Viser arkivet for stikkord livni

-Are you a Zionist?

Uri Avnery
January 31, 2015

MANY TIMES people ask me: “Are you a Zionist?”

My stock answer is: “Depends on what you mean by Zionism.”

This is quite sincere. The term Zionism can mean many different things. Like the term socialism, for example. Francois Hollande is a socialist. So was Joe Stalin.

Any resemblance?

WHEN I was young, there was a joke making the rounds in Germany: “A Zionist is a Jew who asks a second Jew for money in order to settle a third Jew in Palestine.” My father was such a Zionist. That was before the Nazis came to power, or course. I suspect that this definition applies nowadays to many American Zionists.

Theodor Herzl, the founder of the Zionist movement, did not really want to go to Zion, a hill in Jerusalem. He did not like Palestine at all. In the first draft of the Zionist Bible, Der Judenstaat, he proposed Patagonia as the preferred site of the Jewish state, because of its mild climate. Also, because it was sparsely populated after a genocidal campaign by Argentina.

When the movement turned towards Zion, Zionism still meant many different things to different people. Some wanted the country to become merely a spiritual center of the Jews. Others wanted it to become a socialist Utopia. Others wanted it to become a nationalist bastion based on military force.

The renewal of the Hebrew language, which has become such an integral part of our lives, was not a part of the Zionist project at all. Herzl, whose initial ambition was to become a great German writer, thought that we would speak German. Others would have preferred Yiddish. The fanatical desire to rejuvenate Hebrew came from below.

Even the desire to found a Jewish State was not unanimous. Some ardent Zionists, like Martin Buber, dreamed of a bi-national state, half Arab, half Jewish. “Practical” Zionists wanted to fulfill the Zionist dream by patient settlement in the country, “Revisionist” Zionists wanted to achieve at once an international “charter”.

Religious Zionists want a state based on and dominated by the Jewish religion. National-religious Zionists believe that God has sent the Jews into “exile” because of their sins, and wanted to compel God by their deeds to send the Messiah now. Atheist Zionists declare the Jews are a nation, not a religion, and want nothing to do with the Jewish faith.

And so on.

SO WHAT does Zionism mean nowadays? The word is bandied about in Israel without much thought. Almost every party wants to be seen as Zionist and brands its adversaries as anti-Zionist – a deadly accusation in Israeli politics. Only small minorities at the edges decline the honor. Communists on one side, ultra-Orthodox on another. (These believe that it is a great sin to go back to the Land of Israel in large numbers without God’s express permission.)

For many Israelis, Zionism means nothing more than Israeli patriotism. If you want Israel to exist as a “Jewish state” (whatever that means) you are a Zionist. Also, you have to believe that Israel is a part of the world-wide “Jewish people” and its leader, a kind of command-center. In up-to-date terminology: “the Nation-State of the Jewish people”.

In a deeper sense, Zionism may mean the profound belief that all the world’s Jews will eventually come to Israel, either by their own free will or driven here by anti-Semitism. The inevitable victory of anti-Semitism in each and every country is taken for granted. Therefore any real or imagined anti-Semitic wave – like the present one in France – is greeted with secret satisfaction (“We told you so”).

WHERE DO I stand?

A few years before the foundation of the State of Israel, a group of young people in this country, mostly artists and writers, declared that they were not Jews, but Hebrews. They were nicknamed “the Canaanites”.

Their gospel was that the Hebrew-speaking young people in this country were not a part of the world-wide Jewish community, but a separate new Hebrew nation. They wanted nothing to do with the Jews. Some of their announcements sounded positively anti-Semitic. They conceived the Hebrew nation as a continuation – after a brief interval of a few thousand years – of the original pre-Biblical Canaanite people. Hence the nickname.

Four years later I founded another group, nicknamed the “Struggle-Group”. We also proclaimed that we were a new Hebrew nation. But contrary to the Canaanites we acknowledged that this new nation was a part of the Jewish people, much as the Australians, for example, are a part of Anglo-Saxon culture.

We also contradicted the Canaanites on one other crucial element of doctrine. The Canaanites denied the existence of an Arab nation or nations. We not only recognized Arab nationalism, but declared that the Arab nation was the natural ally of the Hebrew nation in the creation of a new Semitic Region.

