Benjamin Netanyahu revealed on Sunday that he will be discussing possible legal action against Arab members of the Knesset with the attorney general after they visited the families of Palestinians killed by Israel to discuss the release of their bodies for burial. The Israeli prime minister described the MKs as “terrorism advocates” whom he wishes to have removed from parliament.
“Members of the Knesset who go to comfort the families of terrorists who murdered Israelis do not deserve to be in the Israeli Knesset,” Netanyahu said on Thursday. “I have asked the Speaker of the Knesset to examine what steps can be taken against them.” On Sunday, he submitted a formal complaint to the Knesset Ethics Committee against Arab Joint List MKs Jamal Zahalka, Haneen Zoubi and Basil Ghattas, all members of the Balad bloc.
Also on Thursday, Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein said, “It is inconceivable that at a time when innocent citizens are being slaughtered on the streets of Israel, these MKs go to console the families of the murderers and with unbelievable insolence dare to bring the families’ demands to the government.” He pointed out that his call for Israelis to lodge complaints against the MKs was met with a broad response; 200 have been received.
The MKs in question responded forcefully to the criticism: “As soon as Netanyahu understood that there was no legal or criminal offence involved in our meeting, he tried to turn the empty hype into a political gain for himself by submitting a draft bill to remove the Arab minority’s political representatives.” The prime minister, they added, knows very well that the meeting was intended to discuss the release of the bodies.
It’s a waste of time…
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu certainly knows how to return a favor. To express his gratitude for the United States having engaged in laborious 17 month multilateral negotiations that succeeded in eliminating Iran’s ability to construct a nuclear weapon, Netanyahu is now demanding more money from Washington because the agreement has, in his esteemed opinion, made Israel more vulnerable. As Israel is already the largest recipient of United States military assistance at $3.1 billion a year the jump to $5 billion might seem relatively inconsequential, but for Netanyahu it will mean that 25% of his entire defense budget will now come from the United States, enabling Israel to free up funds to provide free university education and medical treatment for its citizens, something that the American taxpayers who come up with the money do not enjoy.
And it seems that beyond that there is no limit to Israel’s own particular form of expressing “thank you America.” Even as Israel prepares to accept the additional money it seems disinclined to restrain either its actions or its rhetoric towards anyone who questions its behavior, including the President of the United States. One would think the prospect of receiving an extra $20 billion dollars would produce at least a little moderation but the Israeli government appears to be intent on sending a message to the Barack Obama White House telling the world who is really in charge.
Last Tuesday, with Netanyahu off attending a meeting of global movers and shakers in Davos Switzerland, the Israeli government announced that it would be seizing from Arab owners 380 acres of arable land near Jericho in the Jordan River valley. The land has been up until now considered an Israeli Army security zone so even though it was Palestinian property the owners were not allowed to use it. Settlers are reportedly already encroaching on the land and it will no doubt soon transition into a new settlement bloc with the blessing of the military and government. Israel has also announced the destruction of West Bank buildings used by Bedouin tribesmen that were financed by the European Union (E.U.), presumably so it can declare the land vacant, permitting its annexation to construct permanent homes for Israeli Jews.
The seizure and demolitions produced predictable protests from the Europeans, the Arab League, the Palestinians themselves and also from Washington. But as in the case of the all too fungible money flowing incessantly from Washington, Israel’s having already stolen tens of thousands of acres of Arab land on the West Bank while planting something like 600,000 illegal settlers, many in heavily guarded compounds, a few hundred more acres matters little. But that would be to ignore the essentially political reality that the Netanyahu government always responds to critics by taking the offensive, in this case carrying out actions that are gross violations of international law a few days before a U.S. delegation is due to arrive in Tel Aviv to discuss Israel’s new aid package. It demonstrates Israel’s contempt for the interests and sensitivities of the United States.
Indeed, Netanyahu does not behave as he does because he is compelled to do so or has some good reason for responding to critics disparagingly. He does so because standing up to the world community enhances his political stature among his extreme right wing supporters in Israel, who rejoice in telling critics that they do not care one bit about the increasing international sentiment condemning their behavior. And Netanyahu knows he can in reality behave with impunity because he de facto owns the U.S. Congress and the mainstream media and has said as much, noting that for him “I know what America is. America is a thing you can move very easily, move it in the right direction. They won’t get in the way.”
Several recent incidents demonstrate the Netanyahu disdain for the opinion of the United States as well of the rest of the world. U.S. Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro was on the receiving end of Bibi’s wrath when he commented that “continued settlement growth raises honest questions about Israel’s long term intentions,” adding that the Israeli authorities do not investigate attacks on Palestinians “vigorously,” that there was increasing vigilantism by settlers, and that there are two standards to the rule of law “one for Israelis and another for Palestinians.” Shapiro was referring to civil law prevailing in Israel while the army operates on the West Bank under martial law, which has far fewer protections for the accused and where shoot to kill policies against Arab demonstrators have become common. The criticism, as mild as it was, drew an angry response from Netanyahu, who called the statement “unacceptable and untrue.” A political ally of Netanyahu called the American Ambassador a “little Jewboy.”
Israel, which fancies itself a democracy, does indeed have different standards of justice. As part of a new program of action against “terrorists,” Israel last week began arrests of anyone who posts content on Facebook that the government considers to be anti-Israeli. As it is not necessary to actually do anything to fall afoul of the new regulations, the offense is in the nature of a thought crime. Inevitably, Arabs have been arrested but no Jews. It is also interesting to consider whether Israel believes its extraterritoriality on what it considers terrorism to extend to Americans and Europeans who criticize Israeli actions. Many of those who are reading these words might well find themselves arrested if they should ever have to enter Israel for any reason.
Israel and its friends have also responded sharply to a European Union demand first put in place last November that products derived from the Israeli settlements be labeled as such, enabling consumers to avoid them if they choose to do so. Last week, the E.U. also indicated that any business or government to government dealings with Israel must not involve the settlements on the West Bank and in East Jerusalem. Israel’s point of view is that the West Bank settlements are de facto part of Israel. The Swedish foreign minister Margot Wallstrom has also been subjected to Israel’s wrath after she suggested that it might be worthwhile to investigate whether Israeli police and military have been executing Palestinian prisoners extra-judicially. More than 141 Palestinians have died in the recent unrest versus 24 Israelis. There have been numerous reports that some of the Arab victims have been shot and killed after they were either incapacitated or arrested while a leading Rabbi has called for all Palestinians to be executed. The Netanyahu government has attacked Wallstrom, stating that her comments were “a mix of blindness and political stupidity.” She has been officially banned from travel to Israel.
Israel’s pit bulls in the think tanks and media have inevitably joined in the discussion. Jennifer Rubin at the Washington Post explains “Why it’s correct to label the Obama administration anti-Israel,” citing, among others, the deranged Danielle Pletka of the American Enterprise Institute, who describes identifying settlement produced goods as “blatant anti-Semitism” coupled with a warning that that “it should be clear to Jews everywhere that the 1930s are returning.” Rubin also cites the ever reliable Elliott Abrams, who sees a broad movement to discredit Israel, commenting that the U.S. failure to condemn the E.U. action means that Obama is “joining the jackals.”
Rubin and her friends seek to twist the argument by maintaining that other areas “in dispute” do not have their products labeled, but they ignore the fact that there is no other situation anywhere in the world quite like Israel’s continued military occupation coupled with the introduction of settlers, destruction of the local economy and exploitation of aquifers and other natural resources. And the West Bank is hardly disputed, except by the Israel first last and always crowd. It is clearly Palestinian land.
Giving Israel more money will not make Netanyahu behave but there is no possibility that the largess will somehow be terminated because America’s timorous leadership is afraid to confront the obvious. The whole world understands that Israel is the ultimate rogue nation, propped up by the only remaining superpower, which appears to be a helpless giant whenever it is confronted by the Israeli Prime Minister’s demands. Professor Stephen Walt of Harvard has recently suggested that the most influential papers within the U.S. mainstream media might want to consider featuring on their opinion pages more foreign power realists and a lot fewer neocons, in part because the former have been consistently right while the latter have nearly always been wrong. How true. It would be a breath of fresh air to open a newspaper and not be confronted by Elliott Abrams, Jennifer Rubin, Robert Kaplan, Charles Krauthammer and the Kagans spewing their nonsense about the Middle East.
A realist would instead ask “What are America’s interests in the Middle East?” and “Why do we have a widely promoted ‘special relationship’ with Israel?” The answers would demonstrate that Washington and Tel Aviv’s interests do not coincide and never have. And that the special relationship is a self-serving fiction invented by Israel’s friends. Understanding that and acting upon it would be a real change that many of us could quite comfortably live with.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says Saudi Arabia now sees Tel Aviv “as an ally rather as an enemy” as he claims “a great shift taking place” in the Arab policy toward the Palestinian issue.
“Saudi Arabia recognizes that Israel is an ally rather than an enemy because of the two principle threats that threaten them, Iran and Daesh,” he told CNN’s Fareed Zakaria on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos Friday.
Both Saudi Arabia and Israel are fiercely opposed to a nuclear accord between Iran and the West which came into force recently. They are worried the agreement could boost Iran’s role in the region.
Last week, The Wall Street Journal reported that Israel was actively seeking to strengthen ties with Arab powers in the wake of the nuclear deal with Iran.
Daesh ideology is rooted in Wahhabism which is widely promoted by Saudi clerics and tolerated by the kingdom’s rulers. Both Saudi Arabia and Israel support Takfiri groups fighting in Syria. Meanwhile, there is no known case of a Daesh attack on either Saudi or Israeli targets.
Netanyahu also said “there is a great shift taking place” in the Saudi-led policy toward the Palestinian issue, citing Israel’s “relationships” with unknown Arab states.
“By nurturing these relationships that are taking place now with the Arab world, that could actually help us resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and we’re actually working towards that end,” he said.
