Viser arkivet for stikkord barak

Uri Avnery: A boy called Bibi

Uri Avnery
May 2, 2015

THERE ARE two different opinions about Binyamin Netanyahu. It is difficult to believe that they concern the same person.

One is that Netanyahu is a shallow politician, devoid of ideas and convictions, who is led solely by his obsession to remain in power. This Netanyahu has a good voice and a talent for making shallow speeches on television, speeches devoid of any intellectual content – and that’s all.

This Netanyahu is highly “pressurable” (a Hebrew word invented almost solely for him), a man who will change his views according to political expediency, disclaiming in the evening what he has said in the morning. None of his words should be trusted. He will lie and cheat anytime to assure his survival.

The other Netanyahu is almost the exact opposite. A principled patriot, a serious thinker, a statesman who sees danger beyond the horizon. This Netanyahu is a gifted orator, able to move the US Congress and the UN plenum, admired by the great mass of Israelis.

So which of these descriptions is true?


IF IT is true that the character of a person is shaped by his early childhood, we must examine the background of Netanyahu in order to understand him.

He grew up in the shadow of a strong father. Benzion Millikowsky, who changed his foreign name to the Hebrew Netanyahu, was a very dominant and very unhappy person. Born in Warsaw, then a provincial town in the Russian Empire, he immigrated to Palestine as a young man, studied history at the new Hebrew University in Jerusalem and expected to become a professor there. He was not accepted.

Benzion was the son of an early adherent of Vladimir (Ze’ev) Jabotinsky, the extreme rightist Zionist leader. He inherited from his father a very extremist outlook, and passed it on to his three sons. Binyamin was the second one. His elder brother, still a child himself, called him Bibi, and the childish appellation stuck.

Benzion’s rejection by the prestigious young Hebrew University turned him into a bitter man, a bitterness that lasted until his death in 2012, at age 102. He was sure that this rejection had nothing to do with his academic qualification, and everything with his ultra-nationalist opinions.

His extreme Zionism did not stop him leaving Palestine and seeking his academic luck in the United States, where a second-rate university gave him a professorship. His life’s work as a historian concerned the fate of the Jews in medieval Christian Spain – the expulsion and inquisition. It engendered in him a very dark world view: the conviction that Jews will always be persecuted, that all Goyim (non-Jews) hate the Jews, that a straight line connects the auto-da-fé of the Spanish inquisition with the Nazi Holocaust.

During the years, the Netanyahu family went back and forth between the US and Israel. Binyamin grew up in America, acquired perfect American English, essential for his future career, studied and became a salesman. His obvious talent for this profession attracted a Likud foreign minister, who sent him to the UN as Israeli spokesman.

BENZION NETANYAHU was not only a very bitter person, who accused the Zionist and Israeli academic establishment of failing to recognize his academic stature. He was also a very autocratic family man.

The three Netanyahu boys lived in constant awe of Father. They were not allowed to make any noise at home while the Great Man worked in his closed study. They were not allowed to bring other boys home. Their mother was completely devoted to her husband and served him in every way, sacrificing her own personality.

In every family, the second child of three is in a difficult position. He is not admired like the eldest, nor indulged like the youngest. For Binyamin this was especially hard, because of the personality of the eldest.

Yonatan Netanyahu (both names mean “God has given”) seems to have been a specially blessed boy. He was good-looking, gifted, much liked, even admired. In the army, he became the commander of the revered Sayeret Matkal (“General Staff Commando Unit”) – the elite of the army’s elite.

As such he was the ground commander of the daring 1976 Entebbe commando raid in Uganda, which liberated the captive passengers of a flight hijacked by Palestinian and German guerillas on the way to Israel. Yonatan was killed and became a national hero. He was also adored by his father, who never quite accepted the qualities of his second son.

Between his father, the embittered Great Thinker, and his elder brother, the Legendary Hero, Binyamin grew up as a quiet but very ambitious boy, part Israeli, part American. He worked for some time as a furniture salesman, until he was discovered by the far-right Likud foreign minister, Moshe Arens.

Between his obsessive need to be approved by his father and to be found equal to his glorious brother, Netanyahu’s own character was forged. His father never quite appreciated him, once saying that he would make a good foreign minister, but not a prime minister.

