Arabs in Dubai: Still Hopeful About Obama — Want Him to Travel More Widely in Region

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burj dubai the address.jpgJust arrived in Dubai today and have given a couple of talks here about President Obama’s foreign policy efforts and team on what is almost the one year anniversary since he moved into the White House.
I had the chance to chat with a number of people from Dubai today — and others from Abu Dhabi, Oman, and Bahrain. In general, people here sympathize with the challenges Barack Obama is facing. I figured that they had given up on him being able to deliver something substantial on Israel/Palestine, on Iran, or in the region as a whole — and that’s not true. They are disappointed and think he got swindled by Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu — but from their perspective, Netanyahu’s actions were totally predictable and most are surprised that the White House demonstrated such naivety.
Bottom line though is that most here want Obama to succeed. Most want normalized relations with Israel after a course to a Palestinian state is established — and most see that normalization track with Israel as part of a larger security lynchpin against Iran’s ambitions.
The most interesting comments I heard today came from some sophisticated business guys who paid careful attention to President Obama’s trips to Asia and Europe. They commented that in Asia, he went to Japan, South Korea, to China, to Singapore and really bounced around. They felt that in the Middle East, Obama did Egypt, Turkey, Israel and Saudi Arabia — but with none of the fanfare and prep done in these other corners of the world. They hope that he’ll make a multi-country visit in the not too distant future and visit the UAE, Oman, Qatar, Bahrain, Jordan, as well as the larger heavyweights in the region like Saudi Arabia and Egypt.
On the econ front, I don’t get any sense at all from this trip that people are down in the dumps about the debt mess Dubai is carrying — at least not yet. Maybe tomorrow.
Tomorrow evening, I have been invited to the gala opening of the Burj Dubai, a magnificent tower in the pic above — which is next to The Address Hotel in Downtown Burj, where I am staying.
This place has a great confidence — and the cosmopolitan mix here and opportunities to just see the benefits of a more modern path are clear as I saw three head-scarved covered young ladies holding hands and ice skating in the Dubai Ice rink a short while ago.
More tomorrow — and thanks again to the folks who hosted me today and drove me all over Dubai and into the desert. And I’ll post more on the big party opening tomorrow and the event with Dubai’s Ruler Sheikh Mohammed.
— Steve Clemons

Comments

78 comments on “Arabs in Dubai: Still Hopeful About Obama — Want Him to Travel More Widely in Region

  1. nadine says:

    The Geneva Conventions that are usually cited date from 1949. The ICC dates from 1995. If you have ever read the Rome Ruling on which it’s based (I have) you will notice how remarkably vague it is. Basically, it can prosecute whatever the ICC prosecutor decides needs prosecuting; the law is very stretchable.
    The Geneva Conventions may have been motivated by the Holocaust but since then transnational progressives have decided to judge everything by three completely different standards: one for dictatorships, one for democracies, and one just for Israel.

    Reply

  2. Carroll says:

    Posted by nadine, Jan 08 2010, 12:49AM – Link
    I’m sure the ICC would define genocide to include whatever Israel was doing…and ignore Darfur. They are as anti-Semitic as you are, Carroll.
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    That’s really weird nadie, seeing as how the Geneva Conventions and the ICC came about in large part because of the massacre of the Jews in WWII.
    Maybe you can explain exactly how they are anti semitic and when they became that way.

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  3. questions says:

    And Carroll, dear, every time I read one of your posts (ok, not EVERY time, but most times) I picture someone who knows so little about social organization and the workings of groups that all you can think to do is blow things up and then start all over. Sadly, you’d likely get the same structures replicating themselves and so you’d just have to blow them up all over again.
    Take action without knowing what you’re doing, and about all you can do is explode.
    Now that’s a great position to take.
    Oh, and I picture someone who so reduces international relations that all you ever seem to recommend (aside from burning down Congress) is burning down Israel. Somehow that will fix everything.
    So you have a domestic strategy and an international strategy.
    Wow.

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  4. Paul Norheim says:

    “[The ICC] are as anti-Semitic as you are, Carroll.”
    And that big mangrove tree behind the red house is as evil as you are, Susan.

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  5. nadine says:

    I’m sure the ICC would define genocide to include whatever Israel was doing…and ignore Darfur. They are as anti-Semitic as you are, Carroll.
    BTW you are thinking of the Fourth Geneva Convention…you might take the trouble to read its definition of legitimate combatants who wear insignia and bear arms openly, and of the duty of all sides to avoid endangering protected persons. Look up the rights of captured saboteurs while you’re at it.

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  6. Carroll says:

    I recommend that those that haven’t already, go read for themselves the complete text of the Geneva Conventions. I think Article two deals with with genocide or war crimes, can’t remember exactly.
    THEN…go look at what the International Criminal Court added in 2000 to further refine the elements of genocide.
    http://www.preventgenocide.org/genocide/elements.htm
    Elements of the Crime of Genocide
    From the Report of the Preparatory Commission for the International Criminal Court, 6 July 2000
    THEN..pay particular attention to this identifier:
    4. The conduct took place in the context of a manifest “pattern” of similar conduct directed against that group or was conduct that could itself effect such destruction.
    It is that “Pattern” of war crimes committed by Israel together with the definitions of what constitutes genocide that would bury the Israelis in court.

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  7. Carroll says:

    questions dear
    ..every time I read one of your post I picture a college student.. overly excited and overwhelmed by the all the vast information and unknowns he will never know, all the information he will never get to,… so in self defense of his mental facilities he adopts the easy way out that nothing can ever really be known anyway and therefore he will never have to draw any conclusions ..except that no conclusion can ever be drawn about anything.
    I don’t know what your profession or occupation is or is going to be but stay away from becoming a pilot, military officer,surgeon or anything that requires finding and assesing information and then acting on it.

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  8. John Waring says:

    http://www.jeromeslater.com/2010/01/moshe-halbertal-and-goldstone.html
    http://www.jeromeslater.com/2010/01/goldstone-commission-report-part-2-did.html
    Paul Norheim,
    Stephen Walt also recommends we read Jerome Slater’s discussion of the Goldstone report. The two links are above.

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  9. questions says:

    Not quite “we are fucking dilettantes,” actually. A broader sense of the limits of knowledge, a musing on the difference between information and knowledge, a desire for self-awareness, a worry that what passes for insight online goes further than what passes for insight in a bar (though tv (read “Fox News”) is problematic as well.) Maybe a call for us all to become epistemologists.
    Reliable information is great. Shared conversation that goes with a willingness to adjust views based on reliable information is also great. It’s not like I don’t participate in an online dialogue, so clearly I have some fondness for the medium. But there is a healthy skepticism that needs to go along with all that online stuff.
    Quickie examples — the bottles of honey and the TSA workers’ near-fainting spells, the “last bag” incident, the Nigerian with a gut bug…. Lots of information acted on, but no knowledge present. Just panic and foolishness. Somehow the analysis just up and left, and there was no actual skepticism brought to bear on the incidents. (TPM is running a piece on the foolish things we’ve been doing in our newest national panic.)
    There’s a lot to like about the internet, but a lot that is really problematic as well. I don’t think, as you hint above, that the practice of history is soon to be at an end. In fact, if anything, we “netizens” are going to have to learn a bunch of analytical tools if we’re to make actual use of the data bases and documents “out there.” But that means, say, learning congressional procedure and legislative theory before analyzing a chart of congressional data and calling for the burning down of the House.
    Analysis is a prerequisite rather than something made unnecessary now that there’s information everywhere.
    ******
    And by the way, was anyone shocked by Obama’s talk? Or is it just the report itself we’re to be shocked by? Was it supposed to be shocking that we were close, but not quite there? Or what?

