Let's hope Obama won't be a 'friend of Israel'

Reply Sun 9 Nov, 2008 10:54 am
Gideon Levy / Let's hope Obama won't be a 'friend of Israel'

By Gideon Levy

The march of parochialism started right away. The tears of excitement invoked by U.S. president-elect Barack Obama's wonderful speech had not yet dried, and back here people were already delving into the only real question they could think to ask: Is this good or bad for Israel? One after another, the analysts and politicians got up - all of them representing one single school of thought, of course  and began prophesizing.

They spoke with the caution that the situation required, gritting their teeth as though their mouths were full of pebbles, trying to soothe all the fears and concerns. They searched and found signs in Obama: The promising appointment of the Israeli ex-patriots' son, whose father belonged to the Irgun, and maybe also Dennis Ross and Dan Kurtzer and Martin Indyk, who may, God willing, be included in the new administration.

But in the background, a dark cloud hovered above. Careful, danger. The black man, who had associated with Palestinian expats, who speaks of human rights, who favors diplomacy over war, who even wants to engage Iran in dialogue, who will allocate more funding for America's social needs than to weapons exports. He may not be the sort of "friend of Israel" that we have come to love in Washington, the kind of friend we have grown accustomed to.

What's the panic all about? The truth needs to be said: At the base of all of these fears is the angst that this president will push Israel to end the occupation and move toward peace.

Well, maybe Obama will not be a "friend of Israel." May the great change he is promising not omit his country's Mideast policy. May Obama herald not only a new America, but also a new Middle East.

When we say that someone is a "friend of Israel" we mean a friend of the occupation, a believer in Israel's self-armament, a fan of its language of strength and a supporter of all its regional delusions. When we say someone is a "friend of Israel" we mean someone who will give Israel a carte blanche for any violent adventure it desires, for rejecting peace and for building in the territories.

Israel's greatest friend in the White House, outgoing U.S. President George W. Bush, was someone like that. There is no other country where this man, who brought a string of disasters down upon his own nation and the world, would receive any degree of prestige and respect. Only in Israel.

Only in Israel does the prime minister place George Bush's portrait in his den, in his private home. Only in Israel does the prime minister travel to visit him in the White House.

That's because Bush was a friend of Israel. Israel's greatest friend. Bush let it embark on an unnecessary war in Lebanon. He did not prevent the construction of a single outpost. He may have encouraged Israel, in secret, to bomb Iran. He did not pressure Israel to move ahead with peace talks, he even held up negotiations with Syria, and he did not reproach Israel for its policy of targeted killings.

Bush also supported the siege on Gaza and participated in the boycott of Hamas, which was elected in a democratic election initiated by his own administration.

That's just how we like U.S. presidents. They give us a green light to do as we please. They fund, equip and arm us, and sit tight. Such is the classic friend of Israel, a friend who is an enemy, and enemy of peace and an enemy to Israel.

Let us now hope that Obama will not be like them. That he will reveal himself to be a true friend of Israel. That he will put his whole weight behind a deep American involvement in the Middle East, that he will try to solve the Iranian issue through negotiation - the only effective means. That he will help end the siege on Gaza and the boycott of Hamas, that he will push Israel and Syria to make peace, that he will spur Israel and the Palestinians to reach a settlement.

We should hope Obama will help Israel help itself, because that is how friendship is measured. That he will criticize its policy when he must, because that, too, is a test of true friendship.

Let him use his clout to end the occupation and dismantle the settlement project. Let him remember that human and civil rights also apply to the Palestinians, not only to black Americans. And apropos world peace, he needs to start with peace in the Middle East, home to the most dangerous of conflicts, which has been threatening the world for a century now, and is feeding international terrorism.

A true friend of Israel needs to remember that Israel may be "the only democracy in the Middle East," but not in its own backyard. That next to Sderot, which he visited, is Gaza. That "common values" must not include a cruel occupation. That friendship does not mean blind and automatic support.

Let him speak with Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas, as often as he can and with whomever is willing to talk. And let him do it before the next war, not after it. Let him remember that he has the power to do all that.

Changing the Middle East was in the power of each and every U.S. president, who could have pressured Israel and put an end to the occupation. Most of them kept their hands off as if it were a hot potato, all in the name of a wonderful friendship.

