“Then was the palm of the hand sent from before Him, and this writing was inscribed: MENE MENE, TEKEL UPHARSIN. This is the interpretation of the thing... Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting.” – The Book of Daniel
Agence France Presse reports that the Palestinian bid for UN recognition of unilateral statehood is “causing diplomatic panic” in the United States and Israel. While Israel is certainly concerned, I think “panic” is totally wrong as a description.
After all, Israel’s overwhelming interpretation is that the UN event will change nothing. As for US panic, where has the Obama administration been for the past year? Associated Press says that Israel is “increasingly isolated” ahead of the vote. I don’t think that’s how Israelis look at this either. We know that cynicism makes sense – various countries will vote for the resolution or abstain purely to get popularity points with Arab and Muslim-majority states, and then do nothing.
The most important effect on Israel is that it will never again listen seriously to these countries’ advice or criticism since they don’t keep their most basic promises or commitments. Saying Israel is panicking or isolated suggests that Israel should want to make more concessions, strive to please the West and depend on its support in exchange. We’re over that, dude.
Just because Israel tried to be polite, don’t think it’s stupid.
Now, if you want to see a real crisis, go to The Financial Times
reports as follows: “Tunisia and Egypt have received only a fraction of
funds promised by the international community to support their
transition to democracy, according to the two countries’ finance
So after all the outpourings of devotion for the “great democratic
revolution,” these two countries, and their people, will be left
twisting in the wind. They face financial situations actually worsened
by the months of upheaval, lost tourist revenue and frightened
investors. They will not get real help from the West.
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What is the relationship of these news items? Simple. Western countries don’t keep their commitments to Israel.
They also don’t deliver on their supposed sympathy for Arab peoples who –
according to the Western states – are struggling for independence and
rebelling against unacceptable economic situations. That means
instability, civil war, and massive suffering becomes more likely in
Egypt and Tunisia. In other words, the West is not reliable. If that’s
true, why should anyone listen to its advice? Why should Israel take big
risks or make large concessions in exchange for Western promises? The
Palestinian Authority, which breaks all of its commitments, is rewarded.
It refuses to negotiate with Israel for almost three years and Israel
is criticized for not negotiating.
It daily incites violence and Israel is blamed for being violent and
overreacting. It slaps President Obama in the face repeatedly and only
Israel is criticized for alleged ingratitude to America’s president. The
Turkish regime becomes increasingly repressive and tramples on Western
interests only to be praised.
Become more moderate? The PA would be crazy to do that – the West
generally punishes moderation and rewards those who are antagonistic to
Amazingly, Western governments and leaders don’t even notice such things.
HERE ARE two key principles that are going to guide Israel’s policy no
matter who is prime minister:
1. The Arab and Muslim world has shown
Israel that it makes no sense for Israel to make more concessions or
take risks because in general they are not going to change their goal of
wiping it off the map. That will remain their theoretical goal and
their rhetorical stance. Nothing – repeat nothing – Israel can do or say
will change this.
Here’s an example. The Palestinian Authority ambassador to Lebanon
(anyone remember that the PLO signed the Oslo agreement promising it
wouldn’t conduct international relations?) explains that even if there
is a Palestinian state, no Palestinian refugee, inside or outside
Lebanon, will become a citizen. Why not? Because this might weaken the
Palestinian case for demanding that all such refugees be allowed to go
live in Israel where, of course, they would work to turn Israel into
another Arab, Muslim, Palestinian state that would eventually be
incorporated in Palestine. So much for a “two state” solution solving the
2. The Western world has shown Israel that it makes no sense for Israel
to make more concessions or take additional risks, as 20 years of
strenuous Israeli efforts to negotiate peace have in general not altered
their perception that Israel is at fault for the lack of progress and
has not shown its desire for peace. This despite the fact that Israel
has made huge concessions, withdrawn from territory, and advocated talks
on almost a daily basis. The West is about to betray every previous
commitment to Israel made in the peace process in exchange for its
risks, concessions and compromises – risks that have brought the death
of hundreds of Israelis.
Therefore I say unto you: Mene Mene, Tekel Upharsin.
Mene Mene: Your policies have failed and you will be voted out of
office, or someone will notice your subversal of your own countries’
Tekel: You have proved yourselves unworthy of our trust.
Upharsin: We are going to ignore you from now on.
You can write that Hitler could have been appeased; Stalin wanted
compromise; Ayatollah Khomeini’s a reasonable guy; Turkey’s Islamist
regime is a great role model for the Middle East; the “Arab Spring” is
leading toward moderate democracy; and the Muslim Brotherhood is a
moderate, secularist organization.
You can say that the moon is made of green, low-calorie cheese the mining of which will provide green jobs. It doesn’t matter.
Guess what? Israel isn’t isolated.
You are. From reality. And that’s what counts. As the nature of the
coming Middle East crises becomes impossible to ignore, you are the ones
who will suffer humiliating defeats and shocks that will force you to
change your policies or be changed for other leaders.
As Omar Khayyam’s poetry puts it: “The Moving Finger writes; and, having
writ, Moves on: nor all your Piety nor Wit Shall lure it back to cancel
half a Line, Nor all your Tears wash out a Word of it.”
And, believe me, nothing can give you the finger like Middle East reality.
Professor Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center.
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