Following on from Caroline Glick’s blistering response to the Danish Ambassador’s wish to hold Israel to a singular standard, which I posted yesterday, here are two further recent examples of “undiplomatic talk” which should have been said and broadcast ages ago, and must be shared and broadcast as widely as possible in order to make the world understand what our reality is, and not what they would like it to be.
Last week Michael Oren, the former Israeli Ambassador to the US, a highly respected academic and historian, and not a person known for his right-wing tendencies,slammed the Obama Administration for having a worldview that is not compatible with any Israeli government, not just the present Netanyahu administration:
Oren said that “this administration [in Washington] has a worldview that is not in accord with any Israeli government,” not just the current one. Describing the Obama administration as “ideological” on the Mideast, with the president’s 2009 outreach-to-the-Arab-world Cairo speech as its source, Oren said the White House views east Jerusalem communities like Gilo, for example, as not necessarily part of the Jewish state, a position he said no Israeli government would accept.
(Gilo is over the Green Line but part of the Jerusalem municipality, with a largely Jewish population.)
After the March 17 elections, Israel’s next government “likely will move to the right,” Oren predicted, “and America may be going a different way.”
It was clear, if not explicitly stated, that Oren feels the Obama administration has not lived up to its “no daylight” pledge to be in sync with Israel on key strategic and diplomatic issues. (On security matters, it should be noted, Israeli officials give the U.S. high marks on cooperation. The relative quiet on the West Bank and support for Iron Dome during the Gaza war are examples.)
But the sentiment that the president views Israel at times as a stubborn child, if not an adversary, rather than a major ally adds to the speculation that Oren’s first-person memoir, which in part will deal with his 2009-2013 stint in D.C., will be highly critical of the president’s dealings with Israel.
The book is almost completed and is due out next June.
Asked by moderator Robert Satloff, the executive director of the Washington Institute, about the West’s negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program, Oren first noted that Israel’s “margin for error is exactly zero” on this issue, given Iran’s longstanding threat to destroy the Jewish state.
Then, his voice rising, he said that if you believe that Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is indeed the moderate he claims to be, if you believe that Iran has reversed its policy of being the world’s leading exporter of terror, if you believe that its leaders have changed their long pattern of lying about the nuclear program, and if you believe the West is capable of and willing to respond militarily to prevent the production of a nuclear bomb, then yes, you should support the U.S. effort to reach an agreement with Iran.
“But if your children and grandchildren’s’ lives depended on it, you may reach a different conclusion,” he asserted, adding: “We [the Jewish people] have not come back after 2,000 years to disappear.”
He offered an historian’s perspective at the Scholar-Statesman program when he said that the chaos in the Arab world we are witnessing now is “the unraveling of the post-World War I plan for the region.” When the allies carved up the region based on geography rather than by affinity groups, he said, they created states that cannot sustain themselves.
As for the prospect of peace with the Palestinians, he said he is “very skeptical,” adding, “I’ve erased the wold ‘solution’ from my vocabulary.”
What can be achieved, he said, is “a two-state situation” that calls for “movement” with the Palestinians incrementally. He spoke of “managing the conflict” and seeking to enhance the lives of Israelis and Palestinians through cooperation in trade, exports, etc., until conditions improve enough to explore a real peace.
Amplifying those thoughts this past weekend at the Saban Forum on the Mideast, sponsored annually by the Brookings Institute in Washington, Oren asserted that “the left in Israel has crashed because it has not yet internalized that the Palestinians are not part of the negotiations, and aren’t interested in being so. The Palestinians have chosen a different path, the destructive path of delegitimization of Israel.
“On the other hand,” he added, “the right doesn’t yet have the courage to admit that Israel isn’t able to protect its identity and its alliance with the U.S., while ruling 2.5 million Palestinians.
“Inaction isn’t an option,” he said. “Israel needs to take its fate into its own hands, and to come out with a political initiative that will serve its interests.”
I don’t necessarily agree with all of Oren’s suggestions but he is definitely a voice worth listening to, both on the right and on the left. As for the Obama Administration, well, if they’ve lost a “soft-left” voice like Michael Oren’s, they really are in trouble.
Another personality much more recognizable in Israel for his outspoken views is Bayit Yehudi leader and Economy Minister Naftali Bennett. Last week he was a guest at the Saban Forum in New York discussing Israel and the Middle East, and he baldly told the assembled dignitaries that “the reality you have been pushing since Oslo is not working“:
Jerusalem and Diaspora Affairs Minister Naftali Bennett told former US envoy and longtime peace process negotiator Martin Indyk that the two-state vision he has been peddling for two decades is “not working,” and it is time to try something different.
As such, Bennett – in a spirited discussion at the Brookings Institution Saban Forum in Washington on Saturday night – defended his plan to annex Area C, an area encompassing some 60 percent of the West Bank, but only about 80,000 Palestinians.
Just wishing a plan does not make it real. After so many years of bashing our head in the wall, it is time to think anew.”
Bennett said that the plan he outlined recently in The New York Times, and which Indyk asked him about, is not a “solution.”
In an apparent dig at Indyk’s efforts to “solve” the Israeli-Palestinian issue, he said that “not every problem in life has a solution. You can have an imperfect marriage. Not everything is clear cut.”
Then, in another dig at the “peace industry,” Bennett said that “people in conferences” are not “smarter than people in Ashkelon who got thousands of missiles from the very place we left and handed over” to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in 2005.
When Indyk challenged Bennett’s comments that a Palestinian state would be flooded with Palestinian refugees coming from neighboring lands, saying that this is “fear mongering,” he shot back that the ”fear mongering” is done by those saying that Israel faces international isolation and a demographic time bomb if it does not accept what the world wants it to.
He also chided Indyk for thinking he knows what is better for Israel than the Israeli public itself.
When Indyk said Bennett lives in “another reality,” Bennett replied that it is Indyk who is residing in another reality, and asked how many missiles it would take to fall on Ashkelon, and how many terror victims resulting from the Oslo Accords, before he would wake up from his illusions.
The moderator, former US Ambassador Martin Indyk, is known as being particularly unfriendly to Israel, which makes Bennett’s arguments and responses all the more relevant.
Here is a short excerpt of Bennett’s response to Indyk, where he is accused of living “in an alternative reality”:
If you want to watch the entire 1 hour long interview, here is the video (h/t Elder of Ziyon):
Naftali Bennett and Michael Oren are at opposite ends of the Israeli political spectrum and yet they both see the same reality to which Israel is accused of being oblivious or wilfully ignoring. But it is clear that if these two men can come to similar conclusions about the Israel-Palestinian conflict, then it is the world, specifically the liberal Western world, that has a problem dealing with reality.
In any event, it’s long past time that our own politicians stopped “playing nice” and began bravely standing up for Israel’s rights. If we won’t do it ourselves no one else will do it for us.