Archive for February, 2011

Jews on the dark side

Monday, February 28th, 2011

Why do I write so much about anti-Zionist Jews, you ask? Why so much space dedicated to the phony ‘pro-Israel’ J Street, for example? We already know that there are a few Israel-hating crazies and naive-but-well-meaning liberals out there, but aren’t there more important targets?

Well, no, I don’t think so.

I am going to recommend a book that I am reading (I’ll have a full review later) by Kenneth Levin, called The Oslo Syndrome: Delusions of a People Under Siege (Smith & Kraus, 2005). Levin is a practicing (and teaching) psychiatrist who also happens to have a degree in History, and his book describes the psychological roots of the seemingly irrational anti-Jewish (not just anti-Zionist or anti-Israel) behavior of so many Jews.

It also documents and explains Jewish behavior throughout history, from the remarkable survival of Judaism in the face of the antisemitic depredations of the Middle Ages, through the vicious hatred for the state displayed by so many Israeli academics and intellectuals, to the concrete realization of delusional ways of thinking in politics, as exemplified by Israel’s behavior during the Oslo period.

This is a big book (more than 500 pages) and there is a lot of detail. It’s not exactly bedtime reading. But it is an essential book.

Levin’s thesis, somewhat oversimplified, is that anti-Jewish attitudes in oppressed Jews result from a) internalizing  and coming to believe the antisemitic canards of their oppressors, and b) an unrealistic delusion that they have the power to change the behavior of the antisemites by self-reform — by ‘improving’ themselves so as to no longer deserve antisemitic hatred.

These mechanisms have led to an attenuation of Judaism itself, in which the focus on God, the Jewish People and the Land of Israel in traditional Judaism has been replaced with a universalist doctrine which minimizes national, ethnic and cultural divisions and espouses abstract ‘justice’ for all humankind as its highest goal — and which sees a transnational utopia as the ultimate Jewish goal.

Proponents of this universalist ethic see it as an evolution in Jewish ethical principles, a progressive improvement from a particularist and parochial past to a more modern, ‘higher’ form of ethics. But often — as when Jewish left-wing activists call for ‘justice for Palestinian Arabs’ while ignoring the context of the intermittent war being prosecuted against the Jewish state by the entire Arab world and Iran — universalist ethics provide a cover for anti-Israel positions.

Levin goes into detail about the failure of the Jewish community in America and the yishuv in Palestine to rescue more European Jews during the Holocaust. Of course, the primary responsibility for the lack of action must fall on the US State Department, President Roosevelt and the despicable British Foreign Office, which actually opposed any actions to save European Jews after the mass murders became known, because they might want to go to Palestine after the war. Levin quotes a memo which refers to “the difficulties of disposing of any considerable number of Jews should they be rescued.” Really.

What may not be generally known is the degree to which attempts to rescue Jews — which could have been accomplished with very little effort and without damage to the overall war effort — were often stymied by resistance from irrational or delusional Jews.

For example, Levin notes that the New York Times, under direct orders from its (Jewish) publisher Arthur Hays Sulzberger, published only one story during the war relating to the Holocaust on page one above the fold: one which reported as true a State Department claim in the Fall of 1943 that 580,000 Jewish refugees had entered the country (the true number was about 21,000). The story had the immediate effect of short-circuiting support for a Rescue Resolution in Congress, at least until other sources revealed that the State Department numbers were false.

Perhaps even worse, the swinish philosopher Martin Buber, whose own butt was safely in Jerusalem (he escaped from Germany in 1938), published an article in 1944 which called for a binational state and said  that levels of Jewish immigration must be determined in agreement with Palestinian Arabs (who of course wanted it to be zero and whose leadership collaborated with the Nazis). So although he professed admiration for the spirituality of the Jews of Eastern Europe, Buber preferred to leave their bodies in the hands of Hitler!

Indeed, all through the 1930’s, as David Ben Gurion frantically tried to create a united front to maximize Jewish immigration to Palestine from Europe — where he clearly saw that there was no future — he was fought tooth and nail by Jews like Buber, Felix Warburg and Judah Magnes, all of whom felt that a Jewish majority would be disastrous (it would lead to antisemitism, be unjust, etc.).

How many Jews could have been saved but for the obstructions placed by Jewish anti-Zionists? Thousands? Hundreds of thousands? We don’t know, of course.

Today it seems to me that the degree to which the Jewish people has become infected with the delusional irrationality that Levin describes is greater even than in the past. While Israel faces a physical/military danger that is no less threatening than that which loomed over European Jewry in the 1930’s, the very leadership, the vangaurd of the movement to delegitimize Israel, to prevent it from defending itself and to deter others from coming to its aid, is Jewish.

Not only is the Jewish contingent ubiquitous in the ranks of the information war against Israel — for every Ali Abunimah there are several Jeremy Ben-Amis — but they are highly effective, both because they are remarkably inventive and enthusiastic, and because of the psychological force of the ‘as a Jew’ argument.

In addition there is the simple fact that every Jew who goes to the Dark Side is one less who might support Israel politically or materially. Such support has to start with Jews, even if there are plenty of non-Jews who are prepared to help. But without the Jews most of them have little reason to do so.

The struggle against Jewish anti-Zionists isn’t a sideshow. In my opinion the information war will be won or lost depending on its outcome. The enemy understands this. We need to as well.

Technorati Tags: , , ,

Is the White House as anti-Zionist as J Street?

Friday, February 25th, 2011

The annual J Street national conference begins this weekend. Some have suggested that the phony ‘pro-Israel’ group will soon be breathing its last, crushed by the weight of its persistent dishonesty, and by the fact that you just can’t claim to be pro-Israel while calling for the US to not veto an anti-Israel resolution in the UN Security Council for the first time in history.

Recently a milestone was passed when one of J Street’s congressional supporters, Rep. Gary Ackerman (D. NY) loudly defected, saying in part,

After learning of J Street’s current public call for the Obama Administration to not veto a prospective UN Security Council resolution that, under the rubric of concern about settlement activity, would effectively and unjustly place the whole responsibility for the current impasse in the peace process on Israel, and–critically–would give fresh and powerful impetus to the effort to internationally isolate and delegitimize Israel, I’ve come to the conclusion that J-Street is not an organization with which I wish to be associated…

America really does need a smart, credible, politically active organization that is as aggressively pro-peace as it is pro-Israel. Unfortunately, J-Street ain’t it.”

Unfortunately, although J Street may be losing the respectable pro-Israel Left, it is gaining support from the anti-Israel fringe, including supporters of Boycott-Divestment-Sanctions (BDS) which J Street has (so far) claimed to oppose.

