Leslie Gelb, the curmudgeonly president emeritus of the foreign policy establishment, didn’t much like President Obama’s recent meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu.
Gelb, of course, spreads his criticism around. He didn’t like it when Obama launched into a confrontation with Netanyahu over Israel’s settlements in the occupied territories, arguing that it forced Israel into refusing to compromise under pressure. But he’s even unhappier over the latest fiasco, in which Obama kowtowed to the Israeli leader. He wants the policy makers fired:
“Whoever advised Mr. Obama to kneel rhetorically to Mr. Netanyahu in public on Tuesday should also be fired. The only thing accomplished by this embarrassing tactic was to put Israel in a position to call the shots on Mideast policy for the rest of Obama’s first term. …“Were the culprits the non-foreign policy White House intimates – chief of staff Rahm Emanuel and political honcho David Axelrod? Axelrod knows nothing about this, and worse, Emanuel thinks he does because he lived in Israel. Was George Mitchell, the president’s Mideast negotiator, the brains behind the foolishness? Surely, he’s had enough experience working with Israelis to know better. Did General James Jones, the National Security Adviser, remain silent, again? …“Tuesday’s meeting, full of smiles and the adoption of Israeli-desired language on almost every topic, only made matters worse. It made the situation look as if the American president had been cowed by Jewish control of American politics. That certainly pleased American and Israeli hawks, but it did not please others who want to see genuine progress in Mideast talks.”