Wednesday, November 11th, 2009
Like most other analysts, I’m still trying to figure out the real meaning of Monday’s Obama-Netanyahu tete a tete and the bizarre events leading up to it, including the fact the administration reportedly wouldn’t agree to a meeting until Obama was in the air.
In a Jewish Week story posted yesterday I cited the views of a number of analysts, but there are still a lot of unanswered questions.
Monday, November 2nd, 2009
If anybody has a clue what the Obama administration is really up to on the Israeli-Palestinian front, I wish they’d send me the memo.
Over the weekend pro-Israel groups here were crowing about Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s claim that Israeli offers on limiting settlement construction were “unprecedented.”
Monday, October 26th, 2009
Israeli ambassador Michael Oren may have brushed off J Street, which invited the new envoy to speak at their first national conference this week, but a lower-level official found time to talk to a group that takes even more critical positions when it comes to Israeli policy.
Less than a year into new administrations in Washington and Jerusalem, diplomatic relations between the United States and Israel are bleak, but not that bleak, Middle East experts in an academic conference here agreed this week.
The participants in “U.S.-Israel Relations: In the Era of Obama and Netanyahu,” held at the Schottenstein Cultural Center in Manhattan, said the continuing pressure on Israel by the Obama administration to halt the expansion of settlements in the Palestinian territories is not likely to improve the relations.
The Obama administration’s willingness to expand its involvement in the United Nations has not attracted strong criticism from pro-Israel groups, despite the longstanding belief that the international body is decidedly anti-Israel.
In recent days, Washington has signaled a new effort to try to effect change from within the UN and its agencies, and Jewish leaders here, though somewhat skeptical, seem prepared to give the administration some latitude.
The Obama administration is confident it will retain strong Jewish support even as it ratchets up the pressure on Israel and offers clues that, unlike its predecessors, it means what it says about the thorny issue of Jewish settlements on the West Bank.
While the pro-Israel establishment is already reacting angrily to the administration’s shifted red lines on settlements, many analysts say President Barack Obama’s ability to soften tough positions with pro-Israel reassurances will prevent a broad Jewish backlash.
Tamped-down rhetoric on Iran seen as “accommodation” with Obama’s new policy shift on Iran.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu dialed down his intense rhetoric about the threat posed by a nuclear Iran in his long-awaited public response to a tightening squeeze from the Obama administration on Sunday.
During an academic conference in Boston last month, Sasha Toperich, a multilingual native of Bosnia-Herzegovina, presented a speech on recent political developments in the Balkans.
That was appropriate — Toperich is a diplomat.
Toperich also gave a concert during the two-day conference.
That, too, was appropriate — he’s a concert pianist.
Tuesday, September 22nd, 2009
There’s been a lot of hype written about the Obama administration’s Middle East plans – everything from the claim the president is planning to impose a full-blown plan on the reluctant Israelis and Palestinians to the idea he’s been totally outfoxed by an Israeli Prime Minister much too sly for him.
Tuesday, September 1st, 2009
Doesn’t it seem like the ongoing negotiations over an Israeli settlement freeze, pressed by a U.S. president who says he wants to do things differently than his predecessors, are taking on a familiar Middle East business-as-usual quality?