Saturday, June 11, 2011

Between Tipping and Talking Points

It's time to declare which side of history you will be on. Nearly the entire world recognizes or will soon recognize a sovereign Palestinian state. That's just a fact. You can ignore it or if you like you can blame Obama for saying publicly what everyone who has been paying attention already knew: the contours of an agreement will include an independent Palestinian state roughly along the 1967 borders.

So those opposed might want to get used to the idea that an independent Palestinian state is on the way. None of the arguments of yesterday carry any meaning. In resolving this century old conflict it doesn't matter who is to blame for the all of the bloodshed, who missed what opportunity, who loves his children more than he hates the others'. We have reached the tipping point. There is a deal on the table and only one question remains - how much more pain will be inflicted before it is signed.

Not a day goes by in Israel without a new report of prominent Israelis coming out in support of recognition of a Palestinian state. There was the Israel Peace Initiative backed by former leaders of the Israeli security branches and business leaders. Then came the Independence Hall Movement, with over 70 Israeli Prize laureates and former military officers. Then last week thousands of patriotic Israelis turned out in the streets of Tel Aviv. This morning former Israeli diplomats went on record stating among other things that "there is no point in struggling against recognition." The underlying rationale here is that an independent Palestinian state is in Israel's interest.

And yet, at the end of May, with Bibi and Aipac in Washington, we heard that Obama was the most anti-Israel president we have had because he laid out the well-known parameters of the deal. And yesterday we saw Senators Lieberman and Hatch putting forth a meaningless resolution objecting to1967 borders, which no one is even considering. The situation reminds me of the day before the Israelis and Palestinians revealed that they had been secretly negotiating in Norway and had reached agreement on a Declaration of Principles, which became known as the Oslo Agreement. The announcement came on Friday, August 20, 1993. Although I don't have a link to prove my point, I guarantee you that on Thursday the major American Jewish organizations were out pushing the idea that Israel could not negotiate with the Palestinians because they were terrorists and did not recognize Israel's right to exist.

Lo and behold, on Friday the world awoke to find out that not only could Israel negotiate with the Palestinians, but had been doing so, and had reached an agreement. What had been said on Thursday was no longer true on Friday. In a strange play on the recent rhetoric, Israel had thrown the American Jewish organizations under the bus. These organizations were out parroting the talking points which they believed they were advancing on behalf of Israel, talking points the Rabin government knew were empty. Yet Rabin secretly negotiated while Aipac was out telling Congress Israel couldn't. Considering Rabin's feelings toward Aipac, I doubt he lost much sleep over it.  

The difference between now and then is that in 1993 the American Jewish organizations had no idea what was coming. But now the writing is on the wall. 

All those opposed to recognizing a Palestinian state or negotiating based on the 1967 borders, you're on notice. Those talking points you have been spitting out, no one but you believes anymore. Friday is coming - so don't get caught reading off Thursday's script.

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