Biden's Visit to Israel - Permission To Breathe
March 15, 2010
Permission To Breathe
Dr. David Lazerson
It's downright hard, if not impossible, to do justice to a great Yiddush expression when translating it into English. I can still hear my grandmother's voice and see that special twinkle in her eye, when she'd tell me "is-och-in-vey." The words often slurred together so I wasn't really sure where the English ended and the Yiddush began, but the meaning was always pretty much the same. It basically meant something like "you gotta be flippin' putting me on!" combined with "God help us all!" She used it when discussing world politics but it often referred to me and some of my junior high school antics, as in, "David is class president? Is-och-in-vay."
I can't help but feel the same frustration when it comes to Israel in the world arena. VP Biden's recent trip there was filled with usual fanfare and waving of joint US and Israeli flags, but the VP expressed his disapproval upon learning that Israel had the utter audacity to approve some new home construction. Since when does a sovereign state seek another country's green light and approval for building housing units for its' citizens? The dismay should be directed to the so-called Palestinians who seem not to be able to live with anyone other than their own kind. Yet, despite the shaking hands and pageantry over common bonds, the US was quick on the draw to condemn this latest maneuver by Israel as not serving the best interests of peace. "A peace agreement will require both parties to make some historically bold commitments," Biden said. "You have done it before, and I am confident for world peace you will do it again."
We all should know very well what these words mean. "Historically bold commitments" that have indeed been done before translates into Israel stopping normal healthy construction, giving away more land, and other very concrete and risky actions. What bold steps can we expect from the so-called Palestinian side? Let's express this a bit differently. What bold steps have they "done before" and might do again for "world peace?" Let's examine the historical records. Each time Israel gave away land for peace, including the Gaza Strip, or stopped this building project, the Palestinians stopped, uh… I mean, they agreed, uh, no, they uh… hmmmmm, just what exactly did the Palestinians do for "world peace?" I can't seem to put my finger on it. Was it a cessation of violence against Israel? No more shooting missiles into civilian population areas? Can't be either of the above since they're still at it. Recognition of Israel's right to exist? Naw. Sorry. Still not in the PA charter. Oh, it must be they stopped with the ridiculous anti-Israel propaganda on the Arab/Muslim TV networks. Nope. Same ol' story on that too. Pretty creative though. Gotta love how they get the little Palestinian tikes to hate Jews and Israelis by using Disney puppets to convey their racist messages. C'mon. Don't give up so quickly. It must mean that the PA side will stop naming streets and parks after suicide murder terrorists. Oh sorry. They just kinda did that a few days ago naming an outdoor square after Dalal Mughrabi, the Fatah woman who led the 1978 Coastal Road massacre in which 37 Israeli civilians and an American photographer were killed, and 71 were wounded. In that "brave" attack against unarmed civilians, this wonderful role model to the Palestinians murdered and wounded many children. How courageous of this latest PA heroine to shoot down children.
Where's Secretary of State Clinton's rebukes of the PA for this outrageous act? U.S. presidential advisor David Axelrod told ABC's "This Week" on Sunday that what happened there was an "affront... an insult." But Axelrod wasn't referring to the PA's proclamation of Mughrabi Square. No - his harsh words were directed at Israel for daring to put up some new apartments in their own state capitol in their own state! Where's the US outrage at the recent PA incitement to riot on the Temple mount? Someone wake me up from this sci-fi movie, where zombies seem to be running the show.
Let's go back to VP Biden's statement that both parties will have to make bold commitments? Until now, the peace process has been all Israel, with nothing tangible ever coming from the other side. There's been no two way street in that process, which of course is the reason why there's still no peace there. Israel has been giving. The Palestinians take. Israel gave the PA all of the Gaza strip for the sake of peace. As soon as they got their hands on that turf they quickly destroyed all of the former synagogues and Jewish owned properties, which they considered as being contaminated. Gaza was then used a launching pad for more and more rockets and missiles into Israeli civilian areas. Israel stops building apartments for its growing and vibrant population. The Palestinian side takes millions of dollars in world charity funds and goes shopping for weapons.
It seems pretty obvious that the more one-sided this process becomes, the more it leads to a non-peaceful resolution of things. It has achieved the opposite and has only served to embolden Israel enemies. After all, if they're able to get all this land and money for doing absolutely nothing, then, hey who can blame them? They've got an unbelievably good deal going here. Like the Dire Straits song, it's been one of "money for nothing" and the land for free.
Israel doesn't require anyone's permission to build housing units and it should never be in this ridiculous compromising position to begin with. But hey, what's good for the goose is good for the gander. Have Obama & Biden asked permission from the Native Americans for the millions of current building projects going on all across the good ol' USA, on what is definitely previously owned Indian land? Hardly. This notion isn't even remotely in the cards. It's not part of their lexicon whatsoever. The Jewish people, on the other hand, have a long historical and deep spiritual connection to the land of Israel since biblical times. If anything, there are thousands, if not millions of Arabs and Muslims living on previously owned Jewish land.
So what should Israel do in this all-too-familiar situation? For one, tell the world to ever so politely bug off! If Israelis and Jews cannot live where they choose in the country of Israel then, as my bubbe used to say, it's really och-in-vay. Israel should build and grow and develop to the maximum possible, on all levels. Seeking permission or approval from other countries to do something as benign as putting up more housing units to accommodate natural growth, can lead to even further and more absurd scenarios. What's next on the line, permission to breathe? Since Israel is, in fact, the only true democracy in the Middle East, the Arabs living there will only benefit from such an experience. Unlike their Muslim neighboring countries, within Israel the Arabs, and all other denominations, are free to live and worship and work how and where they please. As long as they're peaceful and law abiding.
It's time to make the process a fair one. No more double talk. No more double standards. If Biden and the US insist upon "bold commitments," which by the way, Israel doesn't have to commit to, in any case let's first see what concrete moves are coming from the PA side. What are they giving – not taking, for the sake of peace. But don't hold your breath. Peace is a process that takes two to tango. Until now it's been all Israel on the dance floor.