Gaza war not even helping Israeli government parties

From British daily The Guardian:

Israeli governing parties face poll battering amid Gaza scepticism

• Survey reveals public’s doubts about war

• New rocket attack draws promise of retaliation


10 thoughts on “Gaza war not even helping Israeli government parties


    Friday, 13 February 2009
    Israel’s Elections – The Death of 2 States and the Zionist Left

    Israeli politics cannot be compared with those in western capitalist democracies like Britain. The terms ‘left’ and ‘right’ are not the same in Israeli politics as elsewhere. In the West they bear some relationship to class, New Labour notwithstanding. The left has represented, in however distorted a fashion, the interests of the working class and relies on them for voting support. The right bases its appeal on private capital and appeals to the middle and bourgeois classes.

    In Israel ‘left’ and ‘right’ applies to one’s position on whether to support peace with the Palestinians or a Greater Israel. Hence Ratz, the Citizen’s Rights Party, which merged into Meretz, in the 1988 Knesset, was the most liberal of Israeli parties when it came to its attitude to the Palestinians, with founder Shulamit Aloni, who became Education Minister, supporting the Refuseniks (soldiers who refuse to serve in the Occupied Territories) and adopting a non-Zionist position of opposition to the racism of a Jewish State. But economically it was a free-market position which merged with Mapam, a traditional party which originally described itself as ‘Marxist’ (in fact Stalinist).

    In fact it is the Israeli working class, in particular Mizrahi/Oriental Jews, who have voted for the right in Israeli politics. Begin came to power in 1977 directly as a result of the vote of the working class. Israeli Labour was historically the enemy of the Oriental Jews and was rightly seen as their oppressor.

    The Israeli Labour Party, which is erroneously seen as a party of peace, has always contained a pro-settlement wing, of which Yigal Allon and Israel Galili, of the left Ahdut Ha’avodah faction, were the most conspicuous representatives. It should never be forgot that it was Israeli Labour NOT Likud who established the first settlements and it was the Allon Plan which outlined the strategy followed to this day that the Jordan valley be colonised in order that any Palestinian state be surrounded by Jewish settlements on all sides.

    The traditional parties of the Zionist Left, based on the kibbutzim and the ‘trade union’ Histadrut have been reduced to electoral insignificance. In 1949 Labour and Mapam had an absolute majority in the Knesset. Indeed David Ben Gurion, leader of Mapai, opposed building a coalition only based on the Zionist left parties and reached out to the United Religious Front and the Progressives as partners, excluding Mapam in the process.

    Israeli Labour also accepted the Zionist rules of the game. No government coalition must ever depend on the votes of Arab parties. After all this is a Jewish state!

    Until the 1977 elections that brought Menachem Begin of Likud to power, the Zionist left parties had never gained fewer than 54 seats and even as late as 1992, with the fateful election of Yitzhak Rabin, later to be assassinated, the Zionist left parties gained 56 seats as Meretz, which by now included Ratz, Mapam and the centre party Shinui, gained 12 seats.

    But since the 1999 election the decline has been rapid. From 36 to 25 to 24 to 16 and now 13 seats, the traditional parties of the Zionist left have become irrelevant as former Chief of Staff Ehud Barak, leader of the Israeli Labour Alignment, sought to prove his macho credentials with the genocidal attack on Gaza. The explanation for the dramatic decline in Labour Zionism and the equally rapid rise of the openly racist and semi-fascist Right is two fold.

    As Zeev Sternhall shows in his excellent book, The Founding Myths of Israel, the Zionist left parties were never based on class struggle. How could they since their main goal was to build a Jewish state in conjunction with Zionist and Jewish capitalists. They could hardly promise to accept such money on the basis that they were going to overthrow capitalism! Instead the Palestinians and Arab Labour were defined as the class enemy, hence the Boycott of Arab Labour campaigns of Histadrut in the 1920s and 1930s.

    Colonialism in its formative and early years often takes on a co-operative form, which western social democrats mistake for socialism. Hence the Kibbutzim were on the surface egalitarian, but they operated within a colonial conquest; they were stockade and watchtower settlements. There was never a time when they were profitable and it is little wonder that as they developed industries they began to employ cheap Oriental Jewish and Arab labour. In short they became collective capitalists. And of course Kibbutzim, including those of the ‘left’ Mapam Hashomer Hatzair kibbutz federation, always excluded Arabs from membership. In other words they were thoroughly racist institutions, established on the confiscated land of the expelled Arabs.

    The late Noah Lucas, a prominent but critical Zionist, described how the Kvutzah (forerunners of the Kibbutzim) were a result of

    ‘an alliance between the embryonic labour movement and the Zionist financial institutions. The pragmatism of the more radical socialists among the pioneers was revealed in their readiness to enter such an alliance with the Jewish bourgeoisie abroad.’

    As Professor Franz Oppenheimer, who was closely involved in settling the land explained:

    ‘The Kvutza did not originate as a deliberate social experiment. Its forms were elaborated by accretion in the school of circumstances.’ [Noah Lucas, Modern History of Israel, p.56.]

    Arthur Ruppin, the father of land settlement in Israel and a fervent believer in eugenics and the racial sciences, summed it up thus:

    ‘I can say with absolute certainty: those enterprises in Palestine which are most profit bearing for the businessman are almost the least profitable for the national effort and per contra many enterprises, which are least profitable for the businessman are of high national value.’ [Ruppin; Building Israel, New York 1949 pp. 47, September 1965]

    Indeed the most vicious anti-Arab militia, the Palmach shock troops of the 1947-8 war, were based on the ‘Marxist’ Mapam and Ahdut Ha’avodah. It was they, under Yitzhak Rabin and Yigal Allon, who in 1948 expelled 50,000 Arabs from Lyddah and Ramleh and massacred thousands of others.

