Archive | December 20th, 2013

Kerry’s “Framework Agreement”: The West Bank Modelled on Gaza, The Fiction of a Palestinian State

NOVANEWS
Global Research

 

In recent days, US and European diplomats have been engaged in a frenzy of activity on the Israeli-Palestinian front, before they settle down for the usual two-week Christmas hibernation.

A sense of urgency looms because Washington is supposed to unveil next month its so-called “framework proposal” for the creation of a Palestinian state, in a last desperate effort to break the logjam in negotiations. For this reason, the outlines of the US vision of an agreement are finally coming into focus. And, as many expected, the picture looks bleak for the Palestinians.

John Kerry, the US secretary of state, who has invested much of his personal standing in a successful outcome, has grown increasingly forthright that an agreement hinges on satisfying Israel’s security concerns, however inflated.

During a speech to the Saban Forum in Washington this month, Kerry said President Barack Obama’s highest priority was Israel’s “ability to defend itself, by itself”. Shortly afterwards, Kerry headed back to the region to show Israeli and Palestinian officials what he meant.

Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, was reportedly “boiling mad” by the US proposal. In recent days PA spokesmen have accused Kerry of “appeasement” and of failing to be “a neutral mediator”.

The criticism looks more than justified. Under cover of a vision for peace, the US secretary of state is offering an Israeli security plan at the expense of meaningful Palestinian statehood.

That is not entirely surprising given that the plan was drafted by John Allen, a general formerly in command of US forces in Afghanistan, who has spent months quietly liaising with Israeli counterparts.

The main sticking point is the Jordan Valley, an area that was expected to comprise nearly a quarter of a future Palestinian state. Allen has indulged an Israeli demand that it be allowed to continue a long-term “military presence” in the Jordan Valley, of at least 10 years.

Not only this but, according to a memo sent by Abbas to Obama, which the Haaretz newspaper revealed this week, the US plan would condition an eventual Israeli withdrawal on the Palestinians meeting a “test of implementation. Abbas rightfully believes that this would give Israel an effective veto on ever leaving the Jordan Valley.

That is a big retreat from Washington’s earlier commitment, made at the Annapolis talks of 2007, that no Israeli soldiers would be stationed in the West Bank following an agreement. Security guarantees were to be provided instead by Nato troops, under US command.

The new proposal should be a deal-breaker. The valley is a vital resource for the Palestinians, one they have been effectively stripped of for decades by Israel’s exaggerated “security needs”.

The Jordan Valley offers the only land border in the West Bank that would be potentially under Palestinian control. It is one of the few remaining undeveloped areas, making it a possible site to which hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees could return. And its lands are fertile and warm all year round, making it highly productive and a likely engine for the Palestinian economy.

According to Allen’s plan, Israel’s security also requires that Palestinian security forces be only lightly armed, that Israel has control over the airspace and all borders, and that the US install spying technology – euphemistically called “early warning systems” – throughout the West Bank.

In other words, the US vision of a Palestinian state looks remarkably like the model Israel has already implemented in Gaza.

One need only listen to the words of Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, from a decade ago to understand his role in this new plan.

In 2001 Netanyahu spoke to a group of settlers in the West Bank at a meeting that was secretly filmed. There he boasted that during his earlier premiership, in the late 1990s, he had halted the peace plan of that time, the Oslo Accords, through what he termed a “trick”.

He foiled a Palestinian state’s creation by agreeing to limited withdrawals from Palestinian land while insisting on the retention of the most significant areas, especially the Jordan Valley, by classifying them as a “specified military site”.

Netanyahu told the settlers: “America is something that can be easily moved. Moved to the right direction.” Those words now seem prophetic.

In rejecting the US plan, Abbas appears to have the backing of his people. A poll published this week showed only 19 per cent believed the talks would lead to an agreement.

So, given the essential conflict between Israel’s “security” requirements and the Palestinian demand for statehood, how does Kerry intend to proceed?

That too is becoming clear. The task of making Israel and the Palestinians play ball is being subcontracted to the European Union. That makes sense because, as the main subsidiser of the occupation, the Europeans have major financial leverage over both parties.

Earlier this month the EU brandished its stick. It warned that it would stop financing Abbas’ Palestinian Authority if no agreement had been reached by the end of the talks.

Though widely seen as a threat directed towards Abbas, whose political power base depends on EU money paying tens of thousands of PA workers each month, it was equally aimed at Netanyahu. Were the PA to be wound up, the huge costs of running the occupation would again fall to Israel.

The 28 European member states have also warned Israel that should it carry on building settlements in the coming months, they will officially blame it for the talks’ failure.

On Monday, Europe unsheathed its carrot. It is offering both Israel and the Palestinians a major aid package and an upgrade in economic relations to the EU, conferring on them a status of “special privileged partnership”. This would reportedly bring each side huge trading and security benefits.

However vigorous the EU’s arm-twisting, the reality is that the Palestinian leadership is being cajoled into an agreement that would destroy any hopes of a viable Palestinian state.

Abbas is said to have viewed the US plan as “worse than bad”. His agreement to it would be worse than disastrous.

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Zio-Nazi Wiesel urges dismantling of Iran’s nuclear program

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In full-page NYT ad, Zio-Nazi Elie Wiesel calls on US Congress to increase sanctions

Times of Israel

Elie Wiesel urged Congress to enhance sanctions on Iran and the Obama administration to demand the “total dismantling” of Iran’s nuclear infrastructure.

“Our nation is morally compromised when it contemplates allowing a country calling for the destruction of the State of Israel to remain within reach of nuclear weapons,” the Nobel Peace laureate and Holocaust memoirist said in a public letter posted in a full-page New York Times ad on Wednesday.

“I appeal to President Obama and Congress to demand, as a condition of continued talks, the total dismantling of Iran’s nuclear infrastructure and the regime’s public and complete repudiation of all genocidal intent against Israel,” Wiesel said in the ad. “And I appeal to the leaders of the United States Senate to go forward with their vote to strengthen sanctions against Iran until these conditions have been met.”

The Obama administration has said a total dismantling of Iran’s nuclear infrastructure is an unrealistic expectation and has asked Congress to refrain for now from advancing an enhanced sanctions bill, saying it would disrupt talks between Iran and the major powers aimed at stopping Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.

Michael Steinhardt, a major philanthropist, paid for the ad through This World, a group led by Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, a former Republican congressional candidate who has been critical of Obama’s Middle East policies.

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Boycott a sting to I$raHell apartheid

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By Yousef Munayyer
Palestinian children play in front of a house in Gaza in November that was damaged in an Israeli army operation in 2012.
Palestinian children play in front of a house in Gaza in November that was damaged in an Israeli army operation in 2012.

(CNN) — In a historic decision this week, the American Studies Association voted to boycott Israeli academic institutions, endorsing Palestinian civil society’s call for boycotts, divestments and sanctions against Israel until it complies with international law and ends abuses against Palestinian human rights.

The decision by the American Studies Association, a group of academics involved in the study of U.S. culture and history, to boycott collaborations with institutions is important. The ASA is one of the first major U.S. academic groups to take this step, and it sends a strong message to Israeli intellectuals and elites that their nation’s policies will lead only to international isolation.

The boycott, divestment and sanctions movement (BDS) was started by Palestinian political parties, trade unions and political movements in 2005. Signatories include refugees, Palestinians in the occupied Palestinian territories and Palestinian citizens of Israel.

The legitimacy of the movement’s tactics comes into sharp focus in the light of Nelson Mandela’s death and the struggle in South Africa against apartheid.

Yousef Munayyer

Yousef Munayyer

Today, Israel practices apartheid. It’s a system of unjust laws enforced by the gun to restrict the human rights of one group — Palestinians — with the aim of keeping political power in the hands of another demographic group — Israeli Jews.

These violations of Palestinians’ rights include the denial of repatriation to refugees, restrictions on residency, the demolition of homes, destruction and seizure of land and property, restrictions on movement and discrimination in allocation of resources.

Many supporters of Israel are rehashing the same arguments against BDS that apologists of the South African regime made decades ago. Perhaps the most common criticism is that Israel is not the worst regime in the world — boycotts based on human rights concerns should focus on the worst violators first and not unfairly single out Israel. The same reasoning was made against the movement to divest from South Africa.

