I note - in this critical period in which Netanyahu faces the crucial test of whether to extend a moratorium on new settlement construction, and in which the Obama administration is offering goodies to Netanyahu and Netanyahu is offering goodies to Avigdor Lieberman - that Goldblog's latest position on an issue which he once saw as crucial to Israel's survival is:
The reason I don't blog more about questions related to the peace process is that I don't think it will work, not in the foreseeable future, so I'm not sure why I spend any time at all parsing what is, after all, a theoretical question within the theoretical peace process.
His previous position was pretty much the same:
It won't work. Israel wants the settlements to be a subject of negotiation with the Palestinians, along with everything else -- and not the subject of a preemptive concession -- and it seems that it is during negotiations (as President Clinton showed during Camp David) that the U.S. could best make the case against settlements, just as it is during negotiations that the U.S. could move the Palestinians away from their position on the so-called right-of-return.
But what on earth do the phrases "it doesn't work" and "it seems" mean? What they mean, as the paragraph above makes clear, is that the governing forces in Israel, and Israel alone, don't want it to work, and just don't want to concede anything on the illegal settlements before full negotiations. And if Israel doesn't want it to work, America has no business bringing any pressure to bear, or even incentives to coax, and if it all falls apart because of this, it will be Obama's fault, not Netanyahu's. You can see this coming a mile away. The hard core neocons will actually blame Obama; Jeffrey will merely throw up his hands and walk away. What almost no one in what Peter Beinart has called the American Jewish Establishment will do is actually back this president in pressuring Israel to take this last chance for a two-state solution. They could. And they would make a difference if they would. But so far, so meh.
There is, of course, no conceivable security threat to Israel from extending a moratorium on settlement construction for two more months, or any length of time for that matter, and the administration is offering lots of goodies to get this pathetically small concession from Jerusalem. And yet it is with this set of facts that Goldblog cites Aaron Miller:
The idea that the United States can pummel a close ally into accepting a deal that undermines its security or political interests is flat-out wrong.
What conceivable "pummeling" is going on here right now? Where is any credible threat to cease aid if Israel ends the moratorium? Or withdraw the UN veto? Or any actual credible acts of real pressure? It's all carrot and no stick so far, and there never can be a credible stick because AIPAC and its journalistic supporters are so brilliant at what they do - all of which is completely legitimate but, in my view, deeply mishuided and paranoid, and has distorted US foreign policy in exactly the same way the Cuba lobby has in a different context. America suffers and Israel inches ever forward to either an apartheid state or implosion.
But the Ur-post is so painfully conflicted, you have to read it yourself to see if you can figure out what Goldblog's position actually is, depending on which day of the week it is and which mood he is in (his words, not mine). His readers are as bewildered as I am. Yes, he is in a tough position as a liberal Zionist. But that's why it's so disappointing to see him revert to the classic position of the unsustainable, indeed fast deteriorating, status quo.
My best summary of the Goldblog evolution is: I am not against pressuring Israel, but we should never pressure Israel, well, it might be a good idea, but it won't work, because pressuring Israel means it won't work. Then, as if he senses this argument is, to put it mildly, unpersuasive, we get a weird throw-away line that
I'm also suggesting that the entire peace process won't amount to much until the Palestinians resolve their civil war.
So it's the Palestinians' fault now again! Thanks for clearing all that up.