[Haaretz OpEd] Letter to Obama for success in upcoming meeting with Netanyahu

"Free convicted spy Jonathan Pollard as the icing on the cake... Offer us such a deal, and you will earn our admiration. Israel will follow you with the conviction of Sayeret Matkal commandos who followed Barak in the dark of the night, when he was their commander."

Eldad Yaniv - Haaretz - May 13, 2009

No wonder you're nervous about your Oval Office meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. We're not the only ones who've marked May 18 on the calendar. People in Cairo and Riyadh will be watching, hoping you'll work your magic and succeed where your predecessors have failed.

It won't be easy. Netanyahu doesn't want to make history. For six weeks he's been cooped up in his office, trying to figure out how to survive the visit.

With Netanyahu, it's an either-or situation. Either disagreement will emerge by the photo-op stage, when he is asked whether he supports a two-state solution. Or, at the end of the meeting, Netanyahu will be quickly ushered into his car. His confidants will talk about how the leaders had "great chemistry," which in diplomatic parlance means the relationship is being reevaluated.

It doesn't have to be that way. It could be worse. Consider U.S.-Israeli relations under George H.W. Bush. There's no risk that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will be quoted as saying "f--- the Jews," as did James Baker, her predecessor under the elder Bush. Or that Obama might give Netanyahu the White House phone number and tell him to "call when he's serious about peace," like Baker. Then-prime minister Yitzhak Shamir thwarted Bush and Baker's plans, and Netanyahu could do the same. You can get into a fistfight with Israel and leave it bleeding, but you can't force peace down its throat. If you want Netanyahu to yield, you have to find the key to the hearts of the Israeli public.

Remember when during your last visit to Israel, Ehud Barak and Tzipi Livni took you on a helicopter tour to show you how narrow the country is? Do you still remember the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial and Qassam-stricken Sderot? They are at the heart of our narrative, just as much as the nuclear reactor in Dimona is.

That's the essence of the Israeli paradox. The same Israelis who enabled Netanyahu's rise in the last elections also want peace and security. For that reason, they agree with you that Jerusalem needs to be divided, and a Palestinian state must be created. They, just like you, dream of peace.

But these Israelis feel you are shaking the earth under their feet. Suddenly you've got your hooks on our nuclear reactor, making overtures to Hamas and bowing to the Saudi king. These Israelis think you might take us for suckers.

Give White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel five minutes and he'll tell you how to win Israel over. He'll tell you the way to our hearts is to treat us with respect, and he'll make you laugh when he explains that being a sucker is the worst possible thing in Israel.

So use the stick on Netanyahu, but give us the carrot. Go online and learn that alleged finance guru Netanyahu dumped the state budget last week and told the treasury boys to start anew due to the public outcry. That's how you deal with him: Alienate him from the public.

Show Netanyahu and us a plan whereby the Arabs get their state, the Palestinians forgo the right of return to Israel, and the land and Jerusalem is divided in two. But get us guarantees of security and recognition from 57 Muslim countries. Have the world reimburse us for the billions we squandered in the West Bank settlements, and we'll use those funds to reinvest in the Negev and Galilee. Our lavish West Bank settlements will be donated to the Palestinians. Free convicted spy Jonathan Pollard as the icing on the cake.

Offer us such a deal, and you will earn our admiration. Israel will follow you with the conviction of Sayeret Matkal commandos who followed Barak in the dark of the night, when he was their commander.

And Netanyahu? As he leaves the Oval Office, he will be dripping with sweat. On his way to his vehicle, he will light up a cigar and ponder his future. Either he goes along with your plan or he goes home, this time for good.

If news anchor Yonit Levi is smitten by your meeting with Netanyahu, then you'll have us too.

That's change we can believe in, and yes, you can.

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J4JP Note:

The release of Jonathan Pollard, in the op-ed above, is plainly spelled out as something desired by the People of Israel. For this reason alone, J4JP is recirculating. This should not be construed as an endorsement of any other position the op-ed espouses, other than the immediate release of Jonathan Pollard.

See original article.