Sorry my friends and relatives, but I've concluded that America is crazy. Its policymakers ought to be institutionalized.
Problem is, there is no institution big enough. America is the institution, and defines what is deemed crazy among those many who follow its lead.
And they think we are crazy.
I could be talking about health care. Even though the Congress may enact an impressive increment over what exists, members had to be pulled screaming toward what every other civilized country did years ago.
I am really talking about the Middle East. No surprise to those who know me. Some of them will call the men in white carrying a large net, and give them my address.
A leading general has asserted that Israel is causing problems for his soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Might he consider that his soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan are causing problems for the civilized few who live in the Middle East? My impression, crazy though I might be, is that anti-Americanism and rants against Israel have increased in fervor since the United States invaded Iraq in 2003, and decided to stay in Afghanistan.
The president and his secretary of state, as well as virtually every other national leader who agrees with the American president when the local cost is insignificant, blames Israel for a lack of progress in making peace with Palestine. They demand concessions, return to the non-starter of stopping construction in neighborhoods of Jerusalem, condemn Jewish residence in Arab neighborhoods, and make the micro-management of Israel's capital city a subject for international discussion.
If Barack Obama and Tom Friedman would join us in our walks around French Hill they would notice that we pass neighbors chatting in Arabic. Why can't Arabs living in Silwan or Sheikh Jarrah tolerate neighbors who chat in Hebrew?
Jerusalem has a long history, and Muslims as well as Jews have a claim. Christians, too, but the Muslims have been largely responsible for pushing them out. I would feel more inclined to criticize Jews for minimizing the Muslim connection with Jerusalem's history if the Muslims showed a sign of recognizing that the Jews have any connection with Jerusalem's history.
What to do with a crazy White House that returns to demands that Israel's government has already rejected, and continues with its efforts to promote a peace process that has been shown time and again to have no future?
Most of us did it as kids.
It consists of pretending to do something that everyone knows has no meaning.
Israeli leaders must go along with the American president and say they accept a two-state solution. They must agree to concessions that will build confidence. Take down a barricade or two. Endure a drive by shooting. Wait for the reason to re-establish the barricades. Offer concessions, and endure the response that they are not enough. Make the case of Palestinian incitement, all those school room maps that show no Israel, and television programs that demonize Jews. Someone will listen. Israel has friends, although not currently in the White House. Count on the Palestinians to make this a long process, most likely endless.
What will Barack and Hillary do when there is no agreement?
Then we will see who is really crazy.
There will be another election in the United States. The person sitting in the emperor's seat will change. It may get better. Politics usually works in waves, with the next one different from this one.
Ira Sharkansky (Emeritus)
Department of Political Science
Hebrew University of Jerusalem