To a large degree, the Israeli election was a referendum on the policies of the Obama Administration with respect, not just to the Israeli-Palestinian dispute, but to the overall security situation in the Middle East. Like the 2014 U.S. midterms, which the President himself made about his policies, the results in both instances were a stunning defeat for the White House and the candidates it supported.
The ballots cast in Tuesday’s Israeli parliamentary elections barely had time to cool before the anti-Netanyahu cadres in the American media began to wail, howl and gnash their teeth. Like Moses calling down the ten plagues on Egypt, they described in detail all the ills that would befall Israel and the Jewish people now that they have apparently returned to power someone who doesn’t subscribe to their notions of how a nation under constant threat of attack should behave. I am getting tired particularly of Tom Friedman trotting out once again his pronouncement that Israel cannot remain both a democracy and a Jewish state if it does not end its occupation of the West Bank. The fundamental issue is not what kind of state Israel will be, but whether there will be an Israel at all.
The Israeli election was much more than a referendum on Benjamin Netanyahu; it was a choice between security and prosperity. The Israeli people, struggling to deal with a slowing economy, sky high housing prices, a rising cost of living and continuing divisions between the descendants of the Ashkenazim and Sephardim, nevertheless chose security over prosperity.
It would be a mistake to dismiss the Israeli election results as simply evidence of racism, religious bigotry or xenophobia, as many American commentators have done. The reality is that without security, neither peace nor prosperity is possible. Rudy Giuliani taught us that when he was mayor of New York. The United States learned that lesson again in Iraq and Afghanistan where billions in aid dollars and infrastructure projects were wasted due to the absence of basic security. September 11 cost this country some $750 billion to date, exclusive of war costs. Insecurity undermines peace and prosperity. The Israeli elections made this point yet again.
Security is becoming the policy trump card in the 21st Century. It can cause politicians of all denominations anywhere in the world to change long-held policies, plans and commitments. A lack of adequate security in Afghanistan is forcing President Obama to alter his plan for the complete withdrawal of U.S forces from that country. The collapse of security in Iraq caused him to reintroduce U.S. forces into that country. Russian aggression against Ukraine necessitated redeploying U.S. forces to Eastern Europe. Even more significant, it was reported that the German Army will make its first appearance in the Baltic states in some 70 years.
The United States and its allies have been at war with Islamic terrorists for the past 14 years, virtually the entire century. Israel, however, has been at war with terrorism for its entire history. Over this period, it has negotiated with its adversaries, pursued peace with the Palestinians – remember the Oslo Accords – signed treaties with former enemies and has withdrawn from occupied territories. It has done so when the security situation permitted such moves. So when it says no to the Administration’s peace proposals and prospective arms control it would be well for Israel’s critics to consider its concerns. For there to be peace and prosperity, in the Middle East, Europe or in the United States, there must be security.
Find Archived Articles: