‘The Nation’ publishes two critiques of Israel’s escapist political culture

Israel/Palestine
on 28 Comments

The Nation this week has two interesting analyses of the Israeli vote. The first is from Max Blumenthal echoing the theme often expressed on this site that this election only solidified the occupation. And he shows how racist settlers are playing a larger and larger role in Israeli political culture:

In the past four years, Israel’s major institutions have begun to fall under the control of the settlement movement and its allies, from the Supreme Court, now headed by Asher Grunis, a right-winger installed as Chief Justice thanks to special legislation introduced by the Knesset’s pro-settler bloc, to the Shin Bet, the country’s internal security agency, which is directed by a religious nationalist named Yoram Cohen. In 2010, Maj. Gen. Yair Naveh became the first knit-kippa-wearing religious nationalist to rise to deputy chief of staff of the IDF, the second most powerful position in the armed forces. At least half of the soldiers in Israel’s officer training colleges identify as religious nationalist, while around 30 percent of the officer corps adheres to Orthodox Jewish ideology.

“Settlers don’t have to be in confrontation anymore,” [Bernard] Avishai said. “The map of Israeli weather that is shown every night on the news shows Ariel, but Ramallah is not there. So all [Naftali Bennett] is doing is ratifying the weather map.”

As the settlers complete their march through the institutions, they have begun establishing a physical presence in the heart of the country’s mixed cities, where Israeli Jews and Arabs enjoy an uneasy and unequal form of coexistence. In the heart of Ajami, an impoverished Arab neighborhood in Jaffa just ten minutes south of Tel Aviv, an organization of West Bank settlers recently established a yeshiva as a garrison for expanding their influence in the area. “Our ideology is not to enter an Arab neighborhood,” said Israel Zeira, the director of the construction firm behind the yeshiva, “but to go to Jaffa in order to bolster Jewish identity.”

Blumenthal notes the craziness of Jewish Home party member Jeremy Gimpel, who imagined blowing up the Dome of the Rock, and moved to Israel from the States. Why isn’t Gimpel featured on MSNBC all the time, along with the Christian zealots? 

Gimpel, listed as fourteenth on the Jewish Home list, narrowly missed out on a seat in the Knesset. But his candidacy generated headlines both inside Israel and abroad, upsetting Bennett’s attempts to streamline the image of his party. The 32-year-old moved to Israel from Atlanta with his family when he was 11, becoming an ordained rabbi after a stint in the army’s Givati Brigade. Gimpel’s preppy appearance reminded me of one of the frat boys I met when I studied at the University of Pennsylvania. However, his histrionic, off-the-wall personality and messianic rhetoric seemed better suited for the rapture-ready mega-churches of Middle America than any part of the Jewish Diaspora I had ever experienced.

Daniel Levy’s piece at the Nation shares Blumenthal’s analysis of the pro-occupation solidification of the election, though Levy says a non-rightwing coalition might be forged inside Israel, of ultra-Orthodox and Palestinian constituents:

The Zionist center too often sounds and acts like a less vicious, more huggable version of the Zionist right, bereft of its own vision or beliefs, still undemocratic for its non-Jewish citizens, and still indulgent of settlements, occupation and injustices vis-à-vis the Palestinians beyond the Green Line…

The Zionist right has made its choice; it has placed “Jewish” above “democratic.” The rest of the Zionist camp has always hated to acknowledge that this combination of words—Jewish and democratic—is at all problematic. That obfuscation should have ended long ago, and it can no longer be avoided. Israeli democrats have to reinvent a vision for Israel, whether within or beyond the Zionist paradigm, and it is telling that the answer will almost certainly include making common cause with non-Zionists. For that reinvention should include a new social contract with the Palestinian and ultra-Orthodox communities alongside an unflinching pushback against the fascistic elements that have just greatly strengthened their outpost in the Knesset. Interestingly enough, such a coalition would have a significant majority in the new Knesset….

