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When is it Ever Enough for Israel? *updated*

November 20, 2010

Israel is now haggling over the overly-generous deal it was offered by the administration in return for a mere 90-day extension of a partial moratorium on settlement construction- a moratorium which was violated over and over and which does not include illegal building in East Jerusalem– the area that will be the subject of negotiations and which the Palestinians hope to have as their future capital. And as we speak, the demolitions continue at a breathtaking pace in areas like Silwan. Talk about arrogant and ungrateful. Apparently, Bibi Netanyahu thinks what we offered them is not enough. Have you noticed it’s never enough?

Now news is surfacing that rather than having all these goodies being contingent on actually signing a deal with the Palestinians, the Israelis want all the goodies even if they don’t come to any formal agreement. From today’s NYT:

Initially, a senior official said, the planes were contingent on Mr. Netanyahu concluding a peace agreement with the Palestinians. Now, he said, Israel may get the planes even if it does not clinch a deal.

In other words, the US taxpayer will be giving Israel the equivalent of an additional 33 million dollars a day for 90 days and all Bibi Netanyahu has to do show up at negotiations, smile for the cameras and then start building as fast and furiously as he can after the moratorium (pace of settlement construction four times faster than prior to the freeze) and he won’t be tethered down by any requirements or responsibilities that he actually make some progress. He gets to kick the can down the road while pretending to be a peacemaker. He has absolutely ZERO incentive to sign a peace deal or even work towards that goal because as usual, the US is rewarding Israel for its intransigence and ensuring that Israel will never be held accountable for anything. So, if Bibi wants to go around whining that he can’t do anything about borders or land swaps or East Jerusalem because of his tenuous political situation, well, that’s A-OK.

While the details of the agreement are vague because the administration thinks its none of our business, the security “guarantees” we are giving Israel appear to go forward in perpetuity- in other words, all Israel has to do is extend a partial moratorium on some land it wasn’t supposed to build on anyway and in return they will get security guarantees that go on for decades. It’s not just about fighter jets, it’s about troops in the Jordan Valley, US paying for security needs for Israel down the road and on and on. And apparently these guarantees are in addition to other guarantees (US compensating any settlers that may have to be moved in any eventual agreement) made under Oslo, even though Israel no longer abides by much of anything in Oslo or the Road Map or anything else.

Given Israel won’t even agree to halt illegal settlement construction in East Jerusalem- even temporarily- what on earth makes anyone believe that Bibi will be willing to negotiate in good faith about East Jerusalem as part of final status talks? If Israel won’t do anything constructive unless it is bought off by the US, how in the world can they be considered serious about a two state solution? Answer: they can’t.

Notice in the article linked to above, that Israel is also complaining that part of the cost of the fighter jets may have to come out of money already given to them by We The Taxpayer. Israel is making it sound like it’s unfair that we might make them pay for something but in fact, the issue over the “subsidy” refers to the billions we have already given them this year.

UPDATE: Former US Ambassador to Israel Daniel Kurtzer has penned an editorial for the Sunday edition of the Washington Post that makes the point quite succinctly in the title “With Settlement Deal, US Will Be Rewarding Israel’s Bad Behavior.” It’s unusual to see such blunt criticism of US policy towards Israel and quite frankly, it’s long overdue. But the fact that so many former diplomats and Mideast experts have come out and condemned the deal would seem to indicate that something really is remiss about this deal. Here is an excerpt:

…But now, the administration says it is prepared to pay off Israel to freeze only some of its settlement activity, and only temporarily. For the first time in memory, the United States is poised to reward Israel for its bad behavior.


This is a very bad idea. And while Washington will almost certainly come to regret bribing Israel, Israel may regret receiving such a bribe even more.

Previously, U.S. opposition to settlements resulted in penalties, not rewards, for continued construction. Washington deducted from its loan guarantees to Israel an amount equivalent, dollar for dollar, to the money that Israel spent in the occupied territories. While it’s true that the United States has turned a blind eye to indirect U.S. subsidies for Israeli activities in the territories – such as tax deductions for American organizations that fund settlements – the deal now being offered to Israel is of a totally different magnitude. If it goes forward, it will be the first direct benefit that the United States has provided Israel for settlement activities that we have opposed for more than 40 years.

It is not clear that Washington has thought through the implications. Will the United States similarly reward Palestinians for stopping their own bad behavior? Will Washington pay them to, say, halt the incitement against Israel and Jews in their public media and some educational materials – something that shouldn’t have been going on in the first place?

Will the rewards for Israel be automatically renewable? Meaning, if Israel is willing to continue the settlement freeze after three months, will another set of rewards be the price for that?

And what about enforcement? Will the United States demand its money back if it learns about construction during the freeze, even if that construction was not authorized by the Israeli government?

The list of problems is so long that it would not be surprising if the administration were already experiencing buyer’s remorse. But the arrangement has an even more serious long-term implication, one that should worry Israel profoundly. [emphasis mine]

To me, the terms of this deal argue for what some, including me, having been saying for quite a while now- it’s time to think outside the box and get some people on board that don’t simply view everything through the lens of what Israel wants, implications or costs be damned.

Here are some of the faces of actual human beings – faces that you won’t usually see in the media. I wonder what THEY think about the US’ latest offer to the Israelis?

41 Comments leave one →
  1. Thain permalink
    November 20, 2010 10:53 am

    This is a great post- as usual you provide good sources for your commentary. Unfortuantely I think this post will largely be ignored by visitors to this blog- some people just don’t want to be confronted with difficult questions or see the perspective of the other half of the negotiating team- the Palestinians. Also, some may be uncomfortable that criticism of the gift to the Israelis is criticism of Hillary- which it’s not- but apparently on some Hillary blogs all you can say is “gee, that was wonderful!”

