Obama capitulates to the Israeli side

Israel/PalestineUS Politics
on 78 Comments


His [Mitchell’s] main message will be the need to apply pressure, especially from the Arab states, on the Palestinian Authority to resume negotiations with Israel. At last week’s meeting of the Quartet, Mitchell told the delegates there was no prospect of Israel agreeing to a complete halt in construction in East Jerusalem, which the Palestinians have been demanding.

We are seeing the complete capitulation of the Obama administration to the Netanyahu government and the Israeli Lobby. Once again American Mideast foreign policy becomes a mere extension of US domestic politics. As in the Clinton years, it is demanded of the Palestinians that they be the ones to adjust to American and Israeli political realities.

78 Responses

  1. Oscar
    January 17, 2010, 11:04 am

    Distressing turn of events. Not surprising, though, if Obama has no leverage.

    The only way that the Palestinians should come back to the table is as a unfied force of Fatah and Hamas with the ’67 borders already agreed upon by the parties, and if the European Union is responsible for negotiations. The US cannot be an honest broker between the parties.

  2. wondering jew
    January 17, 2010, 11:36 am

    If there is a will on both sides to talk to each other, there is no reason that those talks would not occur in private and the rest of it is just a show.

    Obama’s presidency Act II will begin either after passage of health care reform or possibly on Wednesday with the defeat of the democratic candidate in Mass.

    • potsherd
      January 17, 2010, 11:41 am

      Surely, WJ, you can have no more faith in Obama!

    • Duscany
      January 17, 2010, 4:11 pm

      How will Act II be different than what we’ve seen to date?

    • Colin Murray
      January 17, 2010, 4:18 pm

      If there is a will on both sides to talk to each other, …

      Isn’t it crystal clear that there is no ‘will’ on the Israeli side for genuine negotiations? It’s not that both sides aren’t willing to sit down and talk, it’s that Palestinians are no longer willing to sit down and talk when they know that Israelis are just at the table to be able to claim before the world that they are working towards peace, and that they have absolutely no intention of doing anything but accelerating their campaign of occupation, ethnic cleansing, and colonization.

      There is no point in trying to reach a compromise with someone to stop them from rifling through your pockets, when they are not only not going to stop during any negotiations, but have made it crystal clear that they have no intention of ending their thievery no matter what words are exchanged. The objective isn’t to talk, it’s to negotiate. I won’t blame a victim who can’t stop his assailant, from deciding to at least be robbed with as much dignity as possible by not helping the thief by providing him with a veneer of respectability that might fool others into thinking that he is anything other than a thief.

  3. Citizen
    January 17, 2010, 11:39 am

    The USA has economically pressured big states, e.g. Russia and formerly, the USSR, and how many others(?) to make those states do more than give lip service to basic human civil rights… The list of states so pressured is long–there’s only one exception, Israel, the single state with no strategic or economic or energy leverage to counter US pressure, a state the size of a postage stamp sans any utility for US strategic or economic or energy interests. Uncle Sam is a total whore, an insane one at that: Uncle Sam gives up its ass to
    organized jewry, a singular most pointed bald dick. Before you castigate me for these images, think about it. My question is, are Israeli whims the same as what’s best for Uncle Sam and his 300 plus million individual cells? Can you say cancer?

    • Mooser
      January 18, 2010, 1:11 pm

      . “Before you castigate me for these images, think about it.”

      Why, so we can be more specific about where the anti-Semitic tropes you continuously employ come from? Something has happened to you in the past week, you have just about lost all ability to control your rhetoric.
      And you were doing so well for a while! I actually thought you might be absorbing the democratic and humanist principles evident in so many of the posters,( and very impressively bolstered by their experience and knowledge. )
      Are you undergoing a great stress, or have you suffered a reversal in some area? Life is indeed tough.

  4. potsherd
    January 17, 2010, 11:40 am

    What there is “no prospect for” is a 2 state resolution to the conflict, given that Netanyahu insists on confiscating and Judaizing all of Jerusalem. One thing is certain – the more Byahoo pushes for this agreement, the worse it is for the Palestinians.

    I’ve been a severe critic of Abbbas as a quisling and Israeli catspaw, but I’m entirely behind him in this move, refusing to sign away Palestinian rights.

  5. tommy
    January 17, 2010, 11:44 am

    President Uncle War Tom Toms never had any intention of doing anything to reduce America’s complicity with Palestinian oppression or Israeli militant territorial acquisition of Palestinian lands. After the Gazan Massacre it became apparent the US should defend Palestinians as vigorously and as generously as the US defends Israel. No such policy will be coming from an establishmentarian war pig.

    • wondering jew
      January 17, 2010, 11:49 am

      How is it that when anyone uses the phrase self hating Jew everyone gets up in arms, but behold calling the president an Uncle Tom is acceptable.

      • Citizen
        January 17, 2010, 11:53 am

        Hey, it’s acceptable, Obama is an Uncle Tom–the current plantation world is Israel and its
        OT. Look at Obama’s key appointments. Look at where his publically expressed sympathies lie–it does not matter whether or not he really believes them; he just needs to do his Master’s job–and he’s doing it.

      • wondering jew
        January 17, 2010, 11:59 am

        So why not refer to Tony Judt or Shlomo Sand as Jewish Uncle Toms.

      • Cliff
        January 17, 2010, 12:12 pm

        Why? Israel is the racist South. Judt and Sand are speaking out against the State as it is. Obama is capitulating and dishonoring the legacy of those who fought against racism/etc. here.

