Even when trying to repair the gash in the fabric of U.S. relations, administration figures can’t keep their “condemn”s to themselves. In Moscow (more about that), Hillary Clinton employed the now familiar Obami tactic — praise generically and skewer specifically our ally Israel. One the one hand, she proclaims Bibi’s effort to soothe Hillary’s affronted and insulted boss “useful and productive.” But then she’s at it again. She pronounces, in case anyone had missed it, that “we all condemned the announcement, and we all are expecting both parties to move toward the proximity talks and to help create an atmosphere in which those talks can be constructive.” Meanwhile we learn:
Friday’s meeting came amid new fears about the deteriorating security situation in the Middle East. On Thursday night, Israel carried out air strikes on six sites in the Gaza Strip in what it said was retaliation for a rocket attack from Gaza on a southern Israeli town that killed a Thai worker. [Did anyone condemn the murder of the Thai worker?]
The prospects for reviving the peace process were already murky. The Palestinian Authority insists it will not negotiate until Israel freezes construction of Jewish settlements in the West Bank and Jerusalem. Israel’s housing plan, Mrs. Clinton said, further soured the atmosphere.
You see, it’s Israel’s fault. On the verge of peace talks — indirect ones, because the Palestinians can’t even get in the room with the Israelis, of course — when along comes the “affront.” It works like this: the Obami provide the pretext; the Palestinians bring the intransigence. You can imagine the dialogue between the West Wing and Foggy Bottom: What to use? The Ramat Shlmo housing announcement! Nah — absurd! No, no — that’ll work! No provocation of violence, no murder by Israel’s foes warrants such a retort. (Funny how the White House never got back to me on my follow-up inquiry.) Israel is in a class by itself.
And the Quartet gets into the “condemn” act. (“Israel’s housing plan was condemned for the second time in a week by the Quartet, a group that focuses on Middle East peace and comprises the United States, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations.”)
This is the new normal — Israel bashed at every turn by its “friends.” I think we have reached the point, as a clear-sighted observer noted, where “Israel’s last line of defense against false claims and promises — the United States — has made itself indistinguishable from the United Nations and Amnesty International and all the other NGOs and religious denominations that have declared virtual war against the Jewish State.”
In the end the proximity talks will collapse (before or after they convene), Palestinian violence will increase, and Israel will learn that they better not rely on the Obami. And meanwhile the mullahs — oh, them — proceed with their nuclear program. And if the Obami “condemn” Israel for approving apartments in Jerusalem, can we imagine the reaction should Israel decide to launch a preemptive attack on Iran? That may be the underlying message of all the “condemn”s.