The ignorance, arrogance and bias of Obama’s negotiators

I have seen these people, the LORD said to Moses, and they are a stiff-necked people. — Exodus 32:9

Two unnamed members of the Obama/Kerry negotiating team — probably former Ambassador to Israel Martin Indyk and academic David Makovsky — gave an interview to Israeli journalist Nahum Barnea, published yesterday, in which they displayed the ignorance, arrogance and bias that characterizes this administration and its clumsy attempt to force Israel into a disastrous deal with the PLO.

The interview is here. The officials’ account is riddled with inconsistencies — for example, they claim that the last straw, the final blow that caused Abbas to abandon negotiations was the announcement that Israel intended to build in the Gilo neighborhood of Jerusalem:

And then came the Housing and Construction Ministry’s announcement of building tenders for more than 700 housing units in Jerusalem’s Gilo neighborhood.

Abbas lost interest. He turned to the reconciliation talks with Hamas and to the question of who would inherit his mantle. According to the Americans, this is the reason for his recently launched public front against Mohammed Dahlan.

The Americans understood from their Israeli counterparts that the Gilo tenders announcement was an intentional act of sabotage, one of many, by Housing Minister Uri Ariel, an extremist who opposes any agreement with the Palestinians.

But earlier they said that Abbas agreed to the Clinton parameters regarding Jerusalem: Jewish neighborhoods would be in Israel, Arab neighborhoods would become part of Palestine (never mind that this might be a terrible idea). What is Gilo if not a Jewish neighborhood? And they fail to mention that prior to this announcement, Abbas violated his commitment not to seek statehood through the UN, and applied to join various UN treaties and conventions. So how could this have been the ‘last straw’?

Throughout the interview, they blame Israel for the failure of the talks, in particular for settlements. They completely fail to understand the significance of the recognition issue, or the degree of importance attached by Israel to security:

We couldn’t understand why [recognizing Israel as a Jewish state] bothered [Abbas] so much. For us, the Americans, the Jewish identity of Israel is obvious. We wanted to believe that for the Palestinians this was a tactical move – they wanted to get something (in return) and that’s why they were saying ‘no.’

“The more Israel hardened its demands, the more the Palestinian refusal deepened. Israel made this into a huge deal – a position that wouldn’t change under any circumstances. The Palestinians came to the conclusion that Israel was pulling a nasty trick on them. They suspected there was an effort to get from them approval of the Zionist narrative.

If the “Zionist narrative” means that there can be a Jewish state in the Middle East, then Netanyahu is guilty as charged! If US negotiators were too obtuse to understand why Israel demanded this and why the Palestinians would not agree, then they understood nothing.

“At the end of a war [referring to 1991, the Gulf War] there is a sense of urgency,” they said. And then one of them added bitterly: “I guess we need another intifada to create the circumstances that would allow progress.”

“20 years after the Oslo Accords, new game rules and facts on the ground were created that are deeply entrenched. This reality is very difficult for the Palestinians and very convenient for Israel.”

Another intifada? The reality of 1400 dead Jews since Oslo was “convenient?”

What I found the most distressing was the insulting, demeaning tone — the lack of respect for the sovereign state of Israel, mixed with threats. Here are some examples:

“As of now, nothing is stopping the Palestinians from turning to the international community. The Palestinians are tired of the status quo. They will get their state in the end – whether through violence or by turning to international organizations.

The Jewish people are supposed to be smart; it is true that they’re also considered a stubborn nation [traditional anti-Jewish themes]. You’re supposed to know how to read the map: In the 21st century, the world will not keep tolerating the Israeli occupation. The occupation threatens Israel’s status in the world and threatens Israel as a Jewish state.

Israel is not China. It was founded by a UN resolution. Its prosperity depends on the way it is viewed by the international community.

This is a remarkably ignorant statement. The Jewish nation is actually a lot like China, going back thousands of years, always with a presence in and a connection to the land of Israel. Created by a UN resolution? Do they mean the non-binding and never implemented 181? The modern state of Israel was created by the struggle and blood of the Jewish people who threw out the British colonialists and defended themselves against the genocidal Arabs, who quite literally subscribed to Nazi doctrine.

