At the end of this week, Mahmoud Abbas (aka Abu Mazen), President of the Palestinian Authority, will declare the establishment of the State of Palestine at the UN. The state’s welcome by well over 100 member states has already been assured. The recent reconciliation of Abbas’s PA with ever-bloodthirsty Hamas — which, together with the statehood maneuver’s tactical end-run around bilateral negotiations, has throttled all life out of the Oslo Accords — will be politely elided by learned commentators and bedazzled diplomats. President Obama, who is committed (quite properly) to veto the statehood declaration, will be embarrassed and diminished. (Indeed, his bush-league mishandling of every element of this situation might prove to be the culmination of his weird campaign to transform the presidency into befuddled, hapless irrelevance.)
I don’t mean to be overdramatic about this, but what might be lost in the clamor of mixed jubilation and hysteria when Abbas takes the floor could be the death knell of Israel.
I read an article in New York Magazine this morning about Obama and his relationship with American Jews. Boilerplate sanctimonious blue-state guff, mostly, larded with snotty backhand swipes at anyone who looks askance at Abbas as a negotiating partner or who questions the premise of land for peace (we’re all “right-wing Likudophiles,” apparently — who knew?; Bibi’s coalition is “surpassingly volatile;” Ed Koch is now “loopy” for having revised his opinion of Obama over Israel; American Jews are notable for the “earsplitting volume of the collective megaphone they wield,” and so on and so forth). This bit particularly appealed (emphasis added):
In [Bibi’s] speech to Congress…he spelled out demands that were maximal by any measure: recognition by the Palestinians of Israel as a Jewish state as a precondition for negotiations, a refusal to talk if Hamas is part of the Palestinian side, an undivided Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, and absolutely no right of return for Palestinian refugees.
I’m on board with all four, so I guess I’m off the charts.
I’ve read enough of this kind of bilge to find it vaguely entertaining, and the author’s faith in the good intentions of his president is, in its own delusional way, rather touching. But what gets under my skin — what makes me about ready to rend my garments, in fact — is the spectacularly self-righteous, utterly self-confident assertion made again and again by this and so many writers of similar ilk: that the only thing that’s standing in the way of a peaceful future is Israeli intransigence. This writer is fully convinced that the product of a cessation of Israeli settlement-building and a withdrawal from territory to the 1967 lines (with swaps!, he keeps shouting, as if that will reassure us) will be the dawning of a beautiful new era. We will “remain both Jewish and democratic, satisfy Palestinian national aspirations, facilitate efforts to contain Iran, alleviate the international opprobrium directed at [us], and reap the enormous security and economic benefits of ending the conflict by taking up the task of the creation of a viable Palestinian state.”
To which I say: your fantasies might kill me, pal. But I gather you’re comfortable with that.
Yes, I caught the tush-covering sidelong reference to the years of rocket fire that ensued after we withdrew from Gaza. That was nice. Don’t half-acknowledge the permanently traumatized city of Sderot and then dismiss it into irrelevance. Own the fact that you fully recognize what will really result from further territorial concessions: the Sderotization of the rest of this country. Don’t preach to me that it’s my obligation to cut off my arm to satisfy your selective sense of historical justice. Especially if you’re likely to get a certain pleasing frisson out of the spectacle of my bleeding to death.
The author of the piece lauds Obama for having the courage to give it to us straight — for being a true friend, in other words.
In attempting to apply tough love to Israel, Obama is trying to make a stalwart ally see that undertaking the painful and risky compromises necessary for peace with the Palestinians is the only way to preserve the Zionist dream—which is to say a future as a state both Jewish and democratic. His role here is not that of the callous assailant but of the caring and sober brother slapping his drunken sibling: The point is not to hurt the guy but to get him to sober up.
We sobered up in 2000 and pulled out of Lebanon. We sobered up in 2005 and pulled out of Gaza. Look what it got us.
I don’t know what’s waiting for us on the other side of Friday. Whatever it is, I’m not expecting it to be good.