Middle East atemporal

octombrie 6, 2011

Is Israel Its Own Worst Enemy?

Filed under: Uncategorized — mihaibeltechi @ 4:18 pm

For decades, Palestinian leaders sometimes seemed to be their own people’s worst enemies.

Damon Winter/The New York Times

Nicholas D. Kristof

On the Ground

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Palestinian radicals antagonized the West, and, when militant leaders turned to hijackings and rockets, they undermined the Palestinian cause around the world. They empowered Israeli settlers and hard-liners, while eviscerating Israeli doves.

These days, the world has been turned upside down. Now it is Israel that is endangered most by its leaders and maximalist stance. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is isolating his country, and, to be blunt, his hard line on settlements seems like a national suicide policy.

Nothing is more corrosive than Israel’s growth of settlements because they erode hope of a peace agreement in the future. Mr. Netanyahu’s latest misstep came after the Obama administration humiliated itself by making a full-court diplomatic press to block Palestinian statehood at the United Nations. At a time when President Obama had a few other things on his plate — averting a global economic meltdown, for example — the United States frittered good will by threatening to veto the Palestinian statehood that everybody claims to favor.

With that diplomatic fight at the United Nations under way, Israel last week announced plans for 1,100 new housing units in a part of Jerusalem outside its pre-1967 borders. Instead of showing appreciation to President Obama, Mr. Netanyahu thumbed him in the eye.

O.K., I foresee a torrent of angry responses. I realize that many insist that Jerusalem must all belong to Israel in any peace deal anyway, so new settlements there don’t count. But, if that’s your position, then you can kiss any peace deal goodbye. Every negotiator knows the framework of a peace agreement — 1967 borders with land swaps, Jerusalem as the capital of both Israeli and Palestinian states, only a token right of return — and insistence on a completely Israeli Jerusalem simply means no peace agreement ever.

Former President Bill Clinton said squarely in September that Mr. Netanyahu is to blame for the failure of the Middle East peace process. A background factor, Mr. Clinton noted correctly, is the demographic and political change within Israeli society, which has made the country more conservative when it comes to border and land issues.

Granted, Mr. Netanyahu is far from the only obstacle to peace. The Palestinians are divided, with Hamas controlling Gaza. And Hamas not only represses its own people but also managed to devastate the peace movement in Israel. That’s the saddest thing about the Middle East: hard-liners like Hamas empower hard-liners like Mr. Netanyahu.

We’re facing a dangerous period in the Middle East. Most Palestinians seem to feel as though the Oslo peace process has fizzled, and Israelis seem to agree, with two-thirds saying in a recent poll published in the newspaper Yediot Aharonot that there is no chance of peace with Palestinians — ever.

The Palestinians’ best hope would be a major grass-roots movement of nonviolent peaceful resistance aimed at illegal West Bank settlements, led by women and inspired by the work of Mahatma Gandhi and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. A growing number of Palestinians are taking up variants of that model, although they sometimes ruin it by defining nonviolence to include stone-throwing and by giving the leading role to hotheaded young men.

The Israel Defense Forces can deal with suicide bombers and rockets fired by Hezbollah. I’m not sure that they can defeat Palestinian women blocking roads to illegal settlements and willing to endure tear gas and clubbing — with videos promptly posted on YouTube.

Mr. Netanyahu has also undermined Israeli security by burning bridges with Israel’s most important friend in the region, Turkey. Now there is also the risk of clashes in the Mediterranean between Israeli and Turkish naval vessels. That’s one reason Defense Secretary Leon Panetta scolded the Israeli government a few days ago for isolating itselfdiplomatically.

So where do we go from here? If a peace deal is not forthcoming soon, and if Israel continues its occupation, then Israel should give the vote in Israeli elections to all Palestinians in the areas it controls. If Jews in the West Bank can vote, then Palestinians there should be able to as well.

That’s what democracy means: people have the right to vote on the government that controls their lives. Some of my Israeli friends will think I’m unfair and harsh, applying double standards by focusing on Israeli shortcomings while paying less attention to those of other countries in the region. Fair enough: I plead guilty. I apply higher standards to a close American ally like Israel that is a huge recipient of American aid.

Friends don’t let friends drive drunk — or drive a diplomatic course that leaves their nation veering away from any hope of peace. Today, Israel’s leaders sometimes seem to be that country’s worst enemies, and it’s an act of friendship to point that out.

I invite you to visit my blog, On the Ground. Please also join me on Facebook andGoogle+, watch my YouTube videos and follow me on Twitter.



