Today, an Israeli wrote to me that the Knesset’s new anti-Nakba law had her more depressed than she’s been about Israeli politics in a long time:
When authorities start attempting to regulate and control thoughts/feelings/narratives, I feel that the end is really in sight…
While I certainly share her outrage at such anti-Arab extremism, it got me to thinking that perhaps such an outrageous political agenda might be a good thing after all. I remember during the last Israeli election campaign, Jerry Haber wrote a post in which he advocated, “Vote Bibi!” I was shocked when I read it. It seemed the utmost cynicism since I felt at the time that a Livni-Kadima victory might show promise for peace when combined with the prodding of our president-elect (at the time) Barack Obama.
But Jerry was right perhaps in ways he wasn’t totally aware at the time: Bibi and his rightist government are a horror show. They put Israel in the worst possible light in the rest of the world, and most crucially in Washington, D.C. where U.S. policy is made. The more extreme and outrageous the policies advocated by Jerusalem, the lower Bibi’s stock will sink here and everywhere outside Israel.
So I say let them vote to ban Nakba. Let them vote to compel a loyalty oath. Let them ban Palestinian students from studying in Israel. Let them rant about Iran being Amalek and toppling the mad mullahs. Let them do their worst. I say: “Knock yourself out.” Give it your wingnut all.
I’m tempted to write something even more radical: let Israel bomb Iran or at least do everything but bomb Iran. An Israeli attack on Iran will unite the entire world against this Israeli government. It will focus the mind mightily on the need for resolution of the Israeli-Arab conflict. In fact, it will almost guarantee a peace agreement even if it has to be imposed on Israel.
While attacking Iran would be an immense tragedy and I do not wish to see people needlessly suffer for any reason–even for peace, are circumstances not so desperate that we need to exploit every possible opportunity to transform our current predicament? Can we not turn such a catastrophe into a redemptive act? Hey, if Herman Kahn could think the unthinkable, can’t I contemplate how to turn a horror show into a way out of the Israeli-Arab miasma?
Gideon Levy, in his latest column, says it quite well, envisioning a Tzipi Livni prime ministership:
All this [her tenure as PM] would end in tears. Time more valuable than gold would be wasted for nothing. Livni would not have taken any tangible steps – no evacuation of settlements, no release of prisoners, no lifting of the siege and no reconstruction of Gaza, all of which are much more vital than any declaration of negotiations. In contrast to the Netanyahu era, the U.S. and world would once again have allowed this masquerade ball to take place. They even would have taken part.
Thankfully, Livni was not elected. True, with her, things would have been much more pleasant, but this would be a deceptive charm. With Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, the world may wake up and end the sleight of hand. Who knows, maybe some Israelis will follow its lead and wake up as well.
But even if Pres. Obama prevents Israel from a lunatic military adventure against Iran, there will still be plenty of wingnuttery possible in the Knesset. I say, bring it on baby!