Day 8.5: The counter-offensive

"But as the stalemate continues -- envoy George Mitchell just canceled his trip to Israel -- Democratic critics have begun to question the White House's public pressure on Netanyahu to reverse plans for controversial new housing and make other, unspecified concessions. The pro-Israel group AIPAC and others have been lobbying Congress to rein in the administration, and the Democrats join Republicans and Senator Joe Lieberman, whose intense criticism of the administration's Mideast policy has been a constant."http://www.politico.com/blogs/bensmith/0310/Democrats_begin_to_criticize_Obama_on_Israel.html"Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, ...will hold a meeting with Jewish members of Congress on Tuesday, Hill and diplomatic sources said.... "Some Hill staffers said the Jewish members' invitation to meet Netanyahu did not constitute a leaning to him in the current dispute, though the lone Jewish Republican member of Congress Eric Cantor (R-Va.) issued a statement calling on the White House to lay off the tough public rhetoric on Israel, as have several other members. And the Israeli government has summoned all hands on deck to try to ease and counter the Obama administration's rebukes, replete with suggested talking points [see below]."http://www.politico.com/blogs/laurarozen/0310/Netanyahu_to_meet_Jewish_Congress_members.htmlThe Talking Points of the Israeli Government: http://www.politico.com/static/PPM143_100316_bnia.htmlAnd already: the counter-counter offensive (we should always remember that the sharpest critics of the Israeli government are Israeli's themselves). "To the delight of Mahmoud Zahar [Hamas official] and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Israel's homemade weapons of mass destruction - pro-settlement bureaucrats with conflicts of financial and ideological interest - have done in one meeting what Israel's foes have sought for generations: driving a stake through the heart of Israel's relationship with the White House."We should have known. But in the swamp of anomaly and impossibility that is Jerusalem, you can easily lose sight of, and belief in, the basics: One of the curses of endless war, is the tendency to become one's own worst enemy - in every sense. "http://haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1156827.html

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

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