Archive for August, 2018

As midterm elections near, it is becoming clear that there is an opportunity in Washington to take the first few steps toward measurable change in U.S. politics around Israel and Palestine. Increasingly belligerent Israeli actions toward the Palestinians and toward Jews who oppose the occupation, a U.S. administration with unabashedly pro-settler leanings, and the decision by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to shift away from bipartisan efforts in the U.S. and depend on unflinching Republican support have combined to create a strong groundswell in the Democratic party for a change in policy.

This groundswell has not yet made a significant impact in Washington. Occasional letters of admonishment from Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders (who is not a Democrat, but caucuses with them in the Senate), or Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) have little impact on the ground. Meanwhile, after New Jersey Senator Cory Booker was photographed at a progressive conference holding a sign that read, “From Palestine to Mexico, all the walls have got to go,” he scrambled to disavow the sign, claiming he didn’t know what it said. Read more at LobeLog

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

As Americans across the political spectrum mourn the death of Arizona Senator John McCain, many have held up an incident from the 2008 presidential election as emblematic of McCain himself.

They are more right than they know. (more…)

Read Full Post »

In my most recent piece, I examine some questions which touch, at least tangentially, on Israel’s recent, and racist, so-called “Nation-State Law.” Despite that, I elected not to mention the new law in my piece.

I had a few reasons for that decision. First, there is a lot of work out there already on the law, and I don’t feel I have much to add to it. The New Israel Fund has had plenty to say about it and if you’d like to support their action around it, just click here.

More to the point, though, I see the nation-state law as just another step on a road Israel, unfortunately, committed to years ago. The rightward march, the consistent choice of nationalism over democracy, and the increasing hostility to all Palestinians, very much including citizens of Israel has been accelerating steadily, and this law is the logical next step in that evolution. It paves the way for the High Court in Israel to become more complicit in these processes, rather than slowing them a bit as it has done over the years.

But little else has changed with the bill and the current fight–despite it being one I am certainly interested in and definitely have a favored side in–is more a symptom than the disease. That disease is the one I dealt with in my last piece, the idea that a Palestinian person, regardless of political views, activities, or any other attributes, is, in and of herself, a threat to Israel and to Israeli people.

Therefore, I chose to focus on the root, one which I think is being overlooked as the fight over the nation-state bill is engaged. While I think it unlikely that the opposition to that law will end up winning this fight, it is not impossible. But even if it does, the root of the problem will remain and, at best, the absence of the new law will just mean the divisive and oppressive conditions it encourages will move ahead a little slower than they might.

The issue is equal rights. Do Palestinians deserve them or not? Nation-state law or no, that question is at the core of everything all those engaged in the question of Israel-Palestine are struggling over.

Read Full Post »

Last week, just ahead of the failed “Unite the Right” rally in Washington, Fox News commentator Laura Ingraham spewed some venomous anti-immigrant statements. She said that “in major parts of the country, it does seem that the America we know and love doesn’t exist anymore. Massive demographic changes have been foisted on the American people and they’re changes that none of us ever voted for and most of us don’t like.”

Plenty of people lined up to criticize Ingraham, and rightly so. But I wonder how many would have similarly criticized this statement:

In about a decade, the Arabs between the Jordan and the Mediterranean will be a majority and the Jews a minority. The Jewish national home will become the Palestinian national home. We will be again, for the first time since 1948, a Jewish minority in an Arab state. I want to separate from the Palestinians. I want to keep a Jewish state with a Jewish majority. I don’t want 61 Palestinian MKs in Israel’s Knesset. I don’t want a Palestinian prime minister in Israel. I don’t want them to change my flag and my national anthem. I don’t want them to change the name of my country to Isra-stine.

Those remarks were made in June 2015, at the annual Herzliya Conference in Israel. Who made them? Benjamin Netanyahu? Or perhaps one of the far-right figures in his government such as Ayelet Shaked, Miri Regev, Avigdor Lieberman, or Naftali Bennett?

No, those words were uttered by Isaac Herzog, who was, at the time, the opposition leader and chair of the Labor Party, the largest part of Zionist Union coalition. He was the leader of the center-left in Israel. Notably, his words drew little attention. Laura Ingraham would wish for such indifference. Read more at Lobe Log

Read Full Post »

Both Barack Obama and Donald Trump wanted to change US policy toward both Israel-Palestine and Iran. When Obama arrived in the Oval Office, he brought an ambitious foreign policy plan with him. He wanted to diminish the heavy U.S. footprint in the Middle East, “pivot toward Asia,” and rebuild the confidence in the United States as a sober actor on the world stage that George W. Bush had undermined with his calamitous invasion of Iraq.

At the beginning of his first term—after he made his initial speech indicating a willingness to improve relations with Iran—Obama devoted his efforts and political capital to trying to bring a Palestinian state into being. He knew there would be political costs, and although he underestimated them, he understood that it would take all the political capital he had to have any chance at productive talks.

By 2012, Obama recognized that he was not going to get the grand bargain between Israel and the Palestinians that he had hoped for. So he turned his attention toward Iran. Working with U.S. allies in Europe and through the United Nations, he pushed for sanctions to bring Iran to the table. The pressure paved the way for the nuclear talks that would eventually lead, in 2015, to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the Iran nuclear deal.

Obama recognized that Israeli-Palestinian peace and the Iran nuclear deal were each very expensive in terms of political capital. He couldn’t afford to pursue both. It’s a lesson Donald Trump still doesn’t understand. Read more at LobeLog

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: