Sunday, June 21, 2009

I was off in the U.S. so am a bit late weighing in on The Speech and other developments. A few too brief comments.

1. I liked Bibi's speech, though it was only a start. The fundamental asymmetry in all Israeli-Palestinian negotiations is that the Palestinians make concrete demands (territory) backed by threats (terror). Israel simply resists but makes no demands and no threats. Thus, for a diplomat, the only game in town is wearing Israel down. Netanyahu has at least made some concrete demands: that the Palestinians agree to demilitarization and to recognition of Israel as a Jewish state. It doesn't matter that these demands are inadequate and unenforceable. All that matters is that the Palestinians will never agree to them. Eventually, Netanyahu will need to follow up with the threat: what Israel will do to make the world miserable so long as the Palestinians do not agree to these minimal demands.

2. There are a number of indications that power in Israel is shifting rightward. The judicial appointments committee now tilts slightly rightward. The leftist political appointments in the broadcast commission have all resigned. In court hearings on illegal building in Yesha, the State has finally defended its delay in destroying houses on the same grounds it has succesfully used to justify delays in destroying illegal Arab building, namely, the State's perogative to establish priorities. To be sure, none of these matter much. Due to Gideon Saar's amendment to the judicial appointments law, seven votes are needed to get a Supreme Court justice appointed, so even under ideal conditions the three justices on the committee have veto power (not to mention that Yacov Ne'eman can be counted on not to ruffle Beinish's feathers). Likewise, nobody watches Channel 1, anyway. And the Court has not yet accepted the State's argument with regard to demolitions. The point, however, is that since so many Israel makhers are short on conviction and long on getting along with what they believe is the center of power, we can very quickly reach a tipping point.

3. Obama only seems to be one step behind the curve on Iran. His comment that Moussawi is not very different than Ahmadinejad would have been apt had Moussawi won. Under the circumstances, however, the issue is the whole regime, not Moussawi. Obama's subsequent attempt to "take a stand" by addressing the protesters' right of assembly again falls short; the issue is the very nature of this oppressive regime, not the way it handles protests. But, in fact, what seems to be flat-footedness is actually moral relativism. Obama and the rest of the Best and Brightest simply don't deign to take sides on the substance. There are no good guys and bad guys in their world, only rules of engagement.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

when you say power is shifting rightward, do you mean less leftward?

8:55 AM  
Blogger Ben Bayit said...

a few comments:

On topic #1 - It was agreat speech but Bibi will never follow up on the threat. He's Bibi and he simply won't. We've been down this road with Bibi before in 96-97.

On topic #2 - the State took its position b/c even the jurists in the prosecutions department finally realized that the "mirror" petitions filed by right-wing organizations made a luaghingstock of the State's arguments. That being said the HCJ has a long and glorious history of finessing the arguments in "mirror" petitions - as they did in cases related to freedom of speech, freddom of assembly, incitement to racism, incitement to terror and many other issues where there is a need to distinguish between the same actions of the "right" and the "left/arabs". So it's very probable that Beinish will come up with some type of finesse here as well. Even if she doesn't, there are other administrative ways to creat problems - and Talia Sasson's report is just the tip of the iceberg.

12:38 PM  
Blogger Ben said...


On #1, I'm not as down on Bibi as you are, but I'm not optimistic either.

On #2, I'm afraid you're absolutely right.

4:15 PM  
Anonymous said...

nu, tzi-vus hut oisgefeilt der medineh

11:42 PM  

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