America can dish out insults but can’t take them

The Americans have become rather adept at dishing it out when it comes to dissing Israel and Israeli politicians. But it seems that they cannot take it when the roles are reversed.

Sarkozy and Obama insult Netanyahu

Not so very long ago, former President of France Nicholas Sarkozy called Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu “a liar”. President Barack Obama very undiplomatically replied ““You may be sick of him, but me, I have to deal with him every day.”.

That wasn’t the only time that Obama disrespected Netanyahu. In 2010 Obama refused to pose for official photos with Netanyahu during a visit to the White House, and then walked out on him while he went to a private dinner, leaving Netanyahu to “consult with advisers and “let me know if there is anything new”, a U.S. congressman, who spoke to the Prime Minister, said.”

This week we learned that former US Defence Secretary Robert Gates tried to have Netanyahu – the Prime Minister of America’s closest Middle East ally – banned from the White House!

In recent days we have also heard that Secretary of State John Kerry is behind the EU drive to boycott Israeli settlements. This is the same John Kerry who is supposed to be a neutral broker in the “peace” negotiations with the Palestinians:

Israeli diplomatic sources say US Secretary of State John Kerry is behind the recent wave of European threats to boycott settlement products, and intends to use these threats against Israel should the current series of peace talks fail, it was reported on Tuesday.

Kerry, according to sources cited in an Army Radio report, has encouraged various European countries behind the scenes in their efforts to initiate bans on the import of products originating in the West Bank settlements, but has taken pains to ensure that such actions remain “a threat” only.

If the Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations fail, the sources said, Kerry will “release the restraints” and the initiatives will be allowed to “go into effect.”

The idea of boycotting or labeling settlement products gained momentum in Europe over the last year.

Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon

Finally, yesterday, someone in Israel decided to push back against this revolting American delegitimization and undermining of Israel’s sovereignty. Israeli Defence Minister Moshe “Bogie” Yaalon became the diplomatic equivalent of the little boy who called out that the King has no clothes:

While the United States is pushing hard for a final agreement between Israel and the Palestinians, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon has expressed his great skepticism of these efforts, both in private conversations in Israel and in the US. In particular, Ya’alon has harsh words to say about Secretary of State John Kerry.

“Abu Mazen (Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas) is alive and well thanks to us,” Ya’alon said. “The moment we leave Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) he is finished. In reality, there have been no negotiations between us and the Palestinians for all these months – but rather between us and the Americans. The only thing that can ‘save us’ is for John Kerry to win a Nobel Prize and leave us in peace.”

Ya’alon, who was IDF chief of staff from 2002-2005, at the height of the second intifada, also has little regard for the US-devised security provisions for a post-peace region.

The American security plan presented to us is not worth the paper it’s written on,” Ya’alon said. “It contains no peace and no security. Only our continued presence in Judea and Samaria and the River Jordan will endure that Ben-Gurion Airport and Netanya don’t become targets for rockets from every direction. American Secretary of State John Kerry, who turned up here determined and acting out of misplaced obsession and messianic fervor, cannot teach me anything about the conflict with the Palestinians.”

Whiny Americans

Did the Americans sit quietly by and absorb this undiplomatic but perfectly accurate comment from Yaalon? By golly they did not! They went into immediate melt-down mode, demanding an apology from Israel:

In a rare public rebuke of an Israeli official, White House and State Department spokespeople took Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon to task on Tuesday evening for calling US Secretary of State John Kerry “messianic” and “obsessive” over the latter’s pursuit of an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal.

The American administration has also demanded that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu explicitly disavow Ya’alon’s comments and affirm his commitment to the peace talks, according to several Israeli media outlets.

“To question Secretary Kerry’s motives and distort his proposals is not something we would expect from the defense minister of a close ally,” White House Spokesman Jay Carney said Tuesday, echoing comments earlier in the day from State Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki.

