THE SPINE APRIL 6, 2009
I hold no brief for Avigdor Lieberman, not at all. I have already characterized him as a neo-fascist, and a neo-fascist he is. What's more he is an utterly reckless person, and the weird parliamentary system -too democratic by half- encourages the recklessness of Israeli politicians for many of whom it is by now habitual, perhaps even by now almost generic or genetic.Today, another loudmouth, Gilad Erdan, minister of the environment, about which he knows roughly nothing, also took to the bullhorn and proclaimed that Israel is not America's 51st state. Believe me, that is not the issue in America's politics where, on the left wing margins, at least, the question is whether the United States is a satrap of the Jewish state. It is a false issue. But at a time when the country is overwhelmed by burdens at once domestic and international it would be wise and apt for Israeli politicians actually to appreciate (and to express that appreciation) for the unyielding military and diplomatic support provided Jerusalem from Washington.This does not mean that Israel's political class has to fall into line behind every step that the Obama administration takes. But, to be fair, my own sense is that the administration is walking delicately between its ideological presumption that it can engage with reckless states and chiliastic movements and still maintain the country's strategic alliances with kindred democratic allies. I suspect that these are inevitably more divergent paths, and that this divergence will face the president with many wrenching dilemmas. If one can judge by AfPak, he will take the historically sanctioned path.And, by the way, no, it is insufficient for Obama to say that Al Qaeda will not be conciliated by anything Israel does to palliate the Palestine question. Israel's enemies are Hezbollah and Hamas, Syria and Islamic fanatics spread through every Arab country, including Jordan and Egypt, two vulnerable states themselves beset by religious insurrectionists. Does Obama really believe that the great swath of Muslim hatred for Jews is amenable to a diplomatic solution?In any case, Bibi Netanyahu is not Lieberman or the callow Erdan from his own party. Netanyahu knows what the stakes are which means that he understands that a "two-state solution" is the only possible resolve for the conflict. And the fact is that, all of the injunctions put before before Jerusalem by the various peace professionals about this solution notwithstanding, the Israeli body politic is itself committed to such a resolve. That has been Israeli policy for at least 16 years. It is a gross lie to deny this. The Greater Israel movement is dead. So is the Peace Now movement that assumed a territorial retreat will resolve everything. This movement died the day after Israel left Gaza.The outstanding cartographical issues are mostly symbolic and procedural.So what is the impediment?It is that Israel cannot assume that any territory from which it withdraws will remain peaceful. What is the evidence that it would? Do you really think that rockets and missiles will not be lobbed into Israel proper on the morning after? And that Palestine's frontier with its Arab neighbors will not become what Gaza's frontier with (relatively well-intentioned) Egypt has become. A cease-fire was made, and the cease fire has not held. What's more, the smuggling of trajectiles and other weapons through the tunnels of the strip goes on unabated. This is despite a United Nations resolution. And in southern Lebanon another cease-fire resolution providing for an end to smuggling from Iran and Syria to Hezbollah is continually violated. One lesson Israel has certainly learned is that U.N.Security Council resolutions are worth less than the paper on which they are printed.Until this issue is addressed conscientiously and practically there will be no progress on the two-state solution under any borders. And, instead of repeating the two-state shibboleth, it is time for the well-intentioned brokers -President Obama included- to confront the real barrier to peace which is Palestinian and Arab behavior after an Israeli withdrawal. This will be the test, and nothing else.
Read these next:
- What You May Not Have Read ... But Should. More on the Goldstone Report and What's Wrong With the Middle of the Road in Afghanistan.
- What's The Difference Between Fatah And Hamas?
- What's More Is That She Cannot Put Together A Sentence Or, For That Matter, A Thought; Is This A Conspiracy To Make George Bush Seem Literate And Coherent?