The third rail shrugs (Washington Post publishes Walt on Israel lobby)

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Three years after the Washington Post published a disgraceful column by Dana Milbank, describing Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer as "Germanic… blue-eyed" white-knuckled anti-Semites….Three years after it allowed Jeffrey Goldberg to describe Jimmy Carter as a throwback to early Christian anti-Semitism… the Post lifts itself from the lobby’s sodden bed to print this piece by Stephen Walt on why Obama can’t confront Netanyahu. And Walt pins the tail on the donkey. He even uses the word apartheid:

Why is Obama letting Netanyahu thwart his efforts? To begin with, the president has too much on his plate — the economic crisis, the health-care battle, Afghanistan, Iran’s nuclear problem — so the attention he can devote to Israeli-Palestinian peace is limited.

And then there is the Israel lobby.

The good news is that there is a new pro-Israel organization, J Street, which is committed to the two-state solution and firmly behind Obama. The bad news is that the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and other defenders of the status quo remain powerful, and they will surely oppose any attempt to pressure Netanyahu…

If Obama tries to make aid to Israel conditional on a settlement freeze, Congress will simply override him. Putting real pressure on Israel risks alienating key politicians and major Democratic fundraisers, as well as Israel’s supporters in the media, imperiling the rest of Obama’s agenda and conceivably his prospects for reelection. Moreover, several of Obama’s top advisers, such as Dennis Ross, are enthusiastic supporters of America’s "special relationship" with Israel and would almost certainly oppose using U.S. leverage to force Israeli concessions. Obama and special envoy George Mitchell are negotiating with one hand tied behind their backs, and Netanyahu knows it.

If tangible progress toward a viable Palestinian state does not happen soon, however, Abbas and other moderate Palestinians will only be weakened and radical groups such as Hamas only strengthened. Obama’s commitment to two states for two peoples, and his declaration in Cairo that "it is time for these settlements to stop," will sound hollow. Israel will be stuck repressing millions of angry Palestinians and will increasingly resemble an apartheid state.

Notice the reference to the media. This piece is important because the Post speaks to Washington and Washington knows that Steve Walt is in purdah. So maybe he’s not in purdah now, huh? A piece like this can actually do something toward changing the murky water in the aquarium so that Congress is liberated, and Obama has more wiggle room. I doubt these things will come to pass, but let’s celebrate the Washington Post.

Though I am afraid of what the Post will now do to "contextualize" Walt’s truth.

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