    But today, when Israel is an openly capitalist society, aligning itself internationally with the most right-wing authoritarian police states, there is no room left for co-operative capitalism. Hence Histadrut’s industries were privatised in the early 1990s. Put simply, the social base of labour Zionism has all but disappeared.

    The other reason that the socialist Zionist parties have declined is that their ‘peace’ proposals were based on naked racism — the need to preserve the Jewish nature of the Israeli state. In other words, there were too many Arabs. That was the basis of their support for 2 States, in reality one state, Israel, and a Palestinian Reservation. Every racist aspect of Israeli society was pioneered by Israeli labour. It was not for nothing that the settlers in the West Bank could say that their right to settle in Ariel and Kiryat Arba was the same as the original settlement of Tel Aviv. Except whereas today’s settlers base their claims on the fact that god gave them the land, the ‘left’ Zionists claimed their right to settle was based on the bible, the existence of whose god they denied!

    The settler-right represent the logical culmination of Zionism and no one represents it better than the leader of Yisrael Beteinu, Avigdor Liebermann, a former member of the Jewish Nazi party Kach. YB openly questions the right of Israeli Arabs to be citizens of the Jewish State, demanding a McCarthyite ‘loyalty oath’. It wants to hive them off to a Palestinian Reservation in the West Bank. Like the revanchist nationalist myth of the ‘stab in the back’ that lost Germany the 1st world war, Liebermann openly describes Israel’s Palestinian citizens as a fifth column.

    It is therefore a mark of just how far and how fast Israel has moved to the openly racist, expansionary right that Liebermann’s YB obtained 15 seats, only one less than the combined total of Israeli Labour and Meretz.

    Socialists and genuine anti-racists should not be disappointed at the outcome of Israel’s elections. On the contrary, the disappearance of the hypocritical ‘shoot and cry’ brigade of ‘left’ Zionists and the ascendancy of the openly racist right is a welcome clarification of the political situation. Of course this will be blamed on Arab intransigence, but this was always the explanation of settlers — from Algeria to South Africa — of why they had to engage in yet more bloody reprisals and repression. It was Israeli Labour under Barak who led the recent attack on Gaza, just as Amir Peretz, ex-Histadrut Chairman and Defence Minister launched the attack on Lebanon in 2006.

    One thing is certain. The 2 State Solution is Now Dead as a Doormouse.

  2. The Other Israel, December-January issue
    lead article online & info how to order free sample

    Israel chooses for a collision course

    Here follow the February 10, 2009 press picks on Occupation Magazine from what was published recently by different sources. Today’s updates are from TOI-staff. OM is updated each day of the week by different editors. For earlier articles use the powerfull search function & view the sections.

    After an interruption TOI-Billboard will now again come weekly

    Analysis: Will the US and Israel now be able to tango?
    Hilary Leila Krieger – Jerusalem Post – Netanyahu`s skepticism on diplomacy “could create tension between a US government determined to push ahead and an Israeli government determined to dig in its heels“, yet (…) the history of peace-making in Israel is a history dominated by the Right.

    Report: Terms for 18-month truce expected within days
    Ma`an – Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmad Abu Al-Gheit pointed out that reaching such an agreement [between Israel and Hamas] will move along Palestinian dialogue and open terms for a unity government, “another step schedule for April that will lay the groundwork for a serious peace agreement.”

    The elections are not important
    Yossi Sarid – bitterlemons – If the world chooses to intervene directly and, as President Barack Obama states, “aggressively”, then there is still a slim chance of a way out. If it does not–if it continues to make do with sanctimonious statements–then this chance too will disappear and the conflict will remain in a dead end until the next big war breaks out.

    Arab reporters banned from campaign meet of Lieberman`s far-right party
    Fadi Eyadat and Lily Galili – Haaretz – The reporters, Forat Nassar of Channel 2 and Sami Abed Alhamid of the IBA were detained at the entrance. “I can`t let you in”, says Haifa Deputy Mayor Yulia Shtraim, a member of the party`s municipal faction. “Only people I invited personally enter.” However, Jewish and foreign journalists who had not been invited were allowed to enter and cover the event.

    Not a mild movement, a violent shake-up
    Air Force pilot Major R – Yedioth Aharonoth – Here is my definition of what is allowed and what is forbidden: if you need to get legal advice to perform a military action – the action is improper.

    Church of England no longer investing in Caterpillar
    PSC – The Church of England made clear that late last year they removed over £2.2 million in Caterpillar, a company whose bulldozers and heavy plant equipment are been used to destroy the homes of Palestinians by the Israeli government.

    Don`t say we didn`t know #148
    Amos Gvirtz – On Tuesday, 27th January, 2009, Israeli soldiers opened fire on a group of farmers from the village El Farhin, situated east of Khan Younis, killing one of them, a man named Anwar. The farmers were working on their land about 700 metres from the border.

    No Israeli Goods: Victory for Worker Solidarity
    Congress of South African Trade Unions and Palestine Solidarity Committee – The Palestine Chronicle – “The momentum against apartheid Israel has become an irresistible force. We are proud to stand with the millions around the world who say `Enough is enough`. They are doing what we asked them to do when we faced the apartheid regime in our own country”

    Brussels: Israeli exhibit postponed following Gaza op
    Eli Senyor – YNET – Exhibition on Tel Aviv`s early years scheduled to open at Belgian capital`s center for architecture delayed after local organizers face demands to boycott Israeli culture

    Israeli women expose companies complicit in occupation
    Adri Nieuwhof – EI – “We would like to encourage activists to be creative. A letter to Hewlett Packard questioning [the involvement of their subsidiary,] EDS Israel, in the automated biometric access control system installed in major checkpoints is for us as important as the Swedish campaign that led to Assa Abloy`s decision to divest from Barkan Industrial Zone”

    Recommended earlier articles

    Adri Nieuwhof: Israeli women expose companies complicit in occupation

    Gideon Levy: Kahane won

    Tony Karon: Waltzing With Ariel: Will Obama, Too, Indulge Israeli Rejectionism?

