Update: Bush and Lebanon; Obama, Israel and Islam

  • As I mentioned earlier , the Bush administration’s obstruction of peace talks between Israel and Syria has helped Hezbollah and Iran push for control of Lebanon. My new piece on the subject is now up at the American Prospect :

    The time, according to Hilal Khashan, was ten minutes past the ceasefire. That was another way of saying ten minutes after another Hezbollah victory, Khashan explained. I phoned Khashan — head of the political science department at Beirut’s American University — several days into Lebanon’s latest armed upheaval. He spoke in a strangely dispassionate tone I’ve heard before in Jerusalem and Ramallah, the voice of a man taking refuge from chaos in careful analysis.

    So far, Khashan said on Sunday night, the crisis that erupted last week has yielded “a major achievement” for Hezbollah. Iran, Hezbollah’s patron, has extended its influence in Lebanon. The obvious loser is the pro-Western government of Lebanon’s Prime Minister Fouad Siniora. From Beirut, U.S. support appears to be a phantom; Bush unwilling or incapable of supporting its Lebanese allies.

    From the slightly greater distance of Jerusalem, I’d add, there’s another implication of the fire burning anew in Lebanon: The Bush administration’s Middle East policy of confrontation, of trying to isolate opponents, is in tatters. In particular, the administration’s resistance to peace talks between Israel and Syria has only served to strengthen Iran. And time is working in Teheran’s favor. …

    Read the rest here .

  • Even for those practiced at believing six impossible things before breakfast , it can be hard to accept that Barack Obama is a Muslim, a follower of a controversial black pastor , and a Marxist too. Edward Luttwak proposed this neat solution : Obama is really an apostate Muslim, subject to the death penalty in Islam. So he will actually be more hated in the Muslim world, and in more danger, than the president who invaded Iraq for no purpose that has withstood historical scrutiny.Ali Ateraz provides a valuable guide to why this thesis contradicts Islamic law and Islamic social realities in a half-dozen different ways.But don’t expect the Obama-as-Muslim smear to vanish; it will merely change shape, as the phantasmagoric fears produced by bigotry always do. For precedents, see under Jewish communist-banker-Zionist-cosmopolitans.
  • Trying to dispell the idea that he’s somehow anti-Israel, Obama gave this interview to Jeffrey Goldberg. I realize he has to do this, but my late mom, who introduced me to the line, “Senator, do you still beat your wife” would have warned that Obama is letting himself be baited in a similar way. He should, and could, have responded more forcefully: His opponents’ policies are dangerous to Israel. It’s true, and would put the burden of defense on those who need to defend outdated views.

8 thoughts on “Update: Bush and Lebanon; Obama, Israel and Islam”

  1. Think Outside of Israeli Lobby Box

    We have had 60 years of experimenting about the Israeli- Palestinian struggle. The region would need help before we will be dragged into a World War III.

    No one can reject the fact that creation of Israel on the land of Arabic nations has created tremendous political and economical problems for the United States. We may have to look outside of the box to diffuse the problems. One solution would be for Israel joining us as a member of the Unites States’ Common Wealth.

    Would Israel consider joining us as a member of the Unites States’ Common Wealth?
    What are costs and benefits for US?

    We are already supporting Israel economically, politically and by sharing intelligence and military hardware. In addition, some Israeli Americans with both Israeli and American citizenships serve in the Israeli Armed Forces. Israel never would have to be fearful of any other nation; our great American Armed Forces will protect the common wealth as they would the homeland.

    Would it be politically more advantages for the United States to manage the Jewish state as a member of our Common Wealth?

    Would it be economically more advantages for Israeli people to be a member of our nation?

    The Israeli Common Wealth will be free to exercise the religious freedom that our great nation would offer without being isolated among the hostile Arabs.

    Should the Common Wealth include the Arabs who were forced to leave the land when Zionist invaded the land?

    Should the area of the Common Wealth include all of the Palestinian Land?

    Would really two nation model for Palestinian and Israeli work in the future?

    Should we be looking at the region as a Federal States with one government elected by all of the people?

    We have been forced in one box by the Israeli Lobby; we need to look outside of this box. What do you think?

  2. Gershom said about Obama:
    He should, and could, have responded more forcefully: His opponents’ policies are dangerous to Israel.

    I presume you are referring to when Obama said “to be pro-Israel is not necessarily pro-Likud”, and that being “pro-Israel” to many “Progressives” and “J-Street Lobby” types means pressing Israel to make unilateral concessions, pressing Israel to take moves that endanger its security, giving weapons and money to a Palestinian Authority that has never tried to stop terrorism and steals aid that is given to it.

