One of the many myths of the Libya war is the claim that the Americans took a ‘back seat’. Discerning observers will acknowledge that U.S. niche capabilities such as Predator drones for bombings and intelligence gathering have played a crucial role. On top of this, political skulduggery on the parts of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton have played a huge part in expediting the war, in tandem with CIA assets on the ground since very early on.(1) These factors, coupled with a very revealing recent development, completely blow the ‘back seat’ myth out of the water.
The October 20 assassination of Muammar Gaddafi was preceded by an airstrike on his convoy, which was travelling in the Sirte area. An American Predator drone performed the first strike, with a follow-up attack by French jets.(2) In a revealing November 04 Department of Defense press release,(3) Barack Obama admits that American pilots flew French jets in Libya:
“He noted that American pilots flew French fighter jets off a French carrier in the Mediterranean Sea during the operation. “Allies don’t get any closer than that,” he said.”
Thus, it is highly probable that the airstrike on Muammar Gaddafi’s convoy was an entirely American operation, as were many of the ‘French’ airstrikes on Libya.
This is all the more significant because, as of August 4, French planes had flown a whopping 33% of all strike sorties.(4)
Further underscoring U.S. involvement in the airstrikes on Libya, an October 30 New York Times report(5) finds that American planes flew 25% of all sorties, while ‘French’ and British aircraft provided 33% of total sorties:
“While U.S. planes flew a quarter of all sorties over Libya, France and Britain flew one third of all missions – most of them strikes,”
The notion that the Americans took a ‘back seat’ in the war can now be added to the long list(6) of big lies that have characterised the criminal, genocidal destruction of Libya.
(1) ‘Libya: Barack Obama ‘signed order for CIA to help rebels” – The Telegraph, March 30, 2011
(2) ‘The ‘rebel’ assassination of Muammar Gaddafi: a NATO operation from A to Z’ by Martin Iqbal
(3) ‘Obama: Libya Mission Underscores NATO’s Effectiveness’ – U.S. DoD, November 04, 2011.
(4) ‘National Composition of NATO Strike Sorties in Libya’ – Atlantic Council, August 22, 2011.
(5) ‘NATO’s Success in Libya’ – The New York Times, October 30, 2011.
(6) ‘The Top Ten Myths in the War Against Libya’ by Maximilian C. Forte.
Making the Poor Pay More to Protect the Rich
At the G20 summit in Cannes, Nicolas Sarkozy and Angela Merkel successfully bullied George Papandreou into backing down on a referendum after the Greek prime minister had promised to consult his people on a new bailout. The Franco-German pair ordered Silvio Berlusconi to accept surveillance of Italy’s austerity package by the IMF.
Despite presiding over a disastrous summit, Sarkozy saw it fit to mock Paul Mason, Newsnight’s economics editor, for asking a question that was not to his liking. The French president wondered whether the British insular upbringing meant that the BBC journalist could not understand the “subtleties of European construction”. Sarkozy may not have the last laugh, though. François Fillon, the French prime minister, has just announced a package of austerity measures which may well trigger a wave of discontent and popular unrest at home.
Following an “exceptional” cabinet meeting, Fillon made a spectacular, if not muscular declaration about the economic situation in France. Eager to cajole financial markets, the prime minister promised blood, sweat and tears for the French. Under Sarkozy’s presidency, France has caved in to “Anglo Saxon”-style capitalism.
Depressingly, the philosophy of the French plan is a carbon copy of the failed Greek, Portuguese and Spanish plans: the legal minimum retirement age will be further raised in 2017 and public deficits will be brought down to 0% by 2016. According to Les Echos, an economics daily, these measures aim to “send a strong signal to the credit rating agencies”. To put it more bluntly, this austerity package aims to make the poor pay for the banking system mess and goes to great lengths to protect the rich.
Fillon is committed to collecting €8bn by essentially raising VAT on a number of vital services and goods. This indirect taxation will as usual hit salaried workers and the poorest hardest. The government will also make further cuts on state spending, notably on health (€500m). These austerity measures will do nothing to revitalise a moribund French economy and like in other parts of Europe, it will only further aggravate economic recession.
Fillon pointed out that fiscal revenues are down due to weak economic growth (1% in 2012 as opposed to the forecast 1.75% in the summer of 2011). As economic growth is on the wane and compromised France’s commitment to tackling public deficits (by 3% of GDP in 2013), instant and drastic measures ought to be taken to redress the balance. This is all fine, but why is it that European governments do not seem so concerned about public deficits when they are created by bank-related activities?
When it comes to socialising the banks’ losses and privatising their profits, the Fillon government – like any other European government – turns a blind eye to public deficits. Dexia, a Franco-Belgian bank, was recently bailed out by public money: €10bn were found within days by the two governments (that is €2bn more than the current austerity package). Ironically, the decision to rescue Dexia came days after Fillon had suggested that the Belgian state was on the verge of bankruptcy.
Fillon’s speech will have a familiar ring to citizens across Europe. It is argued that the French live “beyond their means”. It is therefore time to “make sacrifices” for the good of the country, otherwise “your children” will be “heavily indebted”.
This dramatised account of the situation aims to fulfill the same objective: to instil fear and to make innocent people feel guilty for the mismanagement of public money by the government itself.
Let’s face it: if France has deep deficits, it is not because it is “living beyond its means” but rather because of the numerous tax cuts that successive governments have made over the past 20 years. Reduction in income tax has fundamentally benefited the richest (since 2007, for instance, the “fiscal shield” or the scrapping of the wealth tax).
A report published in 2010 by two senior civil servants shows that public debt would be 20% of GDP lower if the government had not made these tax cuts. In other words, despite the 2008 bank bailouts and the subsequent recession, France would only be slightly above the Maastricht criteria (that is, public debts should not be more than 60% of GNP).
The French understand what is at stake: under Sarkozy, progressive taxation such as income tax (the richer one becomes, the more tax one pays) is being replaced by regressive taxation such as VAT (the poorer one is, the more tax one pays). Dubbed the “president of the rich”, Sarkozy is using this austerity package to dramatically revise fiscal redistribution, for the benefit of the rich and to the detriment of the poor. This will economically and politically backfire.
PHILIPPE MARLIÈRE is professor of French and European politics at University College, London (UK). He can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org.
In her Keynote Address at the National Democratic Institute’s 2011 Democracy Awards Dinner, Hillary Clinton acknowledged NED’s role in the “Arab Awakening”:
I think it’s important to recognize that back when the streets of Arab cities were quiet, the National Democratic Institute was already on the ground, building relationships, supporting the voices that would turn a long Arab winter into a new Arab Spring. Now, we may not know where and when brave people will claim their rights next, but it’s a safe bet that NDI is there now, because freedom knows no better champion. More than a quarter-century old, NDI and its siblings in the National Endowment for Democracy family have become vital elements of America’s engagement with the world.
