Viser arkivet for stikkord likud

-Political drone attack

Uri Avnery
January 24, 2015

THERE USED to be a joke about a sadist and a masochist.

“Hit me! Beat me! Kick me!” the masochist pleads with the sadist.

The sadist smiles a cruel smile and slowly answers: “No!”

THAT, MORE or less, reflects the situation on our northern border at this moment.

Two Israeli drones have bombed (or missiled) a small Hezbollah convoy, a few miles beyond the border with Syria on the Golan heights. 12 people were killed. One was an Iranian general. One was a very young Hezbollah officer, the son of Imad Mughniyeh, a very high-ranking Hezbollah officer who was also killed by Israel, some seven years ago, in a Damascus car explosion.

The killing of the Iranian general was perhaps unintended. Seems that Israeli intelligence did not know that he, and five other Iranian Revolutionary Guards officers, were in the convoy. An Israeli army officer admitted this in a roundabout way. A second officer denied the statement of the first.

He did not apologize, of course. One cannot apologize when one does not officially admit to being the perpetrator. And, of course, Israelis do not apologize. Never ever. Indeed, one far-right party in the present election has turned this into an election slogan: “No apologies!”

The intended victim of the attack was the 25-year old Jihad Mughniyeh, a junior Hezbollah officer whose only claim to fame was his family name.

IMMEDIATELY AFTER the killing, the question arose: Why? Why now? Why at all?

The Israeli-Syrian border (or, rather, cease-fire line) has been for decades the quietest border of Israel. No shooting. No incidents. Nothing.

Assad the father and Assad the son both saw to this. They were not interested in provoking Israel. After the 1973 Yom Kippur War, which started with a huge Syrian surprise success and ended with a complete Syrian defeat, the Assads wanted no new adventure.

Even when Ariel Sharon attacked Lebanon in 1982, the Syrian troops stationed in Lebanon did not intervene. But since one of Sharon’s war aims was to drive the Syrians out of Lebanon, he had to open fire himself to get them involved. That adventure ended with a Syrian success.

Any intention Bashar al-Assad might ever have had to provoke Israel (and it seems that he never had any) vanished when the Syrian civil war started, more than four years ago. Both Bashar al-Assad and the various rebel factions were fully occupied with their bloody business. Israel could not interest them less.

SO WHY did Israeli drones hit a small convoy of Assad’s allies – Hezbollah and Iran? It is very unlikely that they had any aggressive intentions against Israel. Probably they were scouting the terrain in search of Syrian rebels.

The Israeli government and the army did not explain. How could they, when they did not officially admit to the action? Even unofficially, there was no hint.

But there is an elephant in the room: the Israeli elections.

We are now in the middle of the election campaign. Was there, could there be, any connection between the election campaign and the attack?

You bet!

TO SUGGEST that our leaders could order a military action to increase their chances in an election borders on treason.

Yet It has happened before. Indeed, it happened in many of our 19 election campaigns till now.

The first election took place when we were still at war. David Ben-Gurion, the war leader, won a great election victory, of course.

The second election took place during the fight against the Arab “infiltrators”, with almost daily incidents along the new borders. Who won? Ben-Gurion.

And so on. In 1981, when Menachem Begin ordered the bombing of the Iraqi nuclear reactor, somebody dared to suggest that the action was connected with the upcoming Knesset election. This gave Begin the opportunity for one of his greatest speeches. Begin was an outstanding orator in the European (and very un-Israeli) tradition.

“Jews!” he addressed his audience, “You have known me for many years. Do you believe that I would send our gallant boys on a dangerous mission, where they could be killed or, worse – fall into the captivity of these human animals – in order to gain votes?” The crowd roared back “No!”
Even the other side played their part. The Egyptians and Syrians launched their surprise attack on Yom Kippur 1973 in the middle of the Israeli election campaign.

After the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin in 1995, his heir, Shimon Peres, also faced an election campaign. During his short regency, he managed to start and lose a war. He invaded Lebanon and during the fighting a UN refugee camp was bombed by mistake. That was the end of the war and of Peres’ reign. Binyamin Netanyahu won.

WHEN LAST week’s killing was announced, the country and the army were requested to prepare for war.

Along the border, tension spread. Massive troop deployments took place. Armored brigades moved north. “Iron Dome” anti-missile batteries were positioned near the border. All the media prepared the public for instant revenge actions by Hezbollah and Iran.

That’s where the joke comes in. Netanyahu fully expected Hassan Nasrallah, the Hezbollah chief, to bomb Galilee in retaliation. Nasrallah just smiled one of his enigmatic smiles.

Revenge? Sure. But not just now. Some other time, perhaps. Some other place, too. Maybe in Bulgaria, where Israeli tourists were killed to avenge Imad Mughniyeh’s assassination. Or even in Argentina, where the prosecutor investigating the destruction of two Israel-Jewish centers was found shot this week (by himself or by others.) The bloody attacks in Buenos Aires, 20 years ago, were attributed to Hezbollah and Iran after another Israeli action in Lebanon.

So why doesn’t Nasrallah avenge the drone action now? When you count on an enemy’s revenge action, it is very frustrating when it doesn’t come on time.

