Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's annual pilgrimage to the UN constituted a three-part cluster of bombs.
First, his Deputy Defense Minister, Danny Danon, published an Op-Ed in the New York Times, calling on Israeli to annul the Oslo Accords. Second, Bibi instructed his delegation to absent themselves from the hall during the speech by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. Third, Bibi's own speech was, as usual, pretty much an exercise in boast and bombast.
ISRAEL MINISTER: ANNUAL OSLO
In order to lay a foundation for Bibi's main event speech, the deputy defense minister of Israel published an Op-Ed in the New York Times entitled, "Israel Should Annul Oslo Accords."
Danon had traveled to New York with Bibi on the presidential plane. He is a person of consequence in Israeli poltitics. His comments are not those of some outlier.
The Oslo Accords were adopted 20 years ago. They formed the basis of President Clinton bringing Yasser Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin together for an historic handshake at the White House.
Those on the Israeli right who want to annul Oslo are really saying that the status quo is just fine. Israel can establish more settlements on occupied land, and expand existing ones, thereby creating new facts on the ground.
Its friends in Congress will protect them from any do-gooder who happens to find his or her way into the White House.
If Palestinians continue to suffer in non-state and virtual non-human status with Israel's foot on their neck, too bad. Have them call Jimmy Carter.
The silver lining to Danon's piece was the intensity of opposition it elicited from commenters, including those who self-identified as Jewish. The commenters expressed disappointment and anger that the Times would publish a piece that purported to address the Israeli-Palestinian problem without even mentioning the word "settlements."
Israel has gone to great lengths to secure a hammerlock hold on Congress. The comments published in response to Mr. Danon's piece indicate an undercurrent of discomfort in the public at large that's growing.
ISRAEL BOYCOTTS IRAN PRESIDENT'S SPEECH
There were 193 member countries in attendance at this year's meeting of the UN General Assembly. Every attending country except Israel had a delegation in the hall for the speech of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.
"Not smart" was the observation of Jeff Goldberg, who writes for Bloomberg View and has strong credentials as a supporter of Israel. I would suggest that one could add, "incredibly stupid and close-minded."
Is Bibi so afraid of his right wing back in Israel that he's unwilling to be in the same room with the person he wants the United States to bomb? Is it possible that Iran, under its new President, is not an existential threat to Israel, but that a peaceful settlement with Iran and the Palestinians is an existential threat to Bibi's political career?
Over 20 years ago, when Bibi was a member of the Knesset, he alleged that Iran would have a nuclear weapon in 3-5 years. He's been stoking fears for political gain ever since.
That's who he is. That's what he does.
Bibi spoke to the General Assembly six days after Iranian President Rouhani. He had ample opportunity to find something to commend, something to agree with, something on which to build.
The following is a list of the six major points of his speech, and my observation after each point.
1. "We are an ancient people. We date back nearly 4,000 years to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob."
I give you more credit than that. You go back much further. And so does everybody else. Anybody with a pulse is a remnant of "an ancient people." Tell me who isn't.
2. Bibl goes to great length to present a list of unproven allegations as to what Iran did or did not do over the last 30 years, and seeks to hang each one, as a proven fact, around Rouhani's neck.
Come now, Bibi, give us a little credit. We're not children. Are we to understand that you are pure as the driven snow?
Hasn't Mossad carried out operations outside your borders? Haven't they often carried passports of countries like New Zealand and Canada, so if the mission goes south, blame could be focused on them … not on Israel?
And you, Bibi, didn't you lie to the United States for two years about the Pollard spy case when you were first Prime Minister? Indeed, didn't you keep up the lie until even you couldn't tell it with a straight face? And have you come completely clean with the United States on exactly what you received from Pollard and what you did with it?
Finally, relax. Not to worry. Scripture tells us, "all have sinned and fallen short of the glory." We know you're an imperfect vessel. We're happy to cut you some slack. Just don't expect us to believe you or take you seriously all the time.
3. "Why would a country with vast natural resources invest billions in developing nuclear energy?"
To run their economy and their country on clean fuel and sell oil on the world market. Makes sense to me.
4. "My friends, the international community has Iran on the ropes. If you want to knock out Iran's program peacefully, don't let up the pressure. Keep it up."
Bibi, I think you know that your friends in the community of nations are few and far between. You should also know that you've earned your enemies.
5. "Israel continues to seek an historic compromise with our Palestinian neighbors, one that ends our conflict once and for all."
Bibi, do you think anybody really believes that?
6. Israel is "a vibrant, thriving nation."
Agreed. Israel is clearly a first-world country. IMF Statistics show Israel in the top 25 on matters like per capita GDP.
I watch the Bloomberg Financial channel. I see ads for the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange. I'm aware of Warren Buffet's investments in Israel. I suspect the ability of Israelis to generate wealth is understated by IMF Statistics.
I also think it is wrong on its face for the US Aid package to Israel to vastly exceed the help we give to all African countries combined.
If Bibi wants to look out at the General Assembly of the UN and address those assembled as, "his friends," that salutation would be far more compelling if he preceded it by saying that he had advised the President of the United States that Israel would not accept the annual aid grant from the US for fiscal year 2014 and beyond, and that he hoped that some or all of that money would be used to aid countries where starvation and disease are epidemic.
Bibi, yours is a "vibrant, thriving nation." Do the right thing. Support yourself. Be a mensch.
Students of American history and politics will remember the great editorial cartoonist Herblock. Nixon was his favorite target.
Herblock went after Nixon constantly, dating back to the late 40's. His cartoons always depicted Nixon with a heavy 5 o'clock shadow, shifty eyes, doing something underhanded or blatantly dishonest.
In 1968, when Nixon beat Humphrey in a close race to win the Presidency, people wondered how Herblock would handle his favorite target as President-Elect.
The day after the election, Herblock's cartoon showed a smiling, clean-shaven Nixon stepping out of a barber's chair at Herblock's Barber Shop. The caption read, "Everyone is entitled to a clean shave and a fresh start."
The US should give the new President of Iran, Hassan Rouhani, a fresh start and a measure of respect. We should negotiate with him in a way that allows him to say yes.
I will post again on Wednesday, November 6, 2013 (or before, if the news flow dictates) and, for the time being, I will post on the first Wednesday of each month.
Comments are welcome at tomc[at]wednesdayswars[dot]com. Name and town if you wish to opine. Comments will be addressed in subsequent posts.