Barak’s Vision Offers Scant Hope

Some interesting things happening in the background of the launch of the direct talks today…

JTA is reporting that Benjamin Netanyahu is prepared to recognize the Palestinian claim to the land alongside the Jewish one.


That’s JTA’s headline, anyway. The article itself indicates something rather different. It cites Bibi’s speech today, where he said “…we recognize that another people share this land with us. And I came here to find an historic compromise that will enable both peoples to live in peace, security and dignity.”

That’s recognizing the simple reality that the Palestinians are there, not the legitimacy of their claim to the land.

Still, this certainly does strike a far more conciliatory tone than Bibi has in the past. It might reflect the effect of American pressure, and if it does, that gives pro-peace activists both in Israel and the Diaspora something to work toward.

That’s the positive spin. The negative, of course, is that Bibi and his right-wing government is as intransigent as ever and is merely posturing so he can lay all blame for the failure of talks at the feet of the Palestinians. We can’t really know, but sometimes even such plans can be thwarted by active politics.

The other development of note was Ehud Barak getting his vision of a two-state solution reiterated in Ha’aretz. If, as he says, Bibi is willing to split Jerusalem along the lines he suggests, that could be a promising start to talks. Continue reading

Addendum: The Point is All Innocents Are Equal, Mr. President

I very much appreciate President Obama condemning yesterday’s murders of four settlers in the South Hebron Hills.

But that condemnation would be an awful lot more meaningful, to myself and to many others I’m sure, if we saw similar outrage in Washington when Israel killed over 700 Palestinian non-combatants in Operation Cast Lead. Or when a

Obama looking sad. But can he also shed tears for Arabs?

border policeman killed Bassem Abu Rahmeh by firing a gas cannister directly and intentionally at him. Or for any of the 100 Palestinians killed since the end of Operation Cast Lead (many of whom were killed as combatants, to be sure, but 32 of whom were not taking part in hostilities nor were counted as “targeted assassinations”).

Or even just raise some questions or concerns at least for Americans killed by Israeli forces or injured because they were exercising their right to protest as American Jews in Israel?

Where, Mr. President, is the outrage for them? You were right to condemn yesterday’s murders, but why does that outrage disappear when the victims are Palestinians or those who sympathize with them? How do you expect to be seen as an honest broker if you won’t even show equal sympathy to innocents of both sides? Doesn’t seem like much to ask.

Some Hope in DC For Mideast Peace Talks?

In my latest piece for, I try to find some hope in what still looks like a pretty hopeless new round of direct talks. I’ll be posting later on some statements from the same guy that have the opposite effect.