New sanctions surge could lead to new dilemmas for groups that have banked on issue.
James D. Besser
Recent breakthroughs in the U.S.-led effort to squeeze Iran could change the political calculus for American Jewish groups that have benefited hugely from their decades-old focus on Iran — and which have largely succeeded in making Iran’s threat to both U.S. and Israeli interests a top policy for Congress and the White House.
On Thursday, a small "flotilla" of boats will make their way down the Hudson River and up the East River to the U.N. to call attention to the plight of Gilad Shalit, the Israeli soldier imprisoned by Hamas for what will soon be four years. What's the point, some people will ask. Is this the best way to help?
The Obama administration should probe whether the Turkish Humanitarian Relief Foundation — whose activists engaged in a violent clash with Israeli soldiers aboard a Gaza flotilla ship on May 31 — is tied to terrorist groups, 80 U.S. Senators said in a letter to the president this week.
Israel did what it was told, giving in on the blockade without getting anything back, not even a Red Cross visit for Shalit, so everyone can feel better about themselves -- particularly those leftist American Jews who have had such a hard time supporting Israel lately -- except Shalit and his family won't feel better about themselves, Shalit still is in his his fourth year of isolated suffering, getting nothing out of this.
We'll see how much pressure anyone keeps on Hamas to release Shalit. Everyone who wanted Israel to be "smart," well, this is what they asked for. Let's see how much the pro-Beinart bloggers will ever mention Shalit again. And now let's see if it works for Shalit or if this whole episode will be exposed as yet another scamming of Israel. The Palestinians see this for what it is, a sign that they can take even more chances -- with Israel increasingly being stripped of its right to self-defense.
International pressure causing some Israelis to question sanctions.
Tel Aviv—Amid heavy international pressure on the issue, domestic political support for Israel’s economic blockade of the Gaza Strip border passages has badly frayed.
Once confined largely to the Israeli left, criticism of a policy that banned basic goods such as fresh meat, margarine and plaster has spread to security hawks who acknowledge the closure is not serving its original policy goal of weakening Hamas. That may make it easier politically for the government to make concessions on a blockade that, until now, has enjoyed widespread popular support.
Re: “Israel’s Delegitimizers Are Gaining,” (Editor’s column, June 4), it is dismaying to see that, yet again, Israel’s rapidly growing unpopularity in the world being attributed to that hoary bugaboo, “bad hasbara” (i.e., public relations), rather than to its actual causation – Israel’s disastrously wrong-headed and self-destructive occupation of the West Bank and its blockade of Gaza.
In what one concert promoter has called “cultural terrorism which is targeting Israel and the arts worldwide,” more musicians seem to be trumpeting the latest Palestinian efforts to undermine movement in the peace process as they cancel scheduled tour dates in Israel.
How ironic that these artists are boycotting Israel, a nation that has a lively and vibrant cultural arts scene, to make a political statement about Gaza, a region where “cultural police” inhibit free expression.