Being his father’s son, Netanyahu incited the people against Yitzhak Rabin after the Oslo Agreement and was photographed on the speaker’s balcony during the demonstration in which a symbolic coffin of Rabin was carried around. Soon after, when Rabin was murdered, he denied all responsibility.

Rabin’s successor, Shimon Peres, failed miserably, and Netanyahu became prime minister. It was a total catastrophe. On the evening after the next elections, when it be came clear that he had lost, multitudes streamed to Tel Aviv’s central square (now named after Rabin) in a spontaneous demonstration of joy like that at the liberation of Paris.

His successor, Labor’s Ehud Barak, had no more luck. A former army Chief of Staff, admired by many and especially by himself, he compelled President Bill Clinton to convene an Israeli-Palestinian peace conference at Camp David. Barak, who was quite ignorant of Palestinian attitudes, came to dictate his terms and was shocked when they were rejected. Coming home, he declared that the Palestinians want to throw us into the sea. Hearing this, the public threw him out and elected the tough far-right general, Ariel Sharon, the founder of Likud.

Netanyahu became Minister of Finance. As such he was quite successful. Applying the neo-liberal ultra-capitalist teaching he had absorbed in the US, he made the poor poorer and the rich richer. The poor seemed to liked it.

Sharon was the father of the settlements in the West Bank. To strengthen these, he decided to give up the Gaza Strip with its few settlements, which were a disproportional drag on the army. But his unilateral retreat from the Gaza Strip shocked the rightist camp. The elder Netanyahu called the move a “crime against humanity”.

Inpatient with opposition, Sharon split the Likud and founded his own Kadima (“Forwards”) party. Netanyahu again became the leader of Likud.

As usual, he was lucky. Sharon suffered a stroke and fell into a coma, from which he never recovered. His successor, Ehud Olmert, was accused of corruption and had to resign. The next in line, Tzipi Livni, was incompetent and unable to form a government, though all the ingredients were there.

Netanyahu, the man who was kicked out just a few years earlier by the cheering masses, came back as an imperator. Again the masses cheered. Shakespeare would have loved it.

SINCE THEN, Netanyahu has been elected again and again. The last time was a clear personal victory. He vanquished all his competitors on the Right.

So who is this Netanyahu? Contrary to popular opinion, he is a man of very strong beliefs – the beliefs of his far-right father. The entire world is out to kill us at all times, we need a powerful state to defend ourselves, all of the land between the Mediterranean and the Jordan has been given us by God (whether he exists or not). Everything else is lies, subterfuges, tactics.

When, in a famous speech at Bar-Ilan university near Tel Aviv, Netanyahu embraced the principle of “Two States for Two Peoples”, those who knew him could only smile. It was as if he had recommended the eating of pork on Yom Kippur.

He dangled this statement before the eyes of the naive Americans and let his Justice Minister, Tzipi Livni, lead endless negotiations with the Palestinians, whom he despises. Whenever it seemed that the negotiations were nearing some goal, he quickly put up another condition, such us the ridiculous demand that the Palestinians recognize Israel as the Nation State of the Jewish People. He would not dream, of course, of recognizing the Palestinian territories as the Nation State of the Palestinian People – a people he does not really believe exists at all.

On the eve of the last election, just now, Netanyahu announced that there would not be a Palestinian state as long as he was in power. When the Americans remonstrated, he repudiated himself. Why not? As his Likud predecessor, Yitzhak Shamir, famously said, “It is permitted to lie for the Fatherland.”

Netanyahu will lie, cheat, repudiate himself, raise false flags – all for the purpose of achieving his one and only real goal, the Rock of our Existence (as he loves to say), the heritage of his father – the Jewish State from the sea to the river.

THE TROUBLE is that in this area, the Arabs are already the majority, a small majority, but one that is bound to grow steadily.

A Jewish and democratic state in the entire country is impossible. The popular joke has it that this is too much even for God. So He decreed that we have to choose two of the three attributes: a Jewish and democratic state in part of the country, a Jewish state in all of the country that will not be democratic, or a democratic state in all of the country that will not be Jewish.

