Friday, January 16, 2009

Its official.

Israel is a terrorist state. President Shimon Peres:

"Israel's aim [in attacking Gaza] was to provide a strong blow to the people of Gaza so that they would lose their appetite for shooting at Israel."

They need each other.

Right wing fanatics, that is. Osama bin Laden has called for a jihad against Israel in Gaza. Way to go Israel and US--you just inflamed Islamic fanaticism. There is peace, fleeting.

Neoconservatism and Israel

A reader writes Andrew Sullivan:

I have to take exception to your equation of what's happening in Gaza right now to neoconservatism. Of course today's bombing of the UN facility was a terrible and tragic mistake, and will do nothing to help move the peace process forward. Of course the entire situation, the deaths of Palestinian civilians, the international outrage, in essence all of the negative results of the Gaza offensive, are sad and unfortunate. Ultimately, what this comes back to, though, is the bottom-line question of what you would have Israel do? Hamas will simply never be a reasonable player in the move toward a two-state solution. Its charter calls for the destruction of Israel, and its stated attitude is that there is no need for a long-term truce, because it won't be terribly long before Israel is in fact destroyed.
No other country on earth would be asked to stand still while its neighbor, bent on its destruction, continuously fires rockets at populated areas. Removing Hamas from power is going to be ugly and cause tremendous collateral damage, but it's an absolute pre-requisite for any hope of a lasting peace.

I would have Israel negotiate a cease-fire with Hamas, only this time I would have Israel honor the terms of the cease-fire. I would also have Israel--provided I could go back in time--not collude with the US in helping bring Hamas to power. Hamas is a nefarious force, and everyone would be better served if Fatah ruled Palestine. Also, no other society on earth would be asked to stand still while its neighbor, bent on its destruction, continiously blockades the borders, bulldozes their houses, and fires into populated areas.

On the neoconservatism equation, Sullivan is right. Pace Christopher Hitchens, there is not a neoconservative on the planet who isn't a far right supporter of Israel's aggressive policies against the Palestinians. This isn't a coincidence. What binds the US and Israel together is their "shared culture", i.e., their copious contempt for Arabs and the belief that Arabs can be "helped" through massive amounts of violence. This mental disease has infected American public discourse since the 1950s, at which time, it began to mirror Israel's descriptions of its Arab neighbors. To say that neoconservates have an attachment to Israel misses the point. Lots of people have attachments to Israel who aren't neoconservatives. What makes neoconservatives different is that they fetishize Israel's military bombardment against the Palestinians as a model worth emulating. They saw Israel's destruction of a people and society and emulated in Iraq. They honed their talking points that apologized for torture and terrorism on the pages of US newspapers when Israel was demolishing Lebanon in 1982. They learned this skills then, and applied them to Iraq. The good news is that there is a chance that the shifting tide of world opinion will wash away the stain on neocons.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


I was more right than I knew when I wrote that Israel's goal in Gaza was to massacre innocent Palestinians. Now Thom Friedman is saying the same thing:

I have only one question about Israel’s military operation in Gaza: What is the goal? Is it the education of Hamas or the eradication of Hamas? I hope that it’s the education of Hamas. Let me explain why...

[In the Lebanon war] Israel’s counterstrategy was to use its Air Force to pummel Hezbollah and, while not directly targeting the Lebanese civilians with whom Hezbollah was intertwined, to inflict substantial property damage and collateral casualties on Lebanon at large. It was not pretty, but it was logical. Israel basically said that when dealing with a nonstate actor, Hezbollah, nested among civilians, the only long-term source of deterrence was to exact enough pain on the civilians — the families and employers of the militants — to restrain Hezbollah in the future...

In Gaza, I still can’t tell if Israel is trying to eradicate Hamas or trying to “educate” Hamas, by inflicting a heavy death toll on Hamas militants and heavy pain on the Gaza population. If it is out to destroy Hamas, casualties will be horrific and the aftermath could be Somalia-like chaos. If it is out to educate Hamas, Israel may have achieved its aims.

Got that? According to Friedman, Israel is right to "inflict...heavy pain on the Gaza population" in order to teach them a lesson, just like Israel did in the Lebanon war. As Greenwald points out, this is a textbook definition of terrorism. As Walt points out, Friedman misstates some basic facts about the Lebanon and Gaza wars.

