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Obama's declaration of U.S. independence

Amazing how little it takes to get Bibi Netanyahu in a lather. All President Obama did Thursday was speak the obvious and the truth: that the territorial boundaries of a future Palestinian state and Israel must be based, in general, on Israel's borders before the 1967 six-day war. Nothing new. Nothing not obvious. Nothing not fundamentally fair.But Netanyahu went ballistic, declaring that a return to 1967 borders would render Israel "indefensible." And on Friday, following his two-hour meeting with Obama, Bibi made no secret of his disdain for Obama's peace proposal and, it was clear, for Obama himself.Given the modesty and the utter lack of novelty of Obama's proposal, what can explain Netanyahu's vehement reaction?The best explanation, I suspect, is that Obama actually dared to say what he said without Israeli permission. In years past, the kind of fulminating that Bibi reportedly did with Secretary of State Clinton on Thursday before Obama's Mideast policy speech would have caused an American president to hastily amend his planned remarks so as not to offend the Israeli government. Indeed, under George W. Bush there would have been no need even to fulminate, since Bush's notion of what ought to happen in Israeli-Palestinian relations was whatever the Israelis said it ought to be.Obama, however, has always had a mind of his own on this most intractable of American foreign policy challenges. This American president has always believed--mirabile dictu!--that a Palestinian might actually have some rights that an Israeli is bound to respect. And on Thursday, in his extremely modest speech, he dared to say as much.Bibi may not have appreciated it. His Amen corner here in the United States may not have appreciated it. But by declaring the United States' diplomatic independence from Israel on Thursday, Obama may taken the first and most necessary step to create a genuine new peace process. As long as the U.S. was Israel's vassal, there could be no progress. With a diplomatically independent U.S. committed to Israel's security and a fair deal for the Palestinians, peace may have a chance.

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Didn't the senior Bush and Jimmy Carter put more pressure than usual on Israel to be fair to the Palestinians. That could well be the reason they were one term presidents. Already political opportunists like Ed Koch and Dershowitz are demagoguing. There is a worse word but I refrain. Politicians have usually prostituted themselves when it came to Israel. I was struck by Bobby Kennedy's total support for Israel when he ran for U.S Senator and President. The politics will indeed be intriguing. But even many Jews realize how unfair Israel has been to the Palestinians. The worse part about it is that this has alienated the whole Muslim world against the U.S. Obama deserves serious credit for making such a courageous move.

Interesting piece in today's (Saturday) NYT about Dennis Ross, and his role as Israel's friend in the White House. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/21/world/middleeast/21ross.html?ref=today... gather Obama made his speech when he did in order to get his words in before a) Netanyahu's speech to Congress (to which Bibi had invited himself) b) the AIPAC meeting which takes place this weekend (I think?),Not surprisingly, the GOP seems to be climbing all over itself to present itself as the true Friend of Israel, against those untrustworthy Democrats.

The "Times'" story to which Nicholas Clifford links also suggests a connection between Ross' influence and George Mitchell's resignation.As for "independence," we'll have to wait and see. But I'm not overly optimistic. The words used about Netanyahu was that he "rebuffed" ("Times") or "rebuked" ("WSJ") the President. And in the one TV sequence that I saw the look on Obama's face was that of one who had been taken to the woodshed.

Don, I hope you're right. That Obama has made a declaration of independence. If that is to happen, doesn't Dennis Ross (see NC's link) have to go?

I think Netanyahu's response was at least in part recognition of the need to keep the ultra-orthodox members of his governing coalition happy. He's certainly very conservative in his own right, but the ultra-orthodox parties are to his right, and they have become an influential force in Israeli politics. And perhaps an unforeseen benefit of Obama's remarks is that they gave Netanyahu cover for the recently-approved 1500 new housing units to be built over Palestinian objections in a settler-occupied area in East Jerusalem. Both Obama and Netanyahu address the AIPAC meeting this weekend. Netanyahu will be all fire and brimstone, but it will be interesting to see if Obama changes his tune in any way.

Sarkozy conned Obama into invading Libya; Bibi authoritatively rejects his confused foray into ME politics: Is there anybody who CAN'T take him to the woodshed? The combination of naivete and narcissism is scary.

Mike Walsh, MM: May I ask what data and/or qualifications you have to substantiate calling our president a narcissist? According to the dictionary, it means a person who has an inordinate fascination with self, excessive self-love, vanity; and in psychoanalytic terms, it means a person, who takes erotic gratification in admiration of his/her own physical or mental attributes, who is fixed at an infantile stage of personality developmentI would say that, in the least, your comment is worth a rigorous examination of conscience on the eighth commandment.P.S. I was brought up reading Maryknoll Mission magazine and memorizing the Baltimore Catechism.

Here is one of the surrounding regimes that Obama is demanding the Israelis "negotiate" with:http://english.alarabiya.net/articles/2011/05/20/149820.html

"... substantiate calling our president a narcissist?"I ME MINE: Obama praises CIA for bin Laden raid -- while saying 'I' 35 times...

I listened to the CIA speech on C-SPAN, and Obama didn't come across as a narcissist, at least no more self-involved than anybody seriously thinking about running (either again or for the first time) for POTUS. The job is a narcissism magnet in many respects, nd has been for some time.

True, William, I imagine Obama is no more self-centered than all the other ambitious, ego-driven politicians. The difference, of course, is that Obama sold himself as beyond all that. Yes, politicians pretend to be "above it all", but Obama brought that to an almost cult-like level. Can't really blame Obama for pandering to emotions of the voters, I suppose; he certainly had no actual qualifications in running for office.

Important to hear American voices of Palestinians as well.Here is a beautiful Palestinian-American poet, Suheir Humad reciting her poem "What I Will" which is about how she is resisting war machine and the war drums.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LFbE8RBhSDw

sorry that's Suheir Hammad

"I ME MINE: Obama praises CIA for bin Laden raid while saying I 35 times"Maybe he should have been more subtly self-congratulatory, like say,he could have done the announcement from a warship with a big Mission Accomplished sign behind him. And he could have shown up all tricked out in a flight suit, to subtly make us believe he had been in military service himself. Like him or not, Obama did a very good job capturing bin Laden, even if he does say so himself.

George D.- thank you for the link

I am my both gratified and surprised that my comment has started a rush of comments substantiating Obamas narcissism. I did not intend to do this, but I must admit that am a bit proud of myself. I only wanted to protest a comment that I consider ad hominem. (Interestingly, a few months ago, I heard a priest on EWTN call Obama a narcissist.) I do not think that Obama is a narcissist. I know what a narcissist is from personal experience. I guess it takes one to know one.

I considered the "narcissit" coment from Fr(?) Walsh just another distraction from the major issue of Middle East policy. i'm genuibely sad that discussion leaches down to this kind of easy labelling.I think Obama tried hard to nudge the ever resistant Netanyahu.The Friedman op ed in today's NYT lays out the problem of Syria andhow hard it is to hav ea kind of universalist approach, except that we stand by the burgeoning democracies, unsure of where they'll go.

Apparently they went to a woodshed, but it was Obama who delivered the punishment. See post re AIPAC. PS: Blog commenters calling other people narcissists. Pot and kettle?!

George D, I also thank you for the link.