Obama to Stephanopoulos: No One Has Pulled a Khrushchev on Me!

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Kennedy-Khrushchev.jpgI won’t pull a Joe Wilson in response — but I will suggest that President Obama either doesn’t understand how Nikita Khrushchev “defined” JFK at the beginning of his term or he is stretching things to sidestep an interesting question on the networks this morning.
From my perspective, then Soviet premier Khrushchev pushed Kennedy hard, highlighting doubts about Kennedy’s international commitments and creating a perception of weakness that was reversed only by a nail-biting escalation that nearly resulted in global thermonuclear exchange .
Today on This Week, George Stephanopoulos asked the interesting question of whether any world leader had run circles around President Obama and really surprised him — compelling him to “step up his game.”
I wrote some time ago that Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is Obama’s Khrushchev — and Netanyahu, the head of government of a key American ally, remains the leader who has thus far most challenged Obama and is trying to show the limits of Obama’s international strength.
Strange for an ally to do this — but that is what Israel has done by fighting President Obama, Jim Jones, Robert Gates, Hillary Clinton, and George Mitchell on their collective call for a definitive end to settlement expansion as part of a renewed Israel-Palestine peace process.
We aren’t on the edge of a nuclear escalation like Kennedy eventually found himself, but the stakes for Obama of failing to achieve any breakthroughs in the Israel-Palestine mess, a challenge that he chose as one vital to his administration, are very high and could have serious broader Middle East and global consequences.
So, Obama may not want to acknowledge it — and the contest, sort of a Sumo match, between them is ongoing, but Barack Obama’s Khrushchev moment is with Benjamin Netanyahu.
Obama will be meeting Netanyahu and Palestine President Mahmoud Abbas on September 22nd in New York for a “trilateral meeting” which most believe is substanceless — but could yet be another opportunity for Obama to show that he is either being muscled around by Netanyahu or that Obama is applying some of his own moves.
— Steve Clemons

Comments

52 comments on “Obama to Stephanopoulos: No One Has Pulled a Khrushchev on Me!

  1. ... says:

    lol wigwag.. more propaganda straight out of the hasbara office, lol.. i can laugh at how confidence comes before a fall and think of you, nadine and israel in this regard….

    Reply

  2. WigWag says:

    “Wigwag, could you answer one question – if the Palestinians have been defeated, why do they think they are winning?” (Nadine)
    I can’t speak for the Palestinians, Nadine. It may have something to do with the fact that like Christianity, Islam is an evangelical faith where proselytizing is an integral part of the religion. Perhaps Islamists can’t conceive of a universe where those they consider to be infidels are more powerful, wealthier, and educationally and culturally advanced then they are. Jews on the other hand, with their numerous disasters and defeats have frequently rationalized their tragedies as the punishment the deity has directed their way as a result of their disobedience.
    But regardless of what the Palestinians do or don’t think, they’re not winning. Actually, in terms of their maximalist aspirations, they’ve already lost.
    Without U.S. pressure on Israel, Palestinians will never get a state even in the West Bank. As Israel gets wealthier and the Arab world gets more destitute, backwards and mired in internecine conflict, Palestinian prospects only grow dimmer. As power shifts in the world from nations naively obsessed with the “rule of law” (read Europe) and moves towards nations that operate purely out of self-interest (read China, Russia, India) Palestinian prospects grow dimmer still. When and if fossil fuels ever become less important, Palestinians will cease to exist on the world radar screen.
    Unless the United States induces Israel through a combination of carrots and sticks to withdraw to something approximating the 1967 borders, the Palestinians won’t get a state.
    It’s pretty clear that the United States isn’t going to be “forcing” Israel to do anything.
    There may never be a President more sympathetic to Palestinian aspirations than Obama. Yet he can’t even induce the Israelis to freeze settlement construction for longer than 9 months. If he tried, he would be undercut by Senators and Congressman from his own political party and he would be eviscerated by members of the opposing political party.
    The bottom line is that there are tens of millions of Americans who support Israel with their money and their votes. But those Americans who oppose Israel rarely cast their ballot based on that conviction. Even if they wanted to, they couldn’t; the number of politicians running for national office who are skeptical of Israeli policy is dwindling all the time.
    As for Americans who actually care about Palestinians, you can practically count them on both hands. One thing is certain; politically they will never count for anything.
    If Obama can’t even get the Israelis to halt settlement expansion for a few short months, how is he going to get them to withdraw from East Jerusalem or remove tens of thousands of settlers from the West Bank?
    Anyone who thinks this is possible under the present circumstances is deluding themselves.
    Israel won a military victory over the Arab states and like it or not; it gets to set its borders, not the losing party and not the international community. The victorious allies didn’t ask the Germans what they wanted to happen to Alsace Lorraine after the Second World War and the Germans weren’t invited to Yalta when the allies were dividing Europe up.
    Bemoaning the way the world works doesn’t change anything. The best thing the international community can do is to stop lying to the Palestinians about what they can get and start leveling with them. The sooner the Palestinians accept the crushing nature of their defeat the better off they will be. They still have a chance to salvage something akin to sovereignty even if it’s dramatically less than they want; that sovereignty might come in the form of a demilitarized and dependant state in most of the West Bank or perhaps it will come in the form of a series of autonomous city states.
    If the Palestinians delay until Obama leaves office, even that limited form of sovereignty might be put off indefinitely.
    The Palestinians lost and the peace process as Obama conceives it is a charade. Aaron David Miller’s take on all of this is right.
    The neoconservatives and other American supporters of Israel have obliterated, exiled and made irrelevant American critics of Israel.
    All those critics have left is the ability to whine on the internet. And because of people like you and me, they don’t even get to do that in peace.

    Reply

  3. nadine says:

    Interesting quote from Aaron David Miller, former American negotiator through many administrations:
    “”The problem with the Obama administration policy is not the man, Obama or Mitchell; it’s the mandate,” Mr. Miller said. “It should be clear to all but the eternally obtuse that a conflict-ending agreement between Benjamin Netanyahu and a divided Palestinian national movement is probably out of reach. The question then becomes what is the connection between trying to get the Arabs to do partial steps for normalization and the Israelis to do a partial settlement freeze and the Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement?” ”
    http://washingtontimes.com/news/2009/sep/22/israel-makes-secret-settlement-offer/?page=2
    That’s a very diplomatic way of saying that Obama is an idiot, but the message is crystal clear.

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  4. nadine says:

    Wigwag, could you answer one question – if the Palestinians have been defeated, why do they think they are winning?

    Reply

  5. ... says:

    i read mysteries, but that is it for hamsun.. i liked the book.. paul, i think this a tactic is a relatively popular and effective one for the deceptiveness that it conceals, while suggesting something completely otherwise..

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  6. Paul Norheim says:

    Clever, WigWag,
    but not entirely convincing.
    You sound a bit like our own Knut Hamsun when he got old. When he felt that he really had
    something important to say, he acted as if he was deaf and half senile, just talking
    bullshit, and insisting that there was no reason to take him seriously. PARDON? WHAT DID
    YOU SAY? I CAN`T HEAR YOU!
    He played that game both during and well after World War II – defending Hitler and the
    Third Regime, attacking England and the Norwegian resistance etc. But why take him
    seriously? He was almost deaf, and senile, and certainly didn`t take himself seriously!
    You should read some of Hamsun`s last articles and books, WigWag. You may pick up a trick
    or two, you never know: it may become handy the next time you want to defend the invading
    Israeli Defense Forces or utter your contempt for the Palestinian victims. It certainly
    sounds like a better method to fight senility than doing crossword puzzles or just
    passively watching TV.

    Reply

  7. ... says:

    lol wigwag.. thanks for your last post.. i wrote this up before i saw it and will paste it now anyway…
    paul, that was a pretty good overview on the chasm called wigwag.. it would seem to me that wigwag is not in touch with his humanity to a degree that would allow him to recognize the connection he definitely has to those palestinians suffering hardship on the gaza strip in the present.. he is able to close off his humanity to them, while maintaining a positive image of himself with the attitudes you’ve articulated above…
    to me wigwag is a person who is blinded by a perceived identity of being jewish subservient to a greater identity that we all share and which transcends a particular cultural background.. wigwag can reach out, but only so far.. for one to leave the ‘tribe’ implies a level of self consciousness and maturity… i don’t think wigwag is capable of this EMOTIONALLY, in spite of his bright intellectual nature..
    therein lies the dilemma facing wigwag.. it will probably remain unresolved for this lifetime if he is as old as he says he is… the emotional bond is so deep it can never be examined in a detached manner.. as a consequence their is no freedom from its hold…

    Reply

  8. WigWag says:

    I’m not sure how to reply, Paul.
    Mostly, I’m just foolish and old. When you reach a certain age, you become a lot more worried about the status of your mental health than of your physical health; senility becomes a much greater worry than illness. I live around a lot of retired people who all have different strategies for maintaining their mental health and especially their memory. Some of my friends play bridge; some do crossword puzzles, some do nothing but watch television. For better or worse, my strategy is to write comments at the Washington Note. I do look at a few other blogs but I rarely comment on any of them; writing here is pretty much enough for me and I don’t want to devote too much of my time playing around on the computer.
    You shouldn’t take what I write too seriously. I don’t even believe everything I write myself. As much as anything else and more often than not, it’s just my version of thinking out loud. And I have to confess that sometimes I say the things I do just to be provocative and bust some chops. There’s so much hyperbole about Israel around here that sometimes, just for the fun of it, I parody the exaggerators by being hyperbolic myself about Europeans or even Palestinians.
    Also, I change my mind a lot and I consider myself lucky if I can remember today what I thought yesterday.
    I don’t consider myself a radical feminist in any sense of the word. I don’t like when male commentators at the Washington Note refer to women commentators as “witches” or “bitches.” and to make that point, I sometimes respond in kind. I don’t think there’s anything particularly extreme about that. I don’t think there’s anything radical about bemoaning the possibility that if the United States withdraws from Afghanistan and the Taliban emerges as victorious, that girls may not be able to go to school or even learn to read. It seems to me that everyone should find that unacceptable. Nor do I think there’s anything out of line about pointing out that Jimmy Carter and Zbignew Brezezinski played an important role in creating the Taliban.
    I think it’s fine to be an idealist but I think idealism not tempered by realism frequently results in more harm than good. I don’t think of myself as a particular fair person; I understand that my views are colored by my experience and background. I don’t think I’m any more or less ethical than anyone else who writes comments or posts at the Washington Note and I usually find people who think their positions are somehow morally superior entertaining and somewhat pitiful.
    I’m much more interested in the views of people who disagree with me than the views of people who agree with me and I look forward to reading the smart comments of Washington Note regulars who express themselves with civility. Those who are usually impolite or obsessively post articles they’ve seen elsewhere are tedious more than anything else; but they have as much right to be here as I do. I do have mixed feelings about Steve Clemon’s willingness to tolerate hate speech on his site. The amount of hate speech appearing here has gone up significantly in just the past few months.
    I recently read a quote from the controversial and erudite literary critic Harold Bloom that sums up how I feel these days almost perfectly. Bloom said that the older he gets (and he is only a few years younger than me), the more he prefers Sancho Panza and Falstaff to Don Quixote and Hamlet. His reason is simple; the older he gets the more he’s come to appreciate “being” over “knowing.”
    I’m hanging on to the “being” with all my strength and happily acknowledge that when it comes to the “knowing” I don’t have an inordinate amount to contribute.
    I’m not really here to convince anyone of anything (which Dan Kervick said recently is his main goal); mostly I’m just here for the fun of it.
    One more thing; you’re right, I do like food. And I like Norwegian food to boot.
    In fact for my New Year’s dinner this past weekend I not only made a brisket but I also made Andreas Viestad’s version of potet klub (potato dumplings).
    Most of my neighbors think I’m a decent cook but they don’t take the things I say all that seriously.
    You shouldn’t either.

    Reply

  9. Paul Norheim says:

    WigWag,
    I must admit that I`ve been thinking a lot about the apparent contradictions
    in your writings recently. Do I know you? Of course I don`t. Supposing that
    your presentation of yourself is correct, I still have no idea what you did
    before retiring; where you lived before retiring; whether you`re a woman or a
    man, I don`t know your name, etc. etc. In fact, on some levels I guess I know
    much less about you than you know about me. That`s OK – I have absolutely no
    problem with that.
    However, after so many friendly – and also countless of perhaps less friendly
    – discussions with you during the last couple of years, as well as reading
    comments of yours without replying, I imagine that I know a couple of things
    about you. Forgive me for the following list, WigWag, I don`t think it`s very
    embarrassing…
    Let me first mention a handful of seemingly trivial things that I am
    absolutely sure I know:
    1) You love literature.
    2) You love music.
    3) You love food.
    4) You love reading about history.
    5) You have a passion for both domestic and foreign policy.
    6) You`re obsessed with statistics (you have a passion for statistics and
    polls before and during elections, comparable to sports fanatics studying
    results of soccer or basketball games etc.)
    7) You love reading about foreign countries, especially books combining
    literary skills, experience, facts and perspectives.
    Then I would like to mention some characteristics that may be more directly
    related to your on topic political comments here:
    8) You`re a democrat (the party – as opposed to republican).
    9) You`re a feminist (and to an extreme degree; this is not just an “opinion”
    of yours, it`s a deeply held conviction).
    10) You`re a rationalistic realist (implying that you have a remarkable
    ability to see beyond your party, sympathies, opinions, etc, and not only
    appreciating the points of an opponent, but occasionally even surprising
    yourselves with the result of your analysis, because your “analytic realism”
    also happens to be a passion, just like studying polls, history. literature
    etc..).
    11)You have an extremely strong sense of justice (and this sense of justice
    not only determines many of your political positions – like sympathy for labor
    unions, class sympathies, victims of Holocaust and persecution, victims of sex
    abuse etc; it often transcends your realism, your rational judgements of
    things – and if there is anything in your way of thinking that resembles
    religion, it`s actually your sense of justice, because it goes way beyond any
    realistic expectations within the world we live in.)
    12) You are an American.
    13) You are a Jew with a strong emotional, political and intellectual
    connection to Israel.
    14) You enjoy discussions about all the issues mentioned above.
    Ok, this is how far I got. There is more, but let`s stop there for now. What I
    am most interested in, is your realism and your extreme sense of justice.
    Justice and realism… They frequently collide in your comments at TWN.
    Your sense of justice goes so far on certain matters that it reminds me of
    certain socialists or communists motivated by justice and fairness and
    equality as the main goal of politics. Yet I think you don`t regard yourself
    as a socialist or communist. As a matter of fact, your sense of justice on
    some levels actually goes far beyond politics and practical considerations. It
    transcends all “worldly dimensions”. This is the case with regard to the
    persecution and mass killings of the Jews. Perhaps also with regard to the
    treatment of women, working class people and other issues – I admit that I`m
    not sure of this.
    On the other hand, your “analytical realism” is often so extreme, so hardcore
    that it sometimes becomes surreal. Justice is dictated by power; power is law.
    “History” teaches us that the powerful are powerful, and that any attempt to
    resist it, any protest is futile, laughable, and deserves a mix of pity and
    contempt.
    There is a Janus face in everything you write, WigWag. On one hand, you
    express an extreme, passionate moralism – especially in US domestic policies,
    where you support labor unions, fair health care policy, equality on gender
    issues etc. etc..
    On the other hand, you express an extreme “realism” – especially in foreign
    affairs, where the crimes committed against the Jews in history are on one
    hand beyond repair in this world, on the other hand require an unconditional
    support for Israel.
    But your realism goes far beyond that in international relations: Whatever the
    currently most powerful countries do is immensely more relevant than any moral
    complaints against their actions. Moral complaints, attempts to counter their
    abuses of human rights, or international laws as such, are suddenly laughable
    on a principle level, seemingly because America, Israel, China, India etc are
    so immensely powerful that you`re a fool if you counter their power games.
    And since they currently are so powerful, you can afford to moralize against
    the treatment of women, gays etc among the laughably weak enemy societies and
    countries.
    This doesn`t add up to a consistent point of view, does it?
    As far as I can see, both your realistic and your moralistic tendencies are so
    passionate, so intense, that they inevitably collide – especially while
    writing about foreign policy issues.
    During the Israeli invasion of Gaza, I have to say that these contradictions
    were displayed in a bizarre manner trough your frequent comments here.
    Perhaps this also explains some of the confusions you expressed during the
    recent domestic election process (Clinton versus Obama versus McCain/Palin
    etc.), where the moralist in you seemed to have the upper hand.
    Who knows? But I seldom discuss with someone who on one hand is such a
    passionate moralist, and on the other hand such a passionate realist and
    rationalist – with all the absurdities and provocations resulting from this
    contradiction.

    Reply

  10. WigWag says:

    “Wigwag, you are aware that none of these tiny city-states you cite live under siege?” (DonS)
    Absolutely correct. Actually several of these tiny city-states are island nations. But those that aren’t live comfortable and prosperous lives despite the fact that they are completely surrounded by nations wealthier and more powerful than they are.
    In time, the same thing that could happen for the Palestinians. They don’t need to live under siege forever. But if they are ever to live better lives, they need to accommodate themselves to the reality of their situation; they are an economic and military basket case; their allies in Europe can’t help them (or won’t); American supporters of Israel are so powerful in the United States that America will never be an honest broker; Russia, China and India just couldn’t care less about Palestinian aspirations.
    Let’s face it; the Palestinians have been defeated militarily and their American supporters have been defeated politically. Pretending it isn’t true doesn’t help the Palestinians, it prolongs their agony. Surrendering their unachievable ambitions will allow them to secure some measure of dignity and national identity; that’s more than many religious and ethnic groups in the world get. Whether it’s a weak, demilitarized and surrounded West Bank, or three or four noncontiguous city states at least it’s something.
    Actually, if the Palestinians really want to secure a prosperous future for themselves, they would abandon their affiliation with the wider Arab and Muslim world and seek a relationship with Israel similar to what Monaco has with France or Lichtenstein has with Germany.
    Virtually the entire Muslim world (with a few exceptions like Turkey) is impoverished, backwards and poorly governed. A significant percentage of the worlds failed and failing nations are Muslim majority countries. With Islamic fundamentalism in ascendancy the future of the Muslim world looks bleak.
    Israel on the other hand is wealthy, getting wealthier, highly educated and in the vanguard of the coming high tech world.
    Palestinians would be much smarter to cast their lot with the Israelis than with their Arab brethren who are going nowhere fast.
    The choice is theirs; but the United States and Europe are doing Palestinians no good by hiding the reality of their dreadful prospects.
    Critics of Israel in the United States are doing the Palestinians no good either.
    Ignoring reality is rarely the smart thing to do.

    Reply

  11. wisedup says:

    following along this “image”analysis is the thought that Joe Wilson’s outburst is a classic throwdown against a weak hand. A rhetorical spit in the eye to POTUS. I never thought that Rahm Emanuel would prove to be so weak.

    Reply

  12. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “Many of us think the status quo is just fine”
    And many don’t.
    http://www.forward.com/articles/114180/
    How I’m Losing My Love For Israel
    The Polymath
    By Jay Michaelson
    Published September 16, 2009, issue of September 25, 2009.
    To paraphrase a recent Jewish organizational tagline, I’ve “hugged and wrestled with Israel” for 20 years now. At first, it was all embrace: Zionist songs and culture nourished me like mother’s milk, and on my first trip to Israel I kissed the tarmac at Ben Gurion, as did the other USY (United Synagogue Youth) kids.
    Eventually, the wrestling came to the fore, particularly as I became more conscious of Palestinians, settlements and religious-secular divides. In 2002, I wrote about being “a leftist and a Zionist” and how difficult it was to maintain those dual political identities. And for several years, I’ve argued for a more nuanced approach to Israel advocacy and education than the hail of falafel balls and the bludgeon of Taglit-Birthright.
    But lately I’ve noticed that I’m becoming a candidate for advocacy myself. I’ve loved Israel for decades, lived there for three years, and studied in detail the subtleties of its society and conflicts. And so it is with the sadness that accompanies the end of any affair that I notice my love is starting to wane.
    Why? There are four primary reasons.
    First, I admit, it has become simply exhausting to maintain the ambivalence, the hugging and the wrestling, the endless fence sitting. My love of Israel has turned into a series of equivocations: “I do not support the expansion of settlements, but the Palestinians bear primary responsibility for the collapse of the peace process in 1999.” “The Israelis acted overzealously in Gaza, but they must be entitled to defend themselves against rocket attacks.” “Yes, the separation wall is odious, but it is also effective and necessary.” Yes, but; no, but; defend, but. At some point, the complexity and ambiguity wears one out, particularly when the visuals on the anti-Israel side are so compelling, and so stark: walls, tanks, checkpoints.
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    I admit that my exhaustion is exacerbated because, in my social circles, supporting Israel is like supporting segregation, apartheid or worse. I know this is a sign of weakness of will on my part, and I hope that the Times-magazine-sanctioned rise of J Street changes things, but I don’t think advocates of Israel understand exactly how bad the situation is on college campuses, in Europe, and in liberal or leftist social-political circles. Supporting Israel in these contexts is like supporting repression, or the war in Iraq, or George W. Bush. It’s gotten so bad, I don’t mention Israel in certain conversations anymore, and no longer defend it when it’s lumped in with South Africa and China by my friends. This is wrong of me, I know, but I’ve been defending Israel for years, and it’s gotten harder and harder to do so.
    How much of Israel’s pariah status is fantasy and how much is reality is, of course, a complicated question, and one that I would not presume to answer in this column. In the conversations I’ve had, it’s some of each — and again a subject for equivocation. Yes, Israel’s new government is a right/far-right alliance whose foreign policy looks suspiciously like Yitzhak Shamir’s era of “Say yes and do nothing.” But on the other hand, I understand why many Israelis are fed up and voted for it, and the oversimplifications among Israel’s critics are many. For example, just because this government is expanding settlements does not make doing so an essential part of Israel’s identity.
    But I’m not sure the parsing matters. I’m not sure any state with tanks can win a propaganda war against an occupied people with guns and Molotov cocktails — even if the occupied people’s leaders deserve plenty of blame. It’s exhausting to keep fighting this fight, especially as Israel’s authentically odious actions (excesses by soldiers, expropriations of land) continue to pile up, and the yes-buts grow harder and harder to maintain.
    The second reason for my waning love of Israel is that the Israel I love is increasingly disappearing. It started in Jerusalem, with the exodus of the secular left and the slow, agonizing demise of the culture they created. Now, many of my sabra friends are leaving the country entirely, desperately looking for tech jobs in California or academic postings in Indiana. However worn out I may be by the matzav my friends who have lived in it are far worse. For now, Tel Aviv’s liberal, secular, life-celebrating culture continues to thrive and is even developing a spiritual aspect — but like many Israelis, I feel like I’m reading the writing on the wall.
    Part of the problem here is that the Israel I love is not the Disneyland most of my fellow Americans seem to adore. Sure, I cry at Macadam and even feel moved at the kotel. But my Israel is one of shuks, cafes, shtiebels and hiking trails; of family and friends; of my alma mater on Mount Scopus and my favorite field in Talbieh (Churshat Hayareach, an open space continually threatened with destruction). Personally, I find the way many Americans strut in and out of Jerusalem for the holidays partly ridiculous and partly nauseating. So while the storybook Jerusalem remains more or less intact, I care less about it than the delicate, messy harmonies of the real ones.
    Worse than that, the mythic Israel is now actively affecting — I would say harming — the real one. The handful of rich American conservatives who have influenced Israeli politics lately have tended to prefer grandiose myths to the messy realities that should govern pragmatic decision making — and eventually, all those simplifications add up to dangerous distortions in policy. The “fantasy Israel,” the one many Americans seem largely to inhabit, doesn’t compensate for the erosion of the real one. On the contrary, it causes it.
    Nor am I myself immune; the third way in which my love for Israel is waning is that I’ve started to second-guess the love itself. How distant is my love of Churshat Hayareach from the sentimentality of a tourist at the Wall? (The Western one, that is, not the Separation one.) Am I not, too, an American moved, and thus partially blinded, by religious and national myth? How different am I, really, from those who value the poetry of the kotel over the prose of human rights? Am I really so different from those whose pro-Israel company I keep? It’s not that American Jews’ myths about Israel are false — it’s just that they have a way of shaping narrative, and papering over problems like, oh, the two million non-Jewish residents of Greater Israel.
    This is especially the case because those problems are often rendered invisible. When my more liberal friends used to call me out about Israeli politics, I would sometimes respond that the picture they had, shaped by Western media, was a distorted one. Really, I’d say, Israel is a wonderful place — a place where doors are left unlocked and musicians play in the street, and where an almost-extinguished culture rose from literal ashes.
    But, you know, a Southerner in the 1950s or an Afrikaner in the 1980s might say similar things. Yes, living within Green Line Israel, it’s possible to forget the Occupation (a term that certain Jewish news agencies feel obliged to scare quote). But maybe that’s part of the problem: The current regime of Separation (apart-ness, perhaps?) is all too effective. And so I’ve begun to second-guess even my own love of the place, wondering how much of it is built upon a foundation of deliberately constructed ignorance, a result of years of selective education. I sip my limonana, and five miles away a mother is harassed at a checkpoint. Which is reality and which fantasy?
    Finally, I think my love of Israel is fading because I feel personally implicated by its injustices, even though I have chosen to live in America and have relinquished my right to have any say over Israeli policy. (If only some of my countrymen would feel similarly.) On a recent trip to Berlin, I remarked to a friend that I felt more relaxed there than in Jerusalem. Part of it was that Berlin is a liberal city, and part of it was that I didn’t have to be frisked every time I walked into a cafe. But mostly, I think, I felt relaxed because while there was certainly plenty of political baggage around, none of it was mine. I’m not implicated in Germany’s wrong decisions (to be clear, I refer more to Turks in 2009 than to Jews in 1939), whereas I do feel implicated by Israel’s.
    This sense of implication is perhaps yet more fantasy — yet another American thinking he’s part of a country he doesn’t inhabit. But it comes with the territory of love, which is perhaps why I’m slowly disengaging. I understand why many Israelis feel fed up with the Palestinian problem and are ready to slam the door. But as an outsider, I no longer want to feel entangled by their decisions and implicated in their consequences. B’seder: It’s your choice to make… but count me out.
    In my heart, I still love the stones and trees of Jerusalem, even though I know that love is sentimental, problematic and shared with people I mistrust. I am still awed by the tkuma, the resurrection and rebirth of my ancient people. And, yes, I feel like underscoring, I still support the State of Israel, its right to exist and the rest. Most important, it is still, in part, my home.
    But especially on this side of the ocean, more and more of those who feel similarly have politics, agendas and overall experiences of Israel very different from mine. What they love is not what I love, and how they love is terrifying. And so while my love endures, my unease grows, and with it, the gnawing sense that this relationship is in trouble.

    Reply

  13. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Her gloating is obscene and inhumane, is it not?

    Reply

  14. DonS says:

    “Several of these tiny nations are surrounded on all sides by larger, much more powerful countries.”
    Wigwag, you are aware that none of these tiny city-states you cite live under siege?
    I must say, too, your gloating over the conveniently Israeli-centric assessment of how Is/Pal shakes out just now is one of your more masterful screeds of this sort.
    Now, if you agree that the lot of the Palestinians is so miserable, with such a miserable future (I guess you differentiate yourself from nadine on this matter), how, if you consider yourself a humane individual, can you cheer for the status quo?
    Mostly, that’s a rhetorical question, from one of the pathetic ‘losers’ you are currently dissing for being foolish enough NOT to just rely on Israel’s beneficence for change. I wont lecture you further as you seem so comfortable in prescribing for the rest of us.

    Reply

  15. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “Many of us think the status quo is just fine”
    “I’m quite sure Netanyahu thinks that”
    http://www.uruknet.de/index.php?p=m58146&hd=&size=1&l=e
    Widows and Children Begin to Beg
    By Eva Bartlett
    GAZA CITY, Sep 21 (IPS) – There are few parks and green spaces in Gaza, and those that exist are crowded with people hungry for nature. Day and night, people of all ages flock to the Joondi, or the park of the Unknown Soldier, in central Gaza City.
    Vendors set up, selling roasted nuts, falafels, cold drinks, tea and coffee. Further east, Gaza’s main garden park, charging one shekel (25 cents) admission, hosts some groomed shrubbery, decorative trees and flowers. It pales in comparison to arboretums elsewhere, but it is a bit of green in an otherwise grey Strip.
    On Gaza’s main east-west street Omar Mukthar, the more upscale shopping area of Rimal attracts clothing, perfume, electronics and souvenir shoppers. The inventory is a sad collection of cheap fabrics and highly expensive electronics. Gazans have no other choice, save the tunnel markets in Rafah. But in the end, the majority of goods come via the same tunnels, and end up all being overly expensive.
    Those with shekels to spend go to the few trendy coffee shops in Rimal or the Shifa hospital district. But the choices are basically the same: Arabic coffee, cappuccino, juices, light meals. And the entertainment is limited to use of the wireless internet, Arabic music played over the café’s loudspeakers, and chatting with friends, perhaps while smoking a water pipe.
    Some choose these cafés to hold birthday celebrations to an Arabic rendition of the ‘Happy Birthday’ song. A cake costing on average 70 shekels is the highlight of the celebration.
    But all this too is for the privileged few. Most of Gaza’s 1.5 million cannot afford frivolities like these, let alone consistent meals, diapers, baby milk, and school clothing and books.
    For most Palestinians in Gaza, there is no escaping the constraints of a suffocating Israeli-imposed siege that, with the complicity of the Egyptian government and the international community, has tightened since June 2007 when Hamas took over the Gaza Strip. The siege goes further back from that time two years ago to shortly after Hamas was elected in early 2006. Since then, Palestinians have lived under increasingly choking restrictions on what can enter and leave Gaza.
    In the Rimal shopping area, a growing number of Palestinians have resorted to begging. Among them are widows trying to provide for their children, and children themselves begging to contribute to family income.
    An increasing presence of children selling one-shekel items dominates most Gaza city streets. The children, as young as seven or eight years old, spend their days enticing pedestrians or drivers at stoplights to buy their trinkets.
    There are few recreation options for youths. No cinema, no concerts, no nightclubs, none of the pastimes that youths around the world enjoy. Partly this is due to the conservative culture in Gaza, but mostly it is the siege, and the many Israeli military attacks on Gaza. A venue for theatre, a wood- panelled stage at the Al-Quds hospital complex, was destroyed by fire from Israeli shelling during the three-week winter war on Gaza.
    The primary obstacle in any case is financial: with extreme poverty levels among 90 percent of the population according to the September 2009 United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCATD) report, the majority of Palestinians in Gaza depend on food aid, and scrape by on inadequate high-carbohydrate diets, with no extra money for luxuries like school clothes and books.
    Ibrahim, Mahmoud and Mahdi, teenagers from Beit Hanoun, are still finishing their final year of high school, and have not reached the state of frustration many recent university graduates feel at the scarcity of work in Gaza. For them full-time employment worries are still some years off.
    They spend their free time in a few simple ways: “We play football four or five times a week,” says Mahdi. “I go swimming nearly every day,” says Mahmoud, “but I’m always afraid because of the Israeli gunboats. They have shelled the beach before.”
    Ibrahim points to a motorcycle parked nearby. “If we had money for one of those, we’d cruise the coastal road,” he says.
    Otherwise, men (and some women) young and old indulge in water pipes and coffee, tea, or juice in the evenings, some choosing the relatively trendy cafes in Gaza city, others favouring a local coffee shop. Yet others flock to the sea, to enjoy night air and the breeze while smoking shisha.
    Despite the dangers from Israeli gunboats and the severe contamination of Gaza’s sea – with upwards of 80 million litres of sewage dumped daily into the sea for want of adequate wastewater treatment plants – many choose to swim nonetheless. They have few other options for cooling off and for recreation.
    “We installed a sort of diving board off the edge of the pier,” says a coastguard. “Every day we go swimming there.” Gaza port is one of the more polluted areas, with a combination of sewage and the usual boat oils and wastes found in marinas.
    Gaza’s economy is decimated – 95 percent of industries have shut down. Fishers constantly face the threat of Israeli gunboats, and struggle to provide for their families. Merchants cannot import goods via Israel as they had done for years prior, instead bringing smuggled goods in via the tunnels.
    Hamsa Al-Bateran, 22, presents the face of Gaza’s extreme poverty. Living in a single room with an asbestos ceiling with his wife Iman and their three- month-old son, he is now desperate.
    Before his son was born, Al-Bateran scoured the streets of Gaza for recyclable plastics, loading his findings onto a horse cart. Sometimes people would hire his horse and cart to move large items.
    “My son got ill. I had to sell the horse and cart so I could pay his hospital bills. Now I have no way of earning money.”
    Al-Bateran is forever thinking of finding ways to survive. Recreation is a concept he doesn’t even consider.
    “I even thought of working in the tunnels. I’ll do any job, I just need to earn money to feed my wife and baby, buy milk for him,” he said. He does not hold a Palestinian refugee card, and so is not eligible for the dry food aid that most refugees in Gaza receive. Without this and with no source of income, he depends on aid from his impoverished relatives.
    For a recent university graduate, prospects are not good. Ahmed works in a small convenience shop in Beit Hanoun. “I work every day, from 8 am to 6 pm,” he says. “I get about 20 shekels a day.” This is the same amount most farm labourers receive, although some working in and near the buffer zone are paid more. But they face mortal danger under Israeli soldiers’ shoot-to- kill policy.
    Mahfouz Kabariti, 51, has a decorations shop in Gaza city. “I used to import from China. My business is failing because of the restrictions on imports. Now I buy poor quality, expensive items brought through the tunnels.”
    Like many, he feels there is little point opening early. “I used to open my shop at 8 am. But now, I open around 11 am and close early. It’s just my son and I working in the shop now. We had to let our employees go, there was no work for them.”
    Said Al-Saedi, 50, has fished for over 30 years. “In the 1980s, we used to take the boat out for six or seven days before returning. We’d sail near Libya, to Port Said in Egypt. We could easily earn 20,000 per month,” he says. “Today, I don’t fish, I can’t fish.” (END/2009)

