It has been a very busy semester, but with Spring Break, I can take a breather from my day job and comment on the news of the day – well, at least, some of the news.
Chas Freeman. It warms my heart that the Freeman appointment was derailed by the usual gang of "Israel advocates" (a.k.a. Israel haters) like AIPAC, Schumer, Peretz, et al. You won't see the younger generation of Obama supporters, or, for that matter, most of the Democratic party, gunning down people like Freeman – at least not over Israel. No, it is always the same coalition of old-fashioned Zionists schreiers, liberal and conservative, that run the ultra-nationalist (and tiny) gamut from Goldberg to Krauthammer.
Little by little the Israel Lobby is shrinking to the post-67 baby boomers who still get a tear in their eye when they hear Naomi Shemer's, Yerushalayim shel Zahav, the song whose lyrics managed to expel Arabs from the markets of the Old City.
So that is the good news about the Freeman fiasco. The more that the Israel lobby gets blamed, the more it will be deligitimized – which it already is, at least among the intelligentsia.
And speaking of cockeyed optimists, just read Glenn Greenwald's piece in Salon about Freeman, Roger Cohen and the New York Times. That ought to pick you up.
Hamas. There are two ways for Israel and the US to strengthen Hamas: fight them, and support Fatah. I understand why Israel adopts the former; as long as the Occupied Territories are a home to militant Islamist nationalists, Israel can easily hold on to them. I am less certain why the US is still isolating Hamas. True, there is not a lot of love for Hamas, even among pro-Palestinian and pro-Arab diplomats and policy-makers. Everywhere Hillary goes in the region she hears the same refrain – stop Hamas. The problem is that the only people who can stop Hamas are the Palestinians – not the Saudis, not the Egyptians, not the Jordanians, not the Europeans or the Americans, and certainly not the Israelis. The policy of dividing and conquering the Palestinians – a policy which led, among other things, to a misguided Oslo process that caused the deaths of thousands of Palestinians and Israelis – has failed time and time again. Now we are told that Gaza will not receive aid unless the PA recognizes Israel's right to exist. If this means that the Palestinians have to recognize the justice of Zionism, then that demand is morally obscene – roughly equivalent to requiring a rape victim to recognize the justice of her rape. But even if it means the recognition that one side will not seek to destroy the other side, then that is a demand that both sides should agree to and only when the situation between the sides is more equal. Why is it reasonable for Israel to demand this unilateral concession from the Palestinians when no Israeli leader has ever recognized the right of the Palestinians to the state of Palestine? But even worse, the demand is a non-starter for the ultra-nationalists of both sides – who have to be included at least in some way. If Obama can make a show about bipartisanship, not meaning a word of it, then why can't an Obama administration make a show about inclusiveness in Israel-Palestine.
For my part, I hope that Hamas hangs tough and doesn't give in to US bullying. It is about time that the US shows as much concern for Palestinian security as for Israeli security.
See the post above – a blast from last year.