I know I haven't been around much lately. Most of my concerns, to be honest, are about wedding planning or my dissertation, and no one wants to listen to other folks whine about either of those subjects.
But now that the election is over, I have some thoughts about the new administration and Israel. Since most of my 11 readers are J-bloggers, I thought this would be a suitable post.
To: President-elect Obama
Since you are not even in office yet, Mr. President-elect, and since you have neither much foreign policy experience nor the wisdom of Solomon, you are probably confused about how you can improve the situation in Israel. Your predicament may be complicated by the fact that a loud minority of right-wing Jews spent the election season implying or outright saying that you are a friend of terrorists who want to wipe Israel off the map. But take heart! They didn't vote for you. Over 70% of Jews did, so don't be afraid to be the president of the moderate majority of Jews.
You are probably also thinking, Where do I start? Well, that's where Katrina comes in. YOU NEED TO STOP THE QUASI-CIVIL WAR GOING ON BETWEEN SETTLERS AND THE ARMY/GOVERNMENT. Here's why:
--You don't need the US army to do this, which is convenient, since the army is over-extended in Iraq and Afghanistan, and how are you going to stop the Iranians anyway, if you don't know where the factories are?
--This quasi-civil war is a HUGE threat to Israel. Israel's survival depends on a two-state solution, and these "hill youth" who are trying to settle the wrong side of the fence are putting that solution in jeopardy. Since they are just kids, however, and neither the government or the so-called leaders of the dati leumi community is doing anything to stop them, I can't blame them too much.
--Not that this should be THE determining factor, but the image of settlers taking on their own army and winning is not exactly a public-relations victory for Israel, or for you, its strongest ally.
AND, THE BEST PART:
--You are best equipped to do this, because you control the money. Let's face it. The Bush years taught us that no matter how big a friend of Israel a president is or thinks he is, he won't have any effect if he just lets the Israelis do whatever they want. The US government gives the Israelis bilions of dollars in loan guarantees. That gives them, as personified by you, the right to go over there, or send Bill Richardson or John Kerry or Bob Gates or whomever, over there to bang some heads together. You could have your diplomats say or imply that at least part of the money depends on the government taking down illegal settlements, with a bonus if the army at least attempts to protect Palestinians when settlers attack them.
So, think about it. It may be a 2,000+-year-old problem, but Israel needs you now. We don't have 20 years to get serious about solutions, given the demographic problem. How's that for a legacy?