The Arabist

The Arabist

By Issandr El Amrani and friends.

Links on the Israel-US spat, 18 March 2010

 ✪ The U.S. quarrel with Israel - - WaPo editorial condemns Obama for having a fight with Israel, takes Israeli reports on administration demands at face value, uses stupid argument that US demands on Israel make Arabs ask for more. Basically, WaPo is simply not credible on Israel/Palestine: it asks that the Obama administration accept humiliation and step down from its goals, stated US policy for decades regarding settlements, and international law, and talks of "intransigence of Palestinian and Arab leaders." You mean the intransigence that caused them to propose a comprehensive peace on the basis of international law since 2003, and which was ignored by both Israel and the US? What a bunch of sellouts.

✪ Informed Comment: Cpl. Jeffrey Goldberg, Guarding the Prison of the Nationalist Mind - Juan Cole really does a wonderful takedown of Jeffrey Goldberg.

✪ 'Just World News' with Helena Cobban: On the current tipping point | A bunch of good commentary from Cobban, esp. on the next steps the administration could take:

A. Announce the launching of an administration-wide review of all U.S. policies that have any relationship to the Israeli settlements including policies affecting economic links and trade preferences being extended to settlements as well as to Israel proper; the activities and tax status of U.S. entities, including non-profit entities, that have dealings with or in the settlements. The terms of reference of this review should explicitly spell out that its purview includes the settlements in Jerusalem as well as elsewhere (including Golan.)
B. Announcement of a similar review of policies and entities related in any way to Israel's illegal Wall.
C. Commit to a series of steps aimed at speedily ending the illegal and anti-humane siege that Israel maintains against Gaza and restoring all the rights of Gaza's 1.5 million people.
D. Sen. Mitchell should be empowered to talk to representatives of all those Palestinian parties that won seats in the 2006 PLC election which was, let us remember, certified by all international monitors as free and fair. Obama and Co. should also inform the Egyptians and all other parties that they want and expect them to be helpful rather than obstructive in the Palestinian parties' efforts to reach internal reconciliation.E. Move speedily toward giving the other four permanent members of the Security Council more real role in Palestinian-Israeli peacemaking. They all have a lot to offer and can help the U.S. get out of the very tight spot it currently finds itself in, in the Greater Middle East region.

✪ Obama says no crisis in US-Israeli relations | He should have said no crisis, but big problem.

✪ Israel crisis: Taking cue from US anger, Mahmoud Abbas digs in heels | This is the big AIPAC narrative, that US is enabling the PA to harden its position. It's bullshit, why would the PA take negotiations seriously while settlement expansion is ongoing? All Abbas is doing is sticking to international law, the Quartet guidelines and Obama's demands from last year.

✪ US-Israel crisis reshapes Quartet meet agenda | The basic point: if the US shows leadership as it did after the Biden visit, the Europeans and others will speak their mind more freely about Israel's sabotaging of peace.

✪ US may be seeking Israel 'regime change' This AFP story is mostly based on quotes from pro-Israel, Jewish Clinton administration sources — the very people who failed to act against settlement expansion back in the 1990s.

✪ Taking Sides « London Review Blog | John Mearsheimer: 

Siding with Israel against the United States was not a great problem a few years ago: one could pretend that the interests of the two countries were the same and there was little knowledge in the broader public about how the Israel lobby operated and how much it influenced the making of US Middle East policy. But those days are gone, probably for ever. It is now commonplace to talk about the lobby in the mainstream media and almost everyone who pays serious attention to American foreign policy understands – thanks mainly to the internet – that the lobby is an especially powerful interest group.

Therefore, it will be difficult to disguise the fact that most pro-Israel groups are siding with Israel against the US president, and defending policies that respected military leaders now openly question. This is an awful situation for the lobby to find itself in, because it raises legitimate questions about whether it has the best interests of the United States at heart or whether it cares more about Israel’s interests. Again, this matters more than ever, because key figures in the administration have let it be known that Israel is acting in ways that at best complicate US diplomacy, and at worst could get Americans killed.

He concludes with the $2.5 billion a year question:

There will be more crises ahead, because a two-state solution is probably impossible at this point and ‘greater Israel’ is going to end up an apartheid state. The United States cannot support that outcome, however, partly for the strategic reasons that have been exposed by the present crisis, but also because apartheid is a morally reprehensible system that no decent American could openly embrace. Given its core values, how could the United States sustain a special relationship with an apartheid state? In short, America’s remarkably close relationship with Israel is now in trouble and this situation will only get worse.

✪ The Boston Study Group on Middle East Peace: Two States for Two People: If Not Now, When? [PDF]

✪ This might be a good occasion to highlight's work on making data on lobbying more accessible. They cover all lobbies, and have the goods on pro-Israel campaign financing (Joe Lieberman and John McCain are on the top of the list) and the legislation the lobby supported. They also have listing for pro-Arab campaign contribution: over the last two years, while pro-Israel lobbies gave $6,288,215 pro-Arab lobbies gave... $56,050. So much for the great Arab lobby that Israel apologists always talk about. 

Update: Talking to IDF radio, Elliott Abrams says Obama wants to bring down the Netanyahu government, and makes other noises that suggest he'd make a better Israeli government official than an American one. [Thanks, Mandy.]