Friday, February 20, 2009

Israeli Right Turn Confirmed

Well the news is in -- Benyamin Netanyahu has secured the necessary votes to become the next Prime Minister. It is a Right Wing coalition, with the fascist like Avigdor Lieberman as his primary junior partner. Netanyahu wants Kadima and Labor to join him, but Tzipi Livni has signaled she has no interest in joining such a coalition -- better for her to go into opposition than give moderate cover to a right wing agenda. Now, Netanyahu will have to decide how he'll approach the Palestinians -- he has no interest in a two-state solution or talking with the Palestinians -- and Iran -- he sounds quite provocative on that point.

Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton now have a major choice ahead. Do they give a green light to whatever Israel wants to do -- as the Bush Administration did -- or do they say no to expansion of settlements and abandonment of talks with the Palestinians? To give some teeth to this we must cut off military aid if Israel goes in a direction contrary to US interests in the region. In fact, Kadima and Labor are counting on us to do just that. If we give in to Likud, then they will set the agenda and our interests in the region will be not just hampered but likely compromised in signicant and dangerous ways. By not giving in, Netanyahu's reign will be short and hopefully not too damaging.

Although my position may seem anti-Israel, it really isn't. I believe that US policy has allowed Israel to develop policies that ultimately are destructive to its own welfare. If we had said no before, perhaps we wouldn't be in this position now.


Gary said...


You can lie all you want, but your real position is clear: you are pro-Palestinian and anti-Israel.

There is no position that is both pro-Palestinian and pro-Israel. You can pretend there is, but there isn't. Everyone must choose sides, and you have.

Michael Westmoreland-White said...

This is the most dangerous development for the Middle East (and the world) since the Palestinians elected Hamas--and shows the same level of frustration. (It also shows the ability of small minorities to overrule the majority in Israel's parliamentary system.)

You outline the tough choices for Obama well. It's worrisome.

I remember well the last time that Netanyahu was PM (2001-2003). He was so completely rightwing that Ariel Sharon was able to run to the left of him as a "moderate" and Sharon was widely called by the ISRAELI press a "butcher."

Whatever happened to the days of Labour dominance of Israeli politics?

I remember in the '70s that Israeli journalists were predicting that if a 3-state peace were not reached, one day Israel's great promise as a social democracy (the kibbutz movement, making the desert bloom) and a champion of human rights would disappear. That day has arrived.

We need to organize international, interfaith prayer pilgrimages for peace in Israel/Palestine as a way to try to change the political dynamic. When ordinary politics becomes stuck, it's time for people of faith to try something bold for peace.

Anonymous said...

Cornwell is an intellegent man who sees much but sees much his own way. In the last community he was in he caused division in the clergy leadership, posed himself as a bridgebuilder but was more sectarian than any dictator. His goals are clear. He needs to share Faith Journey not personal angst.
He seems to be anti-Israel Gary, but he is pro - Cornwell.

John said...

Anonymous, and not surprisingly so. It is probably just as well that you hide behind a veil - because it is not you that I will respond but to your style and your critique.

I can't comment on the happenings in the clergy group to which so cryptically refer, because I obviously don't know what could have transpired in within the group - sectarian/dictator? meaningless terms without a context. But you perhaps are in the group and for whatever reason you are inappropriately using this opportunity to vent.


John said...


As for sharing personal angst, again I don't know what went on in the clergy group, but I presume (without knowing more - or caring to) that it was a mutual support organization. Also, on Bob's personal blog I would expect to see expressions of a personal nature.

But your comment also contains a not so subtle suggestion of excess egotism on Bob's part to which I feel compelled to respond.

In a recent book study on "In The Name Of Jesus: Reflections On Christian Leadership" by Henri Nouwen, there was a chapter on the 'temptation to be spectacular.' This chapter spoke about the balance a Christian leader, or anyone who leads others, needs to bring to their leadership - a balance between the compulsion to take charge and be in front (because you know people are relying on you, and you feel responsible to live up to your calling and meet their need) and the wisdom to know when to stand back and trust the Holy Spirit to work through the people being led, allowing the whole community to work for and take ownership in effecting the will of God.

In our meetings I thought Bob was very sensitive to the concerns expressed by Nouwen and I believe he has maintained that balance well in his new ministry among us.

It seems to me that people who lead others, and upon whom others place their trust, are well served by a strong sense of self and a belief in their calling to leadership.

My sense is that Bob has appropriately prioritized our congregation in his life and work, and that his work both within and without our faith community is geared to the promotion of our community and its values, especially, the spreading of the call to be people of faith.

As for his relationship on this blog with "Gary" - well that speaks for itself. As for your allegation that he is "anti-Israel" I think you misunderstand Bob's rather consistent message.

My own opinion, which I think echos Bob's, is that God is for Shalom, a peace based upon a just and secure economic, political, and religious environment. God is for Shalom for Israel, and for all the nations. There can be no Shalom for Israel if there is no Shalom for Israel's neighbors.

Thus it makes no sense to discuss what is good and fair for Israel without discussing what is good and fair for Israel's neighbors. The policies of the new Israeli government cannot force or impose Shalom or even an acceptable substitute for it. It can however, contribute to an environment which encourages honest and fruitful dialogue and is thus compatible with and even hospitable to genuine Shalom. The Netatahu government does not appear to share this perception.


Pastor Bob Cornwall said...


Thank you for your words of support. As I've stated in other places, I never sought to divide the clergy, nor did I divide the clergy of Lompoc. All that I did was start an interfaith group, whose participants were free to be involved in both it and the ministerial association. But, as they say, some ideas die hard. I'm pleased that Lompoc Interfaith continues on these months after I've left.

But, of course the issue here at hand is the current direction of the Israeli government, one that I don't think bodes well for it or for peace. The thing to note is that in Israel, my comments would be considered merely left of center and not all that radical.