Israel, the United States, and the Mishegoss

January 2, 2017

Israel, the United States, and the Mishegoss 

The passage of United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334 on December 23, 2016 prompted me to share these words on Facebook:

No doubt this issue is more complicated than I can fully appreciate. That said, I stand with my country and its leaders in support of their decision not to veto the United Nations Security Council resolution. For sure, peace requires movement from both ends. However, the continued expansion of settlements represents a poke in the eye to Palestinians, and moves the sides away from any opportunity for peace.

We are moving into a world—along about January 20, 2017—when confrontation will rule. In the meantime, however, I applaud a decision in favor of focusing on collaboration, even when one side—the Palestinians—includes some mighty bad people. (There are plenty of settlers, by the by, with whom I would never break bread. Bad people, claiming goodness through faith, and we find them among Christians, Muslims, and Jews!)

If I had my druthers, Israel would airlift its talented population to vacant land in the western U.S. or Australia and tell the Arabs “G-d bless and see ya later.” Biblical land and monuments are claptrap to me. Alas, my rationality matters not at all. And in the real world, like it or not, settlements make the world a less safe place, and I’m against anything that makes us less safe. (I know, I know, there will be plenty of unsafe in the coming years. So be it, and it won’t shut me up.)

Finally, eff anyone who claims President Obama is an anti-Semite. Jews throughout the world have never had an American president more in synch with them, on every level. If Bubba aka President Bill Clinton was America’s first Black president, Barack Obama is our first Jewish president.

(Read the resolution, by the way. The MSM and everyone else didn’t, apparently.)

My post got reactions.* And after Secretary of State John Kerry spoke on the Israeli-Palestinian issue on December 28, 2016, I heard from more people. (Read the Kerry speech too. Again, poor reporting.) So, some more thoughts.

First, I don’t know why being Jewish makes anyone an expert on foreign policy in the Middle East. Sure, many Jews go to Israel often, and the Israeli government’s decades-long effort to keep westerners informed deserves kudos. Still, the pronounced expertise of so many quickly brings to mind the Holiday Inn Express ad campaign. (And me, spouting off? “No doubt this issue is more complicated than I can fully appreciate,” but poking something dangerous with a stick never adds value to a situation. I know this, without claiming foreign policy expertise.)

Second, the settlements have as their purpose exactly what? Placing settlements here and there in the West Bank offers Israel no security it would not otherwise have. In fact, the settlements offer friction points for violence. By doing so, they make Israel less secure.

Then there are those who say it’s an outrage that Jews can’t live where they want to. (Think Shelley v. Kreamer, the 1948 U.S. Supreme Court decision which outlawed racial covenants on real estate.) So, what about the Mexicans? The ones whose ancestors were born in Southern Arizona when it belonged to Mexico? Why can’t they move in?

Let’s cut to the chase. Some say, To the Victor Go the Spoils! The victory occurred 50 years ago this June. At no time since then has any Israeli government formally adopted as its position that the West Bank belongs to Israel. If this argument provides the basis for the settlements, how about a formal resolution in the Knesset. (In fact, every recent Israeli government has paid lip service, at least, to the notion of a Palestinian state in the West Bank.)

Someday, maybe, there might be peace in the Middle East. Getting there has never looked easy, and for lots of good reasons. Still, placing impediments in the path to peace makes the slim chance slimmer. The patchwork nature of the settlements makes any resolution much harder, for it makes the ability to govern a Palestinian state in the West Bank ever more difficult. It also provides the world with an opportunity to blame Israel.

So, with no benefits and plenty of negatives, how can anyone justify the settlements? The Palestinians kill Jews, and for many that justifies everything. That millions of Palestinians just want to work, raise their families, govern themselves, etc. matters little, I suspect. Being led by bad people is their burden. (If anyone has another justification, please share it. I have heard no other ones.)

We live in a time of symbols and Team. Facts matter little, history is unknown and irrelevant, and loud and boorish passes for policy. So when the Obama Administration abstained—in lieu of vetoing—Security Council Resolution 2334, and when Secretary of State Kerry gave a lengthy speech in which, among other things, he reiterated the long-standing, bi-partisan U.S. opposition to West Bank settlements, the reaction should have surprised no one. Never mind the $38B defense deal. The fact that the Obama Administration has been more supportive of Israel in the United Nations than any prior administration. (Thanks to Seth Frantzman, here are the facts.) Or the excellent working-level relationships which continue. Forget all of that, for it’s so much easier to be on Team Israel, treating a toothless resolution and a diplomat’s long-winded speech as apocalyptic events.

*I very much regret the “eff anyone” comment. Apologies!

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