David Frum vs. Daniel Levy on Whether Barack Obama’s America Is An Honest Broker Between Israel and the Arabs


david frum nm.jpgCheck out this debate over at The Economist between Daniel Levy and David Frum on whether “Barack Obama’s America is now an honest broker between Israel and the Arabs.”
daniel levy cbs.jpgGiven the United States’ long-time alliance with Israel it is a bit ironic that this debate pits Levy on one side suggesting that the U.S. is an honest broker (or, more precisely, that the Obama administration is moving toward a place where it can be an honest broker while maintaining good relations with Israel) and Frum on the other saying that Obama’s America is anti-Israel.
It seems like there should be a third-party arguing that the United States remains tilted too far toward Israel.
The part of Levy’s opening statement I find most compelling is his suggestion that Israel needs the United States to provide the external incentive structure to force difficult changes on issues like settlements and occupation that its domestic political system is too immature to make on its own.
Perhaps the best example of the positive influence that outside actors can have is the European Union’s success offering membership in its club as an inducement to liberalization.
I know that Steve Clemons will be posting on this David Frum-Daniel Levy exchange as well and look forward to his comments.
— Ben Katcher


15 comments on “David Frum vs. Daniel Levy on Whether Barack Obama’s America Is An Honest Broker Between Israel and the Arabs

  1. Soma says:

    I possibly see it in even more dire terms than you, but that is another discussion for another topic – or blog, or setting, or whatever. And I don’t think Americans have a lock on the disease, though they are prime exemplars.


  2. samuelburke says:

    over at stephen walts blogg….
    For his part, Frum claims that Obama is “tilted so far against Israel that even-handedness looks like up from down here.” He claims the real threat is Iran, and chides Obama for placing too much weight on the Holocaust as a justification for Israel’s existence and for ignoring the Jewish people’s millennial claim to the land. Tellingly, Frum never says whether he thinks Israel’s occupation is a bad thing or not, or whether he thinks a two-state solution would be desirable (though he seems to have his doubts). Indeed, Frum offers the bizarre claim that Israel’s settlements “are the consequences of Palestinian and Arab intransigence, not the cause.” He is in effect saying that Israel had no choice but to spend the past 41 years (two-thirds of its history) encouraging half of million people to colonize the lands seized in 1967, at a cost of billions of dollars and thousands of lives. (If Frum wants to know how and why this really happened, he should read Zertal and Eldar’s Lords of the Land, Gershom Gorenberg’s Accidental Empire or former IDF general Shlomo Gazit’s Trapped Fools).


  3. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Gads, does this racist wretch Nadine ever shut up? Is anyone else sick of her “look over there, theres nothing to see here” bullshit?


  4. questions says:

    I’m so unsure about the language of “gratitude” in international relations, or maybe even in any kind of relationship.
    Presumably, the US doles out aid to: help its own arms dealers and food dealers and other business interests, to help please constituents who favor the recipient nation, to help arrange the world power situation to benefit the US, to reward/carrot behavior it wants, to shore up alliances, to open up markets, to close out other interests, and so on.
    If altruism doesn’t appear on the list, then gratitude isn’t really the right emotion. And if altruism does appear on the list, all the more gratitude isn’t the right emotion.
    There are so many (theoretical) questions about debt and gift running throughout this topic that I don’t at all feel comfortable with a blanket condemnation of the “ingrates.”
    There may well be numerous other reasons for condemning Israeli policy, Netanyahu’s nose-thumbing, and the like, but “ingratitude” doesn’t seem to be the most justifiable of the charges.
    Netanyahu has the problems every politician has with a domestic audience, an international audience, security concerns, reputational concerns, fear of loss of power and so on. The same way that Bush unilaterally screwed much of the world and got re-elected before his whole party crashed and burned, so too Netanyahu may have to do the same. Right wing nuttiness does burn out after a while. It can’t govern well. I would guess that Israel will follow the US/Bush path, and I can only hope that there is some Israeli Obama-like politician in the wings who can give voice to some of the dissatisfaction with life in an inhumane police state.


  5. Jackie says:

    Another “well said” in response to Nadine. By the way, isn’t Frum Canadian?


  6. Dan Kervick says:

    “Dan, Is Egypt “ungrateful” too?”
    Ask me the next time some Egyptian leader has the nerve to declare the US “anti-Egypt” while they are pocketing our cash and unloading our military equipment.


  7. nadine says:

    Dan, Is Egypt “ungrateful” too? They get just as much money (over $2 billion a year since 1979) and have been remarkably impervious to US wishes that they help out with the peace process. How come only Israel is supposed to be so “grateful”?


