Posts Tagged ‘West Bank’


This article originally appeared at LobeLog, one of the very best sites for foreign policy analysis, and of which I am proud to be a part. Please check it out.

Chris Christie addressing the 2014 CPAC convention. Credit: Gage Skidmore

Chris Christie addressing the 2014 CPAC convention. Credit: Gage Skidmore

The absurdity of political campaigns in the United States added another chapter recently when New Jersey governor Chris Christie made the “Republican hajj” to Las Vegas. Ostensibly, he was going to speak to the Republican Jewish Coalition, but the real pilgrimage was to grovel at the feet of billionaire casino mogul Sheldon Adelson in the hope of getting the kind of fat contribution that Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich availed themselves of in 2012.

During his RJC speech, Christie made the grave mistake of using a clear fact that was unacceptable to the RJC and even more so to Adelson. He called the West Bank “the Occupied Territories.” Gasps were heard nationwide. Christie was forced to ramp his groveling up to supersonic levels as he moved to apologize to Adelson for this nearly unforgivable blunder.

Such is the role of truth when it comes to Israel in the bizarre world of Republican pro-Israel politics. And it’s not just confined to the GOP. The Democrats have also dodged this very simple fact, and it has created a political climate where the US media also rarely refers to the Occupied Territories as “occupied territories.” The politically correct term for moderates is “disputed territories.” On the right, it’s the biblical designation, “Judea and Samaria.” Nowhere else but in the United States, not even in Israel, is it this controversial to call the West Bank “occupied territory.” (more…)

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There is a word in Hebrew that marvelously describes what Benjamin Netanyahu has turned both the Palestinian Authority and the

John Kerry meets US Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro in Tel Aviv, March 31, 2014.

John Kerry meets US Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro in Tel Aviv, March 31, 2014.

Obama Administration into. That word is “frier.” Not as in a vat of oil to make chips, but as in what would be most closely translated as “sucker,” a person who is easily scammed, who buys the Brooklyn Bridge with their life savings.

The deal which, according to the New York Times, US Secretary of State John Kerry is trying to sell today to the Palestinians exemplifies everything that is wrong with the American-brokered Oslo process. The deal itself was hammered out only between Kerry and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. It reflects the absence of the Palestinians in the discussions, because it offers them nothing but the opportunity to capitulate again to American and Israeli power.

Under the terms of the deal, the United States would release Jonathan Pollard, the Jewish American who was sentenced to life in prison in 1987 for spying for Israel. Pollard has been a cause celebre for the right wings of both the American-Jewish and Israeli communities for years, but no president has ever seriously considered releasing him before. Israel would, essentially, concede nothing in exchange.

The Israelis would agree to “show restraint” in expanding settlements in the West Bank. That is a vague and meaningless wording which, given the amount of construction Israel has undertaken when they’ve actually agreed to what they call a “freeze” cannot possibly have any real impact. (more…)

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My latest report for Inter Press Service, this one is about a new poll commissioned by pollster Shibley Telhami. The poll examines American attitudes in the event of the failure of a two-state solution. The results may surprise many.

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This piece originally appeared at LobeLog

There was a real diplomatic blowup in the Knesset last week, when Naftali Bennett led a walkout of the chamber by his HaBayit

Rooftop water cisterns in Jenin.

Rooftop water cisterns in Jenin.

HaYehudi party during a speech by European Union Parliamentary President Martin Schulz. The comment Schulz made that elicited his response was this: “A Palestinian youth asked me why an Israeli can use 70 cubic liters of water and a Palestinian just 17. I haven’t checked the data. I’m asking you if this is correct.”

Is this just another example of Israeli hyper-sensitivity and over-reaction? In fact, it is not. At first glance, this seems like a foreign leader framing a question, one that seems to be regarding an issue that makes Israel look no worse than frequent statements about settlements and foot-dragging on the peace process. It actually touches on an issue that is at the very heart of the Israel-Palestine conflict, but that is too often overlooked. That issue is water. (more…)

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When I watched the Super Bowl on Sunday, I tried to avoid the unpleasant experience of also watching Scarlett Johansson’s

A protest against SodaStream in DC in 2012

A protest against SodaStream in DC in 2012

shameful ad for SodaStream, but failed. That controversy has been boiling for the past week, and while supporters of Israel’s draconian occupation policies are dancing over Johansson’s decision to stand by SodaStream, the tune they’re dancing to is Nero fiddling while Rome burns. On many levels, the economic pressure on Israel is only gaining momentum, and the Johansson controversy both highlights that and masks some far more important events in this category.

On a personal note, I’m terribly disappointed in Johansson. I’ve enjoyed her work in both serious films like Lost in Translation and Match Point as well as in lighter fare such as her role as the Black Widow in various Marvel Comics adventure movies. I’ll enjoy those less now. Johansson might have been naïve at first about SodaStream, as the Financial Times suggests in their sharp criticism of her stance. But Oxfam International engaged her on this subject before breathing a sigh of relief at her decision to step down as their global ambassador. She knows by now how phony her line about SodaStream “building a bridge between Israel and Palestine” is. She simply chose whatever money and other material benefits she expects to get out of the SodaStream ad over the principle of ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and over the excellent international aid work of Oxfam. (more…)

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This article originally appeared at LobeLog.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte receives Israeli President Shimon Peres on September 29, 2013

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte receives Israeli President Shimon Peres on September 29, 2013

In recent weeks, Israel and especially advocates for its right-wing in the United States have been scrambling to lash back at a boycott resolution passed by the American Studies Association (ASA). This was an initiative of an academic group in the United States directed at all of Israel in support of the Palestinian civil society call for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel. But all of this activity against the ASA has overlooked a much more important act of economic pressure against Israel — this one from Europe.

The ASA boycott has divided peace activists, some of whom support economic actions against settlements and the occupation but not against Israel as a whole. Others have been reluctant to support the ASA action because they support certain actions against Israel but not an academic boycott. While there has been a good deal of support for the ASA action from the broader BDS movement, these questions have left the ASA action more open to attack from those who oppose any sort of action that might compel Israel to change its policies. (more…)

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This article originally appeared at LobeLog.

When it comes to the tedious dance between the United States, Israel and the Palestinian Authority, the more things change, the

Shimon Peres, John Kerry and Mahmoud Abbas at the World Economic Forum in May 2013

Shimon Peres, John Kerry and Mahmoud Abbas at the World Economic Forum in May 2013

more they stay the same. As 2013 draws to a close, we have another proof of that cliché.

As 2013 dawned, President Barack Obama began his second term, and Benjamin Netanyahu — whose horse in the US race, Mitt Romney, had lost decisively — was winning re-election but embarking on a very difficult set of talks to cobble together a governing coalition in Israel. As there always is with a second-term US president, there was some speculation that Obama might decide to damn the torpedoes of domestic politics and put some moderate pressure on Israel to compromise. Despite some illusions, by the end of the year it became clear that this wasn’t happening.

A little less than a year ago, John Kerry was named Secretary of State and vowed not only to restart talks between Israel and the Palestinians but to bring them to a conclusion. Few believed he could get the two sides talking again, but Kerry managed it and thereby breathed a bit of life into Washington groups like J Street and Americans for Peace Now who have staked their existence to the fading hope of a two-state solution. But even fewer objective observers believed Kerry could actually fulfill the second part of his pledge, and as 2013 comes to an end, all the evidence points to the vindication of that pessimistic view. (more…)

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