I''ll say it again. Coping is the name of the game. No solutions appear on the horizon, even when standing on a high place.Israeli policymakers concerned with "peace," "borders," or however you define that cluster of issues have to cope with Palestinians, Americans, and Western Europeans, as well as with settlers plus Israeli and other Jewish leftists. On other issues it is the ultra-Orthodox who make their life difficult, plus conventional do-gooders who demand more money for everything. American policymakers have to cope with their power, and traditions that mix humanitarian and democratic values with a concern that Americans, Europeans, and others continue to get oil and gas. They may prefer that American companies get a large share of the business, but supply is more pressing than profits. Without oil and gas, nothing works and nobody profits. And because the United States is at the top of the hill, it is bombarded with expectations and demands to do good and support those claiming to be friends wherever there is a national interest. Read national interest as oil and gas, or helping people with some other leverage in American politics.Americans and Europeans have to cope with law and values, porous borders, low birth rates among those who consider themselves the natives, and the gradual ascendance of the downtrodden into the establishment. Folks in, and close to the White House and European cabinets would not have been voting a generation ago. It was easier to govern then, but those days are gone.Coping is the keystone of politics. Policymaker''s dealing with irreconcilable demands is the patient''s equivalent of managing chronic pain, debilitating disease, old age, a demented spouse, or rebellious children. Coping is nothing new for the Jews. After the Passover story with the Egyptians came the Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, Romans, the Christians and Muslims of Europe and the Middle East, and most recently the British and Americans. Israel''s ancient and modern location is a bridge between continents, at a strategic place for larger and more powerful populations.Call it juggling, craftiness, satisfying, making do with less than ideal, compromising with evil, or managing dissonance. They are all synonyms for survival. Jews are good at the activities. We are still around, and doing better than average on conventional indicators. Compare American Jews with their grandparents, European Jews with those of 1945, and Israel in 2011 with 1947. The Children of Israel are better off than at any time since the death of King Solomon. Grandpa Erich thought the same in Dusseldorf, and that is a cause for concern. Success adds to animosity, but that is no reason for capitulation.Palestinians suffer from their simple history that only began with the Jews'' ascendance here from the 1920s. Muslims generally suffer from being dominant in the region, a faith that is too absolute for flexibility, and not learning to cope with powerful others. Compare their countries now with what they were prior to the discovery of oil. Some populations are worse or no better. Others are awash in lavish consumption, reliance on imported labor, and trying to bootstrap with professors and other professionals unable to obtain good jobs in their homelands. (Jews need not apply.)Will the United Nations sign on to a Palestinian declaration of independence in September? Will the United States join the crowd?Will Bibi defuse what is looming, or be received as too crafty and unreliable?Will the Americans and Europeans have enough stamina left over from their adventures in Afghanistan and Libya, plus worrying about Egypt, Syria, and elsewhere to take on the Israelis? What is the weight of Conservative Republicans? Beyond the silliness of birthing and claims of Obama being a Muslim, there may be enough animosity in American politics to affect Obama''s reach overseas.Is Israel too small and weak to be anything more than a gnat on the landscape? Or will the IDF, international connections, Israeli resolve, and all those dead grandparents lead it to reject the idea of 1967 borders and make it costly for those who insist?
Those with simple answers have not learned the lessons of coping.