Sociable

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Bombs Away


From the desk of Reuven Kaminer
December 12, 2012

Bombs Away
  
Arlo Guthrie tried to fake an unbalanced mind for the draft induction medics. He kept telling them, "I want to keel, I want to keel." It didn't work because he was simply not credible. No credibility, no deterrence. Israel has learned the lesson. If you do not kill from time to time, you lose your deterrence credibility.  Credible deterrence is just what Israel would like to have. Somehow, the lesson that military success often ends in political reversal is usually lost on Bibi & Co. The answer to this small difficulty is of course more force.    
Israel wants to bomb. The strategic differences of opinion between Obama and Bibi regarding the next step against Iran are well known. The Israelis would like to see Obama leading the charge but if the US insists on leading from behind, Israel wants US backing for it to start bombing Iran. Israel will bomb and Obama will hold the umbrella.
Israel has requested US backing and Jordanian fly- over rights in order to start bombing Syria. Israel was willing to bomb Syria before the chemical WMD issue hit the headlines. Now it really wants to bomb Syria.
Israel never bothered to deny credible reports that it had bombed a munitions factory last month in Kartoum, Sudan. It barely made the news, but the "intelligence sources" were on the alert and verified the item.
A few weeks back, Obama broke down and let Bibi bomb the Gaza strip (the most densely populated region in the world) night and day for more than a week. The Israelis are beginning to understand that Obama cannot say no, all the time to his trusted ally.
Israel is dying to bomb the Hezbollah rocket facilities in Lebanon. Just like the IDF did in Gaza last month. But there is a problem.  These rockets seem to be hidden in different locations in the country where the population is mixed Shi'ite, Druze, Christian and Sunni Muslim. Targeting in such circumstances is a bit complicated. You wouldn't care too much about collateral damage if the non-Hezbollah candidates for death and destruction were not pro-Israeli Christians or other buddies in the anti-Assad crowd. Israeli policy makers have surmounted this difficulty by clearly declaring that they will bomb the hell out of Beirut if hostilities break out. In Israel we talk all the time about deterrence. But the threat that Israel might bomb Beirut might appear to Hezbollah more encouragement than deterrence.   
Now if you want to do some bombing, you need bombs. No problem, as they say in these parts of the world.
The Pentagon has approved a deal to supply 6,900 precision bomb kits to replenish Israel’s weapons stockpiles,
diminished by the recent war against Hamas in Gaza. The contract is valued at $647 million.
“The United States is committed to the security of Israel, and it is vital to U.S. national interests to assist Israel to develop
and maintain a strong and ready self-defense capability,” the Pentagon said in a statement. The deal is expected to sail
This is a Sanctuary?
I hope, at a later date, to examine the problems for the Jewish people presented by having Israel and its Jewish allies in the forefront of international reaction. Here, I am concerned about the meaning of the present trends in Israeli policy in regards to the Zionist thesis that the Jews wherever they are need a homeland to serve basically as a sanctuary.  The concept in Hebrew is rather colorful. The homeland is going to be a shelter for trying times or, more literally, for stormy days. The thesis is simplicity itself. Outside of Israel, in the wide world, the Jews are prone to attack and discrimination. The wrong geography and you are in trouble.  The right geography and you are home safe. It has been suggested along the years that getting hold of the right geography might in itself be a rather dangerous proposition. The answer to that objection was that skirmishing with the Arabs was preferable to ending up in the Nazi death camps. But things change and not always for the better. Israel, cast in the role as the deputy-manager of US interests in the region is fulfilling its mission with a passion. It is not a stooge but an ambitious junior partner. While Washington shows some sort of aversion for too many flag draped boxes flying in from abroad, Israelis are, at least temporarily, willing to take enormous risks for their senior ally.

The US as long as it hopes to continue to dominate the region must have rapid response fighting units at its disposal in the Middle East to contain the enemies.  Things are much simpler when the preparedness units are already in the area. Volatility is the new normal in the area and Israel's value has indeed appreciated.  Israel seems to be very good at this sort of thing – for example, the Israeli forces appear to have bombed Sudan last month without too much exposure.    
But working for the Yankee dollar in the region is a hazardous affair.  The Israeli role expands from that of most valued employee to that of genuine junior partner, with Israel utilizing the increasing influence of the pro-Israeli camp in the US.  That camp hopes to force Obama to follow Netanyahu's recommendations. Israel has taken on itself a dangerous mission – to prevent any of the major forces in the region from spinning out of US control. And by virtue of the circumstances, there is more and more work involved in maintaining "stability" in the region. Israel believes it can fulfill this role easily because of its clear technological military superiority, including its regional nuclear monopoly.  This may be true for the minute, but this is no way to run a sanctuary.
Installing a Surrogate Mubarak Is Not So Easy
Just when we had started to reconcile ourselves to what appeared to be a new and a long period of absolute hegemony of political Islam, Egypt and Tunisia erupted once more.  It appears that even with a new, uncompromised political formation, such as the Brotherhood in power the masses are full of distrust. The US is willing to do almost anything to stabilize things for fear of anarchy or worse, a new regime that would  issue a new set of demands as the price for cooperation with the US. The clashes in Egypt, at the least, open possibilities for serious change. The US wanted to buy Egypt cheap. It is not working. The price has gone up. If political Islam tries to dominate all the picture, it may lose all or most of its political capital. The chances for a progressive- nationalist alternative have appeared.  Nasserism is not dead.

