The Road Ahead for Israel

The New York Times did its best to spin Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s duplicity on a two-state solution into an attack on President Obama with a lead story saying Obama’s rebukes had gone too far and risked “buoying Netanyahu.” But the damage from Israel’s election is real and lasting, says Alon Ben-Meir.

By Alon Ben-Meir

Those of us who regularly observe and try to make sense of the madness sweeping the Middle East often find ourselves, perhaps out of desperation, engaging in wishful thinking, hoping that in the end, reason will prevail over lunacy.

We analyze unfolding events, dissect patent facts, reassess our assumptions, and try to discern where we were right and where we erred, but we often find ourselves exactly where we began. Nevertheless, this self-agonizing search for reason and understanding still reveals another dimension to our human frailty.

President Obama speaks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu outside the White House on May 20, 2011 (White House photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama speaks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu outside the White House on May 20, 2011 (White House photo by Pete Souza)

We choose to live in the cocoon we have grown accustomed to out of fear or complacency, however stifling or even deadly it may be, rather than break out and seek new horizons, regardless of how necessary and promising they could be.

I lament the results of the Israeli elections, not because I disrespect and distrust Netanyahu, but because a relative majority of Israelis choose to continue living in the bubble, fearful of changing the status quo even though it will inevitably burst.

The damning consequences Netanyahu’s new government will inflict on the country are as certain as night following day. Israel, which has been led astray by Netanyahu for so long, is fast approaching a new precipice unlike any other it has faced in years past.

Following the wrath he brought upon his head for his earlier statement that there will be no Palestinian state under his watch, Netanyahu once again changed his mind only two days following the elections, stating in an interview on MSNBC that he wanted “a sustainable, peaceful two-state solution.”

This reversal of his true position is tactical, designed to play for time, and is just another cheap political stunt. The Europeans, Americans and Palestinians, who have had extensive experience with him throughout the peace process, fully recognize his duplicity. He has lost every grain of credibility and no one will trust that he will negotiate in good faith in the future.

Moreover, his coalition government, which is in the making, will certainly include his natural partner, the right-of-center political parties, who oppose the establishment of a Palestinian state under any circumstances and will not join his government for one day if they believe his reversal is genuine.

What does Netanyahu think the Palestinians will do now that he has revealed his bigotry? What choice did he leave them with but to resort to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), demanding the recognition of a Palestinian state while seeking retribution against Israel in the International Criminal Court?

Having been misled, lied to and humiliated by Netanyahu, President Obama, who spent precious time, resources, and political capital in the peace process, is left with no choice but to seek a UNSC resolution that calls for a two-state solution based on the 1967 borders.

Although such a measure is the most positive the U.S. can take to safeguard Israel’s future as a democratic and Jewish state, it is a crushing defeat for Netanyahu, who desperately sought to obstruct the rise of a Palestinian state by relying on the U.S. to shield his perverted scheme.

The European Union, who has long viewed the Israeli settlements as illegal, will now be fully convinced that Netanyahu has no intention of ending the occupation. Encouraged by Obama’s change of position, they will initiate Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israeli products made in the Palestinian territories.

Furthermore, many European countries will follow Sweden and recognize the Palestinian state, labeling Israel as an occupying power of a sovereign nation and subjecting it to increasing political pressure and, potentially, economic sanctions.

The Arab states, especially Egypt, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia, who find themselves thrust into regional upheaval in the wake of the civil war in Syria, the rise of ISIS and the Iranian threat, view an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement as central to regional stability. They have been working behind the scenes to restrain the Palestinians from rising violently against Israel. They now feel at a loss, unable to control the potential eruption of a third Intifada, as the Palestinians are now more determined than ever to rid themselves of the bondage of occupation.

Finally, throughout the past six years, and especially during the election campaign, Netanyahu repeatedly crossed the line of political civility. He demonstrated his racism when he implored his followers to come out and vote to neutralize the influx of Israeli Arab voters. Although he recently apologized for his chauvinistic statement, his apology cannot be accepted, as he knew exactly what he was saying and meant it.

Netanyahu reminds me of Aristophanes: “You won’t persuade me even if you convince me.” Moreover, he polarized the Israeli public while alienating a large segment of American Jews and the Democratic Party by making a mockery of U.S.-Israeli relations.

Where will all this lead to? Will Netanyahu, at age 65, begin to think of his legacy? What kind of Israel does he want to leave behind?

I believe that Netanyahu will remain true to his ideological upbringing and prevent the creation of a Palestinian state, believing that it will rob the Jews of their historic/biblical right to the “entire land of Israel,” stretching from the Mediterranean to the Jordan River. He will expropriate yet more Palestinian land, expand the settlements, and play for time believing that he will outlast Obama, and hoping that the next President will be a conservative Republican who will let him rampage what is left of the West Bank.

