American foreign policy Barack Obama Israel Israeli occupation Israeli settlements Middle East peace process Palestinians

Will Obama’s speech “force clarity” on Israel?

I took a break from my day job to do a quick scan of the reactions to Obama’s speech in Cairo. The most instructive one thus far comes from Daniel Gordis of the Shalem Center, whose post can be found on the NY Times blog. There has been much talk of late about Obama’ desire to be a transformative president. Gordis spells out the transformation that he hopes our President will spark in Israel. I share those hopes. Here is the post, without additional commentary:

Forcing Clarity on Israel
by Daniel Gordis

While President Obama’s speech was addressed to the Arab world, it had been nervously anticipated in Israel, as well. In its aftermath, some Israelis are quibbling with word choices or wondering whether he is naïve in believing that Hamas might renounce terror or that Iranians can be entrusted with civilian nuclear capacity. Others are assailing his comments about settlements.

For years, we fudged on painful questions. That posture may no longer be possible.

But the real news is that contrary to what many expected, or feared, President Obama assumed positions virtually identical to those of Israel’s political center –- namely, that the Palestinians must renounce violence and recognize Israel’s right to exist, while Israel must cease settlement building and permit a Palestinian state to arise. Now, Benjamin Netanyahu’s problem is that it’s difficult to distinguish between President Obama and Tzipi Livni. And in Israel’s recent elections, Livni and her Kadima party won more votes than anyone else.

But the major “problem” that the speech poses for Israel’s leaders is that Israelis are finally going to have to make painful decisions about our future. No longer will Israel’s fractious politics provide a curtain behind which to hide. Will we abide a Palestinian state, or are we committed to the present stalemate as a matter of principle? Are we committed to keeping the West Bank (for reasons of security, history or theology), or are we open to withdrawing if a genuine peace accord is possible? If all Jews will have to depart the West Bank, what about Arabs in Israel? For years, we’ve fudged on these painful questions; with President Obama, that may no longer be possible.

Once Israelis grow accustomed to the new tenor emanating from Washington, we may see today’s speech in a different light. Barack Obama may or may not bring peace to the Middle East, but he may well force clarity, and perhaps disciplined policy, on an Israeli society that has long desperately needed it.

50 thoughts on “Will Obama’s speech “force clarity” on Israel?

  1. If Obama’s “naive” about anything, it’s that Israel will cease to expand its territory in return for peace. Israel specifically incites warfare precisely because that gives it cover to expand its territory (and ban journalists from observing its crimes against humanity).

  2. What’s so surprising about the Kahane fund being deemed terrorist related?

    I doubt any Jews blinked at that when it was announced. He was not well liked or well received by the Jewish community.

  3. http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1090534.html

    Great expectations met
    By Gideon Levy
    Tags: Egypt, Israel News

    Neither Tel Aviv nor Ramallah held their breaths Thursday as the American president gave a speech in Cairo; the traffic in both crowded cities continued normally. Tel Aviv was indifferent, Ramallah sunk in desperation: Both cities have already had their fill of nice, historic speeches.

    Nonetheless, no one can ignore the speech given by Barack Obama: The mountain birthed a mountain. Obama remained Obama. Only the Israeli analysts tried to diminish the speech’s importance (“not terrible”), to spread fear (“he mentioned the Holocaust and the Nakba in a single breath”), or were insulted on our behalf (“he did not mention our right to the land as promised in the Bible”). All these were redundant and unnecessary. Obama emerged Thursday as a true friend of Israel.

  4. Now after his pretty speach, he will have to try to implement and execute. He will find that YBD’s friends will try to blame everything on terrorism and MM’s friends will want to blame everything on the occupation and settlements. He could spend his entire first term trying to get both sides to break out of their familiar comfortable normal behaviors. Or, if he is smart he will go through the motions on the Pal track while he makes a serious effort on the Syrian track. Maybe Netanyahu will get the message that it will be better to sacrifice on the Golan than on the West Bank or face a head-on confrontation with Washington. And if Obama is smart he will start working to remove the structural obstacles to peace on both sides.

  5. You know what they say, Tom: If you want peace in the Middle East, you gotta settle the… Golan Heights issue (!!)

    Comedic gold, brother! Gold! Write more!

  6. One thing I noticed is that Obama did NOT outline the terms of “the solution everyone knows the outcome of”, i.e. withdrawal to pre-67 lines, recognition of Palestinian Right of Return with limits on the number allowed to “return”, division of Jerusalem.

  7. Obama learned from his grandmother, my grandmother did the same thing.

    “I am doing this for your own good, I love you honey and this is for your own good. If we didn’t care we wouldn’t correct you”

    And then the correction or punishment would be set for my wayward behavior.

    That is Obama’s way with Israel and all other intractable obstacles to his plans.

    We support Israel.. BUT
    We acknowledge Iran right to nuclear power.. BUT

    Daddy’s home.

  8. Here’s something I’ve been wondering about recently: I seem to recall settlements were not widely accepted by the Israeli public in the 90s and earlier on in this decade.

    What changed?

    I know Yaakov mentioned that people have come to perceive Palestinians as unwilling/incapable of setting up state…

    …but beyond that, I seem to recall there was an ideological schism on settlements between Israeli citizens and, say, Orthodox American Jews. Israelis I talked to felt settlements were impeding peace.

    Did this really turn around overnight?

  9. Suzanne,
    The sentiments against the settlements had been growing in the late 1980s and were expressed forcefully when Rabin was elected in 1992. That majority hasn’t gone away and most would like nothing better than to wash their hands of MOST settlements in return for peace and security. Three main obstacles: a dysfunctional political system, a very powerful minority and the sense that there is not a reliable partner for peace.

  10. Gee, who woulda thought there’d be “no partner for peace,” what after a century of hatred, terror, and dispossession?

    (I know, I know. We shouldn’t let things like “who stole land from whom” keep us from dividing the blame evenly.)

    Zionist reality, summarized: The IDF are ambassadors for peace, but those little kids with their slingshots and those teenagers with their over-sized fireworks are nothing but a bunch of racist, blood-thirsty war-profiteers, cynically exploiting the world community so they can grab every last bit of historic Israel.

    OK Dan, now you can ban me! Cheers fellas!

  11. Teddy;

    What you say is totally incorrect. There is not majority sentiments against the settlements. In the 2003 elections, the Labor Party made its main campaign pledge to remove SOME of the settlements from Gush Katif. Sharon and the Likud totally opposed doing this. This is when Sharon said “Netzarim is no different than Tel Aviv”. The Likud overwhelmingly won the election (obviously there were other factors in play as well, but you see the voters didn’t have any problem with Sharon’s position). In the last election, parties supporting the settlements won a large majority. In fact, Barak’s Labor Party joined them in a coalition. Yes, a majority of Israelis will say they are willing to give up some settlements for a TRUE peace with the Arabs, but the majority of Israelis view the settlement movement as a praiseworthy, Zionist enterprise. The Left which despises the settlement movement may view itself as the majority in the sense that “only their opinion counts”, but they are a declining minority.

    BTW, the 1992 election which Teddy claims “forcefully” opposed the settlement movement was actually a tie with the “right-wing” parties getting a majority of the vote, but they did not get a majority in the Knesset due to some votes going down the drain due tot he electoral threshold. In any event, Rabin’s government did NOT “freeze” the settlements, they continued to grow, as they have under every Leftist government since then.

  12. Obama is more adept than your political posturing Yakov.

    The reasons FOR the settlements include the valid statement of “Jews should be free to live where they can legally.” and the invalid statements “The land is ours. It was given by God and we have the obligation to take it by any means necessary.”

    The reasons against the settlements are more compelling. They continue a status of war and illegality (in the acquisition of property by force or decree rather than by consented exchange).

    They present to the world, the willingness of the Israelis to rationalize for their own benefit, rather than willingly govern themselves by Torah cardinal morality and reasonable cardinal morality.

    And, they facilitate the willing self-deception (a crisis in character) of Israel and Jews in general.

    There are two legal questions at play in the region.

    Questions of sovereignty. What government will control what land? What legal code will be applied in that jurisdiction?

    Questions of title. What individual will control what land? How will that title be transformed from contested to consented?

    To the extent that you, or others, don’t address those legal questions confidently (not by decree or by force), they remain in a state of tension.

    The rain will not then come in its time, for the collective selfishness of ideologs.

  13. It would be interesting to get a gauge–from a neutral source– on the Israeli public’s reaction to Obama’s settlement stance–and on settlements in general.

    I have heard things similar to what Teddy said. In addition to that, Thomas Friedman–whom I consider centrist–seems to have made similar observations.

  14. There is no Israeli consensus on the settlements pro or con. Ya’akov is correct–the Right had a slight majority of votes in 1992. In 2003 Mitzna failed because Labor was still suffering a backlash from the failure of Oslo, and his offers to remove settlements was out of sync with what Palestinians were doing.

