Thursday, June 2, 2011

New Yorker Editorial

O’Bama and Netanyahoo’s Duelling Speeches : The New Yorker
My worry begins with this week's editorial by Henrik Hertzberg. He concludes with these words:
Nearly as appalling as Netanyahu’s intransigence was the mindlessness of the senators and representatives, Republican and Democratic, who rewarded him with ovation after standing ovation. This had less to do with studied convictions about the issues than with the political salience, actual and perceived, of certain Jewish and evangelical constituencies. (For many in the House chamber, the two-state solution is their own plus Florida.) But Middle East diplomacy is always distorted by short-term domestic politics. At the moment, Israel-accepting Fatah has its untested détente with Israel-denying Hamas; Netanyahu has a cabinet stocked with ministers openly determined to keep every inch of the West Bank; Obama has 2012. The President has put down some markers but has no discernible plan to make them stick. Time is short. In much of the Arab world, public opinion is supplanting the whims of malleable tyrants. Palestinians are beginning to discover the possibilities of nonviolence, which Israel, with its ethical and political traditions, would find far harder to resist than rocks and rockets. The longer the occupation lasts, and the larger the Arab and Palestinian populations grow in territory under Israeli control, the more untenable Israel’s future as both Jewish and democratic becomes. And a tsunami approaches. “There is an impatience with the peace process, or the absence of one, not just in the Arab world—in Latin America, in Asia, and in Europe,” Obama told the AIPAC delegates. In September, the United Nations may consider a Palestinian request for admission as a sovereign state. Such a resolution would not make Palestine sovereign, of course. But it would damage Israel’s legitimacy in unprecedented ways, and probably threaten its economy. In Europe last week, Obama sought support to head off such a U.N. resolution, or, at least, to avoid having to veto it in isolation. If he is to succeed in even that limited task, he’ll need a lot more than the luck of the Irish.
The Zionist vision was the creation of an independent Jewish state.  I worry that Israel has become far too dependent on American aid and support.  Israel should be able to go it alone.  It should be able to decide what is the best course of action and how to guarantee a peaceful future.  On the other hand the state should have a deep and abiding relationship with world Jewry.  It should be sensitive to the concerns of those Jews living outside of the land.

This of course is fanciful thinking.  As I read The New Yorker's editorial I grew increasingly worried that Israel is isolating itself from the Western world and from many diaspora Jews.  Most Jews living in this country in particular are more sensitive to the pulls of democracy than those of Jewish history and tradition.  They feel more American than Jewish.  As Israel's democratic character falters they will lose sympathy with the Jewish state.  Much of the Western world, in particular Europe, has already lost faith with the Jewish state.  With each instance when Israel's democracy is challenged and when Israelis fail to live up to democratic values, American Jews lose faith with the State of Israel. 

I feel the pull of Jewish tradition and the tug of Jerusalem.  I fear however that many do not.feel similarly.  While I agreed with much of what Netanyahu said I wonder with how many others did it resonate.  How many instead feel more kinship with the sentiments expressed above?  If the majority feel like minded then Netanyahu was indeed speaking to the wrong audience.  He should not be speaking as much to those who are cheering, but to doubters and critics.  He already has me in his corner.  I will always be on Israel's side.  How will he gain more supporters to the cause?

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