Obama’s Israel Policy: Speak Softly and Carry a Very Big Carrot

Even those familiar with the long and shameful history of America’s appeasement of Israel were taken aback by the Obama administration’s extraordinary offer to Netanyahu.

In exchange for a paltry one-off 90 day freeze on illegal settlement expansion in the occupied West Bank (excluding East Jerusalem), Israel will get 20 F-35 stealth fighter jets worth $3 billion and a slew of other goodies. Yet Secretary of State Hillary Clinton reportedly gave up to eight hours with Netanyahu trying to persuade him to accept “one of the most generous bribes ever bestowed by the United States on any foreign power.” Praising the Israeli Prime Minister for eventually agreeing to put the offer to his security cabinet, President Obama took it as “a signal that he is serious.”

But is there any reason to believe that Netanyahu is any more “serious” about consenting to the creation of a viable Palestinian state today than he was in 2001? In a video aired on Israel’s Channel 10 this summer, Netanyahu was seen during the second intifada bragging to West Bank settlers about how he had sabotaged the Oslo Accords. “I’m going to interpret the accords in such a way that would allow me to put an end to this galloping forward to the ’67 borders,” he told them. In that secretly filmed conversation, Netanyahu also revealed his dismissive attitude toward the United States. “I know what America is,” he said. “America is a thing you can move very easily, move it in the right direction. They won’t get in the way.”

And there is good reason for the Israeli leader’s arrogance. In a pre-midterm election interview with the Jewish Daily Forward, Congressman Gary Ackerman stressed that “Israel’s best bet for addressing any concerns about Obama’s policy” was for the Democrats to retain power. As evidence of their pro-Israel influence, Ackerman and other Jewish Democrats cited “the forceful criticisms they conveyed to the White House when they thought that Obama was leaning too hard on Israel.” Ackerman, who chaired the subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, said that if Israel wanted “positive influence on the White House” it needed what he called the “first-class team” of Howard Berman, Barney Frank, Henry Waxman, Sander Levin and himself to continue chairing key House committees, because “we are all pro-Israel and we all have major, major, major influence in the executive branch.”

The Republicans’ subsequent gains in those midterms, however, are only likely to boost Netanyahu’s confidence in his ability to move America “in the right direction.” On the eve of his November 11 meeting with Hillary Clinton, the Israeli Prime Minister had what has been described as an “unusual, if not unheard of” (read: illegal) one-on-one meeting with incoming House Majority Leader Eric Cantor. According to Cantor’s office, the Congressman assured Netanyahu that “the new Republican majority will serve as a check on the Administration.” It wouldn’t be the first time that Cantor— set to become the highest ever ranking Jewish member of Congress — has attempted to undermine official U.S. policy in Israel’s behalf. Last year, while leading a delegation of 25 Republican congressmen to Israel, Cantor publicly criticised the Obama administration for interfering in such internal Israeli matters as the eviction of Palestinian families from their East Jerusalem homes and the ongoing 43-year Jewish colonization of the West Bank.

Given who has been shaping Obama’s Middle East policy, his administration may not require that much checking, though. Since 2002, he has been advised by Lee Rosenberg, a key member of “a close-knit network of Chicago Jews,” who, in the words of the Chicago Tribune, “nurtured and enabled” Obama’s political career. According to Rosenberg, the then U.S. Senate hopeful “reached out” to the jazz recording industry entrepreneur and venture capitalist “to learn more about the issues affecting Israel and Middle East, and the U.S.– Israel relationship.” Later, when Obama’s Chicago backers made it clear to him that Israel was an issue “he had to get educated on,” Rosenberg accompanied the then-senator on his first trip to Israel, where he learned “an appreciation of the security needs.” A longtime board member (and currently president) of AIPAC, Rosenberg also introduced the presidential candidate at the pro-Israel lobby’s 2008 conference, when Obama, in contradiction of international law, vowed that Jerusalem “will remain the capital of Israel, and it must remain undivided.”

Dennis Ross, one of the principal authors of that speech, is also the originator of the incentive package. Having convinced Obama of the need “to come off as friendlier” to Netanyahu, the president’s current top adviser on the Middle East worked closely with Ehud Barak and Yitzak Molho, Netanyahu’s adviser, on preparing the original proposal which Netanyahu subsequently rejected. Ross, dubbed “Israel’s lawyer” for his over-solicitousness to Tel Aviv’s interests as President Clinton’s chief negotiator, was accused by an American government official earlier this year of being “far more sensitive to Netanyahu’s coalition politics than to U.S. interests.” A fellow at the AIPAC-sponsored think tank, the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, he also served, until his government appointment, as founding chairman of the Jerusalem-based Jewish People Policy Planning Institute, which views intermarriage with non-Jews as an “insidious” challenge. On hearing that Ross had joined Obama’s team, one Chicago-based pro-Israel activist commented, “now … we have no concerns whatsoever.”

And yet there are some who believe that Obama is anti-Israel…

Maidhc Ó Cathail writes extensively on U.S. foreign policy and the Middle East. Read other articles by Maidhc, or visit Maidhc's website.

10 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. bozh said on December 3rd, 2010 at 12:36pm #

    some events suggest that china or russia do not fear netanyahu [i my mind, a new il duce] but u.s and u.s bases which may be storing nukes pointing at u know who.

    if my observation is only partly correct, it wld seem that they do not view israel as danger at all.
    in addition, no high echelon of cia-fbi-army has expressed, as far as i know, any fret about israel moving u.s in any direction.
    congress and judiciary also do not see anything wrong in u.s-israeli relationship.
    it is only people out of power structure that r raising alarms about israel’s control of u.s.
    and, then, even u.s constitution wld have to have been expended for israel to control u.s to the degree that some people assert; assertions, fears not being proof that it is indeed so. tnx

  2. Ismail Zayid said on December 3rd, 2010 at 2:10pm #

    Netanyahu’s diagnostic skills. as to America and its policies, prove accurate and consistent. His statement: “America is a thing you can move very easily, move it in the right direction. They won’t get in the way.” is evidently confirmed in the conduct of Obama and his administration. The bribery, he is showering Netanyahu with, is true to character, as to US policy.

    Obama’s policies are perfectly understandable knowing his advisers: Lee Rosenbeg and Dennis Ross.

  3. shabnam said on December 3rd, 2010 at 3:08pm #

    {Obama’s policies are perfectly understandable knowing his advisers: Lee Rosenbeg and Dennis Ross.}

    No. IT IS NOT UNDERSTANDABLE FOR PEOPLE WHO KNOW HOW PROGRESS IS MADE. This is one way of looking at the problem. This way of thinking can justify the action of Arab puppet head of states in the interest of, Zionism and evil empire, against the interest of people in the region.

    No wonder this kind of people who hold only ‘advisors’ responsible, they also refuse to attack our enemies who are in service of Israel and US, Arab puppet head of state led by SAUDI ARABIA, where are equally are evil as Israel and US.

    Saudi Arabia has bought majority of the Arabs and non Arabs by $$$$$ to expand the interest of their masters who TELL THEM WHO IS THEIR ENEMY. These ‘journalists’ are nothing but whores spreading the Zionist propaganda in the region and NO SUPPORTER OF PALESTINIANS, ARAB AND NON ARAB, HAS GONE AFTER THESE STOOGES, not mentioning the Iranian people who have been killed Saudis when they went to Mecca, or to Iraq to visit the Shiite shrine.

    I don’t know why the government allows Iranian go to these places and spend their money in the enemy’s court. All Muslims MUST BOYCOTT MACCA as long as this government, a Zionist stooge, is in power.

    Why have Arab journalists and progressives have been silent against the Saudis?
    These phony ‘kings’ and Emirs have been created by the British Emir since WWI, few of these Arab colonies were created after erection of Israel on land of Palestine where Rothschild family played an important role.

    Expose the Arab puppet ‘head of states’ in the service of Israel and US, NOW.
    Obama has chosen to be a Zionist stooge. No one forced him to do so. He wanted to be in the WH and those who control the presidency wanted A BALCK FACE because most of the countries under attacks for regime change and partition through manmade destabilization process needed A BLACK FACE, to change US image in the region which failed, NOT A LEADR. The leadership position is reserved for the Judeofascists advisors.

    If this arrangement is OK by Obama, who are you who object to it?

  4. Rehmat said on December 3rd, 2010 at 3:22pm #

    Washington, with the exception of JFK administration (for which he paid for his life), has no foreign policy when it comes to Israel. It’s total ‘submission’.

    It would be naive to expect any change in that regard from a ‘lame-duck’ president Obama since the election of a great majority of ‘Israel-Firsters’ in Congress and Senate.

    Last August – Brookings Institute released results of a poll conducted by Professor Shibley Telhami of Saban Center for Middle East Policy at Brookings Institute – in co-operation with Zogby and the University of Maryland. The participants from Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Morocco, Lebanon and the United Arab Emirates expressed they’re more supportive of Iranian President Dr. Ahmadinejad’s views on the Middle East than US President Barack Obama. ….


  5. shabnam said on December 3rd, 2010 at 5:56pm #

    A racist state that produces nuclear bombs without signing NPT, has tested supersonic cruise missle with NO OBJECTIONS from either Judeofascists or the zionist stooges, Clinton and Obama, who are busy SPREADING lies about Iran imaginary ‘advanced missile’ from N. KOREA.
    Shame on both, and shame on American people who are silent against the zionist fifth column in the US.

    India on Thursday successfully test-fired the supersonic cruise missile BrahMos as part of trials by the Army from a military base in Orissa. The missile was tested from the Integrated Test Range of Chandipur in Balasore.


    Bomb Israel. Throw the zionist fifth colum out of the office.

  6. mary said on December 3rd, 2010 at 9:47pm #

    No irony here. Mr Buffet is on the hunt for WMD. He should ask himself who owns the weapons of mass destruction. This is obviously an anti- Iran initiative that the gangsters-in-charge have cooked up.

    Buffett giving $50 million to stop nuke spread

    He joins U.S., others in funding peaceful nuclear uses for developing world

    Warren Buffett is putting up big money to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons, saying “this is not a problem that we can wish away.”


  7. shabnam said on December 3rd, 2010 at 10:09pm #

    All people must read Thierry Meyssan’s article “Revelations on Rafik Hariri’s Assassination” who exposes the lies behind the ‘special tribunal’ which is formed by seceret agents biased in favor of US and Israel and have lied and removed evidence to arrive at the desirable conclusion to serve their clients US and Israel and frame the victims.

    Meyssan is the same investigator who exposed US government
    lies on 9/11.


    The evidence so far points to Israel behind this crime, because the explosive used in the crime that killed Hariri was the most sofisticated in the world, MANUFACTURED IN …. ISRAEL.


    Moreover, German journalist Jürgen Cain Külbel highlighted a disturbing detail: it would have been impossible to trigger the explosion by remote control or by marking the target without first disactivating the powerful interference system built into Rafik Hariri’s convoy. A system among the most sophisticated in the world, manufactured in … Israel.

  8. mary said on December 6th, 2010 at 11:51am #

    Obomber should have gone along with this group of British medics visiting Palestine.

    To Resist Is To Exist

    Martin Kemp
    Eliana Pinto

    ‘You are asleep with your family. At 4am your house is surrounded by soldiers and border guards who hammer on the door and break the windows while you emerge, to be told you have 15 minutes to leave. Using whatever violence is necessary – against you, your wife and children – the bulldozer moves in. Israel provides no alternative accommodation (the UN provides tents but never enough), no compensation, although no one contests the fact that you own the land – and you are sent the bill for the demolition.’
    Salim Shawamreh
    Anata, Greater Jerusalem

    What follows are observations from a 10-day tour of Palestine, made by a group of medical and mental health professionals. We visited hospital departments, psychiatric facilities, and met local and international NGOs involved in addressing Palestinians’ psychological needs. We talked to teachers, businessmen, village leaders and anyone else we could to tell us about life under the Occupation. While predominantly concerned to hear from Palestinians, we have emphasised the contribution made by Jewish Israelis. They are far from representative of Israeli opinion, but we believe they constitute one of the more hopeful elements in the search for peace, and are a voice that is routinely absent from British coverage of this beautiful but tragic land.

