Forum: Åpent

Israel and the Rotten Soul of the West

October 23, 2015
by John Wight

The rotten soul of the Western political establishment is never more exposed than when it comes to the issue of Palestine. It is here where the hypocrisy, double standards, and political cowardice that is its truth is at its most extreme.

Bad enough that the Palestinian people have been forced to endure a decades-long negation of their human, natural, and national rights; the injustice they have suffered is compounded tenfold by the complicity of the West in denying their rightful status as an oppressed people struggling against a cruel and vindictive oppressor. Stripped of all of the embroidery and obfuscation that has been allowed to distort the contours of this struggle, here lies the root of the issue and the biblical suffering that has and continues to flow from it.

This conflict is not and never has been about Israel’s right to exist or Israel’s security. It is not and never has been about Hamas or its Charter. It is not even about a two state or a one state solution – at least not anymore it is not. It is about whether we take a stand on the side of an oppressed people or with their oppressor.

In this regard we must give thanks to Malcolm X for washing the bullshit from our eyes: “If you aren’t careful the newspapers will have you hating the people being oppressed, and loving the people doing the oppressing.”

Make no mistake, the political mainstream and its media echo chamber know exactly what is going on in Palestine, and they are well aware of its root cause. Yet, regardless, they continue to provide Israel with their unstinting and unwavering support. Even more, they genuflect at the feet of this apartheid state.Read more

The Chaos in Jerusalem: a Warning of Things to Come

by Jonathan Cook

Among Palestinians and Israelis, the recent upsurge in violence has been variously described as the children’s, lone-wolf, Jerusalem and smartphone intifadas. Each describes a distinguishing feature of this round of clashes.

The steady erosion of Fatah and Hamas’ authority during the post-Oslo years, as the Palestinian factions proved incapable of protecting their people from the structural violence of the occupation, has driven Palestine’s politically orphaned children to the streets, armed with stones.

The growing hopelessness and sense of abandonment have led a few so-called “lone wolves” to vent their fury on Israelis with improvised weapons such as knives, screwdrivers and cars. These attacks have attracted the most publicity, becoming the equivalent of the second intifada’s suicide bomber. But they serve chiefly as a barometer of Palestinian despair.

Jerusalem is the center of events, with the Palestinians’ only unifying symbol, al-Aqsa mosque, at its heart. For Palestinians, the incremental takeover of the compound – and the West’s indifference – is like watching the mass dispossession of 1948 play out again in slow motion.Red more

Germany refuses to accept Netanyahu’s claim Palestinian inspired Holocaust

Germany has said it has no reason to change its view of history after Israel’s prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, said Adolf Hitler had been persuaded to carry out the Holocaust by a Palestinian leader.

Before a trip to Berlin, Netanyahu provoked incredulity and anger among many when he claimed in a speech that Hitler had only wanted to expel Europe’s Jews and that the idea to exterminate them had come from the then mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini.Read more

Netanyahu under fire after accusing Palestinian grand mufti of inciting Holocaust

Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu has come under fire for accusing the World War II Palestinian grand mufti of convincing Adolf Hitler to exterminate the Jews. The bold claim has been deemed incorrect by historians and Israeli opposition leaders.

Speaking to the Zionist Congress on Tuesday, Netanyahu spoke of a series of attacks by Muslims against Jews in Palestine during the 1920s, stating that those assaults were instigated by Haj Amin al-Husseini, the grand mufti of Jerusalem at that time.

Al-Husseini flew to meet Adolf Hitler in Berlin in 1941, and that meeting was instrumental in the Nazi leader’s decision to launch a campaign to exterminate Jews, Netanyahu said in his speech.

“Hitler didn’t want to exterminate the Jews at the time, he wanted to expel the Jews. And Haj Amin al-Husseini went to Hitler and said, ‘If you expel them, they’ll all come here.’”

Netanyahu then alleged that Hitler asked what he should do with the Jews – to which al-Husseini replied: “Burn them.”

The comments immediately received a backlash from opposition politicians and Holocaust experts, who accused Netanyahu of twisting historical facts.

Palestinian officials said Netanyahu appeared to be absolving Hitler of his crimes in order to blame Muslims.

“It is a sad day in history when the leader of the Israeli government hates his neighbor so much that he is willing to absolve the most notorious war criminal in history, Adolf Hitler, of the murder of 6 million Jews,” said Saeb Erekat, the Palestine Liberation Organization’s secretary general, as quoted by Reuters.Read more

The Single-State Solution is Already Here

by Gideon Levy

Here is irrefutable proof that the one-state solution should not even be considered: the bloodshed, hatred and fear currently washing over the country. Advocates of the two-state solution and, especially, those who seek no solution, those Israelis who saw the one-state solution as treason and heresy, are now proclaiming victory. “There, that’s what the binational state will look like,” they are saying. “It will be a bloody, endless civil war.”

The same intimidatory arguments that were used for years against the two-state solution (the “Auschwitz borders”) are now being enlisted against the one-state solution. Now, as then, everything is judged according to the contours of the current, depressing reality, and it doesn’t occur to anyone that another reality is possible.

