Wednesday, June 1, 2011

You know the peace process is in trouble when...

You know the peace process is in trouble when glimpses of rational thinking are demonized.  Jeff Goldberg, a right-wing, Zionist pundit for The Atlantic, published several recent blog posts clarifying that in Obama's recent statements on the Israeli-Palestinian issue, Israel has gotten the long end of the stick.  That this is stating the obvious does not deter spiteful, irrational retorts.

He defends Obama's speech on the state of the Arab world on May 19th as quite conciliatory to Israel.  Among a chorus of hysterical reactions from the Israeli right outraged by Obama's reference to 1967 borders (with land swaps) as the basis of a future Palestinian state, Goldberg rightly pointed out:

“This has been the basic idea for at least 12 years. This is what Bill Clinton, Ehud Barak and Yasser Arafat were talking about at Camp David, and later, at Taba. This is what George W. Bush was talking about with Ariel Sharon and Ehud Olmert. So what's the huge deal here? Is there any non-delusional Israeli who doesn't think that the 1967 border won't serve as the rough outline of the new Palestinian state?”

While other right wing voices lamented Obama's speech to AIPAC, Goldberg at least admitted that Obama told the committee what it wanted to hear- tough words on Hamas and Iran and reassurances of America's commitment to Israel.  He writes:

“Israel's biggest and most effective defender on the international stage in the coming months will be... Barack Obama. He made that crystal-clear.”

Finally, Goldberg criticized Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu for his snippy response to Obama's May 19th speech, in which he said that he "expects" Obama to reaffirm America’s commitment to Israel's own uncompromising agenda.  

Goldberg deserves no special praise for recognizing Obama's underlying message for what it is- pro-Israeli.  But the slew of hate mail he has received in the past week is startling.  Read this. (Warning! Explicit material.)  Some argue that crazy people gravitate towards the Israeli-Palestinian question.  Others accuse Goldberg of using outrageous reactions to his writings on both sides of the political spectrum as a tool to enhance the legitimacy of his own commentary.  But what's worthy of discussion is Goldberg's observation that debate- in this case, within right-wing circles- has simply become detached from reality.  Voices chiming into the Israeli-Palestinian debate are becoming increasingly shrill, with reactions to Obama's speeches as a good example.  Stronger calls to reason are needed to give the derailed peace process a fighting chance.

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