Managua – I spent election day, Sunday the 6th, in Granada, Nicaragua. Then travelled to Managua the following day.
The night before, the most prominent signs of the election were to be found hung outside bars and liquor stores – the government had banned sales of alcohol from 6pm Saturday night and people needed reminding. Otherwise there was little to distinguish the event, the town seemed to flow with its normal routine and its gentle charm was unruffled. There was certainly no sign of the violence suggested on the front-page of La Prensa, which had led with a front-page picture of a burning car.
Sunday morning we were awoken by a long unbroken peal of church bells, that continued at intervals throughout the day. As we strolled around town stopping at polling stations everything was orderly and surprisingly small scale. The polling stations electoral rolls were affixed outside and none had more than a couple of hundred names on. The stations were manned not by police, or soldiers, but civilians. A mix of old and young all wearing fresh white t-shirts that denoted them as the organisers. Nowhere we passed had large groups in or around the stations, none had any party markings nearby, and there was no preference apparent without asking people.
By about eleven on Saturday evening the first news hit the street of a victory for Daniel Ortega. One car drove past waving a Sandinista flag, but the street remained quite and the mood restrained. By midnight fireworks started going off and there was singing coming from the Plaza. We fell asleep with horns still beeping intermittently and the loud pops of homemade fireworks that banged but didn’t flare.
The day following the election had a festive feel. La Prensa had “worse than fraud” across its front-page, but it seemed to be the only suggestion of this. Our taxi driver that morning was clearly not a partisan for Ortega – or simply Daniel here – but he was unequivocal that Daniel was the peoples choice. He said that over the last five years the health and education systems had improved and that it was hard to argue against both being free for everybody. A Sandinista flag toting young man we spoke to had a rather more sanguine anecdote for the root of his popularity, he said that Ortega had given the rural poor cows.
Late Monday morning we took the bus to Managua. People were excited, shouting numbers at one another wherever there was a television by the side of the road; the question was how much of the vote was in and how much was for Ortega. In Managua crowds were gathering and there was clearly a party brewing where there had been a party the night before. It was hard to marry the mood around Managua with the stories of violence and intimidation reported in some of the international press, even if the result was in already.
Reading the reaction to the election in the international press was an example of how perception can shape reality. Governments of the south, especially those who speak out against domination from the north, are held to higher standards than other governments. For example, whilst there may have been some irregularities in the Nicaraguan election, there is no suggestion that they affected the outcome, such was margin of victory; to manufacture this would have taken flagrant fraud. Conversely, whilst proportionately smaller in number, the issues with denial of voting rights in Florida in 2004 could well have been decisive. Whilst this may not have gone unnoticed by everyone, there was little suggestion of looming tyranny in the mainstream press.
Both the London Guardian and the New York Times suggested that Ortega might now run in perpetuity, citing unnamed sources for the suggestion that he could demolish democracy in the country that he had had a large hand in introducing it to. (The Times report was filed from Honduras, serving as a small reminder of the fragility of democratic forms and their expendability in the face of social programs favouring the poor.)
As well as the double standards, western reports are often historically amnesic. Nicaragua in the last hundred years has only a brief history of democracy. Dominated by American interests in the early part of the twentieth century and repeatedly occupied buy its marines when the people sought to assert their own. As the system of exploitation moved with the times and became neo-colonial, the Somoza dictatorship ruled Nicaragua with U.S. support – another example of double standards from the pulpit. It was the Sandinistas who removed the dictatorship. They then held elections in 1984 that were boycotted by the opposition under strong U.S. pressure, much to their later regret when they realised the gains they might have made. When further elections were held in 1990 the Sandinistas were voted out and they peacefully gave up power. In contrast, the Bush administration had promised to continue the dirty war against the country should they win, perhaps instructive of the respect for democracy on either side.
One final example of the underlying attitudes of western superiority that permeate analysis of third world politics. In every report I have read today online, (all buried behind news on Whacko Jacko’s ghoul maker) the reticence of the Nicaraguan government in allowing international election monitors has been used as an example to support accusations of fraud. However, Ortega was quite explicit on this issue, as Nicaragua would not presume to and would not be welcome to observe British elections, for example, then why should these roles be reversed? It is only assumed in the west that the rest of the world has an obligation to justify themselves to the former and current centres of imperial power.
Whatever the flaws of the process and the uncertainty of the future policies, it seems clear that for better or worse Daniel Ortega is the choice of the Nicaraguan people. Whilst Ortega has angered some of his former revolutionary comrades for his lack of ideological zeal and for some he cannot be disassociated from his radical past, he now seems to be ploughing a pragmatic path. At its heart, there is a commitment to lifting people out of poverty (down 12% in 5 years), whilst avoiding the economic regression – previously brought on by outside attack – that sunk the revolution.
Whilst I write this, Hugo Chavez is indulging in one of his long orations on Canal Sur. After asserting that the great challenge facing Guatemala is not the crimes of the past, but the daily crime of thirty children dying of want every 24 hours, he moves on to Nicaragua. Asked to comment on the allegations of fraud, he says that these are inevitable and he expects the same next October if he is reelected.
Like Chavez, and many of the left leaning Latin American leaders, Ortega talks a good talk. The proof will be in exerting enough influence and intelligence to share more equitably the wealth of his nation whilst simultaneously expanding it – a tough trick to pull if you alienate the capitalist class. In the meantime people will call fraud, but only time and the results of policy will show if these have any merits. Tonight in Nicaragua is the Sandinista’s night, for real.
**WINNER: BEST INTERNATIONAL DOCUMENTARY – 2006 LOS ANGELES INDEPENDENT FILM FESTIVAL.
**WINNER: BEST DIRECTOR for an INTERNATIONAL DOCUMENTARY – 2006 NEW YORK INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL.
Unrepentant documents Canada’s dirty secret – the planned genocide of aboriginal people in church-run Indian Residential Schools – and a clergyman’s efforts to document and make public these crimes. First-hand testimonies from residential school survivors are interwoven with Kevin Annett’s own story of how he faced firing, de-frocking, and the loss of his family, reputation and livelihood as a result of his efforts to help survivors and bring out the truth of the residential schools. This saga continues, as Annett continues a David and Goliath struggle to hold the government and churches of Canada accountable for crimes against humanity, and the continued theft of aboriginal land. Unrepentant took nineteen months to film, primarily in British Columbia and Alberta, and is based on Kevin Annett’s book Hidden from History: The Canadian Holocaust. The entire film was a self-funded, grassroots effort, which is reflected in its earthy and human quality.