The nationalists say, “An agreement will never be possible with those bloodthirsty people.” The center-left says, “There’s no way to live together.” The common denominator is racism, and the assumption that the hatred will last forever. To this we must add the arguments over the Jewish state’s sanctity and the end of the Zionist project. In short, one state means the end of the world.

And now to the facts. One state already exists here, and has done so for 48 years. The Green Line faded long ago; the settlements are in Israel, and Israel is also the settlers’ land. The fate of the two million Palestinians who live in the West Bank is decided by the government in Jerusalem and the defense establishment in Tel Aviv, not by Ramallah. Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai, the coordinator of government activities in the territories, is their ruler far more than Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is. They are clearly part of the binational state and have been its subjects, forcibly, for some three generations. This state has three regimes: democracy for the Jews; discrimination for the Israeli Arabs; and apartheid for the Palestinians. But everyone lives in one inseparable state.

The binational state that was born in 1967 is not democratic. In fact, it’s one of the worst states in the world, because of the military dictatorship it upholds in part of its territory – one of the most brutal, totalitarian regimes in existence today. It is also one of the most racist states, since it determines its residents’ rights based solely on their nationality. This is the one state that is washed in blood right now, and will continue to be washed in blood as long as it remains in its malicious, nondemocratic format.Read more

Israel’s Defamation of Judaism: The Rape of the Palestinian People

by Norman Pollack

Israel has come a long way since 1967 in the construction of an apartheid state and society with respect to the Palestinians, in truth, the proto-Nazification of policy and conduct in which the gas chamber has been replaced by the more protracted denial of life to the victims of an ethnocentric/racial ideology achieved through the degradation of a whole people: a faucet of inhumanity left running, where genocide is administered in drips rather than in a torrent. But even the latter holds, as now, as the misery and hopelessness sinks into the consciousness of the oppressed, almost as a conscious strategy of still more acute humiliation in the hope that signs of resistance will give pretext and excuse for a show of force and further clamping down.Read more

Borderlands: the Settler’s Prussia

October 16, 2015
by Uri Avnery

Israeli democracy is sliding downwards. Sliding slowly, comfortably, but unmistakably.

Sliding where? Everybody knows that: towards an ultra-nationalist, racist, religious society.

Who is leading the ride?

Why, the government, of course. This group of noisy nobodies which came to power at the last elections, led by Binyamin Netanyahu.

Not really. Take all these big-mouthed little demagogues, the ministers of this or that (I can’t quite remember who is supposed to be minister for what) and shut them up somewhere, and nothing will change. In 10 years from now, nobody will remember the name of any of them.

If the government does not lead, who does? Perhaps the right-wing mob? Those people we see on TV, with faces contorted by hatred, shouting “Death to the Arabs!” at soccer matches until they are hoarse, or demonstrating after each violent incident in the mixed Jewish-Arab towns “All Arabs are Terrorists! Kill them all!”

This mob can hold the same demonstrations tomorrow against somebody else: gays, judges, feminists, whoever. It is not consistent. It cannot build a new system.

No, there is only one group in the country that is strong enough, cohesive enough, determined enough to take over the state: the settlers.Läs mer

Uri Avnery: Nasser and I

Uri Avnery
October 3, 2015

FORTY-FIVE YEARS ago Gamal Abd-al-Nasser died at the early age of 52. It is not an event of the past. It continues to have a huge influence on the present, and probably will on the future.

My meetings with him go back to 1948. I used to joke that “we were very close to each other, but we were never properly introduced!”

It happened like this: in July we were desperately trying to stop the advance of the Egyptian army towards Tel Aviv. The cornerstone of our front was a village called Negba. One evening we were told that an Egyptian unit had cut the only road to this kibbutz and dug in across it.

The company to which I belonged was a mobile commando unit riding on jeeps, each with two machine guns. We were ordered to storm the position and retake it at any costs. It was a crazy idea – you don’t use jeeps to attack dug-in soldiers. But the commanders were desperate, too.

So we advanced in the darkness along the narrow road until we reached the Egyptian position and were met with murderous fire. We retreated, but then the battalion commander joined us and led another attack. This time we literally overran the Egyptians, feeling human bodies under our wheels. The Egyptians fled. Their commander was wounded. As I later found out, he was a major named Gamal Abd-al-Nasser.

After that, the fortunes of war turned. We got the upper hand and surrounded an entire Egyptian brigade. I was a part of the besieging force when I was severely wounded. On the opposite side was Major Abd-al-Nasser.

FOUR YEARS later, Gingi called me in great excitement. “I must meet you immediately,” he told me.

Gingi is the Hebrew slang version of ginger, as the British call a red-haired person. This particular gingi was a small, very dark Yemenite. He was nicknamed Gingi because he had very black hair – that was our kind of humor then.

Gingi (his actual name was Yerucham Cohen) had served during the war as the adjutant of the Southern front commander, Yigal Alon. During the fighting, a short ceasefire had been arranged to allow both sides to retrieve the dead and wounded left lying between the lines. Gingi, who spoke excellent Arabic, was sent to negotiate with the emissary of the encircled force – Major Abd-al-Nasser.

As so happens, during their several meetings, a friendship sprang up between the two men. Once, when the Egyptian was very depressed, Gingi tried to comfort him and said: “Cheer up, ya Gamal, you will get out of here alive and have children!”

