Predictions for 2012

12/22/2011 02:48 pm ET | Updated Feb 21, 2012
  • MJ Rosenberg Worked on Capitol Hill for Democratic Senators and House members for 20 years

This is my last column of 2011, so I will make a few
predictions 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 his
potential rivals is, in my opinion, fatally flawed. The most likely GOP
nominee, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, is a handsome version of
that little plutocrat dude in a Monopoly game.

In a time of high unemployment, Americans will not elect a
president 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 the
other. By the way, Romney's choice for vice president will be Sen. Marco Rubio
(R-FL).

Israel:
Prime
Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will remain in power, spending 2012 girding himself
for 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 (75-80
percent) of American Jews, Obama will continue to accept the AIPAC-generated "conventional
wisdom" that his Jewish support was a result of his "pro-Israel" policies and
not because he was the liberal candidate. Because many of the big Democratic
funders themselves adhere to the view that Jews primarily care about Israel,
Obama is unlikely to challenge it. The only variable that might change Obama's
policy 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: The
past year has seen Israel (more specifically, Netanyahu and the occupation) take
a major hit with American public opinion. Prominent Jewish journalists like Tom
Friedman, Joe Klein, and Peter Beinart (whose upcoming
book

will cause the "pro-Israel" establishment to quake in its boots) are all
vocally condemning Netanyahu's policies, freeing many less-prominent voices to speak
their minds.

In the days prior to the internet, the Israel lobby had the
ability 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 critics
who are on the defensive. This is partly related to the fact that the web is dominated
by young people who, for the most part, have an even-handed view of the
Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This is particularly true of young Jews. The
other reason that the web is the ultimate in free journalism is that it is
infinitely harder to get bloggers fired and, even if they are, they will just
keep blogging on another site. For the lobby, the internet is a curse.

Iran: There
will be no attack on Iran by either Israel or the United States over the next
12 months. With both the military and intelligence establishments in both
countries opposed to bombing Iran, an act viewed as both futile (in terms of
ending Iran's nuclear program) and incredibly destabilizing to the entire
world, a war just won't happen. Sanctions will continue producing significant
suffering among the Iranian people while racketeers in the Iranian government and
military apparatus make a killing.

The neocons, however, will intensify their clamoring for
war, hoping the Iraq model can be repeated. In fact, virtually the entire crowd
that helped lie us into Iraq is back in place, working tirelessly to convince
the United States to bomb Iran.

AIPAC: The
AIPAC conference (see
video
) in March will be proclaimed the "most successful" in the
organization's history. Most of Congress will show up along with President
Obama. The theme of the conference, as with every AIPAC conference for over a
decade, will be about confronting Iran. A subsidiary theme will be that
President Abbas and the Palestinian Authority are now just as evil as Hamas and
that, 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 to
Congress that supporting AIPAC on all matters related to the Middle East is the
only way to stay out of political trouble. Following the conference, Congress
will overwhelmingly pass one to three pieces of legislation (bashing
Palestinians and calling for ever more action against Iran) drafted by AIPAC
and circulated at the conference.

Arab
Spring:
In 2012, the Syrian
government will collapse, a good thing, but the transition to something
resembling democracy will be as bumpy as it is in Egypt. Also, as is the case with
Egypt, any move by the new Syrian government to include "Islamists" will be
condemned as frightfully threatening to the U.S. and Israel. Few will mention
that the Christian right here (which essentially owns the GOP) and the Shas Party
in Israel (a powerful component of Netanyahu's coalition) both seek, often
successfully, to impose their bigoted and antediluvian religious dogma on their
respective countries.

Israelis
and Palestinians:
Both peoples will be saddled with governments
(in the case of the Palestinians, quasi-governments) that are almost
exclusively concerned with preserving power. Both Israeli and Palestinian
authorities will instigate and exploit hatred of the enemy in order to stay in
power, and each will refuse to utter "magic word" formulations that would
enable genuine negotiations to begin.

The Israeli center and left will confront a government that
has as its chief goals settlement expansion and the eviction of Palestinians
from their homes and neighborhoods. Meanwhile, Palestinians will suffer from continued
ineptitude and corruption in Ramallah and from the refusal by the authorities
in Gaza to call Netanyahu's bluff by accepting Israel's right to exist within
the '67 lines, to form a unity government for the purpose of negotiating with
Israel, and to totally and unequivocally reject violence against Israel in
favor of energetic and nonviolent resistance.

Anti-Semitism:
There
will be no more or less anti-Semitism during the coming year, especially in the
United States, where hardly any Jews experience it in a lifetime (I never
have). 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 of
their policies as anti-Semites.

This, in itself, is not completely new. For decades non-Jewish
critics 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 the
occupation, settlement activity, and right-wing Israeli policies.

They (we) used to be called "self-hating Jews" but since
that didn't shut us up, the hope is that this will. Of course, it won't. Jews
are used to being called bad names by bad people.

In conclusion, despite everything, I look forward to a
better 2012. In December 2010, I didn't expect President Obama to end the Iraq
war in 2011 or eliminate the monster who killed 3000 Americans. But these
things happened. So, there is hope.

Whenever I doubt that the good guys are starting to win,
I'll just re-read this column by Tom
Friedman
, or this piece by Joe
Klein.
A few years ago, neither would have been possible. Progressives
are making a difference. As the great Tony Kushner wrote, "The world only spins
forward."

Happy Holidays to all.