As we move along, exposed to the surface of various events, I would like to simply look a bit deeper. There is, of course, much that is buried with sufficient depth that it’s impossible to see it all. Yet, nonetheless…
Yesterday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton addressed the AIPAC conference. She began by providing all of the pro-Israel, touchy feely sound bites that make her seem very positively disposed to Israel.
She said things like:
“…our commitment to Israel’s security and Israel’s future is rock solid, unwavering, enduring, and forever.”
“Guaranteeing Israel’s security is more than a policy position for me. It is a personal commitment that will never waiver.”
(Does your heart do a pitter patter at all of this? Or does your stomach turn upside down?)
Unfortunately, some news sources picked up exclusively on this seemingly pro-Israel stance– especially in headlines — and so, depending on what you’ve read, you just might have a distorted picture, skewed to the positive.
The reality is that when you read or hear her entire speech, it’s possible to see that it’s a horror.
Construction in “East” Jerusalem and “the West Bank,” she told listeners, “endangers the proximity talks and exposes daylight between Israel and the United States that others in the region hope to exploit. It undermines America’s unique ability to play a role – an essential role – in the peace process…”
Just as the children of Israel were afraid when leaving Egypt, she said, but had to be brave enough to move forward, so must Israel be brave enough to move forward now.
The message is simple: the onus is on us. The US wants certain things and expects us to not get in the way.
All of this, of course, is in Israel’s best interests, as the US knows what’s good for us. America, she made clear, does not accept the legitimacy of continued “settlements,” but that’s a positive stance for the future of this region.
As JPost editor David Horovitz put it:
“…there was no escaping the sense that she was trying to deliver a wake-up call to an Israel perceived by this administration, to some extent at least, as blundering intransigently toward disaster.” Clinton, he says, underlined profound US doubts about Netanyahu’s commitment to peace.
See Horovitz’s piece at: http://www.jpost.com/Israel/Article.aspx?id=171590
On the flip side, while Clinton mentioned incitement, she dealt with it insufficiently. First, of all, she did not adequately link it to the PA — in fact she avoided making that association.
She declared that “… when instigators deliberately mischaracterize the rededication of a synagogue in the Jewish quarter of Jerusalem’s old city and call upon their brethren to “defend” nearby Muslim holy sites… it is purely and simply an act of incitement.”
Ah, it is incitement, of course, but left unsaid by her was that the PA was a major one of those “instigators.”
Similarly, she said, “When a Hamas-controlled municipality glorifies violence and renames a square after a terrorist who murdered innocent Israelis, it insults the families on both sides who have lost loves ones over the years in this conflict.
It’s true that the square was in a municipality where Hamas had won local elections, but the square dedication was under the auspices of Fatah, which is the PA. This she neatly elided. By mentioning Hamas, she implies that it’s those “other” bad Palestinians doing this, not our good “partners for peace.”
Besides which, I resent her deliberate evenhandedness. It’s the families on our side, who have been injured by terrorists, who are insulted.
There should have been some US acknowledgement of PA stances (see below) that make peace impossible, in the face of all of Israel’s sincere efforts. But to expect that would be silly.
The bottom line is that Hillary Clinton — functioning as a flunky for Obama– is very bad news for Israel.
Following this unsettling talk, came our prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who gave a rousing and highly appropriate statement of dignity with regard to Israel’s rights and intentions. A portion of what he said:
“Ladies and Gentlemen,
“The connection between the Jewish people and the Land of Israel cannot be denied.
“The connection between the Jewish people and Jerusalem cannot be denied.
“The Jewish people were building Jerusalem 3,000 year ago and the Jewish people are building Jerusalem today.
“Jerusalem is not a settlement. It is our capital. (emphasis added)
“In Jerusalem, my government has maintained the policies of all Israeli governments since 1967, including those led by Golda Meir, Menachem Begin and Yitzhak Rabin.
“Today, nearly a quarter of a million Jews, almost half the city’s Jewish population, live in neighborhoods that are just beyond the 1949 armistice lines.
“All these neighborhoods are within a five-minute drive from the Knesset.
“They are an integral and inextricable part of modern Jerusalem.
“Everyone knows that these neighborhoods will be part of Israel in any peace settlement.
“Therefore, building in them in no way precludes the possibility of a two-state solution.
“Nothing is rarer in the Middle East than tolerance for the beliefs of others.
“It’s only under Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem that religious freedom for all faiths has been guaranteed.”
It’s worth reading his entire statement, which includes references to Jewish links to Jerusalem going back 3,000 years:
So, if I am proud of these words, and very pleased that Netanyahu spoke them, why am I unsettled still?
Because he met already with Clinton, and will today be meeting with Obama — and it was said upfront that none of this would happen unless he conceded certain things. Precisely what was conceded still floats vaguely in the air, in a cloud of rumors.
Clearly, Netanyahu cannot publicly concede that there will be a freeze on construction in Jerusalem. Not only is the government opposed to this, polls show that a majority of Israelis are. I will breath easier when I know that what he said at AIPAC is solidly meant, without undercurrents of unspoken understandings (such as unofficially delaying permits that would allow the construction to continue).
Perhaps this IS the case.
Knowing becomes very important.
However, just as there are rumors regarding what Netanyahu might have conceded, are there rumors concerning what Obama has threatened. And “knowing,” if it were to be meaningful, would have to include an understanding of precisely why Netanyahu — whose position is not to be envied — may have given Obama something. This is not likely to happen.
One of the rumors floating has to do with Obama’s refusal to let us have additional bunker busters, which would be critically important in taking on Iran. Were it the case, Netanyahu might see this (rightly or wrongly), as reason enough to quietly concede something. Then there is the threat Fayyad has made to bring the reality of a Palestinian state to the Security Council, and Netanyahu’s possible perception (rightly or wrongly) that mollifying Obama at some level might be exceedingly important in this regard if US veto of the state is needed.
This is, please realize, speculation, which I hope shines some light on precisely how complex this situation is. It may also be that Netanyahu simply gets nervous when the Americans are seriously angry with us. My gut continues to say that standing strong is the correct response.
Normally I might wait until news of the Obama-Netanyahu meeting before writing, but it has already been announced that there will be unusual secrecy. (Secrecy, again.) And it unclear that anything definitive will be made public in any event.
I close here with the latest on the PA.
Yesterday, PA president Mahmoud Abbas, after meeting with Mitchell in Amman, said that the PA would participate in “proximity talks” only if Netanyahu abided by a recent Quartet demand to totally freeze all construction.
If such talks actually do commence, it will, it seems to me, tell us a great deal about the degree to which Netanyahu has quietly caved.
Given this threat, there should be no talks. And the Obama administration should be pointing a finger at the obstinate and uncooperative Palestinian Arabs. Ha!
Lastly, in a response to a question by a journalist about recent violence, Abbas said that the Palestinian people had a national right to resistance against Israeli occupation. He then added, according to Haaretz, that his government “would not acquiesce to any Israeli demands with which it disagreed.”
So, he endorses violence and eschews compromise. Makes him a perfect candidate for peace negotiations, no? So Hillary, placing a spin on this, would undoubtedly say.
I am in that hectic pre-Pesach period. Know that postings may be slowed down.