Give Us Netanyahu. Please.

-

benjamin netanyahu.jpgPeter Berkowitz‘s essay in the latest issue of the Weekly Standard provides good insight into what I think is the strategic irresponsibility of those in Israel’s leadership who think that they can hold steady on a course that justifies failure on an a Palestine-Israel deal using Hamas and Iran as excuses.
As things look today, the Likud Party and its chief, Benjamin Netanyahu, look like they are about to be given a stronger hand in the coming elections. And Netanyahu is pro-settlement, and in my view the continued expansion of settlements is the most toxic activity that is undermining the negotiations process and actually, in the long term, will assure a deterioration in America’s support for Israel.
Berkowitz points out:

The major difference between the candidates went unaddressed at Herzliya. It concerns the future of Israeli settlements, the towns and cities built and populated by Israel in the territories it gained control over in 1967 in the Six Day War. While he almost certainly would not build new settlements, Netanyahu remains unlikely, without pressure from the United States, to freeze the natural growth of existing settlements. In contrast, both Livni and Barak would probably impose a freeze on all new building beyond the Green Line. Livni and Barak recognize, however, along with Netanyahu, that the settlements are far from the fundamental obstacle to peace with the Palestinians.
Indeed, the journalists, political analysts, and current and former national security officials to whom I spoke were in striking agreement that Livni and Barak as well as Netanyahu all see that the fundamental obstacle to progress in resolving the conflict with the Palestinians is Iran. Indeed, the case for Iran’s centrality is convincing.

I respect Peter Berkowitz but disagree with his take on things — and find the perspective of many he is interacting with strikingly narrow when it comes to a serious strategy that will secure Israeli democracy and security in the coming years.
I share Zbigniew Brzezinski’s view that both sides of the Israel-Palestine divide have proven themselves completely unable to solve an arrangement on their own. A Palestinian state is still possible — and Israel democracy without apartheid within its borders is also still possible.
However, it is time to move negotiations out of the weeds and re-engage various stakeholders on all sides of the equation – including the U.S., Europe, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt, Iran, Syria, and the United Nations.
Israel’s bravado over Gaza and the massively disproportionate deployment of force in which so many innocents were killed or injured — and lives seriously disrupted on so many levels — is the type of potentially transformative act that can either radicalize a great many more Arabs against the current equations of power in the region or more optimistically, could transform the perspective of the White House to finally realize that Israel’s zero-sum game approach in the region is something that needs to be curtailed and changed.
Folks in the U.S. are hoping for centrists, reasonable, rational negotiators to emerge. Some on Obama’s National Security Council team think that if they only can now. . .finally. . .make Abbas and Fatah the winners in the eyes of Palestinians by showering on them goodies to deliver to their constituents, all will be well. This is well meaning “earnestness.” But it is flawed sentimentalism. Taking this approach with Abbas is “too much, too late.” I think that despite recent drama, Tzipi Livni falls into this “earnestness” hope — though she has a class of detractors larger than Maureen Dowd has.
But “earnestness” in trying to move the Rubik’s Cube of the region into alignment is flawed. Israel and Palestine together don’t work. They can’t come to a responsible deal on their own.
It doesn’t matter if Livni is Prime Minister, or Ehud Barak — who I think is the most monstrous of recent Israeli political players for his role in tightening the noose around Palestinian mobility and movement after the Annapolis process started. And yes, I said monstrous – to borrow a term from Samantha Power. And it doesn’t matter if Netanyahu is PM.
Likewise, Mahmoud Abbas is essentially irrelevant at this point — and all leaders in Palestine are with the exception of those who might be able to think strategically in a Gandhi-esque way and match the flamboyant absolutism and inhumanity of Israel’s occuptation behaviors with non-violent civil disobedience on a communications scale that Gandhi achieved. Mustafa Barghouti comes to mind. . .possibly.
In fact, the more irresponsible both sides are about their situation, the more achievable a “new equilibrium arrangement” may be — because the US and other regional stakeholders simply can’t afford for the recklessness, immaturity, and sheer stupidity of leadership on all sides of the conflict to continue.
Given that. Give us Netanyahu. Please.
His re-ascension will help Americans realize that the false choice approach the Bush administration has been taking in Israel-Palestine affairs was flawed — and that Obama’s team must change the game or face a serious rebuke from Middle East watchers in the US and around the world.
— Steve Clemons

Comments

86 comments on “Give Us Netanyahu. Please.

  1. Mary Kay Baker says:

    Actually, the American people will no longer accept giving aid to Israel to kill Palestinian civilians. The Ameican people have been all too generous with the Jewish faction in this country, and a change must come, or anger at the Jewish lobby will increase.

    Reply

  2. Mary Kay Baker says:

    Actually, the American people will no longer accept giving aid to Israel to kill Palestinian civilians. The Ameican people have been all too generous with the Jewish faction in this country, and a change must come, or anger at the Jewish lobby will increase.

    Reply

  3. söve says:

    I think it unwise to extrapolate into the future the assumption that the adversaries of Israel will never get their act together. They have the motive. They lack the material and organizational means, defects that motive and time can mend.

    Reply

  4. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “1. It is indisputable that this latest round was instigated by Hamas, which declared in December a formal end to the 6-month cease fire, and launched dozens of rockets onto Israeli civilians to get its point across”
    Interesting, this jackass starts his commentary with a bald faced lie. Why would any reasonably informed person read any further?

    Reply

  5. Paul Norheim says:

    If you lost your post, try to go back and find it again, and then do
    as I suggested. Good luck!

    Reply

  6. Paul Norheim says:

    Patience, Martin, patience…
    When you write a post, always copy it before submitting. Then
    you go to The Washington Note again, find the post where you
    want to add your comment, paste it, and try to submit again.
    After the second or third time, you`ll usually succeed.

    Reply

  7. Martin says:

    well that was a waste of effort. Just got the whole lot deleted because of your silly captcha program.

    Reply

  8. John Waring says:

    Thank you, Wigwag, for bringing me down to earth. I don’t think China and India matter in the struggle among Israel and its adversaries. I think the issue will be decided among Middle Eastern actors within a Middle Eastern context. Although Israel has been brilliant in devising and implementing its tactics of divide and conquer, it has failed to translate military success into lasting political gain. The foundational principle of this approach is Israeli possession of overwhelming military superiority into the distant future. This assumption is fraying before our eyes. Despite Israeli armour and air power pounding Lebanon’s infrastructure to bits, Israeli infantry was unable seriously to challenge Hizbollah infantry, let alone wipe Hizbollah out. Despite Israeli armour and air power pounding Gaza’s infrastructure to bits, Israeli infantry was unable to wipe Hamas out. Israeli infantry cannot perform its assigned role. The poorly lead and undisciplined reservists that make up its ranks can be defeated on the battlefield.
    I think it unwise to extrapolate into the future the assumption that the adversaries of Israel will never get their act together. They have the motive. They lack the material and organizational means, defects that motive and time can mend.
    I think it unwise to extrapolate into the future that the United States will always have the material means and the will to protect Israel as stoutly as we have done in the past. Our national interest will not forever and a day coincide with theirs.
    During the Yom Kippur war, President Nixon put our nuclear deterent on its highest alert in order to prevent a Soviet intervention. I cannot imagine an Asian power ever doing such.
    In pursuing the goal of Greater Israel, I think the Israelis have frontally embraced a massive tarbaby. I truly hope George Mitchell will be our can of terpentine, and I don’t care how much skin he has to rough up. It is time to make peace.

    Reply

  9. Jim USA says:

    AFP Feb 8 “The thriving tunnel trade survived Israel’s three-week onslaught last month and most diggers expect the tunnels will remain as long as Israel and Egypt refuse to open the border crossings of the Hamas-ruled enclave. Abu Mohammed’s tunnel was still intact after the war, and he said that until Thursday he was bringing in 15 tonnes of goods each day, a shipment worth around 12,000 dollars (9,400 euros).” All sorts of consumer goods are being smuggled in, just this one tunnel 15 tons per day. Obviously, few shortages, including of cash to pay or electricity to run them. Hoax

    Reply

  10. Susan says:

    Netanyahu will likely start up WW3 in the Middle East….. hey, you said that’s what you want, so don’t whine when it happens.

    Reply

  11. Jim USA says:

    In the aftermath of the latest spam of Gaza violence, it is imperative for us to look at the real causes .
    1. It is indisputable that this latest round was instigated by Hamas, which declared in December a formal end to the 6-month cease fire, and launched dozens of rockets onto Israeli civilians to get its point across. Note in contrast the near-total lack of Hamas rockets fired against masses of vulnerable Israeli troops in staging areas: the Hamas barrage, by choice, was almost entirely anti-civilian.
    2. A hypocritical world, which yawns at Darfur, Zimbabwe, Somalia, Sri Lanka, and numerous other disasters, can’t stand to see Palestinian casualties. It has therefor created an incentive for the Palestinian “resistance” to do its resisting where it will maximize its own casualties, especially telegenicly among children, with the world sniffling on cue regardless of the cynicism.
    3. Everyone has seen official Palestinian claims that civilian casualties were about 50 percent of the total, while Hamas has been reported as hiding its dead and wounded, thus skewing the casualty ratio. Hamas fighters have also been reported commonly in civilian clothing, so how can a doctor tell the difference between a “real” civilian and a Hamas agent? Why would he even try, given that to do so would mark him for death as a “collaborator”?
    4. The concepts of Pan-Arabism and Islamic revanchism against the West have created a political tendency to try to gain social cohesion through unifying violence against an “other”. Arafat with the 2000 intifada, Nasrallah with the 2006 war, and now Hamas, have brought disaster on their people.
    The Wall Street Journal(January 22) discussed what a difference relative peace has made on the West Bank:
    Mathew Doyle, spokesman for Quartet-representative-to-the-Palestinians Tony Blair, said: “…..An IMF report in November 2008 said ‘macroeconomic developments in the West Bank have been somewhat better than expected.’…In Bethlehem, over one million tourists visited last year alone. According to the Palestinian Ministry of Tourism, the number of tourists in 2008 went up 56 percent from 2007, and 256 percent from 2006(when the intifada petered out). There are plans, now financed, for major housing developments, and scores of smaller development projects are springing up all over the West Bank….”
    Note that this progress is happening despite the world recession and despite the Israeli barriers and settlements that are supposedly “strangling” the Palestinians. That is what Arafat gave up in 2000 for the horrors(still echoing)of the 2000 intifada.

    Reply

  12. DonS says:

    Amerisrael, be careful who you are calling an “anti-Israel leftist liberal minded appeaser”. Steve Clemons is none such. If anything he is a radical centrist and don’t you forget it! I have warned him that there would be those not schooled in the finer points of punditry who would call him liberal, progressive, or worse. But would he listen? No. And now you have gone an confirmed my point. The only fortunate thing in this is that you seem to be an “anti-Israel, authoritarian minded aggressor”, so perhaps that takes some of the sting out. Whatever.

    Reply

  13. Amerisrael says:

    What an absolutely horrible article! Just the sort of thing one would expect from an anti-Israel leftist liberal minded appeaser. Fortunately most Israelis seemed to have awakened to the fact that the politics of appeasement don’t work. In his folly, Ariel Sharon committed an act of ethnic cleansing against his own citizens living in Gaza and northern Samaria. Otherwise known as the “Gaza expulsion.” What did the Islamists do with the land Israel vacated? They launched terror attacks from it. And they would do the same from Judea and Samaria if it were not for the presence of the IDF and Jewish villages and towns. http://amerisrael.typepad.com/my_weblog/2008/04/the-phased-plan.html

    Reply

  14. DonS says:

    Wigwag, resolution 242 is still the official UN position on borders, and not just a philosophical figment, not just a starting point for negoitiatios (although in fact it may someday be viewed as such). It’s not just the ME where the world needs to function better or go down the tubes. So I would say the officially adopted position of the UN remains a force.
    POA, I tend to agree “we no longer have representative government” in important ways. So “Public sentiment” might well not effect politicial decisions. Although, the new internet age may well be changing the equation a bit.
    But I would argue that inchoate public sentiment should be informed and educated by politicians who have moved beyond parochial interests, when it comes to foreign affairs. The problem is with politicians being more concerned about being elected and having their sinecures rather than taking their responsibilities seriously. One could agrue that if a politician was more honest and transparent they would get defeated. Such argument doesn’t impress me.

    Reply

  15. WigWag says:

    DonS, no, the UN is fine. But if you’re referring to the UN Security Council, the resolution it passed during the Gaza crisis was mild and criticized both parties equally. If you look at the comments made by the Chinese and Russian Ambassadors they were remarkably restrained. If you are referring to the UN General Assembly, they also produced a resolution and it was far more critical of the Israelis, but the General Assembly is a powerless body and just about no one on the world stage takes it very seriously.
    Whether you generally approve of Israel’s behavior (the American and European position) or whether you are largely disinterested in the Palestinians (like China and Japan ) or whether you have developed an abiding disgust of Muslim terrorism (like the Indians)the question remains the same. Is their a powerful nation or a collection of powerful nations willing and able to use that power to motivate the Israelis to alter their behavior? So far, the answer is obviously no.
    Steve Clemons is right that there is a small chance that a Netanyahu government will so annoy the Obama Administration that the US moves modestly in the direction of trying a new approach. While the European governments are far less reflexively anti-Israeli/pro-Palestinian than they were only a decade ago, they still take Palestinian national aspirations seriously and would like to help the Palestinians achieve them.
    My point to John Waring is that a demise in American or European power will hurt the Palestinians not help them. The newly emerging powers in Asia are largely indifferent or increasingly hostile to the Palestinian cause. Asians simply don’t have any of the baggage about Jews or Arabs that Americans and Europeans do. If you don’t believe it, read some of the English language Asian newspapers.
    To the Chinese government, the Indian government, the Singapore government, etc., the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is just another in a series of world wide ethnic and religious conflicts. They analyze it in terms of their interests and those interests increasingly motivate a pro-Israel anti-Palestine perspective.
    My point is simply that Mr. Waring’s suggestion that a decline in US power will hurt the Israelis is incorrect. The vacuum that any decline in US power leaves will likely be filled very quickly by increased power for Asians.
    In general Asian governments care about Palestinian national aspirations far less than the American government does.

