Israeli Peace Camp Heartened By Obama’s Approach, Some NY Democrats Pushing Back

My man AD sent me these two links from Haaretz showing Israel’s once-demoralized peace camp is taking heart from the Obama administration’s recent hard line on the settlement issue. Meanwhile, back at home Israel hawks are working to undermine Obama’s effort to simply enforce what’s long been actual American policy. Leading the way are opportunistic Republicans, and some Democratic members of congress from New York:

Rep. Gary L. Ackerman (D-N.Y.), chairman of the House foreign affairs subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia, said focusing on settlement activity “detracts” from top U.S. goals in the region. However, he added: “I do not support a settlement freeze that calls on Israeli families not to grow, get married, or forces them to throw away their grandparents. Telling people not to have children is unthinkable and inhumane.”

Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) told reporters Wednesday that “we have to be careful not to cross the line where it sounds like we are exerting overwhelming pressure . . . on our rather isolated ally.”

Weiner here is capturing the cognitive dissonance that afflicts a lot of the conventional discourse on this subject. He doesn’t want to say that he supports continued Israeli land grabs or that he stands with the settlers. But heaven forbid anyone actually criticize Israel or exert meaningful pressure on the largest recipient of American foreign aid! Ackerman, meanwhile, is more straightforward. To him, halting settlement expansion means telling people not to have children. And telling people not to have children is unjust. But of course as Ackerman well knows, people are never going to stop having children. Which means that, by Ackerman’s logic, the settlements can never stop expanding. But everyone knows that for peace to be achieved, many settlements would have to be removed. Ackerman’s position is just the position that peace is impossible, and that Israel must fight forever to squeeze the Palestinians out of the West Bank, while the Palestinians must fight forever for the destruction of Israel.


This is a bleak vision, and I think it would be nice if the people who hold to it would come out and say so rather than pretending they’re interested in peace.