Two Stanford professors argued in an op-ed in 1979: “White South Africans have often been harsh in their dealings with black people but there is nothing like the mass terror characteristic of communist countries and of many African dictatorships. … In South Africa, there has been nothing comparable to the mass expulsions of ethnic minorities that have stained the post-World War II history of countries as varied as Burma, Uganda, India, Algeria, Palestine, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Burundi and Angola.”

South Africa may not have engaged in the bloodletting that happened in 1970s Burundi, but does that mean other nations should not have risen up and acted against apartheid?

The authors of the op-ed say that blacks never had it as good as they do under apartheid. Blacks in South Africa, they wrote, are “among the best paid, best educated, most urbanized blacks in Africa.”

This classic colonialist trope is often unsurprisingly echoed by Israel’s supporters, who argue that Palestinians under Israeli rule are similarly privileged compared with their Arab kin.

Palestinian keys to returning home
Palestinian team exits peace talks
Kerry prods Israel, Palestinians on peace

The effort to distract from Israeli human rights abuses by pointing to human rights abuses elsewhere is simply aimed at silencing criticism of Israel.

The movement chooses boycotts, divestments and sanctions as a strategy in part because other strategies have proved fruitless. Armed struggle has not worked. As in the case of South Africa, a native, stateless population was pitted against a highly industrialized and militarized state that had the backing of Western powers, and it led to bloody repression of Palestinians.

And negotiations have acted just as a cover for continued Israeli colonization. The Israelis use their position as the stronger party, backed by the United States, to impose their will on the Palestinians. If the Palestinians reject these unfair proposals, they are promptly blamed for the absence of peace despite being the occupied party.

There is a second argument we’ve heard in recent days against BDS and the vote of the American Studies Association. Palestine Liberation Organization Chairman Mahmoud Abbas — when he was in South Africa for Mandela’s memorial — said he supports the boycott of Israeli settlement products but not the boycott of the state of Israel itself.

Some reflexive Israel supporters jumped on this comment to argue that those who endorse the BDS movement are being “more Palestinian” than the chairman of the PLO.

It’s not very useful to boycott settlements in the occupied territories without boycotting the state that supports them. Israel’s colonial enterprise is not directed from the hilltops of the West Bank but from the corridors of power inside Israel’s government.

The state provides funding, defense and infrastructure to ensure Israel settlements grow and thrive. And, while settlements might be the biggest single challenge to Palestinian territorial contiguity, they are but one facet of a system of oppression that features a range of abuses from discrimination and displacement to denial of refugee rights.

But it makes some sense that the chairman of the PLO would make such a remark. Abbas, who leads the West Bank Palestinian Authority, is engaged in U.S.-led negotiations with Israel.

He relies heavily on Western donor dollars to pay his employees and security services. That funding, in the past, has routinely been used as a coercive force any time Abbas even moderately disagreed with U.S. and Israeli whims. This has compromised the independence of the Palestinian Authority’s decision making for years.

If Abbas came out in full support of BDS, he’d immediately be accused of “incitement” by his Israeli counterpart. He might even get a phone call from U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry reminding him who pays his bills.

When understood in context, Abbas’ comment is not a reflection of the broader Palestinian opinion on BDS but rather a product of the bankrupt U.S.-led negotiations system that makes boycotts, divestment and sanctions so necessary.

BDS is growing, but at only 8 years old, it’s still a nascent movement. Victories are piling up, however, and this path continues to be the most likely method of putting pressure on Israel to end its version of apartheid.

Years from now, we will look back at moments, such as the American Studies Association’s decision, just as we can look back today on the 1979 argument against fighting South African apartheid. And we’ll remember who chose to be on the right side of history.

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MANDELA RECEIVED WEAPONS TRAINING FROM MOSSAD ??

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Nelson Mandela

Haartez reported a few hours ago that“Nelson Mandela,  was trained in weaponry and sabotage by Mossad operatives in 1962, a few months before he was arrested in South Africa. During his training, Mandela expressed interest in the methods of the Haganah pre-state underground and was viewed by the Mossad as leaning toward communism.”

Haaretz continues,  “a letter sent from the Mossad to the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem reveals that Mandela underwent military training by Mossad operatives in Ethiopia during this period. These operatives were unaware of Mandela’s true identity. The letter, classified top secret, was dated October 11, 1962 – about two months after Mandela was arrested in South Africa, shortly after his return to the country.”

The letter states,  “as you may recall, three months ago we discussed the case of a trainee who arrived at the [Israeli] embassy in Ethiopia by the name of David Mobsari who came from Rhodesia,” the letter said. “The aforementioned received training from the Ethiopians [Israeli embassy staff, almost certainly Mossad agents] in judo, sabotage and weaponry.” The phrase “the Ethiopians” was apparently a code name for Mossad operatives working in Ethiopia.

The letter also noted that the subject in question “showed an interest in the methods of the Haganah and other Israeli underground movements. It added that “he greeted our men with ‘Shalom’, was familiar with the problems of Jewry and of Israel, and gave the impression of being an intellectual. The staff tried to make him into a Zionist,” the Mossad operative wrote.”

We have to remember that in the 1960’s Israel believed itself to be a socialist state and it naturally looked for allies within Left and Communist organisations and paramilitary operators around the world .

Haaretz quotes the newly revealed document, “in conversations with him, he (Mandela) expressed socialist worldviews and at times created the impression that he leaned toward communism.”

This letter was kept for decades in the Israel State Archives and was never revealed to the public. It was discovered there a few years ago by David Fachler, 43, a resident of Alon Shvut, who was researching documents about South Africa for a Masters thesis on relations between South Africa and Israel at the Hebrew University’s Institute for Contemporary Jewry.

Born in Israel, Fachler grew up and received his Masters of Law degree in South Africa. “If the fact that Israel helped Mandela had been discovered in South Africa, it could have endangered the Jewish community there,” Fachler told Haaretz.

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ALAIN FINKIELKRAUT, JEWS, AND IMMIGRATION

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GILAD ATZMON
The Imaginary Jew

By Gilad Atzmon

Along the second half of the 20th century many Jewish intellectuals, activists and artists positioned themselves at the forefront of Western advocacy of immigration and multiculturalism. Occasionally we were also expected to believe that immigration, tolerance, pluralism and multiculturalism are intrinsic to Jewish culture and thought.

But as the West became gradually aware of the scale of Israeli racism and intolerance towards migrant communities, more than just a few intellectuals were courageous enough to point at a clear discrepancy between the progressive ideas Jews claim to represent and what their Jewish State happens to be. There aren’t many countries that are more anti-immigration than Israel. The Jewish State is also very selective when it comes to multiculturalism. Israel happily integrated humus and falafel into its cuisine. It even let a few juicy Arab swear words into its emerging Hebraic dialect but it has been far less enthusiastic about Palestinian mourning their own plight and the Nakba in particular.

However, Jewish passion for immigration is clearly fading away these days. It is not a secret that mass immigration of Muslims and Arabs made many Western Jews feel uncomfortable to say the least. In recent years we have been monitoring rapid surge of Jewish involvement in anti-immigration political and intellectual activity. Some so-called ‘progressive’ Jews fight the veil in the name of ‘feminism,’ others insist on eradicating Islamic symbolic identifiers in the name of ‘secularism.’ I guess that even Jewish ‘progressive tolerance’ has its limits, especially when it comes to Muslims. However, Zionists are actually slightly more consistent in that regard: they openly ally themselves with ultra-nationalist groups such as the hawkish EDL. Anti-Islam positions are often promoted by Hasbara, interventionist and neocon outlets such asHarry’s Place. The xenophobic message is also disseminated via literature, academia and general media. Here in Britain, journalist celebrity Melanie Phillips published her notorious Londonistan.

Jewish past support of pro-immigration and multiculturalism is easy to explain.

For the obvious reasons, many Jews prefer to live in multi-ethnic and fragmented societies, being one minority amongst many. Identity politics, pro-immigration and multiculturalism are there to dismantle the cohesive national and patriotic bond in favor of a manifold complex structure consisting of a fragile and dynamic exchange between a manifold of minority groups.

Jews are often threatened by the possibility that indigenous lower-middle and working classes may follow their nationalistic and patriotic inclinations and turn against them. In that regard, a radical demographic boost of the working class with a varied mixture of foreign ethnicities is regarded by progressive Jews as a necessary preventative measure against anti-semitism.

