The Iranian challenge to the elections is capturing the media waves. All eyes are watching to see if the Ayatollah will be patient with the protesters or squash them like bugs. It is pretty apparent by the way the media prefers to cover the Twitter tweet rooms that no one is really interested in the substance of the issue. They just want to see the drama of social networking sites unfold.
Unfortunately, while all this coverage of tweets goes on, the entire nation, and it seems the world has missed the meeting between Secretary of State Clinton and her Israeli counterpart Avigdor Lieberman. Despite the fact that Israel makes US headlines daily, one was hard-pressed to find a newspaper that covered it. Perhaps if they were tweeting instead of meeting it would have beat Iran as the main story.
CNN did cover it briefly reminding us that Lieberman, a hardliner who immigrated to Israel from Russia, said and I quote, "no" to freezing settlements. Of course he and his boss Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu continually forget to mention that the US and the world deems these settlements illegal.
US presidents from before Carter to Obama have stated that the Israeli act of continuing to populate the West Bank and confiscate Palestinian land is against US policy. The truth is that this is probably the first US president that is actively implementing that policy instead of just stating it through unintended rhetoric.
In response, the American Congress, yes, the American Congress has been told by the pro-Israel lobby to "back off" and Israelis themselves are enthusiastically stirring up public sentiment against the Obama Administration. Newspapers are publishing stories and surveys that are denouncing American policy in the strongest terms. The Jerusalem Post printed a recent and unscientific poll stating that 69% of Israelis do not agree with freezing West Bank settlements. Definitely not a surprising outcome. No one likes being told what to do, especially Israelis.
To make matters worse, Israelis are directly taking on Obama himself. His picture is carpeting billboards depicting him with an Arafat-like khafia and countless articles and blogs are calling him - oh yes - pro-Palestinian and you guessed it, anti-semitic.
This is a disrespectful and absurd. I wonder what would happen if Americans started posting pictures of Bibi with devil ears and a Saddam-like mustache saying he was anti-American because he is against freezing settlements, which are unlawful in the first place. It is not going to happen here and should not be happening there.
Nonetheless the propaganda ensues. Forget the fact that it is in the US and Israel's interest to engage the Arab world. I guess they forgot the US is still at war there and prefers to draw down its forces not build them up further.
The bottom line here is that all the Israeli government was asked to do was freeze settlements. This is not an end to the Jewish state by any means and its reaction is also extremely unfair, not to mention unjustified.
The United States has supported Israel since its declaration. The US has provided it with economic, military and various other types of monetary aid. From housing starts to $4 billion dollars in outright aid per year, Israel gets more than most ailing American communities. It is almost shocking that one Israeli in their right mind would think that any American president is pro-Palestinian or anti-semitic.
This is especially true when one realizes that the US provides approximately $500 per Israeli citizen despite the fact that Israel is one of the fifty richest countries, has a per capita income of about $28,000 and has the third largest military in the world. And when Israel can't pay its loans to the US, thanks to the Cranston Amendment, the US does it for them.
Obama is not asking for any of this to support to stop. Considering all of these facts, the very least the Israeli government can do is stop the settlements. Peace is not to be feared, it is to be embraced.
Rest assured the US has no intention in letting Israel go it alone. As Obama said, "America's strong bonds with Israel are well known. This bond is unbreakable." It is however in both countries interest to move toward a peaceful solution with the Palestinians.
Their situation must be recognized and addressed. The acknowledgment of "Palestinian aspiration for dignity, opportunity, and a state of their own" is way overdue. Moreover, the US has every right to want a better situation in the Middle East since it is also a major target of extremists throughout the region and the time is now.
Although Clinton and Lieberman's meeting was swept under the rug, The New York Times did cover President Carter's trip to Gaza. Carter too realizes time is short and progress must be made and to do that one must talk to all parties not some. Thus, he visited Ismail Haniyah, who became Prime Minister after Hamas was elected freely and fairly as the leadership party for the Palestinians. In their meeting Haniyah stated that he would accept a Palestinian State in 1967 borders, which has been supported by countless United Nations resolutions and is a logical start.
It is time for the Israeli leadership to grasp this opportunity. The parties can continue to argue over who is worse than whom or they can start moving one step at a time toward a greater Middle East peace.
A peace that will give Israel security, relationships and legitimacy with Muslim nations everywhere, a Jewish state and countless other economic and political benefits. It will also finally give the Palestinians a state of their own. The alternative is the Israeli absorption of about 4 million Palestinians who in a democracy like Israel will deserve nothing less than equal treatment and rights.
Well Misters Lieberman and Netanyahu, which do you prefer? We can tweet or meet, it is all up to you.
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