Friday, August 01, 2014

From proto-Zionism to Gaza 2014: a continuous arc

Excerpts from ‘The Hidden History of Zionism’ (Ralph Schoenman):

In 1923 Jabotinsky wrote The Iron Wall, which could be called a benchmark essay for the entire Zionist movement. He set forth bluntly the essential premises of Zionism which had, indeed, been laid out before, if not as eloquently, by Theodor Herzl, Chaim Weizmann and others. Jabotinsky’s reasoning has been cited and reflected in subsequent Zionist advocacy – from nominal “left” to so-called “right”. He wrote as follows:

"There can be no discussion of voluntary reconciliation between us and the Arabs, not now, and not in the foreseeable future. All well-meaning people, with the exception of those blind from birth, understood long ago the complete impossibility of arriving at a voluntary agreement with the Arabs of Palestine for the transformation of Palestine from an Arab country to a country with a Jewish majority. Each of you has some general understanding of the history of colonization. Try to find even one example when the colonization of a country took place with the agreement of the native population. Such an event has never occurred.

The natives will always struggle obstinately against the colonists – and it is all the same whether they are cultured or uncultured. The comrades in arms of [Hernan] Cortez or [Francisco] Pizarro conducted themselves like brigands. The Redskins fought with uncompromising fervor against both evil and good-hearted colonizers. The natives struggled because any kind of colonization anywhere at anytime is inadmissible to any native people.

Any native people view their country as their national home, of which they will be complete masters. They will never voluntarily allow a new master. So it is for the Arabs. Compromisers among us try to convince us that the Arabs are some kind of fools who can be tricked with hidden formulations of our basic goals. I flatly refuse to accept this view of the Palestinian Arabs.

They have the precise psychology that we have. They look upon Palestine with the same instinctive love and true fervor that any Aztec looked upon his Mexico or any Sioux upon his prairie. Each people will struggle against colonizers until the last spark of hope that they can avoid the dangers of conquest and colonization is extinguished. The Palestinians will struggle in this way until there is hardly a spark of hope.

It matters not what kind of words we use to explain our colonization. Colonization has its own integral and inescapable meaning understood by every Jew and by every Arab. Colonization has only one goal. This is in the nature of things. To change that nature is impossible. It has been necessary to carry on colonization against the will of the Palestinian Arabs and the same condition exists now.

Even an agreement with non-Palestinians represents the same kind of fantasy. In order for Arab nationalists of Baghdad and Mecca and Damascus to agree to pay so serious a price they would have to refuse to maintain the Arab character of Palestine.

We cannot give any compensation for Palestine, neither to the Palestinians nor to other Arabs. Therefore, a voluntary agreement is inconceivable. All colonization, even the most restricted, must continue in defiance of the will of the native population. Therefore, it can continue and develop only under the shield of force which comprises an Iron Wall through which the local population can never break through. This is our Arab policy. To formulate it any other way would be hypocrisy.

Whether through the Balfour Declaration or the Mandate, external force is a necessity for establishing in the country conditions of rule and defense through which the local population, regardless of what it wishes, will be deprived of the possibility of impeding our colonization, administratively or physically. Force must play its role – with strength and without indulgence. In this, there are no meaningful differences between our militarists and our vegetarians. One prefers an Iron Wall of Jewish bayonets; the other an Iron Wall of English bayonets."

To the hackneyed reproach that this point of view is unethical, I answer, ’absolutely untrue.’ This is our ethic. There is no other ethic. As long as there is the faintest spark of hope for the Arabs to impede us, they will not sell these hopes – not for any sweet words nor for any tasty morsel, because this is not a rabble but a people, a living people. And no people makes such enormous concessions on such fateful questions, except when there is no hope left, until we have removed every opening visible in the Iron Wall.


In 1940, Joseph Weitz, the head of the Jewish Agency’s Colonization Department, which was responsible for the actual organization of settlements in Palestine, wrote:

"Between ourselves it must be clear that there is no room for both peoples together in this country. We shall not achieve our goal if the Arabs are in this small country. There is no other way than to transfer the Arabs from here to neighboring countries - all of them. Not one village, not one tribe should be left."

 Joseph Weitz elaborated upon the practical meaning of rendering Palestine “Jewish”:

"There are some who believe that the non-Jewish population, even in a high percentage, within our borders will be more effectively under our surveillance; and there are some who believe the contrary, i.e., that it is easier to carry out surveillance over the activities of a neighbor than over those of a tenant. [I] tend to support the latter view and have an additional argument: ... the need to sustain the character of the state which will henceforth be Jewish ... with a non-Jewish minority limited to fifteen percent. I had already reached this fundamental position as early as 1940 [and] it is entered in my diary. "

The Koenig Report stated this policy even more bluntly:

"We must use terror, assassination, intimidation, land confiscation and the cutting of all social services to rid the Galilee of its Arab population."

Chairman Heilbrun of the Committee for the Re-election of General Shlomo Lahat, the mayor of Tel Aviv, declaimed: “We have to kill all the Palestinians unless they are resigned to live here as slaves.”

These are the words of Uri Lubrani, Israeli Prime Minister David Ben Gurion’s special adviser on Arab Affairs, in 1960: “We shall reduce the Arab population to a community of woodcutters and waiters.”

 Raphael Eitan, Chief of Staff of the Israeli Armed Forces stated:

"We declare openly that the Arabs have no right to settle on even one centimeter of Eretz Israel ... Force is all they do or ever will understand. We shall use the ultimate force until the Palestinians come crawling to us on all fours."

 Eitan elaborated before the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee:

"When we have settled the land, all the Arabs will be able to do will be to scurry around like drugged roaches in a bottle." [my emph.]

The territorial ambitions of Zionism were clearly spelled out by David Ben Gurion in a speech to a Zionist meeting on October 13, 1936: “We do not suggest that we announce now our final aim which is far reaching – even more so than the Revisionists who oppose Partition. I am unwilling to abandon the great vision, the final vision which is an organic, spiritual and ideological component of my ... Zionist aspirations.”

In the same year, Ben Gurion wrote in a letter to his son:

"A partial Jewish State is not the end, but only the beginning. I am certain that we can not be prevented from settling in the other parts of the country and the region." [my emph.]

 In 1937, he declaimed:

“The boundaries of Zionist aspirations are the concern of the Jewish people and no external factor will be able to limit them.” [47] In 1938, he was more explicit: “The boundaries of Zionist aspiration,” he told the World Council of Poale Zion in Tel Aviv, “include southern Lebanon, southern Syria, today’s Jordan, all of Cis-Jordan [West Bank] and the Sinai.”

 Ben Gurion formulated Zionist strategy very clearly:

"After we become a strong force as the result of the creation of the state, we shall abolish partition and expand to the whole of Palestine. The state will only be a stage in the realization of Zionism and its task is to prepare the ground for our expansion. The state will have to preserve order – not by preaching but with machine guns."

 In May of 1948 he presented his strategic aims to the General Staff. “We should prepare to go over to the offensive. Our aim is to smash Lebanon, Trans-Jordan, and Syria. The weak point is Lebanon, for the Moslem regime is artificial and easy for us to undermine. We shall establish a Christian state there, and then we will smash the Arab Legion, eliminate Trans-Jordan; Syria will fall to us. We then bomb and move on and take Port Said, Alexandria, and Sinai.”

When General Yigal Allon asked Ben Gurion, “What is to be done with the population of Lydda and Ramle?” – some 50,000 inhabitants – Ben Gurion, according to his biographer, waved his hand and said, “Drive them out!”

 Yitzhak Rabin, the current Defense Minister, carried out this edict. In Lydda and Ramle, no remnants of Palestinian dwellings remain. Today this area is occupied entirely by the Jewish settler population. Michael Bar Zohar, in his biography of David Ben Gurion, describes Ben Gurion’s first visit to Nazareth. “Ben Gurion looked around in astonishment and said, ’Why are there so many Arabs, why didn’t you drive them out?’”



The Thrasybulus Syndrome: Israel’s War on Gaza

Francesco Guicciardini, the Florentine historian and diplomat, was the contemporary and friend of Niccolò Machiavelli. The latter now enjoys an everlasting fame (or infamy, as you please), having gotten an adjective named after him, but his friend Francesco, now forgotten, often had the better of Niccolò in argument. After Machiavelli’s death, Guicciardini read his Discourses on Livy’s Roman history in manuscript and wrote a lengthy analysis of it. Discussing Machiavelli’s observation that “a new prince in a city or province taken by him, must make everything new,” Guicciardini insisted on the weaknesses invariably incurred by force: “Violent remedies, though they make one safe from one aspect, yet from another . . . involve all kinds of weaknesses. Hence the prince must take courage to use these extraordinary means when necessary, and should yet take care not to miss any chance which offers of establishing his cause with humanity, kindness, and rewards, not taking as an absolute rule what [Machiavelli] says, who was always extremely partial to extraordinary and violent methods.”

The difference of opinion between Machiavelli and Guicciardini over the utility of force echoes down the ages. Every age presents some variation of it. But the old argument is displayed with a ferocious intensity in the ongoing controversy over Israel’s approach to Hamas and to the Palestinians. In dealing with its neighbors, there is no contemporary state more partial to extraordinary and violent methods than Israel. Israel has fought four major wars in the last eight years, including the Lebanon War of 2006 against Hezbollah and three devastating wars against Hamas in Gaza from late 2008 to the present (not counting several smaller operations from 2006 to 2008). It has assassinated Iranian nuclear scientists and bombed sites in Syria, Lebanon, and Sudan over the same time period, just as it has continually agitated for U.S. military strikes against Iran’s nuclear infrastructure. In Israel, hawks have found a welcome abode; doves are an endangered species.

The regularity of Israel’s perceived need to use force is illustrated by the notorious expression, “mowing the lawn,” that one of its military officers used to describe strategy toward Gaza. It is reminiscent of the advice that Thrasybulus gave Periander of Corinth, recounted in Herodotus. Walking through a field, Thrasybulus broke off the tallest ears of grain by way of showing Periander’s envoy the best way to rule violently. The envoy couldn’t figure out his meaning, but Periander, the prototype of the ancient tyrant, understood immediately on hearing the envoy’s report. The analogy showed that violence could not be a one-time affair. New stalks would grow up. It would remain necessary to keep lopping off the top ones—i.e. mowing the lawn.

Machiavelli offers a view different from Thrasybulus. It is unfortunately all too true that Machiavelli did have a penchant for extraordinary and violent methods, as Guicciardini alleged, but his thought also reflected an appreciation of “the economy of violence.” “The indiscriminate exercise of force and the constant revival of fear,” as Sheldon Wolin observed of Machiavelli’s teaching, “could provoke the greatest of all dangers for any government, the kind of widespread apprehension and hatred which drove men to desperation.” This sense of the limits of force, even among one of its greatest partisans, was given expression in another of Machiavelli’s famous sayings, in which he advised, “One must be a fox to recognize traps, and a lion to frighten wolves. Those that wish to be only lions do not understand this.” Israel’s strategy toward Hamas—seeking peace by periodically pummeling the Palestinians, shedding the blood of numerous innocents—violates Machiavelli’s injunction. It generates hatred as well as fear. It produces desperate men.

The counterproductive and useless character of Israel’s uses of force has always seemed to me the best argument against them, the one most likely to gain some kind of purchase in officialdom. But the sad state of affairs is that the Israelis think they are succeeding. They also believe they are using force in a limited and proportionate way, and no exhibition of “telegenically dead Palestinians” will convince them otherwise.

Even more important, by way of criticism of Israeli strategy, is the point made by Guicciardini. The idea that Israelis might improve their relationship with the Palestinians by treating them with humanity, kindness and rewards seems alien and even risible to Israeli opinion. The Palestinians, the Israelis think, hate them and will hate them for eternity. It is worse than useless to take an interest in their well-being, because doing so has the fatal liability of demonstrating weakness. Much as this viewpoint must be regarded as a profound mistake, it is written all over the conduct of Israel toward Gaza since the withdrawal of soldiers and settlers in 2005. Ensconced in the world’s largest open-air prison, encircled by a stringent blockade, the inmates too often behaved like those locked up in solitary confinement, a dementia attributable in large part to their loss of dignity. Israel’s belief that it can solve the Palestinian problem by ever-larger doses of the old medicine appears delusional—but there it is.

