Leon Panetta, fresh from a stint as CIA director and off to his new job as Secretary of Defense, did his best to butch up in the usual way of DC hacks "daringly" delivering the same utterances that have been current in the capital for generations.
What table? Which terrorists? Those questions didn't bother Panetta, who after years of being wedgied by Biden and having his pants pulled down by James L. Jones had finally discovered the thrill of being a bully. Or as David Igantius at the Washington Post puts it, "He liked the “just get to the damn table” line so much that he repeated it, for good measure." Which is a common phenomenon among five year olds who say a bad word for the first time. It's a little more pathetic when it's being done by the Secretary of Defense.
Not done for the day, Panetta went out to lay out the rest of his "Blame Israel" peace plan, suggesting that it was up to Israel to mend fences with Egypt and Turkey. It's hard to say whether the former CIA director is familiar with anything that happened in Egypt this week, but he might have noticed that the big winners in the election down there were the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafis.
It's always a good idea to mend fences when the people on the other side of the fence want to establish a demented theocracy and kill you, but the fence mending is going to have to be a unilateral project and the fences are going to be really high and thick with missile launchers on top.
Turkey, currently occupying parts of Cyprus and Kurdistan, and purging its domestic opposition, is a more likely target for fence mending because of the lack of fences. It's strictly naval warfare over there. Rick Perry complained that he couldn't be expected to build a fence on the Rio Grande, and is Israel really supposed to mend fences on the Med with bankrupt Islamists upset that they haven't gassed their quota of Kurds this week?
According to Panetta, Egypt and Turkey share an interest in regional stability. The missing letter that the former CIA director is looking for is a "d". Shared. Egypt shared an interest in regional stability before it was taken over by an apocalyptic cult after its government was pushed to the side by Leon's boss in the Oval Office in between two rounds of golf and a vacation on Martha's Vineyard.
Turkey has a compelling interest in regional stability. Its plan for regional stability is called reviving the Ottoman Empire, but with more mosques. This doesn't worry Panetta who thinks that no empire based around ornate furniture and peaceful religions can be a bad thing.
But Panetta isn't as stupid as he looks. Shouting about Israel needing to get back to the "damn table" and maybe bring him a "damn ottoman" so he can put his feet up, isn't really about Israel, it's about the new Secretary of Defense giving the Saudis a shout out to remind that this administration still has their back. Sure Chas Freeman didn't get to draw up the National Intelligence Estimate, but Leon will run out and get them a Hookah any time they want it.
The Saban Forum, for those who think that it rings a small bell, is a vanity forum for Haim Saban, an expat Israeli mogul who is known for donating huge amounts of money to the Democratic Party and for bringing Mighty Morphin Power Rangers to the United States-- giving Americans who were parents in the 1990's two reasons to hate him. For all the table pounding, nothing that matters much happens there.
At this point in time an American defense official ranting that Israel needs to get back to the table, some table with somebody, is the equivalent of the Coca Cola company putting Santa on their soda bottles in December. Everyone knows it's coming and no one pays much attention to it.
The "Get back to the damn table" policy is the product of senility. It's half a dozen administrations pounding the table and shouting, "Get me my medication," and "Bring me my apple juice" and "Get back to the damn table and sign a peace agreement with one of the terrorist groups and this time make it stick somehow, we don't care how."
As Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld talked about the known unknowns and the unknown unknowns. For Secretary of Defense/CIA Director/Official White House Dog Groomer, Leon Panetta, everything is an unknown unknown, except for the received wisdom of his old bosses back in the Clinton Administration. When in doubt scream that everything would be better if the Israelis just got back to the table.
Make some gestures, Panetta urged. Do a little dance, sing some showtunes, apologizing for your soldiers, your national defense policy and anything else you can think of. "If the gestures are rebuked, the world will see those rebukes for what they are -- and Israel's moral standing will grow even higher. And that is why Israel should pursue them,"
Which world does Panetta mean exactly? The Muslim world, which has this black book that is filled with the names of Mohammed's favorite slave girls and six year olds, and a whole lot in there about killing Jews, isn't likely to be won over with gestures, whether they are in American Appeasement Sign Language or New York Cabbie, though the latter would at least be more honest.
Then there's the First World which is rather concerned about the number of New York cabbies reading that particular book and going on killing sprees, especially if they're backed by a dozen or so Muslim regimes, some of which are giving out nuclear party favors. The First World's diplomats aren't likely to be impressed by Israel's moral standing or ottoman fetching skills. They don't care about those things, they just wish the nice people would stop blowing up so often, and if shouting that Israel needs to get back to the table might slow down the detonations, they'll pound on the table until their hands turn blue and until there isn't anyone left in Israel with enough body parts to gesture with.
Not to be outdone, Howard W. Gutman, this nation's ambassador to Belgium joined in the chorus explaining that some types of anti-semitism were more justified than others.
