In the spirit of Purim, I quipped a few days ago that if it were up to me, I’d appoint ex-Black Panther Charlie Biton our new foreign minister.
It’s actually not altogether preposterous. Tzipi Livni eminently proved that proficiency in the English idiom is no prerequisite for the job. Moreover, Charlie says it like it is, passionately, from the gut, without pedantic quibbling, pseudointellectual hairsplitting or any niceties to speak of. He doesn’t try to be liked.
Golda in her day remarked that he and his crowd weren’t “nice.” Menachem Begin used to refer to him tongue-in-cheek as “Sir Charles.”
But Sir Charles may be just the man of the hour. After all, the international community seems enamored of anyone who smacks of the Third World, and of any cause espoused with indignation and enunciated with aggressive conviction. Nobody can rise to that challenge better than Charlie. European dispensers of sanctimony, indeed, once adored him, hung on his every word and quoted him with undisguised relish.
That was during his 15-year Knesset stint (1977-1992) on the Hadash list, as protege of orthodox communist Meir Wilner. Charlie made Wilner’s diatribes sound like decorous moderation. Biton remains outspoken, but his message is different.
WHY AREN’T we aware of his political transformation? “Who’ll give me a hearing?” he rhetorically responded to Makor Rishon recently. “Our media serves Israel’s enemies… They love interviewing Hamas propagandists, but since I shifted my orientation, I’ve become taboo. If you’re leftist, they’ll grant you exposure. Once you switch rightward and try to tell the truth, you’re blacklisted.”
Be that as it may, Biton admits he “naively once believed that it’s possible to arrive at a peaceful solution with the Palestinians – two states for two nations. I gradually got wiser.”
And what Biton discovered at the end of his ideological odyssey should be what Israel’s new Foreign Ministry broadcasts loudly, clearly and without a suggestion of embarrassment to the whole world, particularly to the new “evenhanded” postmodern White House resident.
The reason Biton changed his tune is compelling: “I realized that the Arabs we’re dealing with are swindlers, corrupt scammers – each and every one. Not a single one of them wishes to arrive at any solution. They have one solution and one only in mind – that we Jews all be dumped into the sea.”
Biton confesses that he “got fed up with all games played by our dogmatic Left which still prefers not to open its eyes and look truth in the face. To recognize how much nonsense they spouted, just listen to Yossi Sarid’s and Yossi Beilin’s speeches extolling peace during Oslo. The Palestinians premeditate everything. All is organized in advance. We get dragged in, phase by phase, engaged in supposed diplomatic play with Europe and the Saudi thieves.
“Waste of time… We must do what’s good for us. If foreigners object, then tough luck.”
This should be our unequivocal retort to Obama’s neophyte ambition to resolve our region’s disputes instantly and obviously at Israel’s expense. There’s inordinate hubris in his assumption that he can do in no time what nobody else could for a long time (paraphrasing The Little Engine that Could: “Yes, we can.”) The underlying false hypothesis is that Israel is the source of all Arab/Muslim grievances and that, were it to be divested of its “vast” territorial conquests (never mind that the state at its center is nine miles wide), world peace would be restored.
THE INDISPUTABLE FACT is that the Arabs’ genocidal plot long predated Jewish independence and directly spawned the 1967 war in which they lost territory. If anything, Israel’s narrow waistline encourages and invites Arab belligerence, contrary to what Obama’s radical entourage whispers in his ear.
This needs be repeated bravely and unabashedly, or else – as Biton perceptively warns – we’ll just get inextricably sucked into a process blueprinted to harm us. Displeasing Washington’s powers-that-be – manipulative Kadima-propagated scaremongering notwithstanding – isn’t inevitably tantamount to an existential calamity for Israel. Our greatest danger is a government that bends over backward to be liked, sacrificing to that end vital security interests and strategic holdings.
Israeli popularity in Washington comes at a hefty price, and we’re better off not paying it. The notion of offering concessions before negotiations even open must once and for all be discarded. Better safe than popular.
The last thing we need is an ingratiating government. We do need a government capable of saying no. Standing up for ourselves is the only way to undo some of the dreadful damage wrought since Israel began sliding down the Osloite slippery slope. Previous Israeli leaders knew how to refuse offers detrimental to our collective self-preservation prospects.
ISRAEL WASN’T TROUNCED when it cheekily wouldn’t heed American diktats against declaring independence or proclaiming Jerusalem its capital. David Ben-Gurion erected the nuclear reactor in Dimona despite the severest US disapproval. We held our own and survived. Golda sent Bill Rogers and Gunnar Jarring packing and we’re still here to tell about it. Begin bombed Saddam’s nuclear reactor to Washington’s chagrin, annexed the Golan and reminded ambassador Sam Lewis that “Israel isn’t a banana republic.” Amazingly, we endured that too.
However, each episode in which Israel bowed to pressure eroded our positions and left a great deal to be regretted thereafter. Obsequiousness and a vassal mentality are worse than Washington’s worst.
How will Obama punish Israel if it dares resist his know-it-all commands? What can he do that would surpass the injuries our “best friends” Bush and Rice already inflicted, and for which we fawningly thanked them? Will Obama force upon us a prohibition against preempting an Iranian nuke menace, a “road map,” a two-state “vision,” the Saudi proposal, the “Quartet” meddling, international conferences/tribunals, edicts against “natural growth” in the settlements and his own generals to supervise our conduct? Dubya and Condi beat him to it.
We can only stop pressure by resisting it. If Obama realizes that it’s no-go, he’ll have to desist, even if his expression turns very sour. After all, as he consistently explains to Ahmadinejad, he believes in dialogue, in listening to the other side, in accommodation. Well, whatever is fair toward Ahmadinejad should be fair toward us too. We too can summon our nerve and request due consideration – in our case as an ally, not an adversary (that is, if such distinctions exist in Obama’s morally-relativist reality).
To hammer in such a message we could use Charlie’s post-Purim services. He’d translate from the colloquial Arabic the true nature of that “one and only Arab solution.” In our name he’d bluntly decline to cooperate in the scheme to drown us in the Med. No hemming, no hawing, no stuttering, no faltering or tripping over our suave tactful diplomatic tongue.
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