David Horovitz of the Jerusalem Post argues that the root of the current rift between the U.S. and Israel is a stark difference of perception between Washington and Jerusalem as to the Palestinian Authority’s peace-making readiness and intentions. According to Horovitz, Washington believes that the PA wants a deal and is prepared to make the compromises necessary to forge one. Meanwhile, Jerusalem considers this assessment “unfathomable.”
Horovitz says that this divide seems almost impossible to bridge. However, if the rift really is only a disagreement about Palestinian intentions, then there is a potential solution: make more concessions to the PA and then, when the PA responds not with concessions of its own by with more demands, count on that response to lift the scales from Washington’s eyes.
Such an approach would not be an easy one for Netanyahu to undertake, given the composition of his coalition. But Netanyahu is clever politican and, if he agrees with Horowitz’s diagnosis, he will be tempted to find a way to placate Washington with concessions and then wait for the PA not to “miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.”
I fear, however, that Horovitz’s diagnosis is not correct. The divide in perceptions about the PA may have driven disagreements between Washington and Jerusalem during the latter part of the Bush administration. But today we see not a disagreement but a feud, including an attempt by Washington to bring down the Israeli government. It’s implausible, I think, to attribute such a bitter rift to a mere disagreement about facts on the ground.
In my opinion, President Obama’s tilt towards the Palestinians is rooted in ideology, a considerably softer version of the ideology espoused by Jeremiah Wright . The facts that matter to this president do not pertain to the PA’s intentions. Rather, I suspect the key facts are these: compared to Israelis, Palestinians are downtrodden and non-Western. They are what leftist academics call “the other.” And promoting the interests of “the other” is a big deal for Obama — indeed, this imperative seems like the closest thing he has to a religion.
If I’m right, then Netanyahu will never be able to placate Obama. And he should not try.
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