    We were there in November 2008. We were already banned from entering Gaza. The West Bank was tense – the Israeli attack on Gaza was widely anticipated – but quiet. Rather than the ‘hot’ news of out and out war, you could say that we were witnessing everyday life under an endless occupation.



    Martin Kemp and Eliana Pinto are both psychoanalytic psychotherapists in South East London. Eliana was previously Consultant Psychotherapist at St Thomas’ Hospital and worked for Shanti Women’s Intercultural Psychotherapy Service. Martin set up and practised in a community counselling service in London during the 1990s, and subsequently participated in Open Door’s adolescent therapy service.

  9. mary said on December 7th, 2010 at 2:40pm #

    Breaking news on the BBC website

    US scraps Israel settlements freeze bid to revive talks
    7 December 2010 Last updated at 21:34

    The United States is abandoning efforts to persuade Israel to renew a freeze on settlement-building as part of efforts to revive Middle East peace talks.

    Washington had been negotiating with Israel to try to meet Palestinian conditions for restarting direct talks.

    The Palestinians suspended talks in September after a 10-month freeze on Israeli building in the West Bank, excluding East Jerusalem, expired.

    The US says it will continue to explore ways to bring the two sides together.

    A senior US official told the BBC that attempts to get Israel to renew a partial freeze on settlement construction in occupied territory had failed.

    But he said this did not meant the end of Washington’s efforts to revive the peace talks, which resumed in September after a break of almost two years ago but were suspended almost immediately when Israel decided not to extend the ban on settlement building in the West Bank.

    The Palestinians have said they will not return to the negotiating table while settlement building continues.

    A second official said the administration had determined that the moratorium extension was not the best basis to resume talks.

    Last month, the Obama administration offered Israel a sizeable package of incentives, including jet fighters and security guarantees, in return for a 90-day extension of the previous moratorium.

    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu offered to renew the freeze if the Palestinians recognised Israel as a Jewish state, but the Palestinian Authority dismissed the idea.

    It is unclear how the US is planning to proceed, says the BBC’s Kim Ghattas at the state department in Washington.

    Palestinian and Israeli negotiators will be in Washington next week and Hillary Clinton will make a speech about the Middle East on Friday.

    Israel has occupied the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, since 1967, settling close to 500,000 Jews in more than 100 settlements. They are considered illegal under international law, although Israel disputes this.

    There are about 2.5 million Palestinians living in the West Bank.

  10. mary said on December 18th, 2010 at 9:26am #

    Humanity still lives.

    A monument was unveiled in the Spanish capital Madrid to commemorate nine Turkish activists killed by Israeli commandos in the May 31 raid on Gaza-Bound aid ship Mavi Marmara.

    The monument, designed by sculptors Roxanne Robinson and Arevalo Beteta, was erected at the Palestine Park in Leganes near Madrid at the initiatives of three Spanish activists supported by several non-governmental organizations.

    Spanish activists plan to send two aid ships to Gaza this spring.

    Turkish Ambassador to Spain Ender Arat, Palestinian Ambassador to Spain Moussa Odeh, Mayor of Leganes Rafael Gomez Montaya and representatives from Turkish humanitarian aid organization IHH attended a ceremony held to unveil the monument on Friday.

    The monument features a child launching the Mavi Marmara ship loaded with humanitarian aid materials in front of a tumbledown wall which depicts Palestine.

    Memorial for victims of Mavi Marmara erected in Spain
    The monument, designed by sculptors Roxanne Robinson and Arevalo Beteta, was erected at the Palestine Park in Leganes near Madrid
    Saturday, 18 December 2010 17:27