    Lets be honest, for weeks now all we’ve heard about is what Israel wants, what Israel demands, what Israel needs. The needs of the Palestinians are secondary- they can have whatever crumbs are left over. If there was any doubt that the US is going to make all the exact same mistakes made in every other round of peace negotiations that doubt should be cleared up now. We are back to being Israel’s lawyer and protector, not objective mediator. No wonder the entire Arab world thinks we have no backbone to even stand up to a small client state that is totally reliant on us for EVERYTHING.

    Professor Juan Cole summed it up pretty succinctly:

    “The Palestinians complain that they are being asked to negotiate over a cake while the Israelis are cutting off pieces of it and gobbling it down, during the supposed talks over who gets what piece!”


    • November 20, 2010 10:59 am

      Did you see this spoof of Bibi over at Haaretz- it’s funny that Israelis are disgusted with how their PM is treating the SOS and President, but Zionists in this country think it’s just swell!

      I like this because it sums up the point of my post, albeit in a humorous way:

      Oh, and as for your comment about no one wanting to comment on this post- that’s fine! I’m used to talking to myself and of course Thain, I always have you to talk to! (which provides some relief to Micah who is tired of hearing it) 😉

  2. Seamus permalink
    November 20, 2010 11:23 am

    Greetings from Northern Ireland, the place where we actually give a damn about the plight of the Palestinian!. So no crickets here Thain! Our Nobel Peace Prize winner went the Gaza flotilla and was dragged to the airport by the IDF who made asses of themselves rough-handling an older woman who believes in nothing but nonviolence.

    The Holocaust was a tragedy but it hardly justifies using irrational fears of Jewish annihilation as an excuse to be thugs and turn around and treat others the way they were once treated. It’s sort of ironic that Israel is violating the very laws including Geneva Conventions that the Allies helped set up after WWII in response to occupying nations (Germany in particular) abusing the citizenry of various nations it had occupied.

    Sorry mates but the US has lost credibility. You can’t run around invading and occupying countries for violating international law and security council resolutions when you promote Israel doing just that.

    Thanks for the post Stacey!

    • November 20, 2010 1:26 pm

      Greetings Seamus- good to see you again. There is no doubt that Northern Ireland sees the plight of the Palestinians as similar to their struggle.

  3. Steve permalink
    November 20, 2010 11:53 am

    This is an interesting summary of the sorry state of this proposed security deal to Israel and how it basically entrenches the status quo, appeases the Israel lobby and undermines any real chance at peace. The fact is Congress doesn’t want a two state solution. Most are hard core Zionists (some simply for passing political reasons) who believe Israel has the right to all of Jerusalem and has a right to forcibly transfer Palestinians to other areas against their will and in violation of international law.

    A different take on the deal and how it makes the US look like asses:

    It also brings up the unpleasant reality about what has been said repeatedly, if the US had the support of Congress and the Jewish community, settlements would stop tomorrow. But again, no one in the US wants peace because the status quo has become beneficial to their Israeli clients. So long as the US electorate is kept in the dark about the reality on the ground, people- and American Jews in particular are more than happy to cling to their romantic notion of the democratic home of the Jewish people- the site of Masada and Josephus and the Wailing Wall, rich in history and a lovely place to honeymoon or take your son for Bar Mitzvah. Having lived there I can tell you the reality on the ground is very different.

  4. filipino-american4hrc permalink
    November 20, 2010 12:43 pm

    This is another pathetic example of the administration being forced to give away the entire bank just to claim a small victory — watch Obama say yes to Bibi, especially now that he needs to show some success. One thing for sure: Obama’s Middle East advisers — the ones who are supposed to be more pro-Palestine than pro-Israel — who had started him off by demanding a settlement freeze, did not prepare for the scenario that Bibi would hold out and that both Democrats and Republicans will support this rightwing bastard over the US President. Remember, when Bill Clinton was in office, he got into a tussle with Bibi to the point that Clinton was reported to have told his aides, “Who the hell does he think is the superpower here?” If Netanyahu could get away with his antics then, Obama’s handlers should have prepared him better.

    I’m beginning to believe it’s time for a third Intifada.

    • November 20, 2010 12:58 pm

      Hi f-a4hrc- thanks for commenting.

      I actually think the exact quote of Bill Clinton’s was “who the fuck does he think he is, who’s the superpower here?” 😉

      That comment Bill Clinton made is very telling I think. Of course, Bill went head on with Netanyahu and it ended up bringing down Bibi’s government- Clinton largely stood up against Bibi.

      I actually don’t think there are too many people at the WH or at State who are what I would call “pro-Palestinian” in any real sense of the word and I think one of the big problems is Dennis Ross, who said that he and Ross and the other negotiators in the 90’s saw themselves not as mediators but as “Israel’s lawyers.” When Obama put up Chas Freeman for nomination to be the Chair of the National Intelligence Council the Israel Lobby (including Democrats like Schumer, Weiner, etc.) killed it almost immediately and rather stand up for Freeman, Obama caved. That was the first sign that Obama was more talk than spine.,news-comment,news-politics,charles-freeman-vetoed-by-the-israel-lobby-for-talking-sense-on-the-middle-east

  5. BookofJob permalink
    November 20, 2010 1:30 pm

    Barack Hussein Obama is the most anti-Israel president in history. He has no right to tell the Israeli government where they can and can’t build homes for Jews. Who cares if the poor Palestinians get their homes removed maybe they should build their homes legally and not on land owned by the Jews for thousands of years. It is our biblical homeland and nothing can change that not even the anti-Israel United Nations which is a useless organization anyway. Israel has every right to have all of Jerusalem and it will never be divided- even Hillary Clinton said that when she was Sen. of NY and an actual friend of Israel. Now she’s being dragged down by this antisemitic president.

    Benjamin Netanyahu is more popular than Barack Hussein Obama. You may not like it but thems the breaks. Americans understand how important Israel’s security is and they understand that Netanyahu will not sell out Israel. When Obama stops coddling terrorists then maybe Israel can give him the time of day.

    • Thain permalink
      November 20, 2010 1:49 pm

      BookofJob- that is a priceless comment and I hope that it will remain enshrined her at this blog as the textbook example of how an alarming number of actual American citizens (assuming you are in fact American and not Israeli- it’s hard to tell) like to pretend that Israel is an independent sovereign nation which carries its own weight on the world stage, which buys it’s own military toys and doesn’t require the world’s superpower to hold its hand at every juncture on all things military, diplomatic and economic.

      It’s interesting to note that as we give Israel 30 billion dollars plus this new 33 million a day, Israel has national health care (damn socialists!) and a booming economy, thanks in large part to having a lot of bright people and a lot of economic aid from not only the US but also most of Europe. Israel seems to guilt everybody into throwing money at them. I have nothing against aid to Israel, but when the Israeli economy is booming and the US economy is in the toilet and people are being told a public option in healthcare is too expensive (and it’s damn socialism!), their Medicare and SS benefits may be cut it’s interesting that NO ONE in Congress or among the American voting public seems to think it’s strange to have to continue to toss money at Israel.

      Here’s a good article from FP’s Mideast Channel:

      One of the things most people don’t understand is that while we complain about Hamas, the US and Israel actually helped create them (kind of like we did the Taliban) in order to offset the power of the PLO. And as the US tries to wind its way around the settlement problem it’s instructive to keep in mind that the US has enabled Israel’s settlement building for decades. In addition, Jewish organizations and Christian zionists have been privately funding settlement construction. It’s a tad ironic then that the US is just sooooooo perplexed at how the settlements have become such a stumbling block.

      In other words this is another example of the US shooting itself in the foot and in the process, helping ensure that Israel will become a majority Arab apartheid state. Why? Because it refuses to stand up to the lobby.

  6. November 20, 2010 2:42 pm

    I would like to know how independent the Israeli economy really is. And are they running a surplus or deficit? Nobody in our MSM ever discusses the Israeli economy when discussing the global recession. I suppose they don’t want to remind anyone of the billions we send there annually while we are borrowing from China and others.

    As far as I know, Germany still sends billions every year to Israel, as does the US. If you remove the billions of dollars received annually from the US and Germany, what is left?

    Israel has a great potential for tourism, but traveling there for non-Jews has been viewed as a political statement rather than a tourist adventure for decades. If they made peace and established 2 states, I believe tourism would be a much bigger share of their economy.

  7. Thain permalink
    November 20, 2010 2:51 pm

    The Israel First community attempts to stifle any debate about Palestinians, particularly if they such debate comes from the mouth of actual Palestinian Americans like the uber-articulate Ali Abunimah. After he spoke at UNM some in the Jewish community went ballistic but some rare good news- two faculty members (it would have been nice if it was more) stood up for his right to exercise freedom of speech and the right of the University to invite speakers with different views.

    Whenever a college or university tries to bring in Palestinian speakers the Jewish organizations have a fit- I’ve seen it here at my own school. Not only do the college Jewish organizations try to prevent the speaker but the larger Jewish community in the area try to block it. I thought colleges were supposed to encourage academic debate?

  8. HillaryFan permalink
    November 20, 2010 5:56 pm

    That video is very sad. It’s not really until I read coverage from non-American sources that I realize just how bad our coverage of the mideast conflict is.

    From Thain’s first comment. This struck me as a really could description of why the settlements are such a big deal:

    “The Palestinians complain that they are being asked to negotiate over a cake while the Israelis are cutting off pieces of it and gobbling it down, during the supposed talks over who gets what piece!”

    Sometimes it helps to talk about it in a way everyone can understand.

    • HillaryFan permalink
      November 20, 2010 5:56 pm

      Duh, I meant “a really good description…”

  9. Steve permalink
    November 20, 2010 6:12 pm

    Is there any issue that Abe Foxman at the ADL won’t self-servingly inject himself into in order to pander to the Israel-first crowd? What’s the START treaty got to do with anti-defamation? I want the treaty ratified too but not EVERY single thing the US does has to somehow be tied to Israel’s security. Honestly, why doesn’t Foxman just move there- he can stay with my inlaws.

    • KMC permalink
      November 20, 2010 7:22 pm

      Foxman and the ADL have also targeted this group as being anti-Israel, despite the fact that it’s made up of Israeli veterans.

      Foxman has no shame. He’s running the ADL into the ground- he’s become rich, fat and unethical shilling for the Lobby. The organization has nothing to do with defamation anymore it just serves right wing Israeli interests.

  10. November 20, 2010 6:23 pm

    The blog of a Palestinian mother in Gaza:

  11. November 20, 2010 8:25 pm

    I just read in JPost that Bibi and American Jewish groups (and Anthony Weiner, Barney Frank and other members of Congress) are calling for the traitor Jonathan Pollard’s release as a loving gesture to Israel, the country who hired him to steal classified info. from the US- as part of the gift basket for a 90 day extension. When I read stuff like that, I really do think some people have really gone way too far with their Israel advocacy and are putting Israel’s needs/wants above what may be best for this country.

