Friday, August 27, 2010

Zionism Derangement Syndrome

 

by Elliot Jager

 

A smoldering resentment, bordering on political paranoia, is palpable in sectors of Israel's Left these days. Everywhere, it seems, powerful enemies are conspiring to undermine the centers of cultural influence that leftists have long regarded as their own property, and as beyond criticism. Their response bears a resemblance to the left-wing American affliction that the columnist Charles Krauthammer memorably labeled "Bush Derangement Syndrome."

One recent challenge to Left hegemony is a proposed law now winding its way through the Knesset's legislative process. The bill, prompted in part by an independent report on certain Israeli pressure groups, including Peace Now and B'Tselem, would require political-advocacy organizations to reveal how much money they receive from foreign powers. On the face of it, this seems unexceptionable enough: in the U.S., the Foreign Agents Registration Act has long stipulated that persons paid to act in a political capacity by a foreign principal must declare their relationship; the proposed Israeli law, by contrast, would merely require the reporting of donations from foreign states and state-funded foundations.

Another challenge comes from a new grass-roots student effort called Im Tirtzu. The organization, which insists its political platform is centrist, has declared its intention of urging Diaspora Jewish donors to reconsider their support of Israeli universities whose humanities and social-science departments are bastions of anti-Zionist teachings and whose tenured faculty work to propel the boycott, divestment, and sanctions campaign against the Jewish state. The group will also urge students to avoid academic departments that silence or intimidate those voicing Zionist convictions.

Finally, a meticulously documented and scathing 141-page report, "Post-Zionism in Academia," released by the Institute for Zionist Strategies, a conservative think tank, has found that nearly all social-science and humanities departments at Israeli universities are dominated by faculty advocating radical positions anathema to the country's mainstream. The situation is said to be particularly egregious at Tel Aviv and Ben-Gurion universities, where, according to the report, most curricular readings in sociology are "post-Zionist"—really anti-Zionist—in orientation.  

To each of these initiatives, the Left's panicked response has been not to question or rebut facts and arguments but to cry outrage and to accuse the critics of engaging in attempted censorship and intimidation—in, to use the much-favored scare word, "McCarthyism." Thus, the New Israel Fund, borrowing in its own way from the late Wisconsin demagogue's playbook, has denounced Im Tirtzu as "ultra-nationalist" and "extremist"—and, in a final sign of the student organization's turpitude, as a recipient of money from evangelical Christians. The president of Ben-Gurion University has branded Im Tirtzu for engaging in a "witch hunt"; Haifa University's president has protested that it is the one politicizing academia; and Yossi Sarid, former chair of the Meretz party, has lambasted the group as a "gang of hoodlums." Says the president of Tel Aviv University, dismissively, "It's impossible to divide the world into Zionists and anti-Zionists."

The president might have been channeling the editors of Haaretz, the influential newspaper that has devoted the fullest coverage and highest dudgeon to the unfolding events. There is indeed a genuinely Zionist Left in Israel, though its strength is waning, but the paper's editors have veered unpredictably between supporting this tendency and voicing an empathically anti-Zionist line—thereby contributing to the definitional muddle seemingly endorsed by the president of Tel Aviv University. In its own heated blast at Im Tirtzu and the Institute for Zionist Strategies, Haaretz referred to their principals as "political commissars," to their work as "shameful," and to their aims as "spreading fear . . . and undermining freedom of expression." As for respecting the views of Israel's mainstream public, the paper wrinkled up its editorial nose at so patently "illegitimate [an] ethnocratic distinction."  

What next? As the rather unhinged nature of these reactions suggest, Israel's Left is beginning to fear that its uncontested hold over major centers of the country's elite culture may be as vulnerable as its hold over political power has proved to be. One thing to watch will be the behavior of the remaining Zionists on the Left, and in particular whether, like Haaretz, they will wish to continue providing intellectual cover for a cadre of overtly anti-Zionist radicals. Another is the behavior of Diaspora donors, and in particular how much they really care that Israeli universities have been nurturing a political culture inhospitable to the Zionist enterprise.

As for those now challenging the Left's hegemony in academia and elsewhere, their own challenge will be how best to resurrect the Zionist ethos whose destruction they have accurately diagnosed and faithfully reported.

 

Elliot Jager

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

 

Don’t blame Israel for Arab failures

 

by Salim Mansur

 

TEL AVIV — Size matters, and in geopolitics it can be critically important.

 

A grasp of this elementary fact could provide a better understanding for, and empathy with, a small country besieged by hostile powers on its borders.

 

Yet this fact often escapes people living in countries of continental dimensions with large spaces empty of inhabitants — as in Canada, the U.S., Russia, Australia and the E.U. — and they may, ironically at times, display a chauvinism reflecting the size of their country.

 

The fact of how small Israel is territorially, and how this fact deepens its sense of vulnerability, weighs down upon anyone who visits the country.

 

As I write sitting at a cafe on Tel Aviv's waterfront, I remember how this city and Haifa to the north were targets of Saddam Hussein's Iraqi Scud missiles during the 1991 Gulf War.

Israel is merely a dot relative to the Arab world, and yet made responsible, in the logic of the anti-Zionist bigots, for the problems of the Middle East and the inability of the Arab-Muslim culture to deal with the challenges of the modern world.

 

Consider the following: The Arab world, excluding Iran and Turkey, is comprised of 22 countries stretching from the Gulf to the Atlantic Ocean with a total area around 13 million sq. km and a population of nearly 350 million.

In terms of territorial size, only Russia is larger than the Arab world at 17 million sq. km.

Israel is barely 22,000 sq. km, or about three times the size of New York City, with a population of 7.5 million of which 20% are Israeli Arabs.

 

An objective consideration of the huge disparity in size and population between the Arab world and Israel should dispel the drivel the world has been fed that Arabs are the "underdog" in a colonial struggle against Jews as a colonizing people.

The reverse disparity between Israelis and Arabs is the tremendous human achievement of the former as free people, and the contrast when measured against the sullen reality of the Arab world just about at the bottom of the UN human development index despite the resources available.

 

But here, too, Arabs, Muslims and their apologists in the West will fault Israelis for the collective failure of the Arab world.