The tens of thousands of Israelis who demonstrated a few days before the election, led by Meir Dagan and other top former security officials, cannot allow this to happen by giving Netanyahu free reign. They and hundreds of thousands more Israelis must now persistently engage in demonstrations and civil disobedience, forcing him to either change his policies and seek genuine peace, or step down.

Only the public en masse coupled with outside (especially American) pressure can make Netanyahu realize that Israel’s destiny is intertwined with an independent Palestinian state and that neither can live in peace and security without the other. But as a deep ideologue, he discards the facts and chooses to cling to his wishful thinking, especially because Israel has been successful in beating the odds, presumably justifying his chosen path.

Netanyahu, however, ignores the evidence that times have changed, and regardless of how successful he was, it should not blind him from grasping that Israel’s future wellbeing depends on a two-state solution.

But as T. S. Eliot once observed, “Human kind cannot bear very much reality.” And for Netanyahu, a Palestinian state is simply too much reality to bear.

Having flip-flopped in the past, perhaps he will soon be struck with a spasm of lucidity, change his mind again, and recognize that peace with the Palestinian provides Israel with the ultimate security. If Netanyahu really cares about Israel’s future security, peace should be the legacy he would want to leave behind.

Dr. Alon Ben-Meir is a professor of international relations at the Center for Global Affairs at New York University. He teaches courses on international negotiation and Middle Eastern studies. alon@alonben-meir.com. Web: www.alonben-meir.com 

image_pdfimage_print

15 comments for “The Road Ahead for Israel

  1. Zachary Smith
    March 25, 2015 at 10:07 pm

    Having been misled, lied to and humiliated by Netanyahu, President Obama, who spent precious time, resources, and political capital in the peace process, is left with no choice but to seek a UNSC resolution that calls for a two-state solution based on the 1967 borders.

    I really hope this is what happens, but I’ve got just about as much faith in President BHO as I do in Israel’s Netanyahu.

    I’m going to need to see some real action; not merely a bunch of hifalutin words. So far I know there has been one activity (since the Israeli elections) where the US could have started to do something. When I went looking for a link I was surprised to see that the United Nations Human Rights Council story is being furiously spun in opposite directions.

    Israel Relieved as U.S. Continues Boycott of Anti-Israel U.N. Agenda

    That’s a US rightwingnut site giving out the good news that the US is still standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the shitty little apartheid nation.

    The United States will not take the floor at the main U.N. human rights forum on Monday during the annual debate on violations committed in the Palestinian territories, a US spokesman told Reuters.

    The step is unprecedented. The UNHRC is a notoriously anti-Israel forum where Washington has always defended Israel.

    Asked for an explanation, a spokesman said only that the US ambassador to the council Keith Harper was in Washington.

    That’s the Arutz Sheva site – nicknamed “the settlers mouthpiece” – sounding a bit worried.

    So which is it? A first step towards some real changes in US policy, or the smallest possible gesture so as to make the White House feel better?

    I hope it’s the former, but as I’ve said, with BHO talk is cheap. I’ll just wait and see…..

  2. March 26, 2015 at 2:13 am

    We are now in front of a brief window of time with president Obama. A unique opportunity since the time of JFK. The hope for a new set of relations with the State of Israel. Only then the US could break free from the grip of the Zionists and go back to the hands of the American people and Israel could live in peace after having renounced the idea of some “chosen people”.
    To better understand one should have some familiarity with their Belief and with the definition of certain meanings.
    As these two opposites, for example:
    To be a Christian is to Respect Equality. To be a Zionist is to only Respect Strength.
    While clear is the difference between the first two more subtle is the one between a Jew and a Zionist.
    The demonstration of a substantial change inside the Zionist State could certainly become visible with a gesture toward Equality initiated by the same Israel: the conception of the State for Palestine.
    As for that subtle difference?
    The Jew would accept. The Zionist would not.
    http://www.wavevolution.org/en/humanwaves.html

    • Stefan
      March 26, 2015 at 7:42 am

      Separation of the belief of being a chosen by God, from rabbinical judaism (based primarily on the oral Torah and the Talmud) is nearly impossible. Throughout western history, it was increasingly understood by various thinkers that religion and state ought to be separate, for very good reasons, not the least that it is an arrogant and dangerous view that lacks any basis either in christian doctrine, or the logic of a secular and/or human/existential viewpoint.

      While I think it is likely that americans will reject their notion of being “exceptional” and “indispensable”, I doubt that Rabbinical Judaism and its offshoots can ever separate its promotion of chosenness from its culture or religios teachings, because it is an integral part of their Talmudic doctrine, and Oral Tradition, of which most religious jews adhere to, and this view has even established itself into the beliefs of many secular jews – thus it is not necessarily attached only to religion, but is also compatible for jews as a cultural group, both secular and religious.

