Pugnacious Panetta and Yom KIppur

Israel and the Western world stand mired at an existential crossroads. Panetta's behavior on his first trip to Israel in his new capacity as Secretary of Defense was beyond reprehensible.

Fern Sidman

OpEds Guest writer
Guest writer

Seems like newly appointed Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta has now enlisted his services in the burgeoning cacophony of voices in the Obama administration calling for an avalanche of pressure to be applied on Israel in the hopes of resuming the stalled "peace" negotiations with the Palestinian Authority.

If Israel hasn't been sufficiently raked over the proverbial coals by the international community in recent days for its perceived "intransigence"; most notably at the UN General Assembly hatefest and the Durban III conference, it now appears that the Obama underlings are turning up the heat.

While traveling to Israel for his first visit as defense chief, Panetta issued a veiled threat; warning that theClinton, who, just several days ago, chided Israel's decision to build 1100 housing units in Jerusalem's Gilo neighborhood  as "counter-productive" to reviving peace talks with the PA. Her sentiments were echoed by the European Union who said that the decision "threatens the viability of an agreed two-state solution". 

In this tendentious climate, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu has adamantly retained his previously stated committment to direct negotiations with the Palestinians sans pre-conditions of any kind. This however, has not deterred Panetta and other administration lackeys Jewish state will be acting to its detriment and eroding its own security if it displays any signs of unwillingness to "reach out to its neighbors".

Noting the undulating transformations in the region in the wake of the Arab Spring he additionally cautioned that Israel is "becoming increasingly isolated in the Middle East" and advised them in the strongest of terms to rectify the situation by assuming a dovish posture, not only as it pertains to negotiations with the Palestinians but with such countries as Egypt and Turkey where relations have been strained.

Panetta has been joined in his free flowing animadversions against Israel by Secretary of State . Subsequent to upbraiding Israel for not moving fast enough in jump starting the Obama agenda of pandering to the Palestinians so that the US can avert a diplomatic crisis when their hand is forced in vetoing the Abbas initiated "member nation" request at the UN Security Council, Panetta has now taken aim at members of the US House Foreign Affairs Committee and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for impeding a $200 million aid package for the Palestinian Authority that was frozen due to its bid for UN recognition of statehood.

Curiously, the Israeli response has been muted at best and whitewashed at worst. While talking to reporters at a joint news conference with Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Panetta, clearly exasperated at the US lawmakers for blocking the aid package said, "This is a critical time. This is no time to withhold those funds."

The Israelis said nothing as they walk the political tightrope, constantly attempting to appease Washington while grasping at straws for their own survival.

Panetta's desperate tone clearly indicates US anxiety over the potential fallout of the nascent "Palestinian Spring" and what it represents for US and Western interests. Poised to fire the first salvo in what could emerge as a global conflagration over perceived but patently false US proclivities towards Israel, the Palestinians and the Muslim world are transmitting signs that grave implications are imminent. 

The Obama administration would do well to reassess their policy of funding known terrorist organizations within the infrastructure of the Palestinian Authority as it will only come back to haunt them in the future.

The time is long overdue for the administration to extricate themselves from the obsequious corner they've painted themselves into vis-a-vis Middle East diplomacy and the Muslim world. 

The time is long overdue for the US to carefully examine its purported moral rectitude in the foreign affairs arena and to begin to distinguish between intractable enemies from longstanding friends whose fealty they've answered with animus.  

As we approach Yom Kippur; a day of reckoning and atonement, we can't escape the fact that Israel and the Western world stands mired at an existential crossroads. Panetta's behavior on his first trip to Israel in his new capacity as Secretary of Defense was beyond reprehensible, but his words couldn't have come at a more propitious time and they are words that carry the kind of gravitas that demand that we must deeply ponder them. 

Although they weren't intended as a prescient insight into the geo-political realities that afflict the Jewish nation and the land of Israel, we must interpret them as yet another wake-up call from the Heavens above as we approach the Almighty on the day of the year that we are most close to Him.

"Israel is becoming increasingly isolated in the Middle East', he said, and our salvation will not come forth from Washington or from feckless negotiations base on an elusive hope for peace, but from our knowledge that the events that swirl around us at blinding speed are but a stark reminder that we are a nation that dwells alone; dependent exclusively on our G-d for our protection and comfort.