Monday, December 26, 2016

Obama, Netanyahu, the West Bank, Iran, and the sweet taste of settling the score

Just because I’m pro-American doesn’t mean I have to be pro-Trump. And just 
because I’m an enthusiastic Zionist — a believer that Israel has a right not only 
to exist, but to do so as a specifically Jewish state —doesn’t mean I have to have 
anything except utter contempt for Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.

That said, let me change the subject for just a moment and recall a column written 
many years ago by Jimmy Breslin for a wonderful and now defunct newspaper 
called The New York Herald-Tribune, may it rest in peace. 

Breslin told a story about a character named Marvin the Torch, who commits 
arson for money and makes his fires  look accidental.  This is regarded in some 
circles as a socially beneficial service, because it enables debt-saddled owners 
of failing businesses to collect insurance money and recover once the business
is reduced to ashes.

In Breslin’s story, Marvin got stiffed by one of his clients after Marvin burned 
down — on commission — one of the client’s businesses. So Marvin, feeling 
righteously aggrieved, then went and burned down another of his now-former-
client’s businesses, one that was making money. And, if I recall this correctly, 
Marvin made this second arson appear like the arson it was, leaving his former 
client in deep.…well, you know what.

Then came the money quote from Marvin: “Professionals don’t get mad, they 
get even.”

Okay, Back to Obama and Netanyahu and Israel. Bear with me, because like 
all real-life problems in international relations, this one’s complicated and 
involves a lot of wheels and gears turning in different directions, some at the 
same time, some at different times.

In 1967, Israel found itself in a war with Egypt, Syria, and Jordan. The war 
lasted six days. At the end of it, Israel found itself victoriously occupying, 
among other things, the Sinai (which was Egyptian) and the West Bank.

Not terribly long after, Egypt and Israel settled the dispute and Israel returned 
the Sinai. The West Bank, however, has been an Israeli-occupied bone of 
contention ever since. I’m not going to wade too deeply into the weeds 
concerning this dispute, other than to point out that there’s no international law 
that says the winners in a war have to give back the territory they’ve captured. 
If such as rule did exist, California, Arizona,  Colorado, New Mexico and 
Texas would be Mexican states, and Donald Trump would be building his 
wall in Mississippi, Arkansas, and Oklahoma. Not to mention that you'd need
a passport to get into the Native American City of New York. And Seminole
people might be feeding snowbirds to their pet alligators.

However, the West Bank is a useful bargaining chip that might eventually lead to 
a peaceful agreement and a “two state solution.” By building a rapid metastasis 
of settlements — and pretty big ones — in the West Bank, Netanyahu is pissing 
away that chance, while inflaming the very people he eventually needs to make 
peace with.

That’s one bone of contention between Netanyahu and President Obama. The 
other occurred in March of 2015, when Netanyahu, contrary to the wishes of the
President, gave a speech to Congress knocking the Iran nuclear deal that the 
Obama administration had set up.

The timing of this unfortunate speech had the effect of favoring one party over 
another while the  nation was warming up for the unfortunate presidential election 
we’ve just experienced.  It so infuriated Democrats that 58 members, including 
Joe Biden, who normally presides as Vice-President over all Senate meetings, 
boycotted the speech

There’s nothing wrong with a foreign state advocating for its position with the
State Department or the President. But by bringing the dispute before a highly
publicized meeting of Congress, Netanyahu interfered in the American election
process as much as the Russians did by hacking the Democratic National 

The sheer chutzpah of Netanyahu! He expected the American President whose 
party Netanyahu helped sink, to continue supporting Israel in every way 
possible. Finally, Netanyahu got the answer he deserved.

That answer was the United States simply sitting on its hands while a pro-
Palestinian resolution sailed through the United Nations Security Council.

Now Netanyahu is in it up to his neck at home. Serves him right, as well as 
the radicals among my fellow Zionists. You not only bit the hand that’s been 
feeding you, you also crapped all over the wound. Es zol shtinken fun 
deyn cupf. 

Or to put it another way, President Obama, unlike the thin-skinned hothead who 
will take possession of the White House in January, knows the philosophy of 
Marvin the Torch. Professionals don’t get mad, they get even.

Now the question is, will Russia’s Vladimir Putin, whose people hacked the 
Democratic National Committee also get the message? I wonder if President 
Obama will have time to do a bit of professional torching in the Kremlin 
before he leaves office?

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