When President Barack Obama used the podium at his final UN General Assembly address to declare his support for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (among other global issues), his words were interpreted as stinging criticism of Israel. How could they not be? He had the “audacity” to declare that Israel cannot “permanently occupy and settle Palestinian land.” What an outrageous statement. After all, only only six former heads of the Shin Bet, Israel’s security service, agree with him. Oh wait, those are all the living former heads of the Shin Bet. I’d love to see another example of all six living former heads of anything non-partisan taking the same political position on any issue.
So what’s happening here? Is it President Obama’s tone? I don’t think that’s enough. Is it the fact that President Obama neglected to mention that the Palestinian Authority did more than enough to prevent peace? No, that’s not it – he said, “Israelis and Palestinians will be better off if Palestinians reject incitement and recognize the legitimacy of Israel.” Maybe it’s anti-Obama bias on part of Israeli media outlets? Sure, but that doesn’t apply to all outlets, especially the more left-wing ones. That leaves us with one option: Israel’s pro-peace majority (yes, it’s a majority) is denied a proper voice on the international stage.
Listening to Benjamin Netanyahu speak would certainly give you the impression that pro-peace Israelis do not exist, and that calls for peace with the Palestinian Authority is deliberately anti-Israel. However, the reality is different: pro-peace Israelis exist, and make up the majority of Israel’s population. Sure, most of them aren’t demanding a complete unilateral withdrawal from the West Bank (that’s suicide, not peace), a division of Jerusalem, or any other moves which could potentially be detrimental to Israeli security. But this doesn’t make them any less pro-peace. And many even cast their votes for the Likud party in the 2015 election, and by definition, helped keep Netanyahu in power. Yet he refuses to return the favor, by speaking for not just some of his country but for only one part of his voter base.
The media is also at fault here. Since Netanyahu’s opposition to peace is just a desire to stay in power by maintaining the status quo (cloaked in security concerns), it’s impossible for a media outlet with any credibility to assign Netanyahu a nefarious ideology (to separate him from the rest of Israel). Instead, BBC, CNN, RT, al-Jazeera, and the other large media outlets pretend that all Israelis are against the idea of the Palestinian state.
Of course, there are also plenty of non-Israeli Zionists who are pro-peace. However, the vast majority of Zionists are compelled to support Benjamin Netanyahu in one form or another – either as simply the man who holds the office of Prime Minister of Israel, or Netanyahu as a politician. They to are not given a proper voice – especially when Netanyahu gives one of his “gems” – a speech in which he claims to speak for all Jews or all Zionists.
Netanyahu, and the Israeli government can to better. I’m not asking them to support a two-state solution (although that would be nice). All I want is for Israel’s pro-peace majority to have representation. Not only in Knesset (where it is a formidable force) but abroad as well, as a legitimate expression of what Israelis stands for.