The result of yesterday’s Israeli election is extremely disturbing to me personally, but more importantly, potentially devastating to the US – Israeli relationship, Israel’s position in the world and American efforts to negotiate a successful end to Iran’s nuclear weapons program. The end result of the election gave Netanyahu a commanding lead of 30 seats in the Knesset, and a viable pathway to the 61 seats necessary to control the government. Most troubling are the choices that he made to achieve this electoral victory. He chose fear over hope, isolation over cooperation and xenophobia over integration. His warning that the “Arabs were voting in droves” and that he would not allow a Palestinian State while he was in office spoke volumes and frankly made me cringe. Let me be clear, while Netanyahu claims to speak for the Jewish people around the world, he does not speak for me nor most Jews that I am in contact with. In fact, despite the election results, he does not even speak for a majority of Israelis. However, due to a complex parliamentary system of government he will be the face and voice of Israel at least until the next election.
While the White House has been very clear about its unhappiness with the election results, the GOP has been swooning in pure joy. What is very evident is the common thread that runs through the American and Israeli right wing. Of course we saw this played out before of our eyes when Netanyahu came to speak to Congress a couple of weeks ago. However, that was only the first thrust at this Administration’s heart. The next will come when after more than 25 years of bipartisan support for a “two-state solution” to the Israel-Palestinian conflict the GOP turns towards support for Netanyahu’s “not on my watch” proclamation. There is no doubt that the right wing GOP will support Netanyahu’s position and the prospects for any peace settlement in for the foreseeable future will fade in a puff of right-wing extremist smoke.
By positioning itself this way Israel opens itself up to an endless round of accusations and actions taken by both individual nations and world institutions. Israel has always been able to depend on the US to buffer and protect them when these actions take place. However, the poisonous relationship between the Obama Administration and Netanyahu places all of that in jeopardy. There is no doubt in my mind that the US will continue to stand beside Israel when it comes to security issues, however when it comes to the world of international politics, Israel may find itself hanging alone. While the boisterous blowhards of the Republican-controlled Congress may yell and even demand diplomatic support, they cannot implement it. That is the role of the Executive branch. Netanyahu’s actions will marginalize and isolate Israel on the world stage. It will get very lonely. Netanyahu can only hope for a Republican Presidential victory in 2016.
The negotiations with Iran regarding its nuclear program has reached a very sensitive stage. It is a moment when perceived national strength and resolve are of great importance when working toward a positive resolution. The ill-conceived and naive letter sent by the 47 Republican Senators in combination with the rousing response to the Netanyahu speech before Congress places these talks in jeopardy. Now that Netanyahu can claim electoral victory and therefore support for his fearmongering the future is cloudier than ever. The only thing that is clear is the fact that there is a significant group both in Congress and Israel that see war as the only viable solution to this threat. To them, it makes no difference that an almost unanimous sense from those military and security experts who have been asked feel that there is no military solution to this problem . But, those who gave us Iraq, including the vocal encouragement of Netanyahu, would like to bring us another chapter in what will surely be seen as the most egregious foreign policy decision ever made by this country besides the invasion of Iraq.
While my support for Israel’s right to exist as a free and secure nation will never diminish, I am dismayed at the path being advocated by its current leader. Just as I have been at odds with decisions taken by my own government, I am at odds with the path taken by Israel. As I have worked to change the path taken by America, I will work to change the path currently being taken by Israel.