In Wake of The Israeli "Jewish Supremacist" Government, Western Somnolence Prevails
The reason the Israeli crisis is graver than many suppose is that no one wants to admit that "Israel" effectively has wasted its window to any political solution – chasing hegemony and its ‘victory narrative’.
The incoming Israeli government explicitly threatens confrontation with the Palestinians. The ‘mask of apartheid’ is off: The annexation of much of the West Bank is headlined as the principal plan of action. The new government aims also to legalise more settlements; to wither the Palestinian Authority; and so to create conditions in which the creation of any viable Palestinian entity becomes nothing more than fantasy. It is plain that these ministerial hard-liners would like to see the Palestinians pack their bags, and go elsewhere -- anywhere else.
This agenda, plainly said, is a slap in the face of the Biden Administration. The swaggering promise of the calculated elimination of Palestinian rights similarly twists a knife into the guts of that liberal Jewish diaspora -- 75% of whom have so solidly comprised a bedrock of support within the Democratic Party.
It should be obvious that grave problems lie ahead for Team Biden. Alarms should be ringing out loud across Washington.
So what has Biden’s riposte been to the new government: A warning? A setting out of ‘red lines’? Well, not quite -- somnolence prevails:
“Today, Israel’s Knesset voted to ratify a new Israeli government … I look forward to working with Prime Minister Netanyahu, who has been my friend for decades, to jointly address the many challenges and opportunities facing Israel and the Middle East region, including threats from Iran. The United States is working to promote a region that’s increasingly integrated, prosperous, and secure, with benefits for all of its people. From the start of my Administration, we have worked with partners to promote this more hopeful vision of a region at peace, including between Israelis and Palestinians. We aim to continue this important work with Israel’s new government under Prime Minister Netanyahu’s leadership. And as we have throughout my Administration, the United States will continue to support the two-state solution and to oppose policies that endanger its viability or contradict our mutual interests and values”.
One can take this gushing welcome to a decades-long, ‘old friend’ as a diplomatic nicety, whilst the so-called ‘tough-love’ is expressed away from the microphones.
Yet, to say that Biden’s language was emollient is surely an understatement. Biden surely has been told about the nature of this hardline Zionist government, and been briefed on the extent to which Netanyahu is hostage to his far-right ministers -- should he wish to stay clear of the jail that awaits him on corruption charges that hang over him should the Sword of Damocles fall on his neck.
Biden’s effusive statement to the Israeli leadership then, may be ‘translated’ in this way: "No way do I, who so love Israel (said with tears in eyes on his visit to Israel for the first time as President), want my legacy in any way to be tarnished by confrontation with Israel. I long to stand aloof – and I have had bitter experience, from the Obama era, of that ‘swamp’ that constitutes Israel-Palestinian relations. So, dear friend, please nuance your government’s policies such that I may persist with the narrative of ‘support for a two-state solution’ (though I recognise that a real Palestinian solution is unavailable)."
Well, if Biden was hoping for nuance, this is what he got from Netanyahu:
“These are the basic guidelines of the national government headed by me: The Jewish people have an exclusive and unquestionable right to all areas of the Land of Israel. The government will promote and develop settlement in all parts of the Land of Israel – in the Galilee [Al-Jalil], the Negev [Al-Naqab], the Golan Heights, Judea and Samaria [occupied west bank]”.
In an era of ambiguity, at least Netanyahu cannot be accused of obfuscation. He sets out the strategic aim with clarity.
Perhaps, Bibi is reading the runes of US domestic politics better than most (prescient reading of US domestic politics being Bibi’s claim to expertise) – and may thus he may believe that the Jewish liberal constituency that regularly votes Democrat is expendable, and may be substituted by populist Republicans, the MAGA contingent and the Evangelicals.
In other words, the question posed is: Might Netanyahu be planning to become a Trumpian disrupter and insurrectionist towards conventional thinking on Middle East Issues? Though the ‘how’ is far from evident.
Such a fundamental ‘constituency switch’ in the US would seem to imply that Netanyahu relies on a surprising acquiescence by Biden and US Democrats. That is one hypothesis. The truth however, may be even more unsettling to the western political class. As Ben Caspit has written:
“So, what precisely, is the smoke-screen of ‘is Netanyahu channelling Trump’ - obscuring? It obscures the reality that Israel has turned decisively Right - across the political spectrum. This may be described as Bibi’s personal ‘doing’, but it is no longer a matter of Netanyahu’s personal charisma. Israel has become structurally right-wing. It has become culturally right-wing, too. No longer the secular, ‘socialist’ Kibbutzim of yore (long since marginalised): Israel’s military and political leadership rather, is now predominantly Religious-Nationalist and Settler”.
“This represents a ‘cultural revolution’ largely unnoticed in Europe”. And Netanyahu as insurrectionist -- rather than “my old friend of 30 years standing” -- would be a major shock.
Or at least, a huge tectonic shift, not yet fully assimilated within Biden ‘circles’. For that understanding would require a complete revamp of western strategic thinking on the Middle East. The idea however, that the West eventually would address these realities remains a wishful, somewhat delusional idea. Like Biden, the political class will close its eyes, and pray that the problem somehow vanishes of its own accord. For now, the West remains locked onto the old mantras.
But, whilst the US' state apparatus resides in entropy and denial, geo-politics is moving fast. Israeli commentator, Caspit again:
“Israel’s ‘military edge’ has gone. It is the axis of Hamas, Hezbullah, Syria, Iraq, Iran and AnsarAllah (the Houthis), rather, which now has the military – and political/strategic - edge. The strategic balance is inverted: Israel’s control of airspace is unrestricted - over Gaza only. Deeply buried and dispersed smart cruise missiles surround Israel, and radar blocking drone swarms, together with EWS, have altered the military calculus.
The reason the Israeli crisis is graver than many suppose is that no one wants to admit that Israel effectively has wasted its window to any political solution – chasing hegemony and its ‘victory narrative’. It has succumbed to Netanyahu’s narrative of ‘mission accomplished’ - the Palestinian issue supposedly made irrelevant - only to find the window of politics closed shut, at the same time that Israel’s military situation has reversed itself, decisively. The old certainty of Israeli military domination ultimately securing Palestinian acquiescence now looks decidedly frayed.
So fatigued and numbed by their own rhetoric have Israeli and western leaders become, that they will not think or say that Israel has run out of options. And so western policy continues on auto-pilot”.