It’s Bash-Israel time again for foreign diplomats and politicians

Blame Israel for diplomats

Blaming Israel for its enemies actions

CIA Director Leon Panetta is back at his favourite game (last played in October) of “urging Israel to end its isolation” – as if it were up to Israel to end it.

In a replay of his previous statements, he insisted that Israel must mend its regional relations:

US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta urged Israel and the Palestinian Authority to get back to the “damn” negotiating table. [such nice diplomatic language -Ed.] He also urged Israel to take steps to address what he described as the Jewish state’s growing isolation in the Middle East.

“I understand the view that this is not the time to pursue peace, and that the Arab awakening further imperils the dream of a safe and secure, Jewish and democratic Israel. But I disagree with that view,” Panetta said.

He said Israel needed to take risks, including by breathing new life into moribund peace talks with Palestinians. When asked by a moderator what steps Israel needed to take to pursue peace, Panetta said: “Just get to the damn table.”

“The problem right now is we can’t get them to the damn table, to at least sit down and begin to discuss their differences,” Panetta said.

As usual for State Department boffins, it is always Israel, and only Israel, who is required to “take risks”, i.e. attempt to commit national suicide, for some spurious “peace” that will no doubt be ripped to shreds as soon as the next Arab Spring overthrows whichever government seizes power next.

In a speech to the Brookings Institution, Panetta added (using some strange version of the English language):

while Israel is not solely responsible for its isolation, it could more actively attempt to reverse the trend.

“For example, Israel can reach out and mend fences with those who share an interest in regional stability countries like Turkey and Egypt, as well as Jordan,” he said.

“This is not impossible. If the gestures are rebuked, the world will see those rebukes for what they are. And that is exactly why Israel should pursue them.”

Assuming that Panetta intended his term “rebuke” to mean “rebuff”, then it is incomprehensible what more Panetta wants from Israel. How much more should Israel do to make peace with Egypt? Israel has a peace treaty with them already! It has not been torn up – yet – although that might very well be in the works, but that rebuff comes not from Israel, but from the Egyptians who declared:

“Egyptians don’t like Israel, so any government they elect is going to have tense relations with Israel; that’s just the way it is,” he said.

“The Brotherhood, though, has proven more than comfortable compromising its principles for political gain. If they need to compromise on Israel in order to get something out of it, they’ll do it,” he said.

“That said, the Brotherhood is never going to like Israel, and the relationship is not going to improve. I don’t think there’s a chance of an outright cancelation of the peace treaty, but I think there’s certainly a possibility of renegotiating certain aspects of it or finding ways to limit its impact or operability.

Does Panetta ever address himself to the Egyptian side of this equation? What does he expect Israel to do? Sorry, I asked this question above, and it seems the answer is national suicide.

A similar situation exists regarding Jordan, with whom Israel has a peace treaty too. As for Turkey, after Israel’s apology and offer of compensation for the flotilla fiasco was rejected by Turkey, the ball would seem to be in their court.

Mr. Panetta ought to take himself back to Diplomats School, preferably starting at Foreign Relations 101 before he treads his pointy shoes back in the Middle East mud.

The American Israel-bashing continues with a stunning “defence” of antisemitism by the American Ambassador to Belgium who attributed it to Israel’s actions. He even had the gall to say this to a Jewish audience:

Growing global anti-Semitism is linked to Israel’s policy towards the Palestinians, the American ambassador to Belgium told stunned Jewish conference attendants in Brussels earlier this week.

Speaking Wednesday at a Jewish conference on anti-Semitism organized by the European Jewish Union (EJU,) Howard Gutman told participants he was apologizing in advance if his words are not to their liking. He then proceeded to make controversial statements about his views on Muslim anti-Semitism, Yedioth Ahronoth reported Friday.

A distinction should be made between traditional anti-Semitism, which should be condemned and Muslim hatred for Jews, which stems from the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, Gutman said. He also argued that an Israeli-Palestinian peace treaty will significantly diminish Muslim anti-Semitism.

This false distinction between “classical” right-wing or Nazi antisemitism and left-wing or Muslim antisemitism only serves to further the entrenchment and acceptance of antisemitism under the guise of “only” anti-Zionism. Such a view is disgraceful and dishonest in and of itself, but the fact that such a view can be promulgated by an American diplomat is nothing short of shameful.

The last sentence that I highlighted is also disproven quite easily by the statements I quoted above by Egyptian politicians. If a peace treaty should diminish Muslim antisemitism, how come it hasn’t worked up till now with Egypt and Jordan?

Thankfully, the next speaker at the European conference offered a scathing rebuttal to Gutman’s absurd thesis:

“The modern Anti-Semite formally condemns Anti-Semitism and the Holocaust and expresses upmost sympathy with the Jewish people. He simply has created a new species, the “Anti-Zionist” or – even more sophisticated – the so-called ‘Israel critic,’” Germany attorney Nathan Gelbart said.

“The ‘Israel critic’ will never state ‘Jews go home’ but is questioning the legality of the incorporation of the State of Israel and therefore the right for the Jewish people to settle in their homeland. He will not say the Jews are the evil of the world but claim that the State of Israel is a major cause for instability and war in the region,” he said. “There is no other country, no other people on this planet the ‘Israel critic’ would dedicate so much time and devotion as to the case of Israel.”