Netanyahu’s solution to this problem is to ignore it. Just go on, enlarge the settlements, and concentrate on the immediate problem: install his fourth government and plan for his fifth, four years from now.

And, of course, show his father, who is looking down on him from heaven, that after all little Bibi, his second son, is worthy of him.

Labour Party leader Ehud Barak breaks with Labour and creates new party

Defense minister and Labour Party chairman, Ehud Barak, breaks with his party, to establish a new political party. He will stay on in the coalition government of Benjamin Netanyahu, and the government still has a majority in the Knesset.

Disagreement of how to handle the stalled US-sponsored peace talks with the Palestinians in the government, is supposed to be the main reason for the fragmentation of the Labour Party.

You’ll find the Haaretz story here.

Uri Avnery: The new government of Israel

Uri Avnery

Biberman & Co

IS THIS the government of Biberman (Bibi Netanyahu and Avigdor Liberman) or perhaps of Bibarak (Bibi and Ehud Barak)?

Neither. It is the government of Bibiyahu.

Binyamin Netanyahu has proven that he is a consummate politician. He has realized the dream of every politician (and theatergoer): a good place in the middle. In his new government he can play off the fascists on the right against the socialists on the left, Liberman’s secularists against the orthodox of Shas. An ideal situation.

The coalition is large enough to be immune from blackmail by any of its component parties. If some Labor members break coalition discipline, Netanyahu will still command a majority. Or if the rightists make trouble. Or if the orthodox try to stick a knife in his back.

This government is committed to nothing. Its written “Basic Guidelines” – a document signed by all partners of a new Israeli government – are completely nebulous. (And anyhow, Basic Guidelines are worthless. All Israeli governments have broken their agreed Basic Guidelines without batting an eyelid. They always prove to be rubber checks.)

All this was acquired by Netanyahu on the cheap – a few billions of economic promises that he would not dream of fulfilling. The treasury is empty. As one of his predecessors in the Prime Minister’s office, Levy Eshkol, famously said: “I promised, but I did not promise to keep my promises.”

He also bestowed ministries on all and sundry. This little country will have 27 ministers and six deputy ministers. So what? If necessary, Netanyahu would have given a ministerial chair to each of the 74 members of the coalition.

THE PINNACLE of his achievement was the acquisition of the Labor party for his government.

In one stroke he turned a government of lepers, which would have been viewed by the whole world as a crazy bunch of ultra-nationalists, racists and fascists, into a sane and balanced government of the center. All this without changing its character in the least.

The most ardent supporter of this feat was Liberman, the new Foreign Minister of Israel. This extreme racist, this spiritual brother of the French Jean-Marie Le Pen and the Austrian Joerg Haider (I hope both, the living and the dead, will not feel insulted), was very anxious about what was awaiting him. In his imagination he saw himself extending his hand to Hillary Clinton and being left with his arm dangling in the air. Leaning forward to kiss Angela Merkel only to see her draw back in horror. Unpleasant.

The addition of the Labor Party solves everybody’s problem. If the social democrats are joining the government, all this talk of fascism must be nonsense. Obviously, Liberman has been misunderstood. He has been misrepresented. He is not a fascist at all, God forbid. He is not a racist. He is just a traditional right-wing demagogue who exploits the primitive emotions of the masses to garner votes. Which elected politician could object to that?

Indeed, the whole government has been given a kosher certificate by Ehud Barak. He continues the glorious Labor Party tradition of political prostitution. In 1977, Moshe Dayan entered the new government of Menachem Begin and gave it a kosher certificate, when the entire world considered Begin a dangerous nationalist adventurer. In 2001, Shimon Peres entered the new government of Ariel Sharon and gave him a kosher certificate, when the entire world saw in Sharon the man responsible for the Sabra and Shatila massacre.

WHY DID Barak do this? And why did the majority of the Labor Party support him?

Labor is a government party. It has never been anything else. As early as 1933 it took over the Zionist movement, and since than it ruled the Yishuv (the pre-1948 Jewish community in Palestine) and the state without interruption until Begin’s ascent to power in 1977. For 44 consecutive years it held unchallenged power over the economy, the army, the police, the security services, the education system, the health system and the Histadrut, the then all-powerful labor federation.