The prophecy was fulfilled. The war ended, the encircled brigade returned to a hero’s welcome in Cairo. Yerucham was appointed to the Israeli-Egyptian armistice commission. One day his Egyptian counterpart told him: “I was asked by Lieutenant-Colonel Abd-al-Nasser to tell you that a son has been born to him.”

Yerucham bought a baby suit and at the next meeting, gave it to his counterpart. Nasser sent back his thanks and an assortment of cakes from the famous Groppi Café in Cairo.

IN THE summer of 1952, the Egyptian army rebelled and, in a bloodless coup, sent the playboy king Farouk packing. The coup was led by a group of “Free Officers”, headed by a 51-year old general, Muhammad Naguib.

I published in my magazine a message of congratulation to the officers.

When I met Gingi, he told me: “Forget about Naguib. He is just a figurehead. The real leader is a fellow called Nasser!” So my magazine had a world scoop – long before anyone else in the world, we disclosed that the real leader was an officer called Abd-al-Nasser.

(A word about Arab names. Gamal is a camel, a symbol of beauty for Arabs. Abd-al-Nasser – pronounced Abd-an-Nasser – means “Servant of [Allah] the victorious”. Calling the man just Nasser, as we all did, conferred on him one of the 99 names of Allah.)

When Nasser officially became the leader, Yerucham told me in deepest secrecy that he had just received an astounding invitation: Nasser had invited him to come, privately, to see him in Cairo.

“Go!” I implored him. “This may be a historic opening!”

But Yerucham was an obedient citizen. He asked the Foreign Office for permission. The minister, Moshe Sharett, the renowned peace-lover, forbade him to accept the invitation. “If Nasser wants to talk with Israel, he must apply to the Foreign Office,” Yerucham was told. That was, of course, the end of the matter.

NASSER WAS an Arab of a new type: Tall, handsome, charismatic, a spellbinding orator. David Ben-Gurion, who was already getting old, was afraid of him, and perhaps envied him. So he plotted with the French to overthrow him.

After a short voluntary exile in a Kibbutz, Ben-Gurion returned in 1955 to his post as Minister of Defense. The first thing he did was to attack the Egyptian army in Gaza. By design or mistake, many Egyptian soldiers were killed. Nasser, angry and humiliated, turned to the Soviets and received large shipments of arms.

Since 1954, France was facing a war of liberation in Algeria. Since they could not imagine that the Algerians would rise up against France of their own free will, they accused Nasser of inciting them. The British joined the club because Nasser had just nationalized the British-French company that ran the Suez Canal.

The result was the 1956 Suez adventure: Israel attacked the Egyptian army in the Sinai desert, while the French and the British landed in their rear. The Egyptian army, practically surrounded, was ordered to return home as hastily as possible. Some soldiers left their boots behind. Israel was intoxicated by this resounding victory.

But the Americans were angry, and so were the Soviets. US President Eisenhower and the Soviet President Bulganin issued ultimatums, and the three colluding powers had to withdraw completely. “Ike” was the last American president who dared to face down Israel and the US Jews.

Overnight, Nasser became the hero of the entire Arab world. His vision of a pan-Arab nation moved into the realm of possibility. The Palestinians, deprived of their own homeland which was divided between Israel, Jordan and Egypt, saw their future in such a broad nation and admired Nasser.

In Israel, Nasser became the ultimate enemy, the devil incarnate. He was referred to officially and in all the media as “the Egyptian tyrant”, and frequently “the Second Hitler”. When I proposed making peace with him, people considered me insane.

CARRIED AWAY by his immense popularity throughout the Arab world and beyond, Nasser did a foolish thing. When the Israeli Chief of Staff, Yitzhak Rabin, threatened the Syrians with invasion, Nasser saw an easy way to demonstrate his leadership. He warned Israel and sent his army into the demilitarized Sinai desert.

Everybody in Israel was frightened. Everybody except I (and the army). A few months before, I was informed in secret that a leading Israeli general had confided to friends: “I pray every night that Nasser will send his army into Sinai. There we will destroy it!”

And so it happened. Too late Nasser realized that he had walked into a trap (as my magazine announced in its headline.) To stave off disaster, he issued blood-curdling threats “to throw Israel into the sea” and sent a high-ranking emissary to Washington to plead for pressure to stop Israel.

Too late. After a lot of hesitation, and after getting explicit permission from US president Lyndon B Johnsen, the Israeli army attacked and smashed the Egyptian, the Jordanian and the Syrian forces within six days.

There were two historic results: (a) Israel became a colonial power and (b) the backbone of pan-Arab nationalism was broken.

NASSER REMAINED in power for another three years, a shadow of his former self. He obviously did some thinking.

One day my French friend, the renowned journalist Eric Rouleau, asked me to come urgently to Paris. Rouleau, an Egyptian-born Jew working for the prestigious French newspaper Le Monde, was at home with the Egyptian elite. He told me that Nasser had just given him a long interview. As agreed, he submitted the text to Nasser for confirmation prior to publication. After some consideration, Nasser struck out a crucial section: an offer to Israel to make peace. It was essentially the offer that formed the basis for the Sadat-Begin peace agreement nine years later.

