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Despite all the hype about the US - Israel split, nobody really knows if there is one, as the Jerusalem Post and others have pointed out several times. Most of the supposed and rumored snubs never occurred or are unproven. Nobody knows what Rahm Emmanuel said or didn't say about Netanyahu or about linkage between peace and Iran, though rumors abound. A claim that the US was considering withdrawing support from Israel at the UN was quickly denied. A surprise meeting between Barack Obama and Ehud Barak seems to have gone well. On the other hand, Hillary Clinton's remarks about settlement expansion are certainly a matter of public record. The US is opposed to an Israeli attack on Iran, and this policy has not changed since the Bush administration. Since Avigdor Lieberman insists Israel has no plans to attack Iran, that is a point of doubtful significance at present.

If there is a "break," President Obama has thus far left the sparring to underlings and has been careful to maintain warm relations and make the right noises. The major sources of rumors about a break and pressure on Israel are extremists of left and right, who either want to show up Israel as an obstacle to peace, to show that the Netanyahu government cannot deal with the United States (Tzipi Livni is supposedly waiting in the wings) or want to generate partisan political propaganda in the United States. None of these points should be of specific interest for those who are worried about Israel as such.

What should Israel and the Israeli government do? "Just say no" is only going to accomplish the goal of those who want to isolate Israel and show that Israel is an obstacle to peace. There is a peace offensive underway, and as I noted in detail some time ago, peace offensives (see Danger- Peace Offensive) can be potent weapons for destroying the other side. Obama is rumored to be pressing Israel to come up with a peace policy by July - and that is precisely what Israel has to do.

Saying "Iran comes first" and nothing else is not an option for Israel. Nobody is going to listen if Israel is unresponsive to the US diplomatic offensive. The fact is, that nobody has a realistic plan for dealing with Iranian nuclear weapons, or for that matter, with North Korean nuclear weapons. The whole topic doesn't seem to interest Americans and there is not much that we, or the worried Asian allies of the US, can do about it. The North Korean nuclear test demonstrates that the way of diplomacy and quiet persuasion does not work, but the United States seems determined to stay on the same course, and there is nothing that any friend of Israel can do about it. North Korea was evidently building a reactor for Syria when they were rudely interrupted by an Israeli raid. But they tried once, and they will try again. If and when North Korea begins peddling nuclear weapons to terror groups and perhaps to Iran and Syria, the issue of Iran becomes secondary. At some point, some U.S. government is going to have to tear itself away from domestic concerns and face reality, but we cannot do much to change those ideas. We certainly can't do anything as long as our warnings look like lame excuses for not engaging in the peace process.

Declaring over and over that Jerusalem is the undivided capital of Israel forever and ever is not going to make the Israeli hold on Jerusalem any more secure. If the United States presses Israel hard enough, and they can press pretty hard if they decide it is needed, it is not realistically possible for Israel to keep saying "No."

We do have some assets and allies if a contest develops over US policy. Our best allies are probably the Arabs themselves. Thus far, there are no signs that "moderate" Mahmoud Abbas is willing to give an inch on Palestinian demands for right of return, to recognize a Jewish state or to recognize any Israeli national rights in East Jerusalem at all. Arab League countries have repeatedly rebuffed Obama's requests to take some steps at normalization with Israel. They made it clear that the Arab peace initiative is empty of content: Israel is to make concessions, and then each Arab state does as it sees fit, which means they do nothing. "Land for peace" has been replaced by "Land for nothing." Eventually, even the more anti-Israel members of the Obama administration should catch on to the idea that they will get nothing but empty talk from that quarter. In Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is due to be re-elected, and then Obama will probably find that there is nobody to talk to in Iran and nothing to talk about, except possibly cooperation against a common enemy in Afghanistan.

US congressional Democrats, as well as Republicans, are beginning to make discontented noises about one sided pressure that is being applied to Israel. But they can only make a strong case if Israel has a clear policy that supports equitable peace, as well as challenging Palestinians and Arab states to meet proffered Israeli concessions. If Israel can be painted as being in the way of a peace settlement, and more important to Americans, an obstacle to better US-Muslim relations, the Israeli cause will become politically unviable, as unfair as that may seem. If there is going to be a diplomatic battle over Jerusalem, we had better chose the best battlefield for us.

