The most vexing problem Israel faces is its relations with its neighbors. From the inception of the state until today, Israelis have felt besieged, surrounded by enemies who want to make them disappear. The constant security threat has made it very difficult for Israel to address the long list of problems that for the most part have been swept under the rug while awaiting peace. These include a disastrous educational system, a widening gap between rich and poor, and bitter division between secular and religious Jews. Israel desperately needs peace if it is to come anywhere close to being the “light unto nations” of Jewish dreams.
I quarrel with the oft-heard assumption that “George W. Bush is good for Israel.” He gleaned many Jewish votes on that slogan, but I take a contrarian’s position. Israel is further from peace than it was at the end of the Clinton administration. The smoldering hatred between Iraq’s Sunni and Shi’a has burst into flames as a result of the American occupation. An emboldened Iran, with its Shi’a majority, has strengthened and armed Israel’s enemies Hamas and Hezbollah. But Israel’s most immediate danger comes from a nuclear Iran. Under the Bush administration, conversations with the Iranians began only at the end of May 2007 and have been badly mishandled. The result of the Bush doctrine in the Middle East has been an America and an Israel that are regarded with hatred and fear.
The region requires an honest broker that will push both sides towards a workable solution and a two state outcome. I remember the scene at the White House when President Clinton helped Prime Minister Rabin to shake Arafat’s hand. Whether an American president is prepared to preside over another handshake–one that could build lasting peace–should not be measured by his professed love for one side or the other, but by his judgment.
How refreshing to hear from establishment Jewry in this way.
h/t to Shammai the Subversive