Coming Down from the Dream, Facing Up to Realities

-

middleeast_1215307c.jpg
The inaugural weekend successfully diverted attention to the festivities and stunning turnout celebrating the historic circumstances of a new administration’s transition to the helm of the most powerful country on earth. But as Washington, and the world for that matter, begins to climb down from this weekend’s euphoria, the newly inaugurated administration will have to contend with a number of new Middle East realities on the ground that cannot adequately be dispensed with the logic and strategies of the past eight or sixteen years. New realities in turn will warrant new departures for policy.
Rhetorically at least, President Obama signalled a new direction for US foreign policy in his inaugural address, trading the usually national security testosterone and chest-thumping on counterterrorism that both parties embrace at election time for some elegant and carefully chosen words the spell out a different sort of counter-terrorism, democracy, and internationalist posture. Defeating terrorism by outlasting it rather than simply outgunning it, promoting democracy with a supportive model rather than a forward strategy, and conducting diplomacy through cooperation rather than unilateralism are certainly welcome departures.
However Josh Landis underscores, along with a number of other Middle East analysts, that the path to dealing with these agenda items requires confronting the centrality of the Arab-Israeli conflict brought home by the three weeks of violence in Gaza, rather than ignoring them as some Obama aides have suggested. This means tackling the reality of Hamas on the Palestinian political scene as Marc Lynch and Richard Murphy point out and finding ways to promote Palestinian reconciliation as Roula Khalaf and Daniel Levy have long argued.
The appointment of George Mitchell to Middle East envoy, as Amjad Atallah points out, certainly provides room for optimism but it is sobering to recall the powerful envoys with equally serious determination, networks of power, and potential that have failed – such as James Wolfensohn and Tony Blair — when their hands are tied by political advisors in Washington.
Former Obama campaign advisor and Brooking’s Middle East Director Martin Indyk provided a possible barometer for the administration’s approach. Though he recognizes some parts of this puzzle that Landis, Levy, Lynch, and Khalaf draw out, including the importance of supporting Israeli-Syrian negotiations, he remains curiously silent on the pivotal role of Hamas and the current Palestinian divide. He also appears unaware of the changing nature of the Arab parties.
A second critical reality to contend with is the re-emergence of Arab and Muslim unity as Kaveh Afrasiabi suggests with Syria returning to the Arab fold and overtures of solidarity being made between the Gulf States and Iran. This throws the Bush administration’s failed strategy of isolating Syria and Iran for a loop but could provide new opportunities for the incoming administration.
The final reality that the Obama administration will have to contend with is an Israeli domestic political scene whose security needs and calculations may at times depart from the US. A recent Haaretz poll indicates most Israelis are comfortable with the Gaza campaign despite the massive Palestinian civilian casualties. Regardless of whether Bejamin Netanyahu Likud party wins upcoming February 10 elections as polling seems to indicate is likely, the last two major military campaigns — Lebanon in 2006 and Gaza in 2009 — led with a centrist party at the helm and these recent poll numbers broadly suggest the Israeli public at large believes in this cost-benefit ratio to meet its security needs. But the campaigns were arguably setbacks for US national security and foreign policy objectives. Though sometimes dismissed as the foolhardy gambits of rogue commanders or ambitious, capitalizing politicians, this no longer seems to be the case. Future Israeli leadership regardless of composition, will continue to deem it a political necessity to carry out similar operations in the future. One of the most difficult questions for the next administration will be whether this helps or hurts US strategic interests in the region.
— Sameer Lalwani

Comments

88 comments on “Coming Down from the Dream, Facing Up to Realities

  1. WigWag says:

    Yes, its really quite irnoic isn’t it? When the Israelis poisoned him in Amman, King Hussein was furious and he made the Israelis administer an antiodote before the intended victim died. That was the deal, if the Israelis wanted their agents back, they had to provide the antidote.
    Looks like King Husesin’s son regrets his fathers mistake. King Abdullah has a major campaign on to rid Jordan of the Muslim Brotherhood and he’s just brought on a new intelligence chief with good relations with Israel to get the job done. Abdullah hates Hamas as much as the Israelis do (maybe more) because they’re allied with the Muslim Brotherhood activists in Jordan who oppose Hashemite rule.
    There’s nothing more that King Abudallah wishes than that his father had allowed the Israelis to finish the job.
    My guess is that King Abdullah is begging the Israelis to take a mulligan and try to kill Meshal and the rest of the Hamas leadership (there is a rumor that Mahmoud Zahar, the third ranking Hamas leader was seriously injured by an Israeli bomb)once again.
    Isn’t that your guess?

    Reply

  2. Cee says:

    leaders go to bed every night praying that Israel will find a way to put a bullet in Meshal’s head?
    They could just ask Netanyahu what type of poison he had injected Mashal with.
    MISSION IMPLAUSIBLE
    State-sponsored assassination is a tricky, unpredictable business…
    by Eric Margolis
    Israel’s botched attempt to assassinate an official of the Palestinian Hamas movement on Sept. 25 in Amman, Jordan has changed the Mideast’s political landscape, brought worldwide condemnation down Israel, and shows dramatically why state-sponsored murder is best avoided.
    Assassination is always a tricky, dangerously unpredictable, business that’s best avoided.
    So concluded the best minds in U.S. intelligence a decade ago. Israel’s floundering prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has just learned this important lesson.
    You don’t send out assassins without first asking, “What happens if the attempt fails?” Mossad is probably the world’s ablest intelligence service.
    Even so, some operations are bound by the law of averages to go awry.
    The attack on Khalid Meshal by five Israeli agents disguised as Canadian tourists looked like a rushed mission mounted without Mossad’s usual meticulous preparation, suggesting someone high-up ordered an immediate hit.
    Why was a not-so-important Hamas political official targeted?
    The Israeli press says Meshal was not even involved in previous Hamas bombings. Why not go after hardcore Hamas bombers instead?
    One easily sympathizes with the Israeli government’s desire to take drastic action to counter terrorism. Israel has been shocked and terrified by Hamas suicide bombers blowing up Jewish civilians. The public
    demanded action.
    But what would killing Meshal have accomplished? His murder would certainly have triggerd new Hamas bombings.
    Had the Mossad assassins gotten away with killing Meshal–by using an unknown poison injected into his ear that apparently left no trace–who would have known of Israel’s revenge?
    http://www.middleeast.org/archives/10-22-97.htm

    Reply

  3. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “….and yeah, as you saw from Steve`s post, you were among those who explicitly got a license to be rude at TWN!”
    Harrumph!!!
    Well, just because someone gave you a license doesn’t mean you have expertise.

    Reply

  4. Paul Norheim says:

    THE ARAB STREETS, FACE BOOK STYLE
    This is a NYT article about new means of protest in Egypt:
    “…As the street protests went on, young Egyptians also were
    mobilizing and venting their anger over Gaza on what would,
    until recently, have seemed an unlikely venue: Facebook, the
    social-networking site. In most countries in the Arab world,
    Facebook is now one of the 10 most-visited Web sites, and in
    Egypt it ranks third, after Google and Yahoo. About one in nine
    Egyptians has Internet access, and around 9 percent of that
    group are on Facebook — a total of almost 800,000 members.
    This month, hundreds of Egyptian Facebook members, in
    private homes and at Internet cafes, have set up Gaza-related
    “groups.” Most expressed hatred for Israel and the United
    States, but each one had its own focus. Some sought to
    coordinate humanitarian aid to Gaza, some criticized the
    Egyptian government, some criticized other Arab countries for
    blaming Egypt for the conflict and still others railed against
    Hamas. When I sat down in the middle of January with an
    Arabic-language translator to look through Facebook, we found
    one new group with almost 2,000 members called “I’m sure I
    can find 1,000,000 members who hate Israel!!!” and another
    called “With all due respect, Gaza, I don’t support you,” which
    blamed Palestinian suffering on Hamas and lamented the recent
    shooting of two Egyptian border guards, which had been
    attributed to Hamas fire. Another group implored God to
    “destroy and burn the hearts of the Zionists.” Some Egyptian
    Facebook users had joined all three groups.
    Freedom of speech and the right to assemble are limited in
    Egypt, which since 1981 has been ruled by Mubarak’s National
    Democratic Party under a permanent state-of-emergency law.
    An estimated 18,000 Egyptians are imprisoned under the law,
    which allows the police to arrest people without charges, allows
    the government to ban political organizations and makes it
    illegal for more than five people to gather without a license
    from the government. Newspapers are monitored by the
    Ministry of Information and generally refrain from directly
    criticizing Mubarak. And so for young people in Egypt,
    Facebook, which allows users to speak freely to one another
    and encourages them to form groups, is irresistible as a
    platform not only for social interaction but also for dissent.
    Although there are countless political Facebook groups in Egypt,
    many of which flare up and fall into disuse in a matter of days,
    the one with the most dynamic debates is that of the April 6
    Youth Movement, a group of 70,000 mostly young and
    educated Egyptians, most of whom had never been involved
    with politics before joining the group. The movement is less
    than a year old; it formed more or less spontaneously on
    Facebook last spring around an effort to stage a general
    nationwide strike. Members coalesce around a few issues — free
    speech, economic stagnation and government nepotism — and
    they share their ideas for improving Egypt. But they do more
    than just chat: they have tried to organize street protests to free
    jailed journalists, and this month, hundreds of young people
    from the April 6 group participated in demonstrations about
    Gaza, some of which were coordinated on Facebook, and at
    least eight members of the group were detained by police.”
    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/25/magazine/25bloggers-
    t.html?_r=1

    Reply

  5. WigWag says:

    More proof that the Amjad Atallah, Daniel Levy, Sameer Lalwani, Steve Clemons thesis about Palestinian reconciliation is incorrect:
    Hamas: No reconciliation with Fatah until it ends Israel peace talks
    By News Agencies
    “A senior Hamas official on Sunday said that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah movement must end peace negotiations with Israel before any reconciliation talks can take place.
    The remarks by Osama Hamdan were bound to complicate Arab efforts to reconcile Hamas, which controls Gaza, and the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority in the West Bank.
    Hamdan is Hamas’ representative in Lebanon and is close to top Damascus-based political leader Khaled Meshal.
    Speaking at a rally in Beirut Sunday, Hamdan said Hamas welcomed Palestinian dialogue, but any reconciliation should be based on a resistance program to liberate territory and regain rights.
    He also demanded that the PA end security coordination with Israel, and maintained that the Israeli-Palestinian peace process must be ended…”
    The bottom line is that it will prove more difficult to reconcile Hamas and Fatah than it will to reconcile the Palestinian Authority and Israel.
    And if Israel and the Palestinian Authority do arrive at a peace agreement of some sort governing the West Bank (Gaza will have to come later, if at all)count on the fact that Hamas and Fatah will be at each others throats for years if not decades to come.
    You don’t have to be a genius to figure this out, all you have to do is read the Arab Press and the Israeli Press a few times a week. Anyone who does, will quickly discover that the language the Palestinian factions use to describe each other is at least as virulent and probably more virulent than either Palestinian faction uses in reference to Israel.
    Unless someone figures out a strategy that takes this reality into account, there will not be peace in the Middle East between either Israelis and Palestinians or Palestinians and Palestinians.
    As for Fatah, Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia; does anyone doubt that their leaders go to bed every night praying that Israel will find a way to put a bullet in Meshal’s head?

