America’s delicate situation with Israel

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The long conflict between Israel and Palestine is fraught with dangerous complexities. For example, in writing that previous sentence I had to make a dangerous decision. Do I write “Palestine “ or “Palestinians”? An academic question, you say? Not quite. One acknowledges the existence of a nation, the other the existence of a people. Moreover, some would insist that I avoid at all costs acknowledging that the conflict is with Palestine or Palestinians and focus exclusively on Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in the West Bank.

I understand and acknowledge all of these points of view. But, in the words of Pontius Pilate, “What I have written, I have written.” So let us move on to the point. What is the Biden Administration doing about the conflict and why has it attracted so much controversy?

Joe Biden has had to step through a minefield far more perilous than my simple semantic exercise above. His position is one that, no matter where he turns or what he says, he’s going to offend someone. But his principal objective has been to minimise loss of life and gain ground in a permanent, possibly two-state solution. And in order to do that he has had to “be nice” to Israel. By doing so, the President can influence Israel’s leaders which in turn should minimise the loss of both Palestinian and Israeli lives and hopefully lay future ground for talks about a two-state conclusion.

These incremental baby steps he has achieved with marvellous effect. Benjamin Netanyahu is full of praise for Biden, and a billboard with Biden’s face and the words “Thank you, Mr President” sprang up in Tel Aviv last month.

Meanwhile, a lot of armchair diplomacy has been going on by self-anointed “experts” full of rage at the President. The temptation in some quarters is to grab the people of Israel or the people of Gaza (take your pick) by the scruff of the neck and vigorously give them a shake.

My answer to that is: STOP! You cannot talk sense to a man who just lost his children to a Hamas bomb. You cannot talk sense to a woman who just lost her siblings and parents to an Israeli white phosphorus missile. No sane discussion can go on that will appease anyone under such emotionally-charged conditions. You would be no different in the same situation, so stop pretending otherwise.

That is what ground zero of realpolitik is all about. Such emotions need to be ignored, and pragmatic solutions must be pursued. America’s goal is a diplomatic one. Diplomacy can be frustrating to people watching from the outside. That is why few are qualified to practise it. That is why it’s being done by adults.

If you don’t understand it, it’s best to stay out of it. But above all, this crap about not voting for Biden because you don’t like how he’s doing this very delicate job is infantile, and believe me when I say that “infantile” is the nicest word I could find. And that’s me being diplomatic.

The idea that you or anyone would let Democracy die because you don’t agree with every jot and tittle of the Biden administration as regards Israel is the kind of crap I’d expect to hear from Matt Gaetz or Tommy Tuberville. Stop acting like Republicans and sit still. Mind your own damned business and let the adults in the room do their job. The world will be a safer place if you stay out of it. And, as ever, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, comrades and friends, stay safe.

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