Student Union opens ‘hasbara’ room in effort to fill public diplomacy vacuum.
As a matter of principle, it is not the business of American friends of Israel to tell Israelis who should, or should not, be their prime minister.
That is, unfortunately, a proposition that has been observed largely in the breach over the course of the last 30 years.
American Jews, and American politicians for that matter, have done their best – or worst – over the past three decades to try and tilt the outcome of Israeli politics and elections to suit their preferences.
A left-leaning Diaspora Jewry often undermined right-wing Israeli prime ministers such as Menachem Begin, Yitzhak Shamir and Benjamin Netanyahu. The right-wing minority tried, albeit with far less success, to give Yitzhak Rabin, Shimon Peres, Ehud Barak, and then Ariel Sharon and Ehud Olmert the same treatment.
American presidents have also done their best to help elect Israeli leaders they thought more sympathetic to their vision of the alliance and the peace process, and to block those of whom they disapproved.
This pattern appeared to have come to an end in recent years with two unlikely partners: George W. Bush and Ariel Sharon. Together, this unlikely pair forged the closest alliance between any Israeli and American governments.
Bush gave Sharon the “green light” to do whatever he thought needed to be done to squelch Palestinian terrorists. Sharon backed Bush’s endorsement of a theoretically democratic Palestinian state and unilaterally pulled out of the Gaza Strip. While the Gaza withdrawal did not prompt Palestinians to give up their obsession with Israel’s destruction, it was wildly popular in Washington.
After Sharon fell victim to a stroke in January 2006, the Bush administration’s love was transferred to his successor, Ehud Olmert. As he sought power in his own right under the banner of the new “centrist” Kadima Party that Sharon had created, Olmert received the same sort of pre-election demonstrations of friendship that had been given to Sharon.
When Olmert hastily decided to go to war against Hizbullah after cross-border terror attacks, Bush gave him the sort of wartime backing that previous Israeli governments could only have dreamed of. Far from seeking to limit Israel’s victory, Bush gave Olmert the same green light he gave Sharon. American diplomats stalled any talk of a cease-fire as the administration sat back and waited for the Israelis to roll up Hizbullah.
The only problem was that Israel didn’t win.
Due to indecisive and foolish decision-making by an inexperienced Olmert, his hopelessly overmatched defense minister and the airpower-besotted Israel Defense Force chief of staff, the result was a bloody stalemate that left Hizbullah in place.
This result was not only disheartening to Israelis; it appears to have shaken Bush’s confidence in Olmert’s competence as well. What’s followed since then is an American foreign policy that has started to drift back to the old pattern of searching for ways to artificially revive a moribund peace process via even more Israeli concessions.
Now that the Winograd Commission has come in with a damning verdict, the question of whether or not Olmert stays in power becomes one in which overseas onlookers have a stake.
Given the math of the current Knesset – the majority of which belong to parties that are part of Olmert’s coalition, and thus unlikely to be as successful if new elections were held – Olmert must have liked his chances of survival. But if his coalition of opportunists think their only path to survival demands that Olmert be thrown under the bus, it may be that his end is nigh.
The Bush administration and Diaspora left-wingers will probably be rooting for Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni as the most accommodating of the possible successors since Labor is in no position to head this coalition or win a new election.
Right-wingers will be hoping that Likud’s Netanyahu, currently the most popular politician in Israel (which just goes to show how far the worm has turned in the eight years since Bibi’s disastrous premiership came to an end) can somehow force early elections.
But true friends of Israel will not be concentrating on the fates of individual politicians so much as on the nature of any government that might follow Olmert. That’s because no matter where you stand on the issues, the thing to fear is a weak Israeli government, no matter who might be leading it.
About the Author: Jonathan S. Tobin is senior online editor of Commentary magazine and chief political blogger at www.commentarymagazine.com, where this first appeared. He can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.
Comments are closed.
Because let’s face it: Hamas obviously can’t defeat the IDF in the field, soldier against soldier
The Gazans are now paying for the choices they have made.
As Peres retires, Israel fights sour legacy: Insistence on setting policy in line with hopes, rather than with reality.
Our capital was not arbitrarily chosen, as capitals of some other nations were.
UNHRC High Commissioner Navi Pillay accuses the IDF of possible war crimes in Gaza again, cutting slack to Hamas.
There is much I can write you about what is going here, but I am wondering what I should not write. I will start by imagining that I am you, sitting at home in the Los Angeles area and flipping back and forth between the weather, traffic reports, the Ukraine, Mexican illegals and Gaza. No […]
Should Jews in Europe take more responsibility in self-defense of community and property?
It is time for a total military siege on Gaza; Nothing should enter the Gaza Strip.
Germany’s The Jewish Faith newspaper ominously noted, “We Jews are in for a war after the war.”
The truth is we seldom explore with kids what prayer is supposed to be about.
Almost as one, Jews around the world are acknowledging the day-to-day peril facing ordinary Jews in Israel and the extraordinary service of the IDF in protecting them.
So on the one hand Secretary Kerry makes no bones about who is at fault for the current hostilities: he clearly blames Hamas.
King Solomon said it long ago: “Cast your bread upon the waters” because you don’t know when you’ll hit something. Our job is to do.
One of the key talking points by apologists for Hamas in the current conflict is that it isn’t fair that Israelis under fire have bomb shelters while Palestinians in Gaza don’t have any. Among other factors, the lack of shelters accounts in part for the differences in casualty figures between the two peoples. But somehow […]
Nothing short of a stroke that will decapitate the leadership of this group will convince the Arabs that Hamas has made a mistake.
Z STREET will have the ability to compel IRS officials to testify as to their practices and produce all records.
“Death of Klinghoffer” opera frames the issue as Israel’s existence being the real crime.
Palestinian leaders claim the kidnapping is an Israeli hoax or the act of Jewish criminals rather than terrorists.
Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/no-time-for-a-weak-israeli-government/2007/05/09/
Scan this QR code to visit this page online: