Monday, April 7, 2014

As Mideast Hopes Dim, Some Urge Scaling Back of Lofty Goals. By Nicholas Casey.

As Mideast Hopes Dim, Some Urge Scaling Back of Lofty Goals. By Nicholas Casey. The Wall Street Journal, April 7, 2014.

John Kerry ruined what John Kerry built. By Ben-Dror Yemini. i24News, April 7, 2014.

Israel Has Few Options With Palestinians. By Jonathan S. Tobin. Commentary, April 9, 2014.

Why Netanyahu Won’t “Go Big.” By Jonathan S. Tobin. Commentary, April 10, 2014.

Naftali Bennett calls on Netanyahu to annex 60% of West Bank. By Gil Hoffman. Jerusalem Post, April 10, 2014.


But with Secretary of State John Kerry’s declaration last week that the peace process needed a “reality check,” hopes of a grand bargain put forward when he kicked off his diplomacy nine months ago are being scaled back.
The difficulties in agreeing on a prisoner swap bode ill for tackling more complex issues that need to be resolved to reach a lasting peace. That has opened a discussion about constraining aspirations and urging U.S. mediators to accept the status quo while the two sides focus on ways to avoid any escalation in violence.
Former politicians and analysts propose that the most contentious issues that need to be resolved for a comprehensive peace, such as borders and security, would be left for after future elections. The two sides would continue official peace talks, allowing their U.S. ally to avoid failure on a long-standing foreign-policy goal.
“The gap between the most moderate position in Israel and the most moderate position in the Palestinian leadership is too far right now,” said Shlomo Avineri, a former director general of Israel’s foreign ministry. “It’s time for the U.S. to think of a contingency plan—treating this as a conflict-management situation.” His suggestion: treat the two governments like Kosovo or Cyprus, where adversaries never fully recognized each other, but modest agreements stopped the threat of another war.
A Final Status Agreement between Israelis and Palestinians—the wide-ranging deal that would settle everything from the location of borders and capitals to the right of return for Palestinians who lost their homes during Israel's creation in 1948—has remained elusive since the 1993 Oslo accords.
Achieving a deal now would require both Israeli and Palestinian leaders to be able to sell the agreement to hard-liners who threaten to bring down their respective governments if they go too far. Yet both sides must continue to negotiate with one another—Israel to avoid international isolation for its occupation of the West Bank, Palestinians so they can continue to receive international aid. The result is that both sides keep talking, but neither has incentive to reach a deal.
Yehuda Ben Meir, a former Israeli deputy foreign minister, said the U.S. has two options at this point.
“Either manage the conflict until the next elections, or walk away, and that would mean conflict, and wouldn’t be a viable option for them,” he said.
The most the two sides could agree upon in the near term might be what he called unilateral coordinated actions such as allowing Palestinians to control more land in parts of the West Bank now under Israeli control.

Watters’ World: Miley Cyrus Concert Edition.

Watters’ World: Miley Cyrus concert edition. Video. The O’Reilly Factor. Fox News, April 7, 2014. YouTube. Also at Mediaite, Yahoo! News, The Blaze.

The Grievance Industry Takes on Momentum. By Bill O’Reilly.

The grievance industry takes on momentum. By Bill O’Reilly. Video. Talking Points Memo. The O’Reilly Factor. Fox News, April 7, 2014. YouTube. Mediaite. Transcript.

Dartmouth grievance list designed to ensure MLK Jr.’s dream never comes true. By William A. Jacobson. Legal Insurrection, April 8, 2014.

Lifting the Liberal Veil on US Support for Israel. By Paul Croce.

Lifting the Liberal Veil on US Support for Israel. By Paul Croce. History News Network, April 7, 2014.


Support for Israeli political and military actions have been doing the work of American conservative ideologies, but in liberal disguise.

The American Studies Association is an academic David dwarfed by the political Goliaths currently managing Israeli-Palestinian relations.  But the association’s academic boycott of Israel, for “policies that violate [the] human rights” of Palestinians, has produced a tremendous reaction because it reveals the long-hidden role of American political divisions in US policies in the region.
And yet, among all the debating points against and for the boycott, there has been minimal attention to the role of American political ideologies.  Instead, the arguments against the ASA’s action have been based on the proper role of an academic organization in relation to political events, while supporters of the boycott focus on Israeli restrictions on Palestinian civil rights often with use of military force.
This dynamic is a reminder of the situation in American universities in the mid-1960s.  While Civil Rights and the Vietnam War agitated the country, many students with some faculty support asked for a broadening of education to include discussion of race relations and war and peace; most administrators rejected these calls arguing that they fell outside the proper bounds of academic inquiry, labeling them outside issues, or even subversive.
The ASA has long served the academic community and US civil society by telling truth to power.  I first learned American Studies from William McLoughlin, a productive and inspiring scholar in religious and Native American history at Brown University, and a constant agitator for social justice; he had a poster in his office with a quotation from Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Action to the scholar is secondary, but essential.”
With its resolution for boycott, the ASA joins a growing minority of scholars and advocates seeking to shift the rhetorical agenda by encouraging debate about Israeli policies and “the unparalleled military and financial ties between the U.S. and Israel.”
The ASA president Curtis Marez has been ridiculed for sounding frivolous when he defended the boycott by saying, “We have to start somewhere,” as if it were an action of feckless meandering.  However, given the prevalent American attitudes about Israel and its environs, this may actually be the organization’s trump card for its willingness to challenge the longstanding inertia about a seemingly impossible situation.
The current mainstream US narrative is that the situation is a mess, and the Arabs in general and the Palestinians in particular are untrustworthy.  Add to this, for a significant minority of Americans, Islam is an illegitimate religion, and many even believe that it will fall sway in an epochal battle that will bring the victory, not ultimately of Jews, but of Christians.  In fact, a higher percentage of American white evangelicals than of American Jews support Israeli claims to Palestinian land.
To most Americans, Israel represents our team in the region, with its harsh measures fulfilling American interests.  This narrative is often presented as both a moral defense of Jews, and as a practical necessity for sustaining American power in this sector of the globe.  With its lack of attention to the Palestinians, this path also suggests a bleak future for Israeli Jews in tense relations with the other Semites in their midst, and with many Palestinians even contained behind walls.  Graffiti on one wall reads “Ich bin ein Berliner,” recalling John Kennedy’s defiance of the Berlin Wall in 1963.
Fear and anger have haunted each side for decades, with tragic cycles of terror and military reprisals.  The boycott is a welcome turn to nonviolence that should be applauded by all sides—except, of course, for those who find Arab terror useful for maintaining fear and justifying robust military policies.
It would be a tragedy if criticism of the ASA about the proper role for an academic organization would distract from the way that Israeli policies toward Palestinians have become a chapter in the contemporary American culture war between neo-conservative support of aggressive military strength by contrast with progressive hopes to scale back military action and spending in favor of diplomatic solutions.
Within this American polarization, ironically, the boycott has prompted some academic progressives to affiliate with Israel’s military measures for dealing with a population within its dominion.  The ASA action reminds us that Israeli political and military actions have been doing the work of conservative ideologies, but in liberal disguise.

Can Putin’s Ukrainian Strategy Be Countered? By Walter Russell Mead.

Can Putin’s Ukrainian Strategy Be Countered? By Walter Russell Mead. The American Interest, April 6, 2014.