Archive for February, 2013


In Souciant this week, I examine the weakness of the Left in the US despite numbers that should mean it is much stronger. In times of economic stress like these, the left should be able to provide alternatives, and make them actionable. While liberals fight to hold the center and Tea Partiers push the country to a radical and self-destructive right, the left continues to eat itself. It need not be.

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Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called on Barack Obama to jump-start the “peace process.” At LobeLog, I examine whether Obama is likely to heed that call and the grim position Abbas is in that prompted him to make it.

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This week at Souciant, I look at the Chuck Hagel fiasco. The unabashed GOP plan to obstruct the entire US government in order to prevent Obama from doing, well, much of anything reaches new heights this week. The “Party of NO” is holding up Hagel’s confirmation, which even they say is still going to happen, for ephemeral reasons (the request for more information on Benghazi which was already furnished to even John McCain’s stated satisfaction), petty political ones and larger political aims. And what’s the role of the Israel Lobby in all of this? Not what some think it is. Check it out.

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In this week’s piece at Souciant, I look at the lessons Bill Clinton’s mistakes at Camp David II hold for Barack Obama today. Many of the conditions have changed, of course, but Photograph courtesy of RahelSharon Published under a Creative Commons license.Clinton’s mis-steps, as well as what he did right, hold general lessons that Obama must keep in mind if he ever decides to seriously re-engage in this issue.

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The absurd events at Brooklyn College continue to roll along. The thought police, led by the great promoter of anti-Semitism (through his ceaseless efforts to dehumanize

Judith Butler and Omar Barghouti, the speakers whose appearance at Brooklyn College has sparked controversy

Judith Butler and Omar Barghouti, the speakers whose appearance at Brooklyn College has sparked controversy

Palestinians), Alan Dershowitz insist that any and all programs involving the Israel-Palestine conflict must present Israel’s point of view. One cannot miss the fact that they show no such concern when only the Israeli view is represented, as happens often on campuses and community centers across the country. And, to be sure, there is nothing wrong with that view being presented. But neither is the view of those who are working in support of the Palestinian civil society call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel due to its 45-year old occupation.

That this issue even arises shows the absurdity of the debate on this issue in the United States. The fact that some New York City politicians are actually threatening to cut Brooklyn College’s funding should send a chill up anyone’s spine who believes in free speech and democracy, whatever their views of Israel, Palestine and BDS. But the university president is holding fast to the view that an institution of higher learning, whether privately or publicly funded, has a first duty to present a diversity of views and not every such presentation needs to be in a debate format. And she is being defended by her staff, in the form of their union.

Pasted below is the letter the union sent to a long list of cowardly, clueless or bigoted politicians who are trying to shut down a legitimate, non-violent Palestinian view from being heard. It doesn’t matter what you think of BDS, or which side, if any, your heart lies on with regard to the Israel-Palestine conflict. This is about free speech and academic freedom. And for that, a hearty BRAVO to Brooklyn College’s president, Karen Gould, and the union, as represented by Dr. Barbara Bowen.  (more…)

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There have been several very good pieces written about the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) hearing to confirm Chuck Hagel as Secretary of defense. Here’s a

Chuck Hagel with President Obama

Chuck Hagel with President Obama

partial list:

My own early piece on the lunatic right’s opposition to Hagel, a Republican former Senator from Nebraska: http://www.muzzlewatch.com/2012/12/27/chuck-hagel-and-israel-the-wrong-question/

A brief but brilliant piece by Stephen Walt: http://walt.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2013/02/01/id_like_to_thank_the_senate_armed_services_committee

Yousef Munayyer on the number of appearances, or lack thereof, of various words: http://blog.thejerusalemfund.org/2013/02/the-hagel-hearing-snapshot.html

John Judis in The New Republic http://www.newrepublic.com/article/112306/chuck-hagel-confirmation-hearings-ted-cruz-john-mccain-grill-him

Matt Duss in The American Prospect https://prospect.org/article/senate-hearing-circus-session

And Jim Lobe at Inter Press Service http://www.ipsnews.net/2013/02/its-all-about-israel/

That’s plenty of good stuff. I want to throw in one more point, which some of these folks touched on. (more…)

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In this week’s piece at Souciant, I analyze Israel’s attack this week on a Syrian target, perhaps in Syria, perhaps on the Syria-Lebanon border. Much remains unknown but the act itself tells us something.

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