Power is encoded in the party’s DNA. It’s much more than a political matter – it’s its whole character, its mentality, its world view. The party is unable to be an opposition. It does not know what that is, and even less what to do with it.

I observed the Labor members in the Knesset, during the short periods they were stuck in opposition. They were downcast and mournful. Dozens of them were wandering forlornly around the corridors, like phantoms, lost souls. When they went up to the rostrum, they sounded like government spokesmen.

The Likud suffers from the opposite syndrome. Their predecessors were in opposition throughout the days of the Yishuv and during the first 29 years of the state. Opposition is in the blood of Likudniks. Even now, after many years (with interruptions) in government, they behave like an opposition. They are the eternal discriminated-against, miserable and bitter, people from the outside looking in, full of hate and envy.

Ehud Barak personifies the syndrome of his party. Everything is owed to him. Power is owed to him, the Ministry of Defense is owed to him. I would not have been surprised if he had insisted on a clause in the coalition agreement appointing him Minister of Defense for life (and his yeoman, Shalom Simchon, Minister of Agriculture for life). Governments come and governments go, but Ehud Barak must be the Minister of Defense – be the government rightist or leftist, fascist or communist, atheist or theocratic. It does not matter how he functions in his job – his appraisal can be nothing less than perfect.

SO WHAT will this government do? What can it do?

As far as the most important matter is concerned, there is complete unanimity. Liberman, Netanyahu, Barak, Ellie Yishai of Shas and Danny Hershkovitz of the “Jewish Home” party are in total agreement about the Palestinians. All of them agree on the need to prevent the establishment of a real Palestinian state. All of them agree not to talk with Hamas. All of them support the settlement enterprise. During Barak’s stint as Prime Minister, the settlements grew even faster than during Netanyahu’s tenure. Liberman is himself a settler, Hershkovitz’s party represents the settlers. All of them believe that there is no need for peace, that peace is bad for us. (After all, it was Barak, not Netanyahu or Liberman, who coined the phrase “We Have No Partner for Peace”.)

So what will be the real platform of this government?

In four words: Deception for the fatherland.

ON THIS government’s chosen path there lies a huge rock: the United States of America.

While Israel made a big leap to the right, the US has made a big leap to the left. One can hardly imagine a greater contrast than that between Binyamin Netanyahu and Barack Obama. Or between the two Bara©ks – Barack Obama and Ehud Barak

Netanyahu is conscious of this problem, perhaps more than any other Israeli leader. He grew up in the US, after his father, a history professor in Jerusalem, felt himself deprived of his rightful place in academia because of his extreme right-wing views and went to America. There Binyamin attended high-school and university. He speaks the fluent American English of a traveling salesman.

If there is one thing that unites practically all Israelis, from right to left, it is the conviction that the relationship between Israel and the US is critical for the security of the state. Netanyahu’s main concern is, therefore, to prevent a serious break between the two countries.

Barak was admitted to the government precisely in order to avoid such a clash. Netanyahu wants to visit the White House with Barak, not Liberman, at his side.

The clash seems inevitable. Obama wants to create a new order in the Middle East. He knows that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict poisons the atmosphere against America in the Arab, and indeed in the entire Muslim world. He wants a solution to the conflict – exactly what Netanyahu and his partners want to prevent at any price, except the price of a breach with the US.

How to do this?

The solution is written in the Bible (Proverbs 24:6): “For by ruses thou shalt make thy war.”

(In the King James version, the Hebrew word Takhbulot is translated as “wise counsel”. In Modern Hebrew it means ruses, tricks, ploys – and that is the way it is understood by all Hebrew-speakers today.)

FROM THE beginnings of Zionism, its leaders have known that their vision necessitates a large measure of make-belief. It is impossible to take over a country inhabited by another people without disguising the aim, diverting attention, hiding the acts on the ground behind a screen of flowery words.

All states lie, of course. 400 years ago, a British diplomat, Sir Henry Wotton, observed: “An ambassador is an honest man sent to lie abroad for the good of his country.” Because of the special circumstances of their enterprise, the Zionists have had to use deceit perhaps a bit more than usual.