Soon after, Israel was founded. 40 years ago, in a libel case, I was asked by the judge to define my attitude towards Zionism.

In response I invented the term “post-Zionism”. The Zionist movement, I testified, is a historic movement with incredible achievements – a totally new society, an ancient-new language, a new culture, a new economy, new social models like the kibbutz and the moshav. But Zionism also performed grievous wrongs, especially to the Arab Palestinian people.

However, I said, this is history. With the creation of the State of Israel, Zionism has fulfilled its role. Israeli patriotism must replace it. Like scaffolding that is dismantled once the new building is finished, Zionism has outlived its usefulness and should be discarded.

This is my belief today, too.

THE WHOLE question has come up again now because of the decision of the new combined election list of the Labor Party and Tzipi Livni’s group to call itself officially “the Zionist Camp”.

On the pragmatic level, this is a clever move. The Rightist parties almost always accuse the Left of being unpatriotic, even traitorous, a fifth column. In our case, the Left is being accused of being anti-Zionist. So it makes sense for a new combined list to call itself Zionist. Not “a” Zionist party, but “the” Zionist party.

(By the same logic, a very moderate French party once called itself the “Radical Party”, the word “democratic” has appeared in the official names of several communist countries and the German fascists called themselves “National-Socialists”.) Being sure of their hard-core adherents, they hope the misnomer will attract votes on the fringes.

One negative practical aspect of the name of the Labor list is that it automatically excludes the Arab citizens. For Arabs everywhere, Zionism is the synonym of evil. Zionism took away their country, Zionism expelled the Arab Palestinians and carried out the Naqba, Zionism today discriminates against the Arab citizens of Israel in all spheres of life.

However, very few Arab citizens voted in the recent past for the Labor Party anyhow, and these don’t care either way about Zionism as a name. All Arab political forces in the country, including the Communist Hadash party which has a number of Jewish members, united this week in a common Arab list, and are expected to harvest almost all the Arab votes.

(This, by the way, is one of the ironies of Israeli politics. The “Israel Our Home” party of Avigdor Lieberman, which some consider fascist, wanted to evict the Arabs from the Knesset. Noting that none of the three Arab lists achieved 3.25% of the votes, they enacted a law that raised the threshold for entering the Knesset to this level. As a result, all the Arab parties, which detest each other, united in a common list that may reach 10% and more.

Apart from the Orthodox, this will be the only self-styled anti-Zionist party. Everybody else, from the far-right national-religious Jewish Home party to the far-left Meretz, declare themselves staunch Zionists.

So it’s quite a coup that Herzog and Livni ran away with the coveted label.

-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.

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: Who's the boss?

Uri Avnery
4.4.09

Who’s The Boss?

ON THE first day of the new Israeli government, the fog cleared: it’s a Lieberman government.

The day started with a celebration at the President’s office. All the members of this bloated government – 30 ministers and 8 deputy ministers – were dressed up in their best finery and posed for a group photo. Binyamin Netanyahu read an uninspired speech, which included the worn-out cliches that are necessary to set the world at ease: the government is committed to peace, it will negotiate with the Palestinian Authority, bla-bla-bla.

Avigdor Lieberman hurried from there to the foreign Office, for the ceremonial change of ministers. He, too, made a speech – but it was not a routine speech at all.

“Si vis pacem, para bellum – if you want peace, prepare for war,” declared the new Foreign Minister. When a diplomat quotes this ancient Roman saying, the world pays no attention to the first part, but only to the second. Coming from the mouth of the already infamous Lieberman, it was a clear threat: the new government is entering upon a path of war, not of peace.

With this sentence, Lieberman negated Netanyahu’s speech and made headlines around the world. He confirmed the worst apprehensions connected with the creation of this government.

Not content with quoting the Romans, he explained specifically why he used this motto. Concessions, he said, do not bring peace, but quite the reverse. The world respected and admired Israel when it won the Six-day war.

Two fallacies in one sentence. Returning occupied territory is not a “concession”. When a thief is compelled to return stolen property, or when a squatter vacates an apartment that does not belong to him, that is not a “concession”. And the admiration for Israel in 1967 came from a world that saw us as a little, valiant country that had stood up to mighty armies out to destroy us. But today’s Israel looks like a brutal Goliath, while the occupied Palestinians are now viewed as a David with his slingshot, fighting for his life.

With this speech, Lieberman succeeded in stirring the world, but even more in humiliating Netanyahu. He exposed the peace declarations of the new Prime Minister as nothing but soap bubbles.

However, the world (as I wrote last week) wants to be deceived. A White House spokesman announced that as far as the American administration is concerned, it is Netanyahu’s bla-bla-bla that counts, not Lieberman’s straight talking. And Hillary Clinton was not ashamed to call Lieberman and congratulate him on assuming office.

THAT WAS the first test of strength inside the Netanyahu-Lieberman-Barak triangle. Lieberman has demonstrated his contempt for both Netanyahu and Barak.

His political base is secure, because he is the only person who can topple the government at any moment. After the Knesset debate on the new government, only 69 members voted for it. If one adds the five Labor members who “were present but did not participate in the vote” (a voting device that is less negative than abstaining), the government has 74 votes. Meaning: without Lieberman’s 15 members, the government does not command a majority.

His speech was intended to underline this political reality. He as much as told Netanyahu: If you intend to shut me up, forget it. In fact, he held a pistol to Netanyahu’s head – in this case, it could be a German Luger Parabellum, a pistol whose name derives from the Roman saying.

The full extent of Lieberman’s Chutzpah came to the fore only an hour later. From the Foreign Office ceremony he hurried to another ritual ministerial handover, this time at the Ministry for Internal Security (formerly called the Ministry of Police).

What business did he have there? None. It is highly unusual for a minister to attend such a ceremony in another ministry. True, the new Internal Security minister, Yitzhak Aharonovitch, belongs to Lieberman’s party, but that is not relevant. After all, he did not attend the similar ceremony at the Immigration Absorption ministry, where another member of his party was installed.

The riddle was solved the next day, when the freshly installed Foreign Minister spent seven hours in a police interrogation room, answering questions about suspected bribery, money laundering and such, in connection with huge sums that were transferred from abroad to a company that belongs to his 23 year old daughter.

That explains his presence at the police ministry ceremony. He was photographed standing next to the chiefs of the criminal investigation department. It would be hard to see his appearance there as anything other than a crude and shameless threat against those who were to interrogate him on the morrow.

His presence at the ceremony declared: I am the man who appointed the minister who is now in charge of each of your careers, for promotion or termination. And the same message went out to the judges: I have appointed the new Justice Minister, and I shall decide upon the promotion of all of you.

IT ALL reminds me of a diplomatic reception at the Egyptian embassy exactly 10 years ago. There I met most of the members of the new government which had just been formed by Ehud Barak. All of them were depressed.

Barak had done something that bordered on sadism: he had appointed every minister to the post most unsuitable for them. The gentle and polite Professor Shlomo Ben-Ami was appointed Minister of Internal Security (where he failed miserably during the October 2000 disturbances, when he failed to prevent his police from killing a dozen Arab citizens.) Yossi Beilin, a diplomat with a very fertile mind, a natural candidate for the Foreign Office, was appointed Justice Minister. And so on. In private conversations, all of them vented their bitterness against Barak.

Now Netanyahu has trumped Barak. The appointment of Lieberman as Foreign Minister borders on the insane. The appointment of Yuval Steinitz, a professor of philosophy and a personal friend of Netanyahu’s wife, Sarah, a man devoid of any economic experience whatsoever, as Minister of the Treasury, at the height of the world financial crises, crosses the border of the absurd. The appointment of the No. 2 Likud leader, Silvan Shalom, to two junior ministries has made him into a deadly enemy. The creation of a long list of new and hollow ministries, just to provide jobs to his cronies, has turned the government into a popular joke (“a Minister for Incoming Mail and a Minister for Outgoing Mail”).

BUT A government is no joke. And Lieberman is no joke. Far from it.

Already on his first day he made clear that he – he and not Netanyahu or Barak – will set the style of the new government, both because of his strong political position and his massive personal presence and provocative character.

He will maintain this government as long as it suits him and overthrow it the moment he feels that new elections will give him supreme power.

His rude and violent style is both natural and calculated. It is intended to threaten, to appeal to the most primitive types in society, to draw public attention and to assure media coverage. All these are reminiscent of other countries and other regimes. The first one to congratulate him was – not by chance – the ex-fascist Foreign Minister of Italy.

This week, earlier statements by Lieberman were quoted again and again. He once proposed bombing the huge Aswan dam, an act that would have caused a terrible Tsunami-like deluge and killed many millions of Egyptians. Another time he proposed delivering an ultimatum to the Palestinians: At 8 am we shall bomb your commercial centers, at noon your gas stations, at 2 pm your banks, and so on.

He has proposed drowning thousands of Palestinian prisoners, offering to provide the necessary buses to take them to the coast. Another time he proposed deporting 90% of the 1.2 million Arab citizens of Israel. Recently he told the President of Egypt, Hosni Mubarak, one of the staunchest allies of the Israeli leadership, to “go to hell”.

In the recent election campaign his official program included the demand to annul the citizenship of any Arab who did not prove his loyalty to Israel. That was also his main slogan. This, too, is reminiscent of the programs of certain parties in history.

This is coupled with an open hostility to the Israeli “elites” and everything connected with the founders of the State of Israel.

SOME PEOPLE believe that Lieberman is really not a new phenomenon at all and that he simply brings to the surface traits that were there all the time but were buried beneath a thick layer of sanctimonious hypocrisy.

What is his solution to the historic Israeli-Arab conflict? In the past, he spoke about a regime of cantons for the Palestinians. They will live in several enclaves in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, which will be disconnected from each other and dominated by Israel. No Palestinian State, of course, no Arab East Jerusalem. He even proposed adding to these cantons some areas of Israel inhabited by a dense Palestinian population, whose Israeli citizenship would be revoked.

This is not so far from the ideas of Sharon, nor from those of Netanyahu, who declares that the Palestinians will “govern themselves” – of course without a state, without a currency, without control of the border crossings, without harbors and airports.

At the Foreign Office ceremony, Lieberman declared that the Annapolis agreement, which was dictated by President Bush, is invalid, and that only the “Road Map” counts. The Foreign Ministry spokesmen hurried to explain that the “Road Map” also speaks about “two states”. They forgot to remind the world that the Israeli government had “accepted” the Road Map only with 14 provisos that rob it of any content. For example: that Palestinians must “destroy the terrorist infrastructure” (What is that? Who decides?) before Israel shall make any move, including the freeze of the settlements.

(That may remind one of the rich Jew in the Shtetl, who dictated his Last Will and Testament, dividing his wealth between his relatives and friends and adding: “In case of my death, this Will shall be null and void.”)

As far as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is concerned, the controversy between Olmert and Livni on the one side and Netanyahu and Lieberman on the other is about tactics rather than strategy. The strategy of all of them is to prevent the creation of a normal, free and viable Palestinian state. Tzipi Livni was for a tactic of endless negotiations, decorated with pronouncement about peace and “two nation-states”. Not for nothing did Netanyahu mock her: You had several years to achieve agreement with the Palestinians. So why didn’t you?

This debate is not about peace, but about a “peace process”.

But in the meantime Tzipi Livni settles into her new job as the Leader of the Opposition. Her first speeches were vigorous and hard-hitting. We shall soon know if she can fill this job with content. If having to speak about peace will convince her of its value and turn her into a real alternative to the government of Lieberman and Liebermania.

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.

Dirty socks: Avnery on tomorrows election in Israel

Uri Avnery
7.2.09

Dirty Socks

“I have some good news and some bad news,” the sergeant in the joke tells his men. “The good news is that you are going to change your dirty socks. The bad news is that you are going to exchange them among yourselves.”

I am not the only person who is reminded of this old British army joke by the current elections.

We are faced by a sorry lot of politicians, some of them documented failures and some completely free of any past achievements. There is no meaningful discussion between them about the issues. Not one of the main contenders offers real solutions to our basic problems. The differences between them are invisible without a magnifying glass.

The instinctive reaction: “To hell with the lot of them. Let’s not vote at all!”

But that is childish. We cannot afford not to vote, or to vote out of spite or as a protest. Even if the differences are tiny – they may turn out to be important.

Therefore, let’s hold our nose and vote. If necessary, let’s take some medicine against nausea. If all of them are bad, let’s look for the lesser evil.

FOR ME, the greatest evil is Binyamin (“Bibi”) Netanyahu.

