Viser arkivet for stikkord obama

Uri Avnery: Israel and The Treaty with Iran

Uri Avnery
July 18, 2015

AND WHAT if the whole drama was only an exercise of deception?

What if the wily Persians did not even dream of building an atomic bomb, but used the threat to further their real aims?

What if Binyamin Netanyahu was duped to become unwittingly the main collaborator of Iranian ambitions?

Sounds crazy? Not really. Let’s have a look at the facts.

IRAN IS one of the oldest powers in the world, with thousands of years of political experience. Once they possessed an empire that spanned the civilized world, including our little country. Their reputation for clever trade practices is unequaled.

They are much too clever to build a nuclear weapon. What for? It would devour huge amounts of money. They know that they would never be able to use it. Same as Israel, with its large stockpile.

Netanyahu’s nightmare of an Iranian nuclear attack on Israel is just that – a nightmare (or daymare) of an ignorant dilettante. Israel is a nuclear power with a solid second-strike capability. As we see, the Iranian leaders are hard-boiled realists. Would they even dream of inviting an inevitable Israeli retaliation that would wipe from the face of the earth their three-millennia-old civilization?

(If this capability is defective, Netanyahu should be charged and convicted for criminal negligence.)

Even if the Iranians did deceive the whole world and build a nuclear bomb, nothing would happen except the creation of a “balance of terror”, such as saved the world at the height of the cold war between America and Russia.

The people around Netanyahu pretend to believe that, unlike the then Soviets, the Iranian mullahs are crazy people. There is absolutely no evidence for that. Since their 1979 revolution, the Iranian leadership has not made one single important step that was not absolutely rational. Compared to American missteps in the region (not to mention the Israeli ones), the Iranian leadership has been thoroughly logical.

So perhaps they traded their nonexistent nuclear designs for their very real political design: to become the hegemon of the Muslim world.

If so, they owe a lot to Netanyahu.

WHAT HAS the Islamic Republic ever done in its 45 years of existence to harm Israel?

Sure. Tehran crowds can be seen on television burning Israeli flags and shouting “Death to Israel”. They call us, not flatteringly, “the Little Satan”, as compared to the American “Great Satan”.

Terrible. But what else?

Not much. Perhaps some support for Hezbollah and Hamas, which were not their creation. Iran’s real fight is against the powers that be in the Muslim world. They want to turn the region’s countries into Iranian vassals, as they were 2400 years ago.

This has very little to do with Islam. Iran uses Islam as Israel uses Zionism and the Jewish Diaspora (and as Russia in the past used communism) as a tool for its imperial ambitions.

What is happening now in this region resembles the “religious wars” in 17th century Europe. A dozen countries fought each other in the name of religion, under the flags of Catholicism and Protestantism, but in reality using religion to further their very earthly imperial designs.

The US, led by a bunch of neocon fools, destroyed Iraq, which for many centuries had served as the bulwark of the Arab world against Iranian expansion. Now, under the banner of the Shia, Iran is expanding its power all over the Region.

Shiite Iraq is now to a large extent an Iranian vassal (we’ll come back to Daesh). The leaders of Syria, a Sunni country ruled by a small semi-Shiite sect, depend on Iran for their survival. In Lebanon, the Shiite Hezbollah is a close ally with growing power and prestige. So is Hamas in Gaza, which is entirely Sunni. And the Houthi rebels in Yemen, who are Zaidis (a school of the Shia.)

The status quo in the Arab world is defended by a corrupt bunch of dictators and medieval sheiks, such as the rulers of Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the Gulf oil potentates.

Clearly, Iran and its allies are the wave of the future, Saudi Arabia and its allies belong to the past.

That leaves Daesh, the Sunni “Islamic State” in Syria and Iraq. That is also a rising power. Unlike Iran, whose revolutionary élan long ago exhausted itself, Daesh is radiating revolutionary fervor, attracting adherents from all over the world.

Daesh is the real enemy of Iran – and of Israel.

PRESIDENT OBAMA and his advisors realized this some time ago. Their new alliance with Iran is partly based on this reality.

With the advent of Daesh, realities on the ground have changed completely. The shift reaffirms the old British maxim that one’s enemies in one war can well become one’s allies in the next, and vice versa. Far from being naïve, Obama is building an alliance against the new and very dangerous enemy. This alliance should logically include Bashar Assad’s Syria, but Obama is still afraid of saying so aloud.

Obama and his advisors also believe that with the lifting of the crippling sanctions, Iranians will concentrate on making money, lessening their nationalist and religious fervor even more. That sounds reasonable enough.

(Netanyahu thinks the American people are “naïve”. Well, for a naïve nation the US has done quite well in becoming the world’s only super-power.)

One by-product of the situation is that Israel is again at loggerheads with the entire political world. The Vienna treaty was signed not just by the US, but by all leading world powers. This seems to create the situation described by a jolly popular Israeli song: “The whole world is against us / But we don’t give a damn…”

Unfortunately, unlike Obama, Netanyahu is stuck in the past. He continues demonizing Iran, instead of joining it in the fight against Daesh, which is far, far more dangerous to Israel.

One does not have to go back to Cyrus the Great (6th century B.C.) to realize that Iran can be a close ally. In the relations between nations, geography trumps religion. Not so long ago, Iran was Israel’s closest ally in the region. We even sent Khomeini arms to fight Iraq. The Mullahs hate Israel not so much because of their religion, but because of our alliance with the Shah.

The present Iranian regime has long since lost its revolutionary religious fervor. It is acting according to its national interests. Geography still counts. A wise Israeli government would use the next ten-or-more years of a guaranteed nuclear-free Iran in order to renew the alliance – especially against Daesh.

This could mean new relations with Assad’s Syria, Hezbollah and Hamas too.

BUT SUCH far-reaching considerations are far from the mind of Netanyahu, the son of a historian, who is devoid of any historical knowledge or intuition.

The fight is now going to Washington DC, where Netanyahu will be fully committed as a mercenary of Sheldon Adelson, the owner of the Republican Party.

It is a sorry sight: the State of Israel, which has always enjoyed the full unblinking support of both American parties, has become an appendix of the reactionary Republican leadership.

One victim of this is the legend of the “invincible” pro-Israeli lobby. This crucial asset has now been lost. From now on, AIPAC will be just one of the many lobbies on Capitol Hill.

AN EVEN sorrier sight is Israel’s political and media elite on the morrow of the signing of the Vienna treaty. It was almost incredible.