        Why would those two authors, whose work contradicts the mythology of Israel’s founding and it’s existence as some kind of ridiculous moral beacon, be Uncle Toms?

        I suppose for the racist Jews (mainly European) they simply associate the ‘Uncle Tom’ label with ‘traitor’.

        Ok, I agree WJ. They are Uncle Toms. That says a lot about what Israel must be, since the label only applies after someone criticizes Israel so thoroughly.

      • tommy
        January 17, 2010, 12:12 pm

        The president, unlike Uncle Tom, is not a slave. He is not subject to beatings, malnourishment, illiteracy or being sold to Simon Legree. Yet the president will sit on the sidelines and watch the slaughter of Palestinians by Israelis with provided US weapons, which is similar to the complaint against Uncle Tom, who would watch slave owners and slave traders rape children and do nothing about it. As a slave, Uncle Tom can be forgiven. As a president and well educated lawyer Obama cannot be forgiven. Besides, calling Obama Uncle War Tom Toms is not calling the president Uncle Tom. Your accusation is reaching in order to change the subject about the president’s ignoring the US responsibility for the oppression of Palestinians by Israelis. Palestinian hating people should rile people up in opposition to US and Israeli policies, and much of their bile should be directed at the president.

      • Cliff
        January 17, 2010, 12:22 pm

        Wow, I missed WJ’s original comment. How could you be so ignorant?

        Self-hating Jew is NOT the same thing as an Uncle Tom.

        An Uncle Tom is a black person who has basically become subservient within a racial context. An Uncle Tom lacks self-respect and dignity. They are essentially being dishonest with their state in life.

        It has to have new meaning now since slavery does not exist for African Americans. However, that doesn’t mean they weren’t subjugated in one form or the other since then.

        I’ve yet to see an honest definition of what a self-hating Jew is. A lot of things related to ‘Jewishness’ through the Zionist political lens just seem flat-out corrupt and fallacious.

        Like going through a Holocaust museum and then finishing the tour w/ the Israeli national anthem.

        Or calling someone a self-hating Jew because they reveal and expose Zionist mythology.

        It’s pure hypocrisy. Self-hating Jew is a badge of honor when it comes to Zionism.

        I can’t fathom how you’d equate Zionist smear tactic to ‘Uncle Tom’.

      • wondering jew
        January 17, 2010, 12:32 pm

        I am referring to the specifics of Tony Judt and Shlomo Sand asserting that no Jewish people exists. (Shlomo Sand asserting it and Judt quoting it as a form of intellectual cover for his own views regarding the conflict.) I have never used the term self hating Jew but others have and sometimes Jews deny who they are by saying there is no Jewish nation or people. This is a form of denial of the self and different than Uncle Tom but similar as well.

        Oh and by the way, Tommy, if you call somebody Uncle Tom Tom War Drums, that is calling him an Uncle Tom plus.

      • Cliff
        January 17, 2010, 12:50 pm

        I can’t possibly imagine why HE is a self-hating Jew if he does not believe in the concept as you do.

        How can he hate something he doesn’t believe in?

        Obama on the other hand, wanted to make peace right? And he got owned, didn’t he? And now he’s capitulating, isn’t he?

        Whereas Sand wrote a book. Has his argument been demolished? If so, can you confidently paraphrase it? This would demonstrate that such a counter-argument makes sense to you and that you understand it.

        Not simply a copy-paste job along the lines of Julian or yonira, who do not understand what they cite but simply do so because it ‘sounds’ right. Furthermore, they cite it as ammunition and not as a legitimate point of contention.

        Self-hating Jew is a totalitarian concept. A Jew must be a certain way according to the Jew applying the label.

        A Uncle Tom is a term that arose during the era of Slavery. It has a more physical meaning.

        I could understand kapo as a parallel, relatively more than ‘self-hating’ (especially in the context of your examples).

        Jews were being destroyed and they didn’t do anything to deserve such a fate, so the term ‘kapo’ has an emotional resonance to it.

        Uncle Tom as well. Blacks were enslaved and some were being accommodating and subservient to the racists and slave-owners? So I can understand the parallel. But not w/ self-hating. That’s much more open to debate. It’s much less physical.

      • Cliff
        January 17, 2010, 1:04 pm

        Oh and neither of the people you listed would be ‘kapos’ – but I’m sure they’ve been labeled that.

        The more I think about these terms though, it’s just inappropriate. I don’t even like calling Obama Uncle Tom.

        Corporate hack is more accurate anyway.

      • wondering jew
        January 17, 2010, 1:06 pm

        There are black people who can pass and if they choose to pass I guess they would be called race traitors. But if you didn’t like the term self hate, you certainly aren’t going to like race traitors.

        Madeline Albright’s parents chose to convert to Christianity to save their child the stigma and thereby open doors. To ensure their plan they never told Madeline what her past had been. Does this denial need a label for you to accept that it is something that contains a negative seed?

      • Cliff
        January 17, 2010, 1:18 pm

        Yea that seems like a sincere application of the label and not a slippery slope.

        My point was that Sand does not accept the identity. Not out of shame, but out of his own intellectual investigation into the concept.

        It’s not out of self-loathing or denial of the self (which btw, presupposes that Jewishness is beyond Life and Death and existence in general). He is a man, a human being and he was born a Jew according to Jewish law or something, right?

