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Evenhanded Democrats



"the United States needs an evenhanded approach in the conflict." "we need to be a credible negotiator, a facilitator for peace in the Middle East. And that means we have to be trusted by both sides." - Howard Dean's statements during 2004 primaries



Updated: 2017-06-21T19:34:00.133-07:00

 



Why the U.S. is bad for Israel

2008-01-08T18:51:56.657-08:00

The Israel Lobby by Mearsheimer and Walt should be in bookstores by September 4, but it was released on Amazon on August 27 and has already shot up to #89 on their sales ranking.  The early reviews are favorable -- as I consult the site, the six initial reviewers all gave the book four or five stars.The New Yorker's David Remnick has a piece in the current issue which pans the book, describing it as a "symptom" of "our polarized era."  Remnick, in turn, inspired Time Magazine's Tony Karon to reflect on Mearsheimer and Walt, the Israel Lobby, and David Remnick.On the flip, some interesting bits from Tony Karon's reflection.Perhaps the central point of Mearsheimer and Walt's analysis (judging from the original London Review of Books article) is that the US relationship with Israel is strategically bad for the US.  In the article, they wrote that Israel had become a "strategic burden" for the US, and they cited experiences from the Iranian Revolution and the first Gulf War to back up that assertion.A secondary point they make, however, is that the relationship as it has developed over the years is also bad for Israel.  Karon picks up on that point, and expands on it:Like the tech-bubble and real estate-bubble, Washington’s "Israel bubble" is unhealthy and dangerous — in fact, it not only jeopardizes U.S. interests throughout the region and beyond (by serving as Exhibit A for any anti-American element anywhere in the Islamic world to win the political contest with America’s friends), but it is also exceedingly bad for Israel: Particularly over the past decade, the U.S. has essentially enabled Israeli behavior so self-destructive that it may have already precluded any chance of it being able to live at peace with its neighbors.This a major theme Karon develops throughout the essay, even though he's mostly interested in challenging Remnick's interpretation of the Mearsheimer and Walt thesis.Karon does disagree with how Mearsheimer and Walt portray the Israel Lobby.  He says their "analytical approach [is] often static and institutional; [sic] insufficiently dynamic and, dare I say it, insufficiently dialectical."  He's not convinced that the US's pro-Israel bias is due to the "machinations of a lobby" but rather develops from "deeply-entrenched tropes in US political and civil society -- tropes which now function quite independently of the lobby's interventions."  In his critique of Remnick he gives some specific examples of what he means by "tropes"; here, I just wanted to lay out the foundation of the analytical differences with Mearsheimer and Walt he alludes to in this next passage:U.S. policy on Israel and its neighbors is grotesquely biased in favor not only of Israel, but of Israel’s most self-destructive impulses. As such, it is a policy dangerous to U.S. interests and ultimately to those of Israel itself. This biased [sic] is maintained and policed in substantial part by an aggressive lobbying effort by an elaborate pro-Israel political infrastructure. Despite its analytical weaknesses, [the book] is a refreshingly candid and courageous (given the all too common fate of those who tackle this taboo — just take a look at the important logging of this stuff at Muzzlewatch) embrace of what has long been the "third rail" of American foreign policy, insisting that a debate be conducted where none has been tolerated until now.Karon notes that unconditional support of Israel's occupation of the Palestinians by the US makes it "virtually impossible for any Arab leader to openly associate with U.S. goals."  In the long run, given the strategic importance of the Arab world, this might eventually lead the US to distance itself from Israel.  Karon goes on:It was precisely this recognition of Israel’s limited strategic value to the U.S. in a post-Cold War world that led Yitzhak Rabin, a longtime hawk, to embrace the Oslo deal presented to him by Shimon Peres. Like the leaders of apartheid South Africa in the late 80s, Rabin had come to recognize (parti[...]



Israel Should Finally be Happy

2007-06-23T08:23:18.503-07:00

The outcome that Israel has been wanting for a long time - that it has been manipulating and conniving to bring about - has finally come to pass. The Palestinians are fighting each other.Israel has long been wanting someone else to fight and kill the Palestinians. It couches its desire in terms of "fighting terror," but what it really wants is for one element of the Palestinians to turn on the others on Israel's behalf. Whenever the Israelis impose preconditions on the Palestinians, in order to prevent peace from breaking out, they have always included this requirement to "fight terror."Now, the Palestinian factions may not be "fighting terror," but they are at least finally fighting each other, and not Israelis.Beginning just about a year ago, I have written a series of essays arguing that the election of Hamas to control of the Palestinian Authority might be the last hope of peace in the region, but that Israeli policy was instead driving the factions towards civil war and anarchy.http://www.dailykos....http://www.dailykos....http://www.dailykos....http://evenhandeddem...As usual, I was right. By choking off the resources that Hamas would have needed to govern, by arming the al-Fatah party, discarded by the Palestinian people for corruption and ineffectiveness, Israeli policy successfully undermined the ability of the Palestinian government to control the giant prison that is Gaza. Not only were the two largest parties intermittantly fighting each other, the resulting power vacuum emboldened the armed clans to conduct operations on their own, or in concert with other marginal groups.The situation had gotten so bad that the only relief could come when the warring factions turned their attention to attacks on Israel instead of each other, with unifying consequences as they recalled who their real enemy is. Indeed, there have been those in Gaza who actually welcomed the Israeli air strikes as a relief from the shooting in the streets. Some have actually voiced the heretical proposal that Gaza would be better off under Israeli occupation again.But now things are different. Hamas has gone on the offensive against Fatah and taken control of Gaza. Now there may be order. Now there may be a single authority that can establish and maintain control. At least, this seems to be what Hamas has in mind. Hamas fighters issued an ultimatum to a number of the Gaza Strip's powerful clans to hand over their weapons and submit to interrogation today, as the Islamists attempted to assert their complete authority on the war-torn area after their military takeover. As the last of Fatah's defeated fighters fled over the strip's southern border with Egypt, the Islamists today demanded that the multitude of different factions, clans and groups which oppose it, and operate within the territory, hand over weapons and ammunition. http://www.timesonli... Hopes have been raised that kidnapped BBC journalist Alan Johnston may soon be released as Hamas, eager to aviod alienation, has warned those holding him to free him immediately. Hamas, who have now taken control of most of Gaza from President Abbas's Fatah forces, vowed to secure the reporter's quick release. In a press conference in Gaza this morning, spokesman Abu Obeid said: "We will not allow his continued detention." http://www.dailymail...So Israel should finally be happy. There is now going to be law and order in Gaza. Hamas will be too busy establishing its rule to bother with petty operations like shooting rockets across the border into the desert, which it no longer needs to distract the people from the failures of its rule. It should even be in a position, at last, to control the notoriously uncontrollable rocket-shooters.Ismail Haniyeh has offered to establish talks with Israel on the subject of the humanitarian situation in Gaza.But Israel, predictably, is not happy. Israel looks at Haniyeh and says, "There is no one to talk to." Instead of saying: Oh, good, at last there is a stable government in Gaza, Israeli is squawking[...]



