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Total number of comments: 237 (since 2010-08-04 02:38:39)

BillM

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  • 'A Painful Price': The escalating war on Palestine solidarity at U of Michigan and beyond
    • Ha!

      Futher it isn’t like Arab or Black students couldn’t google, “What’s the Jewish equivalent of nigger”.

      The idea of racists doing research on the best way to be crudely insulting made me spit up my coffee. I wish Dave Chappelle could do the skit.

      "Internet research suggests 'kike is adequately offensive for shouting in hallways, but we may need something ruder for the flyers."
      "Great, thanks. Now for a report from the crude caricature committee."
      "Our focus group indicates that the noses need to be 20% larger, and unfortunately they found that oversized ears were just confusing."
      "Keep working at it. Now, does the weak-joke-equating-jews-and-money team have anything to report this week?"

  • Netanyahu mentions 'BDS' 18 times in denouncing movement and its 'gullible fellow travelers'
    • Well, this is the same group that applauded when he said Iranian ICBMs (which don't exist, but whatever) are not aimed at Israel, they are aimed at the US.

      My favorite part had to be his rant about Iran's evil: "They execute hundreds..., they throw thousands more into their jails, and they repress millions." If there's a better description of the Occupation, I haven't heard it.

  • Netanyahu seems to put Hitler mustache on Angela Merkel
  • EU Prez Martin Schulz wreaks havoc during speech at Knesset
    • Great piece. You night also note that the second "lie" Schulz told is that Israel is blockading Gaza.

      I find this event very telling. I've long since come to accept that the Occupation is in fact very popular in Israel (certainly more popular than peace), which is why it continues so long and why no serious Israeli peace movement develops. But I hadn't quiet realized the extent to which Israelis block out every sight and sound of the Occupation, and honestly convince themselves it isn't going on.

  • Revealed: Right-wing group StandWithUs' strategy to combat Israel Apartheid Week
    • Way too much work. Just rip some of the zombie horde scenes from World War Z and slap on a label saying "Students rushing to buy Israeli products." We can have the video out in a hour, and then get back to eating that delicious Israeli-invented hummus.

  • Kerry's wingmen Friedman and Beinart praise boycott, to pressure Netanyahu
    • Great article. I'd add a lesser known but still important liberal Zionist, Matt Duss, who comes around to, as the "progressive position," support for boycott of the settlements, but not of Israel itself.

      link to prospect.org

      Duss's article is important because of its target (progressives), but more so because he actually lays out the groundwork well for boycotting Israel as a whole, even while smearing those who actually practice it. He says:

      With Denmark’s biggest bank, Danske Bank, announcing earlier this week that it would no longer do business with Israel’s biggest bank, Bank Hapoalim, over the latter’s financing of settlements, those warnings are already coming to pass. Like the European Union’s announcement last summer of new guidelines prohibiting funding of Israeli organizations located in the occupied territories, these represent long-overdue steps to exact costs for an occupation that has continued for far too long. The aggressiveness of the debate—which is pretty pitched even on its best days—will only increase as the pressure increases. I think a responsible progressive position—which balances values with what is practically achievable—is one that marshals those pressures toward an end to the occupation and the creation of a Palestinian state in its place, alongside Israel.

      This is all absolutely correct, but the point is that the pressures is to "exact costs for the occupation." This is done by pressuring Israel, the decision maker, not by pressuring the settlements themselves (i.e. the decision). This is the way pretty much all boycotts work. When activists boycotted Arizona because of its racist immigration laws, they did not boycott the police enforcing the laws, they boycotted the entire state. When farmworkers picking tomatos pressured Yum Brands (Taco Bell) for decent wages, they did not ask people to order their taco supremes with no tomatos, they called on people to boycott Taco Bell entirely. In every case, the target is the decision maker (in this case, Israel), and the method is economic and moral pressure across all their activities.

      Now that boycotts against the settlements have basically gained acceptance in much of the chattering class, it is important to explain why such a limited boycott does not actually put pressure on Israel to acheive a breakthrough.

  • 'Haaretz' analyst says surging BDS movement may be contributing to falling shekel
    • Great story. This also highlights why the the boycott must target the decision-maker (Israel), and not the decision (the occupation). BTW, Annie, I hope you'll do a take down of Matt Duss's insipid article in the American Prospect (link to prospect.org) on what the proper "progressive" position must be (i.e. a boycott of the settlements, but not a boycott of Israel). A boycott of the settlement products themselves can never be more than a pinprick to Israel, and Israel can afford to absorb that loss (especially given massive US funding). To change the decision-making calculus on any meaningful level (like the value of the shekel, for instance), the boycott needs to target Israel as a whole. No boycott targets just the offending product, it targets the decision maker as a whole.

  • Kerry's framework according to Friedman and Indyk (Updated: Abbas Weighs In)
    • This report leaves out key details I need in order to evaluate the plan. Will Abbas be required to give Bibi piggy-back rides, or will his time be spent shining Bibi's shoes? Will Palestinians be allowed to look up at the settlements in awe, or must they keep their eyes downcast at all times? How can I evaluate the plan without the details?

      The "plan" is a joke of course. But Abbas will agree to it all, and the "negotiations" will drag on for another year until, at the end, we'll discover as always that the plan is something no Palestinian leader could sign ansd survive, and no Israeli leader would ever bother signing since they always know the US will give them more. But it'll at least waste another year.

  • Abbas lays out his two-state vision in video address to Israeli security conference
    • Another day, another Israeli demand conceded to by Abbas. As always, this current round of negotiations is not about actually reaching a deal. Instead, it has 2 purposes: 1) to eat up another year or two as Israel consolidates its position, and 2) if outside powers ever actually force a settlement (if the US can't or won't protect Israel), then Israel can point out all the things Palestinians (Abbas) have already conceded to: settlements remaining, Israeli military remaining, demilitarization, abandoning the refugees, etc. These "negotiations" exist only to force Abbas to make public concessions in case they are ever useful to Israel in the future.

  • Oxfam expresses 'concerns' over Scarlett Johansson's support for settlement product
  • Update: 'Blood bubbles' -- mainstream media turn on SodaStream and Scarlett Johansson
    • I got the same response. I don't think they are forcing any choices at this point, but their statement contained some important points.

      link to oxfam.org

      "We are proud of our relationship with Scarlett Johansson who has worked with Oxfam since 2005 to support Oxfam’s mission to end poverty and injustice. As an Oxfam Global Ambassador, she has travelled to India, Sri Lanka and Kenya to highlight the impact of traumatic disasters and chronic poverty, and she has helped to raise critical funds for life-saving and poverty-fighting work around the world. We deeply value her support.

      Oxfam respects the independence of our ambassadors. However Oxfam believes that businesses that operate in settlements further the ongoing poverty and denial of rights of the Palestinian communities that we work to support. Oxfam is opposed to all trade from Israeli settlements, which are illegal under international law.

      We have made our concerns known to Ms Johansson and we are now engaged in a dialogue on these important issues."

    • Talknic, to be fair, it's not five times that they lie; that was just the section I clipped. Their entire filing lies a lot more than that.

    • Yes, since we fund the Israeli government, and SodaStream gets large governmental tax benefits for locating in the Occupied Territories. According to their SEC filings:

      As one of our manufacturing facilities is located in disputed territory sometimes referred to as the "West Bank," rising political tensions and negative publicity may negatively impact demand for our products or require us to relocate additional manufacturing activities to other locations, either of which may adversely affect our business.

      One of our manufacturing facilities is located in Mishor Adumim, an industrial zone under Israel's authority and whose governing responsibility is the subject of dispute between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Mishor Adumim is currently under Israeli jurisdiction and authority according to the Oslo Accords signed with the Palestinian Authority. There has recently been negative publicity, primarily in Western Europe, against companies with facilities in these disputed territories. A number of political groups have called for consumer boycotts of Israeli products originating in these disputed territories, including our products. Though we manufacture our products in other locations in Israel (Alon Tavor, Ashkelon, Kiryat Shmona, etc.) and elsewhere in the world, and are currently building a new manufacturing site in southern Israel, this may not persuade such political groups sufficiently to end their call to boycott our products. In addition, the Palestinian Authority has adopted legislation that may prohibit or restrict Palestinians from working for Israeli companies with productions facilities located in disputed territories. Further, recently there have been voices in the European Union and other countries calling to mark the country of origin of products produced in the disputed territories as being produced in Israeli settlements. For these reasons, we may in the future be required to transfer additional manufacturing activities to a location outside of the disputed territories, which may divert the attention of management, require the expenditure of significant capital resources and, depending on whether such move would be outside of a priority manufacturing area under Israeli tax law, may limit certain tax benefits. Any of the foregoing could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.

    • Wow, there's a whole lot of crazy in that post. Straight from boycotting SodaSteam doesn't matter through we cannot be defeated to we will nuke you.

      Thanks again for the reminder that the boycott is really, really, really threatening to Israel supporters.