    Reply

  16. DonS says:

    Wigwag “Perhaps Mr. Waring can tell us where this reservoir of support is amongst the countries in the world powerful enough to have an effect on anything.”
    Andyet the UN is still supportive of Palestinian rights. Shall we just discard the UN as our necon/conservative republicans suggest?

    Reply

  17. WigWag says:

    John Waring says,” Lastly, the might of the United States is waning. Look around. Our economy is a wreck. Our standing in the world is not what it has been. We will not be able indefinitely to protect Israel from the folly of Greater Israel.”
    If this is true (and I think the evidence is mixed) the next world super-power will almost certainly come out of Asia. Regardless, of what happens to the power of the United States there is no question that China and India will blossom into major world powers in the 21st century. This is disastrous for the Palestinians.
    India and China have all but lost interest in the plight of the Palestinians. As pro-Israel as Americans are, there is far more sympathy for Palestinian aspirations in the United States and Europe then there is ever likely to be in China or India.
    Those who think the decline of Israel’s major patron, the United States, is likely to harm Israeli interests are naive.
    If the 21st century is to be dominated by Asia, the Palestinians will become little more than a foot note. Mr. Waring should check out the English language versions of China Daily or Shanghai Daily. While the Israeli attack on Hamas in Gaza was front page news in newspapers throughout the United States, Europe and the Arab world, it was mentioned only in passing in the Chinese newspapers.
    Or he should read the editorials in some of the Mumbai newspapers like the Times of India or the more tabloid-like Mumbai Mirror (they both have English language versions easily accessible on the internet). He will be very surprised to see what those newspapers think of Hamas.
    It’s not Israeli aspirations that are propped up by American support; it’s Palestinian aspirations. If the United States and Europe experience a decline in power, there will be no one left to care about the Palestinians at all.
    Perhaps Mr. Waring can tell us where this reservoir of support is amongst the countries in the world powerful enough to have an effect on anything.
    As for Henry Siegman’s comments indicating a “tipping point,” that’s laughable. Siegman has been providing similar commentary for over a decade. If anything Siegman said was indicative of a “tipping point” as Mr. Waring suggests, we would have reached it some time around 1995.

    Reply

  18. TonyForesta says:

    A thousand thanks for the link rich, and it is sad. We have all lost our souls. All of us! Israel, America, and every Islamic nation. All of us have lost our souls. No one here is sinless, and we all have oceans of innocent blood dripping from our greedy selfinterested hands.
    Israeli’s are moving to the right because of security reasons with the hopes if the polls, and this article are accurate to crush and remove Hamas once and for all to starve out the Palestinians. Hamas proselytized the exact same sick rhetoric. Most of the Arab nations brute the same idea, though in more diplomatic language.
    Genghis Khan’s incendiary commentary may have more weight and be rooted in more visceral facts and reality than many of us care to admit. The same fiery and hatefilled rhetoric pours out of the most of the Islamic capitals, most of the islamic streets, and most of the Islamic imams, clerics, ayatollahs, spiritual leaders and out of all the leaders of the various and sundry jihadi massmurder gangs.
    So we all left bereft of compassion and souless picking one side or the other. I have asked numerous times, and never once recieved any response other than silly personal attacks, – what positive contribution has any Islamic socieity offered to the community of nations in the last 200 years, outside of massmurder as religious decree and allahs will, sending their own children strapped with semptex to mass murder other innocent children only to be glorified as martyrs. Islam must have a discussion with itself and decide once and for all if sending their children to martyr themselves in mass murder operation is the future they seek. If so, then woe to them, for their future will be fiery and destructive.
    The same can be said for the complete and total failure of democracy and capatilism. We also need to have a discussion with ourselves. A we promoters of governments wherein the authority of the government is derived from the consent of the governed, or are we – as we certainly are today promoters of governments advancing the interests of the predator class – the superrich ALONE and EXCLUSIVELY.
    Todays democracies are crippled economically because of the ill pursuit, and perversion and betrayal of democracy and totally focused on, or bent more accurately on funnelling all the wealth and resources of all the worlds nations into the offshore accounts of their respective predator class ALONE and EXCLUSIVELY. Capitalism is a dead and rotting purtrid corpse. Bandit capitalism (which is the only real capitalism that exists today) however is alive and well as we witness in the sad and certain to fail efforts of wingnuts and cowards in America government who are determined to bail out insolvent, failed, and criminal banks and financial entities and predator class cronies who are singularly and exclusively responsible for conjuring, cloaking, profiting from, and exacerbating current economic crisis, – and sans holding anyone – anyone accountable for anything – for any of rank abuses, radical deceptions, pathological lying, wanton profiteering, and systemic criminal behavior.
    There are no good actors on this wild and violent earth. There are no decent leaders. There are no sinless nations or societies. There are no good people. We have all lost our souls. All that exists, and all that directs the conduct of nations and peoples are the fist and the spear.
    Humanity is not evolved spritually. We continue to resolve all our conflicts by beating each other over the head with sticks. The Islamic world has many fewer, and much more inferior sticks. Israel and Occidental nations are the worlds hypersuperior militaries.
    That’s the hard and hideous reality today. Things may change tomorrow, or sometime in the future, but today, the ultimate settlement to, or resolution of any confict is won in the end by weapons superiority, or the threat of the use of superior weapons. Whom ever has the weapons superiority is going to dominate the field and the political, and economic future.
    There are no godz, there is no allah, there are no good leaders, there are no good nations. We are all cavemen. Brutal, bloodthirsty, avarice beasts and whomever owns the biggest or most superior stick will dominate.
    Sad indeed.

    Reply

  19. Anonymous says:

    Israel tends to be very bubbled, like Cheney and the other neocons, not really aware of how its actions are used against it.
    I think, unfortunately, it’s just too late, now, Steve’s comments more reflective of the true picture.

    Reply

  20. Paul Norheim says:

    Steve, you`ve got a post above mine (from “Genghis Khan”) that I
    would suggest should be removed (you may remove this
    comment at the same time).
    Paul

    Reply

  21. DonS says:

    Siegman in London Review of Books per J. Waring above (great post)
    http://www.lrb.co.uk/v31/n02/print/sieg01_.html
    Rich, that TPM link is indeed moving, and depressing.

    Reply

  22. Genghis Khan says:

    I could care less that the Arabs are mad about Israel! Those Arabs and Muslims can go to HELL!!!Damn Islam! Damn Muhammed! Damn Muslims! Damn that stupid Muslim god called Allah!! Time to bring back the Crusades and exterminate the Arabs and Islam!!! Islam is an Obomination!!! Gebghis Khan

    Reply

  23. rich says:

    I’d urge everyone here to read jdledell’s blog at TPM. The author’s moving to Israel, has visited 70 times, and his grandfather “was Irgun.” His observations about current conditions in Israel may, I think, expose Steve’s positive spin on a Netanyahu victory as abstracted, wishful thinking. Barring, I guess, an extremely heavy-handed role by regional and global actors.
    http://tpmcafe.talkingpointsmemo.com/talk/blogs/jdledell/2009/02/my-israel.php
    “There seems to be great excitement that the “Arab problem” is about to be solved by the election of Likud with the cooperation of Yisrael Beiteinu. A majority of the people we talked with felt that the new government would formally establish the Palestinian “reservations (economic zones)” leaving Israel to expand into the gaps. Indeed, we went to some campaign events where maps were put up on the wall showing 7 distinct Palestinian zones each completely surrounded by Israeli territory. The entire Jordan Valley would be Israeli.
    “Whether or not a new Israeli government would implement these kind of draconian measures is problematic. In fact, it may be primarily campaign hyperbole. However, one thing is not hyperbole and that is a dramatic increase in public hatred of Arabs. It used to be Jews were seemingly embarrassed to vocalize such sentiments and would usually do so only after 6 or 8 glasses of wine. Now at campaign rallies, at shul and just about everywhere you hear cries of death to the Arabs, move’em out etc. It’s frankly very ugly.
    “More than in decades past, the Israel I recently visited is a mixture of despair and arrogance. There is a great deal of pride over the Gaza campaign. When I pointed out that was nothing to be proud of since it was like the Pittsburg Steelers playing against a High School team. Most Israelis felt that while true, “those people” deserved it. . . . With respect to Gaza the solution I heard most frequently was to lock the gates and let them wither away from starvation or bust the gates at Rafah and move to Egypt if they want to eat.”
    Saddest thing I’ve ever read. Gone from the dream of a homeland turned reality — and a really touching compassion for the sacredness of life expressed by the author — to a nation locking itself in a prison of its own making, a callousness so profound that their own faith collapses in on itself, proving barren. Locking the west bank into ever tinier bantustans is openly advertised as the next step, but who is really in prison?
    The author recognizes that 90% of Israelis are happy to lock the gates to Gaza in order to starve the inhabitants—that’s the point. That’s where Israeli society has arrived; that’s their solution.
    It’s not my conclusion. I don’t want to believe it. It’s the campaign platform of competing political parties. It’s the conclusion of a citizen who’s been there 70 times, whose blood founded Israel, who’s choosing to make Israel his home.
    It’s like we’ve been saying: Israel’s survival depends on a reversal of course, and on a reversal of policies. True friends are those willing to tell Israel the truth; who have the courage to lay it on the line.
    Don’t take my word for it. Read it yourself.

    Reply

  24. John Waring says:

    Dear Steve and the Gang,
    Thank you for a series of beautiful posts.
    I think we have reached the tipping point.
    When Henry Siegman writes in the London Review of Books an impassioned plea against the Gaza war, entitled “Israel’s Lies,” I think we have reached the tipping point.
    When Anthony Cordesman at the CSIS points out the strategic imbecility of the Gaza war and accuses the Israelis of abusing its friends, I think we have reached the tipping point.
    When millions of people across the world see white phosphorus shells raining down on the defenseless, leading an outraged commentator to declare the Israeli onslaught an eye for an eyelash, I think we have reached the tipping point.
    When the Internet permits a small town and rather provincial man as myself to see and absorb a whole new world of perspectives, an alternate universe, as it were, I think we have reached the tipping point. It’s amazing what facts do to one’s mind.
    When a black man, with a thorough knowledge of the triumphs and tragedies of the history of Black America can become President of the United States, and declare in a prayer breakfast that hate is never the answer, I truly hope we have reached the tipping point.
    It may be wishful thinking on my part. I for one cannot unlearn what I have learned over the past two years. Land for peace, the principle is simple, though its implementation certainly is not. If the Israelis and Palestinians cannot conclude a deal themselves, then the Great Powers must impose one on them.
    And rather than curse the darkness of Congressional ignorance, I would have us send a copy of Mr. Siegman’s article to our Member of Congress and two Senators, and beseech them to think anew. Let’s start somewhere.
    Steve, if your contributor can look fifty years into the the misty future, let us turn a flinty eye to the reality of the past. The Christian kingdom of Jerusalem lasted 200 years, until the Muslim world coughed up Saladin.
    Time is not on the side of Israel. The Iranian revolution is real. The Muslim brotherhood is real. Muslim public opinion is real. The colonialism Israel practices in the West Bank is a dumb dead idea whom the 20th Century killed off decades ago.
    The Israel policy towards the Palestinians is dead. Gaza killed it. Not even Netanyahu can breathe life into that corpse.
    Lastly, the might of the United States is waning. Look around. Our economy is a wreck. Our standing in the world is not what it has been. We will not be able indefinitely to protect Israel from the folly of Greater Israel.
    Time is not on the side of Israel.

    Reply

  25. TonyForesta says:

    Searing commentary Hiroshi Burnette. And in terms of investment advise, – if you don’t have a soul or a conscience, and don’t mind investing in the devil, – you would do exceedingly well investing in all three, as well as Quinetic, Parsons, L3, Dyncor, CACI, SpecTal, Abraxas, and SAIC to name few of the bushgov insider private intelligence and private military industrial complex corps winning nobid, openended, multihundred million dollar contracts. You’ll make money, but with all the blood and thievery on your hands -you might not sleep well.
    WigWags points are rooted in the hard and brutal facts and realities which many commentarians here and elsewhere are simply unwilling to countenance. The harsh reality is that no matter how brutal and onesided Israels actions are in Palestine, (and I am not justifying these actions, or saying they are right, or legal, or moral, – I’m just making a point) – most Americans, most of the occidental nations, and even some Arab nations will never support Hamas or offer Hamas any credibility or legitimacy while the jihadists control the organization and fire rockets (however ineffectively) into Israel and send young Palestinians girls and boys to their deaths strapped with sentex to blow up innocent Israelis. It’s never going to happen. It may be unfair, or unjust, or whatever derogatory desciptive you want to attach to Israels conduct, – but the support from the rest of the world will never increase until Hamas either repudiates and reigns in the jihadis massmurder elements, and moderates, or until Hamas is replaced. I read a story yesterday of alledged Hamas atrocities in Palestine against their own people and Fatah.
    The point is there is no pretty, or bloodless way to fight wars. Once the rockets start flying, and the bullets start whizzing, it’s going to be horrifically ugly, bloody and destructive.
    There are no sinless parties in this conflict. Heaping all the blame on oneside and ignoring the horrors perpetrated by the other is fruitless and impotent. Mr. Clemons “false choice” position is intriguing because Netanyahu’s fascist tendencies will bring Israel closer to Hamas in terms of lost credibility and legitimacy and force many of the Americans who blindly support Israel carte blanc to reaxamine those positions. My additional point, is that Netanyahu’s expansionist, belligerant, and fascist policies will give the Obama administration the oxygen to use US aid to Israel as leverage for changing those policies.

