Thanksgiving fodder: ‘You should fight about Israel’

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The latest Gaza war has had the effect of mocking the US role in the region– showing our country to be firmly on the aggressor’s side in the conflict and making us peripheral to Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood’s leadership in effecting a truce.

Here are two perspectives on the American condition:

John Cook, who is married to a Jew, writes at Slate: “How To Pick a Fight With Your Relatives This Thanksgiving”:

3) What Should We Fight About? Israel. You should fight about Israel. Particularly if you are Jewish or are married to a Jew or are the child of an Evangelical Christian. If you can find a way to work your way backward to the Clinton impeachment, that’s always a gold mine of long-repressed rage and conflict. Otherwise you are stuck with the election—amateur hour.

More seriously, at the New Republic, John Judis writes that the ceasefire will not hold because the United States, out of obeisance to Israel and its friends, has foolishly refused to deal with Hamas, or indeed to take its own power in the conflict:

If the U.S. wanted to talk to the participants in the conflict, and get them to stop, it had to talk to Israel and Hamas. But it has refused to talk to Hamas until it recognizes Israel, even though the United States talks to plenty of countries—take Saudi Arabia, to begin with—that have never done so. And Congress, with AIPAC looking on, has also ruled against any American efforts to talk with Hamas. 

…in this case, the United States has consistently subordinated its foreign policy to that of the Israeli government—and I use the term “government” not “people,” because I would argue that energetic American diplomacy, absent any artificial constraints, could benefit the Israeli as well as American and Palestinian people.

Washington has reserves of power in the region that it has left untapped; and it can also now call on Egypt, which has considerable influence with Hamas. The United States has leverage on the Palestinian Authority and can influence Hamas directly, if it begins to communicate directly with the group, pressuring it to stop its rocket attacks on Israel and to join Fatah in a unity government. The United States has always had leverage on Israel. The Obama administration has to begin using that leverage—pressuring Netanyahu to stop the growth of settlements and to begin negotiations with a willingness to exchange land for peace—even if that means bucking AIPAC and Congress. Without pressure of this kind, there will not be, as Hillary Clinton put it this week, a “durable peace,” or any peace at all for that matter.

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