  • Is this a first? State Dep't rebukes out-of-control Israeli minister
    • The only real meaning if this story is that the US was able to force a retraction of/apology for the remarks within 24 hours. This fact highlights the fact that the US can pretty easily force action in Israel if it wants to. Hence, every time Israel builds a new settlement tract that the us "officially disapproves" of, the reality is that the US is quite happy to let it happen. The US could force action (or the halting of action) on Israel any time it wanted, if the government cared even slightly. But it doesn't...

  • Palestinian villagers capture settlers carrying out 'price tag' attack in West Bank
    • Good for the Palestinians. This will almost certainly result in revenge attacks from both the settlers and the military, but the Palestinians must defend themselves. The Israeli military has shown it will do nothing to enforce its own laws on the settlers. (obviously, the PA will in no way help actual Palestinians either, but that thought is so absurd nobody even bothers to consider it any more).

  • Israel aims to silence growing international criticism with Texas A&M deal in Nazareth
    • It will likely be initially funded by Israel and donors such as Hagee, then subsequently it will be quietly moved into the university's regular budget, thus being subsidized by university student tuition. That's usually how universities run vanity projects in Texas.

    • Thanks for the great article. I've been very interested in learning the back-story on this, and the fact that the deal was negotiated in secret is very telling.

      I think it's also interest to note Tizpi Livni's recent quote acknowledging Israel's fear that it is having trouble keeping Palestinians inside Israel under control, much less those in the West Bank. She acknowledged Israel's annexation even inside the Green Line is weak:

      In this context of priorities, she prefers the Galilee, Kiryat Shemona, Tiberias and the Negev to “isolated settlements outside of the blocs that won’t be part of any future diplomatic agreement,” she said. “Instead of annexing settlements outside the blocs to Israel and becoming an isolated and ostracized country, I prefer, socially, culturally and economically, to annex the Galilee and the Negev to Israel.

  • Modern Language Association convention to feature academic boycott panel and resolution slamming Israeli denial of entries
    • Wow. And when did UT Austin get two professors willing to publicly speak in favor of a boycott? It's very refreshing considering UT President Bill Power's attacks on the ASA.

  • Kerry wants to imprison West Bank with massive security fence along Jordanian border
    • For the sake of peace. For the sake of law. For the sake of democracy. For the sake of accountability. For the sake of competence. For an end to corruption. For a simple breath of fresh air.

      There are a thousand reasons Abbas should step down (or be stepped down by the people).

    • Kerry is going through the motions for a variety of reasons:
      1) It's peace processing: it keeps the motions going to prevent any explosion while Israel slowly consolidates its position.
      2) It shows American leadership in the Middle East, temporarily releiving international pressure on both the US and Israel.
      3) As I noted above, there is a real drive to get Palestinians to agree to concession. Even with these talks doomed to failure, the concessions can be used as a starting point in future negotiations, and can be shown to the world to argue the Palestinians to really have any right to whatever they've waived (sovereignity, return of refugees, actual borders, removal of settlers).
      4) The negotiations need to continue until there is an easy point to blame the Palestinians for their failure.
      5) How can he stop? Now that this is started (and remember in Obama's Cairo speech he made big claims about what he was going to do), how can Kerry declare failure? Someone else has to make the declaration.

    • Of course, this is just the initial proposal. It grants Israel everything it wants before even discussing the final border and how many settlers will stay (the short answer: almost all). This is salami slicing by the US, force the Palestinians to agree to the principle of Israel troops and security control before actual negotiations take place.

      Just watch: once this step is done, the next step will be to force the Palestinians to agree to a "Jewish State" and waive the Right of Return before any actual negotiations can take place.

      Kerry, like everyone else, knows these negotiations will fail, the only goal is to get the Palestinians to give up as many points as possible, and then blame them for the failure. ABC is taking the lead on the blame game today:

      link to abcnews.go.com

  • Three university presidents issue statements against boycott
    • These attacks will grow more vicious, and that's actually a good thing. Note that the anti-BDS establishment doesn't and indeed can't actually talk about Israel and defend the conditions there. The best line they got is to continually claim academic freedom is violated by boycotts. The BDS folks have done a great job dismantling this (though I still see some of the misrepresentations repeated, Loh's claim that American universities are being sanctioned), but it's still the easiest claim for the pro-Israel folks to make. However, as the push back gets more vicious, and more openly oppressive, the pro-Israel folks will lose the academic freedom high ground, and have nowhere left to make a stand.

  • The settler's welcome
  • Palestinian officials come out in support of BDS movement after Abbas' disavowal
  • David Brooks comes out against the occupation
    • Good article, you are very clearly on to something important. I just noticed the Jerusalem Post, of all papers, running an editorial in very much the same line, calling on people to drop th"anti-Israel/anti-Semitic" name calling:

      link to jpost.com

      Can one vocally favor giving up large swaths of Judea and Samaria for the sake of a two-state solution and still be pro-Israel? Absolutely. Is it possible to oppose the government’s policy on migrants and still be a Zionist? Of course.

      The owners of such views are among the most ardent Zionists. Their passionate philosophy derives not from self-hatred of their Judaism or a post-Zionist vision, but from a love of Israel and a belief that those policies are the only ones that will ensure a strong, democratic Jewish homeland.

      When a classic anti-Zionist bigot such as Waters continues to rabble-rouse...

      But we need to differentiate between those inciters and the thoughtful, educated individuals – both Israeli and foreign – who may respectfully disagree with Israel’s policies.

      They are not necessarily anti-Israel or anti-Semitic. The most you could accuse them of is being naïve or misinformed.

      Your insight also makes Podhoretz's fit and storming off stage last week much more understandable.

  • John Kerry's framework proposal sets the stage for the ‘Gazafication’ of the West Bank
    • Walid, I don't disagree, but is there any reason to think the theatrics will work? Wll the Palestinian public really swallow this? Or is Abbas endangering his own tiny throne by eventually agreeing even after the theatrics?

  • In '50s, CIA secretly funded anti-Zionist lobby group in US
    • The CIA doesn't fund organizations to "counterbalance" anything. It funds organizations in order to control and manipulate them (and then destroy them when their usefulness runs out). I have utter contempt this type of propaganda (which I don't think you were intending to support): the CIA manipulation of anti-Zionist organizations is used to suggest the CIA was anti-Israel. One might as well argue that COINTELPRO proves that the FBI opposed the Vietnam war.

  • Help send Netanyahu to the Mandela memorial!
    • Netanyahu skipping the tribute is no surprise, but Peres skipping, too? He's always been the smiling face of Israeli apartheid, accepted and even lauded almost anywhere in the world. It seems significant that what is likely one of Peres' last public acts is to effectively acknowledge that Israeli apartheid can no longer show its face in civilized society.

  • Israel will attack Iran unless you block nuclear agreement -- French Israel fixer warned Foreign Minister
  • Echoing Netanyahu, Ted Cruz slams Kerry and calls on Iran to recognize Israel as 'Jewish state'
    • What deal? There isn't actually a deal yet for Netanyahu to undermine. This is just the standard gamesmanship. The theater is perhaps revealing of both how utterly disinterested Israel actually is in the nuclear issue (their only goal is to increase tension while keeping sanctions as tight as possible), and how openly contemptuous Netanyahu is of the Obama Administration (but that's been clear for years, and there have been zero consequences).

  • 'The Nation' tries to balance pro- and anti-Israel voices inside the lib-left
    • Alterman's hit piece was more amusing than anything else in its overwrought fury, Gharib called out his most egregious claim.

      I also noted that Alterman couldn't even acknowledge the heart of Blumenthal's narrative, the stories of the Palestinian "citizens" of Israel. Indeed, Alterman very carefully avoids the topic, and goes out of his way to hint that the book was solely about Palestinians in the Occupied Territories ("...occupation of Palestinian land, now entering its forty-sixth year,").

      The real power of Blumenthal's book, more than his decription of the growing Israeli near-fascism, is that stories of the so-called Israel Arabs are almost completely non-existent in the US (in a way unmatched even by stories of life in the Occupied Territories). Alterman cannot fight this narrative; he can't even smear it effectively. Instead, he is left with his only recourse to ignore it entirely.

  • 'Disappearing Palestine' ads in Vancouver provoke vicious and hysterical response
  • At liberal forum in D.C., Israeli pols obfuscate their country's nukes
    • The Haaretz website apparently didn't get the memo. It's doing a remarkably poor job of obfuscating today.

  • State Dept: No US aid to Israel until budget deal is reached
    • Tricky questions. The Tea Party definitely has an element that does not love Israel, but the heart of the Republican base remains the evangelicals, who are more pro-Israel than most Israelis. This announcement is the Obama Administration trying to split the GOP base, even if it doesn't directly hit the Tea Party.

    • Meh. I took that to mean that the aid itself is not interrupted, but some of the people who actually do the paperwork processing are furloughed, so things might take a little longer to process. Israel isn't hurt at all, but this makes a nice little bomb for the administration to lob at the pro-Israel Republican base.