TO UNDERSTAND this, one must review the election campaign.

It is being waged by two large blocks – the right-wing led by the Likud and the center-left led by the Labor party. The left has gathered unexpected momentum by uniting Labor with Tzipi Livni’s little faction, and now, incredibly, has overtaken Likud in the polls. Aside from the two blocks there are the Orthodox and the Arab citizens, who have their own agendas.

The two main blocks sail under different flags. Likud and Co. sail under the flag of Security. The public believes that Netanyahu and his allies are more trustworthy when it comes to war and keeping our army big and powerful. The public also believes that Labor and its allies are more effective when it comes to the economy, the price of housing and such.

This means that the outcome will be decided by which side succeeds in imposing its agenda on the campaign. If the campaign comes to be dominated by the issues of war and fear, the Right will probably win. If, alternatively, the main issue is housing and the exorbitant price of cottage cheese, the Left has a chance.

This is not a matter of particularly acute perception, but of general public knowledge. Every missile launched by Hezbollah or Hamas will be a missile for Likud. Every day of quiet on the borders will be a day for Labor.

IT WAS therefore quite obvious to many Israelis that the sudden flair up on the northern border, caused by an unprovoked Israeli attack that makes no sense, was an election ploy by Netanyahu and his companions.

Many knew. But nobody dared to say so. The political parties were afraid of being seen as stabbing the army in the back. Accusing Netanyahu of risking a major war in order to win an election is a very grave matter.

The Labor party published a lame statement supporting the army. Meretz kept quiet. The Arab parties were busy with creating a united Arab list. The Orthodox couldn’t care less.

Gush Shalom, of which I am a member, prepared to publish an unequivocal accusation.

And then the silence was broken from a totally unexpected quarter.

General Galant gave an interview in which he squarely accused the government of warming up the northern border for election purposes.

Galant? Incredible!

Yoav Galant was the chief of the Southern Command during the cruel Molten Lead campaign. After that he was appointed by Netanyahu as the new army Chief of Staff. But before the appointment could be consummated Galant was accused of expropriating public village land for his palatial home and had to back out. I always considered him an out-and-out militarist.

Two weeks ago, Galant suddenly reappeared on the stage as candidate No. 2 on the list of Moshe Kahlon’s new center party with no ideology except bringing down prices.

Galant’s statement caused an outcry, and he quietly retracted it. But the deed was done. Galant had opened the gate. A horde of commentators stormed through it to spread the accusation.

The campaign may never be the same again after Galant’s gallant deed.

The Fascist Zeitgeist in Israel

Uri Avnery
December 21, 2013

SEEING HER face on the TV screen, one is struck by her beauty. It is the face of an angel, pure and innocent.

Then she opens her mouth, and what pours out is vile and ugly, the racist message of the extreme right. Like seeing a cherub parting its lips and revealing the teeth of a vampire.

Ayelet Shaked may be the beauty queen of the present Knesset. Her name is enticing: Ayelet means gazelle, Shaked means almond. But she is the instigator of some of the most outrageous right-wing initiatives in this Knesset. She is also the chairwoman of Naftali Bennett’s Jewish Home faction, the nationalist-religious party of the settlers, the most radical rightist party of the current government coalition.

Her latest exploit is a bill which is now being debated in the Knesset, which would levy a huge tax on donations given by foreign “political entities” to Israeli human rights associations, those who advocate a boycott of Israel (or of the settlements only), the indictment of Israeli officers accused of war crimes in international courts, and more.

All this while immense sums of money are flowing from abroad to the settlements and their supporters. A large share of these sums is practically donated by the US government, which allows their exemption from US income tax as philanthropic. Much of it comes from American Jewish billionaires of dubious repute.

IN A way, this Gazelle is the face of an international phenomenon. All over Europe, extreme fascistic parties are flourishing. Small despised fringe groups suddenly expand into large parties with a national impact. From Holland to Greece, from France to Russia, these parties propagate a mixture of super-nationalism, racism, xenophobia, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism and immigrant-hatred. A deadly witches’ brew.

The explanation seems to be simple. All over the place, the economic crisis has hit the people hard. Unemployment is high. Young people cannot find jobs. The victims look for a scapegoat on which to vent their anger. They choose the foreigner, the minority, the helpless. That has been so since antiquity. That’s how a failed painter named Adolf Hitler became a historic figure.

For politicians without vision or values, this is the easiest way to success and prominence. It is also the most despicable.

An Austrian socialist said more than a century ago: “Anti-Semitism is the socialism of the fools”.

Social reformers may believe that the whole thing is instigated by the world’s billionaires, who are concentrating an ever larger part of the world’s assets in their hands. The gap between the upper 1% and everybody else is growing relentlessly, and the beneficiaries are financing radical right-wingers to divert the anger of the masses in other directions. Stands to reason.

HOWEVER, TO my mind the economic explanation is too simple. If the same phenomenon appears at the same time in so many different countries, with different economic situations, there must be more profound reasons. There must be some elements of Zeitgeist in it.

