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Thursday, June 18, 2009

Netanyahu reframed the dispute?

Michael Freund puts some thoughts that have been going through my head since Sunday into print, and a lot of what he says makes sense.
ANY FAIR-MINDED OBSERVER who listened to the speech, or merely read it afterward, could not help but come away impressed by two main themes: A sincere desire for peace, alongside the undeniable historical rights which underpin the existence of the Jewish state.

Netanyahu made a compelling case against territorial withdrawals, wryly noting that the assertion they will bring peace "has up till now not stood the test of reality." Moreover, he offered his listeners a concise yet crucial historical survey of modern Arab opposition to the very existence of a Jewish presence in this region.

And when was the last time that a prime minister offered such a compelling defense of the Jewish people's right to be here? With regard to the issue of a Palestinian state, Netanyahu succeeded in outwitting US President Barack Obama at his own game, using his considerable rhetorical skills to marshal an unprecedented consensus among the public.

Think about it: Netanyahu's speech was essentially an intellectual frontal assault on the most cherished of the Left's beliefs. For years, it has been trying to convince the public of the wisdom of establishing an unchecked sovereign Palestinian entity, in the process blaming Israel for much of the conflict because of its failure to do just that.

And, unfortunately, it has had a great deal of success.

UNTIL NOW, that is. For what Netanyahu has done is to seize the reins of the argument, and inject a healthy dose of realism into the debate. By conditioning the creation of a Palestinian state on comprehensive demilitarization, he has shown just how utterly utopian, and unrealistic, the Left's dream truly is.

And by insisting on a set of entirely reasonable demands, such as Palestinian recognition of Israel as "the nation state of the Jewish people," and the negation of a Palestinian state's ability to forge military pacts or to control its airspace, he has recast the definition of "statehood" in such a way as to reduce the danger it would pose to our existence.
Read it all.

Freund goes on to say that the Right should not be attacking Netanyahu for the speech, and frankly I don't really agree with that for two reasons. First, because I think it's to Netanyahu's benefit to be able to say to Obama that there is little or no real support among Israelis for a 'Palestinian state' once we get down to specifics, and that's what the attackers are enabling him to do. You will notice that no one has tried (yet) to bring down the government. And second, because it's good for Netanyahu himself to be reined in from following his own rhetoric too closely. We all remember the Wye Agreement.

But I thought Netanyahu's speech on Sunday night was brilliant because it did succeed in reframing the dispute and in casting the 'Palestinians' as the rejectionists. And Netanyahu may be able to muddle along by insisting on reciprocity for every Israeli move (as he did ten years ago) without making significant concessions to the 'Palestinians.' In essence, what he is doing is calling their bluff over and over and over again.

The question is what will happen when and if the 'Palestinians' wise up to the game. That's where this kind of rhetoric can become dangerous.

Moshe Feiglin's response to Obama was much more to my taste, but he's not Prime Minister and he's not the one in Obama's crosshairs.


At 12:51 AM, Blogger R-MEW Editors said...

The problem is that while Hamas has integrity and says publicly what they also say in private, the PA under both Arafat and Abbas has learned the art of the deal, that is, pay lip service to your adversary's conditions while planning for the next phase of the war.

I think it has been well established from the articles posted here and elsewhere that it will not be possible to enforce a demilitarized "Palestine". The Pals can notionally accept Israel as a Jewish state and after they have taken sovereign control of J&S, continue their terror campaign (on behalf of the poor oppressed Muslim minority in Israel) from a more lethal vantage point and with both heavy weapons and training supplied by Iran, Russia, Europe, the US -- take your pick.

Netanyahu may have kicked the can down the road a bit but as we witnessed with the jettisoning of the Road Map benchmarks, American duplicity on settlements and European conviviality with Hamas, no one respects commitments made to Jews.

At 1:21 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

In hindsight, the speech can be read as a refutation of rather than an endorsement of a Palestinian state. Netanyahu sought to show why the notion is a complete fantasy. To get there you have suspend the reality the Palestinians don't even want a state, that you have to displace hundreds of thousands of Jews from their homes and no Palestinian state can ever become economically viable. This is all known to the two state solution proponents but for them ideology is far stronger than reality. What Netanyahu showed is their ideology has no chance of working in the real world.

FinanceDoc, no one respects commitments made to the Jews. As Carl reported, the Quartet wants to drop the conditions in order to talk to Hamas and its representative Tony Blair thinks Israel should discuss the "right of return." Any US and European assurances that might be given will turn out to be worthless and Israel as a matter of principle, should never place its existence in the hands of an Arab regime.

At 4:15 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

Netanyahu did do a good job of recasting the discussion. He basically gave Obama no choice but to accept his reframing of the discussion. He left no real wiggle room for Obama. Obama's terse statement tends to confirm this.

The 'palis' are a different matter. As FinanceDoc notes, they could play along. If their ego allowed, which it won't. Remember, they are a shame-honor culture. To accept defeat from the jews would be devastating shame. Intolerable shame. Humiliations galore.

It wouldn't be in reality, but this is their culture.

Obama now has to apply pressure to the 'palis' to be reasonable.

Obama is about to get his first real lesson from the 'palis'. Being reasonable is not possible.

He will get his second lesson from them. 'palis' never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.

If they really wanted a state, they have a formula right in front of them. They could even pay lip service to it as FinanceDoc says, and get a state.

But this makes the presumption that they want their own state.

This presumption is about to be shown to be completely and absolutely false. By the 'palis' themselves. They are going to show Obama that they have no interest in peace, in self governance. They just want to kill and maim those pesky jews.

Darn, and utopia mediated by The One(TM) was going so well. Where is Carl's picture of Obama on a unicorn when you need it?

At this point, all you can do is pity the poor 'palis'. They have no hope. Not because Israel crushes their hope. No. Because their leaders do not have the balls to do the right thing.

Sadat had the balls. King Hussein had the balls.

'Palis'? They ain't got no balls.

It takes a real man to offer peace when he could offer war. It takes a coward to prosecute a war when peace is preferable, but harder. 'Palis' are cowards.

At 7:32 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Moshe Feiglin's response to Obama was much more to my taste, but he's not Prime Minister and he's not the one in Obama's crosshairs.

Feiglin's response was not meant for Obama's ear.

It was meant for ours.


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