J Street is having an identity crisis right in front of the cameras. For a year and a half it's been trumpeting that it's both "pro-Israel" and "pro-peace." Actually, that's how I would characterize myself. I am for a two-state solution and always have been. I was for a "Jewish state" and an "Arab state" ever since I was a kid. That's ultimately what nearly every Israeli prime minister has been for, too. And that's what Israel has been trying in different ways and in different circumstances to negotiate.
Trouble on J Street
October 27, 2009
This week I've been attending the first national conference of J Street, the "pro-Israel, pro-Peace" group which I first wrote about last year. I'm working on a longer piece about the organization's identity crisis that should appear sometime soon, but there have been two events thus far worthy of special note. First was the speech delivered by Rabbi Eric Yoffie, president of the Union for Reform Judaism and one of the most prominent liberal Jews in the country.
If I Were Barack Obama, The People I’d Be Most Tee’d Off About Would Be J Street. And Maybe He is.
October 26, 2009
Now, everybody who reads me knows that I am not a big supporter of administration policy on the Middle East. But, then, I am not a big supporter of its foreign policy almost anywhere. No, let me correct that. Not "almost anywhere." But "anywhere." That said, I don't believe that President Obama is trying to weaken the United States or its allies.
The Moral Authority of Accusers: 1. The Fall of Human Rights Watch 2. The J Street Circle Jerk
October 21, 2009
Ours is an age when the moral authority of accusers is at its height. Also the moral authority of accusations. There was a time when accusations had to be proven. That requirement has long since passed. After all, why would anyone bear false witness? So everybody is a witness, especially those with phantasmagoric tales to tell, especially those who yearn to testify against liberal societies which have established and proven processes to alert their own demos about evil. There are many of these foul witnesses: some ideologues, some ideological liars, some resentful, some haters.
More On Human Rights Watch
October 20, 2009
To follow up on my item on Human Rights Watch, I slightly mischarcaterized HRW's reply. The organization didn't say that the vast majority of its reports were on othe countries, it said that about the vast majority of its Middle East/North Africa reports. That certainly narrows it down. But it still doesn't respond to the complaint, which is that the attention to Israel is disproportionate.
Former Human Rights Watch Prez: Enough With the Israel Obsession
October 20, 2009
I don't know how I missed this, and I really don't know how Marty missed this, but it seems pretty significant that Robert Bernstein, the former president of Human Rights Watch, had an op-ed in yesterday's New York Times accusing his former organization of anti-Israel bias: When I stepped aside in 1998, Human Rights Watch was active in 70 countries, most of them closed societies. Now the organization, with increasing frequency, casts aside its important distinction between open and closed societies. Nowhere is this more evident than in its work in the Middle East.
Obama’s Window of Opportunity Turned Out to Be a Shuttered Gate--Self-shuttered, Actually
October 18, 2009
It could have been predicted. In fact, I predicted it here. So, more or less, did Jon Chait and Leon Wieseltier, with subtle differences ... and, from The Washington Post, Jackson Diehl and Jim Hoagland, Charles Krauthammer and George Will, as well. Plus a few more here and there. No one from the New York Times? Huh. What a surprise. The Times never saw the Holocaust.
October 13, 2009
At the Non-Proliferation Treaty meeting beginning today in New York, Iran will try to shift the discussion to Israel’s nuclear weapons by proposing that the Middle East become nuclear-free. As historian Jeffrey Herf wrote at TNR Online last October, this is similar to a ploy the Soviets used in the 1980s: Our negotiations with Iran are not off to a good start. After the initial meeting in Geneva on October 1--with Iran on one side and Britain, France, Germany, Russia, China, and the United States on the other--Iranian representatives said they had agreed to send processed uranium to Russia.
October 06, 2009
Toughened by their frontier ethos, steeled by serial wars, Israelis are not prone to flattery. Most, in fact, eschew using the closest equivalent to the Hebrew word for flattery--chanupa--in favor of the derisive Yiddish-derivative, firgun. An Israeli joke holds that the word, slashed by a red diagonal line, graces the exit from Ben-Gurion Airport, together with the warning, "You are now entering a Firgun Free Zone." Not surprisingly, then, several Israeli commentators reacted unflatteringly to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's recent speech to the U.N. General Assembly.
What You May Not Have Read ... But Should. More on the Goldstone Report and What's Wrong With the Middle of the Road in Afghanistan.
October 02, 2009
I hope that I'm not being too haughty. But these articles are provocative, trenchant and convincing. They will give some of you heartburn. 1.