Australia's most serious foreign affairs analyst holds forth on the current state of US-Israeli relations:
"Accompanying Obama's own actions has been some of the most dangerous rhetoric ever to come out of a US administration, to the effect that Israeli intransigence endangers US troops by inflaming extremists in the Arab world. No serious analyst anywhere believes that Israel is an important source of the conflicts in Afghanistan or Iraq. Using this type of argument comes dangerously close to the administration licensing a mutant strain of anti-Semitism - it's all the Jews fault." (Obama's anti-Israeli hysteria dangerous and destructive, Greg Sheridan, The Australian, 27/3/10)
The dangerous, almost anti-Semitic, rhetoric that our most serious of analysts darkly alludes to comes from US Central Command chief General David Petraeus, who, despite his daily immersion in the heat and dust, both literal and metaphorical, of the Middle East, simply cannot be taken seriously:
"On January 16... a team of senior military officers from CENTCOM (responsible for overseeing American security interests in the Middle East), arrived at the Pentagon to brief Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Michael Mullen on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The team had been dispatched by CENTCOM commander Gen. David Petraeus to underline his growing worries in the lack of progress in resolving the issue. The 33-slide, 45' PowerPoint briefing stunned Mullen. The briefers reported that there was a growing perception among Arab leaders that the US was incapable of standing up to Israel, that CENTCOM's mostly Arab constituency was losing faith in American promises, that Israeli intransigence on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was jeopardizing US standing in the region, and that Mitchell himself was (as a senior pentagon officer later bluntly described it) 'too old, too slow... and too late'. The... briefing was unprecedented. No previous CENTCOM commander had ever expressed himself on what is essentially a political issue; which is why the briefers were careful to tell Mullen that their conclusions followed from a December 2009 tour of the region where, on Petraeus' instructions, they spoke to senior Arab leaders. 'Everywhere they went, the message was pretty humbling', a Pentagon officer familiar with the briefing says. 'America was not only viewed as weak, but its military posture in the region was eroding'. But Petraeus wasn't finished: 2 days after the Mullen briefing, Petraeus sent a paper to the White House requesting that the West Bank and Gaza (which, with Israel, is a part of the European Command - or EUCOM), be made a part of his area of operations. Petraeus' reason was straightforward: with US troops deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan, the US military had to be perceived by Arab leaders as engaged in the region's most troublesome conflict." (From Foreign Policy, quoted in 'This is starting to get dangerous', Scott Horton, informationclearinghouse.info, 15/3/10)
And not only is Petraeus' analysis - sorry, rhetoric - not to be taken seriously, we can't take the analysis/rhetoric of everybody's favourite extremist Osama bin Laden seriously either:
"The suffering of the Lebanese and Palestinian peoples is seen by bin Laden as a result of the creation of the state of Israel with Western support. The notion of revenge is central to bin Laden's thinking: 'The events that made a direct impression on me were during and after 1982, when America allowed the Israelis to invade Lebanon... I still remember those distressing scenes: blood, torn limbs, women and children massacred... The whole world heard and saw what happened, but did nothing. In those critical moments, many ideas raged inside me, ideas difficult to describe, but they unleashed a powerful urge to reject injustice and a strong determination to punish the aggressors'. Bin Laden regards the Zionist enterprise as an anachronistic extension of European colonization into the modern age. Since bin Laden's words were censored in the US in the aftermath of 9/11, there was little or no reporting at the time of his claim that the attacks were a culmination of an 80-year struggle; that the action was to avenge 'our people killed in Palestine'; that it was Palestine 'which has sunk under military occupation for more than 80 years' (some commentators have assumed that bin Laden was referring to the abolition of the Caliphate in 1924); that 'the creation and continuation of Israel is one of the greatest crimes, and you - the United States - are the leaders of its criminals'; and finally that there was 'no need to explain and prove the degree of American support for Israel'." (False Prophets: The 'Clash of Civilizations' & the Global War on Terror, Richard Bonney, 2008, p 27)
No, whether it's those who are battling the extremists or the extremists themselves, nothing they say, as our most serious foreign affairs analyst says, can be taken seriously.
Seriously now, truly serious people who require a serious analysis of the Middle East conflict need go no further than that of Greg (Jerusalem Prize) Sheridan, foreign editor of our most serious newspaper, The Australian.