Tuesday, May 20, 2008


You can forget about social security, the IRS, or health care, the REAL third-rail issue in American Politics is Israel. There is a real lack of honesty about the situation between Israel and what is left of the state of Palestine.

There is a pretty massive gap in the American consciousness regarding the state of Israel. Israel does a lot of questionable actions, such as the policy of settlements in the West Bank and the destruction of Palestinian homes when there are suspected militants. Obviously this is not a path to peace but to escalating conflict.

Bush is doing his part to fan the flames. His comments regarding the Democratic candidates for President were deplorable, and made on foreign soil. (Dixie Chicks anyone?) Bush should shuffle off the stage, and he should do it silently.

Our sitting President has zero credibility. At home or abroad. It would almost be laughable if it weren't for the fact that Bush is still President and those kind of smears work. When the issue is irrational those kind of attacks are particularly effective.

The first, and most important, is the situation on the ground and the readiness of the parties themselves to take the lead, irrespective of what America is doing. Anwar Sadat’s heroic overture to Israel, and Menachem Begin’s response, made the Jimmy Carter-engineered Camp David peace treaty possible. The painful, post-1973 war stalemate between Israel and Egypt and Syria made Henry Kissinger’s disengagement agreements possible. The collapse of the Soviet Union and America’s defeat of Iraq in the first gulf war made possible James Baker’s success in putting the Madrid peace process together.

What all three of these U.S. statesmen had in common, though — and this is the second criterion — was that when history gave them an opening, they seized it, by being tough, cunning and fair with both sides.

I don’t want a president who is just going to lean on Israel and not get in the Arabs’ face too, or one who, as the former Mideast negotiator Aaron D. Miller puts it, “loves Israel to death” — by not drawing red lines when Israel does reckless things that are also not in America’s interest, like building settlements all over the West Bank.

It’s a tricky business. But if Israel is your voting priority, then at least ask the right questions about Mr. Obama. Knock off the churlish whispering campaign about what’s in his heart on Israel (what was in Richard Nixon’s heart?) and focus first on what kind of America you think he’d build and second on whether you believe that as president he’d have the smarts, steel and cunning to seize a historic opportunity if it arises.

Thomas Friedman, New York Times May 18, 2008

I think that Friedman has been getting it right for a while now, and he appears to be spot on again. Read his whole column to really get the feel of what he is saying.


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