Shalom again, Barack

Phone call, the sequel.

    Shalom again, Barack
    Netanyahu's decision may have shaken the balance of US-Israel ties [REUTERS]

    BO: Shalom Bibi, I didn't expect your call so soon…

    BN: We hung up on a bitter note and I was hoping we could find a middle ground.

    BO: I can't see a middle ground here. Besides you have an election coming up and we cannot seem to be siding with any one side.

    BN: Mr President, I am preoccupied by Iran's nuclear programme, not the elections. I am driven by the solemn commitment to Israel's security, not politics.

    BO: You don't say! Unless you're planning to leak our chat, I can't see the point of this lofty talk; we're all political animals dear Bibi … no shame in that, I just prefer if you did it in your own backyard.

    BN: You must believe me. I won't say it if I didn't mean it.

    BO: Look, I am not questioning your sincerity, I am questioning your judgement; coming two weeks before the elections can only be perceived as exploiting the nuclear issue for narrow personal or political end. Frankly, it stinks of opportunism.

    BN: Barack, I am calling out of consideration not desperation. What makes you think I am worried about the elections or the visit? I can easily make the speech and get re-elected prime minister come spring time.

    BO: Judging from our diplomatic cables and the media reports, you are becoming ever more isolated, no one supports your visit, not even your friends in the Democratic Party, as well as your advisers and lobbyists, all are asking you to back off and cancel the visit.  Your gamble has clearly backfired.

    BO: Judging from our diplomatic cables and the media reports, you are becoming ever more isolated, no one supports your visit, not even your friends in the Democratic Party, as well as your advisers and lobbyists, all are asking you to back off and cancel the visit. Your gamble has clearly backfired.

    BN: Perhaps you and your people pay too much attention to the liberal press. I don't exactly care for the NY Times and Haaretz; their readerships aren't exactly my constituency.

    BO: Benjamin, I read the signs, and yours are bleak. You've bitten off more than you can chew. If you're seeking my help to avoid choking on your own ambition, I'll happily oblige, but only if you call off the speech. That's unless you've had a sudden change of heart and decided to support our diplomacy.

    BN: I couldn't and wouldn't call it off. That would be a major slap to Congress and its leadership. There should be another way out that doesn't undermine the White House or Congress and I am hoping we can explore it together.

    BO: There's no way out. The only option that I can think of - one that was suggested by one of your lobbyists - is for you to postpone until well after the elections. Since you are sure of winning, I suggest you come late spring or summer. And perhaps we could also meet then.

    BN: You want me to come speak to both Houses of Congress about the threat of Iran's nuclear programme after you've signed a deal with President Rouhani! Who's disingenuous now!

    BO: Either way you won't get your way, Mr Prime Minister. Senator Robert Menendez and nine other Democratic senators have already sent me a letter to say they had withdrawn their support for another sanctions bill until the diplomatic process ran its course. We are betting on a peaceful resolution to the Iranian issue.  

    BN: I am sure this will not stop the Republicans from going ahead with a bill. Meanwhile, I am only trying to mitigate a potential crisis and see whether we could arrive at a compromise of sort.

    BO: No compromises here. I am the Commander in Chief and I've decided to pursue a diplomatic solution to the Iranian nuclear programme. The Senate Republicans might be able to pass a bill with a thin majority, but they won't be able to override my veto power. You are on the wrong side of the issue; worse, you're on the wrong side of history.

    BN: Oh, history, right. Mr President many before have bet on peace and diplomacy in the Middle East, but they failed once and again. This region and its people only understand the alphabet of intimidation and the language of force. You'll fail like any of your predecessors who reckoned they could reason with these people.

    BO: These people, as you call them, are your neighbours, not ours. You might have the illusions of being western, but you are a Middle Eastern nation whether you like it or not. And, by the way, "these people" say the same about you.

    BN: Israel is a country of principle; a country that's fighting for its survival. We would never compromise on that. 

    Part One: Hello Bibi, Shalom Barack

    BO: Your neighbours and much of the world reckon that Israel is an occupier. That it's Israel that only understands the language of force. That you've withdrawn from the Sinai, Lebanon and Gaza only under the threat of force and war.

    BN: Be that as it may, look where these withdrawals have gotten us. They certainly didn't bring us security or normalisation of relations. The Arabs and Muslims are hateful and won't make peace with us. Our only protection is our military.

    BO: And the United States?

    BN: Well, yes.

    BO: You will never feel safe or even survive in the long run until you become part and parcel of the region. You need to make peace and normalise relations with your neighbours. Agreements are always better than war.

    BN: We are a democratic Jewish State in a sea of chaotic Muslim countries. And the only way we can endure it is by maintaining military superiority and total control over the autonomous Palestinian areas. History shows that the Palestinians cannot be trusted. We've tried to work with them but they're not amenable to coexistence.

    BO: You want to maintain control over them and treat them as inferior and still expect them to acquiesce to your dictates! I never said it to you in the past, and I won't say it publicly even when some have speculated about my thoughts, but I think your approach towards your Arab and Muslim neighbours reminds me of the European approach to Africa, just as your treatment of the Palestinians reminds me of America's past treatment of black people. It's racist if you don't mind me saying so. 

    BN: Sorry Mr President but I won't allow you to say that about us, we the Jewish people have suffered from racism more than any other people and won't tolerate such criticism. We've already told Mr Kerry how much we opposed his reference to Apartheid in the absence of peace.

    BO: You forget whom you're talking to. Let's not try and compare past suffering. The challenge here is not to compete over victimhood. Rather the challenge is to draw the right conclusion; to stand for justice and equality, or to project bigotry and or justify xenophobia and racism.

    BN: Thank you for another sermon, but that's hardly the issue here. It certainly wouldn't mitigate the Iranian threat. If you care so much for the Palestinians why did you leave them at our mercy, we, quote, the occupier, unquote? Why would you barter their rights for our silence on Iran?

    BO: Listen, eventually you must either separate from the Palestinians into two states, or you'll have to live with them in one state, as in South Africa. Remember, Iran represents no threat, nuclear or any other, if you and the Palestinians live TOGETHER in peace and harmony. Otherwise, it's Israel that will be isolated; it's Israel that will pay the price of choosing belligerence over diplomacy.

    BN: I need to go Mr President, as I am getting reports that Hezbollah has just attacked our military on the northern borders.

    BO: We shall condemn it.

    BN: I rest my case.

    BO: So do I...

    Marwan Bishara is the senior political analyst at Al Jazeera.

    The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera's editorial policy.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera



    Interactive: How does your country vote at the UN?

    Interactive: How does your country vote at the UN?

    Explore how your country voted on global issues since 1946, as the world gears up for the 74th UN General Assembly.

    'We were forced out by the government soldiers'

    'We were forced out by the government soldiers'

    We dialled more than 35,000 random phone numbers to paint an accurate picture of displacement across South Sudan.

    Interactive: Plundering Cambodia's forests

    Interactive: Plundering Cambodia's forests

    Meet the man on a mission to take down Cambodia's timber tycoons and expose a rampant illegal cross-border trade.