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
After Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas stirred up some controversy by terming Israel’s recent bombardment of Gaza a “war of genocide” at the UN General Assembly last week, there was some speculation that the Israeli prime minister would come in breathing fire. But all Benjamin Netanyahu presented in his Monday address was the same old smoke.
Netanyahu was expected to rail against the Palestinian Authority leader, but he merely said he was “refuting” Abbas’ “lies” and instead focused on bringing his two favorite themes together: the Islamic State (IS) and Hamas are the same thing, and Iran is trying to fool the world with a moderate president while trying to acquiring a nuclear weapon. Read more at Lobelog
This article appeared originally in an edited form at LobeLog.
According to reports, Egypt has given both Israel and Hamas a take-it-or-leave-it plan for ending the current round of violence. It bears examination, not only for its own intrinsic worth, but also for the implications it has. As of this writing, Hamas has indicated it does not find the proposal “sufficient” in addressing their demands, and Israel has yet to respond directly.
Here is what has been reported: Continue reading
AIPAC and the Republican Party are pushing Israel, as a domestic U.S. issue, ever further right. No doubt, Congressional Democrats will try to keep up, but it will be harder and harder for them to balance that sort of stance with their constituencies. The latest episode occurred yesterday in the Senate where a GOP Senator, with AIPAC’s support, tried to attach an amendment to a pro-Israel bill that would have made a deal with Iran more complicated. So, the Democratic chair of the Foreign Relations Committee pulled the bill from the agenda. I explore further today at LobeLog.
An edited version of this piece appeared at LobeLog. If you missed Part I, check it out here.
In part one of this piece, I began sketching the picture that emerges from the words of U.S. diplomats to an Israeli reporter. There’s
As Abbas and Obama grimly cast their eyes down, Bibi savors a triumph over hope and peace.
more here, and the image that emerges is one where the United States is ultimately the responsible party for the failure of not only this round of peace talks, but one after another of them. I’ll start here by completing the analysis of what was reported in YNet.
On the Israeli demand that the Palestinians recognize Israel as a “Jewish state,” the group of anonymous U.S. diplomats told Israeli reporter Nahum Barnea: “We couldn’t understand why it bothered him (Abbas) so much. For us, the Americans, the Jewish identity of Israel is obvious. …The more Israel hardened its demands, the more the Palestinian refusal deepened. Israel made this into a huge deal – a position that wouldn’t change under any circumstances. The Palestinians came to the conclusion that Israel was pulling a nasty trick on them. They suspected there was an effort to get from them approval of the Zionist narrative.”
Seeing this in print really did shock me. There were three objections to this idea from the Palestinians. They were there all along, yet the U.S. speakers seem aware of only one of them. That one is the validation of the Zionist narrative over the Palestinian. The other two were that such recognition (a thing unheard of in international relations, one hastens to add, and something which Israel demands only from the Palestinians and no one else) would necessarily give a Palestinian stamp of approval to discrimination against non-Jews in Israel, most of whom are Palestinian; and that it would, by definition, preclude the question of the return of Palestinian refugees, a matter Abbas may be resigned to, but which he wants to deal with in negotiations in the hope that some redress for the refugees can be settled upon. Continue reading
My latest at LobeLog reviewing John Kerry’s recent testimony before Congress and the ripples on the Israeli right in response to the collapse of the talks, at least for now.
Also, Dimi Reider has a piece up at 972 Magazine which goes well with mine.
My latest piece at LobeLog reviews the failure of virtually all of Benjamin Netanyahu’s objectives during his trip to the United States last week. I strongly recommend it.
I hope to have something up on LobeLog later today about the spasm of violence in Gaza and Southern Israel. Here’s a hint: I don’t think it is what it seems to be.