Posts Tagged Benjamin Netanyahu
|The More Enemies, The More Honor|
|08/10/11AN OLD photo from World War I shows a company of German soldiers getting on the train on their way to the front. On the wall of the car somebody had scribbled: “viel Feind, viel Ehr’” (“The more enemies, the more Honor”.)|
In those days, at the very start of what was to be the First World War, country after country was declaring war on Germany. The spirit of the graffito reflected the hubris of the supreme commander, Kaiser Wilhelm, who relied on the war plan of the legendary German General Staff. It was indeed an excellent war plan, and as excellent war plans are apt to do, it started going awry right from the beginning.
The foolish Kaiser now has the heirs he deserves. Israel’s Deputy Prime Minister, Moshe Ya’alon, a former army Chief of Staff whose intelligence is below the average even of that rank, has announced that Israel could not possibly apologize to Turkey, even though its national interests may demand it, because it would hurt our “prestige”.
Many enemies, much prestige.
It seems that we shall soon run out of friends whom we can turn into enemies to gather even more prestige.
LAST WEEK a black cat came between Israel and its second best friend: Germany.
High-ranking German officials confided to their Israeli colleagues that their Kanzlerin, Angela Merkel, was “furious” when she heard that the Israeli government had approved the building of 1100 housing units in Gilo, a neighborhood in occupied East Jerusalem. Just a few days earlier, the Quartet had invited Israel and the Palestinian Authority to restart negotiations and abstain from “provocations”. If this is not a provocation, what is?
Merkel, generally a woman of placid equanimity, did not keep her rage to herself. She called Binyamin Netanyahu and gave him a severe dressing-down, something that had never happened before.
Until now, Germany has kept to a strict code of behavior towards Israel: after the unspeakable crimes committed by the Nazis against the Jews, there could be no criticism of any Israeli act, Germany would pay for a crucial component of Israel’s armaments, Germany would suspend all moral criteria as far as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was concerned.
Not any more, it seems. We may be losing our only second-best friend.
THE CLASSIC example of “How to lose Friends and Alienate People” is, of course, our affair with Turkey.
David Ben-Gurion, the arch-architect of Israel, believed that peace with the Arabs was neither possible nor desirable. He devised an alternative: a ring to encircle the Arab world – an alliance of non-Arab allies. These included Iran (under the Shah), Ethiopia (under Haile Selassie), several other African states and, of course, Turkey (under the legacy of Kemal Ataturk).
Our relations with Turkey developed over the years into a very close marriage, especially cozy between the armed forces. Joint exercises, sales of lots of arms, intelligence sharing. While Israel was helping the Iraqi Kurds against Saddam Hussein, it helped Ankara to oppress the Turkish Kurds. Jerusalem seriously considered laying a pipeline under the sea from Turkey to bring in water, which Turkey has in abundance and Israel sorely needs.
Suddenly everything changed. Turkish-Israeli relations foundered like a ship hit squarely by a torpedo.
It started when the Turkish prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, abruptly got up and left a public dialogue with Shimon Peres in Davos. Israelis could understand that: not everybody can stand Peres.
But Avigdor Lieberman’s Foreign Office decided to retaliate. His deputy, a genius by the name of Danny Ayalon, summoned the Turkish ambassador to his office for a rebuke and had him sit on a low sofa while towering above him on a high chair. The ambassador did not notice, but little Danny proudly explained his ploy to the assembled Israeli journalists. The Ambassador took his leave and went home.
Turkey reacted unofficially by sending the Mave Marmara to break the Gaza blockade. Nine Turks were killed. Turkey was in uproar. Erdogan demanded an apology. That’s where the prestige came in.
One can argue, of course, that the whole business was a premeditated tactic of Erdogan’s to change course and dump Israel for other allies. If so, it was even more stupid of our government to play into his hand.
WHEN THE Arab Spring broke out, Turkey jumped on the bandwagon and proposed a Turkish-Egyptian axis, reminiscent of the good old days of the Ottoman empire. Israel, on the other hand, stuck to its customary line.
Instead of realizing what was happening, our government clung to the shattered dictatorship of Hosni Mubarak. If it had come out immediately and wholeheartedly in favor of the revolution, it could, perhaps, have gained a foothold in Egyptian public opinion, which had come to detest Mubarak as a well paid American lackey who helped Israel in starving a million and a half Arab brothers in the Gaza Strip.
