Friday, June 3, 2011

PERSONAL/GLOBAL NEWS: Off to Israel -- Some Context

Hey loyal readers -- Sunday night I embark on a two-week journey to Israel to see my family. I'm not planning on taking a break from this blog -- I'm going to try to blog from the ground in Israel.

So, just a little bit of context around my trip: as I'm sure you're aware, now is a particularly sensitive time in the Middle East.

First: the Palestinians finally ended their civil war by forming a unity government, thus ending the already weak peace process by putting the West Bank-leading Fatah party in the same government as the notorious-for-terrorism Hamas. Together, they're planning on declaring independence in September (something that is being described as "unilateral" although that term is disputed).

Meanwhile, on the Israeli side of the fence, Israelis are largely despairing of ever coming to peace. When Netenyahu was last in America, he surprised everyone by deciding that the 1967 borders -- a precondition for peace talks -- were "indefensible" despite the fact that not too long ago he was fine with that being the starting point. His outrage seemed to play well, getting him standing ovations in America and pushing the nation to the right.

Netenyahu's nominal opponent, former Prime Minister Tzipi Livni, has basically been silent; she can't articulate how she would do anything different from Netenyahu. Which is unsurprising: she was, after all, part of Netenyahu's party not too long ago, as was Avigdor Lieberman, the quasi-fascist Yisrael Beiteinu party leader who used to be Netenyahu's Chief of Staff.

The only major dissent -- but it is MAJOR -- just hit the airwaves this week -- is a former Mossad leader Meir Dagan who took to the media to call the current government "Reckless and irresponsible" and blast Netenyahu's claim that 1967 borders are "indefensible."

There's plenty of instability in the region on both sides, then; violence during Nakba day protests, violence continuing in Syria, and the blockade of Gaza is ending -- not without problems.

So, that's where you'll find me!