    Reply

  6. TonyForesta says:

    Ten thousand thanks Mr Clemons. Hopefully someone outside the usual suspects here at TWN read the comments along with your erudite posts. Leadership might glean something from understanding the perceptions and opinions of the lowly plebes whom they seem often to ignore or dismiss entirely. I see more viable and worthy commentary here, even amidst the chari vari and ultimate fighting style responses – then I do in most of the socalled MSM who basically parrot the same tired hollow mantra’s and babel bruted by our mostly outoftouch leaders.

    Reply

  7. Paul Norheim says:

    Thanks questions,
    and yeah, as you saw from Steve`s post, you were among those
    who explicitly got a license to be rude at TWN!
    I somehow doubt that you`re going to use it.
    BTW, your Derrida/Paul de Man example is appropriate. And after
    1945, people like Hannah Arendt and Paul Celan contacted
    Heidegger, despite his political position during the Third Reich
    era.
    But I have some difficulties imagining Heidegger as a happy party
    goer or host like Mureen Dowd…

    Reply

  8. questions says:

    Happy birthday, Paul!
    And now that I’ve been shouted out to, I feel so much better! Thanks Steve! I won’t complain next time I’m not on the LIST!
    And re the party scene, I think it’s crucial to separate the author from the message in both directions. One can disagree with a view and yet respect the holder of the vie; one can HATE the holder of a view and yet respect work done by the holder of a view….
    Academic philosophers have to deal with Heidegger and his questionable views, and simultaneously his utter centrality in dealing with 20th century European philosophy; Americans have to figure out what to do with Jefferson and slavery and American history; and, I guess, Steve has to meld together his respect and friendship with numerous people and their sometimes iffy political views.
    If you want to see very complex and interesting discussion of these issues, check out how Jacques Derrida deals with friendship throughout the “de Man affair” (not a text, an event, sort of. Or maybe a silly academic controversy.) If friendship is to have REAL meaning, you can’t just dump your friends when they do some questionable things, and you really really have to understand what they’ve done before you sit in judgment. It’s really interesting to think through friendship on this level. And it may even, in a way, tie in to IR issues. Friendship between nations requires a lot.

    Reply

  9. Paul Norheim says:

    Thanks Steve,
    and let me use the opportunity to repeat my only “criticism” of
    you in the Dowd case:
    “I`ve always thought that Steve should keep a diary. He could
    become the Arthur Schlesinger, or the Saint-Simon of
    Washington DC at the beginning of the 21th century.”
    And then I offered a short excerpt from Saint-Simon`s
    Memoirs, dealing with Louis XIV and his court at Versaille.
    The moral is: I know you`re busy, and I have no doubt that
    mingling is important in your job. And please have some fun!
    But if you kept a diary with short notes about some of your
    meetings and mingling, it could become an interesting portrait
    of the court in Washington DC in the beginning of the 21th
    century.
    When you retire (roughly the same time as me, who just
    celebrated my 47th birthday), you may revise your notes and
    observations and publish it. It could be pretty interesting.
    Steve: I want to read that diary before I die!

    Reply

  10. Cee says:

    They should also admit that they wanted the war
    Robert Pastor is a senior adviser to the Carter Center and a professor at American University who met with exiled Hamas political leader Khaled Meshaal in Damascus on Dec. 14, along with former President Jimmy Carter.
    Pastor says Meshaal indicated Hamas was willing to go back to the ceasefire if Israel would lift the siege on Gaza.
    http://www.democracynow.org/2009/1/22/ex_carter_admin_official_israel_ignored

    Reply

  11. ... says:

    tony foresta – i have read your posts and my comments reflect my observations… it may be incorrect like yours is of my comments, but i am sharing it as to how i see your involvement here…

    Reply

  12. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “…..and others who also say that they just can’t believe that that kind of mingling would lead to anything good”
    Hey, I never said that. Getting wined, dined, drunk and tittilated ain’t “bad”. It all depends on how you define “good”, doesn’t it?
    Information is power, and one has to believe you harvest quite a bit of information at these orgies of megalomaniacal monsters.
    But if you aren’t seeing horns protruding out of 98% of the foreheads of these “sources” you tap at these functions, than you aren’t recieving the “information” with the cynicism and distrust it deserves.
    Surely you realize, many of these people will chew you up and spit you out if it fits their purposes. And someday, it probably will.

    Reply

  13. Steve Clemons says:

    I tried to explain to a hit-and-run critic of my enthusiasm for Maureen Dowd’s party that it wasn’t that I oppose in any way those who would offer criticism of my attending – or enjoying these gatherings. I’m transparent on this, and say that I use these gatherings as a way to move my policy work and agenda — to push my reluctance to some things (like Caroline Kennedy in New York or Dennis Ross as the Middle East overlord envoy — both battles our team seems to have won). But I respect POA, WigWag, Paul Norheim and others who also say that they just can’t believe that that kind of mingling would lead to anything good.
    The issue is respectful disagreement. I told this poster with whom I was rather irritated to come back and post — disagree with me any time — but drop the rudeness…as it just erodes the environment in the comments section. I told him he’d be banned otherwise — rudeness is just not permitted unless he earns his place here for a while.
    So, I just wanted to commend those of you who do get wound up – and sometimes get pretty high on the zapping each other scale or pretty intense going after me — that I feel like you have earned your place here….POA, TahoeEditor, WigWag, Paul Norheim, Linda, karenk, erichwkk, Bil, John, MarkK, …, questions, and others…oops, Spunkmeyer….and many others (sorry if I missed you).
    I used to never read the comments section because it angered me a lot — but I felt a commitment to debate, dissent, discourse, and felt I needed a thicker skin than I had and the best way to develop it was to get a comments shower from POA. 😉
    But I really have little interest in a completely free or unmoderated forum when a visitor can come by and flame out about my morality — over the Maureen Dowd party — ruin a tone here — and not have any responsibility in maintaining a culture of reasonably respectful debate and discussion over time. So, those folks I will nudge now and then as the comments section of this blog has become a very interesting place. I learn a lot from you.
    I forgot Dan Kervick. And I bet others. Dan is invaluable. And then also Sweetness… and of course, TonyForesta.
    And PecosGal….thanks for defending me now and then!! You get it…
    Thanks to all of you for fighting for your views but also occasionally listening to each other.

    Reply

  14. TonyForesta says:

    No one ever mentioned anything about gentle. The world is a wild and violent place, and imagining there are any bloodless or painless solutions to our myriad problems is delusional.
    Nor did anyone but you Paul Norhiem in anyway suggest “exterminating the billions of brutes and fanatics on the planet…” If there are billions of mass murderers on the planet, – then perhaps we have some ommon ground, – but I personally do not believe there are billions of massmurderers, (I never suggested hunting down and killing brutes). Rather I believe there are relatively few, and unfortunately those few have a wildly disproportionate influence in various leaderships. By targeting and eliminatiing those few, – which will not be gentle, or bloodless, or painless, or pretty, – the billions of remaining human beings on earth who are not massmurderers, and who do not support mass murder as religious or government decree can then have some hope of reconiciling our myriad conflicts. You choose to generalize, and hoist generalizations on me, when I am very specific and avoid generalizing our shared threats. I may have given you this anology in another thread to explain my position, but I offer here again for clarity. If I am out in the forest or desert hiking (and this is based on real experience for me) and come upon a rattlesnake, – I walk away and make every effort to avoid it and let it live in it’s own domain, where I am the intruder. However, if a rattlesnake appears in my own back yard or in a public park where my daughter plays or other children or women are potentially threatened, – I kill it mercilessly without regret and remorse. I don’t attempt to capture it, and tote it away to some safe distant place, – I kill it mercilessly, and without regret or remorse for two reasons. First and foremost I remove a real threat to my lovedones. Second, I eliminate the ability of that threat to find purchase or any safe haven, or any way to spawn anywhere near a place where it can threaten my lovedones. Granted, I am not a gentle man. Granted, I have and will kill poisonous threats in my neighborhood whenever and whereever possible without remorse or regret. Know this as well, I hold no regret or remorse for any of these actions because, in my mind, this is the best option for securing my family and my communities safety. If you have a better option or approach other than sliming me personally, let’s hear it, I am willing to hear it.
    If not then, you hold to your opinions and I will hold to mine with no regret or remorse.

    Reply

  15. Paul Norheim says:

    Personally I am an extraordinary kind and gentle human being,
    and I happen to know a handful of others who are just as nice
    and tolerant as me.
    Now… if we only could exterminate the billions of brutes and
    fanatics on this planet, everything would be perfect!

    Reply

  16. Paul Norheim says:

    “My venom is directed at fundamentalists, extremists, and
    massmurderers, and all those who aid and abet them – every
    single one of them on earth. The sooner moderates and
    progressives on all sides spurn, repudiate, reject, and in my
    personal opinion hunt down and kill every single one of these
    fiends – the more hope there will be…” (TonyForesta)
    “My side is humanity.” (TonyForesta)
    Do I need to say more?