Preparing the Region for War


From the desk of Reuven Kaminer
November 26, 2012
Preparing the Region for War Against Iran       
The Israeli attack on Gaza is yet another round in the ongoing efforts by Israel to squash any expression of active Palestinian resistance to the occupation. The siege of Gaza is of course, along with the settlement drive, part of the permanent structures in place to prevent the accumulation of any means that might help the Palestinians to enhance their resistance.
The latest Israeli operation exhibits all the permanent characteristics of typical forms of Israeli repression, but must be seen and analyzed on an additional level. Israel attacked Gaza, this time, mainly in pursuit of its duties as the regional deputy of the US in their common preparations for war against Iran.     
Indeed, enough evidence has accumulated to confirm that  Israel, with full US backing, attacked Gaza and the Hamas leadership after it became clear that Hamas refused to break off its main links with the Iranian bloc. The attack was punishment for that refusal.   
Following the ascension of the Muslim Brotherhood and Morsi to power, there were rumors that Hamas was well on the way to transfer its allegiance away from the Iranian bloc and to the US regional alignment.  The US hoped that Hamas would act in accord with its historical and traditional links to the Moslem Brotherhood, which had recently become the ruling power in Egypt. Well, things  are not that simple. The US and Morsi, backed by Qatari money, were indeed involved in encouraging Hamas to chose a path similar to that traversed by Abbas and Fatah in the WestBank. Their efforts proved futile.
" Iran and its regional rivals, the Sunni Muslim-led states in the Gulf, have been competing in recent months to lure Hamas into their respective camps. The top Hamas leader in exile, Khaled Mashaal, is being hosted by the Gulf state of Qatar, which has promised hundreds of millions of dollars for Gaza." (Wall Street Journal, November 24, 2012)
The US and the Gulf sheikhs wanted very much to wean Hamas away from its Teheran connections.  Theoretically, the sheikhs could have included weaponry in the dowry for Hamas. But this was not feasible because Hamas refused to cooperate with the US, unlike its West Bank counterpart.  Haniah is not Abbas and Hamas is not Fatah. If Hamas wanted to move into the US sphere of influence, it would have to declare at the door that it had forsworn armed military resistance to the Israeli occupation.  And it was not willing to pay that kind of price.
Sources of weapon supply are usually considered a matter for discretion. But two key Hamas leaders have seen fit to relate precisely and openly to the issue of arms and the preservation of Hamas' links to Iran. It is essential to quote them at length since their statements are essential for understanding the specific nature of this round of the war. The Walrus was calling: Oh dear Hamas - Leave the Iranian monsters and come over to the side of democracy.
The WSJ continues:"CAIRO – Gaza's ruling Hamas won't stop arming itself because only a strong arsenal, not negotiations, can extract concessions from Israel, the No. 2 in the Islamic militant group stated.
The comments by Mousa Abu Marzouk in an interview just three days after the worst bout of Israel-Hamas fighting in four years, signaled trouble ahead for Egyptian-brokered talks between the hostile neighbor on a new border deal… an Israeli security official said this week that Israel would likely link a significant easing of the blockade to Hamas's willingness to stop smuggling weapons into Gaza and producing them there.
Mr. Abu Marzouk said Saturday that the group wouldn't disarm, arguing that recent Palestinian history has shown that negotiations with Israel lead nowhere unless backed by force.
"There is no way to relinquish weapons," Mr. Abu Marzouk said in his office on the outskirts of Cairo. "These weapons protected us and there is no way to stop obtaining and manufacturing them…
Hamas used to be evasive about Iranian weapons support, but in recent days senior officials in the group have openly thanked Tehran.
Gaza strongman Mahmoud Zahar told reporters on Saturday that he is confident that Iran will increase military and financial support to Hamas and the smaller militant group Islamic Jihad.
Mr. Zahar said Saturday that Hamas isn't beholden to anyone, but defended the group's ties with Iran. "If they don't like it, let them compete with Iran in giving us weapons and money," he said in an apparent jab at the Gulf states." (From the same article in the Wall Street Journal, November 24, 2012)
Follow the Guns (Rockets)
Haaretz (November 25, 2012) quotes the Sunday Times to the effect that Israel spy satellites have spotted an Iranian ship loaded with missiles that analysts say may be headed to Gaza. It is a poorly kept secret that Israel bombed a Sudanese arms factory last month
The next round in the fighting is shaping up. Israel and the US went to war to warn Gaza to stay out of ME politics, to threaten Hamas with the danger involved in taking arms from the Iranians and, meanwhile, to smash a significant section of long range missiles at the disposal of Hamas.
Tom Friedman in Search of Democracy
In case anyone still failed to understand the name of the game, Thomas Friedman chimed in with an outline of the proposal. It is to be understood that the attack on Gaza was a wonderful opportunity for Mohammed Morsi to chose between the pleasures of the Camp David peace and US aid and economic development or support for Hamas's radical pro-Iranian stand. Morsi had a great success in Gaza and was well on his way to becoming the hero of our time when he saw fit to announce to his people that he was really the state or that the state was really him. Friedman had advised Morsi that he could achieve eternal fame and glory if he would only team up with Mohammad Abbas. Morsi it seems has other problems.     
This last bloody chapter in the war against the Palestinians pitted a ultra-sophisticated war machine against the spirit of a people who demand freedom.  Someone said it seems like another case of David against Goliath.   