    There is a consensus, however, on the necessity of good relations with the U.S., Israel’s only long-term reliable ally. If the settlements are seen as interfering with that, most Israelis will quickly agree to a freeze.

  15. Thomas-
    When you say “most Israelis would quickly agree to a freeze”, it depends on what you mean by “a freeze”. I don’t think most Israelis would agree to a complete, 100% freeze. Don’t forget that Sharon called the Likud party referendum on destroying Gush Katif, and when he did polls showed him getting 70% in favor. After he called the vote a personal vote of confidence in his leadership, he ended up losing by 60-40. For this reason, after this fiasco, he admantly refused to call either a national referendum or new national elections in order to get a public mandate for the expulsion of the Jews from there.
    If Netanyahu agrees to such a thing (something I doubt) he will lose the support of the Right and his gov’t will go. The subsequent Leftist gov’t would be inherently unstable, as have been all the Leftist governments since 1992 (none ever had a large, stable majority, always being dependent on SHAS, MAFDAL or other Right-wing elemenents). Such a gov’t would not have ANY mandate to divide Jerusalem or agree to the Palestinian Right of Return so we would then return to square one and there will still be no “peace agreement”. I, and many other “Right-wingers” do not fear such a government so Netanyahu has to stand warned that he can not make concessions like Obama wants.

  16. Isn’t Right of Return a completely different issue than settlement expansion? I can see how few would agree to that–and I don’t blame them. It should be taken off the negotiation table.

  17. I caught a little news note the other day saying Lieberman is trying to cozy up to Russia in case relations with the US go south.

    I don’t know how any Jewish person in their right mind could want that type of alliance. Are Russian Jews even granted full Russian citizenship yet? I’d trust Germany before Russia, frankly.

  18. Ya’akov,
    Bush was president when Sharon was prime minister. If he refuses and a confrontation takes place, he will lose. I think that ultimately in order to get peace the Israeli party system, which resembles that of the French Fourth Republic, will have to be changed through electoral reform. A reform designed by political scientists and not by the political hacks inhabiting the Knesset. Such a reform was necessary in France before a solution to Algeria was possible. Unfortunately, however, I don’t expect Obama to go that far. So Israel will still be stuck with the unstable bargains among religious extortionists, Left and Right wing secularists, and national religious politicians.

  19. Thomas-
    Interesting how you and others refer to “religious extortionists”. I have never heard you or other ‘progressives’ refer to “secular extortionists” or “kibbutznik extortionist” or “the artsy-fartsy crowd extortionists” ALL OF WHOM DEMAND MONEY FROM THE GOVERNMENT and get it.
    Religious people are taxpayers, but they presumably are not entitled to government funding, but the Sheinkinist film makers who make movies nobody watches are entititled to it, right?

    Regarding Jewish rights to settle in Judea/Samaria read this from Moshe Arens:

    http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1091171.html

  20. Suzanne-
    The Palestinian “Right of Return” is the crux of the whole “peace process”. I am sure you heard of “the solution that everyone knows the terms of”…this referst to a complete withdrawal to the pre-67 lines including Jerusalem, and creation of a Palestinian state in return for signed “peace agreements”. This was offered to the Arabs right after the 6-Day War, but the Arab response was “The Three Noes of Khartoum”. The first settlements at Gush Etzion were authorized shortly after this.
    However, the Arabs INSIST on the Palestinian “Right of Return”, and it is an integral part of the phony “Saudi Peace Plan”. This is because the argument is not over the outcome of the Six-Day War, as the “progressives” claim, but the 1948 War (creation of the State of Israel). For many years, up until the Camp David Talks with Clinton-Arafat-Barak, the Israeli “peace camp” kept saying that the “Right of Return” was a bargaining chip that would be traded in return from something big, like Israeli capitulation in Jerusalem and that Arafat’s constant reference to it in his speeches after Oslo was mere posturing. At Camp David it finally dawned on the “Peace Camp” that the Arabs would not give it up and it was not simply a “negotiating card”. Thus, Yossi Beilin and others in the “peace camp” now tell us that we should accept it, because the Arabs will not really insist on it being implemented, and that the Arabs are insisting on it merely because of “pride”. I should point out that a far-Leftist like former Foreign Minister Shlomo Ben-Ami says they are serious about it and their goal in the negotiations is “to put Israel on the dock of the accused of history”. Since most people now don’t accept “they are only insisting on it for pride”, the Left now says that we should accept it “to acknowledge the pain of the Palestinian refugees”. That is totally dishonest. If Israel accepts it it means that ISRAEL ACCEPTS THAT THE CREATION OF THE STATE OF ISRAEL WAS A CRIME. This means even if an agreement is signed and some refugees are allowed to return, the books will still be open and the Palestinians will have endless demands, including letting more and more refugees return, and they will say “you see, even the Israelis admit that they committed an historic crime with the creation of the refugees probelm”. This is why Olmert, Livni and Netanyahu have brought up the demand that the Palestinian say they recognize Israel as a Jewish state…something they never will do.
    Thus, you see, “The Right of Return” is always going to be the deal-breaker and no Arab can give it up without being considered a traitor. If Arafat didn’t give it up (even though all the Leftist “experts” kept insisting that he would), no other Palestinian leader can.

