Several thousands of Jewish and Arab Israeli women assembled yesterday before the Knesset (Parliament) to demand that the next administration, designated by elections to be held on March 17, prioritize the completion of a peace agreement with the Palestinian authority.
This protest took place under the pouring rain, in front of the Parliament doors, to the cries of “Women want peace” and “We choose life.” The symbolism takes on an interesting dimension, a few days away from March 8 (International Women’s Day).
It is no accident that this initiative is taking place at the same time when Benjamin Netanyahu, with a rare virulence, challenged President Barack Obama, who had the massive and unconditional support of the U.S. Congress. Under the pretext of denouncing the “risk” of an agreement over Iranian nuclear energy, Netanyahu argues that such an agreement threatens not only Israel’s safety (a refrain to which the international community is accustomed), but, frankly, that of the entire world — the Western world, which goes without saying.
Just the fact that among the thousands of women, there were some secular and some religious, Jewish and Arab Israeli women, many wearing keffiyehs, means that Israeli society is beginning to ask itself questions concerning this extravagant warmonger. The leader of Likud, Netanyahu is known for his extremism and skillful politics with the intention to buy time and promote the establishment of new colonies in occupied territories, in defiance of United Nations resolutions.
Seeking a fourth term, he has found no better hobbyhorse than to engage in a particularly aggressive trial against Iran and Obama’s policy, suspected of seeking an agreement about Iranian nuclear power.
During the war in the Gaza Strip, more than 2,200 Palestinians were killed, the majority of whom were civilians, as well as 73 Israelis, mostly soldiers. Such is the macabre death toll of the man who willingly presents himself as the ultimate Israeli defense against the threat that Arab and Muslim countries are supposed to exercise over the survival of the “Zionist entity,” which, however, has been officially recognized by several capitals of neighboring countries, without ever giving up the smallest piece of their lands usurped in June 1967, and the best example concerns precisely the Palestinian territories and Al-Quds (Jerusalem), where Israel attempts at all costs to destroy its Arab character.
Worried by a lifeless campaign lacking real debate, Netanyahu has found no better way to divert the attention of displeased voters from an increasingly difficult socio-economic situation than to take on this campaign against Obama and the virtual agreement over Iranian nuclear power, arrogantly defying the American president on his own turf, less than two weeks from a vote that is challenged by a less than gleaming record.
Postponing the debate of the burning question, Netanyahu wanted to point all eyes to Obama’s policy rather than his own, hoping to win or regain the most votes.
It matters little to him that President Obama, who refused to meet him during his visit to Washington, had expressed his disapproval by affirming that that speech offered “nothing new” nor a “viable alternative.”
Because if one thing is certain about American-Israeli relations, it is that the Obama-Netanyahu disagreement will never in any way affect the powerful and immutable links between Israel and the United States, even when the formal pressures mislead us every now and then.