In an open letter to US diplomat, administration adviser and Camp David negotiator Dennis Ross, who is listed as one of the speakers at the J Street conference, Noah Pollak asks if Ross wishes to be associated with the other scheduled speakers, who include

  • Maen Areikat of the PLO, who denies there was a Jewish Temple in Jerusalem and accuses Israel of “state terrorism.”
  • Mustafa Barghouti, a Palestinian leader who said that Israel has “a full-fledged Apartheid system” that is “much worse than what prevailed in South Africa,” and that Israel has been “ethnically cleansing” Palestinians since 1948. A BDS supporter.
  • Nadia Bilbassy-Charters, a correspondent for MBC TV, who says that Hamas should not be “lumped in” with other terrorist groups because “once Palestine is liberated then [Hamas] will cease to use violence.”
  • Edina Lekovic, of the Muslim Public Affairs Council, who was a managing editor of a magazine that praised Osama bin Laden as a “freedom fighter.”
  • Imam Feisal Rauf, the Ground Zero Mosque leader, who refuses to call Hamas and Hezbollah terrorist groups.
  • James Zogby, president of the Arab-American Institute, who has compared Israelis to Nazis and accused the IDF of “genocide” and a “Holocaust.” Only three months ago he wrote that “In a real sense, the plight of the Palestinians is to the Arabs, what the Holocaust is to Jews worldwide.”
  • Lawrence Wilkerson, a former State Department official, who has repeatedly accused Jewish members of the Bush administration of “working for Israel” and being “card-carrying members of the Likud Party,” and asked whether “their primary allegiance was to their own country or to Israel.”
  • Daniel Levy, one of Richard Goldstone’s leading advocates in Washington, who said that Israel’s creation was “an act that was wrong,” and that if Israel had to fight for its existence, “maybe Israel ain’t [sic] such a good idea.”
  • Jessica Montell, executive director of B’Tselem, who says that “the situation in the West Bank is worse than apartheid in South Africa” and that Israel’s policy toward Gaza is a “siege.”
  • Naomi Chazan, a leader of the New Israel Fund and a conference honoree. Her organization funds NGO’s that accuse Israel of war crimes and Apartheid, provided the bulk of the accusations contained in the Goldstone Report, support the BDS (boycott, divestment, and sanctions) movement, and seek the end of Israel as a Jewish state.
  • Rebecca Vilkomerson, who runs the BDS group Jewish Voice for Peace. She has said, “Just as in Apartheid South Africa’s day, Israel’s society seems to be turning more bluntly racist and repressive.” She says her organization “speaks out for Goldstone, and we speak out for BDS campaigners.”
  • Debra Delee, president and CEO of the NGO Americans for Peace Now, who commented on the Turkish flotilla attack on IDF soldiers, “The root of this disaster lies not in the actions of the flotilla’s participants.”
  • Oded Na’aman, a founder of Breaking the Silence, which accuses IDF soldiers of war crimes. He says the IDF “is guilty of a wide range of abuses” including “allowing Jewish settlers to poison Palestinian wells” and evacuating entire blocks of Palestinian towns and then demolishing them. Palestinian terrorism, he says, is merely a “perceived threat.”
  • Daniel Seidemann, founder of the NGO “Terrestrial Jerusalem,” who claims that the Old City of Jerusalem is being turned into an “Evangelical settler theme park” and compared Israel’s security fence to the Berlin wall.
  • Michael Sfard, a lawyer for several radical NGO’s, who routinely demonizes Israel, accuses it of “Apartheid,” and promotes war crimes allegations against it. He testified as a paid witness on behalf of the PLO in a lawsuit brought in U.S. Federal Court by victims of terror attacks perpetrated by the Al Aksa Martyrs Brigades. He is best known as a leading advocate of “lawfare” – prosecuting Israeli soldiers and officials in European war-crimes trials.

Nothing illustrates J Street’s place in the ideological spectrum better than this lineup, most of whom are anti-Zionist at best. Rep. Ackerman clearly woke up and smelled the coffee in time, understanding that this was not the gang that his liberal constituents  wanted him to pal around with.

So is J Street on life support? I doubt it. Organizations like Jewish Voice for Peace, Jews for Justice for Palestinians, International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network, etc. are lately flush with funds, opening new branches, running speaking tours and other programs. There is apparently a lot of money available for these people, and it’s unlikely that the somewhat marginal individuals who are associated with them are funding them from their own pockets.

J Street has historically been very close to the Obama Administration. Director Jeremy Ben-Ami called himself “the president’s blocking back [in Congress],” and J Street was invited to a White House meeting of ‘Jewish leaders’ in July 2009, while some other groups like the Zionist Organization of America, which had previously attended such meetings, were pointedly left out. J Street’s positions have often very closely echoed the administration’s, and J Street’s statement on the UNSC resolution closely parallels that of Ambassador Susan Rice, who made it clear that her ‘no’ vote was being cast for technical reasons only and that she agreed with the content of the resolution.

The interesting question is this: does J Street’s dropping the veil of ‘pro-Israelness’ in practice if not in words reflect the attitude of the Obama Administration? Is it as frankly anti-Zionist as J Street?

My guess is yes, and I think it will express itself in the form of a US proposal for an imposed solution. This will give the Arabs an ‘out’ to accept it — they can say that Obama gave them no choice, even though it doesn’t meet all of their maximal demands. It’s probable that the US will then seek some form of multilateral support for it, maybe even in the Security Council. The dynamics of this would be very interesting, with Arabs and their friends pulling to harden the terms against Israel.

Not much has happened since Israel ‘dissed’ President Obama by refusing to accept the absurd extension of the 10-month settlement freeze proposed last September. I suspect that for a time the administration will have more pressing issues to deal with as the Arab world goes up in flames (if they had any sense, they would ask what this implies about their theory that everything depends on Israel). But I continue to wait for the other shoe to drop.

Technorati Tags: ,

Bring it on, Yariv!

Thursday, February 24th, 2011

This week, the Knesset finally took steps to rein in the humiliating and dangerous phenomenon of hostile foreign entities funding non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in Israel:

The Knesset passed a bill into law on Monday requiring nongovernmental organizations to issue quarterly reports about funding they receive from foreign governments, and to reveal when they are backed by other countries in their websites and advertisements.

The bill, which was sponsored by coalition chairman Ze’ev Elkin (Likud), passed its final reading by a 40-34 vote after tougher measures against NGOs and plans to form parliamentary inquiry committees to examine them were dropped. — Jerusalem Post

I’ve written before about how extreme left-wing Israeli NGOs that can only be called anti-state are supported by European governments, the EU, the US-based New Israel Fund, and so forth. For example, the group “Breaking the Silence” has toured the US presenting malicious gossip and exaggerations about IDF conduct as fact, and “b’Tselem” and “Physicians for Human Rights — Israel” provided much of the grist for the mill of the UN’s dishonest Goldstone Report.

