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The Bibi & Obama Show

I presume Barack Obama’s Likud membership card is in the mail. No doubt Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu has seen to it. After all, Obama has now paid his dues. After a few idle negative statements about expansion of Jewish settlements in the West Bank/East Jerusalem, Obama caved at the slightest push-back from the Israel lobby — election year, you know — and now he’s apparently fine with them. He went from saying the settlement expansion “could end up being dangerous [!]” to saying, “I think that he [Netanyahu] is dealing with a very complex situation in a very tough neighborhood.” We can be sure that Netanyahu will not permanently stop the expansion and Obama will not take any action — such as cutting off the money — to bring that about. (Even Gen. David Petraeus fears the lobby.) “[T]he pace of settlement building in the West Bank has been barely affected by the 10-month freeze, due to end in September,” Jonathan Cook of The National writes.

Obama also quickly folded on the matter of Israel’s signing the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. (“Israel has unique security requirements.”) Everyone knows Israel has upward of 200 nukes, but the official position is to neither confirm nor deny their existence. That’s known as “nuclear ambiguity.”

The security relationship between the Obama administration and Israel is said to be stronger than ever — the Pentagon, the Israelis, and at least some neoconservatives agree. More military aid is in the works, on top of the annual $3 billion transfusion.

Netanyahu has expressed concern that U.S. forces may someday leave Iraq but he need not worry: That day is no doubt far off. Even after “withdrawal” there still will be 50,000 troops, bases, and an embassy the size of a small country.

The one thing Netanyahu apparently hasn’t gotten (yet) is Obama’s promise to bomb Iran back to the stone age because of its nonexistent nuclear weapons program. (Iran, unlike Israel, is regularly inspected by the International Atomic Energy Agency.) Thanks goodness U.S. military leaders are reluctant to take on another mission, which would kill many innocent people and perhaps light up the rest of the Middle East. The military is stretched rather thin after all.

Netanyahu applauded the new UN and U.S. sanctions against Iran — isn’t that an act of war? — so that probably means any attack has been postponed for a year or more.

What’s remarkable is that the President and Prime Minister managed to keep straight faces when they said a nuclear Iran would be intolerable. Is hypocrisy no longer a vice? The allegations about an Iranian weapons program are completely unsupported, but still I have to wonder: Is it so mysterious that Muslim countries are uneasy with Israel as a nuclear monopolist? You’d think that Israel had never launched a war against a neighbor. And last I checked, the U.S. military had Iran virtually surrounded. But never mind.

So far no word from Obama about the continuing brutality against the Gazans in their open-air prison camp (oh sure, he’s pleased a few more goods are getting in, as if that addresses the matter), the death of the American citizen on the Mavi Marmara at the hands of Israeli commandos, or the wall being built through the West Bank that divides Palestinian homes from Palestinian farmlands and creates myriad other hardships.

Obama praised Netanyahu for his alleged willingness to negotiate with the approved Palestinian “leaders” (Hamas excluded, of course). But you have to keep in mind that when Israeli politicians say they favor a two-state solution, or “land for peace,” they do not mean a real independent homeland for the long-abused Palestinians but rather a series of Bantustans within an essentially apartheid state under Israeli control. This is the point of the wall and the expansion of settlements. Obama seems okay with that.

In regards to Netanyahu’s true views on dealing with the Palestinians and the United States, see Jonathan Cook’s article on this site today. The video of Netanyahu proves, Haaretz columnist Gideon Levy said, that he is a “con artist … who thinks that Washington is in his pocket and that he can pull the wool over its eyes.”

So the “special relationship” endures. And yet, is all that talk about shared values really valid? In theory America belongs to all Americans, all its citizens. But Israel — in theory and practice — belongs not to all holding Israeli citizenship (which includes Arabs) but only to the “Jewish people” wherever they may be — which means (according to Israel’s view of things) I — born in Philadelphia, residing in Arkansas — have a better claim to full Israeli citizenship than a Palestinian whose family has lived in Jerusalem for a millennium or more. How can that make sense?

(The Knesset has given at least preliminary approval to a bill to make denying Israel’s status as a Jewish State a crime punishable by imprisonment. The cabinet will consider a resolution to force new citizens to take a loyalty oath to Israel as the Jewish State.)

Let’s not forget that the American taxpayer is the enabler and underwriter. None of this could be going on without massive U.S. infusions of money.

And some people think “they” hate us for our freedoms (sic).

SHELDON RICHMAN is senior fellow at The Future of Freedom Foundation (www.fff.org)

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Sheldon Richman, author of America’s Counter-Revolution: The Constitution Revisited, keeps the blog Free Association and is a senior fellow and chair of the trustees of the Center for a Stateless Society, and a contributing editor at Antiwar.com.  He is also the Executive Editor of The Libertarian Institute.

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