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Saturday, March 13, 2010

"A Clean Break": The U.S. Should Oblige Netanyahu

For a long time, there are those inside the U.S. who are just fine with what the Netanyahu government are interested in achieving, whether now or during his last episode as PM.

If Netanyahu wants a clean break, Obama-Clinton should oblige him. (background) Even Bush-Rice had to take steps related to U.S. dollars going to subsidize settlement activity, cutting $300 million, not too much that Israel couldn't find work-arounds (see page 5).


Why? Because Netanyahu isn't likely to ask for a 'clean break'. They are just going to do it, as quietly as possible. A U.S. policy of full 'make believe' is not helpful, in this instance. Closer 'engagement' could be reserved for a different Israeli leadership.

Why not?

Because the critique of Israel is ridiculously unfocused and undisciplined, even on the pages of "mainstream" writers, who should know (or know better?).

I've also just read two articles one that says the USA must "tell Bibi" and another that proclaims woe to all who do not realize that "America is the senior partner". Is there any wonder why there is some resentment and lots of frustration within Israel, not just against Obama? Can you imagine living day-in and day-out constantly having to put up with that? Is this the respect that two nations should convey in conducting their foreign policy?

What's more, I've just re-read the original "Israel Lobby" piece in the London Review of Books.

The key problem with this analysis is that it goes too far. It's fine and useful to raise consciousness of the influence of any particular lobby group. But rather than focus on excess, the piece goes as far as implying that the entire effort on behalf of Israel is bogus, impossibly thin, or smoke-and-mirrors, rather than anything legitimate.

That is surely dangerous overstatement. (Update: same-day confirmation) An even-handed approach to peacemaking doesn't require any such assertion(s).

There are other reasons 'why not?'. Israel is probably in a position to be able to embarrass the United States. Confrontation could come at some political price. But, bad news does not get better with time, so it is arguable that's a set of lumps to take.