    Reply

  16. WigWag says:

    On one of these threads, POA said,
    “Now maybe I’m just some uninformed and naive carpenter in California….but…someone want to tell me how the hell you responsibly debate Obama’s efforts towards peace while ignoring the oppositional forces in Washington DC, that include a major portion of the President’s own party?
    This whole debate, by Steve, and by the commenters here, is completely ignoring the primary reason that the whole settlement issue is moot. Obama has already lost this one. And he didn’t lose it in Israel; he lost it in Washington DC. He is going into any talks powerless, rendered impotent by the actions of the Majority Leader, a good portion of the Democratic Party, and key members of the GOP. To ignore these FACTS makes this debate and any commentary on the issue inane, asinine, naive and ignorant.”
    I couldn’t agree more. I can’t think of one thing to contradict in this entire statement other than the fact that POA is an “uninformed and naive carpenter” (I don’t know him well enough to comment on whether he is uninformed or naïve).
    POA is exactly right; Obama lost his fight with Netanyahu in the United States not Israel. Vast majorities in the House and Senate support Israel and are indifferent at best to the Palestinians. The Republican Party has exiled virtually all of its leaders who are willing to take even a mildly critical approach to Israel. The Democratic Party is reliant on American Jews as one of their most loyal voting blocks and a key source of campaign cash.
    Every legitimate contender for the Republican Presidential nomination in 2012 supports Israel almost completely and in 2016 when the Democrats need to select a presidential candidate you can count on the fact that their contenders will be vying for the Pro-Israel vote as well.
    Approval for Israel amongst American voters goes up and down, but polls consistently show that American support for Palestinians and the Arab States frequently approaches the single digits (with this said, Americans do support a two state solution).
    The reality is that pro-Israel forces in the United States have defeated American skeptics of Israel as thoroughly as Israel itself has defeated the Palestinians and their other Arab opponents.
    The likelihood that either the Israelis will relent or that American supporters of Israel (whether Jewish or Christian) will agree to fight with one hand tied behind their back is nonexistent.
    Not only have the Palestinians been defeated, Israel skeptics in this country have been defeated. Denying that Israel is the superpower of the Middle East (at least compared to the Arabs) is just silly. Denying that the Pro-Israel lobby in the United States is one of the most effective lobbies in Washington is equally silly.
    The natural question is whether any of this is likely to change anytime soon.
    In the Middle East, Israel is so far ahead of its Arab adversaries economically, educationally, militarily and culturally that it is hard to see how any of them can pose a threat to Israel’s ambitions in the foreseeable future. Other than the states with oil wealth, every Arab nation is economically backward and suffers from high illiteracy rates, high infant mortality rates and low rates of higher education. Most states with oil wealth use that wealth as an excuse not to modernize rather than a vehicle to modernize (the exceptions are nations like Dubai and Bahrain which also happen to be the Arab states most willing to form an accommodation with Israel).
    The popularity of fundamentalist forms of Islam currently sweeping the Arab world makes the effort to modernize these societies even harder (this isn’t just true of Islam, its true of the fundamentalist forms of Christianity, Judaism and Hinduism as well). The result is that Israel is likely to get wealthier and more powerful while it’s Arab adversaries continue to stagnate.
    Is the power that supporters of Israel exercise in the United States likely to abate anytime soon? Hardly.
    Unless government financing of federal election campaigns is instituted in the near future (an extremely unlikely prospect) the American Jewish community will continue to be a critical source of campaign money for Democrats. Does anyone see any prospect that the Hagel wing of the Republican Party is likely to defeat the Gingrich wing any time soon?
    As long as critical states like Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania remain swing states, the importance of the Jewish vote (and the Christian evangelical vote) will continue to be magnified out of proportion with the actual number of votes these constituency groups can offer. And on the organizational front, does anyone see a mass movement of tens of millions of Americans who oppose Israeli policy being developed that can much the prowess, organizational skills, financial ability and lobbying expertise of pro-Israel groups whether Jewish or Evangelical? To ask the question, is to answer it.
    It’s natural to wonder where all of this leaves the Palestinians.
    They will surely remain a pitiable military force compared to the Israelis. The Arab allies don’t have the firepower or the inclination to assist them in a tangible way. Even if Iran does develop nuclear weapons this does nothing to advance Palestinian aspirations. The rising superpowers in the world, China and India don’t care about the Palestinians. The former superpower known as Russia doesn’t care about the Palestinians. The Europeans care but are too powerless and divided to be consequential; besides they have little influence with the Israelis. And as I noted, the United States, the one power in the world who could actually help the Palestinians is likely to remain in the Israeli camp far into the future.
    It seems to me that the best thing the international community (and the United States in particular) can do is help the Palestinians come to grips with the gravity of their situation. Sustaining their delusions that they can either achieve their state in all of the ex British mandate or even that Israel will return to the pre 1967 borders is to promote a fantasy. If President Obama is too weak to get Israel to freeze settlement activity for one year he is surely too weak to induce Israel to remove tens if not hundreds of thousands of settlers who don’t want to be moved. Pretending this isn’t true accomplishes nothing.
    Nostalgic for the days when their views were actually consequential, Israel’s critics on the left love to cite South African and its apartheid regime as a precedent for what Israel is likely to become absent a deal with the Palestinians. They often refer to what they view as the intolerable possibility that Palestinians will be left with nothing but Bantustans.
    Maybe the international community would be doing the Palestinians a favor if it stopped referring to the three or four city states the Palestinians might achieve instead of a single nation as Bantustans. Instead, they could start comparing them to Monaco or Lichtenstein or Nauru or Tuvalu or San Marino or Vatican City. Each of these independent nations, though tiny, could be a model for “Hebronstan” or “Ramallahstan” or “Gazastan.” Several of these tiny nations are surrounded on all sides by larger, much more powerful countries.
    From their perspective while it may not be perfect, it may be the best thing the Palestinians can get. And its alot better than what many stateless ethnic and religious groups have.
    If the Palestinians think they can get a country of their own, by all means they should go for it. But given the political, economic and military reality of their situation their only hope is to rely on the sympathy of the Israelis. While that sympathy doesn’t exist in Israel now, a complete change of tune on the part of the Palestinians might in time bring the Israelis around.
    And Israel critics in the United States who would like to see a change in American policy would be wise to stop ranting; ranting won’t help. Complaining about white phosphorus attacks in the Washington Note comment section; railing about the Goldstone report, hissing about the “Liberty,” crying about the unfairness of Israel’s nuclear arsenal, won’t change a thing.
    Blustering when your powerless just looks pathetic. If Israel critics want to see a change in American policy the only remotely realistic way to achieve that goal is to make Israel’s Jewish and Christian American supporters your allies.
    That will require a lot more honey and a lot less vinegar.
    As Winston Churchill said to the Germans after World War II, it’s time to start puckering.
    If the Palestinians and their American supporters can’t bring themselves to do that; that’s okay.
    Many of us think the status quo is just fine.
    I’m quite sure Netanyahu thinks that.

    Reply

  17. JamesL says:

    Hey Kathleen, I’ll chip in. We could probably have 50 or 60 dollars by the end of the week.

    Reply

  18. Kathleen Grasso Andersen says:

    IAEA reports that Iran is prepared to pay for probe of Israel’s nuclear facilites…. http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=106590&sectionid=351020

    Reply

  19. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “and thanks for reading my posts!!!!!”
    Its just that I want to be the first to congratulate you when you finally manage to grasp the 3 Rs.

    Reply

  20. DonS says:

    Oh, there’s a 4th estate alright. It just happen(s) to overlook that Bibi punked Obama and got away with it so far (I’d like to think this might change).
    But just a conveniently this will come back to haunt Obama at a time the media will deem it a “story”.
    In therapeutic counseling — and I do like to compare our sick political behavior to mentally unbalanced actors — there is a saying that has to do with restoring some health to dysfuncitonal systems: “make the covert overt”.
    By postponing the day of reckoning, when Obama will be reminded who is boss on USreal policy, he assures that the opportunity to assert leadership dwindles as the ‘facts on the ground’, and in the corridors of power, continue to acquiesce by default to the Israeli plan.
    If there is indeed an attempt at back channel head cracking, we should remind ourselves that the this drama is played out and manipulated as much, if not more in the public arena. And it is in that arena that politicians, from Pres on down, are most vulnerable to being forced to capitulate to the ‘poor tiny Israel’/’existential threat’ script.

    Reply

  21. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “The preconditions–the “settlements and settlers” (what wild west, scripted for Americans bullshit!), the unremitting Israeli expropriation and squatting on Palestinian land, the “settler’s”-only roads, the lily padding of Palestinian land, the Israeli nuclear weapons that aren’t really there–are already in place. Israel has loaded the equation with preconditions and now wants everyone to say “yeah this is a good starting point.” ”
    And don’t forget, a country that imprisons, invades, occupies, loots, starves, and murders the Palestinians at will, also demands that a Palestinian State will only be allowed to exist if it is unarmed and defenseless.
    Now, if you were a Palestinian that just survived the carnage of Operation Cast Lead, had your orchards razed and your children cooked in white phosphorous, would you want to live in a defenseless nation with no military or arms right next door to Israel?

    Reply

  22. PissedOffAmerican says:

    If there is any one thing that this whole unfolding saga underscores, it is the power that Israel exercises over American foriegn policy and the political discourse in Washington as it applies to the Israel/Palestinian issue.
    Anyone even casually following events can see the futile nature of the efforts made here to downplay the influence of the hydra of Israeli lobbies. It is no accident that AIPAC subsidiaries financed Congressional junkets to Israel right on the heels of Obama’s settlement demands. To deny the power of the Israeli lobbies as this political drama is unfolding is laughably disingenuous, and is the argument of a buffoon or a liar.

    Reply

  23. JamesL says:

    Clemons: We aren’t on the edge of a nuclear escalation like Kennedy eventually found himself…”
    We are now very close to an uncontrollable situation where continual Israeli and US destabilizing and provocation of the entire region sets the stage for one small, seemingly unrelated incident to torch the tinder, as the beginning of WWI is sometimes described. Arrogant nations and leaders always presume they will be able to control thngs to their advantage. It is a grand delusion that ends in a deluge of blood.
    Israelis are fond of repeating the word holocaust. In this modern world where national boundaries are transparent to multinational corporations, and where the number of multinationals that possess nuclear knowledge and capability, and having profit and secrecy as their religions, exceeds the number of nations having nuclear capability, it is not an “if” but a “how soon” that nuclear weapons eventually find their way to people who are willing to use them and are really really angry about how they, their families, their culture, and their most sacred beliefs have been treated.
    POA’s quote of Hoyer: “”It is time for him to reach for peace, without preconditions,” Hoyer said.”
    The preconditions–the “settlements and settlers” (what wild west, scripted for Americans bullshit!), the unremitting Israeli expropriation and squatting on Palestinian land, the “settler’s”-only roads, the lily padding of Palestinian land, the Israeli nuclear weapons that aren’t really there–are already in place. Israel has loaded the equation with preconditions and now wants everyone to say “yeah this is a good starting point.”
    I do think that given the trajectory of Mid East tensions, we will in the not distant future see the cities of Mecca and Jerusalem declared open, international, and sacred cities. And with scientific advances in decontamination techniques, they may again become habitable in just a few decades. And then, if there’s anyone left, they can start all over with a brand new holocaust.

    Reply

  24. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “And the United States is going to step back and follow whatever recommendations this commission proposes”
    And after two years of bickering over who should sit in this “commission, Israeli influence and power would inevitably manage to end up with a “commission” working ONLY in the interests of Israel’s agenda.
    Israel holds all the cards.

    Reply

  25. ... says:

    glad to see i always make a strong impression on the local bumpkin, lol.. meant 4 instead of 5, but don’t let that stop you from getting your underwear in a knot, and thanks for reading my posts!!!!!
    what zathras said…. “I do not envy Obama’s position, but at the very least it should be possible to reduce the potency of the idea that it is the United States that is holding up progress toward a Middle East peace.”
    that would require a different approach to something as fundamental and obvious as the goldstone commission.. what the usa does however is the exact opposite and nullifies you idea zathras..

    Reply

  26. PissedOffAmerican says:

    While Obama gets his marching orders from Netanyahu, and Abbas sips tea and picks his nose, another couple of meetings will be taking place, as Clinton and Lieberman meet, and Barak meets with Gates.
    I imagine Hillary and Avigdor can successfully come up with a plan that puts the final screws in fuckin’ Obama over to Israel’s advantage.
    And Gates and Barak can finalize the plans to get is into a war with Iran. So far, it appears the neo-con’s blueprint for bullshit, used to lie us into Iraq, is “Plan A” of the Israeli/Obama Administration’s strategy to bomb Iran. Undoubtedly, Israel’s “Plan B” blueprint can be found in the history books. Just google “the attack on the Liberty”.

    Reply

  27. Zathras says:

    As I indicate upthread, the willingness of Israel’s American supporters to define support for Israel as full agreement with whatever the Israeli government chooses to do is one of the major difficulties President Obama faces with respect to this issue.
    It is indeed unlikely that this difficulty will abate in the short term — but, then, it didn’t just emerge yesterday, either. Support for Israel in the United States is deep and of long standing; it isn’t going to diminish quickly. Personally, I don’t think it should. I have no interest in revisiting questions about that region of the world that were settled in 1948, and just because I object to Americans, like some posters upthread here, reflexively repeating Israeli government talking points doesn’t mean I have any particular sympathy for Palestinians.
    What I’ve suggested here is that President Obama attempt to narrow the discussion, separating his opponents from one another by focusing on the most zealous and unreasonable among them. This would not be easy in the best case. It may require a commitment of time that this President may not be able to make; it would certainly confuse Americans unfamiliar with a fairly cold-blooded policy objective like reducing the extent to which the United States is held responsible in Muslim countries for Israeli government policy. The alternative, which would have faced Obama in some measure whether he’d ever made the Cairo speech or not, is for him to leave an impression of well-intentioned weakness. This alternative being unacceptable, a way to avoid it needs to be found.
    At least, that is my thinking. Whether it has anything in common with Obama’s I have no idea.

    Reply

  28. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “…it doesn’t help there is no 5th estate…”
    yup, thet ther 5th estatie gon mising is a reel problim. maybie we kin send the 4th estatie out to tri to find it.

    Reply

  29. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Ok, so, read the above posted articles, then scan Steve’s commentary.
    Now maybe I’m just some uninformed and naive carpenter in California….but…someone want to tell me how the hell you responsibly debate Obama’s efforts towards peace while ignoring the oppositional forces in Washington DC, that include a major portion of the President’s own party?
    This whole debate, by Steve, and by the commentors here, is completely ignoring the primary reason that the whole settlement issue is moot. Obama has already lost this one. And he didn’t lose it in Israel, he lost it in Washington DC. He is going into any talks powerless, rendered impotent by the actions of the Majority Leader, a good portion of the Democratic party, and key members of the GOP. To ignore these FACTS makes this debate, and any commentary on the issue inane, asinine, naive and ignorant.
    Israel has been shown, irrefutably, that Obama has little or no support for a hardline in his negotiations with Israel. He CANNOT show any spine against Israel, because he has been rendered spineless by the depth of the fealty that the ranks in Washington pay to Israel. It is a wall he can’t climb.
    It astounds me that any attempt to debate or comment on the current Isr/Pal/USA dynamic would ignore the foremost factor that has doomed Obama to “failure”.

