The NYT v. Bibi

One should not expect new, creative ideas about the middle east to appear in a New York Times editorial. So when yesterday’s paper pushed an “Agenda for Mr. Netanyahu,” its perfect lockstep with the Obama Administration didn’t surprise too much. What did surprise, however, was its unique combination of cynicism and chutzpah. Bibi being Bibi, the Times could not take seriously any of his recent comments in favor of negotiations with the Palestinians, dismissing them as “unconvincing and insufficient.” As though Obama has by contrast produced a peace plan that is in any way convincing or sufficient. But what really gets the Times’ goat is that Netanyahu apparently “hinted” that Israel’s willingness to concede on the Palestinian side might depend on America’s successfully thwarting Iran’s nuclear program.

Stopping Iran’s nuclear program is crucial… Yes, the clock is ticking as Tehran’s capability improves. But Mr. Netanyahu should not artificially constrain Mr. Obama’s initiative. And Mr. Obama must discourage any move by Mr. Netanyahu to lead Israel, or push the United States, into unnecessary military action.

The Times has things backwards, in more ways than one. If Netanyahu did indeed hint at such a thing, it was in response to members of the Obama administration explicitly making the reverse linkage: that by failing to make progress on the Palestinian side, Israel was making it harder to stop Iran. Now, neither linkage makes a huge amount of sense, but while the American position is simply a non sequitur, at least one can understand where the Israelis are coming from: If you want us to feel comfortable taking risks with the lives of our people, they are saying, it will be easier to do so once you’ve eliminated another huge existential threat over our heads.

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The NYT v. Bibi

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