        And if Jewishness is ‘racial’ then who called it ‘Jewishness’ in the first place? Why not Pastafarian?

        These are man-made identities. Same w/ every other religion.

        He considers himself Israeli. He believes there is an Israeli culture and so on and so forth. That is who he chooses to be.

        Could he not make that choice amicably? Does it have to be out of hatred? If he never had a choice, then how can it always be hatred?

        Oh and again, going back to Uncle Tom. The difference is physical. They were in chains in one way or the other. So someone subjugating themselves to get back was denying themselves their own dignity. It has a lot to do w/ their ‘self’ and the ‘self’ imposed on them. Like how the Nazis made Jews feel a certain degrading kind of Jewishness (not universal, just through the Nazi lens).

        Your example is much better than carelessly mentioning Sand and Judt.

        As I said, the concepts that the latter speak of are harder to associate w/ self-loathing because it comes from a sincere intellectual curiosity.

        Although, I think one Israeli prof. made a point that he felt as though the book was framing Jewish history and not presenting it organically. But if this is true, would it not strengthen the argument that a ‘Jewish people’ is invented over time?

      • wondering jew
        January 17, 2010, 1:26 pm

        By Shlomo Sand’s definition of nation it would be impossible to be in dispersion for any length of time comparable to a thousand years or more and still maintain the degree of cultural affinity that he was demanding.

        (But unless I can prove some malice in his intellectual development I must grant him intellectual honesty and not attribute it to his “confusion” regarding his “identity”.)

      • Cliff
        January 17, 2010, 1:31 pm

        He appears to be a pragmatist. He doesn’t support a full right of return (or even partial? not sure) not because he believes is a Jewish majority but because of he problems it would cause. I think he said he wants the 2 State solution as a first step towards a future reconciliation. To build upon.

        I think he is sincere, he certainly gives that impression in his lectures. He doesn’t shy away and doesn’t sound conspiratorial. He engages his audience.

      • Cliff
        January 17, 2010, 1:33 pm

        Err, wish there was an edit feature. I think he said he wanted some kind of confederation and blah blah.

        Initiate a right of return slowly over time, and stuff like that.

      • Citizen
        January 17, 2010, 3:36 pm

        An Uncle Tom ostensibly overlooked the injustice done to his kin, just to survive.
        A Kapo may have done the same thing.

        Both chose to survive and gain a few comforts by aiding the enemy.

        A “self-hating Jew” as applied by hasbara is a jew who calls other Jews to account for the the immorality of their negative actions viz a viz gentiles.

        To be called a “self-hating Jew” is a badge of altruistic courage and higher human ethics, which is the contrary of being called an Uncle Tom or Kapo.

        A “self-hating” Jew is like being a German member of the White Rose.
        You may recall the members of the German White Rose were executed for attempting free speech in a fascist land. These days in USA and Israel,
        such rebels are cut off economically, not by firing squad.

      • VR
        January 17, 2010, 7:05 pm

        That is ok WJ, I do not see Israel as either Jewish or democratic.

      • VR
        January 17, 2010, 7:15 pm

        In case you are wondering what that means WJ, simply put, I do not need Israel to form my identity.

      • RoHa
        January 17, 2010, 7:30 pm

        When you say “Jewish nation”, what do you mean by “nation”?

      • kapok
        January 17, 2010, 8:03 pm

        Depends who you ask. Some say a haven for mistreated Jews; others, a fortress for Israeli gangsters.

      • Donald
        January 17, 2010, 9:01 pm

        Not that it matters much, but the “Uncle Tom” in Stowe’s novel was a slave who was beaten to death by whites because he refused to betray the location of some escaped slaves. He’s a Christian pacifist, but also a martyr who dies for the sake of his fellow slaves. Somehow, over the course of time, the meaning of this character has been twisted until it now means a black man who was subservient to his white masters. Since he’s only a fictional character it doesn’t matter so much, but still, it is sort of interesting to see how easily a reputation can be turned upside down.

      • RoHa
        January 18, 2010, 7:34 am

        I’ll expand on my question a bit.

        “Jews deny who they are by saying there is no Jewish nation or people.”

        What do you mean by saying that they deny who they are? Joshua Stern does not deny he is Joshua Stern if he says there is no Jewish nation.

        What do you mean by ” nation”? When I say “nation” I mean a political entity of the same type as China, the USA, Australia, Bolivia, Sweden, India, and all the members of the United Nations. Now it is clear that Israel is a nation which calls itself Jewish. No-one denies that Israel exists.

        And there are clearly people who class themselves as Jews, so who are those who deny that Jewish people exist?

      • wondering jew
        January 18, 2010, 8:03 am

        RoHa- Who is Joshua Stern?

        When some commenter used the term Uncle Tom (as “disguised” as it was in his Uncle Tom Tom War Drums or whatever), I wished to delve into the use of terms regarding racial servility or racial self hate. At first I cast my net too wide and then I narrowed my analogy to the case of Madeline Albright’s parents.

        On the issue of Jewish nationhood. There are two schools of thought- the Jews are a nation/people/ethnicity, the Jews are a religion. The Jewish religion calls the Children of Israel and later the Jewish people “am” which is translated as nation. If you have an alternate definition of “am” let me hear it. Even 2500 years ago when the Babylonian exile yielded returnees to the land and a rebuilding of the Temple, the question of what is a nation if it has a large diaspora was a valid question. Today’s nation states are not besides the point because most of them contain mixtures that are similar in some way to the mixtures that the Jewish “am” contains.

