Daniel R. DePetris: The Political Docket

The AIPAC Lobby Does It Again

Posted in Israel by Dan on April 3, 2010

Why is it that every time I read something by a right-wing Israeli lobbyist, I feel more inclined to support a two-state solution?

Take Steven Rosen’s recent piece on FP.com, where he basically blames the United States for creating the mess that is the Mideast peace process:

“U.S. President Barack Obama’s decision to confront Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Israeli construction activity in East Jerusalem has been greeted by a hail of praise, especially from people impatient to proceed with peace negotiations with the Palestinians. The belief seems to be that meeting this issue head-on will accelerate progress toward an agreement ending a conflict that has festered for generations. The historical record suggests a different conclusion.

Consider this: If, 17 years ago, U.S. President Bill Clinton or Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat had insisted that Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin freeze all settlement construction, including in Jerusalem, before Arafat would sit down with Rabin, there would have been no Oslo agreements.”

And here is the money quote:

“Today, for the first time in 19 years, we have an administration unable to produce Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. We have a crisis. Netanyahu is doing something that every past Israeli prime minister of the left and right has done, but Obama is doing something that past American leaders considered unwise.”

Just so I don’t get criticized with taking Rosen’s comments out of context, here is the full article.  Read it for yourself, and you’ll understand the frustration that many are currently feeling in the White House.

Don’t get me wrong here.  I am not disparaging the Israel lobby for no good reason (people today throw the anti-Semite label out there all too often).  In fact, the presence of so many lobbyists inside Washington is a cornerstone of American democracy.  I am just questioning the validity of Rosen’s comments; blaming America whenever something goes wrong in the Mideast doesn’t do anything to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian quagmire.

It is the right-wing Israeli Government that continues to build settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem- areas, by the way, that have never been accepted or legalized by the international community.  Is America to blame for this policy as well?  Hardly.  The United States is not deliberately carving up Palestinian land and evicting Palestinians from their homes.  This, my friend, is the Israeli Government’s official policy.  One, might I add, that makes the prospects of an independent Palestinian state all the more impossible.

Here is a quick news flash that some on the Israeli right seem to forget; the world has never recognized Israel’s expansion into the West Bank, or in East Jerusalem for that matter. Time and again, U.N. committees have asked the Israelis to scale back their settlement building, and time and again, the Israelis refuse to comply. If Israel’s growth past the 1967 lines was legal and legitimate, expansion wouldn’t be that big of an issue. But as common wisdom reveals, the U.N.’s official policy states the exact opposite.

Comply with global protocol and maybe the peace talks could go forward. Or we could simply pass the buck and blame the United States for Israel’s self-destructive behavior.

-Daniel R. DePetris

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**Comments courtesy of Stephen Rosen at FP.com**


12 Responses

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  1. Sir_Mixxalot said, on April 3, 2010 at 7:33 pm

    Steven J. Rosen served for 23 years as foreign-policy director of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and was a defendant in the recently dismissed AIPAC case. He is now director of the Washington Project at the Middle East Forum.

    Nuff said.

  2. Bowser0218 said, on April 3, 2010 at 7:35 pm

    heres another take- bibi should accept the obama settlement freeze to prove that palestinian political realities are the real hurdles to peace and not settlements


  3. Transtrist said, on April 3, 2010 at 7:36 pm

    When your articles about Israel gather such a crowd of virtual Jew-baters, it’s time to think what you’re doing wrong.

    • Sir_Mixxalot said, on April 3, 2010 at 7:36 pm

      I am a Jew.

      Since the early 20th century, Zionists have waged a relentless campaign to equate their political movement with the Jewish religion. They have largely succeeded; in the eyes of many, Zionism and Judaism are one and the same, and opposition to Zionism becomes opposition to Judaism. But that doesn’t change the fact that the two are antithetical.

      I am a Jew, and I know from my religious education that if the Jewish people are to attain the Holy Land, it will be through the Messiah, and not with guns.

      Jews are taught to heal the world (“tikkun olam”), not to displace families, create refugee camps, and practice collective punishment such as that used against Jews in the past.

      So long as this confounding of Zionism with Judaism continues, it will sow anti-Semitism. But, in the end, anti-Semitism serves the Zionist ideology.

      • Transtrist said, on April 3, 2010 at 7:38 pm

        We live and learn. But your ethnicity doesn’t make any difference. Denial of right of self-determination to Jews is anti-Semitism, and that’s that.

    • ColinDale said, on April 3, 2010 at 7:37 pm

      It is one of the great disappointments of the last half century that Likud has succeeded in conflating political Zionism with Judaism, throughout the world, when, in fact, Judaism and Zionism are antonyms.

      I suppose it could be termed one of the greatest con tricks of all time, carried out by a secular political movement.

  4. Sir_Mixxalot said, on April 3, 2010 at 7:39 pm


    It is not denial of self-determination to Jews — you are referring to denial of self-determination to the zionists.

    I encourage people to deny Zionists self-determination.

    Their “self-determination” is killing Americans and generating Anti-semitism.

    PS: I love it when their “self determination” includes war crimes.

  5. MCMLXVII said, on April 3, 2010 at 7:40 pm

    Judaism does not equal Zionism. Zionism does not equal Judaism. And the political state of Israel can only claim to speak for a minority of Jews, and even that’s debatable.

    But back to the subject of the article: I rarely support President Obama, but I think he’s doing the right thing on this issue. The status quo was accomplishing nothing. The “peace process” was sliding backwards quickly. I don’t know if this is a way forward, but I do believe that the President is slamming the brakes on a runaway train that was headed in completely the wrong direction. Under the circumstances, it was the only sensible thing to do.

  6. J Thomas said, on April 3, 2010 at 7:40 pm

    Rosen claims that Obama’s approach will not work as well as previous attempts at peace for Israel.

    But in retrospect the previous efforts have achieved nothing at all. So following their example would not be good.

    Time to try something else. Given the track record of previous attempts, anything that has no track record would have a better chance than the ones we actually have data about.

    Why does FP keep Rosen? He appears to be worse than useless.

    • David in DC said, on April 3, 2010 at 7:41 pm

      But in retrospect the previous efforts have achieved nothing at all.

      Untrue. The previous efforts not only had the sides talking, but three offers from Israel to the Palestinians of a state for their own. Not to mention the complete withdrawal of all soldiers and settlers from Gaza.

      Unfortunately, all of the offers have been rebuffed and rather than building a state in Gaza the Palestinians used the territory to continue their war against Israel.

  7. John Yorke said, on April 5, 2010 at 1:46 am

    Both sides have memories that are too long and too painful to permit of any mutual or unilateral abandonment of the armed struggle. It follows, therefore, that a direct assault on the violence itself should become the primary focus of attention.
    Until this aspect of the matter can be effectively remedied, all other considerations can contribute nothing of any real substance to the situation as it stands. And as it has stood for many generations.

    At the present moment, the usual tendency is to choose one side and give it some preference over the other. Such preference may change and shift with time and circumstance while the relative merits and demerits of each case are picked apart. Eventually all is reduced to mere detail with nothing much of any value being salvaged from the detritus left behind.

    Unless there is some overarching clarity of purpose, some universal gauge and standard by which these clashes of culture and communities can be addressed, then no means other than the brutish and despairing methods of the past can be employed. With such limited options in place, nothing of any lasting merit is likely to be accomplished. Thus, the problems remain, as unresolved and as intractable as ever.

    If a method must be chosen, then let it be the one that can end this business as quickly and as cleanly as possible.


  8. […] Dan DePetris offers a good view on some of the frustrations in his article. […]

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