Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Good Luck Prime Minister Netanyahu


In a parting shot to new Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert talked about the heartbreaking and painful concessions Israel MUST make, and added "A government whose basis is not saying 'two states for two peoples'... will find itself bearing responsibility for a great calamity."

The former Prime Minister thinks his view is rational. It rests on two premises. One, the creation of a Palestinian State is the only way to keep Israel Jewish in the long run. And two, if Israel does not capitulate to the creation of a 22nd Arab state within the territories, the international community will bring Israel to its knees by treating it worse than apartheid South Africa.

Both premises are wrong (and parenthetically, publicly repeating these assertions as fact, even if they were correct, is a counter-productive negotiating tactic for any Israeli Prime Minister to take).

To judge from his writings, Prime Minister Netanyahu hopes to steer a different course.

Today, in no small part thanks to former President Bush, and former Prime Minister Olmert, the international community has concluded that a two-state solution within the boundaries of Israel and the territories is the only path to peace. But in truth, the international community cares little about the lives of Israelis or Palestinian Arabs. Each member state of the G-7 or the G-20 cares about is its own citizens.

The cost of the extended Middle East conflict for the last 20 years is estimated by India’s Strategic Foresight Group to be $12 trillion. To put this amount in perspective, it is larger than the total outstanding U.S. national debt.

The international community is only looking for this costly problem to be removed, even temporarily, from the world's agenda. International leaders do not care how it is done, and they do not care what the solution is. If they can pressure Israel, they will. If Israel reacts to the pressure, the pressure will keep coming. When Israelis stand united against the pressure, the international community backs down.

When Ariel Sharon said he would not negotiate with Yasser Arafat, the international community pressured Sharon. Then, over time, it stopped the pressure and looked for a different approach because the pressure didn’t work.

It is important to solve the Arab/Muslim-Israeli problem the right way. Otherwise, as weapons become more dangerous and prolific, the region will explode in a much deadlier fashion, and the spillover will contaminate the globe.

For Palestinian Arabs, better solutions exist than a two-state solution within the boundaries of Israel and the territories. Forcing people to live in a feckless mini-state that will be subsidized for as far into the future as can be seen, is no solution. Solving the humanitarian issues facing the Palestinian Arabs will require both a commitment by a united Palestinian populace to stop trying to destroy Israel, and a commitment by other Arab states to stop treating their Palestinian Arab brethren as dirt.

I hope the new Prime Minister will rise to the challenge of putting on trial the behavior of Arab states towards Israel and Palestinian Arabs.

The international community must also be educated to recognize that shoving a four-pound problem into a two-pound bag has never worked. Territorially speaking, cutting the two-pound bag into one pound bags, one for Palestinian Arabs, and one for Israel, will not serve Palestinian Arabs either.

Nor, in the long run, will a one-pound bag work for Jewish continuity in the Middle-East.

For Israel, better solutions exist than a two-state solution within the boundaries of Israel and the territories. Eighty years ago, the international community embraced the idea that justice demands a properly sized Jewish majority state. This is not true today. That generation of leaders had it right. This generation of leaders has it wrong.

Because former Prime Minister Olmert has done so much damage to the future of a viable Israel in the Middle-East, Prime Minister Netanyahu is being pressured from all quarters to go along with the current international will. Rather than do so, I hope Prime Minister Netanyahu reshuffles the diplomatic deck, and has the confidence to ask the international community “What can the 21 Arab states do to have peace with Israel?” rather than the typical “What else can Israel do for peace?”

I hope the new Prime Minister repeatedly insists on pointing out that if Arab states stopped trying to destroy Israel in a thousand subtle ways, and instead either absorbed Palestinian Arabs or gave some of their empty land to Palestinian Arabs, they too could help solve the Mid-East problem.

There is, after all, plenty of room in the Middle East for everyone who lives there now.

Good luck, Prime Minister Netanyahu. I hope you succeed.

--David Naggar

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