        But it is a discussion for seven hundred pages and not for seven hundred words.

      • bigbill
        January 18, 2010, 12:28 pm

        Really? You know why Albright’s parents converted? I would love to see a link if you have some evidence beyond (very) educated speculation.

        I suspect, however, that is all it is: speculation. Now I have no doubt that you speak from life experience and a deep knowledge of the Jewish people and what motivates them.

        You could be right. Her parents could have been cryptojews, but I would like to see some evidence.

      • tommy
        January 18, 2010, 1:11 pm

        No. Uncle Tom is an epithet because of Tom’s passivity in the face of horrific violence. Uncle War Tom Toms is a worse description because it communicates the president is an active participant who beats war drums. The president is an active participant in the oppression of Palestinians, and he should be ethically and politically condemned for it.

        Self hating Jew is used to communicate Jewish peers who oppose Israel’s militant policies are betraying their race by opposing murder loving Zionists. Self hating Jew is used to obfuscate the fact Israeli supporters love to kill Arabs and hate Jews who do not love to kill Arabs.

      • RoHa
        January 19, 2010, 7:40 am

        Joshua Stern is an imaginary Jew. You can use the name of a real Jew if you want to. My point is that he is still Joshua Stern, and still thinks he is Joshua Stern, even if he denies that there is a Jewish nation.

        “The Jewish religion calls the Children of Israel and later the Jewish people “am” which is translated as nation. If you have an alternate definition of “am” let me hear it.”

        What does “nation” mean when you use it as a translation for “am”?

        It seems you do not mean what I mean when I say or write “nation”.

      • RoHa
        January 19, 2010, 7:55 am

        Perhaps I can phrase my questions this way.

        (a) What are the defining features of a nation in the sense that you are using it?

        (b) Why does it matter whether the Jews are that sort of nation or not?

      • Aref
        January 19, 2010, 8:44 am

        Hebrew “am” is the same or similar to the Arabic “umma”–I am not a linguist but I think that the two words share the same root. The words are often translated as nation. However, as with any word, the meaning today is not the same as it was 2000 years ago.
        Today, the word nation is generally endowed with political meaning as well as social meaning and generally it conjures ideas of state as in the nation state. Am or umma as used then are probably more accurately translated as community.
        In all cases it does not matter whether Jews or any other community thinks of themselves as a nation or not. What is important is the relationship vis-a-vis other communities or nations.

      • RoHa
        January 19, 2010, 9:28 am

        “In all cases it does not matter whether Jews or any other community thinks of themselves as a nation or not. What is important is the relationship vis-a-vis other communities or nations. ”

        If a community thinks of itself as a nation, then the political implications of the modern concept become relevant.

        We start raising the dual-loyalty questions. If Australian Jews belong to another nation, should we allow them to hold sensitive positions in the Australian Government?

        Consider this clause of the Australian Constitution.
        “44. Any person who
        (i.) Is under any acknowledgment of allegiance, obedience or adherence to a foreign power, or is a subject or a citizen or entitled to the rights or privileges of a subject or a citizen of a foreign power: shall be incapable of being chosen or of sitting as a senator or a member of the House of Representatives. ”

        Note the phrasing used in this discussion of the law: “The court has said, in effect, that one must do more than take up Australian nationality, which includes renouncing other allegiances: one must go through the process of renunciation according to the laws of the nation or nations to which former allegiance has been given.”

        link to anzacatt.org.au

        If Jews think of themselves as a nation, does this apply to Australian Jews?

        Australia allows dual citizenship in general, but Japan doesn’t. Can a Jew become a Japanese citizen and remain a Jew?

        So I think it does matter whether a group thinks of itself as a “nation”, and what sort of thing that “nation” is supposed to be.

      • RoHa
        January 19, 2010, 9:41 am

        I will rephrase (b) as “why do you think it is important for Jews to regard themselves as a nation?”

      • Mooser
        January 18, 2010, 1:14 pm

        “but behold calling the president an Uncle Tom is acceptable.

        And it took you all of five minutes to determine that. On the other hand, you think Phil and Adam can do all they do and monitor this blog 4/7? I’m sure they will get to it.

        BTW, ever read the book? Uncle Tom turns out to be a hero, doesn’t he?

  6. potsherd
    January 17, 2010, 12:03 pm

    Speaking of pressure on Abbas, Akiva Eldar relates how Yuval Diskin, head of the Shin Bet, threatened him into repudiating the Goldstone report. link to haaretz.com

    At the October meeting in Ramallah, Shin Bet chief Yuval Diskin told Abbas that if he did not ask for a deferral of the vote on the critical report on last year’s military operation, Israel would turn the West Bank into a “second Gaza.”

    Diskin, who reports directly to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, threatened to revoke the easing of restrictions on movement within the West Bank that had been implemented earlier last year. He also said Israel would withdraw permission for mobile phone company Wataniya to operate in the Palestinian Authority. That would have cost the PA tens of millions of dollars in compensation payments to the company.

    A PA official close to Abbas told Haaretz that Diskin came to the Muqata compound in Ramallah in October with a foreign diplomatic delegation, and that a senior Israel Defense Forces officer made similar threats to other PA leaders at around the same time.

    This would be the permanent fate of any “Palestinian state”, always dependant on Israel, always subject to Israeli threats that it would have no means to defend itself against.

