Obama Seen As Biggest Impediment To Middle East Peace

Israelis and Palestinians don't agree on much these days, but they do agree that Barack Obama hasn't helped the peace process at all since coming to office.

There isn’t much that unites the leadership of Israel and The Palestinian Authority these days, but they do all seem to agree that the President of the United States has been more of a hindrance to peace than a help:

Vowing to change a region that has resisted the best efforts of presidents and prime ministers past, Barack Obama dove head first into the Middle East peace process on his second day in office.

He was supposed to be different. His personal identity, his momentum, his charisma and his promise of a fresh start would fundamentally alter America’s relations with the Muslim world and settle one of its bitterest grievances.

Two years later, he has managed to forge surprising unanimity on at least one topic: Barack Obama. A visit here finds both Israelis and Palestinians blame him for the current stalemate — just as they blame one another.

Instead of becoming a heady triumph of his diplomatic skill and special insight, Obama’s peace process is viewed almost universally in Israel as a mistake-riddled fantasy. And far from becoming the transcendent figure in a centuries-old drama, Obama has become just another frustrated player on a hardened Mideast landscape.

The attitude among Israeli leaders shouldn’t be all that surprising. Ever since the Netenyahu government began his second tour as Prime Minister only a few months after Obama himself too office, there have been reports of tension and of an attitude among Israelis that Obama couldn’t be trusted the way previous American Presidents could.  That situation has, it seems, only gotten worse:

The American president has been diminished, even in an era without active hostilities between Israelis and Palestinians. His demands on the parties appear to shrink each month, with the path to a grand peace settlement narrowing to the vanishing point. The lack of Israeli faith in him and his process has them using the talks to extract more tangible security assurances — the jets. And though America remains beloved, Obama is about as popular here as he is in Oklahoma. A Jerusalem Post poll in May found 9 percent of Israelis consider Obama “pro-Israel,” while 48 percent say he’s “pro-Palestinian.”

Other polling in Israel shows a growing gap between aspirations for peace and the faith that it can happen. One survey last month found that 72 percent of Israelis favor negotiations, while only 33 percent think they can bear fruit. (Palestinians show a smaller gap, primarily because a smaller majority favors negotiations.)

Obama has resisted advisers’ suggestions that he travel to Israel or speak directly to Israelis as he has to Muslims in Egypt, Turkey and Indonesia.

“Israelis really hate Obama’s guts,” said Shmuel Rosner, a columnist for two leading Israeli newspapers. “We used to trust Americans to act like Americans, and this guy is like a European leader.”

Many senior Israeli leaders have concluded that Hillary Clinton and John McCain were right about Obama’s naiveté and inexperience.

“The naive liberals who are at the heart of the administration really believe in all the misconceptions the Palestinians and all their friends all over the world are trying to place,” said Yossi Kuperwasser, a former high-ranking military intelligence officer who is now deputy director general of the Ministry of Strategic Affairs.

Kuperwasser, like other Israelis, bridled at the suggestion that the country’s dislike of Obama draws from the Muslim influences of his heritage — or even his name.

“It drives me crazy. Who cares that his middle name is Hussein? It’s the last thing we care about. [To suggest that] is just anti-Semitism,” he said. “There is one reason why we are hesitant about this guy: He doesn’t understand us.”

And the Palestinians don’t have any more faith than the Israelis that the process that Obama has set them down holds any possibility of succeeding:

Palestinian leaders say they, too — for different reasons — are losing faith in the political talks.

“[Netanyahu] has a chance, and he’s wasting it,” said the chief Palestinian negotiator, Saeb Erakat. “Given the chance between settlements and peace, he’s always chosen settlements.”

The advocacy director of the American Task Force on Palestine, Ghaith al-Omari, said the frustration in Ramallah isn’t only with Netanyahu.

Abbas and other Palestinian leaders are “personally fed up with the whole thing,” he said, and “losing faith in the process, both with the Israeli willingness to deliver and the Americans’ ability to deliver the Israelis.”

And, it seems President Obama’s insistence on focusing on the settlement issue is what has virtually guaranteed that his peace process will fail:

“If Obama wanted to be a transformational figure, he would never have led with the settlements,” said Eyal Arad, the architect of Livni’s campaign for prime minister. He argues – like most Israelis – that Obama inadvertently got talks hung up on a matter of irrelevant principle, rather than engaging the reality that some settlements can stay while others must go.

