The National Catholic Review

Bibi Netanyahu's unprecedented second appearance before the U.S. Congress was widely applauded by member of Congress who couldn't stop getting to their feet. It was less well received in some other corners, the Oval Office for one if it had a corner, according to Joe Klein writing in Time:

Of all the petty annoyances, misdemeanors and felonies of public life, there is none that Barack Obama detests more than to have his words twisted or oversimplified. It is a big part of his frustration with the media; it is a bigger part of his disdain for the talk-show wing of the Republican Party. And so it wasn't hard to imagine smoke jetting from the President's ears as Benjamin Netanyahu, the Prime Minister of Israel, willfully misinterpreted Obama's statement about the need to renegotiate Israel's borders — in Obama's presence, in the Oval Office on May 20. The President had said that a two-state solution, which Netanyahu alleges to support, should be based on the pre-1967 borders, with mutually agreed-upon land swaps that would enable Israel to incorporate the vast majority of its — dare I say— illegal settlements into its territory while giving over equal amounts of Israeli turf to the Palestinians.

This is not a groundbreaking proposition. In the arcane world of Middle East peace negotiations, it is the equivalent of saying many Jews and Arabs eat hummus....But Netanyahu did an astonishing thing: he chose to ignore the part about the land swaps. He also chose to ignore some significant, and rather hard-line, statements of principle that Obama made in his May 19 speech on Middle East policy ... Instead, in a most condescending manner, Netanyahu chose to lecture the President on a position that he knew Obama hadn't taken — a return to the "indefensible" pre-1967 borders.

Why on earth would Bibi Netanyahu choose to be so boorish and provocative? Because he can be. He has the U.S. Congress in his pocket, a fact made obvious by the applause tsunami that attended his speech to a joint session ... But Netanyahu's offensive also had an important tactical effect: Israel's continued, illegal construction of settlements on Palestinian lands — an impediment to peace every bit as great as the Palestinian refusal to truly acknowledge Israel's existence — took a distinct backseat during the week of dueling speeches. Netanyahu was playing offense so he didn't have to play defense.

Netanyahu knows American politics. The ease and eloquence of his address to Congress were stunning evidence of that. And so he must have been aware of the political impact of his cheesy gambit: he has now, overtly, tossed his support to the Republicans in 2012. Mitt Romney was able to say that Obama had "thrown Israel under the bus." Given his congressional support, Netanyahu may be able to get away with playing so bold a hand — but it is inappropriate behavior for an American ally, and you can bet that Obama won't forget it.

While the U.S. media did not generally share Klein's displeasure with the Israeli prime minister's misrepresentation of the president's position, some outlets even noted their deep approval for the presidential dissing, Israeli media was more critical of the prime minister's Washington whirlwind: Here's Gordon Levy in Haaretz speaking of Netanyahu's congressional performance:

It was an address with no destination, filled with lies on top of lies and illusions heaped on illusions. Only rarely is a foreign head of state invited to speak before Congress. It's unlikely that any other has attempted to sell them such a pile of propaganda and prevarication, such hypocrisy and sanctimony as Benjamin Netanyahu did yesterday.

The fact that the Congress rose to its feet multiple times to applaud him says more about the ignorance of its members than the quality of their guest's speech. An Israeli presence on the Jordan River - cheering. Jerusalem must remain the united capital of Israel - applause. Did American's elected representatives know that they were cheering for the death of possibility? If America loved it, we're in big trouble.

Meanwhile a day after Netanyahu's speech offering "painful concesssions" for peace, ground was broken for new Jewish housing in East Jerusalem. “The Israeli government is implementing its vision for the destruction of a two-state solution presented by Prime Minister Netanyahu to the American Congress,” said Senior Palestinian negotiator Saeb Ereka. “This settlement is not only another obstacle to returning to negotiations, but it also raises tensions, institutionalizes discrimination, and brings those with extremist beliefs in close proximity to Palestinian residential areas.”

Comments

YJ Draiman | 8/26/2011 - 6:36am
Israel, no restraint, no concession to the Arabs rev.
 
Any restraint is counterproductive. Israel must respond with extreme force. This is the only way to subdue the enemy. This is the enemy that wants to throw you into the sea.
 
I would gladly support a major offensive against Gaza or any other Arab Palestinians that are hurting Israelis in any shape or form.
 
Many years ago when Sharon was defense minister of Israel (while his wife was alive) his policy was, any violent acts by the Palestinian Arabs were returned with extreme force, and it worked.
 
Why have we changed tactics, have we become too soft, too worried about world opinion. We are paying for this behavior with Israeli lives and damage to Israel's economy.  With this approach, matters will only get worse, as the past has proven. The Arabs treat concessions and lack of extreme response as a sign of weakness.
 
People of the world ultimately respect a government that protects its people at any cost. Not a government that causes its people to run to shelters constantly and more.
 
Let us go back to the old ways and respond with very extreme force, no restraint, no concession. You will see in the long run, it will bring a much more peaceful life in Israel.
 
Terror should be handled in the following manner. When a poison strikes the human body, the only way to address it, is to remove it and destroy it completely.
 
If the Arabs cannot control their own people, extreme or not, they will have to pay the price.
 
There is a divine statement that says “if someone comes to kill you, you should beat him to it, and kill him first.
 
Let us celebrate living in safety in Greater Israel.
 
Remember the Arabs are the occupiers.
 
Greater Israel belongs to the Jewish people for over 3,000 years.
 
King David fought many wars to bring peace to Israel; he did not use restraint at all, only extreme force.
 
The expanded Land of Greater Israel from Nile to Euphrates has enough territory to settle all the Israelites together with the strangers among them! There is an opinion that the entire population of the world could be placed in the state of Texas, which consist of 268,820 square miles or 696,200 square kilometers. By comparison, the Biblical Land of Israel is not “tiny” at all. Its borders will include the Eastern part of Egypt, Sinai, Lebanon, Jordan, island of Cyprus, part of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Syria, parts of Iraq and Turkey. It is estimated that the Promised Land is eight times the size of Texas. The population of all the children of Israel is much less than that of the whole world. It would be no problem to accommodate all Israelites on their Land. Especially, as the prophets say, all the Arab and Muslim enemy-nations surrounding Israel will have been defeated and expelled out of the Land. Their lands will be repossessed by Israelites.
Those who laid you waste depart from you. They that swallowed thee up shall be far away” (Isaiah 49:17, 19).
The Qur'an 17:104 - states the land belongs to the Jewish people
 
 
 
YJ Draiman
Vince Killoran | 5/31/2011 - 12:36pm
p.s. Sorry-sorry for the duplicate-and incomplete-post.

There's the American Empire, not the Israel Empire.  The unquestioning support of the U.S. govt. and many-not all-American Jews toward the Israeli government's policies is damaging to Israel not to mention Palestinians.

BN is not at all serious about peace.  How do we know this?  He told us, both in his words and his (in)action.  Consider his supporters & allies as well: self-identified religious Jews in Israel believe that they have a biblical right to a "Greater Israel"; secular Jews in Israel, especially younger ones, are increasingly uninterested in real peace and are quite candid about this.

The only people around the world who listen to BN platitudes with any seriousness are Americans.
Vince Killoran | 5/31/2011 - 11:55am
Israel isn't the Roman Empire.
Vince Killoran | 5/31/2011 - 11:52am
Israel isn't the Roman Empire.
Anonymous | 5/31/2011 - 6:46am
''an occupying force.  This is unsustainable.''


The Roman empire lasted about a thousand years of occupying.  The Ottoman empire lasted about 400 years of occupying.  The Israelis are kinder than both and want to let their dominions go. But first the Arabs have got to stop wanting to annihilate the Jews in Israel.  When that happens, we will have peace there.

As Golda Meier said, Peace will come when the Arabs will love their children more than they hate us.  And that was in 1957.  How prophetic.
Vince Killoran | 5/30/2011 - 11:24pm
Israel is an occupying force.  This is unsustainable.
Tom Maher | 5/29/2011 - 10:43pm
Benjamin Netanyahu Prime Minister of Israel did us all a favor by promply frimly rejecting Presdient Obama's peace negotiation prorposal to begin with the pre-1967 borders.  Prime Minister Netanyahu could not be more clear when he said publically with President Obama beside him "Its not going to happen."   And the Prime Minsiter expalined why its not going to happen" becasue Israel's borders need to be defensable if its to suvive the too-frequent attacks. 

In 2011 Presdient Obama's peace negotiation proposal utterly lacks realism given the historic record of constant attacks on Israel by its neighbors. Obama's proposal has a Neille Chamberlain quality - a wishful lack of reality to have peace at any price while ignoring all the many warning of imminent military peril.  

The 1973 Yom Kippur war illustates the Israel's and the United States security problem best.
In October 1973, two Arab armies launched a surprise coordinated attack on Israel that came very  close to being a successful first-strike attack that would overwhelm Israel's defenses  before Israel could become fully mobilized.    Other middle east countires joined in the attack including Jordan and Iran. 

The United States immeadiately became invovled in the resupply of the numerous tanks and aircraft the were distroyed by the Egyptian and Syrian armies and air forces.   Both the United States and The Soviet Union were  on full world wide alert. The extreme serious nature of a massive surpise attack has great potential of a much wider world war.

One of the margins of victory and survival for Israel was the occupied land that were a  defended wider buffer to Israel.  Without this militarized buffer Isreal would have been overrun. ???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????
Stanley Kopacz | 5/29/2011 - 9:56am
Can't the several gigabucks we send Israel every year be considered socialism?  If we don't send them this free money every year, can't we reduce the taxes on our rich and thus create thousands of jobs?  Or so I've heard theorized.  Israel can subsequently reduce the taxes on their wealthy and the growth in the economy will then make up for the loss of our aid.  It's all so simple.
Michael Kelly | 5/28/2011 - 8:23am
Mr. Clarke:  How do you expect to be taken seriously by quoting a writer who not only has a reputation for venomous commentary but who begins his analysis of criticism of President Obama’s latest statements on the Mideast with this howler: “Of all the petty annoyances, misdemeanors and felonies of public life, there is none that Barack Obama detests more than to have his words twisted or oversimplified.”?
 
Obama - the master of misrepresentation and straw man argumentation – detests having his words “twisted”?   His words weren’t twisted of course – see below – but if Obama really does detest having his words twisted, then implicit in that statement is that Obama is a hypocrite par excellence.  
 
As for the rest of Klein’s piece, see
 
“An Anti-Israel President - The president's peace proposal is a formula for war”
Bret Stephens, 5/24/11
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304066504576341212934894494.html
 
“For starters, it would be nice if the president could come clean about whether his line about the 1967 line—''mutually agreed swaps'' and all—was pathbreaking and controversial, or no big deal. On Sunday, Mr. Obama congratulated himself for choosing the hard road to Mideast peace as he prepares for re-election, only to offer a few minutes later that ''there was nothing particularly original in my proposal.''
 
“Yet assuming Mr. Obama knows what he's talking about, he knows that's untrue: No U.S. president has explicitly endorsed the '67 lines as the basis for negotiating a final border, which is why the University of Michigan's Juan Cole, not exactly a shill for the Israel lobby, called it ''a major turning point.''
 
“Mr. Obama would also know that in 2009 Hillary Clinton had described this formula as ''the Palestinian goal.'' Now it's Mr. Obama's goal as well, even as he insists that ''no peace can be imposed.''
 
“Then there was Mr. Obama's use of his favorite professorial trope: ''Let me repeat what I actually said.'' What followed was a rehearsal of what he supposedly said on Thursday.
 