It is as if the plight of Palestinian "occupation" by Israelis explains the Sudanese civil wars and genocide in Darfur, or the savage killings inside Algeria, or the long list of atrocities, gender oppression, humiliation of religious minorities, wars, military dictatorships, and with no end in sight of violence and murder in the name of Islam across the Arab world.

 

It is sheer absurdity to hold Israelis responsible for the utterly dysfunctional nature of the Arab world.

 

Palestinians are an integral part of this dysfunctional world, and their politics reflect, in a heightened sense, the problems the rest of the world seeks to avoid discussing for fear of being denounced as politically incorrect.

Israel is a very small country packed with immensely talented people.

 

Their story is a gift to the Arab-Muslim world as it is to be found in the Qur'an if only Arabs and Muslims understood either.

 

 

Salim Mansur

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

 

The Media's Anti-Semitic Hate Machine

 

 

by Daniel Greenfield

 

The Nazi propaganda rag Der Sturmer may have gone out of publication around the time that the Fuhrer's ashes were smoldering in his bunker beneath the Wilhelmstrasse, but its motto is present today in almost every liberal newspaper in the Western world. Der Sturmer's daily invocation of "Die Juden sind unser Unglück!" or "The Jews are our misfortune!" is omnipresent in the media coverage of almost anything involving the Middle East or Islamic terrorism.

 

The theme is much the same now as it was then, the Jews are responsible for all our problems. The presentation is of course much more subtle, but then Der Sturmer was considered vulgar even by much of the Nazi hierarchy, which preferred the more staid Völkisch Observer. Today's papers prefer to be in the Observer mode, the Storming they leave to the "plausible deniability" blogs of an Andrew Sullivan or a Glenn Greenwald, material that they pay for, but like a lot of the Nazi hierarchy and Der Sturmer, don't necessarily want to be too closely associated with.

The ideas however are not particularly original. The Jews are to blame both for the wars and for losing them, a propaganda paradox put to good use by the Nazis. The idea that the Jews were physically responsible for 9/11 is an area that the media leaves to the fringe, but the suggestion that the Jews provoked Bin Laden's anger against America shows up in countless columns and op-ed's. One is a radical conspiracy theory, while the other is a mainstream media talking point, but in terms of consciously stoking hate, what exactly is the difference. Only that the latter is vague enough to be defensible, especially when bolstered by a few selectively chosen quotes from the man himself.

By linking Islamic terrorism to some form of Israeli provocation, and from there to the support for Israel by American Jews-- the same media which would commit seppuku rather than blame Muslims for Islamic terrorism, instead blames Jews for Islamic terrorism. The steady drumbeat of such rhetoric, which exonerates Muslims but indicts Jews, for the actions of Muslims, is brilliantly perverse. And it also puts the lie to the media's defense that it avoids attributing terrorism to Islam because it does not want to stoke bigotry. In reality, the media has no problem with using Islamic terrorism to stoke bigotry. It just has a different target in mind.

Behind the media's long ugly history of misreporting terrorism against Israel, has been that one fundamental narrative, that it is not Muslims who are responsible for Muslim terrorism, but the Jews. When a Muslim terrorist attack happens in Tel Aviv, Madrid or New York-- it turns out that the Jews are the ones to blame. It really doesn't matter whether an Israeli soldier kills a Muslim terrorist, or a Muslim terrorist kills a Jewish father of four driving home from work, it is never the Muslim that is at fault. Always the Jew. Forget about even splitting the difference. There is never any difference to split. It is always Israel's "humiliation" of Arab Muslims that is at fault for provoking their righteously murderous anger. A familiar theme that recalls Hitler's constant invocation of "German humiliation" at the hands of the Jews.

But all the talk of the Jews "humiliating" other peoples hinges on the topic of the Jews as a "Chosen Master Race". A superior people. A role that Nazis and Arab Nationalists both reserved for themselves. The theme is taken up in numerous outlets, Jonathan Cook who appears in The Guardian writes: "Israel's apartheid system is there to maintain Jewish privilege in a Jewish state". In a Hitlerian formulation, Philip Weiss who appears at the Huffington Post claims that Jeff Greene's criticism of the Ground Zero Mosque, "how privilege and power have transformed Jewish identity". Not that Jeff Greene opposes the mosque because he is following the polls as so many other politicians have done, but because he is a Jew. The Guardian charges that Israel is an "an enclave of Israeli Jewish privilege". That kind of rhetoric should be familiar. It is what Hitler described as "The anti-Semitism of reason" which "must lead to the systematic combating and elimination of Jewish privileges".

The Issue is Rarely the Issue


That is why the issue is rarely the issue. The media began with the narrative that Israel had attacked a flotilla full of human rights activists trying to deliver food and medicine to starving children in Gaza. After demonstrating conclusively that the human rights activists were actually violent Turkish Islamists calling openly for the murder of Jews. That Israeli soldiers had only fired in self-defense. That the medicines were expired, a useless sham by a ship that was actually coming to support Hamas. And finally that no one is starving among Gaza's well stocked supermarkets and shopping malls. But did that conclusively put the issue to bed? Not at all, because the issue was never the issue.

The media responded that, yes the flotilla was not there to ferry supplies, but run the blockade. And that was entirely justified, because look at how Israel is humiliating the people of Gaza. And yes, the activists may have attacked first, but that was because... look at how Israel is humiliating the people of Gaza. And yes there may be a shopping mall in Gaza, but it isn't nearly as good as Target, and look at how Israel is humiliating the people of Gaza. The goalposts always get moved until they wind up back in the same place-- justifying violence against the Jews, because some people that fancied themselves the master race are feeling bad over their failed attempt to kill Jews.

 

When most of the Arab countries of the Middle East invaded Israel, and Israel beat them back, the Jews were accused of humiliating the Arabs. In 1970, when Egyptian leader Gamal Abdel Nasser died, the AP ran a wire story which explained that Israel had made peace with Nasser impossible by twice defeating him on the battlefield, both times after Nasser had committed acts of war. Nasser is quoted as saying; "Israel is a country of two million people, and we are a country of 30 million people. For Israel to be able to fly its warplanes over Cairo any time it wants is as humiliating to me, as it would be to you if the Cubans were able to fly over Washington and your armed forces were powerless to stop them."

Nasser, leader of a country that was 20 times the size of Israel, and had 15 times the population, had 300,000 troops, nearly 2,000 tanks, over 500 aircraft and combat helicopters, felt humiliated by Israel. And rather than feeling sorry for the country that he had attacked, a country that you could drop into the Sinai desert without anyone being the wiser, the media felt sorry for Nasser's "humiliation". That despite his huge military, massive population and territory-- he was the victim. Because the Chosen People had once again humiliated a man whom the French and British governments had described as a New Hitler.

All the media's talk about Israeli disproportionate force in relation to Muslim terrorists in Gaza and the West Bank has nothing to do with it. Back when Israel was fighting wars for survival against enemies that vastly outnumbered it, the Jews were still to blame for humiliating their enemies by refusing to die. That is "Jewish Privilege". To go on living, even when people who fancy themselves nobler and better, who have wonderful ideas about a Third Reich or a Pan-Arab or Pan-Islamic union want them dead.

Back in 1973 during the Yom Kippur War, while Israel was desperately fighting for its survival, the Deseret News was worried that an Israeli victory would lead the "humiliated Arab world" to refuse peace negotiations. The Wall Street Journal editorialized, "the Arabs may be more willing to talk peace when they can look proudly across a bargaining table, rather than after a humiliating defeat". The Nevada Daily Mail warned that "humiliation can only lead to more fanatical dreams of revenge". Israel might be allowed to survive. It might even be allowed to fight to a draw. But not to win. Winning decisively would humiliate the Arab Muslims. It would undermine their sense of superiority in relation to the people who had formerly been second-class citizens under their dominion.

It is a common phenomenon, a short hop and skip, from the Nazi press ranting about the humiliating professional successes of Jews in Germany, to the Liberal press ranting about the humiliating military successes of the Jews in Israel. The underlying narrative is not so much that Jews came by their success unfairly, as that they have no right to it because they are foreigners, outsiders and interlopers. And that too is a fundamental part of the media's Anti-Israel narrative. That despite a history dating back thousands of years, Jews are outsiders in the region. That they have no right to "Arab land", just as they had no right to "Aryan jobs". And who decided that all the land belongs to the Arabs and all the jobs belong to the Aryans?

That is where Der Sturmer or Der Guardian comes in, to demonize millions of people as greedy usurpers bent on seizing what belongs to others. And so a complex regional history is reduced to, "Die Juden sind unser Unglück!" To a narrative in which arrogant Jews displace their betters, subjugate and abuse them. One that is more ancient than Rome, when Cicero echoed it, that rolls back to the ancient Pharaohs, one of whom proclaimed that the Jews must be enslaved because they had become too prosperous and numerous, and will otherwise take over all of Egypt. Over 3000 years later, Anti-Semitism has not changed very much.

The dirty little secret is that it is an upper class bigotry with populist overtones. Rulers and would be rulers, employ it with the people to legitimize their tyranny. Hitler's Third Reich and Stalin's USSR, like Nasser's Pan-Arabist dreams, Iran's Shiite expansion or the Muslim Brotherhood's Caliphate all require a defeatable enemy close at hand. Pharaoh had his construction projects, Hitler had Albert Speer's fortresses and Islam has the skyscrapers of Saudi Arabia and Dubai. Their visions are grandiose, but inhuman. They are bent on a united world under their authority. And somehow the Jews always prove to be in the way. The foreign element that spoils their plan for a homogeneous empire.

The media's liberalism has made it notoriously sympathetic to dreamers of that sort. It is not sympathetic to ethnic or religious separatists. Just ask the Kurds or the Basque. Even the Tibetans for all their non-violence have hardly gotten more than a casual shrug. If the issue of Muslim terrorism in Israel were really a matter of another Middle Eastern minority looking for rights or a state of its own, the media could not be paid enough to care. But the issue is not separatism, but unity. To the left, it is not the Arab Muslims in Israel who are separatists, but the the Jews living in the Middle East who are the real separatists. Who insist on their own state, their own laws and their own identity. The Jews who obstructed socialism with their separatism in Europe and Russia, are now obstructing those who would regionally unite Arabs and Muslims, as a prelude to global unity.

That is the issue. That has always been the issue. That will always be the issue. It is why Jews are hated. It is why Israel is hated.

The Media Hate Machine Grinds On


And so the media hate machine grinds on. With a touch of paint and the whisk of a brush, Der Sturmer's cartoons of greedy murdering Jews defined by the Star of David, have been reborn in the pages of the Guardian, the Chicago Tribune and the New York Times. Except now they're greedy murderous Israelis, who often seem to have the same hooked noses and fat necks that they did in the pages of Der Sturmer, and are back to their old tricks again. When they're not menacing innocent women and children, they're corrupting politicians and arrogantly shoving their weight around-- all favorite themes that would have been met with a knowing smirk from Julius Streicher himself.

 

The modern professional cartoonist has generally studied enough to be familiar with the work of Fips and Seppla and knows exactly what he is doing. Associating Nazi imagery with Jews serves not only as a vicious smear, but as his best defense against accusations that he is recycling Nazi imagery. Even when he's caught doing it, his defense is that he's doing it to indict Jews for their Nazi-like behavior. It is not a defense that a Nazi cartoonist like Fips could have used, but it is an easy defense for a post-Nazi cartoonist like Pat Oliphant or Dick Locher. The obsessive use of Nazi themes allows them to project their own use of Nazi ideas onto Israel. The more they associate Israel with the Nazis, the less anyone will notice whose pencil they borrowed to draw those cartoons with.

And so the Jews become the "Real Nazis", just as they are the real "Religious Terrorists". The crimes committed against Jews, become the crimes of the Jews themselves. Because the guilty never want to take responsibility for what they have done. And so when Muslims set off a bomb in Jerusalem, their clerics announce that Islam abhors violence, and that Israel is the real terrorists-- while Jewish clerics rush to the scene of the bombing to scrub fragments of skin and bone, pull fingers out of trees, in order to bury what's left of the dead in the same place. And the media in all its studied liberalism nods its head and agrees. The Jews indeed are the ones responsible. After all by thwarting the dreams of Arab Nationalists and Islamists to build a superstate, by refusing to make enough concessions at the negotiating table to insure their own destruction-- the Jews bring terror on themselves.