    Reply

  17. TonyForesta says:

    Go back and read my posts, whomoeveryouare, because I have always made this critical distinction on every thread. I have repeatedly condemned all the fundamentalist spawn be they zionist, jihadi, evangelical, hindu, or whatever, and continually frame all these evil broods as being born of the same cloth. You are so infected with hatred of all things Israel that you are incapable of seeing or hearing anything that does not totally align with your views. My venom is directed at fundamentalists, extremists, and massmurderers, and all those who aid and abet them – every single one of them on earth. The sooner moderates and progressives on all sides spurn, repudiate, reject, and in my personal opinion hunt down and kill every single one of these fiends – the more hope there will be for the rest of civilized humanity to work towards some kind of peacefull resolutions to our many varied conflicts.
    My side is humanity. Sane, decent, human beings who refuse to accept massmurder under any circumstances be they zionist, evangelical, jihadit, hindu, or any other cult, faction, clique or klan, as a viable means for promoting, advancing or forwarding political objectives.
    The fact that I condemn the jihadi massmurderers in hamas blinds you to recognizing that I also condemn and spurn zionist, or evangelical or hindu mass murderers and all those who aid and abet them as well. You cannot change my positions by simply ignoring them, or selectively choosing to pick and choose what you want to read or acknowledge.
    Speak for yourself whomeveryouare, and I will speak for myself thankyou.

    Reply

  18. ... says:

    sweetness question – Maybe you can tell me what the POINT of the comparisons is. – the israelis could stop mass murdering if they were able to recognize what they’re bringing to bear on their neighbors in the present, is what they had done to there own 70 odd years ago.. fortunately some israeli folks recognize this, but those in control don’t…
    tony foresta – if you mentioned zionism in the same light as jihad even 1/10th as often, there would be more credibility to your words.. unfortunately this is not the case… you work hard to make a distinction between israel and zionism, but i have never seen you do the same with jihad and islam or the arab world… you have picked a side and it is obvious, in spite of your protestations otherwise…

    Reply

  19. Peanut Gallery says:

    (crowd chants) POA, POA, POA, POA, POA, POA, POA, POA, POA, POA, POA, POA, POA, POA

    Reply

  20. Peanut Gallery says:

    What, pray tell, is the benefit of distracting you?
    (I love this!)

    Reply

  21. PissedOffAmerica says:

    Peanut Gallery
    “…..connecting the dots in the vast conspiracy taking place on this blog”
    Oh, its not vast. Its just one or two assholes. Three at the most.
    But hey, how is it you can post? Weren’t you recalled due to Salmonella contamination?
    Anyway, I love it how you people always come out from under your rocks whenever someone actually asks one of you to buttress your pro-Israel garbage with some facts.

    Reply

  22. Cee says:

    We shouldn’t allow ourselves to be distracted.
    That is why they’re here.
    We’re not supposed to know about this
    Some Palestinian civilians in Gaza say Israeli forces shot at them as they tried to leave their homes – in some cases bearing white flags.
    One testimony heard by the BBC and human rights group B’tselem describes Israeli forces shooting a woman in the head after she stepped out of her house carrying a piece of white cloth, in response to an Israeli loudhailer announcement.
    On Monday morning, he said the family heard an announcement over a loudspeaker.
    “The Israeli army was saying: ‘This is the Israeli Defence Forces, we are asking all the people to leave their homes and go to the school. Ladies first, then men.’
    “We decided to send the women first, two by two,” he said.
    First to step outside was the wife of his cousin, Rawhiya al-Najar, 48.
    “The army was about 15 metres (50 feet) away from the house or less. They shot her in the head,” he said.
    The woman’s daughter was shot in the thigh

    Reply

  23. Peanut Gallery says:

    The Middle East threads are the only ones worth reading on this blog. Where else can we see POA launch his crusades, outing random writers as frauds, trolls, spies, etc. I especially love it when he gets all sherlock holmes and starts dissecting syntax and connecting the dots in the vast conspiracy taking place on this blog.
    Talk about a lunatic. ooops. i didn’t capitalize a letter. Guess I must be Karen, or is that Sweetness, or is that WigWag, or is that Tahoe?

    Reply

  24. PissedOffAmerica says:

    “Why are you mixing Cee`s identity with
    several other bloggers or commenters on a site she just linked to?”
    Well, Paul, I didn’t click on the link that Cee provided, so when “Sweetness” put the “posted by Cee” line under the “WHY WHY WHY” comment, I assumed that Cee had made the comment at the site she linked to.
    But upon further investigation, I found that Cee had NOT made the comment, that “Sweetness” was just using slimeball tactics to make it seem as though Cee had made the comment.
    Pretty wormy, if ya ask me.
    But hey, I’m the culprit, here, doncha know.
    Ya gotta love the comment from Karen where she attests to being “scared” to post here.
    Kinda like, “Psssst, hey Steve, about this POA guy…..”.
    Right on the heels of this Varanasi jackass launching the annual “Lets Slime The Carpenter Campaign”.
    Gads.

    Reply

  25. Paul Norheim says:

    Sweetness,
    you said:
    “But what is Cee talking about? Maybe you can tell me. What do
    you think of the commentary she posted on the pictures:
    “”Why can the Jews not see how dumb and stupid they are
    acting? etc…””
    ————–
    “She posted on the pictures”?
    Cee linked to a website, and then Karen referred to that as
    Cee`s website. Cee says it`s not, but you argued that it is, since
    he approves what the poster says…
    Well…
    And Just like on TWN, there are all kinds of comments from
    readers under the post on that website. Now you are claiming
    that one of these commenters (BibliaHistoria) is the very same
    Cee that Karen claimed was the original poster.
    I am getting confused. Why are you mixing Cee`s identity with
    several other bloggers or commenters on a site she just linked
    to?

    Reply

  26. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Gee, “Sweetness” sure got her panties in a bunch because I dared query Karen about two of her statements, didn’t she?
    Interesting thing is, the two questions still aren’t answered, are they?
    Let me add a third question, seeing as how “Sweetness” has taken it upon herself to speak for “Karen”.
    How is marching Palestinians into a building that is subsequently bombed different than marching Jews into showers that are subsequently gassed?

    Reply

  27. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “Palestinian atrocities are as well-documented and easy to find on the Web as are the Israeli ones”
    Good, than you won’t mind citing some for us, eh?

    Reply

  28. Sweetness says:

    “unfortunately the comparisons between what was done to the
    jews in germany and what israel as a country has done to the
    palestinaians in gaza recently have too many parallels to not
    acknowledge even for the most stringent advocates of israel…”
    Comparisons?
    Parallels?
    Maybe you can tell me what the POINT of the comparisons is.
    Karen freely talked about Israeli atrocities. She certainly isn’t
    hiding behind Israel’s “innocence.”
    But what is Cee talking about? Maybe you can tell me. What do
    you think of the commentary she posted on the pictures:
    “”Why can the Jews not see how dumb and stupid they are
    acting?
    WHY do the Jews continue to do the same DUMB things when
    they know that world opinion is against them?
    Why do the Jews not care about world opinion?
    Why are they trying do hard to SUBVERT world opinion?
    Why do the jews claim that they are not like the Nazis when the
    proof is in these pictures that they ARE just like the Nazis.
    Why do they call themselves AshkeNAZI?
    WHY are the sephardic jews treated like second class citizens
    when they are the real jews and the ashkenazi jews are just
    europeans who converted to a new religion?
    WHY do jews raised to beleive that they are superior to all other
    humans in this planet?
    WHY are jews raised to be racists?
    WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY”

    Reply

  29. ... says:

    the picture at the top of this post is??
    1) a bombed out area of gaza
    2) a bombed out area of israel
    hang on to those views of both sides being equally guilty for the past month of mayhem.. also make sure to stay as far away from the reality as possible… try not to get caught up in any pictures of what has recently taken place, but get caught up with peoples dishonest words about what has taken place and who is to blame…

    Reply

  30. Sweetness says:

    “It isn’t my website. I posted the above in response to
    Karen/Susan being upset about the Holocaust comparisons. She
    needs to deal with it.”
    Uh-huh. It’s the old–I didn’t say it; I’m just passing it on–
    gambit. Right. Here’s the deal: If you post it and you stand by
    it, it’s yours.
    Unfortunately, you remind me of arthurdecco, which I can assure
    you is a much worse fate than being a sea salt salesman.
    POA’s gambit is almost as tired: Go fetch, he says, lounging at
    his keyboard. If the other person refuses to step ‘n fetchit, he
    closes the file in triumph.
    Does anyone really fall for this garbage?
    Palestinian atrocities are as well-documented and easy to find
    on the Web as are the Israeli ones. Tony seems to be aware that
    there’s enough blood to pass around; why not you?
    If you’re interested in anything resembling the truth, you would
    go out and find them yourself. You certainly have the energy for
    posting every other bit of information that tickles your fancy or
    outrage. Why not this? It doesn’t fit your narrative.
    Now, of course, you have your sights set on “Karen.” Pretty
    soon, you’ll launch a quest to “prove” that she’s a fraud or a troll
    also going by the names Sweetness/Questions/Wigwag/Tahoe.

    Reply

  31. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Well, I guess “Karen” has decided not to answer simple queries into the veracity of her commentary.
    Isn’t now a good time for “her” to revisit, indignant and offended that the mean and nasty POA dared question the two foundational premises upon which she based her comments?
    Perhaps “she” is simply practicing her utilization of capitals, and will return as soon as she has completely erased the revealing stignma of established literary habits.

    Reply

  32. TonyForesta says:

    Equating zionism with Israel or all Israeli’s is a false construct. Just as equating jihadism with all Palestinians is false. Those who blanketly condemn all Israeli’s and Israel to total destruction because of zionist madmen and massmurderers are just as delusional and wildly misinformed as those who condemn all Palestinains and Palestine to total destruction because of jihadi madmen and massmurderers. The same goes for the massmurderers and vampires in the evangelical fundamentalist christain hordes.
    Zionist and jihadis, like the evangelical spores and all fundamentalists are born of the same unholy, evil, bloodthirsty cloth, and are the bane of humanity.
    The majority of Israeli’s are NOT zionest.
    The majority of Palestinians are NOT jihadist.
    The majority of Americans are not evangelical.
    Tragically, these evil extremist fundamentalist broods own a disproportionate influence (not majority) in the respective leaderships and governments.
    Until progressives and moderates on all sides – in the respective populations fiercely spurn, repudiate, (or in my personal opinion, mercilessly hunt down and kill) all these fiendish monsters – there will never be any peace, and never be any end to the wanton slaughter of innocents and oceans of blood spilled in the name of this or that evil god, or this or that bastardized book, or this or that perverted prophet.
    The horrorshow in Palestine is unresolvable because the leadership of all parties involved seeks, and bathes in blood. This ghoulish nightmare will never end, because the pertinant leaderships do not want it to end. All pertinent leaders want is blood. Blood is what these nefarious leaderships want, and oceans of blood is what these monsters will exact until the respective populations repudiate and remove, (and in my personal opinion kill) the said leaders and advance progressive, moderate, sane, and human leaders into positions of authority.
    Until that day, – all we will ever see in Palestine and elsewhere on this wild and violent earth is neverendingwar and the wanton spilling of oceans of innocent blood.