    This is why I insist that there is no possiblity of their being a peace agreement.

  21. You may have heard about a recent YNET poll that has been interpreted by “progressives” claiming that it shows a “majority” of Israeli support Obama’s demands on Israel. Here are two postings that refute that by citing other, more reliable polls. Although there are some contradictory results, they prove my point that if Netanyahu stands up to Obama, he will have a solid national consensus behind him.

    http://www.imra.org.il/story.php3?id=43823

    http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3726358,00.html

  22. If I entered a marriage in which all of my wife’s requirements of me were outlined in writing specifically on day one, and that she could never change her mind, never experience any changes in objective condition, I would have never gotten married.

    I would not have made any friend, conducted any business, grown any food, been born even.

    Your comments are repeatedly what “the Arabs” will do, fears mostly.

    If you personally conclude that if 1948 is discussed in any way, that that would question Israel’s basis of existence, then YOU have already questioned Israel’s basis of existence.

    I haven’t.

    Again, I ask you “On what basis, do you consider the settlement expansion legally valid?”

    No answer will be construed by me as an acknowledgement from you that there is none. Take the time to find out and convey it, if you believe it.

    If you don’t believe that they are legally valid, then stop encouraging others to steal, please.

  23. ok…I’m curious…anybody here agree with Right of Return?

    I’ve heard that the growing Arab demographic argument has turned out to not be so true (Palestinian birth rates are going down). But regardless, one has to wonder why the Palestinian collective refuses to sever the umbilical cord with Israel.

    The desired arrangement is like a fetus that refuses to be born!

    If you acquire official independent statehood, why isn’t THAT the priority?

    A rhetorical question, or course.

  24. Suzanne,

    One can’t tell anyone that they don’t have the “right” to something if they clearly believe it. Nor can one force anyone to acknowledge a right. Financial compensation, a “return” to a Palestinian state + a limited, controlled amount of Palestinian immigration into Israel proper, subject to some kind of international tribunal with Israel’s participation, might go a long way towards taking the thunder and lightning out of this aspect of the dispute…It cannot be resolved to anyone’s satisfaction. The question is, under the right circumstances, are there enough OTHER rewards to be gained from a comprehensive settlement to prevent this issue from being a deal-breaker?

  25. The only fair trade for right of return, as I see it, is for the settlements stay.

    Not the cozy kind of arrangment I’d like personally…but I’m not in Israel and don’t know what people’s threshold is for this. Seems to me there’s too much water under the bridge for enemies to truly want to live amongst each other…but what do I know?

  26. Teddy-
    Your proposal for an international tribunal to oversee a “limited” (how limited?) return would INTENSIFY the conflict. Those who don’t get to return would accuse those who were accepted of selling them out and of being traitors. Extremist Arab/Muslim countries would back them up. Again and again, you well-meaning people who dream up these supposed solutions to the conflict assume that the Arab/Muslim side is reasonable the same way you are and want the same things as you. THEY DON’T. They don’t want a soluation, they don’t want a Palestinian state, and the other Arab states don’t care about the Palestinians and their fate (Obama himself mentioned this in his speech), vieweing them merely as cannon fodder and a political football.

  27. Its relative Yakov, NOT absolute.

    They care some.

    There is a great deal of international support for peace in Israel/Palestine, including from Arab capitals. They may be reluctant, but it is more obvious to me that Israel is reluctant, and that your views are likely common.

    So, rather than inquire yourself, into “to what extent can we do the right thing?” and “what steps can we confidently do unilaterally, what steps do we need the support of single states or organizations to treaty and/or oversee, and what steps do we need multi-lateral help?” you choose the cynical, “nothing is possible, except what we covet.”

