Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Netanyahu's The Man

Aluf Benn, of the generally leftist Haaretz, is just about the smartest, most interesting journalist in Israel. So when he writes something—especially in contrast to his previous articles over the years—it’s worth paying attention.

Here’s what he says in the newspaper, May 13, 2009 that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu:

“Enjoys unprecedented public and international legitimacy. His critics and rivals accept his leadership and do not see him as the leader of only half the nation, as they did during his former round at the top....Since he took office Netanyahu has been the prime minister of everyone.... Throughout his political career, Netanyahu has never had such support.”

It’s time for the Western media and the world in general to understand this reality. Netanyahu has moved toward the center and Israelis have become fed up with advice that their policy should be one of making concessions and getting nothing in return.

Moreover, this government is a coalition of the main parties of the center-left and center-right.

Who brought about this change? The Palestinian leadership rejected peace in 2000 and doing nothing to moderate their own people and prepare them for a two-state solution. The Syrian regime rejected peace, instead fomenting terrorism and extremism in partnership with Iran. Hamas, which is against any real peace and wants to wipe Israel off the map, took over the Gaza Strip, using Israeli withdrawals all the better to attack Israel with. Hizballah, which is against any real peace and wants to wipe Israel off the map, practically runs Lebanon, having used Israeli withdrawals all the better to attack Israel with. Iran grows in power and seeks nuclear weapons. Western governments which promised to support Israel if the risks it took in the 1990s’ peace process broke their promise. Today, many of them want to bargain with the aforementioned extremists who make no secret—if one at all looks beneath the surface—of their genocidal intentions. Far from recognizing Israel’s sacrifices risks and concessions, a lot of Western public opinion became more hostile.

Reread the preceding paragraph and see if these points have been made in your university courses on the Middle East, media news stories and op-eds, and the statements of government officials and politicians.
The mantra “two-state solution” neither changes nor affects any of the factors in that paragraph. All those forces are against a real two-state solution and the Palestinian Authority’s position—demanding Israel admit several million hostile Palestinians and rejecting an end to the conflict—or its behaviour—continued incitement to terrorism, no indoctrination of its people for a compromise peace, the domination of the Fatah leadership by radicals—does not support it either.

So let’s have a more realistic assessment of the regional situation, the non-existent chances at present for a negotiated solution of the Israel-Palestinian or Israel-Syrian conflicts, and of Israel’s stances responding to those realities.


  1. Israel is reluctant to embrace the two state solution because it has no assurance that if it did, that it would not involve open ended concessions. Israel is prepared to talk about peace that protects its vital national interests. But it is not prepared to bring to Washington the suicide note every one seems to be expecting. The West and in particular, the Obama Administration, must stop acting like peace is a favor owed to Israel or its a price Israel must pay to continue to be a member in good standing of the Western club. The sooner the West comes to understand peace is a need for the entire region as opposed to an obligation imposed upon Israel, the more likely it will be to achieve progress towards it. And here the West, not just Israel, has obligations it has yet to fulfill. When it does, then it credibly give advice to Israel on how to make peace. That is the kind of realism that is needed today, not repeatedly mouthing a meaningless slogan that will lead nowhere.

  2. I hope he is right. Netanyahu is going to need that broad support because he is going to have to chart a new course for Israel in which it no longer puts all of its eggs in the special relationship with America basket. This is actually an opportunity for Israel develop a healthy diversity of partnerships with many powers. For example, Israel could be doing joint partnerships to develop advanced fighter aircraft with India, China or South Korea. Israel should be making it a policy to end acceptance of American military aid as soon as possible and thus end the restrictions and leverage that go along with it.


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