Wednesday, January 15, 2014
Speaking the truth
Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon apologized. He had to. Regular Israelis, however, are exempt from such diplomatic etiquette, free to clarify to the Americans what they know anyway, as anybody who regularly deals with Israeli popular opinion polls knows: namely, that the vast majority of Israelis believe that Ya'alon, before the apology, spoke the truth. They believe he was right.
The Americans were furious. Self-appointed experts in etiquette and propriety set out to compete over rolling eyes and sanctimonious pronouncements (making sure to be widely quoted).
But, as the dust settles, the Americans deserve to know: The majority of us are with Ya'alon, the man who spoke not only what he believes, but what most of us believe too.
Ya'alon was never great at civil talk or clean speech. He may even be a little naive. Actually, he may be very naive. Ya'alon actually believed in the upstanding quality of the people at Yedioth Ahronoth, that he could speak openly without having to fear that his comments would be leaked. They promised him that. But who believes a word Yedioth says anymore? Only a very naive person.
As a politician, Ya'alon differs from the norm, so much so that he has to strap on high boots to avoid the snakes. He said what was on his mind without sanctimony. He didn't play around. We're not used to people telling us the truth. We aren't used to a politician who speaks the truth. Now that Ya'alon has spoken the truth, we have to ask: What if he was correct?
Indeed, most Israelis commonly agree that the Americans have a shoddy understanding of the Middle East, and that the current administration has done a great job utilizing the so-called Arab Spring to show that it has no clue what to do, whatsoever.
If we all agree that the prime minister cannot say in public what the majority of us are thinking about Kerry's aloof endeavors, maybe it's fitting that somebody else took it upon him or herself to explain to the Americans that their conduct is questionable.
In the last few days, the Palestinian Authority, led by President Mahmoud Abbas, have made a show of defiance, effectively flooring Kerry's proposal, trampling on it and squashing it. Abbas let us all know he was unwilling to compromise on anything, especially the dream of snuffing out the Jewish state.
So, what's so evil about Ya'alon laying these concerns out on the table?
Each and every recent poll has shown that the majority of Israelis have no faith in the peace negotiations. That's our crowd wisdom. We have no faith in Abbas, and we don't believe that peace is just around the corner.