Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Obama: Election of Netanyahu Will Not Deter Two State Solution.

Okay, the article I am referencing is actually about Obama and the economic crisis, but what I found most interesting in it was this frank confession:

His final question was on the prospect of peace between the Israelis and Palestinians, and a deal with Iran. Obama admitted the prospects of Middle East peace looked bleak because of the Israeli election and division among the Palestinians.

"It's not easier than it was, but I think it's just as necessary," Obama said, adding: "What we do know is this: that the status quo is unsustainable, that it is critical for us to advance a two-state solution where Israelis and Palestinians can live side by side in their own states with peace and security."

But he sought comfort in the example of Northern Ireland, a comparsison Israeli politicians usually like to resist, saying the situations are not comparable. Obama said he had entertained on St Patrick's Day in the East Room, where the press conference was being held, people who a decade earlier had been sworn enemies in Northern Ireland.

The election of Netanyahu has made Obama's job ten times harder when it comes to the Middle East as Netanyahu has no interest of any kind in a two state solution.

However, I find it very interesting that Obama states that a solution is still "necessary" and that he makes the argument that "the status quo is unsustainable".

This is quite a marker to lay down. It implies that Obama intends to push ahead in an attempt to find a two state solution despite the considerable opposition he will inevitably run into.

This is a change in the way the US usually react to all things Israeli and it's a change which John Mearsheimer detected in bloggers reaction to the hiring (or not) of Charles Freeman.

One of the most remarkable aspects of the Freeman affair was that the mainstream media paid it little attention – the New York Times, for example, did not run a single story dealing with Freeman until the day after he stepped down – while a fierce battle over the appointment took place in the blogosphere. Freeman’s opponents used the internet to their advantage; that is where Rosen launched the campaign. But something happened there that would never have happened in the mainstream media: the lobby faced real opposition. Indeed, a vigorous, well-informed and highly regarded array of bloggers defended Freeman at every turn and would probably have carried the day had Congress not tipped the scales against them. In short, the internet enabled a serious debate in the United States about an issue involving Israel. The lobby has never had much trouble keeping the New York Times and the Washington Post in line, but it has few ways to silence critics on the internet.

When pro-Israel forces clashed with a major political figure in the past, that person usually backed off. Jimmy Carter, who was smeared by the lobby after he published Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid, was the first prominent American to stand his ground and fight back. The lobby has been unable to silence him, and it is not for lack of trying. Freeman is following in Carter’s footsteps, but with sharper elbows. After stepping down, he issued a blistering denunciation of ‘unscrupulous people with a passionate attachment to the views of a political faction in a foreign country’ whose aim is ‘to prevent any view other than its own from being aired’. ‘There is,’ he continued, ‘a special irony in having been accused of improper regard for the opinions of foreign governments and societies by a group so clearly intent on enforcing adherence to the policies of a foreign government.’

Freeman’s remarkable statement has shot all around the world and been read by countless individuals. This isn’t good for the lobby, which would have preferred to kill Freeman’s appointment without leaving any fingerprints. But Freeman will continue to speak out about Israel and the lobby, and maybe some of his natural allies inside the Beltway will eventually join him. Slowly but steadily, space is being opened up in the United States to talk honestly about Israel.

I said at the time that I thought the lobby had been weakened by the very fact that their fingerprints were all over the Freeman affair and I find it fascinating that Obama is making it clear that, at a time when Israel have elected Netanyahu and Lieberman, he is not going to be distracted from pursuing the right course.

This will, of course, lead him into direct confrontation with the same forces who destroyed Freeman's appointment.

But Obama will enjoy the support of large swathes of the blogosphere, even if the MSM remain too cowed to speak out, should he decide - as his comments suggest he will - that a two state solution is simply too important to be pushed further down the road to another time.

Click title for full article.


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Kel said...


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