This sub-page is not balanced. It is meant as a "counterweight". Any incident within Israel
makes it to the headlines of the newspapers. However, the often quite disproportional Israeli retaliation is only mentioned on a hidden
backpage, if at all ...
After worldwar II Germany was beaten and in ruins. Also the other European states had suffered
major damage. The wounds of the war were fresh, the hatred against Germany widespread.
In spite of this, although cold war motives may have played a big role in this but that
doesn't invalidate what I want to say, a wise decision was made. It was taken care of that
Germany would recover quickly. And that actually happened. As soon as in the end of the
fifties - definitively when compared to surrounding countries - a large improvement in
their wealth could be observed. "Das Wirtschaftswunder" became reality.
We now know how it all ended up. Germany is nowadays one of the most civilized and least
violent countries in the world. In general people have much to lose, and then war and
violent extremism are no attractive options ...
Israel and the Palestinians
Onwards to Israel and the Palestinians. What do we see? Hatred, violence, terror (suicide
bombing assaults), excessively violent counter terror (tanks, bombs from F-16s, rockets from
From the Palestinian side:
Riots with (sometimes small) children: Throwing of stones, and sometimes Molotov cocktails
Incidents in which there is shot at Israeli settlements in occupied areas
"Desperado assaults": Suicide bombings, small miltary suicide actions
The Israeli answer:
Destruction of infrastructure of public administration. Think of police stations and other public buildings
Destruction of houses
Destruction of (olive)orchards (a symbolic act of war in the Middle East!)
If Europe would have done with Germany what Israel is doing with the Palistinians at the moment
we wouldn't have had 55 years of peace. Then the scene - with respect to violent extremism -
would have been a lot less quiet.
The best way to try to get peace in Palestine is to ensure that the Palestinians will have
more to lose than their presently hopeless, futureless and miserable lives. Therefore the
present Israeli economic blockade of the Palestinian territories must stop. Obviously violent
extremism (from both sides!) should be fought. A start should be made to vacate the Israeli
settlements in the occupied territories. Briefly said: Go on with the execution of the Oslo
agreements, and go on with negotiations to reach a lasting solution.
If Israel is reluctant to move into this direction, and there are strong indications that this
may well be the case, one could start saying to the non extremist Israeli intelligentsia that
they are welcome and safe in Western Europe.
How Israel is destroying the civil infrastructure in the Palestinian Territories
(NRC, April 29th 2002, page 4, translated from Dutch)
Mustafa Barghouti is a doctor and human rights activist and one of the most
prominent advocates of a "third way", an alternative between the corrupt
misgovernment of Yasser Arafat and the religious fanatism of Hamas and the
Islamic Jihad. From his well managed office Barghouti in the past seven years
organised countless courses on democratisation, environmental management and
However, during the last three weeks Bargouti's office was used as a barracks
for Israeli soldiers. On the walls they painted David Stars or wrote down graffity
like 'You fucking Arabs don't fuck with us again'. From Barghouti's office
all medical records, files and course materials were taken along, destroyed or
heavily damaged. In their place scattered Hebrew porn video tapes (...) lied around.
Private pictures of family members of co-workers were torn apart or burnt.
Barghouti had a suspicion what went on in his life's work and sent co-workers to
the building with a video camera. These recorded how Israeli soldiers took the
whole medical library, the biggest in the Palestinian Territories, outside and set
it on fire ( ... burning books, where have we seen this before? E.W.), while they
cursed Barghouti's name.
In his office Barghouti shows a letter addressed to the Israeli soldier Alon Schwarz
who apparently, like many of his pals, got a special present celebrating Independence
Day of Israel. In this letter the Israeli army unit on culture and education had written
the following: "We will see better days, our roots will be solid like a rock.
If we walk the entire road, hand in hand and united ... Then any human will
open his heart".
Two years ago, less than 8 percent of those who took part in a Gallup poll among Jewish Israelis said they were
in favor of what is politely called "transfer" -- that is, the expulsion of perhaps two million Palestinians across the
River Jordan. This month, that figure reached 44 percent.
Professor Martin van Creveld is Israel's best-known military historian. On April 28, Britain's conservative newspaper
The Telegraph, published an article outlining what Van Creveld believes Sharon's near-term goal: "transfer", otherwise
known as expulsion of the Palestinians.
According to Van Creveld, Sharon's plan is to drive two million Palestinians across the Jordan using the pretext of a
U.S. attack on Iraq or a terrorist strike in Israel. This could trigger a vast mobilization to clear the occupied territories
of their two million Arabs. In September 1970, Van Creveld recalls, King Hussein of Jordan attacked the Palestinians
in his kingdom, killing perhaps 5000 to 10000. Sharon, serving as Commanding Officer, Southern Front, argued that
Israel's assistance to the king was a mistake; instead it should have tried to topple the Hashemite regime. Sharon has
often said since that Jordan, which, according to him, has a Palestinian majority even now, is the Palestinian state, and
thus a suitable destination for Palestinians to be kicked out of his Greater Israel.
Van Creveld writes that Sharon has always nourished the idea of driving all Palestinians out. A U.S. attack on Iraq
sometime this summer would over-appropriate cover. Sharon himself told Secretary of State Colin Powell that nothing
happening in Israel should delay a U.S. attack on Iraq. Other pretexts could include an uprising in Jordan, followed by
the collapse of King Abdullah's regime or a major terrorist outrage inside Israel.
Should such circumstances arise, according to Van Creveld, then Israel would mobilize within hours. "First, the
country's three ultra-modern submarines would take up firing positions out at sea. Borders would be closed, a news
blackout imposed, and all foreign journalists rounded up and confined to a hotel as guests of the Government. A
force of 12 divisions, 11 of them armored, plus various territorial units suitable for occupation duties, would be
deployed: five against Egypt, three against Syria, and one opposite Lebanon. This would leave three to face east,
as well as enough forces to put a tank inside every Arab-Israeli village just in case their populations get any funny
In Van Creveld's view (he does say flatly that he is utterly opposed to any form of "transfer"), "The expulsion of the
Palestinians would require only a few brigades. They would not drag people out of their houses but use heavy
artillery to drive them out; the damage caused to Jenin would look like a pinprick in comparison. He discounts any
effective response from Egypt, Syria, Lebanon or Iraq. "Saddam Hussein may launch some of the 30 to 40 missiles
he probably has. The damage they can do, however, is limited.
Should Saddam be mad enough to resort to weapons of mass destruction, then Israel's response would be so
'awesome and terrible' (as Yitzhak Shamir, the former prime minister, once said) as to defy the imagination."
But what about international reaction? Van Creveld thinks it would not be an effective deterrent. "If Mr. Sharon
decides to go ahead, the only country that can stop him is the United States. The United States, however, regards
itself as being at war with parts of the Muslim world that have supported Osama bin Laden. America will not
necessarily object to that world being taught a lesson -- particularly if it could be as swift and brutal as the 1967
campaign; and also particularly if it does not disrupt the flow of oil for too long."
Israeli military experts estimate that such a war could be over in just eight days," Van Creveld writes. "If the Arab
states do not intervene, it will end with the Palestinians expelled and Jordan in ruins. If they do intervene, the
result will be the same, with the main Arab armies destroyed. Israel would, of course, take some casualties,
especially in the north, where its population would come under fire from Hizbollah. However, their number would
be limited, and Israel would stand triumphant, as it did in 1948, 1956, 1967 and 1973."
One more proof of Sharon going for his "final solution"?
(NRC, July 10th, page 4)
Two weeks after the severance of the relations with mr. Ararfat by the USA president Bush and his call upon the
Palestinians to choose a new leadership Israel closed down the office of the most important moderate Palestinian
reformer. Yesterday the office of Sari Nusseibeh at the Al-Quds university in occupied East Jerusalem was stormed
by Iraeli policemen. Dossiers, computers and other materials were confiscated. It was an action which was
initiated by the ultra nationalist Israeli minister in internal security, Uzi Landau.
Nusseibeh is the most important secular intellectual within the PLO. He can be regarded as the democratic
alternative for the violent extremism of Hamas and Jihad and also for the corruption of the Palestinian
authority. Nusseibeh, a professor educated in Oxford and Harvard, did the proposal to trade the right
of return of Palestians who fled in 1948 and 1967 for total return of the occupied territories and East Jarusalem.
He also condemned the suicide bombing assaults against Israeli civilians in an advertisement in the newspaper
Will Israel become safer by these sort of actions, which in fact eliminate moderate options? Make your guess ...
With the appointment of Mahmoud Abbas as prime minister in the Palestinian government some new hope for
a future settlement of the Israeli - Palestinian conflict has emerged. However, I am still sceptical whether he
will be given a fair chance. The "bear hug" of the Palestinian territories by the Israeli armed forces still goes
on. Expansion of (existing) Israeli settlements is still going on. This doesn't create a climate which is conductive for
stopping the violence in Palestina and Israel.
My feeling - and I hope I am wrong ... - is that not only a change towards a moderate (and non-corrupt) leadership in
the Palestinian territories is required but also in Israel and the US. The influence of people supporting an aggressive
expansion of Israeli settlements in the Palestinian territories on the present US government policies is quite considerable.
People who only want a Palestinian state which is a "Bantustan look-alike", similar to the "Thuislanden" for the black
people in South Africa under the rule of Apartheid. A "solution" like that won't bring peace.
Time will tell, and it probably will tell quite soon.
How Israel is destroying the civil infrastructure in the Palestinian Territories (II)
(NRC, July 12th 2003, page 5, translated from Dutch)
... two weeks ago the Israeli tanks and soldiers left; the first withdrawal within the framework of the international
stepwise plan for peace, the so called "road map". Huge piles of rubble were left behind. According to mayor
Hamad 60 houses are totally destroyed, while another 1250 are partially destroyed. Four bridges were also
destroyed, which may well lead to the isolation of the city during heavy winter rains ...
Till recently citrus trees formed a deep green carpet. What remains right now is dry bare soil, littered with thousands
of wooden stumps of leveled fruit trees. Palestinian fighters shot at Israeli settlements within the occupied areas
and on Israel itself from these orchyards using primitive rockets and mortars. In reply the Israeli army levelled all
trees in the wide surroundings. "My father played as a child in these orchyards. All is lost" ... "This was
once the pride of the Palestinian citrus culture", says Mkhaimar, while shaking his head.
... three months ago the water well, which is the source for all drinking water, was taken under fire by an Apache
helicopter using rockets. The well was taken out of operation by this. The damage was repaired, but during a
later attack the pump received a direct hit and this left 40.000 people without drinking water.
On the local industrial zone at the border of the city much damage has been inflicted upon 8 factories; the biggest,
tile factory Abu Ghalioun, is totally destroyed. The owner Jamil Abu Ghalioun is looking sadly to what according
to him was "one of the most modern factories in the Arab world". "The technology for three fully automated production
lines was delivered by an Italian company, and for the production of the tiles we imported white cement from Italy."
But now the floor of the factory is covered with a thick layer of the costly powder. Mountains of broken tiles and tons
of cement lie around. "They blasted the entire stock with tanks and then set off using bulldozers. All machines are
totally destroyed," tells Jamil. The machines now form an inextricable jumble of twisted steel - 50 by 20 meters and
three meters high. The factory was destroyed four days before the Israeli forces left Beit Hanoun.
Will Israel become safer by these sort of collective punishments, which were commonplace within all of the Palestinian
territories? Or will Hamas and Islamic Jihad welcome a new wave of recruits? Make your guess ...
This explains my scepticism expressed above.
Mazzel & broge / kind regards, Evert Wesker
Amsterdam, July 12th 2003, modified at July 16th 2003
Postscript: I received angry e-mails from Israel. Some called me
- the usual trick. However, others among them had a point: I overdid it a bit with my conclusions. In that respect they were right.
To some extent I allowed myself to get carried away a bit by my anger. I therefore moderated the text at a number of places.
The prime minister in the Palestinian government, Mahmoud Abbas, resigned. My scepticism expressed above
has been proven right. He hasn't been given a fair chance as could be expected. While an appreciable part of the Israeli
government - maybe even a majority in it - is fiercely against the formation of a Palestinian state it cannot be expected that
a peaceful settlement comes within range. The Israeli government has vowed to exterminate Hamas. We have seen how
this is done. In order to kill a few Hamas fighters, an appartment building was blasted, rendering 30 families homeless. If Israel
continues in this way it will breed at least 10 new Hamas fighters for each kill ... and extremists (on both sides?) will rejoice.
People going for "final solutions" have created pitch dark pages in history. Israel faces a stark choice:
Either it chooses for Peace, implying the vacating of the settlements on the West Bank and the Gaza strip. And accept the
formation of a Palestinian state - how difficult that may have become,
or it doesn't, which will mean a perpetual state of war. It will also mean the transformation of the state of Israel into an ugly
"Apartheid-look-alike" state. The "safety wall", now being built, shows how that will look like.
In its ultimate consequence the choice will be between democracy & peace, or apartheid & perpetual war.
Some news on the actions by the Israeli army in the refugee camp Rafah in the Gaza strip. In reply to the killing
of a couple of soldiers in Rafah (this time it weren't non combattants - civilians - which were killed!) the
usual pattern of disproportional retaliation unfolded.
However, I observed some highly disgusting and disturbing details. First there was the incident in which Apache
helicopters and tanks opened fire on a protest march.
Today another news item appeared (De Volkskrant, p.4, 22/5/2004) in which a description was given of
the leveling of a small zoo near Rafah by tanks and bulldozers. After the event people running this zoo could find the
crushed remainders of several animals. A collection of Parrots was missing. Probably these have been stolen,
because the market value of these birds is $1000 per animal.
Such an incident very clearly shows a disgusting and disturbing mentality among the Israeli soldiers. Associations
with the appalling behavior of American soldiers (and more over, their commanders!) in the Abu Ghraib
prison in Baghdad emerge.
Below I put a translation of a letter by Hajo Meyer which appeared in NRC today. Hajo Meyer is a prominent
character from "een ander Joods geluid" (a different Jewish voice) in The Netherlands. It contains a stark warning.
Anno 2004 the Palestinians are the people who have to pay the price for the unspeakable crimes committed
during Hitlers rule and for the outrageous indifference towards these crimes by the entire western world, including
The Netherlands, when they were committed. This, in spite of the fact that this people - with the exception of
some individuals - has had nothing to do at all with these crimes.
The real guilt lies with Hitlers Germany, but also - and this is important as well - the rest of the western world.
After all, if in the years 1933 - 45 more had been done to treat German Jewish refugees, and from 1940 onwards
those from the rest of Europe, in a more compassionate manner, then no 6 million peoples' death would have been
mourned for. The consciousness of this failure on a massive scale by all western countries has burdened those,
who are sharing the responsability for the horrible murder on the European Jews, with a big sense of guilt towards
Using this in itself correct sense of guilt Israel is perpetrating a moral blackmail policy with great success. It uses a
weapon poisoned with Auschwitz's venom, blaming them with anti-semitic motives, to silence the European Union,
including our own prime minister. And indeed, ministers like Peres, Sharansky and Sharon said on various
occasions that "critisizing Israel is the new form of anti-semitism".
However, in order to be succesful in blackmail one always needs to sides: The blackmailer and the one being
blackmailed. In other words: By permitting themselves being silenced and not bringing Israel into line with respect
to the treatment of the Palestianians, Europe - once agian - renders itself jointly responsable for genocide.
And this time it concerns the demise of two peoples. The Palestinian people will be destroyed by Israeli miltary
force, and the Israeli people will perish due to their own moral decay.
In the weblog of Anja Meulenbelt
another galling story (in Dutch) was published. Below I put a translation into english (especially for the Israeli readers!).
In the Gaza strip another attack was lanched against Khan Younis and two refugee camps nearby by the Israeli army.
As ususal the Israeli army declared that its objective was taking out terrorists. In reality it was an attack against
residential areas with, as a consequence, many civilian victims.
The attack started in the morning of December 17th with a bombardment of the two refugee camps, alternated by machine
gun fire from helicopters at anything which moved. Within 48 hours 12 Palestinians died, and more than 70, amongst who
children, were wounded or mutilated. At least ten people are still fighting for their lives. In between the bombardments huge
Isaeli bulldozers arrived to level houses. The inhabitants were allowed 30 minutes of time to take with them what they could.
At least 43 houses were destroyed, rendering 280 people homeless, sometimes for the second or third time.
The Israeli army declared that it was an act of retaliation, because a few improvised missiles were lanched towards settlements.
However, the location of the destroyed houses in the refugee camps makes it much more plausible that the Israelis - as usual - wanted
to expand the totally leveled 'security zone' around the settlements farther.
There isn't any accommodation in the form of a house anymore available for these people within the Gaza strip. The victims
sleep in schools of the UN, where there isn't any heating. Currently it is cold in Gaza at night.
At the same time in Rafah people got killed, and razzias were held on the West Bank. In the middle of the night doors were
knocked out, all men were talen along, furniture was destroyed, belongings were stolen and occasionally pets were killed.
A few hundred men were captured. This happened after the news that Sharon would release a few Palestinians as a gesture
of good will ...
A different explanation for the new attacks might be that also Hamas seems to be willing to accept a truce, in order to reopen
negotiations. This was called upon by outside countries. By resuming the attacks it is quite plausible that the resistance will
reactivate, which would be good news for Sharon. As long as he can say, "See? They wont stop their terror attacks", he does
not have to make any moves to start negotiations.
My own comment: Likudniks rejoice, marry christmas mister Sharon ...
Postscript of March 26th 2005:
Currently my attitude is "wait and see". I think Sharon is playing the game of leaving Gaza and in return grab as much of
the Jordan River West Bank as politically feasible. And that isn't a recipe for reaching a lasting peace agreement.
IT WAS a colorful day in Bil’in. Political flags of many colors were fluttering in the brisk breeze, the vivid election posters and the colorful graffiti on the walls adding their bit. It was the biggest demonstration in the beleaguered village for a long time. This week, the protest against the Fence was interwoven with Palestinian electioneering.
I was happily marching along in the wintry sunshine, holding high the Gush Shalom emblem of the flags of Israel and Palestine side by side. We were approaching the line of armed soldiers that was waiting for us, when I suddenly realized that I was surrounded by the green flags of Hamas.
Ordinary Israelis would have been flabbergasted. What, the murderous terrorists marching in line with Israeli peace activists? Israelis marching, talking and joking with the potential suicide bombers? Impossible!
But it was quite natural. All the Palestinian parties took part in the demonstration, together with the Israeli and international activists. Together they ran away from the clouds of tear gas, broke together through the lines of soldiers, were beaten up together. The green flags of Hamas, the yellow of Fatah, the red of the Democratic Front and the blue-and-white of the Israeli flag on our emblems harmonized, as did the people who carried them.
In the end, many of us improvised a kind of protest concert. Standing along the iron security railing, Israelis and Palestinians together, we beat on it rhythmically with stones, producing something like an African tom-tom that could be heard for miles around. The Orthodox settlers in nearby Modiin-Illit must have wondered what it meant.
THE PARTICIPATION of all Palestinian parties was in itself an important phenomenon. It was no doubt encouraged by the Palestinian elections, due to take place this coming Wednesday. It was curious to see the same faces on the posters along our route and right next to us in the crowd.
But it also showed the importance the Fence has assumed in Palestinian eyes.
Years ago, when the construction of the Wall-cum-Fence was just beginning, I went to see Yasser Arafat to suggest a joint struggle against it. I got the impression that the idea that the Wall was a serious danger was quite new to him - the Palestinian establishment had not yet grasped the significance of it. Now it is near the top of the national agenda.
This week, on the eve of the elections in which Hamas is expected to gain a significant share of the vote, the picture of Hamas activists marching side by side with Israeli peace activists, was important. Because soon Hamas will enter the Palestinian Parliament and, perhaps, the government, too.
CONDOLEEZZA RICE sharply criticized the elections because of the participation of “terrorists”, echoing the statement of her new Israeli colleague, Tsipi Livni, who declared that they are not “democratic elections” because of Hamas.
What is emerging now is a new pretext for our government to avoid negotiating with the elected Palestinian leadership. The pretext changes frequently, but the purpose remains the same.
First there was the assertion that Israel would not negotiate until the new Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, dismantles the “terrorist infrastructure”. That was, indeed, an obligation under the Road Map - but so was the obligation, completely ignored by Ariel Sharon, simultaneously to remove the hundred settlements or so that were set up after his coming to power.
Then came the claim that the Palestinian Authority was in a state of anarchy. How can one negotiate with anarchy?
Now there comes the contention that Israel cannot possibly be expected to negotiate with a Palestinian leadership that includes Hamas, an organization that has carried out many suicide bombings and, at least officially, does not accept the existence of Israel..
The pretexts are manifold, and more can be produced if necessary. (Reminding me of my late friend, Natan Yellin-Mor, former leader of the “Stern Gang” terrorist underground and later peace activist, who said: “I wish God would put in my way as many temptations as I have pretexts for succumbing.”)
Hamas’ presence in the next Palestinian government is not a reason to reject peace negotiations. On the contrary, it is a compelling reason for starting them at long last. It would mean that we negotiate with the entire Palestinian spectrum (excluding only the small Islamic Jihad organization). If Hamas joins the government on the basis of Mahmoud Abbas’ peace policy, it is manifestly ripe for negotiations, with or without arms, based on a hudnah (truce).
Thirty years ago, when I started secret contacts with the PLO leadership, I was almost the only person in Israel in favor of negotiating with the organization that was at the time officially designated as “terrorist”. It took almost 20 years for the Israeli government to come round to my point of view. Now we are starting again from the same point.
Why do the Palestinian organizations refuse to give up their arms? Let’s not deceive ourselves: for most Palestinians, these arms are a kind of strategic reserve. If negotiations with Israel lead nowhere, the armed struggle will probably be resumed. That by itself is not unheard of. (See: Ireland.)
EVEN IF Mahmoud Abbas wanted to disarm Hamas, he would be unable to. His weak position, combined with the weakness of his Fatah movement makes such a measure impossible.
This weakness, which also finds its expression in the Fawda (”anarchy”), derives mainly from one source: the sly efforts of Sharon to undermine his position.
I have pointed this out more than once: for Sharon, the rise of Abbas constituted a serious danger. Being favored by President Bush as an example of his success in bringing democracy and peace to the Middle East, he threatened the exclusive relationship between the US and Israel, perhaps even opening the way for American pressure on Israel.
To prevent this, Sharon denied Abbas even the slightest political concession, such as releasing prisoners (Marwan Barghouti springs to mind), changing the path of the Wall, freezing settlement, coordinating the withdrawal from Gaza with Abbas, etc. This campaign was successful. The authority of Abbas has been significantly weakened.
Now Sharon’s successors are using this very weakness as a pretext to reject serious negotiations with him and the next Palestinian government, calling to mind the story of the boy who, having killed both his parents, threw himself upon the mercy of the court: “Have pity on a poor orphan!”
As the Hamas team laughs (by Gideon Levy, Haaretz, 20/2/2006)
IN HIS latest speech, which infuriated so many people, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad uttered a sentence that deserves attention: "Every new Arab generation hates Israel more than the previous one."
Of all that has been said about the Second Lebanon War, these are perhaps the most important words.
The main product of this war is hatred. The pictures of death and destruction in Lebanon entered every Arab home, indeed every Muslim home, from Indonesia to Morocco, from Yemen to the Muslim ghettos in London and Berlin. Not for an hour, not for a day, but for 33 successive days - day after day, hour after hour. The mangled bodies of babies, the women weeping over the ruins of their homes, Israeli children writing “greetings” on shells about to be fired at villages, Ehud Olmert blabbering about “the most moral army in the world” while the screen showed a heap of bodies.
Israelis ignored these sights, indeed they were scarcely shown on our TV. Of course, we could see them on Aljazeera and some Western channels, but Israelis were much too busy with the damage wrought in our Northern towns. Feelings of pity and empathy for non-Jews have been blunted here a long time ago.
But it is a terrible mistake to ignore this result of the war. It is far more important than the stationing of a few thousand European troops along our border, with the kind consent of Hizbullah. It may still be bothering generations of Israelis, when the names Olmert and Halutz have long been forgotten, and when even Nasrallah no longer remember the name Amir Peretz.
IN ORDER for the significance of Assad’s words to become clear, they have to be viewed in a historical context.
The whole Zionist enterprise has been compared to the transplantation of an organ into the body of a human being. The natural immunity system rises up against the foreign implant, the body mobilizes all its power to reject it. The doctors use a heavy dosage of medicines in order to overcome the rejection. That can go on for a long time, sometimes until the eventual death of the body itself, including the transplant.
(Of course, this analogy, like any other, should be treated cautiously. An analogy can help in understanding things, but no more than that.)
The Zionist movement has planted a foreign body in this country, which was then a part of the Arab-Muslim space. The inhabitants of the country, and the entire Arab region, rejected the Zionist entity. Meanwhile, the Jewish settlement has taken roots and become an authentic new nation rooted in the country. Its defensive power against the rejection has grown. This struggle has been going on for 125 years, becoming more violent from generation to generation. The last war was yet another episode.
WHAT IS our historic objective in this confrontation?
A fool will say: to stand up to the rejection with a growing dosage of medicaments, provided by America and World Jewry. The greatest fools will add: There is no solution. This situation will last forever. There is nothing to be done about it but to defend ourselves in war after war after war. And the next war is already knocking on the door.
The wise will say: our objective is to cause the body to accept the transplant as one of its organs, so that the immune system will no longer treat us as an enemy that must be removed at any price. And if this is the aim, it must become the main axis of our efforts. Meaning: each of our actions must be judged according to a simple criterion: does it serve this aim or obstruct it?
According to this criterion, the Second Lebanon War was a disaster.
FIFTY NINE years ago, two months before the outbreak of our War of Independence, I published a booklet entitled “War or Peace in the Semitic Region”. Its opening words were:
"When our Zionist fathers decided to set up a ’safe haven’ in Palestine, they had a choice between two ways:
"They could appear in West Asia as a European conqueror, who sees himself as a bridge-head of the ‘white’ race and a master of the ‘natives’, like the Spanish Conquistadores and the Anglo-Saxon colonists in America. That is what the Crusaders did in Palestine.
"The second way was to consider themselves as an Asian nation returning to its home - a nation that sees itself as an heir to the political and cultural heritage of the Semitic race, and which is prepared to join the peoples of the Semitic region in their war of liberation from European exploitation."
As is well known, the State of Israel, which was established a few months later, chose the first way. It gave its hand to colonial France, tried to help Britain to return to the Suez Canal and, since 1967, has become the little sister of the United States.
That was not inevitable. On the contrary, in the course of years there have been a growing number of indications that the immune system of the Arab-Muslim body is starting to incorporate the transplant - as a human body accepts the organ of a close relative - and is ready to accept us. Such an indication was the visit of Anwar Sadat to Jerusalem. Such was the peace treaty signed with us by King Hussein, a descendent of the Prophet. And, most importantly, the historic decision of Yasser Arafat, the leader of the Palestinian people, to make peace with Israel.
But after every huge step forward, there came an Israeli step backward. It is as if the transplant rejects the body’s acceptance of it. As if it has become so accustomed to being rejected, that it does all it can to induce the body to reject it even more.
It is against this background that one should weigh the words spoken by Assad Jr., a member of the new Arab generation, at the end of the recent war.
AFTER EVERY single one of the war aims put forward by our government had evaporated, one after the other, another reason was brought up: this war was a part of the “clash of civilizations”, the great campaign of the Western world and its lofty values against the barbarian darkness of the Islamic world.
That reminds one, of course, of the words written 110 years ago by the father of modern Zionism, Theodor Herzl, in the founding document of the Zionist movement: “In Palestine…we shall constitute for Europe a part of the wall against Asia, and serve as the vanguard of civilization against barbarism.” Without knowing, Olmert almost repeated this formula in his justification of his war, in order to please President Bush.
It happens from time to time in the United States that somebody invents an empty but easily digested slogan, which then dominates the public discourse for some time. It seems that the more stupid the slogan is, the better its chances of becoming the guiding light for academia and the media - until another slogan appears and supersedes it. The latest example is the slogan "Clash of Civilizations", coined by Samuel P. Huntington in 1993 (taking over from the "End of History").
What clash of ideas is there between Muslim Indonesia and Christian Chile? What eternal struggle between Poland and Morocco? What is it that unifies Malaysia and Kosovo, two Muslim nations? Or two Christian nations like Sweden and Ethiopia?
In what way are the ideas of the West more sublime than those of the East? The Jews that fled the flames of the auto-da-fe of the Christian Inquisition in Spain were received with open arms by the Muslim Ottoman Empire. The most cultured of European nations democratically elected Adolf Hitler as its leader and perpetrated the Holocaust, without the Pope raising his voice in protest.
In what way are the spiritual values of the United States, today’s Empire of the West, superior to those of India and China, the rising stars of the East? Huntington himself was compelled to admit: “The West won the world not by the superiority of its ideas or values or religion, but rather by its superiority in applying organized violence. Westerners often forget this fact, non-Westerners never do.” In the West, too, women won the vote only in the 20th century, and slavery was abolished there only in the second half of the 19th. And in the leading nation of the West, fundamentalism is now also raising its head.
What interest, for goodness sake, have we in volunteering to be a political and military vanguard of the West in this imagined clash?
THE TRUTH is, of course, that this entire story of the clash of civilizations is nothing but an ideological cover for something that has no connection with ideas and values: the determination of the United States to dominate the world’s resources, and especially oil.
The Second Lebanon War is considered by many as a "War by Proxy". That’s to say: Hizbullah is the Dobermann of Iran, we are the Rottweiler of America. Hizbullah gets money, rockets and support from the Islamic Republic, we get money, cluster bombs and support from the United States of America.
That is certainly exaggerated. Hizbullah is an authentic Lebanese movement, deeply rooted in the Shiite community. The Israeli government has its own interests (the occupied territories) that do not depend on America. But there is no doubt that there is much truth in the argument that this was also a war by substitutes.
The US is fighting against Iran, because Iran has a key role in the region where the most important oil reserves in the world are located. Not only does Iran itself sit on huge oil deposits, but through its revolutionary Islamic ideology it also menaces American control over the near-by oil countries. The declining resource oil becomes more and more essential in the modern economy. He who controls the oil controls the world.
The US would viciously attack Iran even it were peopled with pigmies devoted to the religion of the Dalai Lama. There is a shocking similarity between George W. Bush and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, The one has personal conversations with Jesus, the other has a line to Allah. But the name of the game is domination.
What interest do we have to get involved in this struggle? What interest do we have in being regarded - accurately - as the servants of the greatest enemy of the Muslim world in general and the Arab world in particular?
We want to live here in 100 years, in 500 years. Our most basic national interests demand that we extend our hands to the Arab nations that accept us, and act together with them for the rehabilitation of this region. That was true 59 years ago, and that will be true 59 years hence.
Little politicians like Olmert, Peretz and Halutz are unable to think in these terms. They can hardly see as far as the end of their noses. But where are the intellectuals, who should be more far-sighted?
Bashar al-Assad may not be one of the world’s Great Thinkers. But his remark should certainly give us pause for thought.
What Are You Going to Do Now, Israel? (by Virginia Tilley)
"When There’s No One Left to Blame What Are You Going to Do Now, Israel?"
Now that three small boys have been killed by assassins’ bullets, and a Hamas judge dragged from his car and murdered, perhaps you are pleased. The Palestinians are finally succumbing to your plots, you think. The long-planned bottle has finally been sealed, in which the “drunken cockroaches” can only crawl around, shooting each other.
Maybe you are sitting back in your national chair, rubbing your hands together in triumph, watching the Palestinians finally turn on each other, slowly becoming what you always claimed they were. Maybe you are repelled, secure in your sense of superiority.
But have you thought about what you are you going to do, if Palestinian leadership you despise finally disintegrates?
You have brought them to this pass, of course. You worked for decades to achieve exactly this. You bribed, terrorized, expelled, maimed or killed their leadership, banned or killed their visionaries and philosophers, fanned and funded Hamas against Fatah or Fatah against Hamas, trashed their democracy, stole their money, walled them in, put them on a “diet”, derided their claims, and lied about their history to the world and to yourself.
But what are you going to do, Israel, if five million Palestinians are finally living leaderless under your sovereignty? What will you do, when they lose their capacity to negotiate with you? Have you thought that, within the territory you control, they are as many as you? And that now you are destroying their unified voice? Have you thought about what will happen to you if they truly lose that voice?
Maybe you really believe that, if you only feed Fatah money and guns, Fatah will reclaim power from the Hamas and restore the craven puppet Palestinian government of your dreams. Maybe you actually believe that Fatah can revive the wreck of Oslo, step out of the rubble of PA offices, and reclaim the driver’s seat of the Palestinian nation as before. Maybe you are telling yourself that, with just a few more inter-factional scuffles and assassinations and little more starvation, the entire Palestinian people will turn on Hamas and eject it from power in favor of grinning Mr. Abbas.
But why would you believe all this, when the only other test-case, Iraq, is in ruins and the US and UK are desperately trying to flee?
Do you really still live so deeply in your own fantasies that you believe Palestinian resistance is just the product of bad or obdurate leadership? That no collective memory of expulsion and dispossession sustains the spirit of collective resistance that will always and inevitably transcend that leadership? Do you really believe that, if only you can crush or co-opt Hamas and Fatah, five million people will simply disappear forever from your world–trail off across the Jordanian or Egyptian borders into the endless desert, clutching clothes, kids, and tarnished mementos, in some great reprise of 1948?
Do you actually think that, if the international community finally lets you off the hook of negotiating with the people you have dispossessed and discredited, you will somehow walk free at last, your crimes against them forgotten?
We know you are still pursuing the old, fatal, futile fantasy: finally to redeem the Zionist dream by demolishing Palestinian nationalism. To break Palestinian national unity on the rocks of occupation. To reduce the Palestinians to Indians on reservations who decline into despair, alcoholism and emigration. To make them irrelevant to you.
But here is news for you, Israel. The Native Americans haven’t given up to this day. Damaged and reduced as they are, they know their history and remember their grievances. They are marginal only because they are one percent of the US population. The Palestinians are five-million strong, equal to you in numbers. And they live within your borders. When their leadership ruins itself, bashing each other like rams fighting to the death, they will finally turn their five million pairs of burning eyes on you, for you will be the only power left over them. And you will be defenseless, because your paper shelter - your Fatah or PA quislings - will be damaged goods, cracked vessels, discredited, gone. And it will then be you and those you have disenfranchised - you and the Palestinians, in one state, with no Oslo or Road Map myth to protect you. And by then, they will truly hate you.
Then perhaps it will dawn on you what you have done, when the disintegration of Palestinian national unity spreads out like a tsunami through the Middle East, meeting up with the tsunami spreading out from Iraq, to lay the region waste and rebound on you.
Watching you create this catastrophe for yourself, we think you are simply suicidal. We could just watch, but your road to ruin promises too much suffering to too many people. Still, to avert your unilateral suicide pact with the Palestinians, to whom can we turn?
We could appeal to Hamas at last to mobilize the rank and file, who alone have the capacity to launch civil disobedience on the mass scale necessary to paralyse Israel’s iron fist, but Hamas has no experience with this method, and now its statesmen are cornered by the guns you gave to Fatah thugs.
We could appeal to the leader of the Fatah thugs, Mr. Abbas, shuffling at the feet of Israeli power, to find some spine. Or to the ubiquitous Mr. Erekat, who never had a political vision in his life, to develop one overnight.
We could appeal to the Fatah thugs to reject Mr. Abbas and Mr. Erekat and the fat cement contracts you gave them to build the Wall that imprisons them, and seek a high road they have never glimpsed.
We could appeal to the microscopic PFLP and DFLP, clutching their old programs too stale to chew and consumed by their acrid, decades-old bitterness and rivalry with Fatah, to lift their heads at long last beyond the old and new grievances.
We could appeal to the US, but no one bothers to do that.
We could appeal to the EU, but no one bothers to do that, either.
We could appeal to the world, but it only stands aghast.
We could appeal to the world media, but it is frozen with its ass in the air.
We can only appeal to you, Israel. To think what you are doing, if not to care.
For you are crafting your own destruction.
You have been so effective in this great national project because you work from experience. Even the most courageous, principled, and sensible people, as you learned, cannot withstand a concentration camp indefinitely. At some point, as the Holocaust historians have tracked with such pathos, humanity breaks down. Individual heroism may survive as memoirs, but order, humanity, and finally human feeling decays into factional squabbles and man’s inhumanity to man. You learned all too well and bitterly how this cauldron can melt down the very fabric of a society and shatter people. The lesson is burned, literally, into your national memory. And you are bringing those lessons to bear, attempting to purge Zionism’s tragedy by bringing Gaza to ruin.
But if you actually reap the chaos you are crafting for the Palestinians, you will find that no one else is responsible for these five million civilians except you.
So what will you do, Israel, with five million people living under your rule, when you can no longer pretend to the world that you intend to negotiate with them? What will you do with people you detest, and who finally utterly detest you, when visions of coexistence have finally failed? You will be the only sovereign power over them. You will be able neither to digest them nor to vomit them out. And they will stare at you.
And we will stare at you, too.
Because there will be no one left to blame, and no one to take care of them, except you.
Virginia Tilley is a professor of political science, a US citizen working in South Africa, and author of The One-State Solution: A Breakthrough for Peace in the Israeli-Palestinian Deadlock (University of Michigan Press and Manchester University Press, 2005).
Twilight Zone / Cry, the beloved country (By Gideon Levy)
PRETORIA, South Africa - It was like being in the movies. Only there would you see an inert photo suddenly come to life. We were standing at the memorial museum in Soweto, next to a photo of a dead boy with other children around him, and our guide Antoinette was telling us about it. Antoinette said that the young girl in the picture was her.
The photo is at the entrance of the museum, built to commemorate the blacks' struggle against apartheid, which began here. Across the way is Nelson Mandela's tiny hut, nearby is the house of Desmond Tutu and down the street is the present home of Winnie Mandela.
The picture was stunningly familiar to us. We were four: MK Ran Cohen (Meretz); Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian ambassador to the United Nations; Diana Buttu, a former legal advisor to the PLO; and myself. We were all making the same associations: Hector is Mohammed al-Dura; the white soldiers shooting at children are us.
The passage of time was evident with Antoinette. The teenager in the picture was now a woman in her late forties. Her brother would have been 44, but a bullet from the rifle of a white policeman deprived him of the chance to witness the miracle of how the cruel racist regime collapsed.
It was another UN conference about peace with the Palestinians, but this time it was being held in a particularly "loaded" location. We were only two Israelis there, but the calling cards I collected were quite varied: Arab and African ambassadors, the previous Egyptian foreign minister, representatives of Muslim countries and diplomats posted in Pretoria. The Syrian ambassador smiled and did not offer his card; the Libyan ambassador did the same. But they listened to us attentively.
The new regime has been good for South Africa; no Palestinian refugee camp looks nearly as attractive as Soweto 2007. But not far away is a shantytown called Alexandra and the sights there are worse than in any Palestinian refugee camp we've seen. This is where South African blacks who haven't been able to pull themselves out of poverty live, together with refugees from neighboring Zimbabwe.
Less than a kilometer separates the impoverished Alexandra from a fancy Johannesburg neighborhood called Sandton. There, behind the electric fences and personal bodyguards, hide the city's wealthy - many of them Jews and a good number former Israelis. On Shabbat we ate cholent. On Friday night we dined with a former Israeli from Nahalal. We drove to Alexandra with a guy who originally hails from Tivon, who has been here for 30 years and owns a huge agricultural enterprise that employs 1,800 black workers earning $2 an hour.
It's impossible not to admire what has occurred in this battered land since the yoke of white tyranny was lifted.
Not in his name
At the conference luncheon, Ronnie Kasrils, South Africa's minister for intelligence services, hurried over to grab a seat next to us. Kasrils, a Jew, had never been to Israel (where he has relatives) until his visit to the territories earlier in the month, when he invited Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh to his country. He then made his first, quick trip to Tel Aviv, saw Rabin Square and ate fish in Jaffa. "It was the most pleasant evening I had," he acknowledges.
Tom Segev once wrote that he is "a guy I wouldn't choose to be stuck in an elevator with," but I would be glad to get stuck with Ronnie Kasrils, inside or outside an elevator. He is a Jew in conflict with his people, perhaps also with his identity - a courageous freedom fighter and communist, who joined the oppressed race in its struggle, was exiled from his country for 27 years and is now a minister.
A son of Lithuanian Jews, who had a bar mitzvah and belonged to Jewish youth movements, Kasrils is one of the most fascinating characters to come out of the local Jewish community - which now thoroughly denounces him. He brandishes his Jewishness openly, perhaps defiantly, even when he recently made an official visit to Iran and Syria. He once founded a movement called "Not in My Name," to underscore his disassociation from the injustices committed by Israel in the territories. Ronnie Kasrils hates the Israeli occupation.
When we talked he said the Israeli occupation is worse than apartheid: The whites never shelled the black neighborhoods with tanks and artillery.
Just like the pogroms
If this warm, outgoing 69-year-old has any personal security protection, it is invisible. We sat in a vacant room in a building on the University of Pretoria campus and talked. "You're an Israeli and I'm a South African," he emphasized immediately, as if to negate any common identity. "I'm confident that the circle will be closed one day and people will understand that I'm not anti-Jewish or anti-Israeli ... It really pains me as a Jew that in this country such hostility has developed toward Israel, because of its treatment of the Palestinians ...
"When we saw on television the drama going on in your country, the oppressive pictures of the methods you use toward the Palestinians, the uprooting of trees, the tanks entering Jenin, and the old woman weeping over the demolition of her house and crying 'The Jews, the Jews' - it's just like what my grandmother used to tell me about the pogroms: The Cossacks are coming, the Cossacks are coming. I'm trying to say: It's not the Jews, it's Zionisms that's doing this. So I decided to get up and say something. I found this in the Jewish tradition: to open your mouth, in the name of conscience.
"The man who greeted me when I returned to South Africa after the years of exile was Rabbi Cyril Harris ... He gave me a red skullcap with a dedication: to the freedom fighter. When I started to express criticism of Israel, I thought that the Jews would denounce Ariel Sharon, but then I found out that I was naive. I was stunned to see that the Jewish community here didn't care who was in power in Israel and how extreme the policy was against the Palestinians ... They would blindly support any government. Rabbi Harris became my enemy. He called me a fringe Jew and my response was: We were the only ones who stood up against apartheid and now we're the minority against the injustice.
"When I visited the territories I also passed through Israel and I saw the forests that cover the remnants of the Palestinian villages. As a former forestry minister, this was especially striking to me. I also went into a few settlements. It was insane. Young Americans spat on the flag that was on my car. The occupation reminds me of the darkest days of apartheid, but we never saw tanks and planes firing at a civilian population. It's a monstrousness I'd never seen before. The wall you built, the checkpoints and the roads for Jews only - it turns the stomach, even for someone who grew up under apartheid. It's a hundred times worse.
"We know from our experience that oppression motivates resistance and that the more savage the oppression, the harsher the resistance. At a certain point in time you think that the oppression is working, and that you're controlling the other people, imprisoning its leaders and its activists, but the resistance will triumph in the end.
"We saw the entrance to Qalqilyah, the wall, the people standing hours in line at the checkpoints. It's a beautiful country, I love its landscapes, but I know that it's big enough to contain more people. Israel has developed very impressively, but how much more impressive it would be if you brought about a just solution ... I don't care if it's two states or one - it's up to you, the Israelis and the Palestinians, to decide.
"I had coffee with the commander of the Erez checkpoint. It reminded me of the central prison in Pretoria, a place I've visited many times. And it was so awful to go through this thing in order to get to Gaza. At first I said that I don't want to speak with the man at the checkpoint, but then I decided that was foolish. The Israelis were actually very nice to me.
"What is Zionism to me? When I was 10 years old, it meant security and a national home for the Jews. I waved the Israeli flag at my bar mitzvah and I was very proud of my Judaism. The first book I received for my bar mitzvah was 'The Revolt,' by Menachem Begin. My biggest hero was Asher Ginsberg, Ahad Ha'am ... Later on I started reading not only Herzl, but also [historians] Ilan Pappe, Benny Morris and Tom Segev, and I came to see 1948 in a different light. I understood that it was an ethnic cleansing.
"South Africa changed me and strengthened my South African identity. And then I began to understand that the main problem of Zionism is the exclusivity of the establishment of a national home and the concept of the chosen people. Very soon I started to oppose it. The establishment of a national home for Jews alone seemed to me like a parallel of apartheid. The apartheid leaders also spoke about a chosen people. In 1961, prime minister Hendrik Verwoerd said that Israel is like South Africa. That opened my eyes. For many years we were also aware of the military cooperation between Israel and South Africa - a joint offensive naval force, missile boats, the Cheetah planes and the big secret of the nuclear weapons. Prime minister Johannes Vorster, who had a declared Nazi past, received a hero's welcome from you. This added to my feelings regarding Israel.
"I am very conscious of the Holocaust and of anti-Semitism, but my experience here leads me to one conclusion: that all forms of racism must be fought by means of a common struggle. I have a dream: That you will change your outlook, as happened here, and that change will come. When politicians reach agreements, it's amazing how fast ordinary folks can come to a change in thinking. Change the leadership and the economic conditions and you'll see how easy the change is."