  7. Citizen
    January 17, 2010, 12:43 pm

    Can you say insane? Then can you say Israel? Lastly, can you say AIPAC?

    link to intifada-palestine.com

    • potsherd
      January 17, 2010, 2:03 pm

      Very insightful piece.

    • Danaa
      January 17, 2010, 3:06 pm

      Abigail expresses well the kind of ideas I have been struggling with for a long time now. In particular, the fact that one cannot deal with I/P only politically, because one participant to the conflict, Israel, has, in fact, gone insane. Abigail came to my attention a little more than a year ago (I believe it was Dickerson on MJRosenberg’s blog at TPM who I saw mention her writings first) and I found her take on the israeli mind frame very useful – and, as potsherd says, highly insightful.

      My personal interest tends to focus more on treatment than diagnosis though. If Israel’s behavior is in part motivated by irrational drives, it’s because it’s sense of self-identity is thoroughly compromised – as Abigail points out 9and others have too) – it allowed itself to be defined by it’s worst enemies, therefore internalizing the “enemies’ views of it’s very raison d’etre. That has consequences for dealing with israel’s behavior, since an irrational entity – collective or individual – does not necessarily respond rationally to either carrots or sticks. Something that we see playing out almost daily through the kind of crazy behavior patterns and/or pronouncements exhibited by government officials – eg, the recent preposterous behavior of ayalon towards the turkish ambassador. yet many persist in treating israel as they would an unruly – but fundamentally sane – teenager.

      To me, the model of israeli society gone insane is useful for predicting it’s future behavior though more in terms of what it’ll not do than what it will. It is BTW also the angle I used in the past to dissect witty’s convoluted missives on almost any issue. Witty is the type of american jew (representative of all too many, as much as people hate to see that) who insists of maintaining an attitude towards israel, as if one were dealing with a rational entity. He therefore talks as the traditional enabler of the alcoholic’s spouse. Hence the disconnect between his posts and reality – something that’s obvious to everyone here.

      As for the treatment that may work, BDS is one tool out of many that can – and should be – part of a behavior modification regimen. alas, I must admit that it is probably insufficient by itself, since it’s not like shock therapy alone (which is what BDS sort of is) cannot wake the “patient” from it’s stupor. I think we may well need an entire task force just to deal with the deeply disturbing psychological dimensions of the problem before it’s too late for us all.

      And there’s our obama – sending one mitchell to talk reason to a soon-to-be-certified lunatic. It would be funny were it not so tragic.

      • Citizen
        January 17, 2010, 3:44 pm

        I bet Mitchell would like nothing better than to get Obama’s (Axlerod’s & Rahm’s) OK to threaten
        Israel with a few sticks, rather than drool more carrots. The best thing Mitchell could go is to resign from his post and call a press conference to tell the USA and World why.

      • Danaa
        January 17, 2010, 4:53 pm

        If only he’d be willing to forgo his career and reputation for the sake of truth and peace? Alas, I don’t think Mitchell has the DNA for such bold action. What he tells himself at the end of each day full of fruitless meetings and bucketfulls of exchanged platitudes is anyone’s guess.

        BTW, I think it’s almost a truism that too much personal courage is a bar to a diplomatic career. Sooner or later it will be exercised, which would make such a gutsy diplomat unpredictable, and therefore unpromotable. So they probably learn to live without entrails early on. The best ones may find a way to substitute persistence for guts, but those are the best (and perhaps that’s what stood mitchell so well in Ireland). The rest just act as liquid lubricators, with degree of viscosity and temperature of gaseous byproducts (also known as hot air) the only differentiators.

      • MRW
        January 17, 2010, 6:12 pm

        And they get to eat well at the best restaurants, and stay in five-star hotels, on the government dime.

      • Psychopathic god
        January 17, 2010, 7:47 pm

        Mitchell is able to sing a different song: “Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose.” He doesn’t need anybody’s approval, approbation, assistance in sustaining his career. I think Mitchell would not resign out of a sense that he has to give it his best shot, to work as hard as he possibly can. He’s said numerous times that he went back to Ireland 700 or 800 times; that doggedness seems to be important to Mitchell; he would consider himself a quitter if he did not make the same effort re Israel-Palestine.

        Alas, I also think Israel is 10X as intractable and intransigent as the Irish troubles. I think Bibi and likely his successors will out-skunk even Mitchell’s patient and persistent diplomacy.

      • Psychopathic god
        January 17, 2010, 7:32 pm

        not a psychologist but I play one on teh blogs —
        I’ve read Avigail Abarbenal’s analyses with great interest.
        A sentence in your comment, Danaa, made me think that on some level, Israel realizes that it is insane; it deals with that realization by disassociating the diagnosis from itself and attaching it to Iran.
        Specifically, you wrote:

        If Israel’s behavior is in part motivated by irrational drives, it’s because it’s sense of self-identity is thoroughly compromised – as Abigail points out 9and others have too) – it allowed itself to be defined by it’s worst enemies, therefore internalizing the “enemies’ views of it’s very raison d’etre. That has consequences for dealing with israel’s behavior, since an irrational entity – collective or individual – does not necessarily respond rationally to either carrots or sticks.