  • Netanyahu delivers predictable speech fear-mongering on Iran
    • Good summary, though I think the overall tone was as important as his specific demands.

      Netanyahu had not a single positive word for anyone. The speech was 100% Iran and 100% negative. The fabrications were obvious (Iran building ICBMs to "strike this very city"), of course, but more than that was the simple unending flow of hatred. The speech also highlighted how Netanyahu views the UN and the international community at large: it is solely a tool used for smiting his enemies, and if it fails in that then it is worthless and Israel will act "alone." Strangest of all, it ended with weird messianism, talking of prophecies fulfilled and enternal states. That was completely off the deep end (unless the target was American evangelicals, which it likely was).

      Quick game: An international leader repeatedly goes to the UN solely to denounce a single other country, making threats and pouring out hatred in religious terms. Who was it? A year ago, one might have answered Ahmadinejad. Today, Netanyahu easily claims the crown.

    • Page: 2
  • Netanyahu returns to the U.N. -- now guess the drawing!
  • Updated: Iran's president urges Obama to ignore 'warmongering pressure groups'
    • With respect, I'm not sure you and I heard the same speech. Strip out the rhetoric, and what did he say?

      And our approach to Egypt reflects a larger point: The United States will at times work with governments that do not meet, at least in our view, the highest international expectations, but who work with us on our core interests.

      Nevertheless, we will not stop asserting principles that are consistent with our ideals, whether that means opposing the use of violence as a means of suppressing dissent, or supporting the principles embodied in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

      I.e. the US will talk the language of human rights, but will work with any regime that supports our "core interests." What are those interests? He listed them:

      The United States of America is prepared to use all elements of our power, including military force, to secure our core interests in the region. We will confront external aggression against our allies and partners, as we did in the Gulf War.

      We will ensure the free flow of energy from the region to the world. Although America is steadily reducing our own dependence on imported oil, the world still depends on the region’s energy supply and a severe disruption could destabilize the entire global economy.

      We will dismantle terrorist networks that threaten our people. Wherever possible, we will build the capacity of our partners, respect the sovereignty of nations, and work to address the root causes of terror. But when it’s necessary, defend the United States against terrorist attack, we will take direct action.

      And finally, we will not tolerate the development or use of weapons of mass destruction.

      So, we will support any regime that supports US allies, ensures the free flow of oil, fights against entities the US has declared as terrorist, and stops WMDs (recognizing he also specifically accused Iran of "pursuit of nuclear weapons").

      How is this position even slightly different from the US position in the last 20 (or 50) years?

  • National Security Agency gives data on Americans to the Israeli government
    • The odious Joshua Foust is trying to run some damage control:
      link to joshuafoust.com

      He throws in just about every absurd argument, including:
      - We don't even know if the MOU was really finalized, since the published document only has an Israeli signature (As even Foust must know, there is ZERO chance of one government signing an MOU before it is completely finalized)
      - The NSA later strengthened its minimization procedures (ignoring the fact that Israel is receiving unminimized data)
      - How much American data was actually passed along (yep, Josh, that's not a response, that's the whole point, we don't know.)
      - Whether the program was subsequently reviewed or changed (he has no basis to suggest it was changed, but, you know...)

      Foust only left out the possibilities that this memo may be from a parallel universe, or that it might have been signed on opposite day.

  • AIPAC on an island: 'Politico' report says Israel lobby alone in pushing for war in Syria
    • Obviously, AIPAC isn't completely alone. The "Syrian opposition" groups in the United States, which are funded by money from the Obama Administration, are also lobbying Congress hard to enter the war.

  • Latest 'generous offer' leaked: Israel wants to control Jordan River and 40% of West Bank while Palestinians get 'temporary borders'
    • I think you're confused. Discussions are between both parties.

    • Israel wanted to discuss security, not land. So what have they been discussing? Security, not land.

      Palestine wants to discuss permanent borders with no remaining settlements or Israeli military presence. So what are they discussing? Temporary borders with the settlements and Israeli military control remaining.

      What a pathetic joke the Abbas regime is. It can't even take its own side.

  • John Kerry invokes apocalyptic 'domino theory' in call with House Democrats
    • This is hardly the first time the domino theory has been revived. Bush used in for Iraq. Israel and it's supporters constantly hint at it regarding Iran, Hezbollah, Hamas, and 12-year olds with rocks.

      I don't know why politicians struggle so hard to keep it alive. We may have a "Domino Theory Theory". I.e. if ever the Domino Theory is allowed to fall, then Liberal Interventionism will collapse soon after that, followed by a loss in belief of a Unipolar World, which will leave the theory of American Exceptionalism open to direct attack. The Domino Theory Theory demands that the Domino Theory be defended at all costs.

  • Do's and don'ts for progressives discussing Syria
    • "I personally don't believe that US is going to get militarily involved.... No way is the US getting in..."

      If your prediction turns out to be ever so slightly wrong, do we still have to follow the rules?

  • After Qalandia killings, shops close in Jerusalem and Ramallah, and Al Aqsa brigade members brandish AK-47s
    • Ugg.

      "The street was cleared because an impromptu parade was forming behind two members of al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades who fired rounds from AK47s diagonally into the sky. The masked gunmen were within eye- and earshot of another armed group of young men, the Israeli military. "

      You perfectly captured the PA's role in maintaining the occupation and controlling Palestinian resistance to it.

  • Poll says Jewish Israelis oppose ending the occupation, 53% to 39%
    • The JPost had an even worse poll:

      link to jpost.com

      Result is support for:
      Palestinian state in the West Bank - 11% (!)
      Palestinian state in Jordan - 19% (no info on support for Palestinian state on the moon)
      Status quo - 41% (who says Israel doesn't love it?)
      No idea - 29%

      This strikes me as far more accurate than the previous poll, i.e. that before you even start talking devilish details, Jewish Israeli support for a two state solution is near single digits.

    • Of course, this poll overstates the number of Jewish Israelis supporting peace. It doesn't talk about a full withdrawal from the West Bank, and doesn't talk about a withdrawal from East Jerusalem. Rather it suggests "giving up military authority over the Palestinian cities and withdrawals from Judea and Samaria." That does NOT suggest full withdrawal from the West Bank (or else why even mention the part about "Palestinian cities"?), but only a partial withdrawal of some portion (with the exact amount apparently left to the imagination of the respondent.

      If you asked who supports a full peace along the 1967 lines, I'd expect the numbers supporting peace would drop to close to nil. But that isn't a surprise to anyone who has been watching.

  • 'NYT' calls new Jerusalem settlements 'housing bids'
    • NPR also covered the story this morning, and the anchor managed to discuss it without using either the word "occupation" or "settlement" (though at the end, a reporter did slip in the word settlement). Instead, the story was about Jewish housing on some "disputed" land, but the Palestinians want the land. Dang Palestinians.

  • John Kerry's peace process: Dead on arrival
    • What's the problem? Netanyahu's "good cop" Yuval Steinitz says Israel is ready to make "serious concessions" (specifically excluding the settlements, Jerusalem, and the Right of Return).

      link to haaretz.com

      Meanwhile, mouthpeice for the Obama Administration David Ignatius catalogues all of Kerry's successes so far:

      - Abandoning the 1967 borders starting point ("On borders, Kerry favors the standard U.S. formula of “1967  lines, plus swaps.” But there’s no Israeli agreement yet on that framework, so the negotiations will stress the boundaries of the new state, as opposed to the old lines.")
      - Guaranteeing the settlement blocks (" The Palestinians appear ready to allow Israel to keep big settlement blocks just north and south of Jerusalem")
      - Avoiding any international Palestinian action ("The Palestinians, in exchange, have agreed to forgo for at least six months playing their trump card, which is taking statehood to the United Nations,")
      - Making any borders contingent on Israel's definition of security ("they will first address the interlocking issues of the Palestinian state’s borders and the security of Israel after the state is created.")

      link to washingtonpost.com

      With successes like that and Israel being so open to compromise, how can you be so down?

  • Kerry goes for the Hail Mary, but Obama is punting
  • 'NY Times' relays Israeli threat to attack Syria
    • This story suggests that Assad and particularly Nasrallah got Israel's attention. Though both Assad anf Nasrallah declined to retaliate for the last Israeli attack, both upped the temperature verbally, with Assad threatening guerilla war over the Golan and Nasrallah specifically using Israeli language about game-changing weapons.

      The statements appear to have done their job, and created in Israel a genuine recognition that another sizable Israeli attack could force a response and trigger a war. Hence the need for the NYTimes to deliver a public message.