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  10. Paul Norheim says:

    This discussion went in a different direction than I (and probably Questions as well)
    expected or intended – and that is a good thing. I would also like to comment – but
    with a different perspective – on the Question-statement that Carroll quoted: “We talk
    to each other as if we actually knew something, but in fact we have no access to broad
    swaths of material that we’d need to make really good judgments.”
    As POA and Carroll points out, we actually have access to a lot. But let`s reduce
    Questions statement to what I think she basically meant: “We are fucking dillettantes”
    – right?
    If that`s what she meant, I don`t necessarily disagree, but I don`t see this as the
    biggest problem.
    The main problem is that there is an abundance of bottomless ignorance – of people who
    can be manipulated in any direction – and an abundance of expertise – of people who
    know more and more about less and less – and too few genuine, engaged, and curious
    dillettantes. Expertise is not what will save the world. The experts in economy did not
    anticipate the financial crisis; they created the framework that enabled it.
    And please, Questions: don`t say that I warn against knowledge or expertise here,
    because I don`t.
    Some of us commenting here (perhaps the majority?) know a lot – on one or two subjects.
    On the other topics discussed here, we read some stuff, we accumulate a certain amount
    of knowledge and information and points of view, apply something we know from one field
    too another, we guess and use judgements and make plenty of mistakes – and we never
    become experts in any proper sense of the word.
    And this is how it should be. The biggest problem is not a lack of expertise, but a
    lack of people who attempt to be enlightened citizens, curious and engaged, and
    dillettantes by necessity – filling the huge gap between ignorance and expertise. This
    problem is of course bigger in democracies – be it the American or the Norwegian.
    And the point is: for curious and engaged dillettantes, the internet makes it even much
    easier to find reliable information to base their judgement on, if they learn how to
    distinguish between credible and dubious sources, and how to read the particular bias
    of the different sources of information they may stumble upon.
    “Comment sections like this one are more akin to the ephemeral conversations people
    have at bars or cafes.” (Questions)`
    True. But if you “read up on” (as you are fond of saying) Jürgen Habermas (his PhD),
    you`ll see that the enlightened public sphere had its origins in the coffee houses…

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  11. questions says:

    http://tpmmuckraker.talkingpointsmemo.com/2010/01/piecing_it_together_the_abdulmutallab_flight_253_i.php?ref=fpblg
    TPM’s list of facts about Captain Underpants. Note it’s still information, but at least it’s organized.
    They debunk the one way ticket thing Jon Stewart foolishly made a big deal about.
    They seem to debunk the Haskell story POA made a big deal about.
    So it’s a start. But again, despite the massive amount of information on the web, there’s analysis that needs to be done that’s not really web-based.
    The web gives the illusion of knowledge, not the actual thing.
    And now, to listen to the shocking truth from Obama or whoever is about to speak to the Nation about the Shocking Truth ™ of Captain Underpants.

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  12. questions says:

    Thanks POA for the very careful and thoughtful response, as always.
    Carroll,
    Documents are bits of information. Analysis is another thing entirely. And even at the level of information, we are indeed limited. Plenty of documents and events and conversations are not archived for the public. And much that is available is going to be so vast and undigested that most people don’t really have quite the access you claim. It’s a lot like the whole terrorism profiling problem. Too much and too little all at the same time.
    ******
    There is a field of math called graph theory and if I have it all correct (I am most certainly not a math person), one offshoot of the field of graph theory deals with “six degrees of separation” situations. The basic idea is that there are people, say, who know vast quantities of people. These “knowers” are like nodal points on a graph of who knows whom. Think in terms of Steve Clemons. He knows huge numbers of people, including a lot of people who don’t really know a lot of people. So Clemons is a nodal point who connects huge numbers of people to others. I can claim a connection to POA via Clemons. And at some 6 degree of separation interpretation, I can claim cocktail partywise a connection to all the VIPs Clemons knows.
    The Israeli security company that dealt with the security for Captain Underpants is another nodal point. Huge numbers of people are connected to “Israel” via a security company.
    All of these connections can be mapped at will. Fine.
    But what do they mean? Do I REALLY have a connection to Clemons? To POA? It takes a lot of interpretation and local knowledge to understand whether or not there’s significance in the mapping of relations.
    The internet is a vast graph with many nodal points and people who churn through the websites without thinking through the implications of graph theory tend to see the six-degrees-of-separation thing as far more significant than it should be.
    To tie it all together, I don’t think that the fact of archives and information and seeming connections made by readers of the internet is likely to alter the need for or methods of trained analysts and historians.
    POA, read it how you will. Because of course, you will anyway.
    Nowhere here do I claim to be a historian, an information analyst, more knowing than anyone else. But you’ll likely find the claim somewhere anyway.
    The real point, though, is to be very very skeptical of what anyone thinks he or she knows just because there’s information out there. Information is not knowledge. Opinion is not knowledge. And even, as Socrates points out, correct opinion is not knowledge. The categories are significant.

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  13. Carroll says:

    “We talk to each other as if we actually knew something, but in fact we have no access to broad swaths of material that we’d need to make really good judgments.”
    Actually questions we do have access to broad swaths of material. Pounds of documents from the horses mouths in US presidential libraries, thousands of first hand accounts and reports on the ME and Israel in the British National archives, first hand reporting in the archives of newspapers and journals like the Atlantic, tons of congressional mandated studies in the Library of Congress, reams of de-classified FOI documents available at net sites, every bill ever written, every floor speech made in the house and senate in complete text at Thomas.gov and so on. Every word spoken, action taken at the UN site. The information past and key to the present is everywhere if you look for it.
    BUT….people like nadine don’t use them, they stick to myth and history revised by the Jewish or zionist sources, they make it up as they go.
    And then a lot of people just read the current news, not the factual and documented history of what is behind anything because they don’t know where to look or are too lazy to find it.

    Reply

  14. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “ots of uninformed and misinformed and occasionally partially informed speculation that misses huge parts of any narrative”
    The access to information has actually enabled us to become far more “informed” than in any time in history. We might not have the full story on important issues, but we have a more complete picture than we have ever had before. The internet has made it far more difficult for our government to create the narrative through media propaganda, plus our “real time” exposure to events is broader and can be seen through an international perspective rather than the carefully framed lens of domestic media.
    You love to portray your fellows as “ignorant” and “uninformed” because it lubricates your constant effort to conflate, obscure, and complicate that which needs no such intellectual manipulation. Personally, I’d hate to be you. It must suck to be mired in such a morass of useless confusion and indecision on such a wide range of issues.
    One thing is for sure, I wouldn’t want to be in a vehicle stuck on RR tracks with you behind the wheel. We’d be dead before your mind finished the debate whether to put it in “R”, or “D”.

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  15. questions says:

    Now that I’ve had time to think about it all….
    I think that the internet and its contents will have less of an effect on the practice of history than you are suggesting. The internet functions more as a vast diary of an age than as an explanatory text, and the way that diaries are studied as snapshots of a psyche or moments in time, so internet postings will be regarded as particles in a larger substance.
    And given that the internet is beyond vast at this point and that many parts of it will fade as technology alters, my guess is that historians will rely on the more standard documents, interviews, newspapers, and the like anyway.
    Comments on blogs are not likely to take up a lot of space in Steve Coll’s next book, for example. Comment sections like this one are more akin to the ephemeral conversations people have at bars or cafes. Lots of uninformed and misinformed and occasionally partially informed speculation that misses huge parts of any narrative. We talk to each other as if we actually knew something, but in fact we have no access to broad swaths of material that we’d need to make really good judgments. Historians are trained to deal with this kind of stuff.
    While a cultural historian might have fun with a kind of snapshot of the internet style of research, such a work would not be considered a definitive account of an event, but rather would be a single account of what some people were thinking about an event.
    I think, in the end, the practice of history and the construction of narratives will not suffer greatly because of the internet. So we are not really at the end of history.

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  16. questions says:

    yep

    Reply

  17. Paul Norheim says:

    Yeah, I guess I was to cryptic, Questions.
    “Not sure to whom you’re directing the post”
    To you, and others who may be interested (you never know…).
    “Did anyone ever claim that information overload was an end of history issue?”
    I just did – not in the deeper (hegelian) sense of the concept of history that Fukuyama
    alluded to, but in relation to the narrational aspects of writing history.
    “If you think that the information issues are trivial, then go ahead and say so
    directly.”
    Quite the opposite; the info overload creates a new set of huge problems. I didn`t intend
    to be sarcastic, Questions. I may be exaggerating a bit to make a point, and formulating
    it in a slightly humoristical tone, but the post was basically serious in intent.
    And consider this statement once again: With too little info (let`s use paleontology,
    Evolution Theory, or the history of pre-colonial Africa as examples), we tend to
    speculate more, reconstruct more, imagine more, create more hypotheses of what MAY have
    happened – some parts of which are neither directly supported nor undermined by facts.
    Nothing wrong with that, as such. With an overload of information, and the amount
    increasing exponentially every year, we may reach a point when last years` events become
    almost as opaque as the ages of Dinosaurs. Right now, there are probably more available
    facts about a small American or Japanese town, than was available about the whole world
    400 years ago. This creates new problems for historians trying to make sense of it all.
    The fact that we interpret events very differently is a different issue. (One of the
    difficulties with info overload, is that it`s becoming easier to find facts that
    seemingly support almost any possible interpretation – a fabrication of facts is often
    not even needed.)
    The seemingly open, but nonetheless complex and somewhat amorphous environment I`m
    describing above, has some similarities with the worldwide web, even in its current shape
    – so I don`t think it`s too far fetched to connect this to a blog like TWN – as an
    example. Yes, there are vastly different interpretations of events, and then there is
    propaganda from different directions, and then there is lots of SUSPICION and distrust
    due to the new and complex situation, and the last part was what I primarily had in mind
    with my reference to the atmosphere at TWN.
    Comprendes?