    If we release Pollard I’ll be done with this administration. I’ll blog about something else instead- on another blog.

    • Thain permalink
      November 21, 2010 10:25 am

      If the admin. releases that traitor Pollard there will be HUGE blowback against them from the intelligence community and rightly so.,-Colleagues-Urge-Clemency-For-Jonathan-Pollard.html

      I’m sorry but what other group of people would be so arrogant as spend years lobbying for the release of a spy against the US? Can you imagine the Chinese doing that? Or the Germans? Or the British? That Zionist Weiner is trying to argue that because Israel is an ally spying really isn’t such a bad thing.I’ve lost all respect for him. I used to like him until I realized his liberalism only went so far as the border of Israel. Then he becomes a right wing nutter who makes Bibi look moderate. Apparently only Israelis are worthy of human rights and security. The Palestinians are sub-human to him.

      Question- Israel has caught many times using members of the Israel Lobby (aka Jewish Americans) as spies against the US- if this is the case, why do we call them an ally? Seems contradictory to me. How many times has AIPAC been caught up in a spy scandal?

  12. Carolyn-Rodham permalink
    November 20, 2010 9:54 pm

    Would it kill Netanyahu to call it the “West Bank” instead of “Judea and Samaria”?
    The latter comes across as a huge neon sign flashing, “The land is ours!”

    • KMC permalink
      November 21, 2010 8:50 am

      It certainly never bothered Bill Clinton when he repeatedly went against decades of international law and repeatedly tried to assert Jerusalem as the undivided capital of the Jews. Bill Clinton’s capitulation to the Israel lobby put the Palestinians on such unequal footing they have never really recovered. It emboldened the Lidudniks not only in successive Israeli governments but also in our very own Congress. I am not aware of any Jewish members of Congress, except perhaps Bernie Sanders, who recognizes any Palestinian right to East Jerusalem, instead they see it as Judea and Samaria, the Biblical home of the Jews.

      This is why talks have always been destined to fail in this is why talks under Clinton failed- Clinton of course famously blamed the Palestinians for their failure, keeping true to his Likud, Israel Lobby sympathies:

      Here’s a little reminder of what actually took place:

      “When Bill Clinton came to office, however, it quickly became clear that his administration was backing away from the commitment to the United Nations upheld by the six previous U.S. administrations, particularly in regard to Jerusalem. When Assistant Secretary of State Edward Djerejian testified to the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Middle East in March 1993 on Israeli settlements in the occupied territories, he did not include units under construction in East Jerusalem in his figures, implying that the U.S. does not consider them part of the occupied territories. Indeed, the Clinton administration is the first U.S. administration to refuse to condemn the construction of illegal Israeli settlements in Arab East Jerusalem, even vetoing a UN Security Council resolution condemning Israeli confiscation of Palestinian land in East Jerusalem in 1995.

      Then-UN Ambassador Madeleine Albright’s assertion that the Jerusalem land dispute should be resolved instead by direct negotiations between the parties is disingenuous on face value, given the gross asymmetry in power between the Palestinians and their Israeli occupiers.

      Successive American administrations have had to resist right-wing initiatives in Congress to have the U.S. embassy moved to Jerusalem on the sound legal grounds that it would, in effect, provide recognition of Israeli sovereignty. However, given that some of these same administrations have shown little regard for international law in other aspects of U.S. foreign policy, it appears this seemingly principled position on Jerusalem was, in fact, a recognition of the anti-American outrage in the Islamic world which would likely occur were the United States to make such an important symbolic recognition of Israeli control over the Holy City. When Congress finally passed a law in 1995 mandating the U.S. to move its embassy to Jerusalem, even Clinton–long an advocate of just such a move before assuming office–successfully pushed for a clause in the legislation that gave the president leverage in determining when the move would actually take place, effectively postponing the move indefinitely. The fact that the embassy still remains in Tel Aviv, then, comes from the U.S. awareness of the damaging effect it could have on U.S. diplomacy, not from a recognition of the illegality of Israel’s unilateral control of Jerusalem.

      In the June 1993 paper to the delegations in the Washington peace talks, the U.S. for the first time would not recommit to 242 and 338. Emboldened by this, the government of Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin essentially took Jerusalem off the negotiating table. According to Rabin, “The government is firm in its resolve that Jerusalem will not be open to negotiation. The coming years will also be marked by the extension of construction in Greater Jerusalem.” The Clinton administration raised no objections.

      The most obvious sign of this change came in April 1994, when the U.S. abstained from voting on a section of a UN Security Council resolution condemning the February massacre at the mosque in Hebron, objecting to a paragraph which referred to the Arab part of Jerusalem as occupied territory. This unprecedented action led to a strong reaction from other member nations; no other government besides Israel has taken any issue with conferring that status on East Jerusalem. In a conference call with leaders of major Jewish organizations in March 1994, Vice President Al Gore reaffirmed the Clinton administration’s position which recognized a united Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. He added that if the United Nations Security Council mentioned Jerusalem as part of occupied territories as part of an operative paragraph rather than simply as part of the preamble, the U.S. would veto the entire resolution.

      The rationale for the position taken against the United Nations by the U.S. government is that, according to the Declaration of Principles signed between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization in September 1993, the issue of Jerusalem–along with settlements and military locations–would be relegated only to “permanent status negotiations.” The State Department has long insisted that since Jerusalem is “a final status matter, … any effort to prejudge that issue in a UN resolution would find the opposition of the United States.” Such a rationalization, however, its patently disingenuous. Both Clinton and Gore, as well as the vast majority of members of Congress who attacked the UN resolutions as “pre-judging” the status of Jerusalem, are on record unilaterally declaring Jerusalem the unified capital of Israel, clearly an effort to “pre-judge” the city’s status.”