Now the task is to present to the world, and especially the US and Europe, a false picture, pretending that our new government is yearning for peace, acting for peace, indeed turning every stone in search of peace – while doing the exact opposite. The world will be submerged by a deluge of declarations and promises, accompanied by lots of meaningless gestures, conferences and meetings.

People with good ears are already hearing Netanyahu, Liberman and Barak starting to play around with the “Arab Peace Initiative”. They will talk about it, interpret it, accept it ostensibly while attaching conditions that empty it of all content.

The great advantage of this initiative is that it does not come from the Palestinians, and therefore does not require negotiations with the Palestinians. Like the deceased “Jordanian Option” and others of its kind, it serves as a substitute for a dialogue with the Palestinians. The Arab League includes 22 governments, some of which cooperate on the sly with the Israeli leadership. They can be relied on not to agree among themselves on anything practical.

BUT DECEIVING, like dancing the tango, takes two: one who deceives and one who wants to be deceived.

Netanyahu believes that Obama will want to be deceived. Why would he want to quarrel with Israel, confront the mighty pro-Israel lobby and the US Congress, when he can settle for soothing words from Net\anyahu? Not to mention Europe, divided and ridden by Holocaust guilt, and the pathetic Tony Blair moving around like a restless ghost.

Is Obama ready to play, like most of his predecessors, the role of the deceived lover?

The Biberman/Bibarak/Bibiyahu government believes that the answer is a resounding yes. I hope that it will be a resounding No.

Published with the permission of Uri Avnery.

En splittet og desillusjonert nasjon

Fintellingen i Israel har ikke endret mandatfordelingen.

Det ble valg nå, fordi den avtroppende statsministeren, Ehud Olmert (Kadima) ønsket å trekke seg, med en ambisjon om å komme tilbake når korrupsjonssaken mot ham er avsluttet. Utenriksministeren i hans regjering, Tzipi Livni, ble ny partileder og forsøkte å danne en ny regjering. Da det ikke lykkes, var det ingen vei utenom et nytt valg.

Benjamin Netanyahu overtok som partileder i Likud, da den forrige statsministeren, Ariel Sharon brøt med partiet og dannet Kadima. Da han fikk hjerneslag, overtok Ehud Olmert som statsminister.

Likud og Benjamin Netanyahu var lenge tippet som sikker vinner. Men så iverksatte regjeringen Olmert krigen mot Gaza, for å få slutt på rakettangrepene fra Gazastripen mot israelsk territorium. Krigen ble fordømt fra hele verden, og vekket avsky også i amerikansk opinion. Men i Israel var 80-90 prosent av velgerne positive. Gazafelttoget førte til et kraftig oppsving på meningsmålingene for Kadima og Arbeiderpartiet ved Tzipi Livni og Ehud Barak, som frontet krigen i israelske medier. Kadimas fremgang fortsatte helt fram til valget.

Tzipi Livni gjennomførte en god valgkamp, og ble valgets vinner, med 28 mandater, ett mer enn Likud. Men for venstrefløyen og fredsbevegelsen ble valgresultatet en katastrofe. Arbeiderpartiet, som grunnla og styrte nasjonen i flere tiår, er nå bare en skygge av hva det var, med 13 mandater. En av redaktørene har foreslått at Arbeiderpartiet og Kadima bør slå seg sammen. Det er vanskelig å se noen politisk avstand mellom dem, men partier er maktsystemer, og det handler ikke bare om politiske standpunkter, men også om maktposisjoner.

Det antireligiøse og rastiske partiet Yisrael Beitenu, med en kjerne av russiske innvandrere ble valgets andre vinner, med 15 mandater.

Shas, som var partner med Kadima og Arbeiderpartiet i den avtroppende regjeringen, fikk 11 mandater.

Selv om Kadima såvidt fikk den største partigruppen i Knesset, er det lite trolig at Tzipi Livni kan danne regjering. Sannsynligvis går oppdraget til leder av Likud, Benjamin Netanyahu. Han danner trolig en religiøs/høyre-koalisjon. Selv om Yisrael Beitenu er antireligiøst, vil de trolig støtte en slik regjering, kanskje også delta i den.