  28. I really don’t see Right of Return as a peaceful objective. I agree with Yaakov here. More Arab game playing.

    Can you imagine if the Israelis had decided to deal with Palestinians the way the US government handled Native Americans? There wouldn’t be enough of a population left to consider right of return.

    For losers in a war…these people sure have a hell of a lot of leverage.

    BTW–does this whole idea of not being able to tell someone they don’t have claim to land when they clearly think they do– also apply to settlers?

    Or is there a double standard here with a bit of white guilt thrown in?

    As for myself, I strive to be consistent: the settlers are a big fat headache and so are the Palestinians with their bogus Right of Return.

    Why not throw the moon into the bargain as added value? Sheesh!

    Sorry, but Right of Return makes my skin crawl as much as the biblical claims to land do. Get real.

  29. I see the right of return relative to title questions, not to sovereignty questions.

    If someone has convincing evidence to support that they individually hold title to land or other property that was taken in such an aggregious manner that it is more just to return it to the original owner, then that owner should be entitled to reside there.

    That would be the minority of cases that I’m aware.

    The problem that I see is that both Israeli’s and Palestinians do not separate the questions of title from the questions of sovereignty, and adopt an unjust position.

    To my mind, the equation of questions of sovereignty with questions of title are one of the characteristics of a fascistic definition. Individual rights become subordinated to national concerns, and not on a specific basis (say eminent domain), but on a generalized and ideological basis.

  30. Dan,

    This is germane I think to recent events under discussion. A few days ago, Philip Weiss evidently posted the now-notorious video shot by Max Blumenthal capturing racially offensive remarks concerning Barack Obama spoken by young, inebriated Jewish-American men in a bar in Israel.

    This is a despicable act with no redemptive value, journalistic or political. It serves no purpose except to arouse interracial hostility, and appears designed to scuttle the burgeoning renaissance of African-American/Jewish relations that has occurred in the last decade.

    This is unspeakably repugnant for several reasons.

    First, the election of Obama was widely interpreted as a referendum on race relations in the United States of American. Anxieties were voiced, loudly, by progressive Jewish Americans worried that older Jews might have reservations about electing someone with Muslim heritage.

    Of course, those anxieties were disgusting, given our progressive Jewish history in the Civil Rights movement, marching with Dr. King, and co-founding the NAACP. And they were utterly dispelled in the aftermath of the election, when 77% OF JEWS VOTED FOR OBAMA, HIGHER THAN ANY OTHER ETHNIC GROUP EXCEPT FOR AFRICAN-AMERICANS, SHOWING US TO BE, BY THIS CRITERION, THE MOST LIBERAL ETHNIC GROUP IN THE COUNTRY, EXCEPTING AFRICAN-AMERICANS.

    For many more decades than any of us have been working on these issues, Jewish-Americans and African-Americans have been collaborating to build a relationship based on a profound kinship. And when that relationship frayed, to rebuild it. Barack Obama’s election was a decisive, valedictory moment for these efforts.

    It is repellent that an incendiary video, in no way representative of this magnificent, grassroots trend, would be circulated, belying the underlying affinity and shared interests and actions of African-Americans and Jews.

    Moreover, going into a bar with a camera is not journalism. It is exploitation, deservedly compared to how Joe Francis captures drunken college girls in his disgusting Girls Gone Wild videos.

    Young, people are foolish, young guys are especially foolish, and drunken, young guys are recklessly foolish. Their speech in no way represents American Jews, Israeli Jews, or even the young men themselves, in all likelihood. Yet Weiss and Blumenthal portray this as a significant act, meriting comment and rebuttal or reprimand from the Jewish community’s leadership. I don’t know what is more egregious, Weiss and Blumenthal’s hatred, or their stupidity.

    Philip Weiss should be allowed to express his views, Dan, but he does not have to be recognized by responsible Jewish thinkers or social and political forums. Please, in the name of solidarity with Jews, here and abroad, remove his link from your page. He should not be granted any kind of tacit or implicit recognition. This was a violent act, meant to incite violence, from a fundamentally violent person.

  31. C Lascov,

    Sorry, I fail to see any good reason for removing the link to MondoWeiss from my page. Keeping it there should not be viewed as an endorsement of his views or the content of the site. Please don’t make my position on this matter an issue. It would be a major waste of energy if you decided to do so.

    I haven’t seen the Max Blumenthal tape, only read about it. The whole affair is, I agree, deeply troubling but I generally don’t weigh in on such matters unless and until I’ve studied them carefully. That’s why I probably don’t belong in the blogosphere, where rapad-fire responses are expected.

