Friday, August 28, 2009

Listen to Your Enemy

Whoever your enemy, opponent, antagonist, partner may be at the moment, never ignore them. Listen to every word. Americans are so impatient to twist everything Ahmadinejad says that they hardly listen to his actual words. Americans are so quick to trust their presumed “friends” that they don’t listen to them either – taking their “good faith” for granted.

Netanyahu has absolutely no intention of accepting Palestinian liberty. Here are the recent words of Netanyahu to an Israeli audience:

Therefore, our demand for effective demilitarization is a fundamental demand for establishing a real and stable peace with the Palestinians. I use the term effective demilitarization because we desire practical and effective arrangements. We all have experience with ineffective demilitarization. Effective demilitarization means that there will not be a foreign army west of the Jordan. A police force, a counter-terrorism mechanism by all means, but there is no reason for such a force to have tanks, artillery or other types of weapons. The second thing is that we will have control of our airspace. This is vital for ensuring our security.

Read those words, President Obama, and know thine enemy. What separates the vision of a two-state solution from Netanyahu’s idea of a solution is not a gap, it is a Political Grand Canyon. Netanyahu makes crystal clear what he wants: an Israeli state plus a Palestinian Bantustan, disarmed and helpless – “effective demilitarization.” Palestine, facing the most over-militarized (nuclear submarines, nuclear cruise missiles, nuclear bombs, one of the world’s great air forces) and aggressive state on the earth today has no reason to possess “tanks, artillery or other types of weapons”!!! The Palestine Netanyahu envisions will not even be able to defend itself against the kind of settler terrorism that the colonized Palestinians are facing today.

Then there’s that cute little aside about control of airspace. Forgive my cynicism, but today Israel controls the airspace of Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, and Syria. After “peace” comes to the Levant, exactly what “airspace” does Netanyahu plan to control?

It is time to face the fact that Netanyahu is personally the enemy…the enemy of American policy, the enemy of a durable Levantine peace (as opposed to a temporary extension of Israeli domination), the enemy of real security for Israel. It is time for Obama to take off the kid gloves, discard the trivial discussions about settlement freezes, and make clear that the U.S. is no longer willing to continue propping up the Netanyahu regime with military and economic support.

The truth is that Hamas is much closer to the political center (which must be defined as the willingness to live and let live) than Netanyahu is. Hamas has been signaling a willingness to accept Israel’s existence for a long time now; the problem is that Americans aren’t listening. And Hamas is not even demanding the demilitarization of Israel. Perhaps it should…and then suggest that the topic might be open to bilateral negotiations.

Obama should point out that Israel is a free country…and so is America. America is free not to support regimes that are hostile to its policies and America is free to speak with anyone it wants to speak to. Obama should unwrap himself from Netanyahu’s little finger and tell Mitchell to take a small delegation (plus a large force of Marines with anti-aircraft missiles) to Gaza to “gather ideas from civil society.”

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