“But Mr. Obama's problem isn't, as he supposes, that people aren't paying close enough attention to him. On the contrary, they've noticed that on Thursday Mr. Obama called for Israel to make territorial concessions to some approximation of the '67 lines before an agreement is reached on the existential issues of refugees and Jerusalem. ''Moving forward now on the basis of territory and security,'' he said, ''provides a foundation to resolve these two issues in a way that is just and fair, and that respects the rights and aspirations of Israelis and Palestinians.''
 
“Mr. Obama neglected to mention these points on Sunday, hence the telling omission. But the essence of his proposal is that Israel should cede territory, put itself into a weaker position, and then hope for the best. This doesn't even amount to a land-for-peace formula.
 
“That's not all. Mr. Obama got some applause Sunday by calling for a ''non-militarized'' Palestinian state. But how does that square with his comment, presumably applicable to a future Palestine, that ''every state has a right to self-defense''? Mr. Obama was also cheered for his references to Israel as a ''Jewish state.'' But why then obfuscate on the question of Palestinian refugees, whose political purpose over 63 years has been to destroy Israel as a Jewish state?
 
“And then there was that line that ''we will hold the Palestinians accountable for their actions and their rhetoric.'' Applause! But can Mr. Obama offer a single example of having done that as president, except perhaps at the level of a State Department press release?
 
“What, then, would a pro-Israel president do? He would tell Palestinians that there is no right of return. He would make the reform of the Arab mindset toward Israel the centerpiece of his peace efforts. He would outline hard and specific consequences should Hamas join the government.
 
“Such a vision could lay the groundwork for peace. What Mr. Obama offered is a formula for war, one that he will pursue in a second term. Assuming, of course, that he gets one.
 
And see also “What Obama did to Israel” by Charles Krauthammer, 5/26/11
http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/what-obama-did-to-israel/2011/05/26/AGJfYJCH_story.html
 
“The only remaining question is whether (President Obama’s) perverse and ultimately self-defeating policy is born of genuine antipathy toward Israel or of the arrogance of a blundering amateur who refuses to see that he is undermining not just peace but the very possibility of negotiations.” 
 
To which I would suggest that it is not a question of either/or.  Obama’s policy likely is born of both antipathy and the arrogance of a blundering amateur.
 
david power | 5/27/2011 - 9:21pm
I am a far right conservative that  would make Rush Limbaugh wince and I think that President Obama needs to call his Navy Seals again.  Nethenyahu is a disgrace ,he represents a zionist mentality that is only comparable to what was going on in Germany in the 30's .
The Palestinians are a muddled bunch who are desperate but they need a fig leaf.Bibi is a timewaster .History will  judge him very harshly for putting his own political needs above the peace and happiness of millions of people.
It is time Rabin went to God and asked for a change.
The American media manipulation of this whole drama is incredible.
For every one Israeli that dies four Palestinians die.It has been so for 20 years.
I think that the Angels have Obama's ear.     
Crystal Watson | 5/27/2011 - 4:58pm
Sorry - didn't mean to post that twice  :)
Tom Maher | 5/30/2011 - 10:04am
Stanley (14)

Now Stanley, I know you know better than that.  

The great lesson of history that all Americans must know is how the United States  was pulled into World War II seventy years ago  dsespite the stong wish of Americans to stay neutral and politically disinvolved with the rest of the world.  Both political parties in the 1940 presidential election wanted to remain nuetral.  All Americans wanted to just remain safely in the walls of Fortress America protected by the vast distances of the Atlantic and Pacific oceans from the raging everywhere in Europe, Asia and Africa. 

Unfortunately  technology had change in the early part of the 20th century that made the world a lot more dangerous than ever before.  The United States was in fact vunerable to attack and was attacked in a bold never-before attempted but very successful  surprise attack air craft carriers and air craft.   This showed there was no place to hide when the rest of the world is engulf in war.  Qar spreads worldwide and engulf all nations even seventy years ago.  

Now of course in the 21st century with atomic weapons and new hypersonic missles other countries security can not be ignored and hope they take care of themselves.  Their wars become our wars as WW II showed.  Better to pay attention to world security needs from the start to prevent wars from starting and then as they did terrribly in WW II spread worldwide.  

