The Growing US-Israel Chasm
Daniel Levy on Biden's visit to Israel:
Many very smart Israeli analysts, commentators, and practitioners are in denial themselves (for example, Amos Harel here, putting this latest spat down to incompetence). It is all too easy to blame the Shas minister directly responsible, Eli Yishai, or Netanyahu's poor management, or coalition intrigues.
Of all the words Israeli officials have uttered in walking back this episode, one has been conspicuously missing - that it was "wrong". Netanyahu is reported to have said the following in yesterday's cabinet meeting, "Approving that plan when the vice president of the United States is visiting here is first-rate insensitivity... We will continue to build in Jerusalem." Aye, there's the rub...
Under the U.N. partition plan of 1947, a Jewish national home was to be accorded 55% of Mandatory Palestine. After its war of independence, Israel was in possession of 78% of that territory. Many in Israel apparently see no reason why 78% cannot become 80% or 85% or 100%. The pragmatic, state-building and solidifying variety of Zionism is now in a life or death struggle with its maximalist, expansionist and sometimes messianic twin brother, and the latter is winning almost without breaking sweat.
And don't forget the role of the Christianist right in all this. One of the key strategies of many neoconservatives was to create a majority in America for greater Israel. They couldn't do that with sympathetic goyim who wanted Israel's security but balked at permanent annexation of the West Bank or pre-emptive wars against Iran. They couldn't do that with American Jewish voters who kept voting Democrat and wanted peace. But if they allied themselves with evangelical End-Timers, they could have a massive voting bloc they could use to protect Israel while it seized the West Bank for ever. Any namby-pamby critics could be smeared as anti-Semites.
Recall Sarah Palin's words - a politician who, at a Tea Party summit of all places - wore a joint US-Israeli flag-pin and had only one foreign flag in her governor's office, Israel's:
PALIN: I believe that the Jewish settlements should be allowed to be expanded upon, because that population of Israel is, is going to grow. More and more Jewish people will be flocking to Israel in the days and weeks and months ahead. And I don’t think that the Obama administration has any right to tell Israel that the Jewish settlements cannot expand.
WALTERS: Even if it’s [in] Palestinian areas?
PALIN: I believe that the Jewish settlements should be allowed to be expand.
Now see WSJ contributing editor Seth Lipsky's orgasm in response to Palin's words:
When I read her reply, I thought that it was wonderful. In the two generations in which I’ve been covering the Middle East debate, it was one of the few times a public figure gave in response to a question about the settlements an answer that I would call ideal.
It seemed to me courageous, in that Palin was going against not only the administration but many in her own party and the gods of political correctness. There was no shilly-shallying about the Oslo process and the Quartet and the United Nations. Palin didn’t seem particularly worried one way or another about how she might be perceived. She is just on Israel’s side.
(Photo: David Furst/Getty.)