Monday, December 26, 2016

Obama, Netanyahu, the West Bank, Iran, and the sweet taste of settling the score

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.


Dave said...

Mr. Netanyahu is enraged about "being mistrtreated". Very clearly he does not wish to discuss the settlements. Perhaps he could offer a tour for the international community. And the Palestinians could offer an alternative tour. Facts versus rants. Works for me.

CF2K said...

I rather like Hardball Barack. Come January 3 when Joe presides over the Senate handover, can we nudge him to seat Garland?

Yastreblyansky said...

Glad to see him get kicked.

Anonymous said...

“Christians” don’t love Israel, don’t love the Jews. In order for their precious lord and master to come floating down out of the sky on a white horse with a thousand angels to carry the few faithful away to paradise – after the bloodbath, after the world is destroyed, the blood as deep as a horses’ bridle – two thirds of the Jews, two thirds of Israel must be destroyed. “Christians” don’t love Israel, don’t love the Jews, they want to see them destroyed.

Not to defend Israel. Israel is a Terrorist State. The Mother of All Terrorist States. An utterly foreign occupier perpetrating an American Taxpayer conceived, financed and morally sanctioned genocide upon the indigenous descendants of the “biblical hebrew”. It has no “right” to exist and this world will never know Peace until it does not.

Though I oft despair and concede yes, just let the rat bastards have their dog-damned little apocalypse and get it over with and when their precious lord and master doesn’t come floating down out of the sky on a white horse with a thousand angels to carry the few faithful away to paradise then perhaps we get on with cleaning up the mess that has been made... but no, that would be as clear and present a danger to my grandchildren’s survival as anthropogenic atmospheric disruption, as christian capitalist induced climate change.

The New York Crank said...

Umm, excuse me, Homeless. Why is it that all manner of neighbors raining missiles down on Israel are poor downtrodden helpless people, but Israelis defending themselves against random bombings and incoming missiles are "terrorists?" What's your definition of terrorism? IAnd what's your definition of genocide. I don't see Israelis marching off million of Palestinians to gas chambers. I don't see Israel randomly bombing crowds or busloads, or cafes-full of Palestinians.

Is it the Palestinians lacking a "homeland" of their own? They're surrounded by homelands of similarly ethnic and religious people — zillions of them — who won't take them in because they're trouble.Palestine is also a construct of World War I boundary makers. The United States is a construct of colonists who drove out scores of native peoples. The Jews get one tiny sliver of land the size of New Jersey, to which they most certain had historical ties, and suddenly they're the great satan? Gimme a break!

But I'm on the verge of stopping here.This argument can go on forever, but not with me. Let me just point out that building housing projects on what may or may not be somebody else's land (depending on your interpretation of international law and both ancient and modern history) is certainly not very nice and in the long run likely to be self-defeating. That's my beef with it. But it doesn't nearly rise to the level of "terrorism".

If you want to start condemning people, you've got a whole planet of condemnables, from ISIS to the people who turn fire hoses on peaceful Native American protestors who want to protect their tribal lands. Why is Israel held to a different standard than everybody else?

My point was that Netanyahu is an arrogant jerk, in some ways not unlike Trump, and deserves the drubbing he's now going to get for himself at home. It is in no way to condemn Israel's existence.

Yours with extreme crankiness,
The New York Crank

Green Eagle said...

I think it is important to remember that Netanyahu got his start and training in politics not in Israel, but right here in the United States, as a Republican party apparatchik. His behavior makes far more sense if you think of him as a Republican that gained power by manipulating fear and hatred, than as an Israeli. The people of Israel had never seen a politician like that before, and they were easy prey.

Carol (Aquariusmoon) Duhart said...

THis is the argument the displaced Palestinians always get-"you should give and move elsewhere in some similar place, and don't even ask for reparations.
AFter all, all Arabs are alike, anyway, so what difference does it make where they live? What about the land that was stolen from them, the fact that they have few, if any places to go in a world that is building ever more walls. What about the atrocities that have been done to them?

Philo Vaihinger said...

I don't by any means object to Israel's existence as a specifically Jewish State, but I am unaware of any secular arguments to morally justify its existence that would not have done as much for a white homeland in South Africa, or a white state for the piednoirs in Algeria.


This is, after all, the only shred of colonialism in the region that Occidentals continue to defend.

And it is hard to see any principled way to account for that.