Former president Jimmy Carter’s controversial twining of Israel and the “apartheid” epithet created quite the fuss, as has the Biden construction affair and its aftermath of bloodying the Israeli nose. Unsurprisingly, if leaky reports are true, lurking in the background of both stories is the second-rate theorist Zbigniew Brzezinski, still hoping somehow to overcome the frustration of not being Henry Kissinger.
Over the years, Brzezinski has consistently interpreted events and suggested strategies that at first have seemed plausible…only to be undone by reality. The latest, upending Israel and kowtowing to its enemies, will guide President Obama into no fewer policy failures than “Zbig” had incompetently led President Carter (whose signal achievement, the Sadat/Begin peace agreement, was reached without Brzezinski’s clever interference).
Enough, however, with Brzezinski, whose pretentious sagacity neither Obama nor this country can afford. (For Israel, of course, he’s poisonous.) Hopefully, despite a first-year record of misguided forays and pronouncements worthy (or fairly screaming) of Brzezinski’s influence, Obama will recognize his own need for change.
Until Obama was apparently persuaded otherwise, U.S. policy respected the shared but unspoken understanding of what Israeli prime ministers since Peres have recognized as necessary “painful concessions.” Therefore, provoking an open controversy where none really exists ought serve no useful purpose. Posturing suffices. That is, unless the Obama administration contemplates a gradual realignment (Brzezinski was fond of threatening policy “reassessments”) of our national interests adverse to Israel. George W. Bush is no longer president, so it’s readily conceivable.
In the meantime, this peace process, most notable for the invisibility of its progress, need not add to Israel’s burden. Israel well knows that without abandoning West Bank settlements outside its security wall, and without apartheid (the term interjected but misapplied by Carter who, as with his presidency, almost got it right) there can be no Mideast peace. Here’s why.
In its simplest form, it is Israel’s willingness to accept apartheid – though against Jews rather than Arabs – that trumps the so-called settlements issue everybody claims (but nobody believes) is an obstacle to peace. That’s because unnoticed in the exaggerated argument about Israeli settlement expansion is the devilish acceptance of anti-Jewish discrimination of the most extreme sort. In a word, judenrein – the Nazi policy of ridding Europe of its Jews – has been relocated to what eventually will be the State of Palestine.
Although once genuinely controversial, for some time the “settlements” have served only as a phony symbol behind which to hide from a peace settlement – the only one that matters. Indeed, through the first dance played out by Obama and Netanyahu (before Obama stomped on the latter’s feet) Israel’s right wing joined its left wing, the U.S., UN, EU and everyone else to seal the deal: no Jews will be permitted to live in a future Palestine. This will be so even if some might choose Hebron over Tel Aviv after Palestinian statehood is ultimately established.
Implemented with the Gaza withdrawal, Israel’s version of apartheid may be a mistake, but it’s no accident. Instead of forcing Jews to leave Gaza, Israel could have permitted them to choose to remain there, albeit without ongoing Israeli protection. After all, other than having to placate the Arabs and demonstrate its enforcement of a separatist policy, Israel need not have abandoned the principle that Jews or any other group ought to be free to live where they wish. But it did, and it will.
In the end, the borders will be whatever is agreed upon or imposed (with only slight variation from the Clinton/Barak deal rejected by Arafat) regardless of what’s built. Perhaps only in the duplicitous, perverse Mideast could the construction of modern housing be protested by its ultimate beneficiaries.
Then again, where ludicrous assertions are commonplace- – and not infrequently morph into unchallenged myths bearing the weight of religious conviction – could it be that Zionist construction standards compare unfavorably with that of the UN refugee camps so well maintained these past sixty-odd years?
Given current circumstances, it seems particularly curious that nobody publicly asks what, under any agreement, PA President Mahmoud Abbas can deliver other than Arafat’s decrepit old office. (Most likely, civil strife and border clashes with both Israel and Jordan.) The answer, needless to repeat, is why we’ve had a settlements issue of convenience that Obama has foolishly made seriously inconvenient.