Netanyahu just finished tearing off his mask, the smiling face that encouraged peace-lovers around the world to hope that somehow Israel would make peace with the Palestinians based on partition and two states.
Removing a fig leaf doesn’t really change anything, it just makes the member that lies beneath visible for all to see. No more sweet talk, fellas, we want it all, and if you don’t agree, the hell with you.
The election results made it clear that the Israeli public agreed. So there we have it. It’s the will of the people that Israel go back to the Old Testament for its policy guidance.
There are die-hard Zionists and die-hard anti-Zionists and this ripping off the veil isn’t going to change much for either party. The majority of world opinion, however, lies somewhere in between, and this is where the soul-searching and rethinking should occur. We can expect that Israel’s status as a pariah will be confirmed and that there will be more talk about boycotts and worse in the UN and elsewhere. The Europeans in particular will be more inclined to find tangible ways to express their growing disapproval. Israeli opinion will attribute all this to antisemitism and hunker down in a defensive crouch, ignoring the protests of their own increasingly isolated humanist and liberal individuals.
Here in the United States the ties that bind to Israel run strong and deep, but Bibi has done his best to alienate us. It isn’t yet clear how we’ll react. Most Congressmen have been bought by AIPAC and Sheldon Adelson but some may be sufficiently teed off by Bibi’s recent misbehavior to break their chains and rebel. Particularly Democrats, since one of Bibi’s triumphs has been to transform what had been bipartisan support into a partisan issue. But I’m not holding my breath.
What will Obama do? Will he at least stop vetoing UN efforts to chastise Israel for its behavior toward the Palestinians and its neighbors? That is possible. Will he go beyond that and start cutting back on some of our extravagant economic and military assistance? One can hope, but without really expecting it. Will he hint to the Israelis that Israel can no longer expect us to maintain the full panoply of our strategic commitments? Perhaps, to the extent he can do so privately, without making a domestic political issue out of it.
If the American public gets annoyed by Bibi’s behavior and this is reflected in the media, some such actions become more likely. If we just roll over like some guilt-stricken Labrador and whimper, Israeli officialdom will continue to treat us with the contempt we deserve.