      By any definition, this constitutes a military occupation. Clinton has similarly raised no objections to Israeli occupation forces banning access by most Palestinians from the schools, hospitals, businesses, and holy sites of the West Bank’s largest city, despite causing enormous suffering to the population.

      In addition, no bilateral agreement between two parties can supersede the authority of the United Nations Security Council, which on numerous occasions has declared Jerusalem to be an occupied city, particularly since one of the two parties (the Palestine National Authority) would never agree to any settlement which would countenance continued unilateral Israeli control as anything but occupation.

      So, Carolyn, if you are really concerned about Jerusalem you should go write to the State Dept. and all of the Jewish members of Congress and tell them to stop undermining peace negotiations by maintaining the fiction that Palestinians have no right to East Jerusalem under international law. Unfortunately, most people don’t want to acknowledge that its not just Bibi that’s the problem, but rather our own members of Congress. I know, uncomfortable isn’t it?

    • November 21, 2010 9:27 am

      @Carolyn- Yeah, apparently it would. And as KMC says above, it’s not just Bibi, it’s about 96% of Congress who see the world EXACTLY as Bibi does and THEY don’t want Jerusalem divided. In fact, they want our Embassy moved to make that point.

      That’s sort of the dirty little secret of liberalism- there’s no such thing as a liberal in Congress when it comes to Israel. Although I would disagree with KMC in that it certainly isn’t just Jewish members of Congress, although they at times tend to be more, well, strident about it- it’s pretty much all of Congress. AIPAC is very generous with its funds and they certainly don’t just flow to Jewish members.

    • Thain permalink
      November 21, 2010 10:29 am

      @Carolyn- do you know any members of Congress who haven’t made comments at AIPAC conferences or other venues saying exactly the same thing about the West Bank/Jerusalem (explicit in Judea and Samaria according to every map). They (most of Congress) wanted the fucking American Embassy moved to Jerusalem in violation of US policy and international law. That would have turned “Judea and Samaria” into a battle ground with not much left to negotiate over. Bill Clinton supported that prior to becoming POTUS and Hillary also made speeches claiming Jerusalem would never be divided as Senator of NY. Because you know, you can’t get elected in NY unless you play that game.

      It ain’t just Bibi. That’s the problem. But it’s probably easier to just pretend it’s Bibi- no one wants to take on the Israel Lobby or Congress or the ADL or the American Jewish community. So we pretend they have nothing to do with it.

      • Carolyn-Rodham permalink
        November 21, 2010 12:51 pm

        @KMC, stacy, Thain – I’m in complete agreement that any final solution would have to include yielding East Jerusalem to the Palestinians, along with the West Bank, and a strip connecting it to Gaza. Even that would not be enough for Hamas, but I think it might be enough for the Palestinian people who must yearn for some return to normalcy, if not for themselves, then for their children, or children’s children. The Palestinians would probably have to give up the Right of Return, but if they were compensated fairly, that might just be
        enough. It just seems obvious a two-state solution can be the only road to lasting peace, so if Bibi and people in Congress who support Israel’s long-term welfare are at all serious, they
        could start by changing their choice of words — because the words are always chosen carefully. Every time I hear Bibi say, “Judea and Samaria,” I think, “Israel has no serious intention
        of yielding the West Bank East
        Jerusalem. Ever.”

        @KMC – I do get motivated now and then to fire off a letter. I’ve sent 2 recently to the State Dept asking for clarification of various policy
        decisions, most recently the decision to send Israel 24 fighter jets and billions in cash for WHAT? There has to be more behind the scenes of that deal to explain why we’re doing it and why Bibi is having difficulty getting his own government to accept it (so far, it looks like it will be approved by a vote margin of one – huh? what could possibly be the downside for Israel?).
        But if you could point out the main targets in Congress, I’ll write them, too.

  13. November 21, 2010 1:05 pm

    The amazing Gideon Levy (whose name I love- if I ever had a male child I would name him Gideon, but that’s not relevant here) has an important editorial over at Haaretz today- he calls out the Israeli media for sugar-coating the Occupation. I wish he’d give journalism classes to our Beltway and MSM “journalists” over here. Here’s the part that got my attention:

    “The government has closed Gaza to us since November 2006 and scandalously, no one defies it. It’s hard to believe that only one courageous reporter, Amira Hass, has managed to be there to report without being part of an army unit, while the rest of the press has given up the task. The activists of the Turkish flotilla to Gaza were called “terrorists” in the media without fitting that description, because that’s what our government called them, that’s what our readers want, and that way we can justify killing nine of those activists.

    A press that excels in many ways has shirked its task in covering the occupation; it’s the occupation’s greatest collaborator. It helps Israelis feel that there is no occupation. Without the dehumanization campaign in the press, Israelis would feel less self-satisfied, and perhaps more moral doubts would be raised about what we are doing.

    In ignoring matters and serving propaganda, the press is not carrying out its task and is allowing this cruelty to continue not far from our homes, distancing it light years from our awareness. We should talk about this in Eilat, between reception and flowery speech. Over a gin and tonic, we should ask ourselves if we are reporting the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. “

  14. November 21, 2010 1:10 pm

    Gideon mentions Amira Hass- she is a class act. She’s the only reporter (Israeli or otherwise) who moved to Gaza to report on the aftermath of Cast Lead and she was arrested by Israel as a result (but was released).

    Here’s a great interview with her:

    • Tovah permalink
      November 21, 2010 1:27 pm

      I’m watching the interview now. She really describes the occupation in a way that we never hear about in this country. Her (and her parents) personal story is also pretty amazing.

      Everyone should have to watch this video- every media person, every member of Congress, everyone who claims to have an opinion about mideast peace.

  15. Thain permalink
    November 21, 2010 1:24 pm

    Amira Hass is amazing. She’s probably been declared a terrorist by Abe Foxman. I’ve only watched about 20 minutes of the interview- I’ll finish the rest- she’s brilliant and courageous.

    On a similar topic, Israeli human rights groups have found that a Palestinian (non-Hamas) is killed on average every other day in the Occupied Territories. They are often labeled “terrorists” or “militants” to shield Israel from national or international scrutiny. So long as Israel tosses out the security canard, no one says a thing.

  16. Steve permalink
    November 21, 2010 6:38 pm

    Wow, I just saw this over at Mondoweiss- someone in the PMs office leaked that Bibi wants his gift basket promises in writing because the US administration is “not credible.”

    I wonder how many insults the US would take before Democrats in Congress tell Bibi to stand down?

    I honestly think this sort of behavior makes all the unfair talk of dual loyalty look not like unfair talk but like a truism. If Jewish politicians in this country feel that they can’t be disloyal to Israel then that is a real problem. If they support an Israeli government leader over their own President that is a problem.

    As a Jew I have always fought against the dual-loyalty label believing it was thinly-veiled antisemitism but as I watched Eric Cantor essentially agree to defend Bibi against President Obama’s Mideast policies and as I read about Weiner, Frank, Ackerman, Schumer, etc. effort to get an Israeli spy sprung from prison before his sentence is up I think “wtf?” This plays right into the hands of ACTUAL antisemites because some of these politicians have become walking stereotypes. One day I’d like to see a Jewish President but thanks to the actions of the Lobby, any Jewish presidential candidate is going to have to prove to the American public that they can be objective about US-Israel relations. Some times we undermine our own progress and we would do well to look in the mirror once in a while. Frustrating.

  17. November 22, 2010 7:55 am

    It will be enough when you stop meddling in our affairs, get it?

    Oh and by the way your set of pictures above, you mentioned that these are pictures that we dont see in the media, well you are very wrong cos that is ALL you see by the way, they never show any other side to Gaza because it will make those pictures seem meaningless

    For instance:

    Stop playing a game that you think you have any clue about, most Americans including yourself is clueless as to anything that goes on here but feel free to live in your bubble 😉

    • Steve permalink
      November 22, 2010 8:52 am

      Hey Israel Muse, – you are SOOOO right- we need to totally stop meddling in your affairs.

      Why don’t you go hold a press conference or use your blog to promote the idea that the US should stop all financial aid to Israel- I think over the next few years that will total a minimum of 30 billion, not including special trade privileges and other goodies. Then why don’t you go buy your own military planes and hardware somewhere else instead of us having to build them and then give them to you in the form of “subsidies” (you know, like a little kid getting an allowance?). And then you know what you can do? You can demand that we no longer provide you with total diplomatic protection, ok? The US will start to include you in all nonproliferation efforts since you have nukes and we’ll start enforcing all the UN resolutions and we’ll stop vetoing all the investigations into Israeli actions like Cast Lead and the Flotilla. Since you guys are so good at PR and diplomacy you don’t really need the US to veto everything that comes your way at the UN, right? I mean, you have Avigdor Lieberman- the world LOVES him. He’s really great for Israele’s image. Good luck with Iran- you won’t be wanting those fighters Obama just pledged to GIVE Israel because that would be “meddling”- you can build your own and actually pay for them yourself although apparently Bibi really wants these newest US fighter jets because they have the range to reach Tehran, unlike your current stock.

      In fact, I think if the US taxpayer actually knew exactly how much time and money we have to spend on Israel, they might be more than happy to stop meddling in Israel’s affairs! Because G-d knows we sure don’t get much in return other than spoiled brat rants like yours and a big hole in our wallets. Oh, and wars. We get those too.

      I think you should go write all our members of Congress and why don’t you write all the members of the Knesset. Start a public campaign, I’m all for it.

      I’ve lived in the US and Israel and if anything, it’s you who needs to pull your head out the bubble. Start acting like an actual ally to the US as opposed to acting like a spoiled client state that needs to grow up and be more independent.

      Unfortunately, as we both know, Israel is addicted to the protection- financial, military, diplomatic and otherwise, that we provide- we couldn’t stop meddling in Israel’s affairs even if we WANTED to. But hey, go for it- try to cut the umbilical, I’m all for it!

  18. Steve permalink
    November 22, 2010 9:21 am

    @IsraelMuse- in other words, you know everything I said is true. The US meddles in Israel’s affairs in large part because Israel wants the US to. The problem of course is that you just want what you want- you want the US to give you endless money, weapons, diplomatic support but you right wingers in Israel don’t want to EVER give anything in return. EVER. Honestly, what does Israel ever give us other than attitude and one big headache after another? Israel acts offended when the US dares to even request something of Israel. What do you do to show you are a good ally to the US? All you do is complain. In fact, when we do give you something you seem to just want more, more, more. As soon as you get in trouble on the world stage, who do you run to? The USA. Help us, help us, help us, give us, give us, want, want, want, more, more more.

    Do you ever once say “thank you”. No, never. All you do is complain. As Stacy said in this post, it is NEVER enough.

    Until Israel is willing to stand on her own two feet, the US taxpayer would rather not hear your entitled complaints about how we should mind our own business. Believe me, I bet most US taxpayers wouldn’t mind the 30 billion dollars being spent on things we need in THIS country right now, particularly when you and your leaders are such arrogant, ungrateful brats about everything.