“The settlements were pushed by a bunch of left-wingers who were out of sync with the realities and were out of government too long,” he said. “The irony is that Obama went directly back to the place where George Bush the father left off.”

Jackson Diehl picks up on this point in today’s Washington Post, arguing that Obama is spending far too much time trying to repeat the foreign policy mistakes of the past:

The Obama administration is devoting a big share of its diplomatic time and capital to curbing Israeli settlement construction in the West Bank – most recently, offering Israel’s right-wing government $3 billion in warplanes in exchange for a 90-day moratorium. Meanwhile, it has committed much of its dwindling domestic political capital to pushing a new nuclear arms control treaty with Russia through a reluctant Senate.

(…)

The same might be said about Obama’s preoccupation with stopping Israel’s settlement expansion in the West Bank and Jerusalem – a campaign that even Palestinian and Arab leaders have watched with bafflement. True, almost everyone outside Israel regards the construction as counterproductive, and only a minority supports it inside Israel.

But that is just the point: The dream of a “greater Israel” died more than 15 years ago. Even the Israeli right now accepts that a Palestinian state will be created in the West Bank. The settlements have become a sideshow; the real issues concern how to create a Palestinian state in a Middle East where the greatest threat is not Israeli but Iranian expansionism. What to do about Hamas and Hezbollah and their Iranian-supplied weapons? How to ensure that the post-occupation West Bank does not become another Iranian base? Those issues did not exist in 1983 – and the Obama administration seems to have no strategy for them.

So instead of dealing with the issues that matter, not to mention the ones on which real progress could be made, the United States is trying to force the Israelis and Palestinians to reach a deal on an issue that has been on the table for twenty-seven years with no real sign that compromise is any closer now than it was when Ronald Reagan was President and Menchahem Begin,  Yitzhak Shamir, and Yassir Arafat were in charge. It’s truly a puzzle as to why Obama would be going down this path when there are better avenues for real progress.

Jennifer Rubin at Commentary posits several explanations for Obama’s current policy bent in the Middle East, all of which she ultimately find unsatisfying:

Obama’s foreign policy is made all the more curious by the fact that sometimes he gets it right. Obama, however reluctantly, has followed the Bush approach in Iraq and attempted to duplicate it in Afghanistan. In these areas he’s departed from the leftist playbook and to a large extent followed the advice of the one truly expert national security guru he has: Gen. David Petraeus. So go figure.

Perhaps it comes down to this: only when faced with the prospect of a massive loss of American credibility (e.g., a defeat in Afghanistan), a severe domestic backlash (American Jews’ falling out with him), or resolute opposition (from Israel on Jerusalem) does Obama do what is smart and productive for American interests. In other words, only when exhausting all other opportunities and trying every which way to force his ideologically driven preferences does he stumble upon a reasonable outcome. This, if true, contains a powerful lesson for Israel, for Obama’s domestic critics, and for our other allies: hang tough, be clear about the Obama administration’s errors, and don’t blink. Chances are, he will instead.

Not that Rubin’s theory should be a comfort to anyone, of course. It describes a rudderless foreign policy being led by a man who, deep down, doesn’t really care too much about the issues he’s dealing with, perhaps because he prefers to concentrate on domestic and economic issues. That’s foolish even in the best of times, and dangerous if and when things turn bad.

FILED UNDER: Barack Obama, Middle East, Politicians, US Politics, World Politics, ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Matthew Bilinsky says:

    The “naive liberals” at the heart of the administration? Like who? Hillary Clinton? Dennis Ross? This is delusional.

  2. Tano says:

    This is perhaps the most ridiculous article I have ever read on the Middle East. How on earth can you take it at all seriously?
     
    First off, and most fundamentally – there would be no peace process at all if it weren’t for Obama. Bush spent 7 years ignoring the issue, then did his little lameass Annapolis meeting that no one took seriously at all. And that has been it since Clinton left office. Obama has created the only peace process that exists at all.
     
    The reason that it has not yet born fruit is, of course, the fact that the Likud leader took office soon after Obama – and Netanyahu simply does not believe in making peace. As his behavior makes abundantly clear, his only goal is to build more settlements, steal more land. Thats it.
     
