As long as Israel has the US on its side, its government knows it can do no
wrong. It plays games with Middle East peace by provoking extremism in the Arab
world with excessive policies that fuel anti- Israel sentiment more than they
protect Israeli citizens.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu may not be
the poster-child of moderation, but he is smart enough to recognize that if
Israel loses the ball in the US court of public opinion, he will lose the game
completely. So he swallowed his pride and again reached out to President Barack
Obama, after the Obama administration slammed him harder than any Israeli
But Israel made it easy for Obama. Netanyahu’s irrational
refusal to stop the expansion of Jewish settlements in the West Bank and in east
Jerusalem as a means of returning to peace talks with the Palestinians has put
Israel in a strange place in American public opinion, which increasingly
recognizes the settlements as obstacles to peace.
Then, there was
Israel’s playing right into the hands of the extremists by taking the bait and
taking over the flotilla of boats seeking to break its blockade of the Gaza
Strip. Although Israel has refused to release a complete list of what the
blockade prevented from entering the Gaza Strip – insisting the banned items are
intended to prevent terrorism – it’s since been impossible to keep the truth
from coming out.
The fact is the Israelis not only have prevented weapons
from entering the Gaza Strip, they also have prevented many food items,
children, most medicine – allowing some to trickle in at an unreasonable
and a long list of items that include other things that have less to do
preventing terrorism and more to do with efforts to “punish” the
I opposed the flotilla strategy to break the blockade
because I believe it empowers Hamas and its supporters.
national policy should not be defined by activists, including some who
oppose peace based on two-states; it should be left to the legitimate
Palestinian Authority government in Ramallah.
But the legitimate PA
government has been ineffective and indecisive, driven more by what the
emotion-driven Palestinian public feels rather than by policies and
IF YOU do not lead the public, you leave the
public to be led by fanatics and extremists who tug at
Irrational conduct always looks good through the blinded rage
of an emotional person. Courageous leadership means doing the right
knowing that such leadership will bring the majority of the Palestinian
back from the irrational precipice to one of reason.
They just need a
courageous leader. And so far, one has not stepped up to the plate.
dynamic makes it easy for Netanyahu’s government and the Palestinian
to avoid peace, although Israel has the advantage as it is the only one
recognizes that the ball game is not in the UN but in the US.
matter what Belgium or Turkey believe. It only matters what the
They not only hold the key to the future in the Middle East, but they
control the money and their military is actively engaged in several Arab
What Americans believe will decide whether Israel can continue
to sidestep peace and expand settlements in the West Bank while
demands for peace based on the return to the 1949 armistice line, called
Green Line. So what’s a moderate to do? First, the Abbas government
its act together.
It needs to recognize that it is trailing the Israelis
when it comes to defining effective public policy.
Abbas needs to engage
the American public directly. He needs to define his core message, which
simple: the Palestinian Authority supports the creation of two states, a
land-for-land swap, the sharing of east Jerusalem and wants Israel to
step up to
the plate and recognize its role in the Palestinian refugee
Abbas should hire a high powered public relations firm and stop
pandering to the fanatics in the Arab world through the Arabic language
a pandering that often undermines Palestinian rights because of
pronouncements that confuse rather than enlighten public opinion,
And, more importantly, Abbas should recognize that the battle is
not in the Gaza Strip but in the mind-set of the American public, where
future of Palestine, twostates and Middle East peace will be decided.
problem with Abbas is most of what he does is conveyed to the world
Arabic-language media, which has little or no impact on the American
They’re not reading the Arabic media for positive news and only scour
the Arab world media to find evidence of terrorism and anti-American
And there is a lot of that to be found.
While Netanyahu is
bringing his message directly to Obama, Abbas needs to bring his message
directly to the American people. He should do a 10-city tour of the US
directly what many do not want the American public to hear.
As far as
most Americans are concerned, Hamas and its extremist activists
face of the Palestinian people and Abbas is negligible.
That can easily
change. For the first time in Palestinian history, the Palestinians have
friend in the White House. He may only be there a few years. Now is the
Abbas to change his strategy and stop playing second fiddle to Hamas and
Abbas needs to make the American public his priority.
he can win over their hearts and minds, Palestine can become a sovereign
state.The writer is an award- winning columnist and Chicago radio talk
show host. www.YallaPeace.com