War/Security

President Obama drinks the Israel "delegitimization" Kool-Aid

In his report on the Oval Office meeting between President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu for the New York Times, Mark Landler writes:

Mr. Netanyahu, according to the official, argued that the West should not reopen talks with Iran until it agreed to a verifiable suspension of its uranium enrichment activities — a condition the White House says would doom talks before they began.

In other words, don’t hold talks until a goal of the talks has been reached before the talks themselves. In the United States we’re familiar with that practice from the Bush administration. It also parallels the Iran Threat Reduction Act of 2011 which prohibited U.S. diplomacy with “any Iranian official who poses a threat to the United States.”

In the same vein, in his interview with Jeffrey Goldberg at the Atlantic a few days before, President Obama said (emphasis added):

When you look at what I’ve done with respect to security for Israel, from joint training and joint exercises that outstrip anything that’s been done in the past, to helping finance and construct the Iron Dome program to make sure that Israeli families are less vulnerable to missile strikes, to ensuring that Israel maintains its qualitative military edge, to fighting back against delegitimization of Israel, whether at the [UN] Human Rights Council, or in front of the UN General Assembly, or during the Goldstone Report, or after the flare-up involving the flotilla — the truth of the matter is that the relationship has functioned very well.

“Deligitimization of Israel”? As what? A legitimate, certified tyranny? President Obama has not only drunk but regurgitated the deligitimization Kool-Aid. The other Rosenberg — M.J. wrote about the concept in 2010 for the Los Angeles Times.

Suddenly, all the major pro-Israel organizations are anguishing about “delegitimization.” Those who criticize Israeli policies are accused of trying to delegitimize Israel, which supposedly means denying Israel’s right to exist.

The concept of delegitimization has been used as a weapon against Israel’s critics at least as far back as 1975, when then-U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Daniel Patrick Moynihan accused the international body of delegitimizing Israel by passing a “Zionism is racism ” resolution. That may have been the last time the term was used accurately.

After all …

Israel achieved its “legitimacy” when the United Nations recognized it 63 years ago. It has one of the strongest economies in the world. Its military is the most powerful in the region. … So why are the pro-Israel organizations talking about it? The answer is simple: They are trying to divert attention from the intensifying world opposition to the occupation of the West Bank and to the blockade of the Gaza Strip, both of which, by almost any standard, are illegitimate. They are trying to divert attention from the ever-expanding settlements, which are not only illegitimate but illegal under international law. They are trying to divert attention from the ever-louder calls for Israel to grant Palestinians equal rights.

In any event, the New York Times reported yesterday (March 6):

The global powers dealing with Iran’s  disputed nuclear program said Tuesday  that they had accepted its offer to resume negotiations broken off in stalemate more than a year ago — a  move that could help relieve increased pressure from Israel to use military  force against Tehran.

“I have offered to resume talks with Iran on the nuclear issue,” said Catherine Ashton, the European Union’s foreign policy chief,  who represents the United States, Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany as the contact on the nuclear issue with Iran. “We hope  that Iran will now enter into a sustained  process of constructive dialogue which will deliver real progress.”

Quoted for the article, Trita Parsi, president of the National Iranian American Council and author of A Single Roll of the Dice: Obama’s Diplomacy with Iran, said.

“If the two sides fail to establish a process rather than just another meeting, the risk of war will rise significantly.”

In other words, if unsuccessful, talks with Iran could “delegitimize” diplomacy.

Cross-posted from the Foreign Policy in Focus blog Focal Points.

Categories: War/Security

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1 reply »

  1. Russ, this comes awfully close to crossing the line into the “conversation that must not happen.” By that I mean any conversation about Israel that is critical of its policies and participated in by non-Jews or self-hating Jews.

    A while back my husband and I had dinner with friends who are Jewish and somehow the subject of Israel came up. My husband missed the red flag that started waving and made a point that hinted at criticism of Israeli policy. The woman in the other couple and I caught it, but not before her husband said, “So, you don’t think Israel has the right to defend itself?” We managed to wrestle the conversation onto a neutral topic, but it wasn’t easy.

    The sad thing is not even being able to have the conversation.

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