Checkmated by the Greater Israel Lobby

How The Greater Israel Lobby Won Again – The Dish | By Andrew Sullivan – The Daily Beast (see also John Judis)

The Obama goal was simple: win back global soft power in the war against Jihadist terrorism by demonstrating even-handedness again with the Israelis and Palestinians; use hard power much more effectively by lethally targeting al Qaeda in Pakistan and Afghanistan. The latter has been a big success. The former a major failure – fundamentally caused, as Judis beautifully explains, by Netanyahu’s adamant resistance to any serious attempt at a two-state solution on 1967 lines with mutually agreed land swaps, the only formula with any chance of success.

Many of us who supported Obama partly on his potential to transform America’s Muslim relations, especially in the wake of the extraordinary Arab Spring, have been crushed and angered. But the anger has by now led to total resignation. I mean: what, in the end, was Obama supposed to do? Many of the chieftains in his own own party – Reid, Hoyer, et al. – are more loyal to the Israeli prime minister and their core donors than to their own president. The GOP is even worse: actively going to Israel and colluding with the Likud against the US administration to enable more and more illegal settlements on the West Bank. AIPAC’s roll-call at its last conference revealed a veto-proof majority of Congress. Veto-proof. I doubt that was a message designed to be buried.

So any genuine attempt to put any serious pressure on Netanyahu would be immediately undercut by the Hill. So would have recognizing the Palestinian state at the UN. If Obama had followed through, the Congress would have responded by cutting off aid to the Palestinians, backing Israeli annexation of parts of the West Bank, and would reveal triumphantly that even a president who has done as much for Israel as Obama (bunker-busting bomb sales, rescuing embassy staff in Cairo spring immediately to mind) cannot break out of the constraints any president is under when tackling this subject.

In that sense, I believe the pro-Greater Israel skeptics of the sincerity of Obama’s UN speech are largely right. Obama simply has run out of options. So he has cut his losses and capitulated – what any serious leader does when he recognizes the forces against him are so massive there’s no hope but to wait for a recapitalization after another election victory. Meanwhile, Netanyahu remains in Israel an extension of the GOP at home – and more secure than ever because the GOP has adopted wholesale the Christianist support for Greater Israel on theological grounds. What is at stake is nothing less than America’s global credibility as a power able to act in its own interests, outside the demands of religious fundamentalists and Democratic donors. That has now been revealed, when it comes to Israel, as essentially impossible.

We had a window. It’s important to remember who shut it, and tried to lock it tight.


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37 comments on “Checkmated by the Greater Israel Lobby

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    • Since the founding of Zionism, those who have driven the policy of ethnic cleansing the hardest have always been the ones who serve and implement it while pretending otherwise for the sake of wold opinion. It’s exceedingly well-documented and anyone who doesn’t cling to a fairy tale version of history knows it. The ones who are at least open about the project – most of them Netanyahu allies, where not his long-time close colleagues – have also tended to be open about that.

      What Israel does may or may not be something the U.S. should support – that’s the issue that Sullivan addresses – but the theme of the first post at the blog you link, about Netanyahu’s Prime Ministership being the result of a failed peace process, not the cause, is a pathetic evasion of responsibility.

  1. George, (happy new year) it’s hard to say that Netanyahu isn’t part of it when his cabinet and his policies are. (does Bibi refer to “the territories” or to “Judea and Samaria”?)

    It’s like saying that Obama is a real hard-leftist when his cabinet and policies are really centrist.

  2. so he confessed to working for Hamas and his action in furtherance amounted to agreeing to criticize the US’ actions and actually criticizing?

    how exactly is that distinguishable from the actions he would have undertaken had he not joined?

    I’m sure Feldman has the facts right, but conspiracy law gets weird pretty quickly. One kinda wants to see a conspirator committing or abetting an criminal act rather than merely reporting.

  3. The Arabs have been fighting against an independent Palestine with their liives and the lives of their children ever since 1947, when they first rejected a state. The settlements are the result of the 3 No’s of Khartoum. Nobody can possibly blame the Arab world for this event, since how can you criticize something that happened way back in 1967?
    I disagree with with Krauthammer on many issues, but here is something he is quite accurate about.
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/land-without-peace-why-abbas-went-to-the-un/2011/09/29/gIQACaoI8K_story.html

    • Neocons? No one, least of all the Saudis and traditional Islamists, claims that women are “treated equally” under conservative or traditional Islam. One of the key distinguishing characteristics of traditional Islam, for centuries, has been the idea that women and men should be treated very differently – as in almost all traditional cultures. You may even have heard of bizarre tribal religions where the men, at least the conservative and orthodox among them, thank their deity every day for not having been born women!

      • I have indeed heard of the blessing “who did not make me a woman”:
        http://www.jochnowitz.net/Essays/WhoMadeMeAWoman.html

        I am amazed tthat you always find a way to excuse Islam. Do you think that Jews, even the most orthodox, who repeat that blessing, treat women the same way that Islam does? Israel elected Golda Meir to be Prime Minister before any other country on earth had elected a woman to be head of state who was neither the daughter (like Indira Gandhi, daughter of Jawaharlal Nehru), nor the wife (like Sirimavo Bandaranaike) of a previous head of government.

