Possibly a repost, worth rereading
Obama's Dilemma with Israel
Posted At : May 2, 2010 5:57 PM |
By : Carl Coon at his blog: http://www.progressivehumanism.com
The window of opportunity for a two-state solution to the Palestine problem is
closing and may already be closed, blocking any reasonable hope for current US
policy. Netanyahu cannot buck the rising tide of the extreme right wing in
Israeli politics, even if he wanted to, by stopping settlement activity in the
West Bank. If he tried to roll the settlements back it could lead to a civil
war. Meanwhile the slicing and dicing of the West Bank continues, along with the
suffocation of Gaza. Here in Washington, "policy" consists of pious hopes based
on slight improvements in the Palestinian Authority's alleged ability to enlist
public cooperation despite its puppet status. The administration seems frozen
like the deer in the headlights, while it stumbles along with the same old
formulas that have proven ineffective for several decades.
Increasingly, independent experts believe that Israel is headed, perhaps
irrevocably, toward becoming an apartheid state, retaining its Jewishness as
well as control of the area from the Mediterranean to the Jordan River, but at
the expense of its democracy. The only hope is that strong US pressure could
effect a realignment of political forces within Israel that would bring the two
state solution back to life. And that hope is pretty ephemeral, considering the
state of play in Washington.
In Washington the pro-Israel hawks retain both virtual control of Congress and
the firm conviction that whatever Netanyahu and company do must be supported at
all costs. America's Jewish community as a whole does not agree but is only
beginning to translate its discomfort at trends in Israel into effective
Obama has been trying to avoid grasping this nettle. It's hard to blame him
considering the other problems on his plate, and the many ricochet effects that
coming up against AIPAC at this stage will create, most of them further
complicating his efforts to get key domestic measures through Congress. I have
long advocated a tough line with AIPAC and the current Israeli leadership,
reminding them that Israel exists on our sufferance in many ways, and telling
them we'll cut their allowance unless they shape up. But that would cost too
much at present, for Obama needs every Democratic vote in Congress if he is to
overcome the party of "no" on key issues. So what can he realistically do, to
lance this boil?
Here are a couple of suggestions, reflecting the fact that the Palestine issue
is connected with just about every other major foreign policy issue we face, and
most of the domestic ones:
--move toward greater internationalization of responsibility for achieving a
solution. If the world looks to us as the dominant player in this drama, it is
largely because we have made it so. We could start by subtly encouraging the UN
and the Quartet to play more important roles. Israeli press reports suggest we
may be moving in this direction.
--abstain, rather than vetoing, on measures in the UN like the resolution on the
Goldstone Report, which have overwhelming support outside Israel.
--negotiate with the Taliban, which recently signaled a willingness to talk. An
honorable end to the Afghan war, or even the prospect of such, plus the current
evolution in Iraq, could strengthen Obama as a peace president and give him the
extra clout he might need to take a more forthright stand on the Palestine
issue. (I'm not suggesting that the tail wag the dog here, but only that if
Obama becomes seen as a peace president, much becomes politically feasible in
terms of domestic support that previously wasn't)
--explore ways we are helping Israel in sensitive security-related areas, with a
view to quietly cutting back, as a signal that Netanyahu (and most of his more
politically astute Israeli supporters) would recognize.
I wish I could come up with a simple answer, but believe me, there isn't any.
Poor Obama, talk about a multi-dimensional tight rope act!