Um, that’s one word for it

Maybe Chickenshitgate (must credit “and that’s the way it was”) has left the Obama folks a little gun shy:

The United States has described as “unfortunate” plans by the Israeli government to build 500 new illegal settler homes in East Jerusalem.

The US response came after a panel of the Israeli Interior Ministry gave approval on Monday for the new homes in Ramat Shlomo, a neighbourhood built on West Bank territory captured in the 1967 war and annexed to Jerusalem.

The announcement by Jerusalem’s Planning and Building Committee to approve construction of 500 housing units in Ramat Shlomo is the first step in a long series of approvals needed before actual construction can begin and the process should take years.

The US criticised the decision, re-iterating its view that settlements are “illegitimate“.

“Yeah,” the US added, “and those dead kids on the beach in Gaza were a real, ah, bummer, man.”

Coincidentally, the Chickenshit thing, Susan Rice’s spat with Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer, and this tepid denunciation of more illegal settlement building are all happening while the Supreme Court hears oral arguments in the case of Zivotofsky v. Kerry, a lawsuit brought by Ari and Nomi Zivotofsky against the State Department over their son Menachem’s passport. Menachem was born in Jerusalem, and given Jerusalem’s status as an “international city” under U.S. law, passports for U.S. citizens born in Jerusalem read “Jerusalem” as their birthplace. The Zivotofskys want Menachem’s passport to read “Israel” as his birthplace. The case tests the constitutionality of a 2002 law requiring the State Department to list “Israel” as the place of birth for citizens born in Jerusalem if the parents (or, when old enough, the citizen him or herself) request it, a law that the State Department has consistently rejected as unconstitutional Congressional interference in the Executive Branch’s conduct of foreign policy (GW Bush appended one of his special signing statements to the law to this effect).

Congress does have the power to regulate passports, but given that this particular law could be seen (or, in other words, “is”) a backdoor effort to enshrine the status of Jerusalem as an Israeli city in U.S. law (and not actually that backdoor; the 2002 law is called “United States Policy With Respect to Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel”), it actually represents a major overreach by Congress into the conduct of foreign policy. If the Court sides with Zivotofsky, it will deal a huge blow to American efforts to at least try to pretend to be a neutral arbiter in the Israel-Palestine dispute.

2 thoughts on “Um, that’s one word for it

  1. My question, regarding Israel, given the fanatical determination to evade a just peace with the Palestinians, is just how long do the hawks think they can keep this going before the kharmic wheel turns and dumps the country into a flaming heap of shit too deep for the IDF to handle?

    To paraphrase Michael Herr regarding Khe Sanh, what if the legendary Muslim fanatic hordes mass along the Golan Heights in 2060, throw themselves on the barbed wire and claymores and fill the trenches with their volunteer bodies and force the IDF to kill them until the rifles melt and the canon explode and they keep coming and coming and coming until they take Tel Aviv and Haifa and Israel is no more? The Iranians were kind of good at that sort of thing in the eighties, and I wonder that this kind of vision does not haunt the nights of at least some on the Israeli General Staff.

    As I can not imagine Israel ever being more dominant militarily than it is at this moment, I am baffled that they are not trying for a negotiated peace from this position of enormous strength. Did they learn nothing from the history of the Crusader States?

    1. Israel’s real worry is that it can’t maintain both the occupation and its status as a “Jewish state” without enacting harsher and harsher policies that will eventually leave it an international outcast. I think the day is coming, maybe a couple of decades from now, when the U.S. will finally end its practice of supporting Israeli actions even when those actions run against U.S. national interests, and when that happens Israel will be in real trouble.

      Militarily it’s hard for me to envision a scenario like 1948 or 1967 happening again. The Arab world is too divided and too unfazed by what happens to the Palestinians for something like that. The Iranians were just out of a revolution and were defending their country against Saddam’s aggression; I think you’d have a tough time finding volunteers to be cannon fodder in a region-wide war against Israel today.

      But the answer to your question is no, they haven’t learned anything from really anything. Netanyahu won’t look past the latest polls or the latest threat from one of his war-mongering right-wing coalition partners to quit the government because the Gaza body count is down this month. He’s governing crisis to crisis at this point, unable and unwilling to think strategically about the future.

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