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Who Left the Farm’s Gate Open?

President Obama met on July 13, 2009 at the White House with a group of Jewish leaders. The White House press office offered only a brief summary of the meeting:   “The President met with more than a dozen leaders from the Jewish community today for approximately 45 minutes. They had a substantive discussion, ranging from Middle East peace efforts and Iran, to reforming our health care system and policies to address global hunger. The President reiterated his unshakeable commitment to Israel’s security, and reiterated his commitment to working to achieve Middle East peace.”

            Make no mistake, when a US president has to keep reassuring and reiterating commitments to a Jewish audience something is wrong. It reminds me of a classic book by Orwell that was published in England in 1945.  In it we are told that after driving his rival off the farm, Napoleon usurps full power, using propaganda from Squealer and threats and intimidation from the dogs to keep the other animals in line. 

            As in the meeting with the president, whenever the Sheep met Napoleon they were manipulated to support Napoleon in spite of his hug and push-away technique used towards a small country, located in the midst of a rough and impossible neighborhood, say in the Middle East. The sheep show limited understanding of the situation but support him anyway, and regularly chant “Four legs good, Two legs bad”.  At the end of the novel, one of the Seven Commandments is changed after some animals learn to walk on two legs, so they shout “Four legs good, two legs better”.  Any dissent is shouted down.

            I personally like Benjamin, the wise donkey in the story.  Just like Benjamin, Netanyahu who lived and witnessed the violent nature of enemies sees no reality in, or is highly cynical of, the utopian society promised by the Napoleon and his administration.  The animals often ask him about his lack of expression but he always answers with: ‘Donkeys live a long time. None of you have ever seen a dead donkey.’  Another possibility is that Benjamin is an intellectual who has the wisdom to stave off pressure applied by Napoleon and other world leaders, who are determined to dictate the boundaries of his Capital (aka Jerusalem).  This pressure came in the form of a demand from the state department (Jews should not build in East Jerusalem), less than a week after the President reiterated his unshakeable commitment to Israel to an unsuspecting audience.  Who knows, it may be that after demanding a freeze in the settlements and in Jerusalem, the next logical step would be to demand a total freeze of life in the entire country.

           All this of course ignores the 2004 letter from Bush that Sharon presented as one of the biggest achievements of Israel since independence, a letter that even Olmert supports, one that accepts Israel’s position regarding continued natural growth expansion in the settlement block areas, and the inclusion of those block areas in any future agreement.

            Benjamin also makes a major foreign policy speech (June 14) that satisfies everyone except the foes.  Too bad that Benjamin’s father, a well respected historian, who taught in Cornell, had to “ruin” it for him, When asked if his son really changed his position concerning a Palestinian state, the 100 year-old Ben- Zion Netanyahu unequivocally answered: (translation)  “He does not support. He supports such conditions that they (the Arabs) will never accept it. That is what I heard from him. I didn’t propose these conditions, he did. They will never accept these conditions. Not one of them.”

            Now, why do I seem to undermine my own arguments by bringing forth an interview which questions Netanyahu’s motives?  The answer is to demonstrate that Netanyahu puts Israel’s best interests first.  The key point is that the so called conditions are actually paramount principles; that the unwillingness to accept them only raises questions about the other side’s true long term intention.  Some of the principles are recognizing Israel as a Jewish State, accepting that the refugee problem will be resolved outside Israel, the territory under Palestinian control must be demilitarized with ironclad security provisions for Israel.  I would rather Netanyahu insist on these principles than having to hear him tell the people of Israel “yes, we got canned” down the road.


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