Monday, May 23, 2011

AIPAC's Logic

"In a world which is demonstrably on the side of the Palestinians and Arabs - where Israel stands virtually alone - the United States has a special role to play," said the AIPAC director [Howard Kohr]. "When the United States is even-handed, Israel is automatically at a disadvantage, tilting the diplomatic playing field overwhelmingly toward the Palestinians and Arabs."

Kohr says that Obama's honesty about the Israeli/Palestinian situation creates an advantage for the Arabs because Israel's foes would perceive daylight between the US and Israel.

Um, sorry to break it to you, Howie, but Israel has done a fine job all by itself to create opportunities for Arab states to "shun peace with the Jewish state." I'm not referring to military incursions in the name of self-defense, although Israel can call and has called almost any military action it takes defensive, even the offensive ones. I'm referring to the almost apartheid-like way Israel has treated ALL Palestinians. Women, children, the elderly. They are all second-class citizens because they have chosen to rebel against what they perceive to be persecution. Like any persecuted class of people, some of that has to be brought on by the people who are rebelling. Firing rockets into Israel or sending suicide bombers into crowded shopping areas does not endear one to the people who are doing the persecuting. But, as we all know, Israel can hardly be credited for exacting measured responses to their threats. When two rockets fall in Israel, fifty tanks roll into Gaza and thousands of people get displaced. It's also clear that Israel does not realize that Israel's policies are more of an existential threat to Israel than Palestinians.

The argument always falls at this point on the idea that there are no Arabs who will ever recognize Israel's right to exist, that they all want Israel to disappear and the Jews to die violent deaths. But, just suppose that that idea is false; that, in fact, Palestinians don't want to wage war, Palestinians want peace for themselves, and Palestinians want their own country, even if it means living next to Jews. That they're willing to recognize Israel so long as tanks and bulldozers don't roll into their country every time one of their people says or does something wrong. What the hell would Israel do with itself? Can this country, which has lived for 63 years defending its existence, handle peace? Based on my last post, one has to wonder.

But, for AIPAC's chief to suggest that the US has to -- has to -- be less than even-handed when dealing with Israel's Arab neighbors because to do so would threaten Israel's existence? Well, that happens to be true. Bibi's middle finger in Obama's face does nothing to prevent that from happening. In fact, Bibi's hope to outlast Obama is a huge political gamble. The president will be re-elected, and in 2016, there is a chance that a Republican president with Apocalyptic visions of the Second Coming may roll out the red carpet to anything Israel does. But five years is a very long time to wait when the screws are tightening.

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