So Levy holds out hope for a post-Zionist reinvention of “escapist” Israeli political culture, brought about by international pressure. Levy offers a democratic vision of Israel to save it from its “volkist” tendencies:

Zionism is likely to either finally achieve democratic maturity or be remembered in its demise as a failed utopian project. The creative, constantly evolving, dynamic, democratic and thoroughly plugged-into-the-world aspects of Israel are not a bad starting point—and they are over-represented on [Yair] Lapid’s list [Yesh Atid, which got 19 Knesset seats]. And politicians too can evolve. An Israel with agreed borders, whose Jewish character is redefined, is unobtrusive, is respecting of a large Orthodox and ultra-Orthodox population, while celebrating rather than corroding democratic values (themselves also part of the Jewish heritage) and that undergoes its own civil rights revolution regarding its Palestinian citizenry appears a long way off. But that transition will have to happen rather soon, or not at all: a transition that drags Israeli nationalism into the twenty-first century from its current nineteenth-century “volkist” stagnation. An Israeli patriotism that can evoke a version of its own journey “through Seneca Falls and Selma and Stonewall.”

28 Responses

  1. seafoid
    January 28, 2013, 12:34 pm

    “An Israeli patriotism that can evoke a version of its own journey “through Seneca Falls and Selma and Stonewall.””

    Over YESHA’s dead body
    That will mean a civil war.

    • traintosiberia
      January 28, 2013, 11:02 pm

      Sad end of Isarel following the trajectory of Pakistan

      • seafoid
        January 29, 2013, 10:24 am

        Israel is actually going backwards in terms of womens rights. So no Seneca Falls. Selma- antiracism – forget it. And I’m sure when the Orthodox take over they’ll suppress Gay rights – bye bye Stonewall.

  2. seafoid
    January 28, 2013, 12:46 pm

    Palestinians will be the new gay marriage
    link to washingtonpost.com

    Driven by the young vote.
    There will still be plenty of people in red states who oppose gay marriage/support Israel.
    But the war will have been lost by the bigots. Again.

  3. yonah fredman
    January 28, 2013, 2:42 pm

    Most of Max Blumenthal’s common was on target, but there was a doozy. Why would a reputable magazine like the nation publish this?

    “In a 2007 column for the Israeli daily Yediot Aharonoth, Lapid insisted that ending the occupation would mean certain death for himself and fellow Israeli Jews. He wrote, “It may be true that the humane thing is to remove the roadblocks and checkpoints, to stop the occupation immediately, to enable the Palestinians freedom of movement in the territories, to tear down the bloody inhumane wall, to promise them the basic rights ensured to every individual. It’s just that I will end up paying for this with my life.… Call me a weakling; call me thickheaded—I don’t want to die.”

    Here Max leaves his reporter hat on the hat rack and dons his propagandist hat instead. Obviously Lapid does not mean it means certain death for Lapid and all Israelis. If Max really needs me to explain what Lapid meant, he can get my e mail address from Phil and I will explain it to him. But Max understands. And I am surprised that the Nation prints such propaganda, although I have read less than 100 articles in the Nation in my lifetime and so this type of Max nonsense might be part of their type of “reporting”.

    As far as Gimpel goes, thank God, from my point of view, that he was not elected. The day he gets elected his atrocious rhetoric will get the attention it deserves. Until then he’s just another guy who didn’t make it into the Knesset. Bennett defended him and thus one may wish to paint Bennett with Gimpel, but in fact, Bennett can be painted with Bennett, so why bother painting him with Gimpel.

    • Annie Robbins
      January 28, 2013, 3:16 pm

      i’d like you to explain what you thought Lapid meant yonah. that’s the way it reads to me too. perhaps whatever you perceive as so obvious flew right past the editors of the Nation. why assume they purposely engaged in propaganda? why not assume, at a minimum, many israelis heard what i heard.

    • Woody Tanaka
      January 28, 2013, 3:36 pm

      “Obviously Lapid does not mean it means certain death for Lapid and all Israelis.”

      Nonsense. If Lapid did not mean to say what he said, he would have used different words.

      • justicewillprevail
        January 28, 2013, 6:26 pm

        Lapid is only repeating the hysterical claims that Zios favour, since it saves them from having to confront the reality of sharing the small country they have so disfigured. They want to believe it, it is a convenient get-out clause from being decent human beings.

    • yonah fredman
      January 28, 2013, 6:25 pm

      To me it is obvious that Lapid meant that a number of Israeli Jews would die if the wall and roadblocks came down. And as a point of rhetoric Lapid is using the first person singular. That’s not obvious to you? I’m sorry. I understood it immediately.

      • Annie Robbins
        January 29, 2013, 12:26 am

        Lapid meant that a number of Israeli Jews would die if the wall and roadblocks came down.

        isn’t peace worth any israeli lives? palestinians pay with their lives all the time.

