As a liberal American Jew living in Israel, I am ashamed by the reactions of my peers to the election of Netanyahu. The general sentiment of the majority of the Jews in America is that they are somehow superior to the Jews of Israel, who are racist, alarmist and treat the Arabs the way that Europeans treated the Jews before the Second World War. They clearly cannot reconcile how different they are from the Jews in Israel and how morally superior they are. Further, they cannot understand how the cheap theater of telling Obama to go f*** himself in Congress the day after praying at The Wailing Wall and tweeting "The right-wing government is in danger. Arab voters are going en masse to the polls. Left-wing NGOs are bringing them on buses," is rewarded with the election.
And the liberal Israelis are even worse. They see themselves as the sensible, elite minority that believes in a two state solution, because they are the exclusive owners of compassion in a country full of backward religious fanatics. Somehow it is blind to most Israeli liberals that in reality most Israelis have the same relationship to faith as Europeans and Americans. It is shocking that the most educated and reasonable people in Israel by all metrics and conventions, the liberal elite, seem to have such a tenuous relationship with reality.
Their conception of a two state solution in their minds seems to be drawn from listening to their parent's American protest albums. While Isaac Herzog, by all accounts seems to be a nice, convivial fellow, he is no Dr. Martin Luther King, and if he were elected, he would do exactly what the Gestapo, excuse me, I mean what Likud is doing right now. He would delay a two-state solution, that if he eventually found the correct terms to offer would be rejected, just as it was in 2000, 2001 and 2008, when Israel offered The Palestinians a state, with a capitol in Jerusalem and offered fully cleared out Israeli settlements. What do these Haaretz writers expect will happen? Palestine will become a state and by some miracle it will become a bastion of civilized liberal ideals and not devolve into Syria. Did they forget that in March of 2002, terrorists killed 130 Israelis? Did they forget that the entire Middle East is a chaotic pool where terrorists breed and it may be dangerous to have such a country at your doorstep? Do they want to see Israel fall to the ground?
In spite of the shame I have for this American reaction, I can see why they are seized by confusion, unlike the Israelis living in Tel Aviv. While Haaretz and the mainstream American tries to paint a portrait of Netanyahu as a modern day Mussolini, there is a clear dichotomy between what he says and does. Does he not at every opportunity try to improve the economic situation of Arab Israelis? The day after his election he said he supported a two state solution, when we are able to draw up proper terms for such peace, which I believe is the reasonable way of looking at a country led by a terrorist organization that just lobbed thousands of missiles at us six months ago. While I believed the nationality bill to be a tad overblown, borderline totalitarian and racist, the realities that exist in this region necessitate the appearance of strength against a foe that will never, I repeat never, take anything that Israel offers them.
The only way Israel will come out of this situation is if Israelis find a way to compromise with each other. If a majority could recognize that there is a threat at our doorstep, we could find a moderate, left-leaning solution. Despite what American Jews believe, Bibi is a moderate, who only because of his belief he must protect Israel, panicked and banded together with the far right to get elected. The egos of the right and left are blinding us to our commonalities. A moderate, unified government and unified people in Israel is the only chance we have of coming to a tenable two-state solution with Palestine.
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