Otto Perez Molina, a former general who was in charge of the Nebaj, Quiche military base during Guatemala’s genocide from mid-1982 to mid-1983, has won the presidency.
As evidence grows of Perez Molina’s participation in crimes against humanity and genocide, the question of how the international community will respond to this head of State – accused of being an intellectual and material author of torture, disappearances, executions, massacres and indeed genocide – becomes urgent. As of yet, no State or public official in Guatemala , or elsewhere, has publicly discussed the issue of the war crimes and genocide charges against Perez Molina.
Electoral authorities reported that Perez Molina finished with 56% of the vote; Manuel Baldizon finished with 44%, in the November 6th run-off elections. Perez Molina will take office the first week of January. The U.S. embassy released a statement congratulating him.
This article looks more closely at who Perez Molina is. This article does not provide broader analysis of how Guatemala continues to be a fundamentally undemocratic country, wherein the institutions and democracy and the rule of law are corrupted and/or dominated by the traditional powerful elite sectors. Rights Action believes that, in many ways, the “elections” themselves serve to cover-up the underlying lack of democracy and rule of law.
Head of State Accused of Genocide and Other Crimes Against Humanity
Most of the crimes general Otto Perez Molina is accused of occurred before the creation of the International Criminal Court, making prosecution difficult through this court created to try war criminals. However, international law establishes that nations have the responsibility to prosecute grave human rights abuses – including war crimes and genocide – and that there is no prescription period for their prosecution.
The Spanish National Court that is investigating the genocide in Guatemala, through this principal of universal jurisdiction, is investigating the role of Perez Molina in the genocide. The court has received testimony concerning Perez Molina’s military ranking and concerning his participation in war crimes in Nebaj.
Jennifer Harbury, a US citizen whose husband, guerrilla commander Efrain Bamaca, was illegally detained in a secret detention center, tortured, and eventually killed in the early 1990s, initiated a case in March 2011 against Perez Molina after Guatemalan courts violated due process and the right to access to justice in an earlier complaint initiated against lower ranking officers who had been under Perez Molina’s command.
Otto Perez Molina was reported to be on the CIA payroll when, as head of the military’s G2 intelligence unit, he allegedly ran a secret torture center on the Mariscal Zavala military base.
In September 2011, a complaint (a formal Allegation Letter) was submitted to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture calling for an investigation into the role that Perez Molina played in the commission of genocide, torture and disappearances in Guatemala during the worst years of State repression and terrorism in the 1980s.
Perez Molina has denied not only participation in war crimes, but has also publicly claimed that genocide did not occur in Guatemala.
In 1999, the United Nations released its Truth Commission report (Memory of Silence) concluding that over 93% of the atrocities during the country’s 36-year civil war were carried out by the military, police and paramilitaries; that the military conducted genocide against the Mayan population in certain areas, including the Nebaj region where Perez Molina was a high ranking officer; that at least 200,000 people were killed, over 45,000 people disappeared, more than 600 massacres were committed and that over 1,000,000 people were forcibly displaced from their homes.
In April 2008, the Catholic Church released its own report (Recovery of the Historic Memory) detailing decades of State repression and terrorism against the mainly indigenous Mayan people of Guatemala . The night following the release of the Church report, the person in charge of the investigation, Bishop Juan Gerardi, was bludgeoned to death, and his body left for all to see. While two former military officers are serving sentences for the assassination of Gerardi, investigators claim that evidence points to Perez Molina’s involvement in the Gerardi killing, placing Perez Molina at the scene of the crime on the night of the killing.
Political Campaign Focused on “Security” and “Justice”
The central theme in the elections in Guatemala was security and justice. Guatemala’s homicide rate in March 2011 was reported to be 42 murders per 100,000 residents. Guatemala – like neighbors El Salvador and Honduras – has among the highest murder rates in the world, though Honduras’ murder rate is currently double Guatemala’s. This violence is attributable to Guatemala’s historic and structural inequality, repression and impunity in general, and more recently to organized crime, particularly the drug trade.
Recent War Crimes Prosecutions
Guatemala’s first female Attorney General, Claudia Paz, has become something of a celebrity for the effective prosecutions she has led against both organized crime kingpins and those accused of crimes against humanity in the 1970s, 80s and 90s. She took office in 2010 after a recently named Attorney General was fired following scandals that associated him with organized crime.
During her time in office, two top organized crime kingpins have been arrested, after they had operated for decades with the protection and involvement of some military, political and legal authorities, and a slew of war crimes have started to move ahead (slowly) in a way never seen before.
A former head of the national police was arrested, tried and convicted in July 2011 for the war crime of forced disappearance. Military officers involved in the gruesome (and typical) Dos Erres massacre received extended sentences. On June 20, 2011, former General Hector Mario Lopez Fuentes was arrested as an intellectual author of genocide against the Ixil people, in the Nebaj region, between 1982 and 1982. On October 12, 2011, Jose Mauricio Rodriguez Sanchez, head of military intelligence accused of genocide against the Ixil people, was arrested.
The Nebaj Military base was the center of the Mayan Ixil genocide. Former military Head of State from 1983 to 1985, 70-year-old Oscar Mejia Victores, is now in a military hospital under evaluation for his ability to stand trial. He is also accused in the Ixil genocide.
As these genocide trials advance (almost 30 years later) against the highest ranking officers accused of genocide in the Mayan Ixil region, the circle closes in around Perez Molina, who was also a high ranking officer in the Ixil region at that time.
Fire the Attorney General?
A frequent question during the elections was who would let the attorney general stay on, and both candidates promised to keep her on. However, growing reaction against the prosecution of former military officers, by former military officers, has lead to concern over repression against lawyers and human rights defenders, and concern that the Attorney General will be replaced with someone who continues the longstanding tradition of impunity—illegally blocking prosecutions of both war criminals and organized crime figures.
Ever since the “Peace Accords” of 1996, the growing organized crime networks that generate violence and terror in Guatemala have been directly and indirectly linked to military and former military personnel, particularly military intelligence officers, as well as to people working in the institutions of the State and legal system.
The Attorney General’s office has expressed their intention to continue prosecutions and enjoys the political and financial support of the international community; however, signs of pressure and manipulation within Guatemala are already appearing.
On November 2, 2011, a former military colonel submitted a complaint against 26 well-known figures, including leading human rights advocates, academics, and politicians. Some of those named in this complaint are recognized as former members of revolutionary movements. He accuses them of participating in his kidnapping when he was a university student, while his father served as the Minister of Governance during the regime of Efrain Rios Mont, another former military dictator and intellectual author of Guatemala ’s genocide.
