“And yet on he pushes – civilly, rationally, patiently”

One of Andrew Sullivan’s best pieces ever:

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What strikes me is the visceral and emotional power behind the AIPAC line, displayed in Netanyahu’s contemptuous, disgraceful, desperate public dressing down of the American president in the White House. Just observe the tone of Netanyahu’s voice, and the Cheney-like determination to impose his will on the world, regardless of anyone else, and certainly without the slightest concern for his ally’s wider foreign policy and security needs. It seems clear to me that he believes that an American president, backed by the Quartet, must simply bow toward Israel’s own needs, as he perceives them, rather than the other way round. Has Netanyahu ever asked, one wonders, what he could actually do to help Obama, president of Israel’s oldest, and strongest ally in an era of enormous social and political change? That, it seems, is not how this alliance works. Moroever, an alliance in which one party is acting in direct conflict with the needs and goals of the other is an unstable one. Yes, there are unshakeable, powerful bonds between the two countries, and rightly so. But emotional bonds are not enough if, in the end, core national interests collide – and no compromise is possible.

The logic of this seems rather dark to me.

Netanyahu’s current position means that the US is supposed to sacrifice its broader goals of reconciliation with an emergent democratic Arab world, potentially jeopardize its relations with a democratic Egypt, isolate itself from every other ally, and identify the US permanently with a state that, in its current configuration and with its current behavior, deepens and inflames the global conflict with Jihadist Islam. Netanyahu, in other words, wants the US to clasp itself to Israel’s total distrust of every Arab state and population in an era where it is vital for the US to do exactly the opposite.

And it is absurd not to notice Obama’s even-handedness. It’s clear he won’t legitimize Hamas until Hamas legitimizes itself by acknowledging Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state and dropping its virulent, violent anti-Semitism. He rebuked Abbas for going the UN route. Like any US president, he is committed to Israel’s security and is, indeed, vital to it. But all he asks is a good faith attempt by the Israelis to acknowledge that their future state has to be based on the 1967 lines with landswaps. Indefensible? Says who? With a regional monopoly of over a hundred nuclear warheads and the best intelligence and military in its neigborhood, and a vibrant economy, Israel is not vulnerable. And in so far as it may be vulnerable – to Iran’s nuclear gambit – its government is alienating the indispensable ally in this deserved quest for security.  This is panic and paranoia, not reason and self-interest.

And no one seems to appreciate Obama’s political courage in all this. Obama seems to understand that an equitable two-state solution is a key crucible for the change he is seeking with respect to the Muslim world, the minimum necessary to advance US interests in the region and against Jihadism abroad. With each month in office, he has pursued this, through humiliation after humiliation from the Israelis, who are openly trying to lobby the press, media, political parties and Congress to isolate this president and destroy his vision for peace and the historic and generational potential his presidency still promises. To achieve this, he has to face down the apocalyptic Christianist right, the entire FNC-RNC media machine, a sizable chunk of his party’s financial base, and the US Congress. And yet on he pushes – civilly, rationally, patiently.

This really is a titanic struggle between fear and hope.

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A mishmash worth $2000 :)

Hi guys,

I don’t remember exactly when we launched our own fundraising page, but it wasn’t that long ago and I’m so proud that we’re already touched the $2000 target. Next goal: $3000. :)

With this, here’s a lengthy Saturday mishmash.

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Weekly Address:

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Some really good stuff to read:

Roger Cohen (NYT):

On the eve of an election year, with Jewish donors and fund-raisers already restive over his approach to Israel, President Obama made a brave speech telling Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that “the dream of a Jewish and democratic state cannot be fulfilled with permanent occupation” and urging him to accept Israeli borders at or close to the 1967 lines.
The president got 78 percent of the Jewish vote in 2008. Perhaps those words will cost him some of those votes — although sentiment toward Israel among American Jews is slowly shifting. But true friends are critical friends. And the American and Israeli national interest do not lie in the poisonous Israeli-Palestinian status quo.

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Peter Beinart (The Daily Beast):

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The real difference between Obama and Bush is that Obama actually is what Bush said he was: a moral universalist.

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By embracing all—rather than only some—of the Arab spring, Obama also powerfully distanced himself from Benjamin Netanyahu, a man who supports Arab democracy so long as it never impairs his ability to forestall Palestinian democracy. Obama put himself on the side of Palestinian democracy, too.

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Still Obama allied America with those Arabs and Iranians thirsting for freedom, and he did so in a subtle but remarkable way. He invoked, as he so often does, the civil-rights movement. Not World War II, where American power served the cause of freedom. Not the Cold War, where American power did as well, at least in Europe. But the civil-rights movement: where an oppressed people struggling for freedom confronted American power, and won. It’s a more subversive analogy than we generally acknowledge, and one that should make everyone battling oppression in the Middle East—in Sana, Damascus, Cairo, Tehran, and Ramallah, too—smile.

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Juan Cole:

President Obama’s major policy address on the Middle East got many things right. He pointed to al-Qaeda and terrorism, which targets civilians, as a dead end. He sided rhetorically with the grassroots movements for greater democracy in the region. He condemned outright the longstanding regimes, like that of Hosni Mubarak, that had been US allies, which ruled through sordid police states. He pledged US support for democracy movements. He avoided hypocrisy by condemning US allies such as the king of Bahrain and President Ali Abdullah Saleh of Yemen for repressing their own movements. He acknowledged the importance of ending the Palestinian people’s long sojourn in the wilderness of statelessness. He pointed to the constraining by corrupt elites of the economic and educational opportunities of young people in the Middle East as among the central discontents leading to the Arab Spring. He underlined the importance of women’s rights, and rights for minorities such as Christians and Shiites.

