James Besser's blog

Egypt, democracy and Richard Cohen

 I've read a lot of ominous words about the chaos in Egypt and the anti-Mubarak demonstrations that now look like they will end the 30-year reign of this democrat-in-name-only. But nothing comes close in grimness to Richard Cohen's column in today's Washington Post.

J Street apologizes to Ackerman, doesn't back off from UN resolution position

 J Street's spat with Rep. Gary Ackerman took another turn today when it apologized for its strong reaction to the New York Democrat's statement last repudiating the pro-peace process group.

But J Street isn't backing away from the statement that touched off the fracas in the first place – its request that the Obama administration consider not vetoing a pending UN resolution condemning Israeli settlement activity.

Huckabee in Jerusalem: will this help or hurt as he gears up for 2012?

Every U.S. administration since 1967 has opposed the expansion of Jewish settlements in the West Bank and Israeli building in eastern Jerusalem, but a likely GOP presidential contender in 2012 this week sent another strong signal that could change if he gets into the White House.

Lose-lose politics and policy on Egypt

 I have some sympathy for an Obama administration that seems paralyzed by indecision as Egyptians rise up in the streets against their corrupt, repressive regime; President Obama is paying the long-deferred price for decades of hypocritical policy.

But this administration is no more innocent than its predecessors; it, too, chose to proclaim the authoritarian Hosni Mubarak a critical ally in the Middle East, and mostly swallow concerns about his anti-democratic nature and his sorry human rights record in the interests of foreign policy realism.

Rand Paul and the Tea Party: A toxic mix for Israel aid?

 So Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky), a leading light of the Tea Party movement, wants to end all foreign aid – including Israel’s. Does that mean a crisis for Israel aid looms?

Probably not, although I'm sure the folks at AIPAC aren't taking that for granted.

Hyperbole about J Street

I don't know whether to laugh or cry at the response I'm hearing to my story  and my blog about J Street and the controversy over a UN resolution condemning Israeli settlement activity.

For starters:  talk about over-the-top Holocaust analogies – not that most Holocaust analogies aren't over the top.

Ackerman vs. J Street and the U.N. settlements flap

 What ticked off Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-NY) so much about J Street's position on a pending UN resolution slamming Israel's settlements policies that he decided to break ties with the pro-peace process group?

According to sources in the group, J Street “reluctantly” called on the Obama administration not to veto a pending UN resolution labeling Israel's settlements in both the West Bank and eastern Jerusalem “illegal” and condemning activities “aimed at altering the demographic composition, character and status of the territory.”

Israel's Iran credibility problem

Catching up on the Iran issue, my attention was snagged by a Ha'aretz report today that the new head of Israel's Military Intelligence says Iran could have nuclear weapons “within one or two years.”

Makovsky's maps

 The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a pro-Israel think tank, has unveiled detailed proposals for possible land swaps between Israel and the Palestinians.

A provocative look at Israel's psyche

 I missed this on Friday, but it's definitely worth a read.

Ha'aretz columnist Carlo Strenger speculates about why Israel, in his view, keeps electing leaders who shrink from compromise and reject “win-win” solutions to the region's conflicts.

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