I didn’t really want to post on this, but since Barack Obama feels the need to spout off on it…
When Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visits the White House tomorrow, President Barack Obama will tell him that his country could face a bleak future — one of international isolation and demographic disaster — if he refuses to endorse a U.S.-drafted framework agreement for peace with the Palestinians. Obama will warn Netanyahu that time is running out for Israel as a Jewish-majority democracy. And the president will make the case that Netanyahu, alone among Israelis, has the strength and political credibility to lead his people away from the precipice.
In an hourlong interview Thursday in the Oval Office, Obama, borrowing from the Jewish sage Rabbi Hillel, told me that his message to Netanyahu will be this: “If not now, when? And if not you, Mr. Prime Minister, then who?” He then took a sharper tone, saying that if Netanyahu “does not believe that a peace deal with the Palestinians is the right thing to do for Israel, then he needs to articulate an alternative approach.” He added, “It’s hard to come up with one that’s plausible.”
…let me just respond thus: attempting to rough-pressure the duly-elected head of state of a functional representative democracy that has been constantly defending itself from utter extinction since before either I or the President of the United States was born is unlikely to succeed. And when it does not succeed, if Barack Obama pushes the issue he will merely ignite a major brawl inside one of the two majority parties in this country, and it won’t be the Republicans*. I cannot imagine what President Obama hopes to gain from that: I sometimes wonder if he does, either.
*Note that we’re well aware that Jewish voters will still vote Democratic no matter what we do, and we instinctively support Israel anyway: it’s called ‘living by one’s principles,’ and I suggest that Barack Obama try it some time.