Thursday, July 15, 1999

Wind It Up and Let It Go

Wind It Up and Let It GoJuly 15, 1999

It is definitely an interesting scenario. The newly elected Prime Minister
of Israel walks into the President's study at the White House. The two men
are holding their first meeting together and it is an entirely private
affair. Only the two of them. Ehud Barak sticks out his hand, wanting to
give Clinton's hand a hearty shake without having any cameras record the
Suddenly Clinton lunges at Barak. Rather than return the hand shake, the
President, a large key in his right hand, thrusts towards Barak's stomach.
Barak, is totally stunned, virtually paralyzed. Clinton tugs at Barak's
shirt, revealing the Prime Minister's belly button. He plunges the large
key into his tummy and begins twisting it, again and again and again.
Suddenly Barak, glassy-eyed and breathing heavily, opens his mouth and
begins to sing a soft melody. The tune repeats itself, louder and louder,
faster and faster and faster. Then, without any advanced warning, the
former Chief of Staff of the Israel Defense Force begins dancing. First,
he spins around, again and again. Then he starts trotting in a small
circle, going around and around and around. And finally, to top it off, he
claps his hands rhythmically to the beat of his song and dance.
Meanwhile, Bill Clinton, tapping his foot to the beat, is busy recording
the event for posterity. The President can't stop smiling. Actually, it is
more like a laugh. Such fun!
After a while, Barak slows down, and the President's camera battery
empties. After a short break, William J. and General Ehud sit down to talk.

"Gee, that was fun," exclaims Clinton.
"Glad you liked it Bill," responds the Israeli PM. "If you'd like we can do
it again sometime." Under his breath Clinton remarks, "Oh we sure will,
sooner that you think."
The host offers his guest a drink and almost immediately after a few sips,
Barak slumps over, fast asleep. Clinton calls out the forces.
"Come on Doc - get to work - we don't have much time."
The doctor lies Barak on his stomach, gets out his needle and a piece of
very thick thread, and goes to work. Shortly the task is completed. The
doctor disappears. The PM wakes up and remembers nothing of the ordeal.
Barak begins. "OK Bill, let's get down to business. Now first, just know
that with all of the election propaganda and all that, Bibi and I
really aren't that far apart. If you think for one minute that I will
implement the Wye River Accords without getting anything in return from
Arafat, you are 100% off base. Actually I'd like to hold off on Wye until
we reach a final status agreement."
Clinton just sits there, a small grin on his face. He starts pulling on the
string at his side and instantly Barak jerks up. Clinton begins wrapping
the string around his little finger, and Barak begins twisting and turning.
Now Clinton hums a song to himself, enjoying the show.
Eventually he stops, seats Barak and comments, "It's been a long time since
I had so much fun. Just like a little kid with a new toy."
An interesting scenario, indeed.
This is, more or less, what Clinton has planned for Barak. He has only one
goal. To twist the Prime Minister of Israel, and together with him, all of
the State of Israel, around his finger. He has invited Barak to meet him at
an office inside his inner sanctum, within his private residence in the
White House, rather than in the more formal Oval Office. The first meeting
is scheduled for between two to three hours. Later, the two, together with
their spouses, are helicoptering to Camp David for an intimate dinner.
Just the four of them, Bill, Hillary, Ehud and Navah, to be followed
by a late night "chat" and concluding with a 'family breakfast.' Such fun.
Just like a little boy with a new toy.
Clinton is rolling out the red carpet, but he doesn't intend that Barak
will walk on it. Rather, he plans on wrapping Barak up in it. The
President of the United States has a major problem. In a little over a year
he will cease to rule, and he fears leaving office with the stain of
impeachment being remembered as the highlight of his administration. He
would prefer to retire in a blaze of glory, being known in the history
books as the true "peace chief," of the Middle East. Of course, he really
doesn't care if the peace is real or imagined. What is important is that
the treaty is signed on the White House lawn - Arafat on one side, Barak
on the other side, and you know who in the middle.
But there are factors Clinton hasn't taken into account.
Don't misunderstand. Barak is not my cup of tea. Ask me if I trust him?
No way. But when the US president has the audacity to say that he is
waiting for Barak the same way that way a child anticipates a new toy, he
is not only insulting Barak. He is insulting all of Israel. The US
president believes that he can wine and dine and then pull the strings.
He is wrong.

In some ways this scenario reminds me of a story we all know. I usually
don't quote Bible stories, but today is an exception
'And the Pelishtian said to David, "Am I a dog, that thou comes to me with
sticks? And David said, "I come to you in the name of the L-rd of hosts,
the G-d of the armies of Yisrael, whom thou has taunted. On this day the
L-rd will deliver you into my hand - I will smite thee. and all the earth
will know that there is a G-d in Israel." '
The encounters between Clinton and Barak are not entirely similar to the
rendezvous between David and Goliath. Their weapons are different. And more
problematic is that Barak may not even realize whom he is up against. He
might not even know that G-d is on his side. But if Clinton thinks that he
can wind up the Prime Minister of Israel and let him go, he is mistaken.
For more than Barak represents his own erroneous political philosophies, he
represents the People of Israel. When Clinton taunts Barak he is scorning
Am Yisrael and the G-d of Israel.
Should Barak not realize that he is being jerked around on a string from
his behind, we will inform him. And if he is forced to dance to the tune
of the White House Music Box, then some how, some way, the spring will
break. But the truth is that I think that Barak will know - because he is
much smarter than Clinton makes him out to be. And more importantly, I
think he has some national pride. I'm sure Barak agrees that the People of
Israel cannot be jerked about on a string. Barak and Am Yisrael are
not a new toy in the hands of a child, even if that child happens to be
named President Bill Clinton.

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