The media has not gotten better, it has gotten better at packaging its bigotry. It has learned that using Jewish pundits allows it to serve as a platform for ideas on the same level of discourse as Streicher, without being vulnerable to accusations of bigotry. After all Greenwald, Klein and Blumenthal are Jewish names, aren't they? It's not a new idea. The Soviet Union routinely used press conferences by Jewish writers and artists to legitimize the persecution of Jews. These were the "Good Jews", loyal Communists and devoted to the Soviet Union, who were here to condemn the Judaism, Zionism and Cosmopolitanism of the "Bad Jews". The "Good Jews" worked at magazines like Krokodil, drawing Soviet versions of Der Sturmer's cartoons of greedy murdering Jews wearing the Star of David. The "Bad Jews" died. Tens of thousands in Holodomor. Hundreds of thousands in the Gulag. Millions of more might have died, had Stalin's plan for a Soviet Holocaust come to fruition. But the Soviet Union had, what Nazi Germany did not have, but the modern day left wing hate machine does, men and women with Jewish last names, up in front to defend its bigotry.

Howl Like the Wolves

 

The constant drumbeat of the media hate machine against Israel has the same effect on Europeans and some Americans that Der Sturmer's hate sheets did on ordinary Germans. Bias, hate and bigotry free some to be Nazis, and teach others that it is best to go along with the crowd. Max von der Grün wrote about his childhood growing up in Nazi Germany. The title of his book was Howl Like the Wolves. When the wolves are howling you had better join them, or be prepared to take on the entire pack. And eventually most people begin to howl too. Some howl quieter than others. Some howl just for show. But others get into it all the way. Some who were once lambs become the worst of the wolves, because they find strength in being a wolf.

 

What the Nazis knew is that weak people are drawn to identities that give them strength. So many timid people looking for a way to express their anger. A chance to be wolves rather than sheep. A chance to hurt someone, rather than be hurt. To release all their decades of grievances and grudges on a deserving target. To whine like a mosquito while drinking their fill of blood. The ecstasy of crowds at Hitler's speeches, was the pathetic and disgusting sight of weak-minded people eagerly transfigured with a feeling of strength. The Jihadist who kills himself among a crowd of the innocent feels that same ecstasy. The savage joy of a manipulated sheep who thinks that participating in violence somehow makes him a wolf.

Allah Akbar or Heil Hitler, it makes no real difference. Both mean the same thing. It means that I am strong because I am the tool of those who are stronger than me. Who are more ruthless than me. Who give me orders that I will follow, because I lack the initiative to make my own decisions. Tell me what to do, and I will kill, a single man, or a million. It makes no difference. What matters is that sense of strength that comes through unity. A billion bodies and one mind. One will. One Fuhrer. One Reich. One dream. And in the middle of that dream is the Jew.

The Bad Jew who stands in the way of that overpowering unity. A foreign element. An interloper. The one thing standing in the way of all those people feeling their strength for the first time. All those strong people suddenly make weak by his very presence. Humiliated. And humiliation is the one thing that cowards and the weak-minded can never forgive. It is why they become Nazis and Islamists. To feel strong. To overcome their personal humiliations in a mass identity. When their mass identity cries "Kill the Jew", and the Jew survives, then they feel even more humiliated. Then they feel weak and the only thing that will make them feel strong again, is revenge.

Think about it. Think about Marc Garlasco talking about how an SS jacket is so cool, "makes my blood go cold". Or the Chairman Of Finnish Amnesty International calling Israel a "scum state". Helen Thomas telling Jews to go back to Poland and Germany. Oliver Stone discoursing on how Jewish influence caused Hitler to be misunderstood. The Daily Mail shrieks, "Israel Accuses UK of Anti-Semitism", a headline that echoes, The Daily Express' famous 1933 headline, "Judea Declares War on Germany". Jewish stores and companies are boycotted. Papers from Jewish researchers from Israel are rejected. Wolves must howl. And howl they will. Some are true wolves, eager to spill blood. Some are only weak-minded people looking for an enemy to give them strength. And some only go along out of conformity, echoing the opinions of those around them, clinging to them for comfort. And the drumbeat goes on.

The media's Anti-Semitic hate machine does for the far left, what Der Sturmer once did for the far right. It makes their hatred and bigotry mainstream. It feeds the wolves. It teaches people to be Nazis. To find strength in an age-old hatred for age-old reasons. To howl at the Jew, while the Muslim slits their throat.

 

 

Daniel Greenfield

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

 

In the Mideast, the peace process is only a mirage

 

by George F. Will

 

JERUSALEM Immersion in this region's politics can convince those immersed that history is cyclical rather than linear -- that it is not one thing after another but the same thing over and over. This passes for good news because things that do change, such as weapons, often make matters worse.

 

A profound change, however, is this: Talk about the crisis between Israel and "the Arab world" is anachronistic. Israel has treaties with two Arab nations, Egypt and Jordan, and Israel's most lethal enemy is Iran, which is not an Arab state. It and another non-Arab nation, Turkey, are eclipsing the Arab world, where 60 percent of the population of 300 million is under 25, and 26 percent of that cohort is unemployed. The prerequisites for Arab progress -- freedom, education and the emancipation of women -- are not contemplated.

 

Syria's Bashar al-Assad, a dictator buttressed by torture, recently called Israel a state "based on crime, slaughter." Imagine what Israelis thought when, at about the time Assad was saying this, a State Department ninny visiting Syria was tweeting to the world, "I'm not kidding when I say I just had the greatest frappacino [sic] ever."

 

Israel has changed what it can, its own near neighborhood. Since 1967, faced with unrelenting Palestinian irredentism, Israel has been weaving the West Bank into a common fabric with the coastal plain, the nation's economic and population center of gravity. Withdrawal from the West Bank would bring Tel Aviv's Ben-Gurion Airport within range of short-range rockets fired by persons overlooking the runways. So, the feasibility of such a withdrawal depends on how much has changed since 1974, when Yasser Arafat received a standing ovation at the United Nations when he said Israel had no right to exist.

 

Thirty-six years later, Israelis can watch West Bank Palestinian television incessantly inculcating anti-Semitism and denial of Israel's right to exist. Across the fence that has substantially reduced terrorism from the West Bank, Israelis see Ramallah, where Mahmoud Abbas, head of the Palestinian Authority, lives and where a square was recently named in honor of Dalal Mughrabi. In 1978, she, together with 11 other terrorists, hijacked an Israeli bus and massacred 37 Israelis and one American. Cigarette lighters sold on the West Bank show, when lit, the World Trade Center burning.

 

The Obama administration, which seems to consider itself too talented to bother with anything but "comprehensive" solutions to problems, may yet make matters worse by presenting its own plan for a final settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian problem. Barack Obama insists that it is "costing us significantly in terms of both blood and treasure," although he does not say how. Gen. David Petraeus says Israeli-Palestinian tensions "have an enormous effect on the strategic context." As though, were the tensions to subside, the hard men managing Iran's decades-long drive for nuclear weapons would then say, "Oh, well, in that case, let's call the whole thing off."

 

The biggest threat to peace might be the peace process -- or, more precisely, the illusion that there is one. The mirage becomes the reason for maintaining its imaginary "momentum" by extorting concessions from Israel, the only party susceptible to U.S. pressure. Israel is, however, decreasingly susceptible. In one month, history will recycle when the partial 10-month moratorium on Israeli construction on the West Bank expires. Resumption of construction -- even here, in the capital, which was not included in the moratorium -- will be denounced by a fiction, "the international community," as a threat to another fiction, "the peace process."

 

This, even though no Israeli government of any political hue has ever endorsed a ban on construction in Jewish neighborhoods of East Jerusalem, where about 40 percent of the capital's Jewish population lives. Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe Yaalon, who says "the War of Independence has not ended" 62 years after 1948, says of an extension of the moratorium: "The prime minister is opposed to it. He said that clearly. The decision was for 10 months. [On] Sept. 27, we are immediately going to return" to construction and "Jerusalem is outside the discussion."

 

Predictably, Palestinian officials are demanding that the moratorium be extended as the price of their willingness to continue direct talks with Israel -- which begin Sept. 2 -- beyond Sept. 27. If this demand succeeds, history will remain cyclical: The "peace process" will be sustained by rewarding the Palestinian tactic of making the mere fact of negotiations contingent on Israeli concessions concerning matters that should be settled by negotiations.

 

 

George F. Will

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

 

Accepting the unacceptable

 

by Caroline B. Glick

 

The White House is the most stubborn defender of the notion that the Iranian nuclear threat is not as serious a threat as the absence of a Palestinian state. That is, President Barack Obama himself is the most strident advocate of a US Middle East policy that ignores all the dangers the US faces in the region and turns American guns against the only country that doesn't threaten any US interest

 

Last weekend the mullahs took a big step towards becoming a nuclear power as they powered the Bushehr nuclear reactor.

Israel's response? The Foreign Ministry published a statement proclaiming the move "unacceptable."

So why did we accept the unacceptable?

When one asks senior officials about the Bushehr reactor and about Iran's nuclear program more generally, their response invariably begins, "Well the Americans…"

Far from accepting that Israel has a problem that it must deal with, Israel's decision makers still argue that the US will discover — before it is too late — that it must act to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear power in order to secure its own interests.

As for Bushehr specifically, Israeli officials explain that it isn't the main problem. The main danger stems from the uranium enrichment sites. And anyway, they explain, given the civilian character of the Bushehr reactor; the fact that it is under a full International Atomic Energy Agency inspections regime; and the fact that the Russians are supposed to take all the spent fuel rods to Russia and so prevent Iran from using them to produce weapons-grade plutonium, Israel lacked the international legitimacy to strike Bushehr to prevent it from being fuelled last weekend.

Before going into the question of whether or not Israel's decision makers were correct in deciding to opt out of attacking the Bushehr reactor to prevent it from being fuelled, it is worth considering where "the Americans" stand on Iran as it declares itself a nuclear power and tests new advanced weapons systems on a daily basis.

The answer to this question was provided in large part in an article in the National Interest by former Clinton Administration National Security Council member Bruce Riedel. Titled, "If Israel Attacks," Riedel -- who reportedly has close ties to the administration - asserts that an Israeli military strike against Iran will be a disaster for the US. In his view, US is better served by allowing Iran to become a nuclear power than by supporting an Israeli attack against Iran.

He writes, "The United States needs to send a clear red light to Israel. There's no option but to actively discourage an Israeli attack."

Riedel explains that to induce Israel to accept the unacceptable specter of a nuclear armed mullocracy, the US should pay it off. Riedel recommends plying Israel's leaders with F-22 Stealth bombers, nuclear submarines, a mutual defense treaty and perhaps even NATO membership.

Riedel's reason for deeming an Israeli strike unacceptable is his conviction that such a strike will be met by an Iranian counter-strike against US forces and interests in the Persian Gulf and Afghanistan. While there is no reason to doubt he is correct, Riedel studiously ignores the other certainty: A nuclear-armed Iran would threaten those same troops and interests far more.

Riedel would have us believe that the Iranian regime will be a rational nuclear actor. That's the regime that has outlawed music, stones women, and deploys terror proxies throughout the region and the world. That's the same regime whose "supreme leader" just published a fatwa claiming he has the same religious stature as Muhammed.

Riedel bases this view on the actions Iran took when it was weak.

Since Iran didn't place its American hostages on trial in 1980, it can be trusted with nuclear weapons in 2010. Since Iran didn't go to war against the US in 1988 during the Kuwaiti tanker crisis, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad can be trusted with nuclear bombs in 2010. And so on and so forth.

Moreover, Riedel ignores what any casual newspaper reader now recognizes: Iran's nuclear weapons program has spurred a regional nuclear arms race. Riedel imagines a bipolar nuclear Middle East with Israel on the one side and Iran on the other. He fails to notice that already today Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Jordan, Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Sudan and Turkey have all initiated nuclear programs. And if Iran is allowed to go nuclear, these countries will beat a path to any number of nuclear bomb stores.

