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Saturday, April 23, 2011

Deja vu all over again?

In an earlier post, I discussed what Prime Minister Netanyahu might say to the US Congress in his upcoming address.

In the weekend JPost, Herb Keinon looked back at Netanyahu's 1996 address to Congress, parts of which could be repeated verbatim today. I want to highlight a couple of points that I see differently than Keinon does.
Prescient “We have no quarrel with them [Israel’s neighbors] which cannot be resolved by peaceful means. Nor, I must say, do we have a quarrel with Islam. We reject the thesis of an inevitable clash of civilizations. We do not subscribe to the idea that Islam has replaced Communism as the new rival of the West, because our conflict is specific.

It is with those militant fanatics who pervert the central tenets of a great faith towards violence and world domination.”

Six years before 9/11, Netanyahu was already making clear that the battle of our times was not against Islam – the “clash of civilizations” idea that gained even greater currency after the fall of the World Trade Center towers – but with a particular, radical brand of Islamic teaching. This theme is one Obama himself has picked up and run with on numerous occasions.
But if Netanyahu could be forgiven for getting it wrong 15 years ago, he should not get it wrong today. We definitely do have a quarrel with Islam - or rather Islam has a quarrel with us. Islam cannot accept an infidel state within what it regards as 'Islamic land.' Many Israelis don't want to admit that because admitting it would be admitting that our conflict with the 'Palestinians' will likely never be resolved. But that's the reality. Our conflict with the 'Palestinians' is not ever likely to be resolved - at least not through negotiations.

Keinon classifies the various parts of Netanyahu's speech as 'same old,' 'prescient' and 'Wow - did he say that?' He puts this one in the prescient category. I'd put it in the 'same old' category. Yes, he's likely to say it again, because it's a sop to Obama, but he'd have to be a fool to believe that Islam is going to make peace with a Jewish state in the Middle East.
“For too long, the standards of peace used throughout the world have not been applied to the Middle East. Violence and despotism have been excused and not challenged. Respect for human freedoms has not been on the agenda.

“... I don’t think we should accept the idea that the Middle East is the latest, or the last, isolated sanctuary that will be democracy-free for all time except for the presence of Israel.

“I realize that this is a process. It may be a long-term process. But I think we should begin it.

It is time for the states of the Middle East to put the issues of human rights and democratization on their agenda.”

Had people listened then, rather than thinking Netanyahu was trying to deflect attention from the Palestinian issue, the socalled Arab Spring could have come 15 years earlier.
Well, yeah, but are they any more likely to listen today? Is what's going on in Egypt democracy? Is what's going on in Libya likely to result in democracy?
“Since 1967, under Israeli sovereignty, united Jerusalem has, for the first time in two thousand years, become the city of peace... There have been efforts to redivide this city by those who claim that peace can come through division – that it can be secured through multiple sovereignties, multiple laws and multiple police forces. This is a groundless and dangerous assumption, which impels me to declare today: There will never be such a re-division of Jerusalem. Never.

“We shall not allow a Berlin Wall to be erected inside Jerusalem. We will not drive out anyone, but neither shall we be driven out of any quarter, any neighborhood, any street of our eternal capital.”

Much has changed since those words were uttered, most significantly Obama’s call for a total settlement halt, including in neighborhoods in Jerusalem – such as Gilo, Ramat Shlomo, and Neveh Ya’acov – over the Green Line. Netanyahu may pledge allegiance to the capital during his speech, but it is unlikely that as unequivocal a statement as this will be uttered.

Consider, for instance, that Housing and Construction Minister Ariel Attias said in an interview this week with the haredi weekly Mishpacha that the construction of some 2,500 units in Jerusalem neighborhoods beyond the Green Line were being held up because of political reasons.
Well, a statement like that damned well ought to be uttered. Netanyahu has to decide whose side he's on. Keinon's right that it probably won't be. Netanyahu doesn't have the you-know-what's to stand up to Obama like that. But we can hope for it, can't we?
“We will not uproot anyone, nor shall we be uprooted. We shall insist on the right of Jews to live anywhere in the Land, just as we insist on this right for Jews in any other place in the world.”

Or not. Regarding not uprooting Jews, that phrase – after the Gaza withdrawal – rings rather hollow. And while Netanyahu still says often that he believes in the right of Jews to live “anywhere in the land,” already in his Bar-Ilan speech in 2009 – when he accepted the idea of a two-state solution – he voluntarily forfeited that right. That lines such as these will not show up in May shows just how much the political ground has shifted over the last 15 years.
No. Jews do have the right to live anywhere - including in Judea and Samaria. Even if it plans on compromising that right, any government that doesn't acknowledge that right is going to weaken itself at any negotiations. Yes, we've been doing that for 18 years. But it's time to stop.

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At 12:16 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Bottlewasher has again repeated Fatah's insistence on the "right of return" (they mean Israel, not the Arabian peninsula) just in case Obama and the EU haven't gotten the point that the PLO expects their statelet to be only a downpayment on a river to sea Islamic reich.


Bibi could announce that since Oslo has been conked on the head by the Palis the Israeli government will stop subsidizing Fatahland--but he won't.


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