Netanyahu’s Pyrrhic Victory

As Netanyahu Gloats – The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan

After the mid-terms, Netanyahu was assured by his US operation (from Cantor and Cheney and Krauthammer on down via the Washington Post to McCain and Lieberman and Graham) that he could wait out Obama. He was so sure of it he even demanded written assurances of the massive bribes the US was offering to get even an extra three-month moratorium on construction. Obama’s decision to give up this desperate tactic perhaps reveals he now understands just how cynical and self-serving Netanyahu is, even as he ponders what to do next. (Netanyahu recently asserted that all of Jerusalem would be Israel’s for ever, meaning that he will never back a viable two-state solution.)

This is therefore a big win for the “pro-Israel” lobby, and it proves indisputably that in any serious contest between an American president and an Israeli prime minister, the US president doesn’t have a prayer. He is emphatically the junior member of this “alliance.” Netanyahu was right:

“I know what America is. America is a thing you can move very easily, move it in the right direction.”

And so the whole possibility of outreach to the Muslim middle – a key pillar of the rationale for the Obama presidency – is in danger of being derailed by seeming proof of what so many Muslims in the world believe: that Israel occupies a unique place in global politics in being capable of directing the foreign policy of the alleged hegemon.

See, the Arabs and Europeans and leftists and Jihadists are now saying: “We told you Obama could not break through the anti-Muslim paradigm of American foreign policy. Because he is helpless in the face of Israeli power. He is Bush in camouflage – and if Obama is Bush in camouflage, there will never be a US president capable of being an honest broker.” If you want to give a boost to the ideology and paranoia that fuels Jihadism, you couldn’t have come up with a more lethal scenario.

But the US president is only helpless when he needs the Israelis’ cooperation with the Palestinians, when he operates within the paradigm that has framed US administrations on this question for two decades.

He is not helpless in explaining and advancing the sane two-state solution everyone knows we need in the wider context of the international community.

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