    Reply

  26. Hiroshi Burnette says:

    “I hate wah, and so does Eleanoah” — FDR … but we can’t have peace till everyone is dead.
    Maybe that’s why our foreign policy is to stir up trouble, sell arms to both sides, and let our multinationals swoop in when the dust settles and the CIA props up a US corporate friendly dictator.
    It’s getting to the point where I don’t know what’s right or wrong anymore. Steve, should I invest in Halliburton, Bechtel, or Exxon/Mobil?

    Reply

  27. Hiroshi Burnette says:

    “I hate wah, and so does Eleanoah” — FDR … but we can’t have peace till everyone is dead.
    Maybe that’s why our foreign policy is to stir up trouble, sell arms to both sides, and let our multinationals swoop in when the dust settles and the CIA props up a US corporate friendly dictator.
    It’s getting to the point where I don’t know what’s right or wrong anymore. Steve, should I invest in Halliburton, Bechtel, or Exxon/Mobil?

    Reply

  28. Zathras says:

    We’re back to going step by step in the Middle East, and the first step now has to be a decision on what the American national interest requires.
    In making such a decision, who wins the Israeli election is irrelevant. The American position on dismantling West Bank settlements, while not starting any new ones, has to be based on the reality that there is nothing about settlements that advances American interests. Conversely, the United States has a strong interest in limiting Iranian influence in the region, one congruent with though not precisely identical to Israel’s own.
    Israel can choose a prime minister who will have better or worse relations with Washington, depending on how closely he (or she) chooses to align his government’s course with that of the United States. That much is up to the Israelis, but no more than that. If the Obama administration follows the example of its immediate predecessor and depends on Israeli guidance to set its course on the Middle East, continuation of the frustrating and unproductive muddle of the last few years is inevitable.
    The United States owes Israel a clear statement of what is and is not important to us. The Israeli public is entitled to understand that habitual evasions of the Israeli political leadership — like holding off on dismantling settlements because Iranian influence in the region, an unrelated issue, is presumed to be a greater obstacle to peace — are not given any weight in Washington. The obstacle to this is well enough known in both countries. It is that some Americans, having no sense of their own as to American national interests, have chosen to fill that vacuum by embracing Israel’s view of Israel’s interests.
    Maybe the Obama administration will choose to overcome that obstacle, and maybe not. For many years, supporters of Israel have been one of the most powerful of the organized interest groups that have dominated the Democratic Party. Moreover, because they are the only such group with an policy agenda focused on foreign policy, supporters of Israel have never run afoul of any of the other Democratic organized interest groups (as, for example, the environmental lobby has often done).
    On the other hand, the difficulties imposed on this country when it allows its policy to be made in a foreign capital are well understood by most of Obama’s team. One thing is certain: a changed American course toward the Middle East will never sustain support in the United States if it is justified merely as an attempt to be fair to the Palestinian cause — a cause long associated here, and properly so, with terrorism and the other unattractive aspects of Arab political culture. The Obama administration can get out of the trap of American dependency on Israeli politics only by justifying its course exclusively in terms of American interests. The first step toward doing that is to make a decision as to what American interests are.

    Reply

  29. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Why would it matter what becomes of American public sentiment? Even if the tremendous propaganda power of the various Israeli lobbies, the American media, and our own politician’s pro-Israel mantra was breached, and the American public became aware and informed abouit the atytrocities Israel ios committing, that is no guarantee that our “leaders” would react to public sentiment. As I have repeatedly pointed out, we no longer have a representative government, so really, our sentiments in regards to Israel are completely irrelevant as it applies to our middle eastern policies. These lying sacks of shit in Washington will simply continue to pursue matters of self interest, the people be damned. As long as Israel has the power it holds over Washington through its various lobbies, and can spend part of the billions we give them on bribing our elected officials,we can expect Washington to march in lockstep with anything Israel does. Considering the unbveleivable scale of the destruction that Israel has just rained down on Gaza, and its past actions in clusterbombing lebanese civilians, I find it ludicrous to entertain the notion that Israel will someday “go too far”. Frying Palestinian children in white phosphorous isn’t “going too far”? Depriving a starved and downtrodden population of basic essentials is not “going too far”? The continuing theft of Palestinian land is not “going too far”? The sixty some odd UN resolutions that Israel has defied is not “going too far”?
    Good loord, if these abbetting and complicit pieces of shit like Reid, Pelosi, Clinton, and even Obama, do not think that Israel has “gone too far” already, what is it going to take? And remember, any more egregious abuses of human rights committed against the Palestinians will simply be justified by a massive propaganda campaign that will seek to place the blame on the Palestinians. If Israel wants to eradicate ten thousand Palestinians, they will simply invent a story line that justifies the eradication of ten thousand Palestinians. And these slobbering cowards in Washington will simply repeat, by rote, the script they are handed. To assume otherwise is to ignore history.

    Reply

  30. dwg says:

    oh. forgot to mention – Steve’s message that Netanyahu is the best choice because he’s radical and will turn Americans away is not lost on me. I got that. I just don’t buy it. Like PoA I think it’s the deluded DC insider that is still that delusional.
    Too many Americans STILL blindly support anything Israel does no matter how horrific. And many of them are not paying any attention at all to just how horrific it is.
    And even if Steve is right, and Netanyhu awakes the American public to that, how long would it take to gather the “political will” do anything about?
    Ask yourself, how many Rwandans died before we woke up? And in the end, what did we ever do but wring our hands over it?
    Similarly, what have we done about Darfur? More handwringing.
    How many more Palestinians (and Israelis for that matter) must perish in interim?
    How many Jews died in the Holocaust because we refused to deal with the truth of what the Germans (and their allies for that matter) were undertaking. And we refused why? “Strategic plans” all in the interest of – who? the the U.S., USSR? Britain? France? And what was left of European Jewry?
    Never again remember?

    Reply

  31. dwg says:

    I read your piece. I still disagree. And it always the for the same reason that I disagree with most of the posts on Israel on this site. It looks at it from an American-centric position as if American’s can positively contribute to Israeli/Palestine process anymore.
    I don’t believe American’s care. And I don’t believe Palestinians trust American – government anyway – to be honest brokers or to do anything in the Palestinian interest.
    Statements like yours, “give us Netanyahu” only prove that.
    Why on earth would you expect a Ghandi-esque leader to emerge from the Palestinians while simultaneously asserting that the best leader to emerge from the Israelis is going to be a rightwing, hawkish and potentially violent leader (except for Avigdor Lieberman who is somewhere to the right of – oh I don’t know Hitler?)
    Classic Washington/U.S. foreign policy bias.

    Reply

  32. OccasionalReader says:

    I’ve found this post by Steve and the many interesting reactions to it to be among the best such exchanges I’ve read on the internet.
    I was prepared to really detest Steve’s thesis when I saw the headlines and started into it. As I went through the article, which I have now read five times, I think that his writing and the organization of the piece are like a brilliant musical manuscript, full of powerful and meaningful nuance.
    Some of my friends have read it and just don’t get it. They think Steve is lost in his own logic.
    But I think Steve clearly thinks Netanyahu is a disaster for Israel and part of the crowd that is speeding up the end of a two state solution. Some of you, I think, make a mistake in interpreting Steve’s call for Netanyahu too literally.
    Clemons is calling for an end to the micro-games that many Middle East players have been playing and wants other Americans to realize that most of the Israeli leaders are cut generally from the same cloth and that a stable two state arrangement if one is going to be pursued can no longer depend on the question of leadership there.
    Rather it depends on the arrangements that can be made between the Saudis, Egyptians, Europeans, and others like the UN and that collective imposition of that arrangement on the Palestinians and Israelis is all that will work. In that formula actually, the Palestinians, including Hamas will come out winners. And some Israelis will win and some of the settler ultra Zionist fanatics will lose.
    I like this article a lot. It has made me think about the environment and players of negotiation more than anything I have recently read.
    Thanks Steve.

    Reply

  33. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Once again, Wig-wag tries to bring the ‘ol canard of “anti-semitism” into the mix with his “Israeli’s are just like everyone else”, only this time he tries to sneak it into the back door.
    Very few here have singled out “Israelis” or “jews” for derision. It is made quite clear, in 99.9% of the posts, that it is the Israeli leadership that has earned the well deserved disdain that is being expressed world wide.
    But if Wig-Wag really wants to single out the Israeli “people”, where do we begin? With the settlers, stealing land, murdering Palestinians? Or with the members of Peace Now, and the growing contingent of Israeli citizens that are appalled at the actions of their own government, and truly do want peace?
    If we remember the old south, can we say that the Southerner that donned the hood of the KKK, and spent his nights lighting crosses and hanging “niggers” was “just like other people”? See, the problem is that bigotry is a contagious affliction, and the children of this KKK sicko stood an odds on chance of inheriting the bigotry of the father. The result, in the old south, of a couple of generations of slave owners and bigots, was a social mindset in the south, affecting a huge block of people, that negroes were inferior, dirty, unworthy. Would it be proper to say that these people, harboring this bigotry due to upbringing and exposure, were “just like other people”? Well, within their own community, I suppose they were. Does that make it right?
    The Israeli government treats the Palestinians the way it does because the “Israeli people” allow their government to do so. Groups like “Peace Now” are given the short stick by the Israeli and American media, and there is a climate that allows and nurtures the bigotry that is focused not just towards the Palestinians, but towards Arabs and Muslims as a whole.
    Yes, Israelis are “just like other people”. Prone to prejudice, and influenced by the social fabric they are surrounded by. And its obvious a huge number of Israelis can accept and condone the atrocities that their leaders are committing against the Palestinian people. And the only social affliction that can explain such acceptance and favor is wide scale bigotry.
    Isn’t it ironic that a society exhibiting such a social affliction invariably accuses its detracters of having the same social affliction? People like Wig-Wag should look within to find and expose the sickness that fuels the conflict, and think twice before pointing a finger and leveling accusations of bigotry.

    Reply

  34. Paul Norheim says:

    “Israelis are just like everyone else; no better, no worse.”
    (WigWag)
    In an anthropological sense, this is true. And the same is true
    with regards to Jews through history. But for many centuries,
    Europeans believed that Jews were worse than most people. A
    lot of Americans tended to agree in the decades before 1945.
    After Holocaust, the official version in Europe, America and
    Israel suddenly changed: Jews and Israelis are better then other
    people. They are special.
    The principal foundations for this belief (which is prevalent even
    among secular Westerners) are
    a) the stories from the Bible that we learned at school and in
    churches,
    b) the European guilt,
    c) sentiments among Americans derived from the historical facts
    of victimhood and persecution, as well as the Biblical legends
    and stories.
    “Israelis are just like everyone else…” But they are mostly
    perceived as better OR worse. And to be perceived as better, or
    special in a positive sense, is as dangerous for a group of
    people in the long run as being perceived as worse, or special
    in a negative sense.
    To regard a Jew or an Israeli as special, or better than other
    people, is a sentiment that at any moment may turn into the
    opposite. As long as someone believes that Israelis or Jews are
    better or more special than others, anti-semitism is latent.
    It looks as if Israel doesn`t understand or care about these
    dangerous dynamics. Instead, the various Israeli governments
    have taken advantage of the recent favorable sentiment
    (prevalent in the Western world) to an extreme degree through
    its short history.
    “Israelis are just like everyone else…” In one sense, however,
    this is not true. No country or “people” is just like every other
    country, in an abstract sense. They show up at a certain time,
    act in certain ways due to historical circumstances etc.
    Israel is founded on ideas, ideologies, myths, legends, fear,
    hope and guilt. The relationship between America and Israel, or
    Europe and Israel, is not so much founded on rational, geo-
    political considerations, national interest (“a democratic nation
    among Middle East tyrannies”, etc), as on myths, legends, guilt
    and sentimentality.
    Realists like Walt and Mearsheimer described the Israel lobby
    and their modus operandi, but the influence of this lobby would
    be much less significant if they were not supported by these
    myths and sentiments.
    The relationship between Islam, Judaism, and Christianity is like
    a conflict within a family. What Japan, China, India and others
    outside that family may say, will influence the fate of Israel and
    Palestine much less than reactions and actions within Arab and
    Muslim nations in the neighborhood, and the reactions in
    America and Europe.
    WigWag is confident that the solution of the Israeli-Palestinian
    conflict can wait for decades. He believes that rational
    considerations and geopolitical developments will be in favor of
    the Israelis. And he believes that Europe, America, and the
    Middle East countries will continue to tolerate that Israel (“no
    better, no worse” than other countries) acts like certain
    European countries acted in the colonial era.
    If “Europe” was identical with a handful of leaders like Sarkozy
    and Merkel; if the Arab tyrants were identical with their people,
    and if their positions; and if the popular sentiments in America
    turns out to be identical through the coming decades, WigWag
    may be right in his predictions. However, I think he
    underestimates the x-factor which plays such a huge role here:
    myths, religions, guilt, resentment and sympathies.
    These are unpredictable factors, and the sentiments may
    change suddenly and unexpectedly.
    And Israel is playing a dangerous game: – Sure, we`re brutal
    assholes, but as long as Americans and some Europeans still
    believe that we`re special, we`ll get away with it!