But Rouleau had the full interview on tape. He offered to give me the text, so that I could transmit it to the Israeli government on condition of total secrecy.

I rushed home and called a leading member of the Israeli government, Finance Minister Pinchas Sapir, who was considered the most dovish member of the cabinet. He received me at once, listened to what I had to say and showed no interest at all. A few days later, during the Black September crisis in Jordan, Nasser suddenly died.

WITH HIM died the vision of pan-Arab nationalism, the rebirth of the Arab nation under the flag of a European idea based on rational, secular thought.

A spiritual and political vacuum was created in the Arab world. But nature, as we all know, does not tolerate empty spaces.

With Nasser dead, and after the violent end of his successors and imitators, Sadat, Mubarrak, Gaddafi and Saddam, the vacuum invited a new force: Salafi Islamism.

I have warned many times in the past that if we destroy Nasser and Arab nationalism, religious forces would come to the fore. Instead of a fight between rational enemies which can end in a rational peace, it will be the beginning of a religious war, which will by definition be irrational and allow for no compromise.

That’s where we are now. Instead of Nasser, we have Daesh. Instead of the Arab world led by a charismatic leader, who gave the Arab masses everywhere a sense of dignity and renewal, we are now facing an enemy which glorifies public beheading and wants to bring back the seventh century.

I blame Israeli and American political blindness and sheer stupidity for this dangerous development. I hope we still have enough time for it to be reversed.

Nadia Hijab: EU alarmed by Israel, frustrated by Palestine

By Nadia Hijab
June 22, 2015

Palestine is on hold. No diplomatic moves, such as the proposed French Security Council resolution, are expected to go ahead until after the United States seals an agreement with Iran. Yet there are still long-term trends at work. Attention has recently focused on the actual and potential impact of the Palestinian-led global movement for boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) and Israel’s increasingly strident response, particularly in the US. But the measures the European Union (EU) is taking regarding Israel also hold significant potential. The EU moves slowly, even excruciatingly so, but more than one EU official said in recent meetings with Al-Shabaka that the EU is on “a collision course with Israel that can’t be stopped,” even as they express growing frustration with the Palestinian leadership.

As regards Israel, the EU is at present developing guidelines to correctly label settlement products and is seeking to more consistently implement existing EU legislation with regard to Israeli activities beyond the Green line. EU officials recoil at the suggestion that what they are doing involves a boycott of Israel; rather, these are actions that must be taken to uphold European law. They insist that the more Palestinians and their allies confuse the EU’s rule of law approach with BDS the more they weaken it. What they term a “legalistic” approach is more realistic, they claim, in part because it cannot be opposed by any EU member state.

Yet these steps appear modest to Palestinians who have been under occupation and siege and in exile for decades, and some EU member states and many non-governmental organizations have been pushing the EU to take more forceful political measures in line with international law. And in fact not all measures by the EU and its members states are “legalistic”. For example, the 2009 EU decision to freeze its upgrade of relations with Israel was a political one. In addition, the advisories against doing business with settlements issued by the majority of EU members states in the past two years draw primarily on international rather than EU’s domestic law.

This shows that the Europeans can do more and indeed they know that soon they may need to take stronger action given that the present ultra-right Israeli government has made clear its rejection of the two-state solution. Moves such as Israeli building in the E1 area between the illegal settlement of Ma’ale Adumim and Jerusalem would be a game-changer, forcing them to take stronger action or have to admit that a two-state solution is no longer possible.

Palestine’s accession to the International Criminal Court is also posing new challenges to the EU. Despite the fact that their policy is to promote universal membership of the Court, member states were ambivalent about Palestine joining the ICC. They could not publicly oppose it given their policy but they worry that it might end up being used as a political tool in negotiations.

They also note that ICC membership could bring unanticipated consequences that could challenge not just Palestine but also the EU. For example, although ICC prosecution of Israeli or Palestinians individuals is not yet “on the horizon”, as Al-Shabaka Policy Member Valentina Azarova points out in an opinion piece on the domestic effects of transnational criminality, if the ICC were to raise concerns that Israeli military or political officials or private entities were involved in international crimes, then EU member states might find it necessary to restrict those officials’ transfers of funds and travel.

EU officials argue that such bans were “easy” in the case of Russia because the EU does not have the same kind of strong and structured agreements they have built up with Israel over the years. Nevertheless, ICC action – or an Israeli “game-changer” – could give a push to sanctions against Israeli individuals and entities, and perhaps even the state itself. Meanwhile, some satisfaction is expressed at Netanyahu’s election because it helps to “clarify things.” Such clarity has already pushed the Czech Republic, one of Israel’s traditional stalwart defenders at the EU, to say their support cannot be taken for granted forever.

Beyond the occupied territories, the Europeans may also be forced to take action in response to Israel’s increasingly flagrant violation of the rights of its Palestinian citizens. For Israel, this is business as usual. In mid-June, for example, the Knesset extended the “temporary” family reunification prevention bill for a 12th year, preventing Palestinians living in Israel “reunifying” with Palestinian spouses from the West Bank, Gaza, and four other countries. This is just one of the more than 50 discriminatory laws already meticulously documented by Adalah: The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, and members of the present Israeli government are keen to add others.

EU officials admit this is a growing worry because such blatant discrimination chips away at their belief in their “shared values” with Israel as well as their own self-image as a body of law. In addition to tracking developments within Israel themselves, they hear directly from the Palestinian citizens of Israel. The director of Mossawa (equality) was recently on a tour to key capitals and sent a follow up letter to foreign ministers and ambassadors. “This will be a growing element in our policy dialogue,” according to an EU official, although it remains to be seen what action they would or could take to address issues that are normally in the sovereign purview of the relevant state in the absence of an actual emergency.

As alarmed as they are by Israel’s international law and human rights violations, EU officials and Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) are also frustrated by the Palestinian leadership’s actions, or, more appropriately, inaction. What is the Palestinian strategy, they wonder? All they can see is a leadership that incoherently juggles between negotiations, civil disobedience, international organizations, and institution building without a clear game plan – a leadership that’s waiting for others to do it for them.

EU officials and parliamentarians also ask why the Palestinians don’t have more professional communications. They hear from Israel all the time – often to the extent of over-kill – but the Palestinians have yet to be better organized against their very effective adversary.

And what is happening with Palestinian reconciliation, they query? They no longer feel they have a coherent partner, which weakens their stand vis-à-vis Israel. Moreover, there is increasing impatience with the way the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority (PA) is dealing with Gaza and its pressing need for reconstruction, and a sense that they have “forgotten” 40% of their constituency. At the same time they recognize the threat the PA faces in terms of the US and Israel cutting or freezing funds if it builds up relations with Hamas, and that this needs to be addressed through guarantees from Europe and the Arab states. There is also increasing aid fatigue although no change is as yet on the cards in this respect. Meanwhile, even as EU officials expressed these frustrations, Hamas and Israel were reportedly drawing closer to a long-term truce agreement, while the PA was reportedly planning to unilaterally dissolve the unity government established in April 2014.

There is much more that Palestine could do to push for stronger EU measures against Israel’s illegal colonization enterprise. For instance, Palestine could push further on the EU’s inconsistency regarding Russia’s actions in Crimea and Israel’s actions in the occupied territories. At the very least, Israelis living in the territories should not be able to travel to or hold moneys in Europe. There are some harbingers in this regard, including, for example, revisions to bilateral social security agreements.

There is also scope for further collaboration with MEPs active on this issue. In a mid-June response to a European MEP’s written question about double standards in the actions the EU has taken vis-à-vis Crimea versus the occupied territories, the European External Action Service gave recent examples of additional measures it had taken regarding products from Israeli settlements, including the withdrawal of import authorizations for organic products from Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

Palestine should take steps at both the level of the EU and that of member states to push for stronger measures, given that each set of actors has a tendency to hide behind the other as an excuse for slow or no action. If, for example, the EU is slow to ban entry of violent Israeli settlers these cases can be raised in member states, which are in a position to take their own decisions and to maintain lists of persona non grata. After all, Israel has lists of European country citizens to whom it does not allow entry.

Meanwhile, Palestine stays on hold, with the French draft Security Council resolution appearing to be the only move on the horizon. Although the EU does not have a position as regards the French resolution, there is said to be a European consensus that a new framework is needed for Palestinian-Israeli negotiations, one that specifically speaks of a sovereign Palestinian state on the 1967 borders. However, the US Administration has reportedly told EU officials that the US would veto even a “weak” resolution.

A US veto of a weak Security Council resolution would come as a relief to Palestinian rights advocates alarmed at the potential for further erosion of the rights of Palestinian refugees by making these contingent on Israeli agreement, as well as those of the Palestinian citizens of Israel by defining Israel as a "Jewish state”. In the meantime, Palestinian civil society and the solidarity movement will have to continue to lead the quest for rights within the means available to them – as well as pushing for the establishment of an effective Palestinian leadership.

The article is republished here with permission from the author.

Nadia Hijab is executive director of Al-Shabaka: The Palestinian Policy Network, which she co-founded in 2009. She is a frequent public speaker and media commentator and a senior fellow at the Institute for Palestine Studies. Her first book Womanpower: The Arab Debate on Women at Work was published by Cambridge University Press, and she co-authored Citizens Apart: A Portrait of the Palestinian Citizens of Israel (I.B. Tauris).

Uri Avnery: Netanyahu as the magicians apprentice

Uri Avnery
August 22, 2015

* The Magician’s Apprentice*

ONE HAS to choose: Binyamin Netanyahu is either incredibly shrewd or incredibly foolish.

Take his Iran policy. Actually, there is little to choose from. Netanyahu has no other policy to speak off.

According to him, Iran constitutes a mortal danger to Israel. If it obtains a nuclear weapon, God forbid, it will use it to annihilate Israel. It must be stopped by any means, preferably by American armed intervention.

This may be quite wrong (as I believe). But it makes sense.

So what did Netanyahu do?

FOR YEARS, he alarmed the world. Every day the cry went out: Save Israel! Prevent the destruction of the Jewish State! Prevent a Second Holocaust! Prevent Iran from producing The Bomb!

The world did not take any notice. It was busy with many other matters. There are crises galore everywhere, all the time. Economic depressions. Plagues. The warming of the earth.

But Netanyahu did not let off. He used every rostrum, from the Knesset to the United States Congress, to shout his message.

At long last, a weary world paid heed. OK, the Jews warn of the Iranian bomb? So let’s do something to prevent it. Not just something. No. Let’s get all the great powers of the world together to compel Iran to end this nonsense.

And they did. The USA, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany – practically the whole world – commanded Iran to start negotiations.

There was only one single issue: preventing Iran from getting The Bomb. Nothing else mattered. Compared to this giant issue, everything else was insignificant.

And then something unexpected happened. Iran’s political system replaced their loudmouth president with a very different one: a soft-spoken, eminently reasonable politician. Negotiations started, and Iran sent an even more soft-spoken, eminently reasonable diplomat to conduct them. The foreign ministers of the world were enchanted.

After playing a little hard-to-get, Iran accepted an agreement. The World got, more or less, everything it wanted. No bomb for a long time. Very intrusive inspection procedures. (They were not really needed. Up-to-date espionage techniques can quickly detect any movements toward a bomb.)

EVERYBODY WAS happy. Everybody, that is, except Netanyahu. He was furious.

What kind of an agreement is this?

The Iranians will get the bomb. If not now, then in 15 years. Or in 25. Or in 50.

The Iranians will cheat! Persians always cheat! They can’t help it! It’s in their blood! (Not like us, who built dozens of nuclear weapons in secret. After the Holocaust, we are allowed to do things like that.)

And anyway, even if they don’t get the bomb, the Iranians will get legitimization. And money. They will support anti-Israeli terrorists, like Hezbollah and Hamas. (Not very convincing, after Netanyahu had demanded concentration on The Bomb, and not on anything else.)

The huge Israeli propaganda machine was set in motion. The terrible agreement is being denounced from every rooftop. Of course we knew all the time that Barack Obama is an anti-Semite, as is John Kerry. Now we have the proof.

Actually, the play is over. An agreement signed by the entire world cannot be made to disappear with a puff from Bibi. It will be there, even if the US Congress does vote against it and overrides the presidential veto. The world is tired of Netanyahu’s whims. The man got what he wanted, so what now?!

I believe that the Iranians did not want the bomb very much anyhow. According to all available evidence, the agreement aroused joy in the streets of Tehran. The prevalent mood seems to be: “Thank Allah, at long last we’ve got rid of this whole nonsense!”

BUT THE bomb that isn’t has already caused immense damage to Israel. Much worse than if it existed in some dark cavern.

All Israelis agree that the one supreme asset Israel has is its special, unparalleled relationship with the US. It is unique.

Unique and priceless. In military terms, Israel gets the most up-to-date weapon systems, practically for nothing. No less important, Israel can not conduct any war for more than a few days without an airlift of munitions and spare parts from the US.

But that is only a small element of our national security. Even more important is the knowledge that you cannot threaten Israel without confronting the entire might of the United States. This is a formidable umbrella, the envy of the world.

More than that, every country in the world knows that if you want something from Washington DC, and especially from the US Congress, you better pass through Jerusalem and pay a price. How much is that worth?

And then there is the veto. Not the little veto Obama will use to neutralize a Congress vote against the agreement, but the Big Veto, the one that blocks every single UN Security Council resolution to censure Israel, even for actions that cry to high heaven. A 49 year old occupation. Hundreds of thousands of settlers who contravene international law. Almost daily killings.

Condemn Israel? Forget it. Sanctions against Israel? Don’t make us laugh. As long as the almighty US protects Israel, It can do whatever it wants.

All this is now put in question. Perhaps the damage has already been done, like hidden cracks in the foundations of a building. The scale of the damage may become apparent only in coming years.

Another hidden crack is the rift between Israel and a large part of the Jews around the world, especially in the US. Israel claims to be the “Nation-State of the Jewish People”. All Jews throughout the world owe it unquestioning allegiance. A mighty apparatus of “Jewish organizations” is policing the vassals. Woe to the Jew who dares to object.

Not anymore. A rift has opened within world Jewry, that probably cannot be repaired. Commanded to choose between their president and Israel, many American Jews prefer their president, or just opt out.

Who is the anti-Semite who has managed to bring all this evil about? No other than the Prime Minister of Israel himself.

DOES THIS trouble the world? Not really.

We Israelis believe that we are the center of the world. But it ain’t necessarily so.

While Israel is obsessed with the Iranian bomb, great changes are taking place in our region. The almost forgotten 13-century old rift between Sunni and Shiite Muslims has suddenly reappeared all over. This rift, almost as old as Islam itself, was plastered over by the artificial order established by the notorious colonialist Sykes-Picot agreement during World War I.

What is happening now is a political earthquake. The landscape is changing dramatically. Mountains disappear, new ones are formed. The Shiite axis, from Iran, through Iraq and Syria, to Hezbollah in Lebanon is overtaking the Sunni bloc of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States. Libya and Yemen are tossed around, Egypt harkens back to its glorious Pharaonic past, and in the middle of it all, a new power is raising its head – the Islamic Caliphate of Daesh, which attracts Muslim youth from all over the world.

In the middle of this raging storm, Netanyahu is a man of the past, a person whose perceptions were formed decades ago, in another world. Instead of addressing this new world, with its great dangers and great opportunities, he fumbles around with the non-existent Bomb.

The US and the other Western powers are cautiously changing their stance. They are afraid of Daesh, as they should be. They perceive that their interests are getting closer to those of Iran and further away from those of Saudi Arabia. The new nuclear agreement fits well into this pattern. Netanyahu’s permanent trouble-making does not.

IS THIS being discussed in Israel? Of course not. It’s all about the bomb, the bomb, the bomb. The little quarrels between the Muslims are more or less ignored.

Sunnis, Shiites – they are all the same. Anti-Semites. Holocaust-deniers. Israel-haters.

Yet there are great opportunities. Saudi Arabia and its Gulf allies, as well as Egypt, are already hinting that they could cooperate with Israel. In deepest secrecy, of course. Nobody can shake hands openly with Israel as long as the Arab masses see every day on their TV sets the misdeeds of the settlers, the killings of the occupation army, the humiliation of the Palestinian brothers. Like a heavy weight tied to the leg of a swimmer, the occupation prevents us from reacting to the changes in the region.

Lately, there have been ever-stronger rumors about secret negotiations between Netanyahu and Hamas for an eight or ten year-long armistice, that would amount to an unofficial peace agreement. It would create a tiny Palestinian mini-state, while isolating even more Mahmoud Abbas and the main body of the Palestinian people, who are committed to the Arab peace plan.

All this for what? For enlarging the settlements and perhaps annexing another part of the West Bank (“Area C”).

So is the man shrewd or just foolish? A magician or just a magician’s apprentice?

Jewish Terrorists

By Uri Avnery

August 17, 2015 “Information Clearing House” – SOME OF my best friends demand that I write an article condemning unconditionally the “administrative detention” of Jewish terrorists.

Three suspected terrorists have already been arrested under this procedure.

They are members of a group following the teachings of Rabbi Meir Kahane (the leader is actually his grandson). Kahane was an American Rabbi who came to this country and founded a group branded by the Supreme Court as racist and anti-democratic. It was outlawed. He was later assassinated by an Arab in the US. An underground group of his followers is now active in Israel.

This is one of the groups which belong to a clandestine movement, generally called “Price Tag” or “Hilltop Youth”, that has conducted various acts of terrorism, setting fire to Christian churches and Muslim mosques, attacking Arab farmers and destroying their olive trees. None of the perpetrators has ever been apprehended, either by the army, which acts as a police force in the occupied territories, nor by the police in Israel proper. Many army officers are themselves residents of settlements in the occupied West Bank, which are illegal under international law.Read more

Uri Avnery: Netanyahu´s divide and rule-policy

Uri Avnery
August 8, 2015

BINYAMIN NETANYAHU is not known as a classical scholar, but even so he has adopted the Roman maxim Divide et Impera, divide and rule.

The main (and perhaps only) goal of his policy is to extend the rule of Israel, as the “Nation-State of the Jewish People”, over all of Eretz Israel, the historical land of Palestine. This means ruling all of the West Bank and covering it with Jewish settlements, while denying any civil rights to its 2.5 million plus Arab inhabitants.

East Jerusalem, with its 300,000 Arab inhabitants, has already been formally annexed to Israel, without granting them Israeli citizenship or the right to take part in Knesset elections.

That leaves the Gaza Strip, a tiny enclave with 1.8 million plus Arab inhabitants, most of them descendents of refugees from Israel. The last thing in the world Netanyahu wants is to include these, too, in the Israeli imperium.

There is a historical precedent. After the 1956 Sinai War, when President Eisenhower demanded that Israel immediately return all the Egyptian territory it had conquered, many voices in Israel called for the annexation of the Gaza Strip to Israel. David Ben-Gurion adamantly refused. He did not want hundreds of thousands more Arabs in Israel. So he gave the strip too back to Egypt.

The annexation of Gaza, while keeping the West Bank, would create an Arab majority in the Jewish State. True, a small majority, but a rapidly growing one.

THE INHABITANTS of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip belong to the same Palestinian people. They are closely connected by national identity and family ties. But they are now separate entities, geographically divided by Israeli territory, which at its narrowest point is about 30 miles broad.

Both territories were occupied by Israel in the 1967 Six-day War. But for many years, Palestinians could move freely from one to the other. Palestinians from Gaza could study in the university of Bir Zeit in the West Bank, a woman from Ramallah in the West Bank could marry a man from Beth Hanun in the Gaza strip.

Ironically, this freedom of movement came to an end with the 1994 Oslo “peace” agreement, in which Israel explicitly recognized the West Bank and the Gaza Strip as one single territory, and undertook to open four “free passages” between them. Not a single one was ever opened.

The West Bank is now nominally administered by the Palestinian Authority, also created by the Oslo agreement, which is recognized by the UN and the majority of the world’s nations as the State of Palestine under Israeli military occupation. Its leader, Mahmoud Abbas, a close colleague of the late Yasser Arafat, is committed to the Arab Peace plan, initiated by Saudi Arabia, which recognizes the State of Israel in its pre-1967 borders. No one doubts that he desires peace, based on the Two-State Solution.