So bring us an American president who is not another dreadful "friend of Israel," an Obama who won't blindly follow the positions of the Jewish lobby and the Israeli government. You did promise change, did you not? http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1035415.html
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Reply Sun 9 Nov, 2008 11:00 am
Maybe not being such a great friend of Israel might be the best thing we could do for Israel. They might get serious about negotiating a peace agreement with the Palestinians.

Reply Sun 9 Nov, 2008 11:16 am
That's why I'm encouraged by the elevation of Emanuel. He's a strong supporter if a 2 state solution and realizes Israel must make concessions. No blank checks. "He has a kind of directness and coarseness that is very familiar to Israelis," a veteran Israeli diplomat told Haaretz yesterday. "But it doesn't necessarily bring him closer to us. One thing is certain - Israelis will not be able to pull the wool over his eyes." http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1035128.html
Reply Sun 9 Nov, 2008 11:21 am
I agree!

Reply Sun 9 Nov, 2008 11:41 am
Haniyeh: Hamas willing to accept Palestinian state with 1967 borders http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1035414.html
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Reply Mon 10 Nov, 2008 10:26 am
Olmert at Rabin memorial: We must cede parts of Jerusalem

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Monday used a Jerusalem memorial ceremony for former prime minister Yitzhak Rabin to reiterate that Israel must be willing to cede parts of the capital.
"If we want to keep Israel Jewish and democratic, we need to give up parts of the homeland we have dreamed about for generations and [mentioned] in our prayers, even Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem, and to return to a 1967 Israel with certain amendments," he said.

"The decision must be made now. The moment of truth has arrived. There is no escaping it, but [the opportunity] can be missed. If, God forbid, we dither, we will lose the support for the idea of two states. There is no need to expand on the alternative…Rabin will win," he continued.

"The moment of truth has arrived," he repeated. "We can push if off for many years in which blood will be spilled. But we must look at it honestly, proudly and responsibly. The bullets that killed Rabin could not stop the historic path that he led. Even after his death, Rabin will be victorious."
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Finn dAbuzz
Reply Wed 12 Nov, 2008 10:30 pm
The reflexive instict of the left to elevate the dregs of society ensure their support for the Palestinians, and ultimately leads to their anti-semitisim.

Reply Wed 12 Nov, 2008 11:29 pm
@Finn dAbuzz,
It takes a psychotic mind to equate the support of an oppressed people with anti-semitism. It also takes a bigotted mind to refer to an entire people as "dregs of society." It is this bigotted psychotic that is the dreg of humanity.
Finn dAbuzz
Reply Fri 14 Nov, 2008 11:49 pm

Well, that's a bit extreme but in keeping with your demonstrated opinions.

By any rational assessment, Palestinians are among the dregs of world society.

Of course this doesn't mean that individual Palestinians, or Palestinians as a whole, are not deserving of basic respect and regard.

The point is that the Left, without real thought, reflexively takes up the side of the dregs.

In some sense this is certainly honorable and even Christian, but it is idiotic when it leads to the position that by being among the least valuable parts of world society, the dregs assume an inherent righteousness, and that any segment of the world society that restricts or opposes their wishes is inherently evil.

This is a silly notion (and perhaps even Christian - I'll leave that to a Christian to dispute) that the weak are necessarily good, while the strong are necessarily bad.

Reply Sat 15 Nov, 2008 03:07 am
@Finn dAbuzz,
You continue to demonstrate your penchant for flailing against your own asinine straw-man arguments. No one here but you has made the ridiculously simplistic assertion that "the weak are necessarily good, while the strong are necessarily bad," or the equally fatuous "the dregs assume an inherent righteousness, and that any segment of the world society that restricts or opposes their wishes is inherently evil."

The assertion made here is straighforward and lucid, that the Palestinian people are an oppressed people, plain and simply, and they as members of humanity have the inalienable rights of humanity e.g. life, liberty, equality before the law, social and cultural rights, etc. Specific to their plight, the Palestinians also have the right to self-determination in their historically native land--Palestine (as defined by article 25 of the League of Nations Mandate for Palestine).

Yours is probably not a position arrived at by the psychotic (i.e. mentally disordered) idea that some peoples have rights above other peoples for reasons such as race, ethnicity, religion or even collective history and mythology, but rather by a mere knee-jerk reaction resulting from your risibly simplistic thought patterns of which your well demonstrated bigotry is also a symptom.
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