Wolves In Drag

Another right wing Israeli Knesset member is advocating annexation. This time, though, she is willing to grant citizenship to all the Palestinians of the West Bank and East Jerusalem. It’s not a feasible, or a just plan, but it’s another example of how the right is thinking forward while the center and center-left desperately clings to failed plan. So who do you think is going to be setting the agenda in the post-Oslo age? I explore in Souciant this week.

The US Values We Share With Israel?

This piece originally appeared at LobeLog. That site has a wealth of foreign policy analysis, much of which you won’t find elsewhere and which you will find indispensable. Please check it out

It is clear that US citizens need to start asking what exactly we are supporting in Israel. The general belief and political rhetoric tell us that the US is, through military aid and diplomatic support, protecting Israel’s very existence, that is, the lives of millions of Jews

Shimon Peres, Bill Clinton and Barbara Streisand at Peres' 90th birthday celebration

Shimon Peres, Bill Clinton and Barbara Streisand at Peres’ 90th birthday celebration

whose history is so full of episodes where we were the victims of violence, ethnic cleansing and even genocide. But in recent years, the story of Israel as a Jewish state has been dictated by demographics and questions of apartheid. So when we support Israel, are we protecting a long-besieged minority and a US ally or are we supporting the kinds of discrimination that are anathema to most of the world?

A disturbing answer to this question was provided by former US President Bill Clinton in his remarks at the celebration of Israeli President Shimon Peres’ 90th birthday: “Is it really okay with you if Israel has a majority of its people living within your territory who are not now, and never will be, allowed to vote?” Clinton asked. “If it is, can you say with a straight face that you’ll be a democracy? If you let them vote, can you live with not being a Jewish state? And if you can’t live with one of those things, then you are left with trying to cobble together some theory of a two-state solution.”

Clinton’s words are a rather clear summation of both the US and Israeli approach to the Israeli occupation, at least among those who are desperately clinging to the long-dead Oslo Process. Those words carry some shocking modes of thought; they also demonstrate very clearly why Israel has gotten more intransigent and the United States ever more feckless over the years.

Continue reading

Kerry’s Last-Ditch Effort As Quixotic As Ever

Once again, John Kerry heads to the Middle East. In just the brief time since his last trip, we have seen still more evidence of the futility of his efforts. At what point does Kerry’s behavior become the very definition of insanity? I explore at LobeLog.

In Obama We Trust?

President Obama argues that we should trust him that the massive internet and phone surveillance the US government undertakes is done only for the strongest security reasons and as minimally as possible. With no evidence to support his contention, we’re simply supposed to take his word for it. Should we? I explore in Souciant.

Iranian Elections: Netanyahu, Neoconservatives Are the Big Losers

This post originally appeared at LobeLog.

Outside of Iran, there is no doubt that the biggest losers in Iran’s election this past weekend were the Likud government in Israel and its supporters, especially neoconservatives, in the United States.

The response of Israel’s Prime Minister to the election of centrist candidate Hassan Rouhani as Iran’s next President was almost comical in its sharp reversal from the rhetoric of the past eight years. As was widely reported, Benjamin Netanyahu said that it was Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and not the president who sets nuclear policy.

Hassan Rouhani, Iran’s new president

That is, of course, true, and it is precisely what opponents of an attack on Iran have been saying for the past eight years. Netanyahu and his neocon allies, on the other hand, were repeatedly pointing to outgoing president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as the fearsome specter, the man who wanted to “wipe Israel off the map” and must be prevented from acquiring the means to do so. With Ahmadinejad gone, and, much to the surprise of many observers, not replaced by someone from the arch-conservative (or, in Iranian political terms, principlist) camp, the hawks have lost their best tool for frightening people and getting them behind the idea of attacking Iran.

So, Netanyahu has stepped up his push for a hard line on Iran, saying, “The international community must not become caught up in wishful thinking and be tempted to relax the pressure on Iran to stop its nuclear program.” Netanyahu is admitting that all the rhetoric around Ahemdinejad was insincere, and that the Iranian president is only relevant insofar as his visage can be used to whip people into a frenzy behind his call for war. Continue reading

Don’t Make a Hero of Snowden — Yet

Edward Snowden must not be made a hero! That probably comes as a surprise to anyone who read my previous two pieces on PRISM,

This guy gets it.

This guy gets it.

but it’s a genuine concern. The question of Snowden as hero or traitor threatens to derail the much more important conversation that we need to have in the United States.

Bipartisan attacks on Snowden are already being levelled. Senators Dianne Feinstein and Bill Nelson, both Democrats, and the Republican Speaker of the House, John Boehner have all called Snowden a traitor. Others are praising him as a hero. And, as the go-to newspaper for lobbyists, POLITICO has already pointed out, the debate itself is precisely what President Obama wants. While we debate the pros and cons of Ed Snowden, we’re not discussing PRISM. Continue reading