    Reply

  33. ... says:

    karen are you able to feel the zionists hatred as well? one certainly doesn’t have to look far to see it in action.. what has just happened in gaza are very clear to see for anyone with a shred of impartiality…if that is standing up for zionism, then it is nothing more then a form of racism that looks quite ugly from where i am…
    unfortunately the comparisons between what was done to the jews in germany and what israel as a country has done to the palestinaians in gaza recently have too many parallels to not acknowledge even for the most stringent advocates of israel…

    Reply

  34. Cee says:

    Livni knows what her life will be like.
    Yedioth Ahranoth reports:
    Israel’s concerns about possible international lawsuits following Operation Cast Lead is apparently growing, as even the fate of Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni’s trip to Brussels remained vague until the very last minute, fearing she may face legal action in Belgium for alleged war crimes.

    Reply

  35. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Three small details, Karen.
    First, will you show us where any posters here have claimed that “this type of war crime is never perpetrated by the Palestinians”.
    Two, will you please list the “atrocities” that you claim the Palestinians have infl;icted upon the Israelis.
    And three, uh, “Karen”, all sentences start with a capital letter. I know its hard to break old habits, but you can do it, I got faith in ya.
    (You’re doing pretty good so far, averaging just one slip up per paragraph. And you’re doing really well with the “I” first person thing, that must really be a tough one for you.)

    Reply

  36. Karen says:

    Cee, why should I remind you of sea salt salesman?
    You should know, that I read your comments and I am familiar with your type. label yourself any way that you want, and I do not take this accusation lightly but I feel your hatred for Israelis and “Zionists.” There is a word for it. It is ugly and destructive and I promise you one thing it will only fan the flames of this conflict. Bless you.

    Reply

  37. Cee says:

    Why do Sweetness and Karen remind of the Israelis in the mall who approach my husband in an attempt to sell their sea salt products?
    Anyway I see that Israel is protecting their soldiers from war crimes if they try to travel.
    Censor bans identifying IDF officers involved in Gaza operation
    By Amos Harel
    The Military Censor is applying strict restrictions preventing the media from identifying officers who participated in the Gaza Strip fighting and information about them that may be used in legal proceedings against them abroad. There is growing concern at the Defense Ministry and the Ministry of Justice that Israeli officers will be singled out in a massive wave of suits for alleged human rights violations.
    The new instructions from the military censor to the media were prepared in consultation with Attorney General Menachem Mazuz and his military counterpart, Brigadier General Avihai Mandelblit. Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi was also involved in the decisions on this matter.
    In recent days the censor has forbidden publishing the full names and photographs of officers from the level of battalion commander down.

    Reply

  38. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “Israel has clearly committed atrocities in its conflict with the Palestinians, but so have the Palestinians committed atrocities against the Israelis”
    Will you list some of those “atrocities”, please, just for clarification.
    Remember, capitals, “Karen”.

    Reply

  39. Paul Norheim says:

    Thanks Cee for your clarification.
    Strong speech from the old MP… I`ve read it as text quotes, but
    never watched it before.

    Reply

  40. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “And thank you Rich for your comment. I appreciate your words. and an especially big thank you to POA for not verbally assaulting me”
    Gimme time, I’ll get around to it.
    Particularly if you fail to see the similiarities of marching a group of Palestinians into a building, (then bombing it), to marching Jews into poison gas showers.
    Careful, “Karen”, remember to capitalize. 😉
    Cheers.

    Reply

  41. Cee says:

    Paul,
    It isn’t my website. I posted the above in response to Karen/Susan being upset about the Holocaust comparisons.
    She needs to deal with it
    http://desertpeace.wordpress.com/2009/01/22/comparative-holocausts-photo-essay/
    I take it that Karen hasn’t read the comments of the MP
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qMGuYjt6CP8

    Reply

  42. Paul Norheim says:

    Hi Karen,
    where do you find Cee`s website?

    Reply

  43. Karen says:

    I looked at your website, Cee and it is unbecoming of The Washington Note.
    I understand that you have every right to oppose Israel and to compare them to the Nazis, but I think you are disgusting for doing so.
    In doing so, you embody the hatred, ignorance and propoganda that you claim to oppose.
    I in no way want to minimize the immense suffering of the Palestinians, but to compare their conflict with the Israelis to Hitler’s final solution and murder of 12 million souls in Nazi death camps is beyond words.
    And thank you Rich for your comment. I appreciate your words. and an especially big thank you to POA for not verbally assaulting me. I have long been scared of commenting here for fear of being attacked and ridiculed.

    Reply

  44. Paul Norheim says:

    Except for his phone call to Mahmod Abbas, I have to admit that
    Obama`s first couple of days in office have been rather
    promising.

    Reply

  45. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “…. but I was directing my comment to those on this board who claim that this type of war crime is never perpetrated by the Palestinians”
    Funny, but I don’t recall anyone ever making that claim.
    However, its hard to imagine that in one of the most densely populated areas on earth, you can somehow separate the fighters from the non-combatants. Thats extremely convenient in providing the excuse for “collateral damage” if your purpose is to incinerate as many Palestinians you can before the world community cries foul.

    Reply

  46. Cee says:

    Who is Susan?

    Reply

  47. Sweetness says:

    Susan may not be around to read your link, but I am. Here’s
    some of the copy from your link…
    I especially like this one from the list below…
    “Why do they [the Jews] call themselves AshkeNAZI?”
    “Why can the Jews not see how dumb and stupid they are acting?
    WHY do the Jews continue to do the same DUMB things when
    they know that world opinion is against them?
    Why do the Jews not care about world opinion?
    Why are they trying do hard to SUBVERT world opinion?
    Why do the jews claim that they are not like the Nazis when the
    proof is in these pictures that they ARE just like the Nazis.
    Why do they call themselves AshkeNAZI?
    WHY are the sephardic jews treated like second class citizens
    when they are the real jews and the ashkenazi jews are just
    europeans who converted to a new religion?
    WHY do jews raised to beleive that they are superior to all other
    humans in this planet?
    WHY are jews raised to be racists?
    WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY”
    Posted by Cee

    Reply

  48. ... says:

    looks like an interesting read..
    The Holocaust Is Over; We Must Rise From its Ashes
    by Avraham Burg
    Burg’s central thesis is that Israel has changed, and become like some of the nations it abhors – specifically through its constant abuse of Palestinians and increasing belief the Israelis are “God’s people” (racism), all the while using the Holocaust as cover. Doing so continues to victimize current generations of Jews.
    “The Holocaust is Over” can be seen as a plea for Israelis to stop seeing themselves as victims. Hopefully it will also lead to American politicians ceasing their non-stop slathering over Israel.

    Reply

  49. rich says:

    Karen,
    The point of your comment wasn’t clear. Others are quick to use any eyelash to excuse Israel’s bombing of schools, so apologies in that I brought you into it if that wasn’t your purpose. I’ve hardly been a one-note Charlie here, but rather the antidote.
    You go awry, though, when you say “I’d argue that Jewish resistance fighters in the Warsaw ghetto were not launching military operations from schhools, etc in order to provoke retaliation and media condemnation, but rather out of necessity.”
    You have not drawn a distinction there. There is necessity, and provoking media condemnation was obviously not the point: breaking an illegal blockade, which Israel herself officially views as a casus belli, was. Israel had broken the cease-fire by crossing the border and killing 6 Palestinians, provoking the unwise resumption of the rockets.
    But let’s be clear about what is repugnant, Karen. When you draw a wider comparison, and draw in the Holocaust, that is repugnant. And it is offensive. Never Again! is something I will never back down on–and you don’t have exclusive ownership of that sentiment. I am wholly and eternally allied with you on that: and you must be clear on that point.
    There absolutely must be a Jewish homeland, fullstop. To accomplish that, land had to be taken from a group that had nothing to do with the Holocaust. It had to be done.
    My point is twofold: to rectify the litany of bloody anti-Semitic ethnic cleansing, pogroms to Holocaust, the state of Israel had to be born. Yet the wrongs done to Jewish people in Europe does not justify turning around and doing wrong to a third party; to Palestine and its people.
    No matter how you slice it, there has to be a reckoning. Now. An eye for an eye is unacceptable. It’s gone too far.
    Second, and even more important, the Holocaust does not justify or legitimize the adoption, by Israel, of the same tools and rhetoric used by germany during wwii against Jewish citizens. Period.
    Israel will never be fighting a just war given those two uncontrovertible circumstances.
    Karen, you need to acknowlege one thing: NO one compared Israel’s original intent to the scale or enormity of the Final Solution. I did not blur that boundary. We are speaking of specific tools and specific attitudes, used by and held by many in Israel, which are utterly unacceptable in light of the Holocaust. Former landowners of Palestine did not do those things in WWII in Germany or Europe generally. They deserve some recompense, and yes, peace as well as a just conclusion to this nightmare.
    I did not err in this area. But to claim as you seem to do that any Israeli action is okay and nothing can be said about it right up until the IDF begins “tattooing Palestinians … [etc.]” — is, and I say this with the utmost respect, utterly unacceptable. As everyone knows, the on-the-ground process at work is inexorable. Where the tools used and the philosophy espoused is in point of fact bigotry, intolerance, violence and mass death, it must be named as such, and stopped, no matter whose genocide it resembles. Precisely for the memory of those who’ve been lost.
    Don’t disappear, Karen. Many Holocaust survivors and their families agree with me. I am not anti-Israel nor against your point of view. Please give it some thought—stick around and keep folks on all sides honest. We need you.
    There is an unavoidable lesson in the defeat of Germany and Japan in WWII, and of Britain in the American Revolution: it’s called blowback. Nothing can stop it, save forsaking violence and reckoning with the issue on the political level. The alternative is far worse, and as you yourself indicate, it’s something for which there is no redemption. Important: Having the last word is not as important as getting this one thing right.

