WSJ: What is Obama thinking by attacking Israel?

posted at 1:36 pm on March 15, 2010 by Ed Morrissey

Either the Obama administration has really decided to throw Israel under the bus, or … well, what other interpretation can be made from their rhetoric on settlements in Jerusalem?  The Wall Street Journal scratches its head to wonder why Barack Obama, Joe Biden, and Hillary Clinton have chosen this particular time to issue condemnations of Israel, just when Obama would probably like to have some influence to keep them from striking Iran.  From their perspective, it looks like an attempt to meddle in Israel’s electoral politics:

When it comes to Israel, however, the Administration has no trouble rising to a high pitch of public indignation. On a visit to Israel last week, Vice President Joe Biden condemned an announcement by a mid-level Israeli official that the government had approved a planning stage—the fourth out of seven required—for the construction of 1,600 housing units in north Jerusalem. Assuming final approval, no ground will be broken on the project for at least three years.

But neither that nor repeated apologies from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu prevented Secretary of State Hillary Clinton—at what White House sources ostentatiously said was the personal direction of President Obama—from calling the announcement “an insult to the United States.” White House political chief David Axelrod got in his licks on NBC’s Meet the Press yesterday, lambasting Israel for what he described as “an affront.”

Since nobody is defending the Israeli announcement, least of all an obviously embarrassed Israeli government, it’s difficult to see why the Administration has chosen this occasion to spark a full-blown diplomatic crisis with its most reliable Middle Eastern ally. Mr. Biden’s visit was intended to reassure Israelis that the Administration remained fully committed to Israeli security and legitimacy. In a speech at Tel Aviv University two days after the Israeli announcement, Mr. Biden publicly thanked Mr. Netanyahu for “putting in place a process to prevent the recurrence” of similar incidents.

The subsequent escalation by Mrs. Clinton was clearly intended as a highly public rebuke to the Israelis, but its political and strategic logic is puzzling. The U.S. needs Israel’s acquiescence in the Obama Administration’s increasingly drawn-out efforts to halt Iran’s nuclear bid through diplomacy or sanctions. But Israel’s restraint is measured in direct proportion to its sense that U.S. security guarantees are good. If Israel senses that the Administration is looking for any pretext to blow up relations, it will care much less how the U.S. might react to a military strike on Iran.

Netanyahu finds himself in serious danger of losing his governing coalition over the settlements as it is.  One Machiavellian conjecture is that the White House wants to push Netanyahu out to find itself a more pliable partner at the top.  If that’s what they’re trying, the White House’s heavy-handed effort is likely to backfire.  Barack Obama isn’t terribly popular in Israel, and he’s going to be less so if perceived as interfering in their elections.  The sudden hostility coming from this administration may have Israelis more inclined to close ranks behind Netanyahu.  Israeli politics are notoriously fractious, and a more subtle touch may have worked in pushing Netanyahu out — but subtlety isn’t exactly the hallmark of this administration.

Another possible strategy is to distance the US from any potential Israeli actions against Iran.  The WSJ notes that American restraint may be playing a role in keeping Israel from attacking Iran’s nuclear facilities in the way that Israel did against Saddam Hussein’s Osirak in 1981.  If the White House has gotten wind of an Israeli decision to move forward against Iran, they may be backing away from Netanyahu in an attempt to keep our fingerprints off of the mission.  That’s a little far-fetched, though, if for no other reason than the impossibility of convincing Israel’s enemies that we would have had nothing to do with it.  I doubt that even this White House would think that would work.

The last possibility, which the Journal poses, is probably right:

Then again, this episode does fit Mr. Obama’s foreign policy pattern to date: Our enemies get courted; our friends get the squeeze. It has happened to Poland, the Czech Republic, Honduras and Colombia. Now it’s Israel’s turn.

They forgot the UK, but otherwise, that’s the likely answer.  Never assign to malice alone what can be explained by incompetence.  This is part and parcel of an effort to supposedly make the US more lovable by insulting our traditional allies.

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So Israel deliberately chumps us off and it sparks a “Blame America First” rally on Hot Air.

Why do you hate America?

chumpThreads on March 15, 2010 at 9:12 PM

Obama, Biden, and Hillary aren’t “us”. They’re the ones who decided to throw a collective hissy fit upon learning that Jews were daring to build homes in Jerusalem, and they’ve subordinated American foreign policy to expressing their pique. Their betrayal of US allies — whether Israel, Honduras, or Britain — damages America’s interests.

DKCZ on March 15, 2010 at 9:43 PM

And you most likely have memorized Mein Kampf, a–hole. You know what would really make you sh-t in your pants? Jews armed and ready to defend themselves from insignificant c-cks-ckers like you. Icing you would make my day that’s for sure.

