Archive for the ‘Barack Obama’ Category


My report at IPS on John Kerry’s recent trip to Israel and Palestine. More important, I look at the broader strategy that seems apparent from the new Obama-Kerry-Hagel triumvirate on Middle East peace.

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The first African-American US President just went to Israel and said no matter how strong you make your system of discrimination and apartheid, our country will support you. How does that work? I explore in this week’s column at Souciant.

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A reader at LobeLog  asked how I thought Netanyahu’s surprising and long-belated apology to Turkey over the Mavi Marmara killings fit in with my analysis of Obama’s speeches in Jerusalem and Ramallah. I thought my readers here would be interested in my response, so I reprint it below.

William,
I think it fits in perfectly. What Obama set out to do, in my view, was to reset his foreign policy priorities, given not only the pivot to Asia, but also the domestic political

Protesters at Ashdod, Israel one year after the IDF killed eight Turkish and one US civilian aboard the Mavi Marmara

Protesters at Ashdod, Israel one year after the IDF killed eight Turkish and one US civilian aboard the Mavi Marmara

realities that severely limit his options in dealing with Israel (i.e. AIPAC et al). He’s essentially trying to move the conflict out of the way.

It may well be that events, maybe in Syria, possibly even in Egypt or Jordan, will change the status quo by drawing Israel in and that may hamper the move to lessen US involvement in all of this. But for now, Obama will do what he must as dictated by US politics but I think little if anything more, and that was his message to the Israeli public.

To Bibi, I think he handed that perspective as a gift, or more precisely a payoff. Basically, he said I’m not going to push you the negotiating table, but you’re going to pay me back for that by making this issue less of a thorn in my side. I think the rapprochement with Turkey is the centerpiece of that, because while the split between those two US allies has not always been in the news, it is a central concern for US diplomats. This makes matters simpler.

I think Obama was also hoping that Bibi would agree to turn the heat back down on the Iran issue and let Obama take the lead. Such a thing would probably be wise for Israel, even from their point of view, because Obama’s own rhetoric on Iran has hardly been mollifying. But I think that was an area where Bibi was much less forthcoming. He knows his new defense minister prefers the US hit Iran rather than Israel, but also that he very much believes that the US should be pressured to do so–Ya’alon does not seem to share the assessment of his military and intelligence leaders on Iran, which is pretty much identical to the US’. (more…)

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Another piece of mine on Obama’s Mideast trip. This one, at LobeLog, digs down a bit deeper in the events and speeches to explain why I think this is just a part of the broader process of the US stepping away from the Middle East in general.

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My piece today in LobeLog offers one suggestion for something Obama can do even if there’s no diplomatic opening in the Israel-Palestine conflict. he can at least try to undo some of the damage his predecessor, George W. Bush did and maybe even build on the better but very flawed of Bill Clinton as well.

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My report for Inter Press Service on how the options, or lack thereof, are shaping up for renewing the lifeless corpse called the “peace process” between Israel and the Palestinians in Obama’s second term.

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At Alternet, I argue that Israel’s own behavior is finally breaking down the walls for liberals all over the world, even in the US. The long-held epithet “PEP” (Progressive Except for  Palestine) tried to shine a light on the difficult tension between liberal values and support for Israel’s excuses as to why it expands settlements and tightens its occupation. But now, Israel has stretched that to such a point that it is becoming impossible for liberals to ignore the reality of Israeli human rights abuses, rejectionism and land grabs. This wave overtook Europe some time ago, but now even US liberals, even Jewish ones, are moving away from their support for Israeli actions. AIPAC’s influence will become even more expensive as a result.

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