    Reply

  50. Cee says:

    Karen,
    Before you go
    COMPARATIVE HOLOCAUSTS ~~ PHOTO ESSAY
    January 22, 2009 at 8:21
    http://desertpeace.wordpress.com/2009/01/22/comparative-holocausts-photo-essay/

    Reply

  51. Karen says:

    Rich,
    I didn’t say that the U.N. compound was used as a staging ground in this latest disaster, but I was directing my comment to those on this board who claim that this type of war crime is never perpetrated by the Palestinians.
    Again, I’m not justifying anything, merely saying that there is more than enough blame to go around in Israel and Palestine.
    Further, I’d argue that Jewish resistance fighters in the Warsaw ghetto were not launching military operations from schhools, etc in order to provoke retaliation and media condemnation, but rather out of necessity.
    Further, I find the constant harping on Jewish resistance fighters in Warsaw – a resistance which lasted one month before ALL jews were shipped off to death camps – to be offensive.
    Save for one uncle on my father’s side, my
    parents are the only members of my family to survive the holocaust. They met in a DP camp at the ages of 16 and 19.
    Israel has clearly committed atrocities in its conflict with the Palestinians, but so have the Palestinians committed atrocities against the Israelis.
    when the Israelis begin tattooing Palestinians, pulling their gold fillings to melt, raping girls and making lamp shades out of their skin, then we can begin comparing them to the nazis.
    Until then, these comparisons are repugnant.
    Also, since I’ve seen on this blog that I will NEVER get the last word in against the majority anti-israel crowd here, this will be my last comment.
    Thank you.

    Reply

  52. rich says:

    Karen,
    The UN school in question was not used to fire mortars, as Israeli spokesman Yigal Palmor was forced to admit on CNN, and the UN spokesman confirmed in its investigation. Further, Israel went ahead to bomb 4 more UN schools–to which it had been the coordinates.
    Your ‘precedent’ hardly justifies those bombings, nor does it relieve the IDF of its obligations under international law and the Geneva Convention.
    It should be noted that Jewish resistance fighters used every civilian tool and refuge at their disposal in the Warsaw Ghetto, as well they should, and assassinated collaborators just as Hamas allegedly has done.
    Civilians who defend against an Army will use civilians tools and buildings. That’s no crime–and it doesn’t excuse greater disregard for civilian deaths by that uniformed army.

    Reply

  53. ... says:

    any excuse appears justifiable to some…

    Reply

  54. Karen says:

    How could the Israelis bomb the UN school in gaza??
    Apparently there IS a precedent for the use of the school as a military staging ground. At least according to Ban Ki-Moon
    http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=24593&Cr=palestin&Cr1=

    Reply

  55. WigWag says:

    It looks like the US has already gotten started on its heightened effort to interdict munitions from Iran being smuggled into Gaza.
    Jan 22, 2009 19:12
    Report: US searched Iranian ship suspected of smuggling arms to Hamas
    By ASSOCIATED PRESS
    WASHINGTON
    The US military intercepted, boarded and searched an Iranian-owned ship that officials feared was carrying arms to the militant group Hamas, but two officials said it was unclear Thursday whether those suspicions were justified.
    The Cypriot-flagged commercial vessel was tracked by a US Navy ship in the Red Sea over the weekend, one official said. It was boarded and searched with the consent of the vessel’s crew on Monday and Tuesday, said another.
    They both spoke on condition of anonymity because details were still sketchy and they were not authorized to speak about it on the record.
    One official said the two-day search turned up ammunition that included artillery shells, and since Hamas is not known to use artillery, officials are now uncertain who the intended recipient was.

    Reply

  56. Cee says:

    Stanley,
    This should interest you
    Obama spy chief choice: U.S. intel should try to work with Iran
    By Reuters
    President Barack Obama’s choice for spy chief, Dennis Blair, said Thursday that U.S. intelligence agencies should seek ways of working with Iran on issues of mutual interest, underscoring the new administration’s interest in engagement with elements in the Islamic state.
    “While policymakers need to understand anti-American leaders, policies and actions in Iran, the intelligence community can also help policymakers identify and understand other leaders and political forces, so that it is possible to work toward a future in both our interests,” retired Admiral Blair said on Thursday in a prepared statement for a Senate hearing on his nomination as Director of National Intelligence.

    Reply

  57. JamesL says:

    Re Paul’s post, I would enthusiastically welcome new inclusive perspectives to the Israeli/Palestinian dilemma. What I see, endlessly, in American MSM, is a very narrow-minded coverage, based primarily in media glitz, and my posts and many others here reflect a desire to increase the breadth of the considerations. If there was a single word that might cover that new perspective, it would be pragmatic. I never thought I’d miss Nixon, but that was before W. I truely hope Obama rises to this complex task.

    Reply

  58. WigWag says:

    Sameer Lalwani, titled his post, “Coming Down from the Dream, Facing Up to Realities” but he is the one who seems impervious to the realities of the situation. In his post he repeats the canard that it’s critical to “promote Palestinian reconciliation as Roula Khalaf and Daniel Levy have long argued.”
    But here’s more on the Palestinian Civil War. This is from Haaretz:
    Last update – 14:51 22/01/2009
    Senior Hamas official dismisses reconciliation talks with Fatah
    A senior Hamas official on Thursday dismissed any reconciliation talks with rival Fatah group.
    Sami Khater, a member of the militant group’s Damascus-based branch, said Arab and international donations to reconstruct the war-devastated Gaza should go directly to Hamas and not to rival Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas whose faction rules the West Bank.
    Khater said Abbas and his Palestinian Authority cannot be trusted…
    Palestinian Authority Social Affairs Minister Mahmoud Habbash earlier on Thursday accused gunmen from the Hamas movement in the Gaza Strip of hijacking dozens of trucks carrying aid intended for residents reeling from the three-week-long Israeli assault.
    Habbash, of the Fatah-led government based in the West Bank, told Voice of Palestine Radio that the trucks were supposed to come under the authority of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA).
    Hamas, however, says the supply trucks were dispatched by Arab donors specifically for the Hamas administration in the Strip, and to no other group, to distribute to the people of Gaza…
    Habbash further accused Hamas gunmen of executing members of its rival, President Mahmoud Abbas’ secular Fatah group, during and after the Israeli assault, which began on December 27…
    A spokesman for the Hamas Ministry of Interior in the Strip said Thursday that “any collaborator will be arrested” but added that the movement “will do nothing outside the law.”
    “Anyone who is proved to have helped the occupation (Israel) will be arrested,” Ihab Ghassein said.
    He said Hamas was not working against Fatah but against collaborators, and accused the secular movement of lying to “cover up its own lack of help” to Gaza residents during and after the Israeli offensive, which left over 1,400 Palestinians dead and thousands of people homeless…
    Maybe someday, Mr. Lalwani and Daniel Levy will tell us which they think will be easier to achieve; peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians or peace between Hamas and Fatah.

    Reply

  59. Sweetness says:

    “I don’t want to hear another word about Israel defending
    themselves.”
    Cee, you didn’t want to hear about it…to begin with. So what’s the
    diff?

    Reply

  60. Karen says:

    Another side of the story. Remember Jenin? The truth always lies somewhere between the warring factions in the ME and on TWN.
    http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3660423,00.html

    Reply

  61. Paul Norheim says:

    “You might just get some things wrong.” (POA)
    I guess you`re referring to my description/interpretation of how
    you and some other anti-Israel commenters position yourself and
    why. Yes, I might obviously get some things wrong here: I am not
    a mind reader. And I would be happy if you or others correct me
    or enlighten us further on the subject.

    Reply

  62. Cee says:

    IDF soldiers killed a farmer on Saturday. Now this
    Medic: Israeli gunboat fire wounds 2 Gazans
    Posted: Today at 1:44 a.m.
    GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — A Palestinian medical official says an Israeli gunboat firing off the shores of Gaza City has wounded a man and a girl.
    The Israeli military says it was firing to deter a Palestinian fishing vessel that had strayed off-limits.
    Dr. Moaiya Hassanain says a shell fired by the boat hit a house in a beachside refugee camp. He says the two who were wounded were walking in the street.
    Another shell landed about 100 yards (meters) away in an empty area near a U.N. aid distribution center.
    Three gunboats were operating off Gaza City’s coast Thursday.
    Gunboats have been firing off Gaza’s shore for several days despite a cease-fire that has ended a three-week Israeli offensive against Gaza rocket operations aimed at Israel.
    I don’t want to hear another word about Israel defending themselves.

    Reply

  63. varanasi says:

    great post, paul. i commend the spirit in which you look deeply at an intractable, polarizing, and ambiguous conflict where one side lives under occupation and the other with fear.
    i wish i had more time to respond, but i’m on a whirlwind journey at the moment, so i’ll be brief: kudos,paul!

    Reply

  64. PissedOffAmerican says:

    BTW, I see Israel is already impeding the transportatioon of life saving goods and services into Gaza. Anyone that thinks Israel is not working to completely wipe out the Palestinian people is a fuckin’ idiot.

    Reply

  65. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Paul, you are certainly entitled to express your opinion. But try to remember, just because you hazard to attach motives, interpretations, and cause and effect conclusions to our comments, does not render your opinion faultless. You might just get some things wrong.

    Reply

  66. Sweetness says:

    Good post, Paul. I’ve always thought that the way forward is in all
    parties becoming keepers (guardians of) the OTHERS’ perspective.

    Reply

  67. arthurdecco says:

    “If Hamas’s extremism ceases to match up to the world that ordinary Gazans experience, then Hamas will lose support as a party.” Questions
    Can you offer us a list of “extremist” actions that can be laid at the feet of Hamas, Questions? I mean with “proof” not supplied from Memri or any of the other countless Israeli or right wing North American Jewish organizations?
    I’ve always been led to believe that providing a safe and secure physical environment under the rule of law, ensuring people are provided with adequate health care and enough food in their bellies were the furthest things possible from “extremism”, but perhaps not for those who gaze approvingly on the actions of that shitty little country, Israel and its criminal dealings with the owners of the lands they covet and their understandably nervous close neighbours.
    Perhaps for them, “extremism” is whatever anyone does to protect themselves and their citizenry from targeted killings and slow-motion starvation by a blood-drenched predator intent on their total submission, if not utter destruction.

    Reply

  68. TonyForesta says:

    There was a report today on CNN of the ongoing tunnel operations in the Gaza. What struck me most beside the apparent fact that these operations are ongoing despite Israels 21 day carnage, was the basic math. Laborers make $200 a day. I work occassionally as a mason building art projects; labyrinths, restoration projects, chimneys, walls, fountains, high end projects for at highend properties, and that wage compares with mine. Are they hiring? Then the report stated that the owners of those tunnels can make as much as $4000.00 a for access. If that math is true, – and I am always suspect of American news – but if it is true – then all hamas claims of the downtrodden Palestinians is rendered hollow and moot, if not laughable. Where do they get the money to finance tunnels, and deny the Palestinian people basic services? We swim in an ocean of lies. The leaderships in these lands are liars, theives, and massmurderers and until that changes – there will never be any resolution to the bloody, costly horrorshow in Palestine.
    Vampires!