    Bush pretty much was cool with such a program. That is what the Israelis were basically free to do throughout his administration. So yeah, the rightwingers there really miss Bush. They hate Obama, not because he is somehow messing up the peace process, or cannot be trusted to carry it through, they hate him because he is trying to reestablish a peace process in the first place.
     
    The Palestinians are obviously frustrated that the Israelis are continuing their land grab, and I imagine they have some frustration about the fact that Obama cannot simply make them stop.
     
    But to claim that the Palestinian frustration is somehow of the same type as the Likudnik antagonism to Obama is just plain ridiculous. Seriously Doug, do you ever actually THINK about any of these issues before you post? Or is it good enough that the story is a criticism of Obama, therefore whatever is written must be good?
     

    Many senior Israeli leaders have concluded that Hillary Clinton and John McCain were right about Obama’s naiveté and inexperience.

     
    Yeah, this was perhaps the only moment of real levity in this piece of garbage. Tell us Doug, you remember who our Secretary of State is?
     

  3. michael reynolds says:

    Is there a non-neocon source anywhere in this?  What we have here is a neo-con rant.  They hate that Obama is standing up to Netanyahu.
     
    Obama’s the problem?  Jesus, Doug, that’s not just partisan, it’s ignorant.  It’s not a weak and divided Palestinian leadership, or a burned out and indifferent Israeli public, or a fanatic Likudnik.  No, it’s Obama’s fault.
     
    Puh-lease.

  4. I am no neo-con but this analysis strikes me as largely correct, to be honest.

    The real problem, though, is Obama’s naivete in thinking he can wade into the Middle East tar-baby and come up with solutions to the settlement issue despite the fact that nobody else has ever been able to do it. There are other ways to approach the peace process besides concentrating on an issue that, in the end, isn’t all that important to what’s really going on in the Middle East right now.

  5. mantis says:

    It’s truly a puzzle as to why Obama would be going down this path when there are better avenues for real progress.
    What avenues?
    There are other ways to approach the peace process besides concentrating on an issue that, in the end, isn’t all that important to what’s really going on in the Middle East right now.
    That issue is of paramount importance to a good deal of the Israeli population, and pretty much all of the Palestinians, and it’s not important?  Really?

  6. Maxwell James says:

    As Sullivan points out, there’s exactly one Palestinian quote in the whole Ben Smith piece, and it doesn’t say anything about Obama. I’ll also remind you that the current Israeli government has taken a hard lurch to the right since the dissolution of Kadima’s centrist coalition. Meanwhile, Dave Schuler points out the extremely obvious problems with the Jackson Diehl piece at his own blog. I think you should read these articles more critically.

  7. wr says:

    The reason that nobody has been able to “come up with an answer” to the question of settlements is because the right-wing Israeli government refuses to stop stealing Palestinian land to build them. This isn’t some great mystery, or some issue with two intractable sides. This is simply the Israelis refusing to give an inch, while taking many square miles.
    And the reason that the Israeli leaders quoted here hate Obama is because, unlke Bush, he has not decided that the Israeli government should be allowed to control American foreign policy.

  8. An Interested Party says:

    How silly of the president to focus on the settlement issue…it would be so much better if he would just be the Israeli PM’s lapdog as Bush was and let the Israelis build wherever they want…yes, that would definitely solve the problem…oh, and Rubin’s theory isn’t comforting to anyone because it’s a load of manure…

  9. The Israelis aren’t going to trust the PA until something is done about Hamas. That is a fact that nobody, not the Palestinians, not the President, and not Israels critics, seems to either realize or want to acknowledge.

    I have been critical of Israel in the past, and I’m likely to be again in the future, but on this issue I can fully understand their position. There is a terrorist organization with the stated aim of destroying the state of Israel in charge in Gaza — thank you George Bush for that stupid idea of holding elections — until that changes I don’t see the Israelis as being willing to trust anyone

  10. michael reynolds says:

    Doug:
     
    The Palestinian authority in the West Bank have done what they could with Hamas.  So has Israel.  This is a bullshit Israeli avoidance tactic.  There’s always some reason for Likud to kowtow to the settlers.  There always will be.  The fact is Netanyahu doesn’t want to stop taking Palestinian lands.  The only peace they want is one of complete subjugation of Palestinians and every day they advance the agenda of creating facts on the ground which will make peace impossible.
     
