The White House Monday lashed out furiously at Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu for saying U.S. opposition to a new Israeli housing project in East Jerusalem was contrary to “American values.”
Now, the White House has a point in asserting that it doesn’t need a civics lesson from a foreign leader on American values. But we have to understand the context. Netanhyahu’s statement, made on Face the Nation, came after the White House did something I have never heard of a White House doing in my lifetime: It threatened the relationship between Israel and the United States.
Not only that, it questioned Israel’s commitment to peace.
Here’s what White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said October 1 of the project East Jerusalem, which is part of Israel but claimed by the Palestinians:
This development will only draw condemnation from the international community, distance Israel from even its closest allies, poison the atmosphere not only with the Palestinians but also with the very Arab governments with which Prime Minister Netanyahu said he wanted to build relations. It also would call into question Israel’s ultimate commitment to a peaceful negotiated settlement with the Palestinians.
These underreported remarks were as harsh as it gets. So Netanyahu needled the White House, saying the project amounted to the purchase of new apartment complex and is therefore a property rights issue, something that should be understandable to anyone familiar with “Americans values.”
Well, Earnest Monday went on a little pre-scripted tirade, listing all the ways “American values” cause the United States to support Israel.
The fact is, when it comes to American values, it’s American values that lend this country’s unwavering support to Israel. It’s American values that have led us to fight for and secure funding to strengthen Israel’s security in tangible ways. It’s American values that have led us to fund and build an Iron Dome system that has protected the lives of countless innocent Israeli citizens. It’s American values that have led the United States to fully support Israel’s right to defend itself. And it’s American values that have led us to defend Israel in a variety of international forums, including a variety of United Nations forums.
So it’s clear how American values dictate or at least guide our thinking when it comes to our unwavering support for the nation of Israel.
I can only surmise the message from this rant was that Israel should have more gratitude. Fact is, having a sole reliable, democratic ally in the Middle East is also in America’s national security interests. It’s not just a big favor.
Here are Netanyahu’s comments, a news-making event that Face the Nation actually left off the airwaves.
And so, the relationship between Obama and Netanyahu remains where it’s been: In the dumpster.