  • US promotes regional states/Israeli alliance against Iran while leading provocative naval drills in the Gulf
    • Yep, except that this is absolutely nothing new. This has been the policy for years (decades?), and there is nothing new here, except perhaps in the designation of "4+1." It's "4" and not, say, "5" or "6" or more because of the real major change: the Arab Spring. If Mubarak still reigned, it would be the "5+1." The current Egyptian government bows to the wishes of the US and IMF to keep the money flowing, but it cannot ignore popular will enough to openly ally with Israel against other Muslims. Likewise, Bahrain. The crushing of dissent there has removed any pretense that Bahrain exists as something other than a Saudi protectorate and US naval base. Pre-Arab Spring, Bahrain would have been a formal member; now it's not worth the bother. So we're left with only "4+1."

      Obviously, maintaining this policy will require continued suppression of the Arab Spring in order to ensure the US and Israel can continue to work with monarchs, and not have to deal with the will of the people in these states.

  • Mainstream turns against intervention, this time (Tom Friedman has spoken)
    • Taxi, your first paragraph restates what I said; you just found a longer way to say it. The rest is interesting, but doesn't really have anything to do with my point or the original article.

      Cheers.

    • I disagree, and that is the heart of my contention about the danger of wars ending, and the US and Israel both being happy with the Syrian war continuing in its current condition. Saddam may have looked like a winner (pyrrhic, as you point out), but the desperation was real. His backers in the war instantly became angry creditors, and were happy to use his debts to try to bring him to heel. He couldn't pay for or disband his army (the US occupation helpfully provided proof of what happens when you disband a 400,000 man army, never mind a 1-million man army). His agressive foreign and domestic policy (war against the Kurds, meddling in Lebanon and seeking to weaken Syria, invading Kuwait) were not driven by his megalomania (though that was real), but by his situation, which was a direct result of 8 years of war. He needed conflict as justification, he needed to somehow change the financial balance, and quite frankly he needed something to do with his army.

      The situation in Syria is not exactly the same (it's closer to Afghanistan), but it's fairly analogous. The US and Israel might laugh as Assad's army and jihadis slaughter each other, but eventually the war will end, and the peace will be upleasant for both the US and Israel (unless the US has completed its "pivot to Asia" by then, and stops caring).

    • James, no dispute on anything you have said, but it was the desperation of his position that pushed him into seizing the thin reed of Glaspie's mistatements. I've always found that aspect of the decision - the inevitable blowback/consequences of a long war - far more interesting that the diplomatic error by the US, and far more important for current thinking about when/where the US decides to "get involved." Saddam's untenable position wouldn't have disappeared even if Glaspie had been smarter.

    • James, in part. A bigger driver was that he was desperate. He had a million-man army he couldn't afford and couldn't disband, and debts (mostly to Kuwait and Saudi) that he couldn't pay. It was the conclusion of the war that drove him to rash action.

      Syria is the same. Israel and the US are sitting pretty as Jihadis battle the Syrian army, and Hezbollah and Iran are steadily forced to commit more and more resources. The war is great for the US and Israel. But once it's over, no matter who wins, it turns into a disaster.

    • Meh. Washington isn't against direct intervention because they've learned a lesson, they're against it because the war has already reached the end goal for them. This isn't a replay of Iraq; it's a replay of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, or the Iran-Iraq War. In each of the those cases, the war was GREAT for the US (and Israel). Two hated enemies (Islamists and Communists, Arabs and Persians) slaughtered each other and destroyed their countries, ensuring that they wouldn't rise up to present new geopolitical challenges. It was only after the wars were over that the mujahideen were unleashed, Saddam was left desperate enough to attack Kuwait, and Iran was free rebuilt a geopolitical power base.

      The US won't intervene directly in this war, it will intervene as it did in the two above. It will supply arms to keep the fighting going and ensure that neither side can win. This is why Obama last week was threatening (and certainly already implementing) measures to increase the strength of the rebels (more weapons) but that US intelligence has already said won't alter the fundamental balance, but ruling out any action that could bring the war to an end, such as direct US intervention.

      Hooray for us. No Americans need to die in this one, we're just financing all the killing.

  • Israel shoots down drone off the coast of Haifa
    • Rampant speculation by Ben-Yishai, as always. I love it when Israelis accuse Lebanese of "meddling" in Lebanon.

      The general thrust of Yishai's speculation may be correct. The rather suprising Israeli claim that Syria has used chemical appears to mark a rather sharp turn in Israel from supporting Assad to possibly working to undermine him. Even before the US began following the Israeli lead on the chemical weapons nonsense, Hezbollah was likely spooked by the Israeli turn. If Israel is turning on Assad, it's likely because they sense an opportunity to weaken Hezbollah. It wouldn't surprise me if Hezbollah sent up a reconnaisance drone to scout for Israeli forces gathering in the north. But that's just my own speculation, without hard evidence at this point.

  • Obama brokers Netanyahu apology to Turkey over 'Mavi Marmara' attack
    • So Obama's only actual accomplishment on this trip carefully avoids having anything to do with Palestinians, but reinforces the Israeli position? As I said yesterday in another thread, this trip could be called the Status Quo Reinforcement Tour. Shoring up Israel, Abbas, and Jordan. The only thing it's lacking is a quick jaunt over to Saudi Arabia to be sure they still are keeping activists in Gulf down.

  • What's the point of this trip?
    • Keith,

      No one (except you, obvious) said Israel is setting US Middle East policy, so I won't bother to debate that point. Regarding the Arab Spring and US hegemony, I think you are badly wrong. The US is still dominant, but it's control is balanced on the edge of a knife. Mubarak is gone, and Egypt is drifting out of US orbit (as everyone knew it must). Morsi may fall or may simply decide that US/IMF bribes aren't keeping him safe enough and may shift policy. Saudi is propping the Gulf monarchies up only by force of arms. Turkey is more independent. The US has less and less influence in Iraq. Syria, the official (and utterly ineffectual) enemy, is collapsing, and the US will only be able to keep the civil war there in balance for so long. Eventually one side will win, and the winner will not be pro-American. Heck, even Turkey takes a more independent line than in years past.

      No, the American project in the Middle East is at a very fragile point at a a time when the US is trying to "pivot to Asia." Obama's only small geopolitical goal of this tour was to prop up the status quo for a little while longer.

    • Also, in the sense that there is any larger foreign affairs or geopolitical point, this is the "Status Quo Reinforcement Tour." As the Arab Spring continues to undermine the established order in the Middle East, who does Obama visit and promise American support to? A retrograde Israeli government which has publicly pledged to maintain the status quo of no Palestinian state and constant settlement building, and Jordan, Israel's best friend, where the king is weak and mentally challenged that even Jeffrey Goldberg is a threat. Obama is attempting to shore up the status quo in a region the US has less and less control over.

    • You ask the right question, what is the point of the trip? Obama has repeated pledged not to actually DO anything, or even propose anything, and as usual he is as good as his word.

      Obama is focused domestically, so the purpose of this trip is clearly to make nice with Netanyahu, defuse political attacks from that quarter, and weaken Republican attacks on him on the foreign policy front so he can concentrate on his domestic agenda. It's understandable (for someone who doesn't give a damn about Palestinians), but I really don't get the politics. I don't see how this works.

      Everyone is making nice right now (not the Palestinians, but they don't matter in America). However, we all know how this will play out. Israel will step up with more and more demands. Obama will continually meet them and meet them (he's already promised to re-up foreign military assistance), until they go simply beyond the pale and he has to refuse something. Then, all the attacks on Obama will resume full force. Obama will look weak and foolish, having wasted his time and billions of American money and having accomplished nothing.

      Politically, I bet that it will be obvious within two weeks that Obama lost by this little stunt.

  • Obama visit fails to impress Palestinians in Ramallah
    • It's hard to blame the Palestinians. Since the purpose of this trip is solely for Obama to proclaim his love of Israel and his pledge not to actually DO anything, it's easy to understand why Palestinians won't fall into place in the love fest. The US media will end up with a lot of pictures of angry-looking Arabs doing mean things to American flags and pictures of Obama. I don't know if that's helpful, really, but it is completely understandable.

  • Obama scared AIPAC into silence, then defeated it
    • And then Obama held a "diverse" meeting on Israel and Palestine consisting of only leaders of Jewish organizations, in order to prepare for his trip to Israel which is entirely without substantive policy but pledges his friendship to Bibi and helps strengthen his floundering government, all the while keeping the money spigots open.

      Take that, lobby!

  • Wrong t-shirt
    • Classic display of cowardly bullying. I note they didn't have the courage to confront her, just to leave a nasty note and stiff a hard working waitress.

  • In remarks on 'threats and challenges,' new DefSec Chuck Hagel leaves out Iran
    • I don't agree that "his speech emphasized ordinary people who are hurt by American militarism," so much as it focused on the sacrifices made by military families. I, too, was happy that Iran was not covered in this speech (am I interpreting you correctly that you view it as a positive that this speech did not focus on Iran?) and that Hagel did not feel to toss in a gratuitious pledge of support for Israel.

