This week, on the “Is (It) Good for the Jews” podcast …
Larry Rosen: Why have there been more U.N. resolutions against Israel in 2016 than against Syria, North Korea, Iran, South Sudan and Russia combined?
Eric Goldbrener: (sighing) I told you. There are two reasons. There’s the realpolitik of it, and there’s the feeling that the world’s problems are so overwhelming and vexing that people need to identify a single global problem that they feel they can solve.
LR: Yes! It’s the easy one! Put the Jews back in their place!
EG: That’s what it is to be a Jew, baby. We’re the archetypical people, the scapegoats.
LR: It’s exhausting being a Jew. It’s exhausting.
EG: No one said it’d be easy.
LR: OK, let me ask you this then: What would you have done as prime minister of Israel in this case? Let’s say Eric Goldbrener is the prime minister of Israel. Give me your response to U.N. Resolution 2334, which declares Israeli settlements illegal.
EG: I can do what you just did. I can point out the hypocrisy.
LR: I don’t like hypocrisy.
EG: But that doesn’t get us anywhere. I can point out the double standards. Why do you always pick on us?
LR: I don’t like double standards. And I don’t like LeBron.
EG: None of that matters. Especially the part about LeBron. Instead, I would’ve taken the opportunity to say, “Look, let’s be clear as to what Israel’s position is. You’re condemning us for settlements, telling us settlements are the obstacle to peace. Let me tell you why we do what we do.”
LR: I like it. Let me tell you.
EG: Let me explain it to you. I am the leader of Israel and I have a policy of building settlements. Here’s why: In 1922, we were recognized as a legitimate people, our rights to this land were recognized, our political movement was recognized.
LR: My Fitbit. And it’s telling me I need to move. I’ve been sitting for too long.
EG: You interrupted me for that?
EG: OK, so 1922. For a generation after that, we had nothing but war and terrorism in our country. The Palestinians that we were supposed to make peace with and live with in the ’20s joined the Nazis in the ’30s and ’40s.
LR: They did, they did.
EG: And after that, what did we have? We were still left living together. England couldn’t solve the problem so they went to the U.N. The U.N. voted to divide the country in two, and we accepted that. The Arabs rejected it and moved to kill us. As if we weren’t on our last legs after the Holocaust, they moved in to kill us. And this body did nothing. No one protected us. In fact, some of the countries in this body supported the Arabs in this endeavor.
Now this body is supposed to exist as a forum where countries can come together and peacefully work out their differences, but every time the Israeli diplomat has gotten up to speak in this forum — throughout its history — all of the Arab diplomats have gotten up and left. They never listen. This forum has turned into a political means to gang up on us, and so over time we’ve just stopped listening. We’ve been convinced that you guys no longer — you, the world — no longer really cares, that we’re just a symbolic issue to you. We’re a complication, we get that, but we have to look after our own self-interests. That’s what being a sovereign people means.
Now, in the ’90s we signed onto the two-state solution and we got into that accord and we started going down that path, but we’re not satisfied that if we actually cede territory to the Palestinians that we can live safely in peace. We’ve shown you the maps where we need to have our military installations, our first warning systems. We’ve shown you the maps. We had Ehud Barak present them to Arafat, we had Olmert present them, we had all of these prime ministers, Rabin, so we’ve had a whole succession of prime ministers pursuing the two-state solution, with maps and the whole thing, and the Palestinians have consistently said, “No, no, no, no, no,” and increased the bargaining stakes. Every time they get a little of what they want, they put something else on the table.
Now I got elected and I said, “I’m not doing that anymore. You tried it with Olmert, Rabin and Barak, and Israel put its best deals on the table and those deals were insured by George W. Bush and Bill Clinton. Now you’ve got Obama and you’ve got me and you’ve got Abbas. Abbas is 80 years old. He hasn’t even been elected. His term expired six years ago.
LR: He just wants to keep power.
EG: They had an election in Gaza and he couldn’t even get his own people to follow the commitments they’d made and follow the law. They had a civil war. Now we’ve got ISIS on our northern border, we’ve got Iran working on a nuclear bomb, promising to arm the Palestinians. This is the landscape we’re in. You want to say settlements are the problem? Big deal. We’re not buying it. Simple as that.
Larry Rosen is a writer, husband, father and author of “The Rabbi Has Left the Building,” a memoir about his son’s bar mitzvah. Eric Goldbrener is a Libertarian, Zionist, atheist and autodidact technologist. They host the podcast “(Is It) Good for the Jews?” You can listen to Episode 25 here.