This week’s meeting between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu has caused a flurry of thoughts, most of which simply rehashed old talking points. Witness the Jewish Forward’s editorial that continues yapping about time running out for the two-state solution and the concepts of a “Jewish state and a democracy.” Perhaps someone should remind the paper that it’s impossible to be both. The entire belief of the modern Zionist state is active discrimination against non-Jews. Nobody is seriously talking about changing that.
Then we hear that mainstream American Jewish groups aren’t dealing too well with even understanding ideas about Palestinian democracy:
Israel’s change of tone toward the Palestinian peace process under its new government has caught Jewish supporters in the United States off guard, leaving them to grapple with a policy shift that now stresses the need to limit future Palestinian sovereignty and avoids discussing a two-state solution.
One of the more prescient pieces comes from The Electronic Intifada’s Ali Abunimah who wonders what kind of “peace” Obama may have in mind:
Let us assume for the sake of argument that Obama applies unprecedented pressure to force Israel to make a deal with the Palestinians. What would such a deal look like? The outlines were suggested in the recent report sent to Obama by a group of US elder statesmen headed by former National Security Advisor Brent Scowcroft. The document, warning that there was only a “six to twelve month window” before all chances for peace evaporated, called on the US to forcefully advocate the creation of a Palestinian state. But this would be a demilitarized truncated state “based on” the 1967 borders. Israel would annex large West Bank settlements and there would be no right of return for Palestinian refugees. This “state” would be occupied indefinitely by a NATO-led “multinational force,” which the Scowcroft group suggests could also include Israeli soldiers.
Of course the Scowcroft proposal does not necessarily represent Obama administration thinking, but it expresses the pervasive peace process industry consensus that views such an outcome as “reasonable,” “pragmatic” and all but inevitable, and it accords with Obama’s own statements opposing the right of return and supporting Israel’s demand to be recognized as a “Jewish state”.
Obama is not the saviour of democracy in the Middle East. If anything, he seems keen to tinker around the edges.