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Thursday, July 09, 2009

Netanyahu's vision

At YNet, Martin Sherman rips Prime Minister Netanyahu's 'misguided vision' that calls for a 'Palestinian' state.
Rarely does history afford leaders of nations a second chance to redeem themselves. Netanyahu is one the fortunate few who has been afforded such an opportunity. Sadly he has proven unworthy of the extraordinary favor fate granted him, His mettle has been tested and found wanting. His capitulation – however reluctant - to the notion of "two-states" which he has rejected reflects a failure of will or of intellect - or of both.

The essential point for the Israeli leadership to grasp and for the Israeli public to internalize is that the conflict between Israel, as the nation-state of the Jewish people, on the one hand, and both the Palestinians and the wider Arab world on the other, is neither complex nor complicated. Any attempt to characterize it differently reflects neither erudite sophistication nor progressive enlightenment – but rather, ill-informed ignorance at best and disingenuous denial at worst.

For the unvarnished truth is indeed brutal - and binary: In the narrow sliver of land between "The River" and "The Sea" there can prevail – and eventually there will prevail – either exclusive Jewish political sovereignty or exclusive Arab political sovereignty. The side that will endure will be the side whose political will is stronger and whose political vision is sharper.
As you might imagine, I agree with the second and third paragraphs above (we'll come back to the first) and for the same reasons that Sherman gives - not necessarily ideological, but practical.
Over a decade ago, this writer cautioned that “…the structure of the bargain required to be struck between (Israel) and the Arabs seems inherently irresolvable. For whatever appears to be even minimally adequate…for Israel, seems to be totally inadequate… for the Arabs." Maj. Gen. Giora Eiland, former head of Israel's National Security Council, made precisely the same point recently:

“…the maximum that any government of Israel will be ready to offer the Palestinians and still survive politically is much less than the minimum that any Palestinian leader can accept.”

For while the demands that the Palestinian state be demilitarized, that it be barred from forging military pacts or from controlling its airspace may seem reasonable to Israelis as a minimum requirement for maintaining their national (and personal) security, they are in fact wildly unreasonable, and totally unrealistic by any objective international criterion.
Could it be that Netanyahu doesn't see that? I doubt it. JPost reported on Thursday morning about an incident involving Netanyahu's 100-year old father Benzion, a well-known historian who lives in the United States.
Channel 2 reported Wednesday night that the prime minister had told his father, 100-year-old historian Benzion Netanyahu, that he purposely set the conditions knowing that the Palestinians would never agree to them.

"He doesn't support [a Palestinian state]," the father said in a phone interview. "He set conditions that they won't ever accept. That's what he told me. He set the conditions and they won't accept even one of them."

Netanyahu's office responded by accusing Channel 2 of "maliciously tricking a 100-year-old man."

Kadima released a statement saying that the interview proved that Netanyahu did not endorse a Palestinian state in good faith.
Leaving aside for a minute that it's only Kadima and the extreme Leftist parties that believe a 'Palestinian state' is an article of faith in this country - Israeli security be damned - does anyone seriously doubt that Netanyahu told his father that he doesn't believe the 'Palestinians' will ever meet the conditions? Does anyone seriously believe that the 'Palestinians' will meet any of the conditions that Netanyahu set forth? And do we really have to rub the World's faces in the fact that both we and they know that the 'Palestinians' will never meet those conditions? Sherman seems to think so.
There are, in fact, only two possibilities regarding Netanyahu's Palestinian policy prescriptions. He either really believes that they constitute a feasible prescription for practical implementation of policy – or he does not. If the former is the case, there is cause for great concern regarding the prime minster's judgment, and his grasp of reality. If the latter is the case and the proposals were intended as nothing more than a verbal smokescreen, this will quickly become apparent and only serve to undermine Netanyahu's stature, and reinforce his (hitherto largely undeserved) reputation for deviousness and duplicity.
Is deviousness always a bad thing?

