BLOG 248 April 6, 2013

In the world of contemporary politics, it’s rather unusual to win an election and then come away looking worse that if you’d lost. Netanyahu’s squeaker  of a win was eclipsed by the turmoil created with both the White House and the Arab population as well as many, many Jewish people on both sides of the ocean. The problem is far from over.

Recently, I was talking with an American Jewish rabbi about the election. The rabbi had nothing but the harshest words for Netanyahu coming to the Congress just before their election as well as his racist comments about Arabs.

While generally not reported in the American media, the Prime Minister just made a public apology in Israel recognizing that he had offended both the Israelis and Arab communities. In the closing minutes of the campaign Netanyahyu made a bigoted call for right wing voters to respond because he claimed the Arabs were swarming the polls and would tilt the election. This was straight out of old American Southern politics designed to defeat blacks. The election was over before anyone within the country could respond. His remarks as the newly elected Prime Minister were meant to express regret for those statements.

Both the Arab sector and U.S. officials questioned the sincerity of his apology. State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Hart said, “When he says one thing one day and another thing another it’s impossible to tell if he’s sincere. Arab Joint List head Ayman Odeh declared the Netanyahu statement’s  unacceptable. “This is just another zigzag by a man known for his zigzag.” Odeh noted that a genuine apology would mean real equality.

At approximately the same time, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon adamantly denied reports that Israel had spied on America’s nuclear talks with Iran. The charge against Israel in this matter is not just spying (which they all do) but giving data to American opposing legislators to undermine USA diplomacy. That’s serious business!

What is true? Hard to say. No one is sure what Netanyahu means anymore. What we have discovered in recent days is a strategy by the Netanyahu administration to affirm one position and then turn around and present obstacles that make realizing that proposition impossible. The most recent example is suddenly asking Iran to recognize Israel’s legitimacy before a nuclear arms agreement is signed. Of course, this idea is impossible and only meant to stop the agreement. We saw a similar reversal during the Israeli election. The Prime Minister declared there would never be a two-state solution with the Palestinians. Twenty-four hours after the election with American running in the opposite direction, he totally withdrew the statement. However, the statement is actually probably true.

Sound like a mess? America think so. Many Jews and Israeli’s think so. The time for double-talk has run out. If Israel is going to rise above this trouble, Netanyahu better think twice – no — thrice – about what he says.

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Filed under America, Arabs, Israel, middle east

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