Those caught up in the debt ceiling shouting match may have missed some of the recent news on the U.S./Israel glaring match.From Jeffrey Goldberg, presumably delivering a message to PM Netanyahu from President Obama: "When informed about the Israeli decision [about building on E1], Obama...didnt even bother getting angry. He told several people that this sort of behavior on Netanyahus part is what he has come to expect, and he suggested that he has become inured to what he sees as self-defeating policies of his Israeli counterpart. In the weeks after the UN vote, Obama said privately and repeatedly, Israel doesnt know what its own best interests are. With each new settlement announcement, in Obamas view, Netanyahu is moving his country down a path toward near-total isolation."And here is Senator Chuck Schumer (D.-NY) in support of Hagel's confirmation sending a message to President Obama: "I know some will question whether Senator Hagels assurances are merely attempts to quiet critics as he seeks confirmation to this critical post, Schumer said. But I dont think so. Senator Hagel realizes the situation in the Middle East has changed, with Israel in a dramatically more endangered position than it was even five years ago. His views are genuine, and reflect this new reality.So among Obama, Hagel, and Schumer, three views of the great question, without even getting Netanyahu into this quadratic equation. Stay tuned.UPDATE: Collateral damage? "The news that Sen. Chuck Schumer will support the Hagel nomination means that Hagel will almost certainly be confirmed as Secretary of Defense. It does not mean that the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) is not opposing the appointment. It means that, at long last, it has been defeated." MJ Rosenberg.January 16: An assessment of Hagel's stance vis a vis the prevailing views in Washington: The ForwardAnd an ABC-Washington Post poll: Democrats favor him over Republicans; one-third of all respondents have no opinion. Drill down for various demographic breakdowns.
Margaret O'Brien Steinfels, a former editor of Commonweal, writes frequently in these pages.