Gutman, the former lawyer for a member of the Weather Underground, certainly knows which way the wind is blowing in Europe. Buggenhout, a Belgian municipality that no ambassador had wanted to visit before because of the embarrassing name, actually put up a plaque commemorating his visit there. But you don't get to be the man dubbed "the most popular ambassador in Belgium" by not bashing Israel.
But give the Gut some credit, he knows how to warm up a crowd. Before launching into a diatribe about the Jews, he told his audience, and I quote, "If you are new to Belgium, the frites, chocolate, beer and mussels are terrific and have only the oval waffles called Liege waffles, put no toppings on them, and get them straight from the waffle iron." With fantastic material like this, you can see why Howie had to fall back on the classics.
After the Liege waffles and the chocolate beer, the Honorable Howard W. Gutman explained that there were two kinds of Anti-Semitism. There is the unambiguously bad kind.
"There is and has long been some amount of anti-Semitism, of hatred and violence against Jews, from a small sector of the population who hate others who may be different or perceived to be different, largely for the sake of hating. Those anti-Semites are people who hate not only Jews, but Muslims, gays, gypsies, and likely any who can be described as minorities or different."
This kind of Anti-Semitism is of course never practiced by Muslims, unless Muslims are capable of hating themselves for being different from themselves. It's practiced by people who hate Jews, Muslims, gays, gypsies and ambassadors who wear stupid glasses. Crazy irrational racists whose bigotry can't be accounted for. And then there's the other kind.
"It is the problem within Europe of tension, hatred and sometimes even violence between some members of Muslim communities or Arab immigrant groups and Jews."
While the bad gay gypsy haters actually hate other people, here there's only a tension. Not a crime against, but in between. Muslims have tensions with Jews. Jews have tensions with Muslims. Sometimes it ends in kidnapping and beheading, and you're invited to guess which group wields the machete and which one gets it head sawn off.
"It is a tension and perhaps hatred largely born of and reflecting the tension between Israel, the Palestinian Territories and neighboring Arab states in the Middle East over the continuing Israeli-Palestinian problem. "
Does it ever enter Howard W Gutman's mind that possibly there are people in those neighboring Arab states or among Muslims who hate people for being different, or is that a superpower only possessed by Western Europeans? History would suggest otherwise, but Gutman didn't get this far by being a historian, he got it by raising money for the post-American man in the White House.
Gutman goes on to explain that this kind of Anti-Semitism is really a very subtle and complex nuanced thing. For example he explains, that Muslims cheer him whenever he goes, which means they can't be Anti-Semitic. Clearly it's just Israel that they hate, not Howard W. Gutman. And the Gut warns against "lumping the problem with past instances of anti-Jewish beliefs and actions or those that exist today among minority haters under a uniform banner of “anti-Semitism.”
Which is to say that when a Jewish child is punched in the face by a Belgian accompanied by a shout of "Dirty Jew", then it's Anti-Semitism-- but when he's punched in the face by a Muslim with a shout of "Ibtach Al-Yahood" then it's one of those complex problems that we shouldn't lump under a uniform banner of Anti-Semitism. We should just take our lumps and accept the blame for a thousand years of Islamic Anti-Semitism which began when Mohammed got on his flying horse and traveled through time to visit modern day Gaza.
According to Gutman, every time a settlement goes up in Israel, a Jewish child gets punched in the face, and the only people who can make it stop are Israeli leaders.
Anyone who finds this noxious patter familiar might remember it from one of Soros' speeches or from 1930's rhetoric. Or Gutman might just default to the patron saint of socialism's suggestion, "A careful study of anti-Semitism, prejudice and accusations might be of great value to many Jews, who do not adequately realize the irritation they inflict." But H.G. Wells was closer to saying what he meant than Gutman is.
In his opening, after the thing with the waffles, Gutman boasts, "Though there was much support in the Jewish community during the campaign, I combated significant suspicion and concern among the Jewish community as to whether a black man named Barack Hussein Obama could really be a good friend for Israel and the Jewish community."
Gutman's remarks, coming right after Barack Hussein Obama had made some gestures to try and reassure nervous Jews that he doesn't intend to nuke Israel this term, can't be too helpful. But the Gutmans and the Soroses and Sabans greet this sort of thing with enthusiasm. Finally someone is telling those damn Jews to go back to the table. And then under it. Because someone has to be the ottoman for the new Ottoman Empire and the Caliphate. Someone has to be willing to bow down and accommodate the feet of Islam.
Make a gesture. Take your lumps. But don't you dare bomb Iran or stay away too long from the table. If you do, the next time a synagogue is burned, you only have yourselves to blame. And don't even think of not voting for Barack Hussein Obama, just think if you don't vote for him, Leon Panetta and Howard W. Gutman will be out of a job.