But here is an interesting development. Last week Spiegel published an intriguing interview with Alain Finkielkraut, a French so-called philosopher and also a Jew and son of immigrants. Finkielkraut is no longer threatened by ‘the lower middle classes.’ Quite the opposite, he actually pretends to be their ally and he even makes himself their ambassador: “the French that one no longer dares to call Français de souche (ethnic French) are already moving out of the Parisian suburbs and farther into the countryside. They have experienced that in some neighborhoods they are the minority in their own country. They are not afraid of the others, but rather of becoming the others themselves.” In other words, the ethnic French are now “otherized” together with the Jews by a tidal wave of Islamic tsunami.

It doesn’t take Finkielkraut long before he points directly at the ‘enemy within.’ “Many Muslims in Europe are re-Islamizing themselves. A woman who wears the veil effectively announces that a relationship with a non-Muslim is out of the question for her.” I guess that Finkielkraut finds it unacceptable that Muslims do not buy into the Mendelsohnian Jewish ‘assimilation’ paradigm — be a Goy in the street and a Jew in your dwelling — the façade of pretending to blend into the masses, yet adhering to tribal and exclusive supremacy in clandestine fashion. Muslims, so it seems, are not collectively buying into this duplicity mode. Seemingly, they are not shy of their love for Allah. They are actually proud of their symbolic identifiers. These facts alone indeed have managed to challenge the notion of left and progressive tolerance. And it isn’t exactly a secret — the Left has failed in this tolerance test.

Left and Islam

Finkielkraut may not be a sophisticated mind, but he is not a complete idiot either. He rightly points at the deceitful nature of the contemporary progressive and Left call. “The left” he says, “wanted to resolve the problem of immigration as a social issue, and proclaimed that the riots in the suburbs were a kind of class struggle. We were told that these youths were protesting against unemployment, inequality and the impossibility of social advancement. In reality we saw an eruption of hostility toward French society.” The Jewish thinker then voices his exact and very particular concern — social inequality does not explain anti-Semitism.”

Finkielkraut is indeed partially correct, and the ‘Left’ is indeed wrong, deluded and misleading. Yet, in a symptomatic attempt to conceal the truth, Finkielkraut diverts the attention from the vast French institutional political support of Israel, its racist policies and the impact of the Jewish lobby in France. Accordingly, it may as well be possible that anti-Jewish sentiments within migrant communities in France are provoked by the French pro-Israeli attitude. In other words, we are dealing here with a clear rational sense of ‘inequality’ that is ethnically and politically driven (rather than merely materially).

After all, France is actively and enthusiastically engaged in the destruction of more than just one Arab State. The ultra-Zionist Bernard Henri Levy was the leading advocate for the intervention in Libya. In the last few weeks France went out of its way in its attempts to jeopardize a UN deal with Iran. Thus, it is only natural that some Muslims find it hard to accept the unbalanced French pro-Israeli policy. Would Parisian Jews support France if it decided to bomb an Israeli Government headquarters in Tel Aviv as a response to Israeli crimes against humanity? In short, it is more than likely that what Finkielkraut describes as anti-Semitism is actually a direct reaction to Jewish power.

Yet, the French Left cannot deal with such a development for the obvious reason that the Left is in itself an instrument of such power – it is there to suppress the discussion on issues to do with Jewish political hegemony and influence.

Civilization: Jewish and Left Perspectives

Finkielkraut continues, “the left does not want to accept that there is a clash of civilizations.” Finkielkraut is correct, for a change, but for the wrong reasons. The Left cannot accept the notion of such a ‘clash’ because the Left, similarly to Jewish identity political discourse, lacks a lucid understanding of the notion of ‘civilization’.

This point needs a bit of elaboration. Zionism, according to its early mentors, was set to ‘civilize’ the Jew by means of ‘nationalization’. Early Zionists contended that that the diasporic Jewish existence was actually ‘uncivilized’. Interestingly enough, in spite of the Zionist dream, Hebrew doesn’t offer its users a word for ‘civilization’ and this is not exactly a coincidence. When Palestinian Israeli MK Azmi Bishara suggested to civilize the Jewish State and transform it into a ‘State of its Citizens’ he became Israel’s ‘No 1 enemy.’ He had to run for his life.

Similarly, the Left is also dotted with a clear animosity towards the traditional notion of civilization. The progressive commitment to social change is driven by an attempt to undermine the ‘bourgeois’ (reactionary) order. In retrospect, it was the ’68 Students Revolution and its long list of mentors from Antonio Gramsci to the Frankfurt School that eventually succeeded to devastate the West and to cleanse it of its most precious traditional assets. Targeting ‘hegemony’ as the ‘enemy of the people’, the new Left systematically uprooted every aspect of Western philosophical and categorical thinking, destabilizing every cultural, spiritual, intellectual and political domain.

In the name of liberation, the Left and the progressive have managed to eradicate a sense of authenticity and belonging. Typically we, the indoctrinated post-revolutionary subjects, often refer to ourselves as ‘as a [something]’, (as a Jew, as a black, as a lesbian, as an Arab, as a Gay etc’). Instead of thinking authentically and exploring creatively the deep dynamic meaning of the ‘I’, we deliver our thoughts by means of projections driven by sets of collective identifications. Our sense of ‘selfhood’ has been hijacked by a contemporaneous, phenomenological, post-modernist and vain relativism. But in fact phenomenology, relativism and post-modernism are rootless, they are actually the complete opposite of civilization or rootedness. They are flaky, they are contextually and hermeneutically detached and they are also soil-less.

I guess that the Left’s imperviousness to the notion of civilization may explain why the Left has failed systematically in its attempt to bond with working classes. Marx, I believe, failed to grasp that the working class is also an expression of rootedness. It is defined by heritage, patriotism, nationalism, spirit, culture, devotion, dialect, cuisine, defiance, or shall we say civilization. The working class is also defined by the negation of other classes’ culture and civilization. The Left’s failure to grasp this dialectical mode of thinking that extends far beyond (dialectical) materialism also explains the Left’s incapacity to bond with Muslims, Europe’s current working class. This is indeed tragic yet far from being a coincidence.

Nevertheless, when the French ‘philosopher’ Finkielkraut was asked to define ‘French civilization’ he had nothing to offer. He referred initially to French ‘fiery’ love making. The Spiegelinterviewer wasn’t impressed. Then in order to rescue his case Finkielkraut continued and quoted a ‘friend’; “we, French, created women, literature and cuisine. No one can take that from us.” Embarrassingly yet symptomatic, the ‘defender’ of French civilization himself has a very limited understanding of the true meaning of France nor can he grasp its civilization. Finkielkraut happily reduces France to a banal material symbolism consisting of Brigitte Bardot, baguettes and Balzac, but it is hard to imagine what kind of ‘Muslim Jihadist’ would insist to bring such ‘France’ down. On the contrary, if French contemporary civilization is shaped by the powerful Jewish Lobby Crif, Bernard Henri Levy’s interventionist megalomania and tribal philosophy a la Finkielkraut, it is actually easy to grasp why some French Muslims are irritated by their republic and its state of affairs.

The Post-Political Condition

There is nothing in Finkielkraut that differentiates him from far right-wing ideologists except of course his intellectual lameness and theoretical lacking. Yet, for some peculiar reason, Finkielkraut doesn’t like to be associated with those who promote the politics he actually preaches. When asked by Spiegel “how do you view the political rise of Marine Le Pen and her far-right National Front party?” Finkielkraut replied, “This disturbs me, of course. But the National Front would not be continuously on the rise if it had not discarded the old issues of the extreme right. Nowadays the National Front focuses on secularism and the republic.” I guess that Finkielkraut finds it difficult to admit to himself that he is a hard core Right-winger, it simply doesn’t fit nicely into his Jewish assimilationist image. However, this ideological discrepancy doesn’t mature into a cognitive dissonance. It instead manifests itself as a disingenuous spin.

Notably, Spiegel didn’t fall into the trap. It obviously notices that the ‘new French philosopher’ is obviously a right-wing hawk: “That sounds as if you could imagine voting for the party.” To which Finkielkraut replies, “No, I would never do that because this party appeals to people’s base instincts and hatred. And these are easy to kindle among its supporters. We can’t leave these issues to the National Front. It would also be up to the left, the party of the people, to take seriously the suffering and anxiety of ordinary people.”

