The announcement by the Israeli Interior Ministry that it was planning new settlements in East Jerusalem, during Vice President Biden's trip to Israel to promote the restart of talks between Israel and Palestine, was a disaster all around. The government is apologizing for embarrassing the United States, and trying to claim the move won't stop the reemergence of peace talks. I'm somewhat skeptical -- this was such a blatantly stupid and offensive blunder that I predict it will set back talks for the indefinite future.
But nobody cares about my thoughts. More interesting has been the reaction of the broader American Jewish community, which by and large has been openly critical of the Israeli government as well. Obviously, groups like J Street joined Biden's denunciation. But more centrist and cautious organizations joined the chorus as well. Kenneth Bandler of the American Jewish Committee wrote a post entitled "Taking the US for Granted" that flamed Israel for its decision, warning that "Israel’s leaders will need to decide which is more important," continued settlement construction, or its relationship with the United States. Abe Foxman also had harsh words, though he urged that this setback not be used to drive a permanent rift between Israel and the United States.
Foxman's post, unsurprisingly, drew another Jews and their spurious anti-Semitism talk remark from Matt Yglesias. Astute observers might note that the word "anti-Semitism" doesn't appear anywhere in Foxman's article, but that is rapidly ceasing to be a relevant data point for the truism that anti-Semitism allegations run wild and unchecked. In any event, Yglesias' effort to paint it otherwise notwithstanding, these are welcome indications that the American Jewish community does not, in fact, simply rubberstamp the Israeli policy d'jour, but instead thinks critically and speaks openly about what it takes to be the best practices for securing the future of Israel and the peace process.