...But of these sophisms and elenchs of merchandise I skill not...
Milton, Areopagitica

Except he had found the
standing sea-rock that even this last
Temptation breaks on; quieter than death but lovelier; peace
that quiets the desire even of praising it.

Jeffers, Meditation On Saviors



the strangest things:

Although Israel was grateful to see Saddam Hussein overthrown, officials here have long focused on what they consider a much bigger concern - preventing Iran from gaining nuclear weapons.
...most Israelis believe that they have only one true ally in the world: the United States. The relationship is extraordinarily tight, especially since Sept. 11...
In September, Israel was abuzz over a speech by an American official ...Philip Zelikow... on "Building Security in the Broader Middle East."
"For the Arab moderates and for the Europeans, some sense of progress and momentum on the Arab-Israeli dispute is just a sine qua non for their ability to cooperate actively with the United States on a lot of other things that we care about," he said.
The message seemed to Israelis perfectly clear: The Bush administration would demand Israeli concessions on the Palestinian issue to hold together an American-led coalition on Iran. American officials were quick to insist that there was no change in American policy, and that Zelikow was speaking on his own, from notes rather than a prepared speech.
But Zelikow's close ties to Rice are well known, and the furor over his comments was amplified because they appeared to some to echo criticisms published in March in the London Review of Books by two American scholars, John Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago and Stephen Walt of Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government.
The authors suggested that from the White House to Capitol Hill, Israel's interests have been confused with America's, that Israel is more of a security burden than an asset and that the "Israel lobby" in America, including Jewish policy makers, has an undue influence over American foreign policy.
The essay argued that without the Israel lobby the United States would not have gone to war in Iraq and it implied that the same forces could drag the United States into another military confrontation on Israel's behalf, this time with Iran.
Former Israeli ambassadors to Washington like Rabinovich, Shoval and Moshe Arens all scoff at the Walt- Mearsheimer thesis...
But given the intensifying debate in Washington about Iran, Rabinovich said, the essay is "disturbing," as are the echoes of part of the argument in the Zelikow speech. Arens said that Sept. 11 created "an objective reality" of an anti- terrorism coalition, led by Bush, in which Israel is a crucial member. Bush is less interested in being an "honest broker" than in supporting Israel as key strategic partner in the region.
The Iran confrontation, Arens said, will bolster that partnership.
"The president said that he sees a clear and present danger with Iran arming itself with nuclear weapons and it's obvious that this is a clear and present danger for the state of Israel. Although a small country, we are not a minor party. When people talk about the possibility of a military option what are they talking about? The U.S. or maybe Israel to take that move - not the U.S. or Germany or France."
Alpher, the former negotiator, was concerned that if Bush ultimately negotiates with Iran, "we need to ensure that the United States doesn't sell us down the river." It's fine for Israel to say that Iran is the world's problem, Alpher said. "But if the world solves it diplomatically, will it be at our expense?"

The world looks different to nearly all Israelis across the political spectrum.
"Unlike Bush, an Israeli leader looks at Iran through the prism of the Holocaust and his responsibility to the ongoing existence of the Jewish people," Alpher said. "It may sound pompous, but at the end of the day, it matters, and so we may be willing to do the strangest things."
What matters most to Israel, officials here say, is the level of support it receives from ordinary Americans, no matter their political party or religion. Despite all the anxieties here over Lebanon, Iran and academic essays, the polls show that Americans are solidly in support of Israel, with new support coming from evangelical Christians.

In Europe, "they don't like us - what can we do? What else is new?" asked Arens. "We would like to be liked by everyone, of course," he said, "but it's the relationship with the United States that really matters."
Erlanger/NYTimes/IHT 12.Nov.06

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