Monday, June 15, 2009

An Enlightened Israeli Evaluates P.M. Netanyahu's Speech

Dear Friend,
Akiva Eldar is a correspondent for Ha'aretz, the Israeli newspaper. Here is his evaluation of Netanyahu's speech last night.
Read it and weep for the lost opportunity to engage in serious conversation with President Obama's vision of a "freeze" on Israeli settlements, and for peace with justice in Isr/Pal. JRK

Netanyahu, Mideast peace and a return to the Axis of Evil

Akiva Eldar, Ha'aretz Correspondent
Ha'aretz -- Monday - June 15, 2009

The prime minister's speech last night returned the Middle East to the days of George W. Bush's "axis of evil." Benjamin Netanyahu delivered a patriarchal, colonialist address in the best neoconservative tradition: The Arabs are the bad guys, or at best ungrateful terrorists; the Jews, of course, are the good guys, rational people who need to raise and care for their children. In the West Bank settlement of Itamar, they're even building a nursery school.

No empathy for the refugees from Jaffa who lost their entire world, not a word for the Muslim connection to Jerusalem - neither a fragment of a quote from the Koran, nor a line of Arabic poetry.

Netanyahu's provincial remarks were not intended to penetrate the hearts of the hundreds of millions of Al Jazeera viewers in the Muslim world. Instead, he sought to appease Tzipi Hotovely, the settler Likud lawmaker, and make it possible to live peaceably with the settler foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman. Netanyahu's demand that Palestinians recognize Israel as the state of the Jewish people didn't even leave him an opening for forging reconciliation with the Arab citizens in the country.

The prime minister's declaration that Jerusalem will remain the "undivided capital" of Israel - only Israel - slammed the door before the entire Muslim world. And his Hebron is solely the city of the Jewish patriarchs; the Arabs have no such rights at all. The Palestinians can have a state, but only if those foreign invaders show us they know how to eat with a fork and knife. Actually, without a knife.

The demilitarization of the Palestinian state was mentioned in the Clinton guidelines, the Taba understandings and the Geneva accord, as was the right of return to Palestine, not Israel. The difference between these documents and the Bar-Ilan address is not only that the former recognized the Palestinians' full rights to the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The real difference lies in the tone - in the degrading and disrespectful nature of Netanyahu's remarks. That's not how one brings down a wall of enmity between two nations, that's not how trust is built.

It's hard to believe that a single Palestinian leader will be found who will buy the defective merchandise Netanyahu presented last night.