Since WW II the new reality is that the United States is directly impacted by world affairs and warfare.  Strategic partners llike France, Britain. Israel or Kuwait can not be at war without the United States eventually being be involved. The United States to protect itself must be involve with worldwide security.
Anonymous | 5/29/2011 - 9:06am
I have a few comments about the Netanyahu speech:
 
1. Someone said the last person to receive such a reception in Congress was Churchill. I listened to parts of the speech and was immensely impressed with the logic and passion of the delivery.
 
2. A couple commentators said there is no such things as 1967 borders.  They were truce lines from previous wars with the Arabs, all started by them.  They never were meant to be any basis for long term territorial markings mainly because they were indefensible especially with present day technology.  So Obama's bringing them up was a provocation and his subsequent backing down a little was a result of his education on the matter very quickly.  By the way there was a new article two days ago that the G20 was supposed to put in it latest manifesto that Israel was to return to the 1967 borders but Canada prevented it.
 
3. There apparently are natural formations that would make it difficult for Arab invasion in the future or jihadist penetration that Israel wants to make permanent.  I was also unaware of this that this might be the basis for any future partition.  There is I believe a four thousand foot cliff rising out of the Jordan river that they want for a natural boundary.
 
4. The line in Netanyahu's speech about of the 300 million Arabs and the only free ones are the million in Israel who apparently will not want to leave Israel under any settlement was a very telling one and probably one that upsets the anti Israeli factions.  I thought the Iraqi's were now free too but that would not go over well either with the same groups that are anti Israel.
 
5.  While Israel is far from perfect they have leaned over backwards incredibly with the Arabs in the last 40 years.  For a neighbor who openly says they want to kill you and has tried several times to do that, they are extremely controlled in their responses.  Sometimes it is not as controlled as even they would like but no other group in the history of the world has had so much self restraint. 
 
6.  One of the reasons the left hates Israel so much is that it started out as a socialist state and was supported at the beginning by the Soviet Union and supplied arms by Eastern bloc countries.  Israel is the one place in history where socialism worked.  But they abandoned it after one generation as they saw the debilitating aspects of it.  For that they can never be forgiven.  So if you want to understand the hate directed towards Israel by the left, that is its origins.
Crystal Watson | 5/27/2011 - 4:57pm
I'm a "dread liberal" too but it does seem to me like the press has been mean-spirited about Netanyahu.
Crystal Watson | 5/27/2011 - 4:56pm
I'm a "dread liberal" too but it does seem to me like the press has been mean-spirited about Netanyahu.
Helen Mc Devitt-Smith | 5/28/2011 - 10:49am
When I was in Catholic grammar school (pre-Vatican II) I remember learning that the Jewish state of Israel was founded in 1948.  My first thought was: “It will never last because the Jews were condemned to wander the face of the earth and never have a homeland, because they killed Christ.” (“May His blood be on us and on our children.”) 
Of course, later on when I became acquainted with the document of Vatican II, “Nostra Aetate”, I realized the fallacy of what I had thought and, obviously had, been taught.
A few years later I read a comment by a woman, who was married to a Palestinian. She said and I can only paraphrase: Christians in Western Europe have persecuted the Jews for centuries and they are making the Palestinians do penance for it.
Around the same time, I was travelling in Israel on a personal pilgrimage.  I met a man in typical Arab garb in a taxi we were sharing.  He asked me about my nationality. I told him that I was an American.   Then he leaned over and whispered in my ear:
“When we get the power we’re going to wipe them out.  Don’t forget that I told you.”
Four months later, a coalition of Arab states led by Egypt and Syria launched a joint surprise attack on Israel on Yom Kippur, the holiest day in Judaism.
A relative of mine is a journalist in the Middle East.  He has provided me with a good deal of information on rights of the Palestinians.  I try to balance his comments with the right of the Jews to a homeland.
Despite the fact that I am sharing personal comments on this issue, I try to be logical and reasonable.  Both sides of the issue have to be considered.  Both sides have a lot of forgiving to do.  It’s complicated.