What passed between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Russia's President Vladimir Putin at their meeting last Thursday on the current situation in Syria and the consequences of the proposed solutions for the conflict, has received much media attention. The Palestinian issue was absent from the meeting agenda, except for one very significant reference that revealed the limits and truth of the "difference" between the Russians and Israelis.
The reference in question was Putin's gift to Netanyahu; a 500-year-old copy of The Jewish War by the first-century Jewish historian Flavius Josephus. Sputnik described the book as the most valuable source for the history of "Judea" and the most honest narrative of its people's rebellion against the Roman rule; Josephus was an eyewitness in that era.
This gift does not hide Moscow's support for the Zionist claims to the land of the Canaanites and the fact that it is turning a blind eye to Israel's land grab policy, the siege of the Palestinian people, and placing obstacles in the way of all efforts to end their tragic situation. The importance of this reference, on a practical level, lies in it coinciding with the rise of American voices in the White House backing the policies of Israel's extreme right-wing, and its withdrawal from the "peace process" accepted under duress by the Palestinians and supported by the Arab countries in their own well-known initiative.
Netanyahu is ecstatic about the welcome he now gets in Washington and Moscow. He believes that this provides a "historic opportunity" to liquidate the Palestinian cause and dictate his conditions on the occupied people. He couldn't hide his feelings when he said, "For the first time in my lifetime, and for the first time in the life of my country, Arab countries in the region do not see Israel as an enemy, but increasingly as an ally."
His warm welcome in Moscow and Washington reminds me of an article I wrote 20 years ago in Al Madina newspaper (20/2/1997) commenting on Netanyahu's visit to Washington during Bill Clinton's presidency. "Netanyahu," I said, "has returned from his trip to Washington with unconditional American support." According to one of his aides, Netanyahu felt that his trip was like a "family visit", as he stayed in Blair House — the US presidential guest house — and hosted American officials and congressmen, just as he would in his home in Tel Aviv. He was also allowed to perform his prayers in the White House without the need to have any others present; Jewish "Minyan" prayers normally require at least 10 Jews.
Today, the Trump administration of the most powerful country in the world does not deny its love for Israel and its readiness to submit to Netanyahu's exploitation of the relationship. Israel's leader embodies a somewhat stereotypical Israeli persona in all its arrogance and exploitation of the strengths and weaknesses of others.
During Clinton's second term in office, Washington expressed its sympathy with Israel and acted to please its already pampered ally. In doing so, Clinton was only doing what his predecessors have done, which no American administration was able to deny since the establishment of Israel. His administration outlined its five priorities in the Arab region via the then Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, Robert Pelletreau: Securing comprehensive peace between Israel and its Arab neighbours; maintaining its commitment to Israel's security and well-being; assuring stability in the Persian Gulf and commercial access to the petroleum resources of the Gulf; supporting US business interests in the region; and combating terrorism and checking the spread of weapons of mass destruction.
As then, so too now; the Arabs are required to take into account the "mood" of Netanyahu's Likud Party and demonstrate sincere friendship, not mere courtesy, appeasement, politeness or acceptance of reality. Arabs generally understand friendship to be a relationship between two equals, while Israel wants this to be a relationship between a commanding victor and submissive loser. Twenty years ago I asked myself if the Arabs would limit their actions to mourning their situation or stand up to Netanyahu to reduce the losses of the "conflict" during the peace phase. I used the word "conflict" intentionally, because the Zionist mentality that is based on distorted religious teachings believes that life is built on the "structure" of conflict and that the legitimacy of the "chosen" people is a result of a victory in a battle with God.
Could we "illiterate" folk expect to have a relationship with Israel based on friendship and a partnership between equals? Those who dream of this should limit their hours of sleep so that they do not wake up to nightmares. The goal is not to blame those who are trying to reduce the culture of accumulated hate towards Zionism and its plans, but rather to demand that those who are able to provide information about the "forced friendship" do so and broadcast it at the appropriate time and in the appropriate manner to those who need it and want it.
The current circumstances require us to ask what those interested in political affairs know about Israeli public opinion and its influence on decision-making. Are the opinion writers in our media interested in studying Israeli society in a manner that helps to uncover its use of self-inflated characteristics in order to weaken the morale of others?
Do those specialising in this field conduct serious studies of the standards of Israeli unity in the post-peace phase? They are expected to differ from what they were, given that Jewish organisations have been able, since the creation of Israel in 1948, to employ the fear and insecurity arising — it is alleged — from the Arab milieu as tools of social control.
What does the Arab sociology scholar know about the structure of Israeli society and its function? What about the extent of its compliance with the image of a society of "justice" and "democracy" created by Zionist propaganda? What do the Arab scholars know about the effects of Israeli think tanks and their proposals that align with the Zionist project in the land of Palestine?
What do the Arab industrialists know about Israeli industry, which propaganda paints as the "saviour" from the backwardness of the region and its people; the "ladder" that the Middle East must climb from generation to generation? Is this true? Where are we in this? Does Israeli industry deserve to be a substitute for the "Arab industrial project"?
These were all questions and comments on the scene 20 years ago; has anything changed?
Much water has flowed under the bridge in the intervening period, and situations have changed. Entities that were united have fragmented; relations that were in sync have been severed; wills that were strong have been broken; and dreams that were once promising and aided the people in moments of weakness have been shattered. The Palestinian people, though, have continued to fight against oppression and have not simply given up.
However, the bitter truth is that Netanyahu continues with his land grab policy and erasing Palestinian landmarks, while the world is preoccupied with new concerns and the Palestine issue has slipped down the political agenda. Nevertheless, it is true to say that the oppression of the Palestinians will remain "an ember under the ashes" if it is not addressed and resolved.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.