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While we were overeating....

...the rest of the world went on without a Thanksgiving celebration. So to catch you up, here's a  wonkish analysis of where the Obama-Netanyahu struggle stands. It is written by an Englishman, so it should be read with a grain of salt. On the other hand, he has an optimistic take on what Obama (and Kerry) might pull off in Middle East diplomacy.

...Bibi-watchers are focused now on how the Israeli leader will play the next six months, in which the Geneva agreement will either blossom into a lasting accord or break apart. But it prompts another question: what will be the impact on Israel's conflict closer to home? Could the breakthrough with Iran somehow presage a breakthrough between Israelis and Palestinians? The wisest bet would be on no....

But there's another, riskier bet to make. It says that Obama now has momentum in the Middle East, using diplomacy to solve problems previously deemed soluble only through military action. Perhaps it's true that he stumbled on a remedy for Syria..... And now there is Iran....

Intriguingly, Obama's policy of restraint found a supportive echo in the Israeli securocracy: it was the loud, sometimes public opposition of current and former military and intelligence chiefs that made it all but impossible for Netanyahu to contemplate air strikes against Iran. It turns out that it was the fruit of a deliberate, planned effort by Washington, patiently creating what one anaylsis calls a "United States lobby" within the Israeli security elite. Now established, there is no reason why that same US lobby could not be mobilised to pressure Bibi again – this time on the Israel-Palestine track.

Read it here.

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Yay, Obama and Kerry -- if it works!  (How old is Kerry now?  69?  Hmm.)

 It turns out that it was the fruit of a deliberate, planned effort by Washington, patiently creating what one anaylsis calls a "United States lobby" within the Israeli security elite.

 

Turnabout is fair play.

If Obama and Kerry can pull off peaceful deals with Iran and with Israel/Palestine, perhaps -- Deo volente - we'll begin to forget about Obama care and its website.

The Prime Minister of Israel visited Pope Francis today and gave him a copy of the book his father wrote:  http://www.amazon.com/The-Origins-Inquisition-Fifteenth-Century-Spain/dp...

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(I wish Jeff was here.  I wonder if he recommends Ari Shavit's book.)  

http://www.amazon.com/My-Promised-Land-Triumph-Tragedy-ebook/dp/B009QJMX...

That was generous of Mr. Netanyahu. I wonder if he recommends Ari Shavit's book.

As Ben-Zion Netanyahu died just last year at the age of 102, it seems likely that Netanyahu meant the gift to be a personal touch. Given the reported inscription ("To His Holiness Pope Francis, great guardian of our common heritage") and the other reported gift — a carved panel of Saint Paul, an apostle who holds a special place in the relationship between the two religions — it seems also to highlight the inescapable link between Judaism and Catholicism, for better or worse.

 

http://finance.yahoo.com/news/why-benjamin-netanyahu-gave-pope-184144909...

Correction:  Yahoo was wrong yet again.  It was the Pope who gave the bronze plaque of St. Paul to the Prime Minister, not vice versa.

As to My Promised Land:  The Triumph and Tragedy of Israel, by Ari Shavit, I don't know if Netanyahu recommends it, but many do.  See, e.g., the blurbs quoted in the full-page ad in the NYT this morning.  See also the book's Amazon page for the Editorial Comments.  

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(Margaret, I wonder what you mean by,  "It is written by an Englishman, so it should be read with a grain of salt.")  

Pat Lang offers this observation about the gift exchange between Pope and Prime Minister:

IMO, "passive-aggressive" would be a good description of the behavior here on both sides.  Francis gave Bibi a plaque commemorating St. Paul who was a Roman citizen and a Jew and Bibi presented a Spanish translation of his father's major book on the Spanish Inquisition and the RC Church's inherent responsibility for what the Spanish government did.

 

Having said that both gifts were not really friendly, IMO Bibi's "gift" is truly representative of his attitude towards the larger world and toward gentiles in general.

The message is clear. - We are long oppressed and YOU, all of you, cannot be trusted . This includes the US, actually it is especially about the US because American support sustains Israel's existence.  Therefore we must dominate your political process and culture to force you to do what we need.  This is illegal?   So what.? You do it to other countries.  Your collective guilt requires your acquiescence.  pl

 

I didn't think either gift was particularly apt.  (Was it Obama who gave the Queen of (eeuuww) England a bunch of CDs that didn't work on her player?)

(I saw your comment at the Pat Lang site.  Ouch!)

 

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About the Author

Margaret O'Brien Steinfels, a former editor of Commonweal, writes frequently in these pages and blogs at dotCommonweal.