Yesterday, March 3, 2015 -- a date which will live in infamy -- the President of the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by the Prime Minister of the State of Israel. The United States was at peace with that nation and....
OK, OK, enough with the FDR imitation already. And I'm not sure that 3/3/15 will live in infamy; there are so many other dates clamoring for that distinction in our times. But it was certainly a milestone of sorts. It did not represent a sea change in our relationship with Israel; what it did represent, however, was Israel's – or at least its prime minister's – overt and unambiguous declaration that they are in charge of our foreign policy, no matter what any silly-ass president or his pathetic acolytes in Congress might think. Netanyahu not only called Obama out, but he told it like it is, and demanded that Congress fall into line and agree with him – which they did, by the way, in a show of obsequiousness that set a new high (or low). Not that there's anything new about this either, since that was accomplished decades ago, but on this occasion the prime minister openly acknowledged the facts of the matter and pretty much dared anybody to object.
And of course there will be a reconciliation, and an “all is forgiven” golden glow will descend on the whole affair, and history will be rewritten to show “no daylight” between us and Israel. So in that sense it doesn't matter... but the fact will remain. Bibi has bearded the lion (so to speak) in his den, and there will be no backing off from that – no spin, no “clarification”. The prime minister chose his words with exquisite care; there was nothing offhand or spontaneous about them. He made his position plain, he made it plain that it was Israel's position, and he made it plain that he didn't much care what Obama or his stooges think, because, quite frankly, they don't count. (The truth is, even Congress doesn't count – but the exercise was valuable as an affirmation of Israel's power base. The standing ovations tell you all you need to know about that.)
Well, Obama is a lame duck – a lot lamer than he was on Monday! -- but so what? He's been insulted by Netanyahu before, and undoubtedly will be again. And he doesn't dare return blow for blow; he is as helpless as a Supreme Court justice sitting like a bump on a log while the president gives a State of the Union address brimming with insults directed at the Court (which is why some of the justices have decided to boycott said annual exercise until further notice). Maybe now he knows how it feels.
So nothing will change. We will continue to pour resources into the Middle East in endless wars, unto and beyond bankruptcy. We will continue to incur the wrath of the Islamic world, and the derision of most of the rest. We will continue to “stand with Israel” in splendid isolation. And yet... one can't help but think that a milestone has been passed. Gone are the days of subtlety and subversion; from here on it's in-your-face, mano a mano. But at the same time, it's refreshing; everything is right out in the open, and we can now decide if this is what we want, or if we would prefer something else (not that what “we” decide will make much difference). The main point is that from here on out no one can claim ignorance, and no one can feign shock the next time Israel abuses its infinite privileges with the U.S., its leadership, its military, and it's citizens.
It would be tempting to dwell just on the more amusing and ironic aspects of all of this; they certainly made my day. (Feinstein and Pelosi both having hissy fits? Please.) But those aren't the sorts of things that usually echo down through history. What does do this is major world events and political forces – and yet we all too rarely get to see them in plain sight; these events are as rare as total eclipses. For this alone we should thank the prime minister; he has shown us... well, not necessarily the truth about Iran and its perceived threats, but the truth about our relationship with our “eternal ally”. That, and at least one truth about our political leadership – that they are infantile, and as mindless as a gang of yobs at a soccer game.