Moshe Arens
Haaretz (Opinion)
September 29, 2011 - 12:00am

The month of September is almost gone and Israel does not lie devastated like north-eastern Japan after the tsunami that hit that region in the wake of a 9.0 magnitude earthquake last March. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas submitted an application to the United Nations that Palestine be recognized as a state and admitted to the UN. Hamas, as was expected, objected to this move, and President Barack Obama said what any sensible person should have known - that bypassing direct negotiations by applying to the UN was not going to advance peace between Israel and the Palestinians. It turns out that the tsunami predicted to hit Israel in the month of September went the way of so many other predictions that have been made about the Middle East in recent years.

The hero of the drama that played out at the UN was undoubtedly Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, but not because he meddled in U.S. internal politics, encouraging the Republicans to criticize Barack Obama's policy toward Israel - he knows better than to attempt to do that (the Republicans, and even many Democrats, need no outside encouragement to fault Obama on this subject ). Netanyahu is the hero because he did not allow himself to be spooked by the panic-stricken warnings coming from all directions that a tsunami was approaching and that he should advance "daring" initiatives before the tsunami hit Israel. Everybody knows what was meant by "daring" initiatives - announcements of concession that Israel was prepared to make to the Palestinians before the start of negotiations; that he would freeze construction in the West Bank; or, better yet, that he would uproot settlements there, or that he would agree that the April 1949 armistice lines with Jordan ("the 1967 lines" ) would be the basis for negotiations with Abbas. He kept a cool head, and did none of that.

There was another actor in this drama at the United Nations. Little known, but possibly important - Anthony Weiner, the Democratic Congressman, representing the ninth New York Congressional district. It was Weiner who was compelled to resign his seat for posting indecent photos of himself on the Internet, forcing an early election in this traditionally Democratic district with a large Jewish population. Ed Koch, the former mayor of New York City and a life-long Democrat, called on voters to choose the Republicans this time and express their disapproval of Obama's policy on Israel. The Republican candidate, Bob Turner, won.

Add to that the criticism voiced by the leading Republican presidential candidates, Mitt Romney and Rick Perry, on the same subject. Romney said Obama's suggestion that Israeli-Palestinian negotiations should be based on the "1967 lines" was "throwing Israel under the bus." All this must have been noted in the White House, preparing for elections a little more than a year away, or else Obama did some serious reading on Jewish and Zionist history during his recent vacation in Martha's Vineyard in preparation for his speech at the UN. In his speech he did not mention settlements, nor the "1967 lines", but rather emphasized that "Israel is surrounded by neighbors that have waged repeated wars against it," and that "Israeli citizens have been killed by rockets fired at their houses and suicide bombs on their buses ... these are the facts", he concluded, "they cannot be denied."

This time, the Israeli left did not like Obama's speech. They were probably also disappointed to find that Israel was not completely isolated, as they claimed, with the whole world aligned against it. Who knows if mythological Micronesia supports Israel's position? But we do know that Stephen Harper, the Prime Minister of Canada - no Third World country this - firmly stands by Israel. And Donald Tusk, the Prime Minister of Poland - not only not a Third World country but presently claiming presidency of the Council of the European Union - is not prepared to back the "1967 lines" as the basis for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. The list does not end there. And maybe Micronesia does close the list of countries that refuse to align themselves with the Muslim bloc at the United Nations.

So will all those who predicted that a tsunami would hit Israel in the month of September please stand.


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