Israeli intelligence did not realize that we were facing a historic earthquake that would change the region. Actually, it never foresees or understands events in the Arab world, being blinded by its contempt for Arabs.
The result was that Egyptian crowds attacked the Israeli embassy, forcing the ambassador and his staff to flee the country, and that saboteurs repeatedly blew up the pipeline that transports Egyptian gas to Israel at very low prices (probably negotiated after due bribes were paid to the right people.)
People here are now saying that the Egyptian public has always been against the peace with Israel, through no fault of ours. That is quite untrue. I was in Cairo a few days after Anwar Sadat’s historic visit to Jerusalem and found the Egyptian capital delirious with joy. Countless Israelis have visited Egypt since then and have been received always and everywhere with utmost friendliness. It was only when Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories became more and more oppressive that Egyptians started to feel betrayed.
Lieberman and Co. have lost Turkey and are losing Egypt, our two stalwart allies in the region, and have insulted, humiliated and trodden on the toes of a dozen other nations. But they have undoubtedly gained much prestige.
PEOPLE WHO look for logic in politics often arrive at conspiracy theories.
When the present government coalition was set up, Lieberman asked for the ministries of immigrants’ absorption, justice, interior security (police) and foreign affairs.
Immigrants – that was natural. His voters are mainly immigrants from the former Soviet Union. Justice and police – also natural. The police are conducting an endless investigation against him concerning mysterious funds that he and his very young daughter have received from Eastern European sources.
But the foreign office? What for? Why not the far more prestigious Ministry of Defense or the immensely powerful finance ministry?
One of my acquaintances has come up with a theory: what if the Russians…
Lieberman spends a lot of his time in Russia, Belarus, Ukraine and his native Moldova. Who else but Russia has an interest in destroying the international standing of Israel, one of the closest allies of the United States? Wouldn’t it have been rational for Vladimir Putin to…
But that is, of course, a joke. Not only is Lieberman known as an upright Israeli patriot, so patriotic that no one can stand next to him, but no handler in Moscow would accept as his agent a man with shifty eyes, who speaks with a thick Russian accent.
No, there must be another reason. But which?
A FOREIGN journalist asked me the other day: “but what do they think?”
“They” – Netanyahu, Lieberman et al – are losing all our remaining friends, humiliating Barack Obama on the way. They sabotage the resumption of peace negotiations. They sprinkle settlements everywhere.
If the Two-State solution is finally made impossible, what remains? A unified state from the Mediterranean to the Jordan? What kind of state would that be? They are dead set against a bi-national state, which would be the total negation of Zionism. An apartheid state? How long could that last?
The only “rational” alternative would be total ethnic cleansing, the driving out of 5.5 million Palestinians from the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and Israel proper. Is that possible? Would the world tolerate it, unless it is distracted by an invasion from Mars?
The answer is: “they” just don’t think very much at all. Israelis have been conditioned by their experience to think in the very short term. As the Americans say: “A statesman thinks about the next generation, a politician thinks about the next election.” Or as the Zionist leader Chaim Weizmann used to say: “The future will come and care for the future”.
There is no national debate, only a vague desire to keep everything. Rightist Zionists want to hold on to all of historical Palestine, leftist Zionists want to hold on to as much of it as possible. That’s as far as the thinking goes.
The ancient Hebrew sages said: “Who is the bravest hero? He who turns his enemy into a friend.” The modern sages who govern us have turned this around: “Who has the most prestige? He who turns his friend into an enemy.”
Panetta to Netanyahu: Israel May Not Survive the Current Arab/Islamic Awakening
By Franklin Lamb
October 10, 2011 “Information Clearing House” — – Beirut — Three weeks after being named by President Obama in January 2009 as the 19th Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and during his first day on the job which was February 12, 2009, Leon Panetta, now US Secretary of Defense, signed off on a March 2009 “eyes only” CIA Report that had just been completed by his new agency.
As reported at the time, the CIA Report predicted the demise of Israel within 20 years, if present political trends in the region continued. The CIA intelligence analysts concluded that it was unlikely that Israeli leaders would grant even minimal concessions in order to achieve a settlement with their neighbors, which comprise increasingly disillusioned and rapidly growing dignity and justice seeking populations.
The CIA Report noted that Israeli officials felt emboldened in taking Palestinian land by the myriad support Israel was receiving from the leadership of Egypt, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Jordan and three other Arab leaders.
