An open letter to Israel

Worse than appeasement.

What Barack Obama is doing with Iran is worse than appeasement. Far worse. And part of something far larger, with potentially horrific consequences for the planet.

We’ll get into that in a few days. For now, it’s time to wrap up the “Jim Webb for President” series with the kind of letter I would send to Israel, were I the next president. Whether Senator Webb would do it, or anything like it, I know not.

I just hope that President Webb, or whoever follows Mr. Obama, can muster the tough love to do something similar.

Dear Israel,

A great American philosopher, Johnny Cash, once summarized what I believe to be a proper stance toward the world.

“I think I understand how you feel about some things. It’s none of my business how you feel about some things. And I don’t give a damn how you feel about some things.”

Israel, you have a choice to make. Two choices, actually. First, you can get beyond your feelings and understand just how much damage you have done to your relationship with your best friend on this planet: your patron, protector and in some ways, still your admirer. Then you can decide what, if anything, you wish to do to heal the rift.

As President, I’m prepared to work intensely to establish a new relationship. There are many important and wonderful things we can do together, of benefit to ourselves and the world. I am also prepared to let us continue to drift apart, until some future crisis or event leaves you wondering, How did it come to this?

The choice is yours.

Face facts. The glory days are long gone. For most Americans, Israel’s a “low-involvement” item. But for decades, most Americans supported, and perhaps believed in, Israel, because it was the proper and moral thing to do. Most Americans overlooked a great deal in order to believe this. The media and popular culture made it possible to overlook a great deal. But no more.

Face facts. There is no humane, attractive way to govern an alien people who do not wish to be governed by you. Decades of the imagery of occupation, and the reality, have taken their toll. So have decades of Israeli arrogance, intransigence, holier-than-thou-ness and complaint.

Everybody loves an arrogant, stubborn, self-righteous kvetch. Nachon? As for the notion that the Palestinians are not a people . . . that’s the worst thing you can say.

And it’s not just the Goyim who are leaving. Your own people are turning away, from you and from the faith. Jews used to be three percent of the American population. Now, depending on the definition used, it’s less than two percent, perhaps less than one percent. How many of them still support you wholeheartedly? How many have been turned off by the same attitudes and behaviors than have alienated so many Gentiles?

Disastrously, you’ve chosen to abandon your neutrality regarding our domestic politics and have reduced yourself to a sidekick of the religious and political Far Right. People are known by the company they keep. Your AIPAC — yes, yours — once so boastful, now falters. Legislators discover that they need you less and less.

In sum, the days when you could regard us as your private banker/compliant subcontractor, are gone. I support your right to exist and participate in the world. So does America. But no one is obliged to cater to your whims, or to endure your abuse when they don’t.

So here is my advice. If you wish to restore our relationship, first get your own house in order. It’s not my place to interfere in your politics. But I will tell you this:

No civilized, secular 21st century nation-state should base its policies on Bible stories.

That said, what should be done?

First, fight BDS and kindred toxins by your accomplishments and offerings, not your ranting. Your genius has many applications in the world that men and women of goodwill will recognize and appreciate. Win back those who are willing to be won back. Always remember, just because something is important to you, that doesn’t mean the world is required to accept it. And do not take the attitude that anyone who isn’t for you one hundred percent, mindlessly, is against you.

Why settle for half of what you want when you can have nothing — that’s a bad way to live. As your Palestinian brethren have pehaps finally learned,

Now, if you’ll pardon the misuse of the term, to the “existential” issue.

Unlike my tragically flawed predecessor, I believe that violent Islamist expansionism poses the greatest threat to world peace and good order. Israel has more experience than any other civilized nation in dealing with this threat. But now that the threat is global, Israel’s a secondary front. And in the end, only Muslims can eliminate this threat to their own civilization, as well as everybody else.

To help that process along, you might do this:

Create, in concert with your Egyptian and Jordanian allies Yes, allies), a non-Islamist Palestinian State whose security you all guarantee. It won’t be a pretty state. It would exist within today’s de facto borders, not some Green Line established in the last century. Jerusalem remains Israeli. The established settlement blocs remain Israeli; the rest are withdrawn. Other issues, such as the “Right of Return,” are left for negotiation between sovereign states.

Perhaps a new generation of Palestinian and Israeli leadership will decide that an irredentist Palestine’s preferable to another ISIS, or to continued occupation.

No, solving the Palestinian issue won’t of itself change very much. But it’ll be a start, a major start, and might ease the way to further co-operation with other Muslim states . . . who, in truth, have never really given a damn about the Palestinians or their ambitions, but rightly fear the Islamists and might even make some changes in order to survive.

History is, after all, very much the story of things that weren’t supposed to happen.

Finally, to Iran and its treaty/no treaty; who cares? quest for nuclear weapons.

Deterrence still works against territorial states, and the Iranian leadership has shown no inclination to seek either personal martyrdom or national suicide. To keep them in that mood, I would not object to an announced Israeli policy that holds Iran responsible for a nuclear attack on Israel, from whatever source, by whatever means delivered.

The Sunni world might appreciate it, too.

So, Israel, there it be. Please think it over and make up your mind. We’ll be waiting.

About the Author
Philip Gold made Aliyah from USA in 2010 after several decades as a Beltway "public intellectual" of sorts.
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