* * *

In the early days of Israel’s existence, it was the policy of the Jewish state to make friendships outside the circle of immediate enmity with the Arabs. Thus with the Turks, the Persians and non-Islamic Africans, there was some hope for good relationships that would put a countervailing pressure on the Arabs. Israel continues that policy in Africa, but has lost its once important relations with Iran and Turkey. The first loss came thirty-five years ago, in 1979, with the Islamic Revolution in Iran. The Iran-Iraq War that followed from 1980 to 1988 actually served that countervailing purpose quite well; Israel was happy to see those states, both potential enemies, weaken themselves in war. Enjoying an equality of ignominy in Israel’s eyes, Iraq and Iran were seen as potent threats for many years, but for the last decade at least Iran has counted as by far the greater enemy for Tel Aviv.

The collapse of Israel’s relationship with Turkey is more recent but also, one should think, a very serious liability to Israel’s policy in Gaza. The recent fulminations of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, even more vitriolic than those of Iran’s Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, attest to the extreme deterioration of a once important and long-lasting modus vivendi between Israel and Turkey. On any sensible accounting, this is an important cost of the Gaza campaigns, but it seems like the Israelis could care less.

Of course, Israelis do care about their larger standing in the world and rightly fear isolation, but they figure they are safe so long as they have American public opinion in their corner. Indeed, the key prize in their geopolitical strategy of leaping over their opponents to find allies on the other side has been to secure a vital redoubt in American public opinion and in the organs of American state power. Here they have shown extraordinary success, the most potent symbol of which (not counting the annual bill of over $3 billion in military aid) is the twenty-nine standing ovations given to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu when he addressed Congress in May 2011. (Who sat down first? One wonders.) Israel’s enemies are America’s enemies; those whom they denominate as terrorists, we denominate as terrorists: Hamas, Hezbollah, Iran, Syria, Sudan. This support does not simply reflect the adeptness of AIPAC and other pro-Israel groups in granting and withholding favors from members of Congress, but exists throughout the corporate commentariat and is well rooted in broad swathes of U.S. domestic opinion. The latest polls show that 57 percent of Americans believe Israel’s actions in Gaza are justified, with 40 percent opposed. An earlier Pew poll from 2013 showed that 51 percent of Americans sympathize with Israel; only 14 percent sympathize with the Palestinians. The findings are remarkably stable over time. According to a CNN poll, the same 57 percent thought Israel’s actions were justified against Hamas in 2012. In 2009, the approval rate was 63 percent. (The margins are closer in Gallup polling, with a July 22-23 poll showing a 42-39 split on whether Israel’s actions are justified and—disturbing for Israel—a 25-51 split among people aged 18-29.)

Israel has also made very considerable progress with European governments, if not so much with public opinion. While European opinion shows majorities in Germany and France looking skeptically on Israel’s claims, governments in Europe, east and west, show strong verbal support for Israel’s right to defend itself and offer only weak criticisms, if at all, of the methods by which it has done so. Even Vladimir Putin (no doubt with diabolical motives) weighed in on Israel’s behalf. The great verbal support that Arab heads of state once lavished on the Palestinians is no more; they have been mostly silent spectators to Israel’s war. Yes, the Israelis are vociferously condemned on the Arab street and the broader Islamic street (one of whose addresses is Europe), but Israelis never enjoyed any support in that venue and it would seem absurd to them that they might ever get any. The Kurds, whose independence Israel champions (in a throwback to its old policy of cultivating peoples who have bad problems with Arabs) want this relationship kept hush-hush.

* * *

There are three expert timelines of the Israeli assault on Gaza published by John Judis, Larry Derfner, and Scott McConnell. They make clear that the first rockets fired by Hamas, after having observed a cease-fire since November 2012, came after a wide range of Israeli provocations. Israel had to deal with intermittent rocket fire from Gaza splinter groups, especially Islamic Jihad, throughout the previous eighteen months, but Hamas kept its fire. In March 2014, Netanyahu acknowledged that the number of rocket attacks from Gaza in the previous year was the “lowest in a decade.” The shock of the three Jewish teenagers kidnapped on June 12 led to widespread official calls for collective punishment, 1500 building searches, and some 500 arrests in the West Bank in the following two weeks, even though the government had every reason to believe that the teenagers were dead and that a group antagonistic to Hamas was behind the kidnappings. The clear purpose was to disrupt the accession of Hamas to the Palestinian “national consensus” government in early June. Israel not only arrested fifty-one Hamas members released in the exchange for Gilad Shalit, but also conducted thirty-four airstrikes on Gaza on July 1 and killed six Hamas men in a bombing raid on a tunnel in Gaza on July 6. After these Israeli actions, came a big volley of Hamas rockets, then Operation Protective Edge.

