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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

U.S.-Israeli Disconnect

In a useful article for The American Prospect, Matt Yglesias draws attention to a basic disconnect between U.S. and Israeli thinkers and doers that has often been obscured by internal differences in both countries:

Differing coverage of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s trip to Israel on Tuesday captured the divergence of opinion. The Associated Press’ headline kept the focus on Clinton’s somewhat news-making proclamation about Palestine: “US: ‘Inescapable’ movement to Palestinian state.” The story highlighted how Clinton emphasized to Israeli leaders across the spectrum — including Benjamin Netanhayu, almost certainly Israel’s next prime minister and an opponent of a sovereign Palestine — the vital need to continue work toward a two-state solution.
The Jerusalem Post headline, by contrast, was “Netanyahu, Barak urge Clinton for Iran dialogue deadline.” Israeli leaders, from the Labor Party to the Likud Party, think that the most important thing they can be doing right now is urging the United States to get tough on Iran. The March 3 Haaretz had an article about Israeli leaders intending to present Clinton with “red lines” on talks with Iran.
How the client state in this relationship got in the position to start dictating red lines is an issue I’ll leave for others. The larger issue is that this Israeli consensus on priorities is dangerously out of line with reality.

You should go on to read the full article for Yglesias’ arguments about why he thinks the Israeli perspective is “out of line with reality,” mostly having to do with his fear that a two-state solution for Israel and Palestine may soon no longer be an option. But any way you look at it, he’s absolutely right that Americans assume the Palestinian issue is always front-and-center for Israelis, while Israelis increasingly perceive Palestinians as pawns in a bigger geopolitical struggle with Iran. The disconnect here is pervasive, and dangerous.

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