Just because I’m pro-American doesn’t mean I have to be pro-Trump. And just because I’m an enthusiastic Zionist — a believer that Israel has a right not only to exist, but to do so as a specifically Jewish state —doesn’t mean I have to have anything except utter contempt for Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.
That said, let me change the subject for just a moment and recall a column written many years ago by Jimmy Breslin for a wonderful and now defunct newspaper called The New York Herald-Tribune, may it rest in peace.
Breslin told a story about a character named Marvin the Torch, who commits arson for money and makes his fires look accidental. This is regarded in some circles as a socially beneficial service, because it enables debt-saddled owners of failing businesses to collect insurance money and recover once the business is reduced to ashes.
In Breslin’s story, Marvin got stiffed by one of his clients after Marvin burned down — on commission — one of the client’s businesses. So Marvin, feeling righteously aggrieved, then went and burned down another of his now-former-client’s businesses, one that was making money. And, if I recall this correctly, Marvin made this second arson appear like the arson it was, leaving his former client in deep.…well, you know what.
Then came the money quote from Marvin: “Professionals don’t get mad, they get even.”
Okay, Back to Obama and Netanyahu and Israel. Bear with me, because like all real-life problems in international relations, this one’s complicated and involves a lot of wheels and gears turning in different direction, some at the same time, some at different times.
In 1967, Israel found itself in a war with Egypt, Syria, and Jordan. The war lasted six days. At the end of it, Israel found itself victoriously occupying, among other things, the Sinai (which was Egyptian) and f the West Bank.
Not terribly long after, Egypt and Israel settled the dispute and Israel returned the Sinai. The West Bank, however, has been an Israeli-occupied bone of contention ever since. I’m not going to wade too deeply into the thicket of weeds concerning this dispute, other than to point out that there’s no international law that says the winners in a war have to give back the territory they’ve captured. If such as rule did exist, California, Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and Texas would be Mexican states, and Donald Trump would be building his wall in Mississippi, Arkansas, and Oklahoma.
However, the West Bank is a useful bargaining chip that might eventually lead to a peaceful agreement and a “two state solution.” By building a rapid metastasis of settlements — and pretty big ones — in the West Bank, Netanyahu is pissing away that chance, while inflaming the very people he eventually needs to make peace with.
That’s one bone of contention between Netanyahu and President Obama. The other occurred in March of 2015, when Netanyahu, contrary to the wishes of the President, gave a speech to Congress knocking the Iran nuclear deal that the Obama administration had set up.
The timing of this unfortunate speech had the effect of favoring one party over another while the nation was warming up for the unfortunate presidential election we’ve just experienced. It so infuriated Democrats that 58 members, including Joe Biden, who supposedly presides as Vice-President over all Senate meetings, boycotted the speech.
There’s nothing wrong with a foreign state advocating for its position with the State Department or the President. But by bringing the dispute before a highly publicized meeting of Congress, Netanyahu interfered in the American election process as much as the Russians did by hacking the Democratic National Committee.
The sheer chutzpah of Netanyahu! He expected the American President whose party Netanyahu helped sink to continue supporting Israel in every way possible. Finally, Netanyahu got the answer he deserved.
That answer was the United States simply sitting on its hands while a pro-Palestinian resolution sailed through the United Nations Security Council.
Now Netanyahu is in it up to his neck. Serves him right, as well as the radicals among my fellow Zionists. You not only bit the hand that’s been feeding you, you also crapped all over the wound. Es zol shtinken fun deyn cupf.
Or to put it another way, President Obama, unlike the thin-skinned hothead who will take possession of the White House in January, knows the philosophy of Marvin the Torch. Professionals don’t get mad, they get even.
Now the question is, will Russia’s Vladimir Putin, whose people hacked the Democratic National Committee also get the message? I wonder if President Obama will have time to do a bit of torching in the Kremlin before he leaves office.