Almost all political parties fell in line with Netanyahu’s policy, competing with each other in their demonstrations of abject loyalty. From the “leader of the opposition”, the pitiful Yitzhak Herzog, to the voluble Yair Lapid, everybody rushed to support the Prime Minister at this crucial hour.

The media were even worse. Almost all prominent commentators, left and right, ran amok against the ’disastrous" treaty and heaped their uniform disgust and contempt on poor Obama, as if reading from a prepared government “list of arguments” (as indeed they were).

Not the finest hour of Israeli democracy and the much lauded “Jewish brain”. Just a despicable example of all-too-common brain-washing. Some would call it presstitution.

One of Netanyahu’s arguments is that the Iranians can and will cheat the naive Americans and build the bomb. He is sure that this is possible. Well, he should know. We did it, didn’t we?

Avnery on the Netanyahu speech in Congress: An Expensive Speech

Uri Avnery
February 28, 2015

WINSTON CHURCHILL famously said that democracy is the worst political system, except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.

Anyone involved with political life knows that that is British understatement.

Churchill also said that the best argument against democracy is a five minute talk with an average voter. How true.

I have witnessed 20 election campaigns for the Knesset. In five of them I was a candidate, in three of them I was elected.

As a child I also witnessed three election campaigns in the dying days of the Weimar republic, and one (the last more or less democratic one) after the Nazi ascent to power.

(The Germans at that time were very good at graphic propaganda, both political and commercial. After more than 80 years, I still remember some of their election posters.)

Elections are a time of great excitement. The streets are plastered with propaganda, politicians talk themselves hoarse, sometimes violent clashes break out.

Not now. Not here. 17 days before the election, there is an eerie silence. A stranger coming to Israel would not notice that there is an election going on. Hardly any posters in the streets. Articles in the newspapers on many other subjects. People shouting at each other on TV as usual. No rousing speeches. No crowded mass meetings.

EVERYBODY KNOWS that this election may be crucial, far more so than most.

It may be the final battle for the future of Israel – between the zealots of Greater Israel and the supporters of a liberal state. Between a mini-empire that dominates and oppresses another people and a decent democracy. Between settlement expansion and a serious search for peace. Between what has been called here “swinish capitalism” and a welfare state.

In short, between two very different kinds of Israel.

So what is being said about this fateful choice?

Nothing.

The word “peace” – shalom in Hebrew – is not mentioned at all. God forbid. It is considered political poison. As we say in Hebrew: “He who wants to save his soul must distance himself”.

All the “professional advisers”, with whom this country is teeming, strongly admonish their clients never ever to utter it. “Say political agreement, if you must. But for Gods sake, do not mention peace!”

Same about occupation, settlements, transfer (of populations) and such. Keep away. Voters may suspect that you have an opinion. Avoid it like the plague.

The Israeli welfare state, once the envy of many countries (remember the kibbutz?) is falling apart. All our social services are crumbling. The money goes to the huge army, big enough for a medium power. So does anyone suggest drastically reducing the military? Of course not. What, stick the knife in the backs of our valiant soldiers? Open the gates to our many enemies? Why, that’s treason!

So what do the politicians and the media talk about? What is exciting the public mind? What reaches the headlines and evening news?

Only the really serious matters. Does the Prime minister’s wife pocket the coins for returned bottles? Does the Prime Minister’s official residence show signs of neglect? Did Sara Netanyahu use public funds to install a private hairdresser’s room in the residence?

SO WHERE is the main opposition party, the Zionist Camp (a.k.a. the Labor Party)?

The party labors (no pun intended) under a great disadvantage: its leader is the Great Absent One of this election.

Yitzhak Herzog does not have a commanding presence. Of slight build, more like a boy than a hardened warrior, with a thin, high voice, he does not seem like a natural leader. Cartoonists have a hard time with him. He does not have any pronounced characteristics that make him easily recognizable.

He reminds me of Clement Attlee. When the British Labor Party could not decide between two conspicuous candidates, they elected Attlee as the compromise candidate.

He, too, had no commanding features. (Churchill again: An empty car approached and Major Attlee got out.) The world gasped when the British, even before the end of World War II, kicked Churchill out and elected Attlee. But Attlee turned out to be a very good Prime Minister. He got out in time from India (and Palestine), set up the welfare state, and much more.

Herzog started out well. By setting up a joint election list with Tzipi Livni he created momentum and put the moribund Labor Party on its feet again. He adopted a popular name for the new list. He showed that he could make decisions. And there it stopped.

The Zionist Camp fell silent. Internal quarrels paralyzed the election staff.

(I published two articles in Haaretz calling for a joint list of the Zionist Camp, Meretz and Ya’ir Lapid’s party. It would have balanced the Left and the Center. It would have generated rousing new momentum. But the initiative could only have come from Herzog. He ignored it. So did Meretz. So did Lapid. I hope they won’t regret it.)

Now Meretz is teetering on the brink of the electoral threshold, and Lapid is slowly recovering from his deep fall in the polls, building mainly on his handsome face.

In spite of everything, Likud and the Zionist camp are running neck and neck. The polls give each 23 seats (of 120), predicting a photo finish and leaving the historic decision to a number of small and tiny parties.

THE ONLY game-changer in sight is the coming speech by Binyamin Netanyahu before the two Houses of Congress.

It seems that Netanyahu is pinning all his hopes on this event. And not without reason.

All Israeli TV stations will broadcast the event live. It will show him at his best. The great statesman, addressing the most important parliament in the world, pleading for the very existence of Israel.

Netanyahu is an accomplished TV personality. He is not a great orator in the style of Menachem Begin (not to mention Winston Churchill), but on TV he has few competitors. Every movement of his hands, every expression of his face, every hair on his head is exactly right. His American English is perfect.

The leader of the Jewish ghetto pleading at the court of the Goyish king for his people is a well-known figure in Jewish history. Every Jewish child reads about him in school. Consciously or unconsciously, people will be reminded.

The chorus of senators and congress(wo)men will applaud wildly, jump up and down every few minutes and express their unbounded admiration in every way, except licking his shoes.

Some brave Democrats will absent themselves, but the Israeli viewers will not notice this, since it is the habit on such occasions to fill all empty seats with members of the staff.

No propaganda spectacle could be more effective. The voters will be compelled to ask themselves how Herzog would have looked in the same circumstances.

