Falafel with Chips and Hummus and Tahini and Pickles and....
The past week has seen a plethora speeches, assertions, counter-assertions, and observations on the prospects for Israeli-Palestinian peace. It's been more stuffed than a Machaneh Yehuda falafel. President Obama offered his proposal in a State Department speech and Prime Minister Netanyahu responded. Both men spoke at the AIPAC conference, and Prime Minister Netanyahu got the final say in his Tuesday speech to a joint session of Congress. But of course, when it comes to the peace process, no say is truly final.
The pundits are now out in full force, opining on WHAT IT ALL MEANS. There is no end of commentaries I could share with you, but here are two pieces that will give you a sense of the poles of disagreement.
JINSA, the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs, falls on the right of the ideological spectrum, and hailed Netanyahu's speech and Congress's reaction. Netanyahu "spoke to the convergence of historical, religious, political, security, moral, and ethical views and values between the State of Israel and the United States." In JINSA's view, "Netanyahu spoke the thoughts of the Congress of the United States and the Congress stood and applauded twelve times (in case you were counting)."
Contrast JINSA's laudatory viewpoint with that of MJ Rosenberg, Senior Foreign Policy Fellow at the Media Matters Action Network and a respected voice on the left. In a scathing piece in the Huffington Post, Rosenberg argued that "Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu delivered a speech to Congress that essentially was a series of insults to Palestinians and every insult was met by applause and standing ovations." In Rosenberg's assessment, "The message it sent to the Middle East today, to the whole world, in fact, was that Palestinians cannot count on the United States to ever play the role of "honest broker" between Israel and the Palestinians." And Rosenberg predicts that the ultimate effect of the speech will be to strengthen the Palestinians' resolve to seek a vote on statehood at the UN this September.
Are JINSA and Rosenberg the final say? Far from it. But they illustrate the breadth of the divide on the issue of peace that must be bridged in North America. How much greater then is the divide to be overcome among the parties themselves?