Normally, I would not be posting on the night of the first Seder. We had a nice one with our entire family, and it was special in many ways. Then I got home and read the news and felt I had to post something.
Here is the story in a nutshell. Laura Rozen published a post yesterday on her blog where she wrote:
Sources say within the interagency process, White House Middle East strategist Dennis Ross is staking out a position that Washington needs to be sensitive to Netanyahu’s domestic political constraints including over the issue of building in East Jerusalem in order to not raise new Arab demands, while other officials including some aligned with Middle East peace envoy George Mitchell are arguing Washington needs to hold firm in pressing Netanyahu for written commitments to avoid provocations that imperil Israeli-Palestinian peace talks and to preserve the Obama administration’s credibility.
POLITICO spoke with several officials who confirmed the debate and its intensity. Ross did not respond to a query, nor did a spokesman for George Mitchell.
“He [Ross] seems to be far more sensitive to Netanyahu’s coalition politics than to U.S. interests,” one U.S. official told POLITICO Saturday. “And he doesn’t seem to understand that this has become bigger than Jerusalem but is rather about the credibility of this administration.”
In other words, Ross is being accused by an anonymous leaker from the administration of being an advocate who prefers Israeli needs to America’s needs.
A Jewish public servant who has spent many years of his life advising American presidents regarding the Middle East and America’s interests there is being openly accused of taking Israel’s side over America’s side.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not shocked to be reading this. I’ve read this before. ON ANTISEMITIC WEBSITES. Oh, okay, also on some partisan pro-Palestinian websites. But in this case, the dual loyalty charge being leveled at a Jew is coming from the White House.
The White House!
Now, it’s true that after this became publicized, the Chief of staff of the National Security Council, Denis McDonough, wrote to Politico:
“The assertion is as false as it is offensive…Whoever said it has no idea what they are talking about. Dennis Ross’s many decades of service speak volumes about his commitment to this country and to our vital interests, and he is a critical part of the president’s team.”
That’s encouraging, but you’ll notice that this is coming from somebody other than George Mitchell, Hillary Clinton, Rahm Emanuel (who with this stabbing in the back has seen how he will be dismissed one day from his sojourn in the White House), David Axelrod or Barack Obama. In other words, Ross is allowed to dangle on the noose they’ve placed around his neck. Publicly, he is finished now. This has spread over the internet almost as quickly as the assertion that Patraeus counts Israel’s actions in the Mid-East as endangering the lives of American soldiers. Now at least Petraeus came out and publicly and unequivocally stated that he said no such thing and did not intend to have his words parsed in this way, but it didn’t help that Secretary of Defense, Gates, essentially agreed broadly with Patraeus’s alleged statement.
In that case, a country that has never demanded that American soldiers be put at risk on its behalf (unlike Britain, France, Holland, Sweden, Iraq, Afghanistan, Korea, etc.), was suddenly placed in a defensive position having to justify the enmity brought upon it by the Arab world as a consequence of the Arab world’s actions, not its own. It had to explain that it was not responsible for, say, what happens to American soldiers in Iraq. It had to defend itself against a blood libel. Actually, it still has to, because this is a recent development and can still be found floating around all over the internet in discussion forum after discussion forum.
Speaking of discussion forums, every single one that I have read since the Ramat Shlomo-Biden incident, mostly for major American newspapers’ online editions, has a large proportion – well over three quarters of the comments, I would say – expressing distinct hostility against not just Israel and its supposedly anti-peace behavior, but also numerous comments attacking Jewish influence on the US, AIPAC’s influence, the “Jewish Lobby” influence, etc. The accusations made are harsh and often accuse these Jewish groups of supporting Israel over America as if the two are enemies or their interests are diametrically opposed.
This, of course, follows the Obama administration’s public and unending upbraiding of Israel’s leaders and of Israel itself. It has evolved in the past several days where on the one hand, they continue to slap Israel in the face over and over again, for example, in letting out a trial balloon notifying news agencies that the US would abstain in a UN Security Council vote about Jerusalem (no such resolution is tabled, but this was a clear warning to Israel), while with the other hand they stroke the American Democratic Jews by paying lip service to the idea that Israel “remains a close friend.”
Friends don’t let friends become targets of accusations of dual loyalty or of blood libels. Friends don’t let friends enter dangerous waters where the sharks who have waited for decades to bite are waiting hungrily as the ship’s captain removes the scuba gear and the harpoon from the lonely diver’s grasp. Friends don’t let friends become the focus of a broad scapegoating campaign that brands these members of a minority as the explanation for the hardships faced by their country.
But nobody needs to worry too much, because tonight Barack Obama attended a Passover Seder. He also released the following statement (taken from Ynet):
“This evening, Jewish individuals, families, and their friends in America, Israel, and around the world will gather around the Seder table to celebrate the sacred festival of Passover.
With rich symbols, rituals, and traditions, they will tell the story of the Exodus – the journey of the children of Israel from slavery to freedom, from grief to joy, from darkness to light, and from suffering to redemption.
The enduring story of the Exodus teaches us that, wherever we live, there is oppression to be fought and freedom to be won. In retelling this story from generation to generation, we are reminded of our ongoing responsibility to fight against all forms of suffering and discrimination, and we reaffirm the ties that bind us all.
My family and I send our warmest wishes for a joyous and meaningful Passover.
My Passover is meaningful, but like that of Dennis Ross, it is now far from joyful. I worry about what Obama is doing not just to Israel and the prospects of peace, which he is definitely undermining, but to those American Jews who support Israel. He is undermining the ties that bind us all.
He is bringing upon us a plague. Let’s call it, the Plague of the False Narrative. This is the Rashid Khalidi and Reverend Wright version of Middle East and American history. In this version, the “New Historians” are the only historians that matter; the Palestinians are “moderate” victims of Israel’s intransingence; the illegal buildings of Shuafat and Silwan are kosher but the legal buildings of Ramat Shlomo are unkosher; the source of Middle East tensions is Israel and not, say, Arab dictatorships or groups that deny Jewish historic links to this land; Israelis are European colonialists and the Palestinians are their native oppressed victims; Israel’s real and actual peace offers are insuffficient or made in bad faith while Palestinians’ refusal to negotiate or compromise is acceptable and understandable; Jewish Americans are useful for fundraising and winning close elections but are trouble when it comes to their support of Israel; Walt, Mearsheimer and Carter are right, their opponents are wrong; and the US only opposes Goldstone because of the implications to American troops, not because Israel is innocent.
But not to worry. Tomorrow, some White House person will come out and declare that Israel and America’s bonds are unshakable. Somewhere else, a White House representative – don’t worry, it won’t be Obama because he won’t be caught doing the dirty work – will let a newspaper, a blogger or a congressional committee know that Israel is the undoing of America in the Mid-East and the support of those Americans who advocate for Israel is partly responsible for this.
Mea culpa. I apologize deeply for my support of last election’s Democratic nominee for President. We have brought this horrible situation upon ourselves.
(photo from AP, through Ha’aretz)