Ever since the disastrous Arab Spring speech, President Obama’s spinners have strained to defend the administration, throwing out one excuse after another for a remarkable shift in U.S. policy. Despite progress in prior negotiations and the 2004 Bush-Sharon letters, the president made it U. S. policy for Israel to go back to square one and start negotiations at the 1949 Armistice lines and negotiate from there. The president had pulled the rug out from under our ally, forgoing any U.S. policy on any issue the Palestinians would have to compromise on. And to boot, Israel was told it must negotiate immediately, but of course it couldn’t be expected to negotiate with a government including Hamas.
So the Obama defense squad first argued it was all “no big deal.” But it was. Then it argued “Bush did it too.” But Bush did the opposite, affording the Jewish state explicit recognition in Bush-Sharon letters on settlements (to be decided in final status talks, natural growth “up but not out” would be allowed in the interim) and on borders that would account for changes on the ground. Then the Obama-spun liberals insisted, well, even if was a change and disadvantaged Israel, the Jews would stick by Obama. (What a crass admission, that Obama should be able to savage the Jewish state so long as his poll numbers don’t suffer.) Then they argued over a conference call to Jewish leaders last Friday, ignoring the administration’s own admissions that : 1) “1967 lines with land swaps” meant stripping Israel of past bargaining gains and 2) the administration wouldn’t rule out cajoling Israel to sit down with a Hamas-Fatah government in which both sides that had not embraced the Quartet principles.
Jewish leaders who were not under the spell of the Obama team following the Friday call were dismayed. As one participant in the call put it to me last night, it was a mystery what the administration was even trying to accomplish. Simply irritate already-nervous Jewish leaders? Word leaked out, as the administration knew it would, and the spin-offensive began all over again.
Pro-Israel Democrats privately are distressed. There are loyal Democrats who are pained to see “their side” behave in such a fashion, and frankly fatigued by perpetually smiling for the media while banging their heads on the desk behind closed doors.
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