    And your objection is that Obama is trying to do something?  Well, shame on him.
     
    This is not an irrelevant issue.  Is it overblown by rejectionist Arabs?  Yeah.  But it’s still important in that it stands in the way of closer US cooperation with what should be our natural allies in the ME, even now poisoning our relationship with Turkey.

  11. mantis says:

    The Israelis aren’t going to trust the PA until something is done about Hamas.
    So what should be done about Hamas?  As you note, they were elected.  And how does this contention bear on the stance that it’s Obama’s fault for focusing on settlements?  Should he be focusing on Hamas?  How so?
    That is a fact that nobody, not the Palestinians, not the President, and not Israels critics, seems to either realize or want to acknowledge.
    The British aren’t going to trust Sinn Féin until something is done about the Provisional IRA. That is a fact that nobody, not the Irish, not President Clinton, and not the UK’s critics, seems to either realize or want to acknowledge.

  12. The Middle East and Northern Ireland are two very different issues. Thinking that success in resolving one conflict means that the same thing will happen in another is incredibly naive

  13. Nightrider says:

    Uh, the “biggest impediment” to a peace deal between Israel and Palestinians is most definitely not a single person who lives in the USA.  Is Obama naive?  I’m sure Obama knows that this is a very complex difficult problem.  But regardless, the current situation wouldn’t be any different if Obama was Begin and Sadat and Moses rolled into one.
    I’m not aware of any significant discontent with American Jewish liberals with Obama’s Israel policies.  Wariness perhaps, but also an awareness that Israel is going to have to take some risks and move away from its current policies if there is ever to be a chance at a real peace.  Just because Obama acknowledges this does not make him a European.
     
    And I’m sure that however naive Obama The article itself is not as bad as its epically off-target header, but it is like the talking heads on the news which suggest simplistic personality-based answers for complicated problems.

  14. ponce says:

    It’s amazing how fringe right journalists divine what the Palestinians are thinking by talking only to Israelis.
     
     
     

  15. Steve Plunk says:

    I’m no Obama fan but failing to make things happen is far from being an impediment.  It really comes down to one of the two parties in the dispute being the impediment.  You guys can argue all day long which party that is and not advance a compromise either.

  16. mantis says:

    The Middle East and Northern Ireland are two very different issues. Thinking that success in resolving one conflict means that the same thing will happen in another is incredibly naive
    No, what is incredibly naive (or just unthinking repetition of Likud talking points) is that the very existence of Hamas makes progress toward a peaceful two-state solution impossible.  It’s merely an excuse to do nothing (or rather, to keep expanding settlements and making things worse).  Please don’t lecture others on naivete if you’re going to take such mindless stances.

  17. Alex Knapp says:

    There is a terrorist organization with the stated aim of destroying the state of Israel in charge in Gaza — thank you George Bush for that stupid idea of holding elections — until that changes I don’t see the Israelis as being willing to trust anyone.
    Doug, you are aware that the Likud Charter flatly rejects the idea of a Palestinian State, right?

  18. Gogo Patel says:

    The real hindrance for peace in the Middle East is Israel because Israel refuses every international law ( hundreds of Security Council Resolutions) to withdraw from occupied Arab land according to Resiltion 242. Israelis only know and understand force (beheading, arson, killing, kidnapping, lynching) and other good stuff like that otherwise they will never sit on a table to talk peace. Why do 5.3 million Jews in Israel and 5.1 million somwhere else in the world are the source of world’s rouble for the last 62 years. World War II was iniatiated by a Jew ( Adolf Hitler) check history. Suicide bombing was initiated by Jews in 6 CE (Sacari group) against the Romans. The Jews killed Jesus and killed millions of Palestinians and Lebanese by cluster bombs. Only Force will compel the Zionists to get the hell out to be persecuted again in Europe as they had been for 2,000 years.

  19. george says:

    The biggest obstacle to peace in the middle east is history, both recent and ancient.  Probably the best anyone can do is to keep them from killing each other for the century or so it will take all involved to decide they really want peace. 
    Obama is doing no better or no worse than any other president, and for the same reason – there’s not really much any president, or anyone else, can do.

