If only it were so, Tom Friedman:
ISRAELI friends have been asking me whether a re-elected President Obama will take revenge on Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu for the way he and Sheldon Adelson, his foolhardy financier, openly backed Mitt Romney. My answer to Israelis is this: You should be so lucky.
You should be so lucky that the president feels he has the time, energy and political capital to spend wrestling with Bibi to forge a peace between Israelis and Palestinians. I don’t see it anytime soon. Obama has his marching orders from the American people: Focus on Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, not on Bethlehem, Palestine [Surely, Bethlehem, Disputed Territories? Ed.] , and focus on getting us out of quagmires (Afghanistan) not into them (Syria). No, my Israeli friends, it’s much worse than you think: You’re home alone.
Does this mean, Tom, that the Obama administration won’t kick up a stink every time Israel builds new housing for its expanding population? I somehow doubt it.
I think, rather, it means Obama washes his hands of any responsibility for Iran’s development of a nuclear weapon.
But who does Friedman cite to speak for Israel? A columnist for Ha’aretz, a left-wing rag that libels not only Israeli leaders at every turn—but Israelis themselves:
As the Israeli columnist Ari Shavit noted in the newspaper Haaretz last week: “In the past, both the Zionist movement and the Jewish state were careful to be identified with the progressive forces in the world. … But in recent decades more and more Israelis took to leaning on the reactionary forces in American society. It was convenient to lean on them. The evangelists didn’t ask difficult questions about the settlements, the Tea Party people didn’t say a word about excluding women and minorities or about Jewish settlers’ attacks and acts of vandalism against Palestinians and peace activists. The Republican Party’s white, religious, conservative wing was not agitated when the Israeli Supreme Court was attacked and the rule of law in Israel was trampled.” Israel, Shavit added, assumed that “under the patronage of a radical, rightist America we can conduct a radical, rightist policy without paying the price.” No more. Netanyahu can still get a standing ovation from the Israel lobby, but not at U.C.L.A.
For Friedman and his ilk, it is more important to be popular on college campuses than in Christian churches: elitists yes, evangelicals no. Yet what he terms “progressive forces”, I call antisemitic shock troops (a semantic difference). The so-called “reactionary forces” at the very least accept Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state and to defend itself. The “progressives” seek only to define Israel as just another Jewish ghetto to be squeezed. For Friedman to quote this columnist alone as a voice of Israeli opinion would be like quoting Michael Moore or Bill Maher as an authority on American politics. Dishonesty as usual.
U.S. policy makers have learned that the Middle East only puts a smile on our faces when it starts with them: with Israelis and Arabs. Camp David started with them. Oslo started with them. The Arab Spring started with them. When they have ownership over peace or democracy movements, those initiatives can be self-sustaining. We can amplify what they start, but we can’t create it. We can provide the mediation and even the catering, but it’s got to start with them.
Don’t count on America to ride to the rescue. It has to start with you.
My president is busy.
Who cares if we’re smiling if all of these stupid agreements lead to Israeli tears? Camp David worked for a while, but Oslo? The Arab Spring? How can Friedman write that with a straight face?
I hope the president is busy because I don’t think Israel can survive another peace initiative.