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Dear Friends,


I will be in California in May, returning here mid June, assuming that there will be no war, yet.  I will be available to meet people and to speak to organizations or groups on weekdays and evenings from May 14th through May 29th.


This means that to prepare for possible speaking events, I’ll be cutting back on my writing to you, starting tomorrow, possibly.  Will return to this after we come back, unless of course peace has been achieved, in which case you’ll not need me.  Unfortunately, I don’t see that in the offing yet.


8 items below.


The first two remind us that the OPT continues to see violence and have problems.  The first of these reports that the IOF demolished a car-wash station.  Can you imagine the military in your country coming and demolishing a car-wash or service station, and without allowing the owner to extricate some of his equipment?  You can’t?  Well, that’s because you are not Palestinian.


The 2nd is a report by a member of Machsom Watch [Checkpoint Watch] of Palestinian emotions and IOF intolerance over the killing of a Palestinian.


Items 3 and 4 are about Israel.  Item 3 reports that the question of being a soldier in the Israeli military is dividing the Druze community.  Druze males are obligated to enlist at the age of 18, just as are Jewish males and females.  They are discovering what some Bedouin did, namely that being in the Israeli military wins no brownie points after you trade your military uniform for civvies.  Item 4 shows how little respect the IOF has for its Supreme Court.


Items 5, 6, and 7 take us back to the main subject of the day here: Iran.


Item 5 tells us that Obama says that the ‘window for a diplomatic solution to the Iranian problem is ‘shrinking.’  Actually, this is from Haaretz.  I anticipated finding commentary about Obama’s position in the international press, but found nothing substantial in BBC, the Guardian, the Independent, the LA Times, NY Times, Washington Post, and Al Jazeera.  But, I instead ran across other interesting materials, all of which are in this collection.


Item 6 is using Iran to attack (verbally and, eventually, probably also militarily) Gaza, claiming that it is behind Gazan violence.


Item 7 is the result of polls on the Iran issue.  They show that the results are contingent to the questions asked.


Item 8 is a portion of Akiva Eldar’s comments yesterday on Bibi’s use of the Holocaust.

That’s it for tonight.



March 14, 2012   Time : 12:14


BETHLEHEM, March 14, 2012 (WAFA) – Israeli forces Wednesday demolished a carwash in Husan, a village west of the southern West Bank city of Bethlehem, claiming it was built without permit, according to a local official.

Head of Husan village council, Jamal Sabateen, told WAFA that an Israeli force broke into the village in the early morning hours and demolished a carwash owned by a local resident while preventing the owner from removing his equipments before demolishing it.

He said this is the second time the Israeli army demolishes the carwash, in addition to several other shops in the same area.

He said the village has recently been subjected to considerable harassment by Israeli soldiers, the latest of which was the uprooting of dozens of olive trees about a week ago.

The illegal Jewish settlement of Bitar Elite is built on land belong to Husan and nearby Nahalin and Wadi Foukin.



2 The Palestine Chronicle

March 14, 2012 15:21


For Three Days the Fire Blazed


(Photo: Tamar Fleishman)


By Tamar Fleishman – The West Bank


Since Talat Ramia’s murder tranquility had yet to be restored to the streets of Ar-Ram.


For the past three days the younger residents had been going out to the streets and protesting against the murder of their friend, while the army pushes them back with a barrage of fire and gas grenades.


“He was only twenty five, from a very poor family, his brother is the one who cleans cars at the checkpoint…”, said my friend A’ who added: “Even though I didn’t know him very well, I wanted to cry when they told me the soldiers had killed him for no reason, really it was for no reason…”


And ever since that Friday the place was in flames. On top of the anger and rage over the loss of Talat Ramia was the frustration that had been piling up and increasing over the past three years, it seemed to flow in all the underground routes until finally bursting during these days, rising to the surface with the shot of the bullet that entered Talat’s body.


It had been three years, ever since the protests against the building of the wall, since we last witnessed such fury and determination in a protest.


Slowly the feelings sprouted and tuned into an infected abscess that had formed with the end of the construction of the wall that closed Ar-Ram from three sides, upon which the decrees and regulations of the occupier had been added, turning the once thriving and flourishing town to a prison, cutting off the residents from the city that had been the center of their lives (East Jerusalem), and once the richer residents moved to the other side of the wall and since no void is left unfilled, new residents arrived, a poor and weakened population, and thus began the sluggish process of the demolition of the town into itself, this was marked by the closing of institutions for education and health, the destruction of private businesses, and the shattering and fracturing of the economy.


When we were there the demonstration and protest hadn’t yet cooled down. The fire from the soldiers hadn’t ceased either. The air was full of smoke and tear gas fumes, and fires erupted in the street corners. A natural leadership had formed among the older teenagers; they forced the children who tag along with them to move to the rear.


The teenagers fought with their faces masked for fear that they might be recognized, following which the hunters might come to get them. They were constantly throwing stones at the soldiers, who stood protected and armed on the other side of the main road at the entrance to the military base (“Rama”) and fired with their various weapons at the protestors.


It had been three days without tranquility and many of the youngsters were in need of paramedic care. The paramedic wore a glowing yellow vest as he walked around giving treatment for hurting eyes and even ours were treated, as a moving gesture of solidarity with us for having chosen to stand together with and among the victims. In spite of the severity of these events there was no media coverage and no camera crews (apart from ours) were present, this was in accordance to the equation that Palestinians injured from military fire isn’t news. It was also not reported that a gas grenade fell and exploded inside the apartment of a family who lived right on the fire line, only their screaming gave indication to those standing outside of what had happened. The apartment was locked from the inside and those in it-women and children- could not escape. It was then that the youngsters stopped battling the soldiers and started throwing stones at the windows of the house. Once the windowpanes were broken white smoke came out, after which the entrance door was broken and medical crews rescued those entrapped, but the youngest of the girls had to be carried out while still unconscious and gently placed inside the ambulance.


As evening fell and the army’s patience was wearing thin, the soldiers drew closer to the entrance of the town; they blocked it and began fighting the youngsters who retreated into the back allies.


As all this was taking place news crews and photographers were only several kilometers away, covering and taking pictures of the minister of transport and the mayor in a ceremony remarking the end of the renovations in Beit Hanina, a neighborhood that had been annexed to the ‘Great Jerusalem’: at the front was an improvised podium next to which hung a blue and white flag that was like a thorn in the eyes to the local residents, even heaters were brought in case one of the VIPs might feel chilly.


“Why did they come here, they should walk a couple of meter further and see the pits in the roads at the other side…” said a resident of the neighborhood as he and his friends looked with contempt at what was taking place.


And at the same time, as though in a delusional parallel universe, Qalandiya checkpoint was operating sluggishly, which in itself is no longer a reality that is reproved. A seven year old child who was injured in a car accident in Ramallah was taken out from a Palestinian ambulance and into an Israeli one, all while maintaining Israeli safety procedures which were in fact no more than unnecessary shaking of the child which enhanced his suffering.


(Translated by Ruth Fleishman)


– As a member of Machsomwatch, once a week Tamar Fleishman heads out to document the checkpoints between Jerusalem and Ramallah. This documentation (reports, photos and videos) can be found on the organization’s site: She is also a member of the Coalition of Women for Peace and volunteer in Breaking the Silence. She contributed this article to


If you like this article, please consider making a contribution to the Palestine Chronicle.


3 LA Times

March 13, 2012


In Israel, Druze community divided over military service

Druze Arabs say they do not get the support they deserve after serving in the military. Some say such service has driven a wedge between them and other Arabs.


Israeli soldiers take part in an exercise in the Negev desert. The Druze are the only Arab Israelis subject to the draft, and some say military service has driven a wedge between them and other Arabs. (Uriel Sinai / Getty Images / January 31, 2012),0,2106426,full.story


By Edmund Sanders, Los Angeles Times


Reporting from Isfiyeh, Israel— Amal Asad began his barrier-breaking military career in the Israel Defense Forces after being drafted just days before the 1973 Yom Kippur War. He went on to become one of its first Arab paratroopers and retired as brigadier general, the second-highest rank achieved by a non-Jewish officer.


Rising in the ranks alongside future Israeli leaders such as Defense Minister Ehud Barak and former Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz, Asad says, he faced relatively few obstacles as a Druze Arab in the Jewish-dominated military. But he says retirement in 2000 hit him like “a slap in the face.”


In terms of benefits, he says, he receives the same as any officer. But while other retired officers pursued political careers and lucrative jobs in the private sector, he runs a small business that recycles old tires and lives in the impoverished Druze town of Isfiyeh, where schools are overcrowded and roads need repair.


“When you fight for the state, you feel part of the team,” said Asad, 56. “But when you do your part and then get nothing back, that’s the slap. You realize you are not the same. It kills you.”


As Israel debates whether to draft ultra-Orthodox Jewish men into its military, questions are also being raised about the role of Arab Israelis, who also are largely exempt from mandatory service. Although Arabs make up one-fifth of Israel’s population, they are estimated to account for less than 5% of active soldiers.


As with ultra-Orthodox young men, Muslim and Christian Arabs are not required to serve in the army. Last month, however, the Supreme Court ruled that the exemption for religious students was unfair and illegal, raising questions about whether the same standard would apply to Arabs.


Some question whether the IDF is even willing to accept the large-scale enlistment of Arab soldiers.


“I’m not sure they want them in the military,” said Reda Mansour, one of the top-ranking Druze diplomats in Israel’s foreign service. “It would not be easy to have Arab commanders when we are fighting Arab enemies.”


Arab Israelis are also leery, pointing to the disappointing experience of the Druze, who are the only Arabs now subject to the draft.


The Druze are members of a small, close-knit society that practices a little-known religion. Scattered around several Mideast countries, including Syria and Lebanon, the Druze typically embrace the government wherever they live, with no national aspirations of their own. They were early allies of Jewish independence fighters against the British, and after Israel’s creation, they agreed to be subject to the military draft, betting it would earn them respect and support.


A measure of respect followed, but some Druze are questioning whether they received the support to which they believe they are entitled. A growing number of Druze leaders are balking at army service, complaining that their communities in Israel fare no better than other Arab villages, suffering from the same poor infrastructure and funding shortages.


The military service, some say, has driven a wedge between Druze and other Arab Israelis.


“Our roots should be with the Arab nations, but Israel is trying to use this to separate and isolate the minorities,” said Osama Melhem, an advisor to a Druze member of parliament and member of Roots, a Druze group that is encouraging its young men to boycott military service. He said his son is now waiting to be sentenced for refusing to report to duty.


“This has been a test for the past 60 years, and we’ve gotten nothing from the state,” he said, adding that he believes military service leaves Druze at a disadvantage because Arabs who don’t serve in the army get a head start by going directly to college and the job market, and they all end up facing the same anti-Arab discrimination.


About 82% of Druze young men are drafted and more than half of those serve in combat positions, according to army figures. That’s a higher rate than for Jews, 74% of whom are drafted and 42% of whom serve in combat units. (Despite the mandatory draft, exemptions are made for conscientious objectors and for health or religious reasons. Druze women are not required to serve for religious reasons.)


Some Druze leaders defend military service as a worthwhile experience that can help young men qualify for subsidized college tuition, lower mortgage rates and employment preferences, all standard benefits of IDF service. Just as important, they say, military service is every citizen’s responsibility and the army offers Druze an environment to escape discrimination and stereotypes.


“The military is the closest thing to equality that we have in Israel,” said Mansour, who served as Israel’s ambassador to Ecuador. “There are almost no barriers. The military is color-blind.”


He credits his own military service for boosting his career, saying it opened doors and provided contacts that continue to help.


Yet he and others agreed that most Druze face disappointment and hardship upon leaving the military.


Even government jobs are hard to come by, Mansour said, with only about a dozen Arabs among 380 Israeli diplomats. Since Israel’s founding, only two Arabs — one Druze and one Muslim — have served as Cabinet-level ministers.


“The post-service condition of the Arabs is the Achilles’ heel of the draft,” said Ayoob Kara, a Druze lawmaker and deputy minister of development of Galilee and Negev, a post that makes him the highest-ranking Arab official in the current government.


Kara, who lost two brothers in battle, said the army and government need to do more to support Druze soldiers upon release.


“They finish their army service with no place to live, no place to build a house or set up a family, no employment opportunities,” he said. “The gaps have widened over the years to the extent that affirmative action and preferential treatment are now urgently required.”


IDF officials acknowledged the problem for Druze, but said that it occurs after they are released.


“Their reentry into civilian life and subsequent absorption is difficult for socioeconomic reasons,” said IDF Col. Ramez Ahmad, a Druze in charge of Druze and Bedouin soldiers. “But this is out of the army’s hands. This is a matter for government.”


Asad agreed that the solution must come from the government, not the military. He noted that Israel spent vast sums of money helping Russian and Ethiopian Jewish immigrants resettle over the last 20 years, and could devote more resources to Druze if it wanted to.


But he said he had no regrets about his service.


“Every Israeli has duty to the state,” he said. “I never did this to get something back.”


Batsheva Sobelman of The Times’ Jerusalem bureau contributed to this report.


4  The Guardian


14 March 2012


The killing of Zuhair al-Qaissi exposes Israel’s attitude to its supreme court

Did the Palestinian leader killed by Israeli forces plan an attack? Without transparency, there’s no accountability to the court.


Mya Guarnieri


The body of Zuhair al-Qaissi is carried by Palestinians during his funeral in Rafah. Photograph: Hatem Moussa/AP


The recent escalation between Israel and Gaza began after Israeli forces assassinated Zuhair al-Qaissi, a leader of the Popular Resistance Committees (PRC), a militant group composed of members of various Palestinian parties. Haaretz noted that the PRC was “the organisation that captured Gilad Shalit”, the Israeli soldier who was freed in October 2011. The army says that al-Qaissi was behind the August 2011 attack that took place on the Israeli-Egyptian border – even though the PRC denied involvement and it was later revealed that the militants came from Sinai, not Gaza.



While army sources took care to point out al-Qaissi’s alleged involvement in the August 2011 incident, his assassination wasn’t just an act of punishment. No, Israel killed him on the basis of secret evidence – evidence that is not subject to legal or judicial review – that supposedly proves that al-Qaissi was planning a terror attack. Never mind that the Israeli supreme court’s December 2006 ruling placed numerous restrictions on such assassinations.



Fatmeh el-Ajou, an attorney with Adalah, the legal centre for Arab minority rights in Israel, explains that while the judgment did not place a blanket prohibition on targeted killings, it stated that the decision to carry out an assassination must be made on a case-by-case basis, “depending on the evidence that [security forces] have”. But, without seeing the security forces’ secret evidence, it’s impossible to know if al-Qaissi was indeed planning an attack, and if the army was in line with the 2006 ruling. There’s no transparency in this so-called democracy and, without transparency, there is no accountability to the state’s highest court. “From the perspective of human rights law,” el-Ajou adds, “assassinations are not legitimate … They should only be carried out if there is a ‘ticking bomb.’ [Suspects] should be brought to trial.”



To some extent, the 2006 ruling dovetails with this, stating that, whenever possible, the person in question must be arrested and tried – which is exactly what didn’t happen in 2007, when the army violated the supreme court’s restrictions on targeted killings and assassinated two men they had the power to detain instead. And then there’s the laundry list of less dramatic examples, instances when state bodies quietly ignore the court, revealing Israel to be the weak democracy it is. Such cases have spurred former deputy attorney general Yehudit Karp to send not one but two letters of complaint to the current attorney General Yehuda Weinstein. Here’s a partial sampling of rulings that Israel can’t be bothered to fully implement:



• In 2002, the supreme court ordered the municipalities of Tel Aviv-Jaffa, Lod, Ramle and Nazareth Illit to “add Arabic to all municipal signs”, Adalah writes. Last April, the supreme court chastised the municipality of Nazareth Illit (upper Nazareth, a predominately Jewish area) for its lack of compliance with the nine-year-old ruling.



• In 2006, the supreme court struck down the binding arrangement, a policy that binds migrant workers to one employer, essentially making his or her visa contingent on his employer’s whim. Last year, the Knesset circumvented this ruling, passing legislation so severe that human rights groups referred to it as the “slavery law”.



• In 2007, the Israeli supreme court ruled that the separation barrier in the West Bank Palestinian village of Bilin served no security purpose in its location and ordered the state to move the fence. While Israel did move it in 2011, more than four years after the court’s decision, villagers are still separated from some of their land.



• During the December 2008 to January 2009 Israeli military operation known as Cast Lead, Israel barred media from the Gaza Strip. Even though the supreme court ruled against the ban, the press was not admitted to Gaza.



• In April 2011, the supreme court overturned the policy that stripped migrant workers who had children in Israel of their legal status, calling it a violation of the state’s own labour laws. Almost a year later, Israel is still deporting some of these women and their children, despite the fact that the very mechanism that made them “illegal” has been nullified.



In his 2006 ruling on targeted killings, former supreme court president Aharon Barak quoted an earlier judgment in which he’d stated: “At times democracy fights with one hand behind her back.” But in its war on Palestinians – and anyone that Israel deems an “other” – not only does the state use both hands, it fights with the proverbial gloves off.


5 Haaretz


March 14, 2012


Obama: Window for diplomatic solution to Iran nuclear standoff is ‘shrinking’

Speaking in joint press conference with U.K. PM Cameron, U.S. President says Washington is determined to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.


By The Associated Press and Natasha Mozgovaya

Tags: Barack Obama Iran Iran nuclear Iran threat Hillary Clinton

U.S. President Barack Obama said on Wednesday the window for a diplomatic solution with Iran over its nuclear program was “shrinking,” and he encouraged Tehran to seize the opportunity of talks with world leaders to avert “even worse consequences.”


Obama, speaking at a press conference with British Prime Minister David Cameron, insisted there is still “time and space” for a diplomatic solution, in lieu of a military strike to set back Iran’s progress toward a possible bomb, but said “the window for diplomacy is shrinking.”


“We are determined to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon,” Obama said, adding that he had sent a message “personally” to the Iranian leadership that it should re-enter international arms talks in good faith.


“Tehran must understand that it cannot escape or evade the choice before it. Meet your international obligations or face the consequences.”


Obama further stated that a nuclear weapon in the hands of Iran “would trigger a nuclear arms race in the most dangerous part of the world”  and would raise issues that carry risks to U.S, national security interests.”


Earlier Wednesday, the Kommersant daily quoted Russian diplomats as saying that the United States asked Russia to deliver an ultimatum to Iran, warning the Islamic Republic that it has one last chance for talks before a military strike.


According to the Russian newspaper, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton asked her Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov in New York on Monday to tell Tehran that it has one last chance to solve the conflict peacefully by making progress in the talks with the P5+1 group – United States, Britain, France, Russia, China, and Germany. Otherwise, an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities will occur within months, the diplomats said.


The report in Kommersant did not give further details regarding the kind of military action the U.S. was threatening, but quoted Russian diplomats at the UN as saying they believe that it is a “matter of when, not if” Israel would strike Iran’s nuclear facilities.


Last week, Clinton said that there is still space for diplomacy to resolve Iran’s nuclear standoff with the West shortly after European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton announced that the P5+1 group agreed to restart talks with Iran. A time and venue of the talks has yet to be set.



6 Haaretz

March 14, 2012


Netanyahu: Gaza violence shows Israel cannot afford to be lax on Iran nuclear threat

In speech before Knesset, Prime Minister says Israel must be able to defend itself, blames Kadima’s 2005 disengagement in allowing Iranian takeover of Gaza.


By Jonathan Lis

Tags: Benjamin Netanyahu Gaza Strip Hamas Iran nuclear Iran threat Iran Middle East peace

Israel cannot allow terror groups to be backed by a nuclear Iran, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a speech to the Knesset on Wednesday, adding that those who say he is exaggerating the severity of the Iranian threat were those who allowed Iran’s takeover of the Gaza Strip.


Netanyahu spoke following a recently achieved truce between and Israel Defense Forces and Gaza militants which capped four days of rocket attacks on southern Israel and Israeli strikes of the Strip.


Referring to the recent bout of violence in his address to the Knesset, Netanyahu blamed Iran for taking over the Gaza Strip through the Hamas militant group, saying that “the dominant element driving events in Gaza is not the Palestinians but Iran, who is building the infrastructures, provides the money, and sometimes gives the orders.”