  • Israel is Dodge Country
    • It's also worth noting that Israel's military aid is different from military aid given to any other country. Israel is only required to use 75% of its aid to purchase American weapons (for other countries, it's 100%), the other 25% is pure cash. Other countries also never actually see the cash, the simply get credit to their account as they order American products. Israel tends to get its billions all up front in cash, allowing they to collect interest off the value while deciding which weapons to demand. This increases the cost to US taxpayers (since the money is borrowed and then given to Israel). Finally, Israel is given numerous supplemental military aid packages, like up to a billion extra dollars to build Iron Dome systems, even though Israel will not share the technology with the US.

  • The 99%: Netanyahu successful as Americans agree on Iranian 'nuclear threat'
    • Sigh. Development a nuclear weapon by a state that's not developing nuclear weapons: huge threat. War between two nuclear powers (India and Pakistan): not a big deal.

      What this shows, of course, is that the vast majority of Americans (and really people everywhere) don't give a damn about foreign policy; they care about issues closer to home that are easier for them to relate to and that impact them more directly.

  • You could become 'another Goldstone' -- friendly warning to Yale prof whose study cleared Palestinian textbooks of demonization charge
    • The response in coming on two levels. The first, of course, is to demonize Wexler and attack the study. The second response is simply to bury it. As an example, the Christian Science Monitor looked at the study and concluded it said:

      link to csmonitor.com

      Palestinian textbooks fall short where they are most needed - introducing 'the other'

      This generation of Palestinian schoolchildren is the first to use an entirely Palestinian curriculum and also one of the first to have little to no interaction with Israelis – not even in their textbooks.

      The story is about how awful Palestinian textbooks are. It takes 12 paragraphs to mention that Israeli textbooks have the same problem, then immediately returns to its theme that the textbooks prove Palestinians are not a partner for peace.

  • Bloomberg backs Brooklyn College over BDS event as another official withdraws funding threat
    • Just speculating, but I wonder how much of this to lay at the feet of November's election. Bloomberg, whatever his sympathies, could have sat this one out. He could have stayed quiet. Alternately, he could have issued a milquetoast statement about not interfering with university governance and left it at that. But instead he took a stand in direct definance of the pro-Israel lobby's line, and issued a full-throated defense of the first amendment and academic freedom.

      This is a man with national ambitions, remember. I can't think of a single instance when ANYONE with national ambitions failed to either toe the pro-Israel line fully or just duck the issue. Bloomberg stepped into a fight he didn't need to, and I can't help but think this is a sign of how powerfully the recent election has reshaped conventional wisdom on what it takes to get elected. The old way of conservative attacks and almost subservient liberal replies (and I know Bloomberg considers himself neither) is out, and a newer style of drawing your openent into over-extending himself and hitting him hard while positioning yourself as defender of all things reasonable is in.

  • 'NYT' connects the dots on the Israel 'litmus test' (or how the Dersh jumped the shark)
    • And yet the intimidation works, even at the New York Times itself. The Times' news story on the issue can't bring itself to use the words "Palestine" or even "Occupied Territories." Instead, it uses the painfully awkward phrasing "disputed territories where Palestinians live." Whatever the editorial page says, the reporters are still getting the message to shy away from anything resembling honest reporting.

      link to nytimes.com

  • Netanyahu out as PM?: Yair Lapid shocks Likud/Beiteinu in Israeli election
    • Woody, it matters in terms of international support. Bibi (and Lieberman) have been disastrous for Israel's international support. Obviously, it's not as bad as habara cry that everyone is against Israel, but they have suffered a real and damaging decline in support. Bibi backed by Lapid would be far more likely to present a moderate face (even while enacting the same policies) and regain some of the international support it lost.

    • This is too bad. I had hoped that Netanyahu would win with a small coalition but an oversized right-wing that he couldn't control, and would continue his destructive path. Now, he'll be forced to compromise with Yesh Atid and bring them into the government. All the liberal zionists here will crow that the 2-state solution is saved, and Netanyahu will have more cover to continue the colonization of the West Bank.

  • Palestinian teenager shot dead by Israeli soldiers in Hebron
    • The only slight flaw in that story (I mean other than the obvious flaw in the concept of someone attacking a group of heavily armed "Border" police with a plastic toy) is that the Israeli guard shot the kid 6 times. If the events were as described, and the kid was phyiscally next to and touching the other guard, then the woman who shot him would be on charges for reckless endangerment of a fellow officer for shooting so wildly. The 6 shots alone prove that there were no Israeli "border" police in the danger zone, casting suspicion on the entire rendition of events.

  • UN approves Palestinian status upgrade with 138-9 vote (and US Senators threaten to cut aid)
    • The Israeli (and Canadian) thrust seems to be: Palestinians had a chance in 1948 and they didn't take it, so F*** them.

      Whether or not one buys into that version of history, is that really a convincing argument to anyone? I don't understand what focus group came up with this tack or why.

    • Prosor just said the West Bank is the "heart of our country."

    • Why would it? By cutting funding to every institution that includes Palestine, the US is making clear that it does not want to be part of a world that includes Palestinians. Increasingly, it isn't.

  • Israel calls its own bluff on the Palestinian Authority's UN bid
    • I don't know that Abbas has backbone so much as the Israeli attack on Gaza so undermined him that if he now waives away any right to pursue legal action, he'll be utterly exposed and likely overthrown. I still don't expect Abbas to actually ACT and take Israel to the ICC.

  • 'NYT' predictably comes under attack for reporting Israel targeted journalists in Gaza
    • Read the Shachtman piece again, it's a good propaganda laugh. Shachtman explains how the Israeli positively identify their target as a terrorist by looking at him through an infra-red camera. Apparently, terrorists give off a unique heat signature (maybe it's their cold, cold hearts).

  • Aftermath of Gaza assault: Black eye for Israel and strengthened Hamas
    • Exactly right. We know from the casualty figures that over 2/3s of the casualties were innocent civilians, whom Israel was presumably not trying to hit. It stands to reason that Israel also missed a large proportion of its fixed targets as well.

    • Separely from the military dimension, I don't think it is at all clear that Netanyahu won personally from this. He's up temporarily in the polls, but 2 months is a long time in politics, and many Israelis are unhappy with this settlement. Netanyahu has lost any ability to claim he hasn't started any wars (a claim he has been using until now).

    • Very good and thoughtful article, though I think you overplay Israel's "military victory." There is frankly no evidence for any sort of military victory except a body count and a swath of destruction. Ask the Vietnamese if that signals a military victory.

      Hamas and the other factions displayed military tool (longer range rockets) not seen before. They also displayed an abilility to stare down the Israeli military and avoid a ground assault. Not one inch of Palestine was taken by ground troops. Note how different this was from Cast Lead in 2009. I'm curious if you can point to these reports:

      Finally, there's the fact that, by many accounts, Hamas emerges from Israel's assault weakened, but only in the strictly military sense

      The only such accounts I saw were from the Israeli military. No independent observer seemed to believe that Hamas was weakened militarily.

      Separate, as you note, A key factor is the role of Egypt, which has seen greatly enhanced prestige (though Morsi may have overplayed his hand domestically). One point that I haven't seen brought up is the enormous bribe paid to Egypt. Right before the truce, the IMF finally approved a $4.8 billion low-interest loan to Egypt:

      link to online.wsj.com

      The fact that Egypt needed to be bribed on that level shows just how worried the US is about Egypt upsetting the whole game. Whether or not Morsi pulls off his power play, Egypt is strongly limiting Israel's freedom of action, and that matters more in purely military terms than Israel bombing a few (or a few hundred) "rocket launching sites."

  • Day Eight of Israeli Attack on Gaza: Ceasefire agreement reached; Palestinian death toll climbs to 145
    • Maximus, Hamas is definitely prone to bluster, but as for anti-tank missiles, Gaza factions have used them numerous times, including immediately prior to the current bombing (it was an Islamic Jihad missile taking out an Israeli jeep that Israel claims started the whole campaign). Likewise, anti-aircraft missiles have been fired a couple times, and there have been numerous reports of them moving from Libya to Gaza. As for anti-ship missiles, that's certainly doubtful. There has been no direct evidence of their existence in Gaza so far, and they may not be there at all.

    • I don't find that claim very plausible. There wasn't evidence of a single advanced missile fired, not from day one of the bombing campaign. It's not like the factions were keeping them all in one place. If you said there were some fired initially, but then they tapered off, I could see the argument that Israeli attacks destroyed them. But they weren't used at all, even before the bombing really got going. That's an intentional act.

    • No talking points. People have different opinions.

    • President Obama announced the US would intensify efforts to stop weapons "smuggling" into Gaza. This is almost exactly the language the US used (and followed up on) vis a vis Hezbollah in 2006 after Israel's embarrassing defeat there. This is one more sure sign that Israel lost: that the US steps and increases its direct involvement in to help control the damage.

    • "Another Cast Lead-zero progress for Jabotinsky thinking." Here is Blake Hounshell tweet, desperately trying to making this into an Israeli victory:

      Blake Hounshell ‏@blakehounshell
      For those asking, Israeli goals tactical, not strategic: taking out long-range rockets. IDF saying they more or less achieved that.