Netanyahu has two sets of problems on his hands. One is the Obama administration, which is determined to inflict a 'Palestinian state' upon us even if it and to destroy us. But Obama cannot say openly that he wants to destroy us (because he believes that we are colonial interlopers inflicted upon an indigenous people), because even the Democrats in Congress are mostly not willing to go that far. So Netanyahu has to give just enough so that Congress will keep Obama at bay. When Netanyahu gave his speech, much of Congress stood up and said, "of course a 'Palestinian state' will have to be demilitarized." And because of that, Netanyahu took a lot of pressure off Israel. It's apparent to Congress too that the 'Palestinians' will never comply with the conditions. But as long as Netanyahu is able to stand firm and not yield on them, that's okay. I was told off the record that a prominent Republican Congressman who supports Israel told people at the AIPAC Conference a few months ago that Israel just has to hunker down and wait out Obama by continuing to insist on reciprocity. That's what Netanyahu is doing.

Netanyahu's second set of problems is Israel's Jewish public. More than a quarter of the Jewish public voted for Kadima and Meretz. Those people are still dreaming that a 'Palestinian state' will bring the Messiah. And so - unfortunately - are a fair number of Likud voters and Yisrael Beiteinu voters who are part of his majority. Many Israelis whose heads are otherwise screwed on straight - and the Leftists who have long since lost their senses - are not yet ready to hear that it's us or them, that there is no solution, that there may never be a solution, that the best we can do is to manage the conflict and so on. Recall this.
When I was in Boston in March, I went to hear JPost editor David Horovitz speak. Horovitz is a proper Englishman who has probably been in Israel as long as I have. He lives on the other side of Jerusalem. He generally has his head on pretty straight, and doesn't live in a delusional state like many of our leftists do. He is definitely not a leftist. In the question and answer session, I asked him if he still held out hope of Israel to be a 'normal' country (i.e. not under constant fear of war and terror attacks). He said that he did. I told him that I don't. After the session, I spoke with him privately. He said that if he believed - as I do - that Israel will never be a 'normal' country, he would leave. He could not continue to live here. National psyche?
Unfortunately, so many Israelis are so deeply caught up in the delusion called 'Oslo' and the 'peace process' that it may take years - maybe even a whole new generation - to awaken them from it. If four years of murder and mayhem in our city streets earlier this decade did not awaken the peace processors from their delusions, it shows how deeply they are caught up in their dreams. I believe hope that Netanyahu is trying to bring these people along gradually and awaken them to reality.

If I am wrong and Sherman is right, we will soon see Netanyahu relax his conditions. But if I am right and Sherman is wrong Netanyahu will insist on 'reciprocity' every step of the way and the 'Palestinian state' will never come into existence.

Ehud Olmert believed that Israel is an apartheid state that has no right to exist unless there is a 'Palestinian state' alongside it. Tzipi Livni believes that too. When we elected Binyamin Netanyahu, we threw off that delusion. I'm not ready to condemn Netanyahu yet. We made that mistake ten years ago.


At 5:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just remember when everyone said Sharon was putting on an act......

At 6:16 PM, Blogger Carl in Jerusalem said...

Shy Guy,

That's true. But Sharon was always a leftist at heart. Look where he came from. And Sharon didn't have a Begin and a Yaalon in his top 10 Knesset members.

At 7:49 PM, Blogger YMedad said...

BZ Netanyahu lives in Jerusalem and has done so regularly for the past three-and-a-half decades.

At 9:00 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

My view is that Netanyahu does not believe a Palestinian state is realistic. His Bar-Ilan speech can be read as a refutation of the notion one can ever come into being. The truth is most Israelis still believe in the dream that co-existence can be attained through a negotiated agreement. Yet it is crystal clear from the Palestinian reaction that they reject the Jewish right of self-determination and negotiation based on give and take with Israel. If they really accepted both - they would have no problems with Netanyahu's conditions. So there can be only one correct answer as to where the other side stands: it won't cross its own Rubicon and accept Israel as a legitimate country in the region.

I agree with much of what Martin Sherman says but I would like him to refute the above answer about the Palestinians. Its not Netanyahu who is acting in bad faith - that's the Palestinians who are still not psychologically and politically ready for peace with Israel.


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