So why was Romney nicer to Bob Schieffer than he was to Candy Crowley? No talking over the moderator tonight, no efforts to steam-roll everyone in earshot? The worst we got was lots of wandering, seemingly pointless, but, I have to admit, very high-speed yammering.
Could Romney’s earlier behavior been been due to the fact that Crowley’s a woman? In my past life in management, I encountered lots of men who consistently tried to talk over female colleagues, and Romney seems to be the type. It was great watching Crowley shoot him down.
But, but, you stammer, he was just as rude to Jim Lehrer, another white male. But, of course, Lehrer is a retired (hence, non-threatening) broadcaster from PBS which Romney’s supporters revile as the lair of the liberal media they fantasize about interminably. Wipe the floor with Lehrer, they all cheer.
Speculation aside, I’m guessing Romney’s gentle stammering and pleading glances were simply an awkward effort to steal himself some undecided or wavering voters, particularly women. There are some indications that the mutual aggression on display in the last debate wasn’t going over well with that particular group. Too bad most of us are just as turned off by would-be leaders who give the impression they’re cringing in the corner while daddy tells them to take a time out and promise not to ever, ever fib again.
Mitt Romney (r): Our Navy is smaller now than anytime since 1917. The Navy said they need 313 ships to carry out their mission. We are now down to 285. We are headed to the low 200’s if we go through a Sequestration that is unacceptable to me. I want to make sure we have the ships required by our Navy. Our Air Force is older and smaller than anytime since it was founded in 1947. We have changed for the first time since FDR. Since FDR we have always had the strategy of saying we can fight in two conflicts at once. Now we’re changing to one conflict. Look, this in my view is the highest responsibility of the President of the United States which is to maintain the safety of the American people, and I will not cut our military budget by a trillion dollars, which is the combination of the budget cuts the President has as well as the sequestration cuts. That in my view is making our future less certain and less secure.
American defense procurement policy by talking point for idiots.
President Obama’s response:
President Obama (D): ….It [sequestration] will not happen. The budget that we’re talking about is not reducing our military spending it’s maintaining it, but, eh, I think Governor Romney maybe, uh, hasn’t spent enough time looking at how our military works. You, you mention the Navy, for example, and that we have fewer ships than we did in nineteen sixteen. Well, Governor, we also have fewer horses and bayonets [audience noise] because the nature of our military has changed. We have these things called aircraft carriers where planes land on them [audience noise], we have these ships that go under water, nuclear submarines, and so the question is not, uh, a game of battleship where we’re counting ships, it’s, it’s what are our capabilities. And so when I sit down with the Secretary of the Navy and the Joint Chiefs of Staff we determine how are we going to be best able to meet all of our defense needs in a way that also keeps faith with our troops, that also makes sure that our veterans have, uh, the kind of support that they need when they come home, and that is not reflected in the kind of budget that you’re putting forward because it just doesn’t work. [Moderator: “All right.”] And, you know, we visited the web site quite a bit, and it still doesn’t work.
Bob Schieffer: A lot to cover. I’d like [audience noise], I’d like to move to the, uh, next segment. Red lines. Israel and Iran. Would either of you, and you’ll have two minutes….
If Roy Blunt is notable for anything it’s for coming up from the rear and jumping on tottering GOP bandwagons. You could say that he likes to “lead from the back,” not in the diplomatic sense used by the Obama administration, but rather in the sense that it’s always safer to be in the rearguard, and since the targets have already been well-defined by others, there’s no need to do any thinking before taking potshots.
This approach shows in a recent National Journalpiece Blunt put his name to. In it he perpetuates the whole litany of obfuscations and general silliness that has characterized GOP efforts to make political hay out of the Benghazi incident. Blunt’s thesis:
Having misled Americans for weeks about the September 11 attacks in Libya, the Obama administration is now attempting to mislead us about how it misled us.
Blunt’s evidence for this accusation regurgitate conjectural allegations shopped by his GOP colleagues to a compliant, sensation-hungry media in order to misdirect public attention from the complexities of the situation in the Middle East, and manufacture politically advantageous doubt about Obama’s foreign policy chops, one of his strengths, prior to the election.
Blunt voices the requisite if meaningless worries about when the President used the word “terrorism” or a relevant derivative. He references the efforts of GOPers to leverage who said what when into evidence of deception, and he crows that Joe Biden gave the game away when he said that the White House wasn’t told that there had been requests for increased security from Libyan embassy personnel. All of which, when examined closely, amount to much ado about nothing.