Typically, the man who presents himself as the ‘defender’ of French Civilization, the one who voices the plight of the ‘lower middle class’ is apparently repulsed by French people’s ‘base instinct’. Like many ‘progressives’, Finkielkraut is actually dismissive of the working class’ inclinations and their way of thinking. Finkielkraut prefers instead to transform the Left into an Islamphobic, national socialist front. Finkielkraut probably realizes very well that the Left is no longer an ideological standpoint — it is detached from any form of universal or ethical thinking. It is only dedicated to its political survival and its paymasters.

Sadly enough, Finkielkraut’s pragmatism may prove to be successful. In the ‘Liberal’ West in which we are living in, Left and Right have become merely political instruments that facilitate similar policies whether it is perpetrating Zionist interventionist wars or enabling our further enslavement to bankers and big monopolies. From a popular perspective, ‘Left’ and ‘Right’ are means of identification (instead of theoretical, analytical or political dynamic instruments). This political, intellectual and ideological paralysis is indeed symptomatic to the current post-political era.

With Jewish Lobby groups such as the Crif, AIPAC and CFI dominating the Western political discussion and its outcome, democracy is just a façade. But far more disturbing is the fact that in contemporary France, a uniquely lame mind such as Finkielkraut’s is considered a ‘philosopher’. In that regard, I would actually argue that Finkielkraut is himself the ultimate emblem of the collapse of Western Civilization or at least an evidence of the eradication of the French one.

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US and UK spied on Olmert, Netanyahu and Barak

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obamanetanyahu

ed note–due to the fact that NOTHING new was reported with the ‘revelations’ on the NSA from Edward Snowden, we here at TUT said from the beginning that this was more than likely one of 3 things, or possibly all of them–

1. Netanyahu’s gang putting pressure on Obama due to his intransigence viz a viz Syria and Iran,

or

2. That either (a) Israel was planning another major attack on America which the NSA knew about and was about to reveal publicly, and in order to cut the NSA off at the knees before going public with what would have been devastating information, the ‘Snowden affair’ exploded across the world.

or

3. The NSA had enough proof that Israel was behind the Boston Marathon bombings and was about to go public with it, 

or

4. All of the above.

With the news that NSA was indeed monitoring Netanyahu, the above 2 scenarios now are much more believable.

Times of Israel

US and British intelligence agencies spied on the offices of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his predecessor Ehud Olmert, according to documents leaked by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.

The New York Times, The Guardian and Der Spiegel reported Friday that Olmert, as well as then-defense minister Ehud Barak, were among more than 1,000 high-profile targets of surveillance in more than 60 countries; the documents were dated between 2008 and 2011. Israel’s Ynet added that the surveillance extended to Netanyahu’s office when he took over from Olmert as prime minister in March, 2009.

Working in tandem, the NSA and the British General Communications Headquarters intercepted the communications of “senior European Union officials, foreign leaders including African heads of state and sometimes their family members, directors of United Nations and other relief programs, and officials overseeing oil and finance ministries,” according to The New York Times.

The documents show that the agencies monitored an email address described as “Israeli prime minister.” Olmert, who was filled the top job at the time, in January, 2009, confirmed that the address was used for correspondence with his office, but said that such correspondence was mainly handled by staffers. The same address was used by Netanyahu, Ynet reported (Hebrew).

Olmert described the email address as an “unimpressive target,” saying that it was unlikely any sensitive information was compromised. He added that the most delicate talks with then-US president George W. Bush took place privately, according to the Times report.

The leaked documents also revealed that in February of 2009, spies intercepted the emails of Barak. Ynet reported that the relevant email address in the defense ministry, Minister@mod.gov.il, was used by both Barak and his chief of staff, Yoni Koren, as well as administrative assistants. The address was used also to communicate with other government offices.

The Institute of Physics at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem was also reportedly targeted, as were two Israeli embassies.

The interception of Olmert’s email came at a sensitive time, while he was dealing with international condemnation of Israel’s Operation Cast Lead, according to the Times. Relations between the US and Israel were also tense, as they are today, over Israel’s preparations for an attack on Iran’s nuclear program. According to the report, the allies were also at odds over cooperation on a wave of cyberattacks against Iran’s major nuclear enrichment facility.

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This is the most dangerous peace process of all

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Marc H. Ellis

Kerry, US gov't photoKerry, US gov’t photo

This is part of Marc H. Ellis’s “Exile and the Prophetic” feature for Mondoweiss. To read the entire series visit the archive page.

Tell it like it really is.

The unfolding tragedy in Syria demands accountability. The various players, including Saudi Arabia, refuse to admit they are fueling the cycle of violence.  Worse, the players don’t seem to care.  The United States is mute on Saudi Arabia’s complicity.  The United States is mute on its own complicity.

Oil can’t be handled with euphemisms.  Oil speaks.  The powerful follow.

With winter’s arrival, few people know the corruption of our world as Syrians do. No matter the recent UN declaration that Syria is the worse emergency in its history.  Syria will remain at the mercy of theologies, ideologies and power.

The Syrian people aren’t in a emergency situation.  They’re experiencing total dereliction.

Speaking of another never ending emergency, John Kerry has lost any claim to being an honest broker between Israel and Palestine.  Predictably, he is feeding Israel everything it can devour.  Palestine is reduced to rummaging for crumbs under the table.

For American foreign policy the Israel/Palestine end game has moving goal posts.  Over the last days, state institutions as a societal and political test have replaced a Palestinian state.  Israeli troops on Palestine’s borders have replaced Jordanian troops.   All of this is to ostensibly protect Palestine from itself.

State institutions – preparing Palestine for statehood – euphemisms multiply.

Because Kerry has fumbled Palestinian recognition of Israel as a Jewish state, it has become a front burner issue.  What such recognition might mean to a victorious Israel is difficult to fathom.

“Jewish state” is another euphemism.  But for what?

Whatever Jewish state may have meant in theory, in reality it has become interchangeable with unaccountability for injustice.  Today it means pursuit of empire without concern for the cost to others.

“Jewish state” has become a synonym/understatement for everything that’s wrong in the world.  That and not anti-Semitism is the reason Israel is singled out.  As well it comes with the territory.  If Jews see themselves as a light unto the nations, Jews can’t complain when Israel’s dark deeds are highlighted.

Israel is debasing the Jewish ethical tradition – including the prophetic – making it a euphemism for power over others.

Someday, Palestine will become an autonomous entity with the possibility of becoming an (un)real state.  Israel, Jordan and Egypt will patrol the borders of the West Bank and Gaza.  Jerusalem, well, it’s obvious, isn’t it?  So goes the latest euphemistically-defined peace process.

Kerry promises that this peace process is different than the others.  I believe it is the same but much more dangerous because the end game is finally in sight.  With or without signing a document, Palestine’s fate is clear.  Unless there is a reversal of unparalleled magnitude, realistically rather than euphemistically speaking there’s no way out for Palestinians.

Reversal would be a miracle.  Even those Christians hawking Christmas as an endless shopping expedition can’t promise the type of miracle Palestinians need.

Palestinians have looked in vain for their savior.  “Savior” for Palestinians has become just one more euphemism for defeat.

To make matters worse, negotiating the end only presages worse times ahead.  This is because the end is only another step in finishing off Palestine.  Herein lay the ultimate tragedy.

At Oslo, Palestinian leadership surrendered Palestine.  What did they get in return? Israel tightened the noose.  Any agreement signed by Israel and Palestine will tighten the noose further.  For that matter, if no agreement is signed, Israel will tighten the noose anyway.

So what is the Palestinian Authority doing in this no-win situation other than highlighting its place on the UN emergency list?  Making matters worse by prevaricating on everything.  Why this caution at the end?

A few days ago, President Abbas once again undercut the BDS movement by pronouncing what is and isn’t legitimate dissent for Palestinians and their supporters.  Abbas demands BDS be limited to the occupied Palestinian territories.

Yet limiting BDS evades the central issue.  Only by confronting Israeli power can the occupation be challenged.  The occupation involves all of Israel’s institutions and Israeli society at large.

