Support for Israel Has Become a Partisan Issue in the United States

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks with Republican House speaker John Boehner in Washington DC, March 3, 2015
Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks with Republican House speaker John Boehner in Washington DC, March 3, 2015 (Caleb Smith)

I wasn’t expecting this to happen so soon.

Last month, I admonished the Israeli right to stop hectoring President Barack Obama and the Democrats lest they politicize support for the Jewish state in the United States.

Turns out, they already have.

The Pew Research Center found that Democrats are now nearly as likely to sympathize with the Palestinians as they do with Israel. Read more

Israeli Right Jeopardizes Alliance by Hectoring Obama

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and American president Barack Obama speak at the former's residence in Jerusalem, March 20, 2013
Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and American president Barack Obama speak at the former’s residence in Jerusalem, March 20, 2013 (White House/Pete Souza)

With less than a month left in his presidency, Barack Obama has managed to infuriate the Israeli right by hardening America’s stance on the construction of West Bank settlements.

Whatever the merits of their quarrel with the American president, though — and there are leftwingers in Israel and Jewish supporters of Obama in the United States who are disappointed as well — the over-the-top reaction from the Israeli right is unjustified and, more importantly, ill-advised. Read more

The Trouble with Electing an Outsider

Businessman Donald Trump appears at the Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Maryland, February 27, 2015
Businessman Donald Trump appears at the Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Maryland, February 27, 2015 (Gage Skidmore)

What made Donald Trump seek the presidency?

A bit of armchair psychology is required to answer that question. Based on the way way he conducts himself and the many profiles I’ve read about the man, I think it’s safe to say that a powerful motivator was his desire to prove himself. Read more

Why Netanyahu Brought Lieberman In from the Cold

John Baird and Avigdor Lieberman, then the foreign ministers of Canada and Israel, sign documents in Jerusalem, January 18, 2015
John Baird and Avigdor Lieberman, then the foreign ministers of Canada and Israel, sign documents in Jerusalem, January 18, 2015 (GAC)

It looks certain now that Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu will draw Avigdor Lieberman and his nationalist Yisrael Beiteinu party into the ruling coalition, expanding his parliamentary majority by five seats. Lieberman, a hawk and former foreign minister, would become defense minister in the new arrangement, replacing Moshe Ya’alon.

The news comes after speculation that Netanyahu was working out a deal with Labor’s Isaac Herzog instead.

I talked about this surprising development today with the Atlantic Sentinel‘s man in Tel Aviv, Ariel Reichard. Read more

Hamas Celebrates Stabbings, Shootings Across Israel

View of the old city of Jaffa from Tel Aviv, February 28, 2008
View of the old city of Jaffa from Tel Aviv, February 28, 2008 (Matas Petrikas)

The Palestinian militant group Hamas praised a series of attacks in Israel on Tuesday that wounded fourteen and left an American tourist dead.

“Hamas celebrates the martyrs that have ascended through these operations,” a spokesman for the organization said, “and confirms that their pure blood will, God willing, be the fuel for escalating the intifada.” Read more

Israel Unfreezes Relations with EU After Labeling Row

European Union foreign policy coordinator Federica Mogherini speaks with Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Berlin, Germany, October 22, 2015
European Union foreign policy coordinator Federica Mogherini speaks with Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Berlin, Germany, October 22, 2015 (EEAS)

Israel unfroze diplomatic relations with the European Union this weekend, having failed to persuade the bloc to revise its labeling rules for products imported from Jewish settlements on the West Bank.

Israel suspended talks with EU institutions about its relations with the Palestinians in November in response to a directive to member states to label goods made in settlements as such rather than “Made in Israel”.

Michael Koplow argues at his blog, Ottomans and Zionists, that conservative politicians in the country played up the suspension of talks as Israel using its power to change EU policy and ended up with nothing but more exasperated European counterparts.

“The bluster and rage turned out to be irrelevant at best and counterproductive at worst,” he writes. Read more

The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict Made Super

The West Bank barrier near Bethlehem, February 16, 2013
The West Bank barrier near Bethlehem, February 16, 2013 (hjl)

And here we go again.

Especially in the United States, Palestinian-Israeli violence always sucks up the headlines, siphoning valuable media and filling it with tried-and-true journalistic narratives that play to the myriad of biases that always come to the fore when discussing the Holy Land.

Evangelical Christians get their dose of Biblical chaos, hoping beyond hope that this time, the Rapture will follow this latest spasm of violence. Conservatives and neoconservatives find yet more ammunition against Islam, Islamism or, to the brute racists lurking among them, merely Arabs in general to fill the Facebook comments of every article that covers the attacks. Liberals dredge up well-worn tirades against colonization, colonialism, Western power and Israeli abuse.

Rather than sit this one out, I’ve decided to delve into the very basics of the conflict at risk, of course, of revealing my own bias (spoiler: I don’t care).

So let’s make this very popular-to-recycle conflict super. Read more