The United States and Israel at odds? Nah, can’t be. Must be for show, a tactical maneuver, a game-changing strategy. Right?
Either that or The President of the United States and his administration are making a bigger blunder than the Prime Minister of Israel and his cabinet.
Facts first. While the United States is promoting “proximity talks,” indirect negotiations between the Palestinian Authority and the government of Israel; while the White House expects Israel, as a unilateral trust-building gesture, to maintain a total freeze on settlement construction in East Jerusalem (with a partial freeze in the West Bank); while Vice-President Biden is visiting Israel: the coalition government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announces eventual plans to build 1,600 new homes in an East Jerusalem settlement, Ramat Shlomo. Biden is offended, says so and returns home. George Mitchell, the U.S. special envoy to the Middle East, cancels his trip and stays home. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Mahmoud Abbas, President of the Palestinian Authority, are, if you know your Casablanca, “shocked… shocked.”
And President Obama, emboldened by victory after what still seems like the Thirty Years Health Care War, feeling and showing his oats, starts swaggering in the wrong direction. What is it about prioritizing that eludes him? If he wants to talk tough, he ought to be unleashing his rich rhetoric and efficacious tones on Iran or North Korea or Afghanistan’s Karzai. The Jews in his administration, all of whom must know better, should talk tachlis (“brass tacks”) to him and tell him he won’t beat little Israel into submission. It is written—in stone: David doesn’t yield to Goliath.
Let’s set aside for the moment the biblical claim to the Land of Israel, and consider the land Israel acquired in 1967 from the Six Day War after being invaded by the armies of Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon while Egypt’s President Gamal Nasser boasted, “…standing behind us are the armies of Iraq, Algeria, Kuwait, Sudan and the whole Arab nation.” If someone drove a tank into your life with the stated intent of wiping you and your family “off the face of the map,” [President Aref of Iraq], what would you be inclined to give back—as much as one rock hurled at the heads of your children? “To the victor belong the spoils” is not only a U.S. Senator’s coinage, but also exclusively a western concept in the eyes of the eastern world… when the victor is western. Now add to that the biblical claim.
So what do these intransigent Israelis want? Peace. What are they entitled to? Peace, as in freedom from attack. Peace not for land or 250 imprisoned terrorists in exchange for one captured Israeli soldier or his remains. Peace for Peace. This is what both sides, the State of Israel and the Palestinian Authority, should be asking for, demanding, agreeing to exchange and genuinely exchanging. Peace for Peace. Written in stone.
Frankly, I don’t care for Netanyahu—didn’t when I met him shortly after he came to the U.S. to join Israel's diplomatic mission here and found no reason to like him any better when, several years later, he became Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations. Israel’s 9th Prime Minister from 1996 to 1999, he’s not the man I wanted for Prime Minister in 2009. The man I wanted is a woman, Tsipy Livni, despite her questionable claim, “…we need to give up parts of the Land of Israel.” My reservations stated, I give Netanyahu this: he’s as qualified to lead a nation as any other world leader I can think of, and far more qualified than most of them. Resolute under pressure, and eloquent in a recent address, he gets the last word today.
After citing solid evidence of a significant Jewish presence in Jerusalem and the Land of Israel 4,000 years ago, he went on to say:
“Ladies and Gentleman, the connection between the Jewish people and the Land of Israel cannot be denied. The connection between the Jewish people and Jerusalem cannot be denied. The Jewish people were building Jerusalem 3,000 years ago and the Jewish people are building Jerusalem today. Jerusalem is not a settlement, it’s our capitol.”To be continued…