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Thursday, June 04, 2015

Obama may consider himself Jewish but that doesn't make him Israeli

Some of you might recall that Times of Israel editor in chief David Horovitz once told me that he could not live in Israel if he believed there was no chance of 'peace' with the 'Palestinians.' But David isn't as naive as that statement might make you think, and he has been a vocal critic of President Obama. In a devastating piece in Wednesday's Times of Israel, he blasted Obama's claim that he 'knows how we feel.'
What you so evidently haven’t fully internalized, however, is the extent to which we Israelis in the middle ground — the non-zealots, the ones who don’t want to annex the West Bank and subvert our democracy, and who don’t want a single binational entity between the river and the sea that puts an end to Jewish statehood — have been battered by recent history, and continue to be battered by the events unfolding all around us.
You seek to assure us that this deal with Iran is in our own best interests when we know that Iran — which almost daily calls for our destruction — will paint any agreement as a victory and a vindication, and will utilize that ostensible victory to step up its efforts to harm us, via terrorism and via its proxy armies in Lebanon and Gaza, while also continuing to do its utmost to cheat and bully its way to the bomb. We know that the deal will cement this bleakest of regimes in power in Tehran, and that it was your negotiators who blinked, who never forced the regime to choose between survival and its nuclear program, when the financial leverage was available to impose that choice.
You implore us, again and again, to give more thought to the plight of the Palestinians, to turn away from leadership — in the seemingly ever-present shape of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu — that peddles the politics of fear, and instead to choose the path of optimism and opportunity. But Israel just elected Netanyahu again, ignoring your entreaties, because the evidence of danger outweighed the evidence upon which to build hope. And here’s the irony, Mr. President: Your policies and your rhetoric haven’t helped.
You complained in the interview that there are lots of “filters” between you and the Israeli people, who therefore are not getting your message directly. (This, amusingly, in an interview conveyed verbatim into the living rooms of the people of Israel, in prime time, on our most-watched television channel; the full interview is also online here.) Believe me, Mr. President, the problem is not with the messenger. The problem is with the message, and the actions.
Have you truly internalized the fact that five years ago, Israel was contemplating relinquishing the Golan Heights, the high strategic ground, for a peace deal with Bashar Assad. Where would that have left us now? Utterly vulnerable to the brutal spillover of anarchic violence across that border.
Have you really, truly internalized that Israel left southern Lebanon in 2000 and Gaza in 2005, to the applause and reassurance of the international community, only to see the vicious terrorist armies of Hezbollah and Hamas fill the respective vacuums? Have you really, honestly, utterly internalized that Hamas booted out the forces of the relatively moderate Mahmoud Abbas from Gaza in a matter of hours in 2007, and that there is every reason to believe that Hamas would seek to do the same in the West Bank were Israel to do as you wish, and pull out? And Hamas in the West Bank would entirely paralyze this country. A single Hamas rocket that landed a mile from the airport last summer prompted two-thirds of foreign airlines to stop flying to Israel for a day and a half — including all the major US airlines. A single rocket. Hamas rule in the West Bank would close down our entire country.
But here’s where, with the greatest respect, you’ve failed us thus far, Mr. President. You got the settlement freeze six years ago, you got the prisoner releases in 2013, but what did you wrest from Abbas? Did he stop the incitement against Israel? Did he moderate his positions on the “right of return”? You fault Netanyahu for his bleak wordview, but did you castigate Abbas for entering a governing partnership which gives Hamas veto power over his ministers? Did you tell him, sorry, that’s not going to work for us? No. You said you’d keep right on dealing with him.
You berate Netanyahu for ruling out Palestinian statehood on election eve, dismiss his subsequent re-endorsement of a two-state solution as full of “so many caveats” as to be unrealistic, and warn that Israel is consequently losing international credibility, and that this makes it harder for you to defend us internationally. But love or loathe Netanyahu, his concerns, Mr. President, are compelling. Hamas did anticipate reducing Israel to rubble last summer, and only the extraordinary performance of Iron Dome prevented this. Hamas would try to take over the West Bank if we pulled out — and then to tunnel under and fire rockets over our borders.
Abbas has not encouraged his people to internalize Jewish sovereign legitimacy in this part of the world. And along with that hope you espied for a better future there is hatred, too, in so many young Palestinian faces. Think of the toxin that must have been absorbed by the 16-year-old Palestinian who stabbed to death an 18-year-old Israeli soldier, Eden Atias, asleep next to him on a bus in Afula, northern Israel, in November 2013. Think of your daughters, of around that age, as I think of my children, and recognize how remote from their most basic, decent, humane instincts is an act such as that, and how systematic and relentless the climate of anti-Israel hostility must be in the Abbas-controlled West Bank to have produced that killer and others like him. The expansion of settlements discredits moderates, and makes it easier for terrorist groups to recruit, but that’s not the root of the hatred, the root of the conflict. At its heart, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict marches bloodily on because the Palestinian leadership refuses to acknowledge that the Jewish nation has any legitimacy here.
And you, Mr. President, so ready to fault us for failures, ready even in your interview to cite American failures and mistakes and lost values, have failed to insist on a similar self-reflection, and morality, and assertion of humane values from the Palestinians and their leadership.
Yes, we are mighty Israel, a military force to be reckoned with, an economic powerhouse, and they are the poor Palestinians, ostensibly only seeking statehood. But take a step back and we are a tiny sliver of land, nine miles wide at our narrowest point, on the western edge of a vast landmass filled with hundreds of millions of people largely hostile to the very fact of our existence. If our enemies were to lay down their weapons right now, Mr. President, there would be peace. If we were to lay down our weapons, our country would be destroyed. And therefore, Mr. President, we will need a great deal more reassurance before we dare to hope.
Read the whole thing. Obviously, I don't agree with everything he said, but this will give you some idea why the Right keeps winning elections in this country.

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At 1:26 AM, Blogger dan said...

Obama may consider himself Jewish but that doesn't make him ..... Jewish either.


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