      It's easy to declare an Israeli victory. All you have to do is admit that Israel had no strategic goals behind this war, then no one can claim Israel failed to meet its goals. Your "zero-progress" turns out to have been the official goal the whole time.

    • Based on the announced terms of the ceasefire, this appears to be an absolutely stunning victory for Hamas. Israel's attack achieved nothing but a body count, and Hamas emerged politically stronger, diplomatically more connected, and, if the truce terms regarding more open borders are followed, economically reinvigorated.

      Perhaps most importantly, "deterrence" was re-established; not by Israel, but by Palestine. Palestinians in Gaza have a large number of anti-tank missile. How many were actually fired? Except for one missile taking out an Israeli jeep in the first round of the war, I didn't see a single report of anti-tank missiles being used. Hamas has access to some limited anti-aircraft missiles. How many were fired? I did not see a report of one. Some reports say Hamas has anti-ship missiles. Again, no reports of usage.

      So Hamas and the other factions used their grad homemade missiles. Their mortars were able to cause casualties among Israeli troops on the border. But their real, military-grade weapons were held in reserve and never used. In spite of this, Israel mobilized over 50,000 troops to the border...and stopped. No invasion happens.

      That is one hell of a deterrence. Obviously, it's not just Gaza weapons driving the Israeli decision. Israel was scared of drawing Egypt in, and scared of sparking events across the region it couldn't control. But still, given the incredible imbalance of power, the fact that an invasion was prevented, that Israel gained nothing from the war, and that Hamas gained a great deal is a stunning turnaround.

  • Tensions rise as Iran shoots at American predator drone and covert war heats up
    • Now that I agree with. I think it was INTENDED to be minor and it worked out that way, but it an extremely dangerous game when played with real weapons. The more of these little games that go on, the more likely someone is to miscalculate and start something they can't stop.

      I think Obama does realize this, but I haven't seen any moves on his part toward a way out. He keeps racheting up the tension, and his negotiating position leaves little option except a humiliating and extremely unlikely Iranian climb-down.

    • Annie, I suspect American drones are more or less CONSTANTLY in Iranian airspace. Hell, we've admitted we have them there monitoring Iran's nuclear sites, and Iran forced one down basically intact. They clearly didn't do that randomly; they must have been studying the drone profiles for months.

      We constantly have drones over Iran. Iran knows this. Generally speaking, they don't fire, in part because they don't want to expose their air defenses and let the US know what they are really capable of. In this case, Iran chose to fire, but used ground attack aircraft. They were clearly holding their better air-to-air fighters back, again to avoid giving the US any information about their real capabilities. But the fact they chose to fire a few days before the election cannot be considered coincidental.

    • This is a minor incident. The Iranians missed the drone. Likely it was on purpose, and they just intended a "shot across the bow." They obviously timed this to warn the US that they can make political trouble by controlling the temperature of events and raising it at their own choosing. The US military didn't over react, and kept the incident under wraps until the election was safely in the bag, thus demonstrating the Obama Admin thinks it has more control of events that Iran.

      Everyone sent their little message and understood what the other side was saying. A minor event.

  • Report: Netanyahu and Lieberman to merge right-wing parties ahead of Israeli elections
    • Indeed. It's not a literal coup, of course, since it would be done through elections, but if the report that Netanyahu would serve as PM for 3 years and Lieberman for 1 is correct, then it is an incredible political coup for Lieberman. It's not clear he could ever become PM based on his own party's strength. Now, he can take over the reins directly without having to compromise his blatantly fascist positions.

  • Hezbollah confirms it sent drone shot down by Israel
    • Some points.

      - The drone was almost certainly launched from land. Why would it need to be launched from see, and why would Hezbollah take the risk?
      - We can make some rough calculations. Someone above claims it was flying over Israel for 22 minutes. Another article claimed it fly 35 miles deep into Israel. That gives us a speed of about 100 mph. Not bad for a small drone. folks above say it was flying for 3 hours, giving us a flying distance of 300 miles (and still clearly going strong when it was shot down). So this thing has some range, clearly enough to reach any point in Israel from Lebanon.
      - The drone was unarmed. This fact does not demonstate one way or the other whether Hezbollah or Iran have armed drones, but they clearly wouldn't waste one on a recon mission.
      - The drone had surveillance equipment and communication equipment to send data home. Else, why bother, and Hezbollah is clearly not stupid or unsophisticated.
      - It hardly matters if it was armed. A drone with a payload capacity can be a flying bomb, a guided missile. Clearly the guidance works just fine over water or land.
      - The Israeli surface to air missiles (which cover Gaza where the drone crossed) were unable to engage the drone, and fighters had to be scrambled to take it down.
      - Thus, Hezbollah has in effect proved it has a long-range targetable cruise missile which can reach pretty much any point in Israel. This can also reach any point off the Israeli coast.
      - The Israeli government is counting on natural gas finds to make it rich, but platforms in the middle of the sea are hard to defend. Hezbollah just flew a little cruise missile that is immune to Israeli SAMs through this area for three hours.
      - The cost of protecting Israel's new gas finds just went up substantially.

  • In front of global audience, Netanyahu draws his red line (on his ridiculous bomb cartoon)
    • And, I should point out, he even left himself a fall-back position. His cartoon could be interpreted as allowing his "red-line" at enrichment up to 90%. That's the way Israel's NY Consulate interpreted it:

      Israel in New York ‏@IsraelinNewYork
      PM #Netanyahu calls for "Red line" first and foremost on Iran's attempts to enrich uranium to 90%. After that, it's too late

    • It's really tough to get past the cartoonishness (and actual cartoon) of Bibi's speech, but to get to the substance of it, his "red line" was an incredible climb-down. He set his "red-line" NOT at any further Iranian enrichment, NOT at Iran having a stockpile of low-enriched uranium, NOT at continued development of Fordow, NOT at medium (20%) enrichment, but finally at Iran having a stockpile of medium-enriched uranium sufficient to further enrich to weapons-grade and make a single bomb.

      That's pretty far in the future. If it takes very roughly 50 kg of HEU to make a bomb, then the standard becomes roughly 250 kg of medium enriched uranium. As b noted last month, Iran's stockpile of enrichable medium enriched uranium (roughly 100 kgs) actually has been DECREASING (from 101 kg to 94 kg):

      link to moonofalabama.org

      Hence Netanyahu, who has been threatening imanent war for years, set his own little red-line at a time he doesn't see happening earlier than next summer, and in fact is getting closer at all right now. What a weak ending to his charade. It was put up or shut time, and Netanyahu couldn't do either.

  • Romney dirge for two-state solution causes widespread panic among those fearing for Israel
    • It's always interesting to watch the sharp divide between those who genuinely support Israel and fear too disastrous a path, and those who "support" Israel mainly as an means to an end (whether that end by Armageddon, furthering American dominance in the Middle East, or simply maintaing the "clash of civilizations" worldview). Note that the neocons and the Christianists aren't bothered by Romney's statement in the slightest. They're happy with any position that requires Israel to be permanently at war.

  • Netanyahu goes after Obama: 'Those in the international community who refuse to put red lines before Iran don't have a moral right to place a red light before Israel'
    • I don't think you're looking at this story quite right. Some point:

      1) The story was leaked out of Jerusalem (almost certainly Bibi's office), not Washington).
      2) It was obviously timed for 9/11.
      3) It was guaranteed to outrage and agitate the right, as indeed it is doing (read some of their twitters or blogs).
      4) Thus, it was timed to damage Obama by increasing right-wing enthusiasm.
      5) Obviously, it damages Bibi as well politically at home, and no PM wants to ANNOUNCE the fact that he can't get a meeting.
      6) Conclusion: Bibi is willing to accept political damage if he can damage Obama in doing so. His goal is to harm Obama even at political cost to himself.

      Sadly, Obama will almost certainly fold and end up meeting with Netanyahu, but in the meantime it shows yet again that Bibi's central goal is to unseat Obama.

  • Iran/Palestine (keep your eye on the ball)
    • Unfortunately, I fear the chances of a major attack on Gaza have increased with additional US forces in the region to help provide cover if things go wrong for Israel.

  • Iran hysteria show is closing down now, sequel due in spring -- Time
    • Ah, Mayor "Ehud" Quimby: "Very well, if that is the way the winds are blowing, let no one say I don't also blow."

      Still, for all the fact that the danger of war is receeding, there is one more danger point coming up. In the next week or two, the number of US carriers in the region will rise to 3 as the USS Stennis cycles in. The US will also be conducting major war games in the Gulf to simulate mine hunting with a number of other nations. Israel has moved an Iron Dome battery to Tel Aviv. And Canada has bafflingly suddenly decided to flee the scene entirely. Small items (except the 3rd carrier), but combined they do represent an increased risk of war for the next two weeks.