    Reply

  30. PissedOffAmerican says:

    US Congressman: Iran is Threat, Not Israeli Settlements
    By Robert Berger
    Jerusalem
    06 August 2009
    Congressman Eric Cantor (c), with delegation of Republican members of Congress, during press conference in Jerusalem, 06 Aug 2009
    A delegation of conservative congressmen from the United States is on a solidarity visit to Israel. They are concerned about Washington’s Middle East policies.
    The delegation of 25 congressmen from the Republican Party blasted the Obama administration for pressuring Israel to halt settlement expansion in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Eric Cantor, who is heading the delegation, says U.S. President Barack Obama’s policies are misguided. He says the U.S. should be focusing on Iran’s quest for nuclear weapons.
    “Any discussion of settlements, any discussion of the issues of living in East Jerusalem, should not take precedent over the primary focus of import which is the growing threat of a nuclear Iran,” Cantor said.
    Iran says its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes. But Israel believes Iran could have a nuclear bomb in a year. That is a cause of great concern here because Iran’s President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has threatened to wipe the Jewish state “off the map.”
    Israel has been agitated by President Obama’s plan to open a dialogue with Iran, while pressing for a one year freeze on Jewish settlement activity in the West Bank. A report in Israel’s Ha’aretz newspaper says the Obama administration feels such a freeze might lead to Arab concessions in the Mideast peace process. But Congressman Cantor told Israel Radio that the U.S. should lay off.
    “We do not want to see undue pressure placed on Israel. We believe very much in Israel’s right to secure itself, to administer its laws,” Cantor said. “There is no stronger democratic ally in this region than Israel and we’re here to reconfirm and affirm that.”
    The congressmen also met with Palestinian leaders in the West Bank, to express support for the two-state solution.
    The delegation’s visit underscores the traditionally pro-Israel position of the U.S. Congress. Israel has often depended on congressional support when it has disagreements with the White House. Democrats in Congress are expected to travel to Israel next week.
    http://www.voanews.com/english/archive/2009-08/2009-08-06-voa16.cfm?CFID=288088140&CFTOKEN=14919028&jsessionid=843095431b2756242169301f186136345977

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  31. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Huckabee reemerges – in Israeli settlements
    The former, and perhaps future, US presidential candidate criticized Obama’s policy, comparing rules about where Jews could live to racial segregation.
    By Ilene R. Prusher | Staff writer of The
    Christian Science Monitor
    from the August 17, 2009 edition
    Jerusalem – In the first major Republican challenge to President Obama’s Israel policy, former US presidential candidate Mike Huckabee visited a number of controversial Jewish housing projects in Arab neighborhoods of East Jerusalem on Monday.
    The former governor of Arkansas – a Southern Baptist minister who was one of the main contenders for the Republican Party’s 2008 nomination for president – took issue with Obama’s insistence that Israel freeze the expansion of all Jewish settlements in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. Standing next to a new Israeli housing compound wedged into the Arab neighborhood of Abu Dis and abutting the looming cement security barrier, he compared placing restrictions on where Jews can live to the racial segregation of his childhood in the American South, saying, “I can’t understand it at all.”
    Mr. Huckabee, who may well have designs on another presidential run, is in Israel as the guest of The Jerusalem Reclamation Project, run by the settler group Ateret Cohenim. Under the project, the group buys real estate – both land and existing buildings – in Arab areas of Jerusalem where Palestinians hope to make the capital of their future state. A tax-exempt organization that receives most of its revenue from US donors, the group also regularly moves Jews into Arab neighborhoods, which would complicate any effort to partition Jerusalem as part of a peace plan.
    The Obama administration recently spoke out against Israel allowing the group to pursue plans to turn an old building known as the Shepherd Hotel, in the neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah, into a 20-unit apartment complex for Israelis. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been at odds with Obama’s position, insisting that he would not accept limits on Israel building anywhere in the city it considers its “eternal and undivided” capital.
    Irving Moskowitz, the Jewish-American millionaire who bought the hotel and gave it to the settler group, donated $2,300 – the maximum contribution limit at the time – to Huckabee’s 2008 presidential campaign, as did Moskowitz’ wife, Cherna, according to the campaign-finance tracking website opensecrets.org. The couple gave a total of $50,000 to the Republican National Committee in 2007.
    Partitioned Jerusalem: like joint US-Canada control of Detroit?
    Huckabee, who was scheduled to speak at a dinner Monday at Shepherd Hotel, said that while his three-day trip to Israel was not timed to rebuff Obama’s Middle East policy, it was opportune nonetheless.
    “The timing was not specifically tied to the Obama administration’s policies, but maybe it’s providential that it coincides because it does point out that those policies are a dramatic change from the position that the US government under both Democratic and Republican presidents have taken,” he said in Abu Dis, the sweeping backdrop of Jerusalem behind him and a bevy of reporters and supporters in tow.
    He also echoed Israel’s view, which Mr. Netanyahu emphasized during his White House visit this spring, that Iran poses a far more urgent threat than the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
    “Our primary concern ought to be whether or not Iran is weaponizing nuclear material, not whether 20 peaceful Jewish families happen to be moving into a neighborhood in their own country,” said Huckabee, whose three-day trip is focused mainly on settlements.
    Huckabee also compared the talk of having Jerusalem partitioned so that it would be under the control of two governments, one Israeli and one Palestinian, to the US and Canada trying to share control of Detroit. “It’s inconceivable that two sovereign governments claim control over the same piece of real estate,” he said. “I don’t know how it’s workable.”
    Daniel Luria, the executive director of the Jerusalem Reclamation Project, led Huckabee around several of the controversial East Jerusalem sites where Jews are in the process of being settled. These included a large multistory complex called Maale Zeitim in the Arab neighborhood of Ras el-Amud and projects in the City of David, part of the neighborhood of Silwan.
    “Peace can be achieved when Jews and Arabs live together under Jewish sovereignty,” Mr. Luria told the Monitor. “The concept of East Jerusalem simply doesn’t exist today,” he added. A political solution to turn part of the city over to Palestinian control would mean having “an Al Qaeda-Hamas entity on our back doorstep,” said Luria, who was cited in the center-left Israeli paper Haaretz on Monday as saying an estimated 60 percent of Ateret Cohenim’s funding came from US donors.
    Huckabee is also planning to visit the Jewish section of Hebron in the West Bank and Maaleh Adumim, the largest settlement in the West Bank.
    Huckabee’s motives and aims questioned
    Several antisettlement groups held a protest outside Shepherd Hotel dinner, which was closed to the general public and the media but was expected to include several right-wing members of the Knesset and of Netanyahu’s Cabinet.
    Ir Amim, an Israeli group that opposes the work of Ateret Cohenim and other settlement efforts inside Jerusalem, criticized Huckabee’s visit as an opportunistic trip that would frustrate attempts to reach a two-state solution.
    “This strange dinner is an outcome of an alliance established between the rightist, extremist association whose declared goal is to prevent a future political settlement, and an American politician who is hoping to gain political capital at the expense of Jerusalem’s stability and the future of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” Ir Amim said in a statement. “It is not appropriate for the Israeli ministers and members of Knesset to participate in such a bizarre celebration, and to allow a foreign politician to gain questionable political capital at the expense of the immediate interests of Jerusalem residents and the Israeli public in general.”

    Reply

  32. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Hoyer: E. J’lem not same as W. Bank
    Aug. 11, 2009
    Herb Keinon , THE JERUSALEM POST
    US House Majority leader Steny Hoyer praised Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, called for the Palestinian Authority to drop any preconditions to negotiations, and said that Congress differentiated between building in east Jerusalem and in the West Bank, during an interview with The Jerusalem Post on Monday.
    Hoyer, currently in the country leading a delegation of 29 Democratic legislators, also said the rhetoric coming out of the Fatah General Assembly in Bethlehem was “unfortunate.”
    The delegation, sponsored by the American Israel Education Foundation, a charitable organization affiliated with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, arrived on Sunday evening and met Monday with President Shimon Peres, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and US security coordinator Lt.-Gen. Keith Dayton.
    Lieberman told the group that the continued control of Gaza by Hamas, along with the rhetoric coming out of the Fatah conference in Bethlehem, essentially buried chances of peace for the near future.
    “I think that kind of pessimism, while perhaps realistic, is not helpful to moving the ball forward,” Hoyer said, adding that he viewed the Fatah conference as PA President Mahmoud Abbas’s effort to charge up the faithful and reenergize his followers.
    Still, Hoyer said he thought “some of the rhetoric was very unfortunate in the sense that it re-instilled a sense of confrontation and resistance, instead of being more positive and talking about what steps were needed to move forward.”
    Hoyer, who will meet with Abbas on Wednesday, noted that Abbas himself had said recently that the situation in the West Bank was much improved.
    “I think that had there been a more positive tone to the conference, it would have been more helpful,” he said. “As General Dayton said, it is a political convention. He said it was a ‘convention of politicians,’ so he didn’t put a lot of stock in the words.”
    At the same time, Hoyer said one of his messages to Abbas would be that he needed to change the rhetoric. Another message would be that he drop preconditions for starting negotiations with the Netanyahu government.
    Abbas has said that Israel must freeze settlement construction before he will sit down with the prime minister.
    Hoyer, an important ally of US President Barack Obama on Capitol Hill, said this was a mistake and that just as Abbas had not had preconditions for talks with former prime minister Ehud Olmert, he should not have any preconditions now, either.
    “It is time for him to reach for peace, without preconditions,” Hoyer said.
    Citing Netanyahu’s acceptance of a two-state solution, as well as the removal of all but 14 roadblocks in the West Bank, Hoyer said, “There have been some very positive things that have happened under Netanyahu, and I think that Abbas ought to take the opportunity to engage with Netanyahu without preconditions. Both peoples need and want peace; their leaders ought to facilitate that.”
    The powerful Maryland Democrat said he was “not surprised” and could “understand” the perception in Israel that Obama had been too tough on Israel over the settlements.
    At the same time, Hoyer – a staunch Israel supporter in the House – said he felt Obama was “very committed to Israel. I think he is very committed to its security and sovereignty, and to its being protected in terms of any agreement it would make. He is also very committed to Israel making its own decision regarding what actions it will take vis-à-vis an agreement.”
    Asked if he thought Obama had “gone overboard” on the settlement issue, Hoyer sidestepped, saying it was a mistake to dwell on the settlements and to make settlement construction the key issue, when it was not.
    This issue was blown out of proportion because it was an issue where the US and Israel disagreed, he said, and it was natural for the disagreements to attract most of the attention.
    Hoyer said that given the changes on the ground since 1967, he believed that most people in the US – including the Obama administration – understood that a return to those boundaries was not realistic.
    According to Hoyer, there was a difference in how Congress viewed the West Bank and Jerusalem; he felt that there was more acceptance of Jewish construction in east Jerusalem than in the settlements in the West Bank.
    “I think there is a significant difference between what we are talking about in the West Bank and Jerusalem itself, which is an integrated city; which is a whole,” he said. “My view is that it will remain whole, and therefore – I don’t want to anticipate the endgame – but I don’t think the partitioning of Jerusalem is a reasonable outcome. I don’t think it will happen.”
    Asked whether – in light of a recent New York Post poll showing that Jewish Democrats agreed with the Israeli position and disagreed with Obama on issues such as a Palestinian state, settlement construction and trading land for peace – he was concerned that Obama could lose his Jewish base of support, Hoyer said this depended on what the US president was able to achieve.
    “I think the Jewish community in America will make judgments not solely on Israel, but that this will be a critical part of their judgments, and I think they will make it on the basis of results,” he said. “I believe that ultimately if Obama accomplishes progress in the next three years and four months, that the Jewish community will make its judgment on that. If, on the other hand, they believe that Obama’s policies had a negative impact on Israel, he will certainly lose some, maybe much, of his support. But it is much too early to make that kind of judgment.”
    The House majority leader also disagreed with the recent controversial cable critical of the government, written by Boston’s Israel Consul-General Nadav Tamir, who concluded that support for Israel among the American public was being eroded by disagreements between Jerusalem and Washington.
    “I don’t see that,” he said. “I believe there is a fundamental understanding in the US of the character of Israel and its values, and how these values replicate ours. I think there is an understanding of how important an ally Israel is, and how important it is to have a democracy survive and succeed in a sea of authoritarianism.”
    Congress represents the people, and there has been no erosion of support in the Congress for Israel, Hoyer said. He pointed to a letter signed by 368 members of the 435-seat House of Representatives, sent to Obama in May, expressing commitment to Israel and saying the US needed to let Israel make its own decisions, and to back those decisions.
    “We had no trouble getting those signatures,” he said. “I think that is reflective of members of Congress reflecting the views of their constituency.”
    http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1249418573121&pagename=JPost/JPArticle/Printer

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  33. kotzabasis says:

    Once again Kervick displays his incurable penchant to contradict and destroy his own argument. He places Israel as the “51st state” of the union with “powerful allies and half the US Senate in its pocket,” and then expects Obama to accept whatever recommendations an international commission would be making on Israel and Palestine even if these are detrimental to the former.
    Further, to suggest that Obama might have “even intestinal fortitude” –after his ignominious buckling to all his international interlocutors, especially the Russians– that somehow only “reality is reality” trumps, shows Kervick to be bereft of even the slightest tincture of psychology.

