Unlikely ways Obama could appreciate Netanyahu’s backing of Romney

Yediot Ahronot on US Election Day by Kung Fu Jew 18, on Flickr

President Obama won his reelection. And while American Jews supported him just as much as in 2008, there is one Jew who very publicly backed the losing horse: Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

Officially, Netanyahu said in a short statement that he will “continue working with President Obama in order to safeguard the interests crucial for the security of Israel’s citizens.” Netanyahu stepped boldly into American electoral politics by appearing with Romney and participating in Republican ads in Florida.

But while Netanyahu was mum, members of his Likud party offered bluntly disparaging statements. At least, that is, until the Prime Minister’s office demanded press statements be in line with their party leader. MK Danny Danon said, “The State of Israel will not surrender to Obama. We have no one to rely on but ourselves,” obviously forgetting an annual $3 billion of US aid, several UN Security Council vetos recently, and a 1,000-soldier US military drill conducted on Israeli soil a week ago.

Few voices are predicting whether a strengthened President Obama will take new aim at Middle East peace or demand tougher concessions against Netanyahu’s government. Tony Blair may be one. The Palestinians are not. But nobody is suggesting that Obama will forget what Netanyahu attempted to do. Already Netanyahu’s opponents are lining up to make the most of it. (Ynet posted a comprehensive round-up of congratulations by each of the major Israeli parties and electoral contenders.)

How could an invigorated Obama presidency send a signal to Netanyahu? Here are a few unlikely options that are nonetheless interesting to imagine what’s truly at stake for Netanyhu:

First of all, he could visit Israel. Preferably before the January elections and to hold photo ops with all the party leaders who support a return to two-state negotiations — Zehava Golan of Meretz, Shelly Yachamovich of Labor, as well as what becomes of Ehud Olmert, Tzipi Livni, and Yair Lapid. And if Bibi wants his photo op, no doubt he can have it while sharing it with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

Second, he could opt to support the Palestinian Authority’s bid for non-state observer status at the United Nations. Or at least, not oppose it. Abbas congratulated Obama’s reelection while simultaneously lamenting the US’ lack of support for their upgrade. The international cache gained by the US would no doubt be useful in further actions against Iran’s nuclear program in the same forum.

Third, he could put an American proposal on the table for final status agreement with the Palestinians, putting Netanyahu in the position of fighting both his own stated agreements and the President at a time when showing no daylight between the administrations is crucial to Netanyahu’s election.

Would any of this backfire with an outpouring of Israeli support for Netanyahu domestically? According to everyone, Netanyahu will be reelected Prime Minister, but by coalition math and not by popular affirmation. By how much will he win is the question, and will new centrist parties take enough of a bite of his share to beg their inclusion in his new coalition. The left will not be in any power in Israel’s next coalition. But faced with an American administration centered on finishing negotiations, there may be reason to privilege centrists’ inclusion instead of anti-negotiation parties.

5 Responses to “Unlikely ways Obama could appreciate Netanyahu’s backing of Romney”

  1. [...] moves quickly to congratulate ObamaChristian Science MonitorJewish Telegraphic Agency -Jewschool -USA TODAYall 2,074 news [...]


    Israeli Leader in Bind After Obama Victory – ABC News | tgfmPress · November 7th, 2012 at 3:47 pm
  2. Sorry but:

    1/ Between now and the end of the year BHO will be too busy handling the fiscal cliff to go anywhere. To the extent that he’ll even be thinking of foreign policy, it will involve looking for a new SofS (Hil’s leaving)

    2/ The new year will be the start of the actual implementation of Obamacare. ME events will take a definite 2nd place to what BHO believes is his most important legacy. To the extent that he will be involved with foreign policy, it will be focused on the new SofS’s confirmation hearings (with lots of Benghazi questions coming from the GOP). After that it will take time for the new SofS to get settled in to say nothing about other international events that will invariably come up.

    By which time Bibi will have already been re-elected.


    Dave Boxthorn · November 7th, 2012 at 8:40 pm
  3. “To the extent that [Obama] will be involved with foreign policy, it will be focused on the new SofS’s confirmation hearings (with lots of Benghazi questions coming from the GOP). . . . . By which time Bibi will have already been re-elected.”

    This does, indeed, seem virtually inevitable. Though Obama undoubtedly finds Bibi as spectacularly repellent and obnoxious a specimen as the rest of humanity — Sheldon Adelson and Charles Krauthammer aside, of course — he’s exhibited neither the balls nor the principles to prevent Netanyahu from delivering the state into the hands of an ultra-nationalist cult of authoritarian religious fanatics that constitutes one of the most widely, intensely and justifiably loathed group of human beings occupying space on the planet Earth.

    As to Obama’s domestic agenda, I suspect little of his time will be taken up with any actual negotiating, given the fact that the Republican Party remains in the death grip of the same cesspool of bigots and religious fanatics as before the election. You know, the kind of buffoon that corners helpless coworkers with his incessant babbling about communist teleprompters, or, say, with pointed and oh-so-fresh references to Barack Hussein Obama.


    willie · November 11th, 2012 at 2:57 am
  4. Obama will not openly support Israel and will not do much even if openly at war. Israel is on its own, and Bibi is defending the right of Israel to exist. I support Israel and Bibi.


    Maria · November 19th, 2012 at 9:07 pm
  5. “If Israel is to “resist” the suggestions and guanidce of the US, I hope you would also expect it to “resist” the temptation of all the money and support the US gives too.There’s no such thing as a free lunch, folks.”Okay, I understand why people of all persuasions don’t want their money, much less billions of dollars of their money, simply doled out. This might be even more galling if they perceive that this money isn’t being well-spent or appreciated. However, at the end of the day, the above argument is, with all due respect,rubbish.So why is American aid to Israel not really a free lunch? Let’s give a brief breakdown:1. Jobs- We use this money to create American jobs. Most of this money must be spent inside of the USA–only in the case of special dispensations can it be spent in Israel–so we are basically paying ourselves to build equipment and goods that otherwise wouldn’t be built.2. Military support- Israel has often learned, with its own blood, how to deal with new weapon systems. This happened all throughout the Cold War when Israel fought its major wars (eg- 1973 and learning to defeat the SAM threat, then passing on this info. to the USA). Today Israel passes on tactical training to the US military on urban warfare which helped immensely as we prepared to head into Iraq a few years back. Whether it was one, two, dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of young American lives saved, no one will ever know; what is known is that Israeli experience has often saved American lives. Isn’t that worth some money? If it isn’t… well, then you get to tell that to the grieving families at the funerals, deal? But there’s more…3. Intelligence and technology- Israel has captured immense amounts of equipment over the decades and this has always been shared with the USA. This intel. and tech. sharing gave the USA an incredible advantage during the Cold War, giving the USA hands on intel. on what was then Soviet state of the art capabilities. This intel. was simply not able to be bought, at any price, and was a key component in allowing the USA to make more focused technological investments.Of course, this is a brief history… and yes, Israel has benefited as well, but this has not been charity; it is a quid pro quo. 4.


    Boubacar · January 18th, 2015 at 5:33 am

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"I may attack a certain point of view which I consider false, but I will never attack a person who preaches it. I have always a high regard for the individual who is honest and moral, even when I am not in agreement with him. Such a relation is in accord with the concept of kavod habriyot, for beloved is man for he is created in the image of God." —Rav Joseph Soloveitchik