The previous experience with the cease-fire should have shown that it was possible to maintain a relationship of deterrence with Hamas, and not really possible to eliminate, save at a horrific cost, its capacity to lob inaccurate rockets into Israel—rockets that, in the aggregate, could kill no more people than a few traffic accidents. Though Hamas was in all likelihood not responsible for the kidnappings, its leader did publicly laud them, an incendiary and reprehensible comment. Israel was looking for an excuse; Hamas provided it. But Israel was wrong to attempt the disruption of the unity government, the terms of which required Hamas to subordinate itself to the far more conciliatory platform of the Palestinian Authority. It was deeply cynical for Netanyahu to use the kidnapping and death of the three teenagers as a cover for that purpose. In no way can the formation of the unity government be seen as a threat that would justify the war that Israel has fought.

The capacity of one symbolic incident to set the Israelis on a big war has many precedents. In 1982, the assassination of Shlomo Argov, the Israeli ambassador in London, provoked Israel to invade Lebanon, to pummel Beirut in that dreadful summer, to force the PLO’s removal to Tunisia, and to occupy the south of Lebanon for another eighteen years, creating Hezbollah. In 2006, Israel made the kidnapping of two Israeli soldiers and the death of three others along the Lebanese border the occasion for a major war during which the southern suburbs of Beirut, where Hezbollah has its headquarters, were flattened. Hezbollah’s rockets flew into Israel after Israel began its air attack, not before. The preliminaries to the three campaigns in Gaza since 2008-09 show the same tendency. In the Israeli psyche, these incidents stand as a mortal threat to their existence. The wars that follow invariably cause more Israeli casualties than the initial incidents themselves. The only compensation for that is the devastation inflicted on the enemy, for which the incidents provide a convenient excuse. Then the Israelis go back to the previous policy of deterrence, until they feel compelled to mow the lawn again.

When war is one of choice and not necessity, the criticism of inhumane methods has even greater force. The Israelis, to be sure, claim fidelity to the laws of humanitarian warfare—Rob Dermer, Israel’s Ambassador to the United States, recently nominated the Israel Defense Forces for a Nobel Peace Prize for their contributions on this score. The standards for receiving this august award have admittedly declined a bit lately; even so, it seems unlikely that the IDF will get the medal. And they definitely don’t deserve it, because their war methods inevitably cause large civilian casualties. Eminent authorities such as Michael Walzer (writing about U.S. methods in Vietnam) might be cited on the point, but we will have to make do with the recent headline in The Onion: “Israel: Palestinians Given Ample Time to Evacuate to Nearby Bombing Sites.” The policy of targeted assassination of the enemy’s leadership—together with their homes, children and immediate environs—is especially obnoxious: among all the older authorities on the law of warfare one would search in vain for a justification of such a practice.

That America should be deeply associated with these Israeli attacks on Arabs and Muslims cannot be beneficial to American security. Osama bin Laden once revealed that he got the idea for blowing up skyscrapers from witnessing the Israeli shelling of Beirut in 1982; and the plan took shape after he observed the devastation wrought upon Iraq by Desert Storm in 1991. Everyone says that it was the stationing of U.S. forces in Saudi Arabia that most offended bin Laden, but it was what the United States did with those forces—the war and the ensuing large civilian death toll in Iraq—that was the greater offense in his book. Violence motivates people, often to kill; that is a universal trait of our divided and depraved humanity.

No prudent foreign policy should ignore the motive for retaliation we give by recklessly using force in the Islamic world ourselves or by identifying the United States so closely with Israel. Adverting to this phenomenon two centuries ago, then-diplomat John Quincy Adams wrote that to take an eye for an eye allowed the allied powers ranged against France to “glut their vengeance for the wrongs” they had received from France, but Adams believed that they were “laying up stores of wrath for the day of wrath in revenge for those which they are inflicting.” Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority who has sincerely tried to bring peace for the last decade, spoke on July 22 in a similar vein:

The time has come for everyone to raise their voices and tell the truth, clearly and powerfully, in the face of the Israeli killing and destruction machine. The oppressing occupation forces have crossed every line and [have broken] all the laws. They have deviated from all standards of human and international morality in their ferocity and barbarism. . . . We will go anywhere in order to stop the aggression and the confiscation of our legitimate rights, and we will hunt down those who commit crimes against our people, no matter how long it takes. These crimes will not go unprosecuted and unpunished.