    Reply

  18. questions says:

    Not sure to whom you’re directing the post, nor can I quite tell the level of satire/sarcasm/seriousness…. (End of History as we know it? Fukuyama?? Hegel misread??? Did anyone ever claim that information overload was an end of history issue???? Did anyone ever claim that “the end of history” has anything to do with there being too much to know rather than no more to know, all tensions resolved, no point in struggling?????)
    If you think that the information issues are trivial, then go ahead and say so directly. To the best of my understanding, though, the math is pretty clear. We’re in the realm of infinite monkeys at an infinite number of keyboards typing infinite sequences of characters. Surely there will be good stuff, but equally surely, we won’t be able to find it among the infinite dross.
    We need human judgment at every level of input and analysis. But it’s that same human judgment that missed Abdul Mutallab. Changing the incentives to increase data input will likely obscure rather than clarify. Pretty simple point all in all. And not really the propaganda stuff you seem to hint at in your second-to-last paragraph.
    If, for example, we were to devise some algorithm that put together family complaints, names of radical imams, “travel,” web postings claiming “loneliness” or “frustration” or whatever, and, say, “Yemen,” the easy responses would be for the imams to use more names, for Yemen to be dropped, for seemingly respectable people to put in positive reports to counter the negative ones…. Whatever data mining procedures we put in place at any time, the fact is that they can be challenged far more cheaply than they can be instituted. If every seemingly credible complaint about someone becomes actionable, we simply will not be able to act. There are real issues about how to put information together, and suggesting that it’s propaganda to point this out (if that’s even what you’re saying, since I can’t quite tell) is to miss something very important about data.
    The leap from how one puts “Abdul Mutallab,” “Yemen,” “Nigeria,” “radical imam,” “PETN,” “plane ticket to Detroit,” together all the way to posts on TWN that disagree with your world view is a leap too far I think.
    Further, as I noted before, the people harping on the luggage, cash payment, and country of origin seem to miss some information about how tickets are paid for in cash-based societies. So now there’s a new variable to stick in — if the ticket is paid for in cash in the following countries, it doesn’t count…. There are many many variables.
    As for making up stuff, I just don’t buy into that often-lobbed narrative here. There are vastly different interpretations of events, meanings, values. None of that is propaganda, obfuscation or the like. People just disagree about a lot of things, even things that you, for example, feel great certainty about.
    But then, maybe I’ve totally misread your somewhat cryptic post?

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  19. Paul Norheim says:

    Information overload may not only cause huge problems for intelligence services, but
    also cause the End of History as we know it. Too much data at hand to create a coherent,
    fact based, and credible narrative.
    Some future historians will probably try to counter this with software solutions. Human
    efforts to create narratives, connect dots, and put things in perspective may become
    discredited.
    In the long run, we may turn in the opposite direction. The world will become even more
    obscure and impenetrable, due to information overload, than it was in the good old days
    due to lack of documented facts, and this will make it easier to make up stuff, create
    free floating, entirely fictive, but seemingly credible narratives, propaganda…
    In one sense, we`re already there, and I believe that this is one of the main factors
    shaping the atmosphere at the comment section of TWN.

    Reply

  20. questions says:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/01/05/AR2010010502986.html?hpid=opinionsbox1
    This David Ignatius piece on the bureaucratic issues in the CIA is a gem.
    Information overload, too many reports of worrisome people flow in because too many people on their own have to cover their butts just in case. If there’s too much info, there’s no analysis and so there is no knowledge.
    I would add on my own that this is part of the governance issue I was discussing when we were going round and round about torture investigations. We need the bureaucrats to take initiative, to be unafraid, to be able to render judgment and simultaneously we want to hold their butts to the fire if they make decisions that go badly. We can’t have both, and so we need to decide what is going to give.
    If we allow gov’t agents to have agency, to be able to take action, we have to watch it on the accountability side of things. Too much accountability will stifle agency and we may end up with huge intel failures. We end up with what happened with Captain Underpants — too many data points, no way to connect them because no one wants to be the guy who didn’t submit the warning.
    If, on the other hand, we stand by our men (as it were), we risk the regularity of stupid and even illegal decisions.
    This all may point to a fundamental, structural even, problem with bureaucratic decision-making. If this is the case, there is no point in burning things to the ground or firing everyone. It’s a structure inherent in the system, not a function of particular individuals who screwed up. Nihilism isn’t going to help, and false optimism about how it could be if only we got rid of X or Y or Z isn’t going to help either.

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  21. questions says:

    “how the economy works” also includes the securitization business! I don’t think that worked so well. And didn’t even Greenspan start thinking that some regulation might be ok and that his real love Ayn Rand maybe was a bit kooky?
    The quants thought they could quant away risk. We can’t really quant away risk.
    Behavioral economics delivers a blow to homo economicus and even conservatives have to deal with this fact. Seriously Nadine. Your heroes have altered their tune at least a bit.
    Same thing could be said of the terror industry. We can’t attach all the data points to all the other data points. I think it’s combinatorics, but maybe it’s some other branch of math. Too many possibilities, too much time, too much computing, too much analysis. Given the limit on actual knowledge, there will always be risk.

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  22. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Its kind of amazing how Nadine doesn’t even break stride when caught red-handed feeding us lies. She just keeps on keepin’ on. No apologies, no explanations, its like; “Yeah, I’m a liar, so what?”
    Weird, actually.

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  23. PissedeOffAmerican says:

    “Please note however that use of such terms as “pogrom,” “genocide,” “holocaust,” etc., can only be expected to raise my blood pressure, not to yield any fruitful response. If that makes you feel better, great. But it won’t do a damn thing about either the situation or anyone’s understanding of it”
    Actually, it IS time to use such terms, because they are honest. I realize you prefer the horseshit like the racist hasbarist Nadine spews, but by now you should have figured out that you aren’t talking to idiots here. I note you have somewhat “tempered” your right leaning pro-zionist posture that you assumed the last time you visited. I’m inclined to believe you have tempered the rhetoric, realizing it doesn’t fly here, yet still harbor the far right posture that has EARNED terms like “pogrom,” “genocide,” “holocaust,” etc..
    And YES, people DO get a better understanding of history, events, and policies if they are presented honestly. And Larry, you aren’t fooling ANYONE anymore. Neither is Nadine. The cat is out of the bag. The racist, murderous, and oppressive manner with which Israel treats the Palestinians can NO LONGER BE DENIED. If anyone had any doubts, Operation Cast Lead removed them. People, Israeli leaders, should stand before the Hague for some of the crimes committed during Cast Lead. The fact that these bought and paid for sacks of shit in Washington DC showed the complete and utter cowardice to bury the Goldstone Report DOES NOT erase history, or excuse what was done. This pathetic and dishonest justification, “defense” no longer cuts the mustard. Whether you march people into poisonous showers, or rain white phosphorous on them, dead is dead. One crime is not more heinious than the other. What Israel did during Cast Lead is NO DIFFERENT than what Hitler did at Auchwitz. Different people, different technology, but the SAME EXACT MOTIVES.

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  24. nadine says:

    “”One of the myths among whites in South Africa was that “blacks want to throw us into the sea.” ”
    (Paul Norheim)
    This insinuation is stupid, Paul. South African blacks are not Arabs. The Arabs actually do say that the Jews are European interlopers with no right to an inch of the Mideast and that they want to throw the Jews into the sea. Just pay attention to Arab media. This is what the Israelis call “incitement” which they always stress in agreements, and which the Palestinians always agree to stop, then continue as before.
    It’s religious at bottom. Land once Muslim and Arab must never revert to non-Muslim and non-Arab; it is contrary to the will of Allah. If South African blacks were Muslim, it would be different there too.

