May 27, 2008
How does Obama love Israel?By Vel Nirtist
Senator Obama recently expressed his deep love of, and "unshakeable commitment to" Israel. I believe him, but I am still worried. What exactly does he mean by love?
Love is indeed a many splendored thing, and people use the word to cover a wide range of phenomena. There are, after all, love-hate relationships, not to mention varieties of twisted love. But even more benign forms of love come in a variety of shapes.
Love between equals is far from the only manifestation. How does Senator Obama see Israel? As a peer? Or perhaps something smaller, needing guidance?
I worry about a President Obama loving Israel the way a strict parent loves a child.
"Spare the rod and spoil the child" expresses well one dilemma of love. Pampering which gives instant gratification to both the parent and the child results in a selfish brat of a grown-up, unable to cooperate with others and making both himself and those around him miserable, or so believes the strict parent, full of love.
A President Obama might think that pressure on the Israel is the way to express his love. He might tell himself that pressure, both internal and external, pushed it to participate in the Oslo process and Madrid conference, to allow Palestinian self-rule, to arm Palestinian "police" and "security" forces, to not react adequately to murderous "intifada," to unilaterally withdraw from Hezbullia (or, geographically speaking, "South Lebanon") and Gaza. He can tell himself that pressure is in the "best long-term interests" of Israel.
The rod of terrorism which resulted from these moves was explained away by the political wise heads as a "sacrifice for peace," under the assumption that the peace will indeed come about when "occupation" is lifted and the Palestinians are allowed full measure of self-rule and economic opportunity. The current pressure from Tony Blair and our own State department to remove roadblocks in the West bank and provide freedom of movement for the Palestinians -- of necessity, to terrorists among them -- that pressure is merely a kind parental rod guiding a child towards a better destiny.
So the question regarding Israel to candidate Obama is this: will his professed love for Israel translate into the loving rod of pressure, resulting in more terrorism which should be endured for the sake of the messianic vision of peace?
Or does he clearly recognize that all this is nonsense? Does he realize that Palestinian suffering (even if indeed "nobody is suffering more than the Palestinian people" as he put it*) is purely self-inflicted?
Does he realize that Palestinians lived within the '67 borders for full 20 years, yet were not happy with them, and that they seek the destruction of Israel, not just the '67 borders?
Does he realize that Hamas is not some aberration, but a genuine expression of the mindset of the Palestinian people and of their intentions towards Israel?
Does he realize that were the Palestinians willing to live and let live, there would be peace starting yesterday -- but the Palestinians find the "let live" portion unbearable, and would rather not live normal lives themselves as long as they can ruin normalcy for the Israelis?
Does he realize that the conflict is fuelled not by economic conditions, but by religious and ideological hate, which no amount of international handouts or even genuine economic prosperity will heal?
Does he realize that, in the absence of hate, Palestine will be a prosperous country within any borders allotted to it, but if the Palestinians continue to torment themselves with their old drudges, and see others, rather then themselves and their fellow-Arabs, as the cause of all their problems, both past and present, no borders, '67 or otherwise, would stop terrorism?
Does he understands that Iran too is motivated by ideology and religion and not by some material interests which can be accommodated, and so there is nothing to negotiate with it other then the schedule of the world's universal submission to the "True Faith" of Shia Islam?
If candidate Obama's answer to any of those questions is a "no," than no amount of his love for Israel -- whether genuine of feigned -- would do Israel any good. Because, for the sake of that love, for the sake of "Israel's own best interests" he will unleash the rod of pressuring Israel into unconscionable concessions, and causing it to continue to suffer under the rod of terrorism -- or worse.
Vel Nirtist writes on the role of religion in fostering terrorism. He is author of "The Pitfall of Truth: Holy War, its Rationale and Folly." His blog is at rootoutterrorism.com
*Obama later "explained" his remarks this way: