Never assume stupidity when malevolence can apply — words that aptly characterize the Obama administration’s approach to Israel. Evelyn Gordon takes a look at the new “proximity” talks between Israel and the Palestinians, talks that no one expects to yield any results. After all, the predicate is that the Obama administration has made demands only on Israel, and no demands whatsoever on the Palestinians. One bar is set impossibly high, and the other bar . . . well, there is no other bar. That contestant just gets to sit on the sidelines and sip daiquiris. So why go through this charade?
Because currently, Obama lacks both public and congressional support for moving beyond mere verbal hostility. If he didn’t realize this before, the backlash to his March temper tantrum over Ramat Shlomo would certainly have convinced him.
So he needs to up the ante by painting Israel’s government as responsible for torpedoing a key American foreign-policy initiative — one he has repeatedly framed as serving both a vital American national interest and a vital Israeli one. He could then argue not only that Israel deserves punishment but that such punishment would actually serve Israel’s interests.
To avoid this trap, Jerusalem must launch its own PR campaign in America now to put the focus back where it belongs: on Palestinian unwillingness to accept a Jewish state. For if Israel lets Obama control the narrative, the public and congressional support on which it depends may be irretrievably undermined.
UPDATE: As a companion piece to the above, I recommend Daniel Pipes on the only precondition that matters.