I think transparency is a more effective (although less exciting) approach than parliamentary investigations, which will blow with the winds of politics.

Unfortunately, the bill doesn’t go far enough. Although it calls for disclosure of funding from foreign governments, it does not do the same for donations from foreign individuals or non-governmental foundations, like the New Israel Fund or the Ford Foundation. This is a hole big enough to drive a truck through.

The Post article continues,

Knesset Law Committee chairman David Rotem, one of the bill’s co-sponsors, withdrew amendments that would have taken tax benefits away from NGOs supported by foreign governments. His amendments would also have required NGOs to report donations from foreign individuals and to write that they received foreign funding on every e-mail they sent…

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu expressed support for Rotem’s amendments at Monday’s Likud faction meeting, in the face of strong opposition to the bill expressed by the leadership of several countries. But Rotem said he had decided to drop the amendments at the request of Zionist organizations that had told him the amendments would harm them.

Rotem said he would submit a different version of his amendments before the end of the Knesset’s winter session next month. He expressed confidence that he would be able to pass them.

Zionist organizations have absolutely nothing to fear from transparency. So what if an American Jewish casino operator or a Christian pastor is ‘revealed’ to be in favor of the continued existence of the Jewish state, or even that he believes that Jews have a right to live in places that “the Palestinians want for their future state?”

On the other hand, contributors to the massive delegitimization campaign that aims to prevent Israel from defending itself — precisely the objective of the Goldstone Report — so that it can ultimately be destroyed by its enemies deserve to be “named and shamed.”

Naturally, the delegitimizers screamed bloody murder:

Yariv Oppenheimer, secretary general of Peace Now, said this new transparency will only apply to left-wing organizations, some of which are supported by foreign governments, but not to right-wing organizations like the Yesha Council, the settlers’ umbrella group. “The logic behind the new bill is simple, to de-legitimize the left-wing organizations and portray them as foreign agents. But no one will ever know who’s pulling the strings of foundations receiving far bigger support from evangelical organizations in the U.S. or tycoons like Irwin Moskowitz,” Oppenheimer said… — LA Times

Far bigger? Even Irwin Moskowitz doesn’t have the tens of millions poured into left-wing NGOs in recent years by the EU. I say make all contributions transparent. Bring it on, Yariv Oppenheimer!

Technorati Tags: , , ,

Oil, Palestine, and dreams

Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011

Oh, we really need this:

Nomura Securities says that if Algeria joins Libya in the land of chaos, oil prices could shoot to $220 a barrel. That’s in a worst-case scenario, the investment bank adds unhelpfully.

To back up that headline grabber, Nomura compares the current situation to the 1990-91 Gulf War. During that time, oil prices rose 130% in two months, according to our friends at Dow Jones. Nomura defends the comparison by saying “we could be underestimating this as speculative activities were largely not present in 1990-91.” — Dave Kansas in the Wall St. Journal

Kansas continues to say that he sees such a huge jump as unlikely, given the relative amount of oil produced in Algeria and Libya compared to Saudi Arabia and others. And a commenter points out that traders want to stimulate activity to make money.

But still…

Oil surged to $100 a barrel in New York for the first time in two years as Libya’s violent uprising threatened to disrupt exports from Africa’s third-biggest supplier and spread to other Middle East oil producers.

Futures climbed as much as 4.8 percent after heavy gunfire broke out in Tripoli again today, army units defected and a former aide to Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi warned the spreading revolt may topple the regime within days. Oil pared gains on signals that Saudi Arabia and some other producers are willing to put more oil on the market if buyers demand it.

“We’re crossing $100 because with the cut in Libyan output, the unrest in the Middle East is actually having an impact on oil supply,” said Phil Flynn, vice president of research at PFGBest in Chicago. “There’s concern that unrest will spread further, threatening Saudi Arabia and other producers.”

Crude for April delivery increased $2.68, or 2.8 percent, to settle at $98.10 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Earlier, it touched $100, the highest level since Oct. 2, 2008. Futures are up 24 percent from a year ago. — Bloomberg

Folks, this is the number one issue that will make the USA sit up and take notice that there is a Middle East. From Joe Sixpack to the Congress and the President, no one will ignore the price of gasoline and heating oil, even if it doesn’t get to $220. The problem is that while Sixpack will whine about it, the political class will feel obliged to Do Something About It. And experience shows that we will begin to hear that the key to everything in the Middle East is the creation of a Palestinian Arab state.

This is so dumb that I have a hard time even writing it. Who could possibly believe that the explosive events now occurring in the Arab world, the collision of the entrenched conservative dictators with the forces of liberalism, Islamism and just plain tired-of-being-ripped-off-ism, are even peripherally related to the hundred-year war against the Jews in the land of Israel?

Don’t worry. As soon as gasoline prices close in on $4 per gallon in the US, I guarantee that we will hear from the usual suspects that the road back to nostalgically cheap gas will be to impose a ‘solution’ on Israel and the Palestinian Arabs. Obama confidant and trial-baloonist former Florida Congressman Robert Wexler hasn’t exactly said that (yet), but he does think that right now is the time to de-humiliate the long-suffering Palestinians by diktat:

The continuing turmoil has dramatically altered each side’s calculus. But this uncertainty also provides a narrow window of opportunity. It is clear from the region’s paralyzed leadership that resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is, unfortunately, dependent on U.S. initiative.

It is delusional to assume that the West Bank and Gaza will sit idly by until leaders feel more comfortable to address the pressing issues. If Egypt has taught us anything, we are forewarned that the Palestinian quest for dignity and statehood cannot remain the exclusive domain of diplomats for long. Better to get out ahead of events, while the United States, Israel and moderate Palestinians still enjoy considerable leverage.

What he doesn’t explain, since we are all presumed to understand, is why it is somehow advantageous to create yet another dictatorial, racist Arab state for a self-defined ‘people’ whose national project is defined entirely by hatred of and opposition to a Jewish state. Nor does he mention that ‘moderate Palestinians’ do not enjoy any leverage, primarily because they don’t exist, and that the state that he wants to create will shortly become an Islamist theocracy, ruled by Hamas, and a base for terrorism.

***

I was driving in my car when I turned on the radio. I heard our President calling for the international community to do the right thing and stand behind its historic promises to the Jewish people in the Mandate for Palestine, which had never been revoked. I heard him say that Judea, Samaria and eastern Jerusalem, which were invaded by the Arab nations in 1948, were still in dispute. He told us that UNSC resolution 242 called for a settlement in which all parties would live in peace within secure and recognized borders, and reminded us that no such agreement had ever been made. He added that there was no privileged status to the 1949 armistice lines, which simply marked the positions of the various armies at that time.

I stopped at a traffic light and looked out the window to see a gas station on each of four corners. “Gas War!” said the signs. “Twenty-nine point nine cents per gallon!”

Dream on.

Technorati Tags: ,

Quote of the week: P J Crowley

Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011

Again, you know, this ultimately and fundamentally an issue between, you know, the Libyan government, its leader, and the Libyan people…

State Department spokesman P. J. Crowley, after Qaddafi ranted about dying as a martyr, and while goons and mercenaries are killing protesters in the streets of Tripoli

Probably they are afraid that Qaddafi, who is more or less correctly described as a homicidal maniac, will kill every American he can get his hands on if they are rude to him. But still, what a remarkably weak response. Not like Israel got when it ‘insulted’ the US by announcing the construction of some apartments in eastern Jerusalem last year!

There is a lesson in this: evil is power. The worse you are, the better you are treated. Bashar Assad, the Syrian dictator who supports Iraqi insurgents who are trying to kill US troops, now has an American ambassador, previously withdrawn after the Syrian-sponsored murder of Saad Hariri in Lebanon. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who stole an election last year and viciously put down anti-regime demonstrations is doing it again, while at the same time thumbing his nose at the US by introducing warships into the Mediterranean.  So far the US has done nothing.

Hizballah and Syria are threatening to kill thousands of Israelis with a massive rocket barrage. Not that Israel can’t defend itself, not that the rocket barrage won’t be met with a massive counterattack that will likely end the Syrian regime and the Hizballah threat as well, but Israel is supposed to be our ally. Our administration’s policy seems to be to single-mindedly focused on getting Israel out of Judea-Samaria and Jerusalem and weakening it strategically, rather than on the serious dangers it faces from the north.

That’s OK — we don’t help our less-savory allies either, like Saudi Arabia, presently shaking in its boots in fear of a possible Shiite takeover in Bahrain (there is a large Shiite presence in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province) or an Islamist regime arising in Egypt. Meanwhile the US encourages ‘democracy’ in the region.

It’s funny, but I’ve recently watched videos of protests from several Arab countries, and the rioting democrats all seem to be shouting “Allah hu akbar.” I presume that means “Liberté, égalité, fraternité” in Arabic.

The turmoil in the Arab world creates both dangers and opportunities for all sides. It seems to me that the Iranian bloc, as well as the Muslim Brotherhood, are taking advantage of the opportunities, while the US is standing by, paralyzed, uttering platitudes about democracy and counseling nonviolence.

By the way, we won’t be able to use the ‘peace process’ excuse for pressuring Israel anymore, because the Palestinian Authority (PA) has resigned from it. Here is what it said in a press release (thanks to Elder of Ziyon for this):

The United States of America’s use of the veto to prevent the passage of a UN resolution condemning Israel’s settlement policy confirms that it is not an honest broker, and it is no longer able to carry out its responsibilities as a sponsor of any future Palestinian – Israeli negotiations.

Mr. Ziyon (who also refers to himself as ‘Eldad Tzioni’), argues that this is outrageous, especially considering that the US financially supports the PA:

The PA is officially calling the United States an “obstacle to peace.” It is saying that the US – a nation that has worked harder than any other to bring about peace, a nation that brokered Camp David – cannot be an honest broker in negotiations. Whether you agree or disagree with the present administration, this press release is an unacceptable slap in the face of the world’s superpower by an entity that cannot conceive of the idea of compromise for peace.

This hateful screed has, so far, been ignored both by the media and by the current administration. There have been no public calls for apologies, no calling out of president Mahmoud Abbas who is responsible for this statement.

But hey, who’s counting insults anymore.

Technorati Tags: , , , , ,

Four principles of Zionism

Monday, February 21st, 2011

The story of the Jewish people (yes, there is a Jewish people) from its expulsion from Judea by the Romans until 1948 can be characterized as one of contingency. What I mean by that is that the quality of life (or indeed life itself) for Jews was almost entirely dependent on good will of the majority cultures among which they lived.

Jews were allowed to exist, sometimes to thrive and sometimes to merely subsist, insofar as they were useful to whatever regime controlled their place of residence. Jews were always seen as a separate people with special restrictions placed on them, and if a pro-Jewish prince were to lose power, they could be expelled or massacred as a group. There were always anti-Jewish forces (in the Christian world, usually the Church) waiting for an opportunity to punish the Jews for imagined crimes, from killing Christ to poisoning wells.

In the Muslim world, Jewish life was no less contingent. Although there were well-publicized ‘golden ages’, there were also vicious pogroms. Of course Jews were always dhimmis, second class citizens with few rights. And one mustn’t forget the mass expulsions after 1948.

The Holocaust, often seen as a one-of-a-kind event of unparalleled horror was primarily notable because of its extent and the technology that made it possible. Murderous expressions of Jew-hatred have occurred regularly throughout history. One of the lessons of the Holocaust, however, was that the Jewish people can’t depend on others to help them, even when help could be provided at little cost.

Even in 20th century America, probably the most permissive Diaspora environment in which Jews have ever lived, informal restrictions — where they could live, the professions they could enter, the colleges in which they could study — were commonly placed on Jews until at least the 1950’s.

Today, although antisemitism is frowned on in the West (in the Muslim world it is embraced), antisemitic forces lurk in the shadows, waiting for an opportunity. Some of it has mutated into extreme anti-Zionism, such as that which is common in the UK and on college campuses in the US. There are even elements in the Catholic Church which, in rejection of Vatican II’s nostre aetate, want to go back to the bad old days of hating and persecuting Jews.

Antisemitism has always waxed powerful in difficult times, such as the period of the Black Death, the Great Depression, etc. Here in the US, I expect conditions to get much worse before they get better, a result of internal and external forces and incompetent political leadership. While there is deep-seated tradition of tolerance in our culture, there are troubling signs.

The fact that the Jewish people has survived at all in the diaspora is remarkable. Some consider it miraculous. But it is not prudent to plan for future miracles.

One way of looking at Zionism is that it is intended to put an end to the contingent existence of the Jewish people. That is not to say that the Jewish state guarantees that its people will continue to exist, but rather that it places the responsibility for the existence and quality of life of the Jewish people squarely in their own hands, for the first time in 2000 years.

In view of this I propose the following Zionist principles:

  1. The responsibility for the continued well-being of the Jewish people must be borne by them. It is not rational to depend on others.
  2. The Jewish people has a right to defend itself.
  3. The concrete realization of the above principles is the Jewish state, the only place where the Jewish people does not live on the sufferance of others.
  4. The Jewish state is not only a physical place of refuge for Jews, but a symbol of Jewish self-defense and permanence. Therefore it strengthens the position of Diaspora Jews.

