It’s that time of year again…time for the fifth annual edition of “Four (More) Questions About Israel.”
Question #1: It’s Not Me, It’s You
No matter who the next President of the United States is going to be, after their speeches at AIPAC it’s clear that all of the candidates (sans Bernie) have planted their US-Israel alliance flag firmly to the right of President Obama. And while the debate can (and will) rage on about the degree of Obama’s of pro-Israel orientation, the Bibi-Barack feud is definitely a thing. What was clear after AIPAC, though, is that in early 2017 Prime Minister Netanyahu will be making a trip to Washington, and the White House, to meet the new POTUS. Even Hillary proudly proclaimed that “one of the first things I’d do is invite the Israeli Prime Minister to the White House.” The question is, until the next administration takes office, will there be a degree of healing to the Bibi-Barack relationship, or will the tensions continue? I’m inclined to say no, but one thing is clear in these muddled tea leaves—Bibi’s next speech to a joint session of Congress will be a lot different than his last one.
Question #2: A Shaky Status Quo
On the security front, it’s generally the status quo all over again. We’ve got a weakened Hezbollah talking tough but taking heavy losses fighting for the Assad regime, a vigilant Israeli Air Force regularly targeting weapons convoys in Syria, a tense security cooperation in the West Bank with the PA despite lone wolf terrorism and awful incitement on children’s TV programs, and a whole lot of attention on Gaza and Sinai, as the geopolitics of tunnel detection, Northern Sinai jihadis, and the retrenchment of Hamas and terror infrastructure continue to swirl in a blinding desert sandstorm. Question #2 is, will we get through the next 12 months without things getting worse, or will something happen on any of these fronts that could plunge Israel into renewed, and escalated conflict?
Question #3: “The devil you see now is the devil you’ve always known”
The two previous editions of this Four Questions companion have asked pointed questions about the Iran Deal and here we are with a deal in hand…and violations of the deal (a deal that was, in fact, never even signed) that go unpunished. We’ve got three ballistic missile tests, detention of US sailors, an ineffective IAEA monitoring mechanism, $1.7 billion in US taxpayer money directly and tens of billions of additional dollars of sanctions relief going directly to support Houthi militias in Yemen, Shia forces in Iraq, the propping up of a genocidal regime in Syria something-that-was-once-called-Syria, and a whole lot of other purely evil people. If you want to really want to get fired up go ahead and take a few minutes to watch Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) talking about it—I’ll leave this right here for you.
No one calls out Iranian violations and bad behavior like my boy from Jersey.
But here we are. I guess the real question is, now that the Iranian cat is out of the proverbial bag…Is there really no going back? Will there ever be any consequences for Iranian behavior? The cynic in me is literally SMH over and over again, while wondering in a quiet voice…how much worse is it going to get for all of us, and not just Israel?
Question #4: Dreaming of Saturday Mornings
Three of these questions each year tend to be depressing. Sorry. But I always throw in a sports one just to lighten the mood. While the question usually indicates my hope and enthusiasm for a bright future, it tends to end up being answered in the negative. But hope springs eternal, and in this case I am daring to dream that Israeli footballers Beram Kayal and Tomer Hemed, along with their teammates from League Championship side Brighton & Hove Albion, will earn a promotion into the Premier League for next year. Currently, the Seagulls are in the thick of the promotion battle, two points back of Burnley and one back of Middlesbrough on the table, with less than a month to go. It’s been a few years since the likes of Yossi Benayoun, and Itay Schechter, and have been on our TVs on Saturday morning EPL broadcasts, and if Albion get bumped up, it will be a real treat to see Israeli players on one of the world’s grandest soccer stages. So the final question is, will Hemed and Kayal be playing in the Premier League next year with BHAFC? And also, a little bonus, will Hapoel Beer Sheva or Maccabi Tel Aviv run the qualification gauntlet and qualify for next year’s Champions League? I hope that at least one of those answers is “yes.”
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