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Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Sticking up for our own interests

Evelyn Gordon shows how our own emissaries abroad are damaging Israel's interests by letting the other side set the agenda.
So why do Americans think Netanyahu doesn’t want peace? Well, everyone knows the Palestinians have demands that he refuses to meet (like a pre-negotiations commitment to the 1949 armistice lines); they say so constantly. But few people realize Israel has demands the Palestinians have consistently refused to meet because Israel doesn’t say so.

To understand how deep this Israeli pathology runs, consider official Israel’s response to a New York Times editorial earlier this month. The editorial urged Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to begin direct talks with Israel but sympathized with the fear he “no doubt” feels that Netanyahu “will use the process to give the illusion of progress while never addressing Palestinian concerns about borders, security, refugees and the future of Jerusalem” — and that despite this, “the Palestinians will be blamed if negotiations fail.”

Based on past experience, the reverse is far more likely: in previous talks, Israel made massive concessions on these issues while the Palestinian made no concessions at all to Israel’s concerns, yet most of the world still blamed Israel. The Times, however, neglected to mention that possibility.

That a leading American paper doesn’t recognize (or doesn’t acknowledge) that Israel, too, has legitimate concerns that must be addressed, and so far haven’t been, is problematic enough. Still, given the Times’s pro-Palestinian bias, perhaps you can’t expect anything better.

But it turns out you also can’t expect anything better from Israel’s own ambassador to the U.S. In the letter he wrote in response, Michael Oren correctly slammed the Times for implying that Netanyahu, rather than Abbas, has resisted direct talks until now; for ignoring “Israel’s attempts, in 2000 and 2008,” to address the Palestinians’ final-status concerns, “only to be rebuffed by Palestinian leaders, including Mr. Abbas”; and for its ad hominem attack on Netanyahu (whom it termed a “master manipulator”).

But he didn’t say a word about Israel having concerns of its own on “borders, security, refugees, and the future of Jerusalem” that the Palestinians have repeatedly failed to address. And if Israel’s own ambassador won’t say so, who will?
I've read three stories in the last few days about how Oren is 'coming into his own' and how the American Jewish community and the media are finally seeing him realize his potential as a diplomat. I guess you have to refrain from advocating Israel's interests to get coverage like that.

But at least the machers are pleased. Isn't that what we're supposed to be seeking?


At 10:42 PM, Blogger Sunlight said...

As I've said here a million times... right before the '08 election, an Israeli consulate person, who had heard Obama at AIPAC in DC, came to a local event just frothing over how wonderful Obama was. The next day, Obama backtracked and said the opposite, as he always does, but the Israeli consulate person never did issue a correction. And I have heard no correction to this date from them.

Also, Israel has not made the case regarding rockets landing on Israeli civilians from Leb. and Gaza and, if given the land, from the West Bank.

At 5:07 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

If Israel doesn't know how to explain its own national interests and defend them before a hostile world, don't expect the world mass media to wonder what they are when even Israel's top officials don't know what they are! Israeli officials have gotten so used over the past 17 years in advancing the Arab narrative they have forgotten they live in a country called Israel!

What could go wrong indeed


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