Excuse me, these are the diplomats who represent the US? Or just a pair of idiots?

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4 Responses to “The ignorance, arrogance and bias of Obama’s negotiators”

  1. NormanF says:

    If this is the quality of the professionalism of American diplomats, I feel sorry for them. They don’t understand either Israel or the Arabs. No wonder Secretary Kerry’s mission crashed and burned.

    Mischacterizing Israel’s stand, failing to understand Palestinian Arab rejectionism and extremism and blaming Israel for being unwilling to make suicidal concessions, reflects a State Department frustrated by the reality of the Middle East.

    Taking it out on Israel won’t restore Israeli trust in America and will actually make the day peace could happen more distant. American anger with Israel and threats and pressure on it will not lead Israeli Jews as the US hopes, to vote in a government more receptive to its wishes.

    US diplomats should take a look at their own unwillingness to take Israel’s needs into account before they lecture Israel on allegedly having scuttled a putative peace deal – that in fact was never on the table. Which why the Israeli government unanimously voted not to continue the talks with the PLO.

    The State Department’s inability to comprehend that fact says a great deal more about its hostile attitude towards Israel than it does about Israel’s government having rationally reached the conclusion the Palestinian Arabs were NOT prepared to make real peace with the Jewish State on ANY reasonable terms.

  2. Robman says:

    In answer to your two final questions, Vic…YES…and YES.

    But beyond that, the most important answer is this:

    They are employees of Barack Hussein Obama. And they do and say what their boss wants them to do and say.

    I agree with everything NormanF says above, but there is a larger and more grave reality at hand here.

    Obama may be wrong and he may be an idiot – like everyone on his foreign policy/defense team – but he is still the President of the U.S. And he’s got two years eight months and change to go. Unless he is impeached and removed from office sooner, but I wouldn’t count on that, with the utterly corrupt U.S. media of today.

    Speaking of which, no matter how wrong Obama & Co. are, the scary part is that most of the national level print and broadcast media here are going to regurgitate their line re Israel to the U.S. public.

    Which all means that the forecast for the immediate future of Israel is very, very stormy. Elections have consequences….

    Obama is going to do everything he can to frustrate Israeli military action against Iran. Yes, that’s right, folks. He’s going to play Russian roulette with the incredible risks and instability for the whole world – especially the U.S. (a.k.a., the “Great Satan”, per Iran) – just for the sake of the Fakestinians.

    And, Obama is going to abandon Israel in the UN. That is a given. With the s***storm that is going to accompany the same for Israel.

    In the end, in spite of everything, I have a guarded optimism that Israel will prevail, though at very substantial cost. And Obama will ultimately fail. Though at substantial cost not only for Israel, but the U.S. as well. (Well, he’s actually cost the U.S. a lot already…but he’s not done yet; far from it.)

    We in the U.S. – especially my fellow Jews here – will learn some very hard lessons about supporting a corrupt, traitorous demagogue on the basis of seeming like the “cool guy” and who pushes the right knee-jerk liberal political buttons.

    Things are going to get worse. And after that, I hope, better. But I’m so used to things getting worse that it is hard for me to even imagine things getting better.

    Elections have consequences…..

  3. Shalom Freedman says:

    This is a bit surprising from the Makovsky side. He should know about Gilo as he was in Israel for many years.
    The ‘arrogance and ignorance’ point is correct. What always irritates is the total lack of attention the would-be- negotiators give to the Palestinians historical record, present statements, general mode of behavior. Had they taken this into account they would not have troubled themselves ‘mediating’ in the first place.
    Blaming it on Israel by two Jewish negotiators is however worse than arrogance and ignorance, it is betrayal.

  4. Lise Rosenthal says:

    Speaking of China, maybe they would like to swap Tibet for the Palestinians? Think how cool it would be to negotiate with the Dalai Lama:
    “Hey, will you renounce violence?”
    “No, problem.”
    “Do you recognize us as a Jewish state?”
    “Clearly, although we are all one.”
    “OK, Free Tibet. Good luck.”
    “And to you, my brothers.”