Friday, March 20, 2015

United We Should Stand

Long may it wave!
I hope we don’t stay divided. But if the rhetoric before and after the last election in Israel is any indication, my hopes may have already been dashed. The divisiveness seems to be greater than ever. It is about how we see the newly re-elected Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu.

There are 2 camps. One sees him as a savior. And the other as a saboteur. And they each cite chapter and verse to support their contentions. The divide does not end at Judaism door. The rest of the America seems to be just as divided.

When asked about Netanyahu’s explanation of his remarks about a 2 state solution being only campaign rhetoric and never having repudiated what he said about believing in a 2 state solution… you could see White House Press Secretary,Josh Earnest seething with anger as he rejected it by saying something like, ‘Words mean things.’ ‘He can’t just take back what he said.’  Thus the administration is still reassessing its policy with respect to the peace process. Many interpret that as supporting a resolution in the UN recognizing Palestine. I’m truly sorry to hear that. When the president called Netanyahu to congratulate him, he pretty much said the same thing.

It remains to be seen if they will make good on that threat. If the US does that. It will indeed be a low point in the relationship.  And my disappointment with the President will have reached a new low  – even as I know that he will not hurt Israel in any materially significant way. In the greater scheme of things the UN doesn’t mean much. But Israel doesn’t need to be any more ostracized by the nations of the world than it already is.

When asked about the President’s ‘lukewarm response to Netanyahu’s victory, House Speaker John Boehner  laughed. ‘Lukewarm?’ That is the  ‘understatement of the day.’ Boehner, who invited the Prime Minister to address congress - which he did to many a rousing standing ovation - will be visiting Israel in the near future. (As an aside - I'm happy to see that the majority of congress supports Netanyahu’s speech... and followed it up by affirming that is will have a say in the eventual agreement with Iran... if it comes to that.)

Republicans and Fundamentalist Christians are cheering the victory, while most liberal Democrats in America and left leaning politicians, those who voted for them, and Netanyahu bashers in Israel are condemning it. Calling the Netanyahu victory the biggest blow to US Israel relationship in decades.

The more liberal one’s politics, the more anti Netanyahu one seems to be and the more disappointed in the election results they are. The biased media has reacted the same way. The liberal media screaming gloom and doom, while the more conservative media is screaming joyous victory!

The reaction of the Jewish left was just as predictable.  Jeremy Ben-Ami of  J-Street and Joe Aaron of the Chicago Jewish News… are as disappointed as ever joining the chorus of doomsday predictors

Why is Obama’s reaction to Netanyahu so terrible? I think its personal. He seems to still be angry about their very first meeting where Netanyahu publicly lectured him about the realities of the Middle East. I wish he hadn’t done that. Not that I disagree with him. But by doing so in public he humiliated the President. If he wanted to tell the President his thoughts he should have done so privately. Not in front of the cameras. That event set the tone for the negative relationship to this day. Yes there are serious policy differences between the two. But that should not be the cause of the kind hatred that now exists between them.  Thankfully most members of congress do not see him that way. It is mostly the President and his supporters that do.

The problem with the kind of divisiveness is that it gives succor to the BDS crowd.  They will say ‘I told you so’ and encourage more boycotts sanctions and divestment… pointing to the current state of affairs as evidence of their position.  A divided country on this issue will become even more divided. The more supportive of the President one is, the more likely they will turn their anger on Israel and support things like BDS.

The Academics in universities whose hatred of Israel is palpable will also cite this as justification for their position. Jimmy Carter and friends (e.g. Zbigniew Brzezinski )  will also say ‘See?’ ‘I told you so.’ ‘Israel is an Apartheid State!’  People like James (blank the Jews - they didn’t vote for us anyway) Baker will say the same thing.

I should add that the divide between Jew and Jew does not necessarily fall between secular and religious lines. There are secular Jews that support Netanyahu and religious Jews that hate him.

I hate how this has devolved. There was a time where we could all disagree about politics but we all supported the State of Israel and its leaders. Now it seems that that the angry rhetoric  over the election has replaced the support of the nation.

I therefore think that all those that are so disappointed with the results of the election should put it behind them and unite in strong support of Israel.  Which means they should tone down the anti Netanyahu rhetoric. You can’t keep bashing a country’s leader and not expect others to see that as bashing the country - thus justifying their own bashing of it.

This does not mean we can’t disagree or criticize him from time to time. I have done so myself. Just did so right in this post. But the people of Israel have chosen who they want to lead them… and it was a rightward turn. We ought to respect that, stop the hateful rhetoric and move on.  If the current administration tries to hurt Israel in the UN - we should unite in full opposition to that.  

This is what I'm talking about. The US Senator from Florida, Marco Rubio gets it. He is a true friend of the Jewish people. And he's not even Jewish. He's Catholic. I wish more of my liberal coreligionists felt the same way. This speech was made yesterday on the floor of the United States Senate.