Influenced by a $2.6B aid package, and clearly feeling chastised by our President's tough love speech in Cairo, our allies reform their ways and moderate their rhetoric:
Housing Minister Ariel Atias on Thursday warned against the spread of Arab population into various parts of Israel, saying that preventing this phenomenon was no less than a national responsibility.
The Shas minister referred to Harish, a housing project built for the Haredi community in northern Israel, saying that the Arab population from the nearby Wadi Ara was spreading into the Harish area.
Atias went on to address the issue of the Galilee, saying that "if we go on like we have until now, we will lose the Galilee. Populations that should not mix are spreading there. I don't think that it is appropriate [for them] to live together."
Atias argued that lands should be marketed to each sector separately, in order to create segregation, not just between Jews and Arabs but also between other sectors, such as ultra-Orthodox and secular Jews. "There is a severe housing crisis among the young ultra-Orthodox couples, and in the general population. I, as an ultra-Orthodox Jew, don't think that religious Jews should have to live in the same neighborhood as secular couples, so as to avoid unnecessary friction. And since some 5,000 to 6,000 religious couples get married every year, a problem arises because they require a certain kind of community life that goes along with their lifestyle."
Maybe the comparisons to South Africa are a bit exaggerated, but these quotes certainly don't help their case. And this is not some fringe element, but the Housing Minister, who is approved by the Prime Minister, the President, and the Knesset.
Of course, a good case can still be made that if you add it all up, Israel is still somehow "better" than its neighbors, especially if you take the line that having free and fair elections magically absolves sins. But is it enough better to justify a special relationship?
Armenia's had a long, ugly fight with Azerbaijan over land and ethnic minority issues, similarly created by a colonial power that screwed things up and then walked away. We haven't thrown much of our power and prestige (or what's left of it) into supporting one side or the other, because it's not our business, and we maintain friendly relations with both. Shouldn't we start treating Israel just like Armenia, or any other country?