Bored with the Middle East?
A letter from a friend.
Is it bad that every time I see the words “Israel” in the title of a news story or op-ed, I never bother to read the article? I honestly have no idea who even runs the Palestinian territories any more, what part(s) are “occupied,” or if there’s some sort of peace processing going on. I was still a teenager when Clinton met with Arafat and Barak, but I followed it closely. I followed less closely when Blair, Bush & Co. tried in the 2000’s to chart some sort of roadmapy thing.
Today, I am friends with the director of the local chapter of AIPAC, and while I’m an AIPAC contributor, every time I hang out with her or go to AIPAC events I’m totally bored by the whole sclerotic, sad mess.
My reading is thus: Israel is a great, prosperous, free, liberal, and, like us all, imperfect country. It’s surrounded by nations ranging from frenemies that dabble in anti-Semitism to distract from their huge internal problems, to truly frightening psychopaths who want Israel’s (and our) utter destruction. Iran is only the latest existential threat. I’m sure they are!
And yet, with our help, Israel manages to kick someone’s ass every decade or so and endure. We support them, and rightly so; Europe is eh; the rest of the world hates them. Only the characters change in the story. If I were the president, I wouldn’t even take phone calls from anyone who wanted to talk about “engagement” with this or that Middle Eastern nation on the subject of Israel or Palestine.
You write about this stuff a lot, so am I being too simplistic? Should I be paying closer attention?