Just as I am emotionally withdrawn from the abortion issue -- being male and all -- not being Jewish or being of Middle Eastern decent and having no desire to visit the area in this lifetime, the consequences of the carnage seem removed. The absurdity of perpetual war in the name of peaceful religious traditions I'm long past subscribing to makes the entire situation almost surreal -- except for the fact that I'm not a true sociopath and do admit compassion for the people who live under such insane conditions.
So, in a way I don't really have a dog in the hunt. I have views, sure. But I'd hardly consider them core principles I feel all that passionate about. So from a purely analytical perspective I found Glenn Greenwald's observation on American attitudes towards I/P most interesting. Noting that public opinion is almost evenly split on the issue, with Democratic voters opposing the Israeli offensive and Republicans supporting it by a greater margin, the GOP leadership reflects this and represents their constituency accurately -- but the Democrat's elected leaders do not share their own supporters opinions.
None I can think of.
Much more notable is the fact that Democratic Party leaders -- including Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi -- are just as lockstep in their blind, uncritical support for the Israeli attack, in their absolute refusal to utter a word of criticism of, or even reservations about, Israeli actions. While some Democratic politicians who are marginalized by the party's leadership are willing to express the views which Democratic voters overwhelmingly embrace, the suffocating, fully bipartisan orthodoxy which typically predominates in America when it comes to Israel -- thou shalt not speak ill of Israel, thou shalt support all actions it takes -- is in full force with this latest conflict.
Is there any other significant issue in American political life, besides Israel, where (a) citizens split almost evenly in their views, yet (b) the leaders of both parties adopt identical lockstep positions which leave half of the citizenry with no real voice? More notably still, is there any other position, besides Israel, where (a) a party's voters overwhelmingly embrace one position (Israel should not have attacked Gaza) but (b) that party's leadership unanimously embraces the exact opposite position (Israel was absolutely right to attack Gaza and the U.S. must support Israel unequivocally)? Does that happen with any other issue?
Now I've heard again and again this week that as long as the US continues to support Israel's incursion, it will not end. We give the green light and only we can tell the Israelis to stop. It is our weapons they use and our UN Veto that protects them. Along with this is the breathless punditocracy in serious tones speculating how Obama will handle this when he takes over in three weeks -- yet another serious crisis for the President-Elect to clean up.
My guess is that the "crisis" aspect of the situation will be over by January 20, that this is just another flare-up that we've seen countless times since the Six-Day-War -- which had Israel fighting and beating the entire Arab world and only took, you know, 6 days. By then things will return from suck to merely shitty.
But if what conventional wisdom demands we believe is true, that the United States is ultimately responsible for solving this mess, how can things possible change (and by that I mean change for the better -- which for me means a lot less death and destruction) if our leaders feel no reason whatsoever to be responsive to their supporters opinions?
As I said, how the Israel/Palestine conflict is resolved is not one of my top priorities, but liberals and progressives being taken seriously is. If we are marginalized on this issue, ignored with impunity by the folks who count on us to raise money, knock on doors and vote for them, what incentive does the right have to negotiate with us on any issue in good faith when they figure the Democratic Party will just sell us out in the end anyway?
I know this is a slippery-slope argument, but when the majority of Americans have waited in vain for universal health care since the Eighties -- not just the left -- are we really just as deluded and naive as the conservatives insist we are to think anything is going to really change? Our policy towards Israel isn't.