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June 09, 2009

Comments

"intervening in American congressional races to weaken Obama"
Controversial? How about incredibly counterproductive?

Maybe I'm being naive here, but isn't it a bit...unusual...to just openly talk about influencing another country's elections?

Yes. Netanyahu himself dismissed this ploy pretty quickly.

"...ones that seeks to safeguard Israel's interests long-term, not continue the cycle of counterproductive overreach."

There is a major problem with this approach, though: those centers of power within Israel most susceptible to the notions of uncompromising antagonism towards Palestinian aspirations (when they aren't agitating for outright ethnic cleansing) are precisely the ones who reserve for themselves, the right of final determination of what is in "Israel's long-term interest": as in any independent nation. That these "interests" may conflict with American aims, or regional ones, or other peoples' notions of what "peace" should look like, is AFAICT, a matter of supreme unconcern to most of Israel's power structure.

I think Minister Peled will be proved mistaken in his notions just how much "influence" American Jews will be able or willing to exert on the Democratic Party or the Obama Administration: unfortunately, I'm sure that he and his hardline allies in "The Lobby" will do their damndest to try.


Gosh, it seems like only last week that we were hearing complaints about Obama daring to meddle in Israel's domestic affairs by demanding a freeze to West Bank settlement growth.

Minister-without-Portfolio Yossi Peled proposed Israeli sanctions on the US

...Bwahahahahahahaha!

That should go over well.

Peled recommends intervening in American congressional races

cleek recommends cutting off all Israeli aid.

On the contrary, calling for a freeze on settlements is pro-Israel. Lasting peace in the region without a halt to settlement construction, and a relaxation on the restrictions and hardships imposed on Palestinians in the West Bank due to those settlements, is not a possibility. Along those lines, it's well past time that the phrase "pro-Israel" is reclaimed from its close association with right-wing, belligerent, uncompromising Israeli positions that don't even enjoy the support of clear majorities in Israel itself.

Exactly.

Also, Peled's ideas are incredibly stupid.

Peled said foolish things. So?

Of greater importance are the obstacles to peace. A 2-state solution can easily bring about a much larger and bloodier war. The obvious path is a Palestinian State taken over by Hamas or Syria. They get foreign aid from all over the world and military aid from Iran. When they feel the time is right; they launch their new and better missiles.

There would be nothing to prevent a Palestinian State from calling in a million "Volunteers" from all over the Arab world to take down Israel.

A Palestinian State could end up in a nuclear war. If you can solve this you can make peace in the Arab/Israeli dispute. Otherwise not.

Now add Iran's nuclear madness to the situation. Iran arms Hamas and Hezbollah, why not nuclear arms for Palestine?

Israel won't stand for this, and that is another path to war.

"There would be nothing to prevent a Palestinian State from calling in a million "Volunteers" from all over the Arab world to take down Israel."

As I could call for a million volunteers to help me move apartments next week. Neither of us will receive such help, however.

Further, what's preventing Palestinians from making such a call now? Why aren't the volunteers materializing?

"Now add Iran's nuclear madness to the situation. Iran arms Hamas and Hezbollah, why not nuclear arms for Palestine?"

First of all, Iran has no nuclear weapons. So it can't give them to third parties. That's just the limitations of metaphysics.

Second, if Iran were to someday endure the massive expense and hardship to acquire a nuclear weapon, it would not give it away.

Third, if Iran developed massive stockpiles of weapons such that it felt that it could give one or two away, it would face certain annihilation if it gave one to a group that used it on Israel.

Fourth, neither Hamas nor Hez would be inclined to use a nuke on Israel because...well, Hamas lives there too. And Hez is right next door. And Israel would make them all disappear.

"If you can solve this you can make peace in the Arab/Israeli dispute."

Solved.

"Peled went on to urge an embargo on lulavs, etrogs, and those candy fruit slices you give the kids during Passover."

"On the contrary, calling for a freeze on settlements is pro-Israel"

I've always been dubious about this whole, "We know your interests better than you do, so take your medicine, damnit!" policy approach, whether domestic or foreign. Even if you're right, (And you're probably not.) it makes you no friends.

I mean, we're not exactly listening to the Chinese about denominating our bonds in Yuan, are we? They think it's in our best interest...

