A Daily Analysis
By Marc Schulman
March 17, 2010 Hamas Attempt at Starting an New Uprising Fizzles- A Round-Up of Commentaries on Israel-American Relations
Yesterday was a day of limited violence around Jerusalem. Last night it seemed to be serious. However, in the light of day, it became clear that Hamas failed in their attempt to incite a religious war over Jerusalem. The crowds were not large, as it turned out, and they were made up almost exclusively of kids under the age of 18. Hamas blames the Palestinian Authority for its failure, and to some extent they are correct. While at first, the Authority encouraged demonstrations against Israeli actions in Jerusalem, when Hamas declared it "a religious war", the Authority was quick to state it wanted no part of a religious war. Authority spokesmen were all over the TV saying "they were fighting a conflict of liberation, between the occupied and occupier, and not a relgious war between Muslim and Jews." It would also seem that most residents of West Bank are not interested in imperiling their rapidly improving ecocnomic conditions for a new intifada. Finally, it would seem most West Bank Palestinians are sophisticated enough about Israelis, not to believe the unfounded claims that Israel was about to start building a new Temple. All of this is clearly good news for those who are hoping there is basis to reach a future agreement.
Meanwhile, the diplomatic row between the Israeli and American governments has now been turned over to the journalists to chronicle. After months where the Arab-Israel conflict was barely written about it, it now seems that all the major pundits have to get their 2 cents in. Thomas Friedman, wrote a piece in the NYT, entitled: Let's Fight Over a Big Plan moved away from pushing the US to rachet up their rhetoric on the settlment issue, and instead concentrated on dealing with the major issues. It's interesting to note that Friedman is no longer calling on the White House to wait for a call from Israel and the Palestinians when they are ready to talk. Maureen Dowd does not usually write on the Middle East, but she just happened to be on tour in parts of the area. Dowd wrote two colums last week from Saudia Arabia. In her piece today called Bibis Tense Time-Out she writes that on this issue Obama is showing he can actually get angry. She also quotes Jeffery Goldberg, extensively, trying to show how absurd it is that a theocratic party, like Shas, who cares about nothing but patronage, has the power it does. Jeffery Goldberg in his blog today in the Atlantic Israel's Foreign Relations: Incompetence, Stupidity, or Chaos? Jeffery Goldberg lays out a whole list of stupid actions relating to Foreign Affairs that Israel has taken in recent months. Of course, it is obvious to any reader this page, that in my opinion, Avigdor Lieberman makes David Levy seem like the ideal Foreign Minister.
On the other side of the coin, there have been two good pieces in the Wall Street Journal in the last two days. The first piece, by Brett Stephens, is entitled: The Settlements arent the Problem The Palestinian beef with Israel isnt territorial, its existential. In it Stephens lays a similar argument to the one I made yesterday: The settlements are not a good thing, but they are not the really the problem. The second article I recommend is by Ruth Wiss, entitled: How About an Arab Settlement Freeze? Why are 21 countries with 800 times more land so obsessed with Israel?
With the AIPAC conference coming up next week there is a fascinating article by Walter Russel Mead, called: Obama and Jacksonian Zionists.
In it Mead describes the process of transformation of support in this country from primarily liberals to conservatives, over the the past 50 years. He also notes that Israels strong support by the US derives from the strong support Israel enjoys among Christians in the US. He makes a strong case for the idea that policians US support Israel, not because they fear AIPAC or the Jewish vote, but rather, because not strongly supporting Israel, shows a weakness in a polticians identification for the special role of the US in the world. If I have not sent you to read enough article today, I have one more. This one article is long, but for all those who have tried to understand the legal positions of the settlement, beyond the Green Line, Nicholos Rostow writes and excellent piece, called: Are the Settlements Illegal?