If he gets one vote more than his rivals, the President will entrust him with the task of setting up the next government. Netanyahu has already committed himself to inviting Avigdor Liberman, the pupil of the fascist Meir Kahane, as his first partner, as well as Shas, which has now become an extreme right-wing party. Perhaps he will also take in the “National Union”, which is even more extreme, and the remnants of the National Religious party, together with the Orthodox.

If this is to be the core of the next coalition, we shall have an extreme nationalist-racist government, a government that will reject outright any possibility of ending the occupation, setting up a Palestinian state and evacuating the settlements.

After that, Netanyahu could invite Kadima and Labor, but that would not matter anymore. Since he will be able to set up a government without them, he will get them for next to nothing. In such a government, their only function will be to serve as fig leaves, camouflage for the Americans.

One must also remember who would come with Netanyahu: types like Limor Livnat, Benny Begin and Bogie Yaalon.

Some people have brought up a Machiavellian idea: let the Likud come to power. That way, the entire world will see the true face of Israel and boycott it. The government will fall, and we can start all over again.

Sorry, that is too risky a bet for me. I am not ready to gamble with the future of Israel. To use an old catch-phrase: I don’t have another country.

Some try to cheer us up with another thought: Netanyahu is a weak person. If the Americans exert pressure on him, he will give in. In the end he will do whatever Obama tells him to do.

I am not so sure. I am not ready to bet on that either. His partners will not let him submit. For me, the first decision is: No Netanyahu.

TZIPI LIVNI has one enormous advantage: she is not Bibi.

It may seem that this is also her only advantage.

At this moment, she is the only person who could – perhaps, perhaps – block the road to a coalition headed by the Likud. For many, that is reason enough to vote for her.

Is there any other reason? Hard to see one. She could have risen above the murky waters and presented a clear and focused message: peace with the Palestinian people and the Arab world. That would have separated her from Netanyahu and also from Ehud Barak and given her the status of a statesperson. It would have turned the elections into a referendum on war and peace.

She has missed this opportunity. Like all the other candidates, she is afraid of the word “peace”. Her advisors have probably warned her that the shares of peace in the stock exchange of public opinion are way down.

If she were a real leader, if peace had been burning in her bones (as we say in Hebrew), she would have ignored the advice and stood up as a woman of principle.

Instead, she is trying to be more macho than all the machos, “The Only Man In The Government”. She cries to high heaven against any dialogue with Hamas. She objects to a mutually agreed cease-fire. She tries to compete with Netanyahu and Liberman with unbridled nationalist messages.

That is bad. That is also stupid. Someone who is looking for a he-he-man will not vote for a woman. Someone who is longing for a brutal warlord will not vote for a female civilian who, in the words of Barak, “has never held a rifle in her hands”.

It was a test of leadership. And Tzipi flunked it.

True, here and there she has voiced some vague ideas about “two nation-states”, but in all her years in office she has not taken the smallest real step in this direction.

Therefore, there is no reason to vote for her, except one: if she gets one vote more than Netanyahu, the President will call on her to try to set up a government. Such a government will surely include Netanyahu, and probably Liberman too. Yet it will be different from a government headed by Netanyahu. Under heavy American pressure, it might even move towards peace.

I CANNOT vote for Ehud Barak. Even if my head wanted to, my hand would not obey.

The inhuman Gaza War was a reflection of Barak’s own inhuman character. He waged the war as a part of his election campaign. When the anti-war demonstrators marched through the streets of Tel-Aviv and shouted: “Don’t buy votes / with the blood of babies” they were not so far off the mark.

Like Netanyahu, Barak is a documented failure. I was among the masses who celebrated his triumph in Rabin Square in 1999 when he was elected Prime Minister, and, hardly a year later, I sighed with relief when his government collapsed. In his short term of office he convened the Camp David conference and sabotaged it, spread the poisonous and mendacious mantra “We have no partner for peace”, provoked the second intifada and destroyed the peace camp from within.

Contrary to Livni, Barak does not even pretend to have a perspective of peace. He sees before him an endless landscape of mountain chains of war, mountain after mountain, stretching well beyond the horizon.

Unlike the Kadima and Likud lists, the Labor election list does include some good people. But these will have no influence at all on things to come. Effectively, it’s a one-man list, and that one man is deeply flawed.

FOR A MOMENT it seemed that Meretz was going to transform itself into something bigger. They included in their list some attractive new people. Men of letters recommended them warmly.

