Posts Tagged ‘Israel’

Beinart Pwns Foxman on The Changing Israel

May 31, 2010

Just one of the scary parts:

Firstly, Palestinian rejectionism cannot explain Avigdor Lieberman’s crusade to humiliate, disenfranchise, and perhaps even eventually expel Arab Israelis, the vast majority of whom want nothing more than to be accepted as equal citizens in the country of their birth. Lieberman is not a marginal figure. He was Benjamin Netanyahu’s chief of staff; he heads Israel’s third-largest party; he serves as foreign minister; and when Israel held mock elections in ten high schools last year, he won.

Obama’s message to Iran: BBC’s breakdown and Iran’s response

March 20, 2009

The BBC deconstructs Obama’s message to Iran: (that’s my boy!)

Incidentally, the US position now diverges quite strongly from the Israeli. The Israelis have recently been making increasingly worried statements about Iran’s potential nuclear weapons capacity, suggesting that while diplomacy might come first, military action might come second.

Iran seems open to the overture, with an aide to Ahmadinejad saying he “welcomes” the approach from Washington:

Iran today hailed an unprecedented direct appeal by the US president, Barack Obama, for better relations between the two countries, but urged the US to “realise its previous mistakes” as well as end sanctions and drop its support for Israel.

I can’t call the man crazy when he talks like that—sanctions should end when we address their desire for nukes; either by offering them more attractive carrots, or, the highly unlikely but perfectly just course: denuclearize the entire Middle East to stop the escalating arms race (ahem, Israel?).  And there is also this component:

However, there was no official response from Tehran to a far blunter message from Shimon Peres, the president of Israel, who called on Iran to “return to the enlightened world” and halt the uranium enrichment that could allow it manufacture nuclear weapons.

It looks like the Iranians have a real opportunity here:  their hostility to Israel is mostly driven by their strategic sovereign interest–given that Iran is an emerging power whose dominance in the region was secured by Sadaam’s ouster but is challenged by Israel–and they may very well see that it is deeply in their own interest to highlight their moderates, push for reconciliation with the US, and “enter the international community” as Obama mentioned…this all makes it very hard for us to keep supporting Israel’s push for war against Iran and Israel’s push to generally subvert and weaken it.  I recently read an Israeli columnist who commented along the lines of “what happens if Iranians elect (an Iranian moderate) while we have Avigdor Lieberman as our foreign minister…who will the international community say is more extreme then?”  I think that logic very-much applies to us.  We want to stabilize the shit out of that region, while Israel’s private interests lean toward instability (freeze’s the peace process, enhances their claim to being the only non-savage in the region and therefor worthy of our protection and aid).  Obama is more likely to take the pragmatic road of stability and peace in the region over Israel’s (then increasingly deranged) cries of “wolf” regarding some imaginary existential threat from Iran.  We simply can’t afford to ignore the costs in favor of blind adherence to principle–not since Iraq, and not against Iran.


Final Comment:  I am hopeful that Iran tries to subvert Israel by improving its relations with America.  My goodness; the political potential energy of this situation!  Our problems in Iraq diminish, our beefs with Syria and Lebanon cool-off.  I bet if the situation thaws down enough, the Arab players in the region may back off their nuke-pursuit, feeling confident that their normalization of relations with the USA will prevent Israel from attacking them (we will not support, and hopefully not tolerate, a unilateral Israeli attack amidst our succeeding efforts to ease tension and increase cooperation).  And what if Israel does attack, with or without our consent?  Well then Iran simply beats the shit out of Israel. (Citizens, Iran is not Iraq.  They have a conventional, generally modern military…which is far bigger than Israel’s band of nationalist boy scouts).  If Israel uses its nukes against Iran, my bet is that the international community will cut them off.  And the US will not be able to save them in the face of the diplomatic and political winds that would follow a preemptive nuclear strike by Israel.

Middle East Reality Check –Roger Cohen, NYT

March 10, 2009

This is column by Roger Cohen is very good.  It gives a good summary of the emerging sentiments among the new administration, and among the citizenry as voiced by J-Street and other progressive groups, regarding the way forward with the middle east.  The Realist school of foreign policy is finally overpowering neoconservatism.  Rejoice.

Here is a quote worth highlighting.  The entire column has been pasted after the jump.

The 1988 Hamas Charter is vile, but I think it’s wrong to get hung up on the prior recognition of Israel issue. Perhaps Hamas is sincere in its calls for Israel’s disappearance — although it has offered a decades-long truce — but then it’s also possible that Israel in reality has no desire to see a Palestinian state.

One view of Israel’s continued expansion of settlements, Gaza blockade, West Bank walling-in and wanton recourse to high-tech force would be that it’s designed precisely to bludgeon, undermine and humiliate the Palestinian people until their dreams of statehood and dignity evaporate.

The argument over recognition is in the end a form of evasion designed to perpetuate the conflict.


A Realist’s Middle East Strategy

January 27, 2009

In quite the tour-de-force, Stephen Walt gives his rundown on Middle East strategy from a realist point of view (after debunking the myths relayed by Friedman on the regular).  He gets the history right and refreshes the shit outta anyone reasonable with his nakedly realist approach.  I don’t have much time to sweeten up the post right now, but this is definitely worth your reading:

To begin with, Friedman would have you believe that settlement expansion is just the work of some isolated religious extremists, and the only problem is that no Israeli government has “mustered the will” to face them down. In fact, settlement expansion has been the conscious policy of every Israeli government since 1967 — Labor, Likud, and Kadima alike.


Vacation To Israel Canceled Due To History Of Israel

January 25, 2009

The Onion has a Sunday funny:

HOBOKEN, NJ—With only three weeks to go before embarking on a much-anticipated vacation to Israel, 34-year-old Jeff Kaufmann made the difficult decision to cancel his trip yesterday, citing unfavorable exchange rates and the entirety of the Jewish nation’s 60-year existence. “I’d been looking forward to this for months, but hotel prices started going up, things got kind of crazy at work, and also Israel’s whole history is basically a decades-long horror show of ethnic violence, harsh reprisals, and geopolitical madness.” Kaufmann said. “The Negev Desert is supposed to be amazing, but on the other hand, ever since its founding in 1948, Israel has been spinning downward in a chaotic spiral of fear, hatred, and death. So it’s a tough call.” Kaufmann added that he hopes the Arab and Jewish peoples will be able to put aside a century of bloodshed before his travel voucher expires in June.



The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy

January 23, 2009

Stephen Walt, co-author of the landmark essay and later book: The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy, responds to some of the criticism resurfacing among the commentariat.  He essentially asks (and has cause to ask) whether those criticizing the book (McArdle, Douthat, Goldberg, et. al) ever even read it (I did).

Here is a brief segment:

The problem with relying on other people’s opinions is that virtually all of the mainstream critics here in the US misrepresented our arguments badly, frequently accusing us of saying the exact opposite of what we actually wrote. At the risk of boring you, let me offer a few examples:

Oh, he offers examples alright.  He gives a general run-down of the main ideas of the book and some of the most common misrepresentations about it.  I recommend his post and his book.


Foxman and others on the Israeli Right don’t want fairness.

January 22, 2009

I’m not even joking.  That’s essentially their criticism. From Walt at ForeignPolicy:

The New York Times reports that President Obama will appoint former Senator George Mitchell as his chief envoy on Israel-Palestine. According to Jewish Week, ADL national director Abraham Foxman thinks Mitchell is an inappropriate choice because he is “fair,” and has been “meticulously even-handed.” As Matt Yglesias points out, fairness is a quality that we normally prize in an envoy.

But because the US hasn’t been fair in the past, Foxman is “concerned.  I’m not sure the situation requires that kind of approach in the Middle East.”

WOW.  Do most Americans think we shouldn’t use envoys and negotiators who are fair?  Does anyone else think that our one-sided support of Israel isn’t helping the situation (and possibly isn’t helping the US end extremism in the region)?  The last paragraph from JW about sums it up:

Major pro-Israel groups “tend to favor the kind of mediator with the least prospects of success,” said MJ Rosenberg, a longtime pro-Israel activist and policy director for the Israel Policy Forum (IPF). “George Mitchell worries them because he was so successful in Northern Ireland, a success that was built on his persistence and his utterly impartiality … and a deal means Israeli concessions which they have never favored.  The stronger the candidate for envoy or mediator — the more of an honest broker he or she would be — the more uncomfortable they are.”

Yglesias adds another point that I agree with:


Quote of the Day

January 17, 2009

Hezbollah’s leader, “Mr. Nasrallah, once spoke of Israeli power as a spider web — impressive from afar, but easily brushed aside.   This war against Hamas, Mr. Halevi said, “is the revenge of the spider.””

violence begets violence