Thursday, December 17, 2009

Marc Lynch's People of the Year list: Defensive Player of the Year - Netanyahu

(The New Marc Lynch - People of the Year 2009: Middle East Edition:

Defensive Player of the Year: Benjamin Netanyahu. The Israeli Prime Minister's ability to stand up to the United States on the issue of settlements threw American Middle East policy into the trash bin, harmed Obama's credibility across the Middle East and throughout the world, and may have squandered Israel's last chance to achieve a lasting peace with the Palestinians and the Arab world. But he successfully defended his positions, won considerable support from the Israeli public, and for whatever reason paid little to no costs of any kind with the United States.

Offensive Player of the Year: Richard Goldstone. He certainly offended a lot of Israelis and Americans --- while galvanizing global criticism of Israel's behavior in the Gaza war. His devastating report -- badly misrepresented in the media -- opened up the real prospect of prosecution for Israeli officials abroad. The American decision to pressure Mahmoud Abbas to withdraw the report backfired badly, undermining the Palestinian leader's legitimacy and provoking a still-unresolved political crisis.