Technorati Tags: , ,

Israel derangement syndrome at the UN

Sunday, February 20th, 2011
UN Security Council debates anti-Israel resolution. Oops, no, it's a demonstration against the regime in Yemen.

UN Security Council debates anti-Israel resolution. Oops, no, it's a demonstration against the regime in Yemen.

On Friday, Hizballah-controlled Lebanon introduced a Palestinian-drawn resolution stating that Israeli settlements outside the 1949 lines, including eastern Jerusalem, are illegal according to the Geneva Convention. The US Ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice, cast the sole vote against it, dooming it by virtue of the veto power held by the five permanent members of the Council.

Ms. Rice then made a statement which essentially approved the resolution except for the replacement of the concept of ‘illegal’ by ‘illegitimate’. “While we agree with our fellow Council members, and, indeed, with the wider world about the folly and illegitimacy of continued Israeli settlement activity, we think it unwise for this Council to attempt to resolve the core issues that divide Israelis and Palestinians,” she said (statements after the vote are here).

Talmudic distinctions like this are often drawn by diplomats. Their only importance is that one side or the other sometimes uses them as an excuse for doing what they want. But they would do that anyway.

Her more important point is that the US thinks that an agreement should be arrived at by the parties themselves and not be dictated by the UN. At the same time, the policy of her government is a) to artificially prop up one of the parties, the Palestinian Authority (PA), which represents only a minority of Palestinian Arabs and which does not have the power to deliver its end of a bargain anyway, and b) to dictate a ‘solution’ itself. So her protest is a little disingenuous.

She should have said this: “Yes, we want the Jews out as much as anyone else here, but our Congress would throw a fit if we let this pass.” The usual suspects will blame ‘The Lobby’, but most Americans still want the US to support Israel, and our representatives know this.

The US statement was mild in comparison to some others. Last May, Brazil signed an agreement with Israel’s enemy Iran, and rapidly-becoming-enemy Turkey,  to reprocess Iranian nuclear fuel. This was widely seen as an attempt to help Iran bypass UN sanctions. The Brazilian representative’s remarks, absurd beyond belief, reflect its new alignment:

Council President MARIA LUIZA RIBEIRO VIOTTI (Brazil), speaking in her national capacity, said that a peaceful resolution of the “question of Palestine” was arguably the single most important question for peace and security in the world today, while Israel’s ongoing settlement activity had become the most important obstacle to a comprehensive solution. It was, therefore, only natural that the Council address the matter, in line with its Charter-mandated responsibility to ensure international peace and security…

Indeed, upholding international law must always be seen as acting in the service of peace, she said, adding that the Council could not settle for less, she continued, adding that the peace process must be accelerated.  Only dialogue and peaceful coexistence with all neighbours could truly advance the Palestinian cause, and including more countries in the peace process, including developing countries, would “breathe fresh air” into the negotiations.  In a time of potential unprecedented change in the Middle East, it was more urgent that ever to press for progress on the Israeli-Palestinian issue, she emphasized.

Those of us whose primary residence is not located on Mars can see that the ‘potential unprecedented change in the Middle East’ illustrates just the opposite: the true irrelevance of the “Palestinian issue” to matters of war and peace in the Middle East.

Just to put the ‘change’ in perspective, none of the uprisings in Arab countries appears to be headed in the direction of democracy. In Tunisia, a caretaker government which is being criticized for keeping remnants of the old regime is providing protection for brothels against Islamic activists who want to burn them down. In Libya, the regime is machine-gunning protesters; in Bahrain a majority Shiite population is fighting to throw out a Sunni monarchy; and in Egypt, the largest and most important nation in the Arab world, Sheik Yusuf al-Qaradawi has returned and is preaching Islamism to the masses. In a telling incident, Wael Ghonim, the young Google executive considered by many the face of the pro-democracy movement was not allowed to speak at Tahrir Square by Qaradawi’s guards. He departed with his face hidden by an Egyptian flag.

But despite the escalating region-wide violence and the probable move of at least some of the formerly conservative (or liberal, in the case of Tunisia and Morocco) Arab nations into the Islamist camp, the Brazilian government still sees the Arab campaign to kick the Jews out of a tiny piece of their historic homeland as “the single most important question for peace and security in the world today,” and Israel’s construction within existing settlements — that’s the only ‘settlement activity’ that’s gone on for years — as the ‘most important obstacle’ to a ‘solution’!

That’s brilliant.

Technorati Tags: , , , ,

Quote of the week: Anne Bayefsky; other stuff

Friday, February 18th, 2011

Quote of the week

Anne Bayefsky:

Iranians are rioting today against a vicious government that stones women for alleged adultery, murders homosexuals for the crime of existing, amputates limbs by judicial decree, brutalizes anyone wanting free speech, and is currently holding two Americans hostage for hiking. Is there a Security Council resolution in the works on the dying and the dead in Iran? Bahrain? Libya? Tunisia? Egypt? Algeria? Not the slightest possibility.

The only thing on the table at the UN is a statement that it is illegal for any Jew to live on any land that is claimed by Palestinian Arabs. Not only is this a racist recipe for an apartheid Palestine, it is also a direct violation of the American and UN-sponsored “Middle East Roadmap.”

Incidentally, there are at least 20 dead in Libya. Unconfirmed reports (via Twitter) say that the regime has used aircraft to shoot demonstrators.

Yesterday, the Obama administration offered to support a slightly watered-down resolution that asserted that ‘continued settlement activity’ was ‘illegitimate’.  But the Palestinians refused:

The [Palestinian] draft would have the 15-nation council ‘reaffirm that the Israeli settlements established in the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, are illegal and constitute a major obstacle to the achievement of a just, lasting and comprehensive peace.’

The draft would call on Israel, ‘the occupying power, to immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, and that it fully respects all of its legal obligations in this regard.’

There has been a huge amount of speculation regarding whether the US will veto the resolution or not. I’m not optimistic. We’ll know soon.

***

Lara Logan

I wasn’t going to write anything about the CBS correspondent who was raped in Cairo. There’s more than enough written already. Just this: many commentators are saying that the crowd was shouting ‘Jew’ as she was attacked, and that in fact she was not Jewish, as if to say ‘those dumb Arabs don’t even know who they’re raping’.

First, ‘Jew’ is a vulgar epithet in Egypt. I recall reading an account by a Jewish woman who spent some time in Egypt studying Arabic and kept her Jewishness a secret. One day a good friend cursed someone — a thief, an aggressive beggar, I don’t recall — by calling him a Jew. Clearly the object of the curse wasn’t Jewish. ‘Jew’ is what you call someone when you want to degrade them.

Second, maybe the gang was making a statement, something like “this is what we do to Jews.” I urge the Jewish Israelis that support the “one-state solution” to keep this in mind when they think about how they will integrate the 4.5 million Arab ‘refugees’ that they believe have a right to ‘return’ to the homes in Israel where 99% of them never lived. My guess is that they like Jews even less than Egyptians do.

