Obama and Netanyahu discuss the colonial question of questions on Iran

Israel/PalestineUS Politics
on 14 Comments
Obama and Netanyahu, September 21, 2011. (Photo: Kevin Lamarque/ Reuters)

Obama and Netanyahu, September 21, 2011. (Photo: Kevin Lamarque/ Reuters)

This is part of Marc H. Ellis’s “Exile and the Prophetic” feature for Mondoweiss. To read the entire series visit the archive page.

If you followed Max Blumenthal’s tweets last night from the Cooper Union event featuring Rwanda’s President, Paul Kagame, and Holocaust survivor, Elie Wiesel, it went pretty much as I expected.  Little new.  Nothing of depth explored.

Today, Netanyahu is in Washington for a meeting with President Obama.  I expect little new.  Nothing of depth will be explored.

It’s a bit ridiculous, though, that these two nuclear powers will butt heads over how to keep Iran from developing one nuclear weapon.  I doubt either Netanyahu or Obama see the evident irony.

This is the colonial question of questions.  Why we can have weapons of mass destruction.  Why they cannot have the same weapons.

If it’s about ethics and civilized behavior we should be very careful.  The “civilized” are often experts in ethnic cleansing and mass death.

Tomorrow at the United Nations, with or without cartoons, Netanyahu will hold forth.  It’s hard to believe that someone ostensibly representing the Jewish people can rework Jewish destiny into a small aggressive state that exists somewhere between the likes of ancient Sparta and Dade County, Florida.

This doesn’t mean Israel is unimportant.  It is.  But Israel is important now mostly for the way it navigates out of the jam it got itself into.  If Israel can’t find a way out the jam it will be a disaster for everyone involved.

The stakes are high on every count.  Palestinians first of all, the entire Middle East included.

Jewish history is on the line.  What we have to tell our children about Jewish aggression is already too much to bear.  It will get worse.

Netanyahu knows only how to deepen the crisis.  Whatever the rhetoric, leadership is about negotiating a way out disaster and finding a way with others into a future that is at least livable. To say that Netanyahu is a failed leader is an understatement.

Previous Israeli leaders have also failed.  All helped dig a hole that is now so deep that Jews can hardly see the ground we should stand on – justice, compassion and reconciliation.

Nonetheless, that ground – the Jewish prophetic – is alive and well.  When will that voice be heard at the United Nations?

About Marc H. Ellis

Marc H. Ellis is retired Director and Professor of Jewish Studies at Baylor University and author of The Heartbeat of the Prophetic which can be found at Amazon and www.newdiasporabooks.com

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14 Responses

  1. frankier
    September 30, 2013, 11:09 am

    “To say that Netanyahu is a failed leader is an understatement. […]
    Previous Israeli leaders have also failed. All helped dig a hole that is now so deep that Jews can hardly see the ground we should stand on – justice, compassion and reconciliation.”

    I am reflecting on this statement… Is it possible that all Israeli leaders “failed”? Is it possible that the Israeli people keep electing incompetent leaders? People must think that these failures are really not failures. Is this how the world develops a notion of the malicious intent of Israel since its establishment? Does this fuel antisemitism?

    • Theo
      September 30, 2013, 12:52 pm

      “Is it possible that the israeli people keep electing incompetent leaders”?

      Why not, are you better than we are, we in the USA keep electing them since decades?! After all, we have the same interests.

  2. Citizen
    September 30, 2013, 11:17 am

    prophetic |prəˈfetik|
    adjective
    1 accurately describing or predicting what will happen in the future: his warnings proved prophetic.
    2 of, relating to, or characteristic of a prophet or prophecy: the prophetic books of the Old Testament.

    Jewish prophetic:

    Netanyahu thinks he is that prophet, the only one that matters according to his ideology, which is Zionism as implemented by the state of Israel right up to today.

  3. David Nelson
    September 30, 2013, 11:26 am

    Timely, succinct, and poignant. Good post Professor.

  4. just
    September 30, 2013, 12:09 pm

    “All helped dig a hole that is now so deep that Jews can hardly see the ground we should stand on – justice, compassion and reconciliation.”

    True. Israel, as it has refused to evolve as a force for good, has become a pariah. Zionism and its disciples are to blame. It’s a terrible tragedy that sadly reflects badly on those that support Israel and her behavior unconditionally……….. and it’s why I want the US to stop doing so. We are the enablers– it’s not healthy at all.

  5. Justpassingby
    September 30, 2013, 1:51 pm

    Look at that pic.

    The devil and a little scared school boy.

  6. anthonybellchambers
    September 30, 2013, 4:07 pm

    The World to President Obama. Get a grip on Binyamin Netanyahu before he succeeds in inciting a nuclear war and in the process trashes your presidency and consigns your term(s) in office to a historical footnote.

    • ivri
      October 1, 2013, 8:35 am

      “The world to President Obama”
      “Thrashes your presidency and consigns….. to a historical footnote”
      Strong words indeed and from no less than the representative of the entire world. I am sure that will serve as a wake-up call for him.

  7. DICKERSON3870
    September 30, 2013, 5:06 pm

    RE: “Tomorrow at the United Nations, with or without cartoons, Netanyahu will hold forth. It’s hard to believe that someone ostensibly representing the Jewish people can rework Jewish destiny into a small aggressive state . . .” ~ Marc Ellis

    • SEE: “Netanyahu’s ‘King David’ Complex”, by Paul Pillar, Consortium News, 4/02/12

    [EXCERPTS] . . . A former Likud activist who has become a critic of Netanyahu explains, “Bibi is a messianist. He believes with all his soul and every last molecule of his being that he — I don’t quite know how to express it — is King David.”*
    It is not in a superpower’s interest to get sucked into projects of someone with a King David complex. . .
    . . . If it [the U.S.] does not escape a war, it will be hard to find any silver lining in the consequences. But perhaps one would be that Americans would then be more likely to understand how contrary to their own interests it has been to follow the preferences of the Israeli government. Perhaps that could be a first step toward a more normal — and more beneficial for the United States — U.S. relationship with Israel. . .

    ENTIRE COMMENTARY – http://digg.com/newsbar/Politics/netanyahu_s_king_david_complex_consortiumnews
    * That’s why I sometimes (only half-jokingly) refer to “The Dissociative State of Israel”!
    Dissociation (psychology) – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dissociation_(psychology)

    • ALSO SEE – “Bibi: Israel Will Raise ‘David’s Sword’ Against Iran”, By Richard Silverstein, Tikun Olam, 9/28/11

    [EXCERPTS] . . . But the most interesting and frightening element of the interview was his [Netanyahu’s] comments about Iran. Other reporters have been noting that Bibi lately has been waxing apocalyptic and mystical about the possibly oncoming war with Iran. In this interview he says:

    Iran’s nuclear programs are turning it into an existential danger to the State of Israel.
    The question is not just what Israel is doing to stop it, but what the world is doing. The awareness by the world community that Iran is progressing on a track toward developing a nuclear weapon obligates it to act so that Iran does not get this weapon. With every day that passes, Iran gets closer. The obligation of the international community to act grows as the fear [that Iran progresses toward a bomb] does.
    You must keep in mind: that we aspire toward peace; but at the same time we must wield the sword of David to defend the Jewish State.

    Of course, in Bibi’s skewed world-view, David’s sword was raised only to defend his people, not in aggression against a victim. But we should keep in mind that David’s sword slew an Israelite enemy and led to the killer’s annointment as King of Israel. . .
    . . . Bibi (and to a lesser extent, Barak) have a very complicated complex that is little short of messianic and frightening. In the past, I’ve written dismissively about Bibi saying he has no principles and that even his so-called Jewish values appear to be manufactured. Now, I’m not so sure. And I don’t know which is worse, a megalomaniac with no principles or values; or a Jewish megalomaniac with religious-nationalist principles and values. They both scare the living hell out of me. . .

    ENTIRE COMMENTARY – http://www.richardsilverstein.com/tikun_olam/2011/09/28/bibi-israel-will-raise-davids-sword-against-iran/

  8. anthonybellchambers
    September 30, 2013, 6:13 pm

    If Netanyahu succeeds in procuring US Democratic President Barack Obama to risk the lives of American servicemen by attacking a non- nuclear Iran for the convenience of the Israeli nuclear state, will future American electorates ever again put a black Democrat in the White House, at least for the next hundred years, if this president continues to bow and scrape before the prime minister of a tiny Mediterranean state?

  9. James Canning
    September 30, 2013, 6:45 pm

    The US needs to stop interfering with international efforts to create a nuke-free zone in the Middle East.

  10. James Canning
    September 30, 2013, 6:46 pm

    Should we rememeber that in late 2002, Bibi Netanyahu urged the US to pursue the illegal invasion of Iraq rather than finish the job with al-Qaeda? Jim Lobe has good piece on this important point.

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