The New York Times reports that President Obama will appoint former Senator George Mitchell as his chief envoy on Israel-Palestine. According to Jewish Week, ADL national director Abraham Foxman thinks Mitchell is an inappropriate choice because he is "fair," and has been "meticulously even-handed." As Matt Yglesias points out, fairness is a quality that we normally prize in an envoy.
Foxman says this approach is wrong because our policy hasn't been "even-handed" in the past. But has he noticed that our long-standing policy of one-sided support hasn't been working out so well for the United States, or for Israel? Experienced Middle East diplomats like Aaron David Miller and former Ambassador Dan Kurtzer understand that our mediation efforts will fail if we act like Israel's lawyer, and make it clear that we need envoys who are seen as credible by both sides. To repeat myself: it's time to redefine what being "pro-Israel" means. I think Obama may get this, even if Foxman doesn't.
Stephen M. Walt is the Robert and Renée Belfer professor of international relations at Harvard University.