Leading from Behind


From the desk of Reuven Kaminer
Thursday 22, November, 2012
 Leading from Behind
The Israeli Government: We are going to Finish with Hamas
There are many signs, such as the text of the cease fire agreement, which suggest that Israel suffered a crushing defeat in its effort to break Hamas. The government spread illusions among the people that this time it was going to deal Hamas a final "death blow." This is what the masses, especially those in the south under rocket fire, believed was going to happen. It is hard to know what people are thinking regarding the promises by Netanyahu and Barak that they were going to bring Hamas to their knees. Instead of surrender, it is clear that Hamas survived a critical political-military test. It personified, in its own way, the Palestinian demand for freedom and independence. Hamas was not brought to its knees and the masses of Gazans celebrating after the cease fire bears witness to this. Israel's bragging and boasting were exposed in their full  spiteful ugliness.    
Israel's failure to smash Hamas can serve to encourage renewed efforts to advance the cause of Palestinian unity.  This unity is as vital as ever in order to overcome the US-Israeli determination to destroy the hopes and the dreams of the Palestinians for the full realization of their rights.


Obama – Leading from Behind
When hesitation regarding a ground offensive was gathering force in Israeli public opinion here two-three days ago, the world heard from the White House that : Obama has not asked Israel to hold off on ground invasion of Gaza and believes that Israel has [the] right to make its own security decisions. (Reuters)
It is too early to sum up all the events connected with the Israeli offensive and the ensuing diplomatic activity. A lot of the facts and information are still hidden. Even so, some initial conclusions seem warranted.
This whole crisis burst out and sharpened with the United States seemingly out of the picture. This was the US technique of leading from behind. But it was absolutely clear here by virtue of Obama's total enthusiastic backing that the US was behind the Israeli aggression and leading it from behind.   
In Spite of Everything - Obama Loves Bibi
Obama led the international choir chanting the gibberish about Israel's right to defend itself. Israel had exploited one of those almost daily border skirmishes going on along the border with Gaza to launch a full scale retaliation, which was in fact, an attempt to eliminate the Palestinian issue from the international arena. Let us be clear that whoever gives total blanket approval to the Israeli attack bears responsibility for the aggression which in terms of scope and proportion has nothing in common with legitimate defense.
The diplomatic remoteness of the US during the first week of the Israeli operation is merely an indicator that it had appointed Israel as its proactive deputy in the region, including a carte blanche to advance US interests in the region through armed operations. This policy answers the US need to have sizable military ground forces of its or those of a faithful ally at its disposal. The shortage of its own appropriate ground forces is a well-known Achilles heel of the US giant.  Israel, on the other hand, has demonstrated a capacity to mobilize tens of thousands of ground troops in a matter of days. The romance between Barack and Bibi intensifies precisely when many liberals were waiting for the US president to punish Bibi for his attempt to stab a knife into Obama's back during the recent elections. Interests overcome sentiments.
The Demotion of Muhammad Morsi
The complete US identification with the Israeli operation on the Egyptian doorstep was a severe challenge for the Egyptian president.  It was a clear demonstration that the US had empowered Israel to be the sole interpreter and exponent of US interests in the region.  This was a slap in the face for Egypt and a challenge to Morsi's standing.  Morsi failed to meet the challenge. It is definitely not the role of Egypt as the chief force in the Arab world to become a mediator in the conflict between the Palestinians, under occupation, and Israel.  Egypt is supposed to formulate the position and the demands of the Arab world and to fight for those demands, one way or another. At any rate, it is the first duty of the president of Egypt to express to the best of his ability solidarity with the Palestinian people. The job of "objective mediator" for Morsi is demeaning and a self imposed demotion for him and for Egypt. He received his task as mediator through the good offices of the United States and the Israeli establishment has been showering him with compliments ever since he took the job.
And so: Obama and Netanyahu have this new romance. The Israeli population in the south of the country is trying to figure out how it was conned into believing that Bibi, Barak and Lieberman were going to bring them years of peace and quiet. Hamas wrote an impressive chapter in Palestinian resistance. The Palestinian issue does not want to go away and will survive current Egyptian faint heartedness.
This morning news is that the Israeli army and police have arrested 55 Palestinian leaders and activists in the West Bank for fomenting resistance to the Israeli aggression in Gaza. This, it seems is supposed to alleviate the severe frustration of the Israeli leadership.     

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Sad Demise of the Zionist Left


Dear friends,
I believe that Sarid's recent article, reprinted here, on the death of the two-state solution deserves closer analysis. Sarid was and is definitely a prominent ideological figure on the Zionist left. I suggest attaching  importance to Sarid's conclusions regarding the death of the two-state solution.  See some of my first comments on the article below.

