It is a dangerous issue and Anti-Israel progressives could be going down a path that could cost the Democratic party the fall elections, handing them to Republicans and right wing Christian theofascists.
A CNN Poll reported:
A majority of respondents said their sympathies in the conflict were with Israel.
Fifty-seven percent said they had more sympathy for Israel, compared with 4 percent who sympathized with Hezbollah, 20 percent who said they did not sympathize with either and another 4 percent who said they sympathize with both. Fifteen percent had no opinion.
I believe it is a mistake, with this being such a loaded, divisive issue, for Democratic politicians and candidates to take highly visible, simple solution stands. Most advocates for taking stands are calling for simple, non-nuanced approaches-- cease fire, withdraw from the territories occupied since 1967-- and these simple-minded proposals, without further, much more detailed elements in negotations, are far too simple to become reality. It may feel good to call for these simple approaches but they not only won't work, they will be used by Republicans to whittle away at Democrat candidates' support.
Bush needs to bring in smart, experienced mediators-- people who operated in the middle east successfully-- and that means people who worked under Democratic administrations. I doubt it will happen. Instead, we'll get neocons and people who think in terms of bombs and military might as the only kinds of solutions.
I do know that the solution is not more warfare with Syria and Iran as the Neocons, Rumsfeld, Rice, Cheney, Bush and others are pushing for. The solution has to be a change in how the US invests its money in the middle east. We must outspend the Iranians, who are spending hundreds of millions with Hizbollah, providing both weapons and hospitals and schools. We must spend billions, instead of on war, on health care, education, rebuilding-- and then, when Hizbollah attacks our rebuilding efforts, attack the schools we build, it will be clear that it is the theofascist, Islamofascist Ayatollahs who are the purveyors of violence, just as is the case in Iraq, where Bush destroyed the delicate balance between Shiites and Sunnis that Saddam had maintained.
I have major problems with Israel's most extreme right wing group-- Likkud, and the ultra orthodox fundamentalist Jews who back it. They are guilty of wanting to expand their territory and I have no doubt they have no respect for the Palestinians. In the US we have a similar problem with Republicans who don't respect wholes swathes of billions of humans.
We have to remember Israel is currently doing what it's financier, the USA is ENCOURAGING it to do. Israel is dependent upon the USA for its survival. If it doesn't do what the Neocons tell it to do, what then? That's when Israel will lose its funding, not when liberals demand it because it is attacking "terrorists" that the Bush administration wants it to attack.
It will take a change of Administrations in the US to change the way Israel operates.
The focus of Progressives should be on Bush's continued six year failure to rein in Israel, its failure to intelligently and continuously persist in working to make peace happen. Just sending in angry-faced Condi after two weeks of unrelenting assaults is a ridiculous travest of what diplomacy could be. Israel's behavior is a symptom of right wing policy. The criticism should be on Bush and the Republican party. Any discussion of wrongdoing by Israel that fails to factor in the dependence of Israel upon the US and the reality that Israel is repsonding to Bush administration pressures, messages and policies is falling prey to the easy distraction, the easy kick in the gut.
Condemn Israel's extreme reaction if you think it's excessive. But keep the big picture in context. We need to invest in helping the poor, the weak in the Arab world, or Islamofascists will do it. We need to face the reality that there is a threat from the taliban-like Islamic extremists who do truly hate the west, who will use the West's efforts to provide democracy to create Islamic fascist states.
Bush's ideas of creating democratic states without dealing with Islamofascism and groups that want to turn nations into Islamic states are doomed to failure. I don't have an answer, except that the way to compete with Islamofascism is to provide better support-- health and education-wise, so the people start seeing we of the west as people who care and support them, not people who only try to tell them how to live. You can't inject or force democracy or love. You have to inspire and attract it.
I see little value, with the current political power structure in the USA, of progressives bashing Israel without including the bigger picture. We need to stay together on this. Israel will change its ways when the US administration tells it to. That will happen when administrations change. And don't think any Administration will win that does not strongly stand for the survival of Israel. That is the political reality in the US. Four percent of the CNN poll support Hizbollah, not forty, not a majority. The solution lies in finding a way for peace to emerge as a positive win win answer for Israelis and Palestinians. I'm not sure Hizbollah, with all the support it gets from Iran will ever buy into a peaceful solution. Do you?