    Reply

  69. ... says:

    tony comment “Let these vampires slaughter each other, and look towards improving the lives of Americans.”
    tony, notice where the majority of usa military exports goes to…
    http://www.nationmaster.com/red/graph/mil_us_mil_exp-military-us-exports
    eisenhowers words are stronger today then they were when he voiced them many years ago… the usa appears beyond the point of return on this.. redirecting the titanic prior to it’s hitting an iceberg is an apt analogy… i wish captain obama all the best and like to believe in miracles… we need one at this time…

    Reply

  70. ... says:

    Gideon Levy / Gaza war ended in utter failure for Israel
    http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1057670.html
    The conclusion is that Israel is a violent and dangerous country, devoid of all restraints and blatantly ignoring the resolutions of the United Nations Security Council, while not giving a hoot about international law. The investigations are on their way.
    Graver still is the damage this will visit upon our moral spine. It will come from difficult questions about what the IDF did in Gaza, which will occur despite the blurring effect of recruited media.
    So what was achieved, after all? As a war waged to satisfy considerations of internal politics, the operation has succeeded beyond all expectations. Likud Chair Benjamin Netanyahu is getting stronger in the polls. And why? Because we could not get enough of the war.

    Reply

  71. TonyForesta says:

    This horrific bloody conflict will never be resolved. I agree with whomeversheorheis early on, that America should keep “…it’s ass out of others affairs and stuck closer to home.” Particularly with regard to the horrorshow in Palestine. Israel is actions constitute aparthied. Hamas is jihadi. The innocent people of Palestiine are incapable of seeing any light beyond resistance and killing Israeli’s. Israeli’s can see no light beyond vaporizing hamas. These battles are ancient, thousand of years of killing and revenge and more killing and more revenge. Until moderates on both side rise to positions of leadership and move their respective populations to moderation, progress, and basic humanity, – there will never be an end to the horrors in Palestiine. Mark my words. All the middle envoys and all the presidents men cannot put this blood slaughter and horrorshow back together again. Better to work toward containment, and managment of an horrific horrorshow, than to get directly involved in a conflict that is rooted in thousands of years of hate and bloodshed, than to take any side in this nightmare. Obama should be nuetral and let these vampires drink the blood of their people until their people recognize their leaders are failing them, and will never achieve any of thier disparate objectives.
    The horrorshow in Palestine is NOT solvable under the current leaderships, and in the current circumstances.
    Let these vampires slaughter each other, and look towards improving the lives of Americans.
    America should take the China stance of Palestine. Point fingers, condemn obvious abuses and crimes (which are prolific on both sides) and stay out of this bloodbath.

    Reply

  72. ... says:

    paul – i would agree with many of your personal comments in the 10:58pm post… fear and reality aren’t the same thing… when one is ruled by fear there’s no chance for freedom..
    fear is seen in the choice of words used from either side….
    exterminated
    mass murder
    terrorist
    holocaust
    jihad
    religious fanatic
    wmds
    i’m sure i’m missing some… if you strip away the eloquent language/knowledge shared in the posts, you’ll almost always come upon these words when talking about the middle east and they will generally define the persons bias quickly and clearly… the fact is these words can be used to define either side, although some are considered the soul property of only one side, like a prized possession that can be used to clobber the other over the head with is beside my main point…
    if either side uses any of these words to define what is happening, their is little chance of any objective conversing with those same folks generally… i use some of these words, being more inclined to use them when someone from a diametrically opposed view is using them.. perhaps the one i have used the most of late is ‘mass murder’ as from what i can tell it is one side that has experienced this in the past 3 weeks and not the other, but i picked up on it when i realized a few pro israel folks were using it in reference to the palestinians… anyone can use loaded language, with some of it being more accurate then not..
    these words are some of the main tools of propagandists.. whether ordinary folks can free themselves from the falsehoods these words work to create appears shaky.. something radical usually has to happen for a new understanding to open up…

    Reply

  73. Syed Qamar Afzal Rizvi says:

    T seek a viable, sustainable and prgamatic conflict resolution of the Middle east,requies an exigency of fostering an American policy shift from the premise of neoliberlist approach to the idealistically advocated realist doctrine-the Morgenthau perception,evaluating a significant leverage regarding the public opinion in the state, while giving worth to this thesis, one can not refute the logic to accept the truth: the Hamas-led Palestinian political influence to direct the fate of the Arab- Israeli conflict resolution.

    Reply

  74. Susan says:

    F”uture Israeli leadership regardless of composition, will continue to deem it a political necessity to carry out similar operations in the future.”

    Reply

  75. JohnH says:

    Sameer has it exactly right when he says, “the Obama administration will have to contend with…an Israeli domestic political scene whose security needs and calculations may at times depart from the US.”
    It really is about Israeli politicians and their supporters in Washington. To them, death and destruction in Lebanon and the Palestinian territories is moot. To them, the more death and destruction, the better. It really matters not what Fatah or Hamas do or don’t do. They can reconcile or not. The result will be the same–when the Israeli cabinet gets a thorn in its side (whatever the cause), a pogrom will ensue. And when Israel feels a need to do a pogrom, strategic considerations be damned!
    Given the current political calculus in Washington (AIPAC, etc.), there is apparently nothing, absolutely nothing that will diminish Washington’s
    zeal to aid and abet pogroms in any way they can.
    The only thing that will change the situation is for Israel’s neighbors to find ways to defend themselves. Hezbollah’s stash of rockets apparently dissuaded Israel from conducting another rampage last summer. Only time will tell if it lasts and what amount of deterrence provides security against attack.
    It could be that Israel chose to beat the crap out of Gaza, because the Palestinians are the only ones left for Israel to exact revenge on. And for some reason, Israel seems to need them so they can continue to beat the crap out of somebody.
    With “strategic allies” like this, who needs enemies?