Limiting calls for action to the settlements and it products or academics associated with compromised Israeli universities is fine for euphemistic grandstanding.  It demonstrates that Israel’s right to exist – whatever that means in a world of nation-states – is respected.  Such half measures are weak.  They ultimately grant Israel everything it already has taken.

Would Israel having conquered Palestine, then stopping there, be a victory for BDS?  Palestinians within what is now Greater Israel will enjoy only the freedoms a ghettoized reality offers.

Having lost Palestine why doesn’t the Palestinian Authority cast every tried and failed political method to the wind and go for broke?

President Abbas should refuse to meet with Kerry.  Better yet, Abbas should turn his back on Kerry in a public setting.  He should have his security detail impolitely show Kerry the door.

Palestinians have already lost their world.  There’s no reason for them to lose their soul.

Of course, the Palestinian Authority would have to dispense with the euphemisms that legitimate its power.

When power loses its euphemisms, there isn’t much left, is there?

Posted in Palestine Affairs, USA, ZIO-NAZIComments Off on This is the most dangerous peace process of all

Citizen Strangers: Palestinians and the birth of I$raHell’s liberal settler state

NOVANEWS

Shira Robinson

The following is the introduction to the new book Citizen Strangers: Palestinians and the Birth of Israel’s Liberal Settler State by Shira Robinson. Robinson is Associate Professor of History and International Affairs at The George Washington University.

Tawfiq Tubi had expected little from the meeting. It was an unseasonably warm morning in late October 1966 and the elected deputy was just months shy of entering his eighteenth year of service in the Israeli parliament. Until that day, the Palestinian communist had confronted “the Old Man,” as former Prime Minister and Defense Minister David Ben-Gurion was known, only in the Knesset chamber. Starting when he was just twenty-six years old, the young Arab activist from Haifa quickly rose to the helm of the struggle to end Israel’s systematic discrimination against the roughly 150,000 Palestinians who had managed to stay in or return to the country after its war of independence in 1948. During Tubi’s time on the floor, it was not uncommon for his fellow deputies—many of whom were immigrants from Eastern Europe—to shout him down. In the 1950s and 1960s, most Knesset members treated any political opposition from “an Arab” as a sign of impudence toward a nation that had been magnanimous enough not to deport him.

Robinson jacket

Although he had followed Tubi’s public statements over the years, Ben-Gurion had refused to meet with his junior colleague privately while in office. If there was one conversation the former leader had wanted to avoid, it was the demand to end the military administration that he personally had insisted on maintaining in the roughly 104 Arab villages and towns that had survived the nakba, or catastrophe, as Palestinians refer to the wartime ethnic cleansing campaign that wiped their country off the map and rendered those who remained a sudden minority in the new state. Since then, Israel’s Palestinian citizens had come overwhelmingly to despise the military regime for its despotism, its contempt for due process, and its Big Brother-like insinuation into their lives and communities. They reviled it most, however, for its draconian restrictions on their movement and its role as the handmaiden of the colonization of their land by Jewish settlers. Ben-Gurion had been the regime’s most loyal champion, but three years had passed since his resignation. Why, Tubi wondered as he approached the door of the former leader’s apartment in Tel Aviv, had the Old Man summoned him now?

Tubi had been wise to have low expectations, for his host’s paternalism was as fresh as ever. Although Ben-Gurion began by expressing his desire to discuss “the problems between Jews and Arabs,” he proceeded instead to fixate on the question of whether Tubi was a first name or a family name. When the Palestinian deputy politely but firmly steered the conversation back to the matter at hand, the former leader, now eighty years old, expressed surprise that Tubi had served in the Knesset for the previous two decades. For the next several minutes Ben-Gurion’s deflection persisted. With each charge that Tubi leveled about Israel’s maltreatment of Palestinians since 1948, the Polish-born settler and founding father of the Jewish state feigned incredulity: “We expelled peo- ple?” he asked. “From which village did we expropriate land?” “Is it true that our universities reject Arab applications en masse?” Exasperated, Tubi at last gave up and invoked the historic comparison between Israel and Western colonial powers that the Jewish public had long vilified him for suggesting. “I do not wish to insult [you, Mr. Ben-Gurion], but [we are treated] like ‘natives’ [yelidim]. This is the sort of relationship that has been created.” The official transcript of the encounter between the two men does not indicate whether Ben-Gurion looked uncomfortable or paused to reflect on Tubi’s indictment, but it is unlikely. “Under the British,” he averred, “we were all ‘natives.’”

This brief exchange—the charge of colonial dispossession and its disavowal—is at the heart of the puzzle that drives this book. What does it mean for a democratically elected representative of a sovereign parliament to identify himself as a colonial subject? Ben-Gurion was, of course, correct that in 1948 the Jewish settler community in Palestine had proclaimed its liberation from the yoke of the British Empire. Under the British Mandate, individual Jews in Palestine had been colonial subjects no less than their Arab counterparts. It was also true, however, that Zionist leaders had lobbied aggressively for the Empire’s sponsorship of their collective settler project, and that their patron, with the blessing of the League of Nations, had done much to facilitate the development of a Jewish national home at the direct expense of a people who in 1922 comprised 90 percent of the land’s inhabitants. But this was not Tubi’s point. What concerned him, as the Old Man knew full well, was that, for the Palestinians, the settler-colonial yoke had not just remained in place since 1948, but had grown immeasurably heavier.

•••

This book explores the contradictions that emerged from Israel’s foundation as a liberal settler state—a modern colonial polity whose procedural democracy was established by forcibly removing most of the indigenous majority from within its borders and then extending to those who remained a discrete set of individual rights and duties that only the settler community could determine. Jewish settler leaders seized the rights to the state, granting the newfound Arab minority only a handful of rights within it. My choice of language is deliberate. Although Jewish citizens today are largely native-born, they continue to enjoy an array of social and political privileges relative to their Arab co-citizens. These privileges date back to the historical status of Israel’s founders as a minority of foreign nationals in Palestine whose separatist political aspirations required them to secure a favored legal position over the indigenous non-Jewish majority. In contrast to conventional wisdom, my argument is that Israel’s attainment of sovereignty did not alter the fundamental status of the local Jewish population as settlers. By grappling with the paradoxical status of the Arab minority during the first two decades of independence—as citizens of a formally liberal state and subjects of a colonial regime—my analysis aims to restore empire to the history of post-1948 Israel, and post-1948 Israel to the history of modern imperialism.

IN SEARCH OF A BLACK HOLE

For years the birth of the Jewish state in Palestine was celebrated as the fulfillment of an ancient dream of national liberation; as the outcome of hard work and humanitarian sacrifice; and ultimately, as a miraculous victory for David against Goliath. The indigenous Arab majority of Palestine figured only in the shadows of this narrative, which chronicled the Zionist movement through a carefully selected recounting of the movement’s declared intentions. In May 1948, so the story went, duplicitous Arab leaders over the border ordered Palestinians to flee the country so that invading Arab armies could drive the Jews into the sea. These leaders—and no one else—were responsible for the sudden and mass exodus of the Palestinian population from the territory that became Israel. For decades following their dispersion and the destruction of their social, economic, and political institutions, Palestinians lacked the archival evidence and institutional backing to counter this narrative—with its ethical and political burden—to any effect. Outside the confines of Israeli fiction, a handful of inaccessible Hebrew-language studies, and the muted memories of Jewish war veterans, Palestinian accounts of massacres, systematic expulsions, and village destruction hit an iron wall of denial.

In the mid-1980s, in the aftermath of Israel’s widely unpopular invasion of Lebanon, a handful of young Jewish Israeli scholars seeking to reconcile these competing accounts availed themselves of newly declassified archival material on the 1948 war. Their findings confirmed the basic parameters of long-standing Arab claims about how the Yishuv, as the settlement movement called itself, had marshaled its prewar intelligence and overwhelming military superiority to drive most Palestinians out of their villages and towns. Unintentionally, their research also catalyzed a transformation in the study of Israel/Palestine as a whole. Whereas earlier accounts had depicted Zionist settlers and Palestinian Arabs as isolated, monolithic, and pre-formed groups that came together only in war, new studies shifted attention to the rich and multiple sites of their social, cultural, and economic encounters. By demonstrating the mutual formation of Jewish and Arab societies since the 1880s, the new accounts overturned the long-held belief that the separation of the two peoples had caused the Zionist-Palestinian conflict. Instead, it was the conflict’s result.

