I commend to my Israeli friends that they read Shibley Telhami’s opinion poll on shifting ideas in the US about Israel, something even Thomas Friedman is worried about. There may be a shaft of light.
Sushma Swaraj’s statement on Palestine in the Rajya Sabha so pleased Jerusalem that Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman thanked her that evening over the telephone. But the goodwill thus generated was fading when New Delhi, having changed its mind, voted with the resolution at the UN “condemning Israel for disproportionate use of force in Gaza”.
To the various puzzles America pores over has been added one more: Iran’s President elect, Hassan Rouhani. As an opening gambit, he is being described as “moderate”.
It is being speculated that he will be “moderate” on the nuclear issue even though he has deep roots in the country’s conservative establishment whose views on the issue are known and not liked.
Years ago, “moderation” in all discourse concerning West Asia had a distinct meaning. It was an adjectival expression approving of states which were willing to tow the Western line on the Israeli-Palestinian question. The antonym for moderate those days was “rejectionist”.
The Western media has been predicting the fall of Bashar al Assad for the past year. An externally induced civil war is on the cards but the collapse of the regime has not materialized.
Winds of change in the Arab world left Israel initially distraught with the fall of Mubarak. But then the mood changed. Changes elsewhere were seen as popular quest for empowerment in which, for once, Arab-Israeli peace (or its obverse) was not the centre piece.