Thursday, July 31, 2014

It's The Signatures, Stupid

A long, long time ago (something else, unrelated, a long, long time ago, video at end), a commercial (beneath this paragraph) featured two women, apparently twins, with the narration "stop, you're both right.. New Certs is two mints in one. Stops bad breath in seconds; tastiest mint of all."

Rush Limbaugh and Crooks and Liars' karoli are both somewhat right but are missing a crucial point about the war in Gaza.  Limbaugh notes "So Hamas puts their own children in known targets.  Israel warns at 20 minute intervals, 'Get out, we're hitting the target.'  Hamas leaves their children there.  "How dare Israel kill children on purpose!  Damn those Israelis. They hate children."  He adds "and Hamas applauds.  PR victory after PR victory."

The observation is accurate but he draws the wrong conclusion when he claims

Ladies and gentlemen, I have just been convinced.  I already was.  Let me put it that way.  I have just had the exclamation point attached to my being convinced that the Obama administration has chosen sides, and the side they've chosen is Hamas. ...

And I'll tell you again, there's a predisposition to hating Israel, disliking, opposing, whatever, in this administration, there can be no doubt about it now.

Karoli links to a post from Talking Points Memo's Josh Marshall, who in turn links to a Politico report of a transcript of an alleged discussion between President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu. A confrontational Obama "demand(s)  that Israel agrees to an immediate, unilateral ceasefire and halt all offensive activities, in particular airstrikes"  and a reasonable Netanyahu maintains "Qatar and Turkey are the biggest supporters of Hamas. It's impossible to rely on them to be fair mediators."

Each side vehemently denied the report, which came from Israel's Channel 1 News and is very likely phony, and not only because reasonableness does not define Netanyahu nor confrontational, Obama.

Both Marshall and karoli suggest a link among Netanyahu; Ron Dermer, Israeli ambassador to the USA, former GOP operative and employee of Frank Luntz; Sheldon Adelson; and Repub political strategists. Karoli recognizes the transcript as part of an effort to spin opinion in both Israel and the USA against the government in Jerusalem and believes also that Netanyahu is "obstructing Kerry and Obama's efforts to negotiate a ceasefire."  But then she goes off the rails, claiming

Netanyahu reveals his hand as a political tool of the American right wing. Forget all the sob stories about tunnels and missiles. It's convenient for Bibi to kill a bunch of Palestinians and it's even more convenient for the American right, who can parade themselves all over Fox News, the Sunday shows and the Internet crying about the President's failure of "leadership."

The billionaires are greedy, and they're calling in their markers. Bibi is just one of their tools. Putin is likely another. As for the dead children? Meh. For them it's collateral damage.

Netanyahu, seemingly unwise for launching a war whose successful outcome could result in costly Israeli occupation of Gaza, is not a "tool" of anyone.  While theory or principle for the vast majority of Americans; this conflict is serious business, perhaps even a matter of survival, for both Israel and Hamas. The allegations that "it's convenient for Bibi to kill a bunch of Palestinians" and that he and the American right view "dead children" as "collateral damage" are loathsome smears.  Dead Palestinians (actually Gazans) provoke vehement opposition to the incursion into Gaza, and therefore are hardly convenient for the Israeli Prime Minister.

But karoli and Limbaugh are both fundamentally wrong, Limbaugh convinced the Obama-Kerry duo is full tilt pro-Hamas, and karoli seemingly assuming President and the Secretary of State are motivated by an interest in a long-lasting peaceful solution.  Last week, Secretary of State Kerry abandoned a cease-fire plan proposed by Cairo, a bitter foe of Hamas, which it equates to the Muslim Brotherhood. It was favorably viewed by the Palestinian Authority, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates, but opposed by Hamas.

Instead, the American Secretary of State met with Hamas' representatives, Qatar and Turkey, and came up with a scheme which would have created a cease-fire in place- Israeli soldiers remaining in the Gaza Strip but forbidden to destroy any of the tunnels leading from Gaza into the Jewish state.   Supposedly "protecting civilian lives, ending all hostilities in and from the Gaza Strip and achieving a sustainable cease-fire and enduring resolution of the crisis,"  the agreement would have been implemented by the Qatar and Turkey.

The latter nation is headed by Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, infamous for having uttered

Israelis like to remind us of the genocide that took place in history. They take advantage of that genocide, and always act as if they are the victims all the time,   We say Germany must compensate Israel, and it has. So Germany is still paying dues to Israel. But Turkey and Muslims in this region don't have that problem. We never inflicted such pain on Israel. Israel, on the other hand, is cruel. It doesn't display any mercy.

It's not surprising, then, that in addition to the content of the two cease-fire proposals, Netanyahu is not pleased with Kerry's activities.  Neither is Egypt which, according to Newsweek, "was reportedly so angry that Qatar and Turkey had been invited to the Paris talks that it declined to send its foreign minister, Sameh Shukri.”  And the Palestinian Authority's Fatah issued a statement declaring "Those who want Qatar or Turkey to represent them should leave and go live there.”  (note that Fatha did not say ".... should leave and come here to live under the unbearable conditions of Israeli occupation.")

Kerry's outreach to the most vicious elements in the Mideast, however, is not without reason. His boss, President Obama, is not going to be President forever.  And Kerry will not be Secretary of State forever.   Drawing upon his long experience as a legislator, the former Massachusetts senator wants an agreement, any agreement.   He wants to end the war between Israel and Hamas even if, as would be likely, the situation soon after would deteriorate.

It is difficult to determine whether John Kerry's interest is merely self-interest or a belief that a lasting peace currently is unobtainable. But Rush Limbaugh, Karoli, and the rest of us ought to recognize that the Secretary of State's goal is not to upend Israel, exalt Hamas, or to create a lasting peace. It is to obtain a negotiated settlement, and little else.

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