“The remarks of the Defense Minister [Ya’alon], if accurate, are offensive and inappropriate especially given all that the United States is doing to support Israel’s security needs, and will continue to do,” Psaki said in a brief statement in Rome, according to Reuters.

“Secretary Kerry and his team, including General [John] Allen, have been working day and night to try to promote a secure peace for Israel because of the Secretary’s deep concern for Israel’s future,” she added. “To question his motives and distort his proposals is not something we would expect from the defense minister of a close ally.”

The American rebukes came several hours after a gentler reprimand of Ya’alon from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in a speech before the Knesset marking the Israeli parliament’s 65th birthday.

Unfortunately, Yaalon folded in the face of these rebukes and issued an apology:

In a statement published in English and Hebrew, the defense minister’s bureau said Israel greatly appreciates Kerry’s efforts and that Ya’alon “did not intend to insult the secretary and he apologizes if the secretary was hurt by the remarks attributed to the defense minister.”

This was not enough for the wussy Americans who demanded an even bigger apology:

Senior Obama administration officials were not satisfied with Netanyahu’s comments, and reportedly asked the prime minister to explicitly affirm his government’s commitment to the US-led peace talks with the Palestinian, and distance himself from Ya’alon’s comments.

This demand for an official disavowal from Netanyahu sounds positively Soviet, reminiscent of the threats of “re-education camps” in the Gulag.

If the Americans can’t take a mild insult which was barely ad-hominem, but rather mostly directed at their Middle East foreign policy, then they have no business being involved in these bitter negotiations. Breitbart remarks that Obama is remarkably thin-skinned, and this is evident in the American over-reaction to Yaalon’s words.

I wonder if the Americans have ever asked for an apology from the Palestinians when they insulted America. Or if they ever offered an apology to Binyamin Netanyahu for Obama’s disgraceful behaviour.

Food for thought, however, for Israel’s foreign policy boffins, is that we should be emulating the Americans’ behaviour. Israel should not stand for any more insults, disrespecting or offence against it. We must learn to stand up for our rights and for our national pride. No one thinks the better of us for waiving our national dignity, and no one else will stand up for us if we don’t do so ourselves.

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26 Responses to America can dish out insults but can’t take them

  1. peteca1 says:

    Mr Yaalon’s comments were an interesting piece of transparency into the world of Israeli politics. The sentiments they expressed seem quite consistent with what you (Anne) and many of your Israeli friends have expressed on this blog. I still can’t help but wonder if Israel and the USA are headed in different directions in 2014. It seems increasingly likely.
    Pete, USA

    • anneinpt says:

      As I said in my reply to you on the previous thread, I highly doubt Israel and the US will split completely. We’ve always had our ups and downs although there have been a lot of downs with this administration.

  2. peteca1 says:

    And BTW, the previous remark was not critical. The frustration in Israel about how things are going is becoming very palpable.

  3. Comments and criticisms, displays of sanctimonious offensive reactions to truthful expressions of conditions of reality by US amateurs in charge of American foreign policy should come as no surprise. In fact, it is naïve to expect this administration to remain intelligently silent and diplomatically analytical regarding unflattering intellectual discussions between experts reacting to American incompetence. A more professional response to an ally’s criticism, especially where the criticism carries substantial merit, would be to publicly ignore the comment and deal with it at a much less public and more effective diplomatic channel. But we are dealing with petulant children playing with loaded guns and in charge of serious issues of foreign policy. There is little benefit Israel can expect by publicly engaging in confronting American juvenile intransigence and stupidity. It can only hope that elections will provide the curative comeuppance and the world can resume a more intelligent Middle East foreign policy.

    • anneinpt says:

      But we are dealing with petulant children playing with loaded guns and in charge of serious issues of foreign policy

      Bingo. That’s a perfect description of the current Administration.

      Let us hope that we can survive 3 more years of this dangerous incompetence and that the American electorate will choose someone more capabe next time.