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  25. nadine says:

    questions, you are right about Walt’s sounding more realistic about US political structures in this piece than previous pieces. In this piece, he at least criticizes AIPAC, which is a real lobby, and not the fictive “Israel Lobby” in which he includes everybody who ever held a position that Walt considered pro-Israel.
    “The right is good at playing on emotion, the right has a TV network that dominates the panic mode, the right has strong corporate interests that do an artful job with images and words and tone of voice.”
    Now, now questions, both sides play on emotion. The left sells the nanny state to the economically and emotionally insecure; the right plays on fears of confiscatory taxes and soft tyranny.
    If you think you need the government to protect you from big eeeeevil corporations, you vote left; if you think government is going to tax the successful into hiding and destroy the economy you vote right. I will say that if you have any knowledge of how the economy works, you are more likely to vote right. The left thinks that wealth grows on trees and is always there to be harvested by government, regardless of what government does.

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  26. Carroll says:

    “I repeat: “And the key to understanding American politics is to understand that if a small group of people care passionately about some issue, and everybody else in the population doesn’t care one way or the other, the small group of very passionate people will have a disproportionate impact.” (Walt)”
    “So American senators and congressmen, and American presidents, look at the array of
    forces and conclude: ‘If I back Israel I won’t get into trouble: I may even get some help and nobody will criticise me. So that’s what I’ll do.’ Even if doing that is actually not good for the US, and not good for Israel either.”
    I’ve been repeating this for years. And the dems are even more AIPAC corrupted than the repubs. As the WP reported the dems get 60% of their campaign money from Jewish groups.
    And yes you have to get fanatical to beat other fanatics.
    BWTTGASO

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  27. Paul Norheim says:

    “One of the myths among whites in South Africa was that “blacks want to throw us into the sea.” Many of
    apartheid’s practices were formally based on security, mostly those involving restrictions on movement.
    Thus, for example, at a fairly early stage, black citizens needed permits to move around the country.
    During the final years of apartheid, when the blacks’ struggle intensified as did terrorism, its
    practices became more severe.”
    Sounds familiar?
    More here:
    http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1139724.html

    Reply

  28. larry birnbaum says:

    JohnH, obviously my diagnosis of how we have reached this state or what will be necessary to move forward differs substantially from yours. Please note however that use of such terms as “pogrom,” “genocide,” “holocaust,” etc., can only be expected to raise my blood pressure, not to yield any fruitful response. If that makes you feel better, great. But it won’t do a damn thing about either the situation or anyone’s understanding of it. Ditto faux “concern troll” expressions of how terrible things will get in Israel if they don’t do whatever it is you think they should do. The whole point of self-determination is that they get to decide their own fate.
    I agree with Nadine by the way that the core issue appears to be the question of property claims of Palestinian refugees from 1948 and their descendents inside pre-1967 Israeli boundaries, and whether they will have the right to live there. This is a bottom-line issue for Israel. They may pay reparations, but they will not agree to resettle these refugees or their descendents inside Israel. It took me a long time to understand that this remains a core Palestinian goal. But it is the essence of a “two state” resolution to the conflict. Hence my pessimism.

    Reply

  29. David says:

    Very useful post, Paul. Thanks.

    Reply

  30. Paul Norheim says:

    Questions,
    Coll`s book is almost at the top of my list of recovery-must-read-books. Right now, I`m
    reading Kapuscinski`s “Herodot” – wonderfully written, like all of his books.
    You have some good points there about the right/left distribution of fear. One would
    imagine that the big recession and financial meltdown could have given the left an
    upper hand, but the right managed for various reasons to monopolize the populist anger
    and despair.

    Reply

  31. questions says:

    When the left trades in fear, the fear it pushes seems less effective than the fear the right pushes. The left wants to take things (money/taxes) and the right wants to let you keep things (money/taxes). Since business interests prefer keeping money/taxes, and since people feel loss more intensely than they feel gain of an equal amount, and since money/taxes seems equivalent to life for some good and some bad reasons, the right wins out on the intensity front.
    What does the left typically seem to want? Higher taxes (takings) and more services (giving). We feel the taking more intensely than the giving, and those who don’t mind the taking are very other-directed in general. But we don’t fight for others with anywhere near the intensity that we fight for ourselves. There won’t be a million demonstrators begging for higher taxes. I’m guessing some seriously good organizing could generate that number for lower taxes in many political climates.
    The right gets people to worry about death from positive action (a bomb or a bad guy), and the left gets people to worry about death from, umm, not being able to get to a doctor. Where’s the greater energy going to go? We’re not good at calculating risk, so even though we are far far far more likely to die from lack of public health than from a bomb or a bad guy, we don’t weigh the deaths carefully and we panic about being exploded rather than about underlying undiagnosed heart disease.
    The right is good at playing on emotion, the right has a TV network that dominates the panic mode, the right has strong corporate interests that do an artful job with images and words and tone of voice. Ed Schultz might be the closest to Glen Beck in terms of overwrought and not always totally well-informed sound. Who gets more people going? Schultz tries to know things. Bad move!
    The structures are such that the right will pretty much always win major battles and what the left needs to do is come up with ways to show the right that some lefty point will work. Health care is good for business because it makes hiring cheaper. Cheaper labor, more profit. It’s a simple point, it should have been structured into the deal and business support might have been guaranteed. Instead, we’re keeping the employer-based system and we’re even fining larger employers if they don’t pitch in. People want to keep the products of their labor, so if you plan to take from them, you have to show that the taking is actually a sneaky form of giving. People don’t mind being giving stuff.
    *****
    It’s nice to see Walt’s giving more context to the US political system than I’ve seen before. AIPAC appears somewhat more normal/less outlier-ish in this piece. Indeed, the structures of US politics have a lot more to do with policy than people realize.
    *****
    Some dailykos diary commenter noted that there might have been some other guy who “looked like” Abdulmutallab (whatever that means!) and this other guy may have been a minor traveling with an airline employee, and that may have been what the lawyer family saw…. Who knows. Dis/mis-information everywhere??!!
    ****
    Steve Coll’s book on Afghanistan is a nice piece of historiography! He balances the story between institutions, personalities and events very very nicely. He never settles for a single explanatory mechanism. History is complex and Coll presents the complexity well. Notable lines include our habit of paying our assassins (we just did this again with the Jordanian double agent explosion), and the deeply unfortunate habit we have of backing people whose ultimate goals are not well aligned with ours. Here we go again…..

    Reply

  32. Paul Norheim says:

    “I would argue that AIPAC has successfully transcended BOTH sides of the line, and
    opine that is more an institution of the left than it is of the right.”
    Sure, and J-Street – supposed to be an alternative to AIPAC – is not even willing
    to do like pére Bush did: threatening to withhold money.

    Reply

  33. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “And this is my (PN) question to the Americans: why does only the “right” currently have such small, but influential groups (AIPAC, Evangelical Christians, teabaggers etc) in the United States?”
    I would argue that AIPAC has successfully transcended BOTH sides of the line, and opine that is more an institution of the left than it is of the right.
    And one can only draw the conclusion, listening to Evangelical Christians and the Tea Party movement, that somehow the right has figured out how to reach out and captivate the attention and support of those displaying abject ignorance. As they understand this is a huge segment of the American populace, they see the wisdom in targeting an ignorant populace when trying to market policies and agendas.