***

Who likes chaos in Egypt?

Somebody well-organized does:

Egyptian industrialist Shafik Gabr was in Davos, Switzerland, when the revolution began. It was January 26, the second day of protests in Tahrir Square, and from 1,600 miles away at the World Economic Forum — teeming with financiers, celebrities, and heads of state in the crisp, Alpine air — it didn’t look much like a revolution.

But by the time Gabr arrived in Cairo on Friday the 28th — having cut short his schmoozing to rush home on his Gulfstream 200 — the planet’s most populous Arab country had changed forever…

“There was a serious plan to scare the populace, no question about it,” he said. “There was a huge number of police stations that were torched all at the same time, all in the same manner. I cannot attribute it to any party. I can say very honestly that there were factors playing a major role beyond the youths in Tahrir Square, to torch, attack, break cells in the prisons for prisoners to be released, to steal police uniforms, to steal armaments, in the very same exact manner across Egypt, not just Cairo. And that requires planning. It’s almost like one of those movies where you have sleeper cells.” (h/t: CSK)

Hamas, Hizballah, the ikhwan [Muslim Brotherhood]? Nobody’s telling.

Shabbat shalom.

Update [1420 PST]: The US vetoed the UNSC resolution! But it was ugly. Everyone else piled on Israel and the US made a statement that settlements are ‘illegitimate’ anyway. More analysis tomorrow evening. Now really Shabbat shalom.

Technorati Tags: , , , , , ,

Anti-Zionist Holocaust survivor speaks at Sacramento mosque

Thursday, February 17th, 2011

This is close to home:

Auschwitz survivor Hajo Meyer makes the 11th stop on his national “Never Again for Anyone” tour at the Sacramento League of Associated Muslims Islamic Center at 7 p.m. [Feb. 16].

Meyer has equated the Holocaust to Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories, drawing intense fire from Sacramento’s Jewish community and the Anti-Defamation League.

“Comparing Israel to Nazi Germany is repugnant, anti-Semitic and defiles the sacred memory of millions who perished during the Holocaust,” said Rabbi Reuven H. Taff, president of the 13-member Board of Rabbis of Greater Sacramento, in a civil but emotional exchange of letters with SALAM’s Imam Mohamed Abdul Azeez…

“The event is not going to be canceled,” said Azeez, who encouraged “any of our friends in the Jewish community to attend, ask questions and engage the speakers.”

Azeez noted that eight national organizations and nine local organizations are sponsoring it, including the Florin Japanese American Citizens League and the local chapter of Jewish Voice for Peace…

“You have a Holocaust survivor talking for the first time to the Muslim community about the Holocaust and putting it in a modern context that the rights of all people should be respected,” Azeez said. “The world is changing, and it’s time for us to have more dialogue about these untouchable idols,” such as the Israeli treatment of Palestinians.

The Imam’s response included this very strange distinction:

Azeez agrees that the rabbis raise a legitimate concern – “any attempt to equate the Holocaust with what is happening in Palestine is an atrocity.” Azeez said SALAM’s management will not allow the speakers to compare Israel to the Nazis. — Sacramento Bee

Apparently he thinks that it is fine to accuse Israel of perpetrating a Holocaust against the Palestinian Arabs, but atrocious to compare them to Nazis! I won’t try to understand this.

The premise of “Never again for anyone” is that Israel’s actions in self defense — like the recent mini-war in Gaza — are comparable in intent, if not in scale, to the Nazi Holocaust against European Jews.

This is a lie. It is an invention from whole cloth, without even a shred of truth behind it.

It is being told over and over in the UN, by Israel-hostile NGOs, etc. For example, the UN ‘Human Rights’ Council’s Goldstone report asserts that it was IDF policy to hurt and kill Gaza residents as ‘punishment’ for their support of Hamas. Exactly the opposite is true. But that is normal when the ‘big lie’ technique is employed.

Indeed, the truly genocidal intent belongs to the Palestinian Arab Hamas organization.

The big lie is supported by a whole collection of smaller lies, some of which I listed on Tuesday:

…the IDF shot Mohammad Dura in cold blood, the IDF kills Arabs and takes their organs, thousands were massacred in Jenin in 2003, AIDS and Measles are spread by Jews, Israelis have trained sharks to attack tourists off Egyptian beaches, the IDF shot hundreds of Egyptian prisoners of war in the Sinai in 1967, Ariel Sharon himself shot children to death in Sabra/Shatila, the IDF went into Gaza with orders to kill as many civilians as possible, Israeli soldiers landed on the deck of the Mavi Marmara shooting… I could go on and on.

Hajo Meyer’s experience may qualify him to talk about Nazis, but it does not make him an expert on Zionism and the Palestinian Arabs. In fact, there are perhaps psychological reasons that Holocaust survivors are easy prey for those who distort present-day reality.

***

The tour is sponsored by American Muslims for Palestine, the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network (IJAN) and the Middle East Children’s Alliance. On their highly professional, multilingual website, the IJAN’s charter describes it as

…an international network of Jews who are uncompromisingly committed to struggles for human emancipation, of which the liberation of the Palestinian people and land is an indispensable part. Our commitment is to the dismantling of Israeli apartheid, the return of Palestinian refugees, and the ending of the Israeli colonization of historic Palestine.

Simply: the dissolution of the state of Israel and its replacement by an Arab-dominated state. In practice the implementation of their program would result in a bloody Arab-Jewish war. Rhetoric follows the extreme left-wing post-colonial model. For example,

We pledge to: Oppose Zionism and the State of Israel

Zionism is racist. It demands political, legal and economic power for Jews and European people and cultures over indigenous people and cultures.  Zionism is not just racist but anti-Semitic. It endorses the sexist European anti-Semitic imagery of the effeminate and weak “diaspora Jew” and counters it with a violent and militarist “new Jew,” one who is a perpetrator rather than a victim of racialized violence. Zionism thus seeks to make Jews white through the adopting of white racism against Palestinian people…

***

Let’s return to Hajo Meyer:

Meyer, in an exclusive interview with The Bee, said he survived 12 years under Hitler and 10 months in Auschwitz. “I have a number on my arm and they dare to call me an anti-Semite?” he said.

Meyer’s anti-Zionism, expressed here as a litany of false or context-free accusations against the state of Israel and his stated commitment to the principles of IJAN calling for the elimination of the Jewish state, clearly meets the Sharansky 3D test for antisemitism (see also my article here).

Meyer thinks that his number somehow immunizes him against accusations of antisemitism. Logically, that’s nonsense.

Is he an antisemite? My answer is yes.

