I liked Obama’s speeches to the world and to AIPAC. He was consistent, forward-thinking, actively pursuing peace, confidently defending Israel from military and diplomatic assault. He is a skilled mediator, and the job of a mediator is to eliminate obstacles to an agreement.
The PA appreciated and supported that role as mediator by de-emphasizing formerly central features of their demands, in an effort to eliminate obstacles. Kadima supported that role as mediator by similarly de-emphasizing formerly central demands.
The dancers of Hamas and likud screwed up all that good work. Hamas by losing patience after the end of the 2008 cease-fire and returning to shelling civilians. The restoration of a state of active war shifted the subject of the 2009 Israeli election to defense only, and shifted the election likely 5-10 seats to the right. Kadima (centrist) did win the election but could not put together a governing coalition. With a few more seats, they would have.
Netanyahu is described as in “damage-control” mode. I think that is a false description. I believe he is in “damage-creation” mode, requiring PR damage control.
Specifically, in the sequence of events, Netanyahu grossly overstepped diplomacy. He is MUCH smarter than that. He directly interjected into US electoral politics, and in an effort to conspicuously discredit the sitting US president. It was seen, blatantly at this point, and seen as a graceless public insult.
He neglects to understand how large a precedent he set in Israeli affairs, beyond differences in policy. The precedent of deference to intrude in the electoral affairs of the other, are gone. The cloak is removed.
He neglects to consider how significant US diplomatic support is to Israel, and currently. The United States is asked to use its diplomatic credibility to head off the vote in September of Palestine’s petition to full-member status in the UN.
There are a few degrees of US diplomatic effort that might now occur:
- Obediently doing Netanyahu’s ‘requests’, putting US weight behind convincing European powers to deflect or reject the Palestinian petition
- Unethusiastically and tokenly attempting to convince a few European powers to deflect or reject the Palestinian petition.
- Standing alone and rejecting the Palestinian petition, but not urging any others to do similarly.
- Abstaining from voting on the petition
- Voting FOR the petition
A week ago, the US would clearly do #1 as described in the foreign policy speech on Arab world changes.
Now, it is most likely that the US will do 2, unenthusiastically. But, it is also possible that push will come to shove, and the personal insults directed at the president will hurt the US international credibility (it has), and that in itself will objectively require some pushback, some declaration of independence.
That precedent for Israel is a disaster, and it is very plausible that it will go way south at this point.
Netanyahu’s “success”, overwhelmingly and gullibly applauded by the masses at AIPAC, is to preside over the devolution of Israel’s relationship to nearly every state in the world.
Israel’s economy is thriving, but the 2007 American economy was thriving as well. Israel is in debt to its eyeballs, and needs to continue growing in order to not crash, that much of a gamble. It ignores that the current state of its economic relations with Mediterranean Europe largely, is a relationship, not a sure thing.
Diplomatic relationships have all devolved. Relationships with immediate neighbors, Jordan and Egypt. Palestine.
Its only current relief is that Syria is stressed, and accordingly Syrian conduit for Iranian hardware is stressed, but that is a temporary relief. Syria lived in a secure cold calm with Israel. The changes in Syria could shift to active adversary, even if divorced from Iran.
Lebanon similarly very tenuous and dangerous relationship.
Slightly distant, Turkey, a former clear ally, now an adversary.
NO, literally NO, earned diplomatic improvements.
What creates security for Israel?
If you believe Netanyahu, it’s 80% defensible borders and 20% relations with neighbors. If you believe common sense, it’s the opposite, 80% relationships with neighbors and 20% defensible borders. It is certainly a combination of the two factors, not one or the other exclusively.
It is possible that there is no peace possible with the Palestinians, that the population of those that are permanently and unconditionally antagonistic to Israel is just too great to pursue relationships as the basis of security. (It grossly and negligently ignores the enemies that are unnecessarily created by stupidly intrusive and aggressive policies and strategies.)
I believe, especially given the responsible and candid behavior of the PA over an extended period, that is peace is possible, and to neglect to construct it, in favor of simplistically “defensible borders” is a grave sin, of prophetic proportions.
One can only sympathize with old people that have no recourse but to grow more and more isolated as their physical and mental coping and relating powers lapse.
One can only laugh at in the painful “laughing to keep from crying” mode when potentially vibrant and principled community devolves to what is accurately described as a fortress approach.
The next step is to GET UP and work to persuade. Netanyahu is elected. Other parties could be elected. It is time to hit the streets and make the better argument. Put your all into it.