@JeffreyGoldberg agrees with 'only 46%' of this mainstream Israeli viewpointa speech by President Obama. The critique was written by Yossi Kuperwasser, who until recently was the director general of Israel's Ministry of Strategic Affairs and was formerly a special security consultant to the Prime Minister's office. Goldberg describes it - legitimately - as a mainstream Israeli viewpoint, which has to make me wonder with which 54% of what Kuperwasser writes, self-proclaimed Israel supporter Goldberg disagrees. A few highlights.
During the recent Israeli elections, Prime Minister Netanyahu’s statements regarding the possibility of a Palestinian state and Arab Israeli voters triggered a global uproar, leading the prime minister to quickly issue the necessary clarifications. Nevertheless, the president accused the prime minister of betraying Israel’s core values, which he attributed to the likes of the kibbutzim and Moshe Dayan. The president’s statements betray a lack of understanding of both the past and present. Moshe Dayan and Netanyahu, for one, were not that different. Both were eager for peace, but at the same time realistic about the need for security due to the Palestinian refusal to accept the Jewish state. Dayan opposed a retreat to the 1967 borders, and in his famous eulogy for Roi Rotberg, he warned against making dangerous concessions. Obama also referenced Golda Meir, who famously denied the existence of the Palestinian people.
President Obama’s anger toward Netanyahu is misplaced, especially given his extraordinary lack of criticism of Palestinians for far more egregious behavior. The Palestinians, after all, are the ones who refused to accept the president’s formula for extending the peace negotiations. It is Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian Authority (PA) who have called for “popular resistance,” which has led in recent years to stabbings, stonings, and attacks with cars and Molotov cocktails against Israelis. Since the PA ended the peace negotiations, there has been a sharp increase in attacks and casualties in Israel. Hamas, for its part, openly calls for the extermination of Israelis and sacrifices a generation of children towards that goal.
In response to these threats, all the president had to say at Adas Israel was that “the Palestinians are not the easiest of partners.” Rather than recognizing how fundamentally different Palestinian political culture is, the president offered slogans about how Palestinian youth are just like any other in the world. This is a classic example of the mirror-imaging—the projection of his own values onto another culture—that has plagued most of his foreign policy.
So why does Obama pick on Netanyahu and not on Abbas? The most likely reason is directly related to a conflict in the West between two schools of thought, both dedicated to defending democratic and Judeo-Christian values: Optimism and realism. Obama is a remarkable proponent for the optimist approach—he fundamentally believes in human decency, and therefore in dialogue and engagement as the best way to overcome conflict. He is also motivated by guilt over the West’s collective sins, which led, he believes, to the current impoverishment of Muslims in general and Palestinians in particular. He believes that humility and concessions can salve the wound, and Islamists can be convinced to accept a global civil society. “If we’re nice to them, they’ll be nice to us,” Obama thinks.
Netanyahu, on the other hand, is a realist. Due in part to Israel’s tumultuous neighborhood, he has a much more skeptical attitude of Islamists, such as the Muslim Brotherhood and Iranian President Rouhani’s government. Netanyahu does not see these groups as potential moderates, willing to play by the international community’s rules; instead, he acknowledges their radicalism, and their intent to undermine a world order they consider a humiliating insult to Islam. The major difference between the Islamists and the extremists, according to Netanyahu, is one of timing. The Islamists are willing to wait until the time is ripe to overthrow the existing world order.
Western realists worry that optimists are actively aiding Islamists in the naïve hope that they will block out the extremists. The realists believe that a resolute stance, with the use of military force as an option, is the best way to achieve agreed-upon Western goals. Obama both prefers the optimist approach and believes that his hopeful dialogues will achieve the best possible outcome. Netanyahu, on the other hand, whose nation would feel the most immediate consequences from Western concessions, does not have the luxury of optimism.
This helps explain why Obama targets Netanyahu for criticism. The prime minister’s insistence on the dangers of the optimist approach threatens to expose the inherent weakness of Obama’s worldview and challenge the president’s assumption that his policy necessarily leads to the best possible solutions. For Netanyahu and almost everybody in Israel, as well as pragmatic Arabs, the president’s readiness to assume responsibility for Iran’s future nuclear weapons, as he told Jeffrey Goldberg, is no comfort. The realists are not playing a blame game; they are trying to save their lives and their civilization. To those who face an existential threat, Obama’s argument sounds appalling.
Should Israel at this moment aid in the creation of a Palestinian state, half of which is already controlled by extremists who last summer rained down thousands of rockets on Israel, while its leaders urge their people to reject Israel as the sovereign nation-state of the Jewish people? Should it aid a movement that follows these five pillars: 1) There is no such thing as the Jewish people; 2) The Jews have no history of sovereignty in the land of Israel, so the Jewish state’s demise is inevitable and justified; 3) The struggle against Israel by all means is legitimate, and the means should be based simply on cost-benefit analysis; 4) The Jews in general, and Zionists in particular, are the worst creatures ever created; And 5) because the Palestinians are victims, they should not be held responsible or accountable for any obstacles they may throw up to peace?
In short, even though Israel, under Prime Minister Netanyahu, remains committed to the formula of “two states for two peoples, with mutual recognition,” the implementation of this idea at this point is irrelevant. The PA’s poor governance and the general turmoil in the Middle East render any establishment of a Palestinian state right now unviable. President Obama admitted as much, reluctantly, but continued to criticize Netanyahu instead of betraying his optimist paradigm. Netanyahu’s realism would stray too far from the path Obama, and other Western leaders, have set in front of them. But while Obama and the optimists offer their critiques, Netanyahu and the realists will be on the ground, living with the consequences the optimists have wrought.
Read the whole thing.
Kuperwasser's view is very definitely mainstream Israeli. While not all Israelis have reached the conclusion that I have - that there will never be peace with the 'Palestinians' - a poll before our recent elections showed that two thirds of Israelis believe that there will be no peace with the 'Palestinians' now regardless of who heads the government. That doesn't comport with Obama's timetable, which comes to an end on January 20, 2017, but it's reality.
Most Israelis don't trust the 'Palestinians' and haven't since Yasser Arafat orchestrated his 'second intifada' in September 2000 (you'd be amazed how trusting Israelis were in the '90's). We don't trust Iran either. We've heard too many people say that they want to kill us, and we know that we have to take such threats seriously. Some Arab commentators refer to that as a 'bunker mentality.' But they've never lived with random suicide bombers and rocket attacks as we have. They've never sent their kids off to school in the morning wondering how, when and if they would return home. They've never had 15 or 30 or 60 seconds to reach a bomb shelter.
And neither has Obama. At least, that's the charitable view of Obama. The harsher view - and one which is apparently still outside the Israeli mainstream but is within the realm of things I find to be at least possible if not likely - is that Obama is determined to destroy 'post-colonialism,' and sees Israel as its most obvious manifestation.
Still wondering which 54% of 'mainstream Israeli' views Goldberg rejects....