Pariah State

2007-05-24T12:32:37.331-07:00

Once again, the Israeli government is asserting that Palestinian politicians are legitimate targets for arrest and assassination:Naser el-Deen al Shaer was arrested by soldiers who knocked at the door of his home in the city of Nablus, his wife said. He was among several senior Hamas members who were detained by Israeli troops. A former Cabinet minister, Abdel Rahman Zeidan, two lawmakers and the mayors of the towns of Nablus, Qalqiliya and Beita were also arrested. An Israeli military spokeswoman confirmed that an "arrest operation" had taken place. ...The emergency discussions between Mr Abbas and representatives from the five parties involved in inter-factional fighting came hours after Israel carried out more air strikes, hitting what it said were buildings used by Hamas militants to store weapons. Israeli officials have repeated threats to widen their list of targets to include Hamas political leaders. These recent events are further evidence of efforts by the Israeli government and the Bush administration to delegitimize and undermine the elected leadership of the Palestinian people. These efforts are most clear in their treatment of the Palestinian Prime Minister, Isma’il Haniyeh.A friend of mine, after overcoming many obstacles, was able to visit Gaza and meet with the Palestinian Prime Minister a few months ago. I share with you some of his experience, with his permission.Scott Kennedy recently visited Gaza at the end of a visit to Israel and the West Bank, where he had been one of the leaders of a delegation from the Interfaith Peace-Builders.Interfaith Peace-Builders sends delegations to Israel/ Palestine so that U.S. citizens can see the conflict with their own eyes. Participants have the opportunity to learn directly from Israeli and Palestinian nonviolent peace/human-rights activists, to spend time in Palestinian and Israeli homes, and to experience the situation of Palestinians living under military occupation. The delegations focus on seeing, listening to, and recording the experiences and perspectives of a wide range of Palestinian and Israeli voices....Building on a long history of delegation work in the Middle East, the Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR) began Interfaith Peace-Builders in 2000 as a response to the intensified violence of the second intifada. Since that time IFPB has consulted and worked in partnership with Palestinian and Israeli organizations. We stand in support with Palestinians and Israelis striving to end the occupation of Palestine, working to ensure the human rights of both Israelis and Palestinians, and advocating an enduring peace with justice for both peoples.IFPB, which was last able to send a delegation to Gaza in 2003, carries Scott’s report about his individual trip:“Pariah State"Meeting with Palestinian Prime Minister Isma’il HaniyehBy Scott KennedyGaza is the second most dangerous place in the world for an American to visit,” a highly placed US State Department official commented to a friend and me two weeks ago (November 15, 2006) in Jerusalem. I first visited Gaza in 1968 and have returned more two dozen times, including many study groups and fact-finding delegations. My most recent visit was in April 2002. Since then, Israeli authorities have prevented our visiting Gaza. I was eager to return, to renew friendships and see for myself the changes that have taken place. I also wanted, if at all possible, to convey my support for those courageous people who continue to work for human rights, democracy and a political resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. They persist despite formidable obstacles. It is imperative, therefore, for them as well as for us, that those suffering such extreme isolation are not forgotten and that their voices still be heard.But visiting the Gaza Strip is no easy thing. After Hamas won control of the Palestinian Authority (PA) in January 2006 elections, the Bush Administration determined that the Islamic movement represents a key thread in the web of global terrorism. I[...]



Falatan

2007-05-05T21:04:48.086-07:00

In January of 2006, to the surprise of most parties, including Hamas, the Islamic party won a clear majority in the Palestinian parliamentary elections. Here was an opportunity aborted at birth. Instead of accepting the results of the democratic process, instead of respecting the will of the Palestinian people, the neocon axis of Israel and the US turned on the Hamas government before it was even officially established, determined to strangle, to starve it to death before it could perform a single official act.The short-sightedness of such a policy is wonderful to contemplate. With the primitive reflex of the reptile brain, the axis was not capable of thinking beyond the single simplistic equation: Hamas = terrorist. A strong Hamas government, according to this equation, could only mean stronger terrorist attacks on Israel. This, despite the fact that both before and since the election, Hamas had proposed and adhered to a cease-fire with Israel. Rejectionists among the Israelis and their supporters rejoiced at the outcome, as it automatically served as a perfect excuse to call off, Yet Again, the farcial "peace process." No negotiation with terrorists, was the immediate cry. No talking with terrorists. Just to make sure that peace could not possibly arise, the rejectionist axis declared a set of demands – concessions Hamas would be required to make before they would consider recognition, concessions they knew quite well Hamas would refuse to make, particularly under such circumstances.In keeping with this reptile-brained policy, the axis proceeded to cut off all funding to the Palestinian government and to pressure the rest of the world into joining this embargo, so that it could not pay the salaries of its security services and public servants. They also suborned the leaders of the Fatah party, whom the people had rejected for their corruption, to undermine and contest the results of the election by force. The Hamas government was duly weakened, as the axis had intented. But what they entirely failed to consider were the consequences of a weakened government in Palestine. Already last year, there were clear signs that the Palestinian body politic was sliding head-first down the slope to civil war as a direct consequence of axis policies.I wrote about these possible consequences in an essay just about a year ago: that by weaking Hamas, Israel is opening the doors of possibility to al-Qaida taking its place. And the likelihood of this outcome has not diminished at all.Sun May 21, 2006 http://www.haaretz.com/...A previously unknown group that links itself to al-Qaida has claimed responsibility for a failed attempt Saturday to kill the chief of the Palestinian Authority intelligence service in the Gaza Strip, General Tareq Abu Rajab, according to a Web statement posted Sunday.The group, called the Qaida Organization of the State of Palestine, also vowed to target other senior officials, including Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas.Of course this report must be taken with a grain of skepticism. It is quite possible that this previously-unknown group might be a mask for rogue or actual Hamas agents acting against Fatah, which has officially denied responsibility for the attack. But the possibility of al-Qaida activity in Gaza has been growing ever since the American occupation of Iraq, which functions as an international recruiting center for terrorist groups. And just as Israel did everything in its power to destroy Fatah, only to discover that Fatah was maybe not all that bad in comparison to Hamas, it may soon discover that its attempts to destroy Hamas have opened the door for the rise of a Palestinian al-Qaida, in contrast to which, Hamas may start looking not all that bad in comparison.The latest pronouncement from Osama bin Laden attempted to link his cause with that of the Palestinians. Hamas was quick to repudiate this unwanted support from al-Qaida. Hamas has no interest in international jihad. Its a[...]



Israel, Palestine, Means and Ends

2007-04-25T12:46:24.460-07:00

We at Evenhanded Democrats, while having many differences in style and political opinion, are united in our goal of reforming the Democratic Party's policies in the Middle East. Together we are involved in seeking this change by trying to influence the debate at Progressive and Democratic blogs with reality-based arguments about Israel and Palestine. For the most part, our diaries on this site are cross-posted at Daily Kos and related sites -- blog communities in which we value being members.