David Ignatius reports today in the Washington Post that newly available documents indicate the evolving nature of the administration’s statements reflected the emerging intelligence, and that, contrary to Republican claims, initial statements by U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice accurately conveyed information supplied by the CIA:
“Talking points” prepared by the CIA on Sept. 15, the same day that Rice taped three television appearances, support her description of the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. Consulate as a reaction to Arab anger about an anti-Muslim video prepared in the United States
The CIA documents also indicate that the conclusions were tentative and subject to change, which fact was reflected in subsequent administration statements.
As Kevin Drum observes after detailing a timeline based on the latest reports:
It’s true that it took about ten days for all this to really shake out, but let’s be honest: ten days isn’t all that long to figure out what really happened during a violent and chaotic attack halfway around the world. I get that it’s a nice opportunity for Republicans to score some political points in the runup to an election, but really, there’s not much there there.
The silliest aspect of Blunt’s opus is his inclusion of the twaddle about when the president actually uttered the word “terrorism.” In fact, as a report in today’s Los Angeles Times makes clear, there seems to have been no Al Queda involvement, contrary to GOP assumptions, and many participants do seem to have been acting spontaneously, some referring, according to witnesses, to the video. It was, as investigators have concluded, a very confusing, decidedly hybrid situation.
The President, nevertheless, appropriately labeled the attack an act of terror when he first addressed it in his Rose Garden statement – which fact was verified publicly in last week’s debate – and in several immediately subsequent statements. Old Roy and his pals were just trying to capitalize on the fact that our President always speaks carefully, especially when confronted by a situation in which the facts are not altogether clear.
As for the request for increased security, it seems to be generally acknowledged that such requests would not have been pushed up the chain to the President or Vice-President. And why would they? Embassy staffing is a State Department personnel issue. Further, as Drum puts it:
… increased security probably wouldn’t have changed anything. As the New York Times reported a couple of weeks ago, “The requests were denied, but they were largely focused on extending the tours of security guards at the American Embassy in Tripoli – not at the diplomatic compound in Benghazi, 400 miles away.”
So just where is Blunt leading us with this string of tired and empty accusations? To signal his intent he falls back on another absurd GOP meme, which has it that the President is so uninvolved that he doesn’t attend his daily security briefings. Blunt clearly implies that this negligence led to the Benghazi incident. No matter that the claim has been well-refuted:
While his predecessor might have preferred an oral daily briefing, Obama religiously reads a written version of the same prepared material, often on a secure iPad (as seen in this official White House PHOTO). He often receives an in-person briefing in addition, aides note, as well as real-time national security updates during the day, both in the office and on the road.
What Blunt is trying to do is clear. What is not clear is how he gets from this collection of exaggerations, misapprehensions, outright falsifications and slander to the statement that the President’s foreign policy is “unraveling.” I do understand, though, why he had to include it. Both Ryan and Romney repeat it ad nauseum and the GOP have all subscribed to the theory of rhetorical persuasion that holds that repetition should be employed like a sledge hammer.
Last I heard, foreign policy is difficult under the best of circumstances. How it is conducted is important to all of us. Consequently, wouldn’t it behoove a putative public servant like Senator Blunt to refrain from using it as a political football? And if he just has to do it, couldn’t he for once try to say something of substance in the process? There might actually be some real insights that a dedicated but loyal opposition – something we haven’t seen in a long, long time – could offer. I get so tired of the same old lies all the time.
Mitt Romney announced today the support of Ambassador John R. Bolton.
“I am honored to have John’s support,” said Mitt Romney. “John has been a staunch defender of U.S. interests and values, both while he was in and out of government. John’s wisdom, clarity, and courage are qualities that should typify our foreign policy. I look forward to consulting with him as we campaign to restore America’s standing abroad and ensure that this century is an American Century.”
“Of all the candidates, Mitt Romney possesses the strongest vision for America’s leadership role in the world, and I am proud to endorse him,” Ambassador Bolton said. “President Obama has sapped America’s credibility abroad, weakened our military and failed to lead on issues vital to U.S. national security. President Obama has left America exposed to ever increasing threats. Mitt Romney will restore our military, repair relations with our closest allies, and ensure that no adversary-including Iran-ever questions American resolve.”
Background on Ambassador John R. Bolton
John R. Bolton was the U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations from August 2005 to December 2006. From 2001 to 2005, he was Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security. Ambassador Bolton also served in the George H.W. Bush Administration as Assistant Secretary for International Organization Affairs, and in the Reagan Administration as Assistant Attorney General at the Department of Justice and General Counsel at USAID. He is currently a Senior Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and Of Counsel at the law firm of Kirkland & Ellis.
