Those who have read my blog for long have probably realized that Andy M’s primary purpose here is to antagonize me. Oh well, we all need our critics. In any case, I once again will take the bait and respond to his comment.
Let me begin by saying that I am far from an expert on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. I’m just a schmo who reads the newspaper and tries to think critically about what’s going on in the world. I’ve never followed the situation in Israel very closely, though I have been increasingly concerned about it in recent years. I’m also not a Jew (or a Muslim, for that matter).
As I see it, the US has two roles in the Israel/Palestine conflict. First, the US is an ally of Israel. We supply them with “loan guarantees, military support, and ‘behind-the-scenes’ political support.” Second, though, the US, as the world’s sole superpower, is a broker of peace in the Middle East. Now, these two roles are obviously in tension. When we sit down at the negotiating table, though, we have an obligation to do so in good faith; that is, we have an obligation to be “evenhanded.” To do otherwise invalidates our role as a broker and makes peace completely unachievable.
I believe that the word “evenhanded,” by its very definition, implies that one is talking about the second role, rather than the first. I do not believe that our role as an ally of Israel will change if Howard Dean is elected president.
I won’t go into detail on the issue of Israeli settlements, but I believe that it is widely held that in any peace, some Israeli settlements must go. I don’t have any idea what the numbers are, so perhaps Dean was wrong when he said that “enormous numbers” must go.
Nevertheless, I think that taking Dean’s “evenhanded” comment to mean that we will abandon Israel as a trusted ally is foolish. As the article on Salon pointed out, Dean’s campaign is being co-chaired by Steven Grossman, former president of AIPAC, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee: America’s Pro-Israel Lobby. With Grossman as co-chair of his campaign can anyone honestly say that they think that Dean will abandon Isreal?
All that having been said, I do hope that Dean will clarify his position on Israel, but I’m not sure that it would be politically expedient to do so immediately.