March 17, 2010

Good Advice, Indeed

I have to agree with Noah Pollak that David Rothkopf at Foreign Policy has good advice for our president.

"Tough on your friends, weak with your enemies" is neither a common trait among great leaders nor is it a particularly good campaign bumper sticker.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at March 17, 2010 9:33 AM
Comments
Israel making Obama look like a chump isn't exactly something a friend would do.
Posted by: tg at March 17, 2010 9:46 am
Tg,

Let me guess. You didn't follow the link and actually read the article, did you?
Posted by: Michael J. Totten at March 17, 2010 9:50 am
tg,
Obama has been quite capable of doing that himself. He hasn't needed any help. But he has a lot of fart-catchers helping him.
Posted by: jb at March 17, 2010 10:05 am
Oh anand,
check out the comments at FP for this posting.
You'll feel right at home!
Posted by: jb at March 17, 2010 10:35 am
But Michael, David, Noah, those were George Bush's friends and enemies. Obama reversed the roles. Let us always remember his big smile when he first met Chavez and how he repeatedly snubbed the British.
Posted by: Joe Hayek at March 17, 2010 11:15 am
You're right, I didn't read the piece, but having now read it, I take great exception to the characterization that increases in settlement building is a "gaffe". There's been a series of announcements by Israel that have made a joke of Obama's (who's your president) request for a freeze on construction.

The establishment and growth of settlements over the past 40 years has been a land grab that has generated a great deal of hatred towards the US.

The impact of which is far more real and serious on the US than the impact on Israel of Axelrod being offended on Sunday talk shows.

And really, it is absurd to think Obama has been tough on israel and soft on iran. Israel is still getting billions in aid and last I checked Obama has been working non-stop to get a sanctions resolution passed against Iran.
Posted by: tg at March 17, 2010 1:07 pm
Tg,

You know, I agree about the settlements. Almost everyone does. But Jewish neighborhoods in Jerusalem aren't settlements. This is the dumbest possible thing to pick a fight over.
Posted by: Michael J. Totten at March 17, 2010 1:11 pm
MJT, could you please clarify further the distinction between settlements (presumably away from Jerusalem) versus the Jewish neighborhoods where there are plans for more housing. Is the construction planned for neighborhoods that are already Jewish? What of the claim that they are building in areas that should be the capital of a future Palestinian state (i.e. East Jerusalem?). Also, I read that there were riots over the dedication of the Hurva synagogue, a place of worship in the JEWISH quarter of Jerusalem's Old City. I can't imagine anything more absurd than getting upset over a synagogue in what is already a Jewish neighborhood. Thank you!
Posted by: Harold at March 17, 2010 1:17 pm
Is the construction planned for neighborhoods that are already Jewish?

Yes.
Posted by: Michael J. Totten at March 17, 2010 1:31 pm
tj and Harold,

The "settlement" in question is a JEWISH neighbourhood in NORTH Jerusalem that happens to be beyond the Green Line by a few blocks (which is why it is called "East Jerusalem" like anything else beyond the Green Line). There is simply nothing substantive here to see as a "provocation" of any sort.

Harold,
Yes, the rioting was mostly over the rededication of the Hurva Synagogue, in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem. Hamas declared a general "Day of Rage" and the PA spread rumors that Israel was going to "lay a cornerstone" of the Third Temple and destroy the Al Aqsa Mosque (obvious nonsense).

tj,
regardless of WHERE the Jerusalem neighbourhood is -- the Israeli government explicitly said in October it was implementing a freeze everywhere EXCEPT Jerusalem, and Clinton praised this as an acceptable -- in fact, she agreed it was an "unprecedented" -- concession for peace. Construction in Jerusalem in no way goes against that.

This whole disagreement was intentionally drawn out and escalated by the Obama administration. Simple as that.
Posted by: jooliz at March 17, 2010 2:02 pm
Israel is still getting billions in aid...

The aid to both Israel and Egypt is by treaty. Obama doesn't have the authority to end either one. It would require either a renegotiation of the Camp David accords, or breaking the treaty outright:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Camp_David_Accords

relevant passage:

The agreement also resulted in the United States committing to several billion dollars worth of annual subsidies to the governments of both Israel and Egypt, subsidies which continue to this day, and are given as a mixture of grants and aid packages committed to purchasing U.S. materiel. From 1979 (the year of the peace agreement) to 1997, Egypt received military aid of US$1.3 billion annually, which also helped modernize the Egyptian military.(This is beyond economic, humanitarian, and other aid, which has totaled more than US$25 billion.) Eastern-supplied until 1979, Egypt now received American weaponry such as the M1A1 Abrams Tank, AH-64 Apache gunship and the F-16 fighter jet. In comparison, Israel has received $3 billion annually since 1985 in grants and military aid packages.

Moving on...

...and last I checked Obama has been working non-stop to get a sanctions resolution passed against Iran.

Which is just a continuation of Bush's (failed) policy, isn't it? Obama deserves neither credit nor condemnation for not being able to come up with something different. Although, I guess some criticism is in order due to the fact he hasn't been able to pull a "thinking outside the box" solution out of his hat, like he said he could. I kinda wish somebody could get him to sit down with a list of criticisms he made against Bush's policies and compare to where he did the exact same thing (canning Armenian "genocide" label comes to mind) and explain/apologize. But I guess that's not how things work, right?
Posted by: Craig at March 17, 2010 2:25 pm
on a side note, the new Jerusalem neighborhoods are not technically 'Jewish', any Israeli from any religious/ethnic background can live in these neighborhoods, including Israeli Arabs.

the amount of disinformation and political slant this topic produces is incredible.

