Archive for the ‘Jerusalem’ Category

The Israel-Palestine usually takes up a disproportionate amount of attention in two of the three branches of the US government. Now,5985153020_c01b765b85_b the third is getting into the mix. The radical irresponsibility of the Roberts Court, which has already gone a long way to robbing Americans of the principle of “one person, one vote” is now quite inappropriately sticking its nose into a dispute between Congress and the State Department over identifying Jerusalem as Israel for the purposes of US passports.

There are some serious implications here. I explore them at LobeLog.

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The annual Jewish day of lamentation, Tisha B’Av is upon us again. What does that mean for present-day Israeli reality? I explore in Souciant today.

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The idea of Israel building in E-1 has got world leaders in quite a lather. But is it really because it is the death knell for the two-state solution or is it because even raising the issue betrays the reality that there never was a serious effort to reach a two-state resolution to this conflict to begin with, despite the rhetoric? I argue it is both.

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Today, the day of President Barack Obama’s long-anticipated “Middle East reboot” speech and one day before Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is due to meet with Obama, the Israeli Prime Minister’s office (PMO) took up discussionon two major East Jerusalem settlement expansion projects, in Pisgat Ze’ev and Har Homa.

Bibi never misses an opportunity to insult not only Obama but the US

This is not coincidence, nor bureaucratic happenstance. Terrestrial Jerusalem posted information about this more than a week ago. The discussion was intentionally put off before in order not to upset Netanyahu’s discussions with European leaders.

Upsetting the Americans is not a concern.

Truly Israeli hubris knows no bounds. But then, why should it?

Should this cause a controversy, defenders of the occupation will come out of the woodwork to say “it’s no big deal, it’s the Palestinians who are blocking progress, why are you pressuring Israel?” And Congress and, perhaps grudgingly, the President and State Department too will support that line of thinking.

So why should Israel limit its hubris? We encourage it, we allow Netanyahu to embarrass our president, our diplomatic corps, indeed our entire foreign policy in the region. We allow a country we call a friend and ally to doom itself to perpetual conflict, which it eventually cannot win, while pursuing policies that keep a dangerous region dangerous, jeopardizing both American influence in the region and American citizens, in and out of its military, on the ground.

As Daniel Levy has frequently pointed out, every successive commander of CENTCOM (The United States Central Command, the main command post in the Middle East) has agreed that Israeli policies are dangerous for US troops and interests. As every American foreign service officer, including former ambassadors, I’ve discussed this with agrees, Israeli actions severely undermine the US position in the region. (more…)

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Well, AIPAC got the message. At around 7 PM tonight, I received another e-mail from them, following the sleazy attempt to rake in the bucks off of today’s bombing in Jerusalem. It reads, in full:

Dear Friends of Israel:

Today, you received an email from us about the dangers facing Israel right now and ways in which you can help ensure American support for Israel at a difficult and dangerous time.  We included information about the horrific bombing in Jerusalem. In hindsight, it was wrong of us to mention this terrible tragedy the same day it occurred in the context of this email.  We are deeply sorry.
We express our sympathies to all those impacted by today’s events and extend our heartfelt apologies to you.

I’d love to think they give a damn about what I say, but I’m sure this was so far beyond the line that many of their own supporters complained. Hence the apology, which doesn’t actually admit what they did, which was blatantly to use the bombing today as a fundraising tool. They say it was “information” they merely “included.”

Still, I suppose that this message at least shows there is some shred of decency, if not in AIPAC itself, at least among their supporters. No doubt such would not have been on display if the victims were not Jews, but one can hardly wish for the moon here.

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One woman was killed and at least 30 injured in a bomb blast today near the central bus station in Jerusalem. But by now all of you know that.

But while I was still gathering data and reports of the incident, I received an e-mail. This message must have been composed very fast, in a hurry one can only imagine was akin to the excitement of a hungry dog that catches a glimpse of some tasty food.

Israeli rescue workers and paramedics at work after explosion in Jerusalem

The e-mail came from the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), and it was a fundraising appeal based on the Jerusalem bombing. It gives a stark impression of a possible conversation in AIPAC’s DC office:

“Hey, a bomb just went off in Jerusalem. A Jew was killed and other Jews were injured!”

“Wow, just what we need, we can really cash in on this now. How lucky we were already working on a fundraising appeal.”

“No problem, I can just stick murdered and injured Jews in.”

It’s a conversation one would think would befit a meeting of some Jew-hating white supremacist group. Instead, this rush to cash in on harm to Jews fits only too well in an organization that has mobilized huge amounts of money and people power over many years in their effort to support suicidal Israel policies which have brought nothing but harm not only to Israel but to the United States as well.

Over at Think Progress, Matt Duss showed himself to be equally speedy, but a lot more humane, in his response to the same AIPAC e-mail. His analysis is quite thorough, so I’ll hope you go ahead and read it.

I’ll just say this: AIPAC, more than any other single anti-Israel organization (and yes, anti-Israel is just what they are, though they are certainly more passionate about the harm they do to Palestinians), has created the atmosphere around this issue that so many identify as McCarthyist.

In light of that, there is only one way I can respond to their appalling behavior as Israelis lay dead and dying, in the wake of one of the most lethal weeks for Palestinians since Operation Cast Lead. It is to paraphrase the words of George Welch at Joe McCarthy’s hearings:

AIPAC, you’ve done enough. Have you no sense of decency at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?


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Al Jazeera unloaded a bombshell on the US-brokered Israel-Palestine diplomacy today when they released the first wave of what they are calling “The Palestine Papers.”

These papers consist of some 1,600 internal documents (e-mails, minutes of classified meetings, maps and strategy papers) from negotiations between the Palestinians and Israelis from 1999-2010. The revelations are staggering, largely in that they confirm what most serious analysts have been saying for the past decade: that these negotiations have been futile from the beginning owing to the severe imbalance of power between Israel and the Palestinians and the US’ failure to act as an honest broker.

Lead PLO Negotiator, Saeb Erekat

The revelations in the initial release include these:

  • The Palestinian Authority (PA) was willing to give over to Israel all the existing territory on which Israel has established settlements in East Jerusalem except for Har Homa (Jabal Abu Ghneim). This was something Yasir Arafat had specifically refused to do in 2000
  • The PA was also willing to settle for only a token number of refugees returning to Israel and would agree to a 1:1 land swap of 1.9% of West Bank Territory in exchange for an equal quantity of Israeli territory
  • That Israel rejected these offers out of hand, while insisting that it was the Palestinians who were being intransigent
  • That the US told the Palestinians that they must cede the areas of the settlements of Ariel and Ma’ale Adumim or the Palestinians “won’t have a state,” fully adopting the Israeli position

The US, frequently said to have acted as Israel’s lawyer, simply was not even trying to balance the power scales in these negotiations, but only adding the weight of the world’s only superpower behind that of the regional power, Israel.

Israel, for its part, is convincingly revealed as not being interested in reaching a deal with the Palestinians without a complete Palestinian surrender; there was no hint here of compromise, even with the allegedly more moderate Kadima government. Tzipi Livni, indeed, seems assured that the Palestinians would eventually have to agree with her, since the alternative would be dealing with Benjamin Netanyahu.

Let’s look at what these, and many other, revelations mean for each of the parties and for the peace process more broadly. (more…)

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