Joel Magid

Bibi’s Choices

While it’s pretty clear that Bibi’s victory and probable formation of a very right-wing coalition will lead to world-wide pressure on Israel and a very nasty division in the American Jewish community, there are things that Bibi can do immediately to tone down some of the criticism without betraying his own values.

1.  Promote Ron Dermer to a senior advisory position in Jerusalem and appoint an ambassador who can try to begin the difficult task of rehabilitating relationships between Israel and the United States.

2.  Release the tax monies owed the PA so they can survive financially and continue cooperation between their police and the Israeli military. Virtually every Israeli military and intelligence authority recommends this and fears that the collapse of the PA will lead to violence that is bad for Israelis as well as Palestinians.  As I was writing this, I heard that these funds have been released!

3.  Continue easing restrictions on the Gaza borders to encourage more exports and imports, allow Gaza students to travel through Israel to Jordan so they can continue their studies internationally, allow limited numbers of workers from Gaza to work in Israel, and similar “small” moves that would not threaten Israel but would improve the atmosphere slgihtly.

4.  Reach out to Israeli Arab communities by announcing a 3-year plan to improve the infrastructure of Arab and Bedouin communities that lack basic electric, water and sewage services.  Aside from being good politics, this would help him walk back the racist statements that he and Lieberman made during the campaign.

Although these steps won’t change the situation over-night, they will be signs that Bibi wants to do more than talking and that he is willing to take actions to begin a healing process.

On the other hand, there are things he must not do if he really wants to begin toning down the tensions surrounding his re-election campaign statements.

He must prevent his allies from starting a new discussion of the Jewish State law which many saw as unnecessary and humiliating to the Arab population of Israel.

He must prevent the fundamentalist Jews from using their “rights” to pray on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, an action that will lead to wide-spread rioting and unify a divided Arab world against Israel.

He must prevent his colleagues from introducing new laws to undermine the authority of Israel’s Supreme Court.

He must also prevent any possibility that Bennett or Lieberman will become Defense Minister since either of them would not have the confidence of the IDF and would be capable of undermining the moral principles that have been a source of strength for the IDF.

Israel is in for a tough time internationally and in the Kewish community. Bibi has important choices to make, but he must take actions to improve Israel’s position.  More speeches won’t help.

Joel (Yoel) Magid

About the Author
Yoel Magid holds a doctorate in English literature from Columbia, volunteered in Israel during the 1973 Yom Kippur War on Kibbutz Be’eri, where he became General Secretary of the Kibbutz and organized a school in foreign languages for the study of kibbutz. Returned to the US in 1999, becoming Executive Director of Westchester Reform Temple in Scarsdale, NY; frequent lecturer on literature and politics.
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