Using Bees To Effect Vengeance
Friday, April 16, 2004
With the new job shifting into overdrive, moving house, and all, it's been hard enough staying on top of what's happening in the world, let alone staying up on the volumes of interesting and insightful analysis churned out by the online and offline punditry each day. That said, I feel compelled to offer the following unmediated opinion:
It's incumbent on American Jews to clarify the nature of their support for Israel -- because the perception is that the way to secure the Jewish vote is to simply back 100% whatever the sitting President of Israel wants to do...whomever that person is.
I certainly don't feel that way, and I would like to think that my fellow American Jews are capable of making the conceptual distinction between the President of Israel and the State of Israel. Republicans and Democrats alike evidently don't believe us capable of that, given Bush's endorsement of Sharon's plan and Kerry's dash to offer his positive comments as well.
a) cynically points to "the realities on the ground" as the reason for abandoning decades of American Middle East policy. The whole point of that policy was to ensure that neither side profited from attempts to effect a fait accompli by manipulating "the reality on the ground". By rewarding Sharon for having done so, we've undermined the bedrock of negotiation. And if Arafat or Hamas decide to change the realities on the ground, we would -- rightly -- not let them get away with it...but we've let Sharon get away with it. That's not good for the prospects of peace, and it's therefore not good for Israel.
b) cut the legs out from even the symbolic concept of right of return. Don't get me wrong -- I think right of return is a pipe dream, and Arafat has caused untold misery by perpetuating and exploiting the myth that it can be realized. The best Palestinians could ever hope for is a token number being allowed to return to the land of their "forefathers" (that they in most cases abandoned thinking they'd be back as soon as the Arab armies destroyed Israel),and/or some token monetary compensation for their loss. Still, the idea has become central to not just millions of Palestinians but billions of Muslims worldwide, and Bush has just unnecessarily knifed it once and for all. And the timing -- hell-OO? Musharraf, Bandar, Mubarak and all our other tinpot strongmen allies who are struggling to keep the lid on the roiling Islamicist underclasses they themselves helped radicalize must absolutely sweat bullets when Bush pulls stuff like this.
c) helps terrorist bastards like Hamas, Islamic Jihad and al-Aqsa make the case to the Palestinian street that the path of negotiation is a dead-end for Palestinians, and that they're better off just fighting. How this announcement must have helped Hamas's current fundraising campaign! It will lead to more dead Israelis and more dead Palestinians.
d) does our poor soliders in Iraq absolutely no good. We are currently occupying a Muslim country, while simultaneously telling our ally who is occupying "Muslim" land that their occupation has changed realities on the ground and they are therefore entitled to annex portions of that land unilaterally, rather than as the result of a negotiated settlement. If you were an Iraqi, would this not speak to your deepest fears about the purpose of the American occupation? Would it not lead you to conclude that the only way to ensure your objectives will be met is to make damn sure that you control the realities on the ground?
OK, got off on a tangent there. My point was that there appears to have been a strong political motivation -- SHOCK! -- behind this profound policy decision, as the next morning's articles contained quotes from Republican campaign personnel saying that this could seal Florida for Bush. The reason they think this could seal Florida for Bush is because they perceive Jewish voters as requiring their candidates to back Israel regardless of its actions or its government's actions. It is imperative that this misperception be corrected if it is having even the slightest contribution to decisions like Bush's.
Yes, I and other Jews are always going to take a strong interest in Israel, but our perceptions of what is best for Israel are not always identical to the Israeli PM's -- and I for one feel like my candidate would truly be supporting Israel's interests if he refused to roll over for Sharon on this stuff. To have Kerry condone this tragic misstep rubs salt in the wound.
Big tip of the hat to Billmon's insightful but very depressing posts.
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