    Reply

  76. Paul Norheim says:

    MORE THAN THREE WEEKS of war on the Gaza strip. More than
    three weeks of heated arguments at TWN.
    What did we achieve?
    Nothing, of course. We have participated in a stubborn and
    impotent war of words, where everybody fought for, and were
    confirmed in their own, long held convictions.
    The positions:
    ONE FACTION SAYS that Israel has to do what it does because
    Hamas is a terrorist organization that mingles with the civilian
    population and uses innocent children as human shields; that
    has chosen targeting innocent civilians as their preferred tactics;
    and that says in its Charter that Israel should cease to exist – in
    short: an anti-semitic terror organization.
    THE OTHER FACTION SAYS that Israel is a brutal oppressor and
    colonizer targeting Palestinian civilians as a collective
    punishment for supporting Hamas; a racist state that does this
    with the bigger aim of creating a greater Israel where
    Palestinians are treated like the black population in South Africa
    under Apartheid, a state whose actions are comparable to the
    Nazis 65-70 years ago.
    The first position mirrors roughly the narrative told by main
    stream media in Israel and America, and the second mirrors
    roughly the narrative told by main stream media in my own
    country, Norway.
    And the clash between those two positions at TWN mirrors the
    clash taking place in the blogosphere all over the world, and
    perhaps particularly in the West. Commenters at TWN may be
    more informed about foreign countries and geopolitics than the
    average blogger on the average site, but in discussions on the
    symbolically charged Israel-Palestine conflict, everybody has
    long held opinions, everybody is an expert, and can throw facts
    at their opponent. In this sense, TWN is more or less
    undistinguishable from any other blog dealing with this issue.
    Add the insults and ad hominem attacks exchanged, add the
    obsessive insistence on certain details and facts and contra-
    facts linked to from more or less credible sources, add the
    claims not supported by any facts – and it`s very hard to see
    how the discussion and arguments at TWN are of a higher
    quality, or in any way above the average amateur blog or reader
    discussions contained under certain articles in the big
    newspapers.
    TODAY I READ AN ESSAY in a weekly newspaper by a Norwegian
    author, Kai Skagen, who claimed that every possible narrative
    contained in the conflict had disappeared in the Norwegian
    mainstream media, except the one saying that this is the story
    about a brutal state killing, even targeting Palestinian civilians.
    FOR THE CIVILIANS, he says, the war is always a catastrophe,
    regardless of the perspectives, values or world view motivating
    them. The perspective of the Palestinian civilians is that the
    Israeli war machine is crushing them, killing and maiming their
    children and parents, denying them access to food, medicines,
    water, necessary infrastructure. This is the perspective of the
    civilians, the most just and innocent point of view in every war.
    From this perspective, war is hell, and a pacifistic standpoint
    perhaps the only reasonable one, although the thought of
    revenge is also present.
    THE AUTHORITIES IN GAZA, HAMAS, are certainly not pacifists.
    According to the Hamas Charter of 1988, Palestine is an
    “Islamic waqf” that belongs to all Muslims until the Day of
    Judgement. Giving away land to non-Muslim powers is against
    the religion. Peace conferences are only a mean to select
    “infidels as negotiators in Islamic land areas”. With their money,
    the enemy were able to dominate the world`s mass media, news
    agencies, the press, publishers, radio stations etc.
    With their money they started revolutions in different parts of
    the world to serve their interests. They were behind the French
    revolution, the communist revolution and most revolutions we
    have ever heard about. With their money, they created secret
    clubs and organizations like the Free Masons, the Rotary Clubs,
    Lions etc, to sabotage societies and serve zionistic interests.
    They were behind WW 1, where they destroyed the Islamic
    Caliphate, they created the UN and the Security Council, they
    were behind WW 2, which provided them with enormous profits
    through weapons deals, and laid the foundation for their state.
    In this perspective, Israel represents a secret movement with
    world domination as their goal. This enemy is evil and ruthless,
    and does not hesitate to commit any horrible crimes. With such
    an enemy, Kai Skagen says, it is also understandable that you
    use the means you have. Forty years of occupation and
    humiliation lays the fundament for confusing this portrait of the
    enemy with reality. With this misconception in their heads, even
    good and decent people may walk into a randomly chosen
    Israeli bus and blow up both themselves and civil Israelis. And
    when this have happened again and again, other good and
    decent people may start raising a wall.
    IT IS NOT REQUIRED, Skagen says, to understand this wall or the
    mass murder of civilian Israelis. It is not required to understand
    the mass murder in New York. But we have to understand the
    confusion, the humiliation, the fear.
    ACCORDING TO THE PERSPECTIVE OF THE EVANGELICAL
    CHRISTIANS, God has given Palestine not to the Muslims, but to
    the Jews. According to this prophetic point of view, Gaza and
    the West Bank, parts of Egypt, Lebanon, Syria and Jordan is
    contained in the gift God gave to the Jews. At the end of times,
    God will assist its chosen people and miraculously help it to
    conquer the enemy. According to this view, the Lord himself is
    the pilot in every Israeli jet fighter dropping bombs.
    WHO OWNS JERUSALEM? In a religious perspective, the Jews, the
    Christians and the Muslims may all claim that they own it.
    Historically, it has been Jewish, Roman, Christian, Byzantine,
    Arab, Ottoman, British, and once again Jewish. With so many
    parts being able to present a religious or historical claim on the
    country, Skagen says, you have to find a basis for distributing it.
    Most people agree that this distribution may be in accordance
    with the borders legally accepted by the United Nations.
    ONE OF THE BIGGEST OBSTACLES with regards to distribution,
    Skagen continues, is the Israeli settler movement on the West
    bank. In the view of the religious zionists, the Jewish
    settlements happen in accordance with a metaphysical or
    religious right. The settlements recreate the “promised land”
    that God according to Jewish tradition has given the Jews. When
    they actively try to integrate the West Bank into Israel by
    creating demographical facts that are difficult to put into
    reverse, religious zionists believe that they accelerate the
    coming of the Messiah.
    But seen from the Palestinian perspective, the settlers are seen
    as a colonial movement with the long term goal of removing the
    Palestinian people. Some analysts also regard the Israeli state
    project in this perspective.
    A SECULAR ISRAELI POINT OF VIEW is that also the Jewish people
    has a right to a homeland, its own state. This right is given a
    particularly compelling justification by the historical persecution
    of the Jews, From this point of view, the fight with the
    Palestinians is not a fight about Gaza and the West Bank, but
    about the right to exist as an Israeli state. According to them,
    this right has never been accepted in the Arab world. According
    to this perspective, the issue is not about giving or not giving
    the West Bank to the Palestinians, but to prevent a new
    Holocaust. They believe that if the Arab states had the power to
    do it, they would eliminate Israel, and that Iran plans to use
    nuclear weapons against Israel. With such a perspective, even
    the existence of the Palestinian people may be regarded as a
    security threat. A collective fear of death may push for the slow
    annexation of the West Bank.
    The combination of a national trauma and a messianic world
    view, may make it look like even a policy of settlements and
    apartheid rule is necessary to survive. How would the fate of
    Israel look like if the Palestinians established a state on the West
    Bank and sent their rockets against big Israeli cities and towns
    from close range? When will weapons of mass destruction be
    smuggled through the tunnels under the border between Egypt
    and Gaza? When will Hamas obtain rockets that can reach Tel
    Aviv?
    In this perspective, Kai Skagen argues, only the military strength
    of Israel and the physical potential for deterrence is able to
    prevent that the country and the people is exterminated. From
    this point of view, driven by the will and desire to survive, you
    may attack your enemy with all available means, even if the
    enemy is hiding among the civilian population, that will
    inevitably be hit. You may even decide to commit ethnic
    cleansing, since what you are doing in your own eyes is to fight
    for your existence, at the same time as others regard you as an
    expansionistic war state.
    ISN`T IT A PRECONDITION, Skagen asks, for those who want to
    say something that may provide to a solution to the seemingly
    irresolvable conflict, that they have to include the perspective of
    all the parts in the conflict, no matter how weird or traumatic
    they may seem? Because, isn`t trust a question of perspective?
    It is not possible to trust someone who looks at the world with
    a point of view that is not comprehensive for you. Nobody want
    to lay down arms if he believes to be surrounded by gangsters
    or threatened by monsters.
    According to the Norwegian author, all these perspectives have
    disappeared in the Norwegian debate, and the only remaining
    rest is TV pictures of Palestinian civilian victims.
    And you may say that in American main stream media, most of
    these perspectives have long been absent, and the remaining
    rest is the Israeli nations fighting a desperate struggle for its
    right to exist, surrounded by religious extremists who want to
    exterminate the Jews and their state, and use suicide bombers
    as their preferred weapon against the Israelis.
    Because of this reduction of perspectives, any attempt to
    understand the other side is perceived as a a defense for mass
    murder of civilians.
    I HAVE PARAPHRASED and quoted extensively from Kai
    Skagen`s brilliant essay, written in a different context than the
    American (and pardon my poor English and errors here and
    there). The second part of his essay, dealing with the Norwegian
    context, is less relevant here. However, I find this reminder of
    the many existing perspectives highly relevant in this context as
    well. Skagen says that giving room for several simultanious
    perspectives is a fundamental principle in European tradition.
    You may add: in American, tradition as well – actually in any
    society with a democratic tradition.
    As I said, the American context is very different. Those
    commenters who oppose the standard narrative of the conflict,
    perceive themselves as a necessary counter weight to the
    ubiquitous propaganda from AIPAC, distributed in the mass
    media; they want to provide perspectives that are absent in the
    official version. They regard themselves as a minority, figthing
    propaganda.
    YOU MAY CALL THIS THE “ISRAEL LOBBY” VERSION, a perspective
    that is lacking in Kai Skagen`s essay, and that to a large extent
    is in accordance with Walt and Mearsheimer`s famous book
    with the same title. According to the TWN variant of this
    perspective, American tax payers unwillingly pay money for
    wars against the Arab populations in Iraq and Palestine, wars
    that are not fought in the interest of USA, but in the interest of
    Israel. Due to an enormous pressure from lobbies like AIPAC,
    the mainstream media, US politicians in the Congress and the
    Senate, as well as every US administration fight wars that are
    contrary to US national interest and security. The aim of these
    commenters at TWN is to inform the mislead and ignorant
    American public about this.
    On the other hand, we have a little handful of defenders of
    Israel, who regard themselves as a minority within the context
    of the Washington Note. They are familiar with the views of the
    majority at TWN, and try to provide an alternative perspective.
    And this perspective is very similar to the official Israeli-
    American version of the conflict, and is perceived by the
    majority as propaganda.
    MY OWN VIEW is known to people who may have read some of
    my posts about this conflict. I roughly share the view of people
    like POA, rich and others here, and regard the annexation of
    Palestinian territory, the settlements, and the brutal treatment
    of Palestinians as unjust and not even in the interest of Israelis
    in the long run. I regard the biased US position as a key
    obstacle, and hope that those Europeans who have a more
    balanced view may in the long run convince the Americans to
    change course. In general, however, I am very pessimistic with
    regards to a solution of the conflict. It has lasted much longer
    then I have lived, became intensified in 1967 when I was five
    years old, and the back clashes and the continuation of
    settlements has made me very cynical.
    Do those who write comments here against the official US
    narrative provide anything useful for anyone, except nourishing
    their own convictions? Perhaps. But most of what I read from
    both sides (and I have to admit: most of what I have written
    myself as well) seem to reflect the arguments expressed in
    thousands of blogs and internet sites on the blogosphere right
    now, and I have doubts that repeating the same arguments ten
    or twenty times more adds anything to anything.
    I REMEMBER VAGUELY a couple of sentences from a comment
    from “questions”, written just after he told us that he had lost
    his mother. I think he talked about all these narratives, and how
    they mutually exclude each other (I think he said so, but I may
    be wrong). But what I have been thinking about a lot since I
    read it, was this: he suggested that what is needed is a
    narrative that transcends or bridges the gap between these
    mutually excluding narratives, a narrative so compelling that it
    will make both WigWag and POA see the conflict with new eyes.
    I believe that this suggestion is in line with the spirit of the
    essay I have paraphrased.
    You may ask: do we need a narrative that may widen the
    perspective of two Americans with opposite positions, or a
    narrative that may widen the perspective of the direct
    participants in the conflict? Do we need a narrative that changes
    the perspective of a distant superpower that is an obstacle for
    peace, or do we need a narrative that changes the perspective in
    the region? Should we try to provide unexpected perspectives,
    in the hope that some of Steve`s powerful friends randomly
    stumbles upon it, and realize something that they have not seen
    before?
    Is it some of us, living in America or in Europe or India, who
    should try to create that narrative, or should it be shaped by
    people directly involved in the conflict? Or should we just
    continue to scream our convictions at each other, and point to
    indisputable facts, in the spirit of simplicity, since this is a
    propaganda war, and we have to win that war?
    I don`t know.
    IF TWN HAD BEEN A DIFFERENT BLOG and the broader context
    had been different, I believe that both parts in the debate here
    may have expressed themselves somewhat more nuanced. I
    remember reading several posts from POA where he objected
    strongly against statements like “Death over Israel” and “Israel is
    a cancer”, that came from a commenter with a militant view,
    who presented himself as a American-Palestinian. He was
    secular, but supported Hamas because it was the only viable
    entity that could represent and lead the resistance against Israel
    at the moment. If the majority of the posters at TWN, including
    the host, had shared the view of this militant Palestinian, I
    would guess that I, rich, POA, …, DonS and others would have
    expressed ourselves differently. And I have noticed that “the
    minority within the minority” have said things that indicate that
    they are aware that Israel have been extraordinarily brutal, and
    may have committed war crimes. In a different context, with
    more space for plural perspectives, they may have admitted
    more.
    But TWN is what it is, and the context is what it is. And the
    Israeli/Palestine conflict is highly charged symbolically. Perhaps
    we may have been more useful if we had invested our efforts in
    a bigger and more horrible conflict that is less symbolically
    charged – like the war in Congo? I have participated in the
    arguments exchanged back and forth since the invasion started.
    I have not tried to create a narrative similar to what “questions”
    alluded to. Because I am lazy? Because it is easier to write
    polemical comments against a well defined opponent? Or
    because I instinctively realize that it is beyond my capacity?
    Perhaps a combination of all three explanations. But I have
    serious doubts with regards to the point of the current
    discourse at The Washington Note. 95 % of the posts (yes, there
    are exceptions) are predictable, and mirror what anyone could
    have said anywhere, the insults included.