I cannot imagine any more effective election propaganda. Using the Congress of the United States of America as a propaganda prop is a stroke of genius.

MILTON FRIEDMAN asserted that there is no such thing as a free lunch, and this lunch has a high price indeed.

It means almost literally spitting in the face of President Obama. I don’t think there was ever anything like it. The prime minister of a small vassal country, dependent on the US for practically everything, comes to the capital of the US to openly challenge its President, in effect branding him a cheat and a liar. His host is the opposition party.

Like Abraham, who was ready to slaughter his son to please God, Netanyahu is ready to sacrifice Israel’s most vital interests for election victory.

For many years, Israeli ambassadors and other functionaries have toiled mightily to enlist both the White House and the Congress in the service of Israel. When Ambassador Yitzhak Rabin came to Washington and found that the support for Israel was centered in the Congress, he made a large – and successful – effort to win over the Nixon White House.

AIPAC and other Jewish organizations have worked for generations to secure the support of both American parties and practically all senators and congress(wo)men. For years now, no politician on Capitol Hill dared to criticize Israel. It was tantamount to political suicide. The few who tried were cast into the wilderness.

And here comes Netanyahu and destroys all of this edifice for one election spectacle. He has declared war on the Democratic Party, cutting the bond that has connected Jews with this party for more than a century. Destroying the bipartisan support. Allowing Democratic politicians for the first time to criticize Israel. Breaking a generations-old taboo that may not be restored.

President Obama, who is being insulted, humiliated and obstructed in his most cherished policy move, the agreement with Iran, would be superhuman if he did not brood on revenge. Even a movement of his little finger could hurt Israel grievously.

Does Netanyahu care? Of course he cares. But he cares more about his reelection.

Much, much more.

Obama challenged the Jewish lobby

In an article in Al-Jazeera, MJ Rosenberg wrote that the US president’s choice of Chuck Hagel for Secretary of Defence is a serious defeat for the Jewish lobby.

The lobby claims that it did not fight to prevent the naming of Hagel. But according to Rosenberg, nothing happens without the lobby’s involvement.

You will find MJ Rosenberg’s article here

According to Wikipedia, MJ Rosenberg is Senior Foreign Policy Fellow at Media Matters Action Network and worked for various Democratic members of the House and Senate. He was a Clinton political appointee at USAID. In the 1980s, he was the editor of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s weekly newsletter Near East Report and from 1998-2009, he was director of policy at Israel Policy Forum.

He left Media Matters for America after controversy surrounding the use of the controversial term “Israel Firster,” which some have suggested to be anti-Semitic.

-Much international support for Israel is based on lies it tells and re-tells

For the Palestinians to survive the more than a century-long Zionist assault on their society and country, their only option is to resist this Israeli- and American- imposed “peace”, and all the so-called facts they impose on them, from the very first “fact” to the very last one. (Joseph Massad, Associate Professor of Modern Arab Politics and Intellectual History at Columbia University, USA).

He has written a comment on the speaches of US president Barack Obama and Israel’s prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the UN general assembly, when they both opposed the Palestinian application for membership. The article is published by Al-Jazeera.

Uri Avnery: -Miserable Obama speach in the UN

Abu Mazen’s Gamble

A WONDERFUL SPEECH. A beautiful speech.

The language expressive and elegant. The arguments clear and convincing. The delivery flawless.

A work of art. The art of hypocrisy. Almost every statement in the passage concerning the Israeli-Palestinian issue was a lie. A blatant lie: the speaker knew it was a lie, and so did the audience.

It was Obama at his best, Obama at his worst.

Being a moral person, he must have felt the urge to vomit. Being a pragmatic person, he knew that he had to do it, if he wanted to be re-elected.

In essence, he sold the fundamental national interests of the United States of America for the chance of a second term.

Not very nice, but that’s politics, OK?

IT MAY be superfluous – almost insulting to the reader – to point out the mendacious details of this rhetorical edifice.

Obama treated the two sides as if they were equal in strength – Israelis and Palestinians, Palestinians and Israelis.

But of the two, it is the Israelis – only they – who suffer and have suffered. Persecution. Exile. Holocaust. An Israeli child threatened by rockets. Surrounded by the hatred of Arab children. So sad.

No Occupation. No settlements. No June 1967 borders. No Naqba. No Palestinian children killed or frightened. It’s the straight right-wing Israeli propaganda line, pure and simple – the terminology, the historical narrative, the argumentation. The music.

The Palestinians, of course, should have a state of their own. Sure, sure. But they must not be pushy. They must not embarrass the US. They must not come to the UN. They must sit with the Israelis, like reasonable people, and work it out with them. The reasonable sheep must sit down with the reasonable wolf and decide what to have for dinner. Foreigners should not interfere.

Obama gave full service. A lady who provides this kind of service generally gets paid in advance. Obama got paid immediately afterwards, within the hour. Netanyahu sat down with him in front of the cameras and gave him enough quotable professions of love and gratitude to last for several election campaigns.

THE TRAGIC hero of this affair is Mahmoud Abbas. A tragic hero, but a hero nonetheless.

Many people may be surprised by this sudden emergence of Abbas as a daring player for high stakes, ready to confront the mighty US.

If Ariel Sharon were to wake up for a moment from his years-long coma, he would faint with amazement. It was he who called Mahmoud Abbas “a plucked chicken”.

Yet for the last few days, Abbas was the center of global attention. World leaders conferred about how to handle him, senior diplomats were eager to convince him of this or that course of action, commentators were guessing what he would do next. His speech before the UN General Assembly was treated as an event of consequence.

Not bad for a chicken, even for one with a full set of feathers.

His emergence as a leader on the world stage is somewhat reminiscent of Anwar Sadat.

When Gamal Abd-al-Nasser unexpectedly died at the age of 52 in 1970 and his official deputy, Sadat, assumed his mantle, all political experts shrugged.

Sadat? Who the hell is that? He was considered a nonentity, an eternal No. 2, one of the least important members of the group of “free officers” that was ruling Egypt.

In Egypt, a land of jokes and jokers, witticisms about him abounded. One concerned the prominent brown mark on his forehead. The official version was that it was the result of much praying, hitting the ground with his forehead. But the real reason, it was told, was that at meetings, after everyone else had spoken, Sadat would get up and try to say something. Nasser would good-naturedly put his finger to his forehead, push him gently down and say: “Sit, Anwar!”

