Facing Unprecedented Challenges, Israel Must Rally Behind Netanyahu
The abysmal failure of most governments to display even a pretense of morality when formulating resolutions relating to international affairs was again highlighted by the latest outrageous resolution relating to Jerusalem endorsed by UNESCO.
The promotion of this travesty by the Arab states merely highlights their manifestly false narrative denying Jewish continuity with Jerusalem. But it was the purportedly civilized countries, including the majority of European countries, many of whom claim to be friends of Israel, whose abstentions provided an aura of legitimacy to this obscene resolution. Such shameful behavior only serves to re-emphasize that these countries are solely motivated by short-term realpolitik, which induces their groveling to the Muslims even if this requires forfeiting morality and blatantly endorsing historical lies. Every European country should have opposed this deplorable resolution.
The UNESCO abomination should be viewed as a component of the concerted global effort designed to exploit Israel’s “intransigency” in order to impose indefensible borders, a demand to which no Israeli government could accede.
More significantly, despite the recent consummation of the multibillion-dollar defense agreement, the Obama administration uses any pretext to condemn Israel, employing unprecedentedly harsh language, which starkly contrasts with the deference it conveys to the Iranian terrorist state. It has protested far more vigorously against Israeli home construction in the “settlements” (including entirely Jewish neighborhoods of east Jerusalem) than the butchering of thousands in the regional civil conflicts.
Presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton explicitly promised Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that she would maintain the US veto and resolutely oppose any efforts by the United Nations to impose a solution, agreeing that negotiations could only be implemented directly between Israelis and Palestinians. But there is genuine concern that, despite her electoral promises, after the elections, President Barack Obama in his remaining two months in office may seek to impose a settlement on Israel which he has always sought. He could do this through support of a “binding” UN Security Council resolution or merely not employ a US veto against such a resolution.
Israel’s first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, expressed his contempt for the UN using the dismissive nonsense phrase “Um, shmum” (perhaps best translated “UN, shmu-N.”). Netanyahu also noted that “the UN, begun as a moral force, has become a moral farce.”
Nevertheless, we need to gird ourselves over the next few months for an intense hostile diplomatic campaign, including efforts to impose sanctions on us.
In these circumstances, we should have confidence in our strength. As Ben-Gurion stated: “Our future does not depend on what the goyim say, but rather on what the Jews will do.” Israel has never been in as strong a position as it is today and even many of the countries that castigate us have developed important covert economic and defense relationships with us. In addition, despite the Obama antagonism and an emerging hostile Democratic sector, public opinion in the US remains extremely positive toward Israel.
But displaying our strength can only be effective if we demonstrate a united front on these issues. This is a time for our political representatives to recognize that we face a concerted global effort to undermine us and they must suspend the personal and parochial backbiting that typifies our dysfunctional political system.
But that requires facing difficult and unpalatable truths.
Netanyahu is far from perfect and many Israelis harbor a strong animus toward him and point out that he is even unpopular in his own party. There are those who snidely remark that his closest supporters resemble moths attracted to a flame and subsequently burn out or are unceremoniously dismissed. There is a strong feeling that after such a long term in office, it is time for a change. And apart from Israel Hayom, the Israeli media has consistently vilified him more fiercely than any previous leader.
However, the reality is that currently there is no suitable political leader remotely capable of replacing him in his crucial diplomatic activity.
Indeed, despite his faults, history will record Netanyahu as being an outstanding diplomat who has successfully walked a tightrope with a hostile American administration — refusing to concede on critical security issues but retaining sufficient flexibility to avoid a total rift. He has covertly achieved an unprecedented level of cooperation with the moderate Sunni states, especially Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states. He has quietly developed relations with a swathe of countries such as China, India and African and Latin American countries. He has created a unique and delicate relationship with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, an unprecedented state of affairs of which nobody could have anticipated. He is blessed with a golden tongue and has the gift of being able to articulate the case for Israel to the world that no other leader could match.
Whatever his political status may be a year hence, by any objective criteria, Netanyahu is the leader Israel needs during the coming months. And if our politicians have any semblance of commitment to the national interest, they should support his foreign policy, which the vast majority of Israelis would endorse.
That includes denying further unilateral territorial concessions, which would undermine our security, and no annexation of territories, which would oblige us to incorporate another 3 million or so Arabs, transforming us into another Lebanon. Despite the despicable behavior of Abbas and Fatah, we should support Netanyahu’s offer to negotiate without preconditions. But endorsing a Palestinian state under the current conditions would be suicidal.
The mainstream opposition groups in office have a national obligation to publicly support such a policy.
In this environment, holding Netanyahu responsible for the failure to progress the peace process with the duplicitous Abbas, or blaming him for the disastrous relationship with Obama, provides ammunition for our enemies and confuses and destabilizes our friends and allies.
Netanyahu is aware of the importance of unity under these current circumstances and has sought to widen his narrow coalition. But regrettably, most of Israel’s politicians ignore the national interest, minimize the crisis we face and continue indulging in their petty political intrigues.
The Labor party is in shambles, with party leader Isaac Herzog unable to control the substantial number of delusional leftist MKs who have betrayed the tradition of Labor Zionism and adopted a post-Zionist approach — which would have horrified the late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.
Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid has emerged in recent months as the most impressive opposition leader. He has moved to the center and, aside from routine personal attacks on the prime minister, espouses policies that are basically indistinguishable from those of the government. He has aspirations to assume leadership of the nation and has gained considerable support from the electorate. But impressive interviews and speeches are a far cry from the heavy burden of decision-making and leadership.
If Lapid can rise above the political morass and emerge as the first opposition leader to support Netanyahu’s efforts, he would convey the message to the world that Israel is united in its determination to resist all efforts to undermine its security. This could have a major impact on the incoming US president and may revert the diplomatic tide flowing against Israel. Should Lapid act as a statesman and promote the national interest, he would display qualities that would appeal to most Israelis who are nauseated by the shenanigans of their elected representatives and, in so doing, would also advance his own objective of becoming a future prime minister.
Today Israel is stronger than ever and if we display unity, we can and will overcome all the challenges we face.
This article was originally published by Israel Hayom and the Jerusalem Post.