To the people in Gaza, he said: “Words cannot describe our emotions and what our heart feels for you. Your wound is our wound and is the great anger that is within us. We will never forgive and never forget.”

The announced purpose of Israel’s war has been to destroy Hamas, but its result will in all probability be to destroy Abbas. Perhaps that was after all the real intention of Netanyahu and his war cabinet: the extremists invariably seek to undermine the moderates.

* * *

The settlement of the Palestinian question through a two-state solution is desirable from the standpoint of both American interests and values. We have a strong interest in containing the violence, and it is our duty to respect both the Palestinian right of self-determination and the Israeli right of self-defense. (The Palestinians have the right of self-defense too, but Abbas has accepted demilitarization in his peace proposals.) Despite the evident attractions of a peaceful settlement, it seems virtually impossible to imagine the circumstances in which the United States would make a serious attempt to force Israel to change its course. It is and has been so much easier to look the other way, especially for politicians. All the candidates of the major parties are squarely in the pro-Israel camp. Rand Paul, otherwise reputed to be an isolationist, is emphatically in favor of engagement on behalf of Israel (and has introduced a bill in the Senate to cut off all aid to the Palestinian Authority). Elizabeth Warren, the darling of the progressive left, is as regressive as Hillary Clinton on this particular issue.

About the only thing that might seriously disrupt this solid consensus would be a sea-change in the outlook of American Jewry. Despite strong discontent among many younger Jews, and stiff protests from some older ones, there are few real signs of that. Even J Street and Americans for Peace Now champion those annual $3 billion charitable donations, which equip the forces used in the attacks to which they object. To their credit, the liberals don’t accept the proposition that the only thing the Palestinians understand is force, but they do believe that the Israelis respond only to U.S. love—that is, that Israelis would never make concessions unless they were persuaded that America absolutely had their back.

I used to believe that too, or at least accepted the argument that U.S. reassurance to Israel was vital in getting it to make concessions to the Palestinians. The analogy was to the way the U.S. commitment to Britain and France after 1947 made possible a more lenient treatment of Germany—an adroit maneuver that must still be regarded as one of the finest moments of twentieth-century American statecraft. But the argument today, as applied to Israel, appears increasingly otherworldly; it is founded on the fact that the Israelis don’t want to make peace with the Palestinians at any reasonable price and have nothing close to a governing coalition willing to make the concessions required. After all these years of negotiation, the Israelis refuse to produce a map for a peace accord they would find acceptable, as if vague generalities would suffice for a serious proposal. One can only conclude that unlimited and unconditional U.S. support has bolstered and will continue to bolster the expansionists among them. Certainly it has done nothing to weaken or restrain them. Fifteen years after the breakdown of Oslo, the settlement project continues, with 650,000 Israelis living in the occupied territories as of May 2011. There were 129,200 in 1995. This is not the conduct of a government and people who wish to give these territories up. It also dooms Israel to eternal domination of and conflict with the Palestinians. Truly, the Israelis have got the wolf by the ear, and can neither hold him, nor safely (so they believe) let him go.

Realists are among the sharpest critics of Israel but, realistically, there seems nothing in prospect that would dislodge the force of Israel’s support in America. It would be wishing for a different political system, a different culture, a different intellectual milieu from those which we have come to inhabit. I hope that change will come; I do not see it on an even intermediate horizon. If the four great thrashings of the last eight years have not sufficed to bring about a change in view, what would? Bad as the current war is, it is as yet no worse than Operation Just Reward in Lebanon (2006) or Operation Cast Lead in Gaza (2008-09).

The American people’s deep reluctance to venture on another Middle Eastern war does operate as a strong barrier to the war Israel wants America to fight with Iran, but that reluctance may not be sufficient to get a nuclear agreement with Iran or, if one is gotten, to get it passed through Congress. At least, however, there are now potent forces in American domestic opinion barring a preventive war against Iran; nothing comparable to that exists with respect to restraining Israel’s actions in its immediate neighborhood.

