AIPAC, the powerful D.C.-based pro-Israel lobby, is currently hosting its annual policy conference, attended by over 7,500, according to its website. Secretary of State Clinton addressed the conference this morning, and reports indicate that her speech showed little sign of the Obama administration stepping back its criticisms of continued Israeli settlement expansion. Writes Philip Weiss, “Hillary was bringing cold hard truth to the AIPAC faithful. She went on at some length, in a vigorous, direct manner. By such fits and starts, Americans may at last reckon with the reality of the occupation.”

David Remnick has a piece in the current New Yorker that details the factors contributing to the current strain in U.S.-Israel relations, laying the blame pretty squarely on the Netanyahu administration:

The Netanyahu government suffers from a troubling degree of instability, thanks to its far-right coalition partners (including its bigoted foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman) and its ineptitude. The insult to Biden, an ardent Zionist, was just the most recent blunder, following the humiliation of a resident diplomat from Turkey (Israel’s closest friend in the Muslim world) and of the Brazilian President, to say nothing of its presumed role in the assassination of a Hamas military leader on the soil of one of the few open-minded countries in the region. The professionals in Washington and Jerusalem share sufficient diplomatic agility to paper over this latest unpleasantness, but the memory of the trivial-seeming aspects of the dispute—the affronts, the lacerating phone calls—obscures a more unsettling pattern: a deep Israeli misreading of the President and an ignorance of the diversity of opinion among American Jews and in the United States in general.


The essential question for Israel is not whether it has the friendship of the White House—it does—but whether Netanyahu remains the arrogant rejectionist that he was in the nineteen-nineties, the loyal son of a radical believer in Greater Israel, forever settling scores with the old Labor élites and making minimal concessions to ward off criticism from Washington and retain the affections of his far-right coalition partners. Is he capable of engaging with the moderate and constructive West Bank leadership of Mahmoud Abbas and Salam Fayyad, and making history? Does there exist a Netanyahu 2.0, a Nixon Goes to China figure who will act with an awareness that demographic realities—the growth not only of the Palestinian population in the territories but also of the Arab and right-wing Jewish populations in Israel proper—make the status quo untenable as well as unjust?

For a contrary analysis, see David Horovitz in the Jerusalem Post. For more on Clinton’s speech, see Marwan Bishara at Bibi Netanyahu also spoke at the conference today, keeping his remarks terse and emphasizing his adminstration’s efforts to improve the economic situation in the West Bank, reports Haaretz.