I have written the mock press release below partly as farce and partly as hope for the kind of statement that the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) might eventually issue in response to the provocative and disconcerting posture of the Israeli government this past week.
This note is fiction and modifies an official AIPAC press statement issued at 9 pm tonight as its base.
AIPAC is urging the US government to be cautious in its statements and actions with Israel, when I feel that it is the Israeli government that is out of line.
I mean no disrespect towards AIPAC and its members in this commentary — but it is time I believe for AIPAC supporters to realize that decisions that we heard this week about expanding settlements in East Jerusalem are fueling and helping Iran’s regional pretensions — not undermining them.
To be fair, I have pasted the official and correct AIPAC statement on the extended page.
I also want to encourage commenters on this blog to remain civil and fair-minded. I think that there are different portals through which people look at this stressful and complicated situation. My views are well-known and have been presented consistently over the last several years.
It’s time for other Americans who support Israel to realize that the zero sum approach that is being forced by parts of the Netanyahu government is actually significantly harming Israel’s long term interests. I know that there are senior officials in Israel’s Knesset, Foreign Ministry, and even in its military and intelligence services that agree with the perspective I am sharing here.
Prime Minister Netanyahu may not be able to help his position — but it’s time that the Obama administration changes the situation.
Netanyahu became Obama’s Khruschev by demonstrating the President’s weakness over the settlements issue in the first round.
Like Kennedy and Khrushchev’s second tussle which led to a nuclear crisis, I fear that to gain his global standing, Obama will have to turn this worsening crisis with Israel and Netanyahu into a pivotal moment for US foreign policy — but I don’t know yet whether the President and his national security team have the vision and strategic capability to pull off something that leaves Israel, the US, and the Middle East in a better place.
– Steve Clemons
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 14, 2010
AIPAC CALLS RECENT STATEMENTS BY THE GOVERNMENT OF ISRAEL
“A MATTER OF SERIOUS CONCERN”
The Netanyahu Government’s recent statements and posture regarding major settlement expansion in East Jerusalem and the calloused disregard for the impact of these actions on Israel’s relationship with the United States are a matter of serious concern.
AIPAC calls on Prime Minister Netanyahu to take immediate steps to defuse the tension with the U.S. government.
The United States is Israel’s closest ally in the Middle East. The foundation of the U.S-Israel relationship is rooted in Israel’s fundamental strategic interest, shared democratic values, and a long-time commitment to peace in the region.
Those strategic interests, which most Israelis acknowledge and share with the U.S., extend to every facet of Israeli life and its relationship with the United States.
Unfortunately, a relationship that has generally enjoyed vast bipartisan support in Congress and among the American people is now eroding because of the Israeli government’s tendency to allow short term concerns and the incrementalism of its expansion in Occupied Territories to undermine its own long term security interests, its core relations with the US, and the security and safety of American men and women deployed today in the Middle East.
The Netanyahu government should make a conscious effort to immediately move away from actions that would further undermine any prospects for Israel-Palestine peace and a two state solution. While Israel complains about unilateral deadlines directed at the Jewish State, it is time for Israel to ante up on the peace process and demonstrate that it has the maturity to demonstrate that it will cooperate with and not undermine US basic, fundamental, and strategic interests.
The escalated rhetoric of recent days reminds how much substantive work needs to be done — and how absent the Israeli government has been — with regard to the urgent issue of Iran’s rapid pursuit of nuclear weapons, and the pursuit of peace between Israel and all her Arab neighbors.
Israel’s provocative decision and announcement that it will greatly expand East Jerusalem settlements — followed by revelations of tens of thousands more in process but as yet unannounce — undermine the chances of securing normalization with Arab neighbors and only add to Iran’s growing strength and powers of persuasion in the region.
We strongly urge the Netanyahu government to work closely and privately with the Obama administration, in a manner befitting strategic allies, to address these issues between the two governments.
The strategic patience of the United States is being irresponsibly tested by Israel today, and it is time for all well meaning supporters of this relationship and of global stability and peace to encourage significantly more responsible behavior from the Israeli government in reigning in issues like settlement expansion that make a once seemingly unconditional relationship necessarily “conditional.”
As Vice President Biden said last week in Israel,
“The cornerstone of the relationship is our absolute, total, unvarnished commitment to Israel’s security.” But with this kind of commitment also come mutual responsibilities.
“Bibi, you heard me say before, progress occurs in the Middle East when everyone knows there is simply no space between the United States and Israel. There is no space between the United States and Israel when it comes to Israel’s security.”
But Bibi, you need to fix the space that is growing — and fix it now.
It is time for Israel to fill that gap and to join President Obama’s efforts to generate a new equilibrium in the Middle East that assures Israel’s interests and security and that finally provides for a viable, stable State of Palestine.
This is official release from AIPAC tonight:
March 14, 2010
AIPAC CALLS RECENT STATEMENTS BY THE U.S. GOVERNMENT
“A MATTER OF SERIOUS CONCERN”
URGES OBAMA ADMINISTRATION TO WORK TO IMMEDIATELY DEFUSE THE TENSION WITH ISRAEL
The Obama Administration’s recent statements regarding the U.S. relationship with Israel are a matter of serious concern. AIPAC calls on the Administration to take immediate steps to defuse the tension with the Jewish State.
Israel is America’s closest ally in the Middle East. The foundation of the U.S-Israel relationship is rooted in America’s fundamental strategic interest, shared democratic values, and a long-time commitment to peace in the region. Those strategic interests, which we share with Israel, extend to every facet of American life and our relationship with the Jewish State, which enjoys vast bipartisan support in Congress and among the American people.
The Administration should make a conscious effort to move away from public demands and unilateral deadlines directed at Israel, with whom the United States shares basic, fundamental, and strategic interests.
The escalated rhetoric of recent days only serves as a distraction from the substantive work that needs to be done to with regard to the urgent issue of Iran’s rapid pursuit of nuclear weapons, and the pursuit of peace between Israel and all her Arab neighbors.
We strongly urge the Administration to work closely and privately with our partner Israel, in a manner befitting strategic allies, to address any issues between the two governments.
As Vice President Biden said last week in Israel, “The cornerstone of the relationship is our absolute, total, unvarnished commitment to Israel’s security. Bibi, you heard me say before, progress occurs in the Middle East when everyone knows there is simply no space between the United States and Israel. There is no space between the United States and Israel when it comes to Israel’s security.”
– Steve Clemons publishes the popular political blog, The Washington Note