Named in this complaint are two cousins of the current Attorney General, one of whom is deceased and the other who has publicly denied any association with the incident, explaining she was in exile at the time and that the motivation for her inclusion in the list was clearly due to her family ties to the Attorney General.
Continuing with the Violence of the 1980s. With the help of the United States
The election of Perez Molina as president, just as Guatemala was making its first advances in some prosecutions (30 years later) for the State repression and genocide of the past and present, is another step backwards for the people of Guatemala in the struggle to live in a democratic country governed by the rule of law.
The violence and repression of the past and present are directly linked, rooted in the entrenched mechanisms of impunity. The crime networks that terrorize Guatemala today grew out of the State security forces that committed the genocide and atrocities of the 1970s, 80s and early 1990s.
These networks of war criminals (many being former military officers) benefited directly from widespread support from the United States during the “Cold War”. They continued to exercise political and economic control of the nation during the so-called “transition to democracy” in the 1990s. They maintain firm control over many State institutions today.
Unaddressed legacy of Genocide
From the actual genocides of the 1970s and 80s, through the dominance of the FRG political party (headed by former general and dictator Efrain Rios Montt) in the late 1990s and the 2000-2004 presidency, to the ascendancy of Perez Molina, Guatemala continues to grapple with and suffer from the legacy and lack of justice and accountability for genocide.
We can now say for sure that after Jeffrey Goldberg smashed the New Yorker’s credibility to bits by publishing a bogus story about Saddam Hussein getting nuclear weapons, paving the liberals’ path to that disastrous war, he smashed the Atlantic Magazine’s credibility to bits last year by using the magazine to hysterically push an American attack on Iran– “The point of no return… who if anyone will stop Iran?” We can say as much because Goldberg is now plain about his agenda at Bloomberg News.
Here he is personally advocating what he covertly advocated in the Atlantic, in the earlier instance putting the argument on Netnayahu et al: America must act, so that Israel doesn’t have to. And once again, he cites an olio of anonymous Holocaust-inflected sources saying Israel has no choice but to go to war against Iran, and so America must do the job because it will do it better. So, Obama should be prepared to use missile strikes.
I believe, based on interviews inside and outside the White House, that he would consider using force — missile strikes, mainly — to stop the Iranians from crossing the nuclear threshold. ..
This isn’t to say that Obama has decided to use whatever means necessary to stop Iran. (He faces opposition in the Pentagon, for one thing, though the U.S. military has much greater capabilities than Israel.) Nor is a U.S. strike something desirable, even if done in concert with Western allies. …
But numerous Israeli officials have told me that they are much less likely to recommend a preemptive strike of their own if they were reasonably sure that Obama was willing to use force. And if Iran’s leaders feared there was a real chance of a U.S. attack, they might actually modify their behavior. I believe Obama would use force — and that he should make that perfectly clear to the Iranians.
On Tuesday, November 15th, 2011, Palestinian activists will reenact the US Civil Rights Movement’s Freedom Rides to the American South by boarding segregated Israeli public transportation in the West Bank to travel to occupied East Jerusalem.
Next Tuesday, Palestinian activists will attempt to board segregated Israeli public transportation headed from inside the West Bank to occupied East Jerusalem in an act of civil disobedience inspired by the Freedom Riders of the U.S. Civil Rights Movement in the 60’s.
Fifty years after the U.S. Freedom Riders staged mixed-race bus rides through the roads of the segregated American South, Palestinian Freedom Riders will be asserting their right for liberty and dignity by disrupting the military regime of the Occupation through peaceful civil disobedience.
The Freedom Riders seek to highlight Israel’s attempts to illegally sever occupied East Jerusalem from the rest of the West Bank, and the apartheid system that Israel has imposed on Palestinians in the occupied territories.
Several Israeli companies, among them Egged and Veolia, operate dozens of lines that run through the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, many of them subsidized by the state. They run between different Israeli settlements, connecting them to each other and cities inside Israel. Some lines connecting Jerusalem to other cities inside Israel, such as Eilat and Beit She’an, are also routed to pass through the West Bank.
Israelis suffer almost no limitations on their freedom of movement in the occupied Palestinian territory, and are even allowed to settle in it, contrary to international law. Palestinians, in contrast, are not allowed to enter Israel without procuring a special permit from Israeli authorities. Even Palestinian movement inside the Occupied Territories is heavily restricted, with access to occupied East Jerusalem and some 8% of the West Bank in the border area also forbidden without a similar permit.
While it is not officially forbidden for Palestinians to use Israeli public transportation in the West Bank, these lines are effectively segregated, since many of them pass through Jewish-only settlements, to which Palestinian entry is prohibited by a military decree.
Yesterday we looked at a The Washington Post piece on Iran’s alleged nuclear activities and found that two pieces of alleged “evidence” for illegitimate nuclear work, the cooperation with the Ukrainian scientist Vyacheslav Danilenko and the reported pictures of a detonation tank in Iran fit much better with Iran’s program to create nanodiamonds by detonation than with anything nuclear.
There is another scary bit of “evidence” mentioned in that Washington Post article and I will show below that this is not only old information but also quite murky stuff:
According to Albright, one key breakthrough that has not been publicly described was Iran’s success in obtaining design information for a device known as an R265 generator. The device is a hemispherical aluminum shell with an intricate array of high explosives that detonate with split-second precision. These charges compress a small sphere of enriched uranium or plutonium to trigger a nuclear chain reaction.Creating such a device is a formidable technical challenge, and Iran needed outside assistance in designing the generator and testing its performance, Albright said.
1. What is specifically an “R265 generator”? Can it kill me?
2. Iran “obtained design information” is one issue but did Iran actually build such a thing? From the second paragraph one might assume that because testing something would probably necessitate having the object available. But why then is the first paragraph quoted only about “obtained design information” not about producing it?
In a Guardian story Julian Borger today confirms at least some part of yesterdays analysis here and now points out the relation of nanodiamonds to Danilenko. Funny how that didn’t occur in Borger’s piece yesterday or any earlier pieces by him. He claims to have known Danielenko’s name since 2009 but only today, after I published on it, he mentions nanodiamonds. Doesn’t he know how to use Google or did he keep that information from his readers only to weasel it out now?
But today he also adds, like Washington Post based on Albright, a bit about that scary “R265 generator”:
One of the biggest areas of concern for the IAEA is evidence that Iranian scientists have conducted research on hemispherical arrays of explosives, of a type used in the construction of nuclear weapons to crush a spherical core of fissile material and thereby trigger a chain reaction.The central evidence for the research is a five-page document outlining experiments with the device, codenamed the R265 because it has a 265mm radius, but the UN inspectors are said to have gathered other corroborating evidence.
