US President Barack Obama meets with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House, October 1, 2014.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Years ago, I heard some dubious stories from Arab friends in the West Bank. They swore there was a billy goat in Tulkarm that gave milk and a rooster in one of the villages in Samaria that laid eggs. Today, with decades of experience working with animals behind me, I can state unequivocally: Billy goats don’t give milk and roosters don’t lay eggs.
And just as roosters can’t lay eggs, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu can’t dictate American foreign policy. That’s all there is to it; it’s that simple.
If there were a relationship of trust, it might be possible to persuade the Americans to make a few minor adjustments, but it would still be impossible to cause them to completely change direction. Picture American policy as a river.
With a great deal of goodwill and cooperation on the US’s part, we might be able to divert it slightly so that its current ran a little closer to our own interests and policies. But there’s no way we could make it flow upstream.
It takes inordinate hubris and megalomania, along with a remarkably limited understanding of the political arena, to embark on a campaign aimed at convincing the Americans to reverse themselves. The argument that at least we’ll get an aid package – look, they’ve already offered us one without our even asking – is rather childish.
The Americans set the policy they believe will best serve their own interests, not our interests, or our perception of what their “true” interests are. A sense of proportion and a little humility are in order here. We’re not the ones who will decide what’s best for them. Even if we’re right about Iran and they’re wrong, it’s irrelevant.
I do not mean to underestimate the value of bunker-piercing bombs or sophisticated aircraft, but that’s not what we need in the “compensation” package that our offended prime minister is still unwilling to accept. What we do need is American support to help counter the global attack we are sustaining because of the conflict with the Palestinians. We need American backing for the idea of a Palestinian state within provisional borders. To begin with, let them have a state on the land defined as Areas A and B, which are already under their control in any case, and that will take the pressure off us. At this stage, we don’t get an end to the conflict and they don’t get the right of return. Neither side scores a major win and neither side makes a major concession.
The advantage for the Palestinians – they get a state of their own right now; the advantage for us – we get the world off our back. Afterwards, we can all sit down together and go on talking about the rest of the issues.
As things stand, the prime minister is the American president’s chief adversary. President Barack Obama is wasting a lot of energy defending himself from the futile war Netanyahu is waging against him on American soil. It is infinitely more important to elicit the president’s help in extricating us from the Palestinian quagmire, which poses even more of a threat than an Iranian bomb.
That Iranian bomb might explode and it might not.
Either way, we’ve pretty much exhausted our diplomatic options as far as it’s concerned.
But there’s no similar doubt about the Palestinian bomb.
It’s blowing up in our faces all the time, constantly setting off blasts that cost us lives, erode our standing in the world, and ruin our reputation. Defusing it is a matter of urgency.
Translated by Sara Kitai.