Ilene Cohen writes:
The last week has seen Ron Lauder and Elie Wiesel playing the role of the shtadlan. Historically, the shtadlan, a Jew of some influence, was the one called upon to intercede with the gentile authorities on behalf of the Jewish people in times of trouble. A beggar of sorts. It may have been the only way to save the Jewish community in the Middle Ages and into nineteenth-century eastern Europe, but there’s something unsavory and creepy about Benjamin Netanyahu turning to shtadlanim to intercede for the State of Israel in the twenty-first century. And with the feeblest–if the most popular–of the talking points, no less.
First we had Ron Lauder’s publication in the WSJ of his pompous letter to President Obama, presenting the talking points for continued Israeli hegemony over Palestine on the grounds that Israel had given and given and given, and, anyway, everything was the "fault" of the Palestinians. As Lauder the Shtadlan boasted, Netanyahu himself reviewed the letter before it went to the ruler (Obama).
Now we have Elie Wiesel’s absurd letter about Jerusalem, based on today’s most popular talking point, "God gave it to us"–so end of story. We know, too, that when Wiesel was in Israel for Passover, he was summoned by Netanyahu, who implored Mr. Holocaust to intercede with Obama on behalf of Israeli hegemony over Jerusalem and the rest of Palestine (that is what this is about, after all). Wiesel is reported to have had lunch with Obama last week, and he then published his letter in a number of US newspapers, including today in the New York Times. It’s a thorough embarrassment, based as it is on Jewish whining and lying (with the specter of the Holocaust that comes with Wiesel as a matter of course). Whether or not Wiesel actually believes this stuff, his depiction of how life in Jerusalem works for non-Jews is false.
For Wiesel, the number of times that "Jerusalem" appears in the Hebrew Bible appears to lock in Israel’s right to colonize East Jerusalem and to expel Palestinians from Sheikh Jarrah; he writes that "for me, the Jew that I am, Jerusalem is above politics" (boldface in original). How cleanly he dismisses the last 2500 years, let alone "politics."
To Wiesel and Netanyahu: this overwrought language does not constitute a legitimate geopolitical programmatic statement for resolving the Israel/Palestine conflict.
With the spaghetti defense, you just keep throwing strands of the stuff against the wall until something sticks. When the alternative for Netanyahu is the Fourth Geneva Convention and UN Security Council Resolution 242 (and the many subsequent resolutions and agreements, from Oslo to the "Road Map")–all of which Israel has flouted–you can see why they’ve incorporated the Bible into the defense.
But nobody except Israelis and neocons are buying that one, and Netanyahu will not save Israel by sending emissaries to implore or intimidate Obama with the talking points. It’s change the policy or bust.