IN 1996, GENERAL elections in both territories were won by Hamas (Arab initials of “Movement of Islamic Resistance”). Under Israeli pressure, the results were annulled. Whereupon Hamas took control of the Gaza Strip. That’s where we are now: two separate Palestinian entities, whose rulers hate each other.

Superficial logic would dictate that the Israeli government support Mahmoud Abbas, who is committed to peace, and help him against Hamas, which at least officially is committed to the destruction of Israel. Well, it ain’t necessarily so.

True, Israel has fought several wars against the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, but it has made no effort to occupy it again, after withdrawing from it in 2005. Netanyahu, like Ben-Gurion before him, does not want to have all those Arabs. He contents himself with a blockade that turns it into “the world’s largest open-air prison”.

Yet, a year after the last Israel-Gaza war, the region is rife with rumors about indirect negotiations going on in secret between Israel and Gaza about a long-range armistice (’hudna" in Arabic), even bordering on unofficial peace.

How come? Peace with the radical enemy regime in Gaza, while opposing the peace-oriented Palestinian Authority in the West Bank?

Sounds crazy, but actually isn’t. For Netanyahu, Mahmoud Abbas is the greater enemy. He attracts international sympathy, the UN and most of the world’s governments recognize his State of Palestine, he may well be on the way to establish a real independent Palestinian state, including Gaza.

No such danger emanates from the Hamas mini-state in Gaza. It is detested throughout the world, even by most of the Arab states, as a “terrorist” mini-state.

SIMPLE PRAGMATIC logic would push Israel towards Hamas. The tiny enclave does not present a real danger to the mighty Israeli military machine, at most a small irritation that can be dealt with by a small military operation every few years, as happened during the last few years.

It would be logical for Netanyahu to make unofficial peace with the regime in Gaza and continue the fight against the regime in Ramallah. Why maintain the naval blockade on the Gaza strip? Why not do the opposite? Let the Gazans build a deep-sea harbor, and rebuild their beautiful international airport (which was destroyed by Israel)? It would be easy to put in place an inspection regime to prevent the smuggling in of arms.

Once there was talk of Gaza turning into an Arab Singapore. That is a wild exaggeration, but the Gaza Strip may well become a rich oasis of trade, a harbor of entry for the West Bank, Jordan and beyond.

This would dwarf the PLO regime in the West Bank, deprive it of its international standing and avert the danger of peace. The annexation of the West Bank – now called “Judea and Samaria” even by Israeli leftists – could proceed step by step, first unofficially, then officially. Jewish settlements would cover the land more and more, and in the end nothing else would remain there except some small Palestinian enclaves. Palestinians would be encouraged to leave.

FORTUNATELY (for the Palestinians) such logical thinking is alien to Netanyahu and his cohorts. Faced with two alternatives to choose from, he chooses neither.

While seeking an unofficial hudna with Hamas in Gaza, he keeps up the total blockade of the Gaza Strip. At the same time, he tightens the oppression in the West Bank, where the occupation army now routinely kills some six Palestinians per week.

Behind this non-logic there lurks a dream: the dream that in the end all the Arabs would leave Palestine and just leave us alone.

Was this the hidden hope of Zionism from the beginning? Judging from its literature, the answer is no. In his futuristic novel, “Altneuland”, Theodor Herzl describes a Jewish commonwealth in which Arabs live happily as equal citizens. The young Ben-Gurion tried to prove that the Palestinian Arabs are really Jews who at some time had no choice but to adopt Islam. Vladimir Jabotinsky, the most extremist Zionist and forefather of today’s Likud, wrote a poem in which he foresaw a Jewish state where “The son of Arabia, the son of Nazareth and my son / will flourish together in abundance and happiness”.

Yet many people believe that these were empty words, attuned to the realities of their time, but that underneath it all was the basic will to turn all of Palestine into an exclusively Jewish state. This desire, they believe, has unconsciously directed all Zionist action from then to now.

However, this situation did not result from any diabolical Israeli plan. Israelis don’t plan things, they just push them along.

By splitting into two mutually hating entities, the Palestinian people actually collaborate with this Zionist dream. Instead of uniting against a vastly superior occupier, they undermine each other. In both mini-capitals, Ramallah and Gaza, there rules now a local ruling class, which has a vested interest in sabotaging national unity.

Instead of uniting against Israel, they hate and fight each other. Cutting the small Palestinian nation into two even smaller, mutually hostile entities, both helpless against Israel, is an act of political suicide.

ON THE face of it, the right-wing Israeli dream has won. The Palestinian people, torn apart and rent by mutual hatreds, are far removed from an effectual struggle for freedom and independence. But this is a temporary situation.

In the end, this situation will explode. The Palestine population, growing day by day (or night by night) will come together again and restart the struggle for liberation. Like every other people on earth, they will fight for their freedom.

Therefore, the “divide et impera” principle can turn into a catastrophe. The real long-term interest of Israel is to make peace with the entire Palestinian people, living peacefully in a state of their own, in close cooperation with Israel.

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