I had a dream in which, after a long absence, I returned home and a hostile neighbor made my life a misery: he threatened and cursed me and broke windows. The other neighbors claimed that I was to blame for the lack of
The neighbor in question wanted my wife, and for the sake of peaceful co-existence, they suggested we come to some kind of territorial and operational compromise.
peace in the neighborhood, and sent a delegation to reason with me.
The point, they explained, was that the neighbor in question wanted my wife, and for the sake of peaceful co-existence, they suggested we come to some kind of territorial and operational compromise. In the meantime, while deliberations on the topic were taking place, there should be a freeze on my relationship with my wife.
"Have you gone insane?" I burst out, and proceeded to throw them out of my home. Journalists waiting outside for a "breakthrough" were told that I "hated peace." I was thunderstruck. A peace hater? For loving my wife?
When Binyamin Netanyahu met with Barack Obama, he flatly turned down demands to hand over the Jewish homeland to our neighbor, even in theory. He also rejected the proposal of a temporary freeze on construction, akin to a temporary separation while divorce papers are being drawn up. However, since then Netanyahu has started a precipitous descent down a slippery slope with the speed of a roller coaster: he has proclaimed his support for the two-state solution and has frozen Jewish construction, including in Jerusalem. Moreover, Netanyahu is demolishing Jewish homes in Judea and Samaria through his minister of defense, and through state attorneys who consistently endorse Peace Now petitions to destroy Jewish communities submitted to the Supreme Court.
In addition, Netanyahu has retreated from the formula which called for "natural growth" in Judea and Samaria settlements in favor of a humanitarian formula which calls for a preservation of the "quality of life" there. Finally, he already gave his consent in principle to a so-called temporary freeze, comparable to cutting off blood and oxygen to a limb slated for amputation.
A massive majority of the people is opposed to Netanyahu's chosen path and identify with that of his second-in-command, Moshe Ya'alon.
From a survey by Ma'agar Mohot (ordered by the Independent Media Review Analysis [IMRA] organization) it emerged that:
52% oppose a freeze on construction in exchange for Arab gestures of goodwill. 33% were in favor. In Netanyahu's party 70% were against a construction freeze.
51% supported Minister Ya'alon's call to legalize the outposts in Judea and Samaria. Opposed: 24%. In the Likud: 73% in favor of legalization.
41% agreed with the sentence that Peace Now "has caused great harm to the State of Israel". Only 19% disagreed.
To the question, "regarding Minister Ya'alon's warning against 'sliding down the slippery slope' of those who give in to pressure, do you believe that Netanyahu is or is not on a slippery slope vis a vis President Obama?" 55% said yes, and only 26% said no. 47% responded that a "temporary" freeze on construction would become permanent, and only 15% disagreed.
Netanyahu is addicted to surveys, and it may be assumed that he is aware of public opinion regarding his concessions. The American slippery slope already cost him the government once before, when he gave in to American pressure to surrender more territory to the Palestinians and was toppled by the Israeli Right. What, then, causes him to stumble again?
The Americans, who are experts in preparing psychological profiles for foreign leaders, discovered the man's weakness, which neutralizes all his good qualities. Netanyahu cannot stand up to pressure, and the Americans keep it up with a brutal and humiliating bulldozer. On the other hand, Netanyahu does not fear pressure from within, because he knows that the political Right will not again topple a right-wing government in favor of an appeasement party like Kadima.
Netanyahu is wrong. First of all, there is a limit to the abuse his voters and party are willing to take. In the past,
The American rod will break and Netanyahu may well pay with his job.
they voted for Ariel Sharon as the leader of the political Right and received a left-winger; now it is happening again. Secondly, there is no need to replace the ruling party: when the British were sick and tired of Neville Chamberlain, they did not elect a Labor government; they replaced him with another leader from the same party, Winston Churchill.
Yet, the main point is that some issues are not governed by cold calculation; for example, values some may consider outdated, such as patrimony and homeland. To these, a party and a nation respond emotionally, from the heart or from the guts, even when this goes against logic and considerations of profit.
Therefore, the outburst, "Have you gone insane? Haters of peace we are certainly not; we simply love our homeland!" may yet be heard.
And then the American rod will break and Netanyahu may well pay with his job.
This article originally appeared in Hebrew in Yedioth Aharonot on August 28, 2009.