Monday, November 8, 2010

A Message to America's Jews (and Christian Zionists)

Israeli commentator Gideon Levy (in Haaretz) publishes a heartfelt plea to America's Jews to help Israel by being willing to criticize it before its policy of gobbling up the West Bank leads to its destruction:

 Your beloved Israel is addicted. It is addicted to occupation and aggression, and someone has to wean it from these addictions. Like any other junkie, it is incapable of helping itself. Thus the job falls to you. . . .  You, dear brothers and sisters, have enormous political power. Sometimes, I think it is too enormous: One day, it will blow up in your faces. But it is possible to use this power for something more than a despicable witch-hunt after every congressman who dares to criticize Israel. . . .  The town is burning, Jews. Israeli democracy is being torn apart; soon, it will no longer be possible to talk about "the only democracy in the Middle East," as you so love to do. The occupation is also growing both more entrenched and more crushing; already, it is almost impossible to talk abut a two-state solution.

This, by the way, comes on the heels of a recent Israeli TV appearance (as reported by Bradley Burston in Haaretz) by the NY Times Thomas Friedman, who insists upon his undying support for Israel (no surprise there, but something to always bear in mind when he pontificates on Middle Eastern affairs) but also slams the Netanyahu government for actions that embarrass the US, hasten disinvestment from Israel, and cost it support:

"You are losing the American people," Friedman warned. "Not to dislike, not to opposition - they are fed up, fed up with the Palestinians, believe me, fed up with the Mideast in general.But they're also fed up with Israel. When they see their president working hard to try to tee up an opportunity. All we're asking is just test - go all the way to test whether you have a real partner.  And you say 'No, first pay me - let Pollard out of jail, have Abu Mazen sing Hatikva in perfect Yiddish, and then we'll think about testing.' It rubs a lot of people the wrong way."

Given a consensus among Israeli analysts, rightly or wrongly, that the man they called the world's most important commentator was speaking not only for himself, but directly for Barack Obama as well, you can bet that Benjamin Netanyahu was listening.  It says everything about the Netanyahu government's attitude toward America, however, that what the prime minister heard was the polar opposite of what Thomas Friedman said."Israel doesn't have to worry about me," Friedman had stressed early in the interview. "At the end of the day, Israel will have my support - it had me at hello."  But many Americans, Friedman continued "just are fed up with this conflict, and over time, that will become a national security problem for Israel, given the fact that the United States is your only friend."

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