Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.

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. Comments written in all caps will be deleted.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Arts and Culture Author of New Book on Connection Between Jews, Punk Rock Describes Bands Flinging Gefilte Fish, Bagels at Audience (INTERVIEW)

    Author of New Book on Connection Between Jews, Punk Rock Describes Bands Flinging Gefilte Fish, Bagels at Audience (INTERVIEW)

    Some punk rockers integrate their Jewish identity into their music through food, the author of a new book on the topic told The Algemeiner on Wednesday. Michael Croland, author of Oy Oy Oy Gevalt! Jews and Punk, described the way different musicians express this connection. “One band is known for throwing gefilte fish in the mosh pit, and people at its concert slide around on it while dancing,” he recounted. “Another used to drink Manischewitz [sweet kosher] wine out of a shofar [the ram […]

    Read more →
  • Sports Scottish Soccer Club Manager Hails ‘Fantastic’ Jewish-State Visit After Victory Over Israeli Team (VIDEO)

    Scottish Soccer Club Manager Hails ‘Fantastic’ Jewish-State Visit After Victory Over Israeli Team (VIDEO)

    The manager of Scotland’s Celtic soccer club lauded Israel, after his team won a match against the Jewish state’s Hapoel Be’er Sheva on Tuesday night. Brendan Rodgers said at a post-match press conference: On behalf of the players, the people of Celtic and Scotland, Israel’s been fantastic for us. We came out here on Sunday, [and from] the hotel, the staff, we’ve been very, very warmly received. The atmosphere at the game was amazing and, obviously, one team has to lose, but you have a wonderful team here, […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Second Jaffa Jazz Festival to Reunite International, Israeli Musicians

    Second Jaffa Jazz Festival to Reunite International, Israeli Musicians

    For the second time, Israel will host the Jaffa Jazz Festival, according to Broadwayworld.com. The festival will unite 43 Israeli musicians and eight international artists for a three-day event. The program will include a special performance by an ensemble of top jazz students studying at Belgium’s Royal Conservatoire of Antwerp, the Belgrade Music Academy in Serbia, Israel’s Rimon School of Music and the jazz program of the Israel Conservatory of Music in Tel Aviv. There will also be a jazz show for children led by Israeli saxophonist […]

    Read more →
  • Sports Israel’s First NASCAR Driver Revved Up to Win

    Israel’s First NASCAR Driver Revved Up to Win

    JNS.org – As a young boy growing up in Ashdod, Israel, Alon Day got his first go-kart at age 9. By 15, he was racing them. Less than a decade later, Day has become the first Israeli professional race car driver on the NASCAR circuit. He made history by competing in NASCAR’s Xfinity Series race at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on August 13. “Driving a race car is not like any other sport,” Day told JNS.org. “You are actually almost flying […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Writer of Popular Kids Series to Premiere Autobiographical Solo Show ‘Not That Jewish’

    Writer of Popular Kids Series to Premiere Autobiographical Solo Show ‘Not That Jewish’

    The writer of a popular children’s television series will premiere an off-Broadway solo show called “Not That Jewish,” according to The Hollywood Reporter. Written and performed by Monica Piper — the Emmy Award-winning showrunner of Nickelodeon’s “Rugrats” — the show is described as “the autobiographical telling of a Jew…’ish’ girl’s life.” “Not That Jewish” explores Piper’s Bronx upbringing in a show-business family, her comedy-club debut and her “almost” night with former Yankees legend Mickey Mantle. “Audiences can expect to leave laughed-out, a little teary-eyed and […]

    Read more →
  • Sports Scottish Soccer Team Will Fly to Israel on Private Jet Used by Madonna

    Scottish Soccer Team Will Fly to Israel on Private Jet Used by Madonna

    Scotland’s Celtic soccer club will fly to Israel with the same private jet Madonna used while on tour, The Scotsman reported on Monday. According to the report, the team is heading for the Jewish state to compete against Israel’s Hapoel Be’er Sheva on Tuesday night, and will be transported in the customized, luxurious Boeing 757-200 that the pop icon used in New Zealand for her six-month Rebel Heart tour, which wrapped up in March. The plane is on loan from Greece-based GainJet Aviation and can accommodate 62 passengers. The […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Revealed: Actor Jonah Hill Officiated at Wedding of Fellow Jewish Star, Singer Adam Levine

    Revealed: Actor Jonah Hill Officiated at Wedding of Fellow Jewish Star, Singer Adam Levine

    Jewish actor Jonah Hill revealed on Wednesday morning that he had officiated the wedding of good friend and Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine. The “War Dogs” actor, 32, was a guest on Sirius XM’s The Howard Stern Show when the conversation turned to Levine’s July 2014 wedding to Victoria’s Secret model Behati Prinsloo. Hill said that after he was asked to officiate the nuptials, he started getting worried about the type of speech he was going to deliver. “I’m writing all these things, and then I […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Music Jewish Indie Rocker Dedicates New ‘Refugee’ Track to Grandfather Who Fled Nazi Persecution

    Jewish Indie Rocker Dedicates New ‘Refugee’ Track to Grandfather Who Fled Nazi Persecution

    Jewish indie singer Ezra Furman released a song on Wednesday that he said was dedicated to his grandfather, who escaped Nazi persecution. Furman told the website Consequence of Sound that the new track, called “The Refugee,” is his “first song entirely concerned with my Jewish background and present, a song dedicated to my grandfather who fled the Nazis, as well as to all of the refugees desperate for a home today.” He added, “May all the wanderers find the homes they seek, and […]

    Read more →