In Washington they were not impressed with the Israeli occupation; the president began pressing and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rushed to support. He is keen on explaining.
A long time before Bibi there was one B.G. Ben-Gurion's diary documents, in his writing, a meeting with Benzion Netanyahu, Bibi's father, in mid-November 1956, following Israel's conquest of the Gaza Strip and Sinai in the war. Ben-Gurion was dizzy with excitement and declared the start of Israel's Third Kingdom. U.S. president Dwight Eisenhower brought him down to earth in one fell swoop.
Ben-Gurion wrote: "At 5, Netanyahu came over, editor of the encyclopedia. He had told me earlier that he had no personal intent or purpose for coming over, nor a party-related motive. Since the establishment of the state, he had left the Revisionist party. Between 1940 and 1948 he was in the U.S. and ran the propaganda operation of the New Zionist Organization. Fear of Russia had not yet emerged, but in certain circles they were already feeling the Russian threat. He spoke of a vacuum in the Mideast, and the threat of Soviet penetration, and explained the significance of Zionism. He believes that our public relations mechanism in the U.S. is weak and he is offering his services. He will get a year's leave from the encyclopedia. His cover will be that he will be lecturing at some university. His subject is Jewish history. He wrote a book on Abarbanel."
"We must set up a non-Jewish team, among the most important authors, journalists, congressmen. We need to buy those who hate us - or at least we can make them neutral. For the first half year there might be a need for about a quarter million dollars. Later he will find money in America itself. There is no point in appearing before Zionist Jews. It is Americans that are needed and it is important that this organization would not be felt to have ties to Israel, but in practice it must be answerable to the Prime Minister's Office. Because propaganda needs to be adjusted according to policy.
"I said that I do not agree with all his comments, and that a great deal has been done in rallying public support, and that the U.S. government has assisted us a great deal since the establishment of the state, but that there is a need to step up activities, and that I would give him an answer in a week."
The answer was given last week at the United Nations. Benjamin Netanyahu jumped back to the future: if not a full half century and the initiative put forward by his father to Ben-Gurion, then a quarter century, to his own appointment as ambassador to the UN. At the Foreign Ministry they consider Israel's mission to the UN a podium for making speeches for the crowds back home. When a speaker from the Middle East rips up a document, he is applauded - if he is named Chaim Herzog; if his name is Muammar Gadhafi, they ridicule him. Netanyahu's world, that of an ambassador dressed up as a prime minister, proved better than that of his father: The propaganda lives within it without connection to policy.
It is not Netanyahu who invented "If they give, they'll get." That has been Israel's formula since the days of Ben-Gurion, and was created by his wizard, chief of staff Moshe Dayan, whose apprentice was the commander of the Paratroops, Ariel Sharon. If they give us peace along the 1949 borders, they'll get peace. If they give us a terrorist attack, they'll get payback. If they give an atrocity, they'll get war.
The tremendous Israeli victory of the Six-Day War filled the framework with new content in the form of Security Council Resolution 242, on which, like his predecessors, U.S. President Barack Obama is relying. If the Arabs give the promised peace along the borders of 1949, with slight adjustments, they will get the territories. They will not get anything unless they give. What does this have to do with Auschwitz and Iran's nuclear program?
Israel's Third Kingdom lasted in reality from June 10, 1967, to close to Ben-Gurion's death. At 1:50 P.M. on Yom Kippur 1973, Israel was at the peak of its power. Whoever experienced that moment in the office of the chief of Military Intelligence, on the third floor of the old building of the General Staff, will not forget how Eli Zeira became pale when he saw the note that told him of attack aircraft taking off from Egyptian and Syrian bases. By 1:51 on that bitter day, the arrogant illusion of eternal occupation and annexation - one without peace but also without war - had broken.
Before Netanyahu, with the shameful assistance of Ehud Barak, takes pleasure in his enormous success at stemming a construction freeze in the settlements, which were in fact born as a means (for encouraging the Arabs to accept the land-for-peace formula "before facts on the ground are created"), but became an end in themselves, it would be good for both of them to remember the pleasure Golda Meir and Moshe Dayan took in foiling the mission of UN envoy Gunnar Jarring in implementing 242, and to recall who cried last. Netanyahu is still playing the role of corporate deputy director for marketing and external relations. But Israel does not need public relations. Israel needs a solution.
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