        The word that jumps is irrational, an assessment that has been applied to the Iranian government and, especially, to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Israel is, of course, pulling the strings and writing the scripts that the Obama administration, hell, most of the United States mouths, including the assessment that Iran is irrational and that Ahmadinejad’s sanity is questionable (see Barbara Slavin laugh her way out of answering Michael Cromartie’s blunt question: “Is Ahmadinejad sane?” link to c-spanvideo.org )

        One way that I answer the question, Why is Israel so viciously lying about and demonizing Iran? is by conceptualizing that Iran has become Israel’s shade, its scapegoat, its ram caught in the thicket: Israel projects onto Iran the irrationality Israel itself exhibits; slaying Iran will spare Israel but still propitiate the gods.

        Agreed, Danaa, that Israel’s disturbing psychological dimensions must be dealt with, but not only among the Israeli and American-Israeli-ish population. The broad American populace must release itself from its Israel addiction, its enforced philosemitism, its enabling behavior. Karin Friedemann wrote a compelling explanation of the “emotional violence of Israel advocacy.” link to karinfriedemann.blogspot.com
        In fact, it was Dr. Friedemann who ‘introduced’ me to Abarbenel’s writing.
        Americans need to become unafraid of the ‘antisemitic’ charge in a principled and positive way, and empower themselves to advocate FOR American values as opposed to zionist values, in instances where those two value systems are antithetical.

      • Danaa
        January 18, 2010, 1:18 pm

        You are making a good point PG in suggesting that there is a sort of transference of irrationality from the troubled entity (Israel) onto Iran (as a sort of sacrificial ram). Such a process is very common for individuals who suffer from psychological ailments – both mild and severe, and accusations of “irrationality” flung at some other “agency” outside themselves is an obvious defense mechanism. For example, a well-known symptom of paranoia is to take up a major beef with say, government agencies, accusing them of “irrational” shenanigans, therefore feeding the patient’s persecution complex. I think we see this syndrome playing out for israel, almost as a text case of progressive descent into insanity.

        The key point i was trying to get at – as you noted – is that it is fruitless – and even dangerous to continue to pretend that we are dealing with a sane entity which will respond in a reasonable fashion to proper enticements. For example, people say that “if only” israel’s security needs were satisfied, a peace deal could be made. others say it’s all about building trust and that it’s a step by step process. Alas, I don’t believe this will be nearly enough because the deep needs of Israel-the-collective are fed by a seriously compromised sense of identity, meaning that there’s no amount of security or trust that could assuage the void in the wounded self. People who counsel battering husbands can tell you all about how hopeless it is to try and cure the abuser through self-esteem exercises. Basically, people who get to the point of inflicting serious physical abuse upon those close to them have a psychic disability that cannot be repaired just through talk or persuasion . The only means known to help are behaviour modification techniques (which are neither easy nor clear in application, nor free of ethical side effects) or pharmaceuticals -which is what’s being mostly done nowadays.

        But, as you say, that’s israel and that’s the more intractable part of the problem. for many the real issue is israel addiction, which probably can be treated with endless education, and some serious de-programming (release from philosemitism). I agree that this is where the emphasis should be – both because it’s doeable AND necessary. (I have no idea whether it would be sufficient to affect israel itself. That’s the big unknown). it is absolutely important to have americans – including jewish people – going their own way, tending to their own house, so to speak – getting over their philosemitism, as you mention, which is the enabler’s trap in this case. Many Europeans and people elsewhere in the world are already well on their way on this path – leading away from the irrational quagmire into which Israeli conciousness is rapidly sinking. But America is poised on the threshold of a divergence that still needs to get underway in earnest. And karin’s take is certainly interesting in this regard. Too bad she is a bit controversial to quote. My main concern is that “the great divergence” will not happen soon enough or fast enough to prevent america”s own sense of well being from being infected beyond repair. The country is polarized enough already and has enough ignorance and irrational ideologies of it’s own to make certain calamitous scenarios a real threat.

        BTW, not to belabor the analogy, but another common symptom of the abusive, near-insane personality is to attempt to drag others into their own crazy world – kind of like what hannibal lecter tried to pull on jodie’s character. It can happen because the combination of insane and charismatic can be a potent and dangerous mix for all around. Just think koresh. Or maybe not. too scary.

  8. Polly
    January 17, 2010, 1:57 pm

    If the majority of the people on this board believe that congress is “Israeli occupied territory” regarding US foreign policy then it seems extremely possible to me that Obama may not be ABLE to do any more than he has done re the I/P conflict.
    You are all assuming that as president, and as long he has the will, he can rubber stamp anything and everything else will follow.
    Like many others I suspect Obama may be nothing more than a great orator but is it really that inconceivable that he is being stopped at gun-point, so to speak, over any action which goes against the grain of the Zionist presence?

    • James Bradley
      January 17, 2010, 3:18 pm

      I think we overhype the power of the pro-Israeli lobby on washington hill.

      This does not mean I don’t believe that they are powerful, but to many people talk about the “lobby” as if it were some sort of demi-God.

      I personally believe that the lobby can be overcome through a variety of means. Such as counter lobbying, bringing the lobby into the public mainstream debate, and creative means of protest.

      Furthermore, as Americans the one thing that we can do to contribute to end the ethnic cleansing of Palestine is neutralize the lobby in the United States. It will be hard work but its something that can be done in the near future (5 years).

