Sunday, May 18, 2008

An American President and Israel

Thomas Freidman discusses what makes an American president good for Israel. He starts with a literary gimmick:
Pssst. Have you heard? I have. I heard that Barack Obama once said there has to be “an end” to the Israeli “occupation” of the West Bank “that began in 1967.” Yikes!

Pssst. Have you heard? I have. I heard that Barack Obama said that not only must Israel be secure, but that any peace agreement “must establish Palestine as a homeland for the Palestinian people.” Yikes!

Pssst. Have you heard? I have. I heard that Barack Obama once said “the establishment of the state of Palestine is long overdue. The Palestinian people deserve it.” Yikes! Yikes! Yikes!

Friedman then goes on to "unveil" the fact that these statements have actually all been made by George Bush.

Well, I'm sorry to disappoint some of you folks, but in case you haven't heard, such statements have all also been made by Ehud Olmert, prime minister of Israel. And also by his predecessor, Ariel Sharon. As well as by his predecessor, Ehud Barak. Not only that, such sentiments (along with others) were all incorporated into the official Israeli offers to the Palestinians at Camp David, in summer 2002, and reiterated when Israel accepted (Bill) Clinton's dictated terms of December 24th 2000, and then again in the even more radical offers made at Taba in January 2001.

The problem is not Israel's willingness to live alongside a sovereign State of Palestine that will also be Judenrein; that has long since been agreed to by the Israelis (though you'd never know it from reading the Israel bashers). The problem is that the Palestinians haven't yet decided they're willing to live next to a sovereign Jewish Israel.

Which is why - back to Tom Friedman's column - what is important about the American president is less what he (or she) thinks about what Israel should do, and more about how he will deal with an Arab world that shares very little by way of moral assumptions and behavior with the rest of us. Friedman doesn't address this in today's column, but then, that wasn't his thesis this week.


Anonymous said...


You could Google this. In 2005, Steve Den Beste blogged an overview of what was going on in Irak. In it, he points out that the arabs, together, aren't looking for war. What they want to do is VEX.

In other words? Flying kassams are designed to push Israel into an over-reaction. Which is expensive to the country's treasury. And, useless. If you want to borrow from Steve Den Beste's insights.

There's an old expression, "that you don't go and kill a fly with a machine gun." Though, sure you do get VEXED. Please don't burn the house down.

Bush is soon leaving office.

He actually got the "date" wrong. Since Israel celebrates it's birthdate according to the Hebrew calendar; which put the event at May 7th, in the evening. By the time Bush showed up, he was late for the party.

Also, in Lebanon, "Gib-a-kook." You'd see that while a lot of firing of guns went on; basically the two sides (the Lebanese army and Nasrallah's goons), stood at opposite sides of the street, shooting randomly, into the air. If anyone got hurt, it was a mistake.

Then? Nasrallah thought his goons were so terrific, he sent them up into the hills, to fight the Druze. And, not one Druze village fell. (Nor did anyone listen to Jumblatt.)

Of course, Bush was hoping the IDF would go in "and give it to Nasrallah."

Why? Lebanon is the marijuana growing capital of the world. And, arabs need hashish because their religion forbids alcohol.

Why change heads? Assad's just a thug. But Riyadh's worse.

And, Bush gambled his legacy on those freaks.

Let alone that in Irak, Maliki hates his guts. While General Petraeus, using carrot & stick, did get the sunnis to a safer place.

And, yes. Allawi and Chalabi are still in Irak. Still building bridges in Badghad. To the PEOPLE. So what, you ask?

Like it or not, it's forming an equivalent to democracy. And, ALL arab states are WEAK ONES. Just the goons, focussing their guns on the People. Just as in russia, now, Putin "showed off" his arsenal to the civilians. To scare them.

One thing both General Patton and General Arik Sharon taught. It doesn't pay to be cowardly. Hiding just gets you killed.

And, vexing problems? Nothing beats turning a few cars in gaza into grease slicks, for the CAR SWARMS to form. For the People to know they can't win; but they can suffer. While for the rest of the world? How many countries can suffer at any one time?

Darfur suffers.

And, now, China deals with a terrible earthquake.

People die because building codes aren't honored. Pretty much the way it goes, as the world keeps turning.

What a soap opera.

Gary S. said...

Yaacov writes:

"The problem is that the Palestinians haven't yet decided they're willing to live next to a sovereign Jewish Israel."

I think many people in Israel and around the world misjudge the Arab mindset, or simply refuse to see to what degree their behavior is predicated on our actions.

My first chance to experience this was in the mid-70s, right after the Yom Kippur War, when as a very young soldier on the Golan Heights I came in contact with the Druze in Magdal Shams.

Even though Israel's military might just suffered a severe wound and Israel was yet to annex the Golan Heights, the Druze were convinced that their future was going to be tied to Israel. And they behaved accordingly, expressing loyalty to the State and hospitality to its military.

A few years later, when I happened to do reserve service in the area, I noticed a significant change for the worse and quite a bit of hostility from the Druze.

When I got a chance to talk frankly to a few who still remembered me, I was told that as soon as they saw Menachem Begin sign away the Sinai peninsula for a piece of paper, they knew that, no matter Israel's promises to them or the annexation laws it would pass in the Knesset, Magdal Shams was going to end up in Syrian hands.

Besides, I was told, there was little downside to keeping some distance form Israel since Israel was not very punitive to its enemies, whereas any display of disloyalty to Syria could easily cost people their lives -- typical Fallah wisdom.

So, this is the Arab Middle East in a nutshell: any willingness to compromise is viewed as a weakness, and you kiss the hand that can slap you in the face. It's been like that for millennia, and it'll take a very long time for them to change. I hope we have the stamina to stand our ground 'till they do.