  20. Alex,

    Yes, I am. I am not saying that either side is innocent here. My only real concern is with American policy and I see Obama making the same mistake that previous Presidents do in thinking he can wade in and solve what may be an unsolvable conflict

  21. mantis says:

    First this:
    It’s truly a puzzle as to why Obama would be going down this path when there are better avenues for real progress.
    Then this:
    My only real concern is with American policy and I see Obama making the same mistake that previous Presidents do in thinking he can wade in and solve what may be an unsolvable conflict
    Which is it, Doug, an unsolvable conflict it is foolish to engage in, or a conflict that has “better avenues for real progress.” Also, again, what are those avenues?
     

  22. MarkedMan says:

    It seems obvious that the reason the Israeli government won’t stop the settlement expansion is because they want to keep expanding the settlements.  It amazes me that so many people from all points in the political pool come up with other reasons, but to what purpose?  Under every government since the occupation began, the Israelis have continued to expand.  Everyone knows that if the land is eventually to be seceded back as part of a peace deal, the expansion will make it much harder to do so.  To me, the only logical conclusion is that the government is continuing to encourage expansion, continuing to finance expansion, continuing to build roads and other infrastructure to support expansion is because they have no intention of ever returning the land.  It is naive to think that they really accept a two state solution.
     
    Where does that leave us? Palestinians who don’t want Israel to exist and Israelis who don’t want Palestine to exist. Remind me again why we are taking sides in this cesspool?

  23. Tano says:

    My only real concern is with American policy and I see Obama making the same mistake that previous Presidents do in thinking he can wade in and solve what may be an unsolvable conflict

     
    Huh? The point of the piece you highlight here is that Obama is somehow incompetent, and is messing up some peace process that apparently would be moving forward just swimmingly if only Obama was up to the task. Now you claim that Obama’s mistake is trying to solve the issue at all? Make up your mind.
     
    Or better yet, don’t make up your mind, and rather spend some time, a lot of time, thinking about this issue before posting such nonsense.
     
    Talk about naive. Have you forgotten that no one, absolutely no public figure on any side is going to offer up some even-handed, objective analysis of the situation when speaking to a political reporter? Everyone has an agenda, and the agendas of the people quoted in this article could not be clearer. Except, apparently, to you.

  24. Russ says:

    Yeah, Obama is so involved every day in being an impediment to middle east peace. Let them fight it out amongst themselves. We have problems of our own and I would like My president focusing on the country that elected him. I’m sure if we got into a border dispute with Mexico or Canada they’d both be right there at our side. Yeah right.

  25. sam says:

    Horseshit. The biggest impediment to Middle East “peace” are the Israelis and the Palestinians themselves.
    For Christ’s sake (if I can say that), this crap has been going on 40 plus years, through five US administrations. Maybe if we just bailed on the entire thing, those in the only real position to resolve the mess would finally resolve it.
     

  26. The Q says:

    An obstacle to peace? You must be friggin’ joking.
    How about withholding loan agreements and foreign aid to Israel in the exact amount it costs to build those settlements?
    Let them decide which option to take:settlements or money,  because we all know how difficult it would be for a Jew to decide between money or settlements.paraphrasing Jack Benny of course.
     

  27. tom p says:

    “Yes, I am. I am not saying that either side is innocent here. My only real concern is with American policy and I see Obama making the same mistake that previous Presidents do in thinking he can wade in and solve what may be an unsolvable conflict”And yet Doug, you blame him for  trying….
    Tell me Doug, what is he supposed to do, pretend the problem doesn’t exist??? (as GWB did) Just give up??? Side with Israel??? Piss off the Arab world??? Walk on water? Turn water into wine? Arise from the dead?
    Jesus Cristos… He is only a man, dealing with a very intractible problem (one that 5, count it FIVE, previous presidents could not fix…
    and you blame Obama for making the same devil’s choice that the last 5 presidents did.
    Maybe the world is just that f***ed up.
     
     

  28. The Q says:

    Oh, Ben Smith, Jackson diehl and Jenn Rubin are all of course of Palestinian descent, right?
    That they are all jews and write such tripe should be taken about as seriously as Hugo Chavez’s rants against the U.S.

  29. The Q says:

    Someone will accuse me of being anti Semitic in 4….3….2..