Yossie Sarid  -Haaretz July 27, 2012
The Zeolots Have "Won" Again

"Don't waste your despair prematurely, save it up for when things get worse." That's what people in the know always advised us. It seems the time has come to open the emergency warehouses and start taking it out. And so we begin.
Writing is particularly hard for me this time. I have a vague but profound feeling that I'm progressing toward admitting an error, and not a negligible one: How did I fail to see the future; I can't forgive myself. And I have no breast to beat except my own.
It is no coincidence that this confession is being written now, on the eve of the Ninth of Av. As we do every year, this year too we will hear all the nonsense about "baseless hatred," which was ostensibly the main reason for the destruction of the Second Temple. You don't have to be a professional sermonizer to stuff us with this historical rubbish. Today every brainwashed layman  knows that if those people hadn't eaten each other alive, they would not have been defeated, and Judea would have survived forever.
Nothing could be further from the truth: The Great Revolt against Rome had no chance of success in the first place. But even the slim chance was extinguished when the Sicarii zealots began to murder the moderates in Jerusalem, until they eliminated the entire leadership. And the "price tag" advocates were not satisfied until they had set fire to the grain silos in the city, doomed it to starvation, and by doing so made defeat inevitable. The victims of the siege therefore had good reason to hate the Jewish terrorists, and their hatred was not "baseless"; it was "well-founded" hatred. Even today we have a duty to hate them in light of our historical and natural right to self-defense.
All these years I refused to believe that history repeats itself. I always convinced myself that what is done can be undone, and that the moment of sobriety, which was being delayed, would eventually arrive. Now it's too late. The successors have arrived at a crisis of leadership, and there is no strength for a rebirth. Perhaps we will try again some day, perhaps the fourth time we will succeed."
It's enough to keep track of five houses as they are being moved to see how farce turns into tragedy. When the sounds of houses being sawed are soon heard, the sounds of a funeral will be in the air: Farewell to you, our soul, from which we were unable to exorcise the dybbuk of the settlements.
The person who prophesied that 25 years ago and knew whereof he spoke was Meron Benvenisti, an intellectual and scholar, who on the pages of this newspaper explained his theory of "irreversibility," because what is done cannot be undone. And I attacked him: "There's no such thing as an irreversible situation," I wrote at the time, "only death is irreversible. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is an active volcano, that's why it's absurd to speak about congealed lava, and why sow despair at the wrong time." You were more right than I was, Meron, I failed to see and I spoke nonsense. I didn't properly assess the blindness and the suicidal urge. I pinned false hopes on common sense, on the will to live, on the ability to stop at any moment and change direction. I was wrong, I was guilty.
This article will gladden the hearts of many. Finally we have the privilege of hearing from that Sarid an admission of error and guilt, blessed be He who has brought us to this time. Finally even he understands that the settlements are "forever," may they continue to multiply.
I regret having to spoil the party atmosphere, which is premature and apparently too late as well. In Basel he established the Jewish state, and in Jerusalem they destroyed it. In its place there will soon be a binational state, which is either South Africa or South Africa, because there is no third option. And that South Africa has long since ceased to exist. Thus, the time of your rejoicing is the time of your disaster.
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My comments: Sarid has reached the conclusion that the last existing  chances to establish a Jewish state have been totally destroyed and that Israel has already entered the "South African" stage. Of course, it will take some time until Sarid's conclusions sink into the mindset of what remains of the Zionist-left.  
It was clear to the founding fathers of the Zionist project that the return to Zion had to be justified by linking Zionism to one form or another of the prevailing ideological currents on the "outside." Without an ideological linkup to socialism (of one sort or another) or to universal democratic values (genuine liberalism), the Zionist project would be unable to fight for the souls of Jews in the diaspora. And what would happen in such a circumstance has happened.  Zionism is for chauvinistic cranks and becomes foreign to anyone who refuses to jettison universal values in the name of Zionist sovereignty. The ideological basis for the Zionist left has disappeared leaving many good souls in the air.  The Zionist left has been almost completely marginalized and no longer exists as any kind of electoral force. It is now being condemned by virtue of the death of its ideological basis to certain slow death.
 Sarid's article admits that he can no longer suggest a practical, possible alternative to escape the inevitable degeneration of "victorious" Zionism that lives and breathes in a moral vacuum. Israel's role in the power struggles in the region as the faithful ally of the US empire make do  live quite well with "pure" Zionism, without any sort of Zionism that pretends to be an element in a successful synthesis of Jewish and universal values.  


It is sad that Sarid is almost unconsciously placing his last vestige of hope for the Jews in Palestine in an ephemeral, totally imaginary "one state solution."  Both the one-state and the two-state solutions are dead and irrelevant to the newer and deeper dynamics of the region. But, at this moment, Sarid's honest admission of his errors is an awesome shock to those who still harbored illusions about reforming this Israel, at this stage of its downward spiral.  

Friday, July 27, 2012

Revolt and Revolution – Syrian Illusions and Syrian Realities


If one tries to read most of the more serious material dealing with the Syrian crisis, one cannot but notice that the discussion has polarized around two major approaches. And after the polarization, it seems that the participants in this debate are merely scouring the area for another fact, thesis, bit of information which is supposed to add strength and depth to their own major thesis.
There those on the left who see the rebellion against the Assad regime as a genuine, democratic and progressive struggle. This being the essence of the matter, it is the duty of the left to give broad principled support to the popular forces fighting for a new Syria. It is in the nature of an authentic and genuine people's movement to outgrow the reactionary influences which hope to mobilize it to the pro-imperialist cause.
There are those on the left who argue that the rebellion, whatever its origins, has become an important ally of US imperialism. As such, the rebellion has allied itself with Syria's reactionary neighbors and is building its main hope on major intervention by the forces of imperialism active in the region. The forces active in the opposition and running it have determined the reactionary nature of its goals.
It is a commonplace that when major interests are involved, there will be a surfeit of analyses and arguments for each set of interests. There is a natural tendency to spend one's time analyzing the ongoing analyses. This is interesting and may in some cases serve as a temporary, intermediary position. However, as far as I can understand the broad outlines of the struggle in Syria, they are quite clear.
I dare, even at this stage, to add another consideration for us here in Israel who may find ourselves in the eye of the storm quite soon.  The forces fighting for regime change in Syria hope to use a "new" Syria to isolate Iran in preparation for the threatened military strike against that country.  The imperial game is clear and unequivocal.  One would hope that this threat, in and of itself, would be enough to help people decide against any support for a rebellion that could serve as a launching pad for another major war by the US-Israeli axis of aggression.
Richard Seymore's Hasty Conclusions
 Richard Seymore, http://www.leninology.com/who posts rather modestly under the link lenin is reputed to be one of the sharper minds in the Trotskyist left in England.  
On July 24, 2012, just two-three  days ago, Seymore gave us this "precise" message:
As Bashar al-Assad flees the capital, the armed segments of the revolution appear to beinflicting blows on sections of the security apparatus and taking over major cities: the revolution is turning a corner.  Robert Fisk reports that a crucial dynamic now is the fracturing of an alliance between the Sunni middle class and the Alawite regime, signalled by the spread of the revolt to Aleppo.  And defections from the state-capitalist power bloc continue.  Indeed, Juan Cole has suggested that such divisions must run deep in the Syrian state for the opposition to be capable of planting a bomb that can kill a senior minister."

