Marc Schulman


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November 15, 2013- Iranian Negotiations- Reactions to a Story on the Bombing of Palestinian House

Yesterday I published an article on the Times of Israel site on the burning of an Arab house by settler youth. As I said in the article, I was not planning to write that post. I was upset by how little play the story was getting– the lack of outrage, the concerns for our country and people, and furthermore, what actions like this meant. The reactions to this piece were interesting. I usually get only a few comments on my TOI posts, but this time the right wing was out in strength attacking the article, (which is fine, at least in terms of ratings.) It would also be fine if they were attacking the substance of the article, explaining that while what happened yesterday was a terrible thing, it's not a result of the occupation, just the outcome of poor education or maybe a rogue rabbi or two. Instead the responses were a series of justifications of the boys' actions, followed by a litany of why we are entitled to the land, why we are not occupiers. Some even went as far as to say "they understand the actions of the kids" who did it. I am still waiting for the long list of rabbis condeming the act...

This was a very sad exchange, in many ways, and leaves me depressed. I have no idea what the future holds; whether we can ever reach an agreement with the Palestinians. Sadly I fear there is a greater chance of reaching an agreement with them than with some of my co-countrymen.

Now to the article I wanted to write yesterday about the state of the negotiations over the Iranian nuclear program. We are in a real pickle without any good solutions. On one hand, we all know that there are only three solutions. 1) Iran gets the bomb, 2) there is negotiated solution, or 3) that the US (or we) bomb them. Option #1 is not an acceptable solution for us. Option #2 we do not trust the Iranians or the US negotiators. Option #3 we do not trust that if the moment comes President Obama will give the order to bomb.

Let's talk about the negotiations. It's almost a week after the parties stopped talking, and it is still not clear what issue caused the discussions to fall apart. From the Israeli point of view, anything that could be agreed to so quickly by the Iranians could not possibly be a good agreement. The government is right about that. Clearly what was being offered by the Iranians offered way too little. In addition, there is little trust here that the Obama administration will be able to do the right thing. I think we all believe President Obama means well. However, based on his actions in Syria, (and even on the health care web site), the sense is that the Obama administration has become "the gang who could not shoot straight". What does that mean for negotiations with Iran? Who can trust the gang that cannot shoot straight to get the better of a deal with the Iranians?
On the other hand, to get into such an out and out fight with a sitting US president is dangerous. We are walking a very difficult line. We must beware of modern day Munichs, but history can only teach us so much. It's ironic that while Obama and Netanyahu seem so different, they are rather alike. Both capable of excellent rhetoric, great speech-givers, seemingly soaring above day to day concerns. Unfortunately, both share the same weakness. They are both lousy administrators who have had a hard time translating their goals into successful action.

Unfortunately, it is in their sets of less than capable hands in which our fate lies.


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