Some argue that a multipolar nuclear Middle East will adhere to the rules of mutual assured destruction. Assuming this is true, the fact remains that the violent Iranian response to an Israeli strike against its nuclear installations will look like a minor skirmish in comparison to the conventional wars that will break out in a Middle East in which everyone has the bomb.

And in truth, there is no reason to believe that a Middle East in which everyone has nuclear weapons is a Middle East which adheres to the rules of MAD. A recent Zogby/ University of Maryland poll of Arab public opinion taken for the Brookings Institute in US-allied Arab states Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco, Saudi Arabia and the UAE shows that the Arab world is populated by jihadists.

As Herb London from the Hudson Institute pointed out in an analysis of the poll, nearly 70 percent of those polled said the leader they most admire is either a jihadist or a supporter of jihad. The most popular leaders were Turkish Prime Minister Recep Erdogan, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, Ahmadinejad, Hizbullah chieftain Hassan Nasrallah, Syrian President Bashar Assad and Al Qaida leader Osama Bin Laden.

So if popular revolutions bring down any of the teetering despotic regimes now occupying the seats of power in the Arab world, they will likely be replaced by jihadists. Moreover, since an Iranian nuclear bomb would empower the most radical, destabilizing forces in pan-Arab society, the likelihood that a despot would resort to a nuclear strike on a Western or Israeli target in order to stay in power would similarly rise.

All of this should not be beyond the grasp of an experienced strategic thinker like Riedel. And yet, obviously, it is. Moreover, as an alumnus of the Clinton administration, Riedel's positions in general are more realistic than those of the Obama administration. As Israeli officials acknowledge, the Obama administration is only now coming to terms with the fact that its engagement policy towards Iran has failed.

Moreover, throughout the US government, the White House is the most stubborn defender of the notion that the Iranian nuclear threat is not as serious a threat as the absence of a Palestinian state. That is, President Barack Obama himself is the most strident advocate of a US Middle East policy that ignores all the dangers the US faces in the region and turns American guns against the only country that doesn't threaten any US interest.

And now, facing this state of affairs, Israeli leaders today still argue that issuing a Foreign Ministry communiqu declaring the fuelling of the Bushehr nuclear reactor "unacceptable," and beginning worthless negotiations with Fatah leaders is a rational and sufficient Israeli policy.

What lies behind this governmental fecklessness?

There are two possible explanations for the government's behavior. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu may be motivated by operational concerns or he may be motivated by political concerns.

On the operational level, the question guiding Israel's leaders is when is the optimal time to attack? The fact that government sources say that it would have been diplomatically suicidal to attack before Bushehr became operational last weekend makes it clear that non-military considerations are the determining factor for Israel's leadership. Yet what Riedel's article and the clear positions of the Obama administration demonstrate is that there is no chance that non-military conditions will ever be optimal for Israel. Moreover, as Israel's 1981 attack on Iraq's nuclear reactor shows, Israel can achieve its strategic objectives even without US support for its operations.

From a military perspective, it is clear that it would have been better to strike Iran's nuclear installations before the Russians fuelled Bushehr. Any attack scenario from now on will have to either accept the prospect of nuclear fallout or accept leaving Bushehr intact. Indeed from a military perspective, the longer Israel waits to attack Iran, the harder it will become to accomplish the mission.

So unless Israel's leaders are unaware of strategic realities, the only plausible explanation for Netanyahu's decision to sit by idly as Israel's military options were drastically diminished over the weekend is that he was moved by domestic political considerations.

And what might those political considerations be? Clearly he wasn't concerned with a lack of public support. Consistent, multiyear polling data show that the public overwhelmingly supports the use of force to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear power.

Then there is the issue of Netanyahu's coalition. It cannot be that Netanyahu believes that he can build a broader coalition to support an attack on Iran than he already has by bringing Kadima into his government. Kadima leader Tzipi Livni is not a great supporter of an Israeli attack on Iran. Livni views being liked by Obama more important than preventing Iran from becoming a nuclear state.

The prospect of a Kadima splinter party led by former defense minister Shaul Mofaz joining the coalition is also raised periodically. Yet experience to date indicates there is little chance of that happening. Mofaz apparently dislikes Netanyahu more than he dislikes the notion of facing a nuclear-armed Iran, (and a nuclear-armed Saudi Arabia and Egypt and etc., etc., etc.).

Only one possibility remains: Netanyahu must have opted to sit on his hands as Bushehr was powered up because of opposition he faces from within his government. There is only one person in Netanyahu's coalition who has both the strategic dementia and the political power to force Netanyahu to accept the unacceptable. That person is Defense Minister Ehud Barak.

Barak's strategic ineptitude is legendary. It was most recently on display in the failed naval commando takeover of the Turkish-Hamas terror ship Mavi Marmara. It was Barak's idea to arm naval commandos with paintball guns and so guarantee that they would be attacked and forced to use lethal force to defend themselves.

Barak's ability to dictate government policy was most recently demonstrated in his obscene abuse of power in the appointment of the IDF's next chief of staff. Regardless of whether the so-called "Galant" document which set out a plan to see Maj. General Yoav Galant appointed to replace outgoing IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi was forged or authentic, it is clear that its operative clauses were all being implemented by Barak's own office for the past several months. So too, despite the fact that the document is still the subject of police investigation, Barak successfully strong-armed Netanyahu into agreeing to his lightning appointment of Galant.

Even if Galant is the best candidate for the position, it is clear that Barak did the general no favors by appointing him in this manner. He certainly humiliated and discredited the General Staff.

Barak is the Obama administration's favorite Israeli politician. While Netanyahu is shunned, Barak is feted in Washington nearly every month. And this makes sense. As the man directly responsible for Israel's defense and with his stranglehold on the government, he alone has the wherewithal to enable the entire Middle East to go nuclear.

How's that for unacceptable?

 

 

Caroline B. Glick is the senior Middle East Fellow at the Center for Security Policy in Washington, DC and the deputy managing editor of The Jerusalem Post.

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

 

The Arabs still reject the two-state solution

by Efraim Karsh

DENIGRATING THE “PEACE PROCESS”

Palestinian Authority Not taking Yes for an Answer.

No sooner had Hillary Clinton announced the imminent resumption of direct Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations without preconditions, than the Palestinian leadership cold shouldered the US secretary of state.

An emergency meeting of the PLO executive committee (which controls the Palestinian Authority), chaired by PA President Mahmoud Abbas, agreed to return to the negotiating table but threatened to pull out of the talks if Israel didn’t extend the freeze on all settlement activities. “Should the Israeli government issue new tenders on September 26, we will not be able to continue with talks,” chief PA negotiator Saeb Erekat told reporters.

But the story doesn’t end here. While the English-language announcement of the PLO’s decision sets “the emergence of an independent, democratic and viable Palestinian state living side by side in peace and security with Israel” as the outcome of the negotiations, the Arabic-language version makes no mention of the two-state solution. Instead it notes the Palestinian readiness to resume the final-status talks, adding a few new preconditions, notably the rejection of Israel’s annexation of east Jerusalem.

And just there, no doubt, lies the heart of the problem. For while the PLO leadership, since the launch of the Oslo “peace” process in 1993, has been singing the praises of the two-state solution whenever addressing Israeli or Western audiences, it has consistently denigrated the idea to its own constituents – depicting the process as a transient arrangement required by the needs of the moment that would inexorably lead to the long-cherished goal of Israel’s demise.

In this respect there has been no fundamental distinction between Yasser Arafat and Abbas (and, for that matter, between Hamas and the PLO). For all their admittedly sharp differences in personality and political style, the two are warp and woof of the same dogmatic PLO fabric: Neither of them accepts Israel’s right to exist; both are committed to its eventual destruction.

IN ONE way, indeed, Abbas is more extreme than many of his peers. While they revert to standard talk of Israel’s illegitimacy, he devoted years of his life to giving ideological firepower to the anti-Israel and anti-Jewish indictment.

In a doctoral dissertation written at a Soviet university, an expanded version of which was subsequently published in book form, Abbas endeavored to prove the existence of a close ideological and political association between Zionism and Nazism. Among other things, he argued that fewer than a million Jews had been killed in the Holocaust, and that the Zionist movement was a partner to their slaughter.

In the wake of the failed Camp David summit of July 2000 and the launch of Arafat’s war of terror two months later, Abbas went to great lengths to explain why the “right of return” – the standard Arab euphemism for Israel’s destruction through demographic subversion – was a nonnegotiable prerequisite for any settlement. Two years later, he described the Oslo process as “the biggest mistake Israel has ever made,” enabling the PLO to get worldwide acceptance and respectability while clinging to its own aims.

Shortly after Arafat’s death in November 2004, Abbas publicly swore to “follow in the path of the late leader Yasser Arafat and… work toward fulfilling his dream… We promise you that our hearts will not rest until the right of return for our people is achieved and the tragedy of the refugees is ended.” Abbas made good his pledge. In a televised speech on May 15, 2005, he described the establishment of Israel as an unprecedented historic injustice and vowed never to accept it.

Two-and-a-half years later, at a US-sponsored peace conference in Annapolis, he rejected prime minister Ehud Olmert’s proposal of a Palestinian state in 97 percent of the West Bank and the entire Gaza Strip, and categorically dismissed the request to recognize Israel as a Jewish state alongside the would-be Palestinian state, insisting instead on full implementation of the “right of return.”

He was equally recalcitrant when the demand was raised (in April 2009) by newly-elected Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. “A Jewish state, what is that supposed to mean?” Abbas asked in a speech in Ramallah. “You can call yourselves as you like, but I don’t accept it and I say so publicly.”

When in June 2009 Netanyahu broke with longstanding Likud precept by publicly accepting a two state solution and agreeing to the establishment of a Palestinian state, provided the PA leadership responded in kind and recognized Israel’s Jewish nature, Erekat warned that the prime minister “will have to wait 1,000 years before he finds one Palestinian who will go along with him.”

Fatah, the PLO’s largest constituent organization and Abbas’s alma mater, went a step further. At its sixth general congress, convened in Bethlehem last August, the delegates reaffirmed their long-standing commitment to “armed struggle” as “a strategy, not a tactic… This struggle will not stop until the Zionist entity is eliminated and Palestine is liberated.”

And so it goes. Precisely 10 years after Arafat was dragged kicking and screaming to the American-convened peace summit in Camp David, only to reject Ehud Barak’s virtual cession of the West Bank and Gaza Strip to the nascent Palestinian state and to launch an unprecedented war of terror, his erstwhile successor is being dragged to the negotiating table, which he would rather continue to shun after a year-and- a-half absence.

Not because of the unconstitutionality of any agreement he might sign (owing to the expiry of his presidency in January 2009), or his inability to deliver anything that is not to Hamas’s liking, but because, like Arafat and the rest of the PLO leadership, as far as Israel’s existence is concerned, Abbas would not take a yes for an answer.
The writer is professor of Middle East and Mediterranean studies at King’s College London, editor of Middle East Quarterly and author, most recently, of Palestine Betrayed.


Efraim Karsh, Jerusalem Post
Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Only Permissible Hatred?


by Barry Rubin

The chairman of Finland's branch of Amnesty International, Frank Johansson, wrote in his blog at a Finnish newspaper that Israel is a "scum state." It makes me recall a French ambassador who used a nastier word at a dinner party a couple of years back. And I've heard from several diplomats equivalent things over the years.

Isn't it something that in this day of Political Correctness and multiculturalism and humanitarian kindness that there is only one people and one country in the world that supposedly respectable Europeans don't hesitate to insult in the most vicious language? There is still one people to whom the alleged rules of non-stereotyping and anti-racism doesn't apply in many quarters.

Of course they would not dare to speak in this way of Iran or Sudan, Saudi Arabia or Syria, Venezuela or North Korea, Zimbabwe or Cuba, or for that matter Hamas or Hizballah, or other terrorists, torturers, murderers, and thieves in power. Greed? Fear? Support for repressive dictatorships that brandish populist and anti-Western rhetoric? Indeed, if such a person were to so criticize any other country in the world--from Albania through Zanzibar--he would be forced to resign immediately.

Might such people have some sense that this is just some new version of historic antisemitism? Well, one can only quote what Theodor Herzl wrote well over a century ago. As the twentieth century was about to begin,  Herzl noted something amazing. Despite advances in technology, transportation, and communication, one thing remained as it was when the Turks conquered Byzantium, Columbus set sail, and oxcarts were the main means of travel.

That one thing was antisemitism. Indeed, Herzl mournfully pointed out, "After a short breathing space...bad times have come again...not only in the backward countries...but also in those that are called civilized."

Now, here we are at the onset of the twenty-first century, the cycle is being repeated, and groups like Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and the UN's human rights commission are in the vanguard.
Shame on them all.


 

Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal.

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

 

Middle East Sandstorms and Tumbleweeds

 

by Yoram Ettinger,

 

The US evacuation of Iraq and the 2011 expected evacuation of Afghanistan – and President Obama's preoccupation with the Palestinian issue – remind me of the Texas colloquialism: "When you're smothered by a West Texas sandstorm, don't be preoccupied with the tumbleweeds."

 

In the beginning of 1990, President Bush believed in the New World Order theory, and pursued engagement with – and not defeat of – Saddam Hussein.  He considered the Palestinian issue as the root cause of Middle East turbulence, and therefore pressured Prime Minister Shamir for sweeping concessions.  However, Saddam's invasion of Kuwait in 1990 exposed the fallacy of "The New Middle East" and "The New World Order," sucking the US into a costly, bloody and prolonged quagmire.  

 

In 2010, President Obama believes that the USA should act within international consensus, aspiring to bring rogue regimes to the table rather than bringing them to submission.  He defines the Palestinian issue as the crux of Middle East violence, and therefore pressures Prime Minister Netanyahu for further groundbreaking concessions.

 

However, in 2010, Middle East sandstorms are growing increasingly lethal and put the Palestinian issue in perspective – a secondary priority for Arab regimes.  They highlight fundamental features of inter-Muslim/Arab politics, which clarify that US relations with Israel and with Arab countries are not a "Zero Sum Game."  Middle East sandstorms accentuate special security requirements, which result from the tempestuous nature of the region and underline the critical role played by the US posture of deterrence in bolstering regional and global sanity and stability. Intensifying Middle East uncertainty and volatility also reaffirm Israel's unique strategic features and highlight the growing potential of the mutually-beneficial US-Israel strategic cooperation. 

 

Irrespective of the Palestinian issue, the Arab-Israeli conflict and Israel's existence, the US is evacuating Iraq and will evacuate Afghanistan, while Iran is going nuclear - a nightmare for Persian Gulf, Middle East and global leaders.  Iraq's evacuation will destabilize the country, advance Iran's posture and destabilize Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and other Gulf States.  Furthermore, the Saudi-Yemen border is boiling; inter-Muslim terrorism proliferates; post-Mubarak Egypt could follow the anti-US Turkish or even Iranian path; the Sudan and the Horn of Africa are saturated with conflicts; the Islamization of Turkey's policy fosters regional radicalization and Lebanon remains a target for a Syrian takeover and an arena for violent inter-Arab conflicts.  Additional intra-Muslim conflicts hemorrhage the region, facilitating Russian, Chinese and North Korean penetration of the region.  None of the above is impacted by the Israeli-Palestinian negotiation!

 

These conflicts shed light on 1,300 year old fundamental features of inter-Muslim/Arab reality: Islamic supremacy; autocracy/tyranny; violence as a norm to resolve conflicts and secure power; regime-change through the bullet and not through the ballot; sectarian, religious, ethnic, tribal and ideological violent conflicts; corruption; fragmentation; instability of regimes and alignments; volatility in shifts from peace to war and from conclusion to violation of agreements.  For instance, in 1969 and 1979, Libya and Iran were transformed via revolution from pro-US to anti-USA regimes.  In 1980 and in 1990, Iraq abrogated peace accords, invading Iran and Kuwait.  In 1990, pro-USA King Hussein collaborated with Saddam's invasion of Kuwait.  In 1993, the Oslo Accords were concluded and summarily violated by an unprecedented wave of Palestinian hate-education and terrorism.  In 2002, pro-USA Turkey switched over to the anti-USA, pro-Iran, pro-Syria, pro-Hezbollah and pro-Hamas camp. In 2003, a radical regime was trounced in Baghdad, but in 2011 Baghdad could become an active volcano, spreading lava throughout the region. 

 

The evacuation of Iraq turns attention to the exceptionally high security threshold required by Israel, resulting from the unpredictable, unstable, violent and volatile nature of the region and its regimes.  The more thorough the US evacuation, the higher the level of threat and uncertainty, and therefore the deeper the security significance of the Judea & Samaria mountain ridges – the "Golan Heights" protecting Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and the 9-15 mile sliver of Israel along the Mediterranean. 

 

The security, stability and sanity of the Middle East depend upon American determination and deterrence.  The evacuation of Iraq, without bringing terrorism to submission – along with hesitant USA policy toward Iran and North Korea – are perceived by rivals and enemies of the USA as lack of endurance, which was demonstrated by the US flight from Vietnam (1973), Beirut (1983) and Somalia (1993).  It undermines the USA posture of deterrence and pumps adrenalin into the veins of terrorists.

 

The lower the military profile of the USA and the more volcanic the Middle East, the higher the added-value of the Jewish State as a credible, stable, battle-proven and democratic ally of the USA.  Israel is endowed with unique capabilities, which have benefited the US in the areas of intelligence (sharing with the USA more intelligence than all NATO countries combined), defense-industrial Research & Development, manufacturing, refurbishing and exports (promoting US military systems and providing the US with the largest battle-proven laboratory), counter-terrorism (sharing with the US Israel's unique experience) and operations (foiling coups in Jordan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, destroying Iraq's nuclear reactor and Syria's nuclear plant, deterring rogue regimes, upgrading battle tactics, etc.).  Such unique Israeli potential becomes doubly pertinent in face of the expected 2011-2012 Middle East sandstorms.   

 

US-Israel mutual interests behoove a dramatically enhanced strategic cooperation, focusing on the larger Middle East and global context – and not on the narrower Palestinian context – which is critical to dire economic and security concerns of the US, Israel and the Free World. 

 

 

Yoram Ettinger,

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

 

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