Andy in Agoura Hills on March 15, 2010 at 8:16 PM

You must have a trophy for being a champion redneck bullshitter. Even more ASSumption and lies than usual for around here.

Dark-Star on March 15, 2010 at 9:47 PM

You can’t possibly deny stating that it was their nation.

blink on March 15, 2010 at 8:54 PM

Keyword: WAS.

They lost their supernatural charter – something unique to their people – through their own actions.

Now the Israelis and Palestinians interact in the manner of squabbling toddlers…with lethal weaponry. And despite valiant attempts by the US to the contrary, it’s becoming pretty clear that the only solutions would be the physical removal or total annihilation of one side or the other.

The only reason we turn a blind eye to the Israeli misdeeds – up to and including running an extensive spy network on us – is because we need their intel and land/airspace.

Dark-Star on March 15, 2010 at 9:53 PM

US Congress: “Heh heh…we’ve had our little family squabble…heh heh…….”

PATHETIC! The US Congress is a wholly owned subsidiary of the genocidal, racist State of Israel. Bought and paid for.

Only 2 things I have agreed with Barack Obama on:

#1 He has allowed the professionals to prosecute the war on terror.

#2 He has refused to suck the uncircumcized c*ck of that sh*tty little country, Israel.

Go Hussein! America for Americans!

David2.0 on March 16, 2010 at 1:36 AM

“It’s hard to see how spending a weekend condemning Israel for a zoning decision in its capital city amounts to a positive step towards peace,” said Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan. He complained that the administration was attacking a “staunch ally and friend” when it should be focusing on the threat posed by Iran’s nuclear problem.

A “zoning decision” ?????????????

Brownback, you are a coward and a disgrace. You are a sell-out. You represent everything putrid and vomit-inducing in Washington D.C.

Hey Brownback! What would you call the indiscriminate Israeli shelling of a Palestinian refugee camp……a fireworks display gone bad?

What a disgusting P.O.S. you are, Brownback.

David2.0 on March 16, 2010 at 2:09 AM

David2.0 on March 16, 2010 at 1:36 AM

You are calling a whole sovereign nation racist?

From the rest of your excrement, it is obvious who is racist. I thank you and several others on this thread for sharing your true feelings; it’s beneficial to know who one is dealing with.

hillbillyjim on March 16, 2010 at 2:15 AM

WSJ: What is Obama thinking by attacking Israel?

Report: Petraeus wants West Bank, Gaza responsibility

Something is going on.

BDU-33 on March 16, 2010 at 2:15 AM

David2.0 on March 16, 2010 at 1:36 AM

Get a grip of yourself, Mohammed.

neurosculptor on March 16, 2010 at 3:31 AM

If yer gonna hate IsraelYou should at least do it right.

annoyinglittletwerp on March 16, 2010 at 4:47 AM

Man, between Dark-Star and David 2.0, I don’t know which one of them has the worse case of rectal cranial impaction. Jeez.

Let’s see.

Israel was *attacked* in 1967, and in the process of defending itself, it pushed back the attackers and picked up considerably more land. Given that the 1949 borders were difficult to defend, keeping land captured as a result of an unprovoked war makes good strategic sense.

If a country *wins* a war, especially one where it was attacked by the other party FIRST, there is no “rule” that says, “Ok now that we won, we must give the land back to the losers”. If they choose to keep the land, well, that’s the risk an aggressor nation takes in provoking a war. Therefore issuing building permits in the part of Jerusalem acquired in that 1967 conflict is Israel’s prerogative as a sovereign nation.

Meanwhile, on the allegations of Israel shelling a Palestinian village: personally, even *if* that allegation is true, I could honestly care less. Palestinians shell schools in Sderot at times of day when they know the children will be outside playing. If the Palis get shelled in return, as far as I’m concerned, they deserved every round that falls on them.

The Palis and Arabs generally have been moaning and complaining about Israel since 1948, even though the Arabs got over 80% of the land originally intended to Jews under the Balfour Declaration. There were as many Jews displaced from Arab countries as there were Arabs displaced from lands now occupied by Israel.

Israel has opened its doors for any Arab who wishes to settle in Israeli-held lands.

Few (if any) of the 22-member Arab League nations allow Jews the same rights within their borders as Israel allows Arabs within its borders.

As for Obambi, his apology tour is going to get us into a deep mess very soon. Crazy Joe predicted it during the election, and damn if he isn’t gonna be proven right…

Wanderlust on March 16, 2010 at 5:50 AM


This man, elected president of the United States of America IS A MUSLIM!

Why is that so hard to understand? Everything he has done is the envy of every Muslim leader in the world and he is doing more damage to America than any jetliner could!

SDarchitect on March 15, 2010 at 1:40 PM

It is not hard to understand SD; they are called fellow travelers. America has strain of people, who hate, with a devilish passion, Jew and Christians.

Some of those folks have controlling positions in politics and information dissemination. Most of the rest of Americans think it is crazy to think we are in that shape. They stick their head in the sand.

One grim thought may give you some solace, it does me, is the fact that history of 19th and 20th century countries that fell under the spell of maniacal leaders — the first to go to the camps where media people. Second do be eliminated where leaders of their strongest supporters.

Semper Fi

jarhead0311 on March 16, 2010 at 7:25 AM

Jerusalem has been the capital city of the Jewish people for around 3,000 years. If ever there was a moral right to live in a city, backed up by history it is the right of the Jews to live in Jerusalem.

The right of Americans to build homes in Texas is more ambiguous!

As for the Palestinians, well how can Jerusalem be their capital city, when there has never been an independent nation called Palestine or – until recently – a people called “Palestinians”.

And upon what basis (other than political trouble making) have they chosen Jerusalem, when their political, municipla and administrative center is Ramallah?

The Obama regime should hang its head in shame and I sincerely hope this bites them in the ass in November.

uptight on March 16, 2010 at 10:39 AM

The land that Israel is building on in Jerusalem is condidered inside the Israeli region, even the Palestinians acknowledge that, so what’s the beef? Obama doesn’t like the timing of an annoucement, Hillary feels all the good work willie did was forgotten, Biden the World authority is perturbed, Israel did nothing wrong. Can’t wait for Israel to excercise their diplomacy by bombing Iran to hell !!!

phillyrepub on March 16, 2010 at 11:41 AM

Never assign to malice alone what can be explained by incompetence.

What one should never do is assume malice and incompetence are mutually exclusive.

No collectivist has ever thought of himself as “evil.” That applies all the way from the most innefectual moonbat to Hitler, Pol Pot and Stalin.

Self-doubt is the sole purview of the conservative. No liberal has ever wondered, even for the barest fraction of a second, whether everything he did might not be in the best interests of the “greater good.”

There are only two differences between every latte-swilling liberal twit in the world and any genocidal dicator who ever lived:

1) Power; and

2) Absolutely nothing else.

logis on March 16, 2010 at 11:42 AM

Rev. Wright anyone?

Osis on March 16, 2010 at 11:53 AM

diedre asked yesterday why American Jews voted for Obama — I think there is reason to believe the theory that, for at least many of them, support for Israel would make them allies of evangelical Christians. By the same token, most American Jews support the right to abortion on demand, while most evangelical Christians don’t. I didn’t come up with that theory, but it fits with what I’ve experienced.

I’ve been to Israel four times since 1998 and am saving up to go back. No place is more exciting, or more important, in my evangelical Christian view. Everything that the Bible said would happen to the Jewish people has come true — driven from their land, persecuted everywhere else, brought back to their land, and staying put in spite of countless enemies. My money’s on them. Obama’s arms too short to box with the God of Israel.

KyMouse on March 16, 2010 at 12:29 PM

BDU-33 on March 16, 2010 at 2:15 AM

Here as well…

According to Mark Perry writing in Foreign Policy, one of the main parties in Washington calling for Barack Obama to put his foot down against Israel’s settlement expansion, even before Vice-president Joe Biden’s recent call, has been General David Petraeus. In the Pentagon’s view, the Obama administration’s inability to stop the expansion of settlements is eroding America’s military posture in the Middle East. Such erosion could embolden Muslim extremists to increase their attacks on US forces in the region.

Petraeus wanted to confront the settlements by getting the US government to include the Palestinian issue under his command in Centcom. This was denied. Obama preferred to let George Mitchell and Biden handle it.

sharrukin on March 16, 2010 at 12:42 PM

What’s next after our snubs of Israel…..a beach invasion of England? Cross-border attacks into Canada?

Why on God’s green earth would any of our allies trust us under our present “leadership”?

olesparkie on March 16, 2010 at 1:01 PM

BDU-33 on March 16, 2010 at 2:34 PM

Strange. Why would anyone make a statement that he was making such a recommendation?

[UPDATE 2–from Mark Perry: A senior military officer told Foreign Policy by email that one minor detail in my report, “The Petraeus Briefing” was incorrect: a request from General Petraeus for the Palestinian occupied territories (but, as I made clear, not Israel itself), be brought within CENTCOM’s region of operation was sent to JCS Chairman Mullen – and not directly to the White House. My information was based on conversations with CENTCOM officials, who believed they were giving me correct information. It is significant that the correction was made, not because it is an important detail, but because it is was inconsequential to the overall narrative. In effect, the U.S. military has clearly said there was nothing in this report that could be denied.]

sharrukin on March 16, 2010 at 2:43 PM

General Petraeus might see the Palestinian issue as the lynchpin for the entire Middle East, and he wants to lean forward since diplomatic efforts are systemic failures.

BDU-33 on March 16, 2010 at 3:28 PM

General Petraeus might see the Palestinian issue as the lynchpin for the entire Middle East, and he wants to lean forward since diplomatic efforts are systemic failures.

BDU-33 on March 16, 2010 at 3:28 PM

Well, he may just be a liberal Republican who thinks Israel is the problem, the way far too many do. He describes himself as a Rockefeller Republican and seems more than happy serving Obama.

I mean he wasn’t shy about saying we should not attack Iran, but this domestic interference with Israel seems fine to him?

It is a little shocking that Biden seems more level headed and restrained than Petraeus.

sharrukin on March 16, 2010 at 3:34 PM

What’s so hard to figure out? Hussein’s nothing but an uneducated, leftist Jew-hating african communist, just like his “spiritual advisor” (assuming he has a spirit), and his dear ol’ dad. He\’s politically uneducated, he’s fiscally uneducated and illiterate, and he’s thoroughly unschooled and intrinsically and inherently inept in international affairs.

HE AND HIS KIND (leftist socialist/communist black liberation/racial supremacist theologians) ARE NO MORE FRIENDS OF JEWS THAN ROBERT BYRD (Mr. KKK man, himself, another racial supremacist theologian).

RECALL his leftist cohorts and replace them with hard-right trifecta (ie: “true”) Conservatives (political, fiscal, social) that will not be afraid to block his EVERY wrong turn and IMPEACH him, if it becomes necessary and the opportunity arises.

Virus-X on March 16, 2010 at 3:46 PM

What is Obama thinking by attacking Israel? Just going back to his ‘Roots’–the Muslim faith.

MaiDee on March 16, 2010 at 9:58 PM

The title should be “what were Jewish Americans thinking when they cast a vote for this Haman?” DD

Darvin Dowdy on March 17, 2010 at 8:58 AM

I part ways on this one. Israel’s extreme expansion defeats a lot of progress being made on the issue with Palestine.

Bad move, and it should have been called out.

AnninCA on March 17, 2010 at 10:47 AM

Bad move, and it should have been called out.

AnninCA on March 17, 2010 at 10:47 AM

It’ll take a lot more than merely being ‘called out’ to deter Israel, Ann.

Even the right’s eternal hero, President Reagan, was once fed up enough to ‘call out’ Israel when they abused our relationship by decimating Beirut:,9171,950716,00.html

…but in the end nothing really changed.

At this point it would probably take a significant American force with their fingers on triggers and launch buttons. And President Obama has neither the personal spine nor the external support for that kind of action. The best he’ll do is cross his fingers and hope Israel’s enemies get really, really lucky.

Dark-Star on March 17, 2010 at 11:45 AM

Want to know what Obama thinks of Israel and the Jews?
He’s a follower of Louis Farahkan who:
……calling whites “blue eyed devils” and Jews “bloodsuckers” that controlled the slave trade, the government, the media and various Black individuals and organizations. He frequently denies that Jews have a legitimate claim to their religion.
From The Anti-Defamation League web site.

Cybergeezer on March 17, 2010 at 12:34 PM

Let’s see……..looking back at American Success stories….

Bush 41 tried to force the Israelis (after the Gulf War ended in 1991) to give up land and held the Israelis’ economy hostage by holding up loan guarantees I think it was.

Clinton forced Rabin into a lie that the PLO would accept “land for peace”.

Bush 43 forced Ariel Sharon into concessions to the Palestinians and piddled around and did nothing about Irans’ plans to get nukes.

and now our own American Caliph is pressuring for “regime change” to get rid of the Leadership in Israel.

Will American leaders ever learn or are they just so hostage to the Gulf Oil that they are essentially bought and paid for by the Saudis?

The PLO/Palestinians/Hamas will never……never……never… satisfied until the last Jew leaves Haifa harbor in a boat headed out to sea.

THAT is a fact.

PappyD61 on March 17, 2010 at 12:56 PM

Another possibility is that Obama is laying the groundwork to keep Israel out of Iraq air space or even actively resist them in an attack on Iran. It would be his ultimate statement to the Muslim world.

a capella on March 15, 2010 at 1:46 PM

God help this country if this turns out to be true.

PappyD61 on March 17, 2010 at 1:03 PM

Do you really think that Obama would hope that Israel’s enemies get really, really lucky?

He might…but he wouldn’t look very good if Israel truly started losing and the USA didn’t come running to their aid.

But we all know that you only support the annihilation of one of those sides.

blink on March 17, 2010 at 2:15 PM

“We” who, wingnut? You and your bloodhound?

Dark-Star on March 24, 2010 at 12:29 PM