  30. tom p says:

    Doug, this is the first time I have unequivicably (sp?) disagreed with you. Usually, you make me think and at least acknowledge another point of view… this time, No. 

  31. steve says:

    Doug- This is the dumbest thing you have written here. Do yourself a favor and read Col. Lang.
     
    What we should do is get out of the israeli/Palestinian talks until they decide to get serious about them. If Obama is naive about anything, it is in thinking that we can force them into peace talks. We need to stop giving Israel everything they want while getting nothing in return. Of course the Israelis do not trust Obama. He only gives them 99% of what they want instead of 100%.
     
    On the Palestinian side, no more aid until they also get more serious. Make it clear they need to continue to improve security, but dont try to do it for them.
     
    Steve

  32. anjin-san says:

    This is good stuff if you think Tel Aviv should be in charge of our state department. Clearly a lot of neocons and tea party types do.

  33. michael reynolds says:

    Q:
    Yes, actually, you are an anti-semite.  This differentiates you from the rest of the people here who have criticized Israel.

  34. Nightrider says:

    The idea that someone’s opinion should be disregarded because they are Jewish is of course anti-Semitic.  Sure, it adds some context and may hint of a possible bias.  But there are lots and lots of Jewish people who disagree with hardline Likud policies, including, I would guess, an outright majority of American Jews.  Although it is a lot easier to be critical of Likud policy from the safety of American suburbia.  Anyway, one could make a case that Likud is justified in trying to squeeze as much advantage as it can against close neighbors who have tried for generations to wipe them out and ran out of their doors cheering the images of 9-11.  But one can also make a case that Israel really can only win with peace, and the only way to get peace is to take a big risk to believe it is even possible and make big sacrifices to try to get there.  And I think that is the tough love case that Obama (and many American Jews) have in mind for Israel.

  35. ponce says:

    Could we talk about the AIPAC kinky sex scandal instead of its tired anti-Obama propaganda?

  36. N. Friedman says:

    I do not understand much of this discussion. If the Palestinian Arabs really want to settle the dispute, why condition talking to end the dispute on Israel ceasing the building of settlements? That is called biting your nose to spite your face. If they do not want the Israelis to build settlements, might not the way to bring such to an end be to reach an agreement with the Israelis?
    Recall: notwithstanding the critics here, the Israelis have previously met the red line demands of the Palestinian Arabs. Why, if the Palestinian Arabs want a state, was the proposal by Ohlmert not accepted? Why was Clinton’s proposal in December, 2000 turned down?
    The Hamas charter is opposed to a Palestinian state, if you read it closely. I views historic Palestinian merely as part of the lands of Islam, to be ruled in a great Islamic empire. The Fatah holds a different view, perhaps. They are certainly more secular.
    The settlement demand by Obama has been criticized directly by Abbas himself, in other articles. So, the view that what is presented is Israeli spin is simply nonsense.
     

  37. N. Friedman says:

    Correction:
    Delete: “I views historic Palestinian merely as part of the lands of Islam, to be ruled in a great Islamic empire.”
     
    Substitute:
    It views historic Palestinian merely as part of the lands of Islam, to be ruled in a great Islamic empire.

  38. ponce says:

    “The settlement demand by Obama has been criticized directly by Abbas himself, in other articles. So, the view that what is presented is Israeli spin is simply nonsense.”
     
    Of course, N.
     
    That’s why Abbas just announced he won’t  return to the peace talks until the Israel’s stop their crazy religious fanatics from stealing Palistiain land.
     
    Because he disagrees with Obama’s demand.
     
    /eyeroll

  39. Davebo says:

    Seriously Doug.
     
    Don’t start threads that you are totally incapable of defending and then ignore them.
     
     

  40. the Q says:

    Mr. Reynolds,
    Please define for me ‘anti-semite” and how you judge someone as being so.
    This in response to your remarks below:
    Q: Yes, actually, you are an anti-semite.  This differentiates you from the rest of the people here who have criticized Israel.
    I am quite serious about this, since what did I say that was anti Semitic?
    Are not the authors jewish? By pointing this out, that makes me an anti semite?
    Paraphrasing, Jack Benny’s own joke, makes me an anti semite?
    That Jackson Diehl was a vociferous cheerleader for the war in Iraq and therefore I question his viewpoint regarding the Middle East as slightly bigoted?
    In the same manner that Ahmadinejad views on Israel are discounted by me as being insane because of his prejudice. So, if I thing he is a lunatic, this makes me an anti-Persian?
    I am sorry Mr. Reynolds, I disagree about your assumption regarding my viewpoints and would respect and look forward to your rebuttal.
     