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  34. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Sen. Reid to Obama: Back Off Israel, Pressure Palestinians
    Warns President Not to Let Peace Process Interfere With Measures Against Iran
    by Jason Ditz, June 19, 2009
    Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has issued a letter to President Barack Obama urging him to reverse his course on Palestinian peace talks, to back off of his criticism of Israel and focus of pressuring the Palestinians instead.
    Senator Harry ReidObama has urged the Israeli government to accept a two-state solution to the decades-long conflict, and to end the expansion of settlements in the West Bank. Israel’s right-wing government has refused to end the settlement expansion, and has said it would accept a Palestinian state under certain conditions.
    Reid likewise appeared to take issue with the Obama Administration’s comments that a resolution to the dispute with Iran would be more easily obtained if the Palestinian issue were resolved, instead warning the president not to let the peace process “take away from your commitment to deal with the ongoing threat from Iran.” Reid insisted that rather, “resolving” Iran’s nuclear program would facilitate the peace process.
    Congressional Democrats have repeatedly condemned Obama for his willingness to publicly criticize Israel, and one Israeli Minister has proposed anti-US sanctions and a public effort by the Israeli government to punish Democrats in the upcoming mid-term elections for Obama’s stance.
    http://news.antiwar.com/2009/06/19/sen-reid-to-obama-back-off-israel-pressure-palestinians/
    Dems Tell Obama to Back Off Israel Criticism
    Congressmen Say Obama Should Stop Pressing Israel, Spend More Time Pressuring Iran
    by Jason Ditz, June 02, 2009
    Email This | Print This | Share This | Comment | Antiwar Forum
    Congressional Democrats are reportedly irked by the Obama Administration’s persistent criticism of Israel’s settlement growth. The Congressmen said it was inappropriate to pressure an ally about “domestic policies” and that instead the administration should spend more time “pressuring the Iranians to eliminate the potential of a nuclear threat from Iran.”
    President Obama has called on the Israeli government to stop expanding its settlements in the West Bank, which the Israelis have refused to do. Though it has served as one of the few occasions when a US president has publicly criticized the Israeli government, officials have made it clear that continued Israeli defiance would have no negative consequences.
    Obama has said that the US will continue to be “honest” about its position on the settlements, and he met with Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak today to reiterate his opposition to the continued construction, even in the case of “natural growth.”
    The Israeli government has repeatedly reiterated its rejection of the president’s demands, and says they had “understandings” with the Bush Administration on the continued growth. They lashed out at President Obama for being “unfair” in his dealings with them.
    http://news.antiwar.com/2009/06/02/dems-tell-obama-to-back-off-israel-criticism/

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  35. questions says:

    What Zathras said….

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  36. ... says:

    Falk: Goldstone is historic blow in the war Israel is losing– the ‘Legitimacy War’
    http://mondoweiss.net/2009/09/falk-goldstone-bombshell-will-fray-jewish-support-for-israel.html#more-9287

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  37. ... says:

    The Israeli Occupation of America: How Israel Gained Control of American Foreign Policy
    http://desertpeace.wordpress.com/2009/09/21/israels-other-occupation/
    “Israel need not apologize for the assassination or destruction of those who seek to destroy it. The first order of business for any country is the protection of its people.”(Washington Jewish Week, October 9, 1997.)
    I came from a country occupied militarily by Israel to the land of “the free and the brave” only to find out it too was occupied politically by Israel.

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  38. nadine says:

    Barry Rubin describes Obama’s foreign policy as the “don’t bother us” policy:
    Don’t bother us. We don’t want any confrontations. We don’t want any crises. We don’t want to have to fight anyone. Pressure your friends to make concessions because they should give in rather than battle for their rights. Pay off your enemies so they don’t come after you.
    And this is the philosophy of all too much of the contemporary media, academia, and elites in the West. It could work politically. By staving off conflicts, governments can hope to please their publics who don’t want conflict and war and hearing about people hating them. Then, too, they can claim success at having avoided crises.
    This applies to U.S.-Israel relations as much as it does to U.S.-Taliban relations. The administration loudly proclaimed that it would bend Israel to its will, force it to give a big concession while getting nothing in return. Yet once Israel resisted, the administration backed down.
    That’s one reason why U.S.-Israel relations are going to be okay. The administration doesn’t want a confrontation with Israel any more than it wants one with Iran. And the fact that there is a lot of domestic popular and congressional support for Israel reinforces that fact.
    …Will the world let the administration get away with this approach? We will see. It is unlikely that the administration will be bothered by protests from friends who feel insufficiently protected or even betrayed. But it may not be able to disregard the aggressions of anti-American radical forces which see this passivity and fear of conflict as a splendid opportunity.
    http://rubinreports.blogspot.com/

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  39. ... says:

    i think this analogy is a good one for different reasons.. wigwags propaganda talking points aren’t too far off, but still propaganda as he attempts to further a viewpoint that is always favourable to israel while negating the palestinian and ordinary americans viewpoint… i suppose we have to inoculate ourselves to the regularity of this with certain commentators such as like wigwag or nadine..
    russia was considered an actual enemy of the usa’s… unless steve actually sees israel as the enemy of the usa’s – this would be a refreshing twist, but somehow it doesn’t seem an accurate view on steve – then the analogy is really off… russia had nuclear power then as does israel now, and both could be accurately perceived as a grave threat to world stability, israel at present, as russia might have been previously.. in this sense the analogy is a good one… both countries were/are headed by what appear to be fanatics with a country that reflected/reflects a fanatical mindset but israel is always thought to be the usa’s ””friend”” whereas russia never was…..
    if for some strange reason the usa is starting to come to the realization that israel is really no friend of the usa’s and instead a constant pain in the ass on almost all levels, then this would be a refreshing change and acknowledgment… for the usa (not just steve who might actually be having an awakening!) to have a realization of this, a lot more of a ”falling out” probably has to happen between itself and the country it has always reflexively gone to bat for, just as we witnessed just this week in the goldstone example…
    it doesn’t help there is no 5th estate… israel seems to excel at propaganda and has helped create the false impression the relationship between israel and the usa is a good one and of benefit to the usa… that would seem to be so far removed from reality, but people like wigwag will continue to work hard to maintain this false reality..
    unfortunately israel has dominated discussions on usa foreign policy with obama’s ”reign” being no different.. for this to change would require the us political system change in a major way.. it could happen with a sudden breakdown of it’s fragile financial system, but knowing when is like guessing on the display of a wild card and hard to predict timewise… in the meantime, this analogy is a good one if the usa political class are finally recognizing the danger israel represents… i doubt that is what many of them would like to ”openly” acknowledge.. until such time this changes, this analogy doesn’t reflect accurately what most political class like to display openly, even if this is the unspoken reality understood by many of them including steve clemons here at twn..

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  40. nadine says:

    Khaled Mashaal is learning to lie with the best of them:
    “Some Palestinian factions have been inspired by Arab nationalism, others by Marxism or Leninism, and others by liberalism. While we strongly believe that these ideas are alien to our people and have failed to meet their aspirations, we insist that the people are the final arbiter on whom they wish to lead them and by which system they desire to be governed. Thus, democracy is our best option for settling our internal Palestinian differences. Whatever the people choose will have to be respected.”
    I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for this respecter of democracy to hold new elections in Gaza! Especially after that coup in 2007 where they threw the Fatah honchos off the tops of tall buildings and seized full power. Hamas are Islamists. That means they are theocratic fascists who consider democracy contrary to the express will of Allah. They use democracy strictly on the one man, one vote, one time principle.
    Really, you have to be utterly naive to take a word of this nonsense seriously. Every action Hamas has ever taken belies it. It is all taquiyya.

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  41. nadine says:

    Dan, the Middle East is insoluble precisely because it has long been internationalized. International forces would never let the Palestinians sign a deal nor Israel win a war decisively. International forces wanted the conflict to continue unsolved and unsolvable except by the demise of Israel. They didn’t succeed in destroying Israel but they have made sure the conflict is unsolvable. Left to themselves, the Israelis and the Palestinian Arabs would have worked out a deal fifty years ago. But any Palestinian who tried got killed by his fellow Arabs.
    Comparing Khruschev to Netanyahu is absurd because Netanyahu is an ally who does not seek the destruction of America and the loss of its influence (Putin, on the other hand, does seek these things, and he must be ecstatic). Obama just demanded something egregiously stupid, and Netanyahu made a show of partial compliance in return. That is a lot more than Obama got from the Palestinians, the Egyptians or the Saudis, who gave him nothing at all, with a tirade to boot in the case of the Saudis. It is not Bibi’s fault that Barack started playing checkers when everybody else is playing chess at the grandmaster level.
    Zathras, Israeli settlements are not expanding in the sense of taking more ground. If they were, you would not see Abu Mazen saying, “Why should we sign a deal? Every few years the Israelis keep coming back with a better offer.” If the settlements were really expanding in footprint, you would see Abu Mazen reflect some sense of pressure. (Incidentally, that’s an argument for why growing the settlements in size might be an inducement for a treaty rather than a hindrance to one.) What is being argued about is “natural growth,” or new construction inside the footprint of the existing town. This whole argument is turning on adding a second bedroom onto a house in Gush Etzion or East Jerusalem. It’s absurd, a complete red herring. Obama just thought he could seize on the issue because, well, he’s an idiot.

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  42. Dan Kervick says:

    The analogy is poor. Except for a ragtag handful of US communists, Kruschev didn’t have millions of powerful US allies and half the US Senate in his pocket. It is absurd to expect the United States to lead the way on solving a problem with the expansionist behavior of its own 51st state. Actually, Israel is something more than a state, because the states only have two senators each. There has probably never been a situation in the history of the world as strange and pathological as the US-Israel relationship.
    Netanyahu didn’t have to take any kind of “measure” of Obama. He knew ahead of time that Obama is just passing through, and lacks the power to make significant changes in the US policy toward Israel. It doesn’t matter how much sincerity Obama has, or even intestinal fortitude. Reality is reality.
    What I’d really like to see Obama tell Netanyahu and Abbas is that he is internationalizing this problem. He is recommending the formation of an international commission to come forward with a detailed final status solution, a defined border, and a schedule of benchmarks and conditional sanctions for its resolution. And the United States is going to step back and follow whatever recommendations this commission proposes. It’s just stupid for anyone in the world to expect the US to take the lead on this issue.

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  43. Carroll says:

    Agreed.
    Obama is looking increasingly weak. If he doesn’t
    back up his demands on Israel with some action he has not only made a fool of himself, but a fool out of all those other world leaders who joined his program and echoed his demand that Israel give up the settlements. They won’t take kindly to that.
    Backing down on Israel and I-P will be the cherry on top of the steaming pile that is the world’s current opinion of the US.

    Reply

  44. Carroll says:

    Agreed.
    Obama is looking increasingly weak. If he doesn’t
    back up his demands on Israel with some action he has not only made a fool of himself, but a fool out of all those other world leaders who joined his program and echoed his demand that Israel give up the settlements. They won’t take kindly to that.
    Backing down on Israel and I-P will be the cherry on top of the steaming pile that is the world’s current opinion of the US.

