Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Obama Intifada: Wag the Dog?

It's getting ugly.
On Tuesday, hundreds of Arabs throughout Jerusalem burned tires and threw rocks at border guards. An Israeli policeman was shot in East Jerusalem. What do we hear from the Obama administration? Silence. This is the Obama Intifada. It is he who has suggested that the Palestinian Arabs have legitimate grievances, that Israel is the victimizer, and that the United States will stand aside and allow violent atrocities by Arabs to go forward without comment. He wants this Intifada, and he's got it.

The Obama Intifada will serve a dual purpose: it will knock health care off the front pages, and it will provide a "crisis" for Obama to solve. If a few Jews get killed, Obama doesn't truly care. What's a few eggs if you're frying up a socialized health care omelet? What's a few Jews if you can win another Nobel Peace Prize?
Precipitating a crisis always creates risks. The Administration may have wanted a measure of "regime change" or reshuffling of the Israeli cabinet to bring Kadima into the governing coalition. If that was the case, they failed:
The popular assumption is that Obama is seeking to prove his resolve as a leader by getting tough with Israel. Given his ineffectiveness against Iran and his tendency to violate his own self-imposed deadlines for sanctions, the Israeli public is not likely to be impressed. Indeed, Israelis' initial anger at Netanyahu has turned to anger against Obama. According to an Israel Radio poll on March 16, 62 percent of Israelis blame the Obama administration for the crisis, while 20 percent blame Netanyahu. (Another 17 percent blame Shas leader Eli Yishai.)
Perhaps the Administration considered some side benefits of distracting the media, and a wary public, from an upcoming, unpopular vote on transforming American healthcare. Whatever their intentions, what they've done instead is give the Arabs a blank check to kill Jews.

From the perspective of Hamas and the no less violent, if more politically astute mainstream of Fatah, all they're doing is putting into action, on the streets, American's radical policy of rejecting Jewish rights to build in Jerusalem. Yes, history has shown that Palestinians - the ones that count, with the guns - will generally kill Jews if given a convenient opportunity, but there is something more here we should consider.

The Palestinians will change nothing by killing a few Jews in Jerusalem. Drawing Israel into a bloody confrontation, however, and reaping the political rewards of a "disproportionate" Israel response, as we've seen in the past, can change everything.

This is the lesson each act of Palestinian terrorism and war over the last 50 years has taught us: Every defense of Jewish life has come at a political cost for the State of Israel. Moreover, this cost is exacted by Israel's "friends", not its enemies. Obama has given the Palestinians cover to reap a political reward from violence and murder and, contrary to popular conception, they have no intentions of letting a golden opportunity slip past them.

Hope and change, meet world.

1 comment:

  1. to date I've stumbled on two incongruities:

    after huge efforts to deny that the US is into regime change all of a sudden everybody seems to agree that this is the aim of the harsh (in my mind overblown) reaction of the US - Russia and Teheran to whom the denials were always directed will be glad to hear that they haven't been paranoid after all.

    if the Palestinians really wanted a state alongside a Jewish one wouldn't it then have been smart to behave impeccably instead of showing their ugliest face again or couldn't they resist the temptation because they knew they wouldn't be treated too harshly while the US and Israel bicker.

    and last but not least I mourn for the times when diplomacy was done without brouhaha - whoever leaked the 43 minutes of the Clinton telephone call is doing things in a style I can't consider being conducive to anything - for one it showed the ugly face of the hegemon who wants to be perceived as benevolent - push those around who are well behaved enough to let themselves be pushed around and leave the others well alone. In daily life that is the kind of behaviour one expects of cowards. But of course after Obama has made the blunder with his Cairo-speech a scape goat must be found. (I can't remember having read anything anywhere that the US told our own Adenauer off when he hired old Nazis - they must have but it was kept off the radar and not turned into a game of who is more entitled to feeling humiliated - what a useless competition)

    as you are favourably interested in the settlements as I am (albeit probably for different motives) here is a description of their strategic value which I am proud to claim I had figured out all by myself not the details but the general military/security usefulness

    If you check the London Times for Petraeus you'll find all kinds of articles that he wants Israel to be assigned to him and that he doesn't think Israel to be of much strategic value. Strictly judging by tone of voice from lectures I heard the grunts for a lot of reasons don't seem too endamoured by him but keep quiet because a general in good standing with Washington means good equipment for the troops. And after Clinton's act I wonder if it maybe was demanded by Petraeus as an effort to cut his next field of operation to size.

    - sorry to be so long but this is really more than vexing I'm thinking of getting a punching bag so I can vent my anger ...


1) Save us the melodrama.
2) Use HTML for links. Learn how.
3) I *heart* trolls... for lunch.

On My Bookshelf