Check out this must-read analysis by Tom Friedman of how the right wings (including religious fundamentalists) are seriously endangering Israel’s security, leaving it “Adrift at Sea Alone.” The forces at work destroying Israel? Per Friedman’s brilliant article:
1. “Israel’s [right-wing] prime minister, Bibi Netanyahu…failing to put forth a strategy to respond to [turmoil in the Middle East] in a way that protects Israel’s long-term interests.
2. [Right winger, with even more extreme right wingers in his coalition] Netanyahu’s strategy, which is:
Do nothing vis-à-vis the Palestinians or Turkey that will require him to go against his base, compromise his ideology or antagonize his key coalition partner, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, an extreme right-winger. Then, call on the U.S. to stop Iran’s nuclear program and help Israel out of every pickle, but make sure that President Obama can’t ask for anything in return – like halting Israeli settlements – by mobilizing Republicans in Congress to box in Obama and by encouraging Jewish leaders to suggest that Obama is hostile to Israel and is losing the Jewish vote. And meanwhile, get the Israel lobby to hammer anyone in the administration or Congress who says aloud that maybe Bibi has made some mistakes, not just Barack.
More on the “flip”
3. A “U.S. government fed up with Israel’s leadership but a hostage to its ineptitude, because the powerful pro-Israel lobby in an election season can force the administration to defend Israel at the U.N., even when it knows Israel is pursuing policies not in its own interest or America’s.”
Meanwhile, as one commenter to Friedman’s article astutely observes, “the real advocate for Israel’s security is Barack Obama who is bending over backward to forge a peace agreement that will end this struggle once and for all.” And what does Obama get for his efforts? Minimal support, a great deal of (almost all outrageously absurd and unfair) criticism from the likes of Eric Can’tor. Unfortunately, as another commenter points out Obama is being forced to “[bow] to the extreme right Republicans/Tea Party factions this year before seminal elections in 2012.” This is unfortunate in the extreme, both for U.S. and Israeli long-term interests.
The bottom line is this (and I speak as someone who has, for decades, strongly supported Israel as a secure, Jewish democracy, living at peace with its neighbors within defensible boundaries): Israel cannot survive in the Middle East if it doesn’t come to terms with its neighbors. Obviously, it takes two to tango, and the Arabs bear a large share of the “blame” in all this, but that’s really not relevant in the end, because again, Israel cannot survive in the Middle East if it doesn’t come to terms with its neighbors. The Arabs can and will survive, as there are a lot more of them covering a land area hundreds of times the size of tiny Israel. What about these facts don’t the right wingnuts and zealots understand? Everything, it would appear. (Note: apparently, they also don’t care that Israel can’t be both a Jewish state and a democracy for much longer, given demographic realities west of the Jordan River, unless it reaches a peace settlement which has two states as its basis)
So, given all this, why on earth do we listen to the right wingnuts or take them seriously in any way? Simple: because they’re loud, belligerent, organized, focused, and powerful. And that is an extremely dangerous situation, first and foremost for the future of the country they claim to care about — Israel. Ironic, tragic, pathetic, or what? You decide.