A Daily Analysis
By Marc Schulman
March 16, 2010 America and Israel Living in Alice in Wonderland
The leading film the United States this week has been Tim Burton's, "Alice in Wonderland", an image that clearly illustrate the state of relations between Israel and the United States at the moment and the state of Israels situation, generally.
The Americans are putting pressure on Israel to announce a cessation of building in Jerusalem, while at the same time Hamas has called for an uprising to stop the destruction of the Temple Mount by the Jews. The Americans are acting, as if, only Israel would stop building in Jerusalem, an agreement could be reached with the Palestinians; and the Israeli government is acting, as if, any let up in announcements of building would result in the immediate partition of Jerusalem.
Part of the problem is in expectations and political realities on the ground. As one Israeli observer stated: "Netanyahu can make real concessions, but cannot make any rhetorical concessions; while Washington is not interested in real concessions, it cares more about the rhetorical concessions."
There was an interesting article in the Washington Post today, by Richard Cohen, entitled: Palestinian Destruction, Veneration of Terrorist, in which Cohen talks about how at the same time Israel was announcing the building of new housing in Jerusalem, the Palestinian authorithy was dedicating a square in the Town of El Bireh, in honor of a Palestinian suicide bomber who killed 38 people, including 13 children. The American government seems deaf to understanding that the only way Israel is goiong to make meaningful concessions towards the creation of a Palestinian state in the West Bank is when the average Israeli believes that that state will be willing to live in peace.
Today there was rioting in Jerusalem. The rioting was incited by both Hamas and the Palestinian Authority using the same canard that has been used since the riots of 1928, claiming the Jews wanted to destroy the mosque on the Temple Mount. This sort of action, combined with the continued veneration of suicide bombers by the Palestinian Authority, convinces most Israelis that it's impossible to reach peace with the Palestinians. As a result, Israelis elect right wing politicians. Of course, it does not help that those same right wing politicians seem to be living in a world of "never never land", thinking that the opinion of the world does not matter, and it's more important not what the Jews do, but what the Jews say. Ben Gurion used to say it was not important what the world said, but what the Jews do. Of course what we are talking about now is not doing, it's about making statements of rhetoric..
Israels only rational policy, in this most dangerous time, is to be constantly making all of necessary statements of rhetoric, and even the requisite policy decisions that call the Palestinian's bluff (adding another housing project, whether in Jerusalem or in Betar, does not add to Israel's security by one iota.) Diplomacy is warfare by another means, and it's time Israel's current government (and for that matter all governments) understand that Israel is in a long term war; one that does not begin and end each time the guns are used or go silent, but is being fought throughout the world on a day-to-day basis. It is time to make sacrifices, endanger coalitions, and explain to the Israeli people that the same level of sacrifice often needed on the battlefield of war, is needed on the battlefield of diplomacy and public opinion. Israelis, despite an often perceived propensity to look only at the next moment, are a people who have sacrificed much, often making the ultimate sacrifice. The right leadership lead Israel to take the actions that are continuously necessary to win this war. For this war is a important as the ones that are fought with guns and missiles.