Blowin' in the Washington Wind

By Melchett Mike
September 2, 2010

So, the peace talks are under way. But don’t hold your breath . . .

No one in Israel – not even his inner cabinet, by all accounts – has a clue what Benjamin Netanyahu will offer the Palestinians. Nor about his red lines.

Mahmoud Abbas, on the other hand, has a mandate from his family and herd of goats (there is, it is alleged, some overlap). One thing is for sure, however: nothing he agrees with “Bibi” will be accepted by his delightful Islamofascist brethren in Gaza.

And under the ground rest four more innocents . . . though, such is the demonization of the settler, these days, that Israel’s supposed “cultural elite” probably don’t even regard them as such.

On Monday, the day before the drive-by shooting, 150 left-wing academics, artists and writers – including A.B. Yehoshua, Amos Oz, and David Grossman – signed a petition in support of actors who are refusing to appear in a new cultural centre in the West Bank settlement of Ariel.

Now, I am not a supporter of the settlements and believe that all but the largest (of which Ariel is one) of them should – and, eventually, will – be evacuated (following, unlike in Gaza, a formal agreement). And I understand the reluctance, on ideological grounds, of left-wing artists to appear in them.

What unites the signatories to this petition, however, is the familiar arrogance of Israel’s left-wing intelligentsia, who consider their opinions of supreme importance in and to the Israeli body politic. This “cultural elite” – the large majority of which populates the swankiest suburbs of north Tel Aviv and believes, no less than the most fanatic of settlers, that it defines what makes a good and moral Zionist/Israeli – thoroughly repulses me. Most of its members, it seems to me, would sell this country and even their own mothers in the name of their perverse, potentially suicidal notions of liberalism. Indeed, for an honest, intuitive and untainted sense of right and wrong, I would sooner turn to the stallholders in the Carmel Market.

Moreover, I cannot help but wonder whether this self-righteous collection of luvvies, professors and general ponces is not responsible for, or has not at least contributed to, making the settler – through said constant demonization – a legitimate target in the eyes of our enemies.

Driving to the settlement of Efrat (in the Etzion bloc, 15 minutes from the scene of Tuesday’s murders) last Friday – on winding, hilly, unlit roads, past Palestinian villages whose donkeys would emerge, without warning, from out of the night – was a most unnerving experience. Indeed, my heart seemed to be racing as fast as the occasional vehicle, with green-on-white (Palestinian) plates, that sped past.

“There have been no drive-by shootings here for years,” my friend’s son attempted to reassure me upon my arrival, as I tried to regain my cool.

A mere four days later, however, that period of quiet was over.

And, regrettably, I hold out little hope for Washington.



Fri, 09/03/2010 - 12:08

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I think the priority at the moment for both parties has to be keeping Hamas (and Islamists, and Iran) out of the West Bank. If Abbas and Faayed can work out a solution with Bibi that moderate Arabs can agree with it will sideline the radicals and achieve just that.

I totally agree with Bibi's "bottom up" approach - prove to Palestinians that peace, not violence, will bring a better life for them. Which is ultimately what really matters to most people, isn't it?

I'm very optimistic about these talks. I think great things can happen. I think Bibi is the right man for the job and have been an fan of his since I was about 15.

Melchett Mike

Fri, 09/03/2010 - 12:42

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I dearly hope that your optimism - rather than my pessimism - proves to be justified, Matt!


Fri, 09/03/2010 - 14:47

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Out of interest Mike how is Netanyahu's popularity fairing in Israel? I read a lot of comments on the internet describing him as a traitor etc, but I don't know whether that's representative.

Melchett Mike

Sat, 09/04/2010 - 13:01

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I haven't undertaken any research on the matter, Matt, but it seems to me - from talking to people - that most take "Bibi" a lot more seriously than they once did. And even his opponents on the left don't revile him as they did.

The "traitor" comments you have read most probably emanate from the Settler community and its supporters.


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