    Reply

  34. Paul Norheim says:

    Stephen Walts recommends five books in an interview with Sophie Roell.
    Here is an excerpt (the last part of the interview):
    “Wasn’t progress made towards Oslo, towards peace, when George Bush senior was stricter with Israel,
    for example threatening to withhold loan guarantees? Do these books make that argument, that when the
    US draws a line in the sand and says, ‘OK, you can’t do this!’ to Israel, that it’s a lot more
    productive than when the US just lets Israel do whatever it likes?
    Yes. In fact, Shlomo Ben-Ami, who was Israeli foreign minister in the late 1990s, says in his own book
    on the conflict, Scars of War, Wounds of Peace, that the two American presidents who did the most for
    Israeli Arab peace were Jimmy Carter and George Herbert Walker Bush. He goes on to explain that the
    reason they were able to make progress is that they didn’t pay as much attention to Israel’s
    supporters in the United States, and they were able to put pressure on both sides as a result. They
    were not able to do it hard enough and long enough to produce a final peace deal, but I think there’s
    no question we made more progress when the US was acting in an even-handed way and willing to twist
    both Israeli and Palestinian arms.
    There’s that quote from James Baker, George Bush Sr’s Secretary of State: ‘F**k the Jews, they don’t
    vote for us anyway.’ But why Carter? I wonder why those two presidents took a different approach.
    Ben-Ami has a revealing passage where he says something like Carter was a ‘rare bird’ among
    politicians, because he just wasn’t all that sensitive to domestic lobbies. He wasn’t connected to the
    American Jewish community, he came from Georgia, and he just didn’t care as much about placating them.
    And I think Bush Senior and Baker were operating from a world-view that said, ‘We’re just going to
    push the American national interest here, and this is going to be good for Israel too.’ They believed
    that in the aftermath of the first Gulf War that the US was in a very powerful position to make some
    progress, and they used that position effectively. Now, if you compare Carter and Bush Sr to both the
    Clinton administration and the more recent Bush administration, the latter two Presidents tended to be
    very deferential to Israeli sensibilities. The result, unfortunately, was a total of 16 years with
    virtually no genuine progress, except that the number of Israeli settlers in the West Bank nearly
    doubled. The Clinton administration did try to make progress but, as Aaron Miller notes in his book,
    ‘too often the US acted as “Israel’s lawyer”’. That’s why Oslo failed, and that’s why the situation
    got even worse under George W Bush. And we are now in a much deeper hole.
    Lastly, On the Road to Armageddon: How Evangelicals became Israel’s Best Friend. So it’s no longer
    just American Jewish groups that are vested in this conflict?
    The other key to understanding US-Israeli relations is the role played by so-called Christian
    Zionists. These are Christian evangelicals who have particular theological beliefs that not only lead
    them to be very supportive of Israel, but supportive of a territorially expansionist Israel. This is
    based on a theology known as dispensationalism, which actually has its origins in the United Kingdom,
    in the 19th century. It suggests that the second coming of Christ can be anticipated through a series
    of signs. These signs are supposedly spelled out in Old Testament prophecy and in the Book of
    Revelations, and Christian Zionists think Christ’s return is being foretold by various steps. One of
    these supposed steps is the return of Jews to the Holy Land, so dispensationalists saw the creation of
    Israel in 1948 – and in particular the conquest of all of Jerusalem in 1967 – as a critical event
    foreshadowing the Second Coming. In their view, Israel must retain all of the West Bank and all of
    Jerusalem in order to eventually bring about Christ’s return. So they have essentially theological
    reasons for favouring Israeli expansionism, which led to a tactical alliance between hardline groups
    in Israel, particularly the Likud party, and a whole series of Christian evangelicals, beginning in
    the 1980s.
    So part of what cements the ‘special relationship’ is the political activities of predominantly Jewish
    groups like AIPAC, but that is reinforced by a subset of Christian evangelicals, who have what I would
    regard quite wacky views about how to run foreign policy. In my view, Old Testament prophecy is not a
    very sound basis for foreign policy decision-making.
    It’s worth noting, by the way, that in their theology, the Jewish population of Israel will ultimately
    face the choice of converting or not surviving. That’s a part of the story that they tend not to talk
    a lot about…
    It does sound wacky. But how influential are they?
    They are not as important to shaping US-Israeli relations as groups like AIPAC are, which are much
    more active on Capitol Hill, inside the executive branch, and inside different parts of the
    government. But I do think that in some parts of the country there are Congressmen – including some
    fairly influential Congressmen – who are, to some degree, influenced by these ideas, or who have
    constituents who are.
    And the key to understanding American politics is to understand that if a small group of people care
    passionately about some issue, and everybody else in the population doesn’t care one way or the other,
    the small group of very passionate people will have a disproportionate impact. So far, there have been
    several groups in the US who are working 24/7 to promote this special relationship between the US and
    Israel, and to back Israel to the hilt. Most other Americans don’t care very much about this issue,
    and there is no comparable set of groups, of equal political clout and equal ardour, weighing in on
    the other side. So American senators and congressmen, and American presidents, look at the array of
    forces and conclude: ‘If I back Israel I won’t get into trouble: I may even get some help and nobody
    will criticise me. So that’s what I’ll do.’ Even if doing that is actually not good for the US, and
    not good for Israel either.
    And that’s why you have these overwhelming votes in Congress, for example rejecting the findings of
    the Goldstone report [which came out of the UN fact-finding mission on the Gaza conflict]?
    Yes, even though 90 per cent of the people voting to reject the Goldstone report have probably never
    read a word of it. But an AIPAC representative shows up in their office, says: ‘We’d like you to sign
    this, here’s a list of ten “talking points” explaining why you should … and, of course, if you
    don’t, people in your district are going to call up and complain. No one’s going to support you more
    if you oppose us, and a lot of people are going to be annoyed with you, so you decide what you think
    the smart choice is …’
    And I suppose that also explains the US inability to take a stand on the expansion of Israeli
    settlements into Palestinian territory. It’s against international law, it’s hugely detrimental to
    peace, you’d think it would be a no-brainer. And yet the US doesn’t seem able to do anything about it.
    What’s remarkable about it is that the settlement enterprise has been deeply harmful to Israel as
    well. It’s cost billions of dollars, it has cost thousands of Israeli lives in the last 20 to 30 years
    – through terrorism and the intifadas – and it is rapidly creating a situation where Israel will be
    controlling territory which has upwards of 5.5 million Palestinian Arabs on it. Eventually the Jewish
    population of greater Israel is going to be smaller than the Arab population. So you could argue that
    Israel may be in the process of driving itself of a cliff, or at least creating massive problems for
    itself. And the US, as its closest ally, is doing absolutely nothing to stop it, which is not an act
    of friendship. The tragic irony in all of this is that some of the groups and individuals that claim
    to be trying protect Israel, and which are often the loudest voices defending the ‘special
    relationship’ have in fact been unintentionally causing it great harm.
    Interview conducted by Sophie Roell”
    More here:
    http://thebrowser.com/books/interviews/stephen-walt
    ———————————————————————————-
    I repeat: “And the key to understanding American politics is to understand that if a small group of
    people care passionately about some issue, and everybody else in the population doesn’t care one way
    or the other, the small group of very passionate people will have a disproportionate impact.” (Walt)
    And this is my (PN) question to the Americans: why does only the “right” currently have such small,
    but influential groups (AIPAC, Evangelical Christians, teabaggers etc) in the United States? Where are
    the small groups representing common sense?
    Is a certain degree of insanity required to be passionate enough to organize and fight for something
    in the 21. century?

    Reply

  35. Dan Kervick says:

    Nadine,
    All sorts of things happened in the past that are unlikely to happen again. The Israelis now have both a right-wing government and an increasingly religious and conservative public. And the country has also learned over the past year that they can do pretty much whatever they want in the West Bank without running the risk of any foreign sanctions beyond a few snippy words. I expect, then, they will continue to absorb more of Palestine, and will continue to reject a genuinely sovereign Palestinian state: one whose security arrangements the Israels are not permitted to dictate in advance.
    Also, you shouldn’t describe talks between individuals as though they represent serious and politically achievable proposals. A politically impotent and embattled outgoing Prime Minister made a last-moment legacy-minded offer, opposed by his own Foreign Minister, to a politically impotent leader of an organization that doesn’t run Palestine. Neither Olmert nor Abbas was in any position to make or implement such a deal.

    Reply

  36. nadine says:

    Dan, if a contiguous state was offered twice in the past and refused, then you have no basis for declaring that the Israelis will never offer a contiguous state on the West Bank in the future, just ‘reservations’.

    Reply

  37. Dan Kervick says:

    Maybe, POA. But also, since I am not an employee of the State Department, I just don’t want any part of lying for my country. I’ll leave that to the professional diplomats and their “public diplomacy” schemes. If our Middle Eastern friends want a healthy dose of hopeful claptrap, they can always navigate to the State Department website.

    Reply

  38. Dan Kervick says:

    Nadine, what the hell are you talking about? I didn’t say anything at all about which Israelis offered what in the past, and when they offered it. My point was that there is not going to be a contiguous Palestinian state, and that the United States government is not serious about bringing such an entity into existence. Do you agree or disagree?
    Why don’t you give the talking points a rest for a few minutes.

    Reply

  39. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “Yes and it worked according the usual definition of Palestinian “truces” : Hamas shot only 1 rocket per day instead of ten or more. Only Israel is expected to actually stop shooting during a truce. Hamas gets “freebies” – at least in world opinion. Then it was Hamas who decided not to renew the six month truce and opened a barrage. Don’t believe me? Go back and check the numbers”-Nadine, blatantly, unabashedly, and incompetently, lying.
    http://www.terrorism-info.org.il/malam_multimedia/English/eng_n/html/hamas_e017.htm
    From the Israeli Intelligence and Terrorism Center. In December 2008, in a Report they summarised “The Six Months of the Lull Arrangement”:
    “The lull was sporadically violated by rocket and mortar shell fire, carried out by rogue terrorist organizations, in some instance in defiance of Hamas (especially by Fatah and Al-Qaeda supporters). Hamas was careful to maintain the ceasefire….Between June 19 and November 4, 20 rockets (three of which fell inside the Gaza Strip) and 18 mortar shells (five of which fell inside the Gaza Strip) were fired at Israel”
    End excerpt.

    Reply

  40. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “Netanyahu didn’t just call Obama’s bluff; he called America’s bluff. The official US diplomatic posture – and it makes no difference whether we are talking about the pre-Obama posture or the post-Obama posture – has been exposed as a joke. But this time the punchline has bombed so badly that our government probably won’t be able to tell the joke again and get anybody to pay attention. The show is over”
    Hmmmmm. Gee Dan. You seem to have had an epiphany of sorts.

    Reply

  41. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “The difference between my “assertions” and yours or JohnH’s is that mine are based on the events of the last twenty years and JohnH’s are based on being able to use copy and paste on my arguments”
    Trouble is, Nadine, we keep catching you in easily disproven bald faced lies.

    Reply

  42. nadine says:

    Dan, the Palestinians have twice been offered a contiguous 95% of the West Bank, and twice refused. (They already have 100% of Gaza). The deal-breaker for them was “right of return”, i.e. the right of millions of Palestinians to return, not to Palestine, but to Israel proper. Twice the Israelis offered, and twice the Palestinians refused.
    So please stop lying about it.
    The irony of course, is that now Abu Mazen is so weak that the IDF is propping him up; if the Israelis really withdrew, Hamas would take over there too. So for the moment Abu Mazen and Israel have a shared interest in the prosperous and peaceful status quo of the West Bank.

    Reply

  43. Dan Kervick says:

    “Most want normalized relations with Israel after a course to a Palestinian state is established …”
    Well, they can dream on. There is never going to be a Palestinian state in anything but the most cosmetic form: a few noncontiguous Palestinian Arab residential and commercial districts enjoying only a very limited form of semi-autonomy under a broader Israeli sovereignty extending from the Mediterranean to the Jordan.
    Netanyahu didn’t just call Obama’s bluff; he called America’s bluff. The official US diplomatic posture – and it makes no difference whether we are talking about the pre-Obama posture or the post-Obama posture – has been exposed as a joke. But this time the punchline has bombed so badly that our government probably won’t be able to tell the joke again and get anybody to pay attention. The show is over.
    For those Arab readers who read Steve’s blog, I recommend that those few of you who hold onto some hope stop believing in miracles and take it from people who actually live in the United States: our government is entirely unserious when it talks about a “Palestinian state”. It’s all just a PR game constructed by a snooty and bigoted US leadership class that is convinced that Arabs are witless and unsophisticated boobs who can be strung along on false hopes forever.
    You want to know what’s in store for the Palestinians? Take a look at our Native American reservations. That’s what Americans do to inconvenient populations.

    Reply

  44. nadine says:

    Lurker, I believe that Obama has based his entire Mideast policy on a total misapprehension of how the Mideast works, which includes taking at face value certain pronouncements by Arab governments which every Arab diplomat knows are just made for public consumption. I think the events of the last year support my belief because every action Obama has taken wrt the Mideast has had the opposite result to what he intended.
    The Arabs got some minor concessions from Obama’s last trip while giving up nothing themselves; naturally, they would like him to come again so they could roll him once more. I think Steve Clemons is being buttered up as someone who possibly has the ear of the Obama administration.
    That being the case, it is hard to feel very respectful about the gushing flattery being aimed in Steve’s direction.

    Reply

  45. nadine says:

    Carroll, I find it curious that you regard Jewish nationalism as “tribalist” and horrible, while you don’t mind Palestinian nationalism in the least. The Jews have been a distinct ethnic group for 3000 years while the Palestinians didn’t exist as a separate ethnic group sixty years ago.
    Yet Palestinian national aspirations are treated with respect while Jewish ones are condemned. Care to explain the double standard?

    Reply

  46. nadine says:

    “The outlines of an agreement have been clear for many years now” (larry birnbaum)
    Yes, they have. Have you noticed that the Israelis have twice offered peace on those outlines and it is the Palestinians who have twice refused without a counter-offer? How many times will it take before you understand that the Palestinians feel far safer refusing a state forever than accepting a state? They say they are suffering under occupation but given the chance to be their own masters, they repeatedly refuse.
    The difference between my “assertions” and yours or JohnH’s is that mine are based on the events of the last twenty years and JohnH’s are based on being able to use copy and paste on my arguments. This is moronic but not surprising.

    Reply

  47. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Despite the Settlement Freeze – Israel will continue with construction plans for Kiryat Netafim
    Hagit Ofran 30/12/2009
    On December 29, 2009, the State informed the court that it has decided to advance the process of planning in the settlement of Kiryat Netafim. The announcement came in response to a petition filed by Peace Now to halt the illegal construction of 15 houses in Kiryat Netafim by the Amana Organization.
    This particular plan is intended to regulate the construction in Kiryat Netafim that began prior to any approved plans, thus eventually permitting retroactively the building in the settlement to take place, with the potential of expanding it.
    http://www.peacenow.org.il/site/en/peace.asp?pi=66&docid=4511
    Construction Freeze? – A report on Construction in the settlements
    09/12/2009
    According to data gathered by “Peace Now” construction in the settlements approved by the government, as part of the agreement in the freeze, is still higher on average then construction currently approved and taking place in the rest of Israel.
    3,492 housing units in the settlements were approved for construction to take place during the freeze, while in the territories live approximately – 300,000 settlers, which averages to approx -1,167 units for every hundred thousand inhabitants.
    However, according to the Israeli CBS, at the time of this freeze, Israel is currently building 836 housing units for every hundred thousand inhabitants within the Green Line.
    Examples:
    1) Ma’ale Adumim – 476 units are being built in the 10 months freeze period
    Compare this with the small number of housing units in cities similar in size in Israel:
    Rosh Hayin – 149 units
    Kiryat Bialik – 160 units
    Dimona – 59 units
    Or Yehuda – 12 units
    2) The settlement of Ariel will build during the freeze 146 units
    Compare this with the small number of housing units in cities similar in size in Israel:
    Beit Shean – 21 housing
    Sderot – 32 units
    Kiryat Tivon – 51 units.
    3) Even the ultra-Orthodox communities in Israel are discriminated against compared to ultra-Orthodox settlements in the territories.
    864 housing units in the ultra orthodox settlement Modi’in Illit, compared to 73 housing units bring built in the ultra orthodox town of Elad within the Green Line.
    Conclusion:
    The settler’s claims of discrimination and attempts to “dry out” the settlements have no basis in reality, even during the freeze a larger number of housing units than the national average will be built in the Occupied Territories.
    continues….
    http://www.peacenow.org.il/site/en/peace.asp?pi=66&docid=4492
    WHAT “CONCESSIONS”, BIRBAUM?????

    Reply

  48. JohnH says:

    No, I see no reason for optimism. Instead I see Arab
    deterrence increasing for the reasons I mentioned.
    And I see no change in the intransigent Iron Wall
    attitude. One more Israeli pogrom against a
    neighbor, perhaps during the next election, will
    lead to damaging retaliation and a flight of elites
    to join the Israeli diaspora, already at 15% of the
    Jewish population. Those who remain will be more
    religious, more belligerent, and less technically
    skilled.
    Not a bright future. But to the political/military
    elites, that future is apparently more attractive
    than making any serious attempt at negotiations. Go
    figure!

