April 12, 2009
Ha’aretz: The Wish is the Father of the Thought
The dovish Ha’aretz is busily engaged in advancing the thesis that Obama and Netanyahu are on a collision course. Last week, it published a (hitherto unconfirmed) scoop that Obama is to visit Israel at the beginning of June. It also reported an intensive ongoing campaign by Obama’s people in DC to prepare Congress for confrontation with a recalcitrant Israeli government.
One senses that these reports are more wishful than factual. At any rate, Lieberman’s deputy minister of Foreign Affairs, Danny Eilon, former Israeli ambassador to the U.S., insists that relations are just fine. The assumption here is that Netanyahu will presently be invited to the White House to demonstrate the vigor of the ‘special relationship’.
As Obama repeats vague ‘two-states’ Bushisms, Lieberman says ‘nyet’ and Netanyahu smiles since he is, of course, willing to work out a compromise between Obama’s pious wishes and Lieberman’s populist stubbornness. When Lieberman said no to Annapolis, Obama answered yes to Annapolis. Thus, the President of the US is reduced to exchanging barbs with a local Israeli racist criminal. This is, in the inimitable words of Hilary about Israeli house demolition in the East Jerusalem, simply “unhelpful.”
Mitchell is coming again but it appears that Washington is unable or unwilling to actually say anything of importance regarding the final status talks. This being so, the best bet is that the game plan in DC is to have Obama pull off some symbolic, but totally empty gesture, like the renewal of negotiations. This would be a pleasant sound byte for the uninitiated, but reveal to everybody else that Obama is clueless about how to proceed. So far, Netanyahu hides behind Lieberman while Obama has been reduced to holding an indirect, but easily discernable conversation with Lieberman, who has duly explained to the US President that Obama must wait until the Israeli government exercises its natural right to reevaluate its policies. Netanyahu, it appears operates in a higher sphere, therefore, really cannot be bothered to declare that Israel accepts the two-state solution. It is quite probable that Netanyahu is saving his possible agreement to participate in negotiations with the PA as a “major concession.” However, the ME has already ‘been there and done that’, having already witnessed many rounds of empty, meaningless talks that lead nowhere…
People are discussing the possible effect of the economic crisis on income of many of the NGO’s in the country which are dependent on the European Union. The impression is that, after a period of doubts and tension about future budgeting, the EU is still very much in the NGO business. It is interesting that Europe faced with a mounting financial crisis and slashing social benefits continues to attach great importance to the NGO efforts. Considering the economic picture and the level of waste and ostentation in the NGO area, one assumes that Europe feels that it is getting a good return on its money. Europe, with its complete support for US policies bears full responsibility for the ongoing tragedy of the Palestinian people and the stalled peace process, likes to point to the NGO’s as their contribution to peace and justice. This is much easier than openly confronting Israel on the inter-state level. The recipients of these funds usually refrain from censuring European hypocrisy. After all it is neither polite nor wise to bite the hand that feeds you.
Time for Reexamination
Philanthropy is a complex affair. After all is said and done it is mainly a method for transferring social issues which should be dealt with on a state level to the private sector. In the final analysis this is also true of the NGO complex.
We know that hundreds of devoted and conscientious people work in Israeli and Palestinian NGO’s. Some NGO’s are doing valuable, even dangerous work. However, the stated goals, the funding, and the organization of these institutions are highly problematic. It is increasingly clear that they are not a satisfactory alternative to openly political groupings on the left. However, for many, they seem mistakenly to fulfill this kind of role.
As these organizations increase their paid staff and develop hierarchies, they tend to develop a style and mentality more similar to that of the for-profit sector. Whatever their contribution, they are a sorry surrogate for a militant left with clear cut political goals.
Monday, April 13, 2009
April 12, 2009