“For no other country he would criticize or ask to boycott its goods or academics. And this for one simple reason: Because Israel is the state of the Jewish people, not more and not less,” Gelbart said.

Another sad example of ingrained diplomatic antisemitism comes from the UK this time. Paul Flynn, a Labour MP, suggested that the British Ambassador to Israel, Matthew Gould, had dual loyalty because he is Jewish and is a self-declared Zionist.  Flynn was roundly condemned across the political spectrum, but a defence was deployed from the most unexpected of quarters.

Robert Halfon MP, himself a Jew, came to his defense (h/t CifWatch), while condemning his words at the same time:

Mr Flynn’s actions betray an extraordinary mindset on the left, that allows normally highly intelligent and engaging individuals to lose all sense of proportion when the word “Israel” is mentioned.
The same kind of mindset rarely raises the daily atrocities committed in Syria or Iran, preferring to focus on Israel as part of some vast international conspiracy – usually involving American and British Conservative politicians.
What makes this worse is that Mr Flynn is able to do this because the British ambassador to Israel is Jewish. The subtext, of course, is that Jews by nature are not loyal to the country that they serve but are working for foreign powers. This has been the habitual accusation of antisemites throughout the ages.
Whilst I do not believe for one moment that Mr Flynn is antisemitic, the question that people will ask is: “Has he allowed himself to fall into the trap that those who hate Jews often set?”
Readers will note that I, too, as a Jewish MP, am being accused of being part of a “plot” to bomb Iran.
I can agree with everything Mr. Halfon wrote except the one point that he does not believe Flynn is antisemitic.
I’m sorry Mr. Halfon, but if it walks like an antisemite and makes accusations of dual loyalty like an antisemite, then it is an antisemite.  If we Jews refuse to recognize the bitter reality in front of our faces then what can we expect from others?
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12 Responses to It’s Bash-Israel time again for foreign diplomats and politicians

  1. NormanF says:

    Jordan’s King Abdullah said America is not a dependable friend. The US government seems bent on helping hostile regimes come to power and in the process wreck long-standing US interests and alliances in the region. It has become the enemy of its friends and it shows not the slightest comprehension of the damage its inflicted there. Israel is not going to take Panetta’s advice to heart. Surrounded by hostile regimes, the last thing on earth Israel is going to do is to appease enemies who want to wipe it off the map.

    • anneinpt says:

      I hope you’re right about Israel paying no heed to Panetta. The trouble is his words cause us problems internationally and diplomatically. I just can’t get my head round the fact that someone with so little self-awareness, not regarding himself personally but regarding his own country and its international relations, can be the head of the CIA. Positively terrifying.

  2. Brian Goldfarb says:

    Perhaps Leon Panetta should be sent an enrolment form for Learn to speak like a diplomat 101, followed by Language and Logic 101.

  3. floranista says:

    I’m sorry, annie, for these empty suits in our government who for some unknown reason have the unmitigated gall to tell Israel what to do.

    I hope and pray there will be positive changes in another year. Heavy emphasis on the “pray”.

  4. floranista says:

    You know, I had originally used the term “morons” but substituted “empty suits” instead. After re-reading the article, I should have stuck with morons.
    while Israel is not solely responsible for its isolation, it could more actively attempt to reverse the trend.

    “For example, Israel can reach out and mend fences with those who share an interest in regional stability countries like Turkey and Egypt, as well as Jordan,” he said.

    “This is not impossible. If the gestures are rebuked, the world will see those rebukes for what they are. And that is exactly why Israel should pursue them.”

    Really. REALLY?!?

  5. DavidinPT says:

    It seems quite clear to me that Bibi has already rejected the USA’s official (?) advice, (a) in his speech last night, and (b) by moving up the Likud primaries to show his democratic credentials and to ensure that the world understands he has the backing he needs to take whatever action is needed, and whenever, to curtail the Iranian threat. Panett is probably voicing the USA administration’s growing panic arising from the knowledge that Israel’s actions in Iran will undoubtedly cause oil prices to spike, thus killing off any economic resurgence just in time for the 2012 elections. On the other hand they know they have no real leverage with which to stop Israel when an existential threat is identified, they only have themselves to blame, principally due to Obama’s dismal foreign policy which has left USA stature in the region a total shambles. Does anyone believe an American guarantee is worth anything today??? Do the Saudis? The Iraqis? The Emirates? Jordan? Egypt? (Ask Mubarak!) Israel? BTW, Bibi should tell Obama that Clinton is persona non grata here till she publicly apologises for comparing Israel to Iran.

    • anneinpt says:

      I hadn’t taken into account Bibi’s moving up the Likud primaries. (Actually, they hadn’t been announced when I wrote this post). Now it all makes sense. Good thinking!

      I agree with you 100% about the worth of an American guarantee today. And as you say, it’s not only Israel, but most of the Middle East too who are both terrified of Iran’s nuclear ambitions and take no account of American deterrence.

      And Hilary Clinton needs to poke her nose right out of our business, silly cow. Israel makes easy headlines for all these attention-whores, and they get the approving glow of the media if they bash us into the bargain.

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