1. The “R262″ name seems to be more of a joke than a specific type like the Washington Post piece lets one assume. It simply has a radius of 265mm and that is what gives the name. Still we are left with the “generator” part and the question of what it is supposed to “generate”.
2. There is nothing about a “a hemispherical aluminum shell” in Borger’s piece, just “hemispherical arrays of explosives”. Where does that aluminum in the Washington Post story come from? Is that the “corroborating evidence” Borger mentions?
3. Borger says the document is “outlining experiments with the device” and is not only “design information”. Which is it?
In a 2009 piece (as we already said – nothing new here) Borger described the device about the same way he does today. He also points to an older IAEA report as the real description.
The IAEA described (pdf) the five-page document even earlier in its May 26 2008 report on Iran:
A. Documents shown to Iran in connection with the alleged studies
A.2. High Explosives Testing
Document 3: Five page document in English describing experimentation undertaken with a complex multipoint initiation system to detonate a substantial amount of high explosive in hemispherical geometry and to monitor the development of the detonation wave in that high explosive using a considerable number of diagnostic probes.
This is again mentioned in a September 2008 report by the agency:
 (d) With reference to the document describing experimentation in connection with symmetrical initiation of a hemispherical high explosive charge suitable for an implosion type nuclear device, Iran has stated that there have been no such activities in Iran. Since the Director General’s previous report, the Agency has obtained information indicating that the experimentation described in this document may have involved the assistance of foreign expertise. Iran has been informed of the details of this information and has been asked to clarify this matter.
So according to the IAEA Iran has not tested the hemispheric charge but the five-page document describes experimentation. The “corroborating evidence” mentioned in the second IAEA report is that it “may have involved the assistance of foreign expertise.” Could that “assistance of foreign expertise”that “may” have been involved be a hint to the expert for detonation nanodiamonds Vyacheslav Danilenko?
In late September 2008 Iran responded (pdf) to the “Alleged Studies” documents it had been shown:
An Assessment of So-called “Alleged Studies”Islamic
Republic of Iran – September 2008
In spite of the fact that the so called alleged studies documents had not been delivered to Iran, the Islamic Republic of Iran carefully examined all the materials which have been prepared in power point presentations by the US and provided to the IAEA, and informed the Agency of its assessment.The Agency has not delivered to Iran any official and authentic document which contained documentary evidence related to Iran with regard to the alleged studies.
The document which the Agency is considering it as an important document regarding alleged studies and referring to it in paragraph 17D of the September 2008 report, is document 18 [in the power point presentation].
There is no evidence or indication in this document regarding its linkage to Iran or its preparation by Iran.
It even does not contain one single word in Persian. The document does only contain some English words and 3 hand-drawn graphs drawn by the Agency.
The said document is shown in order to be judged by the public opinion whether it is fair to make accusation against a country merely on the basis of such a document?!
Iran requested the agency to publish the five-page document so it can be seen and judged by everyone. It may be Iran will get lucky tomorrow and the IAEA will publish it.
From the above I conclude:
There is nothing really new in the recent allegations in Washington Post or other media. They have been in IAEA reports all along and come from files on the dubious “laptop of death” which the U.S. got from somewhere, allegedly inside Iran, and showed to the IAEA even back in 2005. Iran rejects the documents on that laptop as false which they probably are.
There is one question that is still open in the above: Where does that “aluminum shell” in the recent Washington Post report come from? It is not in any other report I am aware of.
Thousands of Egyptians have staged a rally in the capital Cairo in solidarity with more than 12,000 civilians tried and held by the ruling military council, Press TV reports.
The issue of military trials for civilians and their detention has become a source of friction between the Egyptian protesters and the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), which assumed power after the February downfall of the regime of former dictator Hosni Mubarak.
The protesters said SCAF’s judicial system is harsh and unjust.
The demonstrators said the populace needed to ‘reclaim’ the revolution, which toppled the former US-backed and pro-Israel regime.
The protesters gathered in downtown Cairo, and, chanting ‘Down with military rule’ and “Take one of us, you’ll get a hundred,” went towards the military prison, where the activist Alaa Abdel Fattah is also being held.
Abdel Fattah and fellow human rights campaigner Bahaa Saber were called in for questioning on October 30. Saber was released after interrogation.
Alaa’s mother has reportedly gone on a hunger strike since Sunday to protest against her son’s detention.
For months now, ‘No to Military Trials’ group has been inviting the family members of those detained and convicted by the military to speak out. The group contends that the point of military trials is not to observe law and order, but to create a climate of fear.
Egyptian protesters have been rallying since the ouster of Mubarak, calling on the military council to hand over power to a civilian government.
Upon taking power, the SCAF promised it would enable power transition to a civilian government in six months.
The Palestinian people never consented to be occupied
Nations that come into existence by dispossessing, imprisoning and slaughtering the indigenous population have two problems with history:
1. Its ugliness makes it hard to glorify.
2. Its shortness exposes the tenuousness of any claim that this is ‘our land’.
–Paul Woodward, American and Israeli Exceptionalism (WarInContext.org)
The phrase “British Mandate of Palestine” is as commonplace in Western and Zionist scholarship on Palestine as to be inoffensive and therefore barely given a second thought. Indeed, a quick internet search of this seemingly innocuous term reveals some two million results of wildly varying quality and usefulness.
There was, however, no such thing as “British Mandate” of Palestine; it was and remains a purely European/Western colonial construct, an abstraction with real and disastrous consequences. In reality, the Palestinian people never consented to be occupied by British colonials, never agreed to have their ancestral land partitioned and given away to other Europeans, and never asked to be “civilized” by an imperial government which was completely ignorant of their language, culture and history. The same could be said of “French Mandate” Syria and Lebanon or “British Mandate” Iraq.
The term “British Mandate” did have its uses, though. It allowed colonial historians and apologists to believe that Palestine was somehow destined for partition, which made it “legal” and thus sanctified. You see, there was a mandate to Britain given by the League of Nations in 1922 and so Britain, the greatest nation on earth, the model of Western enlightenment and progressive thought, was obligated to carry out its mission—or so the argument went. And what of the indigenous people of Palestine? As summed up by Lord Balfour in 1917, their aspirations, their rights and even their very existence were of little or no consequence:
“Zionism, be it right or wrong, good or bad, is rooted in age-long tradition, in present needs, in future hopes, of far profounder import than the desire and prejudices of 700,000 Arabs who now inhabit that ancient land. We do not propose even to go through the form of consulting the wishes of the present inhabitants of the country.”
