It's a little weird that I agree with Jeff Goldberg over Joe Klein about Israel, and yet that is the position in which I find myself. I think Goldberg makes a fair case here. What dismays me most about the crisis is just how impossible it is to actually have a public debate about Israel in this country, as the right evidently believes unquestioning support of Israel (read: Likud) is the only defensible policy. The right often (and often unjustifiably, though not always) complains about political correctness in American life, but the Israel issue is the most clear example of this that there is. When one side of the spectrum vilifies a former president for daring to insinuate that life for Palestinians isn't all that good; when one side of the spectrum decries the Zionism of a current presidential candidate because he was friendly with an American scholar of Palestine (seriously!); when one side of the spectrum stifles dissent on the 2006 Lebanon War--perhaps the most barbaric, unprovoked and indefensible conflict of the past decade, with the only possible exception being Iraq--as not "supporting" Israel then clearly there is no room to debate. And, ultimately, the right sees America not as an ally of Israel but rather as a rubber stamp. And such a policy is necessary because of the 30% or so of the country that is fundamentalist Christian and that supports Israel due to end times eschatology.
Still, Goldberg is right that caring about Israel and actively trying to protect it is defensible, and crucially that these things should be debatable. Unfortunately, you can't really debate religious fanatics. But in an ideal world public officials should be able to say, for example, that Israeli policy since Barak's premiership ended has made peace far less likely and have hurt Palestinians greatly, and that this has been the goal--rather then ending the conflict, dead-enders like Sharon and Netanyahu want to win it. And they're welcome to try. But I think that we should hesitate to endorse such tactics if we want to maintain even the pretense that we care about human rights rather than endorsing realpolitik.
Then again, I'm just a moderate on this issue who likes both parties and wishes that they could come to an amicable solution. And they will eventually, and it will look an awful lot like the two state solution we've heard of before. But Ariel Sharon and Ehud Olmert have made such peace far more costly than it needed to be.
The Man, The Myth, The Bio
- East Bay, California, United States
- Problem: I have lots of opinions on politics and culture that I need to vent. If I do not do this I will wind up muttering to myself, and that's only like one or two steps away from being a hobo. Solution: I write two blogs. A political blog that has some evident sympathies (pro-Obama, mostly liberal though I dissent on some issues, like guns and trade) and a culture blog that does, well, cultural essays in a more long-form manner. My particular thing is taking overrated things (movies, mostly, but other things too) down a peg and putting underrated things up a peg. I'm sort of the court of last resort, and I tend to focus on more obscure cultural phenomena.