The new literature also succeeded in undermining the exceptionalist origin story of the Zionist movement. In particular, a growing body of work that situates the movement within the broader context of European imperialism and settler nationalism has done much to normalize a parochial field of inquiry long burdened by idealism and essentialism. Today, across the ideological spectrum, few historians dispute the social, economic, and cultural ties between the early Zionist settlement project in Palestine and the more “classical” European settler-colonies in North America, South Africa, and Australia. (In terms of land policy, the German colonization of Posen at the turn of the twentieth century was another important model.) Although Jewish settlers lacked an imperial patron until the end of World War I, they were determined to make Palestine their home while maintaining European living standards. To rationalize their demands, many embraced the claim that they were doing their part to bring “civilization” to the putatively backward peoples of Asia and Africa. Like other European settler movements, the Zionists often touted the uniqueness of their mission in world history. Notably, this assertion did not stop them from drawing links with other “pure settlement” colonists—those who, for reasons of economic survival or fear of racial contamination, sought to displace rather than exploit the indigenous majority.

For all the advances of the “imperial turn” in the historiography of Israel/ Palestine, perhaps its most vexing characteristic has been its cursory and static coverage of the early state period. Outside of pathbreaking socio-legal histories of land expropriation, most archive-based narratives cease abruptly before the start of the 1948 war or after its formal cessation in the spring of 1949. The story resumes occasionally in 1967, with the inauguration of Israel’s settlement project in the surrounding Palestinian, Egyptian, and Syrian territories that it occupied during the June war. This nineteen-year breach in our account of the identifications and disavowals of Zionism as a settler-colonial project defies basic evidence, including the intimate political and ideological ties that Jewish settlement leaders fostered with British imperial officials, as well as Israel’s nearly wholesale adoption of the British legal system within days of declaring independence. It also flouts basic methods of historical reasoning by perpetuating an image of the post-1967 settlement enterprise as emerging in a vacuum, closing down an investigation of continuities in legal systems, intelligence gathering, disciplinary tactics, cultural practices, and actual personnel, precisely when scholars should be prying this case open.

For many decades, the black hole in our account of Zionism as a settler-colonial movement resulted from a popular nostalgia for the first two decades of statehood as Israel’s golden age of majority-rule democracy and the rule of law—a “high point of universalistic, civic, and liberal fulfillment.” According to this fantasy, which emerged shortly after the 1967 war and has surged since the collapse of the state’s political negotiations with the Palestine Liberation Organization in 2000, it is fanatical settlers and a reactionary strain of Jewish nationalism that bear responsibility for undermining Israel’s international legitimacy and for bringing its “political culture to the brink of an abyss.” This fantasy has always been predicated on “forgetting” the violent dispossession and destruction that created Israel’s Jewish majority, and on sidelining the post-1948 military regime as an anomaly in the state-building process. Looking forward rather than back, adherents to this narrative suggest that an end to the Occupation would bring about a return to a fundamentally different political project.

BEYOND THE CONCEPTUAL STRAITJACKET

The popular proclivity for burying uncomfortable historical truths endures. Yet, the misplaced yearning for the “small and beautiful Israel” (erets yisra’el ha-ktana ve-ha-yafa) of the past can no longer explain the elisions in our account of Zionism as a settler-colonial movement. Research over the past three decades has produced an unassailable body of evidence pointing to the state’s deliberate policies that aim to alienate indigenous Palestinians from their land while keeping them economically dependent and politically divided. Although many archives remain sealed, the opening of thousands of formerly classified records since the 1990s has yielded a host of innovative studies on nationalism, state power, and the relationship between Palestinians and Jews in the early state period. In the meantime, Palestinian personal memoirs have proliferated, and it has become easier than ever to review old runs of the Arabic- and Hebrew-language press.

Today, the nostalgia that informs the prevailing tendency to ignore these continuities has been reinforced by our failure to recognize that the history of Israel/Palestine is part of the global history of liberalism. As elsewhere, liberalism in Israel was never a prepackaged bundle of rights to dignity, representative democracy, and the rule of law. Fraught with contradictions since its emergence in eighteenth-century Europe, liberal thought has always been predicated on exclusions of gender, religion, race, and class in the name of public order, while the idealistic pursuit of the “common good” has served regularly to justify coercion against individuals or groups who do not fit its definition. The point is not simply that liberal ideas have produced a wide range of political forms, but that their very oscillation between freedom and compulsion, universalism and particularism, has helped to fuel Western imperial conquests in Asia, Africa, and the Pacific, where the same tensions have infused the techniques and rationalizations of rule. Appreciating this history is critical if we are to grapple with Israel’s extension of citizenship to Palestinians under a regime that even many Jews viewed as a colonial administration, a system of rule whose laws and practices shared commonalities with French rule in Algeria and white rule in South Africa.

A similarly myopic treatment of colonialism has perpetuated our inability to make sense of the coexistence of liberal citizenship and colonial rule in post-1948 Israel, and to wrestle historically with the complexity of Palestinian experiences within it. In recent years, for instance, historians have paid growing attention to the unique legal and social dynamics that have distinguished colonialism of settlement from colonialism of extraction. Nonetheless, we continue to carry an image of colonies as clearly demarcated, overseas possessions whose conquerors openly and proudly affirm them as such. The hazard in relying on such affirmations is that colonial administrators and proponents of imperial expansion have long disavowed their intentions and past violence. Instead, more often than not they have insisted on the unprecedented universality, enlightenment, and benevolence of their missions—claims that some sincerely believed.

Professions of exceptionalism can be traced back to the entangled rise of liberal nationalism and imperial expansion in nineteenth-century Europe, but it is instructive to see how they assumed new forms over time and space. Middle East historians, for example, have examined the contradictions spawned by the European “mandates” over the new states created in the region after World War I—a reconfigured imperial system that pledged to prepare its inhabitants for self-rule on the premise that they would eventually be “capable” of realizing their right to self-rule. Meanwhile, studies of the US occupations of the Philippines, Hawaii, and the Mariana Islands (among others) have shown how the purportedly unique ambivalence of Americans toward the idea of empire was more the imperial norm than the exception at the turn of the previous century. So was the US propensity to present itself as non-imperial (if not anti-imperialist) by inventing new designations such as “trusteeships” and “un- incorporated territories,” and by creating what one scholar has described as “sliding scales” of sovereignty and rights.

The attempt of Western imperial states to write themselves out of colonialism reached a fever pitch in the decade after World War II, the same period in which Jewish settlers attained sovereignty. As colonized peoples in Asia and Africa became more militant in their demands for national independence, they pressed the United Nations to enforce the principles of human rights and national self-determination outlined in its 1945 Charter. They drew particular attention to Chapter XI, which called on the “administering powers” of “non-self-governing territories” to effect a gradual transition to self-rule in those territories and to report regularly on their progress. Not surprisingly, the imperial powers involved in drafting the UN Charter had signed off on this language only because they had banked on the exemption of their territories from eligibility. Indeed, the Charter failed to specify what constituted a non-self-governing territory, much less a “people” with national rights. It also declined to list the criteria by which to measure if and when self-rule had been achieved, or to impose any enforcement obligations on the UN or the administering powers.

It was in this legal vacuum that Britain, France, Portugal, the United States, and others responded to indigenous demands by pledging to “integrate” or “assimilate” their subjects, and by offering them full or partial citizenship status and suffrage rights as a way to remove their colonies from the list of territories eligible for independence. The game was largely over by the late 1960s, with the critical exception of the indigenous minorities of former landlocked settler colonies in Australia, New Zealand, and the Americas. As with the Palestinians who remained in Israel after 1948, the UN’s respect for the sovereignty of existing member states and its commitment to “international security” would consistently trump the rights of their native inhabitants.

Just as the question of empire is absent from our accounts of Israeli society before the 1967 war, the history of pre-1967 Israel is absent from histories of settler-colonialism and late imperialism. It is true, as a recent volume points out, that the Zionist project in Palestine was the only twentieth-century settler movement to attain majority status and internationally recognized statehood. It is also true that Israel’s particular fusion of procedural rights with settler sovereignty was unique. The question that few scholars have asked is why and in what way Israel became a historical outlier, and how its unique political form shaped its ongoing colonial project.

