Show and tell. That pretty much sums up the events of the past week in regard to the Israeli/Palestinian Conflict.
Show and tell is a game usually played by children. I mean something a bit different. By show I mean theatrics; by tell, something implicit more than explicit.
On Thursday, May 19, President Barak Obama addressed the State Department on the changes taking place in the Middle East and North Africa. While his primary focus was on the democratic revolutions in Arab states, he coupled his analysis with the Israeli/Palestinian peace process. Obama called for a resumption of negotiations against the backdrop of the Arab Spring, warning that events in the turbulent region were making peace between Jews and Palestinian Arabs more critical than ever. Obama proposed the issue of borders along the 1967 lines, with land swaps, as a starting point for the resumption of negotiations.
In his remarks at the AIPAC conference later on May 22, Obama acknowledged:
"There was nothing particularly original in my proposal[*]; this basic framework for negotiations has long been the basis for discussions among the parties, including previous U.S. administrations."
Although Obama's proposal was not novel, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu immediately rejected the 1967 borders, saying they were indefensible.
The next day, May 20, Netanyahu met with Obama at the White House and reiterated his rejection of the 1967 borders, again stating they were indefensible.**
Obama addressed the 10,000 AIPAC*** delegates at their national conference on May 22. He clarified his position on the 1967 borders, insisting Israelis and Palestinians negotiate a new border accounting for land swaps. Obama's remarks on the 1967 borders were received with applause from AIPAC delegates.
Netanyahu also addressed AIPAC on May 23 before he delivered a major speech to a joint session of the U.S. Congress on May 24. Netanyahu again rejected the 1967 borders, saying they were indefensible. His remarks on the 1967 borders were received with applause from Congress.
Although there was nothing new in Obama's proposal, there was something strikingly new in Netanyahu's reaction: an implicit admission of Israel's vulnerability. Netanyahu exploded the myth of Israel's invincibility.
Netanyahu betrayed a state secret. This is unforgivable in the Middle East where the perception of power is as important as actual power. By articulating a policy of "Indefensible Borders", Netanyahu announced to the world that Israel can be defeated.
ARAB SPRING AND HOPE DEFERRED
Hope deferred is hope denied. The Palestinians are strong and will not wait another generation to achieve their basic human rights. The democratic wave sweeping across the Arab world is a swell Palestinians can ride.
Obama is correct in recognizing the connection between the Israeli/Palestinian Conflict and Arab self-determination. Human rights are universal.
The effect of the Arab Spring will be greater rather than less pressure for a resolution of the Israeli/Palestinian Conflict. As Arab nations democratize, solidarity will increase between them and their Palestinian Arab compatriots.
Old assumptions, such as the peace treaty between Egypt and Israel, can no longer be regarded as eternally valid.
REPLACEMENT FOR GEORGE MITCHELL
George Mitchell resigned as U.S. Special Envoy for Middle East Peace on May 13, 2011. He successfully brokered the Belfast Peace Agreement in 1998, which resolved the Conflict between the Irelands; yet, a Middle East peace eluded him. Why?
The Bible anoints the Prince of Peace for this task. ONLY the one chosen for this task will be enabled by God to perform it. Not Netanyahu or Abbas; not Mitchell or Blair. Not Obama.
Peace depends upon the Peacemaker. Finding the Peacemaker is more important than arguing borders, settlements, refugees, or Jerusalem.
Who will take over the task of direct negotiations?
Show and tell. Obama and Netanyahu indeed put on a show, but what was telling in the process was surely unintended.
Despite mutual affirmations of friendship, the Netanyahu visit revealed a rift between Israel and the United States at a time when Israeli security is most needy. Netanyahu slipped in disclosing his nation's security vulnerability.
Netanyahu returns home empty-handed, having done more harm than good. Peace is possible, but not peace by Netanyahu.
Netanyahu has once again proven his malfeasance. He is unfit to lead Israel. He is unfit to broker peace. Will he step down, or will he continue to preside over the destruction of Israel?
*"Remarks by the President on the Middle East and North Africa", May 19, 2011.
**"Remarks by President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel After Bilateral Meeting", May 20, 2011.
***American Israel Public Affairs Committee.