The tectonic plates of power underneath the nation’s capital are radically shifting in the wake of the 2010 midterm elections. Everyone in Washington — from the White House to industry associations to public interest groups and more — is still assessing the fate of the issues they care about in light of the new lay of the land, and the Jewish community is no exception. The good news is, for many of the issues that we care about, the shift from one-party rule to divided government offers opportunities, albeit with challenges, too.
What is it about Joe Biden and East Jerusalem housing announcements?
The Israelis did it again on the eve of the Vice-President's meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and the results were as predictable as a Three Stooges script: the Israelis announced plans for more than 1300 new apartments (the bonk on Biden's head), the State Department reflexively emitted a shopworn protest (the poke in the eye), commentators commented (picture Curly woob-woob-woobing) and then everybody went about their business.
Since last week's story on the issue I've had a lot more conversations about the impact of tomorrow's election and likely GOP gains on the Obama administration's Middle East agenda. But talk doesn't necessarily lead to illumination.
Jewish hawks and doves are pretty much divided in parallel ways.
Question: what have the congressional election campaigns told us about the state of the debate over U.S. Middle East policy?
Answer: Nothing good.
The fierce, bitter midterm campaigns have demonstrated once again that a small but vocal minority in the Jewish community thinks only of partisan concerns – partisan support for a political faction in Israel, or for the Republican party in this country – and not much about the need to strengthen U.S.-Israel ties or to ensure support for Israel is a bi-partisan affair, not just another partisan wedge issue.
Republican wins could produce domestic gridlock, uncertainty for Obama peace plans.
James D. Besser
A big Republican victory on Nov. 2 could bring the Obama administration’s troubled domestic agenda to a dead stop — but it is unlikely to do the same for its faltering Middle East peace efforts, which some Israelis argue favor the Palestinians.
In fact, it could have the opposite result, said Kenneth Wald, a University of Florida political scientist and director of the school’s Center for Jewish Studies.
Think Washington is gridlocked today? Wait until January, when the new Congress takes over.
Bitterly polarized politics and an environment in which compromise is a four letter word promise even more paralysis when the next Congress convenes and President Obama starts the second half of his term with even more Capitol Hill tsuris.