Here is the "next thing" in the war against terror: the war against hairdressers. After Hamas took over half the Palestinian people, in no small measure because of Israel's policies, after we tried to fight Hamas with weapons and siege, destruction and killing, mass arrests and deportations, the Israel Defense Forces and Shin Bet security service have invented something new: a war on shopping malls, bakeries, schools and orphanages. First in Hebron, now in Nablus. The IDF is closing beauty salons, clothing stores and clinics, and even one dairy farm, all on the pretext that they are connected to Hamas, or the rent they pay is given to a terror organization. ...
Gaza strike not against Hamas, it's against all Palestinians (By Amira Hass)
At 3:19 P.M. Sunday, the sound of an incoming missile could be heard over the telephone. And then another, along with the children’s cries of fear. In Gaza City’s Tel al-Hawa neighborhood, high-rise apartment buildings are crowded close together, with dozens of children in every building, hundreds in every block.
Their father, B., informs me that smoke is rising from his neighbor’s house and ends the call. An hour later, he tells me that two apartments were hit. One was empty; he does not know who lives there. The other, which suffered casualties, belongs to a member of a rocket-launching cell, but no one senior or important.
At noon Sunday, the Israel Air Force bombed a compound belonging to Gaza’s National Security Service. It houses Gaza City’s main prison. Three prisoners were killed. Two were apparently Fatah members; the third was convicted of collaborating with Israel. Hamas had evacuated most of the Gaza Strip’s other prisons, but thought this jail would be safe.
At 12 A.M. on Sunday, a phone call roused S. “I wasn’t sleeping anyway,” he said. “I picked up the receiver and heard a recorded announcement in Arabic: ‘This is to warn you that we will bomb the house of anyone who has arms or ammunition at home.’”
Three members of one neighboring family were killed, all young men in their twenties. None of them owned arms or ammunition; they were simply walking down the street when the IAF bombed a passing car. Another neighbor lost a 16-year-old daughter, and her sister was seriously wounded. The IAF had bombed a building that formerly housed the Palestinian Authority’s Preventive Security Service, and their school was located next door.
S. saw the results of some of Saturday’s bombings when he visited a friend whose office is located near Gaza City’s police headquarters. One person killed in that attack was Hassan Abu Shnab, the eldest son of former senior Hamas official Ismail Abu Shnab.
The elder Abu Shnab, whom Israel assassinated five years ago, was one of the first Hamas politicians to speak in favor of a two-state solution. Hassan worked as a clerk at the local university and played in the police band for fun. He was performing at a police graduation ceremony on Saturday when the bomb struck.
“Seventy policemen were killed there, not all Hamas members,” said S., who opposes Hamas. “And even those who supported Hamas were young men looking for a job, a salary. They wanted to live. And therefore, they died. Seventy in one blow. This assault is not against Hamas. It’s against all of us, the entire nation. And no Palestinian will consent to having his people and his homeland destroyed in this way.”
On Decemer 14th a post was submitted Portside Archives with the following title:
Israel, Obama & The Bomb
It starts as follows:
This past July, a nuclear-armed nation, in violation of an international treaty, clandestinely agreed to supply uranium to a known proliferator of nuclear weapons. China and North Korea? No, the United States and Israel.
In a July 8 article entitled 'Report: Secret Document Affirms U.S. Israeli Nuclear Partnership,' the Israeli daily Haaretz revealed that the Obama Administration will begin transferring nuclear fuel to Israel in order to build up Tel Aviv's nuclear stockpile. ...
Two warnings from within Israel (By Gideon Levy and Zeev Sternhell)
A dangerous experiment (By Gideon Levy - January 3rd, 2013 - Ha'aretz)
After the many long years in which Israel took pride in being the only democracy in the Middle East – and, as such, got an open line of credit and endless patience from the rest of the world, and gave its citizens a sense of sanctimonious self-satisfaction – an extreme right-wing government will put an end to all of it.
The news coming from the election arena is very encouraging: Moshe Feiglin advocates bribing Arabs to leave the country; Yuli Edelstein, Zeev Elkin and Yariv Levin are promising annexation of the West Bank; Naftali Bennett is promising to “deal with” the media and the Supreme Court; and Yair Shamir is promising that no new state will be established “for a million people.”
This is really the best news we’ve had in a long time. Now we must only hope that these people and their cronies will finally be given a chance to make good on their promises.
The next government must be an extreme right-wing government – without face powder, mascara or saccharin, and most importantly, without the participation of center-left parties for “balance.”
Let the right wing win; let the Bennett-Feiglin team rule. If that’s what the people want, that’s what they deserve. The proper government for Israel is one in which “human rights activist” Orit Struck, from the Avraham Avinu neighborhood in Hebron, is a member. It will certainly be more appropriate than the outgoing government, with Labor as its partner in crime, a “moderate” defense minister, and all the Dan Meridors and Michael Eitans as decorations, like a nose ring on a hog.
Only with a Danny Danon-Tzipi Hotovely government will the world and Israel see the country’s true face. Only with an Avigdor Lieberman-Shamir government will all the zany ideas be tested. Only with a Benjamin Netanyahu-Miri Regev government will the wake-up call finally come. Enough of these deceitful governments; give us the real thing, what most Israelis are yearning for.
If Feiglin transfers, Elkin annexes and Bennett deals, the world will have its say. Then – and only then – will Israelis wake up from their hibernation and hallucinations.
When the first busload of expellees crosses the Jordan River, when the first annexation clause is legislated, when Israel’s Arab citizens are forbidden to vote and 60,000 Africans are dragged onto planes, we will have a totally different country here, and the world will respond accordingly.
An extremist government will also give the key person in this story, U.S. President Barack Obama, a serious jolt, and will wake up the European sleeping beauty. Let’s see how Israel manages even one day without American aid and the European market.
Until the insanity is realized, none of this will happen. We’re not talking about the simplistic Marxist approach of “the worse it gets, the better it is.” We’re talking about the need to speak the truth and act as it dictates. Th need to finally, finally display the country’s true desire and see where it leads us. It’s a dangerous experiment, but the continued wild behavior at this masked ball is infinitely more dangerous. It’s anesthetizing and addictive, and the passage of time destroys any chance for change.
We’ll see what happens the day after the transfer and the night after the annexation. We’ll see if we really want to live in a country without journalism, without human rights groups and without the High Court of Justice, without Arabs, without the Palestinian Authority’s Mahmoud Abbas, without migrants, and with apartheid as our declared policy. We’ll see what it’s like to live in a state that’s shunned and boycotted, without America, without Europe, without even the Faroe Islands. We’ll see if we can even sustain such a state.
After the many long years in which Israel took pride in being the only democracy in the Middle East – and, as such, got an open line of credit and endless patience from the rest of the world, and gave its citizens a sense of sanctimonious self-satisfaction – an extreme right-wing government will put an end to all of it.
Let there be no collaborators. No whitewashers must crawl into this government, no homogenizers, no one who doesn’t mind koshering the vermin. There will only be a future without Labor, Hatnuah and Yesh Atid. This pendulum that in recent years has swept Israeli society into the depths of the right will only be stopped if the right is given a chance to follow through on its threats. Once that plays itself out, there will be stunned but steady movement in the opposite direction. Until then, the Orit Struck government holds the most promise of all.
Likud casts off its skin (By Zeev Sternhell, January 4th 2013, Ha'aretz)
Latest polls prove that most Israelis are willing to end the occupation and establish a Palestinian state. So why it is not translated into political reality?
In the army it was always accepted that there are no bad soldiers, only defective commanders. It turns out that a similar situation exists in politics: The people are smarter than their leaders imagine. But because of the built-in distortions in Israeli politics, the legend that most of the population adheres to the views of the settlement right has long since taken hold. The reality, as proven by the latest polls, is different: Most Israelis are willing to put an end to the occupation and establish a Palestinian state. How did it happen in the past, and how is it happening now, that this willingness is not translated into a political act?
The answer lies first of all in the absence of an intellectual and leadership alternative on the left. Yitzhak Rabin and Ehud Barak proved that it is possible to come to power: Barak’s bankruptcy was a blow from which the left has yet to recover. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu inherited an ideal situation as far as he is concerned, he didn’t create it. It’s not the ideology of Greater Israel that is now victorious, but the absence of willpower and leadership on the left side of the map to serve as a counterweight.
And in fact, contrary to the Labor Party leader’s opinion, the average Israeli knows that the future of society will be decided in the territories. He also knows that the Likud intends to annex the territories without granting citizenship to its residents. Once that was a marginal, semi-subversive opinion – today it’s the viewpoint of the official leadership. Only Netanyahu, for fear of the Americans, is still playing the two-states game. Therefore, anyone who gives his vote to the right today is voting not only in favor of the beginning of the end of Israel as an open and democratic society and in favor of a binational state, but also in favor of an apartheid state in the full sense of the word.
The right has already decided that municipal autonomy is sufficient for the Palestinians: Self-rule and the right to self-determination are reserved for the Jews. In other words, the members of the Chosen People are entitled not only to the right to be their own masters, but to rule over the Palestinians as well. Such chutzpah, which is seen not only among the “Bennetts” and the “Feiglins” but among the sedate Likud leadership, is unparalleled in today’s world. Suddenly in the post-colonial world comes a country that without batting an eyelash appropriates the right to enslave another nation, and calls itself an enlightened country that is fulfilling the Jewish people’s desire for freedom.
Like a snake, Likud is casting off its skin and confirming some of the claims of the worst enemies of Zionism. That’s how the Israelis are eliminating their country’s right to exist, with their own hands.
Annexing the territories is already creating a situation that no Western society can tolerate, because there is not a single country in the West that does not guarantee the equality of all the people living within its borders. A binational state in itself is a recipe for an ongoing disaster and the end of the Zionism that established the State of Israel, but an apartheid state is far worse, and will remove Israel from the family of nations.
What will the Israelis who came to build the Jewish state – either they or their parents – tell themselves and their children? Maybe we’ll tell our grandchildren that we made a mistake in the design, and it’s the fault of the engineers that the house collapsed on us? In the end we’ll have to tell them the truth: We failed, because we didn’t stand in the breach when it was still possible, and neither we nor our leaders had the courage to stop on the slope.
It turns out that it’s not enough for a society to have writers and scientists and entrepreneurs and even fearless fighters – you also need civil courage and a bit of political wisdom: The grocery bill is important, but our future will not be decided at the supermarket cash registers.
A letter from a ghost (By Gideon Levy 11 april 2013 - Ha'aretz)
Samer Issawi has sustained his hunger strike for 8 months and counting. Israel is bored.
A group of exceptional Israeli women started visiting Samer Issawi in Kaplan Hospital in Rehovot a few days ago. They are not being allowed into his room, but they open his door holding out flowers and call out words of encouragement until the guards drive them away.
Issawi has been on a hunger strike for the past eight months. His fate is stirring up the West Bank and boring Israel. He was released as part of the Gilad Shalit deal and returned to prison after the Israeli authorities claimed he broke his release terms.
In 2002 he was sentenced to 26 years in prison and now Israel wants to keep him in jail until his death, or the end of his prison term, whichever comes first.
On Tuesday Issawi wrote a letter to the Israelis. It is one of the most bloodcurdling documents I have ever read. From a sense of deep identification and shame, which is no less deep, I wish to use this stage to publish an abbreviated version of it.
“… I’ve chosen to write to you: intellectuals, academics, writers, lawyers, journalists and activists in civilian Israeli society. I invite you to visit me in hospital and see me, a skeleton cuffed and bound to the bed. Three exhausted prison guards, who eat and drink beside my bed, surround me. The guards follow my suffering and weight loss. From time to time they glance at their watches and ask: How does this body still survive? Israelis, I’m looking for an educated one among you who has passed the stage of the shadows and mirrors game. I want him to look at me as I lose my consciousness. Let him wipe the gunpowder from his pen, the shooting sounds from his mind, and see my face’s features etched in his eyes. I will see him and he will see me. I will see how tense he is about the future and he will see me, a ghost clinging to his side and not leaving.
“Perhaps you will be asked to write a romantic story about me. You will testify I was a creature of whom nothing remained but a skeleton, breathing and choking from hunger, losing consciousness now and then. And after your cold silence, my story will be an achievement to add to your resume. When your students will grow up they will believe the Palestinian died of hunger … Then you can celebrate your cultural, moral supremacy with a death ritual.”
“I am Samer al-Issawi, ‘one of them Arabs’ in your army’s terms. That Jerusalemite you locked up for no good reason but that he decided to leave Jerusalem to the city’s outskirts. I will be put on trial twice because the IDF and the Shin Bet security service rule your state and all the rest of society hides in a fortress … to evade the explosion of my suspicious bones.
“I haven’t heard a single one of you intervene or try to silence the voice of strengthening death, while you’ve all turned into grave diggers, military uniform wearers – the judge, the writer, the intellectual, the journalist, the merchant, the academic, the poet. And I cannot believe an entire society has become the wardens of my death and life, defenders of the settlers who persecute my dreams and trees.
“Israelis, I’ll die satisfied. I won’t be driven off my land and homeland … you won’t enter my spirit that refuses to give in … maybe now you’ll understand that a sense of freedom is stronger than a sense of death. Don’t listen to your generals and to the dusty myths. The defeated will not remain defeated and the victor will not remain victorious. History is not measured only in battles, massacres and prisons, but in stretching out a hand in peace, to yourselves and to the other.
“Israelis, I am Samer al-Issawi. Hear my voice, the voice of remaining time – mine and yours. Release yourselves from greedy power hunting. Don’t forget those you have incarcerated in prison and camps, between the iron doors that imprison your consciousness. I’m not waiting for a prison guard to free me, I’m waiting for the one who frees you of my memory.”
This is the man Israel insists on keeping locked up and is leaving to die. Israel is indifferent and complacent, nobody opens his mouth, nobody protests but a handful of women, one of whom, Dafna Banai, passed this letter to me.
Time to be single-minded (By Gideon Levy 28 april 2013 - Ha'aretz)
The end of the world? Why? Arabs and Jews already live together today, but discrimination, inequality, past tensions, racism, nationalism and mutual fear hinder relations between them.
If you will it, it is no dream: one just state for two peoples. The establishment of a Jewish State was perceived as something no less crazy less than 100 years ago. Subversive? The establishment of a Palestinian state was considered no less subversive even less than three decades ago.
One state for two peoples? It has already existed for a while now. More than two peoples live in it – Jews and Arabs; ultra-Orthodox Jews; religious Zionist and secular Jews; Jews of Middle-Eastern descent and Jews of European descent; settlers and Palestinians. Over time, the distance that separates these communities grows larger.
Somehow, they live together in one state, but one where justice and equality are absent. This, though, is how an imaginary, just state would appear: It would grant everyone the right to vote, and have a democratic constitution that would protect the rights of all communities and minorities – including an immigration policy like that of all other nations.
Such a state would have a legislature that would reflect the mosaic of the country, and an elected government formed by a coalition of the communities and the two peoples’ representatives. Yes, a Jewish prime minister with an Arab deputy, or vice versa.
The end of the world? Why? Arabs and Jews already live together today, but discrimination, inequality, past tensions, racism, nationalism and mutual fear hinder relations between them. These will gradually dissipate, and most of the dangers currently in store for the country will disappear with one state for two peoples.
At home, an egalitarian country like this would defuse most of the hatreds that bubble up from within. Arab citizens and Palestinians, with equal rights, will lose their subversive drive against the state that alienated them and dispossessed them of their rights. It will become their country. The Jews are likely to find that most of their fears were for naught: the moment that justice is established, the dangers – real and imagined – will be subdued.
Even more dramatic will be the disintegration of external threats. Iran, Syria, Hezbollah, Hamas and the rest of the “Axis of Evil” will lose the basis for their hatred. Who, then, will Iran threaten? A Jewish-Palestinian state? And who will Hezbollah and Hamas fire their missiles at? Against a Jewish-Palestinian consensus? Even the international stature of the new state will change in an instant: the world will excitedly embrace it and hurry to funnel large-scale aid to it.
This country will prosper when the massive budgets invested by both sides in preserving their own security will be redirected to other goals. Its fault lines will run, like in every other country, between the rich and poor, the educated and uneducated, the success stories and laggards. In the initial period, these successes will be the country’s Jews, who will prosper because their society is more developed, but the equality of opportunity can’t help but gradually bridge the gaps.
These imagined goals won’t be achieved in one day alone. The realization of this fantasy will be achieved through a long, difficult and complex process of liberation from old beliefs and values that were destructive for both nations. It will also require the overcoming of deep fears that are no less destructive, and drawing a line under the past.
The Jews will be forced to give up the dream of a national state, likewise the Palestinians. This will be the end of Zionism in its existing form, something very painful for those who have grown used to believing that it is the only way. But it will be replaced by something incomparably more just and sustainable.
The moment Israel’s Jews are persuaded that the Palestinians are humans like them, with everything this implies, the path will become a shorter one and become possible if a new leadership arises among the two peoples. Not a new politics of old and bad thinking, but truly revolutionary leadership that shatters old and bad paradigms and neutralizes fears.
At least two are required for this tango, and at present there isn’t even one. This dance will require a great deal of courage and imagination: right now, there is neither one nor the other. But think of the alternative – where does it lead? To another round in this bloody dance? And another round after that? But what about afterward? There aren’t many Israelis today who know how to answer which way the county is headed. To them, let it be said: If you wish a single, just state, it is no dream.
Israel does not want peace (By Gideon Levy July 4th 2014 - Ha'aretz)
Rejectionism is embedded in Israel's most primal beliefs. There, at the deepest level, lies the concept that this land is destined for the Jews alone.
Israel does not want peace. There is nothing I have ever written that I would be happier to be proved wrong about. But the evidence is piling up. In fact, it can be said that Israel has never wanted peace – a just peace, that is, one based on a just compromise for both sides. It’s true that the routine greeting in Hebrew is Shalom (peace) – shalom when one leaves and shalom when one arrives. And, at the drop of a hat, almost every Israeli will say he wants peace, of course he does. But he’s not referring to the kind of peace that will bring about the justice without which there is no peace and there will be no peace. Israelis want peace, not justice, certainly not anything based on universal values. Thus, “Peace, peace, when there is no peace.” Not only is there no peace: In recent years, Israel has moved away from even the aspiration to make peace. It has despaired utterly of it. Peace has disappeared from the Israeli agenda, its place taken by the collective anxieties that are systematically implanted, and by personal, private matters that now take precedence over all else.