  32. Wasn’t Phil wondering at one point if he had Asperger’s syndrome? If he does, that would explain a lot.

  33. You often don’t read what you post.

    Sharon committed to:

    1. No new settlements would be built.

    2. No Palestinian land would be expropriated or otherwise seized for the purpose of settlement.

    3. Construction within the settlements would be confined to “the existing line of construction.”

    4. Public funds would not be earmarked for encouraging settlements.

    Each of those have been violated over an extended period of time, including recently.

    Its not a reasonable approach to advocate for the violation of law, one’s own law.

    The establishment of any settlement (with the exception of the two blocs that were purchased prior to 1948) have the appearance and likely reality of illegal expropriation. All title claims should be afforded equal due process under the law, and Palestinian and Israeli state and individual claims should be determined by a consented court of law.

    Not by decree, and certainly not by a decree that prohibits Palestinian legal claims as evidence, or prohibits their attendance at hearings.

  34. #5 should be: We agree to do all this on the provision that Right of Return conditions are removed from the peace proposal.

  35. “For many years, up until the Camp David Talks with Clinton-Arafat-Barak, the Israeli “peace camp” kept saying that the “Right of Return” was a bargaining chip that would be traded in return from something big, like Israeli capitulation in Jerusalem and that Arafat’s constant reference to it in his speeches after Oslo was mere posturing. At Camp David it finally dawned on the “Peace Camp” that the Arabs would not give it up and it was not simply a “negotiating card”. Thus, Yossi Beilin and others in the “peace camp” now tell us that we should accept it, because the Arabs will not really insist on it being implemented, and that the Arabs are insisting on it merely because of “pride”…
    Thus, you see, “The Right of Return” is always going to be the deal-breaker and no Arab can give it up without being considered a traitor. If Arafat didn’t give it up (even though all the Leftist “experts” kept insisting that he would), no other Palestinian leader can. ”

    More ridiculous claptrap from Y. Ben David. There is absolutely no evidence that the right of return was a “deal-breaker” during the 2000-01 negotations. And at Taba they were explicitly negotating tangible limits on the number of Palestinian refugees allowed to return to Israel:

    http://www.thejerusalemfund.org/www.thejerusalemfund.org/carryover/pubs/20020225ftr.html

  36. Mr. Ben-David,
    Everyone is in basic agreement that Arafat didn’t want a settlement at Camp David. This was possibly because of pressure from Hamas and Islamic Jihad. It is interesting that the issue that he broke up the negotiations over was Jerusalem and the Temple Mount not the right of return. I assume this is because he figured that he would receive more backing in the Muslim world over this issue than over the right of return.

    For years critics told David Trimble that the IRA would never agree to disarm. Trimble insisted on it and the IRA finally started disarming in Oct 2001 and finished in Sep 2005. If no one had insisted on this it would not have occurred.

  37. The IRA were/are pariahs among their own. Very different relationship with the population than Palestinians & Hamas.

    Which may or may not have contributed to their willingness to disarm.

    Also take note they had no real representation in parliament until they shed the guns & warfare.

    When I visited Ireland years ago, I couldn’t believe the venom that came out of people’s mouth about them. I grew up on romantic Irish-American notions about the IRA. In fact, the Irish were irked at Irish Americans for keeping them armed.

    They had to stop terrorist activities before would give them the time of day.

  38. Whew, the intelligence of the comments section seems to have declined since I left.

    What can be done to remedy this?

    Maybe someone can explain to Suzanne that Ireland and Northern Ireland are different places.

    And then maybe somebody else can read some of Aaron David Miller’s statements on Camp David for Tom “WWII didn’t kill enough gentiles” Mitchell.

    That would be a start.

  39. I have relatives just south of the northern border. I crossed over into the North. Ever hear of Enniskillen, MM?

    From what I recall neither the IRA nor their Proddy counterparts were much loved in the North either. They were viewed as thugs who lost their moral compass. Feel free to dispute that.

  40. Sure Suzy, I have direct family on the side of the border that matters, and neither they nor any of their neighbors really appreciate being part of the United Kingdom, to this very day. As usual you’re missing the forest for the trees.

    But truthfully I’d much rather you all (I’m leaving again) stayed on the topic, Dishonest Apologia for Israel’s 60 Years of Human Rights Violations.

  41. Irish Roman Catholics often have a twisted pathology towards Jews–and can be kind of racist in general…although that’s changing as the country modernizes.

    So if you want to put MM’s crazy rants into context…there ya go. 🙂

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