November 14, 2010

Bibi: tom's frequent non-flier

In order to hit a number of targets he doesn't much like, Thomas Friedman came up with an analogy, I believe I can fly:

If you jump off the top of an 80-story building, for 79 floors you can think you're flying. It's the sudden stop at the end that tells you you're not.

His first frequent non-flier is Binyamin Netanyahu.

Where to begin? Well, first there's Israel's prime minister, Bibi Netanyahu, who has been telling everyone how committed he is to peace with the Palestinians while refusing to halt settlement building as a prerequisite for negotiations. At a time when Israel already has 300,000 settlers in the West Bank, Bibi says he can't possibly take another pause in building to test whether the Palestinian government of President Mahmoud Abbas -- a man Israelis say is the best Palestinian security partner Israel has ever had -- can forge a safe two-state deal for Israel. The U.S. is now basically trying to bribe Bibi to reverse his position. Maybe he will, but it's unseemly to watch and doesn't bode well. Rather than take the initiative and say to Arabs and Palestinians, "You want a settlement freeze? Here it is, now let's see what you're ready to agree to," Netanyahu toys with President Obama, makes Israel look like it wants land more than peace and risks never forging a West Bank deal -- thereby permanently absorbing its 2.5 million Palestinians and eventually no longer having a Jewish majority. That's the sudden stop at the end -- unless the next war comes first. But, for now, Bibi seems to think he can fly.

President Obama forced a settlement freeze on Netanyahu. Though Abu Mazen (Mahmoud Abbas) never demanded one, he couldn't be less Palestinian that the American President and so a new demand was placed on Israel. The thing is that during the durationg of the settlement freeze, Abu Mazen refused to negotiate until about three weeks were left in the freeze. Then surprise, surprise, Israel and the Palestinians couldn't agree on a settlement and negotiations were halted. So now the Americans wish to reward Abbas's passive aggressiveness with three more months of a freeze. By making unconscionable demands upon Israel (that once again recall Joining the Jackals), the President may have forced another 90 day freeze. But all he is doing of course is rewarding Abbas's obstinance.

As far as the "demographic threat" that Friedman wields, Barry Rubin isn't much impressed.

Regarding demographics, the birth rate between Jews and Arabs in Israel is about the same, with the Arab birth rate falling. The Palestinian population of the Gaza Strip and West Bank is not relevant for considerations on this issue since they will always remain separate, either the way things are now or in a separate country.

Friedman talks about demographics because without it there's no other reason for Israel to negotiate or make concessions to the Palestinians. But given that it's really a non-issue at this point, it's one more sign that he's anti-Israel, despite his disingenuous claims otherwise.

And while Abbas may be the best bet Israel has to make peace that in no way means that he's a good one, as the content of the Palestinian Authority's official media regularly makes clear.

Posted by SoccerDad at November 14, 2010 2:39 PM
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The Palestinians aren't going to negotiate with Israel.

Any one who thinks the freeze renewal will induce them to come back to the negotiating table is dreaming - and that includes Tom Friedman.

Posted by: NormanF at November 15, 2010 3:34 AM
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