A day of destiny approaches in Israel: Jan. 22, when the Knesset reforms to new cultural contours. A critical article by Lisa Goldman and Mairav Zonszein reveals the ascending paradigm: “The settlement movement registered major victories this year on various fronts. Its representatives are reaching new heights in politics, the judiciary and the media. One out of five residents east of the Green Line is a settler. The expansion of settlements continues unabated, and – most importantly – settlers are in full control of the Israel national narrative. In 2012, as more and more observers declared the death of the two-state solution, the settler became the new normal.”
President Obama is sure to repudiate this change inside the most sacred heart of western antiquity. But the century ahead could be seen to have already taken shape last May, with Obama’s stunning claim – a wish really – that Israel repeal 50 years of history and return to its indefensible 1967 borders. It was followed by an address by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that shook the halls of Congress. Obama then, traveling in Europe, where he feels most comfortable, brought forth an op-ed in The Times of London with England’s Prime Minister David Cameron, calling the “Arab Spring” a situation similar to the fall of the Soviet Union, and comparing themselves to be the modern-day Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan. Possibly this helped Netanyahu. His speech to Americans was greeted with roaring applause and dozens of standing ovations. For the first time in my memory, an Israeli leader appeared as an authentic American patriarch; a strong and ancient Father Abraham here to speak — to intervene, perhaps — on our behalf.
Netanyahu’s speech in Congress in the spring this year showed a deep psychological need for and link to Israel in America for Jews and non-Jews alike. In a most primary way since 9/11 we have come to look to Israel for our Father Abraham and to experience in this Israeli leader the patriarch we cannot find among ourselves.
When George H.W. Bush passes, as it appears it may not be long, there will be a feeling here that the post-war era has passed and the balance, sincerity, seriousness and even-handedness that the senior Bush brought to America and the world is now out of our reach. But it has long been gone, as Congress, the president and the press foster ennui today with fantasy benchmarks like the “fiscal cliff.” As Sarah Palin said (quoting Ron Paul), we went over the fiscal cliff long ago. Then we may look elsewhere for strength and character, in England perhaps, as we did with Churchill. But my hunch today is that America’s world will start again, will lurch forward, maybe, in Israel and very likely in 2013.