Middle East Peace Fantasies and the Israeli Reality

June 10, 2012 11:12 am 1 comment

Nightshot of the Israeli supreme court building in Jerusalem. Photo: wiki commons.

For the Prime Minister of Israel, it is flattery time in the international media. Having concluded that, for the foreseeable future, the Likudnik ogre from Jerusalem cannot be deposed, the usual critics of everything Israel does, are filling the waves and pages with fantastic depictions of Netanyahu’s newfound power, geared towards one suggestion – now, if only “Netanyahoo” (copyright Jimmy Kimmel, the great peacemaker) really wants, he can cause peace to appear by magic all over the Middle East by betraying his ideological commitments, capitulating to Palestinian demands and somehow surviving in power. You want some unicorns with that?

For those Israel observers who do not have the luxury of their own version of reality, the real test of the Prime Minister’s power – and its limits – came this week, when Netanyahu had to deal with a serious crisis. After the attempt to delay the demolition order for several apartments in the Givat Ulpana neighborhood in the veteran Jewish settlement of Beit El north of Ramallah had failed, the supporters of settlers in the Knesset introduced a bill which would make the construction legal and compensate the presumable Arab landowner.

From the Prime Minister’s point of view, the main issue in the Givat Ulpana tussle weren’t the houses themselves or the destiny of the settlement enterprise as a whole. What he wanted to avoid at all costs was a full-speed collision between the parliament and the Judiciary – which could unnecessary complicate his own life and agenda. For those Israelis who deem the current power-sharing within the Israeli democracy untenable – after all, for how long can the Supreme Court continue with its unconstitutional authority grab? – this kind of conflict is a welcome blast that could clean the air and force the lawmakers, finally, to determine what kind of powers they want to leave to judicial oversight. For Netanyahu, who took office swearing “to uphold and protect the rule of law” (meaning “not to touch the subject with a ten-foot pole and preserve the status-quo”), and whose cheerleading Sheldon Adelson-sponsored tabloid has the same oath on its masthead, this was a Rubicon he dare not cross. No Israeli politician who took on the issue of judicial reform in the past has fared well – in some cases, they’ve lost more than just their office. Netanyahu, whose past trips abroad and political donations are still under investigation by the State Comptroller, doesn’t need this kind of a headache.

To get what he wanted – to break support for the law that would invalidate the Givat Ulpana ruling retroactively – Netanyahu was ready to say practically anything and to offer incentives that would seem unthinkable only a few years ago. Using the helpful distortions in the Israeli press, which will never call a leader on his lies, if those are corresponding to its own ideology, Netanyahu filled the air with ominous warnings about a possibility that a new law (which sought to obviate Palestinian land claims if filed four years after construction started) will somehow bring upon Israel the wrath of the international justice and make the cause of settlements indefensible in the West. Given that from Obama down, Western policymakers proclaim their unyielding opposition to any Jewish presence to the east of the “green line”, even in Jerusalem, which the United States still refuses to acknowledge as the Israeli capital, it is hard to see how the Ulpana houses would affect this disposition more negatively. Israeli journalists never asked how the International Criminal Court can be bothered to deal with the consequences of the proposed bill, if as recently as April it denied the Palestinian Authority its request to investigate the events of “Cast Lead” – an Israeli operation in Gaza that left (according to the IDF bodycount) about 1200 Palestinians dead. No matter how things change, the implacable hatred of the Israeli press toward the “settlers” will forever cloud its commitment to question authority.

For the Likud ministers who’ve never been suspected of letting ideology disturb their careers, this affected gullibility of “democracy’s watchdogs” made it easy to rally behind their leader. Nevertheless, Netanyahu wanted to get the Right to climb down, and for this, he had to deny settler leaders any possibility to accuse him of betrayal. While making it known that he would have to fire any minister who voted against him, Netanyahu proposed to answer two main grievances of the Right in one stroke – he replaced the one-man rule of Defense Minister Ehud Barak over settlement construction by a ministerial committee and declared that more than 800 new apartments will be build in six settlements, 300 of them in Beit El alone, disregarding completely the predictable rage of the State Department and of those European governments which still can’t discard the notion that they can determine where Jews can and cannot live. Under such circumstances, even the ideological allies of the settlers had no choice. Speaking after the proposal was defeated, the elated Prime Minister expressed his gratitude to the leaders of the Right and promised that he will not allow the enemies of settlers to use courts to reduce the Jewish presence in Judea and Samaria.