    Reply

  35. Mohammad Alireza says:

    Netanyahu or no Netanyahu does not make any difference to Iran.
    .
    The only difference would be nastier threats.
    .
    By attacking Iran Netanyahu would sign Israeli’s death sentence.
    .
    Instead of a small fanatical minority chanting “Death to Israel” there will be seventy million Iranians actually willing to martyr themselves for revenge.
    .
    Netanyahu may be crazy but he is not stupid.

    Reply

  36. Don Bacon says:

    On Gaza, with Netanyahu, think Fallujah. Think total war, total conquest and mega-deaths. Think of the greater Israel occupying all of Palestine and eliminating all those pesky “terrorists”. –“Give us Netanyahu. Please.”

    Reply

  37. Dan Kervick says:

    I’ll assume that there is a non-vanishing probability that Steve is not being totally straight here. It’s possible that he is actually quite concerned about Netanyahu, but thinks that if enough prominent Americans issue “make my day” statements like the one in this post, some Israeli voters might get nervous or squeamish about the impact of Netanyahu on US-Israeli relations, and move toward Kadima.
    I wouldn’t hold my breath on that. We have been told many times before that Israel might go too far one day, and do something extreme that will be a “game changer” leading to a deterioration of the relationship with the United States, and a US strategic reappraisal. It never happens. Whichever way Israel drifts, the US drifts right along with them. Netanyahu was prime minister once before. It wasn’t a game changer, and it didn’t cause any deterioration in US government support for Israel. Israelis know that.
    Steve says Netanyahu’s “re-ascension will help Americans realize that the false choice approach the Bush administration has been taking in Israel-Palestine affairs was flawed — and that Obama’s team must change the game or face a serious rebuke from Middle East watchers in the US and around the world.” Why would anyone think that the election of Netanyahu would have the slightest impact on the US position? Netanyahu is one of America’s favorite Israelis. He speaks excellent English; he’s an affable pro on television; he was born and raised here in America. Ted Koppel always seemed to be in love with Bibi every time the two chatted on Nightline. If Netanyahu is re-elected, it will just be like old times.
    Israel is not behaving irresponsibly or stupidly, as Steve would see it. It is just behaving ruthlessly, which is different. Israel is winning its long war against the Arabs in Palestine. It has always been winning that war. That’s not surprising, since it is stronger than the Palestinians. Unless someone outside Israel is prepared to stop them, they will just keep right on fighting until they win completely.
    Is this a threat to Israeli democracy? Perhaps it is. But that doesn’t matter. What Israelis care most about is the survival of the Jewish state. They jettisoned their earlier socialism when that proved ineffective, and they will jettison or deeply compromise their democracy too if doing so is necessary to victory in the long war. Israelis don’t really care if they have to keep Palestinians in a cage in perpetuity – or at least until the Palestinians finally give up the ghost and move elsewhere.
    Steve says that “it is time to move negotiations out of the weeds and re-engage various stakeholders on all sides of the equation – including the U.S., Europe, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt, Iran, Syria, and the United Nations.” Yes, the only hope for ending this conflict in a way that does not amount to a total victory for Israel is to move the process out of the weeds and into the international arena. I would just add that the process that is needed is not a negotiations process. It is a process aimed at imposing a solution on the two parties, and that wields powerful sanctions in order to do so. But it seems unlikely the United States would ever participate in such a process.
    There is no actual “negotiations process” anyway. There is a “let’s pretend to do something” process, designed to mollify parts of the US public, and help Jewish liberals in the US feel better about Israel’s ruthless drive to commit politicide against what is left of the Palestinian community. Centrist negotiators on the Israeli and Palestinian side will make no difference. There have been centrists before. It doesn’t matter. Many of Israel’s centrists support the colonies in the West Bank. And those that do not support the colonies nevertheless lack the capacity to remove the colonies out of the West Bank. Rather than take that impossible step, Israel will always conjure up some crisis to short circuit any peace process that appears at risk of bearing fruit. And Americans and their government will always go along with the short circuiting.
    We have been told many times before that something will eventually happen in Israel, that Israel will eventually go to far, and that this will cause some sort of Battleship Potemkin moment in the US. The US Congress will suddenly lower the Israeli flag, and though it will not exactly raise the Palestinian flag, it will at least put up a flag of neutrality. The tide will turn. But there appears to be no serious risk of such an event happening.
    Faced with a choice between either changing the game or facing “a serious rebuke from Middle East watchers in the US and around the world”, the US government will take the serious rebuke every time. It always has. There is, certainly, a “realist” element in the US foreign policy establishment that believes, in the face of much empirical evidence to the contrary, that states like the United States are moved primarily by their “interests”, where the latter are conceived in hard-boiled and unsentimental terms of power and prosperity. But the US doesn’t work like that. Its actions in the Middle East are based on an incoherent and combination of domestic politics, brain stem impulse and ideological predisposition.

    Reply

  38. kotzabasis says:

    Steve’s post, by adopting Brzezinski’s “both sides of the…divide…,” has all the faults of the politically, historically, and intellectually bankrupt concept of moral equivalence by expanding it into political, diplomatic, cognitive, and intellectual equivalence between the two warring sides.
    And how irretrievably naive is to be a fugitive from reality that geopolitics or any conflicts are anything else than a zero-sum game. Leave the kinder-garden and re-read Clausewitz or Metternich! And only a permanent denizen of Disney Land could believe in the possibility of a Gandhi-esque way exercised by Palestinian moderates.

    Reply

  39. ... says:

    wigwag comment -Since the US invasion of Iraq, the IDF and the Mossad…- there may be some truth to the idea that israel thought it was in their interest for the usa to invade iraq and they intentionally helped it along… perhaps they still feel the same, although i can’t see how the usa would see it the same at this point… perhaps one day the usa is going to wake up big time to how israel appears like a leech on their system while causing some bigger problems then they would care to acknowledge…

    Reply

  40. JamesL says:

    This is some of the best posting I’ve seen here is quite a while. My thanks to all for contributing perspectives.
    Two points: Israel is so tiny, so teensy, that when one of the rapidly increasing numbers of people (not necessarily governments) who have lost loved ones to IDF excesses finally manages to get a really big bomb (RBB) somewhere into Israel where it will really hurt, there will be fewer people to step up in support of Israel as the dust settles. You can’t go on making enemies forever.
    Wig, thanks specifically for your posts. You: “Israelis are just like everyone else; no better, no worse.” Perhaps true, but all peoples go in cycles; think of the benevolent Vikings and the bloodthirsty Swedes. Israel is at a moral nadir, and it is being helped by a US that can’t get beyond the idea that war is a reasonable substitute for peace.
    People quit fighting when it gets too expensive (buddy can you spare a billion?) or repugnant, even to the supposed warriors. I think it more likely that Israel’s eventual left turn toward something less suicidal will be by its own hand, as was true of the Bush destruction of American health and reputation. It won’t be pretty and there will be a lot of blood, but Israel will get to the end of its rope.

    Reply

  41. TonyForesta says:

    It’s not a Manechean dynamic WigWag. It’s a delicate and treacherous line to walk specifically as you point out, because of the powerful influence the Israeli lobby and Israel itself has on the American government, and the American people.
    America is never going to stop aiding Israeli completely, nor will America ever side with any enemy of Israel on any issue, (which is why) it would behoove Palestinians to quit bruting the ridiculous pipedream of the destruction of Israel.
    Also, Mossad and Shin Bet are valuable resources and allies for, of America as well as Kurds and many western nations. Israels intelligence operations, (out of necessity) are the best in the business.
    What I am suggesting, is that Obama can leverage a portion (a portion) of that aid to Israel, because of Israels dependence on that huge amount of American aid as a tool to wrench a workable solution from the Israeli government, even the most hardcord Likudites, including Netanyahu to work in earnest to resolve the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. American aid to Israel cannot and will not end, but it can be reduced for political ends, and especially in this catastrophic economic environment, and for expressing America’s distaste for Israels aparthied policies.
    This will never be possible however until, and unless Hamas quits rocketing Israeli settlements, sending young Palestinians on suicidal massmurder operations into Israel, and recognizes Israels right to exist.
    It’s impossible for any US President to turn away from, or deny the “special relationship” with Israel. But if, all parties, and particularly moderates in Hamas cooperate, Obama could use a portion of America’s huge amount of aid to Israel force Likudites into compromises they would otherwise, never entertain.

    Reply

  42. Steve Clemons says:

    DWG – no, not insane. I’m just waking up to some patterns — and
    am not into “earnestness” any more when it comes to trying to get
    both sides to balance their interests. I appreciate your perspective,
    but I’m not sure you read my piece.
    All the best, steve clemons

    Reply

  43. dwg says:

    Are you being deliberately provocative Mr. Clemons? Or have you really gone completely over the edge?
    Netanyhu? Are you INSANE?
    Lieberman would be worse of course, because he would banish ISRAELI Arabs along with the Palestinian cousins. But Netanyhu is just as insanely set on destroying the Palestinians – with our without Israeli Arabs. Who knows what will happen if he succeeds in finally annexing W.B. and Gaza?

    Reply

  44. WigWag says:

    Tony Foresta says “the Obama administration can make a good case to the American people for diverting a significant portion of aid away from Israel and back into the collapsing US economy…”
    Actually during the Presidential campaign then Senator Obama not only supported a massive increase in military and economic aid to Israel, he co-sponsored the legislation that increased the aid package.
    I do think that there will be serious disagreements between Netanyahu and the Obama Administration. Bill Clinton always had a very difficult relationship with Netanyahu and it’s entirely possible that Secretary of State Clinton will as well.
    I do believe that Clinton, George Mitchell and President Obama will press very hard for a total settlement freeze and when Netanyahu refuses to comply I think it will cause difficulty.
    But my prediction is that the first significant fight between Israel and the Obama Administration will have nothing to do with settlements, the Palestinians or Iran. Netanyahu’s first big fight with Obama will be about the Kurds.
    As Seymour Hersh first reported in the New Yorker five years ago, Israel has strong and increasing ties with the Kurds in the North of Iraq. There is a long history between Israel and the Kurds. Iraqi Kurdistan is one of the few places in the Middle East where the Jewish population was well treated before the creation of Israel; there was virtually no anti-Semitism. There are Jewish and Christian Kurds but the vast majority are nominally Muslim although they are largely secular and they have a long standing and hostile relationship with Arabs.
    Mastafa Barzani, the father of the current President of South Kurdistan in Iraq initiated contacts with Israel in 1963 and military cooperation began in 1965. In September 1967, Mustafa Barzani visited Israel and met Moshe Dayan; Barzani got a promise from Dayan that Israel would continue its support to the Kurds. Massoud Barzani shocked the world with his comment in 2006 in Kuwait when he said “It is not a crime to have relations with Israel…We are considering opening an Israeli consulate in Hewlêr (southern Kurdistan)
    Since the US invasion of Iraq, the IDF and the Mossad have been actively training and funding the Kurdish Peshmerga and the relationship between Iraqi Kurdistan and Israel has gotten progressively stronger. The Kurds are getting ready for the civil war sure to happen when the Americans finally leave and they plan to fight for dominance in Kirkuk and Mosul. The Kurds will turn to Israel for intelligence and logistical support. Of course, Israel benefits from the fact that Iraqi Kurdistan borders Iran and like the Israelis, the Kurds also view Syria as an enemy (thousands of Kurds were butchered by Hafez al Assad.
    The only thing holding the Israelis back from even more assertive support for the Kurds was the objection of the Turks. But with the recent criticism of Israel by Prime Minister Erdogon, Israel will likely support the Kurds even more aggressively. If this angers the Turks, it will just be gravy.
    The Obama Administration can be expected to object to the Kurds seeking an independent state or even greater autonomy than they already have. The United States will certainly object to a military solution to the dispute between Arabs and Kurds in Kirkuk. The strengthening alliance between Israel and the Kurds will be viewed with increasing alarm in Washington and this, not anything pertaining to Palestinians or Iranians, will cause the first problem between Obama and Netanyahu.

    Reply

  45. TonyForesta says:

    Sadly, WigWags grim assessments are more realistic and accurate than the wishful thinking of other unrealistic options. Paul Norheim is also correct in supporting Mr. Clemons underlying “false choice” assertion that “Netanyahu may damage Israel the same way that Bush damaged USA; by stupid and arrogant miscalculations, and in the process alienating their closest allies. After all, Netanyahu is one of the most uncompromising members of the Israeli-American neocon gang.”
    States are like any organism, – in that they seek to survive and “promote their self interests”.
    Palestinians might actually gain from moderating thier policies, reigning in the recalcitrant massmurder elements of Hamas, and working toward hard agreements now. If not then, the more powerful state of Israel will continue to dominate, and the persecuted people of Palestine will loose support and empathy from other states.
    Attacking Iran is untenable. There is no way to completely nuetralize Iran, or it’s alledged nuclear weapons programs, and the certain Iranian retaliation would be ferocious and costly globally. Disrupting the flow of oil out of the Gulf of Hormus alone, in this catastrophic economic environment would be devastating to everyone, – and the certain kinetic responses from Iran and stateless Shi’ite sympathizers would be equally bloody and costly.
    Palestine and Iran are intertwined in many ways, but they are entirely seperate nations, with entirely separate set of problems, requiring entirely seperate approaches to resolving those problems that should be analyzed and dealt with seperately independently.
    It is a neocon trick to conjure and lump all enemies into one evildoer slurry, so nothing is seen in a clear light, and everything is blurred and murky, and intentionally misunderstood, and poorly analyzed.
    The US spends way too much money supporting Israel’s aparthied policies. It is a delicate line to walk politically, – but the Obama administration can make a good case to the American people for diverting a significant portion of aid away from Israel and back into the collapsing US economy, if Israel does not work to resolve the Palestinan conflict, and quit it’s aparthied policies. Continued US aid to Israel can only be justified by the longterm gains of greater stability in ME that can only be derived from a Two State Solution, a viable independent Palestine, and a lessening of hostilites and reason for hostitilies, and real stability in the entire region.
    If not, then I do not see why the US should continue to pour much needed (maybe desperately needed at this point) resources into a nation (Israel) that is brutally persecuting an entire population of Palestinians and implementing aparthied policies.