      • Citizen
        January 17, 2010, 3:52 pm

        JB, obviously, Phil’s blog here, and its regular commenters (mostly, hold the Witty crew) represents the hard work you say is needed. Where will the money come from
        to off set the AIPAC umbrella and its host of organized Jewish orgs? And to off set
        the AIPAC-pocketed MSM? How do you neutralize the israel lobby in the usa? W & M and Carter started this process of contesting the Israel Lobby, but most Americans have never heard of W or M still, and Carter has kissed hasbara ass to get a kin elected. What do you suggest be the hard work that needs to be done in the near future (5 years)? And how do you think we should do that hard work?

      • potsherd
        January 17, 2010, 4:17 pm

        Don’t forget that many in Congress are true zionist believers and would promote the same policies, lobby or no lobby.

        The first thing to be done is to liberate the truth, to make it speakable.

      • MRW
        January 17, 2010, 4:43 pm

        James Bradley, I dont think we overhype it all. I liked Jeffrey Blankfort’s description in his interview posted elsewhere here: that the Israel Lobby is on the main floor of the Media Hotel, and its the vast global media control (and more than simply English outlets) that maintains — gives it? — its power.

        Europe is muzzled by law. Canada is getting there. To this day, a simple query anywhere in the world about crematory times, fuel nature, and temperature brought up in relation to the 44,000 hours (five years) of the Holocaust bring screeches of anti-semitism and can destroy a person’s career or reputation before the question is even ended.

    • Duscany
      January 17, 2010, 7:16 pm

      Obama would no doubt like to do something about the Israel-Palestine conflict. But he doesn’t want to do it at the cost of alienating Jewish support for his health care and carbon tax agenda. Unfortunately by the time he’s free to concentrate on Israel-Palestine he’ll be too compromised to care anymore.

    • Psychopathic god
      January 17, 2010, 7:39 pm

      The Manchurian Candidate.

      Scriptwriter: George Axelrod

      Recall the symbolic presence of Abe Lincoln in the movie? Remember how Obama’s campaign had O joined to Lincoln’s hip? Are you aware that an oversized portrait of Lincoln dominates Nancy Pelosi’s conference room? (Nancy is owned by the Israel lobby, Baltimore and California divisions). But, is SHE the Queen of Hearts?

  9. Baruch Rosen
    January 17, 2010, 4:45 pm

    Whats with all the hatred of Israel on here?

    • Danaa
      January 17, 2010, 4:59 pm

      Nah, not hatred. True love – behold it wearing dark glasses, or you shall be blinded by the intensity.

      Wanna help me put israel on the couch for a good session, Baruch? it’s free, you know….

    • potsherd
      January 17, 2010, 5:52 pm

      Hatred of racism.

      Hatred of injustice.

      Hatred of war crimes.

      Hatred of ethnic cleansing.

      Hatred of intolerance.

      Hatred of police states.

      Hatred of exceptionalism.

    • Avi
      January 18, 2010, 5:19 am

      Whats with all the hatred of Israel on here?

      Again, the irony escapes you like a a fighter jet flying mere inches over your head.

      You confuse criticism and need for reform with “hatred” as if to ask us, “why aren’t you all blindly supporting Israel?”

      Then, without missing a beat, you go on criticizing “the Arabs” for behavior that you claim is exclusive to “the Arabs”, never realizing that your own blind support for Israel and refusal to acknowledge or fix the existing problems is no different that what you are accusing “the Arabs” of doing.

      In other words, you’re telling us that the Arab world is a collection of millions of Baruch Rosens. Thanks for clearing that up.

      As an aside, your efforts are better served cleaning your own proverbial backyard. Start there and maybe then you will have some legitimacy to criticize everyone else in the region.

  10. Baruch Rosen
    January 17, 2010, 4:47 pm

    I know people support the Arabs on here and say nothing about the Arabs racist policies against minorities, but one would think the Arabs would be the last people left wing Jews would support.
    The Kurds, Coptics, Black Christians of Sudan, Western Sahara, Chaldeans and the Berbers are treated like dirt by the Arabs.
    Ask yourself people why dont the Arabs support a state for the Kurds, Western Sahara, Berbers and the Black Christians of Sudan?
    One would think Jews would show the hypocrisy of these Arabs.

    • Danaa
      January 17, 2010, 5:04 pm

      Baruch, where have you been all this time? We have been waiting – breathless with anticipation – for a good expounding of Item No. 1 (you suck) from the hasbara notebook (short version). It’s been so long since we’ve seen it so well pounded.

      Mooser, Mooser, where art thou? antlers got caught or something?

    • Avi
      January 18, 2010, 5:02 am

      If you had any basic knowledge of the monolith you claim the Arab world to be, you wouldn’t be saying what you’re saying.

      But, you do say these things because you’re incapable of realizing that Arabs do not consider themselves to be one single entity.

      Growing up in Israel one is always brainwashed into seeing “the Arabs” as one threatening entity.

      But, why is it different for someone like you to claim that “the Arabs” do this and do that, but if someone said “Jews control the media”, you wouldn’t hesitate before you accused them of being anti-Semites?

      You could put a Moroccan Arab and a Lebanese Arab in a room and they would find no commonality between them.

      Why aren’t you asking, “How come the English speakers of the world are such hypocrites, look at blacks in the US and the Jim Crow era, look at the occupation of Northern Ireland by the UK, look at the ethnic cleansing of the Aborigines in Australia”?

      If you accused John Doe from Sydney that “his kind” is responsible for putting the Japanese in interment camps in WWII, he’d most likely tell you to take a hike.