  8. DonS says:

    Well, yes, Arthur, the society-conforming institution that goes under the misleading name ‘education’ is much, if not most of the problem with the declining level of ‘awakeness’ that masquerades as consciousness humanity. I possibly see it in even more dire terms than you, but that is another discussion for another topic – or blog, or setting, or whatever. And I don’t think Americans have a lock on the disease, though they are prime exemplars. However, though I separate consciousness from the qualities you enumerate (clever, imaginative, visionary, inventive), for purposes of this discussion I totally agree that these qualities seem in genuine decline.
    I would wish that a reversal in the downward trend of sheep-like behavior and thinking would result from a bottom up reform of the system, particularly education; I fear that is possibly too long a term solution to meet current needs, though it is the only long term solution. In the short term, beating the bastards at their own game (fill in the blanks) seems the most likely curative, and I’m not at all sure that is possible since the system pretty much is the game.
    So I’m not even as optimistic as you (!) because I don’t think reform,( with reformers and institutions to support their reform) can be generated, empowered, and put in place as you imply. Or at least I don’t feel sanguine about the path.
    In light of the current post, the conditioning around the “Israel” mystique has been among the most thorough and effective on many levels.


  9. Outraged American says:

    Yeah, ol’ “Axis of Evil” Frum. As an atheist, or rather someone who
    thinks that “God” is a pimply extra-terrestrial at the edge of the
    Universe and the Earth is his Gameboy, I do hope that there’s a hell.
    Because Frum and his ilk need to go there forever.


  10. ... says:

    try finding someone who thinks frum is an honest broker and go from their….


  11. arthurdecco says:

    “When did it develop that Americans became such sheep, with the brains to match?” DonS
    Americans aren’t sheeple, really, DonS. What you’re looking at is the end result of decades of programming. It’s a world-wide phenomenon. We can fix that fast and easy enough by starting to teach critical thinking from the first days of school and by quickly reorganizing through legislation the organs that perpetuate the zombiedroid condition.
    Americans led the world in Clever, in Imaginative, in Visionary, even in Inventive for a great number of years. They led the world in these things because they had been trained to think critically, to question, to doubt and to respect the attainment of knowledge because they grew up immersed in a successful educational system and society that turned out critical thinkers instead of uncurious Consumers, suspicious of intelligence.
    Our schools have been turned into assembly lines for a New World Order where the average citizen is deliberately deprived of their fundamental right to knowledge and the critical thinking skills needed to use that knowledge effectively.
    Qui Bono? This change of emphasis in public education has only benefited those who hire, police, sell to, preach at, threaten and delude the rest of us who think we’re free.
    Funny how it always works out that way…


  12. DonS says:

    “Well put, Mr. Kervick. And thanks for remembering our own under-served citizens.”
    Not just “yeah” but “hell, yeah”. If the context for the US overgenerous, not to say lackey-like, attentiveness to Israel’s well being, military, and all things subsidized by US aid, including settlements and settlement expansion, were reported in such a way to reflect the comparative level off services citizens receive from the state, then you’d see some healthy US outrage about Frum’s oily “anti-Israel”.
    US citizens can’t get a decent health care package introduced into Congress, or championed strongly by the President because of fealty to special health industry interests. And what’s a big part of the complaint: “it costs too much”; “it’s socialist”, blah, blah, blah. But we have that 2 plus billion in our back pocket to subsidize nominally democratic-cum-socialist Israel (not that there’s anything wrong with socialized public services), not to mention the 1 trillion and growing holy war on brown people and muslims to keep the defense industry and it’s cohorts providing non essential services in the great “be very afraid” campaign.
    When did it develop that Americans became such sheep, with the brains to match?


  13. samuel burke says:

    frum does not discount the u.s as a honest broker…he only discounts obamas leanings on israel…i am certain that mr frum would have thought of litttle george bushies govt as an honest broker on israels behalf.
    id rather listen to stephen walt or some other america first citizen of our nation.


  14. Jackie says:

    Well put, Mr. Kervick. And thanks for remembering our own under-served citizens.


  15. Dan Kervick says:

    “… and Frum on the other saying that Obama’s America is anti-Israel.”
    There is not much to be said about this kind of talk. The arrogant ingratitude of Israel and its hard-core supporters continues to boggle the mind. The Obama administration and Congress just passed a foreign aid bill that, coupled with the earlier supplemental, sends $2.775 billion to Israel. Obama has done nothing to diminish Bush administration aid commitments. Israel remains the largest recipient of US economic and military assistance by a wide margin. This comes at a time when Americans are scrambling to find money to deliver reliable health care to millions of its own under-served citizens.
    And under Obama, the US and Israeli militaries continue to share information and coordinate operations in a spectacularly open fashion. US service personnel train daily for contingencies related to the defense of Israel, and have their lives on the line for Israel at several places around the world.
    Only the bratty entitlement babies of the Israel First camp could even conceive of describing a government that dispenses this largess and sustains these commitments as “anti-Israel”, or would dare to bite the feeding hand in such a spoiled and insulting manner.


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