The Netanyahu Disaster
The Atlantic’’s Jeffrey Goldberg has added his voice to the growing chorus of reasonable people greatly dismayed by the bizarre and destructive behavior of Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and Speaker Boehner.
Israel has been, for several decades, a bipartisan cause in Washington. Bipartisan support accounts for the ease with which Israeli prime ministers have historically been heard in Washington; it accounts for the generous aid packages Israel receives; and it also explains America’s commitment to maintaining Israel’s qualitative military edge.
Netanyahu’s management of his relationship with Obama threatens the bipartisan nature of Israel’s American support. His Dermer-inspired, Boehner-enabled end-run has alienated three crucially important constituencies. First, the administration itself: Netanyahu’s estrangement from the Obama White House now appears to be permanent. It will be very difficult for Netanyahu to make the White House hear his criticisms of whatever deal may one day be reached with Iran.
Netanyahu has also alienated many elected Democrats, including Jewish Democrats on Capitol Hill. One Jewish member of Congress told me that he felt humiliated and angered by Netanyahu’s ploy to address Congress “behind the president’s back.” A non-Jewish Democratic elected official texted me over the weekend to say that the damage Netanyahu is doing to Israel’s relationship with the U.S. may be “irreparable.”
A larger group that Netanyahu risks alienating is American Jewry, or at least the strong majority of American Jews that has voted for Obama twice. Netanyahu’s decision to pit U.S. political party against U.S. political party—because that is what his end-run does—puts American Jewish supporters of Israel in a messy, uncomfortable spot, and it is not in Israel’s interest to place American Jews in a position in which they have to choose between their president and the leader of a Jewish state whose behavior is making them queasy.
The “Dermer” he mentions is the Israeli ambassador to the US….but Ron Dermer is much more than that. He has a long record of deep involvement in GOP politics, going back to working alongside Frank Luntz during the 90s. That is bad enough, but even worse is the fact he has more than a passing relationship with Sheldon Adelson. He is, of course, the casino billionaire who has flooded US elections with money in order to protect his interests by banning online gambling and started a free Israeli newspaper called Yisrael HaYom in order to promote his desire to drop an atomic bomb on Iran.
I personally find the whole affair sickening. It is also my personal opinion that one would have to be a fucking asshole and a plain old idiot to think that Netanyahu/ Boehner/Dermer’s political theater piece is likely to advance the interests of Israel or the world at large.