Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Get Excited

Avigdor Lieberman, Israel's Foreign Minister, is re-writing Israel's foreign policy. Love him or hate him, any supporter of Israel should be excited with what he has in store.

Long story short, I'm writing this in WordPad, which has no spell check. I apolgozie for the (sure to be many) misspellings and grammatical mistakes.

Many American Jews watched with great worry as Avigdor Lieberman was sworn in as Israel's new (and current) Foreign Minister. His comments and sentiments towards Arabs and Persians set of alarms around the world that he was a man wholy uninterested in making peace with Israel's neighbors, let alone even kibitzing about the weather with them.

I was excited. Here was a man who's attitudes, completely distorted by worldwide media, represented what I felt was the most missing aspect of Israel's foreign policy: big, manly, balls. Israel has a history of giving far more than it receives. It gives more to the West in strategic upside than the West pays it in dollars. It actually contributes to the lives of many Arabs and Persians in the Middle East (medical and techonological services, for example) who give nothing but hatred back. It gives more to the United Nations by way of participation than the U.N. gives it (Israel is the only UN member who is not allowed to take part in regional groups, where much of the influential economic policies are made). It gives, by far, more to the Palestinians that it recieves (in one example, Israel gives up control of Gaza and the Palestinians respond by giving Israel 6500 of their rockets. In the current example, Israel restricts visits by non-Muslims to the Temple Mount to times between prayer and bars them entirely on holidays. In further appeasement, Israel has for years been allowing illegal Palestinian excavations, which have been used to destory Jewish historical relics, sites, and archeology. And invariably, when Arabs threaten or act violently - as they are doing to literally today - it is the Jews who are barred from the site to reduce tensions. How equitable).

What Lieberman was saying was that he had had enough of Israel offering an inch only for the world to take a foot. He was saying that, if Arabs want to live in Israel (which they do, by the way - 77% of Arab Israeli citizens would choose to remain in Israel even if offered an all-expenses paid relocation to any destination in the world), they need to respect Israel demonstrably. He wouldn't tolerate allowing Israel to rot from within. He said he didn't see the point in neogitiating with an enemy when it was obvious that the enemy had no history of respecting negotiated deals. He said there was more going on in Israel than the conflict that the world should care about, and that there was more in the world than the conflict that Israel should care about. But the thing that he said that most got my attention was this (I'm paraphrasing, of course): Israel has a right to exist, defend itself, and flourish, and if anyone challenged any of this, Israel would stand up and say, 'sit down and shut up you petchulant little child.'

It's taken Lieberman longer than I'd like, but he's institutionalizing big, manly, balls. In a 5 page memo leaked to the Jerusalem Post, Lieberman is re-writing Israel's foreign policy. It is wholistic, sensical, sensible, and global, and it is something any Israel supporter should be excited about. I've copied some quotes from the Post article below. The full article can be seen here:

According to sources, the foreign minister plans to bring the five-page preliminary policy paper to the ministry's senior professional staff in the coming days, to begin discussion on implementing what is being described as "guidelines for a whole new foreign policy."

According to a copy of the memo obtained by the Post, the new policy involves moving away from a "lone dependence" on the United States as a strategic ally, to developing broader and closer ties with other world powers and with the developing world.

The document, which was developed in recent weeks at Lieberman's request, focuses on three major shifts in policy: expanding ties with parts of the world "neglected" by previous governments, lowering international expectations of a breakthrough in negotiations with the Palestinians and creating a "zero-tolerance" policy for anti-Semitic expressions worldwide.

The memo chastises the Foreign Ministry for "becoming the 'Ministry for Palestinian Affairs,' with Israeli foreign policy almost entirely consumed by this single issue."

"There is no replacement for Israel's special relations with the United States," the memo continues, calling America "without a doubt Israel's best friend in the world.
"But," it continues, "the lone dependence on the United States is unhealthy for either side and presents difficulties for the US. Israel must build coalitions with other states on the basis of shared interests. In this way, it will expand and strengthen the circle of support, something which will be a relief for the US as well."

In particular, the memo protests as "inconceivable" that Israel's relations with the US "should center only on the Palestinian issue. There are many other important issues facing the two states, including regional security, the struggle against terrorism and cooperation in scientific research, economic [issues] and cultural [issues]."

"For decades, Israel has neglected entire regions and continents, including Latin America, Africa, Eastern Europe and the Balkans, and Central and Southeast Asia. The cost of this neglect has been immense, and has been evident at the UN and other international forums."

According to the document, "it's hard to accept the claim that [Israel's difficulties in international forums] are due to 'the world being against us' when it is we who have abandoned vast swaths of the planet."

"Only by building broad coalitions and through long-term investment in ties with continents and states that have been neglected for many years can Israel improve its ability to deal with the challenges ahead."

On the Israeli-Palestinian conflict , the memo notes that "16 years have passed since the signing of the Oslo Accords. That is a long enough period, which saw governments established of the Left, Center and Right, to allow us to understand that peace cannot be imposed from above, but must be constructed from the foundations."

In an apparent critique of US President Barack Obama's efforts for an immediate jump-start of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, the memo says that attempts "to impose an immediate, total and comprehensive solution between Israel and the Palestinian Authority are preordained to fail."

Noting a series of failed "artificial" deadlines, including the 1993 five-year plan for the Oslo process, the renewal in 1999, and the efforts and deadlines of US presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush , the document calls for lowered expectations of the current effort.

"Creating [exaggerated] expectations as though it is possible to arrive [in the near term] at a comprehensive settlement ending the conflict could lead us once again to disappointment and frustration that will damage our relations with the United States and Europe and lead to a violent response from the Palestinians."

The document calls for "a more realistic approach that emphasizes improving the situation on the ground, which will bring the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to a calmer point that will take it off the international agenda.

"We can reach a temporary settlement between the sides, even without solving the core issues, including Jerusalem, the right of return and borders. This is the most that can be achieved realistically, and it is crucial to convince the United States and Europe of this."

The memo also seeks to bring a new focus on worldwide anti-Semitism.
"In addition to the classical forms [of anti-Semitism], we are seeing it manifested also in boycotts of Israeli goods and academic institutions, and in political-legal suits against Israeli leaders and military personnel visiting Europe."

It calls for "a policy of zero tolerance toward anti-Semitic expressions and blood libels against Jews and Israel."

Citing "attacks on Jewish communities around the world and the undermining of Israel's legitimate right to defend itself," the document says the Foreign Ministry "must not take such expressions lightly."

Special mention is made of "cases where the conduct of Western and enlightened states encourage anti-Semitic expressions, whether intentionally or not. We cannot be silent in the face of the conduct of the Swedish government, which does not condemn anti-Semitic articles published in the Swedish media."

"Only an aggressive and unapologetic stance in the face of these events will explain to the world that it is impossible to accept or encourage anti-Semitism in any way, shape or form," it says.

In the final analysis, the memo claims, Israel "has all the elements needed to brand itself as a hi-tech superpower on the one hand, and a historic center of human civilization on the other, and to improve its position and image in the world."

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