Rattling the Cage: Yes to Obama, no to Bibi

I trust the American administration's commitment to this country's well-being.

larry derfner 88 (photo credit: )
larry derfner 88
(photo credit: )
In the battle of wills in Washington next Monday between President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, I will be rooting for Obama. Any Israeli or American Jew who believes the two-state solution is the only solution for Israel and the Palestinians should do the same, and any such Israeli or American Jew who doesn't root for Obama against Netanyahu is either deluded, fainthearted or hypocritical. We all know what the two-state solution entails, and we all know that the Obama administration is in favor of it and the Netanyahu government is against it. I don't see why so many intelligent people are trying to fudge that fact. It's a fact. Netanyahu can't even bring himself to say the words "two states," but it wouldn't matter if he did. His predecessors Ehud Olmert, Ariel Sharon and Ehud Barak said the words without hesitation over and over, for all the good it did; the new Israeli government, whatever its leader may or may not one day bring himself to say, is dead set against a Palestinian state. Instead, this government, this overwhelmingly right-wing/religious national leadership, intends to continue the occupation forever. Which leaves the Obama administration to change the now 42-year-old status quo, because Israel, of its own volition, isn't going to. There is no peace camp left in this country, there is no opposition, there is no potential leader or alternative government that might reverse the nation's course. The only loyal opposition is Obama, and I stress the word "loyal." THIS IS why I feel no inner conflict in rooting for Obama against Netanyahu, because I trust the US administration's commitment to this country's well-being. Beyond trusting Obama, I trust America. I may disagree with this or that US policy, but I have total confidence that America wants Israel to thrive, that it will never deliberately sabotage this country's vital interests. I know it from history. Every single US president from Harry Truman to George W. Bush has been a friend to Israel, in different ways, and I have no doubt that Obama will be one, too. I can't say that about any other foreign country. I'm not sure I could go so far as to root for another country's leader in a showdown with an Israeli prime minister as crucial as next Monday's, but I have no problem when the foreign leader is the US president, especially a US president who, as far as I'm concerned, has a much, much better idea of what's good for Israel than our prime minister and government. How can I not root for Obama against Netanyahu? How can any Israeli or American Jew who's against the settlements, who's against the occupation, not do the same? To J Street, to American Friends of Peace Now, to Meretz USA, to American donors to the New Israel Fund, to all American Jews who support Obama's Middle East policy and oppose Netanyahu's, and to what's left of the Israeli Left: Don't be intimidated. Stand up for what you believe in. There's no contradiction in being pro-Israel, pro-Palestinian-independence, pro-America and pro-Obama. You can be anti-Likud and still be a good Jew, even a good Zionist. Postscript: In his op-ed yesterday, Seth J. Frantzman maliciously distorted the meaning of the Upfront magazine story I wrote last Friday about how Palestinian Christians fare in Muslim society. He writes: "Larry Derfner recently wrote in The Jerusalem Post that they are a 'minority that tends to get along... [and] keep their complaints to themselves' and that attacks on them may reflect 'class resentment.'" That's a doctored quote. The first part comes from where I wrote that Palestinian Christians "are a minority that tends to go along to get along." The second comes from where I wrote that a source says they "sensibly keep their complaints to themselves." The third comes from where I wrote that a source says, "There have been incidents of extortion, rape and beatings by Muslim hoodlums against Palestinian Christians, and while religious bigotry is no doubt part of the motivation, easy opportunity is probably the main one, with class resentment figuring as well..." After twisting my words, Frantzman suggests I was excusing "attacks and harassment" of Palestinian Christians. That's in his mind, it's not in my story.