    Akiva Eldar: Is an Israeli Jewish sense of victimization perpetuating the conflict with Palestinians?

    Daily headlines & action alerts in English and Hebrew

    Articles posted on earlier days are on top in the sections on the homepage

    Also possibility of searching for articles back to 2004

    TOI-Billboard is the weekly (approximately) ‘ezine’ of the independent THE OTHER ISRAEL bi-monthly (approximately) peace newsletter, existing since 1983, and published by its editors Adam Keller & Beate Zilversmidt.

  3. Ad in Haaretz, on Friday

    Two sides of the coin

    WE say:
    It is impossible for
    The inhabitants of Ashkelon
    To live under rocket fire.

    THEY say:
    It is impossible for
    The inhabitants of Gaza
    To live in demolished homes
    While the crossings are
    Closed for building materials.

    Impossible to… read more

    Uri Avnery

    Dirty Socks Full text Full text English in the end
    Avnery columns’ archive

    …new on the Gush Shalom Forum:

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    Uri Avnery

    Dirty Socks

    ?I have some good news and some bad news,? the sergeant in the joke tells his men. ?The good news is that you are going to change your dirty socks. The bad news is that you are going to exchange them among yourselves.?

    I am not the only person who is reminded of this old British army joke by the current elections.

    We are faced by a sorry lot of politicians, some of them documented failures and some completely free of any past achievements. There is no meaningful discussion between them about the issues. Not one of the main contenders offers real solutions to our basic problems. The differences between them are invisible without a magnifying glass.

    The instinctive reaction: ?To hell with the lot of them. Let?s not vote at all!?

    But that is childish. We cannot afford not to vote, or to vote out of spite or as a protest. Even if the differences are tiny ? they may turn out to be important.

    Therefore, let?s hold our nose and vote. If necessary, let?s take some medicine against nausea. If all of them are bad, let?s look for the lesser evil.

    FOR ME, the greatest evil is Binyamin (?Bibi?) Netanyahu.

    If he gets one vote more than his rivals, the President will entrust him with the task of setting up the next government. Netanyahu has already committed himself to inviting Avigdor Liberman, the pupil of the fascist Meir Kahane, as his first partner, as well as Shas, which has now become an extreme right-wing party. Perhaps he will also take in the ?National Union?, which is even more extreme, and the remnants of the National Religious party, together with the Orthodox.

    If this is to be the core of the next coalition, we shall have an extreme nationalist-racist government, a government that will reject outright any possibility of ending the occupation, setting up a Palestinian state and evacuating the settlements.

    After that, Netanyahu could invite Kadima and Labor, but that would not matter anymore. Since he will be able to set up a government without them, he will get them for next to nothing. In such a government, their only function will be to serve as fig leaves, camouflage for the Americans.

    One must also remember who would come with Netanyahu: types like Limor Livnat, Benny Begin and Bogie Yaalon.

    Some people have brought up a Machiavellian idea: let the Likud come to power. That way, the entire world will see the true face of Israel and boycott it. The government will fall, and we can start all over again.

    Sorry, that is too risky a bet for me. I am not ready to gamble with the future of Israel. To use an old catch-phrase: I don?t have another country.

    Some try to cheer us up with another thought: Netanyahu is a weak person. If the Americans exert pressure on him, he will give in. In the end he will do whatever Obama tells him to do.

    I am not so sure. I am not ready to bet on that either. His partners will not let him submit. For me, the first decision is: No Netanyahu.

    TZIPI LIVNI has one enormous advantage: she is not Bibi.

    It may seem that this is also her only advantage.

    At this moment, she is the only person who could ? perhaps, perhaps ? block the road to a coalition headed by the Likud. For many, that is reason enough to vote for her.

    Is there any other reason? Hard to see one. She could have risen above the murky waters and presented a clear and focused message: peace with the Palestinian people and the Arab world. That would have separated her from Netanyahu and also from Ehud Barak and given her the status of a statesperson. It would have turned the elections into a referendum on war and peace.

    She has missed this opportunity. Like all the other candidates, she is afraid of the word ?peace?. Her advisors have probably warned her that the shares of peace in the stock exchange of public opinion are way down.

    If she were a real leader, if peace had been burning in her bones (as we say in Hebrew), she would have ignored the advice and stood up as a woman of principle.

    Instead, she is trying to be more macho than all the machos, ?The Only Man In The Government?. She cries to high heaven against any dialogue with Hamas. She objects to a mutually agreed cease-fire. She tries to compete with Netanyahu and Liberman with unbridled nationalist messages.

    That is bad. That is also stupid. Someone who is looking for a he-he-man will not vote for a woman. Someone who is longing for a brutal warlord will not vote for a female civilian who, in the words of Barak, ?has never held a rifle in her hands?.

    It was a test of leadership. And Tzipi flunked it.

    True, here and there she has voiced some vague ideas about ?two nation-states?, but in all her years in office she has not taken the smallest real step in this direction.

    Therefore, there is no reason to vote for her, except one: if she gets one vote more than Netanyahu, the President will call on her to try to set up a government. Such a government will surely include Netanyahu, and probably Liberman too. Yet it will be different from a government headed by Netanyahu. Under heavy American pressure, it might even move towards peace.

    I CANNOT vote for Ehud Barak. Even if my head wanted to, my hand would not obey.

    The inhuman Gaza War was a reflection of Barak?s own inhuman character. He waged the war as a part of his election campaign. When the anti-war demonstrators marched through the streets of Tel-Aviv and shouted: ?Don?t buy votes / with the blood of babies? they were not so far off the mark.

    Like Netanyahu, Barak is a documented failure. I was among the masses who celebrated his triumph in Rabin Square in 1999 when he was elected Prime Minister, and, hardly a year later, I sighed with relief when his government collapsed. In his short term of office he convened the Camp David conference and sabotaged it, spread the poisonous and mendacious mantra ?We have no partner for peace?, provoked the second intifada and destroyed the peace camp from within.