Netanyahu’s overtures to Saudi Arabia and its allies come in the midst of international outcry after Tel Aviv declared 154 hectares (380 acres) of Palestinian territory in the Jordan Valley as “state lands.”
Yuval Steinitz, Israel’s minister for national infrastructure, energy, and water, returned recently from an energy conference in the UAE, where Tel Aviv recently established a diplomatic mission. Israel’s Channel 2 suggested that the real aim of the trip may have been for the two sides to covertly conduct strategy meetings.
In recent months, Egypt returned its ambassador to Tel Aviv while a group of Jordanian pilots paid a “working visit” to Israel and trained closely with their Israeli counterparts during US-sponsored military exercises.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan also recently expressed an interest in easing tensions with Israel after reaching an agreement to restore relations last month. Sudan is also said to be considering normalizing ties with Israel.
According to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the implementation of the Iran Nuclear Deal represents a “dangerous moment” for America.
The implementation of the Iran Nuclear Deal represents a “dangerous moment” for America, and it is essential to make Iran meet the commitments it made when it accepted the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action), the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) said Sunday.
“This is a dangerous moment for America and our allies. We need to hold Iran to the commitments it made when it accepted the JCPOA,” AIPAC, America’s most influential pro-Israel lobbying organization, stated following the implementation of the Iran deal.
The statement stressed that “Congress and the executive branch must also live up to their own commitments,” which means it has to respond to Iranian violations of the JCPOA “with certain, swift and severe penalties.” The organization also noted it is necessary to shut out the possibility of Iran building up “its ability to pursue regional dominance” as a “terrorist state”.
“Iran can repatriate tens of billions of dollars from frozen foreign accounts, fueling its efforts to expand its reach across the region. The international community will dismantle its elaborate sanctions regime, and Iran will start down the path to legitimize its illicit nuclear program,” the statement reads.
AIPAC also asserted that Iran demonstrated its irresponsibility in the past when it violated mandatory United Nations Security Council resolutions by conducting prohibited ballistic missile tests.
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made skeptical comments on the implementation of the Iranian nuclear deal as well, saying that Iran hasn’t yet abandoned its ambitions to possess nuclear weapons.
Iran and six major international powers (the US, Russia, China, the UK, France and Germany) reached an agreement on Tehran’s nuclear program in July 2015. The deal entailed Iran agreeing to ensure that its nuclear program is of a peaceful nature.
NAZARETH – Israeli Premier Benjamin Netanyahu said that Adhan (Islamic call to prayer) violates Israel’s interior laws as it causes “unbearable noise.”
During a meeting with the Likud bloc in the Knesset, Netanyahu claimed that “Arab towns must abide by the law of the land and fulfill their obligations to the state and society.”
This includes, Netanyahu continued, refraining from polygamy, which is practiced by Muslim-Arabs, stopping the noise caused by the Adhan, voiced five times a day by Muslim-Arab mosques, and halting construction without permit.
“I am not prepared to accept two States of Israel, a state of law for most of its citizens and a state within a state for some of them, in enclaves in which there is no law enforcement.”
There is no religious text that allows disturbing people by loudspeakers, according to his claims.
He also pointed to polygamy in Arab towns, claiming that “women’s rights organizations remain silent over this practice.”
BETHLEHEM – A plan approved by Israel’s cabinet last week to provide half a billion dollars worth of assistance to Israel’s Druze and Circassian minorities has been denounced by leaders of Israel’s Palestinian community as a “divide and conquer” tactic.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced the 2 billion shekel ($510 million) multi-year plan “for the development of the Druze and Circassian communities” at the start of the weekly cabinet meeting on Sunday.
The plans followed the earlier announcement of a 15 billion shekel ($3.8 billion) five-year plan to address the gaps in access to infrastructure and discrepancies in rights between Palestinians with Israeli citizenship and their Jewish counterparts.
While it was not initially clear whether the assistance to the Druze and Circassian communities was included in this larger plan, Netanyahu warned separately on Sunday that the larger plan for the development of other “Arab communities” was dependent on the implementation of a law enforcement plan alongside it.
“I want to make it clear that nothing that has been done in various areas — infrastructure, tourism, education, trade, economy — can move forward if we do not address the question of enforcing the laws of the state of Israel in the Arab sector,” the prime minister said.
The further security measures proposed by Netanyahu would target Palestinian citizens of Israel — who represent an estimated 20 percent of the Israeli population — but would, critics say, do so unequally.
Security measures for ‘good Arabs and bad Arabs’
Palestinian communities in Israel recently came under intense scrutiny from Israel’s security forces after a Palestinian with Israeli citizenship, Nashat Melhem, allegedly killed two Israelis at a Tel Aviv cafe on Jan. 1, before killing a Palestinian citizen of Israel as he fled the scene.
Melhem was killed in a shootout with Israeli forces on Jan. 8 in his hometown of Arara in northern Israel.
Jafar Farah, the director of the Mossawa Advocacy Center For Arab Citizens In Israel, told Ma’an at the time that there had been a high level of incitement against Palestinians with Israeli citizenship on the part of Israeli government officials.
“The atmosphere right now is very heavy and racist — there is a lot of incitement against Arabs,” Farah said. “We know that in these circumstances there is no authority willing to intervene in the media to do anything other than support the (crackdown).”
“This is a period where the extreme right wing is trying to prove that the occupation is not the problem, but the relationship between Jewish and Arab communities is.”
Farah’s sentiments were echoed by Aida Touma-Suleiman, a member of the Israeli’s Knesset representing the left-wing Hadash party of the Arab Joint List coalition, who sees the Israeli government’s recent funding plans as reflective of its discriminatory policy.
Touma-Suleiman slammed the government’s intention to tie development aid for Palestinian communities to law enforcement as an attempt “to create conditioned citizenship.”
This “conditioned citizenship,” she said, was being carried out by the Israeli government with the aim of creating divisions among Palestinians in Israel.
“This has been a tactic from different Israeli governments, even those who claim they are from the left,” she told Ma’an.
“They try to divide and conquer us, either based on geographical locations, religious affiliations, and now between good Arabs and bad Arabs. Those who obey the government, who serve in the military, will benefit from the plan, and those who refuse the government’s oppression will not.
“We are used to the attempted fragmentation of the community, and we’ll always stand against it,” she said.
‘Divide and conquer policy’
Israeli law differentiates between Jewish and Palestinian citizens of Israel, and forms further distinctions between various Palestinians minorities.
Druze and Circassians are subject to mandatory military service in the Israeli army, whereas Muslim or Christian Palestinian citizens of Israel are not. Israeli identification papers do not recognize Christians, Druze and Circassians as Arabs, unlike Muslims.
These legal distinctions have been criticized by many, including MK Abdullah Abu Maruf, as an attempt to divide the Palestinian population inside Israel.
Abu Maruf, a Palestinian citizen of Israel and, like Touma-Suleiman, a member of the Hadash party, told Ma’an that Israel’s plan — which he said would actually only amount to 1.2 billion shekels — was an attempt to sow divisions among Israel’s Palestinian minorities through preferential treatment.
“As an Arab citizen and a member of Knesset I never oppose allocation of money to the Arab citizens, but we are against a political process of discrimination,” the MK said.
“All members of the Joint List view this plan in the same way,” he added. “We consider it a ‘divide and conquer’ policy. It’s a continuation of the systematic Israeli government policy towards Arabs in Israel.”
Abu Maruf noted that a similar plan to allocate funds to the Druze and Circassian communities was approved by the Israeli cabinet in late 2014, although he pointed out that only 10 percent of the 185 million shekel project had been allocated so far.
A Druze himself, he further pointed to the small size of the Druze and Circassian communities in Israel, which total around 130,000 and 4,000 respectively.
“With all due respect, this is a small number and the Israelis are using this to talk about minorities and enact discriminatory policies,” Abu Maruf said.
‘The rights we deserve’
This is not the only initiative since the beginning of the year to explicitly benefit the two communities. On Jan. 5, less than a week earlier, the Israeli National Planning and Building Council approved an initiative presented by Netanyahu to “build a new Druze town” near the northern town of Tiberias, a press release from the Israeli Prime Minister’s office revealed at the time.
“I ascribe great importance to the establishment of a new Druze town that will advance the Druze sector,” Netanyahu said following the announcement. “The Druze community has bound its fate to the State of Israel.”
According to rights organization Adalah, there are at least 76 Israeli laws that discriminate between Jewish and Palestinian citizens of Israel.
A 2011 report by the organization stated that “Arab municipalities exercis[ed] jurisdiction over only 2.5 percent of the total area of the state,” adding that no new Palestinian towns had been built in Israel since 1948, compared to 600 Jewish municipalities. Infrastructure in Palestinian-majority towns is notoriously inadequately maintained, and access to public transportation is insufficient.
“This plan is not a favor from anybody, it is only a small part of the rights we deserve,” Touma-Suleiman said.
“We are also worried of the political use of this plan against us,” she added. “Netanyahu’s government needs this plan for international reasons, in order to build an image of Israel as a democratic state at a time when there is international criticism of Israeli policies.”
“Even if this plan is not implemented later on, it will still look like the government is looking after its Arab citizens.”
Media hypes the terrorism panic
I have written frequently on how the terrorist threat is routinely hyped to serve a number of special interests in the United States and elsewhere in the world. In many countries, including most recently Saudi Arabia and Turkey, anyone who is a critic of the existing government is routinely labeled a “terrorist” as that justifies taking harsh and often extralegal steps to confront him or her. In reality, the likelihood of being killed by a terrorist almost anywhere but an active war zone is miniscule. In the U.S. it is so small as to be statistically insignificant but the public has been led to believe that heavily armed Islamic militants are lurking around every corner.
The vast majority of mass shootings in the United States are, in fact, carried out by white males who are at least nominally Christian in upbringing. Some of the incidents are subsequently described as domestic terrorism but most are labeled only as crimes and are treated routinely through the criminal justice system. Muslim attackers plausibly linked to terrorist groups, who dominate the media driven frenzy, have killed fewer than 45 Americans since September 12, 2001, slightly more than 3 a year, a toll that would hardly seem to justify the enormous expense and surrendering of civil liberties that have been part and parcel of the “global war on terror.”
Those of us who bother to monitor the groups that comprise part of the vast “terrorism business” are aware that the whole process runs on a number of essentially symbiotic relationships. The FBI needs to make terrorism arrests, so it uses paid informants to encourage otherwise harmless young men to embrace violence. Federal prosecutors who require terrorism convictions to pad their resumes call in phony expert witnesses like Evan Kohlmann who will basically support arguments that someone is a terrorist derived from internet based analysis that many would consider highly questionable.
The big money, however, goes to the think tanks and foundations, which are all politically aligned in one fashion or another and which are adept at providing seeming intellectual rigor to justify every point of view while keeping the taxpayer provided cash flowing. The foundations and think tanks thereby actually do considerable damage to the country by continuing wars that do not have to be fought and by wasting national resources that could certainly be put to better use.
I recently noted a couple of articles that hype the terror threat on behalf of well-funded groups that are in the terror business. One op-ed piece by Matthew Levitt entitled “Fighting terrorism takes more than drones” actually is largely sensible about legislation to fund anti-terrorism efforts at local levels worldwide until it goes off on a tangent, describing how it is necessary to “raise awareness about Iran’s and Hezbollah’s broad ranges of terrorist and criminal activities around the world” then adding that “Hezbollah is poised to get an infusion of money from Iran.” The reader might well note that Hezbollah and Iran are themselves on the front line fighting IS and the assertion regarding the omnipresence of their own terrorist activity is somewhat difficult to support, unless one is thinking about the spurious claims that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been making. Which is perhaps precisely the point as Levitt heads the Stein Program on Counterterrorism and Intelligence at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP), which is an American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) creation. It is a major component of the Israel Lobby.
Another talking head who regularly appears in the Washington Post is Marc Thiessen. His December 21st piece is entitled “U.S. lets in four times as many suspected terrorists as it keeps out.” The claim is based on State Department statistics indicating that since 9/11 2,231 foreigners were denied U.S. visas based on suspected terrorism related issues while 9,500 more had visas issued but later revoked after issuance due to possible terrorist links or activities. When asked how many of the suspected terrorists who have revoked visas might still be in the United States, a State Department spokesman replied “I don’t know.”
Thiessen sees the revoked visa issue as an indication that the screening system does not work which is certainly arguable, but his rant is inevitably conflating a number of issues that are not necessarily linked while also assuming a worst case scenario as a result. He speculates that there must be many more “terrorists” who gamed the system successfully and did not have their visas revoked at all. He cites Tashfeen Malik, the distaff half of the San Bernardino shooters, and Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the 2009 underwear bomber. Neither had a visa revoked before they undertook a terrorist act. Which means they beat the system and there are certainly others who have done likewise.
Marc Thiessen indeed has a point when he observes that there must be some genuine terrorists who have obtained visas to travel to the United States. Screening potential visitors from the third world and war zones means having to deal with a lack of reliable documentation coupled with numerous desperate individuals prepared to lie to get a visa. That’s why you rely on a skilled and frequently skeptical American Embassy visa officer to make the call if there is any doubt about credentials. The Thiessen alternative would apparently be to ban all travelers who fit certain profiles that he would no doubt be able to provide, i.e. all Muslims. He advocates in his article stopping the entry of all Syrian refugees, for example, because they cannot be properly assessed, which inevitably punishes the legitimate refugees who can be vetted.
Thiessen’s complaining lacks context. First of all, the number of revoked visas is relatively small when spread out over fifteen years. There are a lot of good reasons why a visa status might be changed and one should bear in mind that a state department officer will always err on the side of caution, revoking a visa if there is even a miniscule possibility that someone might have been radicalized. Without further information on what actually constitutes a “possible terrorist connection” it is impossible to determine what kind of threat actually exists, if any, but Thiessen is willing to take a plunge anyway. And it might be noted that even a legitimate U.S. government concern about one’s politics perhaps derived from comments on social media does not necessarily make one a terrorist. It should be reassuring to Thiessen rather than alarming to learn that the State Department is reviewing travel status even after visas are issued.
And Thiessen plays the threat card, implying that many of the visa holders might still be in the United States without providing any evidence that that is the case. Some might never have made the trip and one has to suspect that the vast majority of those who did visit are long since gone, having done absolutely nothing in the interim.
Indeed, Thiessen could just as easily have asked how many holders of revoked visas have committed terrorist acts or crimes in the United States since 9/11, but he avoids that question for obvious reasons. The answer is none and the FBI has no evidence to suggest that there are revoked visa holders currently in place in terrorist cells planning mayhem. One would think that if the point of terrorism is to do something that creates fear then the revoked passport holders have essentially failed in their mission unless someone reads Thiessen and believes what he is saying.
And oh yes, Thiessen works for the reliably neocon American Enterprise Institute (AEI), which is largely funded by defense contractors who have a vested interest in spending the taxpayers’ money to “keep Americans safe.” Back under the Bush administration Dick Cheney used to go to AEI when he had something important to say, trusting that the audience there would be his kind of people. They were his kind then and they still are.
And Thiessen continues to carry water for his old team. He was the principal speechwriter for George W. Bush and his first book, endorsed by Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, was entitled Courting Disaster: How the CIA Kept America Safe and How Barack Obama Is Inviting the Next Attack. The book has been heavily criticized for numerous errors of fact and also due to its advocacy of torture “as lawful and morally just” but the reader of the op-ed in the Post would not know any of that. It’s how bad ideas circulate through the media and are given credibility, a mechanism that the “war on terror” fraudsters understand all too well.
Dani Dayan © Wikipedia
Israel has warned Brazil that relations will deteriorate unless it accepts the former Israeli head of the West Bank settlement program as ambassador. The appointment was made four months ago and has still not been approved by Brazil’s government.
The country has continuously failed to give in to diplomatic pressure, leading Israel to up the stakes and issue threats.
Brazilian refusals have gone on since August, when the political appointment was made by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The main sticking point for Brazilian opposition to the appointment is the fact that Dani Dayan – the nominee – lives in the occupied West Bank, as well as being the former head of the Council of Jewish Communities of Judea and Samaria.
Like most [all] of the international community, Brazil’s leftist government believes the building of Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian land to be illegal. But condemnation at all levels has not resulted in any action on the part of Israel.
Reda Mansour, Israel’s previous ambassador, left Brasilia last week, and now the Israelis are warning that if Dayan does not replace him, there will be consequences for bilateral relations.
“The State of Israel will leave the level of diplomatic relations with Brazil at the secondary level if the appointment of Dani Dayan is not confirmed,” Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely said in an interview to Israel’s Channel 10, according to Reuters. Israel has refused to nominate another candidate for the position.
Hotovely then said Israel would continue to press Brasilia through various means, including the Brazilian Jewish community, as well as direct appeals from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is one of the more outspoken defenders of Israel’s settlement-building in the West Bank.
According to Hotovely, as cited by the Jerusalem Post, this lobbying will take place with the aim of showing that Dayan is “a man who is respectable, worthy, and accepted across Israel’s political spectrum.”
Hotovely added that in the event of Brazil’s refusal, there will be “a crisis in relations between the two countries, and it is not worth going there.”
There has been no comment yet from President Dilma Roussef on whether Brasilia would cave to Israeli demands, but a senior source in the Foreign Ministry told Reuters they “do not see that happening.” And if Dayan is not, in fact, named the next ambassador, the only real alternative will be to have the next highest-ranking official acting in his stead.
Dayan for months remained silent, but on Saturday, in an interview to Channel 2, attributed Brazil’s refusal to “classic BDS” – or boycott, divestment and sanctions. He believes the entire situation owes itself to pressure from Israeli activists, Palestinians and select circles in Brazil.
Tensions between the two countries have been on the rise since the last administration, when Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva worked to warm Brazilian ties with Iran. They rose further last year when an Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman labeled Brazil “a diplomatic dwarf.” This was after Brasilia recalled its ambassador from Israel as a show of protest over the continuing military offensive in Gaza.
1. “There is a huge gap between us (Jews) and our enemies, not just in ability but in morality, culture, sanctity of life, and conscience. They are our neighbors here, but it seems as if at a distance of a few hundred meters away, there are people who do not belong to our continent, to our world, but actually belong to a different galaxy.” Israeli president Moshe Katsav. The Jerusalem Post, May 10, 2001
2. “The Palestinians are like crocodiles, the more you give them meat, they want more”…. Ehud Barak, Prime Minister of Israel at the time – August 28, 2000. Reported in the Jerusalem Post, August 30, 2000
3. ” [The Palestinians are] beasts walking on two legs.” Menahim Begin, speech to the Knesset, quoted in Amnon Kapeliouk, “Begin and the Beasts”. New Statesman, 25 June 1982.
4. “The Palestinians” would be crushed like grasshoppers … heads smashed against the boulders and walls.” ” Isreali Prime Minister (at the time) in a speech to Jewish settlers New York Times April 1, 1988
5. “When we have settled the land, all the Arabs will be able to do about it will be to scurry around like drugged cockroaches in a bottle.” Raphael Eitan, Chief of Staff of the Israeli Defence Forces, New York Times, 14 April 1983.
6. “How can we return the occupied territories? There is nobody to return them to.” Golda Maier, March 8, 1969.
7. “There was no such thing as Palestinians, they never existed.” Golda Maier Israeli Prime Minister June 15, 1969
8. “The thesis that the danger of genocide was hanging over us in June 1967 and that Israel was fighting for its physical existence is only bluff, which was born and developed after the war.” Israeli General Matityahu Peled, Ha’aretz, 19 March 1972.
9. David Ben Gurion (the first Israeli Prime Minister): “If I were an Arab leader, I would never sign an agreement with Israel. It is normal; we have taken their country. It is true God promised it to us, but how could that interest them? Our God is not theirs. There has been Anti – Semitism, the Nazis, Hitler, Auschwitz, but was that their fault ? They see but one thing: we have come and we have stolen their country. Why would they accept that?” Quoted by Nahum Goldmann in Le Paraddoxe Juif (The Jewish Paradox), pp121.
10. Ben Gurion also warned in 1948 : “We must do everything to insure they ( the Palestinians) never do return.” Assuring his fellow Zionists that Palestinians will never come back to their homes. “The old will die and the young will forget.”
11. “We have to kill all the Palestinians unless they are resigned to live here as slaves.” Chairman Heilbrun of the Committee for the Re-election of General Shlomo Lahat, the mayor of Tel Aviv, October 1983.
12. “Every time we do something you tell me America will do this and will do that . . . I want to tell you something very clear: Don’t worry about American pressure on Israel. We, the Jewish people, control America, and the Americans know it.” – Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, October 3, 2001, to Shimon Peres, as reported on Kol Yisrael radio. (Certainly the FBI’s cover-up of the Israeli spy ring/phone tap scandal suggests that Mr. Sharon may not have been joking.)
13. “We declare openly that the Arabs have no right to settle on even one centimeter of Eretz Israel… Force is all they do or ever will understand. We shall use the ultimate force until the Palestinians come crawling to us on all fours.” Rafael Eitan, Chief of Staff of the Israeli Defense Forces – Gad Becker, Yediot Ahronot 13 April 1983, New York Times 14 April 1983.
14. “We must do everything to ensure they [the Palestinian refugees] never do return” David Ben-Gurion, in his diary, 18 July 1948, quoted in Michael Bar Zohar’s Ben-Gurion: the Armed Prophet, Prentice-Hall, 1967, p. 157.
15. ” … we should prepare to go over to the offensive with the aim of smashing Lebanon, Trans-jordan and Syria… The weak point in the Arab coalition is Lebanon [for] the Moslem regime is artificial and easy to undermine. A Christian state should be established… When we smash the [Arab] Legions strength and bomb Amman, we will eliminate Transjordan, too, and then Syria will fall. If Egypt still dares to fight on, we shall bomb Port Said, Alexandria, and Cairo.” ” David Ben-Gurion, May 1948, to the General Staff. From Ben-Gurion, A Biography, by Michael Ben-Zohar, Delacorte, New York 1978.
16. “We must use terror, assassination, intimidation, land confiscation, and the cutting of all social services to rid the Galilee of its Arab population.” Israel Koenig, “The Koenig Memorandum”
17. “Jewish villages were built in the place of Arab villages. You do not even know the names of these Arab villages, and I do not blame you because geography books no longer exist. Not only do the books not exist, the Arab villages are not there either. Nahlal arose in the place of Mahlul; Kibbutz Gvat in the place of Jibta; Kibbutz Sarid in the place of Huneifis; and Kefar Yehushua in the place of Tal al-Shuman. There is not a single place built in this country that did not have a former Arab population.” Moshe Dayan, address to the Technion, Haifa, reported in Haaretz, April 4, 1969.
18. “We walked outside, Ben-Gurion accompanying us. Allon repeated his question, What is to be done with the Palestinian population?’ Ben-Gurion waved his hand in a gesture which said ‘Drive them out!'” Yitzhak Rabin, leaked censored version of Rabin memoirs, published in the New York Times, 23 October 1979.
19. Rabin’s description of the conquest of Lydda, after the completion of Plan Dalet. “We shall reduce the Arab population to a community of woodcutters and waiters” Uri Lubrani, PM Ben-Gurion’s special adviser on Arab Affairs, 1960. From “The Arabs in Israel” by Sabri Jiryas.
20. “There are some who believe that the non-Jewish population, even in a high percentage, within our borders will be more effectively under our surveillance; and there are some who believe the contrary, i.e., that it is easier to carry out surveillance over the activities of a neighbor than over those of a tenant. [I] tend to support the latter view and have an additional argument:…the need to sustain the character of the state which will henceforth be Jewish…with a non-Jewish minority limited to 15 percent. I had already reached this fundamental position as early as 1940 [and] it is entered in my diary.” Joseph Weitz, head of the Jewish Agency’s Colonization Department. From Israel: an Apartheid State by Uri Davis, p.5.
21. “Everybody has to move, run and grab as many hilltops as they can to enlarge the settlements because everything we take now will stay ours… Everything we don’t grab will go to them.” Ariel Sharon, Israeli Foreign Minister, addressing a meeting of militants from the extreme right-wing Tsomet Party, Agence France Presse, November 15, 1998.
22. “It is the duty of Israeli leaders to explain to public opinion, clearly and courageously, a certain number of facts that are forgotten with time. The first of these is that there is no Zionism,colonialization or Jewish State without the eviction of the Arabs and the expropriation of their lands.” Yoram Bar Porath, Yediot Aahronot, of 14 July 1972.
23. “Spirit the penniless population across the frontier by denying it employment… Both the process of expropriation and the removal of the poor must be carried out discreetly and circumspectly.” Theodore Herzl, founder of the World Zionist Organization, speaking of the Arabs of Palestine,Complete Diaries, June 12, 1895 entry.
24. “One million Arabs are not worth a Jewish fingernail.” — Rabbi Yaacov Perrin, Feb. 27, 1994 [Source: N.Y. Times, Feb. 28, 1994, p. 1]
25. “We Jews, we are the destroyers and will remain the destroyers. Nothing you can do will meet our demands and needs. We will forever destroy because we want a world of our own.” (You Gentiles, by Jewish Author Maurice Samuels, p. 155).
26. “We will have a world government whether you like it or not. The only question is whether that government will be achieved by conquest or consent.” (Jewish Banker Paul Warburg, February 17, 1950, as he testified before the U.S. Senate).
27. “We will establish ourselves in Palestine whether you like it or not…You can hasten our arrival or you can equally retard it. It is however better for you to help us so as to avoid our constructive powers being turned into a destructive power which will overthrow the world.” (Chaim Weizmann, Published in “Judische Rundschau,” No. 4, 1920)
28. “Our race is the Master Race. We are divine gods on this planet. We are as different from the inferior races as they are from insects. In fact, compared to our race, other races are beasts and animals, cattle at best. Other races are considered as human excrement. Our destiny is to rule over the inferior races. Our earthly kingdom will be ruled by our leader with a rod of iron. The masses will lick our feet and serve us as our slaves.” – Israeli prime Minister Menachem Begin in a speech to the Knesset [Israeli Parliament] quoted by Amnon Kapeliouk, “Begin and the Beasts,” New Statesman, June 25, 1982
29. “Tell me, do the evil men of this world have a bad time? They hunt and catch whatever they feel like eating. They don’t suffer from indigestion and are not punished by Heaven. I want Israel to join that club. Maybe the world will then at last begin to fear us instead of feeling sorry. Maybe they will start to tremble, to fear our madness instead of admiring our nobility. Let them tremble; let them call us a mad state. Let them understand that we are a savage country, dangerous to our surroundings, not normal, that we might go wild, that we might start World War Three just like that, or that we might one day go crazy and burn all the oil fields in the Middle East. Even if you’ll prove to me that the present war is a dirty immoral war, I don’t care. We shall start another war, kill and destroy more and more. And do you know why it is all worth it? Because it seems that this war has made us more unpopular among the civilized world.We’ll hear no more of that nonsense about the unique Jewish morality. No more talk about a unique people being a light upon the nations. No more uniqueness and no more sweetness and light. Good riddance.” –Former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon
30. “The Modern Age is the Jewish Age, and the twentieth century, in particular, is the Jewish Century.” -Yuri Slezkine, Professor of History at University of California, Berkeley, “The Jewish Century”; Princeton University Press
31. “What shocks and worries me is the narrow-mindedness and the shortsightedness of our military leaders. They seem to presume that the State of Israel may or even must-behave in the realm of international relations according to the laws of the jungle- -the long chain of false incidents and hostilities we have invented, and so many clashes we have provoked;” – From Diary of Moshe Sharett, former Primer Minister of Israel in Livia Rokach, Israel’s Sacred Terrorism published 980
32. Hebrew essayist Achad Ha-Am, after paying a visit to Palestine in 1891: “Abroad we are accustomed to believe that Israel is almost empty; nothing is grown here and that whoever wishes to buy land could come here and buy what his heart desires. In reality, the situation is not like this. Throughout the country it is difficult to find cultivable land which is not already cultivated.”
33. The Balfour Declaration to Baron Rothchild, on the 2nd of November, 1917: “His Majesty’s Government view with favor the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavors to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.”
34. Lord Sydenham, Hansard, House of Lords, 21 June 1922: “If we are going to admit claims on conquest thousands of years ago, the whole world will have to be turned upside down.”
35. Vladimir Jabotinsky, The Iron Wall, 1923: “Zionist colonization must either be terminated or carried out against the wishes of the native population. This colonization can, therefore, be continued and make progress only under the protection of a power independent of the native population – an iron wall, which will be in a position to resist the pressure to the native population. This is our policy towards the Arabs…”
36. Vladimir Jabotinsky, founder of Revisionist Zionism (precursor of Likud), The Iron Wall, 1923: “A voluntary reconciliation with the Arabs is out of the question either now or in the future. If you wish to colonize a land in which people are already living, you must provide a garrison for the land, or find some rich man or benefactor who will provide a garrison on your behalf. Or else-or else, give up your colonization, for without an armed force which will render physically impossible any attempt to destroy or prevent this colonization, colonization is impossible, not difficult, not dangerous, but IMPOSSIBLE!… Zionism is a colonization adventure and therefore it stands or falls by the question of armed force. It is important… to speak Hebrew, but, unfortunately, it is even more important to be able to shoot – or else I am through with playing at colonizing.”
37. David Ben Gurion, future Prime Minister of Israel, 1937, Ben Gurion and the Palestine Arabs, Oxford University Press, 1985: “We must expel Arabs and take their places.”
