Yesterday on “Morning Joe,” Zbigniew Brzezinski gave a bravura performance, urgently calling on Obama to help impose a solution on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict before it further radicalized Arab societies, endangering world security. Obama had “dropped” the matter in his first term, Brzezinski said, caving to Netanyahu.
[Obama] needs to get engaged very seriously…. This is a real challenge to get at the heart of the problems… If we simply patch this up… we’ll have a repetition in no time flat. In the meantime, two things are happening in the region which are not going to be reversed easily. US influence is declining, Arab radicalism is intensifying. And that’s not a good augury, either for stability or the future of Israel…
[Obama] engages by abandoning the myth that a peace settlement has to wait until the day that the Israelis and Palestinians can compromise by themselves… Left to themselves the Israelis and the Palestinians will never settle. The Israelis are too strong to make concessions and compromises. The Palestinians are too weak and divided…
Obama started well four years ago, and then he just dropped it… If he waits like Clinton till his last eighth year he’s going to get nothing done, and the region will deteriorate. Because it is deteriorating year after year.
Commentators Richard Wolffe, Jeffrey Sachs, and Dan Senor were in the studio, and Sachs rather ingenuously asked Brzezinski why Obama had dropped it. Brzezinski spoke implicitly of the Israel lobby.
“He kind of folded up. But he can redeem itself… He has [an opportunity] again.. He doesn’t have to worry about the next election. He doesn’t have to worry about fundraising for that election. He doesn’t have to worry about specific constituencies. All he has to worry about is the American national interest first of all and the good future of the region.”
Majorities of the Palestinian, Israeli and “American Jewish” community support a moderate solution in the conflict, Brzezinski said (evidently he means the two state solution, but who’s counting).
Dan Senor lashed out at Brzezinski for saying that Obama’s indifference was politically motivated. It has nothing to do with the American Jewish community or “donations,” Senor said; he’d come to the right conclusions about the conflict.
Sachs and Wolffe had nothing to say about Obama’s collapse. Sachs offered the bromide, “The solution has been in front of us for decades,” while Wolffe, who once served as a moderator at a J Street conference, said that Obama should get Bill Clinton to be his mediator. As if Clinton, producer of a lopsided failure at Camp David, will not be subject to lobby pressure given his wife’s evident ambitions. Wolffe and Sachs avoided that issue entirely. They left the matter of the Israel lobby to the neocon and the realist to argue about. As if there will be any progress on this question in the U.S. without taking on the lobby: as if the two state solution is still alive, as if Israel is not out of control, as if it has not been empowered by rightwing American Jews.
Ilene Cohen relates a similar avoidance by Rachel Maddow on MSNBC:
And for perhaps the strangest coverage of all (that I’ve encountered), see Rachel Maddow’s thirteen-minute rant from Tuesday Nov. 20 program (For the video, click on “Mideast diplomacy engages with new Egypt in key role”). The piece is done with typical Maddow melodrama. But to what end? Looks to me that Maddow was stuck with a story (this latest war) that she had to cover in some way but was left wondering how to do it without criticizing Obama and without saying anything that would trouble the Israelis. Lord, she succeeded beyond her wildest dreams. It has often been said—correctly—of Maddow that she avoids the infamous third rail. Well, here you go; she manages to avoid it even when she’s not avoiding it. This extended non sequitur, in its entirety, would have been better left on the cutting-room floor. But for lots of background about Egypt that you didn’t need, here it is.