Jeffrey Goldberg's Op-Ed in the Times isn't much better, and he can't seem to remember that Israel, not Hamas, violated the cease-fire. Goldberg's Op-Ed is too boring to quote, but his final paragraph exhibits a willful denial of reality:

The only small chance for peace today is the same chance that existed before the Gaza invasion: The moderate Arab states, Europe, the United States and, mainly, Israel, must help Hamas’s enemy, Fatah, prepare the West Bank for real freedom, and then hope that the people of Gaza, vast numbers of whom are unsympathetic to Hamas, see the West Bank as an alternative to the squalid vision of Hassan Nasrallah and Nizar Rayyan.

Its astonishingly how Goldberg can deny that the US and Israel covertly funded Hamas, and it saddens me that the the Times continues to publish this dross. Sullivan's barb dulls the pain.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009


Stephen Walt asks Hillary Clinton:

Given the priority that President-elect Obama has placed on achieving Israeli-Palestianian peace, is it true that you intend to appoint a Middle East team whose principal members failed to achieve this goal during the eight years of your husband's administration, and whose objectivity and even-handness has been questioned by key actors in the region and by their own prior associates here at home? Wouldn't U.S., Israeli, and Palestinian interests be better served by appointing a new and more diverse team that enjoyed greater credibility?
I doubt it. Hillary Clinton, was, after all, part of the team who peddled one of the biggest lies about the Israeli/Palestinian "peace process": that it was all Arafat's fault. Of course, it wasn't.

In the world?

What in the world is Israel trying to accomplish with the destruction of Gaza?

EI reports that the invasion of Gaza--like the invasion of Lebanon in 1982--has been in plans for a significant amount of time prior to the invasion. EI reports:

Having struck thousands of targets from the air in the first phase, followed by a ground invasion that saw troops push into much of Gaza, a third phase would involve a significant expansion of these operations.

It would require the deployment of thousands of reserve soldiers, who are completing their training on bases in the Negev, and the destruction and seizure of built-up areas closer to the heart of Gaza City, Hamas's key stronghold. The number of civilian casualties could be expected to rise rapidly.

This will only serve to weaken Israel's interests, embolden Hamas, and ultimately, have more corpses in the Levant.
A fourth phase, the overthrow of Hamas and direct reoccupation of Gaza, is apparently desired neither by the army nor Israel's political leadership, which fears the economic and military costs.
This now seems to be the course that Israel will follow. This is, of course, in terms of Israel's interests, stupid and foolhardy. World opinion is now attuned to the suffering and plight of Gazans and the brutality of Israel against a helpless people. Reoccupation will only ignite the voices of dissent.

Those options have long been in preparation, as the defense minister, Ehud Barak, admitted early on in the offensive. He said he and the army had been planning the attack for at least six months. In fact, indications are that the invasion's blueprint was drawn up much earlier, probably 18 months ago.

It was then that Hamas foiled a coup plot by its chief rival, Fatah, backed by the United States.

Ahhh. As we now know, the US and Israel executed a coordinated policy to bring Hamas to power in Gaza. This scenario illustrates the fact that the perpetuation of this conflict rests on outside meddling and opposing right-wing regimes in Israel and Palestine. Until the leaders of Israel and Palestine fail to benefit from violent attacks, and until outside actors back away and cease meddling in the affairs of each party, the conflict will continue.

And its only getting worse.


One thing to take away from Israel's reckless behavior in Gaza (reckless with regard to life and Israel's state interests) is that Israel appears to be operating with the belief that it can act recklessly without punishment. Meaning, Israel believes that whatever it does in Gaza, the US will still support any Israeli military action against the Palestinians, and that those who object to Israel's actions will be ignored. The obvious antidote to Israel's actions is for Israel's critics to punish Israel by making their voice heard. As Greenwald says, the only reason the Israel Lobby can pressure nearly every elected official in Congress to blindly support Israel is because Congressmen face no potential benefit from disagreeing with Israel's policy. If the opposition becomes loud enough, they will be encouraged to respond.