    Obama might not be aware of it, but the Likud has been in power in the past and may come to power again. So what he is saying is that he will put himself at odds with an elected Israel government, in addition to majority opinion of Jews in the United States. I don’t see how you can call this “pro-Israel”. He has the right to do this because his job as President would be to look out for American interests, and if he thinks Israel’s interests conflict with this, he should ooenly say so, but not claim it is “being pro-Israel”. (Shmuel Rosner recently wrote in Ha’aretz about how the term “pro-Israel” has come to be applied to everyone who thinks the Jews shouldn’t be summarily thrown into the sea and has lost all meaning). Of course one can claim “Only I know the truth and what I define as good for Israel even if everyone else opposes it”, but then those who oppose these views have every right to deny that this is really being “pro-Israel”.

  3. Y. Ben-David, I think that is a little bit of a stretch, that because a one of the opposition parties takes one position that he should take a policy position that cuts against the currently elected government, in case said opposition government comes to power. Anyhow, a very large majority of Jews in the US do support Obama (61%) over McCain (32%), and that may well rise as the Democrats unite behind the nominee.

    I have written an article On Zionism: why those that really want to help the Palestinians should become Zionists and those that really want to help Israel should support Barack Obama’s policy of engaging Iran. It draws together observations on the writings of Gershom, Jeffery Goldberg and the other Atlantic bloggers, Jimmy Carter, Seth Freedman to try and make sense of why discussion surrounding the Israeli-Palestinian tragedy by so many highly intelligent people can be so often confused and polarised.

    I will be grateful for any feedback.

  4. St Michael Traveler: the only think that I can see going for your plan is that it would formalise existing practice, which may be a lot better than half-doing it in the surrent shambolic manner.

    Given that I am not that pessimistic about finding something less dysfunctional, we should recognise that actually all of the Arab states have long accepted the existence of Israel, and indeed are dependent upon Israel for their stability. Israel faces no existential threat (as I think we have been reminded recently on this blog).

    It is a matter of finding a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian problem, and that is not going to be helped by further integrating the US into the management. Americans don’t have to live here and recently have started to act like a corrupting sugar-daddy, making it too easy to pursue the short term at the expense of long-term solutions.

  5. Mr.Ben David: I find no value in parsing “Pro-Israel” to determine some sort of litmus test of who is and who isn’t on board. The real problem is we Americans think everyone thinks like us ;just plain ignorant. The problem lies in the facts .First of all the big”Wizard of Iran” Ahmadinejad .This blow-hard has feet of clay and nothing to back it up “His shortness” has a second rate military with old equipment,overstaffed officer corps which couldn’t beat the Iraqis in six years of fighting.His oil revenues are drying up because of lack of exploration and a sizeable population,many of which detest him and the economy is bad .
    What is he looking at in Israel; the best trained and equipped army in the world, the best intelligence group in the world,a united people ,nuclear capability and a big brother in the US.I’m sure he can be defanged by hard nosed negotiations which is not appeasement.You can’t get anywhere without calling his bluff.The more the US and Israel huff and puff the more his precarious political position is secured If he had nuclear capabilty I’m sure Israel would have already knocked it out like Iraq.

    The Persian people have not been the enemies of the Jewish people historically but the capture of Jerusalem changed the calculus somewhat but the Shia are a different breed of cat from the Sunnis.Iran still views itself as the proud successors to the Persian empire but they are a bunch of heretics to the rest of the Moslem majority. A point somewhat lost on our esteemed Condi-Rubberstamp

    The time for negotiations is in limbo because of the following; the weakness of the Olmert administration,the total ineffectiveness of the Bush administration,the weakness of the Abbas regime, and an inability to accept the fact that the real players are Hamas and Ahmadinejad. Yes these folks say they don’t recognize Israel;so what! Every country that was lined up against Israel in 1948 said that originally. Ahmadinejad just likes to pull Israel’s chain by denying the Holocaust (he can’t be that dumb) and there even those in this country who have made that statement including Mel Gibson’s father(big surprise after you see the Passion)and Pat Buchanen. I’m sure that Barak wouldn’t have given Iran the gift of not having to now worry about a militant Sunni-secular Iraq to worry about. So parsing about what “Pro-Israel” means and who is and who isn’t is just mindless rhetoric and it concerns any of the presidential candidates

  6. Both Israel and Plaestine claim the same land for their homeland.

    The Ten Lost Tribes of Israel were resettled in 722 B.C. in Iran. Assyria, the nation that is now Iraq, took the 10 tribes captive and relocated them in Iran (historic Persia). Iranian Jews are descendent of these exiled tribes. Their exile is a historical fact. Often, the people defeated were scattered and exiled. Judah and Benjamin, two tribes later known as the Jews, claim Israel as their as their ancient homeland.

    Jews and the Palestinians, whatever they were called then, were both in Middle East at the same time. Both Arabs and Jews have historical claims to the land.

    I suggest a Federal States of Israel-Palestine as one nation should be a considertion for creating a lasting peace.

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