Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Peace for Peace

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…


  1. Monsieur Le Renard must have been sleepy when writing. Pakistan’s Karzai?
    As part of the Oslo accord in 1994 Israel gave up 80% of the Gaza. They then built a fence to secure their border ( hmmm, wonder what Monsieur Le President de Les Etats Unis would do). The Palestinians tore down the wall in 2000 and it was re-built in 2003. The built tunnels, they were destroyed. Their ultimate goal is NOT to establish a state but destroy one. However, Elsie is reasonable. Elsie would like the leaders of Hamas to beat their swords into ploughshares. Invite Israeli agriculture experts in to learn how to farm. Invite energy experts in to learn to use solar energy as Israel does. Invite road construction crews in to crush the rocks-they throw at soldiers- for road beds. Idle hands are the devils workshop. Until they show some desire to behave civilly Elsie wants Netanyahu walking softly and carrying a big stick. She also wants Obama to go to Israel, bow to Netanyahu and the Knesset and apolize (he does that well) to the world for dissing Netanyahu on his last visit to the White House. Elsie is starting to hope Vlad Putin runs against Obama next time. At least we know where HE stands.
    Adieu Mes amis. A bientot.

  2. "Monsieur Le Renard" was very sleepy, Elsie, or possibly it was a seen-one-border,-seen-'em-all moment. I'm grateful you were awake and alert; my thanks. You were also full of the bovine equivalent of piss and vinegar. But be on your hoofs for mad cow disease. Putin? Putin would show you and everyone else anywhere where he stands, all right, and where they and you stand--countless incarcerations and corpses behind him.

    Always stimulating, Els.


  3. Kudos, Ray. Exactly. You go right to the heart of it with the title of the post... we have gone down the rabbit hole when the extortionist phrase "land for peace" becomes the accepted point of discussion.
    It should be quite apparent by now that there is little basis for a functioning "2nd" state, particularly one split in two parts, connected by a "land bridge" across Israel no less. If the Arab neighbors are so anxious to return pre-1967, quite possibly Israel would hand back Gaza to Egypt and the majority of the West bank to Jordan - but of course they don't want the headache within their borders either.
    Is it possible to dispense also with that other false phrase, "honest broker"? Why are we to be in the middle, shy to admit we are squarely on the side of the free democracy in the region? The Arab neighbors led by kings and dictators certainly are not.
    We are, unfortunately, finding where the President's sympathy lies, along with Hillary's (and for that matter, some Arab-centric Republicans like George Bush the senior, James Baker and Pat Buchanan.)
    Netanyahu appears too lonely a voice these days. You, Ray, had the benefit (as usual) of meeting him, but I do remember him coming to prominence after his brother Jonathan led, and was the only Israeli to be killed in the heroic raid on Entebbe. Much of his courage and resolve comes in that spirit I think. He needs our voices too.

  4. While I admit that I'm about as shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here as much as the next French police captain, I think the packaging of this decision is just as important as the decision itself. Specifically, I am referring to the part that read: "Deliver the minute Vice-President Biden of the United States is here."

    Whether the coalition government intended it or not, the timing of the announcement of their decision to build 1,600 new homes in East Jerusalem is an affront to the United States, and I think the writing is one the wall that it was clearly a deliberate one.

    I am not saying that I approve or disapprove the decision to build in East Jerusalem, and I have no wish to tie this controversy into the larger questions surrounding Jerusalem and the Land of Israel. However, I will say that the timing of this decision was an unprovoked, unnecessary, and unkind affront to a valuable ally who clearly had enough on its plate without having to get involved in this.

    If this was the coalition government's intention (which I sincerely hope it wasn't), it was an act of hostility, antagonism, and diplomatic terrorism against its single most valuable ally.

  5. Wonderful, Ray. Very even handed and of course well thought out and expressed.

  6. Excellent view,Ray
    I can't wait to see your follow-up.

    I have been suspecting something behind the scenes is going on with Israel and the U. S. The Obama and Bebe incident was a case of posturing foreign relations. I really believe that the two countries are trying to find support for taking out Iran's nuclear threat. The arms agreement with Russia is part of that deal. The withdrawal of U.S. troops in Iraq is the other part of that equation. Keep in mind, with almost 10% unemployment, where will the troops returning back to the U. S. find jobs? I believe that anyone that fights for our country shouldn't have to worry about a job, housing, or medical care. Unfortunately, our country hasn't gotten that far yet.
    The Iranian leaders have continued to violate the human rights of its citizens. The people of Iran have risked their lives to get the world to see these violations. We are witnessing the same series of events that led us to the invasion of Iraq to take out Saddam Hussein. Israel wanted to take out those nuclear facilities on three separate occasions while Bush was in office; and, G.W. wasn't going to support them and talked Israel out of it. By the end of this year, I think Iran will be the main focus of our attention. I look for the U.S. to continue to make deals with powerful countries to gain support for positioning against Iran's nuclear threat. The withdrawal of our troops from Iraq and Afghanistan will be re-directed to Iran.


  7. Monsieur Le Renard, my reference to Mr. Putin was cud in cheek to be sure. My point was Mr. Putin is at least not dishonest about who he is and what he represents. Mr. Obama's sense of honesty seems always to turn out to be no more than the lie du jour. I digress, however, from the import of this piece.
    With your keen knowledge and understanding of les affaires du Middle East, I wonder if you might expound on:
    1) What vast foreign affairs experience does the WH have to draw on to properly assess what is happening vis a vis the two state option?
    2)The Jews in the Admin are in lock-step (to Cohen a phrase) with their President. Don't you think the Jews who voted for him should be reminding him where his matzoh was buttered?
    3)Is it possible that Obama disses Israel out of a "better the Devil you know" philosophy for his Muslim Brethren? What other reason would he have for distrusting Jews?
    4)Why do we need a second state for a group of people who originated in Greece and were only given status when the Romans changed the name of the land from Judea to Palestinea?
    Elsie thinks this all went bad when man took the God given dominion over the animals and took it to mean men could have dominion over men.
    Elsie is glad to be going to graze and not worry about all this nonsense.