Friday, March 26, 2010

Journalist misses truth about Israeli occupation

Quelle surpris!

this is my umpteenth letter to the Washington Post about how often their columnists ignore the basic truths about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict--like the fact that Israel is an occupying power and, under international law, is barred from appropriating occupied territory, which is an actual war crime--and Jackson Diehl is a decision maker at the Post, routinely deciding what should run and what shouldn't, and he should know better than to pretend that the problem here is the Palestinian leadership or the Obama administration.

Assuming that the U.S. really wants to midwife worthwhile negotiations between the two parties, rather than merely give the appearance of working hard, the Obama administration ought to be far more concerned with naming Israeli transgressions (subsidized by U.S. aid) than with affirming Israeli-U.S. friendship. No true friend would spend so much time enabling dysfunctional behavior. Anyway, here's the letter:


President Obama has made “flagrant mistakes” in dealing with the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, says Deputy Editorial Page Editor Jackson Diehl (“A Mideast obstacle, ignored,” Mar. 22). Diehl asserts that the Bush administration’s handling of Israel would be a better model for managing the many obstacles that crop up on the path to a negotiated settlement, a claim that has me scratching my head.

Outside of Diehl, AIPAC and partisan Republican observers, I’m hard put to identify another source for such a high opinion of Bush administration statecraft in the Middle East. This should not be surprising considering that there were no negotiations, at all, between Israel and the Palestinians for seven years after the end of peace talks in 2001. At the time Bush administration Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice managed to restart talks, the Israeli government was led by the relatively moderate Ehud Olmert, not by the likes of hardliner Binyamin Netanyahu, a distinction that Diehl acknowledges while dismissing its significance.

Historically, the United States has been the most important guarantor of Israel’s existence as a Jewish state. The U.S. has also subsidized Israel with almost $1 trillion since the founding of the state. Accordingly, the Obama administration reacted critically to the recent announcement that Israel would build an additional 1,600 housing units in Arab East Jerusalem. That criticism was leavened, as all U.S. criticism has been, by repeated affirmations of the unique and “special” relationship between the two countries. Diehl, however, says the current White House “went ballistic.” I think “ballistic” would be a better description of what Israel “went” last year in Gaza.

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