Saturday, January 31, 2009

2 state or bust?

Probably the most cogent analysis of the situation I've read in a very long time. I'm especially taken by this passage:

"Particularly misguided and damaging has been the oft-repeated demand that Palestinians offer territorial concessions that match the "painful concessions" Israel's leaders have said they are prepared to make. It is a formulation that reveals a profound misunderstanding or deliberate distortion of the history of this conflict, one that will inevitably produce a one-sided outcome that is unjust and untenable. Palestinians have not asked Israel to make territorial concessions--i.e., give up any of the territory Israel controlled between the armistice agreement of 1949 and the 1967 war--nor has Israel ever indicated it would under any circumstances consider doing so. What Palestinians have asked is that Israel return Palestinian territory on which Israel has illegally established settlements and to which it has transferred its own population, in violation of treaty obligations and international law. To describe the return of illegally expropriated Palestinian territory as Israeli "concessions" is to compromise the Palestinian case before negotiations even begin.

Indeed, it is only Palestinians who have made painful concessions. As a condition for Israel's acceptance of the Oslo Accords, the PLO formally agreed to recognize the legitimacy of territory acquired by Israel in the war of 1948. It is a concession that reduced by fully one half the territory originally assigned to the Arab population of Palestine by the UN partition plan of 1947. Given that major Palestinian territorial concession, any new initiative that does not provide that negotiations begin at the pre-1967 armistice line and expects Palestinians to relinquish (other than in equal land swaps) even more of the 22 percent of the territory that has been left them will be stillborn."

And before dismissing this fellow as some fanatic antisemitic raver on the order of say er uh... Jimmy Carter... know that the author is:

Henry Siegman, director of the U.S./Middle East Project in New York, a visiting research professor at the Sir Joseph Hotung Middle East Program, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. He is a former national director of the American Jewish Congress and of the Synagogue Council of America.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

"Israel needs its version of Al Jazeera"

As if PR were the answer. If the IDF hadn’t killed so many innocent civilians over the years Israel wouldn’t need a “special” media outlet to put lipstick on its policies. Truthful objective reporting would be all that was necessary. “Buying” the Hamas line has nothing to do with it. Stop the killing, the oppression and close down the illegal “settlements” and the negative stories will stop. It’s simple. To paraphrase Bill Clinton “It’s the Occupation Stupid” and until Israel truly ends it, not like the ersatz “pull-out” from Gaza, the world will increasingly view Israel, as it did South Africa, as a pariah nation. America, the last bastion of uncritical support for Israel is slowly waking up to the horror that is the illegal occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. Israel: get out while you still have time.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

IDF Targeting Civilians

"Israeli soldiers fired on a group of residents leaving their homes on orders from the military and waving white flags, according to testimony taken by the Israeli human rights group B'Tselem."

"Meanwhile, Israel's Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, declared that he would press forward with an "iron fist"."

That's obvious... and the assertions of the IDF apologists that the IDF goes out of its way to avoid killing innocent civilians wear more thin with each passing day.

The report continues...

"In Gaza, Munir Shafik al-Najar told B'Tselem that members of his extended family started trying to leave their homes after the Israeli army began demolishing buildings in the area of Kuza'a, close to the Israeli border with south-eastern Gaza. Mr Najar said the Israeli soldiers were using gunfire to signify that residents should leave, but then started shooting "indiscriminately".

He testified that his relative Rawhiya had stepped out of the family-owned building, one of whose walls had been destroyed by a bulldozer, expecting her family to follow, but she was shot. The military subsequently attacked another group escaping leaving two more of his relatives dead. The military said late last night that it had found the claim to be "without foundation".

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Why do they hate us?


The Cost of War

Disturbing photos of the innocent victims of the conflict. Sensational? Yes, but we are so desensitized we need to be reminded every so often of the horror. We wonder why they hate us? See these photos and wonder no more.

There is no existential threat to Israel yet thousands of innocent Palestinians die each year

Its mystifying to me how great numbers of American Jews who self-identify as liberals and honestly espouse liberal causes in the USA and around the world (vote or campaign for Obama, support the ACLU, oppose apartheid in South Africa etc.) yet when it comes to the Palestinian question make a hard right turn and parrot a right wing closet fascist like Benjamin Netanyahu and his terrorist turned politician mentor Menachim Begin.

Robert Scheer a great American (and Jewish) liberal writes in his latest piece on (click on the above link for the full text)

"Where are the voices that reflect the uncompromising morality of Einstein’s generation of Jewish intellectuals willing to acknowledge fault and humanity on both sides of the political equation?"

In a letter to the NYT Eistein clearly stated his views on Begin and his organization the:

“Irgun Zvai Leumi, a terrorist, right-wing, chauvinist organization in Palestine.” The letter urged Jews to shun Begin, arguing, “It is inconceivable that those who oppose fascism throughout the world, if correctly informed as to Mr. Begin’s political record and perspectives, could add their names and support to the movement he represents.”

The standard rejoinder as to why the hard right turn is that the Arabs want to destroy Israel and drive the Jews into the sea. Scheer writes:

Why is it that there is such widespread acceptance, beginning with the apologetic arguments of President Bush, that whatever Israel does is always justified as necessary to the survival of the Jewish state?

It is not.

While the Hamas rocket attacks are reprehensible, they are also an ineffectual challenge to Israel’s enormous security apparatus, and the severity of Israel’s response to them is counterproductive. Clearly, the very existence of Israel is not now, nor has it ever been, seriously challenged by anything the Palestinians did. Not back in 1948, when Israel was established as a state with insignificant Palestinian military resistance, nor at the time of the 1967 Six-Day War when Egypt, Syria and Jordan fought Israel."

Israel has nukes and America to back it up. No Middle Eastern group or country can defeat Israel as long as this is true. Fuggedaboudit. Killing innocent Arabs only makes the situation worse and creates more terrorists. How many Islamic terrorist attacks were there in the west before the 1967 6-Day War?

There is a much more robust debate in Israel over this question than there is here in the USA. One has only to look to groups such as Peace Now, the Ha'aretz newspaper and B'Tselem to see that. But try to have the same level of debate in the USA as Jimmy Carter or John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt did and the charges of antisemitism and being pro-terrorist inevitably follow. Its intellectually and morally bankrupt to stifle debate like this. A few voices like Scheer do exist but they are relegated to the fringe and rarely does on hear them in the mainstream media.