If I were Israeli I’d be feeling pretty great today. Two longtime enemies of the Jewish state have folded their hands, and Saudi Arabia, whose king famously warned FDR against supporting Zionism, is in the wings. The militant strategy of Jabotinsky and Labor too seems to have paid off: The Arabs won’t accept us? We will pound the —- out of anyone who doesn’t accept us, until they do.
The two big cards in Israel’s geopolitical winning hand are Adoring Superpower, and Economic Success. When the UAE foreign minister said that in an era of science, the “region’s youth are looking forward to taking part,” he was saying that young ambitious Arabs know it’s a world of privilege and they want to be on the right side. And who can blame them for wanting to throw in with the Start Up Nation, and against Iran? Israel will bring trade deals and tourism and enterpreneurial investment to the Gulf. These Arabs are just like us, some Israeli capitalist who’s worked in the Emirates said on i24 News yesterday.
As for the superpower, it’s clear to anyone in the Middle East that if you want the friendship of the greatest power on earth, you have to make nice to Israel. What else are you to conclude when the U.S. negotiating team is Jason Greenblatt, David Friedman, Avi Berkowitz and Jared Kushner, in whose childhood room Benjamin Netanyahu once slept? The Israel lobby is all over Washington.
Both those assets entail material and military prowess: the capital behind the Start Up nation, the success of the Israel lobby’s donors and elite adherents. They have built a culture epitomized by advanced weapon systems.
Militarism and materialism. Maybe that’s a way to run an economy or a fortress… but it’s no way to run a country. None of these achievements has anything to do with ethics or the human spirit or human rights either. Picture children walking to school in Gaza. Neither of these deals came out of affection or reciprocity or any other affinity.
It’s all power politics, and it’s soulless.
If I were an Israeli today, I’d be more desperate than ever. What is your country’s raison d’etre? What myth do you still believe in? OK, there’s the ideology of the “one and only Jewish state,” going back to the bible, as Netanyahu likes to remind us, but how does that myth actually function in our experience of life? Bombing campaigns and start-ups and unending ethnic division. Is that why we’re alive? Is that the purpose of life? God help us.
The soullessness has been revealed in the unending insults to Palestinians in the midst of these deals. Those pathetic Palestinians don’t have the vision or ambition to jump on the UAE bandwagon, and the Israeli commenters on i24News can’t stop reminding them of this. You’re at a crossroads, Uzi Arad, a former Netanyahu aide, lectured the Palestinians yesterday. You better start some “creative” thinking or you will be the “ultimate losers” of this deal.
i24 also interviewed Palestinians, and one guy in Hebron had more dignity than anybody in Washington or Tel Aviv or Manama or Abu Dhabi or Riyadh. This is our land, he said, why would we ever abandon the struggle for our rights?
The deals serve to expose Israel’s basic problem– its supremacist treatment of Palestinians. It stole the land of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians to start its state, and looked to have gotten away with that in the Oslo process, only it wanted more and more land for the one and only Jewish state, with as few Palestinians as possible, so it kept on taking land and denying any rights to millions of Palestinians, a population that equals Jews. Countries that behave like this come to an end: this is the lesson of 20th century history. They cease to exist in such form and adopt constitutions that treat all citizens as equals.
Yesterday I remembered one of my encounters with Jared Kushner, before he fired me. I’d just gotten back from my first trip to Israel and Palestine in summer 2006 (on Jared’s dime) and my editor invited me into Jared’s office to describe what I’d seen. I told them of seeing the Jewish settlements in Hebron and meeting the Palestinians who were being harassed and rooted out. A South African visitor told me, “I lived through apartheid. This is worse than apartheid.” The three executives in that meeting were all Zionists, and they didn’t want to hear it, and I got fired a few months later…
They still don’t want to hear it. The most important relationship Israel has is the one with its own citizens and “the Jewish state” has treated half those people with disdain, racism, oppression, terror, you name it. Any religion will tell you that the true measure of a person, or a society, too, is how you treat those over whom you have power. Respect and kindness are worlds more important than tanks and pharmaceutical companies. But that’s all Israel has now, and don’t tell me that’s Jewish.
h/t James North and Scott Roth.