We have come to a parting of the ways with one of the contributors to this blog, shergald. While we continue to share some goals with shergald, we do not wish to share some of his chosen means. His diaries will no longer be carried on this site.



Democrats standing up to Olmert??

2007-04-22T18:12:38.472-07:00

Only in an Israeli newspaper: When Speaker of the House Nancy came back from her Mideast trip, I wrote briefly about her frustration with the Israeli government and the way it handled her visit to Damascus: "Pelosi", I wrote, "didn't like the Israeli clarification. It made her look slightly ridiculous, like a rookie in foreign policy." I also mentioned that it was not her first frustration with Olmert. He knows how politically sensitive are the issues of American policy in the region but "nonetheless decided to present an explicit Israeli policy regarding Iraq identical to that of Bush in a speech to AIPAC." And this wasn't even the first time that Olmert marched into this mine field. Visiting the White House in November, right after the Midterm elections, he felt the need to say that he is "very much impressed and encouraged by the stability which the great operation of America in Iraq brought to the Middle East." snip As Guttman wrote Thursday: "Israeli officials and Democratic lawmakers are working to mend fences", and the Waxman-Ackerman statement is a first sign. Sources in Washington told me today that next week, when all the Democratic Presidential hopefuls will appear before delegates to the National Jewish Democratic Council conference, we will see more of this conciliatory tone coming to fore. However, this source said, "even as our leadership is working to calm things down, the rank and file Democrats are getting tired of these Israeli maneuvers." If Israel doesn't "get its act together" and doesn't reciprocate these pacifying moves - "if Olmert keeps doing such irresponsible things" - it will get more "difficult for Democrats who do care about Israel" to defend their position. It almost sounded like a threat.http://www.haaretz.com/... I know Bush does not seem to care that the democrats won Congress....but someone needs to tell Olmert. I believe Bush had Sharon's blessings to go into Iraq...and that Olmert is having problems backing away from that position. Here is the line up for the conference on Israel and Terrorism: NJDC WASHINGTON CONFERENCE - APRIL 23-25, 2007CONFIRMED SPEAKERS INCLUDE:Senator Hillary ClintonSenator Barack ObamaSenator John EdwardsSenator Joe BidenSenator Christopher DoddGovernor Bill RichardsonHouse Majority Leader Steny Hoyer And who are they? What is their mission statement? Sounds like they could be a close mirror imagine of AIPAC: Founded in 1990, the National Jewish Democratic Council is the national voice of Jewish Democrats. Informed by our commitment to those values shared by the Democratic Party and the vast majority of American Jews - including the separation of church and state, a strong US-Israel relationship, and reproductive freedom - NJDC's singular set of priorities includes: * Educating Jewish voters about the very real differences between their Democratic and Republican candidates for elected office through special reports and voter guides. NJDC has distributed more than 250,000 informational guides to Jewish households in recent election cycles. * Informing candidates for public office about the need to address and support issues of concern to the Jewish community. * Advocating on behalf of Jewish and Democratic ideals on Capitol Hill and in Jewish and national media. * Fighting the radical right agenda at every turn through research and reports, grassroots advocacy, working directly with lawmakers in Washington, and educating journalists. * Engaging and cultivating a new generation of young Jewish Democratic leaders by replicating our highly successful Washington-based Young Leadership program in other major cities, including New York, Boston, Los Angeles, Cleveland and South Florida. * Expanding Jewish awareness of critical legislative activity through quarterly and biweekly publications, as well as Breakfast Roundtables and Domestic Issues Forums featuring congressional and executive branch leaders.h[...]



0 Comments

2007-04-21T12:14:47.110-07:00

This week Puerto Rican peace activist Tito Kayak and Nobel peace laureate Mairead Corrigan participated in peace demonstrations in Palestinian village of Bilin, where a wall continues to be build taking valuable farm land from the Palestinian owners. Corrigan, who won the prize in 1976 for her work in encouraging a peaceful solution to the Northern Ireland dispute, was hit in the leg by a rubber bullet and was transferred to a hospital for treatment. She was also said to have inhaled large quantities of teargas. Policemen and soldiers used teargas grenades and rubber bullets to disperse the routine Friday protest against the security fence near the Palestinian village of Bilin and were confronted by a hail of stones. "I salute the residents of Bilin for their peaceful struggle in a region that is so violent and I call on the Israeli public, whom I knowis for justice and peace, to support the residents' struggle," Corrigan told Ynet. "I want to say that this separation wall, contrary to what the Israeli say, will not prevent attacks and violence. What will prevent attacks and violence is a peace agreement between the two peoples, and I sure the Israeli people, like the Palestinian people, wants peace," Corrigan added. Kayak was a key figure in the sucessful 1999 Navy-Vieques protests in Puerto Rico against the US Navy's use of the Vieques Island for bombing exercises. The navy was forced to end the use of the island. "All I did was to express my identification with the villagers against the wall which is believed to evil and illegal by the whole world and many leaders like Nelson Mandela, Jimmy Carter and the United Nations," Kayak said. http://www.ynetnews.com/... As previously been noted, the Palestine economy is failing and the children suffer most: 'Malnutrition common for Gaza kids' About 10 percent of Palestinian children suffer permanent effects from malnutrition, according to a survey published Wednesday, a result of widespread poverty in the West Bank and Gaza. The root cause is poverty, according to Khaled Abu Khaled, who directed the study for the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics. He said the numbers are up slightly over the past two years. One obvious effect of malnutrition is stunted growth among children, which has increased about three percent in the last two years, he said. "This is chronic. Even with interventions, the rates don't go down fast," he said.http://www.jpost.com/... I wrote a diary last week on the power of the settlers/coloniziers in the West Bank The Cottage Industry of Settlements in the West Bank and their influence over Israeli politicians. Some kossacks said the settlers have little power, well an Israeli newspaper differs in opinion. In the year that has come and gone since last Independence Day, the settler showdown, which was really the basis for the political change the current government was relying on, was all but forgotten. New troubles pushed out the old. Preoccupation with the war in Lebanon and political corruption created a distraction. Moreover, the art of distraction is a field in which Ehud Olmert excels: He gave up the "convergence plan," on the strength of which he was elected, almost parenthetically. His colleagues in the Labor Party accepted the shelving of this plan with the same meek indifference with which they accepted the National Union as a coalition partner and the systematic rejection (until recently) of every peace plan or proposal for withdrawal. It is no coincidence that Sharon and Yitzhak Rabin, the toughest of our generals, dared to stand up to the settlers. Both were cut down, and the battle ended with their fall, perhaps forever. What Sharon never managed to do is not going to be done by someone else. And we don't need a slippery wimp like Olmert and his bewildered ministers to understand that. Who is going to be the "bulldozer," and move so[...]



