Friday, May 16, 2008

Fighting Words

In considering a comment on Crusader-in-Chief George Bush's speech yesterday to the Knesset, I recalled the contradictory advice of Proverbs 26: 4-5:
Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest thou also be like unto him.
Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own conceit.
Since Bush does not read this blog and much has already been written about his gratuitous, attack on Obama, McCain's hypocritical follow on and the Democrats' replies, I thought it better to focus on the Israeli response to the speech.

  1. It was warm. Most Israelis were predisposed to applaud whatever he said. They think they owe him. On their view, the invasion of Iraq removed a threat to Israel, albeit an overrated one, and the occupation has created so much chaos in Iraq that another threat cannot arise from there for decades.
  2. They found nothing wrong in what he said and a lot to their liking. Right wing Israelis could ignore his mention of a Palestinian state in a vague future, because they know in the present Bush ignores the building of settlements in the West Bank and does not even support his Secretary of State's demand to remove checkpoints. Israelis centrists could applaud the vacuous words that demanded nothing of them -- no flexibility in negotiations with Palestinians -- while congratulating Israel for comprising with the United States the moral center of the universe. Left wing Israelis could join with the others in applauding Bush's pledge to keep Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. While many Americans view Iran's president Ahmadinejad as a scruffy, contemptible, little man, almost all Israelis see him as a an existential threat and even leftists do not want to relinquish Israel's nuclear monopoly in the Middle East.
  3. Israelis felt honored that Bush attended the 60th anniversary celebration. Although Bush has disgraced the presidency and the United States, Israelis still regard the United States like an older brother, a friend and protector. With its leader present, along with several other foreign dignitaries, Jewish gliterrati from the Diaspora and a few goyisch celebrities, the Israelis could briefly feel relaxed and triumphant rather than kvetchy and apprehensive.
Well not entirely. An editorial on the speech in the supposedly dovish Haaretz applauded Bush's pledge on Iran, but worried that it would not bind his successor. No problem if McCain is elected, but if Obama becomes the next president... In that case, the editorial suggested, Bush should take military measures against Iran in the months between the election and the inauguration. He could be assured that Israel's military would willingly assist in such operations. The editorial was likely written by Yossi Melman, one of the newspaper's military correspondents. Melman has been extremely hawkish on Iran, but he often directly reflects what his IDF and Mossad sources tell him. So the editiorial might signal to the world that Israel's security establishment is running out of patience with and trust in the United States over Iran. That is scary.

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