Sunday, September 13, 2009

Call Obama's bluff

Confronting Obama menace critical for Israel’s future, Bibi's real test
Moshe Dan

President Barack Hussein Obama has threatened dire consequences if Israel refuses his demands to prevent Jews from building in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem.

His plan is yet another disastrous form of Israeli unilateral withdrawal.

This unprecedented challenge to Israel's sovereignty and strategic needs must be met firmly. At stake are not only simple human needs, but the integrity of the State of Israel and a 60-year old alliance.

Israel is an American ally, not an enemy; a partner in the struggle against terrorism, not a perpetrator. Did Obama forget? Is he confused, or didn't he ever know?

Whose side is he on?

Confronting the Obama menace is difficult, but essential; it's critical for Israel's future.

If Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu capitulates, he will undermine Israel's independence and set a dangerous precedent: not if Israel's national and strategic interests will be sacrificed, but when.

That will simply invite even more pressure for Israel to surrender to sworn enemies.

Paradoxically, it's not weakness and appeasement that have deterred Israel's opponents, but a strong defense based on security needs and realistic assessments of consequences.

An imposed dictated "solution" that does not resolve core issues and is unacceptable to those dedicated to violence has never succeeded - ever - without their total and complete destruction.

Policy of defeatism

PM Netanyahu did not accept his job reluctantly; he campaigned for it. He asked Israelis to vote for him and his party because he promised to represent their interests. He formed a coalition that reflects a consensus. He formulated a policy based on the expectations of his supporters.

If he now feels that he cannot fulfill his promises and those expectations, if he cannot stand up to Obama's onslaught, he should retire gracefully and turn over the leadership of the country to someone who can.

Cast in the unenviable role of challenging Obama's policies, Netanyahu must decide between expediency, to satisfy Obama and hope that things will improve, and resolute determination to protect Israel's national interests.

No stranger to this dilemma, Netanyahu understands the limitations and excesses of power. These aren't the choices he'd like, but it's the job he wanted, and for which he was elected.

Now he's on the line, not only for himself, but for all of us. It's what every politician lives for, and dreads. It's the mark of greatness, or mediocrity.

Before making any decisions, Netanyahu must ascertain what will happen when Obama's plan doesn't work out, especially when Hamas and more radical elements take over.

Agreeing to stop Jews from building without any concessions from Palestinians gives away Israel's most valuable asset without gaining a single benefit.

And each surrender makes the next stage of negotiations more difficult. This is a policy of defeatism and despair, not of hope.

Only by standing up to Obama will Netanyahu prove himself equal to the position to which he was elected.

It's show time! Come on, Bibi. Make us proud.

The author, a former assistant professor of History, is a writer and journalist living in Jerusalem

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