I think that we are witnessing a basic cultural breakdown, a crisis of accepted values. This kind of upheaval generally accompanies social changes, often caused by economic and technological breakthroughs. It is a sign of social dissonance, of disorientation. On the eve of the Nazi revolt, the German writer Hans Fallada wrote an immensely successful book called “Kleiner Mann was nun?” (Little Man, What Now?), expressing the despair of the newly disinherited masses. Many little men and women around the world are in the same situation now.

In Israel, too.

LAST WEEK, we saw a spectacle that would have shaken our grandparents to the core.

Some 300 black people, many of them barefoot in the biting cold of an exceptionally severe winter, were walking dozens of kilometers on a central road. They were refugees who had managed to flee from Sudan and Eritrea, to walk all the way through Egypt and the Sinai and had crossed the border into Israel. (Since then, a wall has been erected along the Sinai border, and this stream has practically stopped.)

There are now about 60,000 such African refugees in Israel. Thousands of them are crowded in the most run-down slums of Tel Aviv and other cities, causing deep resentment among the locals. This has proved a fertile breeding ground for racism. The most successful agitator is another beautiful member of the Knesset, the Likud’s Miri Regev, a former army chief spokeswoman, who is inciting the inhabitants and the country in the most primitive and vulgar manner.

Looking for a solution to the problem, the government built a large prison in the middle of the desolate Negev desert, unbearably hot in summer and unbearably cold in winter. Thousands of black refugees have been crowded there without trial for three years. Some called it a concentration camp.

Israeli human rights associations – the same as above – applied to the Supreme Court, and the imprisonment of the refugees was declared unconstitutional. The government thought again (if thinking is the right word) and decided to circumvent the decision. Not far from the forbidden prison a new prison was built, and the refugees were put there for one year each.

No, not a prison. Something called “Open Live-in Facility”. We are good at naming things. We call that “verbal laundry”.

This “open” desert prison is closed during the night, but inmates are free during the day. However, it is far from anywhere. The inmates must register three times during daytime – thus making it impossible to go anywhere, not to mention finding work.

It is from this “open” prison that the valiant 300 have walked out and marched all the way to Jerusalem, some 150 kilometers, in order to demonstrate in front of the Knesset. It took them three days. They were accompanied by a few Israeli human rights activists, mostly female, their light faces very conspicuous among all the black heads.

In front of the Knesset they were brutally attacked by specially trained riot police. Each demonstrator was surrounded by half a dozen bullies and violently thrown into a bus, which brought them to the old non-open prison.

I AM dwelling on this incident because I am profoundly ashamed.

Racism is not a new thing in Israel. Far from it. But whenever we accuse
our gazelles of racism, they answer that this is pure libel. There is a conflict between us and the Palestinians, strict security measures are called for, this has nothing to do with racism, God forbid.

This is a very dubious argument, but at least it has some plausibility.

But we have no national conflict with the refugees. No security considerations are involved.

It is racism, pure and simple.

Let’s imagine that suddenly, in a remote corner between Eritrea and the Sudan, a Jewish tribe had been discovered. Its 60,000 members want to come to Israel.

The country would be in a delirium. The red carpet would be rolled out in Ben-Gurion airport. Both the President and the Prime Minister would be there, ready with their most banal speeches. They would receive an “absorption subsidy”, free housing and work.

So it’s not an economic problem, nor a question of absorption, housing or employment. It’s not even a question of skin color. Black Jews from Ethiopia are readily welcomed.

It’s simply THAT THEY ARE NOT JEWISH.

No room here for other people. They would take away our jobs. They would change the demographic balance. This, after all, is a Jewish State!

OR IS it?

If this were a Jewish State, would it treat refugees this way?

A hundred memories float into our minds. Of Jews being hounded from country to country. Of the mighty United States of America rejecting Jewish refugees on a German ship, fleeing from Nazi persecution. And later exterminated in the death camps. Of the Swiss pushing back Jews escaping from the concentration camps who had made it to their border.

Remember “The Boat Is Full?”

If this really were a Jewish state, would it try to bribe African states to accept these refugees without asking what would happen to them there? For a refugee from the hell of Darfur, Zimbabwe is as foreign as New Zealand (unless one subscribes to the theory that “all blacks are the same”.)

If this really were a Jewish state, would the Minister of the Interior, a Likud functionary, send his force of goons to go hunting for refugees in the streets?

No, this is not a Jewish state. The Bible commands us to treat the stranger in our midst as we would want to be treated ourselves. “Also, thou shalt not oppress a stranger, for ye know the heart of a stranger, seeing ye were strangers in the land of Egypt!” (Exodus 23:9).

Amen!

The speach of the king of Jordan

IN THE middle of the ’80s, a German diplomat conveyed to me a surprising message. A member of the Jordanian Royal family would like to speak with me in Amman. At the time, Jordan was still officially at war with us.

Somehow I obtained official permission from the Israeli government. The Germans generously provided me with a passport that was not strictly accurate, and so, with much turning of blind eyes, I arrived in Amman and was lodged in the best hotel.

The news of my presence spread quickly, and after some days it became an embarrassment to the Jordanian government. So I was politely asked to leave, and very quickly, please.