Israel needs to come out explicitly for a solution based on the Clinton bridging proposals, which call for and Arab state and a Jewish state, Israeli rights in East Jerusalem and no right of return for Palestinian refugees. As Israel already accepted these proposals in principle in 2000, it is pointless to renege on them now. These proposals can only be implemented of course, if Palestinians are really ready to disarm terror groups, stop incitement, and quit educating their children to believe that all of Palestine belongs to them. Palestinian recognition of a Jewish State has to be part of the peace package, as does Arab recognition of Jewish rights. It is a basic issue that was already recognized in UN General Assembly Resolution 181, a point that will be appreciated by those who favor "international legitimacy." Israel should also make every possible real effort to improve the lot of the Palestinians in the West Bank.

Here's the really unpleasant part. Let's face it, Israel is also going to have to remove illegal outposts, as we undertook to do, and effect some compromise regarding a settlement construction freeze. It might be temporary, and it might be circumscribed, but it would be very unwise for Israel to begin any conspicuous construction projects after the US was so explicit about this issue. Israel has to give the US, which is anxious to play the part of a good faith peace broker, something they can take to the Arab side as a concession.

The articulation of Israeli policy should not just be a series of concessions. For example, the concessions should be conditioned on specific and unequivocal US commitment to the Bush letter regarding the inclusion of settlement blocks withing Israeli territory, and the need for Palestinians to abide by the road map. Israel must be ready to abide by its commitments, but the United States must also abide by its commitments. It should also be pointed out that Arab countries that have been admitted to the WTO continue to boycott Israel in violation of US law. Ending the boycott is enforcemetn of US law. It is not a "concession" that must be bought by Israeli concessions.

Israel also needs to pointedly remind the U.S. administration and the American people that all talk about peace is theoretical as long as Hamas remain in power in Gaza, and that settlement freezes and peace talks cannot go on indefinitely. The Gaza situation is bad for Israel, bad for the United States and and bad for the Palestinians. However, if Israel is going to make concessions in Gaza, these have to be based on Hamas agreement to a cease fire and return of Gilad Shalit. The very least the U.S. can do, is to ensure that Shalit is treated according to the Geneva convention.

Surely some of these steps are distasteful to many supporters of Israel, but given the leverage that the United States has on Israel, there doesn't seem to be a choice in the matter. At the very least, it is certainly unhelpful for Israeli legislators to hold conferences decrying the two state solution, and for Israeli diplomats to declare that peace conferences are a waste of time. This sort of "letting off steam" may provide some juvenile satisfaction, but it is damaging to Israel's cause. The ugly specter of settlers rioting against Palestinians and the IDF is even less excusable. All these political demonstrations and stage acts only serve the purpose of media interested in portraying Zionists as enemies of peace.

There may, in fact, be no limits to Arab demands or to the willingness of the US and others to accommodate them. In the 50s, U.S. and British diplomats pursued a hare brained scheme to make Israel give a part of the Negev to Egypt in return for dubious concessions. We have not heard the last of Charles Freeman and his supporters. Today, there are no doubt people in the administration who would have no problem selling out Israel to Iran. The Obama administration might also be looking for ways to legitimize Hamas, or it might be willing to force Israel to accept the return of hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees. If it comes to that, Israel and its supporters will need to say "No," and perhaps to pay a very heavy price for saying "No." Then it will be clear that the "No" has nothing to do with obstructing peace or alleged Zionist land greed. But saying "No" now only serves to isolate Israel and increases the chances that we will face this unpleasant confrontation.

Ami Isseroff

Original content is Copyright by the author 2009. Posted at ZioNation-Zionism and Israel Web Log, http://www.zionism-israel.com/log/archives/00000695.html where your intelligent and constructive comments are welcome. Disributed by ZNN list. Subscribe by sending a message to ZNN-subscribe@yahoogroups.com. Please forward by e-mail with this notice, cite this article and link to it. Other uses by permission only.

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Replies: 2 Comments

I agree with you Israel should not make more unilateral concession but the world has been conditioned to seeing Israel give away land for nothing. Israeli policy henceforth should be to grant the Palestinians self-rule under Israeli sovereignty over Yesha. The details of this self rule can be negotiated but Israel's sovereignty and right of self-defense must be be non-negotiable principles. If Israel is not going to accept any true TSS, that it is best to spell out honestly what is on offer to the Palestinians and pursue peace based on that. The Arabs will reject it but then the onus will be on them for rejecting a peace settlement based on Israel's terms.

