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March 23, 2010

Tzipi vs. Bibi

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Maybe this will clarify my earlier point about Tzipi Livni. She’s a right-of-center Israeli politician who speaks about peace as the fulfillment of a Zionist dream and the maintenance of a democratic state — with its demographically correlative obligation to divest Israel of Palestine — as central to the Zionist project. She does so without prompting, at least in English. She goes to AIPAC and she builds a constituency for a peace deal.

Netanyahu goes to AIPAC and gives a fiery speech about how the burden is all on the Palestinians and how he’ll never compromise on Jerusalem and how he’ll keep Israeli troops on the eastern border of any Palestinian state. Then he calls on the Palestinians to negotiate with him! If there was a Palestinian AIPAC, you could see a Palestinian Netanyahu telling it, “See? They want to leave us a rump state with no control over our destiny! It’s their fault! I say to them, why don’t you really negotiate without preconditions! We have been patiently building our state, thanks to the bravery and leadership of Salam Fayyad, giving the Israelis quiet from the West Bank for years, and what do they give us? I call on them them them them them to take the hard steps first!”

And you can see how counterproductive it is to lay out objections to final status negotiations and then call on the other fellow to make the first move. Not once did Netanyahu speak about the preservation of Israeli democracy. It’s not necessarily that he doesn’t want peace. It’s that he really wants peace on his terms, which is what others call “victory.” And that will encourage the Palestinians to seek the same thing — which in their case will eventually be a binational state. Doing nothing will inexorably mean the Palestinians get their way.

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