To the utter amazement of the experts – and especially the Israeli ones – this “nonentity” took a huge gamble by starting the 1973 October War, and proceeded to do something unprecedented in history: going to the capital of an enemy country still officially in a state of war and making peace.

Abbas’ status under Yasser Arafat was not unlike Sadat’s under Nasser. However, Arafat never appointed a deputy. Abbas was one of a group of four or five likely successors. The heir would surely have been Abu Jihad, had he not been killed by Israeli commandoes in front of his wife and children. Another likely candidate, Abu Iyad, was killed by Palestinian terrorists. Abu Mazen (Abbas) was in a way the choice by default.

Such politicians, emerging suddenly from under the shadow of a great leader, generally fall into one of two categories: the eternal frustrated No. 2 or the surprising new leader.

The Bible gives us examples of both kinds. The first was Rehoboam, the son and heir of the great King Solomon, who told his people: “my father chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions”. The other kind was represented by Joshua, the heir of Moses. He was no second Moses, but according to the story a great conqueror in his own right.

Modern history tells the sad story of Anthony Eden, the long-suffering No. 2 of Winston Churchill, who commanded little respect. (Mussolini called him, after their first meeting, “a well-tailored idiot.”). Upon assuming power, he tried desperately to equal Churchill and soon embroiled Britain in the 1956 Suez disaster. To the second category belonged Harry Truman, the nobody who succeeded the great Franklin Delano Roosevelt and surprised everybody as a resolute leader.

Abbas looked like belonging to the first kind. Now, suddenly, he is revealed as belonging to the second. The world is treating him with newfound respect. Nearing the end of his career, he made the big gamble.

BUT WAS it wise? Courageous, yes. Daring, yes. But wise?

My answer is: Yes, it was.

Abbas has placed the quest for Palestinian freedom squarely on the international table. For more than a week, Palestine has been the center of international attention. Scores of international statesmen and -women, including the leader of the world’s only superpower, have been busy with Palestine.

For a national movement, that is of the utmost importance. Cynics may ask: “So what did they gain from it?” But cynics are fools. A liberation movement gains from the very fact that the world pays attention, that the media grapple with the problem, that people of conscience all over the world are aroused. It strengthens morale at home and brings the struggle a step nearer its goal.

Oppression shuns the limelight. Occupation, settlements, ethnic cleansing thrive in the shadows. It is the oppressed who need the light of day. Abbas’ move provided it, at least for the time being.

BARACK OBAMA’s miserable performance was a nail in the coffin of America’s status as a superpower. In a way, it was a crime against the United States.

The Arab Spring may have been a last chance for the US to recover its standing in the Middle East. After some hesitation, Obama realized that. He called on Mubarak to go, helped the Libyans against their tyrant, made some noises about Bashar al-Assad. He knows that he has to regain the respect of the Arab masses if he wants to recover some stature in the region, and by extension throughout the world.

Now he has blown it, perhaps forever. No self-respecting Arab will forgive him for plunging his knife into the back of the helpless Palestinians. All the credit the US has tried to gain in the last months in the Arab and the wider Muslim world has been blown away with one puff.

All for reelection.

IT WAS also a crime against Israel.

Israel needs peace. Israel needs to live side by side with the Palestinian people, within the Arab world. Israel cannot rely forever on the unconditional support of the declining United States.

Obama knows this full well. He knows what is good for Israel, even if Netanyahu doesn’t. Yet he has handed the keys of the car to the drunken driver.

The State of Palestine will come into being. This week it was already clear that this is unavoidable. Obama will be forgotten, as will Netanyahu, Lieberman and the whole bunch.

Mahmoud Abbas – Abu Mazen, as the Palestinians call him – will be remembered. The “plucked chicken” is soaring into the sky.

Uri Avnery
September 24, 2011

US government is changing the story of how bin Laden was killed

The US government is making significant changes to the first version of how al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden and several of his companions were killed in their compound in the military city of Abottabad in Pakistan, according to the British newspaper The Guardian.

Was Osama bin Laden armed or unarmed when the 20 Navy Seals entered the building? The New York Times has a story, telling he was armed. Other stories have told that bin Laden was unarmed when he was shot.

US president Barack Obama will not publish photo footage from the action that killed al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden in the Pakistan city of Abottabad, according to Washington Post.

Steve Coll of the New Yorker has an excellent article in the aftermath of the killing of al Qaida leader Osama bin Laden.

According to the Washington Post and Al-Jazeera the body of Osama bin Laden has been given a sea burial.

The Guardian tells the story of how the Obama administration kept secret, the operation that killed US enemy number one.

Robert Fisk of The Independent, met Osama bin Laden and members of his family on several occasions. His name has a link to his reflections.

Washington Post has made a list of the candidates to succeed Osama bin Laden as leader of al-Qaida.

Kjære Obama og resten av verdens toppleder

Eg vill Israel alt godt og alle jøder som klarer å opptre som normale mennesker rundt i alle land.
Om de har herrefolk tanker om seg selv som guds utvalgte folk, og derav kan oppføre seg som om andre folkeslag er dem underlegne i forhold til dem, grunnet tro på gud og de handler som guds utsendte ledere på jord føler eg forakt.
En drept jøde er likestilt for meg med en drept fra andre folkeslag.
Før de aksepterer å innfinne seg med de grenser FN setter, både fysiske landområder og de grenser internasjonale traktater setter vil de aldri få fred. De vil fortsette å måtte hyle og skrike på att andre er antisemitter og fortelle hvor grufulle alle andre folkeslag er, som ikke slikker dem opp etter rygge.
Så for deres egen sikkerhets skyld ber eg deg president Obama, sende sjømilitære styrker til den omstridde kystlinje, for å sikre oppbyggingen av Palestinske områder igjen.
Ett år på dagen før du Obama ble valg, holt du en preken i en kirke, der hann snakket om Jerikos fall.
Bruk basunene kom med ett hangarskip, som kan bli base for tryggleiken til Israel, der Murene gjengbygges på grenselingene til Israel, om de føler behov for å bo i ett fengsel.
EU og Russland og resten av verdens ledere, dere bør selvfølgelig ha en solid rolle i det hele.
Er dette jødehat eg uttrykker? Nei mener eg det er respekt for menneskeliv generelt.
Krig avler krig, konkret fast holdning som er rettferdig, kan om en ønsker det stanse krig og voldshandlinger.
Tore Steinset Norway

Uri Avnery on the US kangoroo diplomacy in the Middle East

Uri Avnery
30.1.10

The Kangaroo

GEORGE MITCHELL looks like a kangaroo hopping around with an empty pouch.

