Letters to the Editor / November 12
Time for Obama to impose a solution
Now that Barack Obama has been reelected president, he must resolve the crisis in our region in a purposeful and impartial manner. Both the Palestinian and Israeli leaders are enchained by the promises they made to their voters. They are hostage to slogans and honor, and even if they wanted to they would not be able to forgo "sacred" symbols and principles.
The next war is only a matter of time. Most of the energies in our region are directed at threatening, exploiting and killing. Only a joint effort by the reformed world will be able to put an end to the bloody conflict in our region.
It can be called an imposed solution, or a fair solution. It will be global peace, to be achieved with the parties' consent, or not fully to their liking. For peace you sometimes have to give up a plot of land, a bit of national honor, and principles. Both sides in our region are right, and on both sides there are millions of people who wish to live in peace. But there are those who see only their own justness and seek to undermine any fair solution. Sometimes it seems like the extremists have banded together to guarantee our children a future of trampled rights, kidnappings, rockets, horror and bereavement.
It behooves Obama, who once again is in the loftiest and most responsible position of power in the world, to think of a new solution. He ought to form an international committee, made up of neutral and renowned figures, to study the problem, hear the sides out, and propose a fair and humane solution, which will determine new borders between us, find a constructive solution to the problem of the Arab and Jewish refugees alike, a way out of the settlements problem and and a solution to the Jerusalem problem that enables the city to go on being a living, sacred, and united city to the satisfaction of all its inhabitants.
Once such a formula is attained the American president must throw his weight behind getting it implemented within a limited time, with the moral imprimatur of the whole world. So that our children will not know war anymore, and our blessed country will be able to prosper at long last in peace, in the words of the prophet.
The real history of Israel-U.S. military coordination
On the television program "Fact" that aired recently on Channel 2, the prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, hailed prime ministers who acted in the past without coordinating with the American administration, when to their minds the Israeli national interest called for it.
Among other things Netanyahu mentioned favorably, as an example of bold leadership, the decision by Prime Minister Levi Eshkol in favor of a military move on the eve of the Six-Day War, contrary to President Johnson's position. Indeed, the prime ministers of Israel have on more than one occasion made decisions that ran counter to the American position. However the example the prime minister gave is erroneous and actually attests to the opposite, and more decisive, pattern: Whenever there was a danger of existential war, the Israeli government made sure to coordinate its strategic moves with the United States. As we know, in the Sinai Campaign Israel learned the price of going to war without such coordination: rage, threats of economic sanctions, and the necessity of withdrawing from Sinai. The lesson was learned. On the eve of the Six-Day War the Mossad chief and foreign minister were dispatched to Washington. Upon their return they reported to the government that an Israeli military action would receive a "yellow light" from the White House: President Johnson understands the necessity, even if he will not be able to support it explicitly.
Moreover, even in the nightmare hours, when the possibility of the Arab offensive on Yom Kippur became clear, Prime Minister Golda Meir accepted the American demand to refrain from a preemptive strike. All this out of an understanding that refusal to do so might deprive Israel of vital American military backing later on. Golda's tough decision cost her harsh domestic criticism and personal anguish, but it undoubtedly stood in Israel's favor when President Nixon made - about a week later - the decision to send Israel an essential airlift of military supplies.
In both cases the coordination with the American administration, at a time of existential distress, turned out to be a necessary component in the Israeli strategy.
Dr. Noam Kochavi
American foreign policy expert
Hebrew University, Tel Aviv U and IDC Herzliya