Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Netanyahu Makes A Breakthrough - But Not The One He Wanted

In 10 or 15 years, I think we'll look back on March 3, 2015 and see it as a watershed moment in the domestic politics of American foreign policy.

Benjamin Netanyahu's campaign speech in front of the U.S. Congress will be looked back on as the point at which blind unquestioning support of Israeli policy began to become a liability in American domestic politics, rather than an asset.

A partisan split is already clear. Republicans, especially the Christian Conservative wing, are still following the Likud Party line. But within the Democratic Party, it's becoming an issue we can almost talk about. (Thanks to our own Dave Loebsack for skipping the speech today.)

Used to be, when I was even mildly critical of Israeli policy, I was beaten up hard.  Getting called a Nazi - no exaggeration, literally getting called a Nazi - intimidated me from writing about the subject for about five years.
But recently, I've been testing the waters. A comment here, a tweet there. 

Saying Hillary Clinton should be asked, "Name one major Middle East issue on which you disagree with AIPAC" should she ever demean herself to taking a nonscripted public question in Iowa. 

Noting the contradiction that apparently it's OK for Israel to have nukes, but not Iran. 

Posting the occasional link to the map of the original 1947 UN proposed partition of Palestine.

Using the word "Palestine."

Even a whole post critiquing DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz, in which here one-sidedness on the Middle East was a leg of its tripod construction.

And my tentative toe in the Celebrity Hot Tub has gotten more praise than criticism. It feels like a corner has been turned, a willingness to at last consider that there are two sides to the story.  Here's hoping we can keep honest discussion going into the presidential race.

Unfortunately, this election's dynamic won't help that. Only the Paul branch of the GOP is willing to reconsider the issue.  And Hillary Clinton, temperamentally and ideologically, is exactly the wrong candidate for this discussion.  (Also notable that her recent message-testing polls focused entirely on domestic economics, and did not touch foreign policy. Or, for that matter, social issues.)

My only hope is that as president, Clinton can do a Nixon Goes To China on the issue.

I've said there's one place I'd rather see Hillary Clinton than Iowa.  Now I'm going to name it.  That place is Palestine. 

And what I want to hear here say there is "Mister Netanyahu, tear down this wall."

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