He hops here and he hops there. Hops to Jerusalem and hops to Ramallah, Damascus, Beirut, Amman (but, God forbid, not to Gaza, because somebody may not like it). Hops, hops, but doesn’t take anything out of his pouch, because the pouch is empty.

So why does he do it? After all, he could stay at home, raise roses or play with his grandchildren.

This compulsive traveling reveals a grain of chutzpah. If he has nothing to offer, why waste the time of politicians and media people? Why burn airplane fuel and damage the environment?

THE DECLARED aim of Mitchell is to “get the peace process going again”. How? “Get the two sides to return to the negotiating table”.

There is a naïve American belief that all the problems of the world could be solved if only the parties would sit down at the table and talk. When reasonable people talk to each other, they will eventually arrive at a solution.

The trouble with this is that the people responsible for the fate of nations are not, in general, reasonable people. They are politicians with passions and prejudices and constituencies, who are driven by the mood of the masses. When one is dealing with a 130-year old conflict, the naïve belief in the value of talk borders on folly.

Decades of experience indicate that negotiations are useless if one of the parties is not interested in an agreement. Worse: negotiations can actually cause damage when one of the parties uses them to waste time while creating a false impression of progress towards peace.

In our conflict, peace negotiations have become a substitute for peace, a means to obstruct peace. They are an instrument used by successive Israeli governments to gain time – time to enlarge the settlements and entrench the occupation.

(In an interview with Haaretz published yesterday, Ehud Barak accused the “left” in general, and Gush Shalom and Peace Now in particular, of not supporting Netanyahu’s call for negotiations. He got close to accusing us of treason.)

Anyone who now proposes negotiations “without prior conditions” is collaborating with the Netanyahu-Barak-Lieberman government in a ploy to sabotage the chances of peace. Indeed, Mitchell has become – perhaps unwittingly – such a collaborator. When he exerts pressure on Mahmoud Abbas “to come back to the negotiating table”, he is playing the game of Netanyahu, who presents himself as the great peace-lover. Abbas is being pictured as a man who has “climbed a high tree and doesn’t know how to get down again”. There is no occupation, no ongoing settlement activity, no Judaization of East Jerusalem. The only problem is to get a ladder. A ladder for Abbas!

All this for what? What is the kangaroo hopping for? It’s all to help Obama, who is thirsting for a political achievement like a man in the desert thirsting for water. The start of negotiations, however meaningless, would be presented as a great diplomatic success.

THE OTHER day, Obama himself made a rare gesture: the President of the United States of America declared publicly that he had made a mistake and apologized for it. He admitted that he had not properly understood the difficulties involved in the restarting of the peace process.

Everybody praised the President. Such a courageous leader! Such nobility!

To which I would add: And such chutzpah!

Here comes the most powerful leader in the world and says: I was wrong. I did not understand. I have failed. For a whole year I have not achieved any progress at all towards a solution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Look how honest I am! Look how ready I am to admit mistakes!

That is chutzpah. That is chutzpah, because a whole year was lost due to this “mistake”, a whole year in which 1.5 million human beings in Gaza, men, women and children, have been suffering utter destitution, many of them without sufficient food, many of them without shelter in the cold and in rain. A whole year in which more than a hundred Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem were demolished while new Jewish housing projects sprang up at a crazy pace. A whole year in which settlements in the West Bank were enlarged, apartheid roads were built and pogroms, under the “price tag” slogan, were carried out.

So, with all due respect, Mr. President, the word “mistake” hardly suffices.

The Bible says: “He that covereth his sins shall not prosper; but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy” (Proverbs 28:13). Obama covereth not his “mistake”, and that is good. But it is the second half of the verse that counts: “confesseth and forsaketh”. No mercy for one who “confesseth” but not “forsaketh”. You have not hinted with a single word that you are about to forsake your old ways.

It is chutzpah for another reason, too: You say that you have failed because you did not properly appreciate the domestic problems of the two leaders, Netanyahu and Abbas. Netanyahu, you say, has an extreme right-wing coalition, and Abbas has Hamas.

Sorry, sorry, but what about your own “coalition”, which does not allow you to move an inch in the right direction? What about the two houses of Congress, which are completely subservient to the pro-Israel lobbies, both the Jewish and the Christian-Evangelical? What about your fear of your extreme right, which is supporting our own extreme right? What about your inability – or unwillingness – to exercise your leadership, invest political capital in a confrontation with the lobbies and move forwards according to the real interests of the United States (and Israel) – as did President Dwight D. Eisenhower in his time, and even, for a short period, Secretary of State James Baker?

THE TERRIBLE blow dealt to Obama in the Massachusetts by-election has dumbfounded many people. It has changed the texture of American politics and is endangering the health system reforms, the jewel in the crown he has put on his head. It threatens to turn him into a lame duck that may not only lose the midterm elections this year, but even fail to be reelected less than three years from now.

Many ask: what happened to the shining candidate who enchanted the entire United States and mobilized millions of enthusiastic new voters? Where is the man with a vision who aroused the masses with the battle-cry “Yes, We Can”?

How did the inspiring campaigner turn into a so-so president, one who does not excite anyone? How did the candidate, who always hit exactly the right note, turn into a president who is unable to touch the hearts of the people? How did the candidate, who made all the right decisions, turn into a president who cannot make decisions? How did the anti-Bush turn into another-Bush?

It seems to me that the answers lie in one of the fundamental paradoxes of the democratic system. I have thought about this many a time while sitting through boring speeches in the Knesset.

A democratic leader who has a vision and wants to realize it has to pass two tests: to win an election and to govern a country. If he does not get elected, he will not have a chance to realize his dream. If he fails in governing, his election victory loses its meaning.

The trouble is that these two tasks are very different. Indeed, they tend to contradict each other, because they demand very different talents.

The candidate must make speeches, excite the imagination, make promises and convince the voters that he is capable of fulfilling them. These talents can indeed be of help to the ruler – but they do not suffice to enable him to rule. The ruler must make hard decisions, withstand extreme pressures, manage a huge apparatus with many contradictory components, convince the public of his country and the leaders of foreign countries. He cannot satisfy all sectors of the public and all the interest groups, the way he tried to do as a candidate.