Determining Historical Consensus on Israeli Ethnic Cleansing

2007-04-19T14:14:20.566-07:00

Cross-posted from Daily Kos and Progressive HistoriansThere's been this debate going on in the Israel/Palestine diaries over what historians believe about the 1948 Israeli War of Independence. In particular, I've been positing a degree of historical consensus over the New Historians ethnic cleansing thesis (see this diary for some of the arguments). Others have argued that because we can identify two or three historians who disagree with the New Historians, therefore no consensus exists.Over the last few days, I've been conducting a search in the Social Sciences Citation Index, looking for recent scholarly articles that cite Benny Morris's work, especially his landmark Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem. I found 228 of them, and I sampled a few of the ones that looked interesting.The first article I checked was Asher Kaufman, "Between Palestine and Lebanon: seven Shi'i villages as a case study of boundaries, identities, and conflict" The Middle East Journal 60.4 (Autumn 2006): p685(22). As a case study of seven Arab villages in the north of Israel, Kaufman doesn't address the broad historical question of whether or not Israel committed ethnic cleansing; he simply cites the evidence confirming that his seven villages were cleansed. First the Israeli account of the cleansing of the village of Hunin:On September 2nd, 1948 and as a result of patrolling operations in the area of Manara (on the Lebanese border) a battle broke out between a unit of our military and a Lebanese unit. Four of our men were killed and two went missing in this clash. During the withdrawal of our unit near the village of Hunin, a number of shots were fired at us, and in retaliation, our forces penetrated the above village and blew up 24 houses. The son of the mukhtar was killed, and a number of people were taken prisoner. The rest fled. In the wake of this event, the negotiation which had begun with people from the village of Hunin, the details of which were forwarded to your office in a report of 14.8.48, has, (for the time being) been removed from the agenda. Here's how the village elders of Hunin reported the incident to the Lebanese government:Our houses have been blown up, places of worship destroyed, our elders and young ones have been massacred and taken captive, our wives are prisoners in the hands of the Zionists. We appeal to your sense of justice and request the assistance of the Lebanese guard in the nearby region to rescue what is left of us.A little further on Kaufman uncritically cites Benny Morris to support the following statement:All in all, the Jewish forces did not spare the villages in the region and the seven Shi'i villages were no exception. In Salha, one of the seven villages, moreover, there was a massacre of 60-70 inhabitants of the village in the course of Operation Hiram.The next article I checked was Fiona B. Adamson, "Crossing borders - International migration and national security" International Security 31.1 (Summer 2006) 165-. Adamson also is not interested in a broader discussion of the historiography of the 1948 war, but rather cites what she understands to be the state of the research:Many of the major migrations throughout history have occurred as a result of forced migration or expulsion. The formation of the Jewish diaspora after the destruction of the Temple of Jerusalem in B.C.; the mass migration flows that occurred during the transatlantic slave trade, in which approximately 15 million Africans were transferred to the Americas prior to 1850; the population exchanges between Greece and Turkey at the end of World War I; the forced migration of Jews during the Russian pogroms and later during the Holocaust; the expulsion of Germans from the Sudetenland following World War II; the expulsion of indigenous Arab populations with the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948; the ethnic cleansing that characteri[...]



Peace in Palestine

2007-03-17T16:07:54.357-07:00

I can only hope, that the little we do on dailykos to keep the Israeli Palestinian conflict in the public's eye will help bring this issue to a final resolution. The rock is being pushed up hill an inch at a time. We can't stop now, the world is watching. Somehow, we need to convince the powers that be, that there is more success and joy in building instead of destroying. Time to decommission the war machine and fund organizations like an international Army Corp of Engineers. Build infrastructure, quit bombing it. NEWS:GAZA CITY (AP) -- Political rivals Hamas and Fatah reached a final agreement on forming a unity government Wednesday, wrapping up months of coalition negotiations aimed at ending bloody internal fighting and lifting international sanctions against the Palestinians. Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas said he would present the new government to parliament this weekend for final approval. snip Both sides hope the alliance will bring the Palestinians out of international isolation after a yearlong boycott of the Hamas-led government. Israel and Western countries have reacted coolly to the deal, but say they are waiting for final details before deciding whether to lift the embargo.http://www.cnn.com/... New goverment:http://english.aljazeera.net/... The new government's platform includes only a vague pledge to "respect" past peace deals, falling short of explicit recognition of Israel. It also affirms the Palestinians' right to resist and "defend themselves against any Israeli aggression." While many in the West consider "resistance" to be a code-word for violent attacks, Palestinians have a wide variety of definitions that can encompass anything from armed attacks to street protests. Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev said his government will boycott the coalition government and encourage other countries to do the same because its program falls short of the international conditions for acceptance that include recognition of the Jewish state. "Unfortunately the new Palestinian government seems to have said no to the three benchmarks of the international community," Regev said. "Accordingly, Israel will not deal with this new government and we hope the international community will stand firmly by its own principles and refuse to deal with a government that says no to peace and no to reconciliation." http://cnews.canoe.ca/... The only way to influence the new government is to ENGAGE it. To be a fly on the wall: Olmert to tackle withdrawal, Iranin Washington meetings this week Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert faces his first major diplomatic meeting this week in Washington, where he hopes to win Bush’s backing for his West Bank withdrawal plan and close ranks on Iran’s nuclear program.http://www.jta.org/... Building a potent future: Japan, Israel, Jordan and the Palestinians have agreed on a plan to build an agro-industrial park in the occupied West Bank at a conference hosted by Tokyo. A Japan-backed agreement for economic co-operation between Israel and the Palestinians could help to stem violence in the Middle East, a joint statement said. But they also said that such economic co-operation, though important, was predicated on security and political progress. Saeb Erekat, a senior Palestinian negotiator, told the conference session on Thursday that a political solution was necessary for economic co-operation to flourish. "Can regional co-operation be translated into a political solution? Can we achieve prosperity for Palestinians, Israelis and Jordanians while the Israeli occupation continues? "Any plans will be meaningless without progress in the peace process," he said. Water issues Erekat also urged Israel to take immediate steps to show its commitment to economic co-operation, such as giving Palestinians in the West Bank more control o[...]



AIPAC message to American Jewry:

2007-03-17T13:59:44.482-07:00

This year AIPAC Conference turned out to be a three day event attended by 6,000 activists and 200 politicians.

And the bottom line?

The conference observer suggested that there seemed to be a message throughout the event that the pro-Israel community "is not doing more on Iraq and isn't helping the administration more on Iraq."

In other words, that American Jewry needs to speak more loudly.

Support Bushco!


