Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Bibi’s “vague” response to Charlottesville: Comity with Trump trumps support for the Diaspora?

“Outraged by expressions of anti-Semitism, neo-Nazism and racism. Everyone should oppose this hatred.” Prime Minister Netanyahu’s tweet regarding Charlottesville

Sincere and heartfelt. So what's wrong with this tweet which earned the PM the ire of Times of Israel, Jpost and other Israeli forums?

Had the PM been responding to, say, a lynching of a Black or a Native American such a tweet might have described deeply felt "outrage" regarding racism, although admittedly such interference in the internal affairs of the US might be considered undiplomatic from a foreign head of state. But this was an alt-right march targeting Jews and other other minorities. The question here is, "is it appropriate" for the Israeli prime minister to criticize racism directed at Jews living in the US? If it is, then, is the PM's tweet adequate as response to those attacking Jews in the US?

AS I view the situation the answer is yes because Bibi represents Israel, the refuge created by the Diaspora for the Diaspora. He is not just leader of Jews in Israel, but of the Jewish People wherever they are found across the Diaspora. As such he is obligated to address antisemitism in the US, or wherever Jews are threatened. Because threat at a national level is precisely the what Charlottesville represents. Hitler began in one city, Munich, ten years before the Nazi Party was elected to rule the Third Reich.

Has antisemitism always existed in the US, YES. One need only look over recent decades of ADL surveys for confirmation. Is antisemitism less dangerous in the US compared to its European expression, NO. In fact, distribution and intensity of antisemitism in the US during the years of the Holocaust was little different than during, before and after Auschwitz.

And how does this bear on Bibi's comments regarding Charlottesville?

Trump was called out by his own Republican Party for his inclusive condemnation, not just of the perpetrators whose racism inspired the riots, but his obligation, as president of the United States, to condemn racism, to console its victims. (Trump today walked back his comments describing the KKK, et al< and again aimed his attack at the left).

As political leader of the Jewish People Israel's prime minister is obligated to speak out on behalf of antisemitism's victims, the Jewish Nation. To not do so may or not better position Israel in the eyes of the US president; it does not stand beside, and support Diaspora Jewry. Nor is this the first instance in which Bibi has failed to stand with the Diaspora. As the antisemites of Bannon’s alt-right minions spouting antisemitism emerged from the shadows during the US primaries, nary a word of concern or support from the prime minister lest he upset his “friend”. And Bibi’s recent violation of his promise to the Diaspora regarding access to the Wall; and more significant and far-reaching support for the Rabbinate’s long held ambition to determine Jewish identity for Israel and the Diaspora; Who is a Jew legislation! A betrayal of promises to the Diaspora to retain Hardi support for his coalition! Power over People!

Israel is Zionism's creation and exists to serve the entire Jewish Nation and not just a single religious stream holding the government hostage. Israel was intended and exists as the national homeland for Jews, ALL Jews: regardless of religious affiliation or none, whether religious or atheist, self-identified or vainly believing they can disappear through assimilation.

Today’s Israelis are not "citizens" as appear in western liberal-democracies. Today’s Israelis are custodians of the universal homeland and refuge for ALL Jews of the Diaspora. Only when the “ingathering of the exiles” sees the last Jew in Israel will all Israelis truly achieve citizenship!

Monday, August 7, 2017

America, Israel and the “Special Relationship": an Uncertain Alliance

When JPost published the editorial “Clueless Trump” last week it reminded that much that appears in Israel’s poplar media falls short in recognizing the limits of its “special relationship” with the United States. As Saddam Hussein reportedly justified Iraq’s need for WMD, “We exist in a very dangerous neighborhood,” Israel has little room to substitute wish for fact regarding the limits of this critical alliance. At least at its leadership level Israel is responding realistically to the changing global balance of power. Israeli diplomacy and trade regarding China and India are consistent with not just her emerging markets, but also global centers of power in the coming decades.

For the near-time, as regards the Palestinians: if there was little hope for accommodation before 2006 when, following elections resulting in a Hamas victory and the failed US-backed coup against victorious Hamas: what likelihood an accommodation between Israel and not just one, but two competing centers of Palestinian “authority”? As regards the extended region of Arabia, from Morocco to the Arabian Gulf; the “Arab Spring” has left states in the region unstable and under threat from within. The United States lit the fuse when Bush, following American’s commitment to Democracy, replaced Iraq’s Sunni regime, barrier to Iranian ambitions, with a majority Shiite regime placing Iraq in Iran’s orbit.

Obama’s approach to Iran remained basically unchanged from Bush, “to end the Iranian pursuit of nuclear weapons.” But where the Bush administration never tired of threatening military force, Obama was committed to dialogue. That the “dialogue” would take seven years to bear fruit and result in Iran first achieving “nuclear threshold status” suggests a policy well beyond the stated goal, consistent with Kenneth Waltz’s vision , “Nuclear Balancing Would Mean Stability,” the subheading to his article. But Waltz’s elegant theory suggests that where a single regional power possesses nuclear arms neighboring states would have been motivated to seek the bomb to counter the threat. But Israel was assumed to have a nuclear arsenal for half-century with little such counter effort. True that Saddam sought the bomb, but that was to achieve his hegemonic ambitions in the Arab world; and Syria’s short-lived nuclear adventure was more likely an Iranian effort rather than Syrian. If any Arab state confronting Israel ever felt directly threatened by her assumed nuclear arsenal, that threat was never sufficient to demand an Arab response. The “Arab response” only emerged in response to the realization that the Obama policy was not just to end Iran’s nuclear threat to the Arab world, to “cut off the head of the Iranian snake,” but instead to allow Iran to achieve breakout nuclear status.

Observing the tortuous seven-year-long “negotiations” between Obama and Khameini, an apparent charade in which a petulant Iran repeatedly withdrew from the talks only to return months later enticed by ever-new Obama concessions. Whatever Bush’s reasons for not pursuing Iran’s 2003 offer to quit its nuclear program, whether by chance or design the US provided Iran sufficient time to advance its nuclear program, to become a nuclear power and threat to its Arab neighbors, and to Israel.
There are today at least half-dozen Arab states, from Egypt and Jordan to Saudi Arabia and Kuwait at various stages of building nuclear reactors. And, reflecting the new reality of today’s regional “superpower” most are funded and built by Putin’s Russia.

When Obama entered office one of his central promises was to reign in global nuclear proliferation. Without going into discussing a possible American strategic motive to explain his providing for the Iranian bomb, Obama loosed a nascent nuclear arms race in this most unstable region in the world. And if there is a “silver lining” regarding that future nuclear cloud now hanging over the region it is that Israel and Arab states not yet victim to the Arab Spring, now share a common threat.

With all the benefits that a hopeful Shimon Peres saw to motivate peace in the region, it took President Obama to provide the conditions for an Israel-Arab accommodation!