The most inspiring candidates often turn out to be disastrous heads of government. They are swept into power by the enthusiasm they evoke in their voters, and then suddenly find out that their brilliant speeches have no impact any more – not on the members of their parliament, not on the public, not on foreign leaders. Their brightest talent has become useless.

I have the impression that Obama’s numerous speeches are starting to tire people and are losing their appeal. When he turns his face from left to right and from right to left, from one teleprompter to the other, he starts to look like a mechanical doll. The millions viewing his speeches on TV see him turning to the left and turning to the right, but never really looking them in the eyes.

The candidate is an actor on stage playing the role of a leader. After the elections, when he actually becomes a leader, he can become helpless. The man who plays Julius Caesar in Shakespeare’s play can be a great actor – but if he were Caesar in real life, he would not have a clue what to do. (When I put this to an actor, his retort was: “But Caesar himself would not be able to play Caesar on the stage!”)

Barack Obama is no Caesar. Rather he is Hamlet, Prince of America. Enchanting, attractive, full of good intentions – but feeble and hesitant. To rule or not to rule, that is the question.

IT IS much too early to announce Obama’s political death. Contrary to Mark Antony, who declares in the play “I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him”, I am not yet ready to bury the great hope raised by him.

A year has passed since he entered the White House. A year wasted to a large extent. Three more years are left until the next elections. True, in the first year, after such a dramatic victory, it would have been much easier for him to do things than in the following three years, but Obama can still recover, draw the necessary conclusions from the experience and manage a comeback.

One of the roads there leads through Jerusalem. Obama must keep his kangaroo tied up at home and take the initiative into his own hands. He must announce a clear peace program, the one about which there is now a world-wide consensus (Two states for two peoples, a Palestinian state in all the occupied territories with its capital in East Jerusalem and the dismantling of the settlements in Palestinian territory) and call upon the two sides to adopt it in theory and practice – perhaps by a referendum on both sides. When the time is ripe, he may come to Jerusalem and address the Israeli people from the Knesset rostrum with a clear and unequivocal message.

In short: exit Hamlet, enter Julius Caesar.

-The settlement freeze is just a bluff

Uri Avnery
28.11.09

“…And A Little Child Shall Lead Them”

THOMAS FRIEDMAN, the New York Times columnist, has an idea. That happens to him quite often. One might almost say – too often.

It goes like this: The US will turn its back on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The entire world will follow. Everybody is fed up with this conflict. Let the Israelis and the Palestinians sort out their problems by themselves.

Sounds sensible. Why must the world be bothered with these two unruly children? Let them kick each other as much as they like. The adults should not interfere.

But in reality this is an outrageous suggestion. Because these two children are not of equal strength. When an adult sees a 14-year old mercilessly mistreating a 6-year old, can he just look on?

Israel is materially a hundredfold, indeed a thousandfold, stronger than the Palestinians. The fourth strongest army in the world (by its own estimate) dominates the life of a helpless people. The Israeli economy, with some of the most advanced technologies in the world, dominates a people whose resources are next to nil. A 42-year old occupation dominates every single corner of occupied Palestine.

This did not come about by a miracle. The huge gap between the strength of the two peoples has also been created by the support of the US for Israel. Israel would not be where it is today without this political, economic and military underpinning. Billions of dollars in annual aid, access to the most advanced weaponry in the world, the political immunity assured by the US veto in the Security Council and all the other forms of assistance have helped successive Israeli governments to maintain and intensify the occupation.

Friedman does not propose ending this support, which itself is a massive intervention in this conflict, and is given to the stronger side. When he suggests that the US withdraw from the conflict, he is actually saying: let the Israeli government do what it is doing – continue the occupation, set up new settlements, withdraw the land from under the feet of the Palestinian people, go on with the murderous blockade that denies the 1.5 million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip – men, women and children –almost all the necessities of life.

This is a monstrous suggestion.

True, the prophet Isaiah (11:6) describes a situation where the wolf shall dwell with the lamb. (Israeli humor comments: No problem, provided a new lamb is brought in every day.) Now the prophet Thomas proposes to let the wolf and the lamb sort out their relationship between themselves.

BINYAMIN NETANYAHU could not wish for more in his wildest dreams. In the meantime he is satisfied with something less: President Obama’s acceptance of his latest trick.

And thus Netanyahu confronted the nation with a tortured face and told us about his inhumanly difficult decision: to suspend the building activities in the settlements.

The entire world applauded. How wonderful of Netanyahu to sacrifice his most sacred principles on the altar of peace. He has taken a stupendous step. Now it’s up to the Palestinians in their turn to respond with a grand gesture.

But something is wrong in this picture and needs explaining.

To return to the great Sherlock Holmes, who spoke about the curious incident of the dog in the night-time: “But the dog did nothing in the night-time!” he was told. “That was the curious incident,” the detective answered.

It could have been assumed that after such a dramatic announcement by the Likud leader, the settlers would let out a deafening roar. Riots in the streets of all the towns. Blocking of all roads in the occupied territories. A rebellion of the settlers in the cabinet and the Knesset.

But the dog did not bark. Not even a growl, just a token yelp. Culture Minister Limor Livnat opened her big mouth and declared that the Obama administration was “terrible”. That’s more or less all. The settler-minister Avigdor Lieberman even voted for the decision in the cabinet, and so did the ultra-extreme Likud minister Benny Begin, son of the late Prime Minister.

Begin even explained his curious behavior on TV: he had no reason to vote against. After all, it was only a gesture to appease Obama. It has no real content. Building “public structures” will go on (about 300 new ones were approved just this week). Building will be continued in housing projects whose foundations have already been laid (at least 3000 apartments in the West Bank). And, most importantly: there will be absolutely no limitation to Jewish building activity in East Jerusalem, where building continues frantically in half a dozen locations in the heart of the Arab part of the city. And, besides, the suspension will last only for 10 months. Then, Begin promised, construction will be resumed in full swing.

That would not have appeased the settlers, if they did not know what every Israeli knows: that it is all phony. Building will continue everywhere, with the officials cooperating on the quiet and the army closing its eyes. It will be claimed that building permits had already been issued, that the foundations had already been laid. (In many places extra foundations have indeed been laid, just in case.) That’s the way it was in the past, under the governments of Labor and Kadima, and that’s the way it will continue now. This week it became known that in the whole of the West Bank, just 14 (fourteen!) government inspectors are supervising all building activity.