Seymore states without qualification : Assad has fled the capital. This was not and is not true. This is obviously a bit of rebel propaganda. Why did Seymore promote it as pure fact?"
Seymore states: "Armed segments of the revolutionaries are inflicting blows against the security apparatus." This  effective  bomb planting  can be seen as a  success of mass struggle, but it is in essence an act of an individual or a terror cell.  Seymore presents this as an act of "armed segments of the revolution," but this is a guess and not a fact.  It might be the work of Al-Qaida or another similar group. Seymore is quite celebratory over this bit of individual terror, which he converts into an act by the armed segments of the revolution.  This may be true, and it may not be true. Killing or shooting the main "bad guys" is popular but always problematic on a deeper level. But Seymore will approve of anything "his side" does on the basis of the claim that the circumstances are dictated by the regime.
Seymore relates further: the armed segments are …"taking over major cities: the revolution is turning a corner." This pious wish is presented as a fact. Now, simply stated, this event, reported by Seymore, never happened. The subject of Seymore's imagination regarding events that did not happen is (not the rebels) but "the revolution." The revolution according to Seymore is "taking over cities and is turning a corner."  But what could be the source of such a set of totally fanciful assertions?
Was it pure chance that the rebel activity and propaganda intensified in order to influence the proceedings of the Security Council? Why knowing the need to be cautious about all news from the various fronts, did Seymore allow himself to go ecstatic over the unconfirmed facts and allegations?
Moreover, the attempt to build a certain picture of events on the basis of opinions of Fisk and Cole is purely arbitrary. (And if my memory does not betray me, both these gentleman supported US sponsored intervention in Libya).  Similar evaluations and assertions as well as counter evaluations on the same subjects flood the media. At any rate, we have heard endless accounts about Assad's fracturing coalition and his disintegrating military. As a matter of fact, we started out with Barack, many a month ago, eliminating" Assad in a week or so," plus mass defection by tens of thousands of soldiers. Nowadays we have to make do with a general here and a diplomat there.    
There is a major disconnect between Seymore's long and detailed analysis and the real developments on the ground. In fact, Seymore's analysis is really a recycling of a long list of major arguments that occurred over the last year and a half. Quite clearly, his analysis was preparing him for a very certain set of events, or better non-events, and he rushed, without caution and responsibility, to report "successes" and "victories" that never occurred.
Two More Comments for My Faithful Readers.
Anti-Intervention as a Principal or a Tactic
I personally know some very committed leftists who demand to depose Assad but also reject imperial intervention. I respect their position knowing that their opposition to foreign intervention in Syria is sincere and steadfast. However, I fear that it might be increasingly difficult to maintain their position. In the event of critical and decisive battles in which the rebellion hovers between total loss or victory – there will be growing pressures for the justification of intervention. Indeed, if the rebel cause is that just, it will be increasingly hard for many "anti-interventionists" to argue against intervention.  This kind of retreat from principle has already begun.  Defections from the anti-intervention camp in the left are being noted.   
Really Revolution?
A few months back I participated in an academic discussion on the Arab Spring. Everyone there, left right and center, was talking about the revolution in Egypt and Tunisia. A young woman sociologist suggested that we might all be a bit hasty in defining the events as a revolution, as important and as significant as they were. She was, of course, absolutely right. The categorization of events in the region as revolutions, up to this point, is totally unhelpful. Both the limited and rather conservative goals of the revolts and the relative weakness, if not the total absence of any organized revolutionary forces within them, suggest that we are discussing, at the very best, pre-revolutionary developments. 
The revolution has not yet come. The region needs one. The present situation is unsustainable.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

No Accreditation for Expropriation


The Israeli Council for Higher Education has protested the usurpation of its authority by the government and the IDF, but to no avail. The ball is now in its court. The CHE must act. Inaction on its part will be justly interpreted as passive acceptance of the new university, born in the sin of occupation. The CHE is not without the means to nullify this outrageous bit of academic banditry.
It is hereby suggested to the CHE and to all worthy institutions of higher learning all over the world that they go on record to the effect that doctoral studies and the doctorate awarded by the so-called 'Ariel University' cannot and will not be recognized as legitimate university studies. I understand that there are those who might consider this an extreme measure.
However, occupation, expropriation, repression, and politicide cannot and should not be condoned as a basis for academic effort. Let the candidates for study at this gross mockery of educational values and simple decency, know that they may be wasting their time and money. Let the HCE of education lead the international academic world in deciding that studies at this so called university are null and void. No doctoral studies and no doctoral awards in the shadow of shame, on the blooded  ground  of  a cruel, brutal and ugly occupation 
     

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Israeli-Palestinian Peace Permanently Off the Agenda


The plain fact of the matter is that the question of Israeli-Palestinian peace has been permanently removed from the historical agenda. There are many honest and highly motivated activists, who are still devoting time and energy to the cause of  Israeli-Palestinian peace, and who, naturally enough, will bitterly challenge this assertion.  With all due respect, I shall do my best to explain.

