FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Courting Bibi

by PETER CERTO

From Mitt Romney’s juvenile $10,000 bet with Rick Perry to Ron Paul’s declaration that death by untreated illnesses is “what freedom is all about,” the Republican presidential candidates haven’t missed an opportunity to sound off-base and out-of-touch with ordinary Americans.

But during a December debate in Des Moines, an exchange between Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich brought the campaign to an entirely more surreal level. When Romney criticized Gingrich for his intemperate characterization of Palestinians as an “invented people,” the two men didn’t bother to debate the remark’s substance. Instead, they argued over which of them was better friends with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Then, they debated which of them would be of more use to their buddy “Bibi.”

Gingrich’s remark was ludicrous. Palestinians are no more or less invented than Israelis — or, for that matter, Americans. But Romney didn’t say that. He only objected to Gingrich’s willingness to hurl a foreign-policy firebomb without first consulting Netanyahu. “Before I made a statement of that nature,” Romney said, “I’d get on the phone to my friend Bibi Netanyahu and say, ‘Would it help if I say this? What would you like me to do?'”

Tactfulness and consultation are, of course, admirable habits. But it’s bizarre that Romney, an unabashed “American exceptionalist,” would plan on letting a foreign official put words in his mouth about such a crucial part of the world. Romney — who has so often accused President Obama of “apologizing” for America — has also scolded President Barack Obama for “chastening” Israel, promising to visit the country before any other should he be elected. Don’t call it apologizing, though.

Sure, Israel is a U.S. ally. But if Obama called another ally — say, French President Nicolas Sarkozy or King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia — and asked, “What would you like me to do?” You can be sure Romney would treat that like treason.

Gingrich comes off equally obsequious and un-presidential. In addition to his incendiary comments about Palestinians, he has strongly suggested that he would support an Israeli request for a U.S. invasion of Iran, evoking in the process the questionable claim that Iran intends to attack Israel with a nuclear weapon (which it still does not possess). However one feels about Iran, Gingrich’s willingness to outsource U.S. military policy to Tel Aviv is even more mind-boggling than Romney’s deference on diplomacy.

The underlying GOP argument, tailored to the whims of right-wing evangelical voters, is that Obama has been insufficiently supportive of Israel. But this is absurd. Not only has his administration maintained U.S. military aid to Israel to the tune of $3 billion per year, it has also spent considerable diplomatic capital to quash popular UN resolutions recognizing a Palestinian state and condemning Israel’s illegal settlement policy in the West Bank — favors to Israel that fly in the face of longstanding U.S. policy.

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak has even said that he “can hardly remember a better period” of U.S. support for Israel.

The GOP’s criticisms are mistaken at best. At worst they send a coded message to certain voters that Obama — whether because of his race, his name, or his father’s religion — is somehow incapable of supporting Israel.

A better critique of Obama’s Israel policy is that it has enabled Israel’s right-wing government to prolong the statelessness of Palestinians at the expense not only of international law, but perhaps even of Israel’s democracy. It bolsters the view that the United States cares little for Arab or Muslim lives, and it furthers the spread of anti-Semitism. No true friend of either Israel or Palestine should support it.

But maybe Gingrich and Romney are only interested in being friends with Bibi.

Peter Certo is an OtherWords and Foreign Policy In Focus editorial assistant at the Institute for Policy Studies. www.ips-dc.org

More articles by:
February 22, 2018
Mark Schuller
Haiti’s Latest Indignity at the Hands of Dogooders, Oxfam’s Sex Scandal
Jeffrey Sommers
Bond Villain in the World Economy: Latvia’s Offshore Banking Sector
Mark Schuller
Haiti’s Latest Indignity at the Hands of Dogooders, Oxfam’s Sex Scandal
T.J. Coles
How the US Bullies North Korea, 1945-Present
Ipek S. Burnett
Rethinking Freedom in the Era of Mass Shootings
Manuel E. Yepe
Fire and Fury: More Than a Publishing Hit
Patrick Bobilin
Caught in a Trap: Being a Latino Democrat is Being in an Abusive Relationship
Laurel Krause
From Kent State to Parkland High: Will America Ever Learn?
Terry Simons
Congress and the AR-15: One NRA Stooge Too Many
George Wuerthner
Border Wall Delusions
Manuel García, Jr.
The Anthropocene’s Birthday, or the Birth-Year of Human-Accelerated Climate Change
Thomas Knapp
Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Russiagate
February 21, 2018
Cecil Bothwell
Billy Graham and the Gospel of Fear
Ajamu Baraka
Venezuela: Revenge of the Mad-Dog Empire
Edward Hunt
Treating North Korea Rough
Binoy Kampmark
Meddling for Empire: the CIA Comes Clean
Ron Jacobs
Stamping Out Hunger
Ammar Kourany – Martha Myers
So, You Think You Are My Partner? International NGOs and National NGOs, Costs of Asymmetrical Relationships
Michael Welton
1980s: From Star Wars to the End of the Cold War
Judith Deutsch
Finkelstein on Gaza: Who or What Has a Right to Exist? 
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
War Preparations on Venezuela as Election Nears
Wilfred Burchett
Vietnam Will Win: Military Realities
Steve Early
Refinery Safety Campaign Frays Blue-Green Alliance
Ali Mohsin
Muslims Face Increasing Discrimination, State Surveillance Under Trump
Julian Vigo
UK Mass Digital Surveillance Regime Ruled Illegal
Peter Crowley
Revisiting ‘Make America Great Again’
Andrew Stewart
Black Panther: Afrofuturism Gets a Superb Film, Marvel Grows Up and I Don’t Know How to Review It
CounterPunch News Service
A Call to Celebrate 2018 as the Year of William Edward Burghardt Du Bois by the Saturday Free School
February 20, 2018
Nick Pemberton
The Gun Violence the Media Shows Us and the State Violence They Don’t
John Eskow
Sympathy for the Drivel: On the Vocabulary of President Nitwit
John Steppling
Trump, Putin, and Nikolas Cruz Walk Into a Bar…
John W. Whitehead
America’s Cult of Violence Turns Deadly
Ishmael Reed
Charles F. Harris: He Popularized Black History
Will Podmore
Paying the Price: the TUC and Brexit
George Burchett
Plumpes Denken: Crude thinking
Binoy Kampmark
The Caring Profession: Peacekeeping, Blue Helmets and Sexual Abuse
Lawrence Wittner
The Trump Administration’s War on Workers
David Swanson
The Question of Sanctions: South Africa and Palestine
Walter Clemens
Murderers in High Places
Dean Baker
How Does the Washington Post Know that Trump’s Plan Really “Aims” to Pump $1.5 Trillion Into Infrastructure Projects?
February 19, 2018
Rob Urie
Mueller, Russia and Oil Politics
Richard Moser
Mueller the Politician
Robert Hunziker
There Is No Time Left
Nino Pagliccia
Venezuela Decides to Hold Presidential Elections, the Opposition Chooses to Boycott Democracy
Daniel Warner
Parkland Florida: Revisiting Michael Fields
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail