Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu sits down for an interview with CNN's Wolf Blitzer. Credit: Creative Commons/IsraelinUSA
It has now become a full fledged campaign: stifling criticism of Israel by warning of a new wave of anti-Semitism that is seizing the planet. The latest entry comes from French philosopher, and life-long Israel defender, Bernard-Henry Levy in (naturally) the New Republic who screams that anti-semitism in 2014 is a “ticking time bomb” that, if not countered, will inevitably lead to Binyamin Netanyahu’s vision: the return of 1942.
Like all opinion pieces of this genre, Levy’s case is built on the idea that there is no causal relation between Israel’s actions and the outbursts against Jews that he describes.
In its essence, the argument goes like this: Anti-Semitism is not caused by anything. It is innate, a poison that lives in the hearts and minds of evil people, needing only a pretext for it to explode. Israel’s actions can’t cause anti-Semitism. They can only be a pretext for it.
For those of us who have spent years, if not decades, trying to make Americans understand the horrors of the Israeli occupation, this should be a time for some serious re-thinking. There is no evidence whatsoever that Americans (led by Jewish Americans) reacted to the Gaza war any differently than to any previous war involving Israel.
The media (with a few notable exceptions like Chris Hayes on MSNBC) propagated the Israeli line while mostly ignoring what the IDF was inflicting on the civilian population of Gaza. The President had nothing to say about the innocent Palestinian dead except in the vaguest and most balanced tones. If he felt any outrage about the dead children in Gaza, he kept it to himself. As for Congress, Republicans and Democrats, conservatives and liberals, came together as one to reduce the leveling of Gaza to the simple issue of Israel’s “right to defend itself.” As for the organized Jewish community, it backed the war as stridently as ever, with even J Street intimidated into support for it. A notable exception to all this was Tikkun which, consistent with its principles, vocally opposed the killing.
Credit: Creative Commons
The last item Congress voted on before going on vacation for five weeks was a $225 million appropriation to “replenish” Israel’s Iron Dome system.
That makes sense. The system is protecting Israelis from rocket assault, Of course we want to replenish Israel’s arsenal?
The answer is simple. No replenishment was necessary now. Nor will the vote speed up the resupply which was in the pipeline anyway.
I had a depressing conversation with a young man (thirties) last night.
I had just heard the report that the “kidnapped” soldier was dead and that, as I had expected, Netanyahu had lied about him right from the beginning. His purpose was to use the soldier to get President Obama to authorize more war, and, if you saw Obama’s Friday press conference, it worked like a charm.
It’s so obvious. A soldier disappeared after an ambush. There was no body but there were remains to be tested. Israel could either wait and see if the soldier is among the remains or rush to tell the world and President Obama, with no evidence, that he was “kidnapped.” It chose the later. Then, after the tests were completed, Israel quietly announced that the soldier was dead all along. Meanwhile another 200 Palestinians were killed.
This is so loathsome on so many levels, including Netanyahu’s propensity to exploit the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teens to initiate the war and then the death of a young soldier, he was a kid too, to prolong it. As for the war itself, words fail. If you can look at the pictures of the dead children of Gaza and still support this war, you are hopeless.
Writing in Ha’aretz today,
Gideon Levy predicts that ultimately the Netanyahu government will pay a heavy price for the atrocities being inflicted on the people of Gaza. He writes:
I’m no fan of Hamas, quite the contrary. But Israel’s attempt to put all the blame on Hamas is outrageous. The international community will soon judge this war’s atrocities. Hamas may be reprimanded, deservedly, but Israel will be condemned and ostracized far more. And then Israelis will say, ‘It’s Hamas’ fault. And the world will laugh.
I don’t agree. I don’t see that happening for one obvious reason: the power of the Israel lobby.
Think about it. When it comes to Israel, the United States is the ball game. It provides Israel with the money, the weapons, and the United Nations’ vetoes that enable both the occupation and its multiple wars (like this one) to preserve it. And that shows no sign of changing.
