Thursday, May 5, 2011
From Israel: Staying Calm is Hard to Do
Arlene from Israel
05 May '11
It's quite a challenge to read the news with equanimity, is it not?
Today it's British Prime Minister David Cameron. Prime Minister Netanyahu has just been to see him in order to discourage support for that Fatah-Hamas unity government.
And, according to The Guardian, what did Cameron say?
"Britain would consider supporting a unilateral declaration of statehood by the Palestinians if Israel fails to join substantive peace talks to create a two-state solution."
"If Israel fails to join"... If we don't sit with the terrorists who are dedicated to our destruction and don't recognize our right to exist...
What "two-state solution"?
A diplomat cited by the Guardian elaborated: "The more Israel engages seriously in a meaningful peace process... "
I used the word "insane" yesterday, did I not? But then, this is Britain we're speaking about, so what could I expect?
Apparently President Sarkozy of France is not far behind in this thinking.
But here we have an interesting insight provided, perhaps inadvertently, by L'Express: Sarkozy commented, "Europe will not remain a political dwarf in this matter." Sarkozy, having seen Obama's failure, is moving in for what he envisions to be a piece of the political pie (however that may be construed). Sometimes, however, when heads of state vie for influence, the opportunity to wield power becomes more significant than the issues at stake.
What I see is a Europe -- totally lost, totally sold out -- that is at bottom prepared to accept this new "unity" as legitimate, and push it as a negotiating partner for Israel.
They should all live so long!
At least Tony Blair, the Quartet envoy, is making some demands of the planned new unity government: It must recognize Israel's right to exist and renounce violence. He's waiting to see who the new Palestinian prime minister will be, he told AP, but Hamas must have a "change of heart."
A step in the right direction, but I have one observation. If they're smart, they'll put up a non-controversial figure as prime minister, a front, and sustain their positions.
This is what Prime Minister Netanyahu said to Cameron:
Israel will not negotiate with a "Palestinian version of al-Qaeda...Declaring statehood in September is a dictate - and you don't achieve peace through dictates. It's a very bad idea.
"When Abu Mazen [Abbas] embraces Hamas - an organization committed to our destruction - it is a tremendous setback for peace and an advance for terror. We are talking about a Palestinian government in which half the members call for destruction of Israel and fire rockets on our cities."
The real issue, he explained, is not the question of a Palestinian state, but rather of a Jewish state. "The refusal of the Palestinian Arabs to accept our country is at the root of the conflict."
So, my friends, please respond to this by contacting Prime Minister Netanyahu. He may be on the road, but his staff will note messages. Tell him, very briefly, that you're with him, that he is absolutely on the right track in refusing to deal with the new unity government and that it is essential he stay very strong.
As always, I ask that you avoid speeches and long explanations. Getting a brief message to him is better.
Fax: 02-670-5369 (From the US: 011-972-2-670-5369)
I am, I must add, considerably uneasy about the announcement that Netanyahu will be meeting with Obama a couple of days before he addresses Congress, later this month.
There are some thoughts about Obama and his approval of the operation to take out Bin Laden that are worth sharing here. Many people made the same point, but I think Daniel Greenfield, writing as Sultan Knish, says it best:
"The man who came into office promising multilateral engagement, no more torture and a civilian justice system for terrorists, now has only accomplishment to his name. A unilateral invasion and assassination based on intelligence gained through enhanced interrogation, carried out by men whom his supporters had once condemned as a secret assassination squad. What a failure Obama is that even the one success to his name is a testament to the failure of his own ideas.
"...Smart power? Try stupid power. Obama wasn't willing to set aside his ideals for the sake of national security. Instead he did it because his ideals were too unpopular. The man who wouldn't sacrifice his politics for the sake of American lives, sacrificed them for his own popularity. It's not just that Obama suffers from the wrong ideas, but that he values his ideas more than America, but less than himself.
"It wasn't smart power that took down Bin Laden. It wasn't the multilateral cooperation that Obama turned into his trademark when running for office. Instead it was an old fashioned unilateral operation that didn't even notify the Pakistanis ahead of time and even jammed their radar. An operation that assumed we couldn't trust our Muslim allies because they sympathize more with Al-Qaeda than they do with us. A unilateral assault that Pakistan would never have approved and that could even be considered an act of war.
"Torture, Gitmo, Rendition and all those dirty words that stood for the dumb old war. The one where we grabbed terrorists and shook the truth out of them. Where we seized them wherever they were, without regard for jurisdiction or civil rights, got them into a room and dunked their heads until they talked. Where brave men went out into the night to get things done and it was best not to ask too many questions about how it got done or count the collateral damage when they were finished. That dumb old war is the one that scored a victory here.
"...Obama inherited a War on Terror that he never wanted, and after doing his best to scuttle it, he was forced to carry it on anyway. His administration has sabotaged terrorist prosecutions, but it was forced to back away from civilian trials or closing Gitmo. And by virtue of having his ass in the chair at the right time, he now takes credit for a victory that belongs to the men who were fighting and dying in the field, while he was yawning his way through Illinois State Senate sessions.
"...The Bush Administration did the heavy lifting here, and the Obama Administration is taking the credit...."
The questions to be drawn from this, most directly, are whether this will bring about any permanent change in Obama policy, and whether it will affect how the world sees Israel's self-defense.
Well, the more things change, the more... as we know. And here it's the Palestinian Arabs we're looking at.
They just signed a unity agreement (which you can see here: http://imra.org.il/story.php3?id=52218). They are scheduled to start negotiations on matters such as putting together their government.
And they're bickering. Hamas says the PA is arresting their supporters in Judea and Samaria. And the PA says Hamas has prevented some of their people from leaving the Gaza Strip.
Anyone taking bets on how long this deal will last?
Let me just state this now: If this agreement does fall apart, it does not mean that the PA is "OK," kosher, and can be dealt with as if nothing had happened. The motivation of a group willing to conspire with Hamas is suspect no matter what transpires. The lack of PA commitment -- to peace, to accepting Israel, etc. etc. -- (which many of us were already aware of) has been exposed, and that would best not be forgotten.
© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution.
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