Israel is still dressed in blue and white. Two days after Independence Day, national flags are everywhere, even on tree trunks in West Jerusalem. I don't remember so many flags on Independence Days in Jerusalem in the past, flags of so many kinds.
April 2009 Archives
A new http://www.worldpublicopinion.org/pipa/articles/home_page/604.php?nid=&id=&pnt=604&lb= (link has expired) poll released yesterday by WorldPublicOpinion.org showed that most Americans oppose Israeli settlement construction and expansion, and that this majority has grown significantly since 2002. The poll summary notes:
- "three-quarters of Americans think that Israel should not build settlements in the Palestinian territories. This is up 23 points from when this question was last asked in 2002."
- "Even those respondents who sympathize more with Israel feel that it should not be building settlements in the West Bank by a clear majority (64%), as do those who sympathize equally with Israel and the Palestinians (80%), and those who sympathize more with the Palestinians (96%)."
- "Opposition to settlements is found among majorities of Republicans (65%), Democrats (83%) and independents (74%)."
Background: "WorldPublicOpinion.org is an international collaborative project whose aim is to give voice to public opinion around the world on international issues. As the world becomes increasingly integrated, problems have become increasingly global, pointing to a greater need for understanding between nations and for elucidating global norms. With the growth of democracy in the world, public opinion has come to play a greater role in the foreign policy process. WorldPublicOpinion.org seeks to reveal the values and views of publics in specific nations around the world as well as global patterns of world public opinion. WorldPublicOpinion.org was initiated by and is managed by the Program on International Policy Attitudes at the University of Maryland."
When two Israeli tank shells shattered Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish's Gaza home in January, killing three of his daughters and his niece, his personal tragedy turned - with the help of the Israeli and international media - into a symbol of the Gaza War. For Israelis, in particular, this disastrous incident brought home the realization of the carnage among innocent Gazan civilians.
September 9, 1993 -- the date that the PLO officially and formally recognized Israel's right to exist in peace and security, and in return Israel recognized the PLO as the representative of the Palestinian people -- is a day that stands out in my memory. As a US Foreign Service officer serving in Jerusalem during that period, I will never forget the palpable feeling of hope and anticipation that was in the air.
What is entirely absent from my memory is the recollection of any Israeli narrative at the time saying: "Sorry Mr. Arafat, but this recognition isn't good enough. What we actually need is your formal endorsement of Israel as a Jewish state. If you can't do that, then your recognition of Israel doesn't count."
It is absent not because my memory is faulty, but because this narrative simply didn't exist. Yitzhak Rabin did not say "thanks, but no thanks;" nor did Israelis. Everyone understood that the demand of the Palestinians was and had always been: recognize Israel's right to exist (or some slight variation thereof). The historic September 9th declaration achieved exactly that. The demand that the Palestinians "recognize Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state" - or what hereafter will be known as "recognition-plus" - came much later.
By James Kitfield 4/4/09
JERUSALEM-When Jewish settlers evicted an elderly Palestinian couple from the house in East Jerusalem where they had lived for more than 50 years, the evictors came in the middle of the night and were backed by the full force of the Israeli government and security forces. n As reported in the Israeli daily newspaper Haaretz and verified by witnesses who talked to National Journal, about 20 vehicles from the Israel Defense Forces cordoned off the Sheik Jarrah neighborhood in the Arab section of the city at 4:45 a.m. on a Sunday last September.
During most of the tenure of George W. Bush in the White House, it was widely understood that a formidable obstacle to Israeli-Palestinian peace resided not in the region but close at hand in the National Security Council, in the form of Elliott Abrams (who served in various roles, but always with an influence over Middle East policy). Abrams was viewed by many Washington insiders as deeply sympathetic to the Israeli right and ideologically supportive of Israel's settlement enterprise. He was viewed as in large part responsible for the Bush Administration's apparent unwillingness to hold Israel to its repeated commitments to freeze settlements, as well as for President Bush's stunning pro-settlements edict of 2004 - the letter to Sharon in which Bush declared his unilateral decision that Israel would be keeping the ever-expanding, never-officially-defined settlement blocs.
Since leaving the Administration, Mr. Abrams appears to have decided to do everything he can to show just how accurate this popular wisdom about him was. He also appears to be on a mission to undermine any actions the Obama Administration might decide to take on settlements, just as he is believed to have done - from the inside - under the Bush Administration.
Yesterday President Obama delivered a speech before the Turkish parliament. In it he articulated some general outlines of his policy regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, making clear his commitment to Israeli-Palestinian peace and making explicit that his policy will be based on both the Roadmap and the commitments made at Annapolis. His words were broadly consistent with things he said previously, both during the campaign and since he was inaugurated.
Obama's comments in Turkey on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict were not groundbreaking - representing little more than a reiteration of longstanding US policy - and under normal circumstances they would hardly have been especially newsworthy. Indeed, under normal circumstances they might have generated criticism over Obama's apparent embrace of the previous Administration's lackluster efforts in the Israeli-Palestinian arena.
However, these are not normal circumstances.