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Oddly, Israel and the United States remain intent upon committing gigantic and possibly lethal errors in world affairs. Unimpressed by history, and determinedly indifferent to glaring facts on the ground, Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Obama now proceed more or less smugly on the twisting road to "Palestine." Along the way, the United States continues to equip and train Palestinian Authority (PA) "security forces," a disjointed band of armed criminals that represents little more than the grotesque vanguard of future anti-Israel and anti-American terrorism.
Some truths are counter-intuitive. At first, it would seem plain that a world without nuclear weapons must be preferable to one with such weapons. Upon reflection, however, it becomes evident that there are some countries for whom nuclear arms are indispensable to their physical survival. For these imperiled nations, surrendering nuclear status could effectively be an invitation to genocide. The most obvious case in point is Israel.
It will seem strange to see a column of mine in The Jewish Press about Woodrow Wilson, but there was very considerable "Jewish wisdom" in this Presbyterian former American president. Wilson first came to my attention in 1967, when I entered Princeton as a graduate student. He had been, after all, a Princeton Professor of Politics, and also a Princeton President before entering the White House.
However unwittingly, President Obama is now setting the stage for Israel's dismemberment. Almost certainly, his fixed and unwavering commitment to a Palestinian state stems from the purest and most sensible of motives. Surely this principled commitment is drawn from some deeply personal and historic sense of justice and fairness, and not from any sort of insidious anti-Israel bias. The problem, however, is that this seemingly well-intentioned presidential interest in fair play is starkly at odds with an asymmetrically brutal geopolitical reality in the Middle East.
Following his early June speech delivered in Cairo, U.S. President Obama pretty much gave the final green light to Tehran. More precisely, with regard to ongoing Iranian nuclearization, the president signaled plainly that further economic sanctions, and not any defensive military action, were the only remaining option. In Jerusalem, one must presume, Prime Minister Netanyahu understood immediately the substantially changing drift of American foreign policy toward the Middle East. For Israel, therefore, a new plan for dealing with an unprecedented strategic menace would now be necessary. This plan would somehow have to be based on "living with Iran."
In Judaism, there can be no justification for deliberate self-endangerment, and in classic Greek tragedy, there can be no deus ex machina. In tragedy, the human spirit remains noble in the face of inescapable death, but if there should remain anything genuinely tragic in Israel's incremental capitulations to "Palestine," it lies only in the original Greek meaning of the term - "goat song" - from the dithyrambs sung by goatskin-clad worshippers of Dionysus. In every other sense, Prime Minister Netanyahu's plan exhibits behavior that would, however unwittingly, desecrate Israel's Jewish heritage and its survival obligations.
To be sure, it's a theme that I have already pursued in this column on several occasions, but nonetheless one that still seems to warrant further emphasis and elucidation. We all seem to know what Jihadistterrorists are after, yet our pertinent U.S. foreign policies remain founded upon altogether contrary assumptions. The most obvious example of such confusion, perhaps, is this country's continuing support of Palestinian statehood, an outcome that would, prima facie, undermine America's war on terror.
Back in October 2006, then-US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had urged Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to free imprisoned terrorist Marwan Barghouti. Her obviously naïve argument was that the Tanzim leader remained very popular among Palestinians, and that he was likely the only Fatah representative who could successfully advance the U.S.-led "Middle East Peace Process." Today, not without irony, similar arguments are being raised in Israel itself, even in the Knesset. Following the election of Barghouti to Fatah's powerful Central Committee on August 11, Minority Affairs Minister Avishay Braverman (Labor) said: "In light of the election results, we must consider releasing him in order to create a moderate and strong political leadership among the Palestinians."
At a moment when Israel is under new jurisprudential assaults from those world leaders who would pay no attention to pertinent international law (most conspicuously, President Obama's commitment to a still one-sided "Road Map"), it may be a good time to recall previous episodes of more-or-less similar disregard.
In 1882, Leo Pinsker, a Jewish physician of Odessa, horrified by the pogroms of 1881, concluded (quite reasonably, to be sure) that anti-Semitism is an incurable psychosis. The remedy, he then adduced, must be for all Jews to accept the imperatives of self-help and self-liberation. Later, Theodore Herzl, having witnessed the spectacle of Alfred Dreyfus in France, wrote The Jewish State.
