the minister of justice, oppose the Jerusalem expansion announcement, warning that Netanyahu is out of his league in taking on Obama.

As Lapid noted, “Whether we agree with this or not, we have to understand we cannot act this way to our most important ally.”

Make that “allies.” Lapid was referring to Washington, but the EU is vitally important to Israel as well, particularly in terms of economic trade.

Netanyahu’s bold, or brazen, move (depending on one’s politics) is based less on international diplomacy than internal politics, as is often the case in these flare-ups. The prime minister, sensing calls for a new election, is bolstering his political right and keeping his right-leaning coalition together. That may play well among the Israeli electorate — after all, Netanyahu has no real serious contender on the horizon. But it’s a dangerous and unnecessary provocation.

Jeopardizing Israel’s relationship with its most important allies to prove a point — that Jerusalem is not up for grabs — at a time when his country is increasingly isolated on the diplomatic level, when violent unrest in the capital since the summer has prompted some to call it “the silent intifada,” and when the Palestinians may well seek statehood through the UN, makes sense if the prime minister is ready to go it alone. But that’s not what his citizens want, and it would be a terrible mistake.

bibi netanyahu

Our Newsletters, Your Inbox


The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.

Comment Guidelines

The Jewish Week feels comments create a valuable conversation and wants to feature your thoughts on our website. To make everyone feel welcome, we won't publish comments that are profane, irrelevant, promotional or make personal attacks.


Are you kidding me! Other way around. America should be careful of ruining it's relationship with our #1 Ally in the Middle East, Israel! Thank you Bib and Israel for defending us with no help,from Oblamer and Kerry!

Two stubborn leaders serving their countries poorly. After six years Obama is finally catching on a little to Mideast realpolitik. The 2016 election will usher in someone more sympathetic to Israel, but Netanyahu is overplaying his hand and will hurt US-Israel relations for many years to come

Please print the Likud Charter and advise the gullible Americans how peace is possible w/Bibi. Thanks...

The Jewish week crowing about how Jeffrey Goldberg referred to this editorial in his piece in the Atlantic Journal is laughable. Because given that Goldberg essentially admitted he was just a mouthpiece for the Administration's "truth[s]" about Netanyahu and Israel, I believe there is a good chance this editorial was issued at the White House's request so Goldberg could quote it in his piece.

This editorial does not even go through the pretense of stating that Obama truly "has Israel's back". Nor does it argue that what Obama wants Israel to do is right and in her best interests. No, it just conveys the disgraceful idea that Israel is a "nobody" which should be grateful for whatever crumbs Obama throws Israel's way and take its marching orders from him. What a shameful message from an American Jewish newspaper-it embarrasses me as an American Jew.

Obama will be out of office in 2+ years, so you won't have him to kick around any more. But Israel will still have its rapidly growing Haredi population to deal with. Time is on the Palestinian side, as the Haredi don't want to serve in the army, or work in a taxable job or give their children a good secular education. You can't have a first world country when most of the adult males want to read the Holy Books all day and collect welfare to support their large families. Read here:

Bibi, like other politicians, is only worried about the next election. If Israel's secular leaders don't band together and force a force a change in the Haredi life style, there will be no long term future for Israel. Cutting off welfare benefits after 5 years might be a start. Increasingly, young secular Jews are voting with their feet and emigrating. Google articles on "Olim le Berlin".

Don't expect American Jews to ride to the rescue. Increasingly, Reform and Conservative Jewish young people are inter-marrying and Haredi Jews aren't getting the education they need to hold down well paying jobs. Instead of "my son the doctor" it will be "my son the welfare recipient".

So you are advocating that israel shut up and let the US handle it's foreign policy. In other words, that israel be no more than a banana republic. if that is what you are proposing you should also tell the Jews of israel that it is time to pack up and leave because if US handles their foreign affairs israel will shortly be eliminated.

I am a Jewish New Yotker. Netanyahou makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up straight.

Appeasement never works. This goes for Obama as well as our sworn enemies. Conceding on our red lines will not bring peace, it will only bring demands for further concessions.

Marc Van Ranst,
I get the impression that you don't care much for the policies of the state of Israel - though I could be wrong. If people/nations don't like the policies of the Jewish state - that's ok. They are entitled to their opinion. Disapproval, animus, rejection of the Jewish people used to be lethal for Jews living among the European and Arab people, prior the the rebirth of Israel in 1949, but no longer. That is a fact the makes Israel a glorious place today.
On the topic of policy: Israel and Washington, Netanyahu and Obama, it is clear to me that Israel has the better of it - pretty much across the board. Sometimes I am wrong, but not on this.

An editorial in the Washington Post is much more accurate... Washington Post urges Obama to ‘reset’ ties with PM after ‘chickenshit’ affair

Editorial says previous US administrations knew ‘open rift with Israel’ could encourage ‘military adventurism’ by enemies like Iran

All evidence is that Obama sees Iran as the soon-to-be ally and Israel as the enemy. Perhaps we should dub the Obama years as "The Twilight Zone" era of American foreign policy.