    Reply

  46. ... says:

    legitimize – meant to say de-ligitimize…

    Reply

  47. ... says:

    actions in the past committed by others is no justification for actions being taken today of a similar nature.. according to your post, you believe otherwise and use it to give a pass to israel.. most folks aren’t going to follow you on that one…
    as for a collection of states wanting to stop another nation, that’s been expressed through un resolutions but with the usa always vetoing any resolution against israel, it is critical that the usa see the important role they play in holding up the fascist state israel… there has been a concerted effort to legitimize the un, especially with bush, but not only residing with him… i wonder how that propaganda is working out at present?

    Reply

  48. DonS says:

    “My question is the classic one: “what profiteth a man if he gains the world yets loses his soul”?”
    “A rather hypocritical question don’t you think coming from a man living on property stolen from Native Americans and after them (depending on where you live) Mexicans?”
    Yes, in a way, though one might wish that so-called civilized nations would advance over time.
    As a political entity, Israel has acted acted disproportiately uncivilized. I can recognize that as the immoral use of state power, but I can’t reward such behavior with support or approval.
    As a self proclaimed “Jewish state”, with the implication of ethical standards, I find that truly hypocritical, as in using Old Testament mythology to justify present day opression.

    Reply

  49. IsraeliForPeace says:

    Steve Clemons can see beyound the blur.
    Thank you for this article.

    Reply

  50. WigWag says:

    “My question is the classic one: “what profiteth a man if he gains the world yets loses his soul”?”
    A rather hypocritical question don’t you think coming from a man living on property stolen from Native Americans and after them (depending on where you live) Mexicans?
    And Israelis on a fascist path? Perhaps you’re looking for another derogatory term; but whatever you think of what the Israelis are doing, only someone who doesn’t know what fascist means would call territorial expansion even by force, fascism.
    Israelis are just like everyone else; no better, no worse. They want to maximize the land under their dominion. And they want to live in security, even if it means destroying their enemies. It’s what Americans did; it’s what Europeans did; it’s what Australians did and it’s what Africans did. It’s certainly what Arabs and Turks did for more than a thousand years.
    In fact, it’s the dominant and driving feature of world history. Surely the Israelis are entitled to behave just like everyone else.
    As for Dan Kervick’s analogy to the Ob/Gyn and the fetus, the quicker the Palestinians make a deal, the larger and more contiguous their state will be. They can still get a State with borders similar (but not identical to) 1967 with a shared Jerusalem. But if Hamas insists on being recalcitrant, the eventual Palestinian State will be smaller and less contiguous.
    It’s quite ironic but the form of Muslim extremism practiced by Hamas is doing real damage to the Palestinians. The newly emerging world powers, the Chinese, Indians, and Russians and the older world powers, the Americans and Europeans all have their own problems with either external or internal (or both) Muslim extremism and this is making each of these world powers more sympathetic to Israelis and less sympathetic to Palestinians.
    Personally I think Israel’s religious settlers in the West Bank (as opposed to the people who settled for economic reasons and can easily be induced to leave) are every bit as bad as Muslim religious extremists. And I think they are more of a threat to Israel than Hamas is.
    The basis for any form of State sovereignty is a government monopoly on the use of violence. The fact that many of the settlers think they have the right to use violence against Palestinians and against the Israeli State if they don’t get their way makes them traitors. I have no sympathy for them; I think they are dangerous fanatics. I would like to see them removed, forcibly if necessary.
    If they’re not moved, what I would like to see (but I understand it is only a fantasy) is a peace settlement that allowed the settlers to stay in place under Palestinian sovereignty living as a small minority in a Palestinian State. It would serve them right.
    But as any foreign policy realist can tell you, all States are motivated by self interest and they will pursue that self-interest until a more powerful state or collection of states stops them.
    Same as it ever was.

    Reply

  51. ... says:

    i think wigwag and dan kervick are correct in this: why would israel bother to make any kind of deal given they are on a fascist path?

    Reply

  52. Dan Kervick says:

    For what it’s worth, I think WigWag is more correct than Steve as go the perceptions of the political realities in Israel and Palestine. The only difference is that these perceptions fill WigWag with the desire to enjoy another daiquiri and relish the sunset in self-satisfied contemplation of the eventual total triumph of Israel over the insignificant Arab rodents that plague and annoy it, whereas the same perceptions make me want to hit something with a baseball bat.
    We do have a few disagreements though. One is over the continuing and future viability of a Palestinian state, although maybe it is just a semantic difference over the word “viability”. WigWag says:
    “While the two state solution will always be viable, the size, borders and degree of territorial contiguity of the future Palestinian State remains an open question. The world is getting tired of the Palestinians. Sympathy for their plight is already far less than it was 10-20 years ago and it declines every year. The slower the Palestinians are to reconcile themselves to their declining prospects, the poorer the deal they are eventually going to get.”
    I imagine a conversation in which a young, pregnant mother comes in for an ultrasound and asks her obstetrician WigWag, “Is my fetus still viable?”, and Dr. WigWag answers, “Certainly! Although I do note that it is missing all of its limbs, most of its brain, and a few random internal organs. But it is most definitely alive!”

    Reply

  53. DonS says:

    Wigwag puts the best light, one might say wishful thinking, on the inexhaustable reservoir of time and political machinations that will serve Israel’s long term interests.
    Dan K describes what increases the rot at the heart and soul of Israel, with the United States a willing co-conspirator.
    My question is the classic one: “what profiteth a man if he gains the world yets loses his soul”? Israel, as the home of a stubborn political entity, ever drifting to the right, thrives. Israel, as the home of moral Jewry, is bankrupt.
    Jews of my acquaintance in the US are disturbed, to put it mildly, at what has come to be held up as their “homeland”, in some twist of political-religious mumbo jumbo. Israeli born Jews marry American Jews — American Jews who have visited and lived the kibbutz life — and have now fled to the haven of America among other places, unwilling to be a part of the immoral state Israel has projected.
    Some object that Israel is held up to a higher standard than other nations. Hogwash. Jews pride themselves in great humanity but, if anything, Israel has taken that reputation and used it as a sowrd and not a shield.

    Reply

  54. Dan Kervick says:

    Sorry about the poor formatting in the above. let me try again:
    The “continued expansion” of the West Bank colonies is not the most serious obstacle to peace. Rather, the most serious obstacle to peace is the very existence of the colonies. We are now approaching half a million people Israeli colonists in the West Bank. Even if the colonization were stopped dead in its tracks, no viable Palestinian state could be constructed so long as those colonies persist.
    The Israelis themselves will never evacuate the West Bank settlements on their own initiative. And no American politician is remotely prepared to organize and apply the kind of international pressure that will be required to remove them. Israelis and their leaders who claim the colonies can be dealt with at a later date, after peace breaks out, are not “in denial” about the impediment created by what is happening in the West Bank. They are liars. They are just the good cops in a long-running good cop/bad cop sucker routine that Israel runs on the rest of the world for Israel’s own benefit and amusement. Except for those on the far left in Israel, such as those in B’tselem, there appear now to be two main types of Israelis: those who frankly advocate and openly support the colonization of the West Bank; and those who support the colonization, but pretend not to.
    Those who think the Israelis can be led to conclude some sort of peace deal, and then evacuate the settlements themselves, place their ridiculous faith in an IDF that is now deeply penetrated by right wing religious zealots, and that just conducted a murderous Jewish jihad in Gaza. The IDF’s chief Rabbi, Brigadier General Avichai Ronsky, is himself a West Bank colonist. Mikhael Manekin of Breaking the Silence, a soldiers’ project seeking to expose the IDF’s behavior against Palestinians, says “the army has been effectively subcontracted to promote the views of the extremist settlers to its soldiers.”
    There is always something the Israelis claim must happen before the leave the West Bank. Now it is The “Iran crisis” that must be solved first. Later it will be some other crisis. There will always be something that can keep the United States and the Europeans distracted for another few years so that the Israelis can complete their nasty business in Palestine without serious interference. Israelis think the rest of the world is stupid, so they’ll keep running this racket as long as they are permitted to.
    But Israel wants the West Bank. That’s it. It doesn’t matter who is elected, and it really doesn’t matter what the Palestinian Arabs do. The Palestinians and Arafat made some very significant moves with the Oslo accords. But the settlements grew rapidly during the period of the peace process, even under Saint Rabin. The colonization movement isn’t just some fringe movement made up of a few kooky settlers. It is the mainstream business in the Israeli state.
    How could any Israeli politician clear out the West Bank, absent truly massive foreign sanctions and threats compelling them to leave? The population of the settlements compared to the population of Israel is roughly the same as the population of Florida compared to the population of the US. Does anyone want to guess what would happen if the US Army tried to evacuate permanently the state of Florida, and if Florida’s people were determined not to go?
    Recall how stressful and turbulent was the Israeli evacuation of the Jewish settlers from Gaza in 2005. That was for 8500 settlers. By the time this supposed West Bank evacuation begins, there will probably be half a million colonists in the West Bank, almost 60 times the number in Gaza. The IDF has about 175,000 active personnel.
    Even those Israelis who aren’t personally invested in colonizing and annexing the West Bank will never find the stomach to drive a half a million crying and wailing and Molotov cocktail-wielding and gun-toting Jews out of their homes in what many of the colonists, and even more ordinary Israelis, regard as the Land of Israel. Does anyone think those IDF soldiers, a large proportion of whom deeply sympathize with colonists’ attitudes and aims, are going to be able to load hundreds of thousands of Jews onto buses, trucks or trains while their tear-streaked countrymen and coreligionists shout “Nazi!” and “Goebbels!” at them, while pleading “How could a Jew do this to Jews!” And the crying in soldiers’ faces is only what will happen before the settlers start shooting at the soldiers.
    Israel will never leave their colonies in the West Bank until they are literally forced to do so. This will require extreme pressure in the form of very strong sanctions, if even sanctions will work – which is doubtful. I really don’t know if there is anything that can be done at this point, since a generation of corrupt and stupid American politicians have let this colonization movement grow into the truly massive Fact on the Ground it is today. One useful first step would be to start clamping down on some Jewish charities around the world. Many of those charities are funneling millions of dollars to Israel for what is in effect the financial support of ethnic cleansing. It’s outrageous that these charities are permitted to operate legally in this country and others. They should be shut down. That’s what we did with many Islamist charities following 9/11, and we should do the same thing in this case.
    Steve seems to think that if Israel moves too far to the right, that will finally exhaust the patience of the United States. I sincerely doubt that. Our patience with Israel is as boundless as the ocean. I suspect the United States will follow Israel wherever Israel chooses to go. If Netanyahu is elected, the US government will support him. If Avigdor Lieberman is elected Prime Minister a few years later, we’ll support him too. If Israel starts shipping Palestinians out of Gaza and the West Bank, we’ll send Israel the money to help pay for it. If Israel provokes a war in Gaza and the West Bank to provide a military cover for shipping Palestinians out as “refugees”, we’ll sell them the weapons. Actually, we’ll just give them aid handouts in the form of Foreign Military Finance grants that they can use to buy the weapons from us, so they get the weapons for free.
    And if Israel attacks Iran, we’ll follow them to Tehran.
    Netanyahu has committed to giving Lieberman an important cabinet position in the next government, and Lieberman might end up being the next Israeli defense minister, foreign affairs minister or finance minister. Soon we will see either Hillary Clinton, Bob Gates or Tim Geithner smiling and shaking hands with their Israeli counterpart, the ultrantionalist Lieberman.
    My predictions: Within a couple of days after Lieberman’s appointment, FOX News and Lou Dobbs on CNN will be saying, “This guy Lieberman has the right idea.” Within six months, the New York Times will be saying, “It must be admitted that several of Mr. Lieberman’s innovative ideas have much to be said for them.” Within one year, the US government will be pledging money to Israel to help with the transfer of Palestinians.
    I hate to use such an overworked metaphor, but we are dealing here with a Munich situation. But instead of one grand act of appeasement, we have paved our road to hell with dozens of little appeasements. This is how fascist takeovers occur. The fascists don’t hold up signs that say, “We’re murdering fascists now! You had better stop us before it’s too late!” Instead, the foulness grows little by little, and like that apocryphal frog in that apocryphal pan of gradually boiling water, our souls end up boiled and dead.
    Steve appears to have shut himself off inside an emotional wall, bordering on psychopathology, and prefers to use terms like “immaturity” and “irresponsibility” to describe what is happening in Israel and Palestine. I guess this is called “realism” – a professed unconcern with murders that are not skin off one’s own nose. I mean, how many Palestinians know Maureen Dowd or David Geffen anyway?
    But in fairness, Steve is not much different than most of Washington. Our great democratic congress just rubber-stamped a terrorist war of shocking violence, collective punishment and civilian intimidation, and they did it with a unanimous, Soviet-style voice vote. None of our new or old leaders – Obama, Clinton, Gates, Rice, Rice, Pelosi or McConnell – voiced the slightest objection.
    We are lost. Our entire political culture is deeply sick, which makes it hard to believe we will put up anything more than modest verbal resistance as we follow Israel along its new fascist path.