      • OlegR
        January 29, 2013, 10:58 am

        You know what it does worth lives not just Israelis for that matter.
        How about we start with your and your children lives as a price for peace.

      • Annie Robbins
        January 29, 2013, 1:08 pm

        You know what it does worth lives not just Israelis for that matter.

        maybe you’d like to rephrase that for us oleg.

        How about we start with your and your children lives as a price for peace.

        no, how about we do it the zionist way, by imprisoning millions of innocents forever while simultaneously jewish israelis remain completely unaccountable for attacking and killing them whenever, including attacking the funerals of the dead, hauling off the children of their enemies without charge, keeping them up all night not letting them sleep (which is a form of torture) to make them false witnesses to their neighbors crimes, decades and decades of ritual abuse link to mondoweiss.net while paying virtually no price because we’re supposed to imagine that’s fair. so, as yonah points out, the politician is being symbolic.

        it’s not peace israel is interested in, it’s conflict. for only conflict can mask the goal here, which is power and sovereignty over all the land. this is done in the guise of ‘security’.

        however, your melodramatic response is noted. but my child is not being programmed to be complicit in genocide, nor to reap the spoils. unfortunately, that can’t be said for the children of zionists.

        you want it all without paying a price in blood or treasure. but the blood of others flows for your dreams of a jewish land doesn’t it oleg?

      • American
        January 29, 2013, 2:17 pm

        OlegR says:

        How about we start with your and your children lives as a price for peace”.>>>

        In many ways you already have.

      • Woody Tanaka
        January 29, 2013, 3:07 pm

        “How about we start with your and your children lives as a price for peace.”

        How about, if you don’t want to live in peace with Palestinians and freedom for all, you leave Palestine and go back to you homeland, Mother Russia.

      • Woody Tanaka
        January 29, 2013, 9:37 am

        “To me it is obvious that Lapid meant that a number of Israeli Jews would die if the wall and roadblocks came down. And as a point of rhetoric Lapid is using the first person singular. That’s not obvious to you? I’m sorry. I understood it immediately.”

        Okay, but that still doesn’t address the fact that this claim is paranoid horseshit. Again, unless one is a gutter-level racist, the statement that “Israeli Jews would die if the wall and roadblocks came down” if freedom and justice is given to the Palestinians is so bigoted that it would be rejected out of hand by any decent person.

      • seafoid
        January 29, 2013, 5:09 pm

        “a number of Israeli Jews would die if the wall and roadblocks came down”

        They can’t continue to deny 5 million people basic rights because they are afraid/paranoid/self centred and utterly heartless.

      • pabelmont
        January 29, 2013, 4:05 pm

        Can anyone explain the Israeli fixation on the idea that the roadblocks, the wall (inside OPT), etc., save Israeli lives, but MOVING the settlers and the wall (dismantling it and re-building it) inside pre-67 Israel and removing the roadblocks (in OPT) would *NOT* save the same Israeli lives?

        I understand that the settlers and government do not want to do all (or any of) this moving; but does anyone ever ASK them whether they could be safe without all this horror?

        The other question, of course, is why the nations (and the USA) allow Israel to treat OPT as if they already had a peace-treaty which granted them most of it. (This cake we’re arguing about is mine until we agree otherwise, and I ain’t a-gonna agree to anything, so, in effect, it’s MINE, ALL MINE!)

    • traintosiberia
      January 28, 2013, 11:12 pm

      I can agree with you on the meaning of what he said and what he meant. Doesn’t
      Israel Palestine paper prove that ? But why look so far into history when the meanings of every political and ethical words have acquired a different and often opposite meanings from the very inception of the Zionist endeavor

  4. Hostage
    January 28, 2013, 3:24 pm

    The Zionist right has made its choice; it has placed “Jewish” above “democratic.” The rest of the Zionist camp has always hated to acknowledge that this combination of words—Jewish and democratic—is at all problematic.

    That combination of words would never have existed in the first place, if it hadn’t been for the demand for legal equality that was placed on the Jewish Agency by the United Nations.

