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Mitchell Quits – OpEd


George Mitchell resigned as Obama administration special envoy for Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations.  It’s not exactly a day to “give thanks for what the Lord hath made,” to upend Scripture a bit.  More like the proverbial chickens of an off-kilter U.S. policy coming home too roost.

Increasingly over the past few months and even moreso in the past few weeks, the Arab peoples, including the Palestinians, have taken matters into their own hands given Israeli obduracy and U.S. irrelevance.

Mitchell had to have seen the handwriting on the wall.  Being an honorable man, he didn’t want to continue presiding over a sham policy.  The wonder is that he remained in his position as long as he did.

Each party said nice things about the man and blamed the other for failure of his efforts.  Israel’s attempt to blame the Palestinians for refusing to negotiate, while the former offered nothing over which to negotiate, was laughable.

I’d like to think (though I have no way of knowing) he lobbied for our joining the effort on behalf of Palestinian statehood which is gathering steam for the UN in September.  Perhaps he couldn’t be heard within the administration.  Likely, this will leave the hardcore pro-Israel figures like Dennis Ross increasingly in control of policy.  That remains to be seen, though one might have reasonable fears this might be the outcome.  Ross is a long-time policy infighter who often disagreed with Mitchell’s more balanced approach.  When there is an institutional/policy vacuum it is people like Ross who rush to fill it.

Mitchell leaves, of course at an awkward time, just before a major Obama Middle East address and White House meeting with Netanyahu. The effect is as if to say the emperor, that is U.S. Mideast policy, has no clothes.  One wonders just what Obama will say in this speech and whether the speech will be little more than a distraction from just how ineffectual our policy is and has been.

Besides the problems with a moribund Israeli-Palestinian peace track, the increasing murderousness of the Assad assault on his own Syrian citizens, which has left 600 dead at the hands of brutal security forces, and which the U.S. has observed from the sidelines, leave us increasingly out of reach and out of touch.


This article first appeared in Tikun Olam

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Richard Silverstein

Richard Silverstein is an author, journalist and blogger, with articles appearing in Haaretz, the Jewish Forward, Los Angeles Times, the Guardian’s Comment Is Free, Al Jazeera English, and Alternet. His work has also been in the Seattle Times, American Conservative Magazine, Beliefnet and Tikkun Magazine, where he is on the advisory board. Check out Silverstein's blog at Tikun Olam, one of the earliest liberal Jewish blogs, which he has maintained since February, 2003.

3 thoughts on “Mitchell Quits – OpEd

  • May 14, 2011 at 11:56 am

    US Middle East policy has been a faiure since 1968 when she decided to put her weight behind Israel in the Security Council.Since that time US administration has vetoed every resolution to end the illegal occupation of Palestinian State. Instead they have provided both arms and
    financial support to zionist state to continue
    her subjugation of the Palestinians.
    Unfortunately politicians in USA do not have the moral courage to form policies without being influenced by the zionist lobby at home
    and the wailing of the Israeli government.

  • May 14, 2011 at 2:42 pm

    The only subjugation the Palestinians have suffered has been brought on by themselves. Israel has every right to exist and to expect some form of peace settlement out of Palestinians before any creation of a “Palestine State.”
    You whine about ’68, the year after the 6 Day War when Israel was attacked by Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Iraq. Israel defended herself and will continue to defend herself against aggressors.

  • May 15, 2011 at 7:53 pm

    “The fault, dear Brutus, lies not in our stars, but in ourselves …”

    There is too much abstraction attaching to methods aimed at finalising the matter; everything is far too tentative and, even then, it all hangs by the slenderest of threads.

    No one, it seems, is seriously prepared to grab hold of this 63 year old conflict and finish it off in a quick and decent manner. Maybe it holds some strange fascination for certain people and they feel compelled to keep it in being through steadfast conviction or, as is more than likely, sheer inaction on their part. I, for one, can see no good reason in why the whole thing has not been rolled up long ago and consigned to the dustbin of world history.

    I suppose it’s the rolling up process that eludes most people. And yet, just how difficult can that really be?

    There! Done and dusted. And if anyone else knows of a quicker or an easier way to do it, then that person should let the rest of us in on the secret as soon as humanly possible.


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