Israel and its two most powerful US lobbies, the US Congress and AIPAC, quickly squelched the 2009 Report and only seven copies were eventually acknowledged, one by AIPAC and the others by staffers of select supporters of Israel on key Congressional Committees.
During last week’s meetings with Israeli officials, both sides knew that the 2009 CIA study was front and center even without Panetta being the first one to refer to it.
President Obama sent Panetta to engage in frank discussions which included the White House displeasure at Netanyahu’s repeated humiliation of the President over the past 18 months and Israeli threats to cut off Jewish aid to Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign.
Panetta did deliver public statements which allowed Netanyahu to put the best hasbara face on the meetings and he thanked the US Secretary of Defense for “helping to improve US-Israeli relations.”
Panetta repeated at a news conference with his Israeli counterpart, Defense Minister Ehud Barak some pointed generalizations. “At this dramatic time in the Middle East, when there have been so many changes, it’s not a good situation for Israel to become increasingly isolated. And that is what’s happening,” he said.
“There’s not much question in my mind that they maintain that (military) edge. But the question you have to ask he added is: was it enough to maintain a military edge, if you’re isolating yourself in the diplomatic arena?At this dramatic time in the Middle East, when there have been so many changes, it’s not a good situation for Israel to become increasingly isolated. And that is what’s happening,” he said.
In private, according to Washington sources, the atmosphere was quite different. Panetta reportedly made plain that given recent changes among Middle East countries, meaning the Arab Spring and Islamic Awakening, Israel was quickly running out of time. Its only choice was to make peace with the Palestinians and her neighbors or perish.
During frank and sometimes heated exchanges, Panetta told the Israelis that time is running out for a two state solution, which means time is running out for Zionist Israel and that similar to apartheid South Africa, following the Reagan years, the days of American propping up of Israel are coming to a close.
Seemingly dwelling on the subject of the US being unable to continue funding Israel in real terms with more than $6 billion every year and being able to continue to guarantee Israel’s Qualitative Military Edge (QME), Panetta told the Israelis that it was out of the question given American domestic problems and the US process of substantial, if partial, disengagement from the region.
At issue with the American inability and increasing unwillingness to prop up Israel’s QME is the innocuous sounding 2008 Naval Vessel Transfer Act shepherded through the Congress a month before the 2008 US Presidential election by one of Israel’s unwavering lobbyists, Rep. Howard Berman.
In its essence, this law shackles every American president with a legal obligation to ensure that Israel maintains its military dominance over the Middle East.
It is designed to assure that Israel’s regional hegemony is legally mandated via Israel’s“Qualitative Military +*Edge” (QME). The US Government must guarantee that “the sale or export of the defense articles or defense services will not adversely affect Israel’s qualitative military edge over any military threats to Israel.”
The term ‘qualitative military edge’ means the ability to counter and defeat any credible conventional military threat from any individual state or possible coalition of states or from non-state actors, while sustaining minimal damages and casualties, through the use of superior military means, possessed in sufficient quantity, including weapons, command, control, communication, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities that in their technical characteristics are superior in capability to those of such other individual or possible coalition of states or non-state actors.
Panetta reportedly reminded Ehud Barak, during heated discussions between the two defense ministers of the statement of an Egyptian general back 1973 as reported by then President Nixon.According to Nixon, an Israeli official asked an Egyptian general convalescing in hospital, “We have defeated you Arabs three times (1948, 1967 & 1973) why to you continue to resist us?” The Egyptian replied, “You may have defeated us three times, and you may defeat us 11 times. But the 12th time we will win and Palestine will be liberated.”
The unavoidable signs seen by Panetta, as by his predecessor, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, include nearly one dozen uprisings in the region that share the goal, among others, of returning Palestine to its rightful inhabitants.
The Egyptian people are reclaiming Egypt’s proud Arab position and helping lead the cause to liberate Palestine as evidenced by their intentions to expel the Israeli Embassy, scrap Camp David, abrogate the capitulation agreements, including Egypt’s natural gas giveaway to Israel subsidized by the Egyptian people, and made by the Mubarak family doing business with Israeli officials. Panetta, and an increasingly number of American officials as well as the American public knows that the genie has been released and that Arabs, Muslims, and all people of good will continue to inexorably confront the remaining 19th Century colonial enterprise which is the artificial and illegitimate Zionist implantation on Palestinian land.
