"I think there is a strain within the pro-Israel community that says unless you adopt an unwavering pro-Likud ap-proach to Israel, then you're anti-Israel, and that can't be the measure of our friendship with Israel," leading Democratic presidential contender Illinois Senator Barack Obama said Sunday.
"If we cannot have an honest dialogue about how do we achieve these goals, then we're not going to make progress," he said.
He also criticized the notion that anyone who asks tough questions about advancing the peace process or tries to secure Israel by anyway other than "just crushing the opposition" is being "soft or anti-Israel."
Matthew Yglesias says "music to my ears", and Spencer Ackerman adds:
Now that is the sort of thing that a real friend of Israel says. Not a fair-weather fake friend who'd rather not risk angering your buddies, but the kind of friend who takes your car keys from your hand at the bar. Let's see the Rubins of the world twist his words, so we can demonstrate how little they actually care about the actually-existing state of Israel.
Agreed. One of the things I've tried to stress recently on the Israeli/Palestinian question is that it's not "pro-Israel" to envision it in perpetual, apocalyptic conflict with its neighbors. Jews die when Americans (usually American Christians) use Israel to reenact their favorite Crusade. And whatever else my personal religious or cultural beliefs regarding my obligation as a Jew toward the land of Israel entail, positioning myself as a tyrannical occupier depriving people of self-determination is not part of that vision.
None of this, obviously, is to say that I think Israel is the root cause of all evil in the region, or that Palestinians do not possess a major chunk of the blame for their own predicament by indulging in maximalist demands (including the destruction of Israel) and constant terrorist assaults. But I do think it's important to reiterate that there is no long term solution to the conflict that doesn't provide both people with a stable, secure, productive state, and that any move towards peace necessarily entails risk. "Crush them" can't always be the option of choice if things are to move forward, and it will take an American President who a) makes both sides understand that and b) makes both side understand that if one party exploits that trust, the US will not tolerate it, to really see progress on the issue.