Anyone that wants to talk about the Israeli/Palestinian conflict needs to read Strong Horse by Lee Smith (I believe MT mentioned it here before) to understand the full picture and dynamics of the region.

There is this idiotically shaped notion that this conflict exists solely because Israelis are building some neighborhoods on land that used to be Jordan, and before that Ottoman. I wish it was as simple as that.
Posted by: Mike R at March 17, 2010 3:14 pm
Can someone explain to me how Israel building housing in East Jerusalem is a "settlement" when:

a) Jews have had an historic presence in Jerusalem for thousands of years

b) The area was only free of Jews for 19 years because the Jordanians ethnically cleansed it of Jews in '48 before Israel recaptured it in '67? Wasn't the old Jewish quarter IN East Jerusalem in '48 when it was lost to Jordan?

Can a country really have a "settlement" in an area that was historically owned by it and only lost control of it for a brief time because of ethnic cleansing?
Posted by: Howard Immanuelson at March 17, 2010 9:35 pm
Does the Camp David treaty mean Egypt and Israel should be kept on the American gravy train forever? Particularly when there are many Americans in need of their own tax dollars?
Posted by: Toady at March 18, 2010 6:15 am
Essentially, the US has been paying off Egypt---in tons of money and military materiel---not to go to war with Israel.

(Oh, and hoping that no hostilities might actually, after several years, turn into "peace".... Thirty years later....have you opened an Egyptian newspaper lately? I.e., over the past 15-odd years? Heard any Egyptian politicians pontificate? Heard any Egyptian intellectuals intellectualize? Heard any Egyptian musicians sing? Etc...)

It should come as no surprise, though, that when the Egyptian military does its war exercises, that the "enemy" never comes from the south, or from the west or from the north.

It should also come as no surprise that the general Egyptian attitude on the peace deal with Israel is that Egypt has been cheated; though there are some relatively sane voices who do realize that no war is better than war.

...And so the answer to your question is: what is less expensive? Paying off Egypt or cleaning up after another ME war??
Posted by: Barry Meislin at March 18, 2010 7:31 am
"You know, I agree about the settlements. Almost everyone does. But Jewish neighborhoods in Jerusalem aren't settlements. This is the dumbest possible thing to pick a fight over."

The areas of Jerusalem captured in 1967 are UNIVERSALLY (even by the US before Obama) considered occupied territories.
Posted by: tg at March 18, 2010 12:19 pm
The areas of Jerusalem captured in 1967 are UNIVERSALLY (even by the US before Obama) considered occupied territories.

Disputed is more appropriate. As claimant to a unified, free and open city, no party has a stronger claim legally or morally to Jerusalem than the Jews and their state.
Posted by: Li'l Mamzer at March 18, 2010 12:48 pm
The areas of Jerusalem captured in 1967 are UNIVERSALLY (even by the US before Obama) considered occupied territories.

There are times when popularity does not equate with what's fair and just. Unfortunately for Jews throughout history, being unpopular has not been an unfamiliar situation. Group-think is an easy out.
Posted by: Li'l Mamzer at March 18, 2010 1:01 pm
The areas of Jerusalem captured in 1967 are UNIVERSALLY (even by the US before Obama) considered occupied territories.

Jerusalem is a problem, tg. It was a problem even before 1948. That's why under the UN partition plan it was to be an internationally administered city, and not "belong" to either the Jews or the Arabs (as the factions were called then).

I don't think either side has any intention of compromising on Jerusalem. What do you think?
Posted by: Craig at March 18, 2010 2:56 pm
> The areas of Jerusalem captured in 1967 are UNIVERSALLY (even by the US before Obama) considered occupied territories.

Apparently someone has a penchant for exaggeration.

For example:

In March 1994, U.S. Ambassador to the UN Madeleine Albright stated: "We simply do not support the description of the territories occupied by Israel in the 1967 War as occupied Palestinian territory."

http://www.jcpa.org/art/brief1-1.htm

And:

It is hard to argue with the fact that James Baker, former US Secretary of State, was not the best friend of the Jewish state. However, he categorically rejected the mislabeling of the lands of Yesha. This happened at the Middle East Insight Symposium in Washington on May 4, 1998. Hoda Tawfik, from the newspaper Al Ahram asked him, "What do you think is right? That these are occupied Arab territories and not disputed territories?" Baker replied, "They're clearly disputed territories. That's what Resolutions 242 and 338 are all about. They are clearly disputed territories."

http://www.gamla.org.il/english/article/2001/may/b1.htm

---------

And this is what I found with about 5 min of effort. I think you need to go back and rethink your statement.
Posted by: Howard Immanuelson at March 18, 2010 5:11 pm
"you need to go back and rethink"

Loved your post, Howard, but you've got a faulty assumption here.
Posted by: Gary Rosen at March 20, 2010 12:15 pm
"I don't think either side has any intention of compromising on Jerusalem. What do you think?"

I think Israel *did* compromise on Jerusalem in 2000, and the Palestinians gave them the finger. Actually it wasn't the finger, it was years of bloody terrorism ended only by the security barrier that the Jew-baiters' cell (anand, fnord, tg, ombrageux etc.) love to demonize as the "apartheid wall".
Posted by: Gary Rosen at March 20, 2010 2:44 pm
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Winner, The 2008 Weblog Awards, Best Middle East or Africa Blog

Winner, The 2007 Weblog Awards, Best Middle East or Africa Blog

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