Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Bibi Got It Right!

In the opinion of the Kosher Hedgehog, Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu got it exactly right in his Bar Ilan University policy speech on Middle East peace. In other words, his opinions conform with my own.

There has been criticism of Netanyahu's approval of a two-state solution, on the grounds that one of his key conditions--that the Palestinian state would be demilitarized--is unenforceable under international law and practically unenforceable as well. The critics include columns in the Jerusalem Post by Martin Sherman, Louis Rene Beres and even a longtime Netanyahu advisor, Caroline Glick. They are mainly concerned that by approving the concept of a Palestinian state, on the condition that it remain demilitarized, Israel will end up with the Palestinian state, but without the condition.

I suspect that Prime Minister Netanyahu views the situation this way: The reason for continuing strife between Israel and the Palestinians (and other Arab states as well) has never been settlements, or occupation (unless one considers the mere existence of Israel on any territory to be occupation). Rather, it has been the continuing rejection by the Arabs of the legitimate existence of Israel as a Jewish State. The world has lost sight of this fact, or perhaps has simply chosen to focus its sight elsewhere, preferring, especially in the case of the United States and the European Union, to blame Israeli settlers who add a bedroom or bath onto their homes.

Prime Minister Netanyahu's speech refocused the debate on the real issue. He knows that the Palestinians will reject his conditions of recognition of Israel as a Jewish state and demilitarization of any emergent Palestinian state--indeed, they immediately did so in their reactions to his speech. That rejection is itself instructive to the world, if the world is willing to pay attention. Either Palestinian rejectionism will continue, in which case there will not be a Palestinian state, or (perhaps only after a long time) the Palestinians will come around to accept Netanyahu's conditions on the creation of a Palestinian state, in which case the new Palestinian state would cease to be a threat to Israel.

I mentioned Caroline Glick's critique of the speech above. She also found aspects of it to praise. However, her most strident criticism was reserved for President Barack Obama. Both she, and Charles Krauthammer in an excellent column also appearing in the Jersusalem Post, identify Obama's moral relativism as the flawed foundation of his administration's foreign policy. Glick writes:
"But it is hard to see how [Netanyahu's speech] could have possibly had any lasting impact on Obama or his advisers. To be moved by rational argument, a person has to be open to rational discourse. And what we have witnessed over the past week with the Obama administration's reactions to both North Korea's nuclear brinksmanship and Iran's sham elections is that its foreign policy is not informed by rationality but by the president's morally relative, post-modern ideology."

She concludes by warning Netanyahu not to assume that his Bar Ilan speech has bought a permanent respite from American presssure to make dangerous concessions:
"On the other hand, if Netanyahu sits on his laurels, he will be surprised to see how quickly Obama - desperate for a foreign policy achievement after being laughed out of Teheran and Pyongyang - forgets his happiness at his address. In no time flat, Obama will try to force Israel make him look like he knows what he is doing. At that point, an open confrontation with the White House will become unavoidable."

Krauthammer notes to similar effect:
"Obama undoubtedly thinks he is demonstrating historical magnanimity with all these moral equivalencies and self-flagellating apologetics. On the contrary. He's showing cheap condescension, an unseemly hunger for applause and a willingness to distort history for political effect. Distorting history is not truth-telling, but the telling of soft lies. Creating false equivalencies is not moral leadership, but moral abdication."


Anonymous CarlH said...

Bibi usually does get it right! If only there were a comparable leader with a clear understanding of the necessity to balance security with "reaching out", especially when dealing with people/nations/organizations who have given nothing concrete in return for unilateral "reaching out." Israel is lucky to have Bibi (again).

Wednesday, June 17, 2009 8:17:00 AM  

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