    Reply

  55. Dan Kervick says:

    The “continued expansion” of the West Bank colonies is not the most serious obstacle to peace. Rather, the most serious obstacle to peace is the very existence of the colonies. We are now approaching half a million people Israeli colonists in the West Bank. Even if the colonization were stopped dead in its tracks, no viable Palestinian state could be constructed so long as those colonies persist.
    The Israelis themselves will never evacuate the West Bank settlements on their own initiative. And no American politician is remotely prepared to organize and apply the kind of international pressure that will be required to remove them. Israelis and their leaders who claim the colonies can be dealt with at a later date, after peace breaks out, are not “in denial” about the impediment created by what is happening in the West Bank. They are liars. They are just the good cops in a long-running good cop/bad cop sucker routine that Israel runs on the rest of the world for Israel’s own benefit and amusement. Except for those on the far left in Israel, such as those in B’tselem, there appear now to be two main types of Israelis: those who frankly advocate and openly support the colonization of the West Bank; and those who support the colonization, but pretend not to.
    Those who think the Israelis can be led to conclude some sort of peace deal, and then evacuate the settlements themselves, place their ridiculous faith in an IDF that is now deeply penetrated by right wing religious zealots, and that just conducted a murderous Jewish jihad in Gaza. The IDF’s chief Rabbi, Brigadier General Avichai Ronsky, is himself a West Bank colonist. Mikhael Manekin of Breaking the Silence, a soldiers’ project seeking to expose the IDF’s behavior against Palestinians, says “the army has been effectively subcontracted to promote the views of the extremist settlers to its soldiers.”
    There is always something the Israelis claim must happen before the leave the West Bank. Now it is The “Iran crisis” that must be solved first. Later it will be some other crisis. There will always be something that can keep the United States and the Europeans distracted for another few years so that the Israelis can complete their nasty business in Palestine without serious interference. Israelis think the rest of the world is stupid, so they’ll keep running this racket as long as they are permitted to.
    But Israel wants the West Bank. That’s it. It doesn’t matter who is elected, and it really doesn’t matter what the Palestinian Arabs do. The Palestinians and Arafat made some very significant moves with the Oslo accords. But the settlements grew rapidly during the period of the peace process, even under Saint Rabin. The colonization movement isn’t just some fringe movement made up of a few kooky settlers. It is the mainstream business in the Israeli state.
    How could any Israeli politician clear out the West Bank, absent truly massive foreign sanctions and threats compelling them to leave? The population of the settlements compared to the population of Israel is roughly the same as the population of Florida compared to the population of the US. Does anyone want to guess what would happen if the US Army tried to evacuate permanently the state of Florida, and if Florida’s people were determined not to go?
    Recall how stressful and turbulent was the Israeli evacuation of the Jewish settlers from Gaza in 2005. That was for 8500 settlers. By the time this supposed West Bank evacuation begins, there will probably be half a million colonists in the West Bank, almost 60 times the number in Gaza. The IDF has about 175,000 active personnel.
    Even those Israelis who aren’t personally invested in colonizing and annexing the West Bank will never find the stomach to drive a half a million crying and wailing and Molotov cocktail-wielding and gun-toting Jews out of their homes in what many of the colonists, and even more ordinary Israelis, regard as the Land of Israel. Does anyone think those IDF soldiers, a large proportion of whom deeply sympathize with colonists’ attitudes and aims, are going to be able to load hundreds of thousands of Jews onto buses, trucks or trains while their tear-streaked countrymen and coreligionists shout “Nazi!” and “Goebbels!” at them, while pleading “How could a Jew do this to Jews!” And the crying in soldiers’ faces is only what will happen before the settlers start shooting at the soldiers.
    Israel will never leave their colonies in the West Bank until they are literally forced to do so. This will require extreme pressure in the form of very strong sanctions, if even sanctions will work – which is doubtful. I really don’t know if there is anything that can be done at this point, since a generation of corrupt and stupid American politicians have let this colonization movement grow into the truly massive Fact on the Ground it is today. One useful first step would be to start clamping down on some Jewish charities around the world. Many of those charities are funneling millions of dollars to Israel for what is in effect the financial support of ethnic cleansing. It’s outrageous that these charities are permitted to operate legally in this country and others. They should be shut down. That’s what we did with many Islamist charities following 9/11, and we should do the same thing in this case.
    Steve seems to think that if Israel moves too far to the right, that will finally exhaust the patience of the United States. I sincerely doubt that. Our patience with Israel is as boundless as the ocean. I suspect the United States will follow Israel wherever Israel chooses to go. If Netanyahu is elected, the US government will support him. If Avigdor Lieberman is elected Prime Minister a few years later, we’ll support him too. If Israel starts shipping Palestinians out of Gaza and the West Bank, we’ll send Israel the money to help pay for it. If Israel provokes a war in Gaza and the West Bank to provide a military cover for shipping Palestinians out as “refugees”, we’ll sell them the weapons. Actually, we’ll just give them aid handouts in the form of Foreign Military Finance grants that they can use to buy the weapons from us, so they get the weapons for free.
    And if Israel attacks Iran, we’ll follow them to Tehran.
    Netanyahu has committed to giving Lieberman an important cabinet position in the next government, and Lieberman might end up being the next Israeli defense minister, foreign affairs minister or finance minister. Soon we will see either Hillary Clinton, Bob Gates or Tim Geithner smiling and shaking hands with their Israeli counterpart, the ultrantionalist Lieberman.
    My predictions: Within a couple of days after Lieberman’s appointment, FOX News and Lou Dobbs on CNN will be saying, “This guy Lieberman has the right idea.” Within six months, the New York Times will be saying, “It must be admitted that several of Mr. Lieberman’s innovative ideas have much to be said for them.” Within one year, the US government will be pledging money to Israel to help with the transfer of Palestinians.
    I hate to use such an overworked metaphor, but we are dealing here with a Munich situation. But instead of one grand act of appeasement, we have paved our road to hell with dozens of little appeasements. This is how fascist takeovers occur. The fascists don’t hold up signs that say, “We’re murdering fascists now! You had better stop us before it’s too late!” Instead, the foulness grows little by little, and like that apocryphal frog in that apocryphal pan of gradually boiling water, our souls end up boiled and dead.
    Steve appears to have shut himself off inside an emotional wall, bordering on psychopathology, and prefers to use terms like “immaturity” and “irresponsibility” to describe what is happening in Israel and Palestine. I guess this is called “realism” – a professed unconcern with murders that are not skin off one’s own nose. I mean, how many Palestinians know Maureen Dowd or David Geffen anyway?
    But in fairness, Steve is not much different than most of Washington. Our great democratic congress just rubber-stamped a terrorist war of shocking violence, collective punishment and civilian intimidation, and they did it with a unanimous, Soviet-style voice vote. None of our new or old leaders – Obama, Clinton, Gates, Rice, Rice, Pelosi or McConnell – voiced the slightest objection.
    We are lost. Our entire political culture is deeply sick, which makes it hard to believe we will put up anything more than modest verbal resistance as we follow Israel along its new fascist path.

    Reply

  56. Anonymous says:

    Steve – Your confidence that an Israeli attack on Iran would not
    occur, or its consequences might be manageable, may be
    misplaced. At this point no one can predict with confidence what
    Israel will do. And Iran has stated that it will regard any attack
    by Israel as an attack by the US. If they retaliate, as they have
    said they will, we might lose more than a few ships in the Gulf.
    Dispersed attacks on US forces in Iraq would make lousy video.
    But a missile cruiser sinking in flames will provide all the
    images necessary to bind us to Israel for the next generation,
    regardless of its acts.
    The entire Gulf is a kill zone. The Iranians don’t need the
    Sunburns and Yakhonts. Their domestically manufactured anti-
    ship missiles will do very well. Our fleet is at great risk.
    This is an extremely dangerous situation, and we may be living
    with consequences for a very long time.

