Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrives in Washington next week for talks with President Obama. The Administration will be pressuring Israel to accelerate the creation of a Palestinian state in most of the West Bank and Gaza and refrain from bombing Iran's nuclear facilities. Vice President Biden has been especially insistent on each.
Contrary to the Arab street and Arab kings, Netanyahu himself favors restarting peace negotiations--with Palestinians committed to diplomacy. (Israel's still waiting.) Still, Netanyahu undoubtedly remembers that Israel's unilateral withdraw from the Gaza Strip was to be a test case for full Palestinian statehood. "Gaza First", of course, was so conspicuously disastrous that Jimmy Carter could have called it an "incomplete success". And ordinary Israelis understandably fear that a nuclear-armed Iran would be tempted to carry out President Ahmadinejad's policy that Israel be "wiped off the map."
So, the conventional wisdom sees the United States and Israel "on a collision course," meaning that "significant progress is a long shot." That's bad for both nations--and for all genuine advocates of peace.
And it's largely Obama's fault. The rising tensions stem from the Administration's short-sighted desire to trade its long-standing alliance between democratic states for the ephemeral applause of Islamic autocracies, says the Heritage Foundation's Ariel Cohen in Wednesday's Christian Science Monitor:
The Obama administration is advocating steps that would jeopardize Israeli security. . . The administration supports dividing Jerusalem to make a Palestinian capital. Such division was not a happy solution for Berlin decades ago. Jerusalem should not be cut in half by barbed wire fences.I'm hoping Obama avoids that path next week. Because, as Shmuel Rosner says in The New Republic, the bottom line hasn't changed:
It also wants Israel to join the ineffective Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. The US had committed in a bilateral agreement not to tamper with the Israeli nuclear shield. At a time when Iran seems on the verge of acquiring nuclear weapons, this is like demanding that a man in a rough neighborhood give up his shotgun when the criminal next door is getting a Kalashnikov.
All this occurs at a time when the terrorist organization Hamas is gaining strength. Polls predict that it would win Palestinian elections. If "Hamastan" arises in Gaza and the West Bank, it will probably become the next terror state, one keenly interested in destabilizing the US ally Jordan, as well.
The bigger picture is even more alarming. The administration is spending precious time and political capital trying for a quick fix to an intractable conflict. Obama and his top officials are meeting with the kings of Saudi Arabia and Jordan, the Egyptian president, the Europeans, and the Russians to effectively develop a plan that Israel had no part in formulating -- and which would be imposed on it by extreme pressure.
This grand design is based on the "Arab peace plan" penned by the Saudis. It envisions settling millions of the 1948 Palestinian refugees and their descendants in Israel, a country the size of New Jersey.
This would irrevocably change the nature of Israel and create an ever greater terror threat. In pursuing this track, the Obama administration risks repeating the mistakes of its predecessors who also eagerly embraced instant solutions. Consider Camp David II in 2000, after which Yasser Arafat triggered the second intifada that killed more than 5,000 overall.
The administration seems to be making three grave errors. The first is disregarding reality. The entrenched hostility of the Arab world and radical Muslims toward Israel is there for all to see. The core issue is that the Arab elites have not accepted Israel's existence in the region. This fundamental point cannot be overlooked.
A second major mistake is arm-twisting a staunch democratic ally to curry favor among a deeply anti-American Arab and Islamic world. Doing so would send a message of weakness. America's allies from Japan to India to the Baltics will take note. A new wave of anti-American attacks -- in Iraq, in the Gulf, and even on American soil -- may be the unintended consequence.
The third mistake is to reward terrorism. A seven-year barrage of rockets from Gaza has not broken the will of the Israelis. Neither have the terror attacks, which killed nearly 1,200 Israelis since 2000 -- mathematically proportional to 50,000 deaths in America. We should not allow the threat of terror to break the will of America to stand up to terror masters and financiers.
Israelis would be delighted to live in peace with their neighbors. But that can't happen until Hamas and Fatah abandon terror and cease teaching hatred to their children, brainwashing them about suicide bombing, and driving Jews into the sea. Palestinians have a long way to go to develop civil society, the rule of law, and economic prosperity before being ready to run a state. Israel will be in grave danger unless Washington stands with its ally in this fight for survival. The Middle East needs US leadership, but not the kind of leadership that imperils Israel while creating a Hamas-controlled terror state.
Peace with the Palestinians isn't in the cards any time soon. Peace with Syria seems less likely than both Israel and the U.S. were hoping. (Obama sent his emissaries to Damascus twice in recent weeks, and twice they came back empty handed--resulting in an almost immediate renewal of sanctions and a public reprimand of the Syrian regime for not making enough of an effort to stop the smuggling of terrorists to Iraq.) Both know that Iran is a problem that needs be dealt with in the near future.Even the continuation of the current stalemate would be better than an Administration aiming for ephemeral applause out of internationalist popularity contests and "pro-terrorist" progressives. Or, as Cohen fears, sacrificing a vibrant democracy to the multi-culti gods.
Yaakov Kirschen says it more simply in Dry Bones:
source: Dry Bones May 13th
NOfP note: I worked with Dr. Cohen when we both were deployed to Ft Myers, Florida in the 2004 Bush campaign (Cohen did finance; I did election law).
Anne Bayefsky in National Review Online, May 15th:
In advance of Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit to the United States on Monday, President Obama unveiled a new strategy for throwing Israel to the wolves. It takes the form of enthusiasm for the United Nations and international interlopers of all kinds. Instead of ensuring strong American control over the course of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations or the Arab-Israeli peace process, the Obama administration is busy inserting an international mob between the U.S. and Israel. The thinking goes: If Israel doesn’t fall into an American line, Obama will step out of the way, claim his hands are tied, and let the U.N. and other international gangsters have at their prey.And see Tom Carter's synopsis.