Hello Israel: What are you doing?

Many of Israel’s supporters can't understand why Jerusalem continues to build settlements on land it says it would be ready to evacuate in a peace agreement

December 11, 2012 12:10
3 minute read.
Netanyahu Ratner 521

Netanyahu Ratner 521. (photo credit: Baz Ratner/Reuters)


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During the recent US presidential election campaign, many American Jews kept hearing the same question from friends and relatives in Israel: how can you vote for Obama, he’s so anti-Israel? While vigorously disputing that proposition, we explained that unlike them we were not looking at the election solely through an Israeli lens or comparing the candidates’ positions on the Middle East. We have to live in this country and we could not support a political party that was against women’s reproductive rights and gay marriage, that was antiimmigrant, contemptuous of science, hostile to workers’ rights and which aimed to further punish the poor and needy while further enriching multi-millionaires.

Now the boot is on the other foot. Watching the unfolding Israeli election, many American Jews find the proceedings quite unintelligible. Why did Netanyahu climb into bed with Liberman? Why did Likud kick prominent moderates like Dan Meridor and Benny Begin, who represent its reasonable face, into the gutter? Why can’t the various opposition parties unite and provide a real challenge to the right? Most of all, why are Israeli politicians of all stripes almost totally disregarding what we see as the main issue facing the country, the need to reinvigorate negotiations with the Palestinians toward a two-state solution? We understand that elections are always fought on domestic issues and whether people feel better off than they did four years ago. But Israel had always been different because of the hostile neighborhood in which it lives and because of its constant search for peace. In this context, some of Netanyahu’s recent actions seem not only inexplicable but deeply damaging.


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