Even though throughout the conference, Iraq was the unspoken elephant in the room, Olmert spoke {to the distress of some of the Democrats} backing Bushco's actions in Iraq/Iran:

On Iran, Olmert warned against any effort - as has been proposed by some Democratic congressmen - to tie US President George W. Bush's hands. "I know that... all of you who are concerned about the security and the future of the State of Israel understand the importance of strong American leadership addressing the Iranian threat, and I am sure you will not hamper or restrain that strong leadership unnecessarily."
http://www.jpost.com/...

Hopefully, people are realizing the Olmert/Bush Regime is not good for either country.

Dailykos comments:
http://www.dailykos.com/story/2007/3/16/184830/191






Palestinian Refugees - Stateless Forever?

2007-03-10T12:57:39.621-08:00

This year the Palestinian Diaspora will be sixty years old. During the war that began in 1947 and concluded with the establishment of the State of Israel, a quarter of a million Palestinians were expelled from their homes at gunpoint and driven across the borders of the neighboring Arab states, where they became refugees - an event they now refer to as the Naqba: the Catastrophe. Despite UN Resolution 194, that the refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbours should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return and for loss of or damage to property which, under principles of international law or in equity, should be made good by the Governments or authorities responsiblethe State of Israel has never allowed them to return. In 1967, hundreds of thousands more refugees fled the West Bank. Most of both groups remain, with their descendants, refugees to this day, four million persons without a state of their own.The Palestinians as a people have a home nowhere on Earth. Of all the Arab states where they took refuge during the Naqba, none wanted them to remain. Only Jordan has offered a substantial number of them citizenship. Some have been able to emmigrate to the United States and other western nations, where citizenship is open to them. The remainder are officially homeless, often confined for generations to refugee camps under restrictive and discriminatory rules, without the same rights as citizens. In some places, they may not own property or work in certain jobs. Without rights, their presence in other nations is always precarious. As many as 400,000 Palestinians were expelled from Kuwait as punishment for the PLO's support of Saddam Hussein's invasion of 1991.Saddam Hussein's Iraq was for some time one of the more welcoming of the Arab states to Palestinian exiles. Being seen to support the Palestinians was one of Saddam's ways of expressing his antagonism to Israel. Palestinians were given incentives to immigrate to Iraq - although not citizenship or the right to own land - and special privileges not available to ordinary Iraqis.These privileges, however, caused resentment of the Palestinians, particularly on the part of the Shi'ites, and almost immediately after the war, the Iraqi population began to turn on the foreigners living among them. Hundreds of Palestinians have been murdered in Baghdad, and the violence has only increased since, as Shi'ite militias conduct campaigns of ethnic cleansing. Many of the approximately 34,000 Palestinians in Iraq have been living in the country since 1948 and have known no other home. Stereotyped as supporters of Saddam Hussein, and prime candidates for the insurgency, many today face harassment, threats of deportation, media scapegoating, arbitrary detention, torture and murder. Palestinian refugees came to Iraq in several waves. The first group, some 5,000 persons from Haifa and Jaffa, came in 1948. Others arrived after the 1967 War and a third group arrived in the aftermath of the 1991 Gulf War when many Palestinian refugees were forced to leave Kuwait. ... Palestinian refugees were provided protection by successive Iraqi governments and enjoyed a relatively high standard of treatment, mainly guided by the Casablanca Protocol ratified by the League of Arab States in 1965.1 Palestinians were issued special travel documents, had the right to work and were given full access to health, education and other government services. In addition, they were provided with government-owned housing or fixed, subsidised rent in privately-owned houses and apartments. In effect, Palestinians enjoyed many of the same rights and relative prosperity as Iraq citizens. How[...]



Refuting Israel's New Historians

2007-03-06T19:03:33.252-08:00

In a series of diaries recently (on DailyKos here, here, and here), I've been citing Israel's New Historians -- a generation of scholars that first came to prominence in the 1970s and 1980s -- to argue that Israeli military forces committed ethnic cleansing during the country's 1948 Independence war. The New Historian interpretation, though solidly grounded in archival research and generally accepted by historians, directly challenges Zionist accounts of national history, and it is still controversial in Israel and especially among Zionists. In this diary, I'm going to use two contrasting accounts of the Zionist siege of Haifa in April 1948 to illustrate how the New Historians have changed our understanding of the 1948 war. I will also show what must be done to refute the New Historian interpretation -- though I am skeptical that such a refutation is actually possible.One criticism I've heard of the New Historians is that they "are fringe views that have never stood up to peer review." This argument, which would be valid if true, in fact ignores the actual publication history of historians like Benny Morris (Cambridge University Press), Avi Shlaim (Oxford University Press), Tom Segev (Hill and Wang), or Baruch Kimmerling (University of California Press, Harvard University Press). Clearly, these New Historians have published with some of the most prestigious academic publishers in the English language -- an indication that someone, at least, with credentials takes their work seriously.Another criticism often leveled at some of the New Historians is that they have manipulated data. The most sensational case involves an alleged massacre in the Palestinian village of Tantura on May 22, 1948. Teddy Katz, a graduate student at the University of Haifa, used oral history techniques, interviewing Palestinian refugees from Tantura and Israeli veterans who participated in the occupation, to reconstruct a story of a brutal massacre perpetrated by the Israelis. This research then became the foundation of his Masters thesis, subsequently publicized in the Israeli press. Upon seeing their stories in the newspapers, the veterans sued Katz for libel and -- because of discrepancies between his taped interviews and the citations included in his thesis -- Katz was stripped of his degree. Eventually, he was granted what the university has called a "non-research" degree, and Katz continues to hold that a massacre took place at Tantura in May 1948.Katz's interpretation has been defended by Ilan Pappe, a senior historian at Haifa University and a particularly radical voice within the New Historians movement. Pappe's position in the Katz affair, and his subsequent call for an economic boycott of Israel in order to pressure the university to restore Katz's degree (among other complaints), has led many people to challenge all of his research. If Katz was wrong on Tantura, and Pappe agrees with Katz, then Pappe must be wrong about other things as well.I honestly don't enough about the specific details of what happened at Tantura to offer an opinion as to whether there was a massacre or not. In Pappe's 2006 The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine he treats the massacre as fact, devoting an entire subsection of a chapter (pp. 133-137) to it. Although Pappe mentions the lawsuit against Katz (p. 136), he gives no indication in the book of the sanctions against the historian or of the serious academic challenges to the validity of his work. (Pappe does have a 2001 article in the Journal of Palestine Studies on the Katz affair, but I haven't found a full-text version online.)I'm spending some time on this, because it is Pappe's account of the siege of Haifa I'd like to quote at length. First though, via kossack Pumpkinlove, we have a pre-New Histori[...]