There are three main developments which have effectively removed the Palestinian issue from the international diplomatic and political arena: a) The hardening structure of Israeli politics; b) The weakened state of US hegemony in the Middle East; 3) The growing turmoil in the Arab world.

Before going on to analyze these developments and their role in eliminating the Palestinian issue from current consideration, I must offer a sad commentary on the role of the discussion of the issue – and not the issue itself, in current discourse. Many friends of peace are involved in long, complex, even convoluted discussions as to the comparative benefits and disadvantages of the two apparently possible solutions; I am referring of course to the long standing debate between the two-state and the one-state solution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. A tremendous amount of sincerity and emotion, deep thought and ingenuity have been marshaled by both sides to the debate. I myself was quite active in this sense, having been for years a strong devotee of the 2-state solution. The sad fact is that the discussion has become increasingly meaningless in that there is no real connection between the debate and any existing political perspective. The periodic news items on this or that meeting devoted to the resuscitation of the "peace process" only serve to stress that we are dealing with a mockery and that, effectively, it is Israel which is calling the shots. For better or for worse, this debate about the relative virtues of either "solution" has become meaningless, passé, i.e. totally irrelevant to real life of Palestinians and Israelis.

The historical elements which created diplomatic space for the  possible for the settlement of the conflict have more or less withered away. Not all of the new relevant elements concerning the future of the Jews in the Middle East have come into play, but there are clear signs of their emergence. Nowhere, now or in the new future, are we able to discern the outlines of an agreement for peace in Palestine.  The old structures in the region will die, sooner than later.  Let us return here to the three main causes for this development.

Bibidom and Israel as a Regional Hegemonic Power

The broadest coalition in Israeli history now rules the country.
Ninety four members of 120 in the Knesset (Parliament) compose an unassailable coalition. All polls indicate that Netanyahu’s policies, especially those on Palestinian and security issues, enjoy widespread support in the public.

Since there are absolutely no serious challenges to the status quo, both the US and Europe see Israel led by Netanyahu as an irreversible and reliable fact of political reality. This reality is not at all bad for the US and its allies. It means that the Palestinians are, for all practical purposes, "pacified," and there are a lot of useful things that can be done in the management of the region with the co-operation of an unencumbered Israel. 

The saddest thing here is that the current leadership is the freely chosen product of Israeli democracy.  The great majority of the Israeli Jews want to maintain the status quo and genuinely fear any compromise.  Much of this sentiment is a result of manipulation, but most is the direct product of the very political structure. Israel has moved on from successful management of the conflict with the Palestinians and is more and more dedicated to maintaining and expanding its regional hegemony.  Life is bearable for the colonial masters of the region. But any real change or advance towards justice and equality is seen by the Jewish masses in the country as an unacceptable threat.

The US in Retreat  

The facts and figures of the US global retreat are well known. It is not only a question of the ongoing financial and economic crisis.  It is impossible to exaggerate the fall in intellectual and moral prestige that has made the US an embarrassment to many of its most loyal supporters. By its own admission, the US is strapped for cash, cannot fund its most essential international commitments, not to speak of a perennial inability to put required troops on the ground. After Iraq and Afghanistan, the US must be ever so cautious in employing its tremendous superiority in military technology, because it is clearly unable to convert even the most successful military successes, in the relevant arenas of contention, into sustainable political and diplomatic assets. The growing political limitations of US influence, even on the background of its military ascendency are the clearest indicator that the US has not the wherewithal to maintain its empire. It’s the old saw about bayonets. The US cannot get anyone to sit on them for it.

The Middle East in Turmoil

The historical possibility in the past for a negotiated settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was generated in a situation characterized by the almost complete regional hegemony of the US. Peace was to come as a fruition of Western values. Thinking revolved around the "liberal" idea of peace, symbolized by US spiritual auspices. ("Why can't you guys just make up?"). One could argue that if the US could not engineer a settlement between the two national movements, it would eventually have to give everyone the vote, in a single secular entity. This was a theoretically achievable goal when the region was under tight US control. But for years now, neither the US, nor any of its allies show any real discomfort with the slightly embarrassing realities on the ground. "Israeli settlement is not helpful,'' goes the mantra.

Arabs in Turmoil

The Arab people of the region are in rebellion. It is most unlikely that the peace agreements with Israel will survive the storm. But whatever happens to these political artifacts of the past, it is difficult, and even impossible to imagine the emergence, in this long period of storm and stress, of a major Arab formation that would allow itself to become an open or official partner in the collusion against the Palestinians.

Israel and the US have indeed pushed Palestine off the current international agenda. As for the near future, an unstable Arab world in crisis would not dare and could not afford to be seen as exploiting Palestinian weakness.  On the other hand, a stable Arab constellation, when it emerges, would not be willing to turn its back on Palestine. Its minimal program on Palestine, when enunciated, would be an Israeli nightmare.

The momentous changes occurring in the region and beyond it have rendered the old way of thinking about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict obsolete. Though, we cannot in this and other important matters chart a clear alternative path forward, we can and should realize that the old game is over. The difficult and challenges of a new reality are no reason to cling to old, outmoded perceptions.

This rendering of Palestinian-Israeli realities on the ground may seem a bit somber. But let us remind ourselves that history in the Middle East is far from over. 

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Justice in Jerusalem


My readers appreciate the fact that the law is incredibly complicated. Therefore, I am volunteering, here and now, to simplify a very thorny issue – presently at the heart of Israeli politics, an issue which threatened to make life rather difficult for King Bibi, the First.

In an Israeli settlement on stolen land in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT), it turns out that there is a small parcel of privately owned land (by an Arab) upon which some thirty apartments have been built and occupied by settler families. After tons of legal battles, the Israeli High Court of Justice ruled that construction on this bit of privately owned (Palestinian) land was illegal from the beginning to the end and ordered the demolition of the buildings.

The settlers and their allies demanded that King Bibi do something.  This was no simple matter even for B1 who did not want to antagonize every decent liberal in the country by deliberately flaunting the honor and the prestige of the HCJ. King or not, the settlers were preparing to roast his royal highness’s dignity by passing a law to legalize the robbery of that small parcel of land in the settlement.

Now it may seem complicated, but Israel and most of the body politic therein, including the HCJ consider that the Israeli robbery of the entire land of Palestine is totally legal and justified.
Accordingly, within the June 1967 borders, the government and courts express Israeli sovereignty. Within the OPT, the IDF and the Government of Israeli exercise sovereign rights and powers either by virtue of Military Emergency orders or by virtue of the ruling by the Israeli Supreme Court that, get this, Israel is the acting sovereign instead of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. Thus, in the eyes of Israel, and its vaunted court system, the executor and the arbiter of Israel’s liberal soul and conscience, it is perfectly legal to steal an entire country, in this instance, Palestine.
So what’s the problem with these thirty apartments? It is this. Along with the rest of civilized peoples, Israel has provisions defending the rights of private property. You can steal an entire country, but you cannot steal a parcel of land.

Bibi’s party and coalition was up in arms against the scheduled demolition operation a few weeks off. Their move was the introduction of a special bill legalizing the illegal acquisition of that troublesome parcel. Now this bit of threatened legalization threatened to convert the distinguished jurists of the HCJ into a gaggle of clowns. Moreover, the HCJ could, if they dared, strike down the law as unconstitutional. (This can be done, despite the fact that Israel does not have a constitution - I told you that the law is complicated - but we will leave this side issue for another time).

The settlers and the settler lobby were frothing at the mouth. They demanded that Bibi support the legalization bill.
As abhorrent as it sounds, the King was in a minority. But King Bibi is not a king for any old reason So, the King cracked the whip and threatened to expel rebellious ministers from the cabinet and suggested a “compromise” to his followers. This compromise was a “beut.” The apartments would be “sawed up” and rebuilt a few kilometers down the road. And King Bibi has a real pacifier for the settler tantrum. Israel will commence construction, starting now, of another 1,000 housing units be built in the OPT. Homes, streets, utilities, commercial areas in honor of the compromise.  Why should Israeli Jews fight other Israeli Jews when they can amicably decide to rob some more Palestinian territory? You tell me. Hallowed be the name of the High Court of Justice in Jerusalem. Hallow be the principle of private ownership in an expropriated land. The Knesset rejected the legalization bill.  Bibi does not need a Knesset approval for bigger and better annexations.

Monday, May 28, 2012

The Poison Pen of Netanyahu and Barak


Bibi and Barak are climbing the wall with acute frustration. They are dying to attack Iran despite the ongoing negotiations, but even they understand that this is a no-brainer. Unable to attack Teheran, they are spewing their bile at … Barack Obama.

You do not have to be a big expert on the Israeli political scene to know that a Ha’aretz Senior Correspondent, Arie Shavit is a dedicated mouthpiece for Netanyahu and Barak. So if you want to know where Bibi and Ehud stand regarding US-Israeli relations and what the two think about Barack Obama, Shavit is a perfectly and totally reliable source. Shavit published a savage, no holds barred piece of vilification against Obama last Friday. If you are interested in the scabrous details of this scurrilous diatribe, here is the link:http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/the-world-should-focus-on-obama-not-netanyahu.premium-1.432287

There is not an abomination so low that Obama is excused from having performed.  He is on the verge of becoming a “grotesque figure;”- “his inaction will make the ME go nuclear and undermine the world order.”  “Obama watches the tsunami rolling toward’s America’s shores –and smiles.” Obama, the deceiver, is pushing Israel into a corner, and is scared witless only over any rise in the price of oil.

Bibi and Barak are making a superhuman effort to drag a shackled and shamed Barak Obama into the accused prisoner’s box and hang a sign on him saying “I am a traitor.” This is the way brave Israel deals with cheap gamblers who want to toy with the fate of the free world.

If this sounds a bit “too much” the reader must open up the link, check my quotations, and read every shocking word. The reader will read with his own eyes, the disgusting allegation to the effect, and I quote, “In the last 40 months Barack Obama has been betraying his office.  Will he wake up in the next four months, come to his senses and change his ways?” That is impeachment talk.

How very interesting! Is this the same Obama who has constantly assured and enhanced Israeli military technology and strategic, regional superiority? Is this the same Obama who has allowed Israel to effectively bury any chance of peace by continued settlement in the occupied Palestinian territories?  Is this the same Obama who has shielded Israel from the mounting opprobrium of the international community? Is this the same Obama who has reiterated again and again that the US commitment to the security and well being of Israel is unshakable? Is this the same Obama who has engineered the practical surrender of the Palestinians to Israeli repression? Obama, the senseless traitor, must do more. He must go to war with Iran or at the least sponsor an Israeli attack.