Eager to find any justification for their presence in the government headed by a man they’ve denounced as a biggest threat to Israel, spokesmen for the “Kadima” party claimed credit for Netanyahu’s victory due to their “moderating influence” and even suggested that the Prime Minister is getting close to pulling a Sharon, ditching the “extremist” wing of his own party in favor of the bold alliance with them. This is laughable. In 2006, during an election campaign, the then-leader of “Kadima” Ehud Olmert destroyed the nine houses of the Amona outpost with zero concessions and unspeakable brutality that left hundreds wounded and went on to win the vote. In 2012, this kind of outcome is unthinkable. Despite the well-financed efforts of the Left, the Israeli public refuses to see the settlers as an enemy or an obstacle to peace, preferring instead to see things as they really are. Israel is surrounded by violent masses of Muslim Arabs, who are religiously and nationalistically bent on the destruction of the Jewish state, whatever its borders. After 45 years of deepening ties to the land taken in the Six-Day War, many Israelis do not see “the territories” as a security deposit, but as a natural extension of their national patrimony. The Israelis still wish to be rid of the Palestinians, accepting the territorial cost that this implies. But they do not accept that they have no right to any part of the heartland of Jewish history, and no amount of foreign-sponsored propaganda or stern lectures from Washington or London will change their minds.

To think that in Israel, today, there’s a viable constituency that is willing to support massive destruction of settlements, restoration of the suicidal “borders” of 1949 (with swaps, of course with swaps, always with swaps) and the carving out of the heart of the Jewish people in Jerusalem in exchange for an empty piece of paper, is to repeat the grievous mistake that the Obama administration made in the beginning of its dysfunctional relationship with Netanyahu. It was precisely this belief, nurtured in the closed intellectual circles of the Liberal Left, that propelled Obama on the path of public confrontation with a newly elected Israeli leadership, and we know how well it turned out – for Obama’s standing in Israel and for the cause of peace.

Five houses of the Givat Ulpana outpost are not the biggest problem of the Israeli government, not by a long shot, and the list of the public discontents is long. Netanyahu still has to manage the economy which is coming under the predictable fallout from the piling financial train wreck in Europe and Obamanomics in America. In a couple of months he is scheduled to present his ideas on the explosive subject of military or alternative service for the ultra-Orthodox and Arab youths. He must come up with a speedy and effective strategy to rid Israel of the menace of illegal immigration from Africa which is threatening to swamp the Jewish state under the deluge of human misery. And, finally, he has to make up his mind about whether to allow President Obama to have his upcoming elections undisturbed and not to take any aggressive measures against Iran in October. Netanyahu’s political calendar is full. “Peace with Palestinians”, that fabulous idea, will just have to wait.

1 Comment

  • Fredric M. London

    I get increasingly exasperated with the term ‘liberal left.’ The left of today is no more liberal then the right wing is progressive. A liberal is not what the right has been painting over the past 35 years. The politically-coerced censorship crowd of the left, who genuflect before the altar of moral relativism, are not liberals. They are as calcified, inflexible, and unreasonable as the right wing has always been. I would think, given our history, that a Jew could no more be a right winger then he could be a Muslim.

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Arts and Culture US & Canada Lena Dunham Responds to Charges of Antisemitism: It was Just a Jew Joke

    Lena Dunham Responds to Charges of Antisemitism: It was Just a Jew Joke

    “Girls” creator Lena Dunham responded on Tuesday to charges of antisemitism over an article she had penned for the New Yorker, saying it was all in good humor. Speaking to Variety, Dunham reflected on her “tight-knit Jewish family, where Jew jokes were part of the essential fiber of our communication.” The article Dunham referred to was called “Dog or Jewish Boyfriend? A Quiz,” with options such as “He doesn’t Tip” and “He’s Crazy for Cream Cheese.” Among Dunham’s critics, Anti-Defamation [...]