Historians agree: Israel committed ethnic cleansing in 1948

2007-02-24T06:39:33.994-08:00

This diary started as a comment in a Daily Kos diary I wrote the other day on a joint interview by Amy Goodman of Norman Finkelstein and Shlomo Ben-Ami. In the discussion that followed, I argued -- following Finkelstein and Ben-Ami -- that Israel had pursued an intentional policy of ethnic cleansing in order to create a Jewish state. Kossack JNEREBEL considered that an "extraordinary claim," and requested "extraordinary evidence" to back it up.What follows is the compilation of evidence, appropriately sourced, put together to satisfy the request for "extraordinary evidence."In fact, historians of the 1948 generally agree on the basic point that Zionist armies took advantage of their military superiority over Palestinians and Arab armies in order to carry out a pre-existing objective of expelling non-Jewish peoples from the Jewish state-in-creation.Here are some relevant cites from my previous diary regarding Israeli responsibility for the crime of ethnic cleansing. Here's a quote from Ben-Ami's book, cited by Amy Goodman in her first question in the interview:The reality on the ground was that of an Arab community in a state of terror facing a ruthless Israeli army whose path to victory was paved not only by its exploits against the regular Arab armies, but also by the intimidation and at times atrocities and massacres it perpetrated against the civilian Arab community. A panic-stricken Arab community was uprooted under the impact of massacres that would be carved into the Arabs' monument of grief and hatred.This one comes from Ben-Ami himself, also cited in the previous diary, in answer to one of Goodman's questions:I am trying to be as fair as possible when I read the past, but it's a very interesting point, the one that you make here, about us trying to obliterate the memory of our war against the Palestinians, and the whole Israeli 1948 mythology is based on our war against the invading Arab armies, less so against the Palestinians, who were the weaker side in that confrontation, because it didn't serve the myth of the creation of the state and of the nation.The following quote, from Finkelstein, didn't make it into that earlier diary, but you can find it at the original interview:There is pretty much a consensus on what happened during what you can call the foundational period, from the first Zionist settlements at the end of the 19th century 'til 1948. There, there is pretty much of a consensus. And I think Mr. Ben-Ami, in his first 50 pages, accurately renders what that consensus is.I would just add a couple of points he makes, but just to round out the picture. He starts out by saying that the central Zionist dilemma was they wanted to create a predominantly Jewish state in an area which was overwhelmingly not Jewish, and he cites the figure, I think 1906 there were 700,000 Arabs, 55,000 Jews, and even of those 55,000 Jews, only a handful were Zionists. So that's the dilemma. How do you create a Jewish state in area which is overwhelmingly not Jewish?Now, the Israeli historian Benny Morris, at one point, he said there are only two ways you can resolve this dilemma. One, you can create what he called the South African way, that is, create a Jewish state and disenfranchise the indigenous population. That's one way. The second way is what he calls the way of transfer. That is, you kick the indigenous population out, basically what we did in North America.Now, as Mr. Ben-Ami correctly points out, by the 1930s the Zionist movement had reached a consensus that the way to resolve the dilemma is the way of transfer. You throw the Palestinians out. You can't do that anytime, because there are moral problems and international problems. You have to wait for the right moment. And the right moment com[...]



Palestinian Refugees - Stateless Forever?

2007-02-23T18:20:50.042-08:00

This year the Palestinian Diaspora will be sixty years old. During the war that began in 1947 and concluded with the establishment of the State of Israel, a quarter of a million Palestinians were expelled from their homes at gunpoint and driven across the borders of the neighboring Arab states, where they became refugees - an event they now refer to as the Naqba: the Catastrophe. Despite UN Resolution 194, that the refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbours should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return and for loss of or damage to property which, under principles of international law or in equity, should be made good by the Governments or authorities responsible the State of Israel has never allowed them to return. In 1967, hundreds of thousands more refugees fled the West Bank. Most of both groups remain, with their descendants, refugees to this day, four million persons without a state of their own.The Palestinians as a people have a home nowhere on Earth. Of all the Arab states where they took refuge during the Naqba, none wanted them to remain. Only Jordan has offered a substantial number of them citizenship. Some have been able to emmigrate to the United States and other western nations, where citizenship is open to them. The remainder are officially homeless, often confined for generations to refugee camps under restrictive and discriminatory rules, without the same rights as citizens. In some places, they may not own property or work in certain jobs. Without rights, their presence in other nations is always precarious. As many as 400,000 Palestinians were expelled from Kuwait as punishment for the PLO's support of Saddam Hussein's invasion of 1991.Saddam Hussein's Iraq was for some time one of the more welcoming of the Arab states to Palestinian exiles. Being seen to support the Palestinians was one of Saddam's ways of expressing his antagonism to Israel. Palestinians were given incentives to immigrate to Iraq - although not citizenship or the right to own land - and special privileges not available to ordinary Iraqis.These privileges, however, caused resentment of the Palestinians, particularly on the part of the Shi'ites, and almost immediately after the war, the Iraqi population began to turn on the foreigners living among them. Hundreds of Palestinians have been murdered in Baghdad, and the violence has only increased since, as Shi'ite militias conduct campaigns of ethnic cleansing.Many of the approximately 34,000 Palestinians in Iraq have been living in the country since 1948 and have known no other home. Stereotyped as supporters of Saddam Hussein, and prime candidates for the insurgency, many today face harassment, threats of deportation, media scapegoating, arbitrary detention, torture and murder. Palestinian refugees came to Iraq in several waves. The first group, some 5,000 persons from Haifa and Jaffa, came in 1948. Others arrived after the 1967 War and a third group arrived in the aftermath of the 1991 Gulf War when many Palestinian refugees were forced to leave Kuwait....Palestinian refugees were provided protection by successive Iraqi governments and enjoyed a relatively high standard of treatment, mainly guided by the Casablanca Protocol ratified by the League of Arab States in 1965.1 Palestinians were issued special travel documents, had the right to work and were given full access to health, education and other government services. In addition, they were provided with government-owned housing or fixed, subsidised rent in privately-owned houses and apartments. In effect, Palestinians enjoyed many [...]