    Contrary to Livni, Barak does not even pretend to have a perspective of peace. He sees before him an endless landscape of mountain chains of war, mountain after mountain, stretching well beyond the horizon.

    Unlike the Kadima and Likud lists, the Labor election list does include some good people. But these will have no influence at all on things to come. Effectively, it?s a one-man list, and that one man is deeply flawed.

    FOR A MOMENT it seemed that Meretz was going to transform itself into something bigger. They included in their list some attractive new people. Men of letters recommended them warmly.

    And then something happened to them, the same thing that happened to them the last time. A war broke out, and Meretz supported it enthusiastically. Their three literary musketeers – Amos Oz, A. B. Yehoshua and David Grossman ? went out of their way to call for the war and laud it, each one in his turn. Exactly as they had done in Lebanon War II.

    True, after some days the three ? together with Meretz and Peace Now ? called for the end of the attack. That call was not accompanied by an apology for the preceding one. This showed a lot of Chutzpa. After helping in breaking the dam, they thought that they could stop the flow with their fingers. But after they had legitimized the war of atrocities, no one listened to them anymore. Every woman and child who was killed in that war, up to the very last day, should weigh on their conscience.

    Of course, some will say: you don?t vote to punish and take revenge. In spite of the crime, one has to vote for Meretz because among the ?Zionist? parties they are the lesser evil. They speak about peace and social justice, and some of their representatives, like Shulamit Aloni and Yossi Sarid, did a good job in the Rabin government. Meretz also did some good parliamentary work for the right causes.

    QUITE ANOTHER problem is posed by the three so-called ?Arab? parties, one of which is the communist Hadash, which has a small Jewish component.

    The Hadash program is closer to the consistent peace camp than any other. Some would say: That?s close enough. I vote according to my beliefs, and not tactical considerations. Hadash should also be credited for advancing some positive causes in the Knesset.

    The problem of the ?Arab? lists is that they have not succeeded in playing a meaningful role in the political arena, which has remained an exclusive fiefdom of the ?Zionist? parties (?Zionist? in this context means ?non Arab?). In order to break into the Jewish street, Hadash could have put at the head of its list, or at least in the No. 2 slot, Dov Khenin, who has risen to stardom in the recent Tel-Aviv municipal elections. By not doing so, they have lost at least some of the votes that could have strayed from Meretz and Labor.

    The impact of the ?Arab? parties on Israeli policy is next to nil. It is limited to one point in time: on the day after the elections, the question will arise whether all the center/left parties together, from Kadima leftwards, can muster enough votes to block a right-wing government. In this context, and only there, the ?Arab? parties do play a role.

    THERE REMAINS the Liberman phenomenon.

    Liberman has created a party that is simply and thoroughly racist. Its election campaign is centered on the demand to annul the Israeli citizenship of ?non-loyal? people. Meaning: the Arabs, who constitute 20% of Israel?s citizens.

    In every other country, Liberman?s program would be called fascist, without quotation marks. Nowhere in the Western world is there a large party that would dare to advance such a demand. The neo-fascists in Switzerland and Holland want to expel foreigners, not to annul the citizenship of the native-born.

    The core of the party is made up of immigrants from the former Soviet Union, many of whom have brought from their homeland an utter contempt for democracy, a desire for a strong leader (a Stalin or a Putin), a racist attitude towards brown-skinned citizens and a taste for brutal, Chechnya-style wars. They have now been joined by young, native-born Israelis, who have been radicalized by the recent war.

    When Joerg Haider was taken into the Austrian cabinet, Israel recalled its ambassador from Vienna in protest. But compared to Liberman, Haider was a raving liberal, and so is Jean-Marie le Pen. Now Netanyahu has announced that Liberman will be ?an important minister? in his government, Livni has hinted that he will be in her government, too, and Barak has not excluded that possibility.

    The optimistic version says that Liberman will prove to be a passing curiosity. Every Israeli election campaign has featured a trend-party that reflects a passing mood, achieves a resounding success and then disappears. In 1977 it was the Dash party, which rode the horse of ?changing the system?. It won 12.5% of the vote, broke apart and disappeared before the next elections. Later it was the Tzomet party of Rafael Eitan, on the horse of uncorrupted purity. Another was the Shinui (Change) party, which rode the horse of anti-religious hatred and disappeared without leaving a trace. In the last elections it was the pensioners? list, with tens of thousands of youngsters voting for it as a prank. In the current elections, Liberman?s party has caught the trend, riding on the primitive emotions of the masses which broke free in the Gaza War.

    There is also a pessimistic version: Fascism has become a serious player in the Israeli public domain. The three main parties have now legitimized it. This phenomenon must be stopped before it is too late.

    SO, HOW shall I vote this coming Tuesday?

    I intend to draw up a list that will start from the worst down to the least evil. The last one on the list gets my vote.


  4. in Haaretz, February 13, 2009

    Strength through opposition

    The new Knesset
    Will set up a government
    That will be unable
    To move
    Even one step
    Towards peace.

    The peace camp
    Must now create
    A strong opposition –
    So that a different
    Kind of government
    Will come into being
    After the next elections.

    Cheques to help us continue the ads to: Gush Shalom, P.O.Box 3322, Tel-Aviv 61033

    Uri Avnery

    Ms Tantalus Full text Full text English in the end
    Avnery columns’ archive

    On the Gush Shalom Forum:

    Does Zionism legitimize every act of violence?
    Gideon Levy in Haaretz, about late burial

    פורסם ב”הארץ” 13 בפברואר 2009

    הכנסת הבאה

    בכנסת החדשה
    תקום ממשלה
    שלא תוכל להתקדם לשלום
    אף צעד אחד.

    צריכה לקום במדינה
    אופוזיציה חזקה
    של מחנה השלום –
    כדי שתקום
    ממשלה מסוג אחר
    אחרי הבחירות הבאות.

