As AIPAC Meets

Posted on May 23, 2005 in Washington Watch

Despite recent controversy, the thousands of pro-Israel activists gathering at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s (AIPAC) annual policy conference will find official Washington appearing to be as receptive as ever to the organization and its cause. But there are clouds over AIPAC and a persistent debate within the Jewish community that must be noted, as well.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will deliver the Administration’s policy address. The Republican and Democratic leadership of both the US Senate and House of Representatives will speak and will be joined at the event by almost one-half of their respective bodies....

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Understanding History and the Path to Peace Making

Posted on May 16, 2005 in Washington Watch

I had been speaking of the role that “losing control of their history” had played in defining the Palestinian psyche during the last century, when a somewhat aggravated Israeli in the audience challenged my assessment. He disagreed, he said, because the Palestinians had had many opportunities to define their history and they had squandered each of them. In any case, he insisted, Israel bore no responsibility for this Palestinian dilemma.

I replied that he could, if he wished, deny the reality of Palestinian history and he could also deny Israel’s role in that history. But the price for...

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Congress' Bad Behavior

Posted on March 21, 2005 in Washington Watch

While the Palestinian Authority, under new leadership, is making a determined effort to reform and reorganize, entrenched anti-peace forces in the US Congress present real barriers to forward movement. Evidence of their continuing ability to define the limits of what is possible was on display this month.

When Congress acted to push through new immigration constrictions, they retained the anti-PLO provision in place since the mid-1990’s. The law classifies “an alien who is an officer, official, representative, or spokesman of the Palestine Liberation Organization…to be engaged in a terrorist activity” and, therefore, inadmissible to the United States. As...

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An Opportunity?

Posted on December 13, 2004 in Washington Watch

In the past month, following the US election and the death of Yasser Arafat, several leading US policy makers and analysts have written opinion pieces, each beginning with a variation on a single theme. Despite repetition, their mantra, “with Arafat’s death and Bush’s reelection a unique opportunity now exists to achieve Middle East peace” is not only insulting–it is wrong and dangerous.

This mantra is wrong because it ignores the many unchanging realities that continue to impede the path to peace. It is dangerous because by ignoring these realities the policymakers and analysts are merely raising expectations that...

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The OSCE Conference and the Two Anti-Semitisms

Posted on May 03, 2004 in Washington Watch

The Organization for Security & Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) conference on anti-Semitism completed its first meeting without addressing the problem in its totality.

There are, in fact, two anti-Semitisms. One has historically found expression in the hatred and vilification of the Jewish people; the other has manifested itself in the equally odious hatred and vilification of Arabs and Muslims.

A decade ago I was asked to speak on this subject at a special conference organized by Hebrew University. In light of the just completed conference, I offer a summary of my remarks.

Historically, the animus of...

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Ten Years Later: The World is Upside Down

Posted on September 15, 2003 in Washington Watch

I know I have said it before but the times bear repeating it, sometimes it feels like we’ve all become Alice, the character in the Lewis Carroll classic “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.” Events these days are so bizarre, it’s as if we have fallen into that story’s “rabbit hole” and ended up in “Wonderland” where everything is upside down.

Ten years after we gathered on the White House Lawn to witness the historic Israeli-Palestinian peace accord and the Arafat-Rabin handshake, Rabin has been murdered by an Israeli assassin and Arafat is in his compound threatened with expulsion or...

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Steps the U.S. Should Take

Posted on June 09, 2003 in Washington Watch

With the United States’ standing in the Arab world at an all time low, President George W. Bush met with Arab leaders at Sharm el Sheikh and renewed his pledge to implement his vision of a viable Palestinian State. The President’s commitment, while viewed with skepticism by many Arabs, comes with great political risk to his Administration.

Despite having the support of the majority of the American people, many components of Bush’s electoral base oppose his Middle East peace plan. Already significant pressure has been forthcoming. Republican congressional leaders have harshly criticized the “Road Map” and fundamentalist Christian...

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The Impact of Abdullah's Initiative

Posted on February 25, 2002 in Washington Watch

News that Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Abdullah is contemplating a major initiative to break the impasse in Middle East peace making efforts is a most welcome development. While the Crown Prince has indicated that he has some reservations about moving forward with his effort, given the intransigence of the Sharon government, I would encourage him to do so for several reasons.

If the Crown Prince were to give his intended speech and if this were to be followed by a sustained international effort to sell this initiative, it could have a dramatic, even revolutionary, impact on several key...

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