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New America’s new take on Israel-Palestine

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Video streaming by UstreamAs Amira Hass of Haaretz and Kareem Jubran of B’tselem, spoke at length about about the reality of Israeli housing demolitions on the West Bank at the New America  Foundation (NAF) in Washington on April 3, John Kerry’s painstakingly-arranged negotiations were on the verge of collapsing in a volley of recriminations..

Yet in the course of a 90-minute discussion, no one—not the speakers, not moderator Lisa Goldman, and no one in the crowd of 35 people—had one word to say about Kerry’s actions, rhetoric, or proposals, one of which was said to be a “partial freeze” on West Bank settlements.

A high moment for U.S. policymakers, it seems, had zero relevance to a discussion of how Israelis and Palestinians coexist on the West Bank.

In Washington where the “two state solution” is right up there with “bipartisanship” ” and watching “House of Cards” as sacred social ideals, I was slightly surprised.  Maybe I shouldn’t have been. The wonks at NAF, previously known as the playground of Washington’s techno-liberals, are taking a novel approach to Israel/Palestine for a Washington think tank. They’re paying attention to the reality of the conflict.

Goldman, co-founding editor of  972 magazine and contributor to the late Open Zion blog, is now running a new “Israel/Palestine Initiative,” which sponsored Hass and Jubran. In a phone interview, Goodman was reluctant to define the mission of the initiative. “I’m not ready to talk about it,” she said. (I had the distinct feeling she didn’t care to take a two-state litmus test just yet; I didn’t want to administer one, so I didn’t press.)

She did say: “We will approach the Israel/Palestine from two perspectives: journalism and policy.”

Jubran, Hass, Goldman

Jubran, Hass, Goldman

But Goldman and New America’s agenda can be discerned from the events she is sponsoring. The appearance of Hass and Jubran in Washington followed two New York events earlier this year, which also featured human interest stories. One focused on women novelists across the region. The other focused on Palestinian women and social media in the resistance to Israeli occupation.

“We’re going to be looking at lot of things happening just below the surface, ” Goldman said, citing regional economic trends as an example.

Slaughter’s Influence

New America’s intervention in the Middle East political debate is guided by Anne-Marie Slaughter, Princeton professor turned State Department official, who took over as the head of New America last September. In addition to Goldman’s initiative, the Foundation has a Middle East Task Force, headed by Leila Hilal, a former adviser to Palestinian authorities, who has been known to ask the no-longer heretical question, “Is the two-state solution still-relevant?”

The Task Force seeks to “deepen the debate on U.S. policy toward the Middle East,” a formulation, which suggests that U.S. discourse has been shallow (as opposed to say, one-sided, corrupt, or unjust.  But, hey, it’s Washington; polite indirection is the local idiom.) Until recently, New America’s take on the Middle East, was defined by the two-state passion of Daniel Levy and the prudent counterterrorism of Peter Bergen.

Goldman says the NAF’s plans are still influx, but whatever the organization and the personnel it seems clear that Slaughter’s agenda is more humanistic, feminist, and ambitious.

(I requested an interview with Slaughter; her assistant said she will be traveling for the next few weeks and would not be available.)

New America’s idea production about I/P idea also differs from other Washington think tanks.

The Center for American Progress, which can fairly be described as the Democratic party’s think tank, spent the week trying to figure out how to tip-toe away from Kerry’s shuttle diplomacy without abandoning the two-state gospel.  “From Automatic Support to Critical Assessment,” was the name of a CAP Panel in Jerusalem on April 1.

The most influential Middle East analyst at the Council on Foreign Relations is neoconservative Zionist Elliot Abrams who has been heckling Kerry from the right.

At once-liberal Brookings, the experts at the Zionist-funded Saban Center view the Israel-Palestine conflict mostly through the lens of Israeli security and (same thing) the Iran nuclear program.

At the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), the trifles of human rights and self-determination seldom complicate an astringent analysis of a situation in which  “Israel has so much access to U.S. public opinion.”

So what difference can the words of liberal think tank make in a city where unlimited dollars from AIPAC and Sheldon Adelson can buy votes, influence, and silence? Maybe not much. That’s the challenge facing New America. Foundation on Israel/Palestine.

jeffersonm
About Jefferson Morley

Jefferson Morley is the editor of The Deep State, a project of the Independent Media Institute. He is author of "Ghost: The Secret Life of CIA Spymaster James Jesus Angleton," and lives in Washington. His first book, 'Our Man in Mexico: Win Scott and the Hidden History of the CIA,' is a biography of one of the Agency's top spies in Latin America at the height of the Cold War. His next book, Snow-Storm in August, about Washington D.C's first race riot in 1835, was published in 2012.

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7 Responses

  1. bangpound
    bangpound on April 7, 2014, 11:31 am

    This post misses some questions that I think are important:

    Why was Goldman chosen for the initiative?
    What is the connection between the collapse of Open Zion and the establishment of the initiative?

    • Krauss
      Krauss on April 7, 2014, 11:37 am

      Goldman has been hired at the NAF for a long time now. She does regular events at the NAF on I/P.

      Notice, however, that NAF is run by a woman and the person in charge of Middle East affairs at the think tank is also a woman. Goldman is hired as the necessary Jewish blocking back against any smears from right-wingers and their enablers in the media(Jeff Goldberg).

      It seems to me that a lot of intitutions in America, think tanks and businesses, should perhaps follow the NAF and allow women to take control of more aspects of our lives. Things have gotten a lot better at the NAF. They do a lot of valuable stuff, not just on politics. Their focus on technology and resources/energy is also a lot better than most of the stuff in D.C.

      Finally, the tragedy of CAP continues unabated. It’s sad to see how they’ve allowed to become a mere liberal whitewashing tool of rich Zionist funders. And I don’t think it’s just the liberal versions of Adelson(the Pritzker types), it’s also a kind of significant unwillingness to take on the power structure. The NAF are not revolutionaries by any stretch of the imagination, but they are at least raising the important, uncomfortable and, ultimately, inevitable questions. CAP is just bending over and jumping like a little Pavlovian dog every time a funder barks at them. Zero courage. Zero relevance.

  2. LeaNder
    LeaNder on April 7, 2014, 12:00 pm

    Welcome, Jefferson.

    curious nitwit that I am: this is a great speech, and thanks for updating me on more recent events around on the JFK assassination. Yes, me too didn’t understand it at the time, but I also never forget the time I learned about it and the precise context. And yes, secrecy around a topic produces conspiracy theory in the desire to understand. I don’t want to be misunderstood in this context. There are real conspiracies too, which complicates matters.

  3. Patrick
    Patrick on April 7, 2014, 6:17 pm

    The connection to Anne-Marie Slaughter may give some guidance on the thinking behind this initiative. She advanced some ideas on reinventing the two-state solution in an article published last year in the Globe and Mail: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/globe-debate/a-visionary-reinvention-of-the-two-state-solution/article10316862/.

  4. radii
    radii on April 7, 2014, 11:08 pm

    with so many U.S. and other Western and regional governments under the partial parasitic control of israel and its lobby the actual people who seek to make change which included peace must talk past or around the policy-makers

  5. Les
    Les on April 8, 2014, 1:11 pm

    Long before Hitler’s mass murder of the Jews he treated them the way Israel tries to rid itself of Palestinians. When zionists argue that Israel is not as bad as Hitler they refer to the late Hitler, not the earlier “good” Hitler.

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