In the same TV program, Yossi Beilin was sitting next to Begin. It might have been expected that he at least would expose the fraud, but no. Beilin lauded Netanyahu for his brave act and saw in it a promising new beginning. This way he rendered important assistance in winning over world public opinion and setting the mind of Israeli innocents at rest. It would be difficult to imagine a sadder example of the collapse of the “Zionist Left”. The Geneva Initiative has turned into the Jerusalem Deception.

The largest opposition party, too, joined the chorus. Tzipi Livni, who bears the impressive official title of “Leader of the Opposition”, mumbled something unintelligible and went back to sleep.

AND OBAMA? He capitulated again. After giving up his original demand for a total freeze of building in the settlements, he had no choice but to give in again. He reacted to Netanyahu’s shabby performance as if it were high drama.

Obama is in need of an achievement. It is being said that he has not achieved a single objective in the international arena. So here is an achievement. Netanyahu is freezing – sorry, restraining – sorry, suspending – settlement activity.

My father taught me in my youth that one must never give in to a blackmailer. After giving in once, one is condemned to giving in again and again, while the demands of the blackmailer grow and grow. After giving in to the pro-Israel lobby once, Obama will have to give in again and again.

One could almost pity him and his assistants. Such an impressive, such a tough, such an experienced group – and they are returning from Jerusalem like Napoleon’s army from Moscow.

We saw poor George Mitchell. The man who brokered peace between the murderous factions in Ireland came to Jerusalem. Came again and again and again. Came as the representative of the world’s one remaining superpower to tell Israelis and Palestinians what they have to do. He was tough. He dictated terms.

Israeli officials laughed at him behind his back. They are used to the likes of him. They have eaten them for breakfast. Remember William Rogers, Nixon’s Secretary of State and his peace plan? And the great Henry Kissinger? And even James Baker, who tried to impose economic sanctions on us? And Bill Clinton’s “Guidelines”? And the “vision” of George Bush? The political graveyard is full of American politicians who tried to impose limits on Israel, without being able or willing to use the necessary force. Welcome, George. Nice to see you, Hillary.

What is so pathetic is that Netanyahu is not even deceiving Obama. The American president knows full well that this is all play acting. He is very intelligent. He is not very courageous. For the mess of pottage of a pretended achievement he has sold his political birthright. Even George Bush managed to extract from Ariel Sharon an undertaking to dismantle all settlements set up after March 2001 (needless to say, not a single one was dismantled).

This is a great victory for Netanyahu, his second over Obama. Not yet the decisive victory, but a victory that bodes ill for the chances of peace in the near future.

NETANYAHU DID NOT even try to deceive the Palestinians either. He knew that this is impossible.

Every Palestinian understands Netanyahu’s announcement only too well. He has only to look out of his window to see what is happening. After all, Israel would not invest billions in new building if it had any intention of dismantling the settlements for peace within a year or two.

There is hardly a place in the West Bank where one cannot see a settlement on a hilltop, near or far. In some places, one can see two or three. If one approaches closer, one can see the building activity in full swing, the overt and the covert, the “legal” and the “illegal”.

And, most importantly: there is no Palestinian leader who could possibly agree to the continued building in East Jerusalem. The construction of Jewish housing projects goes on while Palestinian homes are being destroyed, “archeological” digs continue as well as all the other activities designed to “judaize” Jerusalem. To put it more bluntly: making Jerusalem “Arab-free”.

When Obama capitulates to Netanyahu, there is nothing Mahmoud Abbas can do. When the Americans demand that the Palestinians answer Netanyahu’s “important” step with an important step of their own, it is nothing but a sad joke. The Americans help Netanyahu to put the ball into the Palestinian court, and with a pious rolling of their eyes ask why, after such a momentous Israeli gesture, the Palestinian do not agree to resuming the “peace process”.

But Abbas cannot start negotiations without a total freeze of the settlements, especially in Jerusalem. The only dialog between Israelis and Palestinians that is taking place now is with Hamas. The prisoner exchange deal is nearing the point of decision. The main remaining bone of contention is the freeing of the Fatah leader, Marwan Barghouti, who was sentenced to five life terms.

If the deal is clinched and Barghouti freed, it will be another humiliation for Abbas: it will be said that Hamas, not he, has achieved the liberation of the Fatah leader. The freed Barghouti will act to mend the split between Fatah and Hamas and will be a credible candidate for the presidency of the Palestinian Authority. Then, a new chapter of the conflict will begin.

IT IS worth reading the full text of Isaiah’s prophecy: “The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid, and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them.”

The role of the little child, so it seems, falls to Obama. If he accepts, God forbid, Friedman’s advice and leaves the picture, the vision will turn into a nightmare. The Israeli government will increase the oppression, the Palestinians will turn to unbridled terrorism, the entire world will be dragged into bloody chaos.

Some advice.

Uri Avnery on the power struggle in the Middle East

Uri Avnery
12.9.09

EVEN THE Romans never saw a game like this in their arena: three gladiators fighting against each other, while at the same time each of them has to defend himself against attackers from behind.

All three of them – Barack Obama, Binyamin Netanyahu and Mahmoud Abbas – are fighting for their political life. The three battles are quite different from each other, yet interconnected.

OBAMA IS in big trouble. Big? Huge! The most important struggle concerns health insurance.

This has no connection with Israel. Moreover, for an Israeli it is difficult even to understand it.

For us it is hard – indeed impossible – to grasp how a modern, progressive country can function without health insurance for all. Our health system came into being long before the foundation of the State of Israel. Sick funds covered practically the whole Jewish population in Palestine. After the foundation of Israel, this became law for all citizens. Every Israeli is insured by one of four officially recognized sick funds. All of these are financed to a large extent by the government, which also decides what services they are obliged to provide.

In a progressive society, a person has a right to basic medical care, including hospital care, operations and medicines. So it seems very odd that in the richest nation in the world there are tens of millions of people who lack this essential protection. Especially in a country where medical expenditure – as a percentage of the gross national product – is far higher then in ours.

Along comes Obama and proposes a plan that offers these people an option of governmental medical insurance. What could be more natural? But in the US, powerful forces are out to prevent it, on behalf of Free Enterprise, the Market, the Right to Privacy and such high-sounding pretexts. They portray Obama as a Second Hitler or a Second Stalin, if not both, and his popularity is sinking dramatically.

Odd? Mad? Perhaps. But we have to take it seriously. It concerns us directly.

BECAUSE OBAMA is a central actor in our own play.

When he came to power, he understood that he must change the situation in the extended Middle East. Most Muslims in the world, including most Arabs, hate the United States. Even an imperial power cannot function effectively in an atmosphere of general hatred. The main reason for the hatred is the unlimited US support for the government of Israel, which oppresses the Palestinians.

For eight years, President Bill Clinton acted as an agent of the Jewish lobby for Israel. After that, for another eight years, President George W. Bush acted as an agent of the Christian fundamentalist lobby for Israel. President Obama understands that basic US interests demand an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that is poisoning the entire region.

The war in Afghanistan makes it even worse. Obama got stuck in this quagmire by mistake: in the heat of the election campaign he announced that he would withdraw from Iraq. But in order not to be accused of defeatism, he added that he would intensify the American intervention in Afghanistan.

That was a rash promise. Afghanistan is far worse than even Iraq. It is a different war, in a different environment, against a different enemy. The US has no chance of “winning” this war, which has no clear aim and no clear enemy, against a population that since antiquity has been honing its expertise in expelling foreign invaders.

It is easy to walk into a swamp, difficult to get out of it. Obama has no exit strategy from Afghanistan. That, too, will endanger his popularity in the near future.

THIS IS the situation in which he enters the struggle with Binyamin Netanyahu.

There no question anymore that the only recipe for healing the Israeli-Palestinian wound is the termination of the occupation and the establishment of peace between the State of Israel and the new State of Palestine beside it. This demands meaningful and intense negotiations, within a fixed time span. That is impossible if at the same time settlements continue to expand. As the Palestinian lawyer Michael Tarasi aptly put it: “We are negotiating about the division of a pizza and in the meantime Israel is eating the pizza.”

That’s why Obama has presented the Israeli government with an unequivocal demand: an immediate stop to all building in the settlements, including East Jerusalem. A clear and logical demand. But while pressuring Netanyahu, he himself is exposed to heavy pressure at home over the health insurance system and the Afghan war.

NETANYAHU’S SITUATION is no less complex.

His government is based on a coalition of five different parties. The settlers and their supporters constitute a majority. The “leftist” in this coalition, Ehud Barak, has been responsible for setting up more settlements than Netanyahu himself ever has.

Netanyahu is dancing on a thin tightrope at the Israeli fair, high above the heads of the audience, without a safety net. He must avoid a head on clash with Obama, while satisfying the nationalists in his own party and his coalition.

How to do this? One has to convince Obama to allow a small amount of building in the settlements, just another tiny bit, in order to appease the settlers. One has to convince the settlers that the promise to freeze building is just window dressing, and that in reality building will continue at full speed.

The Americans recognize, of course, that our government is trying to deceive them. If they allow the building of just another 500 houses in the settlement blocks, and the completion of just another 2500 houses whose construction has already begun, and just a few more in East Jerusalem, in practice the building will go on unchecked.

The settlers know perfectly well that their whole enterprise has been based on deceit and trickery, house after house and neighborhood after neighborhood, and they are happy to allow Netanyahu to continue with this method. For the time being, they do not cry out, they are not worried, the more so as no large Israeli public movement has yet arisen in support of Obama’s peace efforts.

Obama’s troubles concerning the health issue look to Netanyahu like the answer to a prayer. Perhaps he is not satisfied with divine help alone, and the pro-Israel lobby is quietly helping the enemies of reform. If Obama’s people decide that the time is not ripe for a confrontation with Netanyahu and that it is worth giving in about small matters – some houses here, some houses there – that would be a huge victory for Netanyahu. Every Israeli will see it this way: Netanyahu stood up like a man, Obama blinked first. But thereafter, in the second and third battle, when Obama insists and does not give in, neither in word nor in deed, Netanyahu will be in trouble.

MAHMOUD ABBAS is the weakest of the three gladiators. His situation is the most precarious.

He is on a slippery slope and has to rely on support from Obama, who himself stands atop a tower that may collapse. He has already learned that Netanyahu does not intend to conduct real negotiations with him. And Hamas accuses him of collaboration with the occupation.

West Bank public opinion polls seem to show that the popularity of Fatah there is on the rise and that Hamas is losing. But polls in Palestine can almost be counted on to be wrong (as on the eve of the last elections, when they forecast a huge Fatah victory). More than a thousand Hamas militants are in the prisons of the Palestinian Authority. The Authority’s security services, which are being trained by the American general Keith Dayton, are working in close cooperation with the occupation forces and serve, quite openly, as their sub-contractors. What does the ordinary Palestinian in the street think about that?

Life in the occupied West Bank is built on an illusion. Commentators praise the success of the PA’s Prime Minister, Salaam Fayad, in reconstructing the Palestinian economy. Ramallah is flowering. New businesses are being opened. Netanyahu’s “economic peace” is becoming a reality. But that is, of course, a delicate bubble: the Israeli army can eradicate all this in half an hour, as it did in the 2002 “Defensive Shield” operation.

If Abbas does not succeed in achieving impressive progress towards peace within a few months, the whole structure may come crashing down. General Dayton has already warned that if peace is not achieved “within two years”, the forces now being trained by him may rise up against the Israeli occupation (and against Abbas, of course). Hamas is breathing heavily down their necks.

IN A FEW days, the three – Obama, Netanyahu and Abbas – are supposed to hold a summit conference in New York and to launch the Ship of Peace.

It will be an interesting meeting – if it takes place – because each of the three will be sitting on a wobbly stool, with unequal legs. While talking with his two colleagues, each will be preoccupied with his enemies at home.

That is not, of course, an unusual situation. Henry Kissinger once said that Israel has no foreign policy, only a domestic policy. But that is more or less true for every country. The United States, Israel and Palestine are not unique in this respect.

Commentators in ivory towers, who are used to handling out gratuitous advice to political leaders and telling them what to do, frequently miss this dimension. A person who has never experienced the heat of an election campaign cannot come near to understanding the full depths of a politician’s motives. In the words of Otto von Bismarck, a politician through and through: “Politics is the art of the possible”.

How to move the peace efforts back from the realm of the impossible? In this campaign, the Israeli peace camp has a double task: first, to expose the policy of evasion and deceit of our government; and, second, to strengthen Obama’s hand in his endeavor to bring peace to this region. It is important that a strong and authentic Israeli camp express support for his efforts. Our friends in the US, in Europe and throughout the entire world have a similar task.

This three-sided struggle is not taking place in a Roman arena, and we are not just spectators looking on from the terraces. At stake in this game is nothing less than our lives.