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Government Relations: November 2009 Archives

APN Legislative Round-Up for the Weeks Ending November 13 & 20, 2009

1.  Bills and Resolutions
2.  Levin Statement on S. Res. 355

The press almost unanimously reported, and pundits almost unanimously agreed, that the Secretary of State's comments in Jerusalem meant that the Obama Administration had retreated on its position that a full settlement freeze was a precondition for negotiations.  This in turn established the now dominant narrative that the Obama Administration's peace effort is an abject failure, that Obama and Mitchell have been bested by Netanyahu, and that the US has caved on settlements.  

The problem is that the premise of this narrative - that the US had demanded a total freeze as a precondition for negotiations - is incorrect.  Neither Obama nor any Obama Administration official ever stated that a full settlement freeze was a precondition for negotiations.  One can debate whether they should have done so, or whether they should have done a better job making clear what the policy was or managing expectations, but it is simply inaccurate to state that this was the Administration's policy.

It should surprise no one that the media and pundits prefer to view Middle East peace effort through a lens of controversy.  Reporting that Mitchell took another trip and held more closed-door meetings is not interesting.  Saying that Clinton went to Jerusalem and nothing happened is not news.  (Likewise, the definition of "unprecedented" is not especially newsworthy.  For the record, the word means "having no previous example" - not, as some seem to think, "laudable," "fantastic," "satisfying our demands" or "consistent with US policy.")

Tom Friedman: so wrong (and so glib)

I read Tom Friedman's piece in yesterday's New York Times and I had to smile.   

Why?  Because Friedman (no relation) has become so predictable in his analysis that I actually had already written my response.  

And then I smiled again, because I realized that if you take the piece at face value, Friedman is calling for US punitive action against Israel - cutting off of all aid - that has never been seriously considered and would never be taken.  Or if that is not what he means, then he has been tripped up by his own excessively glib analysis.  My guess is that it is the latter.   

APN Legislative Round-Up for the week ending November 6, 2009

1.  Bills and Resolutions
2.  Playing Partisan Politics with Jerusalem in the 111th Congress
3.  Goldstone Resolution - the vote
4. Goldstone Resolution - statements