En slik regjering vil ikke ha noen troverdighet som deltaker i en fredsprosess for Midtøsten. Den vil derfor føre til at Israels omdømme blir ytterligere svekket. Det kan bringe Israels regjering i vanskeligheter i forhold til USA, og kan komme til å tvinge en regjering med Netanyahu som statsminister til å endre syn på fredsforhandlinger med palestinerne. Sist en amerikansk administrasjon forsto konflikten, og våget å stille skarpe krav til Israel, var da George Bush sen var president. Både under Bill Clinton og George Bush jr har konflikten bare blitt mer uløselig, og mange positive muligheter blitt torpedert eller avsporet.

Det er mange ulike måter å betrakte konfliktene i Midtøsten på. Mange ser konflikten som en kamp mellom jødedommen og islam. Men det er en feilslått betraktningsmåte. Den israelske retorikken har forsøkt å stemple kritikk av israelsk politikk som en form for antisemittisme. Det er merkelig at ikke alle gjennomskuer den retorikken. For både jøder og palestinere er semittiske.

En mer fruktbar betraktningsmåte er å se på konflikten mellom jødene og palestinerne som en stammekrig, som er i ferd med å splitte begge folkegruppene. Det er krigere og fredstilhengere både blant jødene og palestinerne. Men dynamikken i konflikten er at det er krigerne som vinner i begge stammene, fordi de som ønsker fred, blir utmanøvrert av krigerne i hver sin leir.

Våpenhvile i Gaza

Den israelske regjeringen, Hamas og Islamsk jihad har nå iverksatt hver sin våpenhvile.

Våpenhvilen var ventet. Tirsdag innsettes Barack Obama som president. Den israelske regjeringen ville ikke utfordre forholdet til USAs nye president ved å fortsette bombingen helt frem til Obamas store dag.

Arkitekten for krigen i Gaza, forsvarsminister og Ap-leder Ehud Barak, sa i dag at Israel hadde nådd alle sine militære mål. Han nevnte ikke det viktigste politiske målet: Å vinne valget i Israel i februar. De militære målene var trolig:

1) Drepe Hamas-ledere.
2) Ødelegge tunnelene fra Gazastripen til Egypt, som brøt Israels blokade.
3) Stanse skytingen av raketter inn i Israel.
4) Unngå tap av israelske soldater.

Minst 1200 palestinere ble drept. Minst halvparten var sivile, mange av dem barn. Tapstallene vil stige i dagene som kommer, når våpenhvilen fører til at bombede bolighus, skoler, sykehus og kontorbygninger kan gjennomsøkes for å finne levende og døde.

Ti israelske soldater mistet livet i Gaza. Fem av dem ble drept i en ulykke med en stridsvogn. I motsetning til i krigen mot Hizbollah i Libanon i 2006, klarte Hamas ikke å påføre den israelske hæren tap av betydning. En viktig forklaring, var at Israel tok forholdsregler for å unngå egne tap. Israel ofret sivile palestinske liv, for å unngå å sette egne soldaters liv i fare.

Israelske politikere sa i dag at krigen i Gaza ble vunnet. Men Israel vant bare en militær seier. Krigen om sitt moralske omdømme har Israel tapt. En nådeløs blokade av 1,5 millioner innesperrede palestinere, terrorbombing i 22 dager og netter, skyting mot ambulanser, helsepersonell, FN-skoler og sykehus, det har fått den siviliserte verden til å reagere med avsky. Israelske regjeringstalsmenn forklarte drapene på sivile med at det skjulte seg væpnede hamasmenn blant dem. Men forklaringene ble ikke dokumentert og fremsto ikke som troverdige.

I Europa har mediene gjennomskuet den israelske regjeringens propagandaknep for mange år siden. Nå blir de i stigende grad også gjennomskuet av medier i USA. Da Israels utenriksminister Tsipi Livni var i USA fredag, ble hun på pressekonferansen omtalt som terrorist av flere journalister. Også i USA kan mediekrigen være tapt for Israel. Og i vår tid er krigen i mediene om den globale folkemeningen, minst like viktig som den militære krigen.