    So Muse, if there is a small mind around here anywhere, it’s you.

    • November 22, 2010 9:28 am

      Your ego precedes you, this is not a conversation when you continue to attack me, make assumptions about what I am and demand thank you’s – When you learn to have a discussion with someone properly then I will be glad to engage with you in conversation, until then you will only continue to say a million words that mean nothing to me and to many other people here, so feel free to continue but do not expect a single intelligent answer to your statements or questions until then as you have already made yourself the “know it all” and the “attacker” in this situation, I don’t believe in fighting force with force so I will “give in” (wait) until you decide to drop your American ego and hear me out without judgement. If you recall my initial statement had nothing to do with you, it was aimed at the author of this site, that would be StacyX I believe… you opened the door, now you can close it.

  19. Steve permalink
    November 22, 2010 9:37 am

    Yeah, I’ll close the door all right- stop meddling in OUR affairs, get it? those are your own exact words from your first post- not exactly “intelligent debate.” You come around here making assumptions then grab your ball and go home when someone dares to confront your nonsense.

    See ya!

    • November 22, 2010 9:48 am

      LOL what nonsense? I said the one thing that you agree on, that the US should stay out of our business, you must be a left wing / liberal nut to not see past your own stench…

      It is hilarious that in the same sentence you say the US should stay out of our affairs and then you state the reasons why they cannot stay out of our affairs, this kind of null and voids your argument and your agreement with what I had to say…

      You wouldn’t last a second in an argument or discussion with me, you have just proven this. Hence I do not feel the need to fight a force on force battle with a clearly obvious lose/lose situation, that would be the smart thing to do don’t you think, to rather wait until you are actually willing to listen rather than assume and blabber on about what you think you know?

      If you can answer this one simple question, then I will give you at least some credit for knowing a little about Israel, at least the most basic things first. What do 90% of Israeli houses/apartments have on their rooftops?

      Now most people can not answer this question or sometimes refuse to answer it, either way, if you cannot or will not answer a simple question like this first then why would you answer anything more complicated. I hope you will prove me wrong about yourself 🙂

      • November 22, 2010 11:24 am

        Israel Muse said:

        If you can answer this one simple question, then I will give you at least some credit for knowing a little about Israel, at least the most basic things first. What do 90% of Israeli houses/apartments have on their rooftops?

        Hi there. I’ll take a stab at this but I admit I may get it wrong- solar water heaters?

        Anyhoo. I see I’ve interrupted quite a back and forth here.

        Israel Muse, you and I may just have to agree to disagree on this.

        I personally think that the US-Israel relationship *should* remain strong but I do get a tad annoyed when Israelis or even some Americans say things like “mind your own business” or “butt out” or “you have to right to tell us what to do.” First of all, the US really doesn’t tell Israel what to do. The US sometimes asks Israel to do something, but we really can’t force Israel to do something it doesn’t believe is in its own interest. Israel also asks us to do things and we decide if it’s in our best interests. Do we have a right to ask Israel to do things we think are in OUR own best interest or that we think might benefit Israel? Yes. But again, it doesn’t mean Israel will do it.

        I think what Steve was saying, if I understand correctly, is that if Israel or people like yourself want the US totally out of your business then you can’t have it both ways- you can’t take advantage of all the fringe benefits of the “special relationship” but then give nothing in return and tell us to basically mind our own business, particularly if we think that our own national interests are being undermined. Again, we may disagree on this. If you really want the US to butt out then you should be urging Israel to stop taking all financial, diplomatic, trade and military aid. But the fact is, Israel wants all that and quite frankly, for various reasons, the US wants to provide all that stuff. That’s what I think Steve meant when he said the US probably should butt out and perhaps not provide so much all the time but that for political reasons, it just wouldn’t happen.

        I think the US is right to provide some economic aid, diplomatic aid and military aid to Israel but I think it’s gotten out of control- it’s become a matter of degree and return on investment. I want a strong Israel that can defend itself. I want Israelis to be secure. I don’t want Israel to be attacked. But I also want the US to be able to safeguard our own interests in the Middle East (including Mideast peace) without being told, in essence, to butt out. The relationship has become so one-sided it’s gotten to the point where Israel just expects us to provide an endless flow of cash, trade subsidies, protection at the UN etc. while giving not much of anything in return other than a lot of complaints. That’s not true friendship and that’s not how allies usually interact. .

        Also, I feel like I need to mention one area where perhaps Israel could stop “meddling” in US affairs- Israel seems to have the need to inject itself into every aspect of our national and even local politics. So, I would submit that’s what is good for the goose is good for the gander.

      • Carolyn-Rodham permalink
        November 22, 2010 12:47 pm

        I tend to oversimplify complicated issues and can be a little naive, but I’ve always assumed we support to Israel because it is our only reliable democratic ally in the Middle East. I also believe we never hear about most of the things Israel does to promote security in the Middle East (I’m thinking here of things like Stuxnet) — wait! don’t jump all over me, Twain! I’m not saying I personally agree with everything Israel does, I’m just saying it takes money to develop something like Stuxnet (pretty darn clever) and apparently, weighing all considerations, our gov’t has always concluded it is in OUR national intetest to support such endeavors. We’re not doing so solely because of AIPAC’s brainwashing Congress, not because of our commitment to the Jewish people (puhleeze…anti-semitism is still alive and well, if
        subterranean) and not because of lofty sentiments about spreading democracy. I’m not THAT naive. I don’t think we know or ever hear about the half of what Israel does to protect it’s own interests, some of which dovetail with ours. I think when Israel Muse says “butt out,” he may be saying (perhaps he/she could clarify this for him/herself), “Don’t tell us how to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.” I don’t think Israel butted in to lecture us about racism when our Southern brothers were hoding and setting dogs on Martin Luther King and others peacefully protesting segregation, but I do know their EXAMPLE had an impact on changing public sentiments about segregation, at least in the North (TV had something to do with it, too — we Northerners got to see the snarling dogs up close and personal).
        I’m just saying our gov’t tells us vety little about its motivations for, say, sending 20 new fighter jets to Israel. Maybe we were going to do that anyway. Maybe we’re just making it look like a grand (albeit mystifying) sacrifice to promote peace in the
        Middle East. We think we know the whole picture but if I’ve learned nothing else reading the intelligent posts on this blog, it’s that we don’t.

