FROM Jeremy Ben-Ami
A defiant Israel and an American reprimand Israel is railing at the Obama administration for not vetoing a UN vote last week condemning settlements in the West Bank. In retaliation, it's pulling envoys and advancing plans for new settlements in East Jerusalem, where Palestinians envision a future capital. Today outgoing Secretary of State John Kerry took Israel and Prime Minister Netanyahu to task in a speech making a final plea for keeping the "two state solution" alive. Kerry also rejected the suggestion made by the Israeli Prime Minister that the Obama Administration orchestrated the UN vote behind the scenes. We talk about the Kerry plan, get reaction from Jerusalem, and ask where US Mid East policy is headed under the Trump Administration.
Mistrust between the US and Israel Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu is running for re-election — at the same time jumping with both feet into American politics. First, he agreed to address the President's nuclear talks with Iran before a joint session of Congress — without telling the White House. The Obama Administration now suspects him of leaking what it calls "misleading" details about the talks with Iran, creating more mistrust. Vice President Biden and other Democrats — including some Jews — will stay away from the speech. Will Israel gain or lose with the American public?
Will President Obama Raise New Hopes for Middle East Peace? As President Obama plunged back into the perils of Middle East diplomacy , the White House worked hard to lower expectations. But in his visit with Palestinians in Ramallah and his speech in Jerusalem to Israeli students were all about hope for peace and the necessity of a two-state solution. The President backed a Palestinian state at the same time supporting Israel almost without reservation. He condemned earlier rocket fire from Gaza into Southern Israel that broke a three-month cease-fire. He called settlements in the occupied West Bank "counterproductive," and urged young Israelis to pressure an older generation of political leaders. We hear excerpts and a variety of reactions.
Cabinet Nominee Hagel Gets a Grilling Republicans John McCain and Chuck Hagel might have been friends when Hagel was in the Senate, but you wouldn't have known it today at his confirmation hearing . Republican James Inhofe of Oklahoma said Hagel supports retreat from America's global leadership and shrinking the military, which Inhofe said "will not make America safer." Even Democrats, including Michigan's Carl Levin, were concerned about where Hagel stands on Israel. We hear what was said about Iran, Israel and cuts in the Pentagon budget, and assess Hagel's chances of confirmation.
J Street Comes to Los Angeles AIPAC , the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, has long been the major lobby for Israel in Washington. Now it’s being challenged for influence by J Street , a Jewish-American group that’s pro-Israel but advocates an end to settlement building and the blockade of Gaza. J Street has offices in New York and several other cities and now in Los Angeles. Jeremy Ben-Ami is a 25-year veteran of government, politics and communication in the US and Israel, and the founding president of J Street.
Obama, Clinton and Foreign Policy in the Middle East Barack Obama says Israel is " America's strongest ally in the Middle East," but skeptics contend he's soft on the Palestinians and not tough enough on Iran. Hillary Clinton promises "massive retaliation" if Israel's ever attacked by Iran, and an "umbrella of deterrence" that would go beyond that. These and other differences have been used to suggest that Obama's support of Israel is insufficient. Does Obama suffer from guilt by association with his church pastor and others? Who are the real advisors to his campaign? Does Clinton really support a two-state solution? What about a pre-emptive attack on Iran?
Mixed Messages from US diplomats on the new hard line on Syria Since President Trump's surprise retaliation against Syria's use of chemical weapons, Bashar al-Assad has used the same airport to launch conventional attacks on his own people. It's not clear what the US, its allies — or Vladimir Putin's Russia -- plan to do now.
In Janesville, WI, Middle America meets the new American dream Janesville, Wisconsin is the hometown of Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan. But he couldn't prevent the closing of the General Motors factory after 100 years. We hear what's happened to what once was a model of American middle-class unity.