Obama’s first year rhetoric focused on engaging a virtually invisible moderate Islam; what if his second year focused on engaging a virtually invisible moderate Israel?
Politicians tend to fall into the trap of believing they are the center of the universe. This comforting illusion leads them to assume that their fellow politicians in other countries are also the centers of their universes. Leaders of client states make careers out of this misperception on the part of leaders of patron states.
Netanyahu has Obama caught in the sharp teeth of just this sort of trap.Obama’s painfully visible struggles to wiggle out of this trap will only cause him to lose more political blood if he does not figure out the game Netanyahu is playing to the American Jewish audience.
Numerous media remarks about Obama wanting to see Netanyahu replaced suggest that Obama is already part way there: he now realizes that Netanyahu does not equal Israel. What he seems to be missing is that none of the politicians who have been trading power in a fatal game of musical chairs in Israel for the past generation equals Israel. Replacing Netanyahu with another member of the current Israeli ruling elite, with its right wing bias toward military methods of enforcing Jewish supremacy, will only prolong Obama’s bleeding.
It is not “Israel” that endangers U.S. national security; it is the Israeli right. It is not “Israel” that is trying to enflame a civilizational conflict between the U.S. and activist political Islam; it is the Israeli right.
To escape from the Israeli right wing trap, Obama needs to encourage the emergence of a new liberal power center in Israel. Several factors make this urgent: Obama’s time in office is limited and his prestige is even more limited; the global confrontation between the U.S. and political Islam gives the Palestinian-Israeli conflict global significance as a national security threat; Israel’s right wing pandering to emotionalism is pulling Israeli society dangerously far down the slippery slope toward fascism* (i.e., a garrison state addicted to violent suppression of civil rights that is justified by the identification of an evil enemy defined in racial or religious terms and that uses permanent war to mobilize support).
Israelis need to stop this fatal slide, but those who see the need have neither the political organization nor the leadership to do so alone any more than liberal Germans did during the Weimar Republic. It makes no difference how many times Netanyahu visits Washington. It makes little difference how many different Israeli politicians from within the current ruling elite visit Washington. Now is the time for a different breed of Israeli to be invited to the White House – the thinkers who represent the traditional Jewish values that are today becoming so obscured by the fog of war and tension and propaganda. If Obama would only use the bully pulpit he now occupies to engage with liberal Israel, he might well be able to empower it to defend Israeli democracy and security before it is too late, and in the process both earn the undying gratitude of Jewish Americans and pull the rug out from under those forces pushing the world toward civilizational confrontation.
The Israeli occupation army has introduced a set of draconian measures in the West Bank aimed at uprooting more Palestinians from their ancestral homeland as well as suppressing prospective Palestinian protests against the enduring Israeli military occupation and apartheid.…
The Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz on Sunday, 11 April, quoted army sources as saying that “tens of thousands of Palestinians from the West Bank will automatically become criminal offenders liable to severely punished.”
These include people who have joined their spouses or returned to the West Bank as part of the “family unification program.” Israel views these Palestinians as “infiltrators.”
A March 21 Jack Khoury/Dana Weiler-Polark Haaretz article headlined the above accusation, saying Mossawa’s report shows “that in 2008 there were (12) bills (not 11 Haaretz reported) defined as racist,” followed by 12 more in 2009, specifically against Israeli Arabs. Report authors Lizi Sagi and Nidal Othman said:
“There has never been a Knesset as active in proposing discriminating and racist legislation against the country’s Arab citizens.”
They accused right-wing MKs of being “unhindered via proposed legislation,” many in violation of Supreme Court rulings, including cosmetically altering illegal bills to get them passed. Others trying to harm Arab citizens, segregate them from Jews, and “even call for the expulsion of the (entire) Arab population.”
Further discriminatory measures target services, benefits, and imposing a year’s imprisonment for anyone publishing or saying something that would “bring contempt upon or discomfort to the country.”
The recent developments in Gaza are especially disturbing because they express so vividly a deliberate intention on the part of Israel and its allies to subject an entire human community to life-endangering conditions of utmost cruelty. The suggestion that this pattern of conduct is a holocaust-in-the-making represents a rather desperate appeal to the governments of the world and to international public opinion to act urgently to prevent these current genocidal tendencies from culminating in a collective tragedy.