It did not matter that Palestinians were still the majority population in 1948, despite decades of British-supported Jewish immigration from Europe and Russia. And nor did it matter that Palestinians were still the majority land owners in Palestine despite the fact that the Jewish National Fund, founded in 1901 in Basel, Switzerland, spent half a century desperately trying (and mostly failing) to buy land in Palestine for exclusive Jewish colonies. In colonialist thinking in general and in Zionist ideology in particular, self-evident and mythological “age-long tradition” and grand, rhetorical flourishes always outweigh historical facts and realities.
The same colonial/racist thinking remains prevalent in much of current mainstream Western discourse on Palestine. It is assumed, for example, that only the United States can somehow solve the Palestine “problem.” It is self-evident that only the world’s remaining superpower can act as an impartial arbitrator and mediator between two (supposedly) intransigent sides. Why? Because of American exceptionalism of course, because America is unique, a shining city on a hill, the standard-bearer of democracy—or so the argument goes. Never mind the fact that the United States government provides Israel with billions of dollars each year, arms it with the most advanced military hardware money can buy and excuses its continuing crimes against humanity with unlimited diplomatic cover and unconditional support. Just as with Balfour’s words in 1917, facts are made irrelevant by magical, incantatory language.
As with the so-called British Mandate and American exceptionalism though, colonialist language and discourse are deeply tied to actions, however unjust, immoral and violent. Take for instance Israel’s most recent plans to ethnically cleanse thirty thousand Palestinian Bedouin from their ancestral lands in the Naqab (Negev). Here is how just one headline in the June 2nd edition of Haaretz, a major Israeli newspaper and mainstream media outlet, puts it: “Netanyahu’s office promoting plan to relocate 30,000 Bedouin.” The sub-headline reads: “Plan aims to improve living conditions for Bedouins currently living in unrecognized villages lacking necessary infrastructure, which results in severe environmental and other problems.”
A plan of dispossession and ethnic cleansing thus becomes a “promotion” of “relocation” for better living conditions and concern for the environment. Buried deep in the story is the fact that the Bedouin are the actual owners of the land they are living on, an ownership which predates the Israeli state, but even this fact becomes a mere “claim.” Nowhere in the article is a word about who the Bedouin really are: a part of the indigenous people of historical Palestine.
Since the Bedouin are never Palestinian in Haaretz or in any Israeli mainstream media but simply “Arabs,” they can therefore be relocated (that is, ethnically cleansed) to wherever the Israeli state wishes; in other words they have no history, no connection to the land, and no relationship to other Palestinians throughout historical Palestine and the Diaspora. With this one word (“Arabs”) all these realities are made to disappear.
This constant denial of the Palestinian Bedouin identity and history is in reality an echo of Golda Meir’s racist assertion that “there is no such thing as a Palestinian people” and Balfour’s equally odious characterization of Palestinians in 1917 as merely “the present inhabitants of the country.” In such a manner, the Bedouins of the Naqab are pulled out of their historical context and separated from other Palestinians. For how is the planned expulsion and dispossession of Palestinian Bedouin different from that of the majority of Palestinians expelled from Haifa, ‘Akka, Jaffa, Safad, Jerusalem or Beer al-Sabe’ (to name only a few examples) in 1948? The answer is simple: it is no different at all.
In fact, the shadow of the Nakba, the original expulsion of 1947-48, still looms large. Here, for instance, is Yosef Weitz, one of the architects of Plan Dalet, musing in 1941 on how to “remove” the indigenous people of Palestine, as well as take over significant parts of Syria and Lebanon:
“The Land of Israel is not small at all, if only the Arabs will be removed, and if its frontiers would be enlarged a little; to the north all the way to the Litani [River in Lebanon], and to the east by including the Golan Heights…while the Arabs should be transferred to northern Syria and Iraq” (Nur Masalha, Expulsion of the Palestinians, 134).
Note how, just as with Balfour, the peoples of Palestine, Lebanon and Syria, do not count at all in Weitz’s repugnant vision; they are nonpersons, objects to be shifted about here and there according to the whims of the Zionist leadership. Note as well the cavalier way in which Weitz ponders where to draw the borders of his future state with complete disregard for the peoples of the region, like some child drawing random lines on a piece of paper.
Now here is Tzipi Livni (one of the driving forces behind Operation Cast Lead), a supposedly moderate, progressive voice in current Israeli politics, in a speech to a group of high school students in 2008 on what might happen to Palestinian citizens of the state in the event of a two-state solution:
“My solution for maintaining a Jewish and democratic State of Israel is to have two nation-states with certain concessions and with clear red lines… And among other things, I will also be able to approach the Palestinian residents of Israel, those whom we call Israeli Arabs, and tell them, ‘your national solution lies elsewhere’” (Jerusalem Post, FM takes heat over Israeli Arab remark, December 11, 2008).
More than seventy years later and Zionist colonial thinking is unchanged—Palestinians are perceived as mere pieces on a game board that can be moved around in order to maintain the “Jewish and democratic State of Israel.” It naturally never occurs to Livni that there is nothing democratic or Jewish about ethnic cleansing, so internalized is her own propaganda. Perhaps she is more subtle than Weitz or Balfour in her choice of words, but the racism remains the same.
Indeed, Israel’s entire historical narrative is built on such colonial fabrications of myth, erasure of historical facts, euphemisms, evasions and outright denial of reality: Palestine was “a land without people for a people without a land,” “the Israelis made the desert bloom,” “Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East,” “the Israeli army is the most moral army in the world,” “Israel is the light unto the nations,” “we’re in a tough neighbourhood,” “we have no partner in peace,” “Arabs only understand the language of force” and so on.
The almost daily attacks on Palestinians in both the Occupied Territories and in Israel itself, and the continuing theft of Palestinian land and culture are more often than not explained away using such linguistic evasions and blatant falsehoods, as has every Israeli war since the state’s inception. It brings to mind Tacitus’ famous maxim: “They plunder, they slaughter, and they steal: this they falsely name Empire, and where they make a wasteland, they call it peace.”
In the hands of colonizers and conquerors, language is always a weapon used against the colonized and the occupied. Within an imperial/colonial mindset, language is more often than not used by those in power to fabricate, confuse, dehumanize and dominate. It is a tool used to justify past crimes and to excuse future ones. With settler colonialism in particular, language is used to denigrate or even erase the history and culture of the indigenous population being usurped.
As the Israeli Professor of language and education Nurit Peled-Elhanan recently wrote, “[Israeli] apartheid is not only a bunch of racist laws, it is a state of mind, fashioned by education. Israeli children are educated from a very tender age to see ‘Arab’ citizens and ‘Arabs’ in general as a problem that must be solved, eliminated in one way or another …. Israeli education succeeds in building mental walls that are far thicker than the concrete wall that is being constructed to incarcerate the Palestinian nation and hide their existence from our eyes …. [Israelis] don’t consider Palestinians as human beings like themselves, but as an inferior species, that deserve much less” (Independent Online/Daily News, How racist laws imprison a nation, November 3, 2011).
