Aluf Benn in the New York Times
, and Bradley Burston in Haaretz
, both call on Obama to come to Israel
and talk to Israelis, redressing the imbalance of attention he has given Arab and Muslim countries, and explaining how US policy is going to help Israel
Shmuel Rosner disagrees
, though he also tells us that an Obama visit is in the offing. Rosner explains:
words alone will not make Israelis trust Obama. Israelis do not suffer from lack of understanding of the issues; they suffer from peace-fatigue. They look at "peace processes" with suspicion, based on experience and events. They are scarred enough to know what has working and what has not, and they are tired of the good intentions of enthusiastic novices, believing that with their youth and their smarts they'll be able to come up with some magic trick that can somehow round a square. What Obama needs is a convincing plan that makes sense. It does not look like he has one.
The president has reportedly sent letters to seven Arab leaders reminding them of "the need for CBMs [confidence-building measures] in exchange for [a settlement] freeze and to [get] peace talks restarted." It hasn't worked very well, and Israelis will be aware of this failure if they hear Obama talking about the need to stop settlement construction. So perhaps instead of the president making the effort of "talking directly" to Israelis with nothing new to say, maybe he ought to put his efforts into convincing someone else to address Israelis -- somebody whose very act of speaking to Israelis would be significant in its own right. King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia or President Bashar Al-Assad of Syria come to mind.
As it stands, Israel is more likely to get ICBMs from Iran before it gets CBMs from anyone. But the issue is more complex than that. Israel needs some substantive moves, not a few smiles. Arafat smiled too after all.
From the Israeli side, Obama at least got a commitment from Benjamin Netanyahu to a Palestinian state, and an agreement to talk about a settlement freeze. Some roadblocks have come down and some illegal outposts removed. If Israel has not met all the conditions of the United States, it has at least met some of them. It is an understatement to say that on the Arab side the Obama peace initiative got nothing. The "moderate" Palestinian Fatah congress seems to have gone out of its way to spit in the face of Mr. Obama's peace initiative. Its foreign policy document adheres to right of return for refugees, no compromise on Jerusalem, and steadfastly refuses to recognize the right of the Jewish people to self determination. Believe it or not, that's the good news. That's the external document presented for the benefit of gullible foreigners. The Fatah internal document swears allegiance to "armed resistance" and vows to destroy Israel:
Article 22 calls for: "objection by force to all political solutions that are offered as an alternative to the extermination of the occupying Zionist entity in Palestine and all the projects that aim for the elimination of the Palestinian problem, or seek to internationalize it or put an outside custodian on its people from any possible party...
Article 19 notes: "The armed struggle is a strategy and not just a tactic and the armed revolution of the Arab Palestinian people is a decisive factor in the war of liberation and the elimination of the Zionist existence, and the struggle will not end until the elimination of the Zionist entity and the liberation of Palestine.
That is the Palestinian "CBM." Saudi Arabia likewise rejected calls for confidence building measures. They won't even consider concessions until "Israel accepts Arab demands to withdraw from all occupied Palestinian territories." The Saudis consider that they can dictate the peace map, and they also get to decide what is Palestinian territory, and only after Israel withdraws from all these territories will they even consider some deeply meaningful concession like shaking hands with an Israeli.
If Obama comes to Israel, he had better bring the traditional gift of house guests. If he talks to Israelis, he had better have something new to offer. He could be announcing Arab concessions, or explaining what possible logic there could be in continuing unilateral pressure on Israel to make unreciprocated concessions, or he could offer an American concession to Israel, such as better support for sanctions against Iran. However, Obama cannot do any of those things. If Obama talks to Israelis in any conciliatory way it will probably defeat a major purpose of the Obama peace initiative: to demonstrate to the Arab states and the Muslim world that the United States has adopted an "even handed" approach to the Middle East, a proposition that cannot be sustained alongside the "unbreakable bond" that Obama proclaimed exists between Israel and the United States.
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Replies: 2 Comments
I just now realized that I failed to put the url to Daily Kos Watch in my previous comment.
It is here.
Daily Kos I-P is, more and more, becoming a purveyor of Israel hatred and this needs to be confronted.
I very much hope that people who see this note will drop in. We may disagree on various things politically, but I certainly hope that friends of Israel, left, right, or center, can agree that while criticism of Israel is welcome, vilification is not.
Karmafish, Tuesday, August 25th
Ami, please excuse me if this is spamming, but I want to alert the pro-Israel blogging community to a new blog, Daily Kos Watch, devoted to tracking and documenting "the debate about the Israeli/Palestinian conflict on the popular Democratic website Daily Kos."
As you're probably aware, Daily Kos is the largest liberal blog in the United States with over 200,000 registered users.
In any case, we just went online and I thought that I would give you a heads up.
And, needless to say, if you would like to participate, we'd be more than delighted.
Karmafish, Wednesday, August 12th
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