"Fourth, neither Hamas nor Hez would be inclined to use a nuke on Israel because...well, Hamas lives there too. And Hez is right next door. And Israel would make them all disappear."

They seem fond enough of lobbing rockets into Israel, despite the inevitable response and the enormous economic and human costs it's resulting in on 'their own' people. So, the leadership will make sure to be someplace else when they launch the attack, no skin off their noses.

"I've always been dubious about this whole, "We know your interests better than you do, so take your medicine, damnit!" policy approach, whether domestic or foreign. Even if you're right, (And you're probably not.) it makes you no friends."

But Brett, "pro-Israel" pundits/politicians are able to retain their "pro-Israel" designation even when they disagree with the then-sitting Israeli government (as neocons did with prior peace process efforts under Rabin and Barak).

Were you dubious then? Should those pundits/politicians no longer be considered pro-Israel? The point is, many of these sentiments are actually POPULAR in Israel. Supported by majorities. But if you voice them here, you're no longer considered "pro-Israel." So it's not presuming to know what's good for them, it's agreeing with large parts of their population about what's good for them.

Reminds me of the last president that was deemed insufficiently "pro-Israel": Jimmy Carter.

Apparently, he had the temerity to suggest to Israel that making peace with Egypt and Jordan were in its long term interests. That he knew better. For this he was excoriated, and still is. Of course, he was right.

For this he was excoriated, and still is.

well, he is History's Greatest Monster, after all.

Actually, I think he's mostly excoriated these days for his habit of observing various despots' show elections, and declaring everything was peachy.

I've always been dubious about this whole, "We know your interests better than you do, so take your medicine, damnit!" policy approach, whether domestic or foreign. Even if you're right, (And you're probably not.) it makes you no friends.

Aside from what Eric said--and I wish I'd written his perfect response to Fred's diarrhea of hypotheticals--this sounds great on paper as a variation on "get off my lawn" foreign policy, but it really has nothing to with the real world. It's also a complete mischaracterization of the Obama admin's approach.

In the real world, allies have differing opinions and conflicting interests, and this whole thing we call diplomacy is the packaging in which these concerns are delivered to other countries. What it sounds like you're suggesting is that if we disagree with what our notional friends are doing and think it's harmful to their own interests, we should keep it to ourselves.

Not only is this dysfunctional isolationism, it is a complete failure to be a good friend and ally. I'm just glad that none of us are Brett's friends, so that we can continue to receive the benefit of the opinions and advice he would withhold were we closer.

One final note: it's not just Israel's interests that are at stake here. The instability in that region--instability exacerbated in no small part by the settlements in question--affects all of us. Some more than others, and clearly Israelis most proximately, but let's not pretend that the United States is a disinterested party here. We've got a stake in this too, if for no other reason than because of the massive amount of military and financial aid we give Israel.

"Actually, I think he's mostly excoriated these days for his habit of observing various despots' show elections, and declaring everything was peachy."

Let's have some links on that, please.

We've got a stake in this too, if for no other reason than because of the massive amount of military and financial aid we give Israel.

Absolutely correct, and the U.S. is perfectly within its rights to call in some of its chips.

http://www.usnews.com/usnews/opinion/baroneweb/mb_040820.htm>This help? Or http://www.opinionjournal.com/wsj/?id=110005509>this?

Or how about http://www.fair.org/index.php?page=2263>this?

"This help?"

Michael Barone's personal accusation? No, not really. Chavez is a thug, but he's been a very popular thug in Venezuela.

"Or this?"

Ah, yes, an accusation from a Wall Street Journal op-ed on the same election. Also very objective. And lastly, you cite a piece from 1994 whose evidence is... assertion!

Very convincing. Why bother to present checkable citations when we can back our assertions with assertions?

Incidentally, if you check the quote attributed to Carter about Mrs. Cedras in your last cited piece, you'll find it goes back to that highly regarded international correspondent, Maureen Dowd.

Tend to agree with Gary.

Chavez is a rank demagogue who is hurting Venezuela, but his willingness to, at least ostensibly and in some real ways, champion the lower classes (for the first time in Venzuela's history, really) has made him very popular.

He didn't cheat those elections. And he has suffered electoral setbacks in recent years - which belies the notion that the is in (though doesn't rule it out).