    עזרו לנו במימון הפעולות והמודעות. צ’קים לפקודת גוש שלום, ת”ד 3322, תל-אביב 61033

    אורי אבנר

    גברת טאנטאלוס

    ארכיון מאמרים של אורי אבנרי

    בפורום גוש שלום:

    “מי שרוצה שמאל ישראלי צריך לומר די לציונות, זאת שהימין השתלט עליה:
    גדעון לוי, קבורה מאוחרת

    Uri Avnery

    Ms Tantalus

    TANTALUS IS punished by the Gods for reasons that are not entirely clear. He is hungry and thirsty, but the water in which he stands recedes when he bends down to drink from it and the fruit above his head continually evades his hand.

    Tzipi Livni is now undergoing a similar torture. After winning an impressive personal victory at the polls, the political fruit keeps slipping from her grasp when she stretches out her hand.

    Why should she deserve that? What has she done, after all? Supported the war, called for a boycott of Hamas, played around with empty negotiations with the Palestinian Authority? OK, she has indeed.. But such a terrible punishment?

    HOWEVER, THE results of the elections are not as clear as they might seem. The victory of the Right is not so unambiguous.

    Central to the election campaign was the personal competition between the two contenders for the Prime Minister’s office: Livni and Netanyahu (or, as they call themselves, as if they were still at kindergarten, Tzipi and Bibi.)

    Contrary to all expectations and all polls, Livni beat Netanyahu. Several factors were involved in this. Among others: the masses of the Left were terrified by the possibility of Netanyahu winning, and flocked to Livni’s camp in order to “Stop Bibi!” Also, Livni – who was never identified with feminism – remembered at the last moment to call Israel’s women to her banner, and they hearkened to her call.

    But it is impossible to ignore the main significance of this choice: Netanyahu symbolizes total opposition to peace, opposition to giving back the occupied territories, to the freezing of the settlements and to a Palestinian state. Livni, on the other hand, has declared more than once her total support for the “Two-Nation-States” solution. Her voters opted for the more moderate line.

    True, the big winner in the elections was Avigdor Liberman. But his triumph is far from the fateful breakthrough everyone foresaw. He did not win the 20 seats he had promised. His ascent from 11 to 15 seats is not so dramatic. His party is indeed now the third largest in the Knesset, but that is less due to its own rise than to the collapse of Labor, which fell from 19 to 13. By the way, not one of the parties won even 25% of the vote. Israeli democracy is now very fragile indeed.

    The Liberman phenomenon is ominous, but not (yet?) disastrous.

    HOWEVER, THERE is no way to deny the most significant message of these elections: the Israeli public has moved to the right. From Likud to the right there are now 65 seats, from Kadima to the left only 55. One cannot argue with numbers.

    What has caused this shift?

    There are several explanations, all of them valid.

    One can consider it as a passing phase after the war. A war arouses strong emotions – nationalist intoxication, hatred of the enemy, fear of the Other, longing for unity and for revenge,. All these naturally serve the Right – a lesson sometimes forgotten by the left when it starts a war.

    Others see in it a continuation of a historical process: the Zionist-Palestinian confrontation is becoming wider and more complex, and such a situation feeds the Right.

    And then there is, of course, the demographic factor. The rightist bloc attracts the votes of three sectors: the Oriental Jews (a majority of whom vote for Likud), the religious (who mostly vote for the fundamentalists) and the Russians (most of whom vote for Liberman). This is a group vote, almost automatic.

    Two sectors in Israel have an especially high birth-rate: the religious Jews and the Arabs. The religious vote almost unanimously for the Right. True, the Orthodox and the National-Religious parties have not increased their strength in the elections, probably because many of their natural voters chose Likud, Liberman or the even more extreme National Union. The Arab citizens almost completely abstained from voting for Jewish parties, as many of them used to in the past, and the three Arab parties together gained one more seat.

    The demographic development is ominous. Kadima, Labor and Meretz are identified with the old-established Ashkenazi sector, whose demographic strength is in steady decline. Also, many young Ashkenazis gave their votes – at least four seats worth – to Liberman, who preaches a secular fascism. They hate the Arabs, but they also hate the religious Jews.

    The conclusion is quite clear: if the “center-left” does not succeed in breaking out of its elitist ghetto and striking roots within the Oriental and Russian sectors, its decline will continue from election to election.

    NOW MS TANTALUS must choose between two bitter options: to retire to the desert where there is neither water nor fruit, or to serve as a fig-leaf for an obnoxious coalition.

    Option No. 1: to refuse to join Netanyahu’s coalition and to go into opposition. That is not so simple. The Kadima party came into being when Ariel Sharon promised its members – refugees from right and left – power. It will be very hard for Livni to hold the lot together in opposition, far from the seat of power, far from the posh ministers’ offices and from luxurious official cars.

    That would give us a rightist government which includes open fascists, pupils of Meir Kahane (whose party was banned because of his racist teachings), the advocates of ethnic cleansing, of the expulsion of Israel’s Arab citizens and the liquidation of any chance for peace. Such a government would inevitably find itself in confrontation with the United States and in worldwide isolation.

    Some people say: that’s good. Such a government will necessarily fall soon and break apart. Thus the public will be persuaded that there is no viable rightist option. Kadima, Labor and Meretz will stew in opposition, and perhaps a real center-left alternative will come into being.

    Others say: too risky. There is no limit to the disasters that a Netanyahu-Liberman-Kahanist government can bring upon the state, from the enlargement of the settlements that will torpedo any future peace, to outright war. We can’t stake everything on one card, when the chip is the State of Israel.

    Livni’s option No. 2: to swallow the bitter pill, give in and join the Netanyahu government as a second, third or fourth wheel. In that case, she must decide at once, before Netanyahu establishes a fait accompli with an extreme-right coalition which Livni would then be invited to join as a junior partner.