    There was never any mention of founding a “Jewish” and “democratic” State until the UN partition plan required the Zionists to include a declaration laying down the fundamental laws of the state, including equal rights, and acknowledging an obligation to establish a constitutional democracy as a condition for terminating the mandate regime:

    Part I. – Future Constitution and Government of Palestine

    B. Steps Preparatory To Independence: . . .The Constitutions of the States shall embody Chapters 1 and 2 of the Declaration provided for in section C below

    C. Declaration . . . The stipulations contained in the Declaration are recognized as fundamental laws of the State and no law, regulation or official action shall conflict or interfere with these stipulations, nor shall any law, regulation or official action prevail over them. . . . No discrimination of any kind shall be made between the inhabitants on the ground of race, religion, language or sex.

    All persons within the jurisdiction of the State shall be entitled to equal protection of the laws.

    — See General Assembly Resolution 181(II), Part C. “Declaration” link to yale.edu

    Ben Gurion had already made it absolutely clear in the “Status Quo Agreement” with World Agudat Israel that the UN would not consent to the establishment of the State, unless the Jews provided such assurances and demonstrated that they weren’t going to establish a theocracy. But he also made it clear that he had no intention of abiding by the terms of the UN resolution with respect to the content of the fundamental laws or future constitution. He noted that once they had gained their independence no world body would be able to dictate the terms of the constitution and that the Jews would be able to adopt one that was more to their liking. There’s no hint in the text that he ever intended to consult the wishes of the Arab inhabitants. link to books.google.com

    When the Jewish People’s Council met on 14 May 1948 to discuss the Draft of the Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel no Arabs were present or invited. The Chairman, David Ben-Gurion stated explicitly that the purpose of the declaration and interim constitution (the Transition Act) were “to establish Jewish rule.”
    — See Netanel Lorach, Major Knesset Debates, 1948-1981, Volume 1 – People’s Council and Provisional Council of State, 1948-1949, pp 44 (pdf page 36 of 184)
    link to jcpa.org

    Several of the participants were offended by the non-religious or democratic tone of portions of the text, while others were disturbed because it failed to mention freedom of the press, assembly, and etc. in the paragraph dealing with “speech”. Contrary to the UN requirement that the declaration was serve as the fundamental law of the State, Ben Gurion replied: “This is not a constitution.” and that it was not the law of the land either. He said that “We have put in the basic phrases demanded by the UN, and I am sure that they, and more, will be included in the law of the land.
    — See Netanel Lorach, Major Knesset Debates, 1948-1981, Volume 1 – People’s Council and Provisional Council of State, 1948-1949, pp 53 (pdf page 40 of 184)

    Ben Gurion subsequently opposed the adoption of a written constitution. The government and the Israeli Supreme Court decided in a series of cases that the Declaration “does not have constitutional validity, and that it is not a supreme law which may be used to invalidate laws and regulations that contradict it.
    link to knesset.gov.il

    When the Knesset included a reference to the principles of the Declaration in the Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty it deliberately created constitutional loopholes in Articles 8 and 10 that grandfathered existing discriminatory laws while permitting the adoption of additional ones “befitting the values of the State of Israel”.

    In light of that history, it’s embarrassing to listen to anyone in the Zionist camp pretend that there has ever been a competing interest between their “Jewish” and “democratic” values.

  5. Krauss
    January 28, 2013, 3:26 pm

    The more I read Daniel Levy, the more I mourn that he left J Street.
    He’s a genuine liberal – and those are rare these days in the higher echelons of the media establishment.

    On the other hand, that he left J Street – or AIPAC lite – is a sign in of itself of the corruption and cynicism of that organization.

    On a final note: Max Blumenthal is everywhere these days. Or maybe it’s just because I read progressive and independent news sites. I saw him on ‘TRN'(the real news), he was on this Sunday on Beyond the Pale and more. Always brilliant.

    • American
      January 29, 2013, 3:48 pm

      I think Levy is more realistic than most lib zios. He use to have his own blog some years ago, dont know if he still does or not.

  6. DICKERSON3870
    January 28, 2013, 6:14 pm

    RE: “The Zionist right has made its choice; it has placed ‘Jewish’ above ‘democratic’.” ~ Daniel Levy

    MY COMMENT: Apparently they made that choice a long time ago.