NormanF, Wednesday, June 3rd

I am not so blameful of Israelis for trying, you've have made errors and you've paid for them but what is happening now is America is trying to ram down Israel's throat and make them pay for America's errors. The US is now trying to force Israel now into indefendable borders, (that right if Israel gives them the "west bank" and "arab east Jerusalem" and the Golan Heights, in fact all of them, or any one of them she basicly looses control of the skies over Israel and the watershed of 90% of her water supply) this has nothing to do with "peace" this is roll over and die. (Of couse they would never, never say such a thing so clearly, but when all is said and done that's its result.)

It's very important to read and understand parsha Vayishlach because we live in a constant relationship with Edom, the Anglos (Teman, one of Esau's sons, didn't you read the Haftorah on Shavout second day?) are both slippery and evil, I know this, and I never forget it, I may be a Jewish Newfoundlander but my heart is in the Eretz and I have no illusions about the Crown. You have illusions, as most do, and the Crown is quite content to let their "loved subjects" think whatever they want to think. The Royals are not people who go around thinking that their "sh-t doesn't stink" They know they stink all the time, that's why the pretenses and proper decorum. You cross them and they'll tell you straight up that oh yes their sh-t smells bad, real bad, and they are very proud of being barbarians who will ram a load down your throat. Thats why they ran an empire around the globe for a 150 years. But also remember Edom is Yaakov's brother. A very powerful lesson is in Vayishlach that so many seem to have missed it. Remember Yaakov has returned from Aram and what does he do, he sends gifts first, the Ravs' say he tried to placate Esav but I don't think so, Yisroel really was first trying to gauge his brother's real intentions, and he found out soon enough when the news came that his brother was coming with 400 men. So what does he do, he divides his camps force into two groups, he prays, and he prepares for combat. When the two brothers meet, what happens? They embrace and part in peace, I know that the rabbis glean from the scripture implications of insincerety, and no doubt they are right, but they are also wrong, Edom is slippery and evil , but they miss the real context, why is Esav with 400 men? what, he's Mister popularity? he's a guy who lives by the sword, and he's got 400 men eating him out of house and home? The answer is he is a superb tactican, he knows how to size up his prey, it's his gift. It also means he's got plenty of other enemies out there, and when he took one look at his brother who was both connected to his Torah and was prepared for combat well as the British say "discretion is the better part of valour". What if he would have attacked? he might have won, he is a pro after all, but the odds are he's going to be hurt, quite possibly badly hurt, which is bad news considering he got other enemies out there who don't see him as mishpocha and even his own crew, he's only top dog of the pack, and you know what happens when the pack's leader goes weak, the pretenders to the throne emerge. A very valuable lesson is here. When I'm called to attend and serve I wear my tartan kipa, and I am always ready for combat. It does no good to castigate without offering a self esteem building path to redemption, but I don't let them get away with anything. Remember what Shimon Bar Yochai said of Edom they can do good deeds because it is good for their self interest. The operative word is "self-interest" When we embrace our Torah and learn from it constantly and apply it daily Edom will embrace us and respect our interests. Now if only my fellow Yidden here and in the Eretz could understand that we wouldn't be in the mess we are in right now.

You have forgtten that the best relations we had with the US was after we shot up their spy ship "Liberty". They respected us, now their contempt is blatant, the Israeli governments never came out and exposed and complained once after they violated the agreements of Clinton and Rabin, Holbrook and Bibi, and the one between Bush and Sharon, where is our valour and integrity. They are now sizing up their "prey" and as you are now hearing with the Lebanese "spy" story, with their subterfuge and aid they are still the same slippery and evil guys they've always been. If we will stand up, and honour our Almighty and his Torah, and smite the slippery and evil, this will evaporate like a middle eastern mirage. If you miss my point, the gifts have already been delivered in triplicate, many of us seem to think our enemy is just the robbers next door!!! who is sending them and training them?? wake up, the one we are going to have to punch in the nose is none other than our slippery and evil, "best friend of Israel and the Jewish people" and the sooner the better. Don't any of you learn a 'ting from our history

Larry Riteman, Wednesday, June 3rd

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