     

  41. michael reynolds says:

    Q:
     

    Let them decide which option to take:settlements or money,  because we all know how difficult it would be for a Jew to decide between money or settlements.

     
    Why do people like you always have to play games?  You know you’re an anti-semite.  So why the stupid game?  You think you’re sneaking up on us unaware?  Don’t be an ass.  You might as well be wearing a neon sign.

  42. the Q says:

    I see that you conveniently left off the “paraphrasing Jack Benny part”. Perhaps, this was said tongue in cheek and your hyper sensitivity got the best of you.
    In any case, Mr. Reynolds, my point is that your narrow minded definition of what constitutes anti Semitic remarks is exactly the problem with the discourse, writ large in political debate today vis-a-vis Israel; which is why Jimmy Carter, Justin Raimondo, mearsheimer and walt, et. al are quickly dismissed by the likes of “thought”police such as yourself and others who wish to stifle controversial criticism of Israel.
    Its not a “stupid game”. Its the mad anger manifested by many who feel that for 40 years, a solution which would greatly benefit the U.S. is constantly being undermined by an ally who feigns loyalty, but behaves unilaterally in their own self interest – which is fine, but don’t let us get dragged down with those decisions.
    Thank you for your unctuous remarks, I really was expecting more.

  43. sam says:

    @N. Friedman
    If the Palestinian Arabs really want to settle the dispute, why condition talking to end the dispute on Israel ceasing the building of settlements?
    Sir, we have been listening to a variant of the following for over 40 years:

    If the Palestinians would just do this, or if the Israelis would just do that …
     

    Depending on one’s sympathies, it’s the Palestinians’ fault because they won’t do X, or the Israelis’ fault because they won’t do Y. And with every US administration, there is a new variant, a new “plan” for getting the parties to do, well, something. And whatever that something is, it seems to always, always, come a cropper.
     
    I’ve come to conclusion that it is the participation of the United States itself in the “peace process” that keeps the sad farrago in motion. As long as we’re involved in it, both parties are given some kind of cover to allow them to continue doing essentially nothing. As long as we’re involved in it, the claims of both parties are given a “legitimacy” that allows each to point the finger at the other and say, in effect,  “Well, the United States recognizes blah, blah, blah, and you guys aren’t …”
     
    That’s why I suggested that maybe if we just got the hell out of it, those folks would finally have to deal realistically with one another and come to a resolution.
     

  44. george says:

    “That’s why I suggested that maybe if we just got the hell out of it, those folks would finally have to deal realistically with one another and come to a resolution.”
    That would certainly be a good first step.  It would probably still go on for decades (that kind of hate doesn’t dissipate that quickly, nor is the US involvement even the most important element in the conflict), but the US isn’t doing any good and just wasting a lot of time and resources.

  45. N. Friedman says:

    sam,
    I was not parceling out fault. I was noting the obvious, viz., the Palestinian Arabs, if they want to settle their dispute with Israel, need to talk with Israel. In the late days of Ehud Olmert’s administration, Abbas and Olmert discussed a settlement. Abbas did not accept the offer and, since it led to criticism by the US and other countries, said he did not accept because Olmert was on his way out of office. Later, he said that the proposal was acceptable but, evidently, he will not sit down with Israelis to work on a deal. Presumably, if Abbas were serious, he would want to finalize what Olmert proposed. Hence, the refusal to speak, notwithstanding the building of settlement housing, is counterproductive, if Abbas wants a negotiated settlement.

  46. N. Friedman says:

    Ponce,
    You write:

    Of course, N. That’s why Abbas just announced he won’t  return to the peace talks until the Israel’s stop their crazy religious fanatics from stealing Palistiain land. Because he disagrees with Obama’s demand.

    Of course Abbas is not going to demand less than what Obama appears to demand. However, as reported in the UK anti-Israel paper, The Guardian:

    Even the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, would tell visitors to his Ramallah compound the ultimatum was a mistake. Negotiations had taken place before without a settlement freeze, but once the precondition had been made Abbas had to insist on it too. As Abbas would put it: “This has put me up a tree and I have no ladder down.”