  4. cba says:

    “he apologizes if the secretary was hurt by the remarks attributed to the defense minister.”

    A delightfully non-apologetic apology. Not “I apologize for the remarks” but “I apologize IF HE WAS UPSET by the remarks” 🙂

    He shouldn’t have said it, but dammit, it’s true! I especially enjoyed “give him his Nobel Prize already and get him out of our hair!”

    • anneinpt says:

      yeah. 🙂 I liked the schoolboyish way of wriggling out of the apology but still – he shouldn’t have apologized. The Americans owe us dozens more apologies and I don’t remember hearing one. On the other hand I don’t remember Bibi or anyone else in power demanding an apology either. Wimps.

  5. JudyPT says:

    I so wish that Netanyahu and Boogie had had the courage of their convictions and stuck to their guns and not apologised for the very true comments Boogie made.One mitigating factor is that you cant unsay what has been said.

    • anneinpt says:

      One mitigating factor is that you cant unsay what has been said.

      Very good point! Bogey’s words will remain for posterity. That makes me very happy. 🙂

  6. DavidinPT says:

    The American administration’s complaint “To question Secretary Kerry’s motives and distort his proposals is not something we would expect from the defense minister of a close ally” is a non-sequitor. What close ally? See this article that shows that the USA administration is doing everything to hide from the Israeli leadership what exactly is in the agreement (sic) with Iran.
    Is that how a close ally behaves?
    I suggest that Bibi has a Czechoslovakian flag alongside the Israeli one at all press conferences and photo-ops he holds with visiting USA VIP’s.
    A picture is worth a thousand words!

    • anneinpt says:

      Very good points David, but somehow I can’t see Bibi with a Czech flag. And imagine the outrage if he did! The Americans would be offended all over again.

      With the amount of guilt that they’re trying to make us feel, you could almost imagine they’re Jewish mothers!

  7. NormanF says:


    When the Jews behave like the world’s doormats, they shouldn’t be surprised that people have contempt for them.

    What the Americans have learned is Jews are willing to grovel, to do almost anything not to offend them! They know they can treat Israel as they would never dare to treat any other country on earth.

    All because the Jews won’t demand the dignity they should be insisting on in the first place. Israeli abject servility in the face of American rudeness is not going to win Washington over to Israel’s side.

    • anneinpt says:

      Yep, I agree with you on this one. One can see your point in action – just look at how the Arabs insult the Americans with impunity. No apologies, none even demanded. And they get what they want. And then along comes Israel… we know the rest of the story.

  8. peteca1 says:

    “Would you like some cheese to go with that whine?”
    You need to make that into a bumper sticker and start selling it 🙂
    Pete, USA

  9. peteca1 says:

    Anne … another new media report that’s worth discussing.
    Remember when the world used to have Red Lines …. that was the good old days.
    How many times has this happened now in Syria –

    Pete, USA

    • anneinpt says:

      That’s a whole different story. Perhaps someone needs to find an insult against Obama or Kerry inside Syria, and THEN watch the Americans go into action!

  10. Reality says:

    As you say America thinks they can do whatever they want, incuding insulting Israel & its top politicains ,spying on their “close ally” Really? with such close allies I’d rather deal with enemies. At least when they say they want to drive us into the sea they mean what they say! & how about the US administration “demanding” that Netanyahu fire Lieberman? Bibi is a twit for apologising. Its time all these sanctimonious fools get a taste of their own medicine.Next time kerry turns up here on a flying visit can’t Bibi go visit his wife where she works at a junior school?!!! That’ll show him!!
    As an aside, what about all the rest who moan about our “shitty little country?”Apparantly anything can be flung at Israel but heaven forfend, those dirty little Jews mustn’t be allowed to give it back.

    • anneinpt says:

      The world seems to have forgotten that the Jews now have a sovereign country called Israel.

      Trouble is, the Jews seem to have forgotten it too, and can’t un-forget how to grovel.

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