For those of you who haven’t been paying attention, this is what they want to do when they return to power:
….Ambassador John Bolton: Uh, but let’s, let’s follow the North Korean threat back into the Middle East. I mentioned Iran a moment ago. We will find out, I am certain, that that reactor the North Koreans were building in Syria, uh, was actually financed by Iran. And it was probably a three way joint venture, because after all, Iran has the same incentive that North Korea does to hide its nuclear weapons program from, uh, international inspection. Now Iran is a very different country than North Korea. It has enormous reserves of oil and natural gas. It has an ancient culture. Uh, it has a high degree, uh, of education for its citizens. It’s a very sophisticated country, even under the rule of the Islamic revolution of nineteen seventy-nine. And Iran, uh, sees itself as a major player, uh, in the Middle East, uh, within the struggle inside of Islam for dominance. And it aspires to be, uh, a global power. That’s one reason why its pursuit of nuclear weapons, in many respects, uh, is even more dangerous than North Korea’s, because Iran is not dependent, uh, on the outside world, in the case of North Korea, dependent on China. Iran could be uh, completely self sufficient and indeed is a major international supplier of oil and natural gas.
But Iran is also in the grip, uh, of a, uh, of its own form of totalitarianism, in this case, religious fanaticism that has over the past several years moved into a kind of military theocracy. The real power in Iran today is held by the Revolutionary Guards which are controlled by, uh, by military officials loyal to, uh, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Now, we are almost exactly today, uh, on the fifteenth of June, one year after the election in Iran last year held on June twelfth that was quite obviously stolen by Ahmadinejad. And you’ll remember the pictures of the demonstrators in Tehran and other Iranian cities going out into the streets to protest the fraud that was, uh, was so evident. And, you know, when the, when the, when the people who went out, students, middle class people, uh, all over the country, uh, they didn’t begin their protest by, uh, calling for the overthrow of the regime itself, although the regime is very unpopular. They just thought, uh, that they ought to have a free and fair election. The regime’s response was to bring the Revolutionary Guards and their militia allies, the Basiji, into the streets, uh, resulting in, uh, hundreds and hundreds of deaths of, uh, innocent civilians, students, uh, uh, shop owners, uh, regular people who had probably never demonstrated in their lives. This was the real face of the regime in Iran. It is a dictatorship. It is essentially today a military dictatorship. Uh, and so effective was it in crushing the opposition, uh, that this past weekend on the first anniversary of that fraudulent election, uh, there were almost demonstrations at all. And that reflects the unfortunate reality that the Revolutionary Guard’s power in Iran is even more entrenched then it was before, and reflects also their growing confidence that their pursuit of nuclear weapons is getting closer and closer to success.
What will this mean when Iran gets nuclear weapons? Well, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the president, has himself, uh, announced that it’s his desire to wipe the State of Israel off the face of earth. Uh, he has held conferences in Iran with names like “The World Without the United States and Israel.” So, he’s made his intentions pretty clear. Uh, but even if Iran doesn’t use nuclear weapons against Israel, simple having nuclear weapons will exert a profound change on the balance of power, uh, in the Middle East. Uh, and if you don’t like the price of gasoline at what it is today, imagine Iran with hegemonic control, not only over its own oil and natural gas supplies, but exerting effective control over the supplies just across the Persian Gulf, in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, and Oman. That kind of power, uh, in the hands of this theocratic dictatorship in Iran could have a profoundly disturbing consequence for the American economy and the economy of Western Europe and, and the world as a whole. Moreover, if Iran gets nuclear weapons, and I think it’s very close to that point, uh, I don’t think we can count on being able to contain and deter Iran as we did the Soviet Union during the cold war. I think the calculus of the Mullahs, the Ayatollahs in Iran, is very different. Say what you want about the Communists, they were atheists, and they thought they only went around once in life. They weren’t about to throw that away too quickly. But if you believe, uh, as the Ayatollahs do, that life in the hereafter is a lot better than life on Earth, it’s pretty hard to deter somebody, uh, with that kind of approach. I like to think the American view, uh, is summed up in the, uh, Kenny Chesn
ey song, uh, “Everybody want to go to Heaven, nobody want to go now.” That’s how deterrence works for us. It doesn’t work that way with the Iranians. But, even if I’m wrong on that, and Iran could be contained and deterred, it doesn’t stop with, uh, their achieving nuclear weapons status.