Yes, this editorial is on the mark. A growing number of folks like me who are heavily involved in the Jewish community (and ritually observant) are fed up with Bibi and his shenanigans.

He can treat Obama like this if he chooses to--that is his right and perhaps his backers in Israel demand it. But then he must face the consequences--you can't have it both ways, Bibi.

And, of course, Jeffrey Goldberg and The Atlantic are now using this editorial to denounce Israel. Thank you "Jewish" Week. (Although Mr. Goldberg does refer to the flagship American Jewish newspaper - perhaps it's a different Jewish Week.)

Gary, its called Realpolitik. 1) The threat of Radical Islam makes peace between Israel and the Palestinians impossible at the moment. Bibi's not going to make peace with the PA today, only to find Hamas holding court at the Muqata tomorrow. 2) After this recent Gaza conflict, does anyone other than liberal democrats really think Israel will cede East Jerusalem to a future Palestinian state? 3) Obama is a lame duck with an approval rating in the low 40s and will probably lose the senate on Tuesday. Bibi knows he can't serve Israel's legitimate security concerns and satisfy a US President who is holding onto to the unrealistic hope of a two state solution. What Bibi is doing is creating the reality of a unified Jerusalem under eternal Israeli control and after Nov. 4th, he will likely have the cover of the Republican congress to do it. If Radical Islam is defeated, Israel will be better positioned to retain Jerusalem in future peace talks. If Radical Islam grows, the settlements are the security buffer Israel needs. All of these settlements are like Yad Mordechai and if there is to be no peace, they will be the front lines. Finally, Bibi is headed towards a major conflict with Obama in the event the President tries to bypass congress and sign a nuclear treaty with Iran. There are too many issues separating Israel and the Obama administration at the moment. Bibi is prudent to improve Israel's strategic positioning now, while the US President is relatively weak and lacking in public and congressional support.

This dispute is a sad turn of events that will harm Israel in the long term. The Prime Minister reliance on a Republican Congress is a gross miscalculation. The Republican percived racial stratergy of undermining President Obama is bolstered by irresponsible comments that the President is "un American". That may not be his intention, but the result will not benefit Isreal.

I totally disagree. Israel has done enough to bring the Palestinians to the table over and over again. Appeasement has proven not to work ever. Terrorists/Prisoners were released for a peace deal and there was no change. Some of these same Terrorist have murdered Jews again. Abbas is inciting violence against Israel non-stop. He wants the same as Hamas: destruction of all Jews and next Christians. The Palestinians are a fiction. They are not indigenous to Israel. The leaders of Hamas and Fatah are billionaires. They steal the money donated to them. After Gaza there is no room to trust people who are savages. I support Bibi who was democratically elected in Israel. It is unproductive to push Israelis to accept terms that will be suicidal. People in Israel send their children to fight wars. They live with this incitement every day and Terrorism. They are ahead of the curve.

Spot on - the time for pussyfooting around the enemies of Israel is long gone. I cannot believe that anyone would support a pow-wow with the Palestinians and their ilk - they are untrustworthy and have on so many occasions taken and given nothing in return. My prayer is that Israel just goes in and clears them up once and for all - there will be a hue and cry for a while and then it will blow over.

" My prayer is that Israel just goes in and clears them up once and for all - there will be a hue and cry for a while and then it will blow over."

The final solution.

Like a marriage, a peace agreement requires 2 sides to make a commitment to true peace at a particular moment in time. If the 2 parties have doubts when the time comes, don't show up, or break their vows, the marriage/peace falls apart. Rarely - if ever - are the 2 parties successful at resetting the marriage/peace date, then living happily ever after. I know in my life, I can't go back in time to the moment when I wanted to marry an old girlfriend, but didn't. The girl finds someone else; she changes her interests; builds a new, different life. If the Palestinians expect to sign a peace agreement with Israel (I doubt they do), they should start as soon as possible and bring with them a much better attitude, because Israel is growing. Where are Israelis expected to live, while they are waiting for Abbas? Nations grow and change. The Palestinians, the U.S., and E.U. can't go back in time to the moment a particular parcel of land was vacant and say, 'give it to me now'. It is way too late. It is their own fault because they didn't decide at the appointed time. The land is gone now.

It is never a good idea to kick your main sponsor in the nuts, and expect him to enjoy the feeling. The current Israeli government lost all links with reality, and its arrogant attitude towards the rest of the world is dangerous. If they remain convinced that it is somehow their birthright to impose on the rest of the world how they should think (about Israel) and act (in favor of Israel) they are making a tragic and potentially fatal mistake. More and more countries will officially recognize Palestine, and Israel will end up as a geopolitical pariah state. Only some serious self-reflection on the part of Israel, combined with a drastic attitude change, will lead to a two-state solution and to peace in this region. Bibi & co are currently travelling in uncharted and dangerous territory holding a one-way ticket to nowhere and a guaranteed place in History's Hall of Shame.