Everyone who reads The Jewish Press fully understands that Judea and Samaria are the very heartland of the Jewish People. We also know that no Israeli government has the right to surrender this sacred land to any other sovereign body, least of all to an Arab/Islamic authority that openly seeks Israel's total destruction. Significantly, as I have indicated many times in previous columns in The Jewish Press, Israel's biblical claims to Judea/Samaria are fully and unambiguously supported by pertinent international law.
Faced with staggering and largely unprecedented geopolitical threats, President Obama already understands the limits of military action against terrorism. At the same time, it is unlikely that he also fully appreciates the stark and absolutely determinative role of religion and ritual in shaping America's principal terrorist adversaries. It is imperative, therefore, that the president begin to understand that all Arab/Islamic terrorism, including Palestinian terrorism, is authentically driven by deeply theological notions of sacrifice.
Not surprisingly, with regard to Israel, The New York Times continues to publish essentially only the Arab side of the story. In this connection, an especially egregious April 4 article by Professor George Bisharat ("Israel On Trial") was decidedly more of a visceral attack upon Israel's recent Gaza operation than it was a sober jurisprudential assessment.
When I first wrote in The Jewish Press about the problems of Palestinian demilitarization in February 1998, Benjamin Netanyahu was Israel's prime minister. Today, he has again assumed the same position, and is still on record against full statehood for "Palestine." He continues to speak more or less obliquely of Palestinian "self-rule," "autonomy," or "attributes of restricted sovereignty."
Human interdependence and generalized compassion, integral to a universalized Judaism, are indispensable to species survival. In this respect, President Barack Obama seemingly understands something very Jewish: The state of our now-tormented American union is intimately intertwined with the state of our whole world.
Over these many years, as my faithful readers will recall, I have occasionally referenced the idea and concept of time in my Jewish Press columns. For the most part, these column references to chronology have pertained very precisely to very particular Israeli issues. This week, however, expanding my ambit of concern, I would like to center an entire argument concerning Israel's survival on time.
Until now, the strategic issue of Israel's nuclear ambiguity - the so-called "bomb in the basement" - has been kept squarely on the back burner. Today, however, time is quickly running out for the Jewish State, and Israel's new/old prime minister absolutely must reconsider this burning issue. From the standpoint of urgency, of course, the immediate problem is Iran.
Credo quia absurdum. "I believe because it is absurd." How, then, shall we Jews survive in such a distorted and meshugana world, both as individuals, and as the always-fragile Jewish State? In our collective form, shall we truly "Seek peace, and pursue it," when our enemies' brand of "sanity" lies relentlessly in genocide and war? Or should we just reluctantly resign ourselves to ceaseless conflict as the unavoidable expression of sanity in an undeniably insane world?
Credo quia absurdum. "I believe because it is absurd." Here is a brief story to suitably "set our stage." During World War I, a Jew loses his way along the Austro-Hungarian frontier. Wandering through the woods late at night, he is abruptly stopped in his tracks by the screaming challenge of a nervous border-guard: "Halt, or I'll shoot." The Jew blinks uncomfortably into the beam of the searchlight and retorts with obvious annoyance: "What's the matter with you? Are you meshuga? Can't you see that this is a flesh-and-blood human being?"
In many ways, Iran is now the Islamic terrorist writ large, the individual murderer in macrocosm. Although military analysts are certainly correct in pointing out that Iran is the major sponsor of Hamas and related Islamic terrorist groups (e.g., Hezbollah), it is as a direct threat to Israel that its terrors are most ominous.
Iran may be a state like no other. Founded upon the particular Islamic promise of conquering death - a promise bestowing ultimate power upon those who "submit" - it may ultimately do whatever it must to divert death in other directions. As an object for this existentially critical diversion, Israel, the Jewish State, is assuredly the perfect doctrinal choice.
President Barack Obama has already placed the Middle East at the very top of his foreign policy agenda. There is nothing inherently wrong with this ordering; quite the contrary.
The George W. Bush years are now behind us. But Barack Obama, while still waging an American war on terror, will almost certainly remain committed to a so-called "Two-State Solution" in the Middle East.
From the start, our "international community" has stood by disingenuously as Iran prepared its atomic engines.
In figuring out the core weaknesses of our troubled financial markets, there is far more than meets the eye. On the surface, Wall Street's seemingly interminable wild ride is the obvious outcome of purely economic factors. Yet, at a deeper level, the problem of market weakness and volatility is not really fiscal, but human.