LIBERAL SETTLER SOVEREIGNTY

The chapters that follow chronicle Israel’s formation as a liberal settler state within, rather than outside, changing global norms of republican sovereignty after 1945. The entrenchment of the colonial relationship between Jewish settlers and native Palestinians after 1948 in tandem with the provision of citizenship and suffrage rights to the newfound Arab minority is the argumentative thread that ties them together. Drawing on multiple archives, memoirs, oral histories, film, music, and an extensive reading of the Arabic and Hebrew press, the book also weaves a far messier tale than other works that have characterized the period of military rule as a more or less orderly program of displacement, exclusion, and repression. It is a tale, in fact, woven of contradictions: Israel’s citizenship law was formulated ultimately not to enfranchise the Jewish majority but to combat the unanticipated determination of Palestinians to remain in or return to their homes from exile. Palestinians were not only neglected and marginalized. They were also actively recruited into the state’s public culture in order to reassure Jewish labor leaders, school principals, commanders, and civil servants that they had internalized their defeat, and that they were grateful for it as well. Whereas the government viewed the military regime as the single most important tool in the continuation of the Zionist struggle to conquer Arab land, the army thought it was a joke and refused to allocate it any resources. And the crack of political maneuver that Palestinian activists and intellectuals courageously forced open as citizens all but sealed their fate as colonized subjects.

These and other discrepancies etched into the foundation of the Israeli state grew, I contend, out of two originary seeds. The first was the unprecedented colonial bargain that the Yishuv was forced to accept in order to gain international recognition of its sovereignty in 1948. Israel was not the first state in history to emerge from a settler-colony that extended citizenship and voting rights to its indigenous inhabitants, but it was the first to do so in the midst of its ongoing quest for their land. Whereas the United States, for instance, spent two centuries attenuating the land base of Native Americans before offering them citizenship in 1924, the norms of self-determination, republican citizenship, and human rights that rose from the ashes and hypocrisies of the two world wars precluded the possibility that Israel would enjoy the same luxury. The Palestinian national movement is a case in point. Although it crystallized only in the 1920s, it posed a formidable challenge to Zionism with which earlier European settler projects did not have to contend. This challenge would culminate in 1947, when the United Nations recommended that Palestine be partitioned into two states for the “two peoples”—a category defined in positivist racial terms—who inhabited it.

My use of the term race may surprise some readers. Correctly, many will point out that the Zionist leaders—unlike, say, the architects of the original US Constitution, with their “three-fifths of all other persons” clause, or the authors of South Africa’s apartheid policy—neither developed nor drew upon a specific biological theory to justify its political claims. But the search for scientific racism alone can obscure other forms, particularly in the context of settler societies and nationalist movements in the early twentieth century. The term race appears here in two senses. The first is the near impossibility of Arab religious conversion to Judaism, which has made birth (that is, blood) the sole path to membership in the settler community. Second, and more salient, is the way the construct of race (as a category of difference) and the charge of racism (as a moral indictment) took root in local law and the public imagination during the decades leading up to and following the establishment of Israeli statehood. As in colonial Algeria, the juridical concept of nationality in Israel both complemented and reinforced a preexisting racial logic.

The second, and related, root of these contradictions is the Yishuv’s distinction as the first modern settler-colony to reverse its minority status through the mass displacement, but not annihilation, of the native majority. Because most Palestinian refugees were scattered along the ceasefire lines of the new state and clamoring to return home, and because for many years there were not enough Jews willing or able to farm their lands, Israeli officials worried that the permanence of their wartime conquests was imperiled. Compounding their fear was the fact that 90 percent of the Palestinians who managed to stay put or return to land inside Israeli lines during and after the war were concentrated in areas designated for the Arab state of Palestine whose establishment the UN had endorsed—regions where Jewish settlers had barely made a dent during the course of the Mandate.

Israel’s dilemma, in short, was how it could secure its wartime gains while sharing political power with the very people who—by virtue of their desire to hold onto their lands and bring home their relatives, friends, and compatriots—would want to reverse them.

In reconstructing this history, we can see how and why military rule helped to contain the contradictions of liberal settler sovereignty, at least at first. Israel’s regime of checkpoints, travel permits, and other restrictions on Palestinian freedom of movement, for instance, impeded the ability of its Arab citizens to mount direct challenges to the state. However, in large part because they were citizens, Palestinians soon developed subtler means of contesting power within the Israeli polity and highlighting the injustices of the liberal settler state before a global audience. By the mid-1960s, the political costs of maintaining military rule would prompt Israel to abolish the outward manifestations of the regime in Palestinian towns and villages—but not their legal basis or the other pillars of the state’s “sliding scales” of citizenship. Those contradictions have never gone away; they have only been elided and disguised from view by the conquests of the 1967 war, which, in the eyes of the world, created a larger paradox whereby Israel was both a democracy and a belligerent occupying power.

This is an excerpt from Citizen Strangers: Palestinians and the Birth of Israel’s Liberal Settler State by Shira Robinson. Copyright (c) 2013 the Board of Trustees of the Leland Stanford Jr. University. All rights reserved. Published by Stanford University Press, www.sup.org.

Posted in Palestine Affairs, ZIO-NAZIComments Off on Citizen Strangers: Palestinians and the birth of I$raHell’s liberal settler state

‘Foreign Policy’ blames AIPAC for warmongering Iran bill, but Maddow won’t tell you that

NOVANEWS

Philip Weiss

Rachel Maddow, MSNBCRachel Maddow, MSNBC

And you thought politics stops at the water’s edge? Two Democratic senators, Robert Menendez and Chuck Schumer (along with Republican warhorse Mark Kirk), are circulating a bill that would hamstring the Obama administration’s ability to negotiate with Iran by broadening sanctions. And the bill would compel the U.S. to stand behind Israel if it chooses to attack Iran. Shades of the follies of World War I.

Ali Gharib at Foreign Policy breaks the story and is explicit that AIPAC seems to be calling the tune. Jim Lobe calls it the “wag the dog” bill as it would compel the US to join an Israeli war. Finally, I quote Rachel Maddow on the congressional efforts to brake the Obama administration, and she won’t touch the Israel lobby issue. First Gharib:

The legislation would broaden the scope of the sanctions already imposed against Iran, expanding the restrictions on Iran’s energy sector to include all aspects of its petroleum trade and putting in place measures targeting Iran’s shipping and mining sectors. The bill allows Obama to waive the new sanctions during the current talks by certifying every 30 days that Iran is complying with the Geneva deal and negotiating in good faith on a final agreement, as well as meeting other conditions such as not sponsoring or carrying out acts of terrorism against U.S. targets.

In accordance with goals laid out frequently by hard-liners in Congress and the influential lobbying group the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the bill sets tough conditions for a final deal, should one be reached with Iranian negotiators. Among those conditions is a provision that only allows Obama to waive new sanctions, even after a final deal has been struck, if that deal bars Iran from enriching any new uranium whatsoever….

The bill includes a non-binding provision that states that if Israel takes “military action in legitimate self-defense against Iran’s nuclear weapons program,” the U.S. “should stand with Israel and provide, in accordance with the law of the United States and the constitutional responsibility of Congress to authorize the use of military force, diplomatic, military, and economic support to the Government of Israel in its defense of its territory, people, and existence.” That language mirrors that introduced in February by another Iran hawk, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC). With the support of AIPAC, the Graham resolution, a non-binding bill, was passed by the Senate in April.*…

“It would kill the talks, invalidate the interim deal to freeze Iran’s nuclear program, and pledge U.S. military and economic support for an Israel-led war on Iran,” said Jamal Abdi, the policy director for the Washington-based National Iranian American Council, a group that supports diplomatic efforts to head off the Iranian nuclear crisis. “There is no better way to cut Iranian moderates down, empower hardliners who want to kill the talks, and ensure that this standoff ends with war instead of a deal.”

Jim Lobe also has the story, and copies of the legislation. He calls it a “wag the dog” act, for its military implications.

Copies of the bill that Sens. KirkMenendez, and Schumer hope to introduce in the Senate this week — presumably to be pressed for passage after the Christmas/New Year recess — are circulating today around Washington, and, as predicted, it is clearly designed to sabotage last month’s first-phase deal (the Joint Plan of Action) on Tehran’s nuclear program, as well as prospects for a final agreement. The bill is called the Iran Nuclear Weapon Free Act of 2013, although I would prefer to call it the Wag the Dog Act of 2014, given the implicit discretion it gives to Bibi Netanyahu to commit the U.S. to war with Iran. Its key provisions, as described by the sponsors, are laid out at the end of this post.

