Monday, November 23, 2009

Obama From the Left

I really ought to write a post about Obama's scolding us last week on Jerusalem. Maybe I'll find the time, and be online, but not right now. In the meantime, however, you might want to look at this column by Zvi Bar'el. Bar'el is the Haaretz correspondent for the entire Arab (and sometimes even Muslim) world beyond the Palestinians (Avi Issacharoff reports on the Palestinians, as does, sort of, Amira Haas). He's decidedly left, not irrationally so, but he's not center-left, either. So it's interesting to see how he wants to agree with Obama's position, but recognizes the intellectual hollowness of it (that's his word, not mine).

The American demand is proper, even if it is very late and unusually aggressive. However, its lack of context is infuriating. Freezing settlements is not a policy. Its entire purpose is to give Mahmoud Abbas, the resigning Palestinian Authority president, a reason to get back to negotiations. But negotiations cannot be a final goal, just as freezing settlements cannot be considered the ultimate achievement. What then? Is Abbas doomed to be a constant negotiator in endless negotiations? Does Washington have a plan for continuing negotiations?
Without a solid American diplomatic plan that will make Israelis, not Netanyahu, understand how to keep negotiations from bogging down a moment after Abbas and Netanyahu start talking; without a clear American position on the Palestinian right of return and the holy places, and whether Washington is for or against Palestinian reconciliation that brings Hamas into the government; the settlement freeze will become an unnecessary test of strength between Netanyahu and Obama. Because if the American president takes the trouble to look into one illegal building in East Jerusalem, and rightly so, he cannot in the same breath say that the really important questions in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are none of his business.


AKUS said...

Obama's ME policy has been a disastrous mix of raised expectations (Cairo speech), futile bullying (settlement freeze)and ignorance. There seem to be slight indications that with the move of Dennis Ross to the White House via the NSC ( the wheels may be starting to turn again - for example, Hilary Clinton's much disputed comments from her reent trip.

But the reality is that Abbas and the Palestinians at large (and probably the other Arabs in the area) once again over-played their hand and seized on Obama's naivete (not to mention intellectual arrogance)to try to force the issues they want without negotiation. They, like the Obama administration, have found themselves high up a tree with no way down over the issue of settlements.

Victor said...

While everyone is focused on THE settlements, the major settlement blocks - although we all know they are going nowhere - I recently joined a Facebook group in support of smaller Jewish communities in Shomron (i.e. the crazy radical "Jewish fanatics").

Check out the following discussion thread I started there - Time to grow up.

You might need to have a Facebook account to see it, or maybe not.