Agreeing to Israeli conditions for a written commitment not to demand further construction halts, a squadron of fighter planes, and blocking Palestinian moves toward statehood at the UN for one year might serve Obama as an excuse for vetoing a Palestinian appeal to the Security Council. But that hardly seems worth the concessions to Israel. And then, what happens after a year?
Accepting US "incentives" (bribes) is humiliating for Israel – putting politics and money before principle. PM Netanyahu promised that the initial freeze was "one-time-only." And, accepting Israeli conditions is degrading for America. Both sides are morally compromised; but, Israel is portrayed as venal and conniving, trying to avoid making peace, while extorting rewards – a typical anti-Jewish stereotype.
Elliott Abrams and Michael Singh wisely observe: "the troubling precedents set by this package will serve to dim rather than enhance prospects for a breakthrough in peace negotiations…The most worrying aspect of Obama's package is the linkages it establishes between Israeli concessions on settlements (and apparently on the pace of construction in Jerusalem as well) and other unrelated policy matters…With this latest gambit, the United States is trying to rescue a policy that is not worth rescuing. "
What if, however, Obama's goal has nothing to do with any "peace process," agreements, or concessions? What if, magician-like, he and his administration are distracting from their hidden agenda: delegitimizing Israel?
In April, Obama suggested that the safety of American soldiers fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, and America's "vital national security interests" were linked to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; he blamed Israel for the impasse.
Israel is trapped
Obama's strategy to weaken and isolate Israel by forcing concessions is evident in his focus on Israeli settlements as "illegal" and "unacceptable," his extreme protests against any and all Jewish home-building in Judea and Samaria, even Jerusalem, and his direct challenge to Israel to expose its nuclear capability and join the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Demanding another "freeze" for 3 months fits the pattern of maligning Israel.
After the moratorium expires, assuming that nothing changes, Israel will again be blamed and vilified for failing to make "concessions for peace," "stealing Palestinian land," and "oppressing Palestinians." Obama can claim that he tried his best; the Palestinians will be given a pass; and Israel will be further ostracized and condemned. Israel is trapped.
If Israel agrees to American conditions and accepts the bribes, she loses her integrity and the advantage she now has – having unilaterally frozen Jewish construction for more than a year without any positive results. If Israel doesn't agree, she will appear unwise and ungrateful, further undermining her position. Obama can again blame Israel for preventing peace, for American inaction against Iran, and its failures in Afghanistan.
Given Israeli and Palestinian demands, and realities, Obama knows that a three-month deal will achieve nothing; the outcome, however, will denote Israel as a pariah state. This is consistent with the process of de-legitimization that has spread throughout the world.
That explains why the US did not object to condemnations of Israel at the UN and in Europe, Obama's "outreach to the Muslim world," and his enmity towards Israel.
Filled with prejudices and distortions of his spiritual mentor, Jeremiah Wright, and anti-Israel friends, like Rashid Khalidi, Obama's hostility to Israel, like many European politicians, is aggravated by Israel's resistance to his demands; but, punishing Israel for refusing to agree with him has real consequences which threaten Israel's survival.
Unable to defeat her militarily, Israel's enemies condemn her as immoral, illegal, an outlaw among nations, guilty of apartheid, war criminals, anti-human, even Nazi-like.
Obama's policy failures, therefore, are not just naive mistakes, or impractical; they seem intended to ostracize and weaken Israel until she gives in.
Obama's radical change in American foreign policy towards Israel, his over-reaction to apartment-building for Jews in eastern Jerusalem, his deliberate snubs and offensive attitude, serve to demonize Israel, and cripple her standing in the world.
This agenda ignores a simple fact: If this was a territorial dispute, it would have been resolved during the last 63 years. A second/third Arab Palestinian state will not end the conflict, but perpetuate it; and, with the help of Hamas and Hezbollah via Iran, threaten Israel's survival and the stability of the entire region.
Blaming Israel for resisting such a state creates an atmosphere of hatred and contempt. That de-legitimization seems to be exactly what Obama's administration seeks.
The author is a historian, writer and journalist living in Jerusalem
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