I'm with Cleek. Peled should bring it. I would love to save tax payers that aid money.

Hey, you want evidence of what he's been excoriated about, you gotta go to people excoriating him. That's pretty basic, I would think. Got a complaint that makes more sense?

"Hey, you want evidence of what he's been excoriated about, you gotta go to people excoriating him. That's pretty basic, I would think."

I would think going to something resembling an unbiased source, with something resembling some checkable facts, would be a good place to go to support a claim.

My claim was on the subject of what he was being excoriated about, the links to people excoriating him were direct evidence.

Asking for the testimony of an unimpeachable source as to what Michael Barone and the WSJ were saying about him instead of their own words is stupid.

Or perhaps you want to know what people Gary Farber regards as unimpeachable sources are excoriating him about? That's not what I was commenting on, and I haven't a clue as to whether such people are even engaging in any Carter excoriating.

Actually, I think he's mostly excoriated these days for his habit of observing various despots' show elections, and declaring everything was peachy.

See, I'd actually note that words like "mostly" have meanings, and that while books get published on what a monster Carter is based on his decades-old foreign policy and his invocations of apartheid to describe Israel, there are only a few outlets that beat him up for election monitoring. I think Messrs. Farber and Martin were also presupposing that choosing the wording "observing various despots' show elections," which in the case of Venezuela is an objectively false claim, was a personal choice. However, since Mr. Bellmore was simply reporting the mendacious formulation chosen by Barone and the WSJ op-ed, rather than editorializing, he shouldn't be ganged-up on over a misunderstanding.

Also, it doesn't have to be true for it to count as "excoriation." Note that Mr. Martin's first mention of "excoriated" has to do with dishonest attacks on his administration's Israel policy, just as the attacks on "show elections" is dishonest.

"Peled went on to urge an embargo on lulavs, etrogs, and those candy fruit slices you give the kids during Passover."

Hilarious, Mike.

But Brett, "pro-Israel" pundits/politicians are able to retain their "pro-Israel" designation even when they disagree with the then-sitting Israeli government (as neocons did with prior peace process efforts under Rabin and Barak)

Absolutely correct. A good example is Norman Podhoretz, who was loud in proclaiming the right of the Israeli government to determine its own policies, until a new government adopted policies he didn't like.

"They seem fond enough of lobbing rockets into Israel, despite the inevitable response and the enormous economic and human costs it's resulting in on 'their own' people. So, the leadership will make sure to be someplace else when they launch the attack, no skin off their noses."

I used to throw hard objects at and beat up a neo-Nazi kid I knew growing up, but that doesn't make me Eisenhower. There's a huge gulf between shoulder-fired rockets and nukes.

Those rocket attacks have been rather ineffective from a military standpoint. They're crappily designed and don't kill that many people. The net effect is causing Israel to retaliate, which just raises hardship and anger among the Palestinians and makes the PLO and Abbas look weak and ineffective, which is a net gain for the Hamas leadership. If the leadership were really crazy instead of just looking out for themselves, they would be carrying out suicide attacks themselves instead of brainwashing teenage boys (perhaps the easiest demographic to seduce into violence) to do it instead with the promise of 72 virgins.

Also, Jerusalem is one of the holiest cities in Islam. I somehow doubt even the craziest Muslim extremist who is capable and organized enough to lead a major terrorist state or organization, secure a nuke secretly, secretly transport it to Israel and set it off all without Mossad, the CIA, MI6 (or just about any intelligence service because no major power would benefit from this nuke going off) finding out first might figure out that nuking Jerusalem (and in the process, likely destroying Bethlehem as well, considering how Isa/Jesus is a major figure in Islam) wouldn't make Allah happy. Just saying, "well, they're insane" is just lazy thinking. Mao was perhaps even nuttier (he thought that a nuclear war with the US that saw both the US and the Soviet Union destroyed while China got hit with nukes would be fine because China could lose most of its population and still have enough people left over to finish building communism) and he became Nixon's drinking buddy.

Hmm--wonder how Israel can sanction the US? Maybe the Israelis can cash the checks they get really quickly, instead of waiting until the end of the week like the US asked them to...

I'd just like to point out to Brett that, worst of all, Jimmy Carter has yet to speak out against this.

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