    ● FROM WIKIPEDIA [Betar]:

    (EXCERPT) The Betar Movement (בית”ר, also spelled Beitar) is a Revisionist Zionist youth movement founded in 1923 in Riga, Latvia, by Vladimir (Ze’ev) Jabotinsky. Betar has been traditionally linked to the original Herut and then Likud political parties of Israel, and was closely affiliated with the pre-Israel Revisionist Zionist splinter group Irgun Zevai Leumi. It was one of many right-wing movements and youth groups arising at that time out of a worldwide emergence of fascism.[1] Some of the most prominent politicians of Israel were Betarim in their youth, most notably Prime Ministers Yitzhak Shamir and Menachem Begin, the latter of whom idolized Jabotinsky.[2]. . .
    . . . The group initially praised Mussolini for his anti-communism and fascist principles, leading it to adopt the black uniform shirt of Italian fascism for a short period. Mussolini’s invasion of Abyssinia, however, was seen as “cowardly” by Betar and led them to break with him shortly after.[8]. . .

    SOURCE – link to en.wikipedia.org

    ● ALSO SEE: “The Hidden History of Zionism”, Chapter 6, by Ralph Schoenman

    [EXCERPT] . . . Mussolini set up squadrons of the Revisionist Zionist youth movement, Betar, in black shirts in emulation of his own Fascist bands.
    When Menachem Begin became chief of Betar, he preferred the brown shirts of the Hitler gangs, a uniform Begin and Betar members wore to all meetings and rallies – at which they greeted each other and opened and closed meetings with the fascist salute. . .

    SOURCE – link to marxists.de

  7. ToivoS
    January 28, 2013, 9:20 pm

    I have had the fantasy (if peace and democracy were to break out in Israel) that the Orthodox Jews, Hamas and MB would likely end up in a political coalition against their more secular brethren. Of course Palestinian land owners and capitalists have more in common with their Jewish counterparts than with the masses so there is another coalition. Certainly, many of the early socialist Zionist (Einstein for example) advocated for political union between Jewish and Arab workers and farmers. What pipe dreams! Israel as a normal country.

    • W.Jones
      January 29, 2013, 3:12 am

      ToivoS,

      I sympathize with your dream. This was a slogan by some of the more anarchist or socialist groups immigrating there around the time of the state’s founding and some of those groups today. That included Chomsky, who envisioned a cooperative binational community. He relates a story of what happened at the Marxist-oriented kibbutz he joined:

      once I was working in a field with, again, an older man from the kibbutz, and we were carrying irrigation pipes around or something like that, and I noticed a pile of rocks on a hill, and I asked him what that was. He sort of changed the subject and wouldn’t talk about it, but later he took me aside a couple of days later and said, “Look, that was an Arab village. It was a friendly village, but when the fighting came close, we felt we couldn’t accept their being there, so we drove them out and destroyed the village.” This is a kibbutz way at the left, dovish, bi-nationalist end.

      link to chomsky.info

      It’s sad.

      Regards.

  8. Avi_G.
    January 29, 2013, 12:54 am

    Blumenthal notes the craziness of Jewish Home party member Jeremy Gimpel, who imagined blowing up the Dome of the Rock, and moved to Israel from the States.

    Another guy, Rabbi Shlomo Goren, was the chief rabbi of the Israeli military during the offensive war of 1967.

    After the capture of East Jerusalem, while standing near the Temple Mount, Goren had an exchange with one General Uzi Narkis. Narkis was in charge of the Jerusalem area.

    In his book, 1967: Israel, the War, and the Year that Transformed the Middle East*, Tom Segev wrote about the exchange between Narkis and Goren:

    “The feeling was fantastic,” Uzi Narkis said later. That Wednesday morning at the Temple Mount, he received the first of a series of preposterous suggestions that came up over the next few days and weeks, apparently under the influence of that same “fantastic feeling.” General Goren the chief rabbi of the IDF, told Narkis that this was the moment to blow up the Dome of the Rock. “Do this and you will go down in history,” Goren said, and explained that such a thing could only be done under cover of war: “Tomorrow might be too late.” Narkis threatened to throw the rabbi in jail if he did not drop the idea.”

    Page 379

    In 2011, the Israeli Post Authority issued a stamp featuring Goren, whom it described as a “scholar and a soldier”. So Gimpel didn’t really have to imagine it, nor was he the first to have come up with the idea.

    In 1969, a mere two years after the war, a Zionist tourist torched the mosque. The fire was quickly contained.

    Then in the 1980s, members of the settler movement attempted to blow up the mosque. In their rampage of terror they rigged the vehicles of three Palestinian mayors with explosives and attacked a Moslem college, raining down bullets and hand grenades, murdering three Palestinian students and injuring thirty other Palestinians. For their terror activities, each member of the Jewish terrorist group served less than seven years in prison.

