Sticks to commitment to policies that will secure Israel’s future, even at the expense of opportunistic attacks and political controversy.
Obliquely and with respect to his audience, in his speech to AIPAC today, President Obama also responded to Prime Minister Netanyahu’s repeated lies about what President Obama said only the day before.
Just as no man is an island, no country can be either. On its present course Israel is on its way to becoming a pariah state, a status in which it cannot indefinitely or even perhaps long survive. Neither the fact that Israel faces a profound cultural animosity among the region’s Arab populations nor the bad faith that often greets its actions nor even the anti-Semitism that is sometimes beneath the animus changes this essential fact. The make-up of the 21st century world is simply not compatible with a perpetual military occupation of another people, especially one that crosses a boundary of ethnicity and religion. Only the willfully oblivious can’t see that.I’ve had so many conversations with American and Israeli hardliners who say essentially, why give up this land as long as the Palestinians won’t do this or that thing? Such folly. As though the settlements of the West Bank were a thing of great value as opposed to a lethal threat. Like you insist on keeping the knife in your belly as opposed to removing it at the first opportunity because someone else you’re negotiating with won’t do what you want.
Netanyahu believes that US power is forever and that the US political consensus to support Israel in almost any policy choice it makes will never change. So he can simply ignore the currents of history and international affairs and thumb his nose at every other country in the world. But neither is true.
Most of Israel’s leaders and all the giants of early Zionism — who are demeaned even to be compared to Netanyahu — realized this. They mixed a lot of pragmatism with their improbable idealism.
The occupation itself represents the true existential threat to Israel. Most who don’t have a profound and over-riding ideological commitment to maintaining a state in all of historic Palestine get this. That’s why even someone like Tzipi Livni, a former member of the Likud and someone from a Revisionist family, realized that partition is the only viable path forward.
For me this is the key issue. Justice, peace … you don’t even need to get to those agenda items. The simple reality is that Israel needs partition for its survival, more really than any of the other parties to the controversy.