And then something happened to them, the same thing that happened to them the last time. A war broke out, and Meretz supported it enthusiastically. Their three literary musketeers – Amos Oz, A. B. Yehoshua and David Grossman – went out of their way to call for the war and laud it, each one in his turn. Exactly as they had done in Lebanon War II.

True, after some days the three – together with Meretz and Peace Now – called for the end of the attack. That call was not accompanied by an apology for the preceding one. This showed a lot of Chutzpa. After helping in breaking the dam, they thought that they could stop the flow with their fingers. But after they had legitimized the war of atrocities, no one listened to them anymore. Every woman and child who was killed in that war, up to the very last day, should weigh on their conscience.

Of course, some will say: you don’t vote to punish and take revenge. In spite of the crime, one has to vote for Meretz because among the “Zionist” parties they are the lesser evil. They speak about peace and social justice, and some of their representatives, like Shulamit Aloni and Yossi Sarid, did a good job in the Rabin government. Meretz also did some good parliamentary work for the right causes.

QUITE ANOTHER problem is posed by the three so-called “Arab” parties, one of which is the communist Hadash, which has a small Jewish component.

The Hadash program is closer to the consistent peace camp than any other. Some would say: That’s close enough. I vote according to my beliefs, and not tactical considerations. Hadash should also be credited for advancing some positive causes in the Knesset.

The problem of the “Arab” lists is that they have not succeeded in playing a meaningful role in the political arena, which has remained an exclusive fiefdom of the “Zionist” parties (“Zionist” in this context means “non Arab”). In order to break into the Jewish street, Hadash could have put at the head of its list, or at least in the No. 2 slot, Dov Khenin, who has risen to stardom in the recent Tel-Aviv municipal elections. By not doing so, they have lost at least some of the votes that could have strayed from Meretz and Labor.

The impact of the “Arab” parties on Israeli policy is next to nil. It is limited to one point in time: on the day after the elections, the question will arise whether all the center/left parties together, from Kadima leftwards, can muster enough votes to block a right-wing government. In this context, and only there, the “Arab” parties do play a role.

THERE REMAINS the Liberman phenomenon.

Liberman has created a party that is simply and thoroughly racist. Its election campaign is centered on the demand to annul the Israeli citizenship of “non-loyal” people. Meaning: the Arabs, who constitute 20% of Israel’s citizens.

In every other country, Liberman’s program would be called fascist, without quotation marks. Nowhere in the Western world is there a large party that would dare to advance such a demand. The neo-fascists in Switzerland and Holland want to expel foreigners, not to annul the citizenship of the native-born.

The core of the party is made up of immigrants from the former Soviet Union, many of whom have brought from their homeland an utter contempt for democracy, a desire for a strong leader (a Stalin or a Putin), a racist attitude towards brown-skinned citizens and a taste for brutal, Chechnya-style wars. They have now been joined by young, native-born Israelis, who have been radicalized by the recent war.

When Joerg Haider was taken into the Austrian cabinet, Israel recalled its ambassador from Vienna in protest. But compared to Liberman, Haider was a raving liberal, and so is Jean-Marie le Pen. Now Netanyahu has announced that Liberman will be “an important minister” in his government, Livni has hinted that he will be in her government, too, and Barak has not excluded that possibility.

The optimistic version says that Liberman will prove to be a passing curiosity. Every Israeli election campaign has featured a trend-party that reflects a passing mood, achieves a resounding success and then disappears. In 1977 it was the Dash party, which rode the horse of “changing the system”. It won 12.5% of the vote, broke apart and disappeared before the next elections. Later it was the Tzomet party of Rafael Eitan, on the horse of uncorrupted purity. Another was the Shinui (Change) party, which rode the horse of anti-religious hatred and disappeared without leaving a trace. In the last elections it was the pensioners’ list, with tens of thousands of youngsters voting for it as a prank. In the current elections, Liberman’s party has caught the trend, riding on the primitive emotions of the masses which broke free in the Gaza War.

There is also a pessimistic version: Fascism has become a serious player in the Israeli public domain. The three main parties have now legitimized it. This phenomenon must be stopped before it is too late.

SO, HOW shall I vote this coming Tuesday?

I intend to draw up a list that will start from the worst down to the least evil. The last one on the list gets my vote.

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.