In case, I have confused my reader, let me try and make some sense of Obama’s enormous efforts to stay off the Bibi-Barak
list of enemies. The US is experiencing a crisis which involves no small amount of retrenchment. In the US, there are right-wing circles which refuse to recognize these hard facts. Barack Obama fears being eliminated by military fundamentalists who hope and believe that they can reassert US  power and prestige by intensified, unrestrained, employment of military technology; we are really talking mass murder. Romney will join King Bibi and Ehud Barack in teaching the enemies of the U.S. that they had better learn some new facts of life.  According to this scenario, the Israeli government and its international propaganda apparatus are going to help Romney get rid of Barack Obama. And Romney is going to help Bibi and Ehud to get rid of Ali Khamenei and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. So everything works out in the end          

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The Battle for the Moral High Ground

Well, it seems that the situation in Syria is complex. It is certainly complex enough to create some bitter disputes in the left. But, Iran it is hoped, is clear and simple. Or should be.


The US and Israel are threatening Iran with aggression. With no basis in international law, and in complete violation of the principles of national sovereignty and basing themselves on a flagrant disregard for the truth of the matter, the US and Israel are pushing the region into dangerous, mounting tension.


One must fear that some one in the left will come up with the preposterous idea that between Netanyahu and Obama, the latter represents the “lesser evil.” Though every effort is made to convince us that Netanyahu is exploiting and manipulating the poor Mr. President, Obama has the wherewithal to stop this crazy plunge in dark death and destruction. Nothing is more disgusting than the probability that Obama is only conforming to the requirements of a stiff electoral challenge down the road. Can one balance the danger to the lives of millions with a highly questionable argument for sucking up to the US electorate.


Iran and Syria


Meanwhile, Netanyahu demands that Obama expand and extend sanctions against both countries. These sanctions presented as the “humanist alternative” to military aggression are actually acts of brutal class murder. It is clear that it is the poorer section of the population that will undergo disproportionate suffering and deprivation. While no proof is adduced that the sanctions will bring about desired changes in policy, no one can deny that for the poor and the mass of people this means real misery, here and now. This means malnutrition especially among children. Starving children on a massive scale must be some sort of a crime against humanity.


These days, a virtual storm of denunciations is leveled against Bashar Asad. According to these denunciations, Asad must be considered a despot and a war criminal. I tend to believe that the gentleman may well have earned this kind of accusation. But why is it so difficult and complicated to add that Obama and Netanyahu are also despots of the region and war criminals. It appears that this is not the kind of language used in cultured circles. Someone may pop up and explain that Bibi and Obama are democratically elected leaders. Even if this is true, they were not elected by Syrians or Iranians. Moreover, Syrians and Iranians have the same kind of right to attack the US and Israel as the US and Israel have the right to attack Syria and Iran. If it is true that all those involved in the decision making process are morally corrupt, then Asad’s despotism must be analyzed in the context of Obama’s and Netanyahu’s regional despotism.


Many right thinking people are convinced of Asad’s crimes. But is he the only or even main culprit? On the left, the real left, everything should be done to emphasize the fact that Obama and Netanyahu deserve equal condemnation regarding all major developments in the region.


Now it has come to my attention that it is not particularly effective to go around calling “our” leaders despots and war criminals. Criticism of the establishment’s key figures is usually couched in terms designed to facilitate participation in the dominant discourse. Using strong words entails long and furious disputes regarding the style of language used and is often counterproductive in attempts to convince liberal opinion regarding the specifics of the case under discussion. So, I do not advise the standard usage of extreme appellations. But there are exceptions. When a crisis involving violence appears, one important element in the ensuing struggle is the fight over definitions and symbols. Speaking in exact, shall we say scientific terminology, Bashar Asad is a despot guilty of war crimes and in this region Barack Obama and Benyamin Netanyahu are no different. I do not have the time here to fully explain this simple and obvious truth. I can only say in telegraphic terms that the entire region’s axis of oppression and expropriation is a long term project of the United States which has picked up Israel as a junior partner in its nefarious project. This is the mainspring of events in this region.


At the moment, the entire West is involved in one of the intensive branding campaigns that heats up when it has to convince itself that it is worth its while to mount armed intervention. The by product, if not the main goal, of these campaigns is to convey the sense that Washington and NATO occupy the moral high ground. It is the conscious or unconscious belief in the moral superiority of Obama and Netanyahu that guarantees the desired response of public opinion.


In order to keep the present crises in the region in some sort of reasonable perspective it is necessary to deny the moral high ground to the US and its accomplices. It is also necessary to keep in mind the relative strength of the forces involved. The US and Israel threaten Syria and Iran. Syria and Iran do not threaten the US and Israel. Asad’s actions should not obscure the main sources of tension in the region.



Being Palestinian


I am an Israeli Jew. My personal circumstances are quite comfortable, thank you. But I have been around long enough to figure out that the indigenous Palestinian society and the people of this land have been rendered stateless and homeless by virtue of the policies and acts implemented by the sovereign state of Israel. The sponsor and endorser of this state of affairs is the United States. It is of course no easy task explaining to the Israeli populace that the advantages to it that have accrued from this situation might turn out to be a very slippery affair. Can the crimes against Palestine and its people be explained without knocking the US and Israel off their liberal pedestal? Is the repression and the expulsion of the Palestinian people less of a war crime because it continues for decades, because it has been, for the time, relatively successful in grounding down the resistance of the Palestinian people? How can Obama and Netanyahu, responsible for the ongoing tragedy in Palestine, strut around the Arab world as the protectors of human rights, as a force for peace and democracy in Syria or in Iraq? So: End All Violence and Intervention in Syria; Stop Aggression Against Iran;

Freedom and Justice for Palestine