“Gaza is Iran’s forward position,” the PM added, saying that he exited Sharon’s cabinet prior to 2005 disengagement since he knew then that “rockets would fly out of Gaza, fly at Ashkelon, Be’er Sheva, at Ashdod. They said we were spreading panic, that the move would lead to a breakthrough to peace. What breakthrough? What peace?”


Netanyahu then directly accused the disengagement for allowing the Iranian takeover of the Strip, telling the Kadima MKs: “Iran was let into Gaza, but it wasn’t we that let Iran into Gaza, it was you.”


“As soon as we were out, Iran went in,” the premier added, saying the same criticism of his stance toward the disengagement in 2005 was used currently to play down the severity of the Iranian nuclear threat.


“A nuclear Iran would represent an existential threat on the State of Israel and the safety of the entire world,” the premier said.


Netanyahu then warned against the effect of a nuclear power backing terror groups such as those which have been attacking southern Israel with rockets, saying: “Imagine that behind terror groups was a country calling for our destruction and armed with nuclear bombs.”


“Are you ready for that? I’m not. Every leader knows this cannot be allowed to pass. An Israeli prime minister cannot hand over the ability to act against this threat to others,” the PM said.


The premier also rejected claims that he was centering on the Iranian issue in order to bypass peace talks with the Palestinians, saying that there were “many reasons to making peace with the Palestinians – because we want peace, calm, because I don’t want a bi-national state.”


“But it would be a dangerous illusion to think that such an agreement would stop Iran and its proxies,” he added.


Speaking of the recently achieved truce between Israel and Gaza militants in an interview with Haaretz on Tuesday, the head of the Defense Ministry’s political department, Maj. Gen. (res.) Amos Gilad said that the understandings reached were “very simple – quiet in exchange for quiet.”


He said the understandings were not spelled out in a signed document, and the only Israeli commitment was that if the Palestinian organizations refrained from launching attacks on Israel, the IDF would also hold its fire.


At first, at the Palestinians’ request, the Egyptians also attempted to obtain an Israeli commitment to refrain from targeted killings of senior figures in the various terrorist organizations. But Israeli officials said this effort was shelved in the face of Israeli opposition. “There were no guarantees and no other promises,” said Gilad, denying Islamic Jihad’s claim that Israel did in fact promise to refrain from targeted killings of the organization’s operatives.


“Major credit goes to the Egyptians for the successful effort they invested in obtaining a cease-fire,” Gilad added.


7 NY Times

March 14, 2012, 9:15 am


Poll Positions




Gali Tibbon/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images


Do Israelis believe Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is serious about striking Iran?


JERUSALEM — An Israeli attack on Iran is “not a matter of days or weeks,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel said on Israeli television last week. “But it’s also not a matter of years.” Months then?


Israeli leaders like to repeat that diplomacy and sanctions are their preferred way forward for now. But at a meeting with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee in Washington on March 5, Netanyahu also said that Israel was “determined to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons.” Amos Yadlin, a former chief of Israeli military intelligence, wrote recently that Israel will attack the day “Iran is on the verge of shielding its nuclear facilities from a successful attack.” It’s a kind of “if” that sounds a lot like a “when.”


Other Israelis — non-official, normal Israelis — seem more hesitant. They are still hoping for a less dangerous way out.


In a recent poll of 500 Israelis by Shibley Telhami, a fellow at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution, 34 percent of respondents opposed any strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities (pdf). Some 42 percent backed an attack “only if Israel gains at least American support” and only 19 percent were for striking alone.


In a study last week by Camil Fuchs, a professor of statistics at Tel Aviv University and the official pollster for Haaretz, 58 percent of respondents said Israel should not attack without the United States (26 percent said it should regardless of U.S. support). A Channel 2 poll put at 65 percent the figure of Israelis who oppose going it alone.


Two things jump out from these results. First, Israelis have mixed feelings about attacking Iran at all. Second, having — or not having — the United States’s backing matters to them a whole lot. With good reason: U.S. support for an attack on Iran means Israel wouldn’t feel completely isolated in war and would have a greater chance of success. It’s a little like bringing your uncle to school for your confrontation with the class bully.