If Israeli Jews sincerely desire a just and lasting peace they would do well to first shed once and for all this pervasive and pernicious colonial mentality and its accompanying delusory supremacist language and learn to see Palestinians as their full equals, nothing more and nothing less. On the other hand, do not expect Palestinians to accept their dispossession, their ethnic cleansing or their current occupied or second-class status on their own land as a final reality, for not only would this be unethical and unjust but—as this acceptance would be equivalent to surrender—it is also something that will never happen.
- Roger Sheety is a writer and researcher.
A Response to Michael Neumann
This is at least the third time in the past four years that philosophy professor Michael Neumann has used these pages to lambast the supporters of a one-state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict. On each occasion he has offered a little more insight into why he so vehemently objects to what he terms the “delusions” of those who oppose – or, at least, gave up on – the two-state solution.
In his most recent essay, Neumann suggests that his previous reluctance to be more forthright was motivated by “politeness”. Well, I for one wish the professor had been franker from the outset. It might have saved us a lot of time and effort.
Even though I have identified myself as a supporter of the one-state solution, I find much to agree with in what Neumann writes on this occasion. Like him, I do not believe that a particular solution, or resolution, will occur simply because the Palestinians or their wellwishers make a good moral case for it. Success for the Palestinians will come when a wide array of regional developments force Israel to conclude that its current behaviour is untenable.
There are plenty of signs that just such a power shift is starting to take place in the Middle East: Iran’s possible development of a nuclear warhead; an awakening of democratic forces in Egypt and elsewhere; the fraying of the long and vital military alliance between Israel and Turkey; the exasperation of Saudi Arabia at Israel’s intransigence; the growing military sophistication of Hizbullah; and the complete discrediting of the US role in the region.
Neumann is wrong to assume that one has to be an idealist – believing in the political equivalent of fairies – to conclude that a one-state solution is on the cards. It does not have to be simply a case of wishful thinking. Rather, I will argue, it is likely to prove a realistic description of the turn of events over the next decade or more.
While Neumann and I agree on the causes of an Israeli change of direction, his and my analyses diverge sharply on what will follow from Israel’s realisation that its occupation is too costly to maintain.
Neumann proposes that, once cornered by regional forces it can no longer intimidate or bully, Israel will have to concede what he terms the “real” two-state solution.
He does not set out what such a solution would entail, but he is adamant that it – and only it – must take place. So let me help with an outline of the apparent minimal requirements for a real two-state solution:
* Israel agrees to pull out its half a million settlers from the West Bank and East Jerusalem, presumably assisted by lavish compensation from the international community;
* Israel hands over all of East Jerusalem to the Palestinians, while the city’s holy places, including the Western Wall, pass to a caretaker body representing the international community;
* The Palestinians get a state on 22 per cent of historic Palestine, with their capital in East Jerusalem;
* The Palestinians are free to establish an army – with Iran and Saudi Arabia presumably competing over who gets to sponsor it;
* The Palestinians have control over their airspace and the electro-magnetic spectrum. If they have any sense, they quickly turn to Hizbullah for advice on how to neutralise Israel’s extensive spying operations, its overhead drones and listening posts currently sited all over the West Bank;
* The Palestinians get unfettered access to their new border with Jordan and beyond to other Arab states;
* The Palestinians are entitled to an equitable division of water resources from the main West Bank acquifers, currently supplying Israel with most of its water;
* And the Palestinians have, as promised under the Oslo accords, a passageway through Israel to connect the West Bank and Gaza.
Let us leave aside the social problems for Israel caused by this arrangement: the huge disruption created by an angry and newly homeless half a million settlers returning to Israel, as well as the dramatic aggravation of the already severe housing crisis in Israel and the rapid deterioration in relations with the large Palestinian minority living there.
Let us also not dwell on the problems faced by the Palestinians, including the potentially hundreds of thousands of refugees who will have to be absorbed into the limited space of the resource-poor West Bank and Gaza, or their likely anger at what they will see as betrayal, or the inevitable economic troubles of this micro-state.
Doubtless, all these issues can be addressed in a peace agreement.
In his essays, Neumann only factors in what Israelis are prepared to accept from a solution. So let us ignore too the “idealism” of those critics who are concerned about whether a “real two-state solution” can actually be made to work for ordinary Palestinians.
The assumption by Neumann is that, faced with a rapid escalation in the political and financial costs of holding on to the Palestinian territories, Israel will one day understand that it has no choice but to jettison the occupation.
He offers nine reasons for why the one-state solution is “blatantly nonsensical”. Though numerically impressive, most of his arguments – such as his discussion of the right of return, or the representativeness of a Palestinian government, or the nature of legal and moral rights – appear to have little or no bearing on the practical case either for or against one state. The same can be said of his ascription of the sin of idealism to those he lumps together as one-staters, and his allusion, yet again, to the vague formula of a “real two-state solution”.
His other three arguments – the first he lists – are no more revelatory. In fact, they are variations of the same idea, one that can best be summarised by an analogy he offers in one: “If I’m making 50,000 dollars, I might demand 70,000, but not 70 million. It is not clever to demand the whole of Israel when Israel won’t yield even the half that almost the whole world says it must surrender – the occupied territories.”
I am no professor of logic but something about this analogy rings hollow. Let us try another that seems closer to the reality of our case.
One day you arrive at my home and take over most of the building using force. A short time later you drive me out of the house completely, and, in what you consider a generous concession, allow me to live in the shed at the end of the garden. Over the years we become bitter enemies. The neighbours, my former friends, can no longer turn a blind eye to my miserable condition and decide to side with me against you. One day they come to your door and threaten to use violence against you if you do not let me back into the house.
What happens next?
Well, as Neumann implies, it may all end happily with you agreeing to let me live in the box room. But then again, it might not.
Sensing that the shoe is finally on the other foot, I might decide to make your life unbearable in the main part of the house in order to win more space or to drive you out. Or you might decide that, given your precarious new situation in the neighbourhood, you would be better off abandoning your ill-gotten gains and looking for somewhere else to live.
I am not a fan of such analogies. I resort to it simply to highlight that, if one wants to make use of these kinds of devices, then it is at least preferable to use an apposite one.
(Interestingly, if we pursue this analogy, it also questions Neumann’s preferred comparison of Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories with France’s occupation of Algeria. In this case, Algeria appears to be the garden rather than the main house.)
