"The prime minister is being dragged after the messianic stream, standing in front of an abyss and insisting on walking forward." Ehud Barak
A friend asked me to sound off on the Kerry speech and recent U.N. resolution. I wish I had time to write more extensively on the matter but I don't. I hope that it will suffice to say that there are no shortage of devils in this opera, plenty of blame to go around. I fail to see any white hats, any good guys.
Where do I start? Netanyahu, who has played a dishonest double game since he was elected. No settlements suddenly became naturally evolving settlements, etc. He is a duplicitous bastard who simply can't be trusted and is always pushing the credibility envelope. Beholden to right wing zealots wishing to re-establish biblical Israel, he has paid lip service to the prospect of a lasting peace. Knows that he can count on Palestinian intransigence to deepsix any agreement so his calculus is a long war win of slow attrition.
When ex PM and defense minister Ehud Barak says that he has no problem with Kerry's statement and the resolution it is hard for me to. Bibi is busy chopping the possibility of a contiguous Palestinian state into little pieces.
Barack Obama, who has been hostile to Israel since the start of his tenure. I have chronicled this on a monthly basis for the last eight years. His daylight with Israel turned into a massive chasm and gulf. A man who cut a secret deal with an enemy of Israel that ultimately provided billions of dollars to its proxies in Hezbollah and Hamas, both sworn to Israel's destruction. Whose Press Secretary referred to molotov throwing Palestinian killers as freedom fighters. Who leaked and scuttled an Israeli Saudi airspace pact and whose state department once proclaimed that Jerusalem was not a part of Israel.
He gave them a massive aid package, conditionally, but in no way ever treated them as you would a friend or ally, or at least with the same attitude that he embraced his friends in Iran or Cuba.
Never missed an opportunity to joust with his hated enemy Netanyahu, slow walked agreed upon arms to Israel, glossed over Palestinian terror attacks, blocked Hellfire missile shipments, shared private Israeli military information with its enemies and always went out of his way to punish the only democracy in the region, a democracy mind you, where arab citizens vote and are elected. There was no reason to stick his finger in Israel's eye at the last minute when he was out of political capital but he did it anyway, out of sheer spite, to get one last lick in.
The Palestinians. How many times did they reject a two state solution? 1937, 1947, 1967, 2000, 2005, 2008. They refuse to accept Israel's right to exist and have never forsaken violent resistance. This is tough for liberal minds to accept so the John Kerry's of this world keep pushing a two state idea with this blind hope of Palestinian acceptance that never materializes. How long is Israel supposed to try to kick this illusory football? How do you strike a deal with a people who wean themselves on a dream of martyrdom and violent victory over the occupiers seemingly from the cradle. A Palestinian authority that pays 75 million dollars a year to families of terrorists and names streets after them. Money that they receive from this administration. Perhaps Palestinians would fare better in a single state of Israel? How do you fashion a two state deal when only one partner agrees to come to the table and negotiate?
The Israelis: Inured over time to the plight of the occupied and to their de facto role as jailer, they find it easier at this point to live with and tolerate the status quo.
The U.N.. The United Nations reprimands Israel at every turn, for the pettiest reasons and affronts. Twenty in the last year, women's rights violations, for every real and imagined sin you could conger while ignoring neighboring countries whose conduct is clearly barbaric. UNESCO conveniently omits any information to jewish history in the area in regard to cultural heritage. WHO singles out Israel as the only alleged violator of “mental, physical and environmental health” in the world earlier this year. Fighters in Gaza attack and shoot rockets at Israel from U.N. enclaves. The United Nations has zero credibility.
By the way, the current resolution would not allow Jewish access to the Wailing Wall, the holiest spot in jewry, remnant of the Second Temple, or access to Hadassah Hospital on Mt. Scopus, even to the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem. Definitely a non starter but quite indicative of the mindset of the international body.
There are even more villains in this passion play, witting and unwitting. J Street, the conservative and evangelical right, Europe, the arab street, all being artfully used by the players in this horrid game of chess. Israel and the Palestinians are caught in what marriage counselors call the "dark dance" and the whole world is swept away in the vortex.
Israel was never a convenient nation. Born out of the gas chambers, the diaspora and the inquisition, to many people who had no place to turn but their ancient homeland, the original mandate created a land for them that encompassed both modern Israel and Judea and Samaria. Transjordan was created as the original Palestinian state on a world map where practically all the neighboring countries were less than thirty years old. Blood was spilled in the original war for independence and survival and the existing inhabitants feelings were and continue to be raw.
I don't have any answers. My father was born in Tel Aviv, the memory of the Hebron riots a vivid part of his childhood. The animosity between peoples reaches back to Herzl and before in the late 19th century, exacerbated by the arab denial of the Jewish link to Israel. I do know that the conceptual fantasy of well meaning western liberals will be trumped by the real security considerations of the people who actually live there, no matter how gloriously they are framed. See no reason to flog a dead horse.
There is a reason that settlers are moving to the West Bank. Israel is a small country, there is not a lot of land available. Faced with an intransigent foe that wishes their bloodshed, their choice is more understandable. People's hearts are being hardened, on both sides. Both sides waiting to execute a perfect endgame, the plight of the occupied is grim and tragic, the objectification and demonization of the other side makes both sides equally guilty. They almost deserve each other.
Benjamin Netanyahu may think that he has caught lightning in a bottle and that his new pal Trump will reshuffle the deck in a favorable way. He might in the near term. But decks shuffle and reshuffle and times change. He may be hitching his horse to an unstable wagon and end up repelling much of the world.
Hard to be hopeful at this point.