Archive for January, 2013


In this week’s column at Souciant, I take a closer look at the outcome of the Israeli election. Particularly, I examine the idea that Yair Lapid’s surprising showing and the broader split between the nationalist and religious camps and the so-called center now makes a resolution of the Israel-Palestine conflict more feasible. Put simply, I think not.

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This article was published at LobeLog

Well, here it is, the day after. The Israeli elections are over, but the form of the next government is not at all clear. Most likely, Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Beiteinu party

Next to the polling station, photo by Yossi Gurvitz

Next to the polling station, photo by Yossi Gurvitz

will form a government with Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid party being the main partner. This is by far the most likely scenario, though others possibilities exist, even a million-to-one long shot that Lapid could form a government. Labor is likely to be leading the opposition, unless Lapid surprises everyone and stays out of a Netanyahu-led government.

The new Knesset will be somewhat less tilted to the right than the last one, but this is not likely to make a big difference in terms of Israel’s approach to the Palestinians. Indeed, in some ways, it might serve Netanyahu to have a friendlier face in Lapid to cover policies that might be slightly different rhetorically but essentially the same on the ground. More than anything else, the shift in government is going to be felt domestically, in terms of greater attention to civic and economic issues. Indeed, no Israeli election in my memory compares to this one for the dominance of domestic over security issues.

Given that there’s still more to see before the full ramifications of the election are known, I’ll engage here with a few winners and losers. (more…)

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In preparation for the Israeli elections next week, I’m taking a week off from writing about Israel and turning attention to another important issue, the mad passion for guns in the United States. So this week’s piece at Souciant argues that guns are, in essence, the United States version of a Golden Calf and underline the urgency of changing the gun culture. Changing laws is a necessary first step in doing that, a difficult one, but the only one that starts such a cultural process and still does some good right now.

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My latest piece on Alternet takes an in-depth look at Naftali Bennett, the rising star in Israeli politics. Bennett is a much more serious man than the last such new leader, Avigdor Lieberman. Intelligent and articulate, Bennett has a much wider appeal and could very well define the future of Israel and its relationship to both the Palestinians and the international community. He is not to be taken lightly.

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This article originally appeared at LobeLog. Check out the new look of this outstanding site for foreign policy analysis you won’t find anywhere else. 

 

In recent weeks, a few incidents have begun to raise questions about the vaunted power of the so-called “Israel Lobby” and whether its influence might be waning. First there

Bibi might have to do more listening to Obama and future Presidents

Bibi might have to do more listening to Obama and future Presidents

were the AIPAC-backed congressional bills that sought to level sanctions on the Palestinian Authority to punish it for having gone to the United Nations in seeking and winning an upgrade in their status to one that implied statehood and granted it a few more rights in the international system. Those bills both died before reaching the floors of the Senate and House of Representatives. More recently, there was the row over Chuck Hagel’s nomination as Secretary of Defense. That nomination went forward and it has since become evident that, despite some disparaging comments from a few Senators, Hagel is likely to be confirmed.

Those aren’t small failures for “the Lobby”, but the circumstances around them should be examined to put them in context. The two events do indicate the potential beginnings of a shift in the discourse around US policy in the Middle East, but it’s important not to make more out of this than there is. (more…)

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