    Reply

  45. Kathleen Grasso Andersen says:

    Interesting this meeting pre-dates the formal presentation of the Goldstone Report on the 29th in Geneva…Let the arm twisting begin..did Abbas win aqny elections recently?
    Here’s what Hamas says about The Golstone Report..
    http://www.newstatesman.com/middle-east/2009/09/israel-palestinian-hamas
    Exclusive: Hamas leader interview
    Ken Livingstone
    Published 17 September 2009
    In a world exclusive, Ken Livingstone discusses religion, violence and the chances for peace with the Hamas leader Khaled Meshal
    The key to peace in the Middle East is restoration of international law and the recognition of the right of both Palestinians and Israeli Jews to live in peace and security side by side. As President Obama says, there is no peace process today. Israel’s prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, continues to extend illegal settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem and maintain a near-complete blockade of Gaza. Palestinians fire ineffectual rockets into Israel. Israel regularly attacks Palestinian territories with modern weapons.
    No major conflict can be resolved without each side talking to the other. That was the case in South Africa, Ireland and countless other situations where people said they would never talk to their opponents. I was vilified in the Eighties for saying that, to resolve the Irish conflict, you had to talk to Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness.
    In the Middle East, peace can only be achieved through discussion between the elected representatives of both the Israelis and the Palestinians – and that means Hamas, which won a big majority in the last Palestinian parliamentary election, as well as Fatah. This does not mean that I agree with the views of Hamas, Fatah or the government of Israel. Far from it: I do not. For example, I think a number of passages in the original Hamas charter are unacceptable and should be repudiated. Many observers believe that this is also the view of some in Hamas.
    Yet, for too many people, Hamas as an organisation remains opaque. What they know about it is derived from a hostile media; it has no face. Most would probably think its leader is some disturbed Osama Bin Laden figure. In fact, al-Qaeda’s supporters in Gaza are so hostile to Hamas that they have declared war on it.
    For these reasons, I thought it important to interview the de facto leader of Hamas, Khaled Meshal, who lives in exile in Syria. Not every issue is clear. But at the beginning of any peace process, what matters most is engagement. Dialogue is necessary to get to clarity and mutual understanding. Sinn Fein did not answer every question at the beginning and neither does Binyamin Netanyahu today. The answers from Meshal come at a time of heightened tensions and renewed death threats against him, adding to the permanent danger of assassination bids not only by the Israelis, but also al-Qaeda supporters in the region.
    I hope this interview will help to make the case for the dialogue that is needed, which I believe is inevitable. It is simply a question of how much suffering there will be, on both sides, before we get there.
    Ken Livingstone: Could you explain a little about your childhood and the experiences that shaped your development into the person you are today?
    Khaled Meshal: I was born in the West Bank village of Silwad near Ramallah in 1956. In my early age, I learned from my father how he was part of the Palestinian revolution against the British mandate in Palestine in the Thirties and how he fought, alongside other Palestinians using primitive weapons, against the well-equipped and trained Zionist gangs attacking Palestinian villages in 1948.
    I lived in Silwad for 11 years until the 1967 war, when I was forced with my family, like hundreds of thousands of Palestinians, to leave home and settle in Jordan. That was a shocking experience I will never forget.
    KL: What happened to you after the war?
    KM: Soon afterwards, I left Jordan for Kuwait, where my father had already been working and living since before 1967. After completing my primary education in 1970, I joined the prestigious Abdullah al-Salim Secondary School. In the early Seventies, it was a hub of intense political and ideological activity.
    During my second year at al-Salim school, I joined the Muslim Brotherhood (al-Ikhwan al-Muslimun). Upon finishing my fourth year successfully I secured admission to Kuwait University, where I studied for a BSc degree in physics.
    Kuwait University had an active branch of the General Union of Palestinian Students (GUPS), which had been under the absolute control of the Fatah movement. I and my fellow Islamists decided, in 1977, to join GUPS, which we had previously shunned, and contest its leadership election. However, working from within GUPS proved impossible; we felt constantly impeded and realised we Islamists would never be given a chance. By 1980, two years after I graduated, my juniors decided to leave GUPS and form their own Palestinian association on campus.
    Many of the students had become disillusioned with the Palestinian leadership, who seemed intent on settling for much less than what they 
had grown up dreaming of, namely the complete liberation of Palestine and the return of all the refugees to their homes.
    KL: What is the situation in Gaza today?
    KM: Gaza today is under siege. Crossings are closed most of the time and for months victims of the Israeli war on Gaza have been denied ­access to construction materials to rebuild their destroyed homes. Schools, hospitals and homes in many parts of the Gaza Strip are in need of rebuilding. Tens of thousands of people remain homeless. As winter approaches, the conditions of these victims will only get worse in the cold and rain. One and a half million people are held hostage in one of the biggest prisons in the history of humanity. They are unable to travel freely out of the Strip, whether for medical treatment, for education or for other needs. What we have in Gaza is a disaster and a crime against humanity perpetrated by the Israelis. The world community, through its silence and indifference, colludes in this crime.
    KL: Why do you think Israel is still imposing the siege on Gaza?
    KM: The Israelis claim that the siege is for security reasons. The real intention is to pressure Hamas by punishing the entire population. The sanctions were put in place soon after Hamas won the Palestinian elections in January 2006. While security is one of their concerns, it is not the main motivation. The primary objective is to provoke a coup against the results of the democratic elections that brought Hamas to power. The Israelis and their allies seek to impose failure on Hamas by persecuting the people. This is a hideous and immoral endeavour. Today, the siege continues despite the fact that we have, for the past six months, observed a ceasefire. Last year, a truce was observed from June to December 2008. Yet the siege was never lifted, and the sanctions remained in place. Undermining Hamas is the main objective of the siege. The Israelis hope to turn the people of Gaza against Hamas by increasing the suffering of the entire population of the Strip.
    KL: How many supporters of Hamas and elected representatives of Hamas are there in prison in Israel? Have they all been charged and convicted of crimes?
    KM: Out of a total of 12,000 Palestinian captives in Israeli detention, around 4,000 are Hamas members. These include scores of ministers and parliamentarians (Palestinian Legislative Council members). Around ten have recently been released, but about 40 PLC members remain in detention. Some have been given sentences, but many are held in what the Israelis call administrative detention. The only crime these people are accused of is their association with Hamas’s parliamentary group. Exercising one’s democratic right is considered a crime by Israel. All these Palestinians are brought before an Israeli system of justice that has nothing to do with justice. The Israeli judiciary is an instrument of the occupation. In Israel, there are two systems of justice: one applies to Israelis and another applies to the Palestinians. This is an apartheid regime.
    KL: What part, if any, do other states and insti­tutions, such as the US, the EU, Britain, Egypt, or the Palestinian Authority, play in the blockade of Gaza?
    KM: The blockade of Gaza would never have succeeded had it not been for the collusion of regional and international powers.
    KL: How do you think the blockade can be lifted?
    KM: In order for the blockade to be lifted, the rule of international law must be respected. The basic human rights of the Palestinians and their right to live in dignity and free from persecution would have to be acknowledged. There has to be an international will to serve justice and uphold the basic principles of international human rights law. The international community would have to free itself from the shackles of Israeli pressure, speak the truth and act accordingly.
    KL: Israel says that the bombing and invasion of Gaza last year was in response to repeated breaking of the ceasefire by Hamas and the firing of rockets into southern Israel. Is this the case?
    KM: The Israelis are not telling the truth. We ­entered into a truce deal with Israel from 19 June to 19 December 2008. Yet the blockade was not lifted. The deal entailed a bilateral ceasefire, lifting the blockade and opening the crossings. We fully abided by the ceasefire while Israel only partially observed it, and towards the end of the term it resumed hostilities. Throughout that ­period, Israel maintained the siege and only intermittently opened some of the crossings, ­allowing no more than 10 per cent of the basic needs of the Gazan population to get through. 
Israel killed the potential for renewing the truce because it deliberately and repeatedly violated it.
    I have always informed my western visitors, including the former US president Jimmy Carter, that the moment Hamas is offered a truce that 
includes lifting the blockade and opening the crossings, Hamas will adopt a positive stance. So far, no one has made us any such offer. As far as we are concerned, the blockade amounts to a declaration of war that warrants self-defence.
    KL: What are the ideology and goals of Hamas?
    KM: Our people have been the victims of a colonial project called Israel. For years, we have suffered various forms of repression. Half of our people have been dispossessed and are denied the right to return to their homes, and half live under an occupation regime that violates their basic human rights. Hamas struggles for an end to occupation and for the restoration of our people’s rights, including their right to return home.
    KL: What is your view of the cause of the conflict between the state of Israel and the Palestinians?
    KM: The conflict is the outcome of aggression and occupation. Our struggle against the Israelis is not because they are Jewish, but because they invaded our homeland and dispossessed us. We do not accept that because the Jews were once persecuted in Europe they have the right to take our land and throw us out. The injustices suffered by the Jews in Europe were horrible and criminal, but were not perpetrated by the Palestinians or the Arabs or the Muslims. So, why should we be punished for the sins of others or be made to pay for their crimes?
    KL: Do you believe that Israel intends to continue to expand its borders?
    KM: Israel does not, officially, have stated borders. When Israel was created in our homeland 62 years ago, its founders dreamed of a “Greater Israel” that extended from the Nile to the Euphrates. Expansionism manifested itself on different occasions: in 1956, in 1967 and later on in the occupation of parts of Lebanon in the Eighties. Arab weakness, Israeli military superiority, the support given to Israel by the western powers, and the massacres it was prepared to commit against unarmed civilians in Palestine, Egypt and Lebanon, enabled it to expand from time to time. Although expansionism still lurks in the minds of many Israelis, it would seem that this is no longer a practical option. Lebanese and Palestinian resistance has forced Israel to withdraw unilaterally from lands it had previously occupied through war and aggression. While in the past Israel was able to defeat several Arab armies, today it faces formidable resistance that will not only check its expansionism but also, in time, force it to relinquish more of the land that it illegally occupies.
    KL: What are your principal goals? Is Hamas primarily a political or a religious organisation?
    KM: Hamas is a national liberation movement. We do not see a contradiction between our Islamic identity and our political mission. While we engage the occupiers through resistance and struggle to achieve our people’s rights, we are proud of our religious identity that derives from Islam. Unlike the experience of the Europeans with Christianity, Islam does not provide for, demand or recognise an ecclesiastical authority. It simply provides a set of broad guidelines whose detailed interpretations are subject to and the product of human endeavour (ijtihad).
    KL: Are you committed to the destruction of Israel?
    KM: What is really happening is the destruction of the Palestinian people by Israel; it is the one that occupies our land and exiles us, kills us, 
incarcerates us and persecutes our people. We are the victims, Israel is the oppressor, and not vice versa.
    KL: Why does Hamas support military force in this conflict?
    KM: Military force is an option that our people resort to because nothing else works. Israel’s conduct and the collusion of the international community, whether through silence or indifference or actual embroilment, vindicate armed resistance. We would love to see this conflict 
resolved peacefully. If occupation were to come to an end and our people enabled to exercise self-determination in their homeland, there would then be no need for any use of force. The reality is that nearly 20 years of peaceful negotiations between the Palestinians and the Israelis have not restored any of our rights. On the contrary, we have incurred more suffering and more losses as a result of the one-sided compromises made by the Palestinian negotiating party.
    Since the PLO entered into the Oslo peace deal with Israel in 1993, more Palestinian land in the West Bank has been expropriated by the Israelis to build more illegal Jewish settlements, expand existing ones or construct highways for the exclusive use of Israelis living in these settlements. The apartheid wall that the Israelis erected along the West Bank has consumed large areas of the land that was supposed to be returned to the Palestinians according to the peace deal.
    The apartheid wall and hundreds of checkpoints turned the West Bank into isolated enclaves like cells in a large prison, which makes 
life intolerable.
    Jerusalem is constantly tampered with in order to alter its landscape and identity, and hundreds of Palestinian homes have been destroyed inside the city and around it, making thousands of Palestinians homeless in their own homeland. Instead of releasing Palestinian prisoners, the Israelis have arrested an additional 5,000 Palestinians since the Annapolis peace conference in 2007 – actions that testify to the fact they simply aren’t interested in peace at all.
    KL: Does Hamas engage in military activity outside Palestine?
    KM: No; since its establishment 22 years ago, Hamas has confined its field of military operation to occupied Palestine.
    KL: Do you wish to establish an Islamic state in Palestine in which all other religions are subordinate?
    KM: Our priority as a national liberation movement is to end the Israeli occupation of our homeland. Once our people are free in their land and enjoy the right to self-determination, they alone have the final say on what system of governance they wish to live under. It is our firm belief that Islam cannot be imposed on the people. We shall campaign, in a fully democratic process, for an Islamic agenda. If that is what the people opt for, then that is their choice. We believe that Islam is the best source of guidance and the best guarantor for the rights of Muslims and non-Muslims alike.
    KL: Does Hamas impose Islamic dress in Gaza? For example, is it compulsory in Gaza for women to wear the hijab, niqab or burqa?
    KM: No. Intellectually, Hamas derives its vision from the people’s culture and religion. Islam is our religion and is the basic constituent of our culture. We do not deny other Palestinians the right to have different visions. We do not impose on the people any aspects of religion or social conduct. Features of religion in Gaza society are genuine and spontaneous; they have not been imposed by any authority other than the faith and conviction of the observant.
    KL: It is suggested that the division in the Palestinian people between the West Bank and Gaza and between Fatah and Hamas, which obviously weakens their position, came about because Hamas seized power by force in Gaza. Is this true and how do you explain this division?
    KM: Undoubtedly, division does weaken the Palestinians and harms their cause. However, the division is caused not by Hamas, but by the insistence of certain international and regional parties on reversing the results of Palestinian democracy. It dismayed them that Hamas was elected by the Palestinian people.
    The division is compounded by the existence of a Palestinian party that seeks empowerment from those same regional and international 
parties, including the US and Israel, that wish to see Hamas out of the arena. Soon after its victory in the election of January 2006, every effort was exerted to undermine the ability of Hamas to govern.
    When these efforts failed, General Keith Dayton, of the United States army, who currently serves as US security co-ordinator for Israel and the Palestinian Authority, was despatched to Gaza to plot a coup against the Hamas-led national unity government that came out of the Mecca agreement of 2007. The plot prompted Hamas in Gaza to act in self-defence in the events of June 2007. The claim that Hamas carried out a coup is baseless because Hamas was leading the democratically elected government. All it did was act against those who were plotting a coup against it under the command and guidance of General Dayton.
    KL: Do those of other political or religious views such as Fatah enjoy democratic freedoms in Gaza? What is the situation of Hamas members in the West Bank territories controlled by Fatah?
    KM: Some Palestinian factions have been inspired by Arab nationalism, others by Marxism or Leninism, and others by liberalism. While we strongly believe that these ideas are alien to our people and have failed to meet their aspirations, we insist that the people are the final arbiter on whom they wish to lead them and by which system they desire to be governed. Thus, democracy is our best option for settling our internal Palestinian differences. Whatever the people choose will have to be respected.
    We endeavour to the best of our ability to protect the human rights and civil liberties of the affiliates of Fatah and all the other factions within the Gaza Strip. In contrast, the Palestinians in the West Bank under Israeli occupation and the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah continue to be denied their basic rights. General Dayton is in the West Bank supervising the ­severe and brutal crackdown on Hamas and other Palestinian groups. More than 1,000 political prisoners, including students, university professors and professionals in all fields are hunted down, detained and tortured, sometimes to death, by the US-, British- and EU-trained and -sponsored Palestinian Authority’s security force.
    KL: Do you believe it is possible to reunite the Palestinian people? If so, how do you think this could be done and within what kind of timescale?
    KM: It is possible to reunite the Palestinians. In order for this to happen two things are needed. First, foreign interventions and demands must stop. The Palestinian people should be left to deal with their own differences without external pressure. Second, all Palestinian parties must respect the rules of the democratic game and submit to the results of its process.
    KL: Hamas’s refusal to recognise Israel is frequently cited as an insuperable obstacle to negotiations and a peace settlement.
    KM: This issue is only used as a pretext. Israel does not recognise the rights of the Palestinian people, yet this is not raised as an obstacle to 
Israel being internationally recognised nor to it being allowed to take part in talks. The reality is that Israel is the one that occupies the land and possesses superior power. Rather than ask the Palestinians, who are the victims, it is Israel, who is the oppressor, who should be asked to recognise the rights of the Palestinians.
    In the past, Yasser Arafat recognised Israel but failed to achieve much. Today, Mahmoud Abbas recognises Israel, but we have yet to see any of the promised dividends of the peace process.
    Israel concedes only under pressure. In the absence of any tangible pressure on Israel by the Arabs or by the international community, no settlement will succeed.
    KL: Do you have a “road map” of interim steps which could realistically lead to a peaceful settlement of the conflict? Do you think Jews, Muslims and Christians can one day live together in peace in the Holy Land?
    KM: We do, in Hamas, believe that a realistic peaceful settlement to the conflict will have to begin with a ceasefire agreement between the two sides based on a full withdrawal of Israel from all the territories occupied in 1967. Israeli intransigence and the lack of will to act on the part of the international community are what ­impede this settlement. We believe that only once our people are free and back in their land will they be able to determine the future of the conflict.
    It should be reiterated here that we do not resist the Israelis because they are Jews. As a matter of principle, we do not have problems with the Jews or the Christians, but do have a problem with those who attack us and oppress us. For many centuries, Christians, Jews and Muslims coexisted peacefully in this part of the world. Our society never witnessed the sort of racism and genocide that Europe saw until recently against “the other”. These issues started in Eur­ope. Colonialism was imposed on this region by Europe, and Israel was the product of the oppression of the Jews in Europe and not of any such problem that existed in the Muslim land.
    KL: What role do you think that other countries and organisations, in particular the US, EU and Britain, are currently playing in the Israel/ Palestine conflict and the divisions between the Palestinians?
    KM: The role played by all these has thus far been negative. The attitude towards Israeli crimes against our people has been either silence or collusion. The policies and positions adopted by these parties have contributed to the Palestinian division or augmented it. On the one hand, conditions are stipulated that have the effect of torpedoing unity talks and reconciliation efforts. On the other hand, some of these international parties are directly embroiled in suppressing our people in the West Bank. The US and the EU provide funding, training and guidance to build a Palestinian security apparatus specialised in the persecution of critics of the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah.
    We have particularly been concerned about reports that the British government, directly as well as indirectly by means of security firms and the services of retired army, police and in­telligence officers, is fully involved in the programme led by General Dayton against Hamas in the West Bank.
    KL: What should countries such as the US and Britain do to assist a peaceful settlement?
    KM: They should simply uphold international law – the occupation is illegal, the annexation of East Jerusalem is illegal, the settlements are illegal, the apartheid wall is illegal, and the siege of Gaza is illegal. Yet nothing is done.
    KL: What relations does Hamas wish to have with the rest of the world, and, for example, with Britain?
    KM: Hamas defends a just cause. For this purpose, it desires to open up to the world. The movement seeks to establish good relations and to conduct constructive dialogue with all those concerned with Palestine.

