Ilene Cohen regularly sends out emails to friends. This one got widely passed around, and in that spirit, she allowed us to publish it. --Editor.
I have been in Jerusalem for the past two weeks visiting with Tamar, Uri, Nina, and Magali and seeing friends. Days have been long and full and, as I am traveling with an iPad, I've been keeping up with news (most especially the triumphal Netanyahu visit to the United States capital) but, alas (or perhaps just as well), I have been completely disabled in my output until now. My typing on the iPad produces a ratio of typos to correct letters that does not yield an English product. This is the first moment I've had to sit down at a proper keyboard.
Netanyahu's lies and boorishness were in character and exactly as expected, though his mindless reception by the US Congress came as a shock to friends here. In fact, anyone familiar with the Congress (Republicans as regards everything, Democrats as regards most especially Israel) should not have been surprised--except, perhaps, that there were only twenty-nine standing ovations.
Opinion in Israel about Netanyahu's arrogant performance has been divided between those who were thrilled that the PM stuck it to Obama and who believe that Israel's continued occupation of Palestine is now assured and those who believe that he has now revealed his obstructionist agenda to the world in one of the most official of settings possible--the US Congress. The miserable truth, long known, is now undeniable. Just a few weeks back, even poor Thomas Friedman had to admit that no one believes Netanyahu (other than the usual suspects, of course).
Following is some commentary worth noting, an op-ed in Haaretz by my friend Ali Haider. As a Palestinian citizen of Israel, he expresses particular outrage at Netanyahu's patronizing comments about how lucky the Arab one-fifth of Israeli citizens are to be second-class citizens in the Israeli version democracy. Would be nice to see the New York Times publish such a piece and help burst the bubble about the "only democracy in the Middle East."
[P]ublic education in the Arab community lags far behind that in the Jewish sector - and all this as a result of systematic and consistent discrimination by all the governments of Israel.
And though the Arab citizens of Israel may constitute less than one-half of 1 percent of all the Arabs in the Middle East, they comprise about one-fifth of the population of Israel, yet their representation in the civil service here is only 7 percent. There isn't a single Arab cabinet minister or ministry director general or government company CEO, university president or public company chairman. No university or government hospital has ever been built in an Arab municipality, and since 1948, the state has not established even one new Arab town or city. Some 60 percent of all Arab families live below the poverty line.
But let's face it, there was not a single sentence in Netanyahu's blatherings to the Congress that could not be similarly shredded, as not a word of truth passed his arrogant lips.
For succinct overview of what this all means, see the excellent piece by Philip Stephens, in the Financial Times.
Israel’s prime minister will never negotiate seriously with the Palestinians. As a former Israeli diplomat said of Mr Netanyahu’s speech: “Everything is changing, but he is determined that everything remains the same.”This time the world is unlikely to wait. Events are leaving Israel behind.
And last, an occupation update from East Jerusalem: zoning for Jews only.
Nonetheless, despite the triumphalism in certain sectors of Israel (the racist Jerusalem Day festivities on Wednesday were an awful sight to behold), I think the colonial enterprise doesn't have a future--and they don't have a clue.
PS On my flight over the person making announcements on Continental said as we we landing, "Welcome to the Promised Land." Oy. It is oppressive. Should I write to them?