38. Joseph Weitz, head of the Jewish Agency’s Colonization Department in 1940. From “A Solution to the Refugee Problem”: “Between ourselves it must be clear that there is no room for both peoples together in this country. We shall not achieve our goal if the Arabs are in this small country. There is no other way than to transfer the Arabs from here to neighboring countries – all of them. Not one village, not one tribe should be left.”
39. Israeli official Arthur Lourie in a letter to Walter Eytan, director general of the Israeli Foreign Ministry (ISA FM 2564/22). From Benny Morris, “The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem 1947-49”, p. 297: “…if people become accustomed to the large figure and we are actually obliged to accept the return of the refugees, we may find it difficult, when faced with hordes of claimants, to convince the world that not all of these formerly lived in Israeli territory. It would, in any event, seem desirable to minimize the numbers…than otherwise.”
40. David Ben-Gurion, May 1948, to the General Staff. From Ben- Gurion, A Biography, by Michael Ben-Zohar, Delacorte, New York 1978: “We should prepare to go over to the offensive. Our aim is to smash Lebanon, Trans-Jordan, and Syria. The weak point is Lebanon, for the Moslem regime is artificial and easy for us to undermine. We shall establish a Christian state there, and then we will smash the Arab Legion, eliminate Trans-Jordan; Syria will fall to us. We then bomb and move on and take Port Said, Alexandria and Sinai.”
41. David Ben-Gurion, one of the father founders of Israel, described Zionist aims in 1948: “A Christian state should be established [in Lebanon], with its southern border on the Litani river. We will make an alliance with it. When we smash the Arab Legion’s strength and bomb Amman, we will eliminate Transjordan too, and then Syria will fall. If Egypt still dares to fight on, we shall bomb Port Said, Alexandria and Cairo… And in this fashion, we will end the war and settle our forefathers’ account with Egypt, Assyria, and Aram”
42. [Begin, and Yitzhak Shamir who were members of the party became Prime Ministers.] Albert Einstein, Hanna Arendt and other prominent Jewish Americans, writing in The New York Times, protest the visit to America of Menachem Begin, December 1948: “Among the most disturbing political phenomena of our time is the emergence in the newly created State of Israel of the Freedom Party (Herut), a political party closely akin in its organization, method, political philosophy and social appeal to the Nazi and Fascist parties.”
43. Martin Buber, Jewish Philosopher, addressed Prime Minister Ben Gurion on the moral character of the state of Israel with reference to the Arab refugees in March 1949. “We will have to face the reality that Israel is neither innocent, nor redemptive. And that in its creation, and expansion; we as Jews, have caused what we historically have suffered; a refugee population in Diaspora.”
44. Moshe Dayan (Israel Defense and Foreign Minister), on February 12 1952. Radio “Israel.”: “It lies upon the people’s shoulders to prepare for the war, but it lies upon the Israeli army to carry out the fight with the ultimate object of erecting the Israeli Empire.”
45. Martin Buber, to a New York audience, Jewish Newsletter, June 2, 1958: “When we [followers of the prophetic Judaism] returned to Palestine…the majority of Jewish people preferred to learn from Hitler rather than from us.”
46. Aba Eban (the Israeli Foreign Minister) stated arrogantly. New York Times June 19, 1967: “If the General Assembly were to vote by 121 votes to 1 in favor of “Israel” returning to the armistice lines– (pre June 1967 borders) “Israel” would refuse to comply with the decision.”
47. Dr. Israel Shahak, Chairperson of the Israeli League for Human and Civil Rights, and a survivor of the Bergen Belsen concentration camp, Commenting on the Israeli military’s Emergency Regulations following the 1967 War. Palestine, vol. 12, December 1983: “Hitler’s legal power was based upon the ‘Enabling Act’, which was passed quite legally by the Reichstag and which allowed the Fuehrer and his representatives, in plain language, to be what they wanted, or in legal language, to issue regulations having the force of law. Exactly the same type of act was passed by the Knesset [Israeli’s Parliament] immediately after the 1067 conquest granting the Israeli governor and his representatives the power of Hitler, which they use in Hitlerian manner.”
48. Joseph Weitz, Director of the Jewish National Fund, the Zionist agency charged with acquiring Palestinian land, Circa 194. Machover Israca, January 5, 1973 /p.2: “The only solution is Eretz Israel [Greater Israel], or at least Western Eretz Israel [all the land west of Jordan River], without Arabs. There is no room for compromise on this point … We must not leave a single village, not a single tribe.”
49. Israeli Rabbi Yitzhak Ginsburg, Inferring that killing isn’t murder if the victim is Gentile. Jerusalem Post, June 19,1989: “Jewish blood and a goy’s [gentile’s] blood are not the same.”
50. Benyamin Netanyahu, then Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister, former Prime Minister of Israel, tells students at Bar Ilan University, From the Israeli journal Hotam, November 24, 1989: “Israel should have exploited the repression of the demonstrations in China, when world attention focused on that country, to carry out mass expulsions among the Arabs of the territories.”
51. Former Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir declares at a Tel Aviv memorial service for former Likud leaders, November 1990. Jerusalem Domestic Radio Service: “The past leaders of our movement left us a clear message to keep Eretz Israel from the Sea to the Jordan River for future generations, for the mass aliya [immigration], and for the Jewish people, all of whom will be gathered into this country.”
52. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, quoted in Associated Press, November 16, 2000: “If we thought that instead of 200 Palestinian fatalities, 2,000 dead would put an end to the fighting at a stroke, we would use much more force….”
53. Ben Gurion: In 1899, Davis Triestsch wrote to Herzl: ” I would suggest to you to come round in time to the “Greater Palestine” program before it is too late… the Basle program must contain the words “Great Palestine” or “Palestine and its neighboring lands” otherwise it’s nonsense. You do not get ten million Jews into a land of 25,000 Km2″. ” The present map of Palestine was drawn by the British mandate. The Jewish people have another map which our youth and adults should strive to fulfill — From the Nile to the Euphrates.”
54. Vladimir Jabotinsky (the founder and advocate of the Zionist terrorist organizations), Quoted by Maxime Rodinson in Peuple Juif ou Problem Juif. (Jewish People or Jewish Problem): “Has any People ever been seen to give up their territory of their own free will? In the same way, the Arabs of Palestine will not renounce their sovereignty without violence.”
Read more: http://whatreallyhappened.com/WRHARTICLES/palestinians.php#ixzz3v5i0Jmof
By John Chuckman | Aletho News | December 15, 2015
I think it entirely possible Donald Trump could be elected President. I am not in favor of it – but then neither am I in favor of any of the other candidates on offer – yet I do think his election is increasingly possible. America displays every four years – almost like a temporary clothesline erected on the front lawn of the White House loaded with soiled and tattered undergarments – the sheer poverty of its political system. Every four years, a gang of mediocrities and thugs spend vast amounts of money to say, from coast to coast, nothing worth hearing.
Sometimes I wonder why anyone bothers to run for office in a long, costly, and exhausting contest which if won means four years of taking directions from the Pentagon and seventeen security agencies. America is not a democracy, and the last president who actually tried to exert some significant influence on affairs left much of the right side of his head in the streets of Dallas. But ego is a mighty powerful motivator, and the gang engaged in national American politics has plenty of it, even if few other redeeming qualities.
Trump could make Hillary Clinton regret she ever shared a stage to debate with him, especially a Hillary Clinton whose past has finally begun to catch up with her, now finally wounded by her long record of dark intrigues and vicious lies. Trump is no angel by comparison, but his focus has been on making money and aggrandizing his name, things most Americans respect. He has no political record for which to account or apologize.
He has said many things which make him sound like a juvenile given to insulting people’s appearances, and he has some proposals which would prove impossible for anyone to implement, yet somehow he has hit on some issues which find a welcome hearing by many, especially unsophisticated people who might even once have been Democratic voters. Americans are tired of unresponsive politicians, something of which they have stables full. They are also tired of the bewildering events in a world at the center of which invariably the United States finds itself. Most Americans never voted for such things and have no interest in them. Only dishonest appeals about supporting the troops keep them from rebelling, and their own increasingly difficult economic lives generate a lot of stress. America is full of frustrated and angry people, many of them not even sure what it is they are so angry about and many of whom have no time or patience to understand the world in which they live. Hard-hitting simplicities are music to the ears.
One of the sharpest ironies of Trump is that not all of his views are simplicities. Some are dead-on assessments of things which could have been avoided and leaders who failed the country. So this man comes bundled with a wide-ranging group of political goods, far more so than anyone I can recall in recent times. Just think of the simple-minded recitals of senior American politician after senior American politician. They all sound rather like Sarah Palin reciting her money-generated mantra but with differing levels of sophistication and vocabulary. She is the basic template while other models come with little tweaks and feature, but they all say nothing worth hearing. There is a very real reason for that: under America’s establishment-run, aristocratic political system, there is almost zero latitude for change either in domestic or foreign affairs, except in the field of war where more seems always welcome.
No matter what you think of Trump’s views – and the author should confess he is not an admirer of most of them – many people find it utterly refreshing to hear him touch subjects none of the usual Washington politicians touch. He goes far beyond the pathetic high-school recitation of lines by Sarah Palin. Or, I might add, the paid lies of men like Newt Gingrich and scores of others who will literally speak in absurdities in return for multi-million dollar campaign contributions. I only mention Newt because the last time he tried to campaign, he ran around the country saying there really was no such thing as a Palestinian, his quid pro quo for nearly twenty million dollars in funds from a man with claustrophobic ties to Israel.
Just think of the all the bland, say-nothing-worth-hearing types, epitomized by Jeb Bush who resembles nothing so much as a well-groomed hamster both in the sounds he makes and in his blinking-into-the-camera, insipid-smile looks. And think of all the grotesque liars who run for high office in America never telling people what really motivates or enables them or what special interests pay their way. It all really is a parody of democracy.