    Reply

  46. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “In light of this, Obama’s self-inflicted mistakes on the settlement freeze loom particularly large”
    His mistake was in trusting in the loyalty of the Majority Leader, and other key members of the Democratic Party, who have shown us they place the agenda of Israel over the agenda of their President.
    I suppose it is fitting, as Obama betrays the trust of those voters that put him in power, so too does his party betray the one hope they have of staying in power, their President. If Obama goes down, so too does the Democratic Majority. And Obama WILL go down, as no presidency can survive the effects of such open rebellion within its own ranks. I don’t relish having the right back in the White House, but I will take great pleasure in seeing this sack of shit Reid consigned to obscurity.

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  47. samuelburke says:

    I for one wish our president the best of luck in his upcoming meeting with the israeli reprensentative and mr abbas. i pray for the day when america holds israel accountable for their betraying of our good will towards them and their criminal project in the middle east.
    “In “The Case Against Jonathan Pollard,” Seymour M. Hersh relates a conversation between the late William J. Casey, then CIA director, and one of his station chiefs, a month after Pollard’s arrest. When his subordinate asked why the CIA chief was ordering stepped-up monitoring of an Israeli delegation on a routine visit,
    “‘He asked if I knew anything about the Pollard case,’ the station chief recalled, and he said that Casey had added, ‘For your information, the Israelis used Pollard to obtain our attack plan against the USSR, all of it. The coordinates, the firing locations, the sequences. And for guess who? The Soviets.’ Casey had then explained that the Israelis had traded the Pollard data for Soviet émigrés. ‘How’s that for cheating?’ he had asked.”
    http://www.antiwar.com/justin/j112801.html

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  48. Zathras says:

    Not to be pedantic here, but the public impression President Kennedy made at Geneva wasn’t the one that mattered. The impression he made on Khrushchev was. As Steve Clemons suggests, it was an impression of weakness that tempted Khrushchev into adventurism that could have had consequences much worse than anything we’re facing today.
    With that said, President Obama does have a Netanyahu problem. He’d be wise to avoid describing it in quite that way, because Netanyahu — whatever his personal preferences — is not driving Israeli policy on settlements on the West Bank. Expansion of these would be very difficult for any Israeli Prime Minister to halt, even temporarily, without risking the fall of his government. The defective structure of Israel’s parliamentary system gives minority parties committed to very narrow agendas outsized influence, and unfortunately these include parties who regard expanding settlements as the most important thing in the world. It is the zealous partisans of expanding settlements, not the Israeli prime minister whoever he is, that should be represented as the greatest threat to warm Israeli-American relations.
    Obama began his administration’s initiative with respect to this subject with a bluff; he called for a settlement freeze, hoping that the Netanyahu government would go along to get final status negotiations started and allow the American government to pull away from the position it had occupied under President Bush of being blamed every time Israel decided to snatch some more Palestinian land. For the reason suggested above — and because Americans deeply interested in supporting Israel have grown used to defining “support” as full agreement with whatever Israel’s government decides to do — it might have been predicted that Obama’s bluff would be called.
    He is now in a weak position, which he would make weaker by appearing as a supplicant to either side and especially to Netanyahu. The position Obama took on settlements in his Cairo speech was the correct one; as settlements expand, the whole two-state solution becomes an ever more remote prospect. Obama should not retreat from this position, should use opportunities to reiterate it, and should have leaked intimations that insistence on expanding settlements calls into questions Israel’s good faith. This will infuriate Netanyahu, which is fine. Obama should not link settlements to any other issue with which American and Israel might disagree. This is not about the Gaza incursion, or the border wall, or Lebanon; it certainly is not about Israel’s nuclear program. The obstacle to negotiations that might lead anywhere between Israel and the Palestinians should be portrayed as settlements, and the most zealous Israeli proponents of settlements. These will not be shy about making their views known should an effort to make them the issue be successful. When they do, sympathy for Israeli obstinacy on this issue in the United States will be compromised.
    The above is no certain way forward. The biggest problem with it is the most obvious; Israel and the Palestinians are far down the list of issues to which the President must devote time at the moment. He must also contend with American partisans of Israel who believe only Israel’s adversaries need do anything for peace, as well as with Arab governments happy to use popular dislike for the Jewish state for their own purposes. The latter is a permanent aspect of the Middle East problem; the former is, in part, a product of Americans in the post-Cold War period being unused to defining their own country’s national interests outside the context of a perceived existential threat, and therefore liable to adopt the passions of other peoples as their own. I do not envy Obama’s position, but at the very least it should be possible to reduce the potency of the idea that it is the United States that is holding up progress toward a Middle East peace.

    Reply

  49. WigWag says:

    Barack Obama’s Khrushchev moment is with Benjamin Netanyahu. (Steve Clemons)
    I think Steve’s basically right. Netanyahu has stymied the entire Obama Administration every step of the way.
    But Netanyahu is actually a bigger challenge to Obama than Krushchev was to Kennedy. After all, when Kennedy went up against Khrushchev he had the entire United States Congress on his side. He also benefited from a bipartisan consensus on the necessity to fight the Cold War. The American people were also on Kennedy’s side.
    Obama faces a different challenge. A significant number of Senators and Congressman are skeptical of Obama’s approach to the Middle East; he can’t count on the Congress having his back. The Republican Party actually opposes Obama’s Middle East policy and would be happy to see a two state solution put off forever. As Steve Walt said in the Washington Post today, the Democratic Party is dependent on the American Jewish community for political donations and for votes in critical swing states. Obama has done little since the election to woe this critical Democratic constituency and alot to antagonize it.
    During the Kennedy Administration Americans had an intense dislike of the Soviets; during the Obama Administration the American public is highly suspicious of Palestinians as demonstrated by the fact that the approval rate of the Palestinian Authority never exceeds 15 percent in any credible American poll.
    When it comes to the Israel-Palestine dispute Obama faces greater obstacles than Kennedy did with Khrushchev.
    In light of this, Obama’s self-inflicted mistakes on the settlement freeze loom particularly large.
    Kennedy recovered from the Bay of Pigs fiasco, Obama can recover from the self-inflicted beating he’s given himself.
    But he needs to smarten up. So far Netanyahu has eaten Obama’s lunch. Obama looks like a weakling. Weakness is rarely a prelude to success in the Middle East.

    Reply

  50. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “Strange for an ally to do this — but that is what Israel has done by fighting President Obama, Jim Jones, Robert Gates, Hillary Clinton, and George Mitchell on their collective call for a definitive end to settlement expansion as part of a renewed Israel-Palestine peace process”
    I would hazard to opine that the efforts of Reid and Hoyer have had more to do with Netanyahu winning this battle than Netanyahu himself has.
    In fact, if Obama fails in his efforts, the blame might correctly be placed squarely in Reid and Hoyer’s laps.
    And I strongly doubt that Hillary’s behind the scenes efforts are near as strong as you would have us believe.

    Reply

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