Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Lara Friedman's Return to Basics

Peace Now's Lara Friedman has returned to settle the same old scores she has been using for a while: Obama is good, Netanyahu is bad, settlements are bad, the UN is good, the Palestinians don't exist. As usual, legitimate points are interspersed with less legitimate ones, and we see the latter right at the beginning:
"On the historic day that was November 29th, 2012, the Obama Administration stood shoulder-to-shoulder with the Netanyahu government at the United Nations, voting against a UN resolution that was broadly consistent with U.S. policy."
The UN resolution is in fact not consistent at all with U.S. policy, that's why we voted against it. As others have pointed out before me, the UN made a declaration in 242 that no states would be declared without a peace treaty, only to go back on their word forty years later. The US has consistently said that a Palestinian state can only come about through negotiations, and we have been saying that since long before President Obama. But because Ms. Friedman doesn't want to hear that, and wants to imply that Netanyahu controls America (more on that later) she just ignores inconvenient facts and declares that the sky is red.

After this she takes on a Huffington Post talkbacker classic talking point and says that America is (once again) "isolated:"
"What did this "no daylight" get the Obama Administration? As expected, it left the U.S. isolated (alongside Israel and a grand total of seven other countries, four of which are tiny islands), against Europe and the entire world. It further discredited President Obama's Middle East policy and diminished his stature in the international arena."
This is something that we hear from Palestinian supporters a lot. That UN votes means "the entire world" is speaking with some kind of moral authority. What Ms. Friedman leaves out is that forty-one countries abstained from the vote, including a large number of European countries. And even among those countries who did vote for it: so what? How has it discredit President Obama and diminished his stature? It hasn't, because nobody cares that much about the Palestinians. Arab/US/Israel behavior in the UN has been the same for a long, long time, and this is just one example of the pattern repeating itself. But because it is happening now, and Ms. Friedman is writing about it, it takes on exaggerated importance.

Ready for some more hand-wringing?
"What did it get from Netanyahu? A thank you? A demonstration of the Netanyahu government's readiness to enter meaningful, serious negotiations, without preconditions, as demanded of the Palestinians? No. What it got was a slap in President Obama's face from the Israeli prime minister. "
That would be the settlement announcement, of course. Now this may come as a surprise to Ms. Friedman, but just because she loves President Obama does not mean that the world revolves around him. Not everything that Israel does is motivated by a desire to insult or pander to the President of the United States, even though maybe that's how it should be. It seems clear to me that Netanyahu was slapping the face not of Obama but of the Palestinians. You can criticize that as much as you want, but don't lie. Speaking of lying, the Netanyahu government has already been ready to negotiate without preconditions, while it is in fact the Palestinians who demand some (with Ms. Friedman's approval of course). Is Netanyahu serious or meaningful? That I couldn't say for sure, but then again neither can Ms. Friedman.

After proving that she never looks at maps by calling E1 the "ultimate two-state solution killer," she talks about the "repercussions" that Israel is suffering because of the settlements: Namely Europeans and American diplomats lecturing them tepidly about it. She then launches into a diatribe about Netanyahu "disrespecting" President Obama:
"When will Obama and his political and policy advisors [sic] finally understand that no step taken to placate or pander to Netanyahu will produce even a pretense of respect for this U.S. president? At best, Obama's gestures of friendship and support for Israel are pocketed with an insincere "thanks" and immediately transformed into entitlements (i.e., Iron Dome); at worst, they are treated as entitlements and responded to with conspicuous ingratitude (i.e., this UN vote)."
First of all: Iron Dome is an "entitlement?" Whatever. Secondly, President Obama is disrespected by a lot of people, including people in his own country and (let's not forget) the Palestinians either. Yet I don't see Ms. Friedman getting all hot and bothered about it because she doesn't actually care about whether or not President Obama is treated like Rodney Dangerfield. She just doesn't like Netanyahu, and will use whatever ammo that she can against him. And that's fine, I don't particularly care if Netanyahu is bashed. I'm just not a fan of lying or hypocrisy, and there is plenty of that in this article.

Here's where the implications of ZOG come back:
"Will this latest UN debacle finally teach the Obama Administration that even when it rolls over and sits up on command, it won't get a treat or even a pat on the head from Netanyahu or his fellow travelers in the U.S. and Israel? More likely, it will get this president the political and diplomatic equivalent of a smack on the nose with a rolled up copy of Israel Hayom."
So let me get this straight: Standing up for yourselves and your own interests and keeping your word at the UN is the equivalent of being "Netanyahu's dog?" And who are Netanyahu's "fellow travelers" that are not merely limited to Israel? Ms. Friedman could have just published this image and saved her fingers some work:


If that's what she thinks, then just come right out and say it.

Then we get some assumptions:
"Netanyahu by all appearances interfered in U.S. elections to try to defeat Obama (also here). Now, with Obama newly re-elected, Netanyahu has chosen this moment to try, once and for all, to put this president -- whom he appears to loathe and deeply disrespect, and whom, in a second term, he apparently deeply fears -- firmly in his place."
When you're using terms like "apparently," "by all appearances," and "appears to," what you're really saying is "I don't know if this is true but I'm going to say it anyway." There is nothing in any of Ms. Friedman's links to indicate that Netanyahu interfered with American elections (a classic anti-Semitic trope, by the way). Are foreigners not allowed to have opinions about American elections now? If a prominent British blogger says he likes Obama, is that "interference?" Or is does that just apply to people that Lara Friedman personally doesn't like?

If you think that something happened, say it. This "apparently" BS is the kind of thing that belongs in blogs like this one, not the Huffington Post. Speaking of assumptions, ready for some more?
"In choosing this course, Netanyahu isn't just sticking a finger in the eye of President Obama. He is giving the middle finger to every American who voted for Obama. He is telling all Americans, regardless of how they voted, that he cares not a whit for U.S. standing in the world or about the effect that his constant undermining of Obama has on this American president's ability to promote and protect vital U.S. national interests across the globe."
I think the best term for this paragraph would be "trying to be offended." Like I said earlier, the world doesn't revolve around President Obama, and it doesn't revolve around America either. Syria and Egypt are showing us that right now. And for someone who constantly complains that America and Israel shouldn't be so "buddy buddy," I don't get what Friedman is complaining about. Israel pursues their interests (like securing Jerusalem) and America pursues ours.

Now if she can actually prove how building homes outside Jerusalem "undermines Obama" or hurts "vital U.S. national interests" then I would like to hear. But that would actually involve doing some work, which isn't so welcome at the Huffington Post or at Peace Now.

The settlements are, as always, a nice whipping boy to use against Israel and a tempest in a teapot. It's likely that is all they will ever be.

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