You might think a brash and independent-minded guy like Trump is just the answer to changing some of that, and I can well understand the hopes, but there are very powerful barriers in American society as it now has come to be organized against such hopes being realized. The first day of sitting at a huge polished conference table, greatly outnumbered by arrogant country-club security chiefs with secret budgets you cannot imagine and rigid generals whose uniforms glitter almost like Christmas trees, might just test the mettle of a Trump. Add to that the heads of great corporations each worth hundreds of billions of dollars making private appointments. And then the polished heads of mighty special interest lobby groups used to getting their way. And just who are your allies and confidants in opposing some of the things they demand? You have no political background from which you would have built such relations.
It’s a daunting and dreary picture, and you have to remember, these powerful people who compose the formidable American aristocracy are the very ones who allowed and encouraged the ugly situations into which America is straight-jacketed.
Despite Trump’s freshness and energy, a Trump victory could prove a disaster. Not because he would flirt with atomic war, something Obama now already does regularly, or create vast new domestic schemes. Of course, the scheme of building a fence across Mexico and rounding up and returning all illegal migrants is vast indeed – a virtual moon-landing project from scratch – but this author thinks it would fortunately prove impossible. Even if the American aristocracy permitted him to pursue such a Don Quixote project, it would only be in order to gain his compliance in other, far more important and consequential matters such as the vast, destabilizing, and murderous wars in the Middle East and the bullying of Russia and China.
On top of all that, Trump has made some deadly serious enemies, and number one on the list is Israel and its supporters who view him as not adequately friendly to Israel’s interests.
When Trump, for example, speaks, entirely sensibly, about leaving Syria for Putin to sort out, he goes dead against a dark and costly scheme which was in part created by Israel. They want Assad dead. They want Syria Balkanized much as Iraq is. And they are enjoying the stolen, discount-priced oil they get indirectly from ISIS through Turkey.
And they don’t want Russia gaining genuine influence in the Mideast, the United States being Israel’s source of seemingly inexhaustible assistance, permission, and protection – the provider of vast subsidies of every kind imaginable. Moreover, Netanyahu and other leaders in Israel have long striven to have Israel assume a geopolitical role in the Mideast as a kind of miniature replica of what the United States is in the world, a bully hegemon. There’s no room in that picture for Russia.
If you read the kind of columnists who regularly serve as apologists for Israel’s brutality – there’s at least one filling that role on the staff of every mainline newspaper – you find a universally negative attitude towards Trump. It has nothing to do with conservatism versus liberalism, and it certainly has nothing to do with human rights. The columnists use words about human rights to make their view more palatable to the general population of readers and to serve as a smokescreen for what it is with which they are really defending.
After all, Israel’s Netanyahu is perhaps the world’s most flagrant violator of human rights, holding about five million people completely against their will with absolutely no rights or freedoms, periodically stealing their homes and land, violating the sanctity of their religious places, and frequently just killing large batches of them – always undoubtedly with an eye to making them so miserable that they will pick up and leave. The people of Gaza are not even allowed to import cement to repair Israel’s recent destruction of their homes and institutions. I simply do not know of crueler circumstances in the world completely tolerated by America’s aristocracy.
There have been several ugly outbursts recently, including one from an executive of Colorado’s American Civil Liberties Union who was yelling about assassinating Trump voters, words I just could not believe when I first read them.
But then in past years we have had extremist defenders of Israel propose many horrible measures including one from an American lawyer who proposed summarily killing the entire families of any Palestinian acting as a “terrorist,” so the raving speech is not without precedent. The executive’s words communicate the intense level of hate which simmers. I am sure this disturbed man – since forced to quit – is not the only one with such thoughts bubbling like sewerage through his mind.
Always admirers of political hamsters and gerbils as candidates with dark eminences behind them doing the necessary filth, the Bush-Cheney model if you will, or indeed the Eisenhower-Dulles or Reagan-Casey one – the Republicans will make every effort to stop Trump with backstage political manipulations, such as a brokered convention, but they may well not succeed, his position being made quite strong by the possibility of his running as a third-party candidate, and one with huge financial resources to boot.
But if they fail, and he wins, look out for the darkest possibilities.
All this is quite terrible, but that is simply what America is today, terrible.
In his novel 1984 George Orwell introduced the lexicon of Big Brother’s Doublespeak in which “War is peace, freedom is slavery, and ignorance is strength.” In today’s Western political circles and mainstream media coverage of Palestine/Israel and political Zionism, one may add a host of other phrases to this Orwellian Newspeak. Expressions that would fittingly describe this coverage might include “racism is democracy, resistance is terrorism, and occupation is bliss.”
If individuals were to rely solely on Western media outlets as their source of information regarding the increasingly volatile situation in the occupied Palestinian territories, especially Jerusalem, they would not only be perplexed by the portrayals of victims and oppressors, but also confused about the history and nature of the conflict itself. For instance, in the past few weeks, in their coverage of the latest Palestinian uprising, most Western mainstream media outlets, such as the New York Times, CNN, FOX, and BBC, virtually omit the words “Israeli occupation,” or “illegal Israeli settlements.” Seldom if ever do they mention the fact that Jerusalem has been under illegal Israeli control for the past 48 years, or that the latest confrontations were set off as a result of Israeli attempts to change the status quo and force a joint jurisdiction of the Islamic holy sites within the walls of old Jerusalem.
Oftentimes Israel and its enablers in the political and media arenas try to obfuscate basic facts about the nature and history of the conflict. Despite these attempts, however, the conflict is neither complicated nor has it existed for centuries. It is a century-old modern phenomenon that emerged as a direct result of political Zionism. This movement, founded by secular journalist Theodore Herzl in the late 19th century, has incessantly attempted to transform Judaism from one of the world’s great religious traditions into a nationalistic ethnic movement with the aim of transferring Jews around the world to Palestine, while ethnically cleansing the indigenous Palestinian population from the land of their ancestors. This is the essence of the conflict, and thus all of Israel’s policies and actions can only be understood by acknowledging this reality.
It might be understandable, if detestable, for Israel and its Zionist defenders to circulate false characterizations of history and events to advance their political agenda. But it is incomprehensible for those who claim to advocate the rule of law, believe in the principle of self-determination, and call for freedom and justice to fall for this propaganda or to become its willing accomplices. In following much of the media coverage or political analyses of the conflict, one is struck by the lack of historical context, the deliberate disregard of empirical facts, and the contempt for established legal constructs and precedents. Are the Palestinian territories disputed or occupied? Do Palestinians have a legal right, embedded in international law, to resist their occupiers, including the use of armed struggle, or is every means of resistance considered terrorism? Does Israel have any right to old Jerusalem and its historical and religious environs? Is the protraction of the so-called “cycle of violence” really coming proportionally from both sides of the conflict? Is Israel a true democracy? Should political Zionism be treated as a legitimate national liberation movement (from whom?) while ignoring its overwhelmingly racist manifestations? Is Israel genuine about seeking a peaceful resolution to the conflict? Can the U.S. really be an honest peace-broker between the two sides as it has persistently promoted itself in the region? The factual answers to these questions would undoubtedly clear the fog and lead objective observers not only to a full understanding of the conflict, but also to a deep appreciation of the policies and actions needed to bring it to an end.
Occupation, Self-Determination, and International Law
There should be no disputing that the territories seized by Israel in June 1967, including east Jerusalem, are occupied. Dozens of UN resolutions have passed since November 1967, including binding Security Council resolutions calling on Israel to withdraw from the occupied territories, which the Zionist State has stubbornly refused to comply with. In fact, if there were any “disputed” territories, they should be those Palestinian territories that Israel took in 1948, through a campaign of terror, massacres, and military conquests, which resulted in forcefully and illegally expelling over 800,000 Palestinians from their homes, villages, and towns, in order to make room for thousands of Jews coming from Europe and other parts of the world. Consequently, UN Resolution 194 mandated that these Palestinian “refugees wishing to return to their homes … should be permitted to do so.” This resolution has now remained unfulfilled for 67 years. There is also no dispute in international law that Israel has been a belligerent occupier triggering the application of all the relevant Geneva Conventions as the Palestinian people have been under occupation since their “territory is actually placed under the authority of the hostile army.”
Furthermore, the right to self-determination for the Palestinian people and their right to resist their occupiers by all means are well established in international law. In 1960, UN resolution 1514 adopted the “Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples.” It stated that, “All peoples have the right to self-determination”, and that, “the subjection of peoples to alien subjugation, domination and exploitation constitutes a denial of fundamental human rights and is contrary to the Charter of the United Nations.” Ten years later the UN adopted Resolution 2625 which called on its members to support colonized people or people under occupation against their colonizers and occupiers. In fact, UN Resolution 3246 reaffirmed in 1974 “the legitimacy of the peoples’ struggle for liberation form colonial and foreign domination and alien subjugation by all available means, including armed struggle.” Four years later UN Resolution 33/24 also strongly confirmed “the legitimacy of the struggle of peoples for independence, territorial integrity, national unity and liberation from colonial and foreign domination and foreign occupation by all available means, particularly armed struggle,” and “strongly condemned all governments” that did not recognize “the right to self-determination to the Palestinian people.”
As for occupied Jerusalem, the UN Security Council adopted in 1980 two binding resolutions (476 and 478) by a vote of 14-0 (the US abstained and did not veto either resolution.) Both resolutions condemned Israel’s attempt to change “the physical character, demographic composition, institutional structure, (and) the status of the Holy City of Jerusalem.” It also reaffirmed “the overriding necessity to end the prolonged occupation of Arab territories occupied by Israel since 1967, including Jerusalem,” and called out Israel as “the occupying power.” It further considered any changes to the city of Jerusalem as “a violation of international law.”