    I shall not be surprised if President Shimon Peres takes the initiative unofficially and promotes this option – before starting, in a week’s time, the official process of consulting with the Knesset factions and entrusting one of the candidates with the task of forming a government.

    Could such a government move towards peace? Conduct real negotiations? Agree to the dismantling of settlements? Accept a Palestinian state? Recognize a Palestinian unity government that includes Hamas?

    Hard to imagine. In the best case, it will go on with the charade of meaningless negotiations, quietly enlarge the settlements, lead Barack Obama by the nose and mobilize the pro-Israel lobby in order to obstruct any real American moves towards peace. What was will be.

    CAN ISRAEL change course? Can a real peace-oriented alternative arise?

    The two “Zionist Left” parties have been decisively beaten. Both Labor and Meretz have collapsed. Their two leaders who called for the Gaza War and supported it – Ehud Barak of Labor and Haim Oron of Meretz – have received the punishment they richly deserve. In a normal democracy, both would have resigned the day after the elections. But our democracy is not normal, and both leaders insist on staying on and leading their party to the next disaster.

    Labor is a walking corpse – the only “social-democratic” party in the world whose leader’s sole aim is to stay on as war minister. When Barak spread the mantra “there is no one to talk with” he overlooked the logical conclusion “therefore we don’t need anyone to talk with them”.

    The Labor Party has no party, no members, no political program, no alternative leadership. It will fail in opposition as it failed in government. Barring a miracle, it will end up in the junkyard of history.

    It will find Meretz already there. A socialist party that lost its way a long time ago: a party without any roots in the classes at the foot of the socioeconomic ladder, a party that has supported all our wars.

    Some believe in easy solutions: a union of Labor and Meretz, for example. That is a union of the lame and the blind. No reason to expect that they would win the race.

    THE REAL task is far more difficult. A completely new building must be erected in place of the one which has collapsed.

    The need is for a new Left that will include new leaders from the sectors that have been discriminated against: the Orientals, the Russians and the Arabs. A new Left that will express the ideals of a new generation, people of peace, advocates of social change, feminists and greens, who will all understand that one cannot realize one ideal without realizing all of them. There can be no social justice in a military state; no one is interested in the environment while the cannons are roaring, feminism is incompatible with a society of machos riding on tanks, there can be no respect for Oriental Jews in a society that despises the culture of the Orient.

    The Arab citizens will have to leave the ghetto in which they are confined and start to talk with the Jewish public, and the Jewish public must talk with the Arabs on equal terms. The Liberman slogan “No Citizenship Without Loyalty” must be turned around: “No Loyalty Without Real Citizenship”.

    As Obama has done in the US, a new language, a new lexicon must be created, to replace the old and tired phrases.

    Much, much must be changed if we want to save the state.

    AS FOR Ms. Tantalus: she can contribute to this process of change, or her torture will continue.

    Echoing Pyrrhus, king of Epirus and Macedon, she can well say: Another such victory and we are undone.


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  5. The Other Israel
    latest issue lead article online & info how to order free sample

    Growing pressure?

    Here follow the February 17, 2009 press picks on Occupation Magazine from what was published recently by different sources. Today’s updates are from TOI-staff. OM is updated each day of the week by different editors. For earlier articles use the powerfull search function & view the sections.

    Joint call for impartial investigation of war crimes / violations during Gaza offensive
    Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network – The mission, including among them Israeli as well as Palestinian representatives, will urge the Czech presidency of the EU to support an impartial, international investigation into all alleged war crimes and other violations of international humanitarian law committed committed during the Israeli offensive into the Gaza Strip by all those involved in the conflict.

    Uproar over Jordanian & Palestinian appeals to Hague War Crimes Tribunal
    Roni Sofer/Roee Nahmias/Tiffany Ayuda – Y-net/College News – Both Jordanians and Palestinians are trying to get the War Crimes Tribunal at the Hague to take up the issue of the Israeli Army`s acts in the Gaza War and whether or not they constitute war crimes. From today`s Israeli Radio news, it seems that the government`s legal experts will respond that the war did not happen in Jordanian territory and therefore Jordan has no jurisdiction, and that it did happen in Palestinian territory but Palestine is not a state and therefore has no jurisdiction. But they are not sure the Hague prosecutor will be ready to buy this sophistry. (Ed.)

    Hamas official: Shalit deal before truce possible
    Roee Nahmias – Ynet – Senior Hamas official tells al-Hayat that if Israel accepts group`s demands regarding prisoner exchange, deal on captive soldier can be reached before ceasefire

    Israel to open Hebron road to Palestinian traffic
    Ma`an/Breaking the Silence – The army announced that a major Hebron artery, which for the past ten years was closed to Palestinians and reserved solely to settlers and their guests, will be reopened to to Palestinian traffic. However, the human rights groups which had long been campaigning on this issue were cautious in their welcome – as in the past, similar announcements by the army were not implemented in practice.

    U.S. to participate in preparations for Durban II meeting
    Barak Ravid – Haaretz – Move comes despite concerns in J`lem that summit will be used to bash Israel

    The Gaza Early Recovery and Reconstruction Plan
    Palestinian PMO press release – The two-year recovery programme – in partnership with the international community – must do more than re-build Gaza as it was, it must seize this opportunity to build a better future for our citizens in Gaza, dealing with chronic poverty, stagnation and isolation, as well as repairing the damage.

