Netanyahu Has Invited America to Punish Israel

U.S. President Barack Obama has exposed the naked truth - Netanyahu does not want peace, does not want a Palestinian state, is not a true friend of the United States.

Gideon Levy
Gideon Levy
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Gideon Levy
Gideon Levy

This is the crime and its punishment: Israel said an arrogant "no" to America, and America will neither forgive nor forget. We should be grateful to Obama. In his speech Friday night, he exposed the naked truth - that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu does not want peace. We should also be grateful to the prime minister: On Friday night he finally told the truth, put an end to the deceptions of his Bar-Ilan speech, to promises of the "30 magic words" that he would utter Tuesday in Congress and to his "commitment to two states." Netanyahu does not want a Palestinian state, period.

The new world envisioned by Obama has no place for endless military occupation, for scenes like Operation Cast Lead, for shooting at protesters and for checkpoints. There is no agreement without a Palestinian state, and there is no Palestinian state without the 1967 borders. Netanyahu's harsh "no," which is Israel's harsh "no," will resound to the ends of the earth.

And if that were not enough, another consensual lie has been revealed: Israel is not a true friend of the United States. This is not how a friend behaves, certainly not one so dependent on the other. This evening, at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee conference, where everyone will be praising the great friendship between the two nations and their shared values, we should remember that this friendship is frighteningly one-sided - it is America's friendship for Israel.

That insolent "no" will now lead to harsh steps by the great power. That is the reality now - for complaints and answers, please see Netanyahu. The United States has three choices. One is to distance itself again from the issue. That would be no less than a disaster. From the American perspective, it would mean an end to all its strategic efforts to touch the hearts of the Arab nations. Israel - against which time is working so frighteningly, for which 1967 is becoming 1947 and Carmiel is becoming Ariel - should hope this is not what happens.

Obama's second option is to speak to the Israelis over the heads of their leader. That will not work. Even if he does what Sadat did, comes to the Knesset and speaks to us directly, telling us how our prime minister is endangering our future and undermining relations with our only ally - even then, Israelis will not awaken from the winter (and summer ) hibernation into which the good life has lulled them. In Israel there is no majority either on the right or the left. The majority is in a state of frightening indifference.

There is a third way, ostensibly more difficult for Israel than the others - pressure. A U.S. vote in the United Nations in favor of a Palestinian state would have to be the first step. Then would come isolation - it won't be pleasant fending alone with Micronesia - cuts in aid and abandonment. Although it would cause panic in Jerusalem and no less so in Tel Aviv, this is the only way to show Israel true friendship. Netanyahu has said (for all intents and purposes ) that this is the way. He has left no alternative.

Obama, who will fortunately be with us for another six years, has gone back to showing determination, at least in words; his test now is in actions. True Israeli patriots who see where their country is headed, who understand that change will no longer come from within, must, with some shame, hope for pressure from the outside. They have no other hope. Yes, Mr. President, if you are a true friend, now is the time for pressure.

A call for the president of the United States to pressure Israel is quite problematic when it comes from an Israeli. Netanyahu has brought us to this point. A prime minister who speaks in yesterday's stale terms about the "narrow waistline" and the ridiculous need to station soldiers on the Jordan River, who only says what he says no to and not what he says yes to, who spreads false anxiety and no hope at all, who says no to America and no to opportunity - harms Israel's security more than all the people who propose narrow borders and all the treacherous leftists together. This Netanyahu has invited America to punish Israel. That is apparently the only way to rouse the Israelis from the nightmare coming true before their very eyes.

Perhaps only if it becomes more difficult for us to get to Macy's will we understand that we must give up Efrat. After all, more Israelis visit Macy's than Efrat.



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