        • I am not amazed, and haven’t been for quite some time now, that you fall back on absurd assumptions and Islamophobic bigotry to change the subject when Israel comes up for possible criticism. The often extreme, self-consciously rigorous sexism of traditional Islam is well-known, and has never been, as you suggest, a criticism only heard from “neocons.” It does, however, frequently come up more pointedly in war propaganda – whether “neocon” back in the ’00s, Soviet back in ’70s-’80s, or Israeli/Zionist in perpetuity.

          Incidentally, head of state and head of government are two different things. Among the countries that have had women in one role or the other or both (separately or at once) are China, Pakistan, Turkey, Bangladesh, Indonesia, and even Kosovo, the last five Muslim or majority-Muslim countries, the first a country that you hardly treat as immunized from criticism.

          • It is immoral not to be biased against a doctrine that sentences people, to this very day, to have their hands and feet amputated, that encourages parents to commit honor killings if their daughters are suspected of flirting, and that gave us 9/11, which served no strategic and no political purpose.

            • There is no “morality” in assertion of a right to be “biased.” Predictably, it leads to hypocrisy, moral blindness, insusceptibility to evidence and logic, and assertion (indeed, repetition) of merely ideological, intellectually impenetrable because utterly empty statements.

  4. Not quite George, the fight has been not against a Palestinian state but for a Palestine state undivided in the years between 47 and until Oslo.

    Since then, the Arabs have not been standing in the way of a two-state deal.

    • miggs, Poole is playing dirty.

      This is the press release he’s quoting

      http://www.daralhijrah.net/ns/?p=6258

      However, after Mr. Al-Awlaki’s departure in 2002, he was arrested by Yemeni authorities and allegedly tortured. It was then that Al-Awlaki began preaching violence. He was killed violently in an apparent drone strike today. In recent years, while in his self-imposed exile, Mr. Al-Awlaki encouraged impressionable American-Muslims to attack their own country. Al-Awlaki will no longer spread his hate speech over the internet to Muslim youth provoking them to engage in violence against Americans. We reiterate that as an American faith community we do not accept violence nor extremism and recommit ourselves to our message living our faith in peace, tolerance, and the promotion of the public good.

      I again urge you to not rely on people putting up small excerpts when the original document is readily available.

      • Well at least the guy linked to the original press release, but otherwise it was the usual PJM Prattler propaganda, getting the usual PJ Media responses. It’s a wonder these guys aren’t bored to death hitting the same knees with the same rubber mallets and hoping for the same reflexive responses 10 years into the whole thing.

  5. Considering he was considered respectable enough to train Muslim clerics, to do outreach with the Pentagon, despite supporting the Taliban, makes their protestations, a little hollow.

    • It is the type of screed that one has come to expect in the pages of The Nation, The New York Review of Books and The American Conservative, as well as in the writings of Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer. These venues in particular have had wide influence and distribution, and certainly, a similar form of argument has no need to also take up the pages of TNR.

      Well, not every screedster can rise to the very high levels of right-thinkingness sustained in the august virtual pages of Pajamas Media!

      They can’t come out and say that they support ethnic cleansing, war, and whatever other measures, to consolidate, extend, and reinforce the way of life they prefer – just like their adversaries, and just like us. I can appreciate the arguments from natural justice and historical necessity, but that’s a sword that can cut both ways.

  6. “John Judis” and “screed” don’t go together.

    Is Ron Radosh as closed to thought so that when Judis says that “settlerment construction” is inflammatory, Radosh thinks that there was no was no settlement construction because new construction that enlarges existing settlements doesn’t count as settlement construction?

    • Yes, at least so closed to thought is Sr. Radosh. In his dreams, however, he writes well enough to be published in the NYRB… or TNR… or even THE NATION or AMCON. Betcha he’s hoping that the phone might ring with an invitation to rebut John Judis point by point, no doubt leaving Mr. Judis a nervous wreck afraid ever to put fingertip to keyboard again in service of his effete East Coast anti-semitic Islamo-Commie-PaleoCon conspiracy.

  7. I didn’t get the impression that Radosh can’t write decently or think well. It seemed to me (and I’ve never read anything else from him) that he was tying himself in knots because he’s one of the many who view Israel/Palestine a all black and white.

    • Some believe that good writing, good thinking, and sound moral and political views all tend to support each other, but whether you believe that or not, just take another look at his writing on the level of the phrase. It’s sloppy and plodding.

      Note the clumsy parallelisms after “one thing” and before “those venues.” (The “writings” of W&M are not a venue.) The rest of the “venues” sentence is also awkward, and the one after it, the one that, ironically enough mentions “editors,” is even worse – “[i]n many ways… nothing but a spit in the face.” In how many different ways can something be “nothing but a spit”? In between, we encounter the use of the word “screed” that you point out. In this context the use of the word “screed” is hack pretentiousness, a Howard-Portnoyism.

      The whole thing proceeds that way: Sloppy writing as sloppy thinking as sloppy writing as slopping thinking…

        • As someone attuned to philosophical investigations of nothingness, you might also ask how, if, as Radosh implies, there are ways in which publication of the article is not “a spit in the face,” it can in any way be “nothing but a spit in the face.” Of course, he’s not trying to be logical, he’s just histrionically seizing on whatever available cliches, and garbling them in the process, while expecting that his already-convinced readership will give him credit for what they think he’s trying to say.

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