Opinion

Bibi’s Cautious Conservatism May Clash With Jared’s New Peace Plan

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Posted: May 31, 2019 9:01 AM
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Bibi’s Cautious Conservatism May Clash With Jared’s New Peace Plan

Source: AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File

JARED KUSHNER might not look like he could stare down an uncompromising foe, but a May 22 McClatchy article claimed this quality for him. Mr. Kushner, we are told, is fixing to “stare down uncompromising foes in fights over immigration and Middle East peace.”  

Let us begin with Mr. Kushner’s Middle East peace plan, the thing his father-in-law calls “the deal of the century.”

The notion of Jared solving the Israeli-Palestinian vexation is not credible, to put it charitably. 

The timing of the Kushner peace plan is especially odd. For all the upheaval in the region, the Palestinian Problem has nevertheless dropped off the geopolitical radar as an urgent matter to resolve. 

For better or for worse, the two sides are locked in a deadly, tightly choreographed dance. The Palestinians rise in frustration and fury; the Israelis respond with overwhelming force. The world then offers-up perfunctory sympathy for the Palestinians. Everybody moves on. 

It’s just the way it is. The world has become desensitized to the plight of the Palestinians. 

Take the Economist—a liberal, pro-Palestinian, most excellent weekly. Its editors cogitated but briefly over the Israeli army’s last use of force against the M.O.P.E (Most Oppressed People Ever), concluding nonchalantly that, “Every state has a right to defend its borders.” “It is time for Palestinians to take up genuine non-violence.” 

In other words, “Grow up, Palestinians. The stone-throwing was cute when your struggle was in its infancy.”

The Palestinians, for their part, will have no truck with the Trump administration.  

Then there’s Bibi Netanyahu’s ingenious, Israel First tactics. You have to be a tad naïve to imagine you can present Bibi with a plan to fix his part of the world. The Israeli prime minister will make the right polite noises and will … have Jared for breakfast. 

Netanyahu has been busy befriending “once hostile neighbors and has gained the respect of world leaders.” Like himself, his new friends (the murderous Saudi regime is among them) don’t seem to care much about Israel’s ostensible “occupation” of 4.5 million Palestinians. 

Don’t blame me for dishing Middle Eastern realpolitik. These are just the facts and the deductions therefrom. 

By the Economist’s telling, Mr. Netanyahu’s strategy toward the Palestinians is a finely honed “anti-solutionism.” Netanyahu “has sought to convince Israelis that the conflict can be managed, if the right people are put in charge of managing it, and thus need not be solved.” 

From experience, Netanyahu knows that an “anti-solutionism” puts his army and him in control, to better deliver on the security needs of the Israelis. This makes Bibi even more of an impenetrable mystery to the Kushners. A provincial leader who acts exclusively in his country’s self-interest can be anathema to the mindset dominant among our American elites. 

Like him or not, the conservative, patriotic Bibi will not permit Jared Kushner to steer Israel in a radical direction. Instead, Bibi will likely let the American rattle on about radical change, and will quietly ignore him in favor of maintaining the safer status quo.

You see, the Israeli prime minister is a grizzled old warrior—and a true populist, the kind that builds walls to protect his people and passes laws to safeguard their ancient patrimony. 

Netanyahu and his new Sunni partners will make polite noises and then shrug off this Middle-East plan with a hearty laugh and some good arak, behind Jared’s back. 

As the Economist noted derisively—for its writers are rooting for Jared’s peace plan—Netanyahu is a reactionary nationalist. “Temperamentally conservative,” and “wary of change,” as all true conservatives ought to be, Netanyahu “governs as if Israel needs no change.” The Israeli prime minister has even passed nation-state legislation consecrating Israel as the home of the Jewish people. 

But by golly, Bibi will give the first daughter and her husband good hospitality. Then he’ll bid them farewell and the region will return to its old ways.

Bibi, moreover, reads his voters well. The appetite for the charade that are the Israeli-Palestinians peace talks has diminished. “The percentage of Israelis favoring talks with the Palestinians has dropped from over 70 percent to closer to 50 percent over the past decade. Among Mr. Netanyahu’s supporters it is 30 percent.”

In case you’re unfamiliar with Bibi’s base—supporters of Likud since the party’s inception—they are, “Voters from conservative religious and working-class backgrounds, Russian-speaking immigrants and Mizrahi Jews (who are descended from immigrants from the Arab world).” The political equivalent of Trump’s deplorables. 

To sum, “should it ever to arrive,” Mr. Kushner’s peace plan “will be dead on arrival.” 

Americans don’t always know and appreciate the past. Netanyahu, however, understands history and what it portends for the future. “Because the Palestinian issue cannot be solved,” Bibi’s statecraft entails preparing his people for a reality they understand all too well:

“We will forever live by the sword.” Bibi’s words in 2015.