Technorati Tags: , , , , ,

Today’s Foolish Friedman

Wednesday, February 16th, 2011

Here’s today’s Foolish (Tom) Friedman remark, analyzed bit by bit:

The Arab tyrants, precisely because they were illegitimate, were the ones who fed their people hatred of Israel as a diversion.

He is correct that Arab tyrants feed hatred of Israel as a diversion from the economic and social problems caused by their corrupt and incompetent rule. But they also hitch a ride on the existing Arab and Muslim hatred for Jews and Israel. No Arab leader has ever become more popular by getting along with Israel, and of course there is the example of Anwar Sadat who lost his life as a result.

If Israel could finalize a deal with the Palestinians, it will find that a more democratic Arab world is a more stable partner.

Israel cannot ‘finalize a deal with the Palestinians’ for many reasons. The main one, which I have discussed numerous times, is that there is no Palestinian Arab leadership and not even any significant fraction of the population (as shown by various polls) that is prepared to accept the existence of a Jewish state of any size in ‘Palestine’. No deal will be ‘final’, it will only be another territorial concession that will increase insecurity.

It’s also true that Friedman’s optimism about the democratic Arab world isn’t justified yet.  Did he notice that the same army that put Mubarak into power ultimately removed him? And then told the pro-democracy Facebook generation to go home?

There is also an irony here: Palestinian Authority (PA) ‘President’ Mahmoud Abbas (whose term expired two years ago) is a traditional non-democratic Arab leader. The PA claims that democratic elections will be held this Fall, but Hamas, the only significant opposition, will not participate. So how will such a deal bolster Arab democracy?

Not because everyone will suddenly love Israel (they won’t). But because the voices that would continue calling for conflict would have legitimate competition, and democratically elected leaders will have to be much more responsive to their people’s priorities, which are for more schools not wars. — Thomas Friedman, NY Times (h/t: David Gerstman)

Democratic or non-democratic Arab leaders are not proposing to their people that they go to war with Israel. They are proposing that the state of Israel be dissolved and be replaced by an Arab state, although the precise way this should happen varies. There is no conflict between building schools and supporting the worldwide delegitimization campaign, even if one expects that there will need to be a final violent push from Hizballah or Hamas to finish the job.

Egyptian reform leader Ayman Nour recently said that the Camp David accord was ‘finished’ and needed to be ‘renegotiated’. He is not telling Egyptians that they should attack Israel next week, simply agreeing with them that Israel is illegitimate and even the cold peace is more than it deserves. This is perhaps the most ‘moderate’ position that can be expected from any Arab leader today.

But like the Obama administration for which he appears to be a mouthpiece, for Friedman absolutely everything that happens in the Mideast has to be an argument for getting Israel out of the territories regardless of the consequences.

Why limit it to the Mideast? I am waiting for the Friedman op-ed claiming that it is necessary to create a Palestinian state in order to solve the problem of climate change and get texting drivers off the street.

Technorati Tags: , ,

The culture of death and hate

Tuesday, February 15th, 2011

Sometimes we talk about anti-Jewish and anti-Israeli ‘incitement’ in the Middle East. We also understand that there is a deep reservoir of hatred built up among Arabs, in great measure a result of the constant drumbeat in their media. But this is abstract. Let’s make it concrete.

The Israel-Jordan peace treaty was signed in 1994. Like the treaty with Egypt, it wasn’t an especially warm peace. But unlike the Oslo Agreement with the Palestinian Arabs, the Jordanian leadership did not sign it with intent to violate it. In 1996 my wife and daughter visited the remarkable city of Petra. They are certain that border officials and others knew they were Israeli citizens despite their American passports, but nobody bothered them.

When the treaty was signed, a spot at the confluence of the Jordan and Yarmouk rivers, ‘nahariyim‘ [two rivers] in Hebrew, was set aside as a tourist site. It was called “the Island of Peace.” The area was under Jordanian sovereignty but the site was developed by several Israeli kibbutzim in the area.

On March 13, 1997, a Jordanian soldier, Ahmed Daqamseh, opened fire on a group of Israeli schoolchildren from the town of Beit Shemesh on an outing near the Island of Peace. Seven 11-year old girls were killed, and others seriously wounded. The event shocked Israel and Jordan as well. King Hussein himself traveled to Beit Shemesh and apologized to the families, something heretofore — and probably today — unthinkable for an Arab leader.

Various news reports call Daqamseh ‘mentally disturbed’. But here is a bit from an Aljazeera program broadcast in July, 2001:

The next caller was the mother of the Jordanian soldier, Ahmad Daqamseh, who murdered seven Israeli girls on the Israeli-Jordanian border in 1997. She made the following speech: “I am proud of my son, and I hold my head high. My son did a heroic deed and has pleased Allah and his own conscience. My son lifts my head and the head of the entire Arab and Islamic nation. I am proud of any Muslim who does what Ahmad did. I hope that I am not saying something wrong. When my son went to prison, they asked him: ‘Ahmad, do you regret it?’ He answered: ‘I have no regrets.’ He treated everyone to coffee, honored all the other prisoners, and said: The only thing that I am angry about is the gun, which did not work properly. Otherwise I would have killed all of the passengers on the bus.” — MEMRI tr.

If Ahmed was ‘disturbed’, so was his mother. Of course by enlightened standards, the slaughter of innocent children is beyond horrible, to the point that only mental illness can explain it. But there is a culture — and I am not saying this is Arab culture in general, clearly many Arabs, including King Hussein, were stunned and ashamed — in which this isn’t crazy.

This is the culture of people who have learned to reason according to rigid ideological strictures and to feel by pulling up the hatred that’s been pumped into them by parents, schools, media, religious leaders, etc. for as long as they can remember. These are people who do not empathize, at least not with others outside their family, tribe or religious circle. Fill them with hate and give them rules that legitimize murder, and they murder. With pride and without regrets.

Apparently education and status are irrelevant. In today’s news, we read this:

Jordan minister dubs Israel girls’ killer ‘hero’

By Ahmad Khatib (AFP) – 12 hours ago

AMMAN — Jordan’s justice minister on Monday described a Jordanian soldier serving a life sentence for killing seven Israeli schoolgirls in 1997 as a “hero,” drawing an expression of “revulsion” from Israel.

“I support the demonstrators’ demand to free Ahmad Dakamseh. He’s a hero. He does not deserve prison,” Hussein Mujalli, who was named minister last week, told AFP after taking part in the sit-in held by trade unions.

“If a Jewish person killed Arabs, his country would have built a statue for him instead of imprisonment.” Mujalli, a former president of the Jordan Bar Association, was Dakamseh’s lawyer.

Mujalli is only one of many. The item continues:

Maisara Malas, who heads a trade unions’ committee to support and defend the soldier, told AFP he handed a letter to Mujalli, demanding Dakamseh’s release.

