Thursday, October 30, 2014

On the Other Hand…

In my post yesterday I commented—as have many others—that the real “political coward” is Obama, not Netanyahu.  In this morning’s Haaretz, the indispensable (and amazingly courageous) Gideon Levy writes that the real political coward is Obama, who by abandoning the Palestinians and continuing all forms of support to Israel is going against his real views, whereas Netanyahu is at least acting according to his real views. 

The problem with the argument that Obama is a political coward—which at one level, as illustrated in my post yesterday, I obviously share—is that it doesn't address the other other level, which creates a terrible dilemma: it isn't Obama that would suffer political consequences if he exercised real pressure on Israel, but the rest of us.  Meaning that as long as a large majority of the American Jewish community will not support serious U.S. pressures on Israel, the electoral consequences of defying that community--i.e. losing Jewish money and votes--could be an even stronger Republican majority in Congress, for that matter even in a close Presidential election.   And that's not an Obama disaster, it's our disaster.

The dilemma cannot be resolved without a major change in the views of the American Jewish community, which is why I have always regarded that community as the most important audience for critical analyses of Israeli policies. 

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Obama’s Political Courage

In a current Atlantic article, Jeffrey Goldberg writes about “the current crisis in US-Israeli relations.”  Leading U.S. officials told Goldberg that they consider Netanyahu to be “chickenshit,” repeatedly caving into the extreme Israeli right, including officials in his cabinet.  As well, in an earlier Goldberg interview with Obama, the president said that Netanyahu "lacks political courage." 

By contrast, Obama has shown great political courage: ignoring the Israel Lobby, Congress, the Jewish vote, and the probable electoral consequences, he has used his full powers, including open threats to end all U.S. political, diplomatic, economic, and military support of Israel unless it ends the occupation and allows the creation of a viable Palestinian state. 

As anyone with any understanding of the realities knows, such steps are the only way to end Israeli intransigence, do justice to the Palestinians, reduce the Islamic terrorist threat to the U.S., and save Israel from itself.  Kudos to Obama for understanding this, acting on that understanding, and courageously disregarding the U.S domestic politics of the issue. 

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Has the New York Times Editorial Board Finally Decided To Tell the Truth About the I-P Conflict? No.

A New York Times editorial this morning, “Having to Rebuild Gaza, Again,” begins promisingly, reciting the destructiveness of the Israeli attack on Gaza and then asking what’s the point of rebuilding Gaza through international contributions “just so it can be destroyed in the next war?”

Even more promisingly, the editorial continues: “Even during times of relative peace, Gazans have endured soul-crushing deprivation” as a result of the Israeli and Egyptian “draconic blockade.” While the goal of the blockade is to “squeeze Hamas,” the editorial concedes, “innocent people have paid a much bigger price.”

Surely the Times is about to argue that Israel must end the blockade, end the overall occupation and repression of the Palestinian people, and agree to a two-state settlement? But no: the word “occupation” does not appear and the emphasis in the rest of the editorial is on what Abbas must do: “work much harder to assert leadership in Gaza and present himself to the Palestinians there as a credible political alternative to Hamas” as well as end corruption in the Palestinian Authority.

To be sure, the editorial does conclude that the “only long-term answer to a destructive militant group like Hamas is to empower moderates and give Palestinians hope of a constructive future…[leading to] a comprehensive peace settlement and an independent state.” But as for why this has not yet occurred, the editorial says only that the previous negotiations for such a settlement “collapsed and show no sign of reviving.”

As to which side is responsible for the “collapse,” the editorial is silent. Similarly, as to which side is responsible for the destruction of Gaza, and for the likelihood of it being repeated in “the next war,” the editorial is also silent. It would appear these are simply acts of nature.