August 11, 2009

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“(Israeli Consul General for New England Nadav Tamir) is apparently not fond of Israel’s current government led by Benjamin Netanyahu and its policies. . . . There is nothing wrong with a diplomat writing a confidential memo expressing an opinion that differs from . . . his master’s at home. However, when such a diplomat leaks the document in an effort to embarrass those whom his country’s voters have elected to be his superiors, then his behavior is no longer defensible.’’

“Tamir is supposed to be representing this Israeli government’s positions in the United States whether he personally agrees with them or not. And if he wanted to send a letter like the one he sent - and although I personally disagree with him he has every right to hold and express his opinion - the way to do it is to send it to [Avigdor] Lieberman and Netanyahu in the diplomatic pouch with instructions that it is for them personally and not to release it to a cable television station that is on its last financial legs and seeking headlines, where the letter would undoubtedly become the lead story on the nightly newscast.’’

“Tamir is voicing views that many of us progressive Jewish bloggers have been voicing since Obama was elected. We have it right and the Israeli government has it wrong . . . There is a long-due reckoning with Israel over the settlements. Israel can pay now at a reasonable price and with a reasonably sympathetic US president; or it can pay later at a much higher price in blood and opprobrium. Tamir is saying to pay now and get the deal done while a deal can be made. His superiors think they can play the old Israeli game of waiting out the enemy till administrations change or popular opinion defangs the opponent. This is a high stakes gamble and one that very well could end in Israel losing big at the craps table.’’

“First, New Hampshire (and New England in general) arguably invented the entire town hall meeting concept so Granite staters take these forums very seriously. And as much as some might want to believe the White House will be staging the questions, don’t believe that hype. The White House knows the political price for being caught doing that is much higher than having to deal with a confrontation or two at the meeting itself. If anything, I’d bet some inside the White House are hoping for a confrontation since they believe the president’s demeanor alone will politically play well with the folks the White House cares most about right now, actual independents.’’

“The White House put in place an audience-selection system for the president’s Tuesday visit to Portsmouth, N.H., for a town hall - where healthcare is likely to come up - so it will be harder for protesters to get in. Folks had to register online by Saturday and, the White House says, only ‘a limited number of individuals will be selected’ to attend. Last week, Obama’s OFA Indiana operation also solicited supporters to turn out in advance of the president’s visit to Elkhart. “A veteran Democratic organizer I interviewed admitted that Dems were surprised not so much by the big turnouts but at the fierceness of the attacks on healthcare reforms and the whipping up of anti-Obama sentiment.’’

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