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Bibi Rewrites History – And Reality

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Bibi Netanyahu, in a Knesset speech covered by Haaretz, announced some sweeping revisions to history and Israeli-Arab reality.  For example, did you know that a Palestinian state already exists?  Sure does, according to the Beeb, who said with regard to the Arab uprisings toppling dictators right and left:

We do not know what will happen to our west, and we do not know what will happen to our east, and who can determine whether the Palestinian state – in the middle of it all – will hold on?”

This reminds me a bit of Ronald Reagan who would tell convincing stories of his war experiences in the Pacific theater during World War II, which consisted of his memories of war films in which he’d acted.  It’s so much more convenient for an Israeli prime minister to prevent the creation of a Palestinian state, and then turn around and tell his western critics that one already exists despite the fact that it may be in his mind only.

Oh, and don’t ya know that Turkey destroyed its relations with Israel solely by the attack of Prime Minister Erdogan on Shimon Peres at Davos?

Just as the de-facto peace relations that we had with one country – Iran – evaporated in a moment, just as the more official, more established relationship that even included joint military exercises and 400,000 tourists evaporated overnight when the Turkish prime minister attacked our President Peres in Davos…

There are a few small matters like the Mavi Marmara massacre and Ehud Olmert’s destruction of the Syrian-Israeli peace negotiation mediated by Erdogan, when he began Operation Cast Lead.  Those little incidents, of course, played no role in the torpedoing of Israel-Turkey relations.

Not to mention it was Shimon Peres who sputtered with rage at Davos, violating international protocol by viciously attacking Turkey and its elected national leader in a public gathering; and that this provoked Erdogan to walk out of the meeting.  And that Peres apologized afterward for his intemperance.

But hey, what’s a dose of reality among friends?  And who needs reality anyway when you can have such a delightful delusional alternate universe all for the asking?  When you’re a Likud prime minister, anything’s possible.  Next thing you know, pigs will fly and maybe even be kosher.

As I wrote in a recent post about the bloody mess unfolding in Tripoli, such mayhem is good for the Occupation business.  Proof lies no farther than Bibi’s speech to the Knesset, where he finds succor in the bloodbath, because it gives him an out as far as negotiating a peace with the Palestinians:

Netanyahu also claimed that “The entire world told us the reason for instability in the Middle East is the Israel-Palestinian conflict. We begged to differ. There is a problem here that we wish to solve, but we must take the Islamic extremists – who are spreading everywhere – into account.”

Bibi, as usual, gets his facts wrong.  The entire world hasn’t said the reason for Middle East instability lies in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  It has said that the reason for the popularity of Islamist extremism like Al Qaeda lies in the lack of resolution of the conflict.  Perhaps as a corollary, many of the toppled and toppling autocrats have looked favorably on Israel.  This may have played some role in their lack of popularity.  But these leaders have done far more damage to their reputations by harming their own citizens directly.

Of course, what really worries Bibi, and what he can’t say to his fellow Knesset delusionals, is that the rising democratization of the Arab world means that new governments will be listening to the will of the people and pursuing new foreign policy goals accordingly.  Thus, the free ride Israel enjoyed from regimes like Egypt, Turkey (pre-Erdogan)  and Jordan may be a thing of the past.  Israel henceforward may have to create support in the Arab world the old- fashioned way–by earning it.

This article first appeared at Tikun Olam.

Richard Silverstein

Richard Silverstein

Richard Silverstein is an author, journalist and blogger, with articles appearing in Haaretz, the Jewish Forward, Los Angeles Times, the Guardian’s Comment Is Free, Al Jazeera English, and Alternet. His work has also been in the Seattle Times, American Conservative Magazine, Beliefnet and Tikkun Magazine, where he is on the advisory board. Check out Silverstein's blog at Tikun Olam, one of the earliest liberal Jewish blogs, which he has maintained since February, 2003.

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