But before that, a high-ranking official invited me to dinner in a very elegant restaurant. He was a well educated, very cultured person, who spoke beautiful English. To my utter amazement, he told me that he was a Bedouin, a member of an important tribe. All my ideas about Bedouins were shattered in that moment.

This dinner stuck in my memory because, in (literally) ten minutes, I learned more about Jordan than in decades of reading. My host took a paper napkin and drew a rough map of Jordan. “Look at our neighbors,” he explained. “Here is Syria, a radical secular Ba’athist dictatorship. Then there is Iraq, with another Ba’athist regime that hates Syria. Next there is Saudi Arabia, a very conservative, orthodox country. Next is Egypt, with a pro-Western military dictator. Then there is Zionist Israel. In the occupied Palestinian territories, radical, revolutionary elements are in the ascent. And almost touching us, there is fragmented, unpredictable Lebanon.”

“From all these countries,” he continued, “refugees, agents and ideological influences stream into Jordan. We have to absorb all of them. We have to perform a very delicate balancing act. If we come too close to Israel, the next day we must appease Syria. If one day we embrace Saudi Arabia, we must kiss Iraq the next. We must not ally ourselves with any one.”

Another impression I took with me – the Palestinians in Jordan (excluding the refugees, whom I did not meet) are perfectly content with the status quo, dominating the economy, getting rich and praying for the stability of the regime.

I WISH that all influential Israelis had received such an eye-opening lesson, because in Israel, the most grotesque ideas about Jordan were – and still are – in vogue.

The general picture is that of a ridiculous little country, ruled by fierce and primitive Bedouin tribes, while the majority consists of Palestinians who are continually plotting to overthrow the monarchy and assume power.

(Which reminds me of another conversation – this time in Cairo with the – then – acting Foreign Minister, Boutros Boutros-Ghali, a Copt and one of the most intelligent persons I’ve ever met. “Israeli experts in Arab affairs are among the best in the world,” he told me, “they have read everything, they know everything, and they understand nothing. That’s because they have never lived in an Arab country.”)

Until the Oslo agreement, the entire Israeli elite subscribed to the “Jordanian Option”. The idea was that only King Hussein was able and ready to make peace with us and that he would give us East Jerusalem and parts of the West Bank as a present. Hiding behind this misconception was the traditional Zionist resolve to ignore the existence of the Palestinian people and to prevent the creation of a Palestinian state at all costs.

Another version of this idea rests on the slogan “Jordan is Palestine”. It was explained to me by Ariel Sharon, nine months before Lebanon War I. “We shall throw the Palestinians out of Lebanon into Syria. The Syrians will push them South into Jordan. There they shall overthrow the king and turn Jordan into Palestine. The Palestinian problem will disappear, and the remaining conflict will become a normal disagreement between two sovereign states, Israel and Palestine.”

“But what about the West Bank?” I queried.

“We shall achieve a compromise with Jordan,” he answered, “perhaps joint rule, perhaps some kind of functional division.”

This idea pops up time and again. This week one of the hyperactive and mentally handicapped right wing parliamentary thugs submitted another of those bills. It is called “Jordan – the Nation-State of the Palestinian People”.

Apart from the curiosity of one country enacting a law to define the character of another country, it was politically embarrassing. Yet instead of just throwing it out, it was transferred to a sub-committee where the deliberations, such as they are, are secret.

HIS MAJESTY, king Abdullah II, is worried. He has good reasons to be.

There is the democratic Arab Spring, which may spill over into his autocratic kingdom. There is the uprising in neighboring Syria, which may push refugees southwards. There is the growing influence of Shiite Iran, which does not look good for his stoutly Sunni monarchy.

But all this is nothing compared to the growing threat from radical, rightist Israel.

The most immediate danger, from his point of view, is the growing Israeli oppression and colonization of the West Bank. One of these days, it may push masses of Palestinian refugees to cross the Jordan into his kingdom, upsetting the strained demographic balance between locals and Palestinians in his country.

It was this fear that caused his father, King Hussein, during the first intifada, to cut all connections with the West Bank, which had been annexed by his grandfather after the 1948 war. (The very term “West Bank” is Jordanian, to distinguish it from the East Bank, the original Transjordanian territory of the kingdom.)

If “Jordan is Palestine”, then there is no reason for Israel not to annex the West Bank, expropriate Palestinian lands, enlarge the existing settlements and create new ones, and in general “convince” Palestinians to find a better life east of the river.

With this in mind, the king voiced his anxiety in a much-publicized interview this week. In it, he raised the possibility of a federation between Jordan and the (still occupied) State of Palestine in the West Bank, obviously to forestall Israeli designs. Perhaps he also wants to convince the Palestinians that such a move would help them to terminate the occupation, facilitate their application for UN membership and prevent a US veto. (I don’t believe this offer will find many Palestinian takers.)

THE INITIATORS of the Israeli bill make it clear that their main purpose is Hasbarah (“explaining”), the Hebrew euphemism for propaganda. Their idea, they believe, will put an end to the isolation and delegitimization of Israel. The world will accept that the State of Palestine already exists, beyond the Jordan, so that there is no need for a second one in the West Bank.