    Ignoring Israel undermines NPT
    ElBaradei – Press TV Persian Section – “What compounds the problem is that the nuclear non-proliferation regime has lost its legitimacy in the eyes of Arab public opinion because of the perceived double-standards concerning Israel, the only state in the region outside the NPT and known to possess nuclear weapons”

    Bottom Shekel / A vote for a rough divorce lawyer
    Elah Alkalay – Haaretz – If the international community does manage to arrange a separation, the peace premium for the region could be exactly the medicine the doctor would prescribe to prevent the epidemic afflicting the global markets from hitting the region. [Election results analysis from the point of view of a business development manager-ed]

    IDF probe: Cannot defend destruction of Gaza homes
    Amos Harel – Haaretz – “Israel Defense Forces investigations into last month`s offensive in the Gaza Strip indicate the army could face significant difficulties justifying the scale of destruction of civilian homes during the fighting”

    As Palestinian Death toll Rises, The Israeli Offensive Continues
    Sergio Yahni – AIC – “The death toll of the Gaza war reached 1,374 Friday, February 13 as Egyptian medical sources announced the death of 24 year old Nay Fayiz Hasan, Gazan woman injured during Israel�s 22-day offensive”

    A few recommended earlier articles

    Gaza And Its Aftermath – Noam Chomsky interviewed by Assaf Kfoury


    Amira Hass: Under a white flag, darkly

  6. Ad in Haaretz, February 20, 2009

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    Uri Avnery

    The Great Gamble Full text English in the end
    Avnery columns’ archive

    On the Gush Shalom Forum:

    Dr. Zeki Ergas:
    Barack Obama and the untying of the Gordian Knot

    ????? ?”????” 20 ??????? 2009

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    Uri Avnery

    The Great Gamble

    “IACTA ALEA EST” ? the die is cast ? said Julius Caesar and crossed the River Rubicon on his way to conquer Rome. That was the end of Roman democracy.

    We don?t have a Julius Caesar. But we do have an Avigdor Liberman. When he announced his support the other day for the setting up of a government headed by Binyamin Netanyahu, that was the crossing of his Rubicon.

    I hope that this is not the beginning of the end of Israeli democracy.

    UNTIL THE last moment, Liberman held the Israeli public in suspense. Will he join Netanyahu? Will he join Tzipi Livni?

    Those who participated in the guessing game were divided in their view of Liberman.

    Some of them said: Liberman is indeed what he pretends to be: an extreme nationalist racist. His aim is really to turn Israel into a Jewish state cleansed of Arabs ? Araberrein, in German. He has only contempt for democracy, both in the country and in his own party, which consists of yesmen and yeswomen devoid of any identity of their own. Like similar parties in the past, it is based on a cult of (his) personality, the worship of brute force, contempt for democracy and disdain for the judicial system. In other countries this is called fascism.

    Others say: that is all a façade. Liberman is no Israeli Fuehrer, because he is nothing but a cheat and a cynic. The police investigations against him and his business dealings with Palestinians show him to be a corrupt opportunist. He is also a friend of Tzipi. He cultivates a fascist image in order to pave his way to power. He will sell all his slogans for a piece of government.

    The first Liberman would support the setting up of an extreme Right government by Netanyahu. The second Liberman could support a Livni government. For a whole week he juggled the balls. Now he has decided: he is indeed an extreme nationalist racist. As the Americans say: if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it is a duck.

    For appearances? sake he told the President that his proposal to entrust Netanyahu with the setting up of a government applies only to a broad-based coalition encompassing Likud, Kadima and his own party. But that is just a gimmick: probably such a government will not come into being, and the next government will be a coalition of Likud, Liberman, the disciples of Meir Kahane and the religious parties.

    SOME ON the Left say: Excellent. The voters will get exactly what they deserve. At long last, there will be an exclusively rightist government.

    One of the proponents of this attitude is Gideon Levy, a consistent advocate of peace, democracy and civil equality.

    He and those who think like him say: Israel simply has to pass through this phase before it can recover. The Right must get unlimited power to realize its program, without the pretext of being hindered by leftist or centrist members of the coalition. Let them try, in full view of the world, to pursue a policy of war, the overthrow of Hamas in Gaza, the avoidance of any peace negotiations, unfettered settlement, spitting in the face of world public opinion and collision with the United States.

    In this view, such a government cannot last for long. The new American administration of Barack Obama will not allow it. The world will boycott it. American Jewry will be shocked. And if Netanyahu strays ? even slightly ? from the Right and narrow path, his government will fall apart. The Kahanists, up to then his full partners, will divorce him on the spot. After all, the last Netanyahu government was overthrown ten years ago by the extreme right after he sat down with Yasser Arafat and signed an agreement that gave (pro forma) a part of Hebron to the Palestinian Authority.

    After the fall of the government, according to this prognosis, the public will understand that there is no rightist option, that the slogans of the Right are nothing but nonsense. Only thus will they arrive at the conclusion that there is no alternative to the path of peace. The voters will elect a government that will end the occupation, clear the way for a free Palestinian state with its capital in East Jerusalem and withdraw to the Green Line borders (with slight, mutually acceptable, adjustments).

    For the public to accept this, a shock is needed. The fall of the deep-Right government can supply such a shock. According to a saying attributed (mistakenly, it appears) to Lenin: The worse, the better. Or, put in another way: it must become much worse before it can get any better.

    THIS IS a seductive theory. But it is also very frightening.

    How can we be sure that the Obama administration will indeed put irresistible pressure on Netanyahu? That is possible. Let?s hope that it happens. But it is not certain at all.

    Obama has not yet passed a real test on any issue. It is already clear that there is a marked difference between what he promised in the election campaign and what he is doing in practice. In several matters he is continuing the policies of George Bush with slight alterations. That was, of course, to be expected. But Obama has not yet shown how he would act under real pressure. When Netanyahu mobilizes the full might of the pro-Israel lobby, will Obama surrender, like all preceding presidents?

    And world public opinion ? how united will it be? How much pressure can it exert? When Netanyahu declares that all criticism of his government is “anti-Semitic” and that every boycott call is an echo of the Nazi slogan “Kauft nicht bei Juden” (“Don?t buy from Jews”) ? how many of the critics will stand up to the pressure? How much courage will Merkel, Sarkozy, Berlusconi et al be able to muster? And on the other side: will a world-wide boycott not intensify the paranoia in Israel and push all the Israeli public into the arms of the extreme Right, under the time-worn slogan “All the World is against us?”

