The Talmud distinguished between a bull that gores maliciously and a bull that is innocent. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is the former kind, who must pay full compensation for all the damage he causes, all the victims he leaves behind. When Barack Hussein Obama began his term as U.S. president, it seemed for a moment as if he knew who he was dealing with here. And if he didn't, then Rahm Emanuel surely did.
But now, it is no longer clear that the White House has done its homework. After all, Netanyahu is known in America as someone who deceives the entire world, the Israeli public and perhaps even himself. Successive Israeli governments have specialized in deceiving governments in Washington, out of loyalty to the deeply rooted Diaspora tradition that it's a good deed to cheat the tyrant.
This is not necessarily an issue of flawed character on the part of one man called Bibi, though his is indeed a cowardly character - one that dictates survival at any price, even the price of a malodorous reputation. Some people are afraid of their own shadows, and some are afraid of their shadows' shadows: Netanyahu, for instance, is afraid of Tzipi Hotovely.
Polls show Obama's popularity declining, but he continues to fight. And Netanyahu, for whom polls are the breath of life, is observing with interest. Who knows how to identify weakness better than he, a weak man himself? He is hoping to build himself up on Obama's ruins.
Therefore, we must make one final, eleventh-hour plea to the U.S. administration: Don't lend your hand to this rotten compromise. One can make deals with honest men, but one must never make deals with those who have betrayed a trust over and over again.
If you permit construction in Jerusalem, and you permit the completion of projects already underway in the West Bank, and now you permit hundreds of new housing units as well, this is nothing less than slipping off the leash with American approval. Then go try to monitor and count, to figure out what was built with the proper permission and what by trickery - as if lies do not have legs, which have already taken them a good long way since 1967; as if the settlers and their guardians have never before caused the truth to stink.
Solving the conflict requires "creativity." And indeed, there is no idea more creative than permitting more building for the sake of freezing it later. This is like someone seeking reconciliation - but first wants to slap his opponent's cheek, spit in his face, gouge out his eyes and perhaps also a bit of his liver. Or like someone who seeks to put out a fire by pouring oil on it. But Washington shouldn't worry. Instead, it should adopt Netanyahu's golden rule: If the Israelis give, they will get. And everyone already knows what is liable to happen if they don't give.
Want to enjoy 'Zen' reading - with no ads and just the article? Subscribe todaySubscribe now