      My premise, is that any idea that states that a set of peoples are worth more than any other fellow human beings, be it on religious or other grounds, is inherently very dangerous, and should be strongly rejected by all men.

  3. Erik
    March 26, 2015 at 8:36 am

    A solution based upon the 1967 borders is nothing at all, hardly “the best the US can do.” Those borders created disconnected bantustans or concentration camps for Palestinians, not a state.

    The best resolution for both parties is a reallocation of all resources of Israel-Palestine into two viable states with a large UN DMZ. Both must have coastline, ports, farmland, cities, utility infrastructure, etc. Exchange DMZ shares or property for property of those who must move, and reallocate the DMZ after two or three generations.

    The zionists who demanded that a Jewish state be there were fascists, promoting their group unjustly at the expense of others, and should have been ignored: it should have been isolated and defensible to ensure peace and discourage formation of an extreme right wing in response to friction. Now zionism is out of control and has become the greatest threat to the US and peace. If they cannot accept parity and redistribution, and they obviously will not, then the US is obliged to coerce or if necessary defeat them.

    If Obama had any intention of doing justice, he would demand the solution now, begin UN processes, implement massive sanctions, and begin assembling NATO forces surrounding Israel-Palestine. He will not, and neither will Hillary or the other employees of AIPAC. The zionist oligarchy has dug its own grave, and no one of intelligence will lament their burial.

  4. Cassandra
    March 26, 2015 at 11:34 am
  5. knucklehead
    March 26, 2015 at 11:52 am

    Many very intelligent observers have been pointing out for over 20 years that Israel’s superficial commitment to the peace process was a sham. Time has proven that they were right over and over again. Just look at the numbers of illegals settling in the occupied territories. Isn’t it time for every decent person to stop entertaining the fantasy of good faith on the part of the Israeli’s.

    Second, the preponderance of the evidence supports the conclusion that the current strife in the middle east is a deliberate divide and control strategy by Western interests. I wonder, how long must this go on before people of good faith acknowledge that time has proven the accuracy of that position. Our long-time ally (Vassal State) Saudi Arabia is the biggest supporter of terrorism in the world. Saudi Arabia is a dictatorship that harshly punishes any opposition. It is inconceivable that rich Saudi’s would fund terrorism without the tacit approval of the government. They behead people that challenge the authority of the regime and imprison bloggers. Do you really think Saudi billionaires are going to risk their lives and fortunes by funding terrorists without the approval of the government? Only the hopelessly gullible would believe that.

  6. James Whitney
    March 26, 2015 at 2:45 pm

    Lately the European Union deciders have conducted a dreadful policy toward Greece, just as beforehand. Also toward Russia with the current unjustified sanctions, quite cynically ignoring their own economic interests, in order to curry favor with the U.S. government which organized the coup in the Ukraine as a provocation, wishing to drag Russia into war.

    So while individual European governments may follow Sweden in being more open to Palestinian aspirations, I would be very surprized to see the EU authorities show any interest.

  7. incontinent reader
    March 26, 2015 at 5:25 pm

    Former Ambassador and Foreign Service officer Dan Simpson published a hard hitting article in yesterday’s Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that merits broad circulation.
    (See: http://www.post-gazette.com/opinion/2015/03/25/Dan-Simpson-Retaliate-against-Israel-for-sucker-punching-us/stories/201503240047 )

    • F. G. Sanford
      March 26, 2015 at 7:33 pm

      The kvetching over in the Squirrel Hill district must be verging on apoplexy!

      • Joe Tedesky
        March 26, 2015 at 10:26 pm

        Let’s hope everyone is busy watching ‘Cinderella, at the Manor Theater on Murray Ave.

  8. Evangelista
    March 26, 2015 at 7:43 pm

    This is an update of something I posted before. It seems appropriate here, since it looks like “the road ahead” , unless electronic voting is outlawed.

    In most “civilized” nations in the early 21st century ballots are tallied electronically, in more and more cases they are cast electronically. Voters’ votes go into “black boxes”, they disappear from accounting and accountability. What happens inside a black box, or network of black boxes is product of the electronics and programming in the black box. Results come out from the black boxes. What may have happened in the black boxes only the box operators may know, and even they may not.

    It is known that all computerized electronics are insecure, that all are black-boxes inside, all readily manipulable, and hackable.

    In situations where voting-machine programming may be manipulated and or may be hacked, an election outcome may be product of manipulators, or hackers, or of “war” between the manipulators (owners and operators of the equipment or their political associates) and the hackers (of any stripe), who may, for any motives from election disruption to counter-manipulation want to alter votes, and no one can know for sure what went in, what went on, or what should have been.

    Votes become irrelevant. Voters become irrelevant, except to have cast a vote. Voters and voting may become entirely irrelevant where electronic systems manipulators have control of the whole process. Then as many “additional” “voters” as may be necessary to a manipulation may be drawn from the available registered voter data-base.

