Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon showed up at a television studio last weekend and declared for the umpteenth time that in our generation there is no chance for a permanent agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. For the umpteenth time, he also noted that in the distant past he had actually believed in the "territories for peace" formula, but that in the meantime he had recovered from his naivety.
As you know, Ya'alon is not the only minister who has the habit of recycling his beliefs in interviews with the media. Almost all his fellow government members do the same, each with his own beliefs. Even the most skillful politician cannot reinvent himself in every interview. The justice minister always says that Israel must make more concessions for peace, and the defense minister always says that there is no point in making any concessions. Nonetheless, we have developed a strange habit of responding to Livni's comments with a yawn and breaking into cries of despair after every Ya'alon interview: Oh no, Bogie doesn’t believe in peace.
Actually, Ya'alon himself has developed his own strange habit: He is unmoved by the cries of despair. Despite the heavy psychological pressure exerted on him from all directions, he has a consistent tendency to maintain his composure, to the point of complete indifference to surrounding hysteria. His rhetoric is not subject to instructions from public opinion leaders. As the former Military Intelligence head and as a retired IDF chief of staff, he already has a solid opinion about the chances of the agreement between Jerusalem and Ramallah. It is his duty to reveal it to the public even if a certain camp doesn't like it. He is the defense minister, not the political correctness minister.
Who is right and who is obsessive?While doing that, Ya'alon managed to irritate the Americans too, not just the peace seekers here, but there is no need to exaggerate in describing the extent of this irritation. Our defense establishment leader simply set the record straight when he said last week that the United States was showing global weakness and that its allies in the Middle East were disappointed with it. Every child in Damascus, Kiev or Manhattan knows that Obama's US is pursuing a spineless global policy. The opinion pages in the American press are filled with similar indictments against the Obama administration. According to all signs, even the administration itself knows it, but it's convenient to pull an insulted face when the Israeli defense minister joins the criticism.
Washington is now accusing Ya'alon of intentionally undermining the relationship between the two countries, no less. It is forgetting its own contribution to undermining the relations. Obama is the least pleasant American president towards Israel in the past 50 years, both in his words and in his actions. In his five years in the White House, the president insulted the prime minister more than two or three times, while the prime minister actually made sure not to throw insults back at him. Ya'alon is less strict, but is still quite polite. Despite the asymmetry between the sides, the American president should reflect on his own actions instead of imposing sanctions on our defense minister.
After all, America doesn't have many friendly alternatives in the Middle East. It should even admit to itself that Ya'alon is reading the regional map much better than John Kerry. Last summer, when Kerry promised us peace within nine months, Ya'alon already voiced contradictory promises. Is there still any doubt in Washington who will be right in the end and who will be revealed as obsessive?