After a year of political failures, President Obama fulfilled his campaign promises this week, with the historic passing of Health Care Reform. Obama’s presidency began with promises of “hope” and “change,” but it didn’t take long until the public understood how hard it would be to make these promises a reality. Despite the difficulties, Obama did not give up on his basic vision, and was able to realize it.
Prime Minister Netnayahu has enjoyed greater political success since he was elected into office. Unlike Obama, the public was more suspicious of his motives, yet he was able to form a very stable coalition, which experts believe will last an entire four years – a rarity in Israeli politics. Netanyahu has survived crises and has made the necessary political maneuvers in order to promote his worldview, despite attacks from the left and the right.
Despite his political achievements, Netanyahu has yet to make a major move in accordance with his vision for Israel’s strategic future. Unfortunately, the prime minister of Israel finds himself battling in the international ring over basic concepts that his predecessors did not have to defend: Israel’s right to Jerusalem, the legitimacy of defense against terror, and even the Mossad’s methods. Israel is under an international de-legitimization assault.
If this attack could lead to peace, it would be logical to give in, but the international assault deals mostly with marginal problems. Even if Israel did whatever the world wanted in all of these issues, peace would not be any closer. The world is pressuring Israel to give into Palestinian demands, but hardly anyone claims that giving in will bring peace. Netanyahu has to battle this international pressure, without any hope for a solution.
How did Israel get into this sad situation?
The answer is simple. Netanyahu cannot move forward in realizing his vision, because he gave up on presenting a vision. In his “Bar-Ilan Speech,” weeks after he was elected, the prime minister avoided presenting a fresh strategic view while half-adopting a two-state solution – the exact idea he claimed to oppose while forming his coalition. Netanyahu adopted the exact idea that the public had already lost hope in.
As Netanyahu knows, two-state solutions don’t work. They cannot bring peace and stability to the Middle East. Netanyahu does not believe in the idea, but committed himself to it. Therefore, he must defend any move he makes that does not seem to suit a two-state solution. Netanyahu thought that his acceptance of an idea that is popular in the West will give him credit in the international arena, not realizing the credit doesn’t work when the plan is inapplicable and will fall apart in the Palestinians’ hands. He made a mistake – adopting a new vision has a price, and the decision to waver between two ideas puts Israel in a dangerous position.
It is not too late yet. Netanyahu can stop playing the worthless two-state game. If he had presented a vision of true peace, to begin with, and really tried to solve the problems of the region, he would not have to freeze construction in Judea and Samaria or apologize for building in Jerusalem. A vision of true peace does not unreasonably link peace and Israelis’ private lives. It concentrates its efforts on solving the problems by rehabilitating refugees, fighting terror, and strengthening those interested in stability in the long term.
Changing the paradigm in dealing with the conflict can be very difficult. Therefore, we need a leader with vision like Benjamin Netanyahu. At first, this vision may face fierce opposition, but he who overcomes this initial opposition will find that his vision will pave a new path and gain international backing – the kind of backing that Israel needs, while it is going against the tide of international pressure.