Josef Olmert

We Lost A Battle – Bad, Not Terrible-Pt.1

In the country of “Jews is news,” and “never a dull moment,” the events of few days ago in Har Habayit may seem as old news, not something to get back to, but I owe my readers a little secret-I like to write when I am not angry, and few days ago, I was very angry, in fact mad as hell. It was because I do not like to see an Israeli government, and never mind whether it is Likud or Labor, performing so poorly as the Netanyahu government did. The initial anger about the murder of the policemen led to a decision which was not supported, to start with, by the most responsible security agencies of the state, and then a war of leaks started, in which vicious stuff was directed at these agencies, chiefly the General Security Service[GSS], only finally to accept the recommendations of these very same agencies. In short, the theater of the absurd, almost as bad as the Trump Administration which is fast becoming the laughing stock of the world.

I am aware of Netanyahu’s infatuation with everything American, but the Trump Administration is not the best which America can offer, far from it. I was angry at the role of Jordan, though being aware of the sensitivity of our relations with the Hashemites, and sure enough I was angry at the incitement emanating from some of the Arab Mks. Enough is enough was the overriding thought I had few days ago, leading to the thought that ”something” has to be done in face of the Palestinian demonstrations of happiness. Then inevitably, came the hangover, the cooling off period, the time to look behind our immediate shoulders as a state, and mine as an individual.Altogether, the picture unfolding is unpleasant and disturbing, but nothing like apocalypse now.

The vast majority of Israeli Arabs did not follow the incitement of the Islamic Movement and some of the Mks, and it was clearly the case, that the incitement failed to elicit statewide Arab protest. There have been signs before, that the Arab List in the Knesset is playing on the nerves of many ordinary Israeli Arabs, who may be very sympathetic to the national struggle of the Palestinians, but wish to dwell mostly on their own agenda as Israeli citizens.

I will call attention, in this regard, to polls taken few weeks ago, before Independence Day, showing that alongside Israeli Arab support to the establishment of a Palestinian state, the majority of Israeli Arabs seem to cherish and respect their Israeli citizenship. So Ayman Odeh and CO may be more popular among Progressive Jews in New York, rather than in Nazareth, where Mayor Ali Salam minced no words when chasing Odeh out of his city during a previous crisis. The Palestinian Authority [PA] and Hamas in Gaza did as much as they could to add fuel to the fire, but the simple truth is, they failed. Sure, every incident of terror happening as a result of their incitement is their responsibility and they should not be excused , especially Abbas and his cronies, but I, for one, did not see the masses all over Judea and Samaria , Gaza and East Jerusalem starting the popular uprising, Intifada no.3 , which we heard so much about. Sure enough, it can be argued, that were the metal detectors not removed, who knows what could happen. Who knows are the key words, and the fact is, that since 2011, when most of the Middle East has been in flames,the Palestinian population has been more quiet and peaceful than most of the region around us. East of us, in Jordan, the Hashemite King crossed lines, and this is a disturbing feature of the situation, because Jordan started a campaign of incitement about Jerusalem over a year ago, by pushing forward the anti Israel Unesco resolutions. Let us be honest here-Israel needs Jordan, but also Jordan needs Israel, and one of the lessons of the recent crisis is, that the time for a serious reassessment of the format and contents of our relations with Jordan is now , and while it should not lead to anything along the lines of Jordan is Palestine, it should make it clear to the Hashemite King, that there is no taxation without representation, another words, if he wants to play a role with regard to the Palestinian issue, we have some demands to put forward to him. For decades, the Hashemite Kingdom skillfully used its weakness as a source of strength,as ironic as it is, taking for granted the actual Israeli guarantee to the very existence of the Kingdom. Time for us to demand accountability and responsibility from our Eastern neighbors.

Other neighbors of us acted more responsibly than Jordan, and this side of the story is more positive than what described above, and will be left to part two of this article.

About the Author
Dr Josef Olmert, a Middle East expert, is currently an adjunct professor at the University of South Carolina