The Use of Violence, Resistance, and the Deceptive Peace Process
Living under brutal occupation for almost half a century without any prospect for its end, the Palestinian people, particularly in Jerusalem, have, since late September, embarked on new mass protests against the latest Israeli incursions on their holy sites and revolted once again against the ceaseless occupation. As a consequence, the Israeli army, aided by thousands of armed settlers roaming the West Bank, have intensified their use of violence, which resulted in over 100 deaths, 2,200 injuries, and 4,000 arrests in less than two months. The Israeli army and the settlements-based armed gangs, though forbidden under international law and the Geneva conventions, have regularly employed various violent means in order to force Palestinian exile or compel submission to the occupation. The Israeli harsh tactics include: settler violence and provocation under full army protection, targeting children, including kidnapping, killing, as well as arresting children as young as 5 , burning infants alive, the constant use of collective punishment and house demolitions, the use of excessive prison sentences for any act of defiance including throwing rocks, storming revered religious sites, and the deliberate targeting of journalists who dare to challenge Israeli hegemony.
The Palestinian people, whether under occupation or under siege, in exile and blocked by Israel from returning to their homes, or denied their right to self-determination, have the legitimate right to resist the military occupation and its manifestations such as the denial of their freedom and human rights, the confiscation of their lands, or the building and expansion of Israeli colonies on their lands. Although most Palestinians opt for the use of nonviolent resistance as a prudent tactic against the brutality of the occupation, international law does not, however, limit their resistance only to the use of peaceful means. In essence, the right to legitimate armed resistance, subject to international humanitarian law, is enshrined in international law and cannot be denied to any people including the Palestinians in their struggle to gain their freedom and exercise their right to self-determination. Furthermore, international law does not confer any right on the occupying power to use any force against their occupied subjects, in order to maintain and sustain their occupation, including in self-defense. In short, aggressors and land usurpers are by definition denied the use of force to subjugate their victims. Consequently, as a matter of principle embedded in international law and regardless of any political viability, strikes against military targets including soldiers, armed settlers, or other tools and institutions of the occupation are legitimate and any action against them, non-violent or otherwise, cannot be condemned or deemed terrorism.
Furthermore, the argument regarding the validity of using armed struggle against oppression and denial of political rights by tyrannical and colonial regimes is well established in its favor. Patriot Patrick Henry rallied his countrymen prior to the American Revolution in 1775 in his famous call “give liberty or give me death.” Civil rights icon Martin Luther King, Jr. even rejected pacifism in the face of aggression. He only questioned its tactical significance when he stated “I contended that the debate over the question of self-defense was unnecessary since few people suggested that Negroes should not defend themselves as individuals when attacked. The question was not whether one should use his gun when his home was attacked, but whether it was tactically wise to use a gun while participating in an organized demonstration.” Mahatma Gandhi saw active resistance as more honorable than pacifism when he said “I would rather have India resort to arms in order to defence her honour than that she would, in a cowardly manner, become or remain a helpless witness to her own dishonour.” Nelson Mandela reflected on this debate when he asserted that he resorted to armed struggle only when “all other forms of resistance were no longer open”, and demanded that the Apartheid regime “guarantee free political activity” to blacks before he would call on his compatriots to suspend armed struggle. Accordingly, the debate over whether the use of armed resistance against Israeli occupation advances the cause of justice for Palestinians is not a question of legitimacy, but rather of sound political strategy in light of the skewed balance of military power and massive public support from peoples around the globe for their just struggle.
Yet, the reality of the conflict actually reveals that the Palestinian people have overwhelmingly been at the receiving end of the use of ruthless Israeli violence and aggression since 1948. With the exception of the 1973 war (initiated by Egypt and Syria to regain the lands they lost in the 1967 war) every Arab-Israeli war in the past seven decades (‘48, ’56, ‘67, ’78, ’82, ’02, etc.) was initiated by Israel and resulted in more uprooting and misery to the Palestinians. Still, since 2008 Israel launched three brutal wars against Gaza with devastating consequences. In the 2008/2009 war, Israel killed 1,417 Palestinians and lost 13 people including 9 soldiers. In the 2012 war, Israel killed 167 Palestinians and lost 6 including 2 soldiers. And in the 2014 war, Israel killed 2104 Palestinians, including 539 children, with 475,000 people made homeless, 17,500 homes destroyed, while 244 schools and scores of hospitals and mosques damaged. In that war Israel lost 72 including 66 soldiers. In short, since late 2008 Israel killed 3,688 Palestinians in its three declared wars and lost 91 including 77 soldiers. Shamefully the deliberate targeting of Palestinian children has been amply documented as over two thousand have been killed by Israel since 2000. This massive Israeli intentional use of violence against the Palestinians, especially in Gaza (which has been under a crippling siege since 2007) was investigated, determined to constitute war crimes, and condemned by the UN in the Goldstone Report, as well as by other human rights groups such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.
The 1993 Oslo process gave rise to the promise of ending decades of Israeli occupation. But the process was rigged from the start as many of its participants have recently admitted. It was an Israeli ploy to halt the first Palestinian uprising and give Israel the breathing room it needed to aggressively and permanently colonize the West Bank including East Jerusalem. It was an accord with a lopsided balance of power, as one side held all the cards and gave no real concessions, and a much weaker side stripped of all its bargaining chips. During this period the number of settlements in the West Bank more than doubled and the number of settlers increased by more than seven fold to over 600 thousand including in East Jerusalem.
The world has none other than Benjamin Netanyahu to acknowledge that Israel has no intention of withdrawing or ending its occupation. After serving his first stint as a prime minister, Netanyahu (shown here in a leaked video) while visiting a settlement in 2001, admitted to his true intention of grabbing as much as 98 percent of Palestinian territories in the West Bank and halting the fraudulent Oslo process. Believing that the camera was off, he spoke candidly to a group of settlers about his strategic vision, plans, and tactics.
On his vision he assured them that “The settlements are here. They are everywhere.” He stated, “I halted the fulfillment of the Oslo agreements. It’s better to give two percent than 100 percent. You gave two percent but you stopped the withdrawal.” He later added, “I gave my own interpretation to the agreements in such a way that will allow me to stop the race back towards the 1967 borders.” As for the tactics, Netanyahu freely confessed his strategy of causing so much pain to the Palestinians that they would submit to the occupation rather than resist. He said, “The main thing is to strike them not once but several times so painfully that the price they pay will be unbearable causing them to fear that everything is about to collapse.” When he was challenged that such a strategy might cause the world to consider Israel as the aggressor, he dismissively said, “They can say whatever they want.” He also implied how he was not concerned about American pressure. To the contrary he asserted that he could easily manipulate Israel’s main benefactor when he stated “America is something you can easily maneuver and move in the right direction. I wasn’t afraid to confront Clinton. I wasn’t afraid to go against the UN.” Even though world leaders consider Netanyahu a “liar” and they “can’t stand him” as shown in this exchange between former French president Nicolas Sarkozy and Barak Obama, no Western leader has stood up to Israel, even though a British parliamentarian stated that 70 percent of Europeans consider it a “danger to world’s peace.” But the obstructionist posture and expansionist policies of Israeli leaders are not restricted to the Israeli right. Former Labor leader Ehud Barak was as much determined in 2000 at Camp David not to withdraw from the West Bank, Jerusalem, or dismantle the settlements.
For decades the world waited for Israel to decide its destiny by choosing two out of three defining elements: its Jewish character, its claim to democracy, and the lands of so-called “greater Israel.” If it chose to retain its Jewish majority and claim to be democratic, it had to withdraw from the lands it occupied in 1967. If it insists on incorporating the lands and have a democracy it would have to integrate its Arab populations while forsaking its Jewish exceptionalism in a secular state. Yet sadly but true to its Zionist nature, Israel chose to maintain its Jewish exclusiveness over all of historical Palestine to transform itself into a manifestly Apartheid state.
Political Zionism and the True Nature of the Israeli State
For over a century political Zionism has evoked intense passions and emotions on both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: its ardent supporters as well as its critics and hapless victims. Zionists hail their enterprise as a national liberation movement for the Jewish people while its opponents condemn it as a racist ideology that practiced ethnic cleansing, instituted racial and religious discrimination, and committed war crimes to realize its goals.
On November 10, 1975 the United Nations General Assembly adopted resolution 3379 that determined Zionism as a “form of racism and racial discrimination.” However, it was revoked 16 years later under tremendous pressure from the U.S. and other Western countries in the aftermath of the first Gulf war in 1991. Oftentimes, the public is denied unfiltered information about the true nature of political Zionism and its declared state. And unfortunately the media conglomerates rarely cover that aspect of the conflict, which contributes to the public’s confusion and exasperation.
Since its creation in 1948, Israel has passed laws and implemented policies that institutionalized discrimination against its Arab Palestinian minority. In the aftermath of its 1967 invasion, it instituted a military occupation regime that has denied basic human and civil rights to millions of Palestinians whose population now exceeds the number of Israeli Jews in the land within historical Palestine. In addition, in defiance of international law, Israel has obstinately refused to allow the descendants of the Palestinian people that it expelled in 1948 and 1967 to return to their homes, while allowing millions of people of other nationalities the right to become citizens of the Israeli state upon arrival simply because they are Jewish.
Zionist leaders from Ben-Gurion to Netanyahu have always claimed that Israel was a democracy similar to other Western liberal democracies. But perhaps the best way to examine this claim and illustrate the nature of the modern Zionist state is through a comparative analogy (a similar example could also be found in Israeli historian Shlomo Sand’s book).