  • Netanyahu can 'squeeze' Obama because media and Congress will take his side if he attacks Iran
    • I'm old enough to remember a time when that position would be considered absurd. That time was 3 days ago, when conventional wisdom held that Obama had called Bibi's bluff and forced him to back down. I can't think what's changed in the last couple days...

  • In caving on Jerusalem, Dems pulled back the curtain on the lobby
    • Sorry. I can be a little dense sometimes. Still curious about who that was, though.

    • Thanks. Victoria Nuland the State Department spokeswoman? This Victoria Nuland?

      link to whirledview.typepad.com

      What was she even doing there?

      In passing, CNN separately ran an explanation that State Department ethics guidelines prohibit Hillary and other senior State Department personnel from attending the convention:

      link to cnn.com

    • I hope you're right. The images were just stunning, especially when Mayor Villaraigosa briefly quailed from his duty to lie openly and obviously on camera (who was that woman who stepped forward to make sure he did his party duty?). But will this image last, or will it be swept under the rug again?

    • 4) Nothing. 99.8% of people do not make their choices based on the status of Jerusalem. The .2% that do have already made up their minds. If Obama had actually "grown a sack" and held tough, the sturm and drang would have blown over in a day.

  • Dems buckle, will add language to party platform referring to Jerusalem as Israel's capital
    • Brilliant. In their moment of greatest strength, displaying all their national leaders and following an incredibly weak Republican convention, what do the Democrats do? They stay true to form and surrender in the face of mean words from the opposition.

      Another case of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

  • Romney and Pro-Israel Dems attack party platform, but insider says AIPAC reviewed platform language and had no problem
    • To my mind, the definitive proof that AIPAC reviewed and approved the Democratic text was found in the Jerusalem Post. Note their original report on the platform:

      link to jpost.com

      Democrats unveil 2012 platform, stress Israel ties

      By JPOST.COM STAFF 09/04/2012 11:55

      Ahead of Democratic National Convention, Obama touts strong bilateral cooperation, "unshakable commitment to Israel's security."

      The JPost has no reason to love Obama or the Democrats, but the original story found no faults with the platform whatsoever. Indeed, it was quite complimentary of the platform "stressing Israel ties."

  • Price tag vandals attack Latrun Monastery; set fire to door and spray paint 'Jesus is a monkey'
    • I don't follow the Christian or Christianist press, which are extremely pro-Israel, but do these repeated attacks on Christians by Israelis get ANY press or discussion there?

  • US scales back military exercise with Israel; Israeli official tells TIME, 'Basically what the Americans are saying is, ‘We don’t trust you''
    • Another question is, what is Netanyahu's exit strategy? How does he extract himself politically from his pledge to go to war?

    • This story is potentially huge. It's the first palpable ACT that the Obama Administration has taken to distance itself from Israel and Netanyahu. It's a hard act for the Republicans to criticize, can they really demand that more Americans be sent to Israel as human shields?

      Hopefully, this sets a precedent.

  • Report: Israeli police officer witnessed Zion Square 'lynching' and chose not to intervene
    • Something odd is going on. The title of his website is now "Open Zion," not "Zion Square." How long has this been true?

      In changing the title, he forgot to change his column explaining WHY it is call "Zion Square."

      link to thedailybeast.com

      I imagine this will soon disappear down the memory hole.

      Anyway, I answered my original question. Open Zion had one report on the lynching ("How Will We Sleep Tonight?") four days ago. Since then, it has had three reports on Iran, one on American anti-muslim violence, one on the environment, and one column explaining that linking Zionism to racism is communist propaganda. This last column actually did contain a mention of the lynching in the very last paragraph (noting "the yahoos who do not appreciate Israel's delicate and diverse democratic dance").

    • Of course. This is standard operating procedure in the West Bank and now in Israel itself.

      As a side note, has Peter Beinart yet acknowledged the irony that his little "Zion Square" website he is so proud of, a space that never seems to include a Palestinian voice, is named for what is now understood as "the place where Palestinians are lynched"? Has Zion Square changed "Zion Square," or cause it to question liberal Zionism even a little?

  • Skinnydipping continues to be ha-ha story
    • Not completely. Note Jodi Rudoren's report:

      Skinny-Dipping in Israel Casts Unwanted Spotlight on Congressional Travel

      The trip was much like any of the hundreds hosted in recent years by a nonprofit offshoot of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, a powerful Washington lobby, and the purpose was much the same: to solidify the support of American lawmakers for Israel at a time of Middle East tumult.

      For eight expense-paid days, House Republicans visited Israel’s holiest sites, talked foreign policy with its highest officials and dined at its most famous restaurants, including Decks, known for its grilled beef, stunning views of the Sea of Galilee, and now, for an impromptu swim party.

      With hundreds of Washington lawmakers having gone to Israel courtesy of the program, the trips have a reputation as being the standard-bearer for foreign Congressional travel. “We call it the Jewish Disneyland trip,” said one pro-Israel advocate in Washington.

  • Israel's secret Iran meeting between security officials and Rabbi who wants to 'annihilate' Arabs
  • Mob 'lynching' of Palestinian minors marks rise of Jewish extremism
    • "Jewish extremism"? Clearly, you are not keeping up with the Washington Post. As the post noted:
      link to washingtonpost.com

      Attacks on Palestinians, presumed by Jews, kindles debate on state of Israeli values

      The mob in Jerusalem shouting "Death to Arabs" is only "presumed" to be Jewish, and the important fact here is that any such attack "kindles debate." I don't know why you have to go making accusations about extremism.

  • Muni calls Geller's Savage ad 'repulsive', runs its own counter ad
  • Dennis Ross urges Iran war in deceptive 'NYT' op-ed
    • Yawn. Since Israel lacks the power projection ability to seriously damage Iran, your threat is silly. But by all means, quit talking and go to it. Why do you and Dennis Ross and Bibi and Barak and every other tool keep playing the "hold me back game"? Hold me back, hold me back or I'll kick that guy's ass. Do it, stop me, bribe me, call the cops on that guy. Do whatever it takes or I swear I'll do it. Yadda yadda yadda. All talk. "Hold me back" is, as it has always been, code for "please help me out of the jam I created for myself."

  • Mearsheimer: 7 reasons Netanyahu & Barak might like war with Iran
    • The problem with your logic is twofold: 1) you are assuming military factors trump political ones, 2) you are assuming the military factors lead to a surprise attack.

      On the first, the idea that Israel would launch an attack to militarily damage Iran is wrong. Any Israeli attack would be launched for the purpose of triggering a war between Iran and the US that would wreck Iran. From that perspective, surprise in unimportant but laying the political groundwork is vital.

      On the second, Israel favored surprise attacks in the past, but Israeli military doctrine was built around the short, very sharp conflict that quickly carried war to the enemy and forced a treaty. No such conflict strategy is possible in a conflict with Iran, Israel would have no way to force an ending of the war. Unlike is a short war, in a long war surprise in the initial attack is a nice little bonus, but it is not nearly as important as other factors (Japan acheived total surprise at Pearl Harbor: result, complete defeat for Japan).

      Hence, military logic is not controlling the situation, and anyway military logic doesn't really prioritize a surprise attack in this situation.

    • You can add to this list very easily:

      8) Netanyahu may assume that an Iranian response to an Israeli attack would include actions, such as closing the Strait of Hormuz, that would be guaranteed to draw the US into war.

      9) The Arab Spring. War strengthens the conservatives, and gives governments cover to crack down on restive populations, thereby holding back changes in the Arab world.

      10) Economic factors. Israel's economy is substantially weakening, and anyway defense spending will soon have to shift to the navy to protect the new gas fields. If you don't launch a war now, economics may foreclose the opportunity in a year.

      Etc, etc, etc. There are a million reasons Netanyahu can concoct to support a war. But there is no evidence that he can convince anyone beside Barak with this logic.

  • Iran hysteria watch
  • Savage Geller bus ad hits San Francisco Muni
    • I'd like to thank Pam Gellar and company for helping to bury the myth that Israel is anything other than a leftover colonial enterprise.

  • Barak to US: Be afraid, be very afraid of 'the sword at our throat'
    • Color you suspicious indeed. It's not like we didn't ALL see this tactic coming. Just to Fareed Zakaria myself:

      link to mondoweiss.net

      BillM says:
      May 8, 2012 at 1:05 pm
      + Show content
      Gotta give the man credit, he absolutely destroyed the opposition. One thing folks on the outside will soon notice vis a vis Israel and Iran: all the voices in Israel calling Bibi and Barak insane and warmongering on Iran will suddenly dry up. Those voices had reached a recent crescendo, but it had far less to do with the threat of war and far more to do with a political maneuver to isolate and polarize Bibi in advance of the election. Now that the election is off, those voices will largely disappear. This fact will be followed by stories that the disappearance of those voices is evidence that Israel has moved to a war footing and the danger of war is extreme. Happily, those stories won’t actually be true, they’ll just be a revival of the Israeli tactic to pressure the US by threatening a unilateral attack on Iran. Sadly, the tactic will work.