    Reply

  57. WigWag says:

    “Israel’s bravado over Gaza and the massively disproportionate deployment of force in which so many innocents were killed or injured — and lives seriously disrupted on so many levels — is the type of potentially transformative act that ca…radicalize a great many more Arabs against the current equations of power in the region…”
    Yes and pigs could fly.
    “Tzipi Livni falls into this “earnestness” hope –though she has a class of detractors larger than Maureen Dowd has.”
    I don’t think so; Dowd has more detractors in the United States than there are people in Israel.
    “In any case, if WigWag and I were debating in person, it would be respectful, civil, and I’d hope he’d be as straightforward and clear as I have tried to be in this post — and when we were both done, we’d have a drink together.”
    Tonight when I sit down to dinner, frozen dacquiri in hand, I will be toatsting to Steve Clemon’s and his kindness, intelligence and generosity of spirit.
    “I share Zbigniew Brzezinski’s view that both sides of the Israel-Palestine divide have proven themselves completely unable to solve an arrangement on their own. A Palestinian state is still possible — and Israel democracy without apartheid within its borders is also still possible.”
    What Steve fails to realize is that Israel doesn’t need a peace deal; if the Palestinians don’t acquiesce to terms acceptable to Israel this year, Israel can wait five years, 10 years or 50 years. A two state solution will always be possible whenever the Palestinians are willing to accept terms that Israel believes guarantees its security and provides for acceptable borders.
    The idea that “time is running out on the two state solution” is an urban legend. It seems that pundits and pontificators have been claiming that “time is running out” ever since Yasser Arafat first expressed willingness to recognize Israel’s right to exist in the late 1980s.
    Arafat made headlines about the two state solution at a meeting with American Jews (including Steve Clemon’s friend Rita Hauser) put together by the Swedish Prime Minister on December 7, 1988. Interestingly, Hauser, who attended as a representative of the International Center for Peace in the Middle East, later went on to make millions off the Palestinians when her law firm, Stroock, Stroock and Lavan, became the PLO’s chief American lobbying firm. Hauser cashed in on her relationship with the Palestinians in precisely the same way that Daschle cashed in with health insurance companies. At the meeting in Stockholm, Arafat announced that he envisioned Israel and Palestine living side by side but went on to say that without rapid progress, the opportunity for the two state solution would evaporate. Ever since, at least one New York Times article every year (and in some years many articles) have claimed that the opportunity for a two state solution is disappearing. The articles sport bylines by the likes of David Shipler, Anthony Lewis, Tom Friedman, Steve Erlanger and a host of others. The New York Times obsession with the short period of time left for the two state solution is echoed in the rest of the main stream media.
    The only problem with the argument is that despite the dire warnings, the day of reckoning never actually arrives. It never will.
    The pundits usually site two arguments to support their claim that the opportunity for a two state solution is disappearing. The first is that the two sides are losing faith in the two state solution. Viewed from the vantage point of today, this is true. After all, less than three years ago the Palestinians elected an organization, Hamas, whose charter specifically rejects a two state solution. The Israelis are about to elect a government headed by Likud’s Benjamin Netanyahu who is the most skeptical main-stream politician (except Avigdor Lieberman) about the two state solution. If either the Israelis or the Palestinians were enthusiastic about the two state solution, they wouldn’t be electing their most recalcitrant political parties. But this proves nothing. The level of enthusiasm for the two state solution has waxed and waned on both sides several times in the past 20 years and the noticeable lack of enthusiasm for it today could easily be replaced by greater enthusiasm tomorrow, or in two years or in ten years or in fifty years.
    The other argument is even more specious. The argument goes something like this: (1) the number of Israeli settlers in the West Bank has grown almost continuously since the Clinton peace initiative in the late 1990s. The additional settlers create inexorable “facts on the ground” that will be increasingly difficult to ameliorate. (2) As a result of high Palestinian fertility rates, the number of Palestinians in Israel proper, the West Bank, Gaza and Jerusalem will soon exceed the number of Jewish Israelis. The net result of the increased number of Jewish settlers coupled with superior Palestinian fecundity will kill the chances for the two state solution; or so the argument goes.
    The problem is that the argument falls apart under the mildest scrutiny. Does the fact that the number of settlers has increased since 2000 make it much more difficult to contemplate moving them as part of a peace deal? Of course it doesn’t.
    In 2008 there were less than 200 thousand Jewish settlers in the West Bank (excluding East Jerusalem) which represents 17 percent of the total West Bank population. In 2000, there were about 20 thousand fewer Jewish settlers on the West Bank but their percent of the West Bank population was precisely the same; 17 percent. After the land swaps that a two state solution will require, perhaps half or slightly more of these settlers will have to leave. It’s hard to understand why anyone would think moving 100 thousand settlers instead of 80 thousand settlers will derail a two state solution especially considering the millions of people displaced after World War II, displaced by the creation of Pakistan or by all the other displacements and forced marches that took place in the 20th century. As traumatic as it will be, compared to these other examples of forced population movements caused by the ending of war or the creation of a new state, moving 100 thousand or so settlers (most of whom will accept financial inducements to leave) will be a piece of cake. It won’t be fun, but to claim it is not feasible is to ignore the history of the last hundred years.
    Some like Jimmy Carter, Tony Judt and others claim that unless a two state solution is implemented soon, Israel will soon face the choice of accepting some type of binational arrangement with the Palestinians, expelling the Palestinians or imposing some form of apartheid. This is nonsensical, although to be fair, remarks by Israel’s Prime Minister Ehud Olmert have provided some credence to this mistaken point of view.
    One strong possibility is that the status quo will essentially be maintained indefinitely; Israel will continue to exist within ill-defined borders and without annexing the West Bank, the settlers will stay and Palestinians will remain stateless for the next ten 25 or 50 years just as they have always been stateless throughout their history.
    Carter, Judt and others can’t contemplate that the world would permit this possibility. They should think again. In their nostalgia for the glory days of the 1980s, they fail to notice that the world has changed appreciably since nations all over the globe united to help black South Africans overturn apartheid. The idea that the maintenance of the status quo in the Middle East will inspire the world to equate the Palestinians with black South Africans and cause world opinion to rise up and demand a binational State for the Israelis and Palestinians is as quaint as it is ludicrous.
    In fact, it’s not the two state solution that is becoming increasingly impractical; it’s the one state or binational solutions that become less likely every day. Besides the obvious question of exactly what the practicalities might be of on imposing on the Israelis the requirement that they give up a Jewish State to live in communion with the Palestinian Arabs, the very idea of a binational or unified state looks increasingly anachronistic. Unified states made up of divergent ethnic and religious groups are fraying all over the world.
    The United Nations didn’t impose a binational or unified state on the Serbs and the Kosovar Albanians, it is policing a two state solution imposed by NATO. (Daniel Levy is right; this is a potential model for a solution between Israel and Palestine). If the Dutch speaking Flemish Belgians can no longer tolerate living in the same state as their French and German speaking country-men in the very Capital of a “united Europe” it’s rather difficult to contemplate how the Israelis and Palestinians are going to live together peaceably. The “trinational” solution that the UN imposed in Bosnia is rapidly falling apart, the Iraqi Kurds are counting the days until the US departs from Iraq so they can begin the process of seceding and forming their own State and Canada contemplates a possible referendum on independence for the Quebecois every few years. And let’s not forget the South Ossetians and Abkhazians who can’t seem to live in communion with the Georgians. Shall I go on? What about the independence movement in the Pakistani province of Baluchistan; the Transnistrians trying to escape from Moldavia, the rebel movements in Sri Lanka, etc., etc., etc. Ask yourself, which is more likely 50 years from now, that Israelis and Palestinians will be living in some type of unified state or that Scotland will be an independent country; no longer part of Great Britain? I’d bet on an independent Scotland.
    The fact that Hamas and Fatah can’t tolerate living together in the same State makes it especially hard to contemplate how the Israelis could ever be added harmoniously to the mix. Many of Israel’s critics blanch when they hear it, with the march of time, the possibility of a binational or unified state becomes increasingly hopeless. The Israelis recognize this which is why they won’t allow themselves to be blackmailed by those who threaten the possibility of this solution if Israel doesn’t settle on terms sufficiently acceptable to the Palestinians. Fatah and the Sunni Arab States recognize it too.
    The good news is that the demise of the one state solution will make the two state solution increasingly likely as time passes. Whether Netanyahu wins or not, the chance that the conflict will end with two States, Israel and Palestine living side by side doesn’t evaporate over time; it becomes increasingly feasible over time. It is a solution that will remain tenable almost indefinitely. But it might take a lot longer than Steve Clemons or Israel’s critics would like.
    It is unfortunate for the Palestinians that Hamas won’t let Fatah make a deal now. While the opportunity for a two state solution won’t disappear, the deal that the Palestinians can negotiate gets worse over time. What Jimmy Carter fails to understand is that the relative size of the Palestinian Arab versus the Israeli-Jewish population is largely irrelevant. What matters is the political context in which the deal will be negotiated. For the Israelis, that political context is the best it’s been since 1956 and getting better, for the Palestinians, it is worse than ever and deteriorating fast.
    What will Prime Minister Netanyahu find when he enters office?
    He will realize that as the world enters the “Asian Century,” Israel can count on increasing support from Asian powers. Only 20 years ago, China aspired to lead the developing world and routinely voiced strong support for the Palestinians and contempt for the Israelis. Now China no longer aspires to lead the third world, it aspires to lead the entire world and this has made the Palestinian cause far less consequential to the Chinese. China has major problems with its ethnic Muslim Uighur population and an internal terrorism problem which has resulted in serious attacks against Han Chinese in Xinjiang. Once China would have looked at Hamas and seen a national liberation movement; now it looks at Hamas and sees a movement that reminds it of its own terrorism problem. China’s Tibet situation has also caused a rethinking of its once reflexive support for national liberation movements. Bilateral trade between Israel and China totals about $10 billion and it is expected that in 2010, Israel will replace Russia as the single leading arms exporter to China. As for the effect that Palestinian population growth will have on China’s attitude towards the Middle East, the idea of “one man, one vote” has never resonated particularly strongly with the Chinese Communist Party. During the 1970s and 1980s China was one of the leading proponents of the Palestinian cause. During the recent Gaza campaign (and before that, Israel’s war with Hezbollah), China’s silence was deafening.
    During the Cold War, Chinas main competitor to lead the non-aligned countries was India. India was once as reflexively anti-Israel as China was. How times have changed!
    Because they each face problems with Muslim terrorism, intelligence cooperation between Israel’s Mossad and India’s RAW has blossomed. Last year India purchased $5 billion of military hardware from Israel. Israel is training Indian military units and discussing an arrangement to give Indian commandos instruction in counter-terrorist tactics and urban warfare. In 2000, India gave Israel permission to test cruise missile capable of carrying nuclear war heads off its coast and in return, Israel sold India large numbers of its Barak-I missiles. In January, 2008 India launched Israel’s latest spy satellite and there are numerous cooperative high tech ventures between Israeli and Indian firms. Israel’s attack on Gaza occurred shortly after the Mumbai terrorist attacks. While the Palestinians could once count on unflinching support from the India, during the Gaza attacks, the Indian government was largely silent but most objective observers would say that they were modestly pro-Israeli in their comments. The partition of India and Pakistan in August, 1947 caused the forcible displacement of 12.5 million people and the deaths of almost 1 million. In light of this, moving 100 thousand or so people to facilitate a peace deal between Israel and Palestine must seem almost insignificant to the Indians.
    The Japanese have never shown an interest in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
    Upon taking office, Netanyahu will also find positive changes in Israel’s relationship with Russia. The Soviet Union once expressed reflexive support for the Palestinians. With the end of the Cold War that has changed and many former Soviet republics and Warsaw Pact allies openly sided with Israel during the War in Gaza. Russia itself has taken a much more nuanced view of the conflict than it once did. Prime Minister Putin has a cordial and professional relationship with the Israelis and his comments about Israel’s attack on Hamas were restrained. Like Israel, Russia is experiencing significant challenges from Muslim extremists. The Soviet Union once supported every “national liberation” movement it could find. Russia, on the other hand, is distinctly less impressed with national liberation movements that remind it of its own difficulties in places like Chechnya. While Israel and Russia have significant differences over Iran, Russia’s sympathy for the Palestinians has all but evaporated. Three months ago, Russia placed a billion dollar order for unmanned Israeli reconnaissance aircraft (drones) from Israel Aerospace Industries. Like the Chinese, the Russians are not interested in the relative size of the two populations in question, and they have little nostalgia for the concept of “one man, one vote.”
    Netanyahu will discover an almost miraculous change in Israel’s bilateral relations with its most proximate Arab neighbors. For most of the last half of the 20th century Egypt and Jordan were implacable foes of the Israelis and enthusiastic advocates for Palestinian rights (to be fair, the Jordanians always had their fair share of turmoil with the Palestinians). Over a 60 year period, Egypt fought four wars with the Israelis and the Jordanians fought three. Even after Israel signed peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan the peace that resulted was a “cold” peace. But all of that has changed. As a result of the rise of Iran and the rising strength of the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt and Jordan are now more closely aligned with the Israelis than they are with the Palestinians. Restrictions imposed by Egypt at the Rafah crossing into Gaza mirror restrictions the Israelis impose at their border crossings with Gaza. And when it attacked Hamas in Gaza, Israel was virtually acting as a proxy for the Egyptians, the Jordanians and even the Saudis. Far from opposing the Israeli action, these Sunni Arab States encouraged it. They were more interested in teaching Hamas a lesson than in helping Palestinians achieve their national aspirations. In fact, the Egyptians, Jordanians and Saudis were even more interested in seeing Hamas destroyed than the Israelis were. As for Fatah and the Palestinian Authority, Tom Friedman got it right when in his February 4, 2009 column he said “meanwhile, the West Bank Palestinian leaders are busy publicly collecting food and blankets to help all those Palestinian civilians brutalized by the Israeli incursion into Gaza, while privately demanding to know from senior Israeli officials why they wimped out and didn’t wipe Hamas in Gaza off the face of earth — casualties be damned.” When Palestinians can’t even count on the major Sunni Arab States to advocate for their right to resist, things look very bleak for them indeed.
    So if Chinese, Indians, Japanese and Sunni Arab states are losing interest in the Palestinian cause, why should Netanyahu rush to make a deal? Will the Americans pressure Israel into making a deal Israel finds unacceptable? Maybe Jimmy Carter, Stephen Walt and others are right that the influence of the Jewish community and tens of millions of Christian Zionists will dissipate and all of a sudden Americans will switch allegiance to the Palestinians instead of the Israelis. And maybe lions will lie down with lambs. Anyone counting on this reality is putting their trust in a very thin reed.
    Maybe the Europeans will come to the rescue of the Palestinians. But with rising tensions throughout Europe with indigenous and immigrant Muslim communities and with periodic bouts of terrorism, sympathy for the Palestinian cause in Europe has been declining not increasing despite the noisy protestations of largely irrelevant European leftists. With the incorporation of the former Soviet satellites into European leadership positions, concern about the plight of Palestinians deteriorates still further. Within 24 hours of the end of the Gaza campaign, every major Europeans leader was in Jerusalem having dinner with Olmert, Barak and Netanyahu. What else needs to be said?
    While the two state solution will always be viable, the size, borders and degree of territorial contiguity of the future Palestinian State remains an open question. The world is getting tired of the Palestinians. Sympathy for their plight is already far less than it was 10-20 years ago and it declines every year. The slower the Palestinians are to reconcile themselves to their declining prospects, the poorer the deal they are eventually going to get.
    Steve is right about one thing, whether it’s Netanyahu, Livni or Barack the Israelis will be in no rush at all.
    Why should they be?

    Reply

  58. Bill R. says:

    Well, Steve. I hope you are right. In the spiritual communities I have frequented, the saying “God writes straight with crooked lines” may apply here. Perhaps the paradox that applies here is that extremes isolate and disempower themselves.

    Reply

  59. doodles says:

    interesting.
    this is a crazy idea…
    crazy like a fox steve.
    i’m beginning to get you.

    Reply

  60. Linda says:

    I personally really don’t care about or pay much attention to Israeli or Palestinian elections. Given so many decades and so many elections, I don’t think they matter that much.
    I may be naive or too simplistic in my thinking that:
    There won’t be peace or real progress toward it until both the Palestinians and Israelis choose the leaders both deserve– to work the will of their majority who want to live in peace with each other.

    Reply

  61. Steve Clemons says:

    For the record, I respect WigWag’s differences of opinion on this front. This set of issues is deeply complicated and emotional for many. I hope that debate here around this subject can remain respectful of all arguments.
    In any case, if WigWag and I were debating in person, it would be respectful, civil, and I’d hope he’d be as straightforward and clear as I have tried to be in this post — and when we were both done, we’d have a drink together.
    So, in other words, be respectful of differences on this subject.
    Thanks, steve clemons

    Reply

  62. alan says:

    Waiting for WigWag.

    Reply

  63. susan says:

    “Non-violent cilil disobedience” ? Indeed.
    A nice idea perhaps, but Israel has a history of assassinating every
    moderate Palestinian figure that has come forward. That’s how we
    ended up with the current bunch.
    And Iran, well, just another straw man that Likudniks can use to
    keep outsourcing the blame for the mess they are in-allows them
    to avoid taking and responsibility for their own errors.

    Reply

  64. NotonmyWatch says:

    Bill R,
    Steve Clemons’s thinking here is honest, straightforward, very, very smart. Really smart I think.
    What I don’t think you get is that the Likud Party is Israel’s Hamas. Hamas and Likud have a lot of similar characteristics.
    You can’t destroy Likud and you can’t destroy Hamas.
    Steve is saying to work past both. Make them irrelevant.
    I just found this blog a month ago and have been swept into the waves of TWN’s thinking and posts. It’s such a cool, weird blog, and unpredictable.
    But I like the discussion here with all of you and hope Bill R. that you don’t mind my counterpoint to yours.
    Thanks.

    Reply

  65. Bill R. says:

    Strange thinking, Steve. “Bring in the crazies. They will freak everyone out so much that forceful action will take place to create a peace settlement.”
    I think the only thing that will bring action is a total global trade embargo on Israel when they resume settlements and bring down the Likkud or force them to cut a deal. The Obama administration won’t be able to stop it and may secretly welcome it, but by themselves can’t put real limits on Israel.

    Reply

  66. DonS says:

    POA, “US Rescinds part of loan . . .”, related to settlement expansion.
    http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9C05E2DF163AF935A15752C1A9659C8B63
    If you can call it a restriction. More like a feint at a gesture toward an intention to slap them on the wrist . . . and it was countermanded shortly thereafter.
    Paul, good point.