      I hear arguments like yours in Israel all the time and the ignorance and racism of such statements never escape those who peddle them. It’s nauseating.

    • Citizen
      January 18, 2010, 5:23 am

      Baruch, take your meds. Nobody here supports the despotic clan-governed Arab states, especially not their method of governing. But only one of them gets a generous
      dole annually from our American tax dollars–that’s Egypt; Egypt gets that dole solely on condition it play nice with Israel. OTH, Israel gets the biggest annual dole, cash and with no strings attached. We don’t like being forced to pay for Israel’s atrocities; it give us a bad reputation, is against our highest values, and we need those tax dollars spent right here in the USA.

  11. Baruch Rosen
    January 17, 2010, 5:10 pm

    Danaa, your avoiding my question?
    I’ll ask it again, why are the Arabs obssessed with a Palestinian state but the Arabs are united in their never being a Kurdish state, a state for Western Sahara, the Berbers and the Black Christians of Sudan?

    • Danaa
      January 17, 2010, 5:35 pm

      Baruch, I got good news for you: the berbers do have a state – it’s called israel. Read shlomo sand’s book and familiarize yourself with the berber origin of many if not most north african jews who were later prodded and cajoled by the zionsit ashkenazi founders to immigrate to the land of milk and honey, only to find themselves in a racist pit, used as demographic cannon fodder. Maybe there should be a magic carpet operation to fly the persecuted berbers to israel to unite them with their bretherns? think of the demographic bonanza!

      I say, go for it baruch – by all means join the berber and kurd liberation organizations. And while you are at it – I think you forgot the Scottish nationalist movement – how could you?

    • MRW
      January 17, 2010, 7:47 pm

      Jeffrey Blankfort answers your question here:
      Jeffrey Blankfort January 17, 2010 at 7:12 pm
      link to mondoweiss.net

    • Donald
      January 17, 2010, 9:07 pm

      I would guess that Arabs as a whole are as hypocritical as any other group of humans and they probably focus on the crimes of Israel more than on the crimes of some Arab states in part because of this. What’s your point? That it’s okay for Israel to be an apartheid state and to commit war crimes, because there are plenty of Arabs who are also war criminals?

      And yeah, we need Mooser as fast as possible. I can never keep those numbers straight.

  12. Tuyzentfloot
    January 17, 2010, 5:13 pm

    There once was a guy named Rorschach who covered naughty pictures with formations of inkblots and then asked people if they recognized the inkblots. Results were variable but good. Often people wanted to buy the set . In some countries he got arrested, which he assumed ment that they recognized the pictures.
    In one country people kept replying “I don’t know what it is but I feel the hate.” He got arrested too for inciting hatred but the court released him because there was reasonable doubt.

  13. Donald
    January 17, 2010, 9:10 pm

    I wish I remembered where so I could provide a link, but just recently I saw some supposed “experts” saying that Obama’s misstep with respect to Israel was in demanding that they stop settlements. It was too much to ask, they said, and made the Israelis feel mistrustful of him, or something like that.

    That’s just exactly the sort of criticism I’d expect in the US political environment.

  14. radii
    January 17, 2010, 11:21 pm

    israel is simply continuing its endless run of evil behavior and they are arrogantly, cruelly, viciously and systematically destroying all their avenues of escaping karma

  15. Chaos4700
    January 18, 2010, 10:50 am

    I hope Obama likes being a one-term President.

    • Mooser
      January 18, 2010, 1:24 pm

      Frankly, I don’t even think he will be that. In reality, Bush and Cheney are still President.
      The minute Obama did not stop Bush’s wars, and begin to investigate and prosecute the criminal gang which has become our armed forces (and their commercial friends) he was done for.
      Look, do you think the military, intelligence and contractors were denying Bush a victory in Iraq or Afghanistan? One they will now give to Obama?
      He’s gonna get screwed! How can they allow himn to accomplish anything which might show exactly how criminal and stupid Bush’s policies and actions were, with those guys (military and intelligence) as cohorts? No way! Job no.1 for America’s MIC is to avoid an accounting, of any kind, for the Bush years. And if they destroy Obama as a side-benefit of avoiding that accounting, that’s a double win!
      The guy is not very smart.

  16. Mooser
    January 18, 2010, 1:18 pm

    Poor Wondering Jew! He must be a grown-up, right? And yet he doesn’t know that your identity is not what other people think of you, it’s what you think of yourself.
    And that’s what ziocaine does to you!
    Jewish parents, I beg you: don’t let your kids get started on that stuff.

    • RoHa
      January 19, 2010, 8:35 am

      It seems to me that Wondering Jew is lost in a maze of vague, inadequately defined, concepts.

      I suspect he thinks that your “identity” is some sort of unchangeable Aristotelian essence (that which makes something what it is) which is somehow genetically inherited, and not only that the story you tell yourself about yourself (” what you think of yourself”) should be a true description of that essence, but also that you should take on a bundle of obligations that he conventionally attaches to that essence. (Though I may be giving his concept a precision it does not possess.)

      Now I have a certain sympathy with that idea that the story I tell myself should be true. Certainly, if I tell myself that I am descended from Zulu or Khmer royalty I am just kidding myself. As far as I can tell, my ancestors were just boring English workers.

      But I do not have to tell myself any story about my ancestors at all. They are not important. The story is to be about me, not them.

      Identity is not an unchanging essence. If I change, that change becomes part of the story.

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