Other countries in the region will respond. Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Turkey, and perhaps others will get nuclear weapons. So, in a very short period of time, five to ten years, you could have a multi-polar nuclear Middle East which almost guarantees, uh, because of the instability that’s the consequence of that, uh, display of nuclear weapons, uh, almost guarantees that somebody will decide to strike one of their neighbors before their neighbors decide to strike them. And that level of uncertainty and risk, uh, will no doubt have profound consequences, uh, for the global price of oil and other natural resources.
Moreover, the lesson that others will draw when they see that the United States is not able to stop North Korea’s nuclear program, when they see that Iran, despite U.S. sanctions, despite four, uh, sanction resolutions in the U.N. Security Council, despite sanctions by the European Union and Japan, still Iran is able to achieve nuclear weapons status. That will prove to every other would be proliferator, uh, that if they’re simply determined enough they too can obtain nuclear weapons. Uh, and that will inspire the terrorists groups, too, Al Qaeda and Taliban and others. So that the risk that we see here is a world that, despite the end of the cold war, doesn’t become more stable and more peaceful, uh, it becomes at greater risk because the threat of a terrorist with a nuclear weapon or a biological or a chemical weapon is far worse, even than the threat from terrorists, uh, who brought the attacks of nine eleven….
….Question: …Tonight during your discussion you were talking about Iran’s developing nuclear program. I was wondering what the U.N. or the U.S. would do, um, to intervene when the, um, the, Iran’s, um, threatening Israel, um, Israel’s sovereignty? And do you think it would make a difference if Mousavi got elected in the past Iranian, um, election because most of the power lies within the theocracy and, aya, Ayatollah Khamani?
Ambassador Bolton: Well, I, I don’t, I don’t think the election fundamentally would have changed very much. But I think that the fraud that was, uh, so visible in last year’s election, uh, actually helped demonstrate to a lot of Iranians just how, uh, illegitimate, uh, the Islamic Revolution nineteen seventy-nine has become. I think it’s a very unpopular government in many respects. And I wish the United States, both during the Bush administration and the Obama administration, had done more to supply the opposition with support so that when that fraudulent election had occurred, if we had really given them the resources we might have had an opportunity to see the regime overthrown. Uh, that didn’t happen, we didn’t give them adequate support, either in two thousand nine or in the years preceding that. Uh, and so that opportunity has slipped away and I think it will be quite some time before it comes back. The fact is that, uh, because we have engaged in, uh, now nearly eight years of diplomacy with Iran they have used that time to overcome essentially all of the complex scientific and technological obstacles that stand in the way of a nuclear weapons program. They’re very close to having a weapons capability, it’s really a matter for them when they decide they’re gonna do it. Uh, the diplomacy has failed, the sanctions have failed, uh, so I think today, uh, there are really only, uh, two options facing us with respect to Iran’s nuclear weapons. One is, and this is the most likely option, that indeed they do get nuclear weapons and we’ve got to deal with the consequences of a nuclear Iran. The only thing that will stop that is the second option, which is that some outside power uses preemptive force to strike against the nuclear weapons program, uh, and destroy as much of it as, uh, might be possible, thus setting Iran back, two, three, four, maybe more years. That that is in itself not a complete solution to the problem, but two to four years in, in this business is nearly infinity. I think there’s no chance that the Obama administration will use force. I once thought there was a chance that President Bush would use force. That obviously didn’t happen. I’m not even holding my breath on this administration. Which means that the choice, it’s a very [applause], it’s a very, it’s a very unpleasant choice for Israel, is between seeing Iran get nuclear weapons and taking preemptive action. Uh, military force here is a very unattractive, uh, outcome. It’s very risky, uh, there could be enormous, uh, potential consequences, uh, but in Israel’s case, uh, nuclear weapons in the hands of Iran, uh, could bring, uh, a second Holocaust, this time a, a nuclear holocaust. And, uh, I don’t think that’s something that they want to wait and find out about. When Israel has faced, uh, a potential nuclear threat in the past it has not hesitated to act, uh, preemptively. It destroyed, uh, Saddam Hussein’s Osirak reactor outside of Baghdad in nineteen eighty-one, as I mentioned a few moments ago it destroyed the North Korean reactor in Syria, uh, in September two thousand seven. Uh, so given, given the alternative of a nuclear Iran I think the military option is very much on the table for the Israelis. I don’t know what they’re gonna do but I don’t think they have much time. Both because, uh, that Iran is increasingly close to actually having a nuclear weapons capability and because, uh, at, at some point the Russians may yet deliver the, uh, what we call the S three hundred air defense system, a very sophisticated air defense system that Israel couldn’t penetrate, uh, which would effectively eliminate the Israeli military option. So, I think we’re very close to a decision by Israel and, uh, and the consequences that will, that will, that will flow from that. [applause]….