    Reply

  67. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Well, Paul, I see no reason to believe that an Israeli attack on Iran would “alienate” these lying sacks of shit in Washington. Are they not repeating the Israel script, by rote, as it applies to Iran?
    And make no mistake, an Israeli manufactured false flag “Iranian” terror attack on American interests is not a fantastic prediction. I believe it to be highly possdible, and more than likely an extremely prescient prediction.

    Reply

  68. questions says:

    Nit picky thing first — Rubik’s Cube is not a good analogy. There’s a correct solution and plenty of people can get there blindfolded and in a matter of seconds. Not so the middle east.
    Hardline idiots on both sides might get outsiders to SEE that Israeli policy is nuts, certainly. BUT because hardline idiots on both sides are immensely powerful in that they represent large numbers of voters, I’m not convinced that returning crazies to office is a great strategy. To offer an analogy, should the US have gone for, say, Tancredo, just to MAKE SURE that we all know that Republicanism is bankrupt? The damage a nutcase can do, even while proving his nuttiness to the masses, is still pretty bad.
    I think it would be beautiful if some Gandhi-like figure arose from the ashes of Gaza and made it on to the network news, and some ML King-like person arose from the settlements and they got together and….
    More likely, though, is a further stalemate because the current situation is not merely tenable, it’s positively wonderful for recruitment to the various causes. Unless and until no one is profiting (taken very broadly and metaphorically) from variations on a theme of settlements, suicide bombings, air wars, tunnels, and the like, we will have these variations.
    Stasis happens when power benefits. There’s lots of benefit and seemingly little cost (unless you are really concerned with humanitarian issues, but there’s not enough of this concern to go around).
    But sometimes people wake up after an orgy and feel pretty sick when they look in the mirror. What Israel needs to do is look in the mirror and see, really see, what it’s become as a nation. The US could try to hold up a mirror, but it can’t make the Israelis look. It’s a decision that has to be made there, not here.

    Reply

  69. ... says:

    paul – i agree with your last paragraph in the 1:10pm post…. it seems the narrow mindedness of these types of leaders can lead to only one thing and that is their own, and their countries downfall..

    Reply

  70. Paul Norheim says:

    I would be less confident than Steve re a possible Israeli attack on
    Iran. The main premise of his confidence, is that the future
    leadership of Israel belong to the same realist school of foreign
    policy thought as Steve Clemons himself does.
    Do they?
    Netanyahu may damage Israel the same way that Bush damaged
    USA; by stupid and arrogant miscalculations, and in the process
    alienating their closest allies. After all, Netanyahu is one of the
    most uncompromising members of the Israeli-American neocon
    gang.

    Reply

  71. PissedOffAmerican says:

    BTW, can anyone provide one single example of us placing any contingencies on the billions we give Israel every year? Israel’s behaviour, no matter how brutal or egregious, has NEVER affected our own willingness to subsidize them. I see absolutely no reason to believe that an Israeli attack on Iran would change that fact.

    Reply

  72. JohnH says:

    Netanyahu, Livni, and Barak are all part of a narrow Israeli consensus, the same product positioned slightly different.
    I don’t see the point of favoring one war criminal over another, except as Paul Norheim points out–there are advantages to electing the most awful.
    So why not just endorse Avigdor Lieberman? He’s pretty much the same as Barak, Livni, and Netanyahu, minus the veneer of “civility” that the others cultivate. The main difference is that Lieberman talks the way Barak, Livni, and Netanyahu act. With Lieberman, we would finally have clarity. Israeli PR could no longer obfuscate reality. And so it would be impossible for the world to ignore what monstrous brutes the Israeli leadership have become.

    Reply

  73. ... says:

    steve quote – all see that the fundamental obstacle to progress in resolving the conflict with the Palestinians is Iran. –
    i suppose this has to do with the fact that iran helps offer some counter balance to the usa’s support for israel…. sure from the israels pov, iran is in the way… from the arabs pov, the usa is the main obstacle… wonder if that will ever change???

    Reply

  74. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Netanyahu recently said that he would allow existing settlements to “naturally expand”. So, if they cut a road forty miles in any given direction, with a setllement as its nexus, will Netanyahu claim that building on the road is “natural expansion”? My bet is yes, he will.
    Further, why in God’s name would anyone arrive at the conclusion that Israel will not attack Iran for fear of changing the dynamics of the USA/Israel relationship? These people have bribed, coerced, spied upon, and occupied our own Congress. They have murdered American sailors, and they just fried a few hundred Palestinian kids in white phosphorous. They clusterbombed the civilian population in Lebanon. And they are working to halt, or at lerast stymie, any efforts to supply aid to a population that just had its infrastructure razed and destroyed.
    Meanwhile, the AIPAC website telegraphs Israel’s DESIRE AND INTENTION to use a military option in Iran, no matter what we do in the USA.
    Maybe it is because I am not drowning in the think tank miasma of over-intelectuallization and ideologically based hypotheses, but common sense tells me Israel doesn’t give a rats ass whether or not someone in a Washington think tank believes Israel won’t “dare” attack Iran. Israel OWNS these God damned cowards in Waashington, and they will attack whomever they want, whenever they want, and Washington will bend over backwards to rationalize it, justify it, and subsidize it. History tells us that this is FACT, and no amount of wishful thinking is going to change it.
    Netanyahu, teamed up with Lieberman, invokes the imagery of a modern day Bosch painting. It doesn’t take a foreign policy wonk to use logic and common sense, and arrive at trhe conclusion the the Palestinians are about to realize a nightmare of proportions that will make yesterday’s nightmare pale in comnparison. And Iran WILL be attacked. If Israel doesn’t do it, they will figure out some way to get US to do it. And another “trifecta” is certainly not out of the question. If a terrorist attack, on American soil, tied to Iran should occur, Obama would be FORCED to attack Iran, just as a matter of political survival. And if you don’t think Israel would resort to such a tactic, then you haven’t been paying attenition this last half century.

    Reply

  75. Cee says:

    The key to understanding Netanyahu lies with his father, Benzion
    This also made Bibi go round the bend when his brother was killed in this operation…
    British document: Israel initiated Entebbe hijack
    Official government file quotes unnamed source as claiming Shin Bet cooperated with Air France flight’s hijackers, PFLP group, in instigating crisis in bid to weaken PLO
    Ynet Published: 06.01.07, 09:45 / Israel News
    The state of Israel was behind the hijacking of an Air France plane to Entebbe in 1976, and cooperated with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine in staging the affair, a UK government file compiled at the time of the occurrences and published by the BBC Friday revealed.
    http://www.ynet.co.il/english/articles/0,7340,L-3407333,00.html

    Reply

  76. Cee says:

    3) it could also make the extremely close relationship between
    Israel and USA considerably more difficult to maintain.”
    My hope.
    Otherwise…
    Aaron David Miller, the US State Department’s top analyst in the 1980s, said Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu will be able to convince President Barack Obama that a military attack is the only solution to the Iranian nuclear issue.
    “The Israelis will be pushing [Washington] to ensure that Iran never gets to that point and failing that, they will consider a military strike,” Reuters quoted Miller — who is a former US Middle East peace negotiator and is currently an analyst at the Woodrow Wilson Center — as saying late Friday.

    Reply

  77. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Johann Hari: The nightmare of Netanyahu returns
    This is the man calling for the re-occupation of Gaza to ‘liquidate’ its elected government
    Friday, 6 February 2009
    Israel is about to make a misjudgement as disastrous – and deadly – as the attack on Gaza. In a few days, it looks as if it could elect Benjamin Netanyahu as prime minister once again.
    This is a man calling for the violent re-occupation of Gaza to “liquidate” its elected government. This is a man who says he will “naturally grow” the West Bank settlements. This is a man who says he will “never” negotiate over Jerusalem, or the Golan Heights, or control of the West Bank water supply.
    This is a man who says establishing a Palestinian state would leave Israel with, “an existential threat and a public relations nightmare reminiscent of 1938 Czechoslovakia”. This is a man who Yitzhak Rabin’s widow said helped create a climate of hate that led to his murder.
    The political beneficiaries of Operation Cast Lead have been Israel’s hard-right. The opinion poll numbers have surged for Netanyahu’s Likud and for the even more extreme Avigdor Lieberman. They say the only problem with the 23-day bombing of Gaza – killing 410 children, and hugely strengthening support for Hamas – is that it did not go far enough. The world urgently needs to look at these individuals – and ask how this came to pass.
    The key to understanding Netanyahu lies with his father, Benzion. He is a distinguished scholar of medieval history who believes the world is eternally and ineradicably riddled with genocidal anti-Semitism. When he arrived in British Mandate Palestine, he declared that the majority of Jews there were naïve and idealistic. They had to immediately seize the entire Biblical land of Israel – taking all of the West Bank and stretching right into present-day Jordan. There could be no compromise, ever, with the Arabs, who only understand force. The man he calls his mentor, Abba Ahimeir, described himself proudly as “a fascist”.
    continues at…
    http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/johann-hari/johann-hari-the-nightmare-of-netanyahu-returns-1547608.html

    Reply

  78. Amir from Iran says:

    Well, I think there is no solution for Israel other than:
    1-Kill or get rid of all Arab-Plestinian
    2-Became prepare to wipe out
    Obviously, Arabs has a more population growth than Israelis and in long term they will
    become the majority in Palestinian(Israeli) territory. At the other hand, the fear from Iran or other ME nation will prevent jews from immigrating to Israel which speed up the process.( I think it is the real reason for Israel to be so much obstreperous about Iranian Nuclear program, actually there is no need for Iran to make a real atomic bomb just the possibility will destroy Israel!!!) So the only solution which may work for Israel is a 2 state solution in which Israel send out all Arabs from her territory. All other solution will ultimately WIPE OUT Israel.

    Reply

  79. ObamaTeamAnon says:

    Steve:
    You write:
    “Folks in the U.S. are hoping for centrists, reasonable, rational negotiators to emerge. Some on Obama’s National Security Council team think that if they only can now. . .finally. . .make Abbas and Fatah the winners in the eyes of Palestinians by showering on them goodies to deliver to their constituents, all will be well. This is well meaning “earnestness.” But it is flawed sentimentalism. Taking this approach with Abbas is “too much, too late.” I think that despite recent drama, Tzipi Livni falls into this “earnestness” hope — though she has a class of detractors larger than Maureen Dowd has.”
    This is dead on target. Dead on.
    I can’t say much — but stick to this. This is an idiotic “false choice” approach as you call it.
    And it is clear to me that you know exactly what the framing of the policy deliberations among the national security mavens in the administration.
    Keep this up. Please.

    Reply

  80. DonS says:

    Steve, I read your confident response to Paul, and I am amazed. But for minimal rhetorical objection, much in me feels the US would close ranks around Israel should they complete an attack on Iran. I so hope you are tuned in on a level that is not obvious to me.

    Reply

  81. Paul Norheim says:

    Thanks for your reply, Steve. Actually, your way of thinking
    doesn`t come as a complete surprise to me. In an exchange with
    Dan Kervick at the end of January, I said:
    “If Netanyahu wins, it may have three (positive) side effects:
    1) He may be so openly arrogant and violent that it may cause
    a divorce between Israel and Fatah;
    2) possibly resulting in bringing Fatah and Hamas a bit closer
    to each other;
    3) it could also make the extremely close relationship between
    Israel and USA considerably more difficult to maintain.”
    But of course, from Obama`s immediate perspective, he`ll regard
    Netanyahu as his Nemesis.

    Reply

  82. DonS says:

    “His [Netanyahu] re-ascension will help Americans realize that the false choice approach the Bush administration has been taking in Israel-Palestine affairs was flawed ”
    Perhaps.
    ” and that Obama’s team must change the game or face a serious rebuke from Middle East watchers in the US and around the world.”
    So why is Obama’s team still stuck on the irrelevant “empower Abbas” fairy tale? Is it the fear of being soft on “terror” since, you know, the US, and ‘even’ the EU label Hamas a terroirist organization. What formatory garbage. Especially after the US provided all the help for Israel’s recent incineration of Gaza
    I think pretty much everyone believes what they believe and has no intention of changing. The only thing that counts, from the American standpoint, is if Obama can show willingness to change and change the approach and the discussion. Steve implicitly indicts Obama for signaling its going with the old play book. I totally concur.

    Reply

  83. Steve Clemons says:

    Paul,
    We’d stop him — and if he did it, it would force strategic readjustment in the US over our posture toward Israel.
    I don’t fear Netanyahu’s possible military hawkishness — and even a strike — against Iran, though i think he knows that it would change the game vis-a-vis Israel’s relationship with the U.S.
    So, not worried at all to tell you the truth. An Israeli strike is still a bad idea — as it will only harden and consolidate Iran’s populist, right wing and then assure a path to nukes, which I think is not fully assured at this moment.
    best, steve

    Reply

  84. Paul Norheim says:

    “Give us Netanyahu. Please.”
    You ignored one important issue in your post, Steve: Netanyahu
    may be determined to attack Iran. Any thoughts on this?

    Reply

  85. DCWonk says:

    This is Steve Clemons at his Nixonian best. I hadn’t thought about this strategically.
    Livni is a mess. Barak is not only weak; he’s a warmonger on the left and a dysfunctional, awful man. I’ve met him and Labor needs to stage a coup to dump him.
    Netanyahu is the answer.
    Brilliant post Steve.
    I wonder who you are talking to on the National Security Council staff.
    Thanks. I am sending it around.

    Reply

Add your comment

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