All the global mutterings about the “Carterization” of Obama, and the talk widespread in Israel of kicking the can down the road and so getting through the “garbage time” of a one-term president — that is suddenly yesterday’s chatter.The reminder was timely: This man is no softie. Netanyahu was the first foreign leader to think he could steamroll Obama. He earned a frosty comeuppance.
everyone knows Jerusalem is not a settlement. That’s not the issue. The issue is that the Israeli annexation of East Jerusalem is rejected by the rest of the world and any peace agreement will involve an inventive deal on its status. To build is therefore to provoke.)
Obama was not amused. He airbrushed Netanyahu’s White House visit. The message was clear: The Middle East status quo does not serve the interests of the United States (or Israel). When Obama says “stop,” he does not mean “build a bit.”Obama’s anger sped a needed clarification and freed debate.
As Andrew Sullivan has observed, a cultural shift is underway with respect to Israel: “The critics have been called ‘self-hating Jews’ if they are Jewish, or anti-Semites if they are not, but these barbs — once sufficient to end someone’s career — have failed to have an effect this time.”
Of late we’ve had Ehud Barak, the Israeli defense minister, setting things right: “I don’t think the Iranians, even if they got the bomb, are going to drop it in the neighborhood. They fully understand what might follow. They are radical but not total ‘meshuganas.’ They have a quite sophisticated decision-making process.”
Americans, prodded by a report from Gen. David Petraeus, are beginning to see the link between terror recruitment and a festering Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Planning in Washington on Iran has shown a “marked shift in thinking away from the war strategy,” as Nicholas Burns, a former top State Department official, put it to me.
These are real shifts. They are prerequisites for the rapprochement with the Muslim world Obama rightly seeks. Lo, even the Middle East moves.