This is my last column of 2011, so I will make a fewpredictions for 2012, some which I hope come true and some which I hope don't.
U.S.Election: President Barack Obama will be re-elected. Each of hispotential rivals is, in my opinion, fatally flawed. The most likely GOPnominee, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, is a handsome version ofthat little plutocrat dude in a Monopoly game.
In a time of high unemployment, Americans will not elect apresident who made much of his fortune closing down factories in the heartland.Happily, I do not believe Romney's religion will be an issue, one way or theother. By the way, Romney's choice for vice president will be Sen. Marco Rubio(R-FL).
Israel:PrimeMinister Binyamin Netanyahu will remain in power, spending 2012 girding himselffor a newly energized Obama to put pressure on him in a second term.Unfortunately, I don't expect the pressure to come.
Having won re-election with the overwhelming support (75-80percent) of American Jews, Obama will continue to accept the AIPAC-generated "conventionalwisdom" that his Jewish support was a result of his "pro-Israel" policies andnot because he was the liberal candidate. Because many of the big Democraticfunders themselves adhere to the view that Jews primarily care about Israel,Obama is unlikely to challenge it. The only variable that might change Obama'spolicy would be a major act of stupidity by Netanyahu such as bombing Iran or,once again, trying to physically crush Gaza, as in 2008-9.
Public Opinion: Thepast year has seen Israel (more specifically, Netanyahu and the occupation) takea major hit with American public opinion. Prominent Jewish journalists like TomFriedman, Joe Klein, and Peter Beinart (whose upcomingbookwill cause the "pro-Israel" establishment to quake in its boots) are allvocally condemning Netanyahu's policies, freeing many less-prominent voices to speaktheir minds.
In the days prior to the internet, the Israel lobby had theability to shut down criticism of Israeli policies through calls to editors,bosses, advertisers, etc. Those days are almost over.
On the web, it is the Israeli government and not its criticswho are on the defensive. This is partly related to the fact that the web is dominatedby young people who, for the most part, have an even-handed view of theIsraeli-Palestinian conflict. This is particularly true of young Jews. Theother reason that the web is the ultimate in free journalism is that it isinfinitely harder to get bloggers fired and, even if they are, they will justkeep blogging on another site. For the lobby, the internet is a curse.
Iran: Therewill be no attack on Iran by either Israel or the United States over the next12 months. With both the military and intelligence establishments in bothcountries opposed to bombing Iran, an act viewed as both futile (in terms ofending Iran's nuclear program) and incredibly destabilizing to the entireworld, a war just won't happen. Sanctions will continue producing significantsuffering among the Iranian people while racketeers in the Iranian government andmilitary apparatus make a killing.
The neocons, however, will intensify their clamoring forwar, hoping the Iraq model can be repeated. In fact, virtually the entire crowdthat helped lie us into Iraq is back in place, working tirelessly to convincethe United States to bomb Iran.
AIPAC: TheAIPAC conference (seevideo) in March will be proclaimed the "most successful" in theorganization's history. Most of Congress will show up along with PresidentObama. The theme of the conference, as with every AIPAC conference for over adecade, will be about confronting Iran. A subsidiary theme will be thatPresident Abbas and the Palestinian Authority are now just as evil as Hamas andthat, accordingly, there is "no partner" with whom Israel can negotiate the"two-state solution" it theoretically (but not really) supports.
The conference will accomplish its main goal of conveying toCongress that supporting AIPAC on all matters related to the Middle East is theonly way to stay out of political trouble. Following the conference, Congresswill overwhelmingly pass one to three pieces of legislation (bashingPalestinians and calling for ever more action against Iran) drafted by AIPACand circulated at the conference.
ArabSpring: In 2012, the Syriangovernment will collapse, a good thing, but the transition to somethingresembling democracy will be as bumpy as it is in Egypt. Also, as is the case withEgypt, any move by the new Syrian government to include "Islamists" will becondemned as frightfully threatening to the U.S. and Israel. Few will mentionthat the Christian right here (which essentially owns the GOP) and the Shas Partyin Israel (a powerful component of Netanyahu's coalition) both seek, oftensuccessfully, to impose their bigoted and antediluvian religious dogma on theirrespective countries.
Israelisand Palestinians: Both peoples will be saddled with governments(in the case of the Palestinians, quasi-governments) that are almostexclusively concerned with preserving power. Both Israeli and Palestinianauthorities will instigate and exploit hatred of the enemy in order to stay inpower, and each will refuse to utter "magic word" formulations that wouldenable genuine negotiations to begin.
The Israeli center and left will confront a government thathas as its chief goals settlement expansion and the eviction of Palestiniansfrom their homes and neighborhoods. Meanwhile, Palestinians will suffer from continuedineptitude and corruption in Ramallah and from the refusal by the authoritiesin Gaza to call Netanyahu's bluff by accepting Israel's right to exist withinthe '67 lines, to form a unity government for the purpose of negotiating withIsrael, and to totally and unequivocally reject violence against Israel infavor of energetic and nonviolent resistance.
Anti-Semitism:Therewill be no more or less anti-Semitism during the coming year, especially in theUnited States, where hardly any Jews experience it in a lifetime (I neverhave). But the phrase will be very big because, in the last few months,neoconservatives and other agitators for war with Iran and against any"concession" to Palestinians have begun condemning virtually all opponents oftheir policies as anti-Semites.
This, in itself, is not completely new. For decades non-Jewishcritics of Israeli policies have been called anti-Semites in an effort, often successful,to shut them down. In 2011, however, the right stopped limiting use of the term"anti-Semite" to non-Jews and now freely uses it against Jews who despise theoccupation, settlement activity, and right-wing Israeli policies.
They (we) used to be called "self-hating Jews" but sincethat didn't shut us up, the hope is that this will. Of course, it won't. Jewsare used to being called bad names by bad people.
In conclusion, despite everything, I look forward to abetter 2012. In December 2010, I didn't expect President Obama to end the Iraqwar in 2011 or eliminate the monster who killed 3000 Americans. But thesethings happened. So, there is hope.
Whenever I doubt that the good guys are starting to win,I'll just re-read this column by TomFriedman, or this piece by JoeKlein. A few years ago, neither would have been possible. Progressivesare making a difference. As the great Tony Kushner wrote, "The world only spinsforward."
Happy Holidays to all.