Like Israel’s leaders, the public seems to believe that something has to be done about Iran. But unlike the politicians, who endorse a whatever-it-takes approach, Israelis are more cautious and still want to avoid a great sacrifice.


This all makes sense — except that one also has to account for a polling artifact: something funny happens when you give respondents three, not just two, options to choose from.


In the Telhami poll, for example, respondents favored the middle course (strike with U.S. support) over either of the other two options (strike alone, and do not strike at all). This is because an attack by Israel with American backing seemed most appealing: it looked like a compromise between two more extreme poles.


Based on long-time experience as a pollster, Fuchs told me that it’s common for respondents in any survey to go for “the easy response” like that. (The Fuchs poll also gave respondents three choices but those were different — attack alone, attack only with U.S. backing, and undecided — and so can’t really be compared here.)


This, of course, raises the question: what if the option to bring your uncle to face off the bully wasn’t on the table? What would the Israeli public say if the choice were between attacking Iran alone or not attacking at all?


Here’s a (confusing) clue: when Fuchs asked respondents if they trusted Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak “to properly handle” the Iran situation, 50 percent of them said yes (and 38 percent, no). That suggests at least half of Israelis trust the government over a critical security matter (tensions with Iran) even though they seem to oppose its main plan for dealing with it (the readiness to attack alone). Contradiction? It’s a tension at least.


And it’s a suggestion that the polls aren’t framed or phrased subtly enough to fully capture Israeli public opinion.


Reading between the lines, it seems Israelis must hold one of three views. Maybe they don’t really believe Netanyahu is serious about striking Iran. Maybe they trust him to eventually get the United States to back an Israeli strike.


Or maybe their stated preference for striking Iran with U.S. backing does not actually undermine their willingness, ultimately, to support a solo attack. Let this possibility be a red flag to the pundits (here, here and here) who rushed to claim that the recent polls proved Israelis don’t stand by Netanyahu on the Iran question.


8 Haaretz

March 13, 2012

Netanyahu uses Holocaust references to blur the injustices of the occupation

PM should know that for a generation that did not live through the Holocaust, the scent of increasingly more expensive oil is more powerful than the scent of the gas chambers.


By Akiva Eldar

Benjamin Netanyahu is not a distinguished statesman, nor is he an outstanding decision maker. But the man twice elected prime minister of Israel, and likely to be elected a third time, knows a thing or two about public relations. It is hard to believe that last week, as he prepared the Auschwitz letters ahead of his address to the AIPAC conference, he did not anticipate the criticism of left wingers and columnists about cheapening the Holocaust and sowing panic over an Iranian nuclear bomb that does not yet exist. He anticipated it and derided it. From his perspective, rightly so; even after 67 years, the Holocaust works on Jews.


Associations with the Holocaust help ease digestion of the injustices of the occupation and increase support for Israel. Thoughts of Auschwitz blur the images of the bodies of Palestinian children killed in the Jewish air force’s bombing of Gaza. It is scientific.


A 2010 article published in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin that surveyed a sampling of Jews aged 17-81 from three communities in Canada showed a clear connection between Holocaust exposure and awareness, and the intensity of Jews’ fear of extinction. The researchers, Prof. Michael Wohl, Prof. Stephen Reysen and Prof. Nyla Branscombe, found that interviewees asked to write a composition on the Holocaust displayed greater angst and more collective solidarity than those who were not asked to write anything.


The researchers estimate that one of the effects of increased collective angst over extinction is the justification of violent acts against a rival group. They rely, among others, on a 2008 study by Wohl and Branscombe that found the Jewish subjects who were reminded of the Holocaust and of the Jewish people having been victims in the past tended to see the Palestinians as the root of the conflict more than other subjects did. In other words, the researchers concluded, in order to protect itself from extinction, the group legitimizes harming others.

It can be assumed that investing in the Holocaust assures Netanyahu political benefits in the Israeli political scene as well. In contrast, friends in Germany related that the calls for war uttered by Netanyahu from every Washington platform sparked anti-Semitic cries against the Jewish warmongers. For a generation that did not live through the Holocaust, the scent of increasingly more expensive oil is more powerful than the scent of the gas chambers.

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