  20. November 22, 2010 1:10 pm

    Carolyn- I agree with most of what you said but I would say the comparison to what was going on in the racist South isn’t really similar. How Israel solves the conflict impacts us in more ways than we can count and because we are called upon (and do so by choice) to veto all resolutions at the UN pertaining to Israel, even those that are valid (ie. those finding violations related to the settlement construction in the OT), it implicates us directly. The same cannot be said of Israel’s interest in what was going on in the South with respect to segregation/desegregation. Also, as many have said including Gen. Petreaus, the inability to solve the Mideast crisis directly impacts our troops in the larger region and other US interests- he got in a lot of trouble for saying that (from guess which group), but it’s pretty much common sense. Also, as we constantly intercede in all other diplomatic disputes involving Israel (always on their behalf irrespective of whether Israel may or may not have done something problematic), it impacts our relations with the rest of the world (on occasion)- sometimes very negatively. We have created a series of double standards on the world stage and while we in the US may think nothing of it, you can be sure the Muslim world (and others) notice.

    I still think though, that if Israel wants us to butt out then they have to give up something of value and not just continue asking for more while giving less, particularly when our short and long-term national interests are involved. Methinks Israel has become a wee bit entitled at times. In response to the offer from the Obama admin. the reaction from some Israelis was “so what, we should get that all anyway.” Hello?

    I agree we get benefits from the relationship and that it is based on more than tangible benefits such as money. We share intelligence, take part in trade, have common values and of course the history is important. And yes, they are a democracy and we like that. But if they weren’t we’d still probably have the same relationship. All that said, these days, the special relationship has become extremely dysfunctional and seemingly one-sided extremely one-sided. I do think you tend to underestimate the political impact of groups like AIPAC and some of the reasons why having an open, honest public debate about these issues is rather hard without being called “anti-Israel” or “anti-Semitic.” And I do think that our government as a whole is extremely dedicated to the well-being of Jewish Israelis, which I think is a good thing.

  21. Steve permalink
    November 22, 2010 3:23 pm

    Some people like to minimize the influence of groups like AIPAC because the implications are rather ugly. Instead, they claim that all such talk is all just a bunch of conspiracy theory and they play up the antisemitism angle.

    Read it and weep AIPAC (this is by MJ Rosenberg) :

    Notice the American press has largely ignored this story? Gee, wonder why? Finally the WaPo had one little blog post up about it. It’s no wonder Rosenberg is writing in AJ.

    You can bet the Friends of J are sweating out this one and begging Rosen to settle. Jane Harman, I’m talking to YOU!

  22. Carolyn-Rodham permalink
    November 22, 2010 3:31 pm

    I agree with you that Israel didn’t have anything at stake in our struggles with segregation, so the analogy isn’t perfect. I guess my main point in raising the analogy to our dilemma with a racially segregated south was two-fold:

    1) Israel now finds itself in a predicament similar to what we faced after WWII, with similar pressures from within and without to change. Despite being a self-proclaimed exemplar of liberty and equality, the US was in fact much more racially intolerant than many European nations (just ask the African-Am soldiers who fought in the European theatre!), and our discriminatory practices were particularly at odds with our campaign against a Nazi regime based on racism. We knew it, our allies knew it, and our enemies (at that time, Communist Russia) exploited the hypocrisy as an example of how corrupt capitalism was at its core. This was one of the many forces that acted as a catalyst for desegration. Similarly, “the only democracy in the Middle East,” as Israel proclaims itself — with more than a little justification — is starting to look like the segregated American south or apartheid South Africa. I also believe that a combination of international pressure and the equivalent of the American civil rights movement from within will eventually force Israel to change (i.e. accept a two-state solution), just as the US was slowly forced to change.

    2) For myriad reasons, we need Israel — you suggest some of the reasons, but I think there may be other (darker) possibilities. I have no proof, of course, but I tend to agree with Ahmadinejad that Israel, backed by the US and sympathetic parties within Iran, was behind Stuxnet which furthered our own agenda in Iran. But Stuxnet was at least nonvilent. How about all the assasinations speculated to have been carried out by Mossad agents, the IDF, or the IAF? I don’t mean the ones targetting leaders in the PLO or Hamas, but the two carried out just this month against (alleged) al-Qaeda affiliates in the Army of Islam, or against Iranian and (in the past) Egyptian nuclear scientists and Syrian generals? If we quietly sanctioned these acts as in the best interest of our own national security and/or the Muslim world believes we did — after all, the Obama administration has just taken the extraordinary step of authorising the assassination of US citizen and radical Muslim imam Anwar al-Awlaki — it is hard to see how we could turn around and back UN sanctions against Israel about settlements. Don’t get me wrong — I’m not speaking about my opinions as a private citizen about Israel’s settlements, I’m just trying to make sense of and reconcile the sometimes mystifying actions of our own government.

  23. June 22, 2013 10:44 am

    I wish peace could made there

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