Thursday, December 29, 2016

Parting Shots from Some Friends

Secretary of State John Kerry and the President
I’m not going to say, ‘With friends like these...’ tempting though it may be. 

It occurs to me that the similarities between the United States and Israel make it seem like Israel is just a smaller version of the the US. I am talking about how divided public opinion is with respect to a whole host of issues. There are liberals and conservatives. A left and a right… just about equally divided among the populations of each country. This is especially true for issues affecting Israel itself.

Which is why I will first defend both President Obama and Secretary Kerry despite my profound differences with them on that issue. I believe them both when they say they are pro Israel.  They are as pro Israel as half of Israel is. The left half. If one reads the  media reaction to both the UN vote that Obama refused to veto and John Kerry’s defense of it, one will see how the left - and the right- of both countries spin it. The right has categorically rejected it and the left thinks what Obama and Kerry did was actually very pro Israel

I think it’s obvious to fair minded people that both Obama and Kerry are pro Israel. As I keep saying the financial, military and intelligence support Israel has gotten during 8 years of the Obama administration is unprecedented. Anyone who sees this as anti Israel – just isn’t being fair. And both the President and Kerry have explained the US refusal to veto the UN condemnation of Israel as pro Israel. They actually believe that a 2 state solution is the only viable path to peace… and that the current right wing coalition government in Israel is undermining that by their current settlement policy. Of course they are not alone in making this criticism. Half of Israel feels the same way. Which if you read the Israeli left wing media you will see.

That said. I have to agree with all the critics of the President and his Secretary of State. They are so married to the failed Middle East policies of the past that they can’t seem to break away from them. Towards that end they have minimized the real problem. Which is decades of Jew hatred indoctrinated among Arabs across the Middle East. 

That is the real impediment to peace. An impediment that has resulted in the kind of violence against Israelis that puts Israel in it’s current position of harsh security measures. There is a reason that Netanyahu is the prime minister now. The majority of Israelis are more worried about their security than they are about making peace with the Palestinians. Had Palestinains not been so violent against Israelis over Israel’s entire existence, Ehud Barak would still be prime minister and there would already be 2 states.

By placing the primary blame on Israel, the United States has contributed to this mindset and has set the stage for a much longer reign of a Netanyahu type government than would normally be the case. Israel has more or less rotated between left and right wing governments ever since the Begin days. However, the right wing is not only I control now, but for the foreseeable future. Obama has guaranteed that by allowing the nations of the world to condemn Israel without at least an equivalent condemnation of Palestinian incitement to violence.

Kerry had to defend his President. He truly believes that Israel’s settlement policies are an impediment to peace. If you are married to the 2 state solution, that is a fair assessment. But even so -to practically ignore the Palestinian impediments to peace – by barely mentioning it at all and only in passing while the focus is on Israeli impediments is grossly unfair and  puts the peace process in even greater jeopardy. Israel will not all of a sudden say, “You know what? Obama is right.” “What were we thinking?!” No. Israel will be defiant and go the other way. That is what happened. And the Palestinians will be encouraged to incite even more violence.

Is this the way a friend is treated? Even one you disagree with? According to Kerry it is. He claimed the United states wanted to make clear to Israel that unless there are 2 states, Israel cannot be both a Jewish and a democratic country. I get what he’s saying. But Israel did not need the US to allow a condemnation by the UN to know what the US position is. It’s one thing to tell your friends that you believe they are wrong. It’s another to try and force them to change. Especially since that is the opposite of what will happen. Both Kerry and Obama should have known how Israel would react. And they did it anyway.

Fortunately for Israel and her supporters, the current animosity between our 2 countries won’t last. As President-elect Trump said yesterday. January 20th is not that far away. I never thought I would say this. but I’m glad that we will have a President that will be far more supportive of our closest ally. Because I’m pretty sure that Mrs. Clinton would have just picked up where her predecessor left off. On the other hand here is President-elect Trump’s reaction to this whole debacle: 
We cannot continue to let Israel be treated with such total disdain and disrespect. They used to have a great friend in the U.S., but....... not anymore. The beginning of the end was the horrible Iran deal, and now this (U.N.)! Stay strong Israel, January 20th is fast approaching! 
My reaction to that is, ‘Thank you, Mr. President-elect!’ ‘I am eager to see the positive new direction in our relationship with Israel that we will take when you take office.’ ‘And I’m sure you will get the approval of the majority of congress in doing that. Support that will include many Democrats.’

Where does that leave my pro-Israel friends on the left – in both Israel and the US? I think better off in the long run – even though they don’t know it yet. At least I hope so.