    What can I say? Evidently, facts do not matter to those who dislike Israel. Consider that, just maybe, Obama has messed things up big time.

  47. george says:

    Consider that, just maybe, Obama has messed things up big time.

    Seems unlikely, just because there’s really little any American president can do to alter the situation there much, for good or for bad.  I doubt in the long run anything he (or any other president) has done has changed anything there.

  48. anjin-san says:

    > Consider that, just maybe, Obama has messed things up big time.
     
    Right. It was all going so well before he showed up.
     
    Look, Fox News has told you what you think. Thanks for sharing, you can run along now.

  49. N. Friedman says:

    anjin-san,
    So, I quote to what is likely the most prominent left-wing news source in the world, The Guardian, which, in an article by a pro-Palestinian commentator, notes that even the leadership of the Palestinian Arabs has messed up and your comment is: Fox news. Do you have any idea how stupid you sound?
    Consider: the overuse of labels to describe those who disagree is a way of avoiding thinking. It, more than anything else, is why the left side of the political spectrum has lost the ability to rule. Those who oppose are, to this way of thinking, stupid, Fox news watchers, racists, etc. A label is not an answer to a fact.
    Again, even Abbas thinks – and has said – that Obama’s approach has harmed the peace process.

  50. N. Friedman says:

    CORRECTION
    In my last post, strike: “So, I quote to what is likely the most prominent left-wing news source in the world, The Guardian, which, in an article by a pro-Palestinian commentator, notes that even the leadership of the Palestinian Arabs has messed up and your comment is: Fox news.”
    Please substitute:
    So, I quote to what is likely the most prominent left-wing news source in the world, The Guardian, which, in an article by a pro-Palestinian commentator, notes that even the leadership of the Palestinian Arabs thinks Obama has messed up and your comment is: Fox news.

  51. michael reynolds says:

    Q:
     

    I see that you conveniently left off the “paraphrasing Jack Benny part”. Perhaps, this was said tongue in cheek and your hyper sensitivity got the best of you.

     
     
    Benny said nothing about it being a Jewish thing, it was a Benny thing.
     
    Dude, I read and write for a living.  So really, that lame attempt at camouflage  that no doubt seemed very clever to you, is so not to me.

  52. No, no, no, Obama just hasn’t done a good enough job of explaining it to them.  TOTUS will get right on it.

  53. The Q says:

    Mr. Reynolds,
    You don’t give yourself enough credit when you state, “Dude, I read and write for a living.” because you are also a mind reader and seer, obviously able to make grand judgments based on your own amazing insights.
    Tell me, is Jimmy Carter, Walt and Mearsheimer also anti semites?
    Have you been to a Don Rickles show? How about Jackie Mason? would you take literal every utterance?
    Methinks you have a thin skin and if I were Israeli,  I would probably have been in the Irgun, or the Haganah, but we can’t let radicals define a peace process.
    And unfortunately, the radicals in Israel and in Gaza are mucking it up for all and they should be called on it.
    We do not exert enough pressure on the LIkudniks and this is a detriment to our own national interests.
    I do not see anything remotely controversial by stating that we should make the Israelis decide between our money or their settlements.
    Sorry, dude, if that is so malicious for you to handle you pompous twit.

  54. John425 says:

    Ya see, Doug, Obama has this experience problem. It kinda makes him unfit to be on the world stage. Or on the domestic scene, for that matter. You guys have elected the biggest oaf in American history. Yes, we had an historic moment by electing a black President. But his “blackness” is no substitute for achievement.

  55. anjin-san says:

    > to those who dislike Israel
     
    That you can make statements like this and talk about stupidity in others pretty much says it all. That Americans can dislike the position of the current government of Israel and still support Israel as a nation and an ally appears to be beyond your grasp. As is the possibility that politicians in the middle east may wish to pin their own failings on Obama. “The peace process” is pretty much of a joke. Its as if Obama tried to start a car that has been rusting in a field for decades, and when it would not start your insight was “Obama broke it”. Try not to strain yourself with too much deep thinking of this sort.
    The last President to actually contribute to peace in the middle east was Jimmy Carter, and the right typically refers to him as the worst President in history.