Peter Beinart facetiously congratulates Benjamin Netanyahu now that he’s thwarted President Obama’s Middle East peace efforts.
Now all you have to worry about is…Argentina. You see, Argentina just recognized a Palestinian state on 1967 borders. Brazil did so days earlier. Uruguay and Paraguay are expected to follow suit, and then Bolivia and Ecuador. Oh, and you have a small problem with rock stars: last year Elvis Costello and Carlos Santana cancelled Israel gigs because of the occupation, and more seem poised to follow. Dock workers are another worry: from Sweden to South Africa, they keep protesting the occupation and the Gaza blockade by refusing to offload Israeli goods. And then there’s Hanna King, the 17-year-old Swarthmore freshmen who along with four other young American Jews disrupted your speech last month in New Orleans because, as she told Haaretz, “settlements…are contrary to the Jewish values that we learnt in Jewish day school.” You should probably expect young Jews like her to protest all your big American speeches from now on.
I know, I know. You consider all this unfair, and in some ways it is. But when you’ve been occupying another people for 43 years, confiscating more and more of their land and denying them citizenship while providing it to your own settlers, it doesn’t do much good to insist that things are worse in Burma. Your only effective argument against the Elvis Costellos and Hanna Kings was that you were trying to end the occupation. That’s where Obama came in. As long as the U.S. president seemed to have a chance of brokering a deal, his efforts held the boycotters and protesters and Palestinian state-recognizers at bay. When Brazil and Argentina recognized Palestinian independence, the American Jewish Committee’s David Harris declared it “fundamentally unhelpful to the Arab-Israeli peace process.” But what if there is no peace process? What’s your argument then? Maybe you can tell the Ecuadorians that Israel deserves Hebron because Abraham bought land there from Ephron the Hittite.
Rest assured, the Obama administration won’t go along with these efforts to punish and isolate you. It may even denounce them. But as you may have noticed, the world doesn’t listen to America like it used to. Non-Americans have grown tired of hearing that only the U.S. can broker a deal, especially because you’ve now shown that to be false. And so the dam preventing countries and institutions from legitimizing Palestine and delegitimizing Israel may soon break. You didn’t like the American way? Get ready for the Brazilian way.