Sent to you by Sean McBride via Google Reader: Walt: Barack & Rahm
Have to Know that Being 'Pro-Israel' Means Bringing Big Pressure
Against Occupation Now via Mondoweiss by Philip Weiss on 11/15/08
Steve Walt has good faith about Obama’s foreign policy. (Having lately
seen evidence of his clairvoyance,) I asked him where he thinks we're
headed, and he offered these comments by email:
I'm trying to keep an open mind on where we are headed. My views have
been somewhat similar to Juan Cole's [re Rahm Emanuel]: what matters is
not what somebody did or said in the past, I just want to see what they
do now. My concern is that I don't think we get to a two-state solution
without a lot of US pressure on both sides--and I mean pressure more
emphatic and direct than even Bush and Baker employed--and I don't see
anyone on the horizon who will do that. Perhaps I'm wrong: maybe the
Israelis are going to be receptive to change provided we push a little
and give them cover, and maybe Obama and Co. will provide enough
pressure to get there. But Obama will be sufficiently focused on the
economy and Iraq and Afghanistan so as to not want to engage personally
during the first year or two. That means he'll have to delegate, and it
will be to one of the usual suspects, with perhaps a bit of diversity
in the team (but nobody outside the consensus). So the danger is that
once again we'll get lots of energetic activity but not a new deal .
Or to put it differently: we'll maintain the special
relationship--where the US gives lots of aid more-or-less
unconditionally and U.S. officials never do anything tangible to end
the occupation--instead of moving to the more normal relationship that
would be better for us and better for Israel too.

[Weiss again. I said to Walt that he sounded optimistic.]
I am by nature something of an optimist, although I like to think it
has been tempered by experience by now.
It comes down to a simple question: do Obama, Emanuel, and whoever else
they appoint realize that being "pro-Israel" today means openly
opposing the occupation and using American influence (and leverage) to
reverse (not just halt) the settlement project and bring about a viable
Palestinian state? Until recently, being"pro-Israel" or a "friend of
Israel " was interpreted to mean giving unconditional support and never
voicing the slightest criticism. Whatever the intention, however, this
policy is in fact "anti-Israel"; it has enabled a set of policies that
have done great harm to the Jewish state. As a Jewish friend of mine
puts it, our policy has encouraged "reckless driving." One might call
U.S. policy "anti-Israeli in effect, if not in intention."
In the past few years, however, the definition of "pro-Israel" has
begun to shift--think IPF, or J Street, or JVP, or Brit Tzedek
v'Shalom--and in ways that might make a two-state solution possible.
But time is short. If Obama and Co. understand this, and have some
real "baytzim," [Rahm Emanuel has given us this word: it’s cojones in
Hebrew] then they can work with the Israelis and thoughtful supporters
here in the US to bring it about before it is too late.
But given everything else that is on Barack's plate, and the reluctance
of most people in the foreign policy mainstream to say what they really
think on this issue, it is hard to be optimistic. We shall see.

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