Jeffrey Goldberg is an intelligent and knowledgable fellow. For that matter, so is Thomas Friedman. So when Goldberg starts his week by approvingly linking to a Tom Friedman column which he describes as "important", you follow the link to see what's so inspiring. Or anyway, I did.
Not inspiring. Not even particularly intelligent. Sorry guys.
Friedman would have us Israelis recognize that "the party's over", and that story of the settlements is up, and Obama's historic position is that he's going to enforce that. This is the Obama who, we were assured throughout the campaign, is intelligent, subtle, and comfortable with complex thought processes. Well if so, how come he and his supporters can't get their head around the reality that we're rather good at complexity, too?
A majority of us Israelis would walk away from the settlements in a heartbeat if there was anywhere to walk too. As recently as 2006 we elected Ehud Olmert on a specific platform to disband most of the settlements even without peace with the Palestinians, recognizing how the Palestinians have managed to turn the settlements into their most potent weapon against us. Moreoever, a majority of the settlers themselves would accept leaving some settlements if that would bring peace. (Starting with Avigdor Lieberman).
But not Modi'in Illit, not Beitar, and not, I repeat, NOT Jerusalem. As President Bill Clinton recognized in his diktat of December 24th 2000. As the Palestinian negotiators themselves have recognized, repeatedly (though they may have been fibbing, since said recognition was part of not reaching overall agreement).
Obama's credibility and support in Israel is plumetting because of that distinction. Not becasue he's being mean to our prime minster about Nokdim or Itamar. The more I hear (well, read) important American Jewish pundits such as these two talkng the way they do, the more I'm convinced one part of the present dynamic is the distance between American Jews and Israelis. We're really not seeing the same reality at the moment.
Though, to be fair, as Mark Landler tells us after having talked to George Mitchell, there may be whole parts of the story we don't see right now. That could change things. Perhaps.
Update: Barry Rubin argues against a settlement freeze. He, also, is hardly one to fit the Friedman-Goldberg template of obstinate Israelis.