    IN THE best of circumstances, if all the pressures materialize and have a maximum impact ? how long will it take? What disasters can such a government bring about before the pressure starts to take effect? How many human beings will be killed and injured in attacks and acts of revenge by both sides? Such a government would be dominated by the settlers. How many new settlements will spring up? How many existing settlements will be extended at a hectic pace? And in the meantime, won?t the settlers intensify their harassment of the Palestinian population with the aim of bringing about ethnic cleansing?

    The components of the Rightist coalition have already declared that they do not agree to a cease-fire in Gaza because it would consolidate the rule of Hamas there. They seek to renew the Gaza War under an even more brutal leadership, to re-conquer the Strip and to return the settlers there.

    Netanyahu?s talk about an “economic peace” is complete nonsense, because no economy can develop under an occupation regime and hundreds of roadblocks. Any peace process ? real or virtual ? will grind to a halt. The result: the Palestinian authority will collapse. Out of desperation, the West Bank population will turn further towards Hamas, or the Fatah movement will become Hamas 2.

    Inside Israel, the government will have to confront the deepening depression and perhaps cause economic chaos. All the sections of the government are united in their hatred of the Supreme Court, and the crazy manipulations of Justice Minister Daniel Friedman will give way to even crazier ones. Under the catchy slogan of “regime change”, targeted assaults against the democratic system will take place.

    All these things are possible. One or two years of a Bibi-Liberman-Kahane government can cause irreparable damage to Israel?s standing in the world, Israeli-American relations, the judicial system, Israeli democracy, national morale and national sanity.

    THE POSITIVE side of this situation is that the Knesset will once again include a large opposition. Perhaps even an effective opposition.

    Kadima came into being as a government party. It will not be easy for it to adapt to the role of opposition. That will require an emotional and intellectual transformation. For ten years I myself conducted an uncompromising oppositional struggle in the Knesset, and I know how difficult it is. But if Kadima manages to undergo such a transformation successfully ? which is very doubtful ? it may become an effective opposition. The necessity to present a clear alternative to the rightist government may lead it to discover unsuspected strengths within itself. Tzipi Livni?s games with the Palestinians may turn into a serious program for a Two-State solution, a program that will be strengthened and deepened by the daily parliamentary struggle vis-à-vis a government with an opposite program.

    Labor, too, will have to undergo a profound transformation. Ehud Barak is certainly not the person to wage an oppositional fight ? especially as he will not be the “head of the opposition”, a title officially conferred by law on the leader of the largest opposition faction. He will be second fiddle even in opposition. Labor will have to compete, and perhaps-perhaps this will lead to its recovery. The Bible tells us of the miracle of the dry bones (Ezekiel 37).

    That is true even more for Meretz. It will have to compete with both Kadima and Labor to justify its place in the struggle for peace and social recovery.

    A real optimist can even hope for the narrowing of the gap between the “Jewish Left” and the “Arab parties”, which the Left has until now boycotted and left out of all coalition calculations. The common struggle and the joint votes in the Knesset may bring about a positive development there too.

    And beyond the parliamentary arena, the government of the extreme Right may change the atmosphere in the country and stimulate many well-intentioned people to leave the security of their ivory towers and start a process of intellectual rejuvenation in the circles from which a new, open and different Left must spring.

    ALL THESE are theoretical possibilities. What will happen in reality? What will be the consequences of a “pure” rightist regime, if Tzipi Livni maintains her determination not to join a Netanyahu government? Will Israel set off down a suicidal road from which there is no return, or will this be a passing phase before the wake-up call?

    It is a great gamble, and like every gamble, it arouses both fear and hope.


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  7. Ad in Haaretz, February 27, 2009


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    10 Ways to Kill Fatah
    Full text English in the end
    Avnery columns’ archive

    ????? ?”????” 27 ??????? 2009

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    Uri Avnery

    10 Ways to Kill Fatah

    979 DAYS HAVE passed since the soldier Gilad Shalit was taken prisoner. On any one of these days it would have been possible to free him for the price fixed by Hamas right from the beginning: 450 “important” Palestinian prisoners, in addition to hundreds of others, as well as all the women and juvenile prisoners.

    In the eyes of our government, it is all about the return of the “kidnapped” soldier in exchange for “heinous murderers” who have “blood on their hands”.

    In the eyes of Hamas, it is about releasing a Jewish “prisoner of war” in return for the freeing of hundreds of “resistance fighters” who have “carried out heroic attacks deep in the territory of the Zionist occupier.”

    Many had hoped that Ehud Olmert would tie up the affair before leaving office in the next few weeks. But Olmert is afraid. Recently he has made several U-turns. One moment he decides this way, another time the other. Which would be more popular? To act or not to act?

    If he carries out the prisoner exchange and the soldier comes home, there will be an eruption of public joy. Olmert will be the hero of the hour. But for how long? Two days? Three? After this, a reaction will set in: How could he release hundreds of vicious murderers? Surely they will carry out new attacks, Jewish blood will be spilled, children will be murdered. Olmert will be the scoundrel of the year.

    A leader of stature makes a decision and accepts the consequences. But Olmert is a politician, only a politician. He has never been more than that. He is cynical rather than moral, cunning rather than wise. He still hopes to come out intact from his manifold corruption affairs, and then, after the failure of Binyamin Netanyahu and Tzipi Livni, to return to power. So perhaps, he may calculate, it is best to leave the whole Shalit affair to the next prime minister.

    BUT BEHIND the personal considerations there lurks a political problem, too. How will the prisoner exchange affect the balance of power between Fatah and Hamas?

    The release of 1200 Palestinian prisoners will be perceived by the Palestinian people as a huge victory for Hamas. For them, it will demonstrate once again that the Israelis understand only the language of force, as Hamas has consistently maintained. It will shame Mahmoud Abbas, the more so if Hamas brings about the release of Fatah?s No. 2, Marwan Barghouti.

    Olmert could, of course