The reprehensible tactics used by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin "Bibi" Netanyahu to win his recent re-election have betrayed not only the long-standing U.S.-Israeli relationship -- those tactics have indeed betrayed the best interests of the State of Israel, and the difficult cause of peace between Israel and its neighbors. Bibi's squeaker re-election is very likely to become an unmitigated disaster for all parties involved -- but, most of all, a disaster for Israel itself!
To understand the reasons for that impending disaster, one must first understand Bibi's tactics, and then consider the Middle East scenario which is likely to result. The first major election-eve mistake which Bibi made was to accept the offer of Republican Congressional leaders to speak to a joint session of Congress in opposition to ongoing negotiations between the United States and Iran over the misbegotten Iranian nuclear program. The Republican complicity in this blunder is obvious; indeed, Speaker of the House John Boehner boasted of it, and it was clear that the primary intent was to embarrass President Barack Obama rather than to actually impact the talks with Iran. One hallmark of American foreign policy has always been that this nation speaks with one voice on major policy matters -- that is no longer the case, due to wrongheaded Republican meddling, but Bibi did not have to accept the invitation, and at a minimum should have checked with The White House before his own personal meddling in American foreign affairs.
The second major election-eve mistake intentionally made by Bibi Netanyahu was his sudden rejection of any Palestinian State during his next term of office, in the event of his re-election. This sudden reversal of his own commitment to a two-state solution to the Palestinian problem, made publicly and repeated frequently, blatantly pandered to the Israeli right-wing factions -- and has already been modified by Bibi upon his successful bid for re-election. This "pre-election change of heart" was a despicable ploy to win re-election at the cost of decades of efforts to resolve one of the root causes of the seemingly-endless strife between Israel and the Palestinians. Mainly, what was demonstrated once again was that Bibi Netanyahu is not a man of his word, or a man with any principles at all.
The third major mistake made by Bibi Netanyahu occurred on election day itself, when he asserted that the Israeli Labor Party, his main opponent, was driving "busloads of Israeli arabs" to the polls to influence the vote against him. The evidence for this assertion was flimsy at best, and probably non-existent -- but even if the claim were true, there is absolutely nothing wrong with trying to get voters to the polls, which is a standard election tactic in democracies all over the world, including the United States. Nevertheless, the charge was inflammatory and again pandered to right-wing factions in Israel who are considerably less than enthusiastic about Israeli arab citizens voting at all. This was one more despicable tactic which appeared to be a move of desperation by Bibi Netanyahu -- but it may have worked.
Unfortunately for Israel itself, and the cause of Middle East peace, the cumulative effect of all of these tactics is the publicly-raised possibility that the next time the issue of the formal creation of a Palestinian state arises in the United Nations Security Council, the United States, for the first time in history, may refrain from vetoing such a resolution. After all, since Bibi Netanyahu has already rejected any two-state solution in the Middle East -- after accepting such a solution for years -- the Palestinians will maintain that there is no point to further on again-off again negotiations with Israel. They will maintain that the Prime Minister of Israel himself has rejected any two-state solution, so that it is up to the UN to take action. After all, it was the United Nations which created the modern State of Israel in 1948 -- why should the UN not similarly create a State of Palestine?
The United States is undoubtedly now under considerable pressure from its new-found Arab allies in the war against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS. That pressure includes efforts to get America to be more "evenhanded" in our stance in the Middle East, which can be translated as "less supportive of Israel." Up until now, America has rejected those pressures, and Israel has remained our key ally in the region. But now that Bibi Netanyahu has insulted the American President, dabbling in U.S. foreign policy to promote his own re-election as Israeli Prime Minister, all bets are off. Actions and words both have consequences, and for Israel those consequences are likely to be most unfortunate. We have only seen the beginning of the disastrous consequences of Bibi Netanyahu's despicable tactics to win re-election -- now, we can only hope that they do not result in the beginning of the end for Israel itself.
Eugene Elander has been a progressive social and political activist for decades. As an author, he won the Young Poets Award at 16 from the Dayton Poets Guild for his poem, The Vision. He was chosen Poet Laureate of (more...)
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