Curtain Raiser

What Trips Israel & Palestine, Colltalers

There’s growing fear, even among some conservatives circles, that Benjamin Netanyahu’s drive to disenfranchise the Palestinians, as he panders to the Likud’s most radical, and paranoid, right wing views, may ultimately hurt the stability of Israel.
In the long run, his confrontational policies are sowing seeds for a state of permanent conflict in the region, strengthening both Israel’s traditional enemies and the Evangelical right, which’s fully invested on a biblical Armageddon-ushered Rapture fantasy.
Take his recent blaming of Hitler’s final solution on Haj Amin al-Husseini, the Palestinian leader and Great Mufti of Jerusalem during WWII. Designed to rally apathetic Jews against the Palestinians, it only made clear that he’s ready to do and say anything to ward off pressure from the ultra right. Even if that implies distorting history and using the Holocaust as a tool.
His statements may’ve fueled an emerging view that Netanyahu’s becoming a loose-canon, engaged in the impossible task of catering to an ultimately unsatisfiable segment of his party to whom only the absolute banishing of Palestinians will suffice.
In that way, it’s no wonder that he seems so aligned to the American Republican Party, which is equally under a radical brand of money-powered and irrational beliefs, that’s vetting only the more outrageous presidential candidates viable to get the presidential nomination. Not coincidentally, there’s also a very active religious wing operating here. We’ll get back to the GOP shortly.
There’s no need to qualify here any of these elements as ‘too crazy.’ Neither the prime minister’s political ambitions nor the

state of Middle East turmoil are anything out of the extraordinary at this point, and both follow predictable patterns.
As for the increased influence of American Messianic religions over Israeli politics, yes, that is insane. Specially because it’s based on the assumption that, if all goes according to plan, Israel will be the seat of a civilization-ending conflict.
Millions of Americans take the Bible literally and believe that Jesus is about to return to Earth any day now. But in order for that to happen, some feel that they also have to lend a hand to the prophecy by boosting hatred against the State of Israel.
That twisted form of ‘support’ to Israel is often lost to many Israelis who welcome support from wherever they can get it, not many questions asked, apparently. But it’s definitely not lost to politicians who see it all as an opportunity to withhold power.
It’s that old story, some 2.000 years old to be more or less precise, that of a good warmongering as a sure way to preserve the status quo. And Netanyahu, who’s likely aware of the implications such a volatile combo may have for the future of Israel, the Middle East, and since we’re talking crazy here, the world, acts as if his own must take precedence over everyone else’s.
A quick aside before we get any deeper into this controversial theme. Every time we discuss Israel in this space we risk getting stuck in the mud of strong passions and very little rationality. But the subject does have profound implications to our world, and taking Israel politics to task offers an interesting albeit loaded possibility to understand a bit of what’s going on.
After all, a great deal of what’s happening today predates the modern State of Israel and can be traced back to wars waged centuries ago. We’re still trying to overcome that outdated view of the world as a battle field, without a unified approach to peace and tolerance.
How we get there, and we must, hinges on the fate of that part of the globe and also inside our most treasured possession as humans: our brains. Given what conflicting beliefs have brought us to, can we now try the seat of our conscience for a change?
It’s the gazillion dollar question, for sure, but it’s still worth identifying those who show no intention to prevent war and carnage, if it advances their political careers, and those trying to weight and consider the consequences of the current course of action.
The increased hostility between Israelis and Palestinians of late, however, is not exactly a change from what was already going on for the past decade or since Netanyahu’s been Prime Minister (he was first elected in 1996). But it still counts.
From the part of the Israeli politics, there’s been less talk of a two-state solution and more efforts to support settlers on illegally taken territories. Also, either there’s been tremendous electorate apathy towards the political process, or Israelis simply agree with, or got used to, the state of constant fear and suspicion being fed daily by their leaders, the media, and skillful political boogeymen.
As for the Palestinians, in view of the overwhelming militarization of the State of Israel, they can only count on support from the international community to regain land and become an independent state. But count the GOP out of that equation.
In fact, going back to American politics and the quagmire Republicans have found themselves in, there seems to be this not terribly well-thought strategy of supporting Israel for what it’s failing the most: using the army in lieu of diplomacy.
By refusing to hold Israel’s leadership accountable for the failure of the two-state solution, and issuing blank statements in support of ‘our friends, the Israeli people,’ who’ve been short-changed by them, Republicans may be embarking on a similar no-win, unfulfillable quest to appease the most irrational fringe of the party. To which, even that is unlikely to be enough.
The current Palestinian stand also has its short-comings. Not the least of them is the vulnerability of its political leadership and almost non-existent institutions. That plus an overly Israel-dependent economy, the dire state of its social conditions, political cold shoulder from other Arab nations, and an overall feeling that they’re so impoverished that they lack clout to be heard globally.
These factors can always be changed, of course. Some add that the election of more progressive country leaders, being it in the U.K. or potentially in the U.S. and others, during the next couple of years, may also represent an important element of change.
Time will tell. Half-empty ‘cupers,’ on the other hand, point to the massive rise of money in politics and power-making machines as an overriding trend with the potential to swallow all others, however positive and beneficial to the majority they may be.
Speaking of majority, there are ways for increasing its participatory role in the modern democratic process, so basic needs for peace and prosperity can’t be so easily manipulated. We just need to pursue them with the same zeal we do our own interests.
Trying to find some balance on this impossibly complex equation is, of course, way beyond our ability. But history shows that even iron-fisted, thick-skinned politicians such as Netanyahu are also subjected to the ebb and flow of political change.
In his case, we’re all for it. And so should ordinary Israelis whose legitimate fear and longing for security have been all but boxed into another building block of his on and off 11-year occupancy of the Knesset. For it’s becoming ever more apparent that Netanyahu and what he represents are major obstacles to peace and for Palestinians to regain the reigns over their fate. Have a great Halloween. WC

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