    Reply

  49. larry birnbaum says:

    My first response is, thank you for your concern.
    On a less snarky note: I was completely sure, 15+ years ago, that there would be peace within a decade. Now, I don’t have any confidence that there will be peace in my lifetime. The outlines of an agreement have been clear for many years now. Yet we can’t seem to get there. I think efforts to put the issue “on the front burner” as Clemons clearly thinks is the right thing to do are just counterproductive. It isn’t going to go anywhere and constantly harping on it just raises tensions, rather than lowering them. I wish it were otherwise but I don’t see any evidence that it will be any time soon. If you have some reason to be optimistic I’d like to hear it.

    Reply

  50. JohnH says:

    Actually, Larry, I “started it” by turning around
    Nadine’s lame assertion that Palestinians seek
    “victim status.” Two can play the assertions game.
    However, my assertion was not intended to be
    “cute.” Likud/Kadima has followed Jabotinsky well
    beyond what he ever imagined or intended.
    Jabotinsky only wanted to thoroughly defeat the
    Arab side so that they would negotiate.
    Likud/Kadima uses his Iron Wall as an excuse to
    never negotiate, asserting that Palestinians will
    simply never negotiate, thereby projecting Israeli
    intransigence onto the Palestinian side. Of
    course, that neatly dovetails with the needs of
    the IDF and the Israeli defense industry. It also
    coincides with Israel’s need to constantly raise
    money from the diaspora and to get aid from the US
    government.
    And so, by following Jabotinsky to the Nth degree,
    Israel has transformed itself into a large,
    fortified ghetto. As rocketry becomes ever more
    precise and destructive, Israeli attacks on its
    neighbors will be reciprocated in the level of
    violence and destruction, making both sides, not
    just the Arab side, victims of Israel’s Iron Wall
    philosophy.
    Israel may not be intentionally seeking “victim
    status,” but that’s where the current path surely
    leads.

    Reply

  51. Carroll says:

    “Suffice it to say that the notion that Israel exists to re-enact the historic predicament of the Jews as victims reflects a complete ignorance of the history and philosophy of Zionism”
    Well Larry what is your view or the correct view of the reasons zionism began and it’s philosophy?
    From what I have read, from both zionist sources and official historical sources, Zionism was a “movement” to secure all Jews a “homeland”.
    The reasons given by the original leader, Herzl in his Der Judenstaat in 1980, was because Jews had been evicted from every land they ever lived in, would always be hated so anti semitism would always exist and keep jews down and they should return to the “biblical Israel”.
    Then along came the “Nationalist Zionist”, Jabotinsky and Weizman who believed the key to a jewish homeland in Israel was having Britain give them a piece of their Palestine mandate and then forming a jewish army to recapture biblical Israel and establish a Jewish nation..they pushed the Balfour Decl on Britain as a solution to the “British Jewish problem”. Everyone knows what has taken place since.
    A lot of jews glomed onto this Jewish and nationalist movement. Some infused with “religious” reasoning. Some looking to gain “ethnic pride and power” thru a jewish nation to make up for the historical reputation of jews as victims and a “wandering tribe” likely to be evicted from country after country as in their past. So zionism has a lot of key phrases like ‘self determination”, “never again”, etc,etc. And jews buy into it for many reasons, not all the same. And then you have jewish sects that don’t buy into it for religious reasons cited in the bible.
    Some jews claim jews are a “distinct race” or a “ethno national group” or “ethno -religious national” group and so on and so forth.
    But besides the havoc zionism has reeked in the ME and the drain of supporting zionist Israel on the US, most modern people think this kind of tribalism is “strange” since it was created out of scattered ethnics and religious around the world to try and recapture in Israel, for a combination of all the above reasons, what existed only temporarily in time many centuries ago. Without the scandal of the jewish deaths in Germany in WWII it is doubtful Israel would have come about. Most likey some jews would have continued to imigrate into Palestine but doubtful that any governments or the non jewish world would have financially or militilary supported the creation of a jewish nation.
    Zionism is akin to blacks, because of discrimination they suffered, calling for black nations to be established in their “original” part of Africa that they can return to and according to their various; 1)original tribal affiliations,2) religions, christian or Muslim or etc. ….and overturning whatever other population or religion or tribal identifications currently exist in those areas.
    If I am wrong about the philosophy of zionism let me know.

    Reply

  52. larry birnbaum says:

    Cute, but no cigar. You started with the assertion that it was their explicit goal to reject security and enjoy victim status. Now it’s an unintended consequence.
    I do appreciate that you’ve read about Jabotinsky however.

    Reply

  53. David says:

    Once again, Steve, thanks for being TWN eyes-and-ears on the ground, in this case in the Middle East.

    Reply

  54. JohnH says:

    But, Larry, isn’t the historic predicament being reenacted as an unintended consequence of Zionist philosophy? Doesn’t Jabotinsky’s Iron Wall philosophy, dominant among the ruling elites, prescribe enduring militancy towards the surrounding Arab population and consequently consign Zionists to a large, heavily armed ghetto? Where is the official will to change that Iron Wall philosophy to one of reconciliation with Arabs?

    Reply

  55. larry birnbaum says:

    We are now to “I know you are but what am I.”
    Suffice it to say that the notion that Israel exists to re-enact the historic predicament of the Jews as victims reflects a complete ignorance of the history and philosphy of Zionism.

    Reply

  56. JohnH says:

    Amazing how well Nadine can articulate the
    position of the other side!
    “Oh really? Yet another [US] position that
    absolves the [Israelis] from having to lift a
    finger to help yet retaining their (in their own
    minds) perfect innocence. Helping is not their
    job! How convenient.
    I would be really grateful if just once you would
    ask why, if this is the [US’] desired outcome,
    they do not even ask, much less pressure, the
    [Israelis] to return to the table, accept an Arab
    offer, or lay out conditions of their own that are
    not instant deal-killers?
    The [Israelis] refuse to do so because they don’t
    want a state [with defined borders.] In every way,
    [secure] statehood would be worse for them than
    the heavily subsidized “victim” status they now
    enjoy.”
    Well said, Nadine! You provide such good fodder
    for your opponents! Now how is it that you can’t
    understand the Arab position?

    Reply

  57. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “Bizarrely, our leaders would probably be more secure visiting our adversary Iran than visiting most of our Sunni friends”
    Gee, wouldn’t the Mossad love to hit Obama in Iran? Thats Netanyahu’s penultimate version of a wet dream.
    Of course, the number one pick would be an Ebola outbreak in Gaza and the West Bank, specific to Palestinian genetics.

    Reply

  58. ... says:

    i agree with lurker… the only thing being regularly laid with a trowel around here is nadines bullshit…maybe it’s good fertilizer, but man o man, it stinks!

    Reply

  59. Dan Kervick says:

    “They hope that he’ll make a multi-country visit in the not too distant future and visit the UAE, Oman, Qatar, Bahrain, Jordan, as well as the larger heavyweights in the region like Saudi Arabia and Egypt.”
    Steve, I assume you found a way to remind these gentlemen, diplomatically no doubt, of the unfortunate fact that a US President who might want to visit the Sunni Arab regions of the Middle East can hardly count on the same levels of security for himself, his family and his retinue that he could expect in Singapore, Korea, Japan and China, especially if his stops are accompanied by a lot of promotional preparation and fanfare.
    Bizarrely, our leaders would probably be more secure visiting our adversary Iran than visiting most of our Sunni friends.

    Reply

  60. Lurker says:

    Nadine,
    You should consider trying to be respectful of those who have positive things to say about Steve and his work. Your last comment was gratuitous and rude to the person who left it.
    Obviously, Steve impressed that guy who has never posted here before.
    I listen to you and Poa and others do battle here, and many of us learn from it. Some find it offensive on occasion, but if you want your views to be taken more seriously, you should lay off the gratuitous snarkiness.
    You owe Steve an apology as well as Observer in Dubai.

    Reply

  61. nadine says:

    Talk about laying it on with a trowel.

    Reply

  62. Observer in Dubai says:

    Dear Steven,
    Your website and articles give me hope both in the possibility that the US will “reinvent” itself and its “global leverage” as you said in your talk yesterday.
    Your comments in Dubai were so thoughtful, so filled with real information, and intelligence, that I want to thank you on behalf of everyone here and everyone who attended last night. We have never had a speaker on foreign policy matters who excelled so easily both in speaking and in responding to some very tough questions and criticisms of US policy.
    As I mentioned to you yesterday, I hope you will have time to meet my two sons today so that they might understand more what the nexis of thinking and leadership looks like.
    You will always be our guest here in Dubai. Thanks so much for your time and your candor.

