Obama opts for a nuclear-free Middle East?

Doug Mills / The New York Times

For decades now there’s been a kind of pussyfooting going on about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The Europeans, for myriad psycho-social reasons, won’t confront Israel in any meaningful way. Millions of Americans have a deep religious bond with Israeli settlers and will side with their biblical brethren until the end times. In Washington, DC, AIPAC, a powerful pro-Israel lobby, exerts a profound influence on America's foreign policy. And those who dare to speak out publicly against Israel’s violations of international and human rights law are routinely accused of anti-semitism.

And yet… and yet… despite the tremendous pressure exerted to silence its critics, Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians has made it one of the least popular nations on Earth — and now the world is waking up to the fact that the Palestinian freedom fight is the quintessential freedom fight of our time.

The time is ripe for a global moment of truth in Tel Aviv.

With Obama in Israel there is a tantalizing opportunity for a journalist to break four decades of geopolitical deadlock by asking two audacious questions at an upcoming live press conference:

President Obama, Prime Minister Netanyahu, instead of all this sabre-rattling against Iran that’s going on, why are you not considering a nuclear-free Middle East as a strategic option? All the countries in the Middle East support this option, so why is it not on the table?

President Obama, you are a constitutional lawyer. You were the editor of the Harvard Law Review. And you know very well that Israeli settlements in the West Bank are illegal under international law. So why are you not speaking out against this violation? What part of international law don’t you understand?

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