Monday, May 04, 2009

Racing with the Clock

Tzipi Livni has a message for the pro-Israel community:

The former foreign minister also told the conference of the pro-Israel lobby that time is not on Israel's side, and that a solution to the conflict with the Palestinians is not "an Israeli concession but an Israeli interest."

"If we try to buy time our problems will get worse not better," Livni said, adding that Israel's leaders must make difficult decisions sooner rather than later. "It is the evasion of difficult decisions, not taking them, that is the strategic threat to Israel's future."

Livni told the group that her objective is to ensure the future of Israel as a Jewish and democratic State, even if it requires relinquishing land.

"We need to maintain a Jewish majority in Israel," Livni said. "This is not a technical matter, it is a matter of our survival. And in the choice between giving up our values, the 'raison d'etre' of Israel, and giving up part of the land, I choose the land."

This was at her AIPAC talk, for the record.

Livni also noted that Iran's recent aggression has opened new doors for Israel to make connections with its Arab neighbors. This is something I've observed too -- virtually all of Israel's recent diplomatic victories with nations like Saudi Arabia have come because states are looking to bandwagon against their Persian neighbor. Iran is caught in a tough spot here -- it wants to take a leadership role in the Arab world, but it isn't itself Arab and its regional ambitions are mistrusted by the older powers in the region. It is, of course, ironic that Iran's machinations might end up strengthening Israel's position in the world. But these are currents that have been moving for some time, and I'm glad that top Israeli officials are starting to pursue this angle.


chingona said...

A question. I don't know if you know the answer (I know you're not an AIPAC guy).

Does AIPAC claim to represent the positions of the Israeli government? Or does it claim to represent the views of a certain segment of pro-Israel American Jewish opinion? By which I mean to say, will AIPAC lobby for what Bibi wants them to lobby for or will it lobby for what a majority of its members believe to be in the best interests of Israel?

David Schraub said...

My mostly unfounded intuition is that AIPAC is anchored to but not bound by current Israeli government policy. It goes back to that point I was arguing before about democracy-as-autonomy -- absent compelling justification, we should give considerable latitude towards democratic actors in formulating policy because they (a) likely have a better understanding of their actual circumstances than we do (b) have a greater stake in it than we do (which remains true even granting our substantial investments in the region) and (c) have an autonomy right to make their own decisions.

So my guess is that its not so much that AIPAC lobbies on behalf of what Bibi wants, so much as their strong inclination will be to lobby against second-guessing Israeli government decisions. It's a subtle difference, but a relevant one.

[But I stress again that it this is mostly uninformed speculation mixed with vaguely remembered "facts" I may just be making up wholesale]

Anonymous said...

I saw a program on the history channel last night about Sun Tsu's Art of War. It talked about how Sun Tsu's strategy was not like playing Chess but rather like a game called "Go" in which the object of the game is not a direct battle and overthrowing the king but rather the point is to gain land/territory through indirect routes.