Watch the television coverage. For three weeks the killing of children and other innocents in Gaza at the hands of the Israeli military has dominated the news. We see the bombs dropping. We see the destroyed schools, hospitals and mosques. We see the parents wailing over the deaths of their children and children wailing at the deaths of their parents and siblings.
But it makes no difference to the United States government which can stop the slaughter with a few words. (Five of those words are “your $3.5 billion aid package.)
I keep hearing from people who say “but what is Israel supposed to do?” They then go on to say that it is now more obvious than ever that if Palestinians control the West Bank Israel will not be safe. “They” will just launch missiles from there.
Here are the facts:
No iteration of the two-state solution allows the West Bank to be militarized. The Palestinian state would have no army. Its borders with Israel would be guarded, not only by the IDF which obviously would not go out of existence, but by U.S. monitors. The CIA would play a particular role (as it did in the last years of Oslo), working with both sides, to prevent and combat violence. During that period CIA-brokered Israeli-Palestinian security cooperation reduced acts of terrorism to zero. All this is spelled out in the various documents circulated during negotiations; and all these conditions were accepted by Yasir Arafat and Mahmoud Abbas.
Nobody who advocates the two-state solution envisions Israel just walking away and handing the keys to the Palestinians. Every proposed agreement includes ironclad security guarantees. It is also worth noting that the Palestinian Authority, even without any two-state agreement, has successfully eliminated most violence emanating from the West Bank.
Credit: Creative Commons
If the polls are correct and the Senate goes Republican this November, the House of Representatives will make impeaching the president its first order of business. And it will pass the Republican House overwhelmingly.
In theory, it shouldn’t matter to the House whether the Senate has a Republican majority or not. The House can impeach regardless. But with the Senate in Democratic hands, the House leadership can argue that there is no point in impeaching (which is merely an indictment) when the Senate won’t convict.
If, as is likely, the Senate is in Republican hands, it will impeach, a Senate trial will take place, and it will be followed by a vote to remove the president from office.
On what grounds, one might ask.
I am not especially bothered by right-wingers who defend Israel’s indefensible onslaught against Gaza. Right-wingers who supported the Vietnam war (if they were around then) or the Iraq war, the people who want to go to war with Russia now. I get that. Right-wingers (think John McCain) like war and view it as sport; their side is always right.
Listening to Netanyahu’s defenders in the media (and that is pretty much all you get as objective reporters are yanked off the air), I’m struck by how Americans are indoctrinated into ignoring the most significant fact about Gaza.
It is under Israeli occupation (now called blockade) and has been since 1967.
That is the cause of the “war.” Yes, Israel has the “right” to defend itself but Palestinians have the “right” to resist occupation. Those conflicting rights are leading to perdition and, in my opinion, the loss of the Israel many of us have loved and identified with our entire lives.
Credit: Flickr Charity Organisation
The oft-proclaimed Gaza withdrawal was a fraud. Although Israel pulled the settlers out, it has maintained a blockade of Gaza ever since, blocking its air, sea, and land borders, locking its people in a giant prison.
Credit: Creative Commons
It occurs to me that the continuing Gaza war can be viewed (in addition to viewing it as part of Israel’s continuing battle to maintain the occupation) as a testament to the failure of American democracy. Hear me out.
Everyone knows that the only way to permanently end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is by Israel getting out of the territories occupied after the ’67 war in exchange for ironclad security arrangements guaranteed by the United States.
The territories Israel would evacuate would become an independent Palestinian state.
So why does the conflict continue? No, not because the Palestinians refuse to recognize Israel. They have, repeatedly.
It continues because the one nation in the world which can mediate such a deal, the United States, will not do so because it fears retribution from big donors mobilized by the lobby. That is why the Kerry mission failed. It is why every peace initiative going back to Oslo has failed. Every U.S. position has to be cleared by the donors. (I was working at AIPAC in 1982 when President Reagan himself telephoned its executive director to clear a proposal the United States was planning to issue.)