The Israeli longing for peace seemingly died about a decade ago, after the failure of the Camp David summit in 2000, the dissemination of the lie that there is no Palestinian partner for peace, and, of course, the horrific blood-soaked period of the second intifada. But the truth is that even before that, Israel never really wanted peace. Israel has never, not for a minute, treated the Palestinians as human beings with equal rights. It has never viewed their distress as understandable human and national distress.
The Israeli peace camp, too – if ever there was such a thing – also died a lingering death amid the harrowing scenes of the second intifada and the no-partner lie. All that remained were a handful of organizations that were as determined and devoted as they were ineffectual in the face of the delegitimization campaigns mounted against them. Israel, therefore, was left with its rejectionist stance.
The single most overwhelming item of evidence of Israel’s rejection of peace is, of course, the settlements project. From the dawn of its existence, there has never been a more reliable or more precise litmus test for Israel’s true intentions than this particular enterprise. In plain words: The builders of settlements want to consolidate the occupation, and those who want to consolidate the occupation do not want peace. That’s the whole story in a nutshell.
On the assumption that Israel’s decisions are rational, it is impossible to accept construction in the territories and the aspiration to peace as mutually coexisting. Every act of building in the settlements, every mobile home and every balcony, conveys rejection. If Israel had wanted to achieve peace through the Oslo Accords, it would at least have stopped the construction in the settlements at its own initiative. That this did not happen proves that Oslo was fraudulent, or at best the chronicle of a failure foretold. If Israel had wanted to achieve peace at Taba, at Camp David, at Sharm el-Sheikh, in Washington or in Jerusalem, its first move should have been to end all construction in the territories. Unconditionally. Without a quid pro quo. The fact that Israel did not is proof that it did not want a just peace.
But the settlements were only a touchstone of Israel’s intentions. Its rejectionism is embedded far more deeply – in its DNA, its bloodstream, its raison d’être, its most primal beliefs. There, at the deepest level, lies the concept that this land is destined for the Jews alone. There, at the deepest level, is entrenched the value of “am sgula” – God’s “treasured people” – and “God chose us.” In practice, this is translated to mean that, in this land, Jews are allowed to do what is forbidden to others. That is the point of departure, and there is no way to get from there to a just peace. There is no way to reach a just peace when the name of the game is the dehumanization of the Palestinians. No way to achieve peace when the demonization of the Palestinians is hammered into people’s heads day after day. Those who are convinced that every Palestinian is a suspicious person and that every Palestinian wants “to throw the Jews into the sea” will never make peace with the Palestinians. Most Israelis are convinced of the truth of both those statements.
In the past decade, the two peoples have been separated from each another. The average young Israeli will never meet his Palestinian peer, other than during his army service (and then only if he does his service in the territories). Nor will the average young Palestinian ever meet an Israeli his own age, other than the soldier who huffs and puffs at him at the checkpoint, or invades his home in the middle of the night, or in the person of the settler who usurps his land or torches his groves.
Consequently, the only encounter between the two people is between the occupiers, who are armed and violent, and the occupied, who are despairing and also turn to violence. Gone are the days when Palestinians worked in Israel and Israelis shopped in Palestine. Gone is the period of the half-normal and quarter-equal relations that existed for a few decades between the two peoples that share the same piece of territory. It is very easy, in this state of affairs, to incite and inflame the two peoples against one another, to spread fears and to instill new hatreds on top of those that already exist. This, too, is a sure recipe for non-peace.
So it was that a new Israeli yearning sprang up: the desire for separation: “They will be there and we will be here (and also there).” At a time when the majority of Palestinians – an assessment I allow myself to make after decades of covering the territories – still want coexistence, even if less and less, most Israelis want disengagement and separation, but without paying the price. The two-state vision has gained widespread adherence, but without any intention to implement it in practice. Most Israelis are in favor, but not now and maybe not even here. They have been trained to believe that there is no partner for peace – a Palestinian partner, that is – but that there is an Israeli partner.
Unfortunately, the truth is almost the reverse. The Palestinian non-partners no longer have any chance to prove that they are partners; the Israeli non-partners are convinced that they are interlocutors. So began the process in which Israeli conditions, obstacles and difficulties were heaped up, one more milestone in Israeli rejectionism. First came the demand for a cessation of terrorism; then the demand for a change of leadership (Yasser Arafat as a stumbling block); and after that Hamas became the hurdle. Now it’s the Palestinians’ refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish state. Israel considers every step it takes – from mass political arrests to building in the territories – to be legitimate, whereas every Palestinian move is “unilateral.”
The only country on the planet with no borders is so far unwilling to delineate even the compromise borders it is ready to be satisfied with. Israel has not internalized the fact that, for the Palestinians, the borders of 1967 are the mother of all compromises, the red line of justice (or relative justice). For the Israelis, they are “suicide borders.” This is why the preservation of the status quo has become the true Israeli aim, the primary goal of Israeli policy, almost its be-all and end-all. The problem is that the existing situation cannot last forever. Historically, few nations have ever agreed to live under occupation without resistance. And the international community, too, is one day apt to utter a firm pronouncement on this state of affairs, with accompanying punitive measures. It follows that the Israeli goal is unrealistic.
Disconnected from reality, the majority of Israelis pursue their regular way of life. In their mind’s eye the world is always against them, and the areas of occupation on their doorstep are beyond their realm of interest. Anyone who dares criticize the occupation policy is branded an anti-Semite, every act of resistance is perceived as an existential threat. All international opposition to the occupation is read as the “delegitimizing” of Israel and as a provocation to the country’s very existence. The world’s seven billion people – most of whom are against the occupation – are wrong, and six million Israeli Jews – most of whom support the occupation – are right. That’s the reality in the eyes of the average Israeli.
Add to this the repression, the concealment and the obfuscation, and you have another explanation for the rejectionism: Why should anyone strive for peace as long as life in Israel is good, calm prevails and the reality is concealed? The only way the besieged Gaza Strip can remind people of its existence is by firing rockets, and the West Bank only gets onto the agenda these days when blood is shed there. Similarly, the viewpoint of the international community is only taken into account when it tries to impose boycotts and sanctions, which in their turn immediately generate a campaign of self-victimization studded with blunt – and at times also impertinent – historical accusations.
This, then, is the gloomy picture. It contains not a ray of hope. The change will not happen on its own, from within Israeli society, as long as that society continues to behave as it does. The Palestinians have made more than one mistake, but their mistakes are marginal. Basic justice is on their side, and basic rejectionism is the Israelis’ purview. The Israelis want occupation, not peace.
The score of the new war on Gaza (after the murder on 3 Israeli boys on the West Bank and the
revenge murder on a Palestinian boy + several other Palestinians killed by the Israeli
reaction on the West Bank afterwards) up to now (9/7):
Update July 26th: More than 1000 killed and almost 6000 (often severely) wounded. For a closer look, see
Again: IDF, great job, well done. The casualties are approaching those of the 2008-2009 war (Operation "Cast Lead").
Update August 2nd: The IDF made it … There are now more casualties than during operation "Cast Lead".
Almost 1700 killed and the number of wounded approaching 10000. Even (retired) military men from the USA are now acknowledging
that the violence by the IDF is becoming more and more of a
Recently a paper has been published on the devastating effect of the extreme violence agains the Gaza population
on its mental health. Below a summary:
Victims of war: how Gaza conflict will traumatise a generation of adolescents
A new study has examined adolescent victims of conflict in the Gaza strip - and has found that exposure to war-torn environments has a lasting and damaging effect on the psychology of young people.
The paper, entitled ‘Trauma, PTSD, Anxiety and Coping Strategies among Palestinians Adolescents Exposed to War in Gaza’ has been published in the Arab Journal of Psychiatry and was co-authored by Professor Panos Vostanis from the University of Leicester’s Greenwood Institute of Child Health, Professor Abdelaziz Thabet from Al-Quds University and Omar EL-Buhaisi from the University of Leicester.
The study investigated types of traumatic events experienced by Palestinian adolescents exposed to war in Gaza in relation to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety and coping strategies and has found that a substantial number of adolescents in these situations develop a range of long-lasting emotional and behaviour problems.
Professor Vostanis said: “The University of Leicester has been collaborating with colleagues from Gaza for the last 15 years. All studies have consistently shown the impact of war trauma and how this is mediated further by poverty and deprivation. Each cycle of violence has a cumulative effect on children and young people.”
The sample comprised 358 adolescents aged 15 to 18 years; 158 boys (44.1%) and 200 girls (55.9%). Of the adolescents studied, the majority witnessed mutilated bodies on TV, were exposed to heavy artillery shelling, saw evidence of shelling and heard sonic sounds from jetfighters. As a result, many adolescents developed anxiety disorders, with females reporting a greater number of PTSD symptoms than males.
Professor Vostanis added: “The toll on the mental health of these young people tends to be exacerbated by poverty, which is endemic in Gaza. It's a double whammy for many of them. As well as the conflict itself, they are also affected by how their parents respond, by the provision of basic needs and if there's a sense of helplessness.”
Will a publication like this influence Israeli general public? I don't think so. From the news I can see and read my guess is the following:
Most Israelis won't give a damn. Quite a few of them even see Arabs as "pests which should be exterminated". This, Gaza being turned
into a contemporary version of the Warsaw ghetto, might change when the public opinion on the behavior of Israel turns over in the USA.
The public opinion in Europe is less relevant. The weapons of Israel are delivered by the USA, and that's what counts in the end.