The larger point is that there is no reason to assume that, just because the occupation gets too costly, Israel can simply amputate it like a rotting limb.
Part of the weakness in Neumann’s argument can be seen in his repeated references to the settlers as a group of troublesome misfits rather than a substantial chunk both of the Israeli cabinet, including the foreign minister, and of the high command of the Israeli army and security services, including the current head of the National Security Council.
Likewise, he caricatures Western support for Israel as “Zionist hysteria” in the US Congress, backed by “ridiculous” fellow travellers such as the Canadian government. If only the support for Israel among Western governments were this trivial.
Such misrepresentations make his argument that the occupation is vulnerable appear far stronger than it really is. In fact, the occupation is much more than the settlements.
It is the Messianism industry, run by the settlers, that took over Israel decades ago. Its hold extends far beyond the West Bank to the now-dominant religious education stream feeding poison to young minds, as well as to the seminaries where young religious men training to become army officers are tutored daily in their Chosenness and their divine right to exterminate Palestinians.
It is the ultra-Orthodox with their ambivalence to Zionism but their now-savage sense of entitlement to handouts from the state. They have several large urban communities in the West Bank tailor-made for their separatist religious way of life. The people who riot over a parking lot opening on Shabbat will not easily walk away from their homes, schools and synagogues.
It is a large and profitable Israeli real estate industry that has plundered and pillaged Palestinian land for decades, and which seems to implicate every new Israeli prime minister in a fresh corruption scandal.
It is Israel’s farming industries that depend for their survival on the theft of both Palestinian land and water sources.
It is ordinary Israelis, already spoiling for a fight after an unprecedented summer of social unrest over the exorbitant cost of living in Israel, who have yet to find out the true price of fruit and vegetables – and running water – should they lose these water “subsidies”.
It is Israel’s extensive and lucrative military hi-tech industries that rely on the occupied territories as a laboratory for developing and testing new weapons systems and surveillance techniques for export both to the global homeland security industries and to tech-hungry modern armies.
It is Israel’s security and intelligence services, abundantly staffed with the same Ashkenazis who will go on to become the country’s political leaders, pursuing careers surveilling and controlling Palestinians under occupation.
And it is the profligate military – Israel’s version of the West’s prodigal bankers – whose jobs and lethal toys depend on endless US taxpayers’ munificence.
None of this will be given up lightly, or at a cost that won’t make America’s current $3 billion annual handouts to Israel look like peanuts. And that is before we factor in the huge payouts needed to compensate the Palestinian refugees and to build a Palestinian state.
But these problems only hint at the argument for a one-state solution. The reality is that the elites that run Israel have everything to lose should the occupation fall. That is why they have invested every effort in integrating the occupied territories into Israel and making a “real” peace deal impossible. The occupation and its related industries are the source of their moral legitimacy, their political survival and their daily enrichment.
That is also why they are twisting in agony at the prospect of Iran acquiring a nuclear arsenal to rival their own. At that point, the occupation begins to expire and their rule is finished.
Were the regional conditions to come about that Neumann believes necessary to evict Israel from the occupied territories, these elites and their Ashkenazi hangers-on will face a stark choice: bring down the house or scatter to whatever countries their second passports entitle them to.
They may go for the doomsday scenario, as some currently predict. But my guess is that, once the money-laundering opportunities enjoyed by the politicians and generals are over, it will simply be easier – and safer – for them to export their skills elsewhere.
Left behind will be ordinary Israelis – the Russians, the Palestinian minority, the ultra-Orthodox, the Mizrahim – who never tasted the real fruits of the occupation and whose commitment to Zionism has no real depth.
These groups – isolated, largely antagonistic and without a diaspora occupying the US Congress to assist them – have not the experience, desire or legitimacy to run the military fortress that Israel has become. With the glue gone that holds the Zionist project together, both the Palestinians and the Israelis who remain will have every interest to come up with real solutions to the problem of living as neighbours.
The strangest aspect to Neumann’s claims against the one-staters – repeated in all his essays on this subject – is the argument that they are not only deluded but propagating an idea that is somehow dangerous, though quite how is never explained.
If as Neumann argues, correctly in my view, Israel will only change course when faced with significant pressure from its neighbours, then the worst crime the one-staters can be accused of committing is an abiding attachment to an irrelevant idealism.
Iran will not discard its supposed nuclear ambitions simply because the one-state crowd start to make a compelling moral case for their cause, any more than Hizbullah will stop amassing its rockets. So why should Neumann get so exercised by the one-state argument? By his reckoning, it should have zero impact on progress towards a resolution of the conflict.
Nonetheless, even on Neumann’s limited terms, one can also make a serious case that advocacy of a single state might produce benefits for the Palestinians.
If nothing else, were a growing number of Palestinians and international supporters persuaded that demanding an absolutely just solution (one state) was the best path, would this not add an additional pressure to the other, material ones facing Israel to concede a real two-state solution – if only to avoid the worse fate of a single state being imposed by its neighbours?
But I think we can go further in making the practical case for a one-state solution.
Although the main cause of Israel changing tack will be the alignment of regional forces against it, an additional but important factor will be the emergence of a political climate in which western states and their publics are increasingly disillusioned with Israel’s bad faith. Congress’ support is not paid in the currency of hysteria but in hard cash. And that support won’t dry up until Israel and its “mad dog” policies are widely seen as illegitimate or a liability.
One of the key ways Israel will discredit itself, following it and Washington’s recent decision to block any Palestinian bid for statehood at the United Nations, is by cracking down – probably violently – on any political aspirations expressed by ordinary Palestinians under occupation.
History, including Palestinian history, suggests that populations denied their rights rarely remain passive indefinitely. Palestinians who see no hope that their leaders can secure for them a state will be increasingly motivated to claim back their cause.
Ordinary Palestinians have no power, as Neumann notes, to force Israel to establish a state for them. But they do have the power to demand from Israel a say in their future, and press for it through civil disobedience, campaigns for voting rights, and the establishment of an anti-apartheid movement. Such a struggle will take place within – and implicitly accept – the one-state reality already created by Israel. If Palestinians march for the vote, it will be for a vote in Knesset elections.
None of this will win them either a state or the vote, of course. But the repression needed from Israel to contain these forces will serve to rapidly erode whatever international sympathy remains and to further galvanise the regional forces lining up against Israel into action.
In short, however one assesses it, the promotion of a one-state solution can serve only to hasten the demise of the Israeli elites who oppress the Palestinians. So why waste so much breath opposing it?
Jonathan Cook won the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. His latest books are “Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East” (Pluto Press) and “Disappearing Palestine: Israel’s Experiments in Human Despair” (Zed Books). His website is www.jkcook.net.