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Thursday, January 10, 2008

US election: Why they're not talking about Israel

Despite President Bush being here now, have any of you heard any of the candidates for President discussing Israel and the 'Palestinians' recently? I didn't think so. Here's an interesting take on why Israel's not a factor in the US elections right now (Hat Tip: Ashley in Tel Aviv):
After the first round of fury, Walt and Mearsheimer have published an Op-ed in today’s L.A. Times taking all the presidential candidates to task for not addressing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Why, they ask? Why do they avoid taking on Israel over its policies and why don’t they insist on dragging the two sides back to the dusty old bargaining table?

It’s the Israel lobby, stupid. Candidates are so scared, they say, of alienating the aforementioned special interest groups that they avoid the topic at all costs. Even candidates like Hillary Clinton and Barak Obama who were prescient in their calls for a two-state solution and who sympathized with the Palestinians, Walt and Mearsheimer write, have backed off into a strategic and lucrative silence.

This is a provocative point and one well worth discussing, and Leslie Gelb eloquently takes the duo on in the Toronto Star. I wonder, however, if Walt and Mearsheimer are missing a larger point. Unlike in 2006, foreign policy no longer seems to trouble the American voter as much as, oh, the dollar slipping down an oil slick of $100-a-barrel oil into the side of a foreclosed house now owned by the China Investment Corporation. The two scholars even quote Obama’s national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski saying, “The presidential candidates don’t see any payoff in addressing the Israel-Palestinian issue.” Maybe it’s not the Israel lobby that’s to blame for the lack of payoff, but that we have other things on our collective mind.
I'd actually like Israel to be a topic of discussion, because I'd like to see the closet anti-Semites flushed out now rather than in November.


At 10:00 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

I think because things are not likely to lead to any dramatic breakthroughs. Issues that have kept the sides at loggerheads for 60 years are not going to be resolved in the next year.

President Bush's visit to Israel drew only a small press contingent. No one expects the Palestinians to end the conflict any time soon. And life in the Middle East goes on.


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