Friday, May 27, 2011

A Long Week for Israel

It's been a long week.

US-Israel relations seem to have weathered the diplomatic ping-pong match without serious deterioration. Despite some tense moments, the relationship appears to be in the same place it started last Wednesday. Prime Minister Netanyahu's visit to the US is not without criticism in Israel but appears to have served as a reminder that he successfully carries American support. For his part, President Obama continues to have the support of most, though not all, people who supported him before AIPAC. Conversely, he did not make any new friends as a result of his speech to the organization on Sunday.

And again, the people of the Middle East are back where they started. In Gaza, the humanitarian situation may slightly improve, but as the result of Egyptian action, not Israeli. Palestinians continue to face the depressing prospect of an Israeli government and United States Congress to whom they are largely invisible, save for the radical extremists among them. Israelis are still seriously concerned about the bid for Palestinian statehood in the UN, fearing it will further isolate Israel internationally and damage its diplomatic leverage. And they remain pessimistic about the prospects for the future. Everyone agrees the status quo is unsustainable, but no one agree on what the new status quo should be.

That Washington DC and the rest of the United States is now easing into Memorial Day Weekend is entirely appropriate. Having the time to reflect on the actual individuals who gave their lives defending the United States gives many Americans some perspective on the battles they fight day to day. Likewise, for those of us in the Israel policy community, remembering that fights over borders and language are only as worth fighting as the real individuals they protect would be a welcome step back from the rhetorical sandstorm of the past week.

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