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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

When expediency becomes principle

Last week, Prime Minister Netanyahu asked Secretary of State Clinton for the US to step up the pressure to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.

Daniel Gordis worries about the implications of that request.
THERE ARE still conflicting accounts of what exactly Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton offered Binyamin Netanyahu in exchange for a 90-day extension of the building freeze. But many news sources, including Haaretz, claimed that the Obama administration promised not only F-35s, but increased pressure on Teheran to cease its quest for a nuclear weapon and an American commitment to fighting the growing assault on Israel’s very legitimacy – as long as Bibi cooperates.

That alleged offer makes several things clear.

First, it constitutes a tacit admission by the American administration that it has not applied anywhere near the kind of pressure on Iran that it could, if it only wanted to. Even though an Iranian nuclear weapon would put six million Jews (an “interesting” number, to be sure) in the crosshairs of a hate-mongering maniac, the US has thus far decided not to be serious about stopping Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. All that talk about Washington’s iron-clad commitment to Israel’s security has been just that.

Even more distressing, however, is the suggestion that, in exchange for the building freeze, Washington would now commit to fighting the delegitimization of Israel. Obama and Clinton have every right to try to horse-trade Netanyahu into a freeze, if they so wish. They can make the airplanes contingent upon Netanyahu’s restarting the freeze, and can legitimately apply many other conditions. That is how the game is played (though one still wonders what’s been demanded of the Palestinians).

But making the fight against delegitimization dependent on Netanyahu’s cooperation means something else altogether. For the legitimacy battle is not about one Israeli policy or another.

It is about the very survival of the Jewish state, and, therefore, it is about the very future of the Jewish people. Our enemies understand that delegitimization can destroy the Jewish state.

Do our friends not get it? Until this week, we might have thought that while America and Israel could disagree on certain policies, when it came to defending Israel’s fundamental legitimacy, there could be no doubt as to what the US would do. Now, the pretense is over. This administration will protect the Jews and their state only if the Jews accede to American demands that Washington thinks it needs to advance its own diplomatic agenda abroad. That is the sign neither of a trustworthy ally nor of a country animated by principle.

There is precedent for this, of course. FDR did nothing to bomb the tracks to Auschwitz, and he closed America’s shores to boatloads of Jewish refugees with nowhere else to go. America has turned its back on the Jewish people before; if the reports emanating from Washington this week are correct, we are growing alarmingly close to that state of affairs once again. We are not there yet, but we could well be on our way.
Yes, of course he could do more.

Read the whole thing.

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At 1:26 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

Of course - but see Moshe Arens' trenchant criticism of Israel's behaving like a servile banana republic in the face of American pressure. Submitting cravenly to US demands won't get the US to do Israel any favors in the future, if Israel cannot stand up for itself.

There is also a larger issue: either the Jews have a sovereign country or they have a client nation. Now they also have a choice to make.

At 2:50 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I dunno, Bibi really ha a "hard on" for those F-35s as the freezapopsicle really really emerges from the fridge, if the peripatetic Mr. Makovsky is to be believed:


zippo mention on jerusalem or other much touted "assurances" -- talking point here is " an iron-clad arrangement for the planes in order to get the ministers’ backing for the freeze."

So Shas are air force buffs?


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