Thursday, March 19, 2015

Bibi Wins Israeli Election, But At What Price?


Bibi making it obvious (source)

by Gaius Publius

Many of us have been following the Israeli election story, but the gist has involved the relationship between Sheldon Adelson, Bibi Netanyahu and the American (and largely Democratic) Jewish "Diaspora." About Adelson and Israel, Howie wrote:
Is Sheldon Adelson's Long-Term Goal To Poison The Special Relationship Between Israel And Democrats?

... Last weekend, Israeli writer and peace activist Uri Avery tried explaining the Adelsons' outsized-- and highly destructive-- role in Israeli politics and, particularly, in the career of Benjamin Netanyahu. The real ruler of Israel, he asserts, isn't Netanyahu, but "Sheldon Adelson, 81, American Jew, Casino king, who was rated as the world’s tenth richest person, worth 37.2 billion dollars at the latest count."
There's obviously more; please click through. About Netanyahu, Jews and the Democratic Party, longtime Israeli peace activist and politican Uri Avnery wrote (quoted here):
Milton Friedman asserted that there is no such thing as a free lunch, and this lunch has a high price indeed. It means almost literally spitting in the face of President Obama. I don’t think there was ever anything like it. The prime minister of a small vassal country, dependent on the US for practically everything, comes to the capital of the US to openly challenge its President, in effect branding him a cheat and a liar. His host is the opposition party. Like Abraham, who was ready to slaughter his son to please God, Netanyahu is ready to sacrifice Israel’s most vital interests for election victory.
[Netanyahu] has declared war on the Democratic Party, cutting the bond that has connected Jews with this party for more than a century. Destroying the bipartisan support. Allowing Democratic politicians for the first time to criticize Israel. Breaking a generations-old taboo that may not be restored. President Obama, who is being insulted, humiliated and obstructed in his most cherished policy move, the agreement with Iran, would be superhuman if he did not brood on revenge.
This is a stunning indictment and prediction. Yet in the last days before the election, Netanyahu doubled down on his savage and racist anti-Arab attacks and renounced a two-state solution, and on that "platform," won handily. Now comes the price that Avnery predicted.

"If Israelis have the right to vote for permanent occupation, we in the Diaspora have the right to resist it."

This is Peter Beinart writing in Ha'aretz (link behind a paywall):
With Netanyahu's reelection, the peace process is over and the pressure process must begin

If Israelis have the right to vote for permanent occupation, we in the Diaspora have the right to resist it.

My entire adult life, American Jewish leaders have been telling Americans that Israel can save itself. Just wait until Israel gains a respite from terror, they said; then its silent, two-state majority will roar. Give Israelis constant reassurance; never pressure them. If they know “the United States is right next to them,” Malcolm Hoenlein of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations promised Barack Obama in 2009, Israeli leaders will “take risks” for peace.

Israel has been disproving that theory throughout the Netanyahu era. Now, with this election, Israel has killed it. ...

“Power,” said the great American abolitionist Frederick Douglass, “concedes nothing without a demand.” For almost half a century, Israel has wielded brutal, undemocratic, unjust power over millions of human beings in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. And as this election makes clear, Israel will concede nothing on its own. This isn’t because Jewish Israelis are different than anyone else. It’s because they are the same. ...
Damning, especially the last two sentences. What does Beinart recommend?
Support any pressure that is nonviolent and consistent with Israel’s right to exist. That means backing Palestinian bids at the United Nations. It means labeling and boycotting settlement goods. It means joining and amplifying nonviolent Palestinian protest in the West Bank. It means denying visas to, and freezing the assets of, Naftali Bennett and other pro-settler leaders. It means pushing the Obama administration to present out its own peace plan, and to punish — yes, punish — the Israeli government for rejecting it. It means making sure that every time Benjamin Netanyahu and the members of his cabinet walk into a Jewish event outside Israel, they see Diaspora Jews protesting outside. It means loving Israel more than ever, and opposing its government more than ever. It means accepting that, for now at least, the peace process is over and the pressure process must begin.
Of course this will be hard for many at first:
For many Diaspora Jews, this transition will feel painful and unnatural. It certainly does for me. But there is now no other way.
Hard as this may be, for Beinart and for many I know in the American Jewish community, who hate with a passion the actions of their beloved Israel — "it's game on, Bibi."

A Tipping Point

What "game" is on? Go back to the quoted Beinart paragraph that starts "Support any pressure" and read the list. It's ten items long — read each one separately. Then consider again what Avnery prophetically wrote:
[Netanyahu] has declared war on the Democratic Party, cutting the bond that has connected Jews with this party for more than a century.
This may be a tipping point for Israel in its treatment of the Palestinians, from which there is no turning back. Beinart recommends, and many like him will organize to accomplish, the complete separation of right-wing expansionist Israel — the Israel of the settlers and the hyper-religionists, for example — from the Democratic Party in America. If those who think as Beinart does hold course, the dynamics of that part of the world will have changed for a long time.

Israel and its government will certainly continue to exist, despite the knee-jerk protests of many in the Adelson–AIPAC camp. Now with American Democrats on board, the world may be able to require them to be just as well.


POSTSCRIPT: Uri Avnery spoke about the Israeli election results in the first half hour of this Nicole Sandler show (start at 17:15).

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At 4:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why would anyone assume the Democrats are now somehow going to become critics of Israel? It seems like only a couple weeks ago when all of 57 Dems could be bothered to not attend Bibi's Reichstag... I'm sorry, Congressional Address. Clearly, the vast majority of Democrats still put their servility to the Lobby ahead of any rational political or US national interest!

The reason The Lobby and Bibi act the way they do is because they know from decades of experience that the US will not do anything in response to this latest outrage. They know perfectly well the WH will not actually do anything of substance, beyond the usual whining. They know congressional Democrats will still cower before the Lobby.

I'd be very pleased to be proven wrong here, but thus far, no one has offered any evidence that I am. Hopefully that will change one day, but probably not any time soon.


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