Saul Singer at PostGlobal

Saul Singer

Jerusalem, Israel

Saul Singer, a columnist and former editorial page editor at the Jerusalem Post, is co-author of the forthcoming book, Start-Up Nation: The Story of Israel's Economic Miracle. He has also written for the Wall Street Journal, Commentary, Middle East Quarterly, Moment, the New Leader, and (an Israeli/Palestinian e-zine). Before moving to Israel in 1994, he served as an adviser in the United States Congress to the House Foreign Affairs and Senate Banking Committees. He is also on Twitter. Close.

Saul Singer

Jerusalem, Israel

Saul Singer is a columnist and former editorial page editor at the Jerusalem Post. more »

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November 2007 Archives

November 12, 2007 11:46 AM

Israel Lobby Not Powerful Enough

Jerusalem - The idea that Jews are too powerful is, of course, a staple of anti-Semites throughout history. Regarding this tinge in the question and the recent book that inspired it, there is really nothing to add to Jeffrey Goldberg's devastating review in the New Republic. As he puts it, "[The Israel Lobby authors John] Mearsheimer and [Stephen] Walt are the sort of scholars who think that if you wish to understand racism, study blacks, and if you wish to understand anti-Semitism, study Jews. They are chillingly unaware that such views are complicit with the prejudice that they claim to abhor."

For those who do want to study Jews, I will save them the trouble by mentioning that my wife works for AIPAC. Yes, I am pro-Israel. I even live here and write for the Jerusalem Post!

But let us set aside conspiracy theories for the moment, rephrase the original question slightly, and address its substance. The legitimate underlying question is: Is U.S. policy too pro-Israel? The fact that the U.S. is significantly more pro-Israel than other major democracies only accentuates this suspicion.

The surprising truth, however, is that from the point of view of both the peace process and even more fundamental American interests, the U.S. should be more "pro-Israel," not less. The basic reason for this is that the Arab war to destroy Israel is a subset of Islamo-fascist jihad against the West. It makes little sense for the U.S. to be neutral in such a struggle, just as the U.S. could not be neutral as Nazi Germany proceeded to gobble up Europe.

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November 26, 2007 2:38 PM

The Annapolis Summit
Israel Pins Hopes on Arab Attitude

In just a few years, all three major Israeli peace/security paradigms have collapsed: "Peace Now," "Greater Israel," and unilateralism. While the old fringes still dominate the debate, a wide swath of the Israeli public does not want to rule over Palestinians, but also feels badly burned from previous withdrawals, which brought more war rather than more peace.

Israelis want peace badly, but don't see how to get there from here. Add to this the weaknesses of the three players – Olmert, Abbas, and Bush – and expectations for Annapolis are at rock bottom. That said, there is tepid agreement with Olmert's argument that some process is probably better than nothing.

These low expectations, however, could change dramatically if the Arab side were to make some concrete steps toward peace. The two things Israelis will look for is Arab acceptance of Israel as a Jewish state, not just our de facto existence, and a diplomatic-economic warming trend – as during the Oslo era's heyday – from the Arab states.

It’s easy to generate a kind of peace-hope euphoria in such a situation, which in turn produces massive internal pressure on the Israeli government to reciprocate. But the reverse is not true, which is why -- contrary to Western conventional wisdom -- the Arab side has a much greater ability to catalyze a peace process than does Israel.

November 28, 2007 4:06 PM

An Israeli Take on Annapolis

My colleagues David Ignatius and Rami Khouri both point out the significance of the U.S. becoming "judge and jury" of the road map in the wake of Annapolis, while Fareed Zakaria sees the whole thing as part of the fight against Iran. Daoud Kuttab and Khouri both bristle at the Israeli demand for recognition as a Jewish state, and at implied American support for it.

While I think that my colleagues have touched on all the key points, I would shuffle them differently. First, David is right that appointing the U.S. as the compliance judge is a significant Israeli concession. This is so because presidents will only get into the nitty-gritty of this when it’s too late, so in effect the State Department will be the judge, and their tendency will be to be tough on Israel and easy on Palestinians.

For all the talk that the U.S. will never ask Israel to compromise on security, in fact the U.S. State Department tries to do just that all the time, as if we have not seen time and again that the result of easing the pressure on the terrorist infrastructure will be – absent a true Palestinian commitment to crush terrorism – more dead Israelis and Palestinians.

On the Jewish state issue, I don't know if my Palestinian friends genuinely misunderstand why this is so critical to Israelis, or if they understand and are resistant anyway. My most recent column explains why recognition of a Jewish state is so critical in light of the myriad ways the Arab world still denies Israel's right to exist. And this editorial explains why the Arab world's refusal to accept Israel as a Jewish state shows that its claims to have recognized Israel's right to exist are a sham.

I appreciate that all this may seem paranoid to my Palestinian friends. But if you were surrounded by people who have been saying for a century that you have no right to exist, that they have every right to move to your country, that you do not exist as a people, and that you have no history in the land that they claim to be completely theirs, you might be paranoid, too.

Lastly, Fareed is right that this whole thing is about Iran, but not in the sense that he describes. Sure, Annapolis was a bid to isolate Iran, but the more salient connection is that the success of the process launched there is completely dependent on Western success in preventing Iran from going nuclear.

Imagine the Arab world making peace with Israel at the very moment when Hamas, Hezbollah, and al-Qaeda obtain an Iranian nuclear umbrella. You can't, because it won't happen. By contrast, if Iran's nuclear bid is blocked or the mullahs are forced to cut a Libya-like deal, then peace becomes possible because the wind will be let out of the radical Islamists' sails. Everything depends on beating Iran – but Annapolis and any process coming out of it are not nearly enough to do that.

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PostGlobal is an interactive conversation on global issues moderated by Newsweek International Editor Fareed Zakaria and David Ignatius of The Washington Post. It is produced jointly by Newsweek and, as is On Faith, a conversation on religion. Please send us your comments, questions and suggestions.