Friday, April 16, 2010

The TNR EXCHANGE: Trust Fall | The New Republic

The TNR EXCHANGE: Trust Fall | The New Republic
This is an important and insightful exchange between Yossi Klein Halevi and James Risen. I of course lean more towards Halevi's analysis, but nonetheless the debate offers insight into the current tension between the Netanyahu government and Obama administration.
I offer here one quote from Halevi.  "Israelis aren’t astonished at the president for being serious about the peace process...but because his efforts seem dangerously na├»ve. In demanding a cessation of building in long-standing Jewish neighborhoods in East Jerusalem, Obama created a precondition for negotiations which even the Palestinian leadership hadn’t previously insisted on. The absurd result was that Palestinian leaders refused to sit with the first Israeli government that had actually suspended building in the West Bank...  Israelis aren’t looking for unconditional support from Washington, but they do expect friendship. There was widespread acceptance here of Obama’s demand for a West Bank settlement freeze, as a way of testing the administration’s premise that such a move might result in gestures of normalization from Arab countries. But even after building was suspended, no reciprocal gestures came. Where is the administration’s anger against Arab intransigence? Frankly, Israelis are wondering whether America under Obama can be trusted any more as an ally... [I]f the administration persists in one-sided blame against Israel, its Middle East policy will implode. Israelis will not be bullied, even by friends."
And Risen responds: "While you weren't looking, the rest of the world has changed. What troubles Americans today is that Israelis don't seem to get the fact that the United States has fought two wars and fundamentally altered the dynamics of the Middle East. Yet when it comes to Israel, it might as well still be 1980, not 2010.  And so increasingly, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict looks to American eyes like Northern Ireland, an endless conflict fought over land and ethnicity and religion and half-forgotten blood feuds, with a strange immunity to influences from the outside world."
The debate continues...

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