the reason for this unprecedented Israeli hostility toward an American president is a fear that President Obama is serious about ending Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza.
Israel’s public never tires of proclaiming to pollsters its aspiration for peace and its support of a two-state solution. What the polls do not report is that this support depends on Israel defining the terms of that peace, its territorial dimensions, and the constraints to be placed on the sovereignty of a Palestinian state. An American president who addresses the Arab world and promises a fair and evenhanded approach to peacemaking is immediately seen by Israelis as anti-Israel.
The Israeli reaction to serious peacemaking efforts is nothing less than pathological — the consequence of an inability to adjust to the Jewish people’s reentry into history with a state of their own following 2,000 years of powerlessness and victimhood.
Former Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, whose assassination by a Jewish right-wing extremist is being remembered this week in Israel, told Israelis at his inauguration in 1992 that their country is militarily powerful, and neither friendless nor at risk. They should therefore stop thinking and acting like victims.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s message that the whole world is against Israel and that Israelis are at risk of another Holocaust
the conflict continues because U.S. presidents — and to a far greater extent, members of the U.S. Congress, who depend every two years on electoral contributions — have accommodated a pathology that can only be cured by its defiance.
Henry Siegman, a former national director of the American Jewish Congress, is director of the U.S./Middle East Project.