U.S. era of Jewish and Evangelist pressure is over
Netanyahu's belief that messianism would serve Israel better than rational pragmatism is worrying.
A little more than a year ago, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu formed the largest, most wasteful and extreme coalition in Israeli history. Tzipi Livni and Kadima may have won the most votes, but Netanyahu chose to bond with the wackiest, most extreme elements in Israeli society - to ensure Israel's continued hold on the territories and keep a two-state solution at bay.
Netanyahu's belief that occupation and messianism would serve Israel better than rational pragmatism is worrying, but not surprising.
Netanyahu's ideological preferences are known. It is still surprising, however, that once again he has emerged as a failing schlemiel of a politician. He cannot read the new global map and is incapable of evaluating his real chances of surviving as prime minister of a radical right-wing cabinet opposite the new administration in Washington.
In opting against a centrist-pragmatist coalition with Livni, Netanyahu kept moderate people out of his government who could speak in a language acceptable to Barack Obama. This would have saved Netanyahu's cabinet from moments of tension and disagreement with the Americans.
It is clear that to do so he would have had to agree to Livni's demand to reach a final decision regarding the peace process, in order to ensure Israel's legitimate existence as a democratic Jewish state. He would also have had to agree to a rotating premiership with Livni - which would have spared him the shameful surrender to Yisrael Beiteinu and the ultra-Orthodox parties.
But Netanyahu did not accept Livni's terms to join the government and instead got himself into an impossible situation.Now he has thrown Israel into a dangerous, insufferable collision course with the United States and will apparently have to pay for it with his post.
Netanyahu could have been expected to understand the meaning of Obama's election as U.S. president and to prepare accordingly. Obama was elected without really needing the Jewish vote. He came to power on the back of a clear, enthusiastic agenda to make a fundamental break with all the previous administration's principles.
The era of Jewish and evangelist pressure in America is over, and a renowned Americanologist like Netanyahu should have seen that his lunatic politics would raise strong objections in the United States and endanger Israel and its future.
The writing was on the wall. Livni, who represents the Israeli center, could have conducted a friendly, more moderate dialogue with the Americans, thanks to her credibility and clear support for the two-state principle, unlike Netanyahu's lack of credibility in this arena.
Had Netanyahu really been an adroit statesman, he would have understood immediately that Livni was actually offering him the only way of running Israel in a new world. But Netanyahu did not understand. In his blindness he assumed that in the worst case he could trust the faded magic tricks of Ehud Barak and Shimon Peres. In view of the storm coming from Obama's direction, it is clear that these two cannot divert the lightning.
Washington wants unequivocal progress toward an agreement, and only Livni can do that. Anyone who doesn't see that has failed in a pathetic, worrisome way.
Netanyahu's wretched entanglement with the U.S. administration proves again that his judgment is fundamentally flawed and his political assessments are not merely invalid, but put Israel at risk.
Anyone who can't understand that we will end up bruised in a collision with a tough U.S. administration isn't capable of the simplest reality check and cannot be entrusted with fateful decisions of war. Bibi is dangerous to the Jews.
The writer was a Meretz MK in the 17th Knesset.
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