If His Majesty suspects that there is a much more sinister dimension to the propaganda ploy, he is quite right. Obviously he is thinking about much more profound long-term possibilities.

This goes back to the basic dilemma of the Israeli right, a dilemma that seems well-nigh insoluble.

The Israeli Right has never really given up the idea of a Greater Israel (which in Hebrew is called “the whole of Eretz-Israel”). This means the total rejection of the Two-State solution in all its forms and the creation of a Jewish state from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River.

However, in such a state there would be living, as of today, some 6 million Israeli Jews and about 5.5 million Arab Palestinians (2.5 in the West Bank, 1.5 in the Gaza Strip, 1.5 in Israel proper.) Some demographers believe that the number is even larger.

According to all demographic forecasts, the Palestinians will quite soon constitute the majority in this geographic entity. What then?

Some idealists believe (or delude themselves) that, faced with stern international disapproval, Israel will have to grant citizenship to all the inhabitants, turning the entity into a bi-national or multi-national or non-national state. Without taking a survey one can say with certainty that 99.999% of Jewish Israelis would oppose this idea with all their strength. It is the total negation of everything Zionism stands for.

The other possibility would be that this entity would become an apartheid state, not only partly, not only in practice, but entirely and officially. The great majority of Jewish Israelis would not like that at all. This, too, is a negation of basic Zionist values.

There is no solution to this dilemma. Or is there?

THE KING seems to think that there is. It is, actually, implicit in the dream of a Greater Israel.

That solution is a repeat of 1948: A naqba of vastly larger dimensions, which Israelis euphemistically call “transfer”.

This means that at some time, when international conditions are opportune – some huge international disaster that rivets attention to some other part of the world, a big war, or such – the government will drive out the non-Jewish population. Where to? Geography dictates the answer: Jordan. Or, rather, to the future State of Palestine in what was once Jordan.

I would suggest that almost every Israeli who supports the Greater Israel idea has this – at least unconsciously – in mind. Perhaps not as a plan for action in the near future, but certainly as the only solution in the long term.

MORE THAN 80 years ago , Vladimir (Ze’ev) Jabotinsky, the founder of Revisionist Zionism and the spiritual forefather of Binjamin Netanyahu, wrote some verses that were sung by the Irgun (to which I belonged when I was very young.)

It is a nice song with a nice melody. The refrain goes like this: “The Jordan has two banks / The one belongs to us, the other one, too.”

Jabotinsky, an ardent admirer of the Italian 19th century risorgimento, was an ultra-nationalist and a sincere liberal. One verse of the poem says: “The son of Arabia, the son of Nazareth and my own son / Will find there happiness and plenty / Because my flag, a flag of purity and honesty / Will cleanse both sides of the Jordan.”

The official emblem of the Irgun consisted of a map that included Transjordan, with a rifle superimposed. This emblem was inherited by Menachem Begin’s Herut (“Freedom”) Party, the mother of the Likud.

This party has long since given up the ideal of the three sons, purity and honesty. The slogan “Jordan is Palestine” means that it has also given up the claim to the East bank of the Jordan.

Or has it?

Uri Avnery
December 3, 2011

Uri Avnery: Between Tel Aviv and Tehran

Uri Avnery
27.6.09

HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of Iranian citizens pour into the streets in order to protest against their government! What a wonderful sight! Gideon Levy wrote in Haaretz that he envies the Iranians.

And indeed, anyone who tries these days to get Israelis in any numbers into the streets could die of envy. It is very difficult to get even hundreds of people to protest against the evil deeds or policies of our government – and not because everybody supports it. At the height of the war against Gaza, half a year ago, it was not easy to mobilize ten thousand protesters. Only once a year does the peace camp succeed in bringing a hundred thousand people to the square – and then only to commemorate the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin.

The atmosphere in Israel is a mixture of indifference, fatigue and a “loss of the belief in the ability to change reality”, as a Supreme Court justice put it this week. A very dramatic change is needed in order to get masses of people to demonstrate for peace.

FOR MIR-HOSSEIN MOUSAVI hundreds of thousands have demonstrated, and hundreds of thousands have demonstrated for Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. That says something about the people and about the regime.

Can anyone imagine a hundred thousand people gathering in Cairo’s Tahrir Square to protest against the official election results? The police would open fire before a thousand had assembled there.

Would even a thousand people be allowed to demonstrate in Amman against His Majesty? The very idea is absurd.

Some years ago, the Saudi security forces in Mecca opened fire on unruly pilgrims. In Saudi Arabia, there are never protests against election results – simply because there are no elections.

In Iran, however, there are elections, and how! They are more frequent than elections in the US, and Iranian presidents change more often than American ones. Indeed, the very protests and riots show how seriously the citizens there treat election results.

OF COURSE, the Iranian regime is not democratic in the way we understand democracy. There is a Supreme Guide who fixes the rules of the game. Religious bodies rule out candidates they do not like. Parliament cannot adopt laws that contradict religious law. And the laws of God are unchangeable – at most, their interpretation can change.

All this is not entirely foreign to Israelis. From the very beginning the religious camp has been trying to turn Israel into a religious state, in which religious law (called Halakha) would be above the civil law. Laws “revealed” thousands of years ago and regarded as unchangeable would take precedence over laws enacted by the democratically elected Knesset.

To understand Iran, we have only to look at one of the important Israeli parties: Shas. They, too, have a Supreme Guide, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, who decides everything. He appoints the party leadership, he selects the party’s Knesset candidates, he directs the party faction how to vote on every single issue. There are no elections in Shas. And in comparison with the frequent outbursts of Rabbi Ovadia, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is a model of moderation.

ELECTIONS DIFFER from country to country. It is very difficult to compare the fairness of elections in one country with those in another.

At one end of the scale were the elections in the good old Soviet Union. There it was joked that a voter entered the ballot room, received a closed envelope from an official and was politely requested to put it into the ballot box.

“What, can’t I know who I am voting for?” the voter demanded.

The official was shocked. “Of course not! In the Soviet Union we have secret elections!”

At the other end of the scale there should stand that bastion of democracy, the USA. But in elections there, only nine years ago, the results were decided by the Supreme Court. The losers, who had voted for Al Gore, are convinced to this very day that the results were fraudulent.

In Saudi Arabia, Syria, Jordan and now, apparently, also in Egypt, rule is passed from father to son or from brother to brother. A family affair.

Our own elections are clean, more or less, even if after every election people claim that in the Orthodox Jewish quarters the dead also voted. Three and a half million inhabitants of the occupied Palestinian territories also held democratic elections in 2006, which former President Jimmy Carter described as exemplary, but Israel, the US and Europe refused to accept the results, because they did not like them.

So it seems that democracy is a matter of geography.

WERE THE election results in Iran falsified? Practically no one of us – in Tel Aviv, Washington or London – can know. We have no idea, because none of us – and that includes the chiefs of all intelligence agencies – really knows what is happening in that country. We can only try to apply our common sense, based on the little information we have.

Clearly, hundreds of thousands of voters honestly believe that the results were faked. Otherwise, they would not have taken to the streets. But this is a quite normal among losers. During the intoxication of an election campaign, every party believes that it is about to win. When this does not happen, it is quite sure that the results are forged.

Some time ago, Germany’s excellent 3Sat television channel broadcast an arresting report about Tehran. The crew drove through the main street from the North of the city to the South, stopping frequently along the way, entering people’s homes, visiting mosques and nightclubs.

I learned that Tehran is largely similar to Tel Aviv at least in one respect: in the North there reside the rich and the well-to-do, in the South the poor and underprivileged. The Northerners imitate the US, go to prestigious universities and dance in the clubs. The women are liberated. The Southerners stick to tradition, revere the ayatollahs or the rabbis, and detest the shameless and corrupt North.

Mousavi is the candidate of the North, Ahmadinejad of the South. The villages and small towns – which we call the “periphery” – identify with the south and are alienated from the north.

In Tel Aviv, the South voted for Likud, Shas and the other right-wing parties. The North voted for Labor and Kadima. In our elections, a few months ago, the Right thus won a resounding victory.

It seems that something very similar happened in Iran. It is reasonable to assume that Ahmadinejad genuinely won.

The sole Western outfit that conducted a serious public opinion poll in Iran prior to the elections came up with figures that proved very close to the official results. It is hard to imagine huge forgeries, concerning many millions of votes, when thousands of polling station personnel are involved. In other words: it is entirely plausible that Ahmadinejad really won. If there were forgeries – and there is no reason to believe that there were not – they probably did not reach proportions that could sway the end result.

There is a simple test for the success of a revolution: has the revolutionary spirit penetrated the army? Since the French Revolution, no revolution has succeeded when the army was steadfast in support of the existing regime. Both the 1917 February and October revolutions in Russia succeeded because the army was in a state of dissolution. In 1918, much the same happened in Germany. Mussolini and Hitler took great pains not to challenge the army, and came to power with its support.

In many revolutions, the decisive moment arrives when the crowds in the street confront the soldiers and policemen, and the question arises: will they open fire on their own people? When the soldiers refuse, the revolution wins. When they shoot, that is the end of the matter.

When Boris Yeltsin climbed on the tank, the solders refused to shoot and he won. The Berlin wall fell because one East-German police officer refused at the decisive moment to give the order to open fire. In Iran, Khomeini won when, in the final test, the soldiers of the Shah refused to shoot. That did not happen this time. The security forces were ready to shoot. They were not infected by the revolutionary spirit. The way it looks now, that was the end of the affair.

I AM not an admirer of Ahmadinejad. Mousavi appeals to me much more.

I do not like leaders who are in direct contact with God, who make speeches to the masses from a balcony, who use demagogic and provocative language, who ride on the waves of hatred and fear. His denial of the holocaust – an idiotic exercise in itself – only adds to Ahmadinejad’s image as a primitive or cynical leader.

No doubt, he is a sworn enemy of the state of Israel or – as he prefers to call it – the “Zionist regime”. Even if he did not promise to wipe it out himself, as erroneously reported, but only expressed his belief that it would “disappear from the map”, this does not set my mind at rest.

It is an open question whether Mousavi, if elected, would have made a difference as far as we are concerned. Would Iran have abandoned its efforts to produce nuclear weapons? Would it have reduced its support of the Palestinian resistance? The answer is negative.

It is an open secret that our leaders hoped that Ahmadinejad would win, exacerbate the hatred of the Western world against himself and make reconciliation with America more difficult.

All through the crisis, Barack Obama has behaved with admirable restraint. American and Western public opinion, as well as the supporters of the Israeli government, called upon him to raise his voice, identify with the protesters, wear a green tie in their honor, condemn the Ayatollahs and Ahmadinejad in no uncertain terms. But except for minimal criticism, he did not do so, displaying both wisdom and political courage.

Iran is what it is. The US must negotiate with it, for its own sake and for our sake, too. Only this way – if at all – is it possible to prevent or hold up its development of nuclear weapons. And if we are condemned to live under the shadow of an Iranian nuclear bomb, in a classic situation of a balance of terror, it would be better if the bomb were in the hands of an Iranian leadership that keeps up a dialogue with the American president. And of course, it would be good for us if – before reaching that point – we could achieve, with the friendly support of Obama, full peace with the Palestinian people, thus removing the main justification for Iran’s hostility towards Israel.

The revolt of the Northerners in Iran will remain, so it seems, a passing episode. It may, hopefully, have an impact in the long run, beneath the surface. But in the meantime, it makes no sense to deny the victory of the Iranian denier.

Published here in cooperation with Uri Avnery.

Uri Avnery on the post election process in Israel

Uri Avnery
14.2.09
Ms Tantalus

TANTALUS IS punished by the Gods for reasons that are not entirely clear. He is hungry and thirsty, but the water in which he stands recedes when he bends down to drink from it and the fruit above his head continually evades his hand.

Tzipi Livni is now undergoing a similar torture. After winning an impressive personal victory at the polls, the political fruit keeps slipping from her grasp when she stretches out her hand.

Why should she deserve that? What has she done, after all? Supported the war, called for a boycott of Hamas, played around with empty negotiations with the Palestinian Authority? OK, she has indeed.. But such a terrible punishment?

HOWEVER, THE results of the elections are not as clear as they might seem. The victory of the Right is not so unambiguous.

Central to the election campaign was the personal competition between the two contenders for the Prime Minister’s office: Livni and Netanyahu (or, as they call themselves, as if they were still at kindergarten, Tzipi and Bibi.)

Contrary to all expectations and all polls, Livni beat Netanyahu. Several factors were involved in this. Among others: the masses of the Left were terrified by the possibility of Netanyahu winning, and flocked to Livni’s camp in order to “Stop Bibi!” Also, Livni – who was never identified with feminism – remembered at the last moment to call Israel’s women to her banner, and they hearkened to her call.

But it is impossible to ignore the main significance of this choice: Netanyahu symbolizes total opposition to peace, opposition to giving back the occupied territories, to the freezing of the settlements and to a Palestinian state. Livni, on the other hand, has declared more than once her total support for the “Two-Nation-States” solution. Her voters opted for the more moderate line.

True, the big winner in the elections was Avigdor Liberman. But his triumph is far from the fateful breakthrough everyone foresaw. He did not win the 20 seats he had promised. His ascent from 11 to 15 seats is not so dramatic. His party is indeed now the third largest in the Knesset, but that is less due to its own rise than to the collapse of Labor, which fell from 19 to 13. By the way, not one of the parties won even 25% of the vote. Israeli democracy is now very fragile indeed.

The Liberman phenomenon is ominous, but not (yet?) disastrous.

HOWEVER, THERE is no way to deny the most significant message of these elections: the Israeli public has moved to the right. From Likud to the right there are now 65 seats, from Kadima to the left only 55. One cannot argue with numbers.

What has caused this shift?

There are several explanations, all of them valid.

One can consider it as a passing phase after the war. A war arouses strong emotions – nationalist intoxication, hatred of the enemy, fear of the Other, longing for unity and for revenge. All these naturally serve the Right – a lesson sometimes forgotten by the left when it starts a war.

Others see in it a continuation of a historical process: the Zionist-Palestinian confrontation is becoming wider and more complex, and such a situation feeds the Right.

And then there is, of course, the demographic factor. The rightist bloc attracts the votes of three sectors: the Oriental Jews (a majority of whom vote for Likud), the religious (who mostly vote for the fundamentalists) and the Russians (most of whom vote for Liberman). This is a group vote, almost automatic.

Two sectors in Israel have an especially high birth-rate: the religious Jews and the Arabs. The religious vote almost unanimously for the Right. True, the Orthodox and the National-Religious parties have not increased their strength in the elections, probably because many of their natural voters chose Likud, Liberman or the even more extreme National Union. The Arab citizens almost completely abstained from voting for Jewish parties, as many of them used to in the past, and the three Arab parties together gained one more seat.