Tsipi Livni vil ikke gi Hamas den anerkjennelsen det ville være å inngå våpenhvile med dem. Men etter at den israelske regjeringen erklærte våpenhvile natt til i går, gjorde Hamas det samme. Islamsk jihad og flere andre motstandsgruppene sluttet seg til våpenhvilen i kveld. De har gitt Israel en frist på en uke til å trekke sine soldater ut av Gazastripen.

Først når Israel vil møte sine fiender i forhandlinger, og slutter å drepe dem, blir det tent et håp om fred i Midtøsten. Så lenge Israel okkuperer Palestina, blir det ikke fred, og ikke sikkerhet for palestinere og israelere, bare vaklende våpenhviler og endeløse, resultatløse forhandlinger.

Tilspisset i Midtøsten

De israelske flyangrepene mot Gazastripen i formiddag, ble møtt med kritikk fra hele verden.

Den arabiske liga har bedt FNs Sikkerhetsråd gripe inn, etter at 60 israelske fly i formiddag bombet mål på Gazastripen. Associated press oppga at rundt 200 palestinere ble drept og 270 skadd i angrepene. Mange drepte var politi eller medlemmer av sikkerhetsstyrken til Hamas.

Den israelske regjeringen begrunnet flyangrepet med rakettangrepene mot Israel fra Gazastripen, som har pågått i flere år. Angrepene skaper utrygghet i det området i Israel som er innen rekkevidde for rakettene. Det er særlig grensebyen Sdrot sør i Israel, like ved nordøsthjørnet av Gazastripen, som rammes av rakettene. De fleste rakettene faller ned utenfor bebyggelsen og gjør ikke skader av betydning. Men etter flyangrepene i formiddag, ble en israelsk borger i ettermiddag drept av en rakett fra Gazastripen.

Hamasregjeringen på Gazastripen har i høst praktisert våpenhvile, mens de har forhandlet via den egyptiske regjeringen med regjeringen i Israel. Men Hamas’s våpenhvile førte ikke til at Israel stanset sine angrep på Gazastripen. Hamas avsluttet derfor våpenhvilen rett før jul. Det er derfor ikke uventet at voldsnivået nå øker. Krigsfaren i Midtøsten er overhengende i makttomrommet frem til 20. januar, da USAs neste president Barack Obama endelig overtar, og valget i Israel 10. februar. USA har siden 60-tallet forsynt Israel med våpen og gitt landet milliarder i økonomisk støtte. Men samtidig har USA i noen kritiske faser moderert og dempet Israels militære aggressivitet.

Den israelske hæren var stasjonert på Gazastripen fra 1967 til 2005. Da avviklet den daværende regjeringen Ariel Sharon de ulovlige jødiske bosettingene på Gazastripen og trakk hæren ut. Tilbaketrekkingen hadde støtte fra et stort flertall i befolkningen i Israel, men møtte sterk motstand fra den militante nybyggerbevegelsen. Israel har fortsatt kontroll med Gazastripens luftrom, kyststripe og grenser.

Ved det kommende valget til det israelske parlamentet Knesset, konkurrerer tre partier om å fremstå for velgerne som handlekraftige og aggressive: Kadima som ledes av utenriksminister og fungerende statsminister Tzipi Livni, Arbeiderpartiet som ledes av forsvarsminister Ehud Barak og opposisjonspartiet Likud som ledes av Benjamin Netanyahu. Alle tre står for en aggressiv militær undertrykkelse av palestinerne. Men Tzipi Livni og Ehud Barak har samtidig forsøkt å finne forhandlingsløsninger med palestinerne og nabolandene.

Statssekretær Raymond Johansen (Ap) fordømte de israelske angrepene. Det samme gjorde Tony Blair, som siden han trakk seg som britisk statsminister i juni 2007 har forsøkt å forhandle frem en fredsløsning i Midtøsten, på vegne av kvartetten FN, EU, USA og Russland. De to, og mange av de andre kritikerne av Israels flyangrep, oppfordrer begge parter til å innstille krigshandlingene.

Blair og Johansen taler dessverre for døve ører. Først når kritikken rettes ensidig mot okkupasjonsmakten Israel og følges opp av økonomisk og diplomatisk maktbruk, er det håp om fred i Midtøsten.