We know what’s good for us

President Barack Obama’s recent alleged controversial statement mirrors that of many others who wrongly believe Israel must be saved from itself.

cheeky obama 521 (photo credit: reuters)
cheeky obama 521
(photo credit: reuters)
US columnist Jeffrey Goldberg’s January 15 Bloomberg article, reprinted in The Jerusalem Post the following day, titled “Obama: ‘Israel Doesn’t Know What Its Best Interests Are’” in which Obama was quoted by Goldberg as having said privately that “Israel doesn’t know what its own best interests are,” is not as shocking as some make it out to be, given the president’s stance over the past four years and the nature of his relationship with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.
Naturally, this is not something any country’s citizens want to hear and this type of thinking has prompted some of our own citizens to jump ship and join the clamor against Israel’s policies vis-a-vis Palestinians, settlement construction, foreign policy and the Iranian threat among other issues.
We here in Israel are accustomed to hearing murmurings from various individuals and organizations how Israel needs to be “saved from itself.”
And this is essentially what Obama is saying. Now that he has cemented his second term (his reinauguration ceremony takes places on Monday), Obama has more maneuverability to say what he truly believes without having to look over his shoulder at pro-Israel voters.
Our next prime minister will likely travel to Washington soon after the election and will be met by a president who will want to emphasize that if Israel doesn’t begin to adhere to world opinion and obey what Europe and America expect it to do, it will cause its own isolation in the world.
While it is still in the distant future, a visit to Israel by the president is likely to happen at some point. However, Obama will likely only come if and when Israel acquiesces to certain demands – such as another settlement freeze – a step the US would deem as an appropriate signal that Israel is serious in its pursuit of a peace deal.
And this is a step that is strongly possible if the next prime minister manages to piece together a coalition that includes centrist-left parties.
YET WHILE while the next government may or may not have more elasticity in its ability to make the world happy, it is important to remember that this should not be Israel’s goal.
Historically, the interests of the Jews have rarely matched up with those of other nations. Thus, if Israel is not making Europe happy, it’s not necessarily a bad thing. As a matter of fact, Israelis should begin to worry, not when Israel is condemned in the halls of foreign parliaments and the UN, but rather, when European governments are pleased with Israel’s decisions.
We don’t need to cower in fear if others tell us we aren’t living up to their expectations because we know what is best for us.
Counter to what Goldberg writes, Israel does have a better understanding of the world in which it lives.
We know we need to fight the type of forces that managed to convince Facebook to ban our esteemed colleague here at the Post, Khaled Abu Toameh, over his exposure of corruption in the Palestinian Authority.
We know we need to fight for our right to live in our historical homeland.
We know that we are a nation that has contributed to the world on many levels for thousands of years and continues to contribute to the family of nations in numerous ways.
We know that we have faults, but it is up to us here to correct them. We don’t need outside advice.
We know that much of the world has failed to understand the dangers of radical Islam and that Israel stands at the forefront of this epic threat.
We know that when Israel is attacked by its enemies, the world is slow to react. But when Israel defends itself, the world is quick to condemn it.
We know that when we go to the polls on Tuesday, we are exercising our right, as citizens of a sovereign state, to choose our next prime minister – someone who, we hope, will not only work to better our domestic problems, but will also work to solve foreign threats and stand up to those who believe we need to be saved from ourselves.
We don’t need to be saved from ourselves, Mr. President.
We know what our own best interests are.