We are thus forced back, for want of anything better, to hoping for a change in Israeli consciousness on two key points: one would have them be far more discriminate in the use of force; the other would have them use more humanitarian methods (e.g., lifting the siege of Gaza) as a way of encouraging more pacific tendencies in the Palestinian population. More Machiavellian economy in their approach to force, let us say, and more Guicciardinian kindness in their administration of the occupied territories. These days, however, either wish seems more like an impossible dream than a plausible future course. Israel wants to follow the method of Thrasybulus, and its own untroubled conscience is just about the only thing that stands in the way.


David C. Hendrickson is professor of political science at Colorado College. He is the author of Union, Nation, or Empire: The American Debate over International Relations, 1789-1941. (Kansas, 2009). His blogs include What They Think and IR and All That.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Gaza: British MPs demand tougher action over Israeli bombardment

"Senior MPs and advisers call on Cameron and Miliband to speak out more forcefully against killing of Palestinian civilians."
SPEAKING out even MORE forcefully: but will they manage?

Kind of puts me off reading the rest of their garbage:

Operation ‘Protective Edge’: Israel is showing remarkable restraint

… relative to the Israel on Lebanon 1982 war:

"By the end of the first week, 14 June 1982, International Red Cross and Lebanese police figures claimed that 9,583 had died and 16,608 injured. By the end of the second week, they claimed up to 14,000 people died and 20,000 were injured, mostly civilians."

Israel running out of ammo: US to the rescue

Washington has also, however, allowed Israel to tap a local U.S. arms stockpile in the past few weeks to replenish its grenades and mortar rounds, a U.S. defense official said on Thursday.

Israel’s Far Right meshugganah : ‘Gaza is a graveyard’


Tibi – Ahmed Tibi

I wanted you to know

The next kid to be hurt will be your kid

I hate Tibi

I hate Tibi the terrorist.

Tibi – is dead!

Tibi – is dead!

Tibi – is dead!


Tibi is a terrorist.

Tibi is a terrorist.

Tibi is a terrorist.


They’ll take their papers away.

They’ll take their papers away.

They’ll take their papers away.

Olé, olé, olé-olé-olé

In Gaza there’s no studying

No children are left there,

Olé, olé, olé-olé-olé,


[Three lines, not entirely clear]


Who is getting nervous, I hear?

Zoabi, this here is the Land of Israel

This here is the Land of Israel, Zoabi

This here is the Land of the Jews

I hate you, I do, Zoabi

I hate all the Arabs.


Gaza is a graveyard

Gaza is a graveyard

Gaza is a graveyard

Gaza is a graveyard



Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Now the EVIL Gaza power station has been killed too

Guilty of selling electricity to the Enemy, no doubt.

Kerry peeved, Bambams follows suit

John Kerry’s peeved, despite having voted in favour of the Zionist colony 9,879 times in 25 years (no nos or abstentions), some part of the Zionist press got it wrong, thinking he was pushing for a ceasefire. Poor Kerry.


Meanwhile same said press claimed Obama had ‘sternly admonished’ Bibi during their weekly Skype chat regarding the weather in Tel Aviv. Perhaps Bibi’s simple ‘a bit oppressive today, Barack’ caused the communication breakdown?


Apologies will now surely be issued to both injured parties?


On a serious note, the US/Israel relationship seems to be evolving from ‘tail wagging dog’ to ‘just give us the money and shut up’.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

More formaldehyde

Noam Sheizaf - 972Mag

The current war in Gaza demands we revisit the circumstances surrounding Israel’s “disengagement” from the Gaza Strip in 2005. Supporters of the war often claim that Israel left the territory and “got rockets in return.”

The first rocket was fired from Gaza in 2001, but there is a more important point to be made here: one cannot evacuate a certain part of the occupied territories and expect the problem to be solved – at least in that particular area – while more settlements are being built and there is less freedom elsewhere. The national drama surrounding the evacuation of 9,000 settlers in 2005 disguised the fact that Israel never ended the occupation; it merely rearranged its forces (and some of the civilian population). Just like it did with Oslo.

The events leading up to the siege demonstrate that pretty clearly – Hamas, after all, won the 2006 elections, but Israel denied it its victory. Just like other occupying powers, Israel insisted, and still does, on using its veto power in internal Palestinian politics. The rest is well known: having been left out of the political process, Hamas took Gaza by force and launched attacks on Israel, leading to Israel placing the Strip under siege, which didn’t end even when ceasefires were reached.

