Yes, yes, shameful 11th hour demagoguery, blah blah blah.
As has long been the case, the most painfully revealing outcome of any fresh bout of lunacy in the interminable piss-fight between the Israelis and the Palestinians occurs not in the Middle East, but in the newsrooms of the United States.
Today, loud ululations resound. Garments are rent and teeth are gnashed as the American pundit class awakes to the astounding revelation that Benjamin Netanyahu isn't at all interested in playing nice and making friends with his rowdy, rocket-hurling neighbours and, moreover, is popular precisely because he says so while flipping the finger to the planet generally and to the United States in particular.
The American press dust off their deadliest descriptors - why, Mr Netanyahu is so "shrill"! He's "cynical and calculating"! He's "raised questions about his ability to heal Israel's internal wounds" and his desire to "better its standing in the world"!
Goodness, what a terrible shock to the system this must all be for those poor little darlings who so earnestly believed that nasty Mr Netanyahu was a true man of peace.
And yet out in the world beyond Washington, there can be barely a flicker of surprise. God knows there are many accusations that you can hurl at Bibi but for real, "Constructing a convincing facade of genuine peace-desiring" has never been one of them.
I think we're long past the point where we can pretend that we're witnessing anything other than a bit of half-hearted choreography here. Consider Netanyahu's varying yet thoroughly transparent stances on the peace process over the
He used to say that he was dead against a Palestinian state.
And then the
US leaned on him to say that he wasn't against it, so he said that he was in favour of a Palestinian
state that was no state at all, with practically none of the traits or powers that
any modern state would take for granted.
And now when push has come to
shove, he says again that he's dead against a Palestinian state, and is cheered to the rafters for it.
This, we are to understand, represents some terrible chicanery and duplicity on
Netanyahu's part, going by the theatrical swoons of horror over his allegedly unexpected rejection of moderation and his supposedly sudden swerve towards
racism and neverending militarism.
But to anyone who's been paying even the slightest bit of attention, it's so obvious that nothing at
all has changed and that the situation is now as it has ever been, that it's simply comical. Israelis themselves observe the contrived uproar and rightly ask - why the sudden outrage at
facts that have been obvious to anyone who cared to look, for decades?
And the answer is - an Israeli leader openly stating that he
won't accept a Palestinian state isn't a shock at all, but it is a terrible breach of decorum.
makes it difficult for the US to continue the pretence of impartial
arbitration. It makes it more difficult for the New York Times to issue
weepy editorials about how the entire situation is such a tragedy, with
everyone and no-one to blame*.
This is the only reason why the American press are up in arms - not because Netanyahu is
the same old vicious crank that he always was, but because he's a vicious
crank and a low-class boor whose behaviour makes people who actually
matter look bad.
He's rude and inconsiderate, in short.
It's not so much that Netanyahu has let the cat out of the bag, as that he's on TV telling the world that there never was a bag in the
first place... Just a great big feral cat, hissing and pissing in the pot plants.
That being so, it's hardly surprising that America's feline-containment PR experts are a tad displeased.
The tutting and clucking in the US press amounts to
nothing more than demonstrative disapproval of Bibi's bad manners. Nonetheless, I do kind of admire the giant, gleaming brass balls it takes to play out such a preposterous performance in public.
*Difficult but not impossible of course, as the coming months will most certainly prove.