My uncle J. Zel Lurie has been a journalist, and activist for peace in Israel for over 80 years. At 101 he is mostly retired, but continues to write a monthly column in his field of expertise, Israel and peace between Arabs and Jews.
“The issue of how to arrive at two states for two peoples far outmatches fear of Iran. On March 17th the Israeli voters will decide on the next priorities of the next government. “
Column for Jewish Journal for 3-11-15
Bibi’s speech, Obama’s answer, and a Republican theater
By J. Zel Lurie
As advertized, Prime Minister Netanyahu’s speech to the joint session of Congress with a Republican show conceived by Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer with the avid cooperation of Speaker John Boehner.
For Bibi, it was a powerful campaign speech for the Israeli elections on March 17th. He is lagging in recent polls behind Isaac Herzog and Tzipi Livni.
Bibi delivered a powerful speech. The sight of the most powerful lawmakers in the world repeatedly bobbing up and down in standing ovations must have impressed the Israeli voter. Whether it will gain any seats for Likud remains to be seen on March 17th.
His slogan, “no deal is better than a bad deal” delivered with intense emotion actually has no validity.No deal means that Iran would not be hampered in running on the fast track towards the bomb.
Minority leader Nancy Pelosi could be seen on TV as this slogan was delivered. She was visibly agitated. She issued a statement later saying that she was almost moved to tears. She was “saddened by the insult to the United States Intelligence”.
A member of the minority, a Democratic senator who boycotted the speech, said that it put Bibi on the same level as the President of the Untied States. At a press conference after the speech, President Obama said that he was meeting with European leaders on Ukraine while Netanyahu was speaking, but he had scanned a transcript of the speech. He said that there was nothing new in the speech and that Netanyahu had not presented a viable alternative.
Bibi denied this on his return to Israel. He issued a statement at Ben-Gurion Airport in which he outlined several improvements on the negotiations in Geneva between the Foreign Minister of Iran and Secretary of State John Kerry who represents the six powers negotiationg the treaty. On the day before Bibi’s speech, Kerry and the Iranian had talked for ten hours before adjourning until March 15th.
J Street received much more news coverage from Bibi’s speech to Congress than AIPAC than AiPAC had gotten from his annual conference which Bibi had addressed the day before. Jeremy Ben-Ami’s statement was widely quoted. He quoted President Obama that the United States will see to it that Iran will never be able to build a bomb.
Never has since been modified to ten years if I read the reports on the Geneva talks correctly.
As for the reaction to the speech in Israel, let me quote Stav Shaffir, the youngest member of the Knesset (she is 29), who is number three on the Zionist Union list after Herzog and Livni. She sent me the following e-mail: “Though Netanyahu may be deaf to the needs and hopes of most of our citizenry, we have faith that we can build a different Israel…We are neither impressed nor intimidated by Netanyahu’s scare tactics or Sheldon Adelson’s billions. We are encouraged and moved to know that we have partners across the ocean who share our vision for a more egalitarian society – one that is more just and more united. And if the circumstances we find ourselves in today succeed in generating a stronger bond between us and generate an emerging alliance, then at least we know that something good has come out of Netanyahu’s cynical move.” Shaffir was a leader in the 2011 summer protest movements in which almost half a million Israeli citizens put up tents in public places to protest the high cost of housing and rentals.
Netanyahu’s government paid no attention and continued to build settlements instead of housing for Israelis. A recent report published by the comptroller is devastating. Polls show that the high cost of housing and the high cost of living are at the top of the list of concerns by Israeli voters. The issue of how to arrive at two states for two peoples far outmatches fear of Iran. On March 17th the Israeli voters will decide on the next priorities of the next government.
J. Zel LurieDelray Beach, FL 33483
Delray Beach, FL 33483