FROM Jim Gelvin
Has the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict Entered a New Phase? The nightmare scenario that Israel has feared since its establishment came true." "The barrier of fear has been broken." Those are Israeli commentators on what Defense Minister Ehud Barak describes as "the Palestinians' transition from suicide-bomber terrorism" to "mass demonstrations, deliberately unarmed." They're all quoted in a Washington Post article by Joel Greenberg in Jerusalem. With Middle Eastern regimes under challenge as never before, are the Palestinians adopting a new strategy in their struggle with Israel? How will President Obama respond to claims that the US is losing influence in the region?
Political Change and Continuing Conflict in the Middle East On Sunday, Israel's 63rd anniversary, massed Palestinians approached the country's borders from Syria, Lebanon, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. Some were fired on by soldiers, but Israeli leaders concede that a shift from suicide bombs to unarmed masses creates challenges of a new and different kind. Another challenge will come in September, when the UN General Assembly might well declare a Palestinian state. This week, it's President Obama's turn, with a much-anticipated speech on the so-called "Arab Spring" and meetings with regional leaders, including today's meeting with King Abdullah of Jordan.
Israel, the Palestinians and anti-Americanism in the Muslim World Last week UN Secretary General Kofi Annan said the Israeli-Palestinian issue "carries a powerful symbolic and emotional charge... like no other conflict in the world." There was a sense of optimism, when President Mahmoud Abbas said the Palestinians would form a "unity government" to negotiate the end of the economic and political blockade imposed by Israel and the western powers. But with Hamas and Fatah bitterly divided over recognizing Israel's right to exist, there may be no "unity government" with which to negotiate. We update the Palestinians' internal struggles and look at the mood in Israel after the bombing of Lebanon. We also get some history of the Israeli-Palestinian issue and why it's the source of so much anti-Americanism around the world.
The flight bumping heard around 'round the world Recent video of a passenger forcibly removed from a United Airlines plane is a worst-case example of what's happened since consolidation into just four US-based carriers. Management seems to be tone-deaf to a decline in service — and even abuse — of passengers.