As Independence Day Nears, Israel Would Be Wise to Heed Obama

I don't know how to start summing up the 62nd year since the establishment of the State of Israel. That not one day went by in this country without some scandal among its leadership? That the country's former president has been charged with rape? That the person who was prime minister is now suspected of receiving bribes? That Holyland "rhymes" with unholy corruption? Or perhaps with the unbearable lightness with which an anonymous thief can go into the chief of staff's bureau and take his credit card and revolver? Or a junior clerk can steal 2,000 secret documents because of faulty security arrangements? And this is a country where the prime minister asks Elie Wiesel to intercede with a good word for it to U.S. President Barack Obama, like the Jews in the Diaspora would look for intercessors to put in a good word for them to the nobleman.

And how about the coward Bibi? At the last minute he canceled his trip to the nuclear conference in Washington for fear Obama would not shake his hand and sent Dan Meridor instead. He got not only a warm handshake from Obama but also an intimate photograph? And an extremist like Lieberman is serving as foreign minister and speaks out about everything except peace with the Palestinians? And Defense Minister Ehud Barak publishes a statement saying the chief of staff's tenure will not be extended and overnight turns him into a lame duck - when gas masks are being distributed and Hezbollah is being armed with Scuds?

This is the place to mention that when Barak served as chief of staff, he went out of his way to ensure that the announcement about the end of his tenure would be published only three months in advance. He focused on himself then and focuses on himself now as head of a party that is naught and is completely dependent on Bibi's goodwill.

As for the dilemma of making choices with regard to our situation in the 62nd year, and with the approach of the 63rd year, it is possible to say the country took a big step forward in the economic field. Even though our security situation is reasonable at the moment, we did not move even a millimeter closer to a diplomatic solution. The quiet and the good economic situation have enticed us into sinking into a state of wait and see. Very few soldiers are losing their lives, and meanwhile terror is not raising its head. But we cannot rely on that forever. The relaxed atmosphere is tempting us not to take initiatives toward peace.

It's fashionable now in the world to denounce Israel. The government has contributed to this unpleasant trend with its plans and declarations about construction in Jerusalem. The mayor of Jerusalem does not understand that not every day is Lag Ba'omer, and that it's not necessary to light a bonfire time after time around the issue of construction in Jerusalem. One journalist called him an imbecile, and a well-known columnist described him as a half-wit. In my opinion, he's not as dumb as they think. He's simply toeing the line with Netanyahu.

We talk a great deal about the Iranian threat. But when a senior American official was asked what is happening with Iran, he ignored the question and replied: What is happening with the responses we are expecting from you? Will you tell us what you really want? Bibi is not answering, and the dialogue with Obama is stuck. Obama is a strange bird who sticks to his guns and is not really Zionist. He expects his wishes and questions to be taken seriously, while Bibi treats America as if it will always be on our side and will never fail to veto an anti-Israel resolution. We have to pray we will be proven wrong. Our threat with regard to the Iranian issue - that if you don't act, we will - brings to mind the various jokes about the relations between an elephant and a mouse.

I am in favor of understandings and not in favor of employing force, Obama says, and advises us to deal with those matters about which we owe him responses - as part of the pressure on Iran.

A short while ago, Netanyahu boasted at a special news conference that his government had made 1,500 decisions in its first year of office. This is a worldwide first in the department of political bragging. The question is, how many of these decisions were implemented? Does it include the decision once again to change the staff in his bureau so as to placate his wife Sara? One may ask: Why doesn't he appoint her officially as head of his bureau?

To sum up the 62nd year of our independence is gloomy. The tension between Obama and Netanyahu will not be solved with declarations and speeches. Bibi must bring concrete answers to begin serious negotiations on the basis of two states for two peoples. Since there is no trust between the two leaders and no identical vision of the objective, a great deal of tension has been created. Contrary to what happened in the past, Israel's Democratic friends in Congress are hesitant about confronting the president on the subject of Israel.

The letter from 327 Congressmen [expressing concern over the treatment of Israel] was not sent to the president but to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. And they did not write that they favor construction in Jerusalem but rather proposed that Israel be treated with understanding. Where is this letter, and where is the letter signed by 76 senators to president Gerald Ford to immediately stop sanctions against Israel?

Obama is the Democrats' star and has a large historical achievement behind him and, in front of him, the obligation to justify his Nobel Peace Prize. There is no support for the settlements in Congress and its members are definitely on the side of the president with reference to furthering peace. A sane man at this time would advise the prime minister to open the 63rd year of our independence by acceding to Obama's recommendations, lest it end with an imposed settlement.