A spark of hope
Israel must cease to wallow in its myths and lies, and begins to face reality
Though sudden changes in the region have bred instability to the detriment of US influence (EU influence has long been negligible), Obama's recent visit to Israel and to Netanyahu's new government confirms both the huge weight of the Israeli alliance and Washington's unchanging attitude.
Though no longer dependent on the Jewish vote, Obama is maintaining unconditional support for Israel as the best warrant of American presence in the region. He does not openly denounce the suicidal policy of a Zionism that has shed its more progressive elements and proposes to make all Palestine a Jewish state, but he still rejects the annexation of the West Bank; while declining even to ask whether this is Netanyahu's own policy.
To ease international pressure he may show a readiness to accept the idea of two states, knowing that reasons of security will always serve as a pretext for putting things off until the settlements make a Palestinian state entirely unfeasible. Then will be the time to think of some solution for a population that cannot remain under occupation forever.
More and more Israelis find it intolerable that the ultra-Orthodox Jews are the most bellicose expansionists
Israel and the US know they need each other and that in the present context they cannot afford to be openly at odds, each being aware of the outcome that is bound to result, not from any pressure of the one on the other, but from the sheer force of circumstances. To advance toward the integrity of Israel will be unstoppable, this being the divine will; and Israel will end by recognizing that the only way, not only to security, but to democracy, is to live in peace with a Palestinian state.
So that Israel will go back to negotiations suspended since 2010, the US is accepting beforehand all its requisites: negotiations to start without previous conditions, eliminating the principle of stopping the settlements which, with US support, the Palestinians were demanding; to consider Hezbollah, the Lebanese Shiite militia, a terrorist organization, something which Israel has demanded for years and the EU rejected; and, above all, to prevent Iran from making an atomic bomb, while refusing a general denuclearization, which Obama had first proposed as a suitable path. The most effective, equitable solution to the Iran conflict would be to create in the Middle East a zone free of nuclear weapons. To tolerate the atomic monopoly of one side in the long run implies the nuclearization of the whole region. Obama has at least obtained of Israel a June deadline for a negotiated solution.
French television recently broadcast a program that floored me. Three former chiefs of Shin Bet, the Israeli anti-terrorist agency, spoke about the paradoxes they live in. We wanted security, and get terror. The Palestinians want a state of their own, and only get new settlements. We kill terrorists from the air, or ipso facto when we arrest them, and others spring up like mushrooms. Terrorist trials serve as propaganda for terrorism, and if you make do without torture, your information drops from 90 to 70 percent. Never mind morality, because it has no place in the fight against terrorism. We may stop killing, but they go on killing. The broadcast ends with the words: we win all the battles, but we are going to lose the war.
Isaac Rabin's murder seemed to have changed the course of history, but the victory of the theocratic right has brought a growing split in Israeli society. More and more Israelis find it intolerable that the ultra-Orthodox Jews, exempt from military service, are the most bellicose expansionists. For the three men interviewed, the worst of this career of violence and counter-violence is that it has turned Israel into a brutal army of occupation, which throws a deep shadow on its own democracy.
Yes, there is a spark of hope when a nation ceases to wallow in myths and lies, and begins to face reality.