Sunday, January 20, 2013

West of Eden 1/20/13

So the Palestinians got themselves a promotion in the UN General Assembly, and the Israeli government responded by announcing an entirely new settlement in E-1, between Jerusalem and Maale Adumim, and according to Jeffrey Goldberg President Obama has been going around saying
that this sort of behavior on Netanyahu’s part is what he has come to expect, and he suggested that he has become inured to what he sees as self-defeating policies of his Israeli counterpart.
In the weeks after the UN vote, Obama said privately and repeatedly, “Israel doesn’t know what its own best interests are.” With each new settlement announcement, in Obama’s view, Netanyahu is moving his country down a path toward near-total isolation.
So this morning on NPR, Rachel Martin is asking Aaron David Miller what's up with that "Israel doesn't know what its own best interests are"?

And Miller replies,
there are times, and on certain issues, that the Israelis are simply not being smart. When you're a small country, even if you are a nuclear power and even if you have strong allies like the United States, you have to be much more aware of how your actions influence and shape the attitudes not only of the neighborhood in which you live but of your key ally and I think there is a sense, which is right, that Israeli actions take American policies and interests for granted and that sense of disrespect is I think what the president has identified...
(Audio here.)

No! That's not it! Zero points! Goldberg had it right, it's not about influences and attitudes and respect, it's not about Obama's feelings and veiled threats and public relations as the theater of battle. Obama's not playing for position, he's giving his considered view: it's really about the settlements. Because in the long run there cannot be an Israel unless there is a Palestine. Every time they dig another foundation for a block of flats in the West Bank they are digging the grave of the Jewish state.

And that's why Netanyahu ought to be listening to the international community, and especially to Obama. Not to placate Obama or pretend he likes him, but to save Israel from his own greedy stupidity. Too bad. And meanwhile in Tuesday's parliamentary vote...
If Arabs voted at the same rate as Jews, they could win more than 20 seats and be the second-largest bloc in Parliament. “It’s in our hands,” said Ghaleb Majadleh, a Parliament member and former minister from the Labor Party whose headquarters is here in Baka al-Gharbiya. Increase turnout by half, he said, and “Netanyahu would not be in the government.”
Too bad about that too.
Image of the West Bank. Reuters/Mohamad Torokman, Jerusalem Post.

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