    The potential “ flies” that might muddle a vote manipulation ointment will be pollsters, especially “exit poll” pollsters, who ask voters at polls, where polls have not been replaced by internet or mail. Those can mask even the exit poll potential “fact-check”.

    The offense to beat pollster defenses against manipulation, since pre-black-box poll and exit poll and tally results provide record that most voters answer pollsters honestly, will be, one, to assign voters to lie to pollsters, and two, to introduce last-minute issue-bliltzes, launching too late for pollsters to poll. The purpose not to influence voters, but to justify the manipulated results.

    In the March 2015 Israeli election, where “Bibi” was polled to not be doing so well, a last minute blitz of ferociously right-wing, bigoted and belligerent rhetoric was produced by “Bibi” and tally results indicated the blitz “effective”, while polls tended to come up significantly wrong. Not the pollsters’ faults, of course, the voters “must have lied or changed their minds.”

    Since the blitz and “won” election “Bibi” has been “walking back” the rhetoric that allegedly won him the election.

    My suspicion is that “Bibi” was marked to win by the owners of the election system, and that his “win” was “electronic”. The last minute theatre introduced to cover and “explain” the “unexpected” adjustment counter to polling results.

    If my suspicions is correct, manipulators, not the Israeli electorate elected “Bibi”, and the Israeli electorate may be actually less right-wing, hard-line, bigoted and blood-thirsty than the last-minute blitz being “effective”, and the manipulated election results, have given them reputation to be, internationally.

    I suspect we will, in future, see a lot of black-box vote-fraud manipulation, and more game-playing to obscure the practices and the discrepancies between polls and results.

    Except where votes are hand-counted and more than once, there is no reasonable way any voter may be sure of the way his vote has been cast. Nor, where voter-rolls are available to electronic manipulators, is there any way any enrolled person will be able to know if he or she did or did not vote, if he or she did not in person cast a vote. Whatever manipulators want or need, today they may “conjure” in their magic boxes, with no worry of being caught, unless they vote more voters than there are voters.

    • F. G. Sanford
      March 26, 2015 at 8:32 pm

      An eminent political scientist got his Ph.D. by demonstrating that exit polls are more accurate than electronic voting machines. Your observation is probably the best explanation fielded yet for Bibi’s bizarre last-minute barrel-bottom scraping.

    • Zachary Smith
      March 26, 2015 at 8:44 pm

      The last minute theatre introduced to cover and “explain” the “unexpected” adjustment counter to polling results.

      Excellent point in a fine post. The people controlling the unverifiable magic voting devices can produce any results they please, but they really do need that “explanation’ for the unexpected results. Otherwise folks would start talking about Verifiable Voting, and that would be a disaster for the Powers That Be.

    • A.Abacus
      March 27, 2015 at 10:58 am

      Thank you for this article!
      This dangerous tool of potentiality controlling the outcome of any election.
      Is a clear thread to the most basic democratic right.
      that is the peoples right..to chose by vote for a : government/representative/referendum
      And its use must in my opinion be banned by international law.

  9. Brad Owen
    March 28, 2015 at 7:50 pm

    The road ahead for Israel was mapped out by the “Western Empire” Of The City & The Street, in the late forties, after the up-rooting of FDR’s influential intelligence agents within the old O.S.S. and the organizing of the CIA (freshly stocked with WallStreeters, in the interest of Empire). I know its’ a big fad to see Zionist conspiracies everywhere, that they’re omnipotent and all-seeing, etc…I think its’ rubbish. The Empire has its’ roots in old Roman history, and those families involved in that Imperial “looting racket” trace through to Venice, the “Holy Roman Empire” (mainly German area), emigrations to Amsterdam, and from there to London (in the Company of old Billy Orange). Are there some Jewish families involved in this LONG-STANDING “financial crimes Syndicate”…yes, some, but by no means the majority of these old “Crime Families”. In any case, their sociopathic devotion is to The Long Green, and the Power that comes with vast wealth. That being said, Zionism and Israel are nothing but a “Dagger” aimed at the heart of the Muslim World (the Romans always had Persians, Parthians, Persians again, Ottoman Turks…now the modern-day Muslim World). Israel’s only function is to serve as a trigger for World War…one of MANY possible triggers, ALL just to keep any Rival Power form arising that might smell of a modern, secularized (for the sake of PEACE), democratic Republic, that would steal the wealth away from The Empire. The REAL wealth of The Empire? (and any Nation, for that matter?). An organized and highly trained LABOR FORCE. Money is just a racket to enable the “capture and control” of a LABOR FORCE. That’s what Hamilton knew. That’s what Lincoln Knew. That’s what FDR knew. That’s also what the Oligarchs have ALWAYS known.

Comments are closed.