Franklin Lamb is the author of The Price We Pay: A Quarter-Century of Israel’s Use of American Weapons Against Civilians in Lebanon. Dr. Lamb is Director, Americans Concerned for Middle East Peace, Wash.DC-Beirut Board Member, The Sabra Shatila Foundation and the Palestine Civil Rights Campaign, Beirut-Washington DC. He is reachable c\o firstname.lastname@example.org
Why the Middle East Will Never Be the Same Again
The Palestinians won’t achieve statehood, but they will consign the ‘peace process’ to history.
By Robert Fisk
September 20, 2011 “The Independent‘ – -The Palestinians won’t get a state this week. But they will prove – if they get enough votes in the General Assembly and if Mahmoud Abbas does not succumb to his characteristic grovelling in the face of US-Israeli power – that they are worthy of statehood. And they will establish for the Arabs what Israel likes to call – when it is enlarging its colonies on stolen land – “facts on the ground”: never again can the United States and Israel snap their fingers and expect the Arabs to click their heels. The US has lost its purchase on the Middle East. It’s over: the “peace process”, the “road map”, the “Oslo agreement”; the whole fandango is history.
Personally, I think “Palestine” is a fantasy state, impossible to create now that the Israelis have stolen so much of the Arabs’ land for their colonial projects. Go take a look at the West Bank, if you don’t believe me. Israel’s massive Jewish colonies, its pernicious building restrictions on Palestinian homes of more than one storey and its closure even of sewage systems as punishment, the “cordons sanitaires” beside the Jordanian frontier, the Israeli-only settlers’ roads have turned the map of the West Bank into the smashed windscreen of a crashed car. Sometimes, I suspect that the only thing that prevents the existence of “Greater Israel” is the obstinacy of those pesky Palestinians.
But we are now talking of much greater matters. This vote at the UN – General Assembly or Security Council, in one sense it hardly matters – is going to divide the West – Americans from Europeans and scores of other nations – and it is going to divide the Arabs from the Americans. It is going to crack open the divisions in the European Union; between eastern and western Europeans, between Germany and France (the former supporting Israel for all the usual historical reasons, the latter sickened by the suffering of the Palestinians) and, of course, between Israel and the EU.
A great anger has been created in the world by decades of Israeli power and military brutality and colonisation; millions of Europeans, while conscious of their own historical responsibility for the Jewish Holocaust and well aware of the violence of Muslim nations, are no longer cowed in their criticism for fear of being abused as anti-Semites. There is racism in the West – and always will be, I fear – against Muslims and Africans, as well as Jews. But what are the Israeli settlements on the West Bank, in which no Arab Muslim Palestinian can live, but an expression of racism?
Israel shares in this tragedy, of course. Its insane government has led its people on this road to perdition, adequately summed up by its sullen fear of democracy in Tunisia and Egypt – how typical that its principle ally in this nonsense should be the awful Saudi Arabia – and its cruel refusal to apologise for the killing of nine Turks in the Gaza flotilla last year and its equal refusal to apologise to Egypt for the killing of five of its policemen during a Palestinian incursion into Israel.
So goodbye to its only regional allies, Turkey and Egypt, in the space of scarcely 12 months. Israel’s cabinet is composed both of intelligent, potentially balanced people such as Ehud Barak, and fools such as Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, the Ahmadinejad of Israeli politics. Sarcasm aside, Israelis deserve better than this.
The State of Israel may have been created unjustly – the Palestinian Diaspora is proof of this – but it was created legally. And its founders were perfectly capable of doing a deal with King Abdullah of Jordan after the 1948-49 war to divide Palestine between Jews and Arabs. But it had been the UN, which met to decide the fate of Palestine on 29 November 1947, which gave Israel its legitimacy, the Americans being the first to vote for its creation. Now – by a supreme irony of history – it is Israel which wishes to prevent the UN from giving Palestinian Arabs their legitimacy – and it is America which will be the first to veto such a legitimacy.
Does Israel have a right to exist? The question is a tired trap, regularly and stupidly trotted out by Israel’s so-called supporters; to me, too, on regular though increasingly fewer occasions. States – not humans – give other states the right to exist. For individuals to do so, they have to see a map. For where exactly, geographically, is Israel? It is the only nation on earth which does not know and will not declare where its eastern frontier is. Is it the old UN armistice line, the 1967 border so beloved of Abbas and so hated by Netanyahu, or the Palestinian West Bank minus settlements, or the whole of the West Bank?
Show me a map of the United Kingdom which includes England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, and it has the right to exist. But show me a map of the UK which claims to include the 26 counties of independent Ireland in the UK and shows Dublin to be a British rather than an Irish city, and I will say no, this nation does not have the right to exist within these expanded frontiers. Which is why, in the case of Israel, almost every Western embassy, including the US and British embassies, are in Tel Aviv, not in Jerusalem.
In the new Middle East, amid the Arab Awakening and the revolt of free peoples for dignity and freedom, this UN vote – passed in the General Assembly, vetoed by America if it goes to the Security Council – constitutes a kind of hinge; not just a page turning, but the failure of empire. So locked into Israel has US foreign policy become, so fearful of Israel have almost all its Congressmen and Congresswomen become – to the extent of loving Israel more than America – that America will this week stand out not as the nation that produced Woodrow Wilson and his 14 principles of self-determination, not as the country which fought Nazism and Fascism and Japanese militarism, not as the beacon of freedom which, we are told, its Founding Fathers represented – but as a curmudgeonly, selfish, frightened state whose President, after promising a new affection for the Muslim world, is forced to support an occupying power against a people who only ask for statehood.
Should we say “poor old Obama”, as I have done in the past? I don’t think so. Big on rhetoric, vain, handing out false love in Istanbul and Cairo within months of his election, he will this week prove that his re-election is more important than the future of the Middle East, that his personal ambition to stay in power must take first place over the sufferings of an occupied people. In this context alone, it is bizarre that a man of such supposed high principle should show himself so cowardly. In the new Middle East, in which Arabs are claiming the very same rights and freedoms that Israel and America say they champion, this is a profound tragedy.
US failures to stand up to Israel and to insist on a fair peace in “Palestine”, abetted by the hero of the Iraq war, Blair, are responsible. Arabs too, for allowing their dictators to last so long and thus to clog the sand with false frontiers and old dogmas and oil (and let’s not believe that a “new” “Palestine” would be a paradise for its own people). Israel, too, when it should be welcoming the Palestinian demand for statehood at the UN with all its obligations of security and peace and recognition of other UN members. But no. The game is lost. America’s political power in the Middle East will this week be neutered on behalf of Israel. Quite a sacrifice in the name of liberty…
Robert Fisk is Middle East correspondent for The Independent newspaper
© 2011 The Independent
The extreme Israeli right’s alliance with lunatics
In recent years, the extreme Israeli right has developed an alliance with heads of the evangelical movement, who define themselves as Christian Zionists, some of whom believe that another Holocaust of the Jews will ensure the resurrection of Jesus.
Against the backdrop of what Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his spokesmen call the “delegitimization” of Israel, a “support event” was held in Jerusalem yesterday evening led by American preacher-broadcaster Glenn Beck. Beck was accompanied by personages identified with the Republican Party’s extreme right and a group of Christian Zionist evangelical leaders.
Beck never misses an opportunity to speak ill of U.S. President Barack Obama and to challenge his leadership. His television program fell out of favor even with rightist Fox Broadcasting, which took Beck off the air. A few weeks ago, Beck received publicity for comparing the young Norwegians who were killed by an extreme right-winger to the Hitler Youth. Hundreds of rabbis in the United States, from all streams of Judaism, have expressed disgust with Beck’s incitement on the air against Jewish financier George Soros and Jewish intellectuals “accused” of harboring liberal, leftist views.
In recent years the extreme Israeli right has developed an alliance with the heads of the evangelical movement, who define themselves as Christian Zionists. National religious rabbis and politicians connect with these preachers, including those who spread the belief in the need for another Holocaust of the Jews in order to ensure the resurrection of Jesus. These rabbis and politicians accept donations from these preachers. It is mystifying that people from Israel’s ruling party, Likud, foremost among them Vice Prime Minister Moshe Ya’alon and World Likud Chairman Danny Danon, have joined the circle of Beck’s fans. So has Atzmaut MK Einat Wilf.
One might have expected the government and police to prohibit the East Jerusalem Development Corporation (a government-municipal company ) from making available the archaeological park near the Al-Aqsa Mosque and Silwan neighborhood for the fulminations of extreme rightists. These are unnecessary and harmful fulminations that testify to Netanyahu’s distorted priorities.
It was just a few weeks ago that the government denied dozens of peace activists entry into Israel; they wanted to demonstrate nonviolently their support for the Palestinians’ struggle for independence. At the time, it was claimed that this was a “provocation.” The “support event” in Jerusalem was no less provocative.