Jeffrey Goldberg continues to insist today that Prime Minister Netanyahu is “needlessly alienating” the United States. Earlier Goldberg expressed astonishment at Netanyahu’s initial negative reaction to President Obama’s talk about forcing Israel to accept the 1967 borders as the baseline for negotiations, so the Israeli’s chutzpah in giving a lecture about Jewish history during a White House photo-op was bound to shock him as well.
Goldberg is wrong when he says that Obama gave Israel “two enormous gifts” in his Middle East speech: “A denunciation of the radical Islamist terror group Hamas, and a promise to fight unilateral Palestinian efforts to seek United Nations recognition as an independent state.” These are not unimportant points, but they are not “gifts.” If the United States remains serious about fighting terror, how can it make an exception for the Iranian ally Hamas? And while Israel has much at stake in stopping the Palestinian campaign in the UN, so does the United States.
Goldberg also dismisses the fact that, as I wrote earlier today, Netanyahu will be cheered at both the AIPAC conference and in his speech to Congress on Tuesday. Despite the evidence of its continuing strength and influence, he claims AIPAC is losing both and, without any evidence to support his conclusion, says most Jews don’t agree with the umbrella lobbying group.
But he might be right about one thing; that support for Israel is declining among Democrats. That’s a position that the many influential Jewish Democrats who are angry about Obama’s slap at Israel would dispute. It’s also one that people like House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, who moments ago told the AIPAC conference that peace in the Middle East had to reflect reality on the ground (a direct riposte to Obama’s speech) would also disagree with.
But if it is true, and to listen to some on the left wing of the Democratic Party, you would have to agree, then who is to blame?
Is it the fault of Israel for speaking up in its own defense when its vital security interests are threatened and past American promises are trashed? Or is the behavior of President Obama who has continually picked fights with Israel’s democratically elected government from his first days in office? After Obama’s carefully plotted, though unsuccessful ambush of Netanyahu, it would not be unusual if many Democrats were to get the message that the head of their party has a problem with the Jewish state. If, as Goldberg insists, “Support for Israel (and for the Netanyahu government in particular) is slowly waning among Democrats,” then it is Obama’s doing not that of Netanyahu.