The demographic development is ominous. Kadima, Labor and Meretz are identified with the old-established Ashkenazi sector, whose demographic strength is in steady decline. Also, many young Ashkenazis gave their votes – at least four seats worth – to Liberman, who preaches a secular fascism. They hate the Arabs, but they also hate the religious Jews.

The conclusion is quite clear: if the “center-left” does not succeed in breaking out of its elitist ghetto and striking roots within the Oriental and Russian sectors, its decline will continue from election to election.

NOW MS TANTALUS must choose between two bitter options: to retire to the desert where there is neither water nor fruit, or to serve as a fig-leaf for an obnoxious coalition.

Option No. 1: to refuse to join Netanyahu’s coalition and to go into opposition. That is not so simple. The Kadima party came into being when Ariel Sharon promised its members – refugees from right and left – power. It will be very hard for Livni to hold the lot together in opposition, far from the seat of power, far from the posh ministers’ offices and from luxurious official cars.

That would give us a rightist government which includes open fascists, pupils of Meir Kahane (whose party was banned because of his racist teachings), the advocates of ethnic cleansing, of the expulsion of Israel’s Arab citizens and the liquidation of any chance for peace. Such a government would inevitably find itself in confrontation with the United States and in worldwide isolation.

Some people say: that’s good. Such a government will necessarily fall soon and break apart. Thus the public will be persuaded that there is no viable rightist option. Kadima, Labor and Meretz will stew in opposition, and perhaps a real center-left alternative will come into being.

Others say: Too risky. There is no limit to the disasters that a Netanyahu-Liberman-Kahanist government can bring upon the state, from the enlargement of the settlements that will torpedo any future peace, to outright war. We can’t stake everything on one card, when the chip is the State of Israel.

Livni’s option No. 2: To swallow the bitter pill, give in and join the Netanyahu government as a second, third or fourth wheel. In that case, she must decide at once, before Netanyahu establishes a fait accompli with an extreme-right coalition which Livni would then be invited to join as a junior partner.

I shall not be surprised if president Shimon Peres takes the initiative unofficially and promotes this option – before starting, in a week’s time, the official process of consulting with the Knesset factions and entrusting one of the candidates with the task of forming a government.

Could such a government move towards peace? Conduct real negotiations? Agree to the dismantling of settlements? Accept a Palestinian state? Recognize a Palestinian unity government that includes Hamas?

Hard to imagine. In the best case, it will go on with the charade of meaningless negotiations, quietly enlarge the settlements, lead Barack Obama by the nose and mobilize the pro-Israel lobby in order to obstruct any real American moves towards peace. What was will be.

CAN ISRAEL change course? Can a real peace-oriented alternative arise?

The two “Zionist Left” parties have been decisively beaten. Both Labor and Meretz have collapsed. Their two leaders who called for the Gaza War and supported it – Ehud Barak of Labor and Haim Oron of Meretz – have received the punishment they richly deserve. In a normal democracy, both would have resigned the day after the elections. But our democracy is not normal, and both leaders insist on staying on and leading their party to the next disaster.

Labor is a walking corpse – the only “social-democratic” party in the world whose leader’s sole aim is to stay on as war minister. When Barak spread the mantra “there is no one to talk with” he overlooked the logical conclusion “therefore we don’t need anyone to talk with them”.

The Labor Party has no party, no members, no political program, no alternative leadership. It will fail in opposition as it failed in government. Barring a miracle, it will end up in the junkyard of history.

It will find Meretz already there. A socialist party that lost its way a long time ago: a party without any roots in the classes at the foot of the socioeconomic ladder, a party that has supported all our wars.

Some believe in easy solutions: a union of Labor and Meretz, for example. That is a union of the lame and the blind. No reason to expect that they would win the race.

THE REAL task is far more difficult. A completely new building must be erected in place of the one which has collapsed.

The need is for a new Left that will include new leaders from the sectors that have been discriminated against: the Orientals, the Russians and the Arabs. A new Left that will express the ideals of a new generation, people of peace, advocates of social change, feminists and greens, who will all understand that one cannot realize one ideal without realizing all of them. There can be no social justice in a military state; no one is interested in the environment while the cannons are roaring, feminism is incompatible with a society of machos riding on tanks, there can be no respect for Oriental Jews in a society that despises the culture of the Orient.

The Arab citizens will have to leave the ghetto in which they are confined and start to talk with the Jewish public, and the Jewish public must talk with the Arabs on equal terms. The Liberman slogan “No Citizenship Without Loyalty” must be turned around: “No Loyalty Without Real Citizenship”.

As Obama has done in the US, a new language, a new lexicon must be created, to replace the old and tired phrases.

Much, much must be changed if we want to save the state.

AS FOR Ms. Tantalus: she can contribute to this process of change, or her torture will continue.

Echoing Pyrrhus, king of Epirus and Macedon, she can well say: Another such victory and we are undone.

Published with the permission of Uri Avnery.

En splittet og desillusjonert nasjon

Fintellingen i Israel har ikke endret mandatfordelingen.

FORSPILLET
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.

VALGKAMPEN
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.

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.

ETTER VALGET
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.

KONFLIKTEN
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.