On rare occasions it may be appropriate to assert that "everybody is crazy but us." The risks are considerable. Asylums are crowded with individuals who say the same.

Not everybody but us is crazy. We have friends who admit that they agree with us. And we suspect (or hope) that others who criticize us are doing no more than offering lip service to those who have more votes than we do in international forums.

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Several things have spurred these comments.


Most prominently is an editorial in the New York Times that, along with a slight nod in the direction of balance, says that the greater responsibility for the stall in the peace process is the "game playing" of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

"We think the burden is on Mr. Netanyahu to get things moving again. The settlements are illegal under international law, and resuming the moratorium, which expired on Sept. 26, will in no way harm Israel’s national interest... President Obama made a very generous - too generous, we believe - offer to Israel, to get Mr. Netanyahu to extend the moratorium... Mr. Netanyahu still refused, insisting that the hard-line members of his coalition would never go along. He then added to the controversy by proposing that the Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state... the Israelis cannot bet on the infinite patience of the Palestinian people - or the international community." 

The New York Times columnist Roger Cohen also knows how to add a bit of balance to his op-ed pieces, but has been predictably even more forceful toward Israel than the paper''s editorial writers. He accuses the prime minister of "unseemly bartering" with respect to the issue of the settlement freeze. He goes on to ask how Israel can dare stand against the international guarantees provided in a speech by President Obama, and his promise of a Palestinian state by September 2011, which is backed up by comments made by representatives of Russia, the European Union and other United Nations member states. Cohen urges the American president to say, " to heck with your coalition, Bibi, bring in Kadima.

Cohen claims that the Palestinians have made clear their position:

"The 1967 borders plus or minus agreed land swaps, meaning a state in the West Bank and Gaza with East Jerusalem as its capital. In return, President Mahmoud Abbas has said, Palestinians will drop all “historical claims” and live alongside a secure Israel in peace."

Cohen may think that this is the Palestinian position, but he has left out the refugees. His piece does not mention them. That is reason enough to assign Cohen to an asylum, or at least to raise the issue of his ignorance, sloppiness, or inclination to deceive.

Both Cohen and the New York Times editorial board are even handed enough to admit that the extremism of Palestinians in control of Gaza, and the stubbornness or timidity of those around Mahmoud Abbas are part of the explanation for the stall in negotiations. In my view, those are the 800 pound gorillas that dwarf the problem of the Israeli coalition. Why should Prime Minister Netanyahu or Kadima''s leader Tzipi Livni strain to offer something to the Palestinians likely to be what Ehud Olmert offered more than a year ago, and Abbas dismissed as insufficient?

Is is not only the giants associated with the New York Times who lead me to say that there are worthies whose degree of political sanity makes Israelis appear wise, coherent, and sane. There is also a friend among the commoners who provokes the same feelings.

We have been in touch over the issue of the boycott against Israeli products established by a food co-op in his home town. I responded to his report about his adversaries who were promoting the boycott with a comment that he ought to recognize anti-Semitism when he experienced it. He accused me of being a typical Israeli suffering from paranoia, and anxious to paint with the accusation of anti-Semitism anyone who criticized the country.

More recently he shared with me a report about continuing confrontations about the boycott. About one presentation he wrote:

". . . the overall theme of his talk is that Jews (not just Israelis) are oppressors who claim they are innocent of any and all charges, they are colonialists who have no claim to the land and that they violate Jewish ethics. Interesting enough, he didn''t address the Israeli/Palestinian conflict at all. He just preached that it''s all the Jews'' fault and stopped just short of saying there''s a worldwide Jewish conspiracy . . . What we need are non-Jews in the community to speak up and I don''t hear that happening."

When I reminded my friend that I had earlier used the term anti-Semites to describe his adversaries, he responded in the style of the New York Times:

"You have little idea what is going on here. You don''t begin to understand why many people around the world view Israelis as oppressors."

Maybe people who curse Jews are not anti-Semites, and Israel''s behavior is the reason for their nastiness even if they do not say so. Perhaps the world really is flat, and the light I see in the west is the sun rising.




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