    Read more →
  • Sports US & Canada Former NBA Star Tweets Article About Jewish Conspiracy to Control Global Media

    Former NBA Star Tweets Article About Jewish Conspiracy to Control Global Media

    Retired NBA player Keyon Dooling tweeted a link on Wednesday to a wildly antisemitic article that accuses Jews of seizing control of the world’s media and using it to promote their own interests. The article, published by an obscure blog in April 2013, highlights six companies it claims are owned by Jews — such as Time Warner, Inc. and the Walt Disney Company – that allegedly “control 96 percent of the world’s media.”  The post includes allegations of “Jewish control” and says [...]

    Read more →
  • Sports US & Canada Rosh Hashanah Won’t Keep the Giants’ Geoff Schwartz From Season Opener

    Rosh Hashanah Won’t Keep the Giants’ Geoff Schwartz From Season Opener

    New York Giants offensive guard Geoff Schwartz responded to an outcry from Jewish fans on Tuesday, saying he will go ahead and play in the season opener despite the fact that it falls on the first night of Rosh Hashanah. “Keep getting tweets about that being the first night of Rosh Hashanah… Don’t know what I’m supposed to tell you. It’s a tough break,” the Jewish athlete wrote, referring to the Giants’ on-the-road game against the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday, Sept. [...]

    Read more →
  • Jewish Identity Sports Jewish Coach David Blatt Has NBA’s Cavaliers Surging at Playoff Time

    Jewish Coach David Blatt Has NBA’s Cavaliers Surging at Playoff Time

    JNS.org – When David Blatt was hired as head coach of the National Basketball Association’s Cleveland Cavaliers last June, he was not often recognized when he walked the streets of downtown Cleveland. What a difference a year makes. Now, Blatt can go few places without being recognized. For good reason. The Jewish coach has the Cavaliers in the mix to win the city of Cleveland’s first championship in a major sport since the Browns won the National Football League title in [...]

    Read more →
  • Europe Sports Croatian Soccer Star’s Hebrew Tattoo Causes a Stir Online

    Croatian Soccer Star’s Hebrew Tattoo Causes a Stir Online

    A Hebrew tattoo sported by Croatian soccer star Mario Mandzukic became an internet sensation in Israel after it was exposed on Tuesday during a Champions League match between Ateltico Madrid and Real Madrid A first glance, the tattoo, on the athlete’s back, might leave one with the impression that it was an unfortunate artistic mistake, since the Hebrew letters do not make sense as they are written. However, a closer look at the tattoo shows that it was actually written [...]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Theater Why an Algemeiner Editor Wrote a Play About a Mass Shooter

    Why an Algemeiner Editor Wrote a Play About a Mass Shooter

    For the past two years, I have served as Opinion Editor at The Algemeiner. I’m perhaps most proud of the paper’s commitment to publishing diverse and opposing viewpoints on the controversial issues of the day. We pride ourselves on voicing different opinions because we know that most issues are not black and white, and because our community is better served by a public debate. In my life outside of the paper, I am a professional actor and playwright. And similarly, [...]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Commentary In ‘America in Retreat,’ a Real-Life Risk Board

    In ‘America in Retreat,’ a Real-Life Risk Board

    JNS.org – “Risk: The Game of Strategic Conquest,” the classic Parker Brothers board game, requires imperial ambitions. Players imagine empires and are pitted against each other, vying for world domination. Amid this fictional world war, beginners learn fast that no matter the superiority of their army, every advance is a gamble determined by a roll of the dice. After a defeat, a player must retreat. Weighted reinforcement cards provide the only opportunity to reverse a player’s fortunes and resume the [...]

    Read more →
  • Beliefs and concepts Sports Does Working Out With Other Jews Keep You Jewish?

    Does Working Out With Other Jews Keep You Jewish?

    JNS.org – For Daphna Krupp, her daily workout (excluding Shabbat) at the Jewish Community Center (JCC or “J”) of Greater Baltimore has become somewhat of a ritual. She not only attends fitness classes but also engages with the instructors and plugs the J’s social programs on her personal Facebook page. “It’s the gym and the environment,” says Krupp. “It’s a great social network.” Krupp, who lives in Pikesville, Md., is one of an estimated 1 million American Jewish members of more [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.