June 04, 2008

Obama at AIPAC

I listened to Barak Obama's address to AIPAC this morning. I have never ever, ever heard a more pro-Israel speech from any politician from either side. Amongst all his promises about supporting Israel and guaranteeing its survival, and the importance of the Holocaust, and his grandfathers commitment after he saw the horrors in Germany never to forget etc., etc., he went on to insist on an undivided Jerusalem as Israel's capital. No, he would never talk to Hamas until they recognized Israel's right to exist in peace; and yes, he accepted the magnitude of the Iranian threat and he would never let the Iranians get away with anything.

Obama said that anti-Obama pieces were being circulated that questioned his commitment to Israel, and he only wanted to say it must have been some other Barak Obama because they couldn’t possibly be referring to him.

I couldn't help wonder if this is what the anti-Semites refer to when they say the Jews control Washington, particularly when, shortly afterwards, Hillary spoke and said pretty much the same (but, frankly, without his charisma). And, of course, McCain speaks the same language, no less forcefully. Yet I knew full well they were only words, and politicians will say almost whatever it takes to get elected.

But he left little doors open. No more settlements, Palestinians must have a viable contiguous state, America committed, as it is needed to push both sides towards a peaceful solution.

Then I began to feel unhappy. You see, America is the only power which can solve the issue, and the only way it can do it is not by swearing to each side that it is their best friend, but by putting troops on the ground in between. They will not do it, of course. They got so burned in the past, and are so mired in other parts of the Middle East, that of course they will not want to get into another quagmire.

Then in today's NY Times, the iconic Thomas L. Friedman wrote an Op Ed piece in which he suggested that, as no side can or really wants to progress, Jordan should come back in to push the Palestinians and act the honest broker--something they’ve been terrified of doing for forty years. Oh dear, I thought. Here we go again, roundabouts with no end in sight. Frankly, I'd prefer to hear someone say, "We are going to fix this mess, by force if necessary, and we'll back up our promises with men on the ground, even if it means someone gets hurt, maybe on both sides!"

It is no different than the Gemara/Midrash which says the Jews would never have accepted the Torah if they hadn't been forced to with the threat that Mount Sinai would have been dumped on them. Better a threat and a good ending than the freedom to go on messing up and ruining lives.

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