    Reply

  63. nadine says:

    Steve, I see your chorus of anti-Semites is out again (and yes, ‘anti-Zionist’ doesn’t begin to do justice to some of your faithful posters. Nice company you keep here.)
    “Bottom line though is that most here want Obama to succeed. Most want normalized relations with Israel after a course to a Palestinian state is established — and most see that normalization track with Israel as part of a larger security lynchpin against Iran’s ambitions.” (Steve Clemons)
    Oh really? Yet another position that absolves the Arabs from having to lift a finger to help yet retaining their (in their own minds) perfect innocence. Helping is not their job! How convenient.
    I would be really grateful if just once you would ask why, if this is their desired outcome, they do not even ask, much less pressure, the Palestinians to return to the table, accept an Israel offer, or lay out conditions of their own that are not instant deal-killers?
    The Palestinians refuse to do so because they don’t want a state. In every way, actual statehood would be worse for them than the heavily subsidized “victim” status they now enjoy.
    Today the world proclaims they have a right to the West Bank and Gaza and it lets them claim (in Arabic) the rest of Israel too. But if they actually had to accept a state they’d have to renounce claims on Israel. They refuse. The Arabs pay them to refuse, so they can tell YOU, “Oh of course we’d accept Israel once Palestine is established” — which is never, by design.
    Wake up and smell the coffee, Steve.
    We’ll know that the Arabs are really and truly terrified of Iran when they desire Israeli aid enough to pressure the Palestinians to settle. Until then, “no peace, no war” suits all the Arabs just fine. The conflict is very useful to Arab rulers.

    Reply

  64. Carroll says:

    Really..the idea that Israel should be given anything in return for ceasing settlements is absurd.
    Israel’s settlments are illegal…they should be punished for it instead of bribed…and that is what it will most likely have to come to if this is to ever end.

    Reply

  65. Carroll says:

    Posted by Paul Norheim, Jan 03 2010, 4:26PM
    Yes…that’s it. The AP guy…I remember now cause I was not surprised it came from an AP reporter. The AP is about like the NYT and has a lot of Judith Millers.

    Reply

  66. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “Unfortunately they couldn’t convince the Saudis to promise something in exchange for an Israeli concession on settlements when the President went to Saudi to personally ask the King for that…”
    Perhaps the Saudis are sage enough to realize that Netanyahu does not make “concessions”, he just lies about doing so.
    A fact that seems to have escaped Hillary’s assessment of the situation.

    Reply

  67. Carroll says:

    Posted by larry birnbaum, Jan 03 2010, 9:09PM – Link
    Are you the Larry that posted over at TPM about his trip to Israel to visit relatives and how he was hassled at the airport and etc.? Or do I have you confused with some other guy?
    Anyway Larry..the Saudis said last year they won’t give anything to Israel “in advance” because Israel has never lived up to anything they promise..the Israeli word means nothing, they have no concept of honor.
    In fact, as we see, Israel is continuing right on colonizing Palestine and Jerusalem.
    Then there is the fact that the US under US zionist influence has been strong-arming Arab countries on trade and a host of other items for Israel’s benefit for 40 years and there is a great deal of resentment over that. In countries other than those like Egypt who we bribed with several billion a year to make nice to Israel there is no willingness to have relations with Israel unless they also get something out of it.
    Israel is like a john who doesn’t pay up after the deed is done so if any countries do establish and carry thru on normal relations with Israel it is we US taxpayers who will probably be paying a hefty annual fee for Israel’s membership in the ME.

    Reply

  68. JohnH says:

    “some sophisticated business guys” Let’s not forget
    that Cheney’s Halliburton is now HQed in Dubai…
    It says a lot that Cheney’s Halliburton feels at
    home in Dubai’s casino capitalism culture.
    Extrapolating anything from Dubai to the rest of the
    Middle East is probably pointless.

    Reply

  69. larry birnbaum says:

    It’s good to hear that folks in the Gulf states want normalized relations with Israel once a path towards Palestinian statehood is established. I hope they really do. Unfortunately they couldn’t convince the Saudis to promise something in exchange for an Israeli concession on settlements when the President went to Saudi to personally ask the King for that… or for that matter, do something themselves.

    Reply

  70. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “This is because the President has not, during his term, travelled to Israel”
    Why visit when you can just send money?

    Reply

  71. HWinVA says:

    There’s no pleasing some of these “sophisticated business guys.”
    “They felt that in the Middle East, Obama did Egypt, Turkey, Israel and Saudi Arabia — but with none of the fanfare and prep done in these other corners of the world.”
    a) Could the President’s trip to Egypt have been more hyped? Remember the “address to the Muslim world”?
    b) The trip to Turkey came if I am not mistaken on the President’s first trek across the Atlantic, and he visited two Turkish cities, giving an important address.
    c) Your interlocutors were, in a way, right about the lack of “fanfare” surrounding the President’s trip to Israel. This is because the President has not, during his term, travelled to Israel.

    Reply

  72. Outraged American says:

    What are Iran’s “larger ambitions”? UsRael is all over the Middle
    East,South Asia and North Africa.
    How can Iran with its toy military and NO NUCLEAR WEAPONS, hope
    to beat UsRael for regional hegemony?
    Too absurd to contemplate, which is why DcAviv should be burnt to
    the ground and we should start over (TM Carroll) and attempt to
    achieve peace by getting all these UsRael fascists out.

    Reply

  73. PissedOffAmerican says:

    One of the posters that lauded Dubai on the thread that Paul linked to was quite appreciative of the the fact, according to him, that brothels are a sign of Dubai’s roaring “success”. He was also quite in awe of the popularity of monster trucks in Dubai. Now, it appears, Dubai gets to bask in another symptom of western depravity; obscene debt.

    Reply

  74. legion says:

    Well, considering the – as Carroll says – toilet Dubai’s economy is in now, and the massive investment in ritzy tourist traps & hotel monstrosities that put them there, they’d probably _love_ for Obama to trip through there. Considering the size of the security entourage for POTUS traveling in that region these days, it’d probably book every room in town for the whole season…

    Reply

  75. Paul Norheim says:

    I think this is the post you were looking for, Carroll:
    http://www.thewashingtonnote.com/archives/2009/09/guest_post_by_j_12/

    Reply

  76. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “A pig could write a book and if it’s story or premise was flimsy enough it would be published and the pig would be hailed as the budding leader of the new intelligentsia”
    Gads, Carroll, you have just deeply offended Sarah Palin. Shame on you.

    Reply

  77. Carroll says:

    Didn’t I read TWN post by or about the guy who was promoting that the US should take a lesson on economics from Dubai? Wasn’t that here?…or did I see it elsewhere?
    Anyway where is the Dubai fad guy now?
    Is he coming on to explain how Dubai isn’t really in the toilet like the US isn’t really in the toilet?
    A pig could write a book and if it’s story or premise was flimsy enough it would be published and the pig would be hailed as the budding leader of the new intelligentsia. LOL

    Reply

  78. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “They are disappointed and think he got swindled by Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu — but from their perspective, Netanyahu’s actions were totally predictable and most are surprised that the White House demonstrated such naivety”
    “Bottom line though is that most here want Obama to succeed. Most want normalized relations with Israel after a course to a Palestinian state is established — and most see that normalization track with Israel as part of a larger security lynchpin against Iran’s ambitions”
    The “naivete” may be excusable considering his lack of experience or qualifications for his position. It is his lack of backbone that is troubling. He has yet to show any courage towards challenging or protesting Netanyahu’s intransigence, dishonesty, and arrogance. Perhaps Reid, Hoyer, and others convinced Obama tto take the route of least political risk. That might lubricate the ease by which Obama will muddle through his ONE TERM, but it certainly doesn’t do much for the hopes of the Paslestinians or those Arabs you’ve talked to in Dubai. It suprises me that they still hold out much hope for progress towards peace and a two state solution. It is obvious that Obama doesn’t have the guts to demand progress, Congress doesn’t have the integrity to support progress, and Netanyahu doesn’t have the desire to seek progress.
    There will be no two state solution as long as our President is such a coward, and our Congress is bought and paid for by the Israeli special interest machine. Certainly, and most assuredly, it will not happen under this President’s watch.

    Reply

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