Israel will never embrace peace on its own; it will have to be forced on it
If you stand on your head, the world around you is bound to look upside down. This is what Israel’s leaders have been doing all these years. And this is what Benjamin Netanyahu did in his speeches before a rapturous and almost acquiescent audience at AIPAC conference on Monday and a joint session of US Congress on Tuesday. The thunderous applause that greeted Netanyahu at AIPAC is understandable. But the love-fest in Congress must have come as a rude shock to the rest of the world.
The US lawmakers and leading members of the government, including Vice President Joe Biden, chose to ignore Netanyahu’s contemptuous rejection of peace and endless, vitriolic harangue against Palestinians, Arabs and even Islam to endlessly applaud and cheer on the Israeli leader. No going back to the 1967 borders, Netanyahu thundered. No giving up or dividing of Jerusalem. No right of return for Palestinians refugees. No return of Palestinian land that Jewish settlements have been eating into for four decades. No peace talks if Hamas is part of the negotiations. Yet he claimed to make “painful compromises for peace!” Yet the congressmen clapped for him. Standing in the august body of the world’s most powerful nation, Netanyahu demolished and derided Obama’s “audacity of hope.” And the thunderous applause never stopped.
As Al Jazeera counted, there were at least 59 rounds of standing ovation during Bibi’s long-winded speech that offered nothing but the same old, toxic and twisted world view that is so at odds with the rest of the world. Clearly, the more the world around Israel changes, the more it remains the same for its leaders.
From the regulation invocation of the Holocaust ghosts to the coming specter of a nukes-flexing Iran to the alleged shared “threat of Islam,” he hit all the right emotional buttons to play on the insecurities of his audience. And, yes, how could he have resisted the temptation to pat his own back hailing Israel for the zillionth time as the “only democracy in a sea of tyranny” even if it’s built on the bodies and stolen land of an indigenous people?