This column is right on the mark. Conservative Jews need to get beyond this idea that criticism of Israeli policy is off limits. Sometimes the mark of a true friend is that they will tell you when you're going off the rails. Take a hint, Mr. Prime Minister.

The fecklessness of Obama administration's policy on the Middle East has gone well beyond a partisan talking point. It's pretty much an accepted fact in both the Middle East and Europe that the White House has not made any adjustments from where it started in 2008, despite vast changes in the region during that time. It's locked into a ideological vision that has no resemblance to the facts on the ground at this time. Quite frankly, had the Israeli government been following WH's lead on this issue, it would've indicated profound and worrying blindness on their part.

walter davidson,
Below is U.N. resolution 242 unanimous signed in November, 1967
The Security Council,

Expressing its continuing concern with the grave situation in the Middle East,

Emphasizing the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war and the need to work for a just and lasting peace in which every State in the area can live in security,

Emphasizing further that all Member States in their acceptance of the Charter of the United Nations have undertaken a commitment to act in accordance with Article 2 of the Charter,

1. Affirms that the fulfilment of Charter principles requires the establishment of a just and lasting peace in the Middle East which should include the application of both the following principles:

(i) Withdrawal of Israel armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict;

(ii) Termination of all claims or states of belligerency and respect for and acknowledgment of the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of every State in the area and their right to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force;

The resolution (by intent) says (i) Withdrawal of Israel armed force from territories occupied in the recent conflict

The resolution says: (ii) Termination of ALL claims or states of belligerency and respect for and acknowledgement of the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of every State in the area and their right to live in peace ...

Clearly, indisputably, the Palestinians have not allowed Israel to live in peace.

Walter, the resolution, in black and white, proves you are wrong on the facts. Negotiations between the 2 parties were supposed to take place to achieve an agreement - but, till this date, no agreement has been reached. Therefore, Israel is not in violation of 242. They are not illegal according to 242. They are not required to withdraw from ALL the territory. They are legally permitted to occupy the territory they are on today. The Palestinians, on the other hand, have been in constant violation of 242. They don't recognize Israel and they engage in frequent violent attacks. When aren't they committing illegal violence?

Lauren B, You say, ' Skeptics may object with an assortment of historical alleged “facts”, to justify the building of settlements.' Look, history and facts matter. Generally, history and facts ARE proof. Proof is always better than pretense and falsehood. You may prefer the ending of an Arab false narrative, but facts and truth always trump false narrative.

The US should start abstaining from votes in the UN that concern Israel, let the vote on a Palestinian State proceed. Bibi has proven a poor ally and contemptuous of our elected leaders, time for them to go it alone at the UN. After Palestinians have a State in the world's eye it will be easier to get cooperation regarding a 2 state solution. He shuns Obama, then he shuns the US.

NYJW - feeding the Obama crocodile in the hope that New York Jews will be eaten last . . .

lets stipulate / agree - israel is illegally occupying palestinian land since 1967 - today, a 2 state or 1 state are the only 2 options - the current status quo apartheid IDF regime will no longer be globally acceptable / tolerated - bibi is about bibi - its over for hasbara - jefferey goldberg got it right -

Frankly if Israel is making you feel uncomfortable too bad!
It used to be that Israel was the junior partner with 3.2m Jews while the US had 6m, but not any longer!
Now Israel is the center of Jewish life and American Jews are descending into shtetl behaviour and peeing in their pants at pressure from big loser Mr Muslim Obama.
BTW Bibi's government is much more liberal than Obama's so frankly stuff it in your overpriced Manischewitz macaroon.

I agree with this editorial and the courage it took to write it. Skeptics may object with an assortment of historical alleged “facts”, to justify the building of settlements. Paradoxically, using past history to justify these actions increases the likelihood of poor outcomes. Editorials such as these, that focus on current and future outcomes, will help ground decision making in reality.

Israelis breathing seems to isolate Israel from Obama and Europe. Her mere existence is a thorn in the side to Europeans of all stripes. The only reason Europe favored the creation of Israel in 1948 is because they did not want the Jews who survived the Holocaust to stay in Europe. It was a way of getting rid of Europe's Jews.

As to the land that Israel is building 1,000 housing units, a little research will show that this land was owned by Jews prior to the 1948 war, and that Jews had purchased most of the land in questions.

Is the Jewish Week supporting Judenrein in Israel? Those Jews (such as the letter above) that are so critical of Israel and her policies should give their land back to the Indians and return to Europe, as the Indians have a greater claim than the invented people known as Palestinians.

I agree totally with this column, except may be it should have been more crtical.