The courage of Obama’s speech should be recognized.

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A bolder speech would have announced that the US would be moving its naval base from Bahrain because we refuse to be in bed with a repressive sectarian monarchy. It would have supported the push for Palestinian statehood at the UN as a wedge against the Likud Party’s intransigence. And it would have mentioned democratization in Riyadh along with the other capitals that were mentioned.

Still and all, it was a fine speech, a courageous speech because it challenged US allies as much as it did US foes, and it put the US on the side of Bourguiba Avenue and Tahrir Square and Benghazi and Deraa and Taizz. That is the side of history on which the US needs to stand. As a set of ideals, it was a big stride in the right direction. As practical policy, it is hard to see how it would be implemented effectively (upbraiding Israel and Bahrain slightly won’t change those crises). But, well, at least Washington is finally not standing in the way of the people in the region.

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Michael Tomasky:

Bibi Netanyahu could have reacted any number of ways to Barack Obama’s mention of the “1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps.” Let’s say, actually, four ways: embrace, circumspection, suspicion, tantrum. That he chose the last tells us a lot about the man’s shortcomings and (lack of) political instincts. All political is local, and Netanyahu undoubtedly scored points with his Likud base back home. But he has a base here in America too, and I think he misjudged that base badly.

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His behavior these last 48 hours has verged on, if not been, petulant. A foreign leader (no less one of a state whose existence depends on the United States) isn’t supposed to talk like that to a president. Add to the bargain: Obama’s a stronger president now on foreign affairs than he was in 2009, partly because of the bin Laden coup and partly because the speech was generally well received across the American political spectrum.

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Things just feels better when David Plouffe is around:

When Barack Obama traveled to Texas this month to talk immigration, David Plouffe, his top message guru, decided to stay home and watch Twitter instead. While Obama spoke, Plouffe sat before two flat-screen televisions in the White House complex. One showed live footage of Obama in El Paso. The other flickered with a lightning-quick vertical ticker tape of people tweeting with the #immigration hashtag, reacting line by line to the President in real time. “I find it useful,” Plouffe says, “to see what’s penetrating.”

When Obama went off script to joke that Republicans would soon demand a border moat filled with alligators, a blur of Twitter messages showed people sending the quote to friends and followers, signaling a messaging victory of sorts. “It’s kind of the next evolution,” Plouffe explains. “Remember back in 2008, you’d have the presidential debate, and then most of the networks would have some sort of dial going up and down. That seems very Jurassic Park–like compared to this.”

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Interesting NYT story about the progress in Afghanistan:

Afghanistan’s military and police have become increasingly reliable and effective

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I really can’t wait to see PBO in Ireland. The place is going crazy!

O’bama fever strikes tiny Irish village

(CBS News) MONEYGALL, IRELAND – CBS News correspondent Mark Phillips reports it’s easy to spot the village of Moneygall in the rolling hills of central Ireland. It’s the one where the flags are flying, and where every surface in the place has been given a fresh coat of paint.
It’s the on where they’ve written a new song as a tribute to their new favorite American president, Barack Obama.

Mr. Obama’s visit to this village of 300 people next week may be the most anticipated in this corner of Ireland apart from the Second Coming.

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But when church records were first revealed the link four years ago, an Irish Barack Obama was incomprehensible here.

“I’ve been calling him ‘Abracadabra’ because I didn’t know how to pronounce his name,” resident Carey Wilde said in 2007.

In an interview this week, Wilde said she’s learned his name since. “I did indeed, and grown to love him.”

Everybody’s grown to love him in Moneygall – especially Henry Healy. “He’s going to find everyone crawling out of his family tree to meet him when he arrives.”

The celebration of Irish roots is a time-honored tradition in American politics. Sooner or later, all American presidents seem to end up in Ireland. Maybe it’s those 40 million or so Irish-American votes. But maybe it’s because the Obama connection was so unexpected, that he has been so warmly embraced.

At Ollie Hayes’ pub, they’re expecting him. “If he’s coming to Moneygall, he’s coming in here,” Hayes says.

It’s not the party they’re worried about. It’s the morning after.

Sinead Culliton says it’s “so huge, there might be the anti-climax after.” Laughing, she said she’s worried about a “post-Obama stress disorder.”

There’s a cure for that here in Moneygall.

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President Obama Thanks the Intelligence Community:

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Finally: This is such a great quotes from Michelle Obama:

Here’s the thing about my husband: even in the toughest moments, when it seems like all is lost, Barack Obama never loses sight of the end goal. He never lets himself get distracted by the chatter and the noise, even if it comes from some of his best supporters. He just keeps moving forward.

And in those moments when we’re all sweating it, when we’re worried that the bill won’t pass or the negotiation will fall through, Barack always reminds me that we’re playing a long game here. He reminds me that change is slow—it doesn’t happen overnight.

If we keep showing up, if we keep fighting the good fight and doing what we know is right, then eventually we will get there.

We always have.