By Matthew Rothschild on July 07, 2010

After his government killed nine people, including one U.S. citizen, on that Gaza relief ship, Benjamin Netanyahu might have expected a chilly reception in Washington.

And after approving more Jewish settlements in East Jerusalem, in flagrant defiance of the Obama administration, Netanyahu didn’t deserve the red carpet treatment.

But that’s what he got—and more, as Obama gushed all over him, praising him as someone “willing to take risks for peace” and praising Israel for showing “restraint” in recent months.

Obama didn’t offer a word on the need to permanently halt settlements on the West Bank, much less on the need to dismantle those settlements.

He gave Israel as close to explicit approval as possible for its nuclear stockpile and for not signing on to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, saying, in the context of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Conference, that Israel has “unique security requirements. … And the United States will never ask Israel to take any steps that would undermine their security interests.”

The only blame he cast was on Palestinians, warning them not to “look for excuses for incitement,” and on Arab countries, which, Obama said, “have to be supportive of peace.” Never mind that Saudi Arabia brokered a deal years ago to have Arab states recognize Israel if it withdrew from the Occupied Territories.

For a few months there, the Obama administration was talking kind of tough toward Israel. Not anymore.

Obama blinked.

As the Israeli newspaper Haaretz commented, “For Netanyahu this was a huge victory. His claim that he can stand against U.S. pressure, making only tactical concessions, has proven true. He leveraged internal U.S. politics in his favor, without weakening the right-wing coalition in Jerusalem. Netanyahu got off easy.”

Netanyahu and the designers of the ongoing Israeli occupation of Palestinian land prefer a weak U.S. President.

And they have one now in Obama.

If you liked this story by Matthew Rothschild, the editor of The Progressive magazine, check out his article “State Department Denies Visa to Leading Colombian Journalist and Nieman Fellow.”

Follow Matthew Rothschild @mattrothschild on Twitter

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By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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