What if a Western country claiming to be a democracy, such as the U.S. or the U.K., were officially to change its constitution and system to become the state of the White Anglo-Saxon Protestants (WASPs)? Even though its African, Hispanic, Asian, Catholic, Jewish, and Muslim citizens as well as other minorities would still have the right to vote, hold political offices, and enjoy some civil and social rights, they would have to submit to the new nature and exclusive character of the WASP state. Moreover, with the exception of the WASP class of citizens, no other citizen would be allowed to buy or sell any land, and there would be permanent constitutional laws that would forbid any WASP from selling any property to any members of other ethnicities or religions in the country. Its Congress or parliament would pass laws that would also forbid any WASP from marrying outside his or her social class, and if any such “illegal” marriage were to take place, it would not be recognized by the state. As for immigration, only WASPs from around the world would be welcome. In fact, there would be no restrictions on their category as any WASP worldwide could claim immediate citizenship upon arrival in the country with full economic and social benefits granted by the state, while all other ethnicities are denied. Furthermore, most of the existing minorities in the country would be subjected to certain “security” policies in order to allow room for the WASPs coming from outside. So in many parts of the country, there would be settlements and colonies constructed only for the new WASP settlers and consequently some of the non-WASP populations would have to be restricted or relocated. In these new settlements the state would designate WASP-only roads, WASP-only schools, WASP-only health clinics, WASP-only shopping malls, WASP-only parks or swimming pools. There would also be a two-tier health care system, educational system, criminal justice system, and social welfare system. In this dual system for example, if a WASP assaults or kills a non-WASP he would receive a small fine or a light sentence that would not exceed a few years, while if a non-WASP murders a WASP, even accidentally, he would receive a harsh or mandatory life sentence. In this system, where the police force is exclusively staffed by WASPs, the Supreme Court would routinely sanction the use of torture against any non-WASP, subject to the judgment of the security officers. Such a system would clearly be so manifestly racist, patently criminal, and globally abhorred that no one would stand by it or defend it. But could such a regime even exist or be accepted in today’s world? (I realize that some people may argue that many of these practices had actually occurred in the past against certain segments of the population in some Western societies. But no government today would dare to embrace this model or defend its policies.)
Yet, because of the Zionist nature of the Israeli state, this absurd example is actually a reality with varying degrees for the daily lives of the Palestinian people, whether they are nominal citizens of the state, live under occupation or under siege, or have been blocked for decades from returning back to their homes, towns, and villages. Such a system would not only be condemned but no decent human being or country that respects the rule of law would associate with it or tolerate it.
From its early days, prominent Jewish intellectuals have condemned the racist nature of the Zionist state. Albert Einstein and Hannah Arendt wrote in 1948 condemning Zionist leaders of Israel who “openly preached the doctrine of the Fascist state.” Israeli scientist and thinker Israel Shahak considered Israel as “a racist state in the full meaning of this term, where the Palestinians are discriminated against, in the most permanent and legal way and in the most important areas of life, only because of their origin.” Renowned American intellectual Noam Chomsky considers Israel’s actions in Palestine as even “much worse than Apartheid” ever was in South Africa. Israeli historian Ilan Pappé argues that “The Zionist goal from the very beginning was to have as much of Palestine as possible with as few Palestinians in it as possible,” while American historian Howard Zinn thought that “Zionism is a mistake.” American academic and author Norman Finkelstein has often spoken out against the racist nature of the Zionist state and condemned its manipulation of the Nazi Holocaust to justify its colonization of Palestine. British historian Tony Judt described Israel as “an anachronism” because of its exclusive nature in comparison to its “non-Jewish citizens.” Former UN Special Rapporteur for Occupied Palestine Professor Richard Falk called Israeli policies in the Occupied Territories “a crime against humanity” and compared Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians to the Nazi treatment of the Jews and has said, “I think the Palestinians stand out as the most victimized people in the world.” Very recently, prominent American Jewish academics posed the question: “Can we continue to embrace a state that permanently denies basic rights to another people?” Their answer was an emphatic call for a complete boycott against the Zionist state.
Furthermore, Israeli politicians and religious leaders regularly use racist rhetoric to appeal to their constituents and articulate their policies. In the last Israeli elections in March, Prime Minister Netanyahu tweeted to the Israeli public, “The right-wing government is in danger. Arab voters are coming out in droves to the polls.” Former foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman advocated new ethnic cleansing through “the transfer” of Palestinian citizens from the state. One prominent Rabbi considered “killing Palestinians a religious duty,” while another declared that “It is not only desirable to do so, but it is a religious duty that you hold his head down to the ground and hit him until his last breath.” Former Sephardic Chief Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu, one of the most senior religious leaders in Israel ruled that “there was absolutely no moral prohibition against the indiscriminate killing of civilians during a potential massive military offensive on Gaza.” Racism in Israel is so pervasive that a Jewish settler stabbed another Jew, and another settler killed a fellow Jewish settler not because the perpetrators were threatened, but because the victims looked Arab. Israeli racism is so widespread among its population that noted journalist Max Blumenthal, who investigated the Israeli society’s attitudes towards the Palestinians, was himself surprised to “the extent to which groups and figures, remarkably similar ideologically and psychologically to the radical right in the US and to neo-fascist movements across Europe, controlled the heart of Israeli society and the Israeli government.”
In short, the ideology of political Zionism, as it has amply been demonstrated within the state of Israel, with its exclusionary vision and persistent policies of occupying the land and subjugating its people, has proven without any doubt that it represents a relic of a bygone era that utterly lacks civilized behavior or claims to a democratic system. Therefore, any discussion, coverage, analysis, or debate of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict that sidesteps the nature and ideology of the Israeli state is not only disingenuous and lacks credibility, but also contributes to the deepening of the conflict, the continuous suffering of its victims, and the illusion of finding a potential just and peaceful outcome.
Dr. Sami Al-Arian is a Palestinian academic and intellectual. He lived for four decades in the U.S. before relocating to Turkey in 2015. Because of his long activism for the Palestinian cause and defending human and civil rights, he was a political prisoner in the U.S. and spent over a decade in prison and under house arrest until the charges were dropped in 2014. He can be contacted at email@example.com.
With dismaying predictability, Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu lost no time in exploiting the massacre in Paris. As he has done many times before, he claimed Europe’s trauma was just a taste of the suffering Israelis have long known.
Discounting decades of a brutal Israeli occupation as the cause of the recent wave of Palestinian attacks, he said: “It is the terrorists who are to blame for terrorism, not the territories, not the settlements and not any other thing.”
Rather than criticising the occupation, he added, the world should learn from Israel’s “aggressive policy” how to defeat its enemies. Last week, he unveiled the latest measure, outlawing the northern wing of the Islamic Movement, a popular party among Israel’s Palestinian citizens, one in five of the population.
Netanyahu and his ministers justified the decision by conflating the Islamic Movement with Hamas and ISIL. But while its leader, Sheikh Raed Salah, rejects the idea of a Jewish state, the movement operates entirely within Israeli law. Israel’s Shin Bet intelligence agency opposed Netanyahu’s move, admitting that it had failed to find any evidence linking the movement to violence.
Salah’s organisation refuses to participate in the Israeli parliament, and instead directs much of its efforts at religious instruction and good works, including health clinics, nurseries and sports clubs, to the poorest communities in Israel.
That has made it hugely popular. A recent survey found 57 per cent of Israel’s 1.6 million Palestinian citizens believe the movement represents them. A third of Israel’s Palestinian Christians support it too. And it has 10,000 paid-up members, who now risk imprisonment.
So why do it? There are several benefits for Netanyahu and the Israeli right in equating all Islamic activism with terrorism.
Not least, international pressure to negotiate an end to the occupation is likely to lift. He can now recast Israel’s conflict with the Palestinians from a national conflict into a religious – and existential – one. If France is getting tough against ISIL, why should Netanyahu be expected to sit down with his own extremists?
It also helps him domestically. He needs an implacable foe to justify to Israelis why they need an authoritarian government like his.
The US nuclear deal with Iran removed his chief bogeyman. Meanwhile, Mahmoud Abbas’s Palestinian Authority is helping maintain order in the West Bank. And Hamas is licking its wounds in Gaza. Now he has an internal enemy, the Islamic Movement, that the argument goes must be fought ruthlessly from within.
Salah’s group fits the bill well. It has been an obstacle to two key planks of the Israeli right’s agenda.
First, it has frustrated the government’s efforts to drive tens of thousands of Bedouin from their ancestral villages into hugely deprived townships. The Islamic Movement has helped to organise and strengthen these communities.
And second, Salah has taken on the fight at Al Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem, as Jewish settler groups have used their government connections to gain ever greater purchase on the holy esplanade.
Salah’s cry of “Al Aqsa is in danger” has rallied huge numbers of supporters – Palestinians with the advantage of Israeli citizenship – to get involved at the mosque, at a time when all other Palestinian players, including the PA, have been excluded from Jerusalem.
Netanyahu characterises that opposition to his Jerusalem policies as a terror-like “incitement”, saying it has triggered the current Palestinian unrest.
Outlawing the Islamic Movement looks set to be the first step down a path to greater political repression.
Last year the Netanyahu government passed a law raising the electoral threshold too high for any of Israel’s Palestinian political parties to pass it and so win seats in the parliament.
Against the odds, the disparate factions created a Joint List, which is now the third largest party in the chamber. In response, Netanyahu used the election campaign to fearmonger, warning that Palestinian citizens were coming out to vote “in droves”.
The crackdown on the Islamic Movement paves the way to justifying a ban on members of the Joint List. The Balad faction, in particular, has skated close to illegality by arguing that Israel cannot be both Jewish and democratic.
Its demand that Israel choose democracy – becoming a “state of all its citizens” – has outraged the right and led to repeated efforts to ban it. That now seems likelier than ever.
If Balad is outlawed too, the Joint List will collapse and the Palestinian parties will be forced out of the Israeli political arena.
The Shin Bet opposed outlawing Salah’s movement because it feared the move would radicalise the Palestinian minority. Denied either a parliamentary or extra-parliamentary platform, some would drift towards violence.
That is already a danger. Last week six Palestinian citizens were charged with trying to join ISIL in Syria, so far a tiny but discernible trend.
Netanyahu’s world view has always depended on a bloody, winner-takes-all clash of civilisations between West and East. He will continue offering vociferous advice on tackling terrorism to European leaders. They would do well to ignore him.
Jonathan Cook, based in Nazareth, Israel is a winner of 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).