These events could have been expected, but in a way they served what the Israeli government perceived as its own interest. The object of the disengagement was to prevent the creation of the Palestinian state – relieving the pressure on an area that Israel had trouble maintaining in order to hold on more tightly to other parts. This was no secret; even Ariel Sharon’s top aid, Dov Weisglass, said as much on record in an interview with Haaretz.

The bottom line is that Gaza and the West Bank are a single unit. This was demonstrated again and again in the last decade, including in the run-up to this war, which had much to do with the widespread operation Israel carried out against Hamas’ political leadership in the West Bank after the abduction of the three teenagers. An action taken in one place leads to a response in another. It is now clear even to Israelis that one cannot simply “get rid of Gaza”; the Strip is once again understood as part of the greater Palestinian issue. And this is Hamas’ greatest achievement in this war.

Conflicting forces of separation and integration are at work between Israel and the territories it occupied in 1967. If Cast Lead and Pillar of Defense were parts of the ongoing effort to isolate besieged Gaza, this military campaign seems to bring about an opposite outcome. Any foreseeable end to Operation Protective Edge will probably include some mechanism that would reconnect Gaza to the Palestinian Authority, and through them to Israel. There is even the option that Israel will decide to re-occupy the entire Strip, though this still seems unlikely.

At this point, it seems that nobody in Israel has given much thought to the goals or the exit strategy of this campaign. Naturally, Israelis would like to see the arrangement Israel has in the West Bank installed in Gaza – a proxy government whose main function is to protect Israeli citizens and prevent another uprising, financed by the international community and under Israeli supervision. The Egyptians would be happy with such a solution as well.

The problem is that the Palestinians, as well as the rest of the world, seem less thrilled – especially since Israel has made it fairly clear that the Palestinian Authority will never become sovereign in any real sense of the word.

Monday, July 28, 2014

I refuse

Watch the story of Udi Segal, a 19-year-old Israeli from Kibbutz Tuval, who was sent to jail on Monday for refusing to enlist in the Israeli military:

Udi, I salute you: for extraordinary courage.

Big H/T: 972Mag

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Israel-Gaza conflict: The secret report that helps Israelis to hide facts

Although this is hardly news, Patrick Cockburn does a good job explaining why journalists should read the ‘Luntz report’.

Every one of the 112 pages in the booklet is marked "not for distribution or publication" and it is easy to see why. The Luntz report, officially entitled "The Israel project's 2009 Global Language Dictionary, was leaked almost immediately to Newsweek Online, but its true importance has seldom been appreciated. It should be required reading for everybody, especially journalists, interested in any aspect of Israeli policy because of its "dos and don'ts" for Israeli spokesmen.

These are highly illuminating about the gap between what Israeli officials and politicians really believe, and what they say, the latter shaped in minute detail by polling to determine what Americans want to hear. Certainly, no journalist interviewing an Israeli spokesman should do so without reading this preview of many of the themes and phrases employed by Mr Regev and his colleagues.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

45,000 gather in London to protest Israeli action in Gaza

Tens of thousands of people amassed outside the Israeli embassy in London today to protest against Israel’s incursion into Gaza which has killed over 1000 Palestinians, including at least 192 children.


And the prize for the crudest Hasbara effort goes to:

Ambassador Boaz Modai, Israeli ambassador to Ireland no less, for enthusiastically outshining Gates of Vienna and assorted Tinkerweb underbelly cesspits in Islamophobia.

It’s an old story but Herr Modai remains unrepentant:

Richard Silverstein

Singling out Israel

… by extraordinary, no-strings attached US foreign aid (USAID), more than half of its worldwide foreign aid expenditure.

Bare facts:


·         Aid received by Israel to date £121,000,000,000

·         Annual aid $3,000,000,000

·         Bonuses: in 2014 an extra $504,000,000 and another $720,000,000 for Iron dome


Woody Allen on the Origins

The Jews had just come out of a terrible war where they were exterminated by the millions and persecuted all over Europe, and they were given this tiny, tiny piece of land in the desert. If the Arabs had just said, “Look, we know what you guys have been through, take this little piece of land and we’ll all be friends and help you,” and the Jews came in peace, but they didn’t. They were not nice about it, and it led to problems,

Angry Arab (hat tip):

But I don't understand. Why did the US or other Western nations not come forward and said: look. We know what you guys have been through, take this little piece of land in Kansas and we'll all be friends and help you".