      Nothing has changed militarily. Israel still lacks the ability (and lately, the money) to go to war unilaterally with Iran. Hence, this tactic can ONLY be aimed at the US. The very minimum goals of this tactic are designed to simultaneously distract Obama and to force him to levy ever-greater sanctions on Iran. The maximal goals, of course, are to kill two birds with ones stone, and force a war that would bring down both Obama and the Iranian power structure.

  • Sheldon's wish list
  • Fallout of Attack: Egypt launches Sinai air raids
    • No disagreement. "Begging" may not be the right word, but I think the point remains the same. Israel wants Egypt to temporarily remilitarize Sinai and them demilitarize it immediately when Israel decides things have gone far enough. The Egyptian government can play along somewhat (because it wants to rein in the Bedouin as well), but to comepletely bend over to Israel's desires would be incredibly damaging to the government. Morsi MUST keep pushing to amend the military annex to the treaty, and the longer this little offensive goes on, the more he will need to do so.

      At some point very soon, Morsi's only leverage will simply be to pull back and hope he's taught the Bedouin not to attack Egyptian troops but to attack Israel as well (though I highly doubt they'll take such a lesson to heart).

    • Annie, I think yall are all pretty much right, just saying the same things in different terms. Israel is indeed begging the Egyptians to move in and crush the Sinai militants, but Egypt is required to get permission under the treaty from Israel.

      Morsy will have to re-up his calls to renegotiate the treaty to give Egypt more permanent control in Sinai. If Israel doesn't give any ground on this, it's going to back Morsy into a corner, especially after the (inevitable) civilian casualties from the government offensive appear. Very soon, it will stop looking like the Egyptian government is avenging its own soldiers and will again look like the Egyptian government is just guarding Israel's borders.

    • Certainly there are already US soldiers in Israel. They've been there for years:

      link to businessinsider.com

    • Good summary, thanks. The attack was very precisely aimed at that nexus of Israel, Egypt and Hamas, clearly intended to undermine all three and throw them into conflict. Time will tell whether it succeeds or if it backfires and encourages them to work together. Sadly, I'm not especially hopeful. Air raids certainly won't accomplish anything but stirring up more anger.

  • Can you pass the Hezbollah quiz?
    • Well, it's a pretext as even Olmert has admitted they never expected to get the soldiers back, and believed they were dead from the first day.

  • New round of Iran sanctions pressures Obama to move closer to Israel's 'red line'
    • Don, re: Roya's comment, I'd say you are the one to get the F. I, at least, certainly consider both the sanctions and the military buildup part and parcel of the same policy, and I don't really see how you can analyze one independently of the other.

    • Don, I think it is you who are mistating the facts. First off, there have been 2-3 carriers in the REGION for a while. Often, one is deployed in the Eastern Med, but it is entirely Middle Eastern focused, so I would certainly count it. And, of course, a carrier doesn't have to be in the Persian Gulf itself (and certainly wouldn't be in the Gulf itself in the event of war for obvious reasons).

      As to the number of carriers, the US currently has 11, and is about to drop to 10. A carrier can spend (at most) half it's time actually at sea. Thus, the US can average about 5 carriers operational in the world. 2-3 in the Middle East means 50% of carriers are devoted there. Remember that Obama's "China pivot" (I say Obama's, but any US President would do the same) involves refocusing the Navy 60+% in East Asia. 60% in East Asia and 50% in the Middle East leaves negative 10% for the rest of the world. The math just doesn't work.

      Regarding the price of oil, this is subtler, since you can never attach the precise amount to a risk premium. Some folks have estimated it at about $20-25. I think it's lower now, again because the price of oil SHOULD be low. There are few supply disruptions. Even Libya is largely online. The world and particularly the US are seeing a natural gas boom, driving down energy costs. And most important, the economy is a wreck, cutting consumption. The price of oil should be rock bottom, but it isn't. The Iranian risk premium has a lot to do with that. If other factors (particularly the economy) ever drive up the price of oil, the Iranian risk premium will certainly spike it to unbearable levels very quickly.

      Thus, I don't see the current policy as sustainable on a year-over-year basis. Economic realities will force a "resolution" of some sort.

    • Except that it can't go on, year after year; that is the other half of the problem. It's not just that he US is moving closer to Israel's incoherent red lines, it's that the current US posture is not sustainable. The massive US buildup greatly increases the cost of oil. It's only workable right now because the work economy is weak (meaning demand is very low) and there are no other crises driving up prices. This current tenstion can't be sustained in an expanding economy.

      Further, the buildup itself is hideously expensive. It is also exhausting to the Navy particularly, and it prevents Obama's much touted "pivot" to Asia, since 50-60% of the carrier fleet is now dedicated the Middle East, and even large percentages of other systems (like minesweepers).

      The US simply cannot stay in this posture year after year, so there must be some sort of resolution. Resolutions can be broken down into 4 broad categories:

      1) A humiliating US climb-down.
      2) A humilating Iranian climb-down.
      3) A negotiated settlement both sides can call a victory.
      4) War.

      I just dont see either 1 or 2 happening. They would be devastating to the losing side, worse than risking a war from the leadership perspective. For #3, the space is there for a negotiated settlement, since Iran has announced on religious grounds it won't seek nuclear weapons and on practical grounds it would be willing to halt 20% enrichment, and the US has announced some level of enrichment can continue. But honestly, the basis for a negotiated settlement has existed for years, and no one took it. Moves like this current legislation close off that basis.

      What does that level? As the Sherlock Holmes saying goes: "when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth."

  • Romney bombs at the King David
    • Romney's visit was more that a little strange. His anti-Palestine, anti-Iran, and frankly anti-diplomacy rhetoric was atrocious, of course, but those weren't his only comments. His interview with Haaretz 4 days ago was fascinating and much more enlightening:

      link to haaretz.com

      Calling it an "interview" somewhat misstates it, of course. It was more instructional, with Ari Shavit basically lecturing Romney on what he is supposed to say. From the QUESTIONS, not the answers:

      "President Obama gave his formative foreign policy speech in Cairo in June 2009. It was basically about appeasing Islam..."

      " Therefore we find ourselves in a dramatic situation: Iran has enriched uranium for five to six bombs, and is only a year away from the ability to produce a first bomb..."

      "would you say to the prime minister: Bibi, relax, you can trust America. America will eventually deal with Iran. Don’t do anything hasty."

      "But would you say in a positive manner that Israel should not be thrown under the bus?"

      Etc.

      The interesting thing, though, is how Romney does NOT follow the script. He does on Palestine, of course, stating the a there must be a two-state solution which means there must be a Jewish state, and that's all that really counts. But on Iran? He was much subtler. He refused several invitations to directly attack Obama or to pledge open support for war.

      So you have Romney acting almost cagey at times, but once he is in a room full of rich people he relaxes and starts saying what he truly believes (the rich are rich because of divine providence, the poor and inherently "culturally" inferior). He then disavows these comments the moment they are repeated outside the circle of rich men.

      All in all, it shows me a candidate who can't even see Palestinians (for reasons of wealth, not race or religion), who can see Iran, but can only speak about it carefully and diplomatically in very carefully controlled conditions: a pre-arranged interview most likely with pre-approved questions. It's a stunning level of both diplomatic incompetence and basic human disinterest that is scary. I not worried that Romney would ever endorse Israel's attacks on the Palestinians, Lebanese, Syrians or Iranians. I just wonder if he would even notice.

  • Election theatrics: Obama to sign bill that gives Israel $70 million while Romney hints Jerusalem is capital
    • Ahh, the sycophantolympics. Romney's leading in shamelessness, but Obama has the edge in pandering.

  • One apartheid state, with liberty and justice for Jews only
    • Welcome to election season. The Israeli government knows the US Administration will support everything it says and does, so now is a great time to try to change the discussion by placing pieces like this in American media.

  • New 'NYT' correspondent embraces goal of 'sensitively portray[ing] both sides of conflict'
    • Speaking of the NYT's ability to sensitively portray the issues, it has a doozy today. Discussing Israel's plan to bulldozer eight villages and hundreds of homes, the NYT managed to sum up the issue with the title:

      Israel Seeks Army Use of West Bank Area

      The piece is by Ms. Rudoren. I know writers don't control the titles their editors use, but come on. If there is any conceivable softer pedal of this, I can't imagine (maybe "Israel minister signs boring paperwork you shouldn't worry about"?).

  • 7 dead in terrorist attack in Bulgaria
    • Of course not. You and Woody are, I think, missing the point. Whatever the US Administrations TRUE intentions (or even true willingness to go along with the Israeli government) are I am not discussing. I am discussing the actual terms used, whether they help or hurt. The words Clinton is using are very helpful: "perpetrators" "will be found" "brought to justice." These are not words that help spur on war. Does that mean the US won't engage in war? Of course not. But Clinton is using about the best terms possible right now.

    • Clinton said the perpetrators will be caught and brought to justice. That is the exact opposite of warmongering.

      Good for her.

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