The Foreign Ministry's futile UN campaign
This campaign to thwart the Palestinian campaign to gain recognition for statehood at the UN is certain to yield fruit, but it will be rotten fruit, empty results for a futile policy.
As if the the shortening of the summer school break - a catastrophe narrowly averted at the last minute - were not enough, another national disaster made headlines last week: All September vacations for Foreign Ministry staff were canceled. Members of Israel's diplomatic corps were told they needed to be on constant call that month in order to thwart the Palestinian campaign to gain recognition for statehood at the United Nations. Classified cables were dispatched, as Haaretz reporter Barak Ravid disclosed, a special "September forum" was created, and all scheduled September vacations were eliminated in one stroke.
Not only the vacations of Israeli diplomats, but also those of various Jewish functionaries, were affected, with the Foreign Ministry director general ordering the engagement of all "relevant power sources" - a code word for Jewish communities and their spokespeople and emissaries.
This campaign is certain to yield fruit, but it will be rotten fruit, empty results for a futile policy. Germany will side with us, as will Italy, and perhaps Britain will abstain. As for Micronesia, it's obvious what will happen there. And then there's the United States, with its eternal commitment to us. But what will happen the day after the UN vote? Will Israel be stronger? More righteous? Will peace be closer? Will we be farther from an intifada? But why bother ourselves with such trivialities when Israel's diplomatic corps is getting ready to strike at dawn.
The voice of Zion to the Diaspora - in other words, the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem under the leadership of Avigdor Lieberman - claims that recognition of the Palestinian state entails the delegitimization of Israel. What in God's name is the connection between recognition of the Palestinian state and the delegitimization of Israel? Is the prime minister, who claims to be committed to the two-state solution, promoting the delegitimization of Israel? Such delegitimization, dear ambassadors, is virtually non-existent in the world; it is the product of your febrile minds, of your specious fear-mongering. Who in the world, apart from Teheran and perhaps Damascus, thirsts for the liquidation of the State of Israel? Who really talks about that seriously? If such talk rears its head on the radical fringes, it does so precisely because of Israel's opposition to the establishment of a Palestinian state. But when it comes to advocating for Israel, such exaggerated scare-mongering is the name of the game.
Diplomats who have been recruited to thwart the Palestinian statehood declaration have been instructed to point out that this would be a unilateral move that bypasses negotiations. This claim has some cheek - was not the building of settlements a unilateral move? And obviously, the occupation of the territories emerged out of diplomatic negotiations, and the IDF's Cast Lead operation fell upon the Palestinians after a process of negotiated compromise. The only unilateral move on this landscape would be a Palestinian statehood declaration. As far as we are concerned, unilateralism is anything the Palestinians do. Whatever we do is never unilateral, even if what ensues is irreversible damage that will last for generations.
And what, dear diplomats and Israeli advocacy experts, would negotiations be about anyway - about Jerusalem being united for eternity? about Israeli presence in the Jordan Valley and settlement blocs? And with whom would they be conducted? With Benjamin Netanyahu?
Yes, we can go back to our old tricks again, especially when it comes to Europe, which will anyway will do whatever America says. Once again, we'll be able to squeeze historical guilt out of the same old lemon. Yet the "September forum" must also explain where this advocacy effort, where all this fabricated, ephemeral diplomatic achievement, will lead us. Does the fact that out of 130 countries in the world, only 110 will raise their hands against us constitute a triumph? It's easy to anticipate what will happen after such a vote: The world will continue to assail Israel's policies, and the Palestinians will renew their struggle.
Yet it's just as easy to imagine how Israel's status would improve leaps and bounds were it to join the chorus of support for this just international move. There's no doubt that it would enjoy a ground swell of support and sympathy.
But so long as Israel does not propose a serious, genuine alternative to the UN vote, so long as it is not prepared to accept an historic compromise based on the 1967 borders and a solution to the refugee problem, it would be well-advised to shelf the idea of activating its "power foci" overseas in this advocacy effort. They will become a laughing stock.
What we need is not a "September forum," but rather, a forum that will think years ahead, and, at long last, provide answers to the question of what Israel really wants, not just what it doesn't want. But our ambassadors don't have time to deal with that question now. They are too busy with their thwarting mission - this time for a change, a diplomatic one. They may eventually win Israel another great victory, but as usual, it will not lead anywhere.