In an attempt to defend the selection of Tiananmen Square Massacre enthusiast Chas Freeman as Chairman of the National Intelligence Council, Andrew Sullivan links to this essay as an example of the man's supposedly sharp thinking, and pulls out the following "money quote:" Tragically, despite all the advantages and opportunities Israel has had over the fifty-nine years of its existence, it has failed to achieve concord and reconciliation with anyone in its region, still less to gain their admiration or affection.
That the State of Israel has an ethnicity problem is the opposite of news: hardly a day goes by without some report on the hostilities between Jews and Arabs. But We Look Like the Enemy, the impassioned, often self-righteous new book by Rachel Shabi, draws the reader's attention to an easily overlooked dimension of that old conflict. What if you are an Israeli Jew who is also, in some ways, an Arab?
Last year, a new Middle East lobby called J Street was formed to push American Jewish opinion in a more conciliatory direction. "What we're responding to," wrote J Street Executive Director Jeremy Ben-Ami last year, "is that for too long there's been an alliance between the neo-cons, the radical right ofthe Christian Zionist movement and the far-right portions of the Jewish community that has really locked up what it means to be pro-Israel." Israel's supporters do have a distressing tendency to define their position in maximalist terms.
Earlier this month, Joe the Plumber Wurzelbacher--last seen serving as the third wheel on John McCain and Sarah Palin's increasingly disastrous blind date--traded in his toilet jack for a handheld microphone and traveled to the Middle East to become a foreign correspondent covering the Israel-Hamas war for the conservative website Pajamas Media. Alas, he wasn't terribly impressed with his new colleagues. "I think media should be abolished from, you know, reporting," Wurzelbacher said in the Israeli city of Sderot, where he was, from all appearances, reporting. "You know, war is hell.
Last year, a new Middle East lobby called J Street was formed to push American Jewish opinion in a more conciliatory direction. "What we're responding to," wrote J Street Executive Director Jeremy Ben-Ami last year, "is that for too long there's been an alliance between the neo-cons, the radical right of the Christian Zionist movement and the far-right portions of the Jewish community that has really locked up what it means to be pro-Israel." Israel's supporters do have a distressing tendency to define their position in maximalist terms.
I’m not supposed to be here. This vast training base near the Gaza border where thousands of reservists are preparing for battle is off-limits to the press. Still, everyone in Israel knows someone, and my travelling companion knows a senior army commander who’s willing to break the rules. “Just say you’re my friends,” says the commander, who picks us up in his car near the gate. The commander, whom I’ll call Shmulik, is eager to slip us in. He wants us to meet his men, to tell the world the truth about Israel’s soldiers. Tomorrow morning, he says, they’re crossing into Gaza.
I have my doubts about whether anyone will be able to curb Tehran's nuclear ambitions simply by negotiations. Still, these are some of the variables that might encourage such a scenario. The price of oil continues its long-term downward trajectory. The Iranian economy gets worse and worse. Maybe Barack Obama will be able to persuade Russia and China (and, for that matter, the industrial Goliaths of Western Europe) to back real and not just symbolic or squishy sanctions.
Dennis Ross is a highly capable diplomat (and frequent TNR contributor), so I was pleased to see that he'll be joining Obama's foreign policy team. But the scope of his brief gives me some pause. Ross has been given the title of ambassador at large, with a portfolio that apparently includes everything from Israel to Iran.
Michael B. Oren, freshly summoned to war, has written a piece for us from Israel. Here's how it starts: Dawn, the morning after Israel's ground incursion into Gaza. Last night, I received an emergency IDF call-up order--via SMS. Israel, 2009. Gone are the days when such commands were hand-delivered or broadcast in code over the radio. Gone are the prearranged assembly points in town where members of various units would meet and file into specially-mobilized buses. Today we travel to our bases individually, often by cab.
CNN International’s coverage of yesterday’s fighting in Gaza concluded at midnight with a rush of images: mangled civilians writhing in the rubble, primitive hospitals overflowing with the wounded, fireballs mushrooming between apartment complexes, the funeral of a Palestinian child.