Great column on Mideast peace by Roger Cohen

I agree with everything said in this column, written by a somewhat unlikely source, because I think of Cohen as being very slightly left of center.  He is a British Jew.

The American Jewish community must come to its senses, but it shows every sign of not doing so, year after year.  The reason is obvious.  Just as Western guilt for its complicity in the Holocaust allowed Israel to be created, guilt of the American Jewish community for leading its own successful and largely soft and secular life in America while the Israelis tough it out in the desert with their mandatory draft have led the American Jewish community to bankroll Israel in a big way and to bankroll America’s Mideast policy and to dictate its terms.   What this demonstrates to me is the superficiality of the American Jewish community, the vacuousness at its core.  I don’t have many good things to say about this “culture” in which I sort of grew up, except that it produced some good fiction writers, although these belong to an earlier generation, the generation of my parents.  If only Jewish kids were actually taught something in Sunday school.  I am myself so ignorant of Jewish theology, traditions, and history that I am embarrassed.

Here is what I believe.  Two-state  solution.   The Palestinian state cannot be cantonized, it must be mostly contiguous territory.  It would be demilitarized, with international oversight.  Jerusalem would have divided sovereignty.  There would be either no right of Palestinian return, or the cases in which such a right exerts itself would be very limited.  There would be some form of financial compensation for people who were demonstrably expropriated, possibly with international sponsorship.

But bravo Roger Cohen.  You have said what virtually no Jewish person with claims to having a voice in the centrist establishment of the American Jewish Community dares to say, or even wants to say.  But what you have said is morally correct.  No other position is possible for a responsible person.

Brooks calls for debate on constitutional reform

Wow, I am astounded and gratified.  Shortly after I suggested that America needs constitutional reform regarding two things, the disproportionate power of the Senate and the inability of our system to limit spending on political campaigns, David Brooks chimes in to say that the system might be broken and that there should be a debate about constitutional reform.  I trust he’s not talking about abortion, but since he does not even indicate what he has in mind, there is no way of knowing.  I would probably be willing to throw abortion back to the states if it meant limiting the power of the Senate significantly.

Most of Brooks’s column is an argument to the effect that Obama’s new New Deal is dead, that he will have to trim his sails and offer competence and hard talk about the tough fiscal choices ahead.  Maybe, maybe not.  Obama should try to get health care reform legislation passed somehow and then do a better job of trying to educate the public about the big reform issues, energy policy, financial regulation, education, and global warming (in no particular order).  What Brooks says about the public’s mood is not implausible, though.  But Obama should also do a better job of blaming Republican ideology for the country’s problems, even if Clinton spearheaded the financial deregulation which produced the most recent financial meltdown.  It should never be forgotten that the financial meltdown happened on Bush’s watch and that his whole administration was asleep at the financial wheel.

On the assumption that Brooks is implying that the senate is granted too much power under the constitution, given present political and demographic conditions, this is a startling admission for him to make.  And I must say that I agree entirely with Brooks that there has to be some tough talk with the supposedly wise American people to the effect that there is no free lunch.

Krugman points out today that the Republicans would apparently push again for privatization of Social Security if they regained the presidency.  This really strains credulity.  I would have thought that that would be a total nonstarter now, in light of the financial meltdown.