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Israel’s enemies have always made the mistake of underestimating the Jewish nation.
One of those enemies is Barack Obama. According to a recent Jackson Diehl column in the Washington Post, the Administration is contemplating bringing the Israeli-Palestinian question to the United Nations in the form of a U.S.-backed Security Council resolution, stipulating that Israel hand over the West Bank as well as Gaza to a new Palestinian state, with Jerusalem divided between the two.
Diehl says the resolution would “set off an earthquake in U.S. foreign relations and for Israel’s standing in the world.” A colleague of mine here at the Hudson Institute, who knows the Middle East (and Obama) better than I do, says it’s firmly within the realm of possibility.
But if Obama and John Kerry (whose people drafted up such a resolution last year) think this will make Israelis cower in fear and do their bidding, they’re sadly mistaken.
My prediction: none of this will sway Israel, any more than it did Britain in 1940. Abandoned and alone, Israelis have found their Winston Churchill, and he’s Benjamin Netanyahu.
I found this out during my visit there last week, where two things struck me.
The first was the number of leftists who told me, usually shamefacedly, that they had voted for Bibi in the last election. “I can’t stand Bibi but…” or “I can’t stand Likud’s policies but…” was the way they usually prefaced their confession. I was reminded of Britons, especially trade unionists and intellectuals, who hated Winston Churchill but rallied around him during the Second World War because they sensed he symbolized what they felt despite the differences in ideology: that evil and cowardice had to be defied—and that he was all that stood between themselves and destruction.
If Obama and the New York Times thought they could shake the confidence of Israelis by dubbing the election “ugly “ and “racist,” they were also mistaken. Israelis know that if anyone turned ugly and racist in this past election, it was the leftist Zionist Union.
Leftist intellectuals in Israel haven’t been too careful hiding their contempt for Mizrahi Jews, i.e. those from Arab and Middle Eastern countries (whom they deride as Israel’s rednecks). But it all came out in the open during an anti-Netanyahu rally on March 9 when prominent artist and commentator Yair Garbuz railed against the “amulet kissers” and “idol worshippers” who support Likud and Bibi—a not-so-veiled attack on Mizrahim, who together with their Sephardic counterparts make up a significant percentage of Israel’s Jewish population and who also happen to live in places like Sderot that live under the threat of Hamas missiles.
They’ve voted heavily for Bibi, and have been roundly denounced for their xenophobia regarding Arabs—which, because they come from Arab countries and know the threats Arabs pose to Jews, doesn’t seem so illogical.
The other little secret the New York Times won’t mention is that Israeli Arabs—the ones Bibi supposedly insulted—also voted in sizable numbers for Likud, 30 percent in some districts. While the press was wailing and moaning about how lousy the Israeli economy has been under Bibi, the Arabs know better. It’s actually been pretty good for Israeli Arabs these past couple decades, and getting better—especially compared to what Palestinian politicians offer in Gaza and the West Bank. There may be one other reason why they voted for Bibi: rejection of a two-state solution means they won’t have to choose between living in Israel or living in a country run by the likes of Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas.
All this is the reality on the ground in Israel, which, of course, makes no impression on Israel-haters like Obama. A leftist Israeli journalist summed it up in a Times of Jerusalem editorial: “The nation wants Bibi.” Indeed they do. He’s their Churchill now. And no UN resolution will change that.