(CNN) – On the eve of his foreign policy speech at The Citadel in South Carolina, former Massachusetts Gov. and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney announced selections for his foreign policy and national security team….
….Romney’s 22-member team of special advisers also includes former Minnesota Sen. Norm Coleman and former Missouri Sen. Jim Talent….
Washington D.C. — Answering the need for a more balanced and future-focused approach concerning US, Israeli and Arab relations, J Street has just completed its inaugural conference in Washington with more than 1500 in attendance (Oct. 25-28).
Speaking on behalf of President Obama, National Security Advisor General James Jones addressed the conference and congratulated its success, promising,
“…you can be sure that this Administration will be represented at all other future J Street conferences.”
The event marks a turning point in American-Israeli advocacy – J Street has arrived and is here to stay.
Unbridled enthusiasm was evidenced throughout the three day conference by the larger than expected turnout with standing-room only workshops, torrential networking and a sold-out gala featuring a video endorsement from Jordan’s King Abdullah and an impressive hosting committee of 148 members of Congress.
J Street emerges as an amalgamation of Jewish American progressive groups and voices – by far the largest in US history – into one effective political lobbying force with singular purpose; compelling American leadership into a more active and penetrating diplomatic role helping to peacefully resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. On Wednesday, 700 J Street activists championed the “pro-Israel and pro-peace” message on Capitol Hill with meetings held in 210 out of the total 535 Congressional offices.
Many may wonder: why the need for another American-Israeli political action committee?
The basic story I gleaned from the conference is that J Street fills an important vacuum in representing views of a majority of American Jews that are not being heard in Washington today. A recent J Street poll found 84% of American Jews supported the US playing an “active role” in the peace process, with downward steps at 81%, if including pressuring Israelis and Palestinians, and down to 66%, if incorporating public criticism in the process.
These views have not been capably represented by AIPAC (the original Israel American lobby formed in 1953), which favors a more hawkish position on Israeli security issues and sidelines American involvement when it comes to any peace negotiations with Palestinians.
But here’s the problem. Many experts – both American and Israeli – see the perpetuation of the conflict as being an existential threat to the survival of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state. Their warning? If real movement doesn’t happen soon on the two-state front, it may be too late.
“Pro-Israel organizations know that the creation and support of a Jewish and democratic state is the central value of Zionism, indeed, it is the very reason Zionism came into being – and absent a two-state solution, there will be no such thing.”
This existential threat was hammered time and again throughout the conference by a lengthy roster of individuals sporting unassailable pro-Israel credentials. For years now, AIPAC leadership has ignored these valid security concerns justifying J Street’s emergence as a new and necessary pro-Israel voice on Capitol Hill.
Haim Ramon, 26-year Knesset Member and former Israeli Vice-Prime Minister, echoed the need for immediate action,
“If we will not reach a solution based on a two-state solution, then – and “then” will be very soon – it will be a one-state solution and that means the end of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state.”
The key concept to unpack J Street, is in re-defining just what it means to be “pro-Israel”. In other words, if Israel is on a self-destructive path, well, friends don’t let friends drive drunk, do they? In this, J Street sees the role of pressing US intervention as very pro-Israel and pro-American.
Among the bullet points:
1. There is a limited “window of opportunity” to achieve a two-state solution in which a viable, sovereign and democratic Palestine lives side-by-side with Israel.
2. Clock is ticking out due to domestic demographic realities and international political pressure. The increasing growth of inflexible nationalist attitudes and unyielding religious fundamentalism on all sides of the conflict – combined with a global crescendo calling for an end to human rights abuses – has put the status quo on an untenable tract.
3. Either a two-state solution will be achieved, or a de facto one-state solution will be imposed as the only remaining option.
4. The one-state solution sees Israel losing her Jewish majority and risking the loss of political control of the “Jewish homeland”.
Reassessing what it means to be “pro-Israel” – especially from an American Zionist point of view – rests in the fact that it is no longer 1948 or 1967, it is 2009. The realities on the ground have changed; the old ways and old thinking do not work anymore.
