Here's a recap in my own words:
- the Obama administration comes to power after closing its eyes on the Gaza war--the last lethal insult to Arabs of a Bush administration which has never lost an opportunity to ask for more bloodshed.
- soon thereafter, with very hopeful statements of intent by Obama, a new diplomatic initiative is launched for a resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
- the first step, according to the White House, is a "freeze" on Israeli settlements (aka illegal construction of cities on land conquered from the Palestinians).
(1) You cannot "freeze" settlements: people make babies and more babies demand more space ultimately. So, a freeze has no long term viability.
(2) The problem is that the settlements are illegal, are a form of conquest and dispossession, make the life of Palestinians hell, and their ultimate logic is the elimination of Arabs from the land. Transfer is preferred today. Massacre will be acceptable tomorrow. (See Gaza December 2008 pilot study.) [On this, see an old post of mine. And this one. Why not this one?]
So, freezing the settlements would achieve nothing, and making this the topic of negotiation ensures that time is wasted talking about nothing of significance. In the meantime, houses are demolished, occupation is not challenged, and new outposts and settlements are built.
So, now what happened after that?
- As planned negotiations have dragged for months, and as stated above they've dragged about nothing of substance or consequence.
- Finally, after Secretary of State Clinton's visit to Israel, the Netanyahu government essentially said that 'well, maybe, if possible, if the creek don't rise, in some cases, it could be considered to curb the settlement expansion, we'll think about it, don't call us we'll call you.'
- Clinton immediately had to talk to the media and say that Israel was making "unprecedented" efforts.
- Now she caught a little heat from Arab governments, and she's jumping through some diplomatic hoops, saying the Obama policy (inconsequential as it is) has not changed, she's even blessed the Palestinian West Bank leadership with also saying they did something "unprecedented" - so there! Everyone is unprecedented - no more complaining!
To the newspapers and TV channels who essentially comment on each others comments, this passes for news. To the American elector who reads local news, this is a page 10 paragraph with words like Clinton and Arab in the same sentence--certainly of low interest--but the note that Israel (yet again) is doing something "unprecedented", so let's hope those ungrateful Palestinians stop complaining for awhile. To the Israeli settler on the hills of Hebron, it's a sign that the expulsion of Arabs must accelerate before "they" all turn against the Jewish manifest destiny of conquest of Erez Yisrael. (Why is it a sign? Because everything is a sign once you have a manifest destiny.) And to the Palestinians, it's just one among a millions times that the West -- yesterday the Brits, today the US, with stellar irrelevancy of the Europeans and marginal contribution of the UN -- just beats around the bush while history is being written violently on the ground.
To the Arab League, Clinton's verbal sucking up might actually be considered as a victory -- after all, no one treats the Palestinians worse than the Egyptians do. (Ok - maybe I exaggerate, maybe on bad days the Israelis do worse than the Egyptians, but not necessarily on their good days.)
So, maybe Mr Obama has a long term hyper-strategic vision and I'm missing it. After all, you can't push for change and be re-elected president of the US. Bush Sr sort of proved that in a way.
Mrs Clinton's commitment to the hard-liners in Israel is nothing new. Perhaps Obama is using her to stay this side of politically-correct on Israel during his first term. Perhaps. From an electoral politics perspective, maybe it makes sense.
But people live, die, revolt, lose their minds or find new hope based on a reality not dictated by the US electoral calendar.
What dictates their reality is called this little thing: "facts on the ground." And faced with these facts, Mrs Clinton's verbiage is fully irrelevant today.