“We cannot imagine that a great fighter like Dakamseh is in jail instead of reaping the rewards of his achievement,” the letter said.

Jordan’s powerful Islamist movement and the country’s 14 trade unions, which have more than 200,000 members, have repeatedly called for Dakamseh’s release.

Mujali is not uneducated and 200,000 unionists are not all mentally disturbed. They are, rather, part of the culture of death and hate, a subculture that has developed in the Arab world. Start with a strictly authoritarian interpretation of Islam, taught by methods which do not allow the smallest opening for questions or empathy for outsiders. Then add the incitement blazing forth every day, always saying that Jews, Israel, the United States, the West, are corrupt, evil, devils, spawn of animals, enemies of Islam and Muslims, over and over again, the voices of authority saying these things.

Add also the falsehoods and blood libels: the IDF shot Mohammad Dura in cold blood, the IDF kills Arabs and takes their organs, thousands were massacred in Jenin in 2003, AIDS and Measles are spread by Jews, Israelis have trained sharks to attack tourists off Egyptian beaches, the IDF shot hundreds of Egyptian prisoners of war in the Sinai in 1967, Ariel Sharon himself shot children to death in Sabra/Shatila, the IDF went into Gaza with orders to kill as many civilians as possible, Israeli soldiers landed on the deck of the Mavi Marmara shooting… I could go on and on.

This comes from Syria, from Egypt, from Turkey, and yes, from Jordan. Some of it starts in Europe in ‘enlightened’ places like Sweden, or is abetted by the most respected figures in the media establishment of France. But the result is the same: a huge reservoir of people who believe that in the case of Jews or Israelis, murder is not only justified, it’s laudable. Daqamseh’s mother is proud of her son, because he took direct violent action to regain the Arab/Muslim honor that has been stolen by the despicable Jews, the ones who should be on the bottom but who inexplicably have defeated and humiliated Arabs.

This isn’t exactly ‘terrorism’ in the way US officials and even some Israelis think about it. It’s not a military tactic used to obtain objectives, to demoralize the enemy, although it has that effect. It is a spontaneous outflow of hate from people that have been made into vessels for hate and instruments for its expression. Possibly they are used as unguided missiles, human Qassams, by some Arab leaders with political goals, but the force that propels them is hate, not politics.

Technorati Tags: , , , ,

US Israel-Arab policy is insane… or something

Sunday, February 13th, 2011

Yaakov Lozowick has an interesting short piece on the Yehuda Avner book, The Prime Ministers: An Intimate Narrative of Israeli Leadership. I haven’t read the book yet (my pile of unread books only gets taller), but Lozowick said this, worth quoting:

Ever since the Six Day War, we learn, American leaders (not to mention all the others) are fixated on this version or that of having Israel hand over the territories it acquired in that war in return for peace. There is never (as told in this book) any discussion of what will keep the peace going once the agreement has been reached. There’s this puzzle, and it can be resolved by moving these pieces in these ways… and what happens afterward? Well, there will be peace,of course, and nothing will threaten it ever, so no-one needs to think much about it; it will be gloriously boring. No-one in the book ever brings up the possibility that the conflict can’t be resolved by Israel giving back those territories because the conflict was always about much more than them. It’s not mentioned, not considered, not part of the discourse.

I mentioned this to my son, who reads a lot of military history. It struck him that while people commonly think most wars are about territory, often — maybe most often — they are not. Human emotions and ideology (usually religious ideology) play a large role in pushing nations to war and in shaping the course of conflict. Who can deny that Hitler’s racial theories and hatred of Jews caused him to take decisions that were suboptimal from a military point of view? Historian Lucy Dawidowicz went so far as to write a book about the war in Europe called The War Against the Jews, in which she argued that Hitler’s invasion of the Soviet Union was driven by his desire to wipe out the Jews of the world.

The Israeli-Arab conflict is infused with emotion and ideology. The Arab culture which places great importance on honor and shame — and these concepts are not identical with the way they are usually understood in the West —  has had a great deal to do with the conflict. It’s not unreasonable to say that Sadat attacked Israel on Yom Kippur in 1973 as much to regain Arab honor as to repossess the Sinai.

Islam demands that Muslims rule over all the lands in Dar al Islam, and even among secular Arabs there is a belief that there is something upside down about a Jewish state in the midst of the Arab world. Jews ought to be inferior, particularly in warfare — which the Arabs see as the most masculine of endeavors — and their inability to defeat Israel is a stinging wound to their honor, a source of shame.

Indeed, probably one of the reasons that even a ‘cold’ peace with Egypt held firm for so many years is the widespread belief among Egyptians that they were victorious in 1973!

Palestinian Arabs see the nakba as a massive loss of honor, an emasculation, and will not be satisfied by anything less than a full reversal of it, preferably accomplished in a violent way. Yasser Arafat was expert at pulling these strings, often leading crowds in chanting “with blood and fire we will redeem Palestine…”

Ideology is strongest among Islamists, such as Hamas. The Hamas covenant explains the need for jihad to get Palestine back to its rightful owners, Muslims, and quotes Koranic scripture calling for the extermination of Jews.

None of this should be a big surprise to anyone who pays attention to what Arabs say, even what they say in English.

This is why, for example, that no Palestinian Arab leader has ever agreed that a ‘peace treaty’ would end the conflict. This is why the Arab League peace initiative (the ‘Saudi peace plan‘), which the US President and others trot out regularly, only promises ‘normal relations’ but does not say that the Palestinian Arabs have no further claims on Israel.

The point is that the conflict is not primarily a conflict over land, and certainly not just over the land Israel conquered in 1967. And if this is true — and it is — then what Lozowick calls the long-running ‘fixation’ on getting Israel to let go of the rest of the land it captured in 1967 (it has already relinquished the major part of it and the conflict has gotten worse) as a path to peace is clearly irrational. I would even use the word ‘insane’, considering the amount of effort and prestige that the US administration has invested in it.

Of course they are not insane, or blind and deaf. They are aware that a technocratic adjustment of borders will not put an end to the emotional and ideological forces that drive the conflict. And therefore I conclude that the goal of American (and European) policy is not to end the conflict, not to obtain a lasting peace. It is limited to forcing Israel to give up the rest of the territory taken in 1967.

This includes, by the way, the Golan Heights (US spokespeople often mention this). A reasonable assessment would assert that the cause of peace would be best served by leaving this highly strategic area in Israel’s hands, since 1) Syria has attacked Israel several times while Israel has not attacked Syria, and 2) the belligerent attitude and behavior of the Syrian dictator makes his intent suspect. But yet, the US and Europeans push for a ‘peace’ treaty here too.

So what is driving the ‘fixation’?

Technorati Tags: , , ,