2 comentarii »

  1. […] Is Israel Its Own Worst Enemy? (middleeastatemporal.wordpress.com) […]

    Pingback de Dear Nicholas Kristof, You Are a Fool — octombrie 7, 2011 @ 2:51 pm | Răspunde

  2. Kristof is an enemy of Israel
    By Ed Koch

    http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | I read the op ed of Nicholas D. Kristof in The New York Times of October 6th with its headline caption, „Is Israel Its Own Worst Enemy?” I concluded on finishing that article that it is Nicholas Kristof who is truly an enemy of Israel.
    As is fashionable nowadays, Kristof blames Israel for the lack of progress in the peace process with the Palestinians, claiming, „Nothing is more corrosive than Israel’s growth of settlements.” Why? One million, five-hundred-thousand Muslims live in Israel. Why do the Palestinian Authority and its supporters like Kristof believe that the West Bank should be „Judenrein” or that Jews may not live in a part of Jerusalem when they have lived in all parts of Jerusalem for 3,000 years until the Jordanians drove them out in 1948? Why, when a two-state solution comes into being and borders are agreed upon and Jews are located on the Palestinian side, shouldn’t Jews have the choice of remaining on as Palestinian citizens or resident aliens or leaving?
    Nothing offended me more and showed Kristof’s true colors and antagonism to Jews than his claim that the Obama administration „humiliated itself” at the U.N. by making it clear that it will veto any effort to create a Palestinian state outside of direct negotiations between the parties. What is humiliating about insisting that the Palestinians recognize the state of Israel and negotiate all of their differences? Is Kristof implying that Obama is being pressed into taking that stance against his will, or against the will of the American people? Is he implying that the Jews forced him into taking that position?
    Kristof calls for the pre-1967 borders with land swaps. Does he tell us how that is possible when Hamas (half of the Palestinian Authority the Quartet, U.S., Russia and European Union label as a terrorist organization) believes it is entitled to occupy Tel Aviv and its charter states every Jew entering Palestine after 1917 must be expelled. Has Kristof ever criticized Hamas’ charter and its numerous acts of terrorism intended to accomplish this goal?
    Kristof criticizes the fact that Israeli citizens have become more conservative on „border[s] and land issues.” Why shouldn’t they? Former Israeli Prime Ministers Ehud Barack and Ehud Olmert offered to settle borders giving the Palestinian state 97 percent of the West Bank which they rejected. Many supporters of Israel believe Palestinians are not interested in a two-state solution, one Jewish and one Palestinian, but seek instead a return of Palestinians to Israel so as to ultimately overwhelm the Jewish state and make it a Muslim state. Has Kristof ever addressed that outcome?
    The criticism that Kristof lodges against Hamas is „And Hamas not only represses its own people, but also managed to devastate the peace movement in Israel. That’s the saddest thing about the Middle East: hardliners like Hamas empower hardliners like Mr. Netanyahu.” As Ronald Reagan once said, „There he goes again,” equating terrorists with Israeli „hardliners.” Surely, Kristof knows the difference.
    The Israelis have concluded, and I agree, the Palestinian leadership does not want peace. Within the last two weeks, the Quartet asked both parties to go back to the negotiation table and negotiate without preconditions. The Israeli Prime Minister immediately said „anywhere, anyplace.” The President of the Palestinian Authority said „no” unless Israel agrees to a settlement freeze and negotiates based on indefensible 1967 borders. Has Kristof criticized Mahmoud Abbas, President of the Palestinian Authority for his refusal?
    In his column, Kristof urges Palestinian women to engage in civil disobedience which could, he knows, end in violence and be met, he says, with „tear gas and clubbing,” ending with „videos promptly posted on YouTube.” So there we have it. Kristof wants a physical confrontation or have the state of Israel and its military lay down their arms and submit to threats of violence rather than defend their people. What an outrage. I have no doubt he is repelled by the deaths of innocent civilians in Syria at the hands of the Syrian army, but expresses no qualms at what would follow to the Jews of Israel were the Arab armies or terrorists to enter a vanquished Israel.
    Kristof attacks Israel for „burning bridges” with Turkey. I believe it is Turkey that has effectively declared war on Israel. Recently, Turkey expelled Israel’s ambassador and Turkey’s prime minister Erdogan stated he will send Turkey’s navy to break the Israeli blockade of Gaza, a blockade a U.N. commission has just said is legal under international law and intended to prevent the Hamas government in Gaza from bringing even more rockets and other arms from Iran into Gaza. So if the Israeli navy continues the blockade, and the Turkish navy seeks to break it, and there is a naval clash, clearly Kristof will blame Israel for protecting its people from attack, the first obligation of any government.
    Kristof closes with his usual disingenuous „mea culpa,” saying, „Some of my Israeli friends will think I’m unfair and harsh, applying double standards by focusing on Israeli shortcomings while paying less attention to those of other countries in the region. Fair enough. I plead guilty. I apply higher standards to a close American ally like Israel that is a huge recipient of American aid.”
    Does he care that the Palestinian Authority now includes Hamas, a recognized terrorist organization, and receives millions in American aid? Does he care that Egypt which allowed the Israeli embassy to be sacked gets $2 billion in American aid? I don’t know what Turkey gets, if anything. But I do know that NATO’s expenses, and Turkey is part of NATO, are paid by the U.S. to the extent of 75 percent.
    Frankly, I have no hesitation in calling Kristof by his rightful name: an enemy of Israel.


    Comentariu de Valentin — octombrie 10, 2011 @ 11:34 am | Răspunde

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