On to Maddow. Last week the MSNBC host talked about Congressional efforts to undermine the deal and never mentioned AIPAC. She hosted Joe Cirincione of the Ploughshares Fund and continually described Congress as an interfering,

MADDOW: Last month, President Obama announced a historic deal with Iran….

The only problem is Congress. Lawmakers in both houses on both sides of the aisle have been saying, oh, forget this deal, we hate this deal. We want more sanctions on Iran now.

If they succeeded, if they passed new sanctions, the new agreement with Iran would be off immediately. Iran has been very clear on that. If  new sanctions passed, the entire thing would be lost as soon as they passed.

Now, everybody who likes that there`s this deal with Iran, a potential diplomatic solution to this vexing problem, everybody`s been saying, hey, Congress, don`t screw this up. Secretary of State John Kerry was trying to persuade Congress, do not screw this up. Do not to scuttle the agreement by messing with and trying to pass sanctions that would absolutely kill the
deal…

My sense is that Congress really does want to pass new
sanctions on Iran, they might very well have enough support in both Houses to do it. And that if they had done it, this deal with Iran, this fragile first step deal with Iran would have been kaput immediately. Is that true?

CIRINCIONE: That is exactly right. It`s a deal explicitly rules out any new sanctions, it`s a deal negotiated between the U.N. Security Council and Germany and Iran. So it`s a seven-nation deal. It explicitly says no  new sanctions are allowed. So, if the Congress passes new sanctions it would kill the deal…. if you can solve North Korea, you`re really looking at the end of proliferation, this wave that has spread over the last 68 years since Hiroshima might actually have crested and come to a full halt. That is historic.

MADDOW: Could be done with diplomacy, as long as Congress can`t get its act together to screw it up. I love that we`re dependent on that at this point. Keep tripping, keep tripping. Amazing.

Update: The Israel lobbyist Michael Steinhardt has joined the fray, publishing a full-page ad from Elie Wiesel in yesterday’s NYT and today’s Wall Street Journal. The ad says: “Iran must not be allowed to remain nuclear.” And:

The ads were paid for by Jewish philanthropist Birthright Israel co-founder Michael Steinhardt and were produced by Rabbi Shmuley Boteach’s  This World: The Values Network…

[per Wiesel statement:] “from the time of the founding fathers America has always stood up to tyrants. Our nation is morally compromised when it contemplates allowing a country calling for the destruction of the State of Israel to remain within reach of nuclear weapons.”

Posted in USA, IranComments Off on ‘Foreign Policy’ blames AIPAC for warmongering Iran bill, but Maddow won’t tell you that

US plans “Gazafication” of the West Bank

NOVANEWS
Apartheid Wall and Cages

By Jonathan Cook in Nazareth

In recent days, US and European diplomats have been engaged in a frenzy of activity on the Israeli-Palestinian front, before they settle down for the usual two-week Christmas hibernation.

A sense of urgency looms because Washington is supposed to unveil next month its so-called “framework proposal” for the creation of a Palestinian state, in a last desperate effort to break the logjam in negotiations. For this reason, the outlines of the US vision of an agreement are finally coming into focus. And, as many expected, the picture looks bleak for the Palestinians.

John Kerry, the US secretary of state, who has invested much of his personal standing in a successful outcome, has grown increasingly forthright that an agreement hinges on satisfying Israel’s security concerns, however inflated.

During a speech to the Saban Forum in Washington this month, Kerry said President Barack Obama’s highest priority was Israel’s “ability to defend itself, by itself”. Shortly afterwards, Kerry headed back to the region to show Israeli and Palestinian officials what he meant.

Under cover of a vision for peace, the US secretary of state is offering an Israeli security plan at the expense of meaningful Palestinian statehood. 

Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, was reportedly “boiling mad” by the US proposal. In recent days Palestinian Authority (PA) spokesmen have accused Kerry of “appeasement” and of failing to be “a neutral mediator”.

The criticism looks more than justified. Under cover of a vision for peace, the US secretary of state is offering an Israeli security plan at the expense of meaningful Palestinian statehood.

That is not entirely surprising given that the plan was drafted by John Allen, a general formerly in command of US forces in Afghanistan, who has spent months quietly liaising with Israeli counterparts.

The main sticking point is the Jordan Valley, an area that was expected to comprise nearly a quarter of a future Palestinian state. Allen has indulged an Israeli demand that it be allowed to continue a long-term “military presence” in the Jordan Valley, of at least 10 years.

Not only this but, according to a memo sent by Abbas to Obama, which the Haaretznewspaper revealed this week, the US plan would condition an eventual Israeli withdrawal on the Palestinians meeting a “test of implementation”. Abbas rightfully believes that this would give Israel an effective veto on ever leaving the Jordan Valley.

That is a big retreat from Washington’s earlier commitment, made at the Annapolis talks of 2007, that no Israeli soldiers would be stationed in the West Bank following an agreement. Security guarantees were to be provided instead by NATO troops, under US command.

The new proposal should be a deal-breaker. The valley is a vital resource for the Palestinians, one they have been effectively stripped of for decades by Israel’s exaggerated “security needs”.

…the US vision of a Palestinian state looks remarkably like the model Israel has already implemented in Gaza.

The Jordan Valley offers the only land border in the West Bank that would be potentially under Palestinian control. It is one of the few remaining undeveloped areas, making it a possible site to which hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees could return. And its lands are fertile and warm all year round, making it highly productive and a likely engine for the Palestinian economy.

According to Allen’s plan, Israel’s security also requires that Palestinian security forces be only lightly armed, that Israel has control over the airspace and all borders, and that the US install spying technology – euphemistically called “early warning systems” – throughout the West Bank.

In other words, the US vision of a Palestinian state looks remarkably like the model Israel has already implemented in Gaza.

One need only listen to the words of Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, from a decade ago to understand his role in this new plan.

In 2001 Netanyahu spoke to a group of settlers in the West Bank at a meeting that was secretly filmed. There he boasted that during his earlier premiership, in the late 1990s, he had halted the peace plan of that time, the Oslo accords, through what he termed a “trick”.

He foiled a Palestinian state’s creation by agreeing to limited withdrawals from Palestinian land while insisting on the retention of the most significant areas, especially the Jordan Valley, by classifying them as a “specified military site”.

Netanyahu told the settlers: “America is something that can be easily moved. Moved to the right direction.” Those words now seem prophetic.

In rejecting the US plan, Abbas appears to have the backing of his people. A poll published this week showed only 19 per cent believed the talks would lead to an agreement.

So, given the essential conflict between Israel’s “security” requirements and the Palestinian demand for statehood, how does Kerry intend to proceed?

The task of making Israel and the Palestinians play ball is being subcontracted to the European Union. That makes sense because [it is] the main subsidizer of the occupation…

That too is becoming clear. The task of making Israel and the Palestinians play ball is being subcontracted to the European Union. That makes sense because, as the main subsidizer of the occupation, the Europeans have major financial leverage over both parties.

Earlier this month the EU brandished its stick. It warned that it would stop financing Abbas’ PA if no agreement had been reached by the end of the talks.

Though widely seen as a threat directed towards Abbas, whose political power base depends on EU money paying tens of thousands of PA workers each month, it was equally aimed at Netanyahu. Were the PA to be wound up, the huge costs of running the occupation would again fall to Israel.

The 28 European member states have also warned Israel that should it carry on building settlements in the coming months, they will officially blame it for the talks’ failure.

On 16 December, Europe unsheathed its carrot. It is offering both Israel and the Palestinians a major aid package and an upgrade in economic relations to the EU, conferring on them a status of “special privileged partnership”. This would reportedly bring each side huge trading and security benefits.

However vigorous the EU’s arm-twisting, the reality is that the Palestinian leadership is being cajoled into an agreement that would destroy any hopes of a viable Palestinian state.

Abbas is said to have viewed the US plan as “worse than bad”. His agreement to it would be worse than disastrous.

Posted in Palestine Affairs, USAComments Off on US plans “Gazafication” of the West Bank

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