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Friday, May 27, 2011

Good analysis of the Netanyahu/Obama drama from JPost

Herb Keinon in the Jerusalem Post has a thought provoking article that discusses, from a diplomatic perspective, why things happened the way they did over the past eight days.

He gives fairly reasonable answers to the questions:

Why did Obama surprise Netanyahu with a speech that clearly stated the 1967 lines as the negotiation baseline?

Why did Netanyahu choose to pick a fight with Obama, issuing an extremely tough response to the president’s Mideast speech?

Why, after issuing this response, did Netanyahu feel the need to cross swords with Obama when they issued joint statements after their Friday meeting?

Why did Obama decide to speak before AIPAC, and why did he say what he said?

Why was Netanyahu’s speech to Congress important, especially since he did not chart any radically new course?

Read the whole thing.



To that last question, I will add another answer.

Bibi's speech was not only important diplomatically, but also by its effect on the entire discourse around the Arab/Israeli conflict.

His speech changed the discussion from one that is framed in a pro-Arab way ("the settlements are the main obstacle to peace") to one that is more accurate, that is, that Israel is never going to compromise on its security, regardless of what people want. Changing the framework in this way has resulted in reporters and pundits being forced to change their arguments. It has, in short, moved the goalposts and re-awakened people to hearing Israel's viewpoint after years of nonstop pro-Arab rhetoric that invaded mainstream news media.

I don't know how long this will last, but that is not a small achievement.

(h/t Russell)