Categorized | Politics

A. Loewenstein Online Newsletter


The Cold War never ended; Libya central to new oil wars

Posted: 16 May 2011 07:03 AM PDT


America and Israel have lost control of the Middle East narrative (finally)

Posted: 16 May 2011 06:52 AM PDT

So the Arab Spring has arrived in Israel. And how does the Zionist state react? Blame Iran and Syria. It’s a futile tactic and will fail. Nobody serious believes it. Palestinians are calling to be free, free of occupation and free of enslavement. No amount of IDF propaganda (ably assisted by rabid Zionists in the West) will help.

Here’s Peter Beinart, liberal Zionist in the US, writing that the Zionist “dream” is ending:

I grew up believing that we—Americans and Jews—were the shapers of history in the Middle East. We created reality; others watched, baffled, paralyzed, afraid. In 1989, Americans gloated as the Soviet Union, our former rival for Middle Eastern supremacy, retreated ignominiously from the region. When Saddam Hussein tried to challenge us from within, we thrashed him in the Gulf War. Throughout the 1990s, we sent our economists, law professors and investment bankers to try to teach the Arabs globalization, which back then meant copying us. In a thousand ways, sometimes gently, sometimes brutally, we sent the message: We make the rules; you play by them.

For Jews, this sense of being history’s masters was even more intoxicating. For millennia, we had been acted upon. Mere decades earlier, American Jews had watched, trembling and inarticulate, as European Jews were destroyed. But it was that very impotence that made possible the triumph of Zionism, a movement aimed at snatching history’s reins from gentiles, and perhaps even God. Beginning in the early 20th century, Zionists created facts on the ground. Sometimes the great powers applauded; sometimes they condemned, but acre by acre, Jews seized control of their fate. As David Ben-Gurion liked to say, “Our future does not depend on what gentiles say but on what Jews do.” The Arabs reacted with fury, occasional violence, and in Palestine, a national movement of their own. But they could rarely compete, either politically or militarily. We went from strength to strength; they never missed an opportunity to miss an opportunity.

That world is gone. America and Israel are no longer driving history in the Middle East; for the first time in a long time, Arabs are. In Tahrir Square, Egypt’s young made a revolution. President Obama bowed to reality and helped show Hosni Mubarak the door; Benjamin Netanyahu stood athwart history, impotently yelling stop. Now Egypt’s leaders are doing its people’s will, bringing Hamas and Fatah together in preparation for elections. Hamas and Fatah are complying because they fear their own Tahrir Square. They sense that in Palestine too, a populist uprising stirs; that’s part of what yesterday’s marches were about. For American and Israeli leaders accustomed to Palestinian autocrats and Palestinian terrorists, this is something new. Netanyahu and his American backers are demanding that Obama rewind the clock, but he can’t. The Palestinians no longer listen to functionaries like George Mitchell. They have lost faith in American promises, and they no longer fear American threats. Instead, they are putting aside their internal divisions and creating facts on the ground.

The Palestinians are taking control of their destiny because Israel has not. Zionism, which at its best is the purposeful, ethical effort to make Jews safe in the land of Israel, has become—in this government—a mindless land grab, that threatens Jewish safety and Jewish ethics alike. Once upon a time, when the Arabs were hapless and America was omnipotent, Israel could get away with that. Not anymore. If Barack Obama cannot get Benjamin Netanyahu to endorse—and work toward—a Palestinian state near 1967 lines, events will pass them both by. Others will take the initiative; in the Middle East, the U.S. and Israel will increasingly find their destinies in other nation’s hands. For those of us raised to believe that Americanism and Zionism were can-do faiths, it is harder to imagine any crueler irony than that.

What’s happening in post-Mubarak Egypt?

Posted: 16 May 2011 02:38 AM PDT

Most of the global media has moved on from the streets of Cairo and now the situation is more complex. The story is alive,changing constantly. Where to next for a (hopefully) democratic Egypt? America and Israel should be worried.

Australian journalist Austin Mackell has been living in Egypt for a while and has filed this latest intriguing report:

Perihan Abouzeid, the 26 year old owner of an online supermarket, is one of the young, female, twittteriffic activists that the media has so far put, not without justification, at the centre of the story of Egypt’s uprising. When I first met her a month and a bit ago, it was at a posh coffee shop on the island of Zamalek, an island on the Nile populated by foreigners and wealthy Egyptians. She was participating in a meeting of Shabab Masri (Egyptian Youth), a group she formed with other young activists during the eighteen day uprising that ousted Mubarak.

Their plan, she told me, was to travel to the poor and less educated areas to carry out “public awareness” campaigns, utilising debate, performance and other visual mediums to explain the basics of democracy, like why people shouldn’t give their vote to the guy who gives them flour, cooking oil and money the day before the election.

Her participation in politics since then has further driven home the changes. On the day Egypt held their referendum she took to the same downtown streets that had once made her so anxious, donning a T-shirt emblazoned with the slogan “give your vote to Egypt”. Her role was not to tell people which way to vote, but just to encourage them to vote and answer questions about the options to the best of her abilities, and she was amazed by the enthusiastic response. Travelling to poor neighbourhoods has only further strengthened her faith in the people at large. She was especially struck by how many of these people were educated but poor. “They really understand the strong ties between the policies the regime has set and whatever problems and challenges we have in this country”.

On the other hand, she says she has also realised how many wealthier Egyptians, who are so up to date with western fashion, had only engaged with western culture on the consumer level and were otherwise uninterested in the ideals of freedom and democracy. They could be found, during the revolution, sitting in Zamalek’s posh coffee shops, drinking coffee and smoking shisha like nothing was happening.

This shift in perceptions has, as one might assume, led to a substantial shift in her politics. Whereas before she had favoured a liberal capitalist model, she now thinks that “whatever new government is going to have to have a leftist direction”.

Australians no longer accept Zionist narrative

Posted: 15 May 2011 09:06 PM PDT

He’s right, it’s something I see and hear all the time. Countless journalists, editors and politicians may be sent to Israel on Zionist-lobby sponsored trips but this is a sign of weakness, not strength. People are finding out the real news about Zionist occupation of Palestine from alternative sources and brutalisation is hard to sell, no matter how much money is being spent by the usual suspects.

Times are changing:

Israel has to understand it cannot continue to hold public opinion by the throat in countries such as Australia and the United States, according to former Australian ambassador to Egypt Robert Newton.

He was speaking at a dinner in Canberra yesterday arranged by Australians for Justice and Peace in Palestine, to mark the 63rd anniversary of the declaration of the state of Israel.

He said a highly articulate, well-resourced lobby ensured Israel’s interpretation was accepted by most influential politicians, writers and journalists in Australia and the US.

But more Australians, including those of Jewish background, were becoming increasingly uneasy about the continuing violations of human rights of Palestinians in Israel and in camps outside Israel, he said.

Mr Newton, who was recently elected vice-president of the Australia-Palestine Advocacy Network, said the network was made up of groups of people who wanted justice for Palestinians affected by the conflict.

It wanted dialogue with politicians, business and Jewish groups.

Israel’s 63rd anniversary is known by Palestinians as Nakba the catastrophe or disaster when about 700,000 Palestinians were expelled or fled from Israel and hundreds of Palestinian villages there were depopulated and destroyed.

Mr Newton said this was an appalling part of history, endorsed by the United Nations.

The new state of Israel had been assisted in the depopulation of Palestinians by what could only be called terrorist gangs, he said.

He said 500 Palestinian villages had been destroyed and 13,000 Palestinians killed and that Arabs had declared war on Israel.

”Three generations of these Palestinians have suffered terribly as a result of what happened in 1948, 1956 and 1967,” Mr Newton said.

Meanwhile, Israel completely dominated the Palestinians under its occupation. Israel would probably prefer this, including the occasional terrorist attack, than to a negotiated peace.

Mr Newton said many people who were not well informed believed Israel was deserving of support by countries such as Australia and the United States.

Dramatic video shows Palestinians, Syrians entering Israeli-occupied Golan Heights

Posted: 15 May 2011 08:59 PM PDT

Moving times:

A dramatic video published by the website shows the moment when hundreds of Palestinian refugees and Syrians break through the border fence from Syria into the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights (part of Syria occupied by Israel in 1967 and illegally annexed in 1981).

The video, which appears to be taken from the Israeli-occupied side shows a group of hundreds or perhaps thousands of marchers carrying Palestinian flags heading toward the boundary fence. Spectators on the Israeli-occupied side – apparently worried about the safety of the marchers – call on them to go back because of the danger of land mines.

However, undeterred, the marchers continue, and break through the border fence as people on both sides call for the liberation of Palestine. As the marchers break through there are scenes of joy, high emotion and embraces with those on the Israeli-occupied side. One man is heard to say, “This is how liberation is.”


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