I don’t know about you, but I find remarkable this passage from Al Jazeera’s report on today’s Cairo riots which swirled around the Israeli embassy and spilled over into attacks on neighboring Egyptian security facilities:
US President Barack Obama was first to react, calling on Egypt to protect the embassy and “to honour its international obligations to safeguard the security of the Israeli Embassy.”
A White House statement said that “the President expressed his great concern about the situation at the embassy, and the security of the Israelis serving there”.
The statement said that Obama spoke by telephone to Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, and the two agreed “to stay in close touch until the situation is resolved”.
Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, also called Mohamed Kamel Amr, Egypt’s foreign minister, to urge Egypt to meet its Vienna Convention obligations to protect diplomatic property, a senior state department official said.
United States officials said Defense Minister Ehud Barak of Israel had called Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, who in turn asked the Egyptian military to try to restore order at the embassy.
Last I checked, Israel was not a U.S. protectorate, but rather an independent nation. Why Israel should not feel confident appealing directly to Egypt in this case, and instead turned to its evident protectors, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, is beyond me. It seems a grave error on the part of Obama to publicly announce his intervention, as it will further tarnish Israel’s and America’s reputations in the Arab world. We look like the Bobsey Twins or, if you will, Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum.
I can’t recall our government taking any particular public interest in the violation of the embassies of other countries in other cases, nor do I recall the Israelis warning the Iranians to release our hostages in 1979 (a lot of difference it would’ve made if they had!), though others may correct me.
This is yet another example of the abject failure of Obama’s Mideast policy. Like Aipac, he doesn’t recognize where the interests of the U.S. and Israel differ. I’d say he doesn’t deserve to win the next election if there were any candidate remotely appealing. But alas, there isn’t.
Israel must’ve been petrified that the assault and dumping of documents from embassy windows would expose secret intelligence files to public scrutiny. That’s the only reason I can think that Israel would go to the extraordinary length of calling on big brother to intercede on its behalf. Further, this indicates how much lower Israel’s stature has sunk in the region. Now it has picked huge fights with Turkey (killed nine of its citizens on the Mavi Marmara) and Egypt (killed five of its soldiers after Eilat attack and invaded Egypt in doing so). It of course, threatens Iran with annihilation semi-regularly. The only neighboring state with which it has no major bone to pick (or vice versa) is Jordan.
At this rate, Israel may need for the U.S. to intervene to save it from its worst impulses toward self-destruction. Though I have no confidence that Obama can do this in a way that won’t bring Israel and his own administration into even greater disrepute.
Silverstein has published Tikun Olam since 2003, It exposes the secrets of the Israeli national security state. He lives in Seattle, but his heart is in the east. He publishes regularly at Middle East Eye, the New Arab, and Jacobin Magazine. His work has also appeared in Al Jazeera English, The Nation, Truthout and other outlets.