Post-Biden spat: what the Israeli papers say

Netanyahu is "zigzagging like a drunken driver".

The fallout continues from the diplomatic nightmare that was the visit to Israel by the US vice-president, Joe Biden, during which the interior ministry announced plans for 1,600 homes on occupied land in East Jerusalem.

Today Michael Oren, Israel's ambassador to the US, said that relations between the countries are "facing the most severe crisis since 1975".

At the Jerusalem Post, the editor-in-chief, David Horovitz, finds it hard to "reconcile the bitter, accusatory, public dressing-down" with the "insistent" US assurance on Israeli security.

It's not easy, no matter how persuasively it can be argued that Netanyahu brought this on himself.

Barry Rubin, writing yesterday, wondered what the "fuss" was about, arguing that the area in question is "not some new settlement but a neighborhood about five blocks from the pre-1967 border".

The action, if not the timing, was neither a provocation, the establishment of a "new settlement" nor proof that Israel doesn't want peace.

At Hareetz, an editorial calls for an end to the "lunacy" that has put US-Israel relations on a "collision course", arguing that "the government headed by Netanyahu is now emerging as a strategic threat". Yesterday, editor-at-large Aluf Benn argued that the Israeli PM faces a choice:

The prime minister has reached the moment of truth, where he must choose between his ideological beliefs and political co-operation with the right on the one hand, and his need for American support on the other.

At Ynet news, Moshe Dann called the diplomatic crisis a "blessing in disguise":

Supporters of Israel should rejoice that Biden and [Secretary of State Hillary] Clinton have emerged from Obama's closet hatred of Israel.

Anat Gov, also at Ynet, finds himself pining for the "old Bibi" (Netanyahu) who would make "make (bad) decisions quickly and decisively", rather than the "new Bibi", "zigzagging like a drunken driver".

In the run-up to next week's Aipac annual policy conference, where both Netanyahu and Clinton are scheduled to speak, it is unclear who will blink first in the diplomatic stand-off. It may be that the Obama administration is reacting to domestic pressure on health-care reform, or seeking to lower expectations or shift the blame for an ill-fated peace process.

Regardless, Tel Aviv and Washington stand united on the most pressing regional concern, Iran. As David Miliband seeks to win China's support for sanctions, it seems inevitable that hard words on Iran will drown out the recriminations over Palestine.

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Rarely has it mattered so little if Manchester United won; rarely has it been so special they did

Team's Europa League victory offers chance for sorely needed celebration of a city's spirit.

Carlo Ancelotti, the Bayern Munich manager, memorably once said that football is “the most important of the least important things”, but he was only partly right. While it is absolutely the case that a bunch of people chasing around a field is insignificant, a bunch of people chasing around a field is not really what football is about.

At a football match can you set aside the strictures that govern real life and freely scream, shout and cuddle strangers. Football tracks life with such unfailing omnipresence, garnishing the mundane with regular doses of drama and suspense; football is amazing, and even when it isn’t there’s always the possibility that it’s about to be.

Football bestows primal paroxysms of intense, transcendent ecstasy, shared both with people who mean everything and people who mean nothing. Football carves out time for people it's important to see and delivers people it becomes important to see. Football is a structure with folklore, mythology, language and symbols; being part of football is being part of something big, special, and eternal. Football is the best thing in the world when things go well, and still the best thing in the world when they don’t. There is nothing remotely like it. Nothing.

Football is about community and identity, friends and family; football is about expression and abandon, laughter and song; football is about love and pride. Football is about all the beauty in the world.

And the world is a beautiful place, even though it doesn’t always seem that way – now especially. But in the horror of terror we’ve seen amazing kindness, uplifting unity and awesome dignity which is the absolute point of everything.

In Stockholm last night, 50,000 or so people gathered for a football match, trying to find a way of celebrating all of these things. Around town before the game the atmosphere was not as boisterous as usual, but in the ground the old conviction gradually returned. The PA played Bob Marley’s Three Little Birds, an Ajax staple with lyrics not entirely appropriate: there is plenty about which to worry, and for some every little thing is never going to be alright.

But somehow the sentiment felt right and the Mancunian contingent joined in with gusto, following it up with “We’ll never die,” – a song of defiance born from the ashes of the Munich air disaster and generally aired at the end of games, often when defeat is imminent. Last night it was needed from the outset, though this time its final line – “we’ll keep the red flag flying high, coz Man United will never die" – was not about a football team but a city, a spirit, and a way of life. 

Over the course of the night, every burst of song and even the minute's silence chorused with that theme: “Manchester, Manchester, Manchester”; “Manchester la la la”; “Oh Manchester is wonderful”. Sparse and simple words, layered and complex meanings.

The match itself was a curious affair. Rarely has it mattered so little whether or not United won; rarely has it been so special that they did. Manchester United do not represent or appeal to everyone in Manchester but they epitomise a similar brilliance to Manchester, brilliance which they take to the world. Brilliance like youthfulness, toughness, swagger and zest; brilliance which has been to the fore these last three days, despite it all.

Last night they drew upon their most prosaic aspects, outfighting and outrunning a willing but callow opponent to win the only trophy to have eluded them. They did not make things better, but they did bring happiness and positivity at a time when happiness and positivity needed to be brought; football is not “the most important of the least important things,” it is the least important of the most important things.

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