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December 29, 2011 1:53 pm

Honorable Man on a Fool’s Errand

avatar by Arik Elman

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Senator Joseph Lieberman speaking at an Algemeiner event earlier this year. Photo: Ruvi Leider.

Under the headline “Israel looks bad” the formerly-leading Israeli newspaper “Yedioth Ahronoth” reported today (December 29th) on the semi-secret talks that were held by Senator Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) with “leading ministers” in the Israeli government. Lieberman, who is conducting a whirlwind tour of the Middle East (he’s scheduled to visit Tunisia, Libya and Egypt), came to deliver warnings and grievances of the Obama administration, which is apparently continuing its election strategy of, on the one hand, removing the Israeli file from the Presidential agenda, yet on the other hand, using proxies and substitutes (from Cabinet secretaries to foreign heads of state) to keep up pressure on the Jewish state.

This time Sen. Lieberman’s good services as a courier were used to confer demands which mostly had nothing to do with the ‘peace process’. According to the report, Lieberman demanded from his Israeli hosts to prevent segregation of women and Ultra-Orthodox violence, save the commercial TV Channel 10 (partially owned by the Jewish-American businessman Ronald Lauder) from bankruptcy and cancel the law that attempts to stem the flow of the foreign government money to Israeli Leftist groups. This blatant intervention in the internal affairs of the friendly democracy was justified as an attempt to save Israel from itself – those issues, Lieberman told Israeli ministers, give ammunition to those who portray Israel as insufficiently democratic.

The second part of Lieberman’s message was devoted to rewriting the history of Obama-Israel relations by, predictably, blaming Israel. According to”Yedioth”, the Senator explained to the Israelis that the administration “has a sense of the lack of reciprocity” on Israel’s behalf: “This administration does everything in its power to satisfy all Israeli demands on every issue, especially when security is concerned, yet when the White House asks you for something that’s important to them – your response is partial at best”. Lieberman, however, delivered not only slaps, but also a compliment of sorts, calling the Israeli decision to seek out a contact with the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood “correct and inevitable”.

Considering Joe Lieberman’s personal history, it is hard to believe that he himself actually believes any of this nonsense. Enemies of Israel abroad and its mindless detractors in the American Jewish Liberal community don’t need any actual proof that Israel is evil beyond its stubborn refusal to capitulate to the Palestinian territorial demands, eradicate Jewish presence in Judea and Samaria, give up Jerusalem and accommodate millions of so-called “refugees”. Any attempt by the Jews to defend themselves against the murderous Muslim hate has resulted in the immediate surge of anti-Israeli liberal sentiment, regardless of the status of the foreign-funded NGO’s or the behavior of the Ultra-Orthodox extremists. Democracy is vital for Israel’s long-term survival, and it is worth preserving for Israel’s own sake, yet (outside of the United States) the popularity dividend from being the only country in the Middle East that doesn’t kill its own people for sport has been miniscule. In 1973, the European democracies had no qualms refusing the refueling rights to the American planes carrying desperately needed arms for the Jewish democracy fighting for its life. The possibility of Israel’s demise counted very little when weighted against the European need for cheap oil.

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In fact, Israel’s insistence on preserving democratic norms in extremal conditions (such as granting unrestricted voting rights to Arab Muslims devoted to its destruction) has lead not the higher international esteem, but to the new and exorbitant demands, because it was interpreted not as a principled internal decision, but as a sign of weakness in the face of foreign pressure. “Because Israel is a democracy”, it is required to embrace such fantastic standards of tolerance for inimical minorities that would be laughed at in United States and in Europe. Any attempt to enforce the majority’s will (which is after all the essence of the democratic governing) is immediately branded as an advent of fascism. When the law aimed at reducing noise disturbance from the mosques’ loudspeakers is condemned as “Islamophobic” and “discriminatory”, when the Israeli army is branded as “media predator” for its efforts to regulate coverage of the ongoing military operations and when, for the despicable crime of arresting the crew of the Hamas TV channel in Jerusalem Israel is accused of “waging war against female journalists”, one is tempted to ask what will satisfy critics of Israeli democracy, besides its descent into a total anarchy.

When the liberal American newspaper of record, the New York Times, accuses Israel of “pink-washing” – granting legal rights to sexual minorities in order to cover up Zionist crimes against Palestinians – or when the European Union, seething with Muslim resentment and poverty, is suddenly very interested in the “horrific” plight of the Israeli Arabs and the government of Great Britain is making veiled threats to protect the same NGO’s that facilitate the persecution of Israeli dignitaries in British courts  – it is simply not credible anymore to argue that any real or imagined improvement in the internal workings of Israeli democracy will positively affect the image of the Jewish state. As long as Israel is unwilling to accept its own Munich and to dismember itself in the name of the greater good – triumph of Islamism in another Arab state – it will be maligned and vilified by those who came to value “Palestinian national rights” above such trifles as the “Jewish right to live”. Instead of blaming the victim, true friends of Israel should concentrate on what is real – the cresting wave of political Islam, flooding the Middle East with Obama’s blessing, the Iranian nuclear program, the Palestinian refusal to accept the Jewish statehood in any borders – and leave the imagined threats to Israel’s democracy to those who live under its troublesome, yet lively and vibrant rule. Whatever needs fixing, will be fixed by the Israelis themselves.

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  • Ron Agam

    Sharp article , Arik Elman reveals himself as one of the very articulate writers on Israeli issues. Its always a fascinating reading.

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