The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA


March 20, 2013

The 10 Commandments of Visiting Israel


2. Though shalt not freeze.

Obama's first-administration insistence on a one-year freeze of West Bank building was a rookie mistake that yielded no results — other than alienating many Israelis. For while all men are created equal, all settlements are not. Maj. Gen. (ret.) Amos Yadlin — a former army attaché to Washington who now directs Tel Aviv's Institute for National Security Studies — told reporters last month that a solid majority of Israelis would sign on for a freeze in roughly 80 percent of the West Bank, particularly the isolated ones east of the security fence. But halting building in the large settlement blocs, and in most Jewish neighborhoods of East Jerusalem — areas the Americans, Israelis, and Palestinians know will remain in Israel even after a peace deal — is pointless, and only creates bilateral bad blood.

3. Though shalt not dis thy counterpart.

Obama's image in Israel was scarcely helped when in 2011 he was caught on a hot mic lamenting having to work with Netanyahu on a daily basis. Then, last month, the president reportedly told Goldberg that not only is Netanyahu moving his country toward international isolation, but the Israeli public itself "doesn't know what its best interests are." Jerusalem's education minister was forced to issue an awkward response assuring the president that once reelected, Netanyahu would "know how to work with Obama very well while at the same time safeguarding Israel's interests," thank you very much.

4. Honor thy friends more than thy foes.

Here in the Levant, the ability to identify allies and enemies — and reward and punish in kind — is a time-honored talent admired by Jews and Arabs alike. "Today you have humiliated all your followers," bewails King David's army chief as the monarch weeps over his rebellious son's murder, "by showing love for those who hate you and hate for those who love you." More recently (a thousand years ago, give or take), the fabled Muslim ethicist Ibn Hazm observed, "He who befriends and advances friend and foe alike will only arouse distaste for his friendship and contempt for his enmity." Israel — its public and leadership — remain unshakably pro-American. Among its neighbors, anti-Americanism is both widespread and resilient, and has increased from the George W. Bush era to Obama's. Israelis know that Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood and Iran's ruling theocracy are anti-American in their marrow. They remember, on 9/11, Palestinians celebrating in the street. They struggle to grasp why it's them on the receiving end of Obama's ire while the rest of the region's actors seem to get a free pass.

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