    * Note that in the next paragraph on page 379, Tom Segev quoted Ben Gurion’s response about the Palestinian population in the newly acquired territory:

    We don’t need them on top of the Israeli Arabs.

  9. Hostage
    January 29, 2013, 5:07 am

    Another guy, Rabbi Shlomo Goren, was the chief rabbi of the Israeli military during the offensive war of 1967.

    Of course, Shlomo Goren was a bit more illustrious than that. He went on to serve as the Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of Israel alongside that other model of tolerance, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef. Being a fanatic or an utter bigot is no bar to political success in Israel. Jeremy Gimpel just doesn’t do it very well, but they say practice makes perfect.

  10. American
    January 29, 2013, 2:11 pm

    When we see what true Arabist ME experts like Freeman say I think we can all draw the same conclusion—– that either Israel changes –or the US changes it’s support of Israel —or evenutally there will be either a ME war or at the very least a complete lose of all US influence and a Berlin Wall in diplomatic relationships between the US and ME powers. When it actually gets down to that point, and I think most would say it’s going to because Israel isn’t going to be the one to change——which will the US choose, itself or Israel?

    Chas Freeman: Support for Israel precludes a U.S. grand strategy in the Middle East

    the video….

    link to thepassionateattachment.com

    And here’s the text…

    link to lobelog.com

    ”Over the past half century or so the United States has pursued two main but disconnected objectives in West Asia and North Africa: on the one hand, Americans have sought strategic and economic advantage in the Arabian Peninsula, Persian Gulf, and Egypt; on the other, support for the consolidation of the Jewish settler state in Palestine. These two objectives of U.S. policy in the Middle East have consistently taken precedence over the frequently professed American preference for democracy.
    These objectives are politically contradictory. They also draw their rationales from distinct moral universes. U.S. relations with the Arab countries and Iran have been grounded almost entirely in unsentimental calculations of interest. The American relationship with Israel, by contrast, has rested almost entirely on religious and emotional bonds. This disconnect has precluded any grand strategy.

    Rather than seek an integrated policy framework, America has balanced the contradictions between the imperatives of its domestic politics and its interests. For many years, Washington succeeded in having its waffle in the Middle East and eating it too – avoiding having to choose between competing objectives. With wiser U.S. policies and more judicious responses to them by Arabs and Israelis, Arab-Israeli reconciliation might by now have obviated the ultimate necessity for America to prioritize its purposes in the region. But the situation has evolved to the point that choice is becoming almost impossible to avoid.

    The Middle East matters. It is where Africa, Asia, and Europe converge. In addition to harboring the greater part of the world’s conventionally recoverable energy supplies, it is a key passageway between Asia and Europe. No nation can hope to project its power throughout the globe without access to and through the Middle East. Nor can any ignore the role of the Persian Gulf countries in fueling the world’s armed forces, powering its economies, and setting its energy prices. This is why the United States has acted consistently to maintain a position of preeminent influence in the Middle East and to deny to any strategically hostile nation or coalition of nations the opportunity to contest its politico-military dominance of the region.The American pursuit of access, transit, and strategic denial has made the building of strategic partnerships with Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt a major focus of U.S. policy. The partnership with Iran broke down over three decades ago. It has been succeeded by antagonism, low-intensity conflict, and the near constant threat of war. The U.S. relationships with Egypt and Saudi Arabia are now evolving in uncertain directions. Arab governments have learned the hard way that they must defer to public opinion. This opinion is increasingly Islamist. Meanwhile, popular antipathies to the widening American war on Islamism are deepening. These factors alone make it unlikely that relations with the United States can retain their centrality for Cairo and Riyadh much longer”

    ….continued, worth reading in full

  11. pabelmont
    January 29, 2013, 4:15 pm

    I like what Freeman says and wish he were in Obama’s second-term government. But I don’t see USA’s (ridiculous) support for Israel-cum-settlements as a reason for USA to lose traction in the ME. As matters stand, except possibly in Egypt, they are still run by dictators, monarchs, etc., adn the “street” stays in the street and out of power. In fact, USA’s support for dictator-Israel is supportive of other ME states because it holds off the possibility of an Arab democracy for a while (Egypt, again, maybe an exception, but only time will tell).

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