Having experience with Israeli politics and various efforts towards conflict resolution in the Middle East, I understand these new realities and have seen firsthand the tragic consequences of paralyzed leadership and know that time is running out.
On Wednesday, I took part in sharing this message on Capitol Hill to the offices of Senators McCaskill (D-MO), Boxer (D-CA) and Feinstein (D-CA) and spoke personally with Rep. Russ Carnahan (D-MO2) who had met with another J Street team earlier that day.
There is a moral obligation and a strategic necessity to press into a more active role in achieving an acceptable two-state settlement – standing on the sidelines is no longer in the National Security interests of the United States. Coupled with the unequivocal guarantee of Israel’s safety and security, we must prioritize moving past the stumbling blocks that have derailed previous efforts. This means all sides must make hard sacrifices and give up their romantic and excessive nationalist notions.
A resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is in the strategic interests of the US:
1. Nuanced strategy can be just as effective as hardline policy. For example, pulling back the defense missile plan in Eastern Europe in favor of ship-based systems has positively impacted US-Russian relations and helped to garner support in dealing with Iranian nuclear ambitions, a deepening national security concern of Israel and the US. The wide-ranging effects of a peace settlement will contribute to building an international consensus in regard to Iran, and pave the way for an eventual nuclear-free zone in the Middle East.
2. Human rights abuses and violence on both sides of conflict are a destabilizing factor, which has negative repercussions on continuing US operations in the Middle East and Near East. The two-state solution would be a stabilizing influence and begin to neutralize criticism of the US and Israel consequently weakening the message of our detractors.
3. Continued occupation of Palestin
ian territories with US support is a hot-button topic among Muslims; a peaceful resolution to the conflict would help rehabilitate our image in the Islamic world and normalization of Israeli relations with her Arab neighbors would further economic interdependency between Israel and her neighbors, and between the region and the world.
Economist and past editor of the Harvard Business Review Bernard Avishai framed the two poles in American Israeli advocacy very clearly as being a case of old versus the new.
He prefaced by explaining how around fifteen years ago NY Times columnist Thomas Friedman began talking about Israelis and Palestinians planning for “divorce“… ironically, in refuting Friedman, Mr. Avishai struck a very Friedman-esque note,
“Palestine and Israel together will be nodes in a global network, and they will be nodes in a regional network, and what we need to start talking about is integration. If you start ticking off all the jurisdictions that states have for the purpose of creating an economy — telecommunications bandwidth, water resources, currency, labor migration, airspace, health care and disease control, roads and bridges, also defense — there’s no jurisdiction that the State of Israel is going to be able to exercise in the future without a very deep cooperation with the Palestinian State and Jordan…
…obviously, both sides are trying to preserve the poignancy of the national (and) cultural life, and are trying to preserve the distinction through political apparatus; obviously that’s the reason for a two-state solution when all other reasons fall away.
But a two-state solution is really a three-state solution (common-market with Jordan) — it’s really a twenty-state solution, because it means developing a relationship with the countries of the Mediterranean through a Sarkozy-like European Union — we have to begin to understand that Israel is not a nation that dwells alone.”
Finally, from a moral and spiritual perspective, it is incumbent upon the United States to help stop the human suffering on all sides due to an impasse for which we are at least partially responsible. Israelis and Palestinians are both traumatized in different ways and feel like their backs are up against the wall. President Obama has a unique capacity to offer a hopeful vision that transcends the wreckage of the past, like his speech in Philadelphia on race relations or in Cairo. The hope of a new day in the lives of Israelis and Palestinians is now needed more than ever.
Ami Ayalon, past Knesset member, retired Israeli Admiral and former head of Shin Bet (Israeli FBI), gave hope to stakeholders frustrated by the continuing conflict. He said civic and advocacy groups have more impact on Israeli national security and foreign policy than the Foreign Affairs committee of the Israeli Knesset, which he had served on. The message being, J Street is in a place of real influence.
Having experts like Ayalon speak to Americans on the necessity for a negotiated breakthrough for the sake of Israel’s survival will do much for building the political momentum required to move this mountain. President Obama needs to address the Israelis personally, leading with his heart and the sound motives of security, safety and human rights for all. If the ground is prepared thoroughly by Special Envoy George Mitchell and the successful influence of groups like J Street, the path may indeed be freed of past obstacles to peace, leading to the dawn of a new day, a new state of Palestine and a new sense of Zionism, securing Eretz Israel for generations to come.