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Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Collision course?

In Tuesday's JPost, former editor Jeff Barak argues that if Barack Hussein Obama (pictured at left with the late PLC member Edward Said and their respective wives) wins the Presidential election in the US and Binyamin Netanyahu wins the Prime Minister's office in Israel in February - as the polls are now predicting - Israel and the US will be headed on a collision course.
The predicted election victories of Barack Obama for the US presidency and Binyamin Netanyahu in next February's elections here promise a return of the frosty relations when Bill Clinton was in the White House and Netanyahu had his disastrous first term in the Prime Minister's Office.
Since the Post is now becoming a leftist newspaper, Barak blames Netanyahu for the potential conflict and not Obama.
For our American readers, let me stress that this is not a reason not to vote Obama. The problem is not with the young Democratic senator; the issue is the likelihood that an unreconstructed Netanyahu will form the next government despite having nothing to offer the country except for empty rhetoric and diplomatic stagnation.

Should Obama win, it's fair to assume he will follow in the footsteps of previous new presidents and first of all attempt to distinguish himself from his predecessor by doing the opposite of the man he is replacing.

George W. Bush did exactly that upon taking office. The Clinton years were marked by an almost unprecedented American involvement in Middle East peacekeeping, culminating in the Camp David summit of the summer of 2000 and the Taba talks a few months later.
Barak goes on to claim that what Bush should have done was what uber-liberal Haaretz former editor David Landau asked Condoleeza Rice to do: Rape Israel.
True, in 2002, Bush outlined his vision of "two states, living side by side in peace and security" but he did little to impose this vision, even though he did stress at the time that "Israel also has a large stake in the success of a democratic Palestine."
Barak is wrong for so many reasons. First, Netanyahu's first term in office was far from a failure. Between 1993-1996 and between 2000-2004 - the years Netanyahu was not in office - Israel was victimized by one terror attack after another. The years that Netanyahu was in office - from 1996 until late in 1999 - there were almost no terror attacks. That was Netanyahu's doing.

Second, if Obama's election (God forbid) signals a return to the 'activist' policies of the Clinton era on Israel, all I can say is "oy vey." I didn't particularly care for Clinton (either in general or with respect to his policies on Israel), but when it comes to Israel, all I can say about him is that his policies were misguided but not with a malicious intent towards Israel. I wish I could say the same about Obama. But from Day One, Obama has surrounded himself with a group of foreign policy 'advisers' the likes of which have not been seen since the bad old days of Jimmy the Dhimmi Carter. For those of you in the US and in other countries outside of Israel, it is difficult for me to decribe to you the fear that many - maybe even most - Israelis have about an Obama Presidency (God forbid).

Third, the last thing Israel needs is an imposed 'settlement' with the 'Palestinians' or with any of our other Arab enemies. While we long for peace, we are not willing to commit suicide to attain it. Most Israelis do not want to go back to the Auschwitz borders of June 4, 1967. Most Israelis do not want to allow the Arabs to do demographically what they have been unable to do militarily by letting in 'Palestinian refugees.' Most Israelis don't want to be raped.

If that means we're on a collision course with the US, I'm willing to take that chance. Like the US, we are a democracy, and if we choose a different kind of 'change' in February than what the Americans may be choosing on Tuesday, the Americans will just have to deal with it. Hopefully our friends in Congress will prevent Obama from doing too much damage to the America-Israel relationship. I guess we'll know more about that in the morning.


At 3:06 PM, Blogger Lydia McGrew said...

I'm surprised you say that about Clinton's having no malicious intent toward Israel. Wasn't it Clinton who got the concessions around 2000 and 2001 from Israel which, fortunately, were rejected by the Arabs? I understood that he exerted some major arm-twisting there to try to secure a "legacy" for himself. And he almost succeeded!

I agree with you. Israel must stand up for itself against the U.S. Against Obama even more than against Bush, but the pressure from Bush was bad enough. A "collision course" would at least represent independent thinking on the part of Israel.

At 5:31 PM, Blogger Carl in Jerusalem said...


You're right about Clinton 2000-01. I was thinking of first-term Clinton who came to Israel and told us how his pastor told him never to abandon the Jewish state and quoted from the bible. I probably should have clarified that. Netanyahu was Prime Minister from 1996-99 and they soured on each other after 1998. After that, Clinton tried to do bad things to Israel. Maybe it was the Monica Lewinsky fallout.

The 'collision course' will only happen if Israel elects a right-wing government in February. If God forbid Livni wins, we could be looking at Israel setting itself up for its eventual downfall.

At 9:38 PM, Blogger christine said...

all us..pres..want to be heroes and think they well settle the peace between israel and the arabs...bush was a strong leader and then made weak y the dems and the press..the palestinias do not want peace only the death of israel...and the usa..for were the only ones who stand up...obama is very much pro palestine...he friends all represent that..we here in america are very fear ful of obama...we see him as a cult like person which is not good for either of our countries...but well well rise up if he goes too far..and remember we have elections n 2 years and we can change the face of congress and stop him from not only harming israel but us here too...we well surive for we all have faith....


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