Lawmakers gave Binyamin Netanyahu 59 rounds of applause as the Israeli prime minister addressed a joint meeting of Congress Tuesday. But more revealing was the whisper I heard while watching the speech from the House gallery. It came as Netanyahu repeated his rejection of the notion, floated by President Obama last week, that peace talks with Palestinians should be based on Israel’s smaller, pre-1967 borders. ‘Israel will not return to the indefensible boundaries of 1967,’ Netanyahu thundered. ‘Jerusalem must never again be divided,’ he roared. ‘Go Bibi!’ the woman next to me said, sotto voce. It was the voice of Inna Graizel, the 21-year-old Israeli I’ve been harboring in my basement for the last eight months…Though she’s a moderate who was suspicious of the uncompromising Netanyahu, the episode turned her into a supporter…’It’s a big thing to say ‘no’ to the president of the United States,’ she said. ‘If there were an election now,’ she said, ‘I would vote for Bibi.’ This is why Obama’s speech was such a blunder. By pushing an Israeli moderate such as Inna into the arms of Netqnyahu, Obama has strengthened the hard-liners.” Dana Milbank, ‘Falling for Netanyahu: What Obama’s bungle means to my Israeli au pair’, The Washington Post, May 25, 2011
“Mr. Netanyahu told U.S. lawmakers on Tuesday that his government would accept no peace deal that would require Israel to accept division of Jerusalem, allow for the return of Palestinian refugees or agree to withdraw all security forces from the disputed West Bank…Senior Democrats were among the most enthusiastic audience members to Mr. Netanyahu’s speech. Some have broken with Mr. Obama in recent days on the issue of using the 1967 lines as a basis for negotiations…’Both sides of the aisle believe that you advanced the cause for peace,’ Rep Nancy Pelosi of California, the top Democrat in the House of representatives told Mr. Netanyahu after his speech.” Jay Solomon, ‘Congress Applauds Israeli’s Hard Line’, The Wall Street Journal, May 23, 2011
“Benjamin Netanyahu, Israeli prime minister, has delivered a fiery speech to the US Congress, rejecting any negotiations with a Palestinian unity government…’In a genuine peace, we’ll be required to give up parts of the ancestral Jewish homeland. And you have to understand this: in Judea and Samaria, the Jewish people are not foreign occupiers,’ he said, referring to the West Bank by its Biblical names….’Israel will not negotiate with a Palestinian government backed by the Palestinian version of al-Qaeda.’ ” Daniel Dombey and Tobias Buck, ‘Netanyahu defiant on peace talks’, Financial Times, May 25, 2011
Like so many others, Israelis and Americans alike, but not, so it would seem, most Europeans, I repeat the words of Inna Graizel:
I add, as she apparently did not:
‘Shame on you, Barack Obama’.