The obsession in politics and diplomacy with decorum–largely a relic from the past–can easily distract people from the realities of the present. Case in point, the uproar over Jeffrey Goldberg’s latest article in the Atlantic, the headline of which, The Crisis in U.S.-Israel Relations Is Officially Here, would seem important enough to warrant more attention than it has gotten so far.
Instead, the whisper of an unnamed “senior Obama administration official,” who called Netanyahu a “chickenshit,” has occupied headlines. And instead of taking a strong, or even a weak stance on Netanyahu’s repeated declarations about expanding settlement activity everywhere in Jerusalem and the West Bank, the White House has only tried to distance itself from the remark, describing it as “unauthorized” and “inappropriate.” Read more at LobeLog
During the summertime war in Gaza, the two most progressive members of the US Senate stirred up controversy among their backers with expressions of uncritical support for Israel. At a town hall meeting, Bernie Sanders of Vermont, the lone Senate independent, responded to a questioner that Israel had “overreacted” with its 52-day bombardment and ground incursion, but then proceeded to justify Israel’s actions with the usual pro-Israel talking points about “missiles fired from populated areas” and “sophisticated tunnels.” An audience member began to shout objections, to which Sanders said, “Shut up.”
Elizabeth Warren, the Democrat from Massachusetts, went further in her defense of Israel at a meeting with constituents on Cape Cod. She said it was right for the United States to send $225 million in aid to Israel, a “democracy controlled by the rule of law,” as the bombing continued. She ventured no criticism at all of the extensive damage to civilian lives and livelihoods in Gaza. When another constituent suggested that future US aid be conditioned on Israel halting settlement construction in the West Bank, Warren replied, “I think there’s a question of whether we should go that far.” Read more at the Middle East Research and Information Project
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.
A group of prominent Jewish leaders in New York have sent a letter to the city’s new mayor, Bill De Blasio sharply criticizing him for the fawning and kowtowing speech he secretly made to AIPAC. It’s short and to the point–AIPAC doesn’t speak for these Jews and, I’ll add, AIPAC doesn’t speak for most Jews or Israelis. It’s high time these people, who are not only causing immense harm to Palestinians but are also determined to lead Israelis over a cliff and US Jews to the end of the era of our history most free of anti-Semitism were confronted in no uncertain terms. They have money and hate, and nothing else. They represent no one but themselves.
Here is the letter: Continue reading
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
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. Continue reading
The year of 2013 saw three major defeats in three different ways for AIPAC, the so-called “pro-Israel” lobby group heretofore thought invincible by some (it is important to note that the policies they push for are not pro-Israel, but harm Israelis a great deal, albeit far less than the Palestinians). The push to bomb Syria was a fight they only reluctantly got into, but it was a resounding defeat. Though it previously seemed like an impending victory, AIPAC’s opposition to diplomacy with Iran also seems to be heading toward a major defeat.
And this week, Congress went on hiatus leaving the United States–Israel Strategic Partnership Acts of 2013 — in both the House of Representatives and the Senate — floundering in committee. The acts appear likely to disappear when Congress reconvenes, although they could still be revived in 2014 before new elections. These bills represent strong evidence that AIPAC is becoming a victim of its own hubris, pushing hard on an issue they never had much chance of winning. Continue reading
This article originally appeared at LobeLog
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry speaks with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas at the outset of a meeting focused on the Middle East peace process in Bethlehem, West Bank, on November 6, 2013. US Dept. of State/Public Domain
There is an odd sort of atmosphere today around the soon-to-fail Israel-Palestine talks. A dramatic gesture by the United States, presenting its own security plans to both Israel and the Palestinians, has engendered mostly yawns. Yet the events of recent days have clarified the likely results of these talks, despite the ongoing secrecy around them.
Secretary of State John Kerry has apparently proposed that Israel agree to abandon the Jordan Valley (constituting some 20% of the West Bank and situated in Area C, which falls under complete Israeli control under the current arrangement) in stages over an extended period of time and subject to the “good behavior” of the Palestinians. The current plan seems to be that Israeli forces would remain in the Jordan Valley for ten years while Palestinian forces are “trained.”
Not surprisingly, the Palestinians, including PA President Mahmoud Abbas disapprove of this idea. But they do so in lukewarm terms, not wanting to offend Kerry, with the hope that when the April deadline for the current round of talks rolls around that the Palestinian side will not, as it was in 2000, be portrayed as the party who refused peace. Still, as former US President Jimmy Carter once told me, a continued Israeli presence in the Jordan Valley is unacceptable to the Palestinians. Indeed, it is impossible to say that an occupation has ended when the occupying army is still there. That should be obvious. Continue reading