On diplomatic freedom and fortitude

By
April 3, 2015 08:10

Passover Eve reflections on global failings and Israel’s autonomy.




Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu . (photo credit:HAIM ZACH/GPO)

Israel’s Arab state neighbors are collapsing, and Israel’s most important Western diplomatic relationships are fraying. The magnitude of US President Barack Hussein Obama’s capitulation to Iranian Middle East hegemony is becoming clear; as is the depth of the chasm between the citizens of Israel and the liberal, assimilating American Jewish community.

And thus, melancholy and a sense of siege grip me on this Passover Eve and in advance of Holocaust Remembrance Day (Yom Hazikaron Leshoah Ugevura), two weeks from now.

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It hurts to be at the whim of Western weakness, indecision, and policies of appeasement. It is disheartening to be so dependent on a world that relates to Israel with double-standards, hypocrisy, and blatant cynicism. It’s uncomfortable to be wedged between Arab earthquakes on the one hand, and unrealistic Western expectations on the other.

It is increasingly scary to be so utterly and overly reliant on America and the international community. This is especially true at a time when Obama is clearly backing away from America’s foreign commitments and signaling that the US doesn’t want to lead in international affairs, and when he and the Europeans are intimating that they are sick and tired of Israel.

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It is infuriating to see Iran being upgraded by the P5+1 to the status of a regional ally, while Israel is downgraded to the status of a regional irritant.

INEVITABLY, historical precedents rush into view.

Only the Nazis and their immediate allies in Western Europe (Vichy France) and Eastern Europe (collaborators in Poland, Romania, Ukraine and more) were directly complicit in the Holocaust. But the rest of the world was complicit, too, as bystanders.

The global diplomatic community stood by as Hitler grew in power and began persecuting the Jews of Germany.

They did mostly nothing during the war, even as the contours of the Nazi extermination regime against Jews became apparent. They failed to bomb the railways to Auschwitz, and more. Diplomatically, the world failed the Jewish people.

Today, too, the international community has failed to halt the Iranian and Islamist campaign of defamation of Israel that has swept across the Arab world and spread into the Western world. The United Nations itself has become one of the greatest purveyors of anti-Israel incitement and delegitimization. Its so-called “Security Council” is more seized with Israeli housing starts than genocidal threats against Israel.

It also bears noting that the world is doing nothing, as Arabs – the same Arabs who wish to destroy Israel – slaughter other Arabs openly and wantonly in Syria and Iraq, for four years now, with no end in sight. There are no World War II-era excuses of not knowing or not having clear-enough information. The massacres in Syria are ongoing in full view of a well-wired world.

And of course, Obama and his gang of “realists” have abandoned all pretenses of preventing Iran from developing a nuclear weapon. They are running roughshod over all their explicit commitments over the past decade to close down Fordow, strip apart Arak, ship out enriched uranium, limit Iranian centrifuge and missile production to a bare minimum, and fully expose the military dimensions of Teheran’s secretive past activities.

All the while, the hooligans of the West cannot muster the determination to impose a code of decent conduct on Iran; even as that country foments Islamist revolution around the region, and stands behind the aggressions of Assad, Hezbollah, Hamas, the Houtis in Yemen, and more.

IN THIS dismal situation, the Jewish people and the State of Israel diplomatically owe the world nothing.

Broadly speaking, the nations of the world have no right, no moral basis, to tell Israel what to do, how to conduct its politics, where to erect its security fences, how to conduct its military campaigns, where draw its borders, or what ancestral lands to hand away, if any, to the Palestinians.

Quartet diplomats, Russian diplomats, Norwegian diplomats, French diplomats, and even (well-meaning?) American diplomats, ought to approach us with a great deal of humility when they come to discuss our diplomatic well-being and before they attempt to dictate terms of our future.

Having been so wrong in their Pollyannaish hopes for the Oslo Accords and the Arab Spring, they ought to be giving Israel the benefit of the doubt when Jerusalem prefers to act cautiously.

I’m not suggesting that Israel adopt a policy of defiance of the world. Alas, Israel is dependent to a significant degree on the fortunes and opinions of the democratic world. Israel cannot easily manage all diplomatic and defense files on its own. Israel’s strategic kismet is still very tightly tied to the state of the Western world.

Moreover, Israel wants and needs to be part of Western cultural, scientific, and business circles. And thus, Israel obviously must conduct itself wisely and work cooperatively with the friends it does have in the world.

At the same time, however, Israel must maintain an independent ability to defend itself by itself at the times and place of its choosing – even if Jerusalem is out of synch on this with some allies.

THE PASSOVER SEDER is a ceremony that is all about national freedom and fortitude. There is a key text in the Haggadah which speaks about the foes of the Jews “rising up in every generation” to challenge the viability and validity of the Jewish people – “but God protects us.”

There is another text in which God is beseeched “not to make us dependent upon the gifts of mortal men nor upon their loans... that we may never be shamed or disgraced.”

In this vein, I have drafted a modern prayer for diplomatic independence, which might make a poignant addition to tonight’s Seder: “Oh Lord, please reduce our dependency on improvident politicians, while giving us good friends, honorable allies, and the resources to be as self-reliant as possible.

“Make Israel strong enough to work with the world, not fight with it; free enough to contribute creatively to the world, not be crushed by boycott and demonization; brainy enough to be respected by the world, not bullied by it; stout enough to set its own redlines and to defend them, not be hobbled by pathetic lines blithely set by others.

“Protect us from untrustworthy statesmen and back-stabbing superpowers. And, oh Lord, if and when necessary, give us the grit to go it alone. Amen.”

www.davidmweinberg.com


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