In a much more nuanced New York Times column than some might have expected Tom Friedman gave many people the true definition or goal for President Obama’s trip to Israel next week. In , Mr. Obama Goes to Israel, Friedman explained the frustration that many feel today that Israel is not seizing the moment to improve its international standing and not continue to get plummeted -–frequently unwarrantedly–for its failings.
In his conclusion, Friedman wrote:
That’s why I think the most important thing Obama could do on his trip is to publicly and privately ask every Israeli official he meets these questions:
Please tell me how your relentless settlement drive in the West Bank does not end up with Israel embedded there — forever ruling over 2.5 million Palestinians with a colonial-like administration that can only undermine Israel as a Jewish democracy and delegitimize Israel in the world community? I understand why Palestinian dysfunction and the Arab awakening make you wary, but still. Shouldn’t you be constantly testing and testing whether there is a Palestinian partner for a secure peace? After all, you have a huge interest in trying to midwife a decent West Bank Palestinian state that is modern, multireligious and pro-Western — a totally different model from the Muslim Brotherhood variants around you. Everyone is focused on me and what will I do. But, as a friend, I just want to know one thing: What is your long-term strategy? Do you even have one?
Sure the Iranian threat is real and needs to be addressed as well as the economy, military service for the charedim, and the potential unrest in Syria spilling across the border. If Israel, however, does not refocus actively on dealing with the Palestinians, there may well soon not be a two state solution to even consider in the future.