The Confused Sheikh has been on a bit of hiatus with changing jobs, trips around the country, and being glued to the town hall meetings on healthcare (courtesy of the CNN webcast). But there's been a spate of Middle East news just waiting to be analyzed.
Most significantly, Bibi agreed to a secret settlement freeze. And I mean "secret" settlement freeze in the way I mean Israel's "secret" nuclear program. Evidently, there is a de facto moratorium on expansion until at least the end of the year. This allows Obama to get what he wants while allowing Netanyahu to save face. In a harbinger of things to come, Obama has shifted his rhetorical spotlight to Palestinians, calling on the PA to end incitement to violence against the Jewish state. Considering that settlements are somewhat more physical than incitement, this appears to be more of a bone to Netanyahu than the formation of a legitimate demand on the Palestinian leadership. Although removing incitement from PA textbooks would be a great first demand to place on the Palestinians (and I'll throw out a bone to the Obama-scorned ZOA by posting a link to their press release on the subject here).
Yesterday, Russian President Dmitri Medvedev was in Israel, where promised to reconsider selling the S-300 anti-aircraft missile system to Iran. This is significant because Russia has been viewed suspiciously by many in the U.S. as having shady objectives on the Iran nuclear issue. Could it be that U.S. support for Israel allows us to use Israel as a proxy by which we can pressure Russia to support the West on the Iran issue? Would Russia rather look like a benefactor to a major American ally than a weakened 2nd-best capitulating to U.S. demands? Sources say more than likely.
Actually, Israel playing the Soviet Union and the U.S. off each other for support is very much precedented. The Israel-Russia relationship may be one to watch closely in this time of less-than-stellar relations between Israel and the U.S. Russia won't take over, but it could theoretically be a spoiler U.S. policy towards Iran one day.
Peres' annoucement that the Israeli government looks forward to a meeting with the U.S. and Palestinians almost, but not quite, mitigates his ridiculous comment yesterday that a missile from Iran would be like an "Airborne death camp." Besides the fact that "Airborne Death Camp" is a good name for an emo punk band, it's a totally misplaced Holocaust reference. You know things have gotten a little out of control in Jerusalem when the Holocaust is used to illustrate how bad a nuclear attack would be. It's analagous to calling it "Hitler Flu."
And with the spate of anti-semitic posters of Barack Obama at healthcare meetings, and this genius lady (wearing an IDF t-shirt...what?), its really enough. Using the Holocaust for shock-value has no place in civil discource, or international diplomacy, period. Even when Israel does it.
Huckabee visit to East Jerusalem
I humbly defer to my fellow center-left pro-Israel Washingtonian, Spencer Ackerman, of the Washington Independent, for his analysis.