    Reply

  77. Dan Kervick says:

    Obama has often spoken of his worries about getting trapped in an information bubble inside the presidency. Given his shaky non-start on the Gaza crisis, with weeks of silence followed by a tentative gesture yesterday of US business as usual, the bubble appears to have taken shape earlier than might have been suspected. The fact that Obama began his efforts with a call to Abbas and Mubarak suggests that he may have been talked into an approach to the Gaza conflict that has already been rendered obsolete by rapidly moving events. Even the Israelis seem to understand that the Palestinian Authority is weak, and can’t be driven into Gaza on the back of an Israeli tank, despite some early fantasies to the contrary.
    Obama needs to decide right now whether this is a problem he wants to get out in front of, or if he is instead willing to begin his administration by getting dragged along behind events, and suffering an early and painful diplomatic failure that marks him as just another captive American fool who doesn’t get it.
    Maybe Obama should stop listening to Israelis and quasi-Israelis who presume to tell him what Arabs think, and talk to some actual Arabs outside the small circle of American autocrat-buddies. Or maybe he should pay attention to a man like Robert Fisk, who has spent enormous amounts of time in the Middle East, and actually seems to know something about what people in the region think. A key passage from Fisk’s column in today’s Independent:
    “There was the phone call yesterday to Mahmoud Abbas. Maybe Obama thinks he’s the leader of the Palestinians, but as every Arab knows, except perhaps Mr Abbas, he is the leader of a ghost government, a near-corpse only kept alive with the blood transfusion of international support and the “full partnership” Obama has apparently offered him, whatever “full” means.”
    Here is the article:
    http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/fisk/robert-fisk-so-far-obamas-missed-the-point-on-gaza-1488632.html
    WigWag is just repeating the stale talking points of of a public relations campaign that is already outdated. The vaunted Persian-Arab cold war in the Middle East is a PR creation of Bush’s Washington, Riyadh, Cairo and Tel Aviv. It doesn’t reflect the perceptions that are churning beneath it. The same goes for attempts to dress Hamas up as some sort of Iranian vanguard on the shores of the Mediterranean. Hamas will take support where it can get it. But it is no Iranian agent.
    WigWag seems to think that Abbas, Mubarak, Olmert and friends have succeeded in isolating Hamas. Precisely the reverse is true. They have only succeeded in isolating and discrediting themselves. The Gaza massacre is the foreshock of an earthquake that is just beginning to rumble through the region. Like Hizbollah before them in 2006, Hamas is going to be strengthened by this episode, not weakened.
    And if he doesn’t watch out, another American president is going to end up looking like just another obtuse fool, muttering silly and directionless pieties and conventional wisdom over the unobserved carcasses of the dead. He needs to show the region that he is actually awake; that he sees and hears and understands. Otherwise, his Middle East efforts will be dealt a crippling body blow before he takes one step.
    Obama should send Rahm Emanuel out to get doughnuts and coffee. Then he should call Ban Ki-Moon, Hanan Ashrawi and Rashid Khalidi, and put the Egyptians and Israelis on hold.

    Reply

  78. questions says:

    Extremist political parties, defined here as those that require disruptions in the lives of supporters, have limited life spans without their partisans’ exaggerating threats or threatening reprisals for exit. The Republicans here did well for a time by using the “race card” and the “terrorism card”, and then they burnt out because they needed a new card and couldn’t find one. And they couldn’t threaten members of the party with certain death for the crime of defection (though the NRA actually does use a variant of that theme.)
    If Hamas’s extremism ceases to match up to the world that ordinary Gazans experience, then Hamas will lose support as a party. They can round up collaborators and execute them, but otherwise, they are left without support.
    The goal, then, should be the creation of political supports for Gazans such that extremism starts to seem pretty bizarre. When there’s sufficient food, clothing, shelter, entertainment, and general stability, cultural continuity, and something like beauty, then citizens have a hard time feeling threatened enough to join crazy factions.
    From Jane Mansbridge’s very nice book “Why We Lost the ERA”, the point arises that interest groups (read Phyllis Schlafly and NOW) way overstated what the ERA would do and set off panics on both sides. OMG, coed bathrooms and women on the front lines….OMG women will never have respect or jobs without this amendment…. Both sides burnt out after a time. The amendment didn’t pass, but women are everywhere anyway. Schlafly failed after a fashion, and NOW was wrong about the power of statute to alter the universe. We didn’t need the panic of the partisans so much as we needed a long slow move towards inclusion. But for a time, the crazy rhetoric struck a chord with a lot of anxious women who were uncertain of their social status one way or another.
    As long as Hamas’s rhetoric matches the craziness of the daily experience of Gazans (Israel has not been a humane jailer), Gazans will turn to Hamas as the better bet. Rehumanize life in Gaza and it’s possible that Hamas will start to seem a bit crazy.
    Can Israel be convinced that it’s in their interest to treat humans as humans, especially when extremist descriptions of Hamas seem relatively accurate from the point of view of, say, residents of Sderot?
    If Sderot and its kindred towns are made to feel well-compensated or simply safe, and simultaneously, Gazans can be shown in sympathetic light, then perhaps there’s some political space for altering the calculus. If Gazans can see Israelis in humane garb instead of as soldiers and keepers of the gates…. Let’s face it, if one’s main experience of Israelis is teenage border guards and soldiers bombing and bulldozing, one is not likely to have a kindly thought in one’s head…..
    The underlying problem is that both sides feel rational and justified in their own positions, and equally that the other side is irrational and unjustified. WigWag gives one side of this view, and others (e.g., Paul) have presented the other side.

    Reply

  79. Stanley says:

    I think Obama struck an ideal balance in his Inaugural Address in
    regards to foreign policy. He made our nation sound as if it is
    tough and unwavering in its principles but aware that purely
    militaristic solutions will not suffice in solving the world’s conflicts.
    Here is an interesting news clip about the potential an Obama
    administration has to alter U.S. foreign relations for the better:
    http://www.newsy.com/videos/fresh_start_for_u_s_global_relations
    /
    A particularly interesting point made in this clip is the need to
    foster cooperation with Russia – an Iranian ally – in dealing with
    Iran, which, as the above article mentions, is gaining influence in
    the Gulf States.

    Reply

  80. carol says:

    I hope Pres Obama will take a different stance on our policy with Israel; we cannot keep up this condoning of their every move. That may have worked for Bush but it can’t continue if we are to be seen as honest brokers. I think it is imperative that he talks to both sides of this conflict as taking sides with one and condemning the other is not working and not right.

    Reply

  81. ... says:

    reconciling the religious/military fanatics with any peaceful view held in israel must present a similar dilemma… it is obvious the former have the upper hand..

    Reply

  82. Mr.Murder says:

    Every tenth of a cent fuel prices drops puts billions back into the economy and makes other sectors more competitive.
    Obama’s accomplishment in helping secure the confidence of Israel to withdraw from Gaza, which Steve Clemons higlighted earlier in this blog, that will have reciprocal gains.
    Nobody can price evaluate the fact that placing troops on hostile ground inspires resistance, builds causes that oppose you, creates loss for both sides.
    Take the Gaza example and apply it to Iraq.

    Reply

  83. WigWag says:

    “This means tackling the reality of Hamas on the Palestinian political scene as Marc Lynch and Richard Murphy point out and finding ways to promote Palestinian reconciliation as Roula Khalaf and Daniel Levy have long argued.”
    Israel has just finished destroying large portions of the Hamas infrastructure in Gaza. Prior to the bombing campaign which was a prelude to the invasion, the Israelis received intelligence on where to attack from Fatah sources in the West Bank and Gaza. President Abbas blamed Hamas for breaking the cease fire and for the blood shed in Gaza. The Palestinian Authority joined Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt in boycotting the Arab League Summit designed to address the Israeli invasion. During the Israeli invasion the Palestinian Authority (read Fatah) suppressed most demonstrations of support for Gaza that Hamas tried to carry out in the West Bank.
    Two years ago Hamas brutally defeated Fatah and expelled their leaders from Gaza; hundreds were killed. The few that remained have been persecuted and in some cases tortured. During the Israeli campaign, Hamas imprisoned scores of Fatah members. Since the cease fire, Hamas has murdered hundreds of “Fatah collaborators.” The invective hurled by Hamas spokesmen in the direction of the Palestinian Authority and President Abbas has been vitriolic. In fact, Hamas spokesmen have promised that Palestinian Authority leaders in the West Bank were subject to assassination by Hamas.
    Mimicking a circumstance found all over the Muslim world, the Hamas philosophy while not Salafist (yet) is based in a fundamentalist understanding of Islam. Fatah is a “secular” organization.
    Fatah is aligned with the Sunni Muslim world; Hamas (though Sunni Muslim itself) is aligned with the Shiite Muslim World.
    Fatah’s main allies are all Arabs. The most important ally of Hamas is Iran; that is to say, Persian.
    So in light of all of this, maybe Mr. Lalwani will be able to enlighten us in a way that Lynch, Murphy, Khalaf and Levy have been unable to.
    1) Does Mr. Lalwani really think the biggest problem between Hamas and Fatah is their differing strategy about how (or even whether) to engage the Israelis?
    2) In light of the current civil war going on between Hamas and Fatah, exactly how does he propose promoting Palestinian reconciliation and what does he think the likelihood of success is?
    3) How long does he think it will take to reconcile Hamas and Fatah; a month? Six months? A year? Five years? And does he think the Israeli/Palestinian peace process should be put on hold until Fatah and Hamas work out their disagreements?
    The group of experts who think reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah is a prerequisite for progress in the Israel-Palestinian conflict never seem to bother explaining to us exactly how that reconciliation is going to be accomplished.

    Reply

  84. downtown says:

    The one thing that absolutely needs to be done is to keep the Martin Indyks out of the ME policy loop.

    Reply

  85. ... says:

    personally i think it would be better if the usa got it’s ass out of others affairs and stuck closer to home, except when it was absolutely necessary to do otherwise…the iraq war was an unnecessary war…
    meanwhile Stephen M. Walt has a good article on his site some here might enjoy.
    http://walt.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2009/01/21/on_reading_and_writing

    Reply

  86. DonS says:

    “Future Israeli leadership regardless of composition, will continue to deem it a political necessity to carry out similar operations in the future. One of the most difficult questions for the next administration will be whether this helps or hurts US strategic interests in the region.”
    Without trying to be too snarky, what calculus would make this a “diffcult” question”? What strategic interests? Oil? You mean we’re now allowed to admit it’s all about oil?
    Isn’t it about time we stopped dancing around the US interests = Israeli interests, in any shape, way, manner, or form, blackmail?

    Reply

Add your comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *