Monday, March 23, 2015

Paying a price

William Saletan's piece in Slate is subtitled, "We no longer have a Netanyahu problem. We have an Israel problem", summing up my feelings nicely. (Another Saletan piece, "Don't Believe Bibi", nicely expresses my feelings about Netanyahu's post-election attempts to walk back some of his most inflammatory pre-election rhetoric.)
The U.S. government believes that Palestinian Arabs, like Jews, are entitled to a sovereign state. We believe it’s wrong to build settlements on land that doesn’t belong to you. We believe that ethnic minorities are entitled to participate in the political process and that they shouldn’t be vilified to scare up votes. The events of the past week suggest that the prime minister of Israel doesn’t believe these things and that most of his people either agree with him or don’t care enough to vote the other way.
Of Israel's increasingly immoral rhetoric and behavior, Saletan argues:
We [the United States] have enabled this behavior, and we must end it. Friends don’t let friends drive drunk. We must clarify the price Israel will pay for continuing to flout international norms and commitments.
This is not to say that we should take our marbles and go home, leaving Israel entirely to its own devices. The U.S. has a bad habit of acting as if reality is polar: black or white, good or evil, right or wrong. A simpleminded, absolutist reaction ("cut off all military aid to Israel", for instance) will make things worse.

Saletan suggests a modest U.N. resolution we could embrace that would be a measured signal to Israel. Sounds good to me. But we'd better be ready to send other signals, signals that clearly convey the reality that it's not Netanyahu but the policies he has embraced that are the problem — and that the U.S.-Israel relationship is going to be in peril if a majority of Israelis also keep embracing those policies.

Israel can listen to the fanatical dreams of its most fundamentalist citizens if it likes, but it had better understand that if it does, it's not dragging the U.S. into international isolation and war along with it.

No comments:

Post a Comment