Sunday, September 25, 2011


This is the weekend of my 23rd wedding anniversary, and I’m appalled. I didn’t get a single anniversary present from a Presidential candidate. Not even from Obama, and he’s got a whole mansion full of people who could have sent me a gift.

This may not seem odd to you, if you’re a gentile, but I’m a Jew. This is supposed to be our year. A year where our votes are finally up for grabs between the two parties. A year where the Republicans can come into the Brooklyn/Queens Congressional district with the heaviest concentration of Jews in America and kick some Democratic butt. A year where Jews all over the world are worried about the Mother Ship – the Arab Street seems to be getting more militant, and the strongmen who have kept them down are becoming impotent. A year where politicians from both parties are feeling pressured to announce themselves as the truest friend of Israel – more stalwart than Thou in their support.

So. Where’s my friggen anniversary present? Or at least a card? Can’t a Son of David get some soivice in this establishment?

Undeniably, both parties have been pandering even more than usual to the Jewish vote, but from where I’m sitting, they’re doing it so poorly that it makes you wonder whether they’re being advised by a bunch of gentiles and Jewish impersonators. Take Rick Perry, for example. He called Obama an appeaser for the way Obama lectures Israel and gives the Palestinians free rein. So far, so good. But then Perry suggests that the U.S. might want to consider cutting funding for the Palestinians as punishment for their decision to seek statehood recognition from the U.N. rather than through peace talks with Israel. Is he serious? Cutting funding?

I realize that Mr. Perry has about as much foreign policy experience as the mountain men from Deliverance, but why in the name of Zion would we want to destroy the Palestinian economy? Do we think that if the people of Gaza and the West Bank were appreciably poorer, they would be less militant and more friendly to their so-called “occupiers”? Do we think that poverty would help them decry violence and embrace the Jewish historical claim to a portion of Palestine?

According to a recent poll, one third of Palestinians still support violent resistance toward Israel. Does Perry truly think that if America ushered in an era of greater poverty in Palestine, that portion would go down?

As for Obama, I understand that his speech at the U.N. was supposed to be his boffo attempt to make things right with the Jewish people. Clearly, he recognized that as President, he hadn’t attained the perfect pandering pitch that he had as a candidate in ’08 – when he went into an AIPAC meeting and toasted the idea of an undivided Jerusalem. I get his motivation to remind us that he appreciates why there is a country called Israel. But does that justify why he didn’t mention the Settlements once in his speech? Not once?

After all, for the past three years, it seems that Obama’s entire Israel/Palestine policy was centered around rolling back the Settlements. And now, radio silence. That just seems schizophrenic. President Obama (as opposed to “Candidate” Obama) was right that Israel does need to roll back the Settlements, and he needs to continue drumming in that point. The problem was not in enunciating that policy. It was in refusing to ask ANYTHING from the Palestinians other than the cessation of violence, thereby putting Israel on the defensive that the Palestinians were doing their part for peace so why wasn’t Israel?

And why can’t Obama ask anything of the Palestinians? Even in his United Nations address, he still wouldn’t bring himself to utter the words: “Palestinians need to recognize Israel as a Jewish State.” Why can’t he say that? And, more importantly, why don’t we hear that message from ANY prominent Palestinians?

Seriously, I do appreciate that Israel is becoming a hot topic again on the American political stage. I just wish that our pandering politicians would figure out what Israel needs and what Israel doesn’t need.

First and foremost, we don’t need an impoverished Palestine. We do need a Palestine with an increasingly affluent and well-educated population that is gradually developing the infrastructure of a state that could co-exist with Israel in peace and prosperity. If American funds are needed for that kind of progress, that’s money well spent.

We also don’t need a White House that is afraid to stand up to the right wing of Israel – the ones who pay lip service to supporting a “two-state” solution but are truly hell bent on expanding the size of the Settlements to the point where no Palestinian state could possibly be viable. But we do need a White House that starts making concrete demands to the Palestinian leadership, rather than treating them like a bunch of spoiled children.

This should be our message to the Palestinians: “Burn your anti-Semitic textbooks. And recognize Israel not merely as a ‘state, that has a right to exist,’ but as the ‘Jewish State.’ Then you’ll have the standing to whine about those God-forsaken settlements.”

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