Thursday, December 29, 2016

Dog paddling in the Rubicon

Image via tenor.
Thomas P. Friedman, better known as Thomas L. Friedman, Mystax Cabalisticus, is so adorable sometimes. He really is the reasonable, kind-hearted liberal Zionist he'd like everybody else to be, as when he generously characterizes the Israeli prime minister:
Netanyahu is a leader who is forever dog paddling in the middle of the Rubicon, never ready to cross it. He is unwilling to make any big, hard decision to advance or preserve a two-state solution if that decision in any way risks his leadership of Israel’s right-wing coalition or forces him to confront the Jewish settlers, who relentlessly push Israel deeper and deeper into the West Bank.
Oh, please, Tom. Netanyahu is forever sending you selfies where he's posing on a diving board on the opposite bank and you're thinking, "Well, he must have jumped in by now." He hasn't. He never will. He has no interest in your two-state solution, and he never has had. He used to make these vague gestures toward it, to gratify his American patrons, but now he hardly bothers, because he knows the money will never stop flowing no matter what he does. He is stonewalling for the moment when the two-state solution will no longer be possible, some think that moment came quite a while ago, and the Americans will leave him alone, except for the cash.
right now Obama and Kerry rightly believe that Israel is driving drunk toward annexing the West Bank and becoming either a bi-national Arab-Jewish state or some Middle Eastern version of 1960s South Africa, where Israel has to systematically deprive large elements of its population of democratic rights to preserve the state’s Jewish character.
That's more like it. Except just because you're drunk doesn't mean you don't have a plan. That's what the plan is. Stay drunk, on racism and self-pity, as long as you can, until it's too late to do anything about it.
My criticism of Netanyahu is not that he won’t simply quit all the West Bank; it is that he refuses to show any imagination or desire to build workable alternatives that would create greater separation and win Israel global support, such as radical political and economic autonomy for Palestinians in the majority of the West Bank, free of settlements, while Israel still controls the borders and the settlements close to it.
For heaven's sake, he has no desire. It's not that he refuses to show it, it's that it doesn't exist.
More worrisome is the fact that President-elect Donald Trump — who could be a fresh change agent — is letting himself get totally manipulated by right-wing extremists, and I mean extreme. 
Stop it, Tom, you're killing me! "Fresh change agent"! Maybe he could be fresh mozzarella, then you could use him for pizza.

I love how the fact that what now seems to be the permanent Israeli government is committed to never making peace with Palestinians is worrisome, but the fact that this loathsome lump of psychopathic cheese might not turn out to be a "fresh change agent" is more worrisome still. If you have any expectations that President Trump's behavior can be anything other than Republican convention (where by "Republican convention" I mean the view on a given issue adopted by the billionaire donor who cares about that issue the most, in this case casino magnate Sheldon Adelson) plus random error, you really need to discard them.

Trump's evolving views over the past year show his predictable progress from utter ignoramus bringing nothing to the issue but his Art-of-the-Deal self-confidence to totally manipulated tool indistinguishable from any of his 16 Republican rivals.

December 3, 2015:
"A lot will have to do with Israel and whether or not Israel wants to make the deal — whether or not Israel's willing to sacrifice certain things," Trump said. "They may not be, and I understand that, and I'm OK with that. But then you're just not going to have a deal.".... "I have my feelings on it, but I'm just not going to discuss it now, because if I end up in the midst of a negotiation, I don't want people saying, 'Well, you can't do it, you're not going to be good, you're biased,' " Trump said. "I want to be very neutral and see if I can get both sides together."
March 10, 2016:
"If I go in, I’ll say I’m pro-Israel and I’ve told that to everybody and anybody that would listen. But I would like to at least have the other side think I’m somewhat neutral as to them, so that we can maybe get a deal done. Maybe we can get a deal. I think it’s probably the toughest negotiation of all time. But maybe we can get a deal done."
May 3, 2016:
Asked whether there should be a pause in new construction – which the Obama administration has pressured Netanyahu's government to observe in order to bring the Palestinians to the negotiating table – Trump responded: 'No, I don't think it is, because I think Israel should have – they really have to keep going. They have to keep moving forward.' 
'No, I don't think there should be a pause,' Trump said. 'Look: Missiles were launched into Israel, and Israel, I think, never was properly treated by our country. I mean, do you know what that is, how devastating that is?'
Improperly treated to $4 billion a year? It's really interesting he seems to think Israel is obliged to build illegal housing for its Jewish citizens on stolen land because "missiles were launched"; he may have some fantastical idea that they aren't settlements at all but some kind of military defense installation, and no concept of the geography at all. (H/t Ashley Feinberg.) Or maybe he thinks settlements are lawsuit-resolving deals waiting for him to come in and arbitrate.

December 29, 2016:
“I’m very very strong on Israel. I think that Israel has been treated very very unfairly by a lot of different people. If you look at resolutions in the United Nations … they are up for 20 reprimands and other nations that are horrible places, horrible places that treat people horribly haven’t even been reprimanded. So there is something going on and I think it is very unfair to Israel.”
There is something going on!

Cross-posted at No More Mister Nice Blog.

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