Israeli Expulsion of Palestinians

2007-02-20T18:42:18.990-08:00

Cross-posted from My Left WingA little over a year ago, on Feb. 14, 2006, Amy Goodman of Democracy, Now! conducted a joint interview with antiZionist gadfly Norman Finkelstein and the Israeli historian and diplomat Shlomo Ben-Ami, author most recently of Scars of War, Wounds of Peace: The Arab-Israeli Tragedy.  In the conversation, Finkelstein said the kind of things you'd expect from him.The surprising part were the things said by Ben-Ami.  Here is Goodman's first question and Ben-Ami's response:Well, I want to start going back to the establishment of the state of Israel, and I'd like to begin with Israel's former Foreign Minister, Shlomo Ben-Ami. Can you talk about how it began? I think you have a very interesting discussion in this book that is rarely seen in this country of how the state of Israel was established. Can you describe the circumstances?SHLOMO BEN-AMI: Well, for all practical purposes, a state existed before it was officially created in 1948. The uniqueness of the Zionist experience, as it were, was in that the Zionists were able, under the protection of the mandate, of the British mandate, to set up the essentials of a state - the institutions of a state, political parties, a health system, running democracy for Jews, obviously - before the state was created, so the transition to statehood was a declaration, basically, and it came about in the middle of two stages of war, a civil war between the Israelis and the Jews and the Arabs in Palestine and then an invasion by the Arab armies. The point that I made with regard to the war is that the country, to the mythology that existed and exists, continues to exist mainly among Israelis and Jews, is that Israel was not in a military disadvantage when the war took place. The Arab armies were disoriented and confused, and they did not put in the battlefield the necessary forces.So, in 1948, what was born was a state, but also original superpower in many ways. We have prevailed over the invading Arab armies and the local population, which was practically evicted from Palestine, from the state of Israel, from what became the state of Israel, and this is how the refugee problem was born. Interestingly, the Arabs in 1948 lost a war that was, as far as they were concerned, lost already in 1936-1939, because they have fought against the British mandate and the Israeli or the Jewish Yishuv, the Jewish pre-state, and they were defeated then, so they came to the hour of trial in 1948 already as a defeated nation. That is, the War of 1948 was won already in 1936, and they had no chance to win the war in 1948. They were already a defeated nation when they faced the Israeli superpower that was emerging in that year. In these lines, Ben-Ami basically agrees with the New Historian critique of the Zionist founding myth.  But he doesn't stop there.  In her next question, Goodman quotes from Ben-Ami's book on the expulsion of the Palestinians:AMY GOODMAN: You have some very strong quotes in your book, of your own and quoting others, like Berl Katznelson, who is the main ideologue of the Labor movement, acknowledging that in the wake of the 1929 Arab riots, the Zionist enterprise as an enterprise of conquest. You also say, "The reality on the ground was that of an Arab community in a state of terror facing a ruthless Israeli army whose path to victory was paved not only by its exploits against the regular Arab armies, but also by the intimidation and at times atrocities and massacres it perpetrated against the civilian Arab community. A panic-stricken Arab community was uprooted under the impact of massacres that would be carved into the Arabs' monument of grief and hatred." Explain th[...]



Normal Life, Destroyed Homes, and Israeli Apartheid

2007-02-20T13:46:09.669-08:00

The other day, I got a tattoo. Actually, I should say that I got another tattoo, as it is not my first, or for that matter, my last. The day I got my tattoo, was more or less like any other; I got to work by my usual bike route (uphill, unfortunately), had my morning latte, and fortunately got off of work early. Of course, there were the occasional annoyances, stupid co-workers, anxiety about the tattoo (yes, this one hurt!), but for the most part, there was nothing terribly abnormal about my days events; so what the hell, let's call it a 'normal day.'On February 14th, I received confirmation through a CPT report, that the homes of friends of mine in Palestine were destroyed. In one sense, this is also normal, as they were not the first, and won't be the last homes destroyed in Palestine by Israeli soldiers (or Palestinian homes destroyed in Israel for that matter). But truly, how can the demolition of your home by an illegal military occupation ever be considered normal? How can such brutality be carried out by human beings who are just following orders, without some semblance of reflection and disgust? And how do my friends, and countless other Palestinians, find the strength to survive such violence, and not only carry on, but rebuild and hope for the future?In a moment, I'll be going through the pictures, both from my trip and the current destruction, but first a few more words. I wrote about the community that has suffered this outrage before, in a diary called Close Encounter of an Israeli Settler Kind . It is the village of Qawawis, and the residents have endured numerous acts of violence over the years, the main aim of which is to remove them (and other small villages in the area) from the land.If one looks at the many maps available, they will show you the logic of the occupation in this area; the less populated (by Palestinians) South Hebron Hills have been targeted for annexation by the Israeli settlers for decades, as opposed to the more densely populated Palestinian areas of Yatta, Samu, and Hebron nearby (that said, Hebron is another story). The villages of Qawawis and many others like them are a problem, not due to 'terrorism' or 'security'as such, but due to their repeated refusal to leave, and their rootedness in the land.Adi Ophir wrote in an article in the Book, Against the Wall that the occupation is defined not as much by overt acts of violence (although they do occur from time to time), which he calls kinetic violence, but by violence in small bursts, or even more, violence suspended, always there and threatened, always possible, but held back for the present. This is one of the reasons that conveying the terror and violence of the occupation can be deceptive to those that do not understand the way occupation dominates the daily life of Palestinians. But in the time I spent in Qawawis, I witnessed so many small and large examples of violence, it is hard to list them all. Just getting to the village requires a circuitous route replete with checkpoints, backroads and some on-foot traversing; then there was the morning we found 6 olive trees cut down by settlers, the surprise visits by the army, the countless visits to the village by armed and violent settlers. And then there is just the physical setting; Qawawis is ringed to the north, south and east by 3 settlements, and one major highway cuts it off from the village of Karmel. Two more roads branch off the main highway, completing the pincer which surrounds and attempts to choke off any ability to survive for the villages of the region. On top of that, in addition to the Apartheid Wall which passes close to the Green line, they are building an inn[...]



The compromised moral authority of Elie Wiesel

2007-02-13T18:22:40.256-08:00

Note: This diary was cross-posted at DailyKos on February 12, 2007. As a result of the at times heated discussion there, I became aware of serious flaws in argument and presentation. The DailyKos version has been substantially revised, but this version remains unchanged so that readers may have access to an unedited version of my inexpert first effort to present this information. For my current thinking on this subject, you should check out my DailyKos diary.There was a dailykos diary a few days ago about an unpleasant incident Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel suffered in a San Francisco hotel. Wiesel was reportedly accosted by a man who forced him out of an elevator and tried to usher him into a room of the hotel. Wiesel screamed for help, the man fled, and Wiesel was unharmed.The assailant is a Holocaust denying blogger, who by his own subsequent blog admission had been stalking Wiesel for "weeks;" his intention had been to force from Wiesel a videotaped statement that the Holocaust was a myth.The man is sick, unable to recognize or accept the historical reality of the world we live in. Denying the Holocaust, whatever the denier's intent, has the effect of authorizing the wanton slaughter of the Jewish people perpetrated by the Nazis during the Second World War.It would be easy, and quite morally satisfying, to portray this incident as an encounter between the evil Holocaust denier and the pure Holocaust victim. In fact, the first diary on the event painted it in exactly those terms. Unfortunately, the truth is a lot more complicated, and the complication here has to do with Wiesel, not with the man who attacked him.Wiesel, it turns out, is not so morally pure himself. For example, in 1948 -- after he had survived the Nazi concentration camps -- Wiesel had moved to Palestine and begun work as a journalist. According to Daniel McGowan, the director of Deir Yassin Remembered, Wiesel:knows from personal experience that on April 9, 1948 Arab civilians, including women and children, were murdered in cold blood in the village of Deir Yassin on the west side of Jerusalem by Jewish terrorists known as the Irgun and the Stern Gang. Wiesel worked for the Irgun, not as a fighter, but as a journalist and knows the details of this infamous (but not the only nor the largest) massacre of Arabs by Jews. And while he piously demands public apologies for atrocities committed against Jews (for example in 1946 at Kielce, Poland), he has never been able to apologize for the atrocities committed by his own employer.Wiesel's biographer Mark Chmiel wrote in a 2002 article in Tikkun:While Wiesel did express his existential empathy with Palestinian suffering he refused to examine the historical and political causes of their suffering, except to blame the Arab nations or the Palestinians themselves. In bearing witness, he instead expressed paeans to Israel (as after the 1967 war), or, when things got out of hand, confessed anguish and sadness (as after the Lebanon invasion and the intifada). As he desired that Israel be a land of poets and dreamers, he did not really reckon with Israel as a powerful state, enthusiastically backed by the United States, with the same capacity for realpolitik characteristic of other governments in the international state system. In his various defenses of Israel, Wiesel alleged that any assertion that the victim had now become the victimizer was tantamount to anti-Semitism, a useful rhetorical strategy for neutralizing criticism. The historical record and ample documentation of Israel's policies of exclusion, dispossession, and violence -- from the U.N., international human rights g[...]



The End of Zionism?

2007-01-24T16:54:45.801-08:00

Now that Carter has put the comparison with apartheid South Africa squarely on the table, it might be time to ask whether Zionism might soon go the way of South African political racism. There are some signs in the current constellation of factors that suggest this might actually happen. In particular, if we look at 1) the current geopolitical environment in the Middle East, 2) Israel's ongoing and apparently irresolvable political crisis, and 3) the increasing exhaustion of the political myths that underlie the country's civil society, we see the possibility of a coming conjuncture in which Israelis themselves, like their white South African predecessors, might simply decide that enough is enough and it is time to allow a more just society to come into being.The current geopolitical environment is the most unfavorable for Israel as it has been at any time in my conscious lifetime, due in large part to the spectacular failure of the Bush-Likud/Kadima alliance's attempt to remake the Middle East. The only previous time that I can recall that even comes close to the current moment are the dark days of the Yom Kippur War, when for a brief instant it appeared that the Egyptian-Syrian offensive might actually threaten the territory of Israel proper. Today, however, after the US conveniently removed the Iraqi bulwark to Iranian expansion into the Arab world and Israel's unilateralism has failed in both Lebanon and Gaza, Israel is facing a local geopolitical environment in which its sworn enemies not only enjoy momentum but also have little reason to wish to compromise with the Zionist state.Israeli rhetoric has always claimed the country is surrounded by enemies who wish to drive it into the sea. Today, that rhetoric is not only approaching reality (though the Hashemite kingdom, as always, proves the exception to the general rule), but those enemies -- Hezbollah, Hamas, and their Iranian sponsors -- for the first time might actually be nearing the military capacity necessary to bring the goal within reach.At this very moment, Israel's political system is nearing collapse. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert enjoys almost no popularity (a recent poll has him at about fourteen percent favorable), but the virtual collapse of both Labour and Likud has put his government "into an unusually solid position." Even as high-ranking former officials openly call for the government's resignation, a Kadima policy-maker can state:There is no crisis. A crisis is when the government is about to fall.With the (ceremonial) president indicted for rape and all the political parties discredited, it is fair to say Israel's political system is in crisis.Finally, there is a growing recognition inside Israel itself that the country's self-image, as the innocent victim of Arab perfidy, is seriously at odds with the facts. Our blogroll attests to the increasing number of Israel civil organizations that have come to question Israeli's role in creating and sustaining violent relations with the Palestinians. That questioning extends all the way back to the nation's founding, as Israeli historians unearth ever greater evidence of Zionist war crimes and atrocities during the War for Independence.Way back in 1985, at the height of Reagan's "constructive engagement" with the apartheid regime, when even the most optimistic of the regime's critics despaired of ever seeing it come to an end, the anthropologist Vincent Crapanzano published Waiting: The Whites of South Africa. The book, sadly, is now out of print and hard to find, but J.M Coetzee's New York Times review gives a good flavor for the text:The mal[...]



Evenhanded Democrats

2007-01-28T16:29:17.846-08:00

Governor Howard Dean made headlines in the run-up to the Presidential primaries a few years ago when he said that he believed that the United States should have an evenhanded approach to the Middle East. He was quickly denounced by the other candidates and leaders of the Israel Lobby. In successive days, he clarified that he meant that the United States should be seen as a fair-broker and that he endorsed the relationship to Israel held during the Clinton administration. Some of his supporters explained away his statement as a faux pas, an example of his lack of experience in International Affairs. We haven’t heard Governor Dean use the word, “Evenhanded” since.Some of us in the Democratic Party have been dismayed by the unwillingness of the majority of our elected representatives to talk about an evenhanded approach to the Middle East, much less act in such a manner. And so, we are once again disappointed by the manner in which our Democratic Leaders quickly distanced themselves from Jimmy Carter, who in his book Palestine:Peace Not Apartheid also endorses an evenhanded approach to the Middle East: "Until recently, America's leaders were known and expected to exert maximum influence in an objective, nonbiased way to achieve peace in the Middle East. In order to resume this vital role, the United States must be a trusted participant, evenhanded, consistent, unwavering, and enthusiastic -- a partner with both sides and not a judge of either. Although it is inevitable that at times there will be a tilt one way or the other, in the long run the role of honest broker must once again be played by Washington." (p.16.)Weeks before Carter’s book hit the stands, possibly before they had read more than the title themselves, Democratic leaders weighed in: “It is wrong to suggest that the Jewish people would support a government in Israel or anywhere else that institutionalizes ethnically based oppression, and Democrats reject that allegation vigorously”. “With all due respect to former President Carter, he does not speak for the Democratic Party on Israel.” – Nancy Pelosi “While I have tremendous respect for former President Carter, I fundamentally disagree and do not support his analysis of Israel and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict”. “On this issue President Carter speaks for himself, the opinions in his book are his own, they are not the views or position of the Democratic Party. I and other Democrats will continue to stand with Israel in its battle against terrorism and for a lasting peace with its neighbors.” – Howard Dean “I cannot agree with the book’s title and its implications about apartheid”. “I recently called the former president to express my concerns about the title of the book, and to request that the title be changed.” – John Conyers Given these leaders statements, one can’t be surprised by assertions like these:“Democrats who support Jimmy Carter’s views on Israel? Now that’s a convention you could hold in a phone booth,” wrote Ira Forman, executive director of the National Democratic Jewish Council, in an e-mail to the Forward. “Jimmy Carter is out of the mainstream of the Democratic Party when it comes to his views on Israel.” No matter what our party leaders say, some of us rank and file Democrats are foolish enough to believe that being evenhanded is a Democratic value. We are the party of Roosevelt's four freedoms and the New Deal. We are the party of the Civil Rights Act and the Great Society. We are the party of the Peace Corps, VISTA and Americorps. If b[...]