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Lessons From Crimea

From The Other Side Of The Bench

By David J. Seidemann, Esq.

I must have been sleeping. I must have missed them. I’m sure they took place. I’m referring to all of the BDS rallies on college campuses across the globe urging boycotts, divestment, and sanctions against Russia for its occupation of Crimea. So if any of you fine people have film of such mass demonstrations, send them over. I want to see if they are as hate-filled as those against Israel. Something tells me I won’t be receiving anything in the mail, and that something is reality.

But have no fear (Putin obviously doesn’t), Obama has slapped sanctions on eleven people—that’s right, eleven people—who he feels assisted Putin in his land grab. That should settle matters and Obama can turn his attention back to the Middle East. And just to refresh your memory if it was diverted albeit momentarily by Crimea, Israel has to do more; when the talks collapse it will be Netanyahu’s fault; Abbas does not have to do anything more; and Abbas does not have to recognize Israel as the Jewish homeland, but Israel needs to compromise its security to establish a Palestinian homeland on what was Jewish territory for only about 1,000 years before Mohammed was born.

Feckless with Iran, Syria, and Russia, Obama can rely on the time-tested recipe that when all else fails, there is always anti-Israel sentiment to unite the masses. That explains his warning to Netanyahu about the repercussions against Israel when the talks fail without a similar warning to Abbas. Remember, this is the president who promised transparency within his administration—and his approach is so transparent, it’s laughable.

Obama says that when talks fail he won’t be able to defend Israel against the public backlash. When such outcry is heard, Mr. President, the voices will look back to you for having set the stage. You have given those voices license with your pat on the back to Abbas and your stab in the back to Netanyahu. Now I understand what you meant when you said you have Israel’s back. You forgot to mention you were holding a knife.

Most of us know, however, that Israel will never rely on Mr. Obama or anybody else for its ultimate security, and that is why any pressure to revert to pre-1967 borders is a non-starter. Israel can never allow and will never allow a Putin, an Abbas, Hamas, Hezbollah, or any person, nation, or entity to be in close enough range to create a “Crimea” on the West Bank. That lesson we learned too many times since 1948, most recently in Gaza.

We have just witnessed that with one quick swipe a country disappears, maps are redrawn, and Crimea is part of Russia. An entire country disappears. And that was after the United States assured the Ukraine that it had the Ukraine’s back. There are certain disappearances of peoples and nations and borders that we can control, and Israel knows all too well what happens when its security is compromised or left to others. And Bibi is spot on, demanding recognition of Israel as the Jewish state, because if the enemy or our neighbors don’t acknowledge who we are, they will not let us live in peace.

How ironic it is that they will acknowledge Israel’s history to murder its citizens but not to allow its citizens to live. Bibi understands this irony which escapes the Oval Office.

And then there are other things that disappear that mankind has less control over, like airplanes. When one boards an airplane, the expectation, built upon an unparalleled record of safety, is that you will reach your intended destination safely. Mechanical malfunctions of a catastrophic nature are so rare that flying is safer than driving. Since 9/11, security has been beefed up to the point that, thank G‑d, there has not been another successful aviation terrorist event yet. El Al, specifically, has not had a terror aviation event I believe since 1968.

And yet a plane can still disappear off radar due to what all indications are now the madness of one or two individuals with an agenda. Those security breaches which lead to a disappearance of people are much more difficult to control or avoid, rare as they are.

Israel must always be vigilant against both types of threats, those akin to a hostile takeover of a jet where beforehand there is not as much one can do, and those threats which come about by allowing your enemy into your backyard.

Aboard a plane, passengers are at the mercy of those enclosed in the cockpit prior to takeoff and anyone who might have gained entry after takeoff. That is where pre-flight security is vital. But to a large extent, there is so much about flying 35,000 feet up that the passenger cannot and does not control.

But Israel would be remiss if it turned its borders into an airplane, where whoever crouches within striking distance has enough autonomy to hijack the safety of its citizens.

Russia’s invasion of Crimea and the disappearance of the Malaysian airplane are two poignant reminders of what can happen when you entrust someone else with your safety.

Thank you, Mr. Obama, but Israel will watch its own back. And part of Israel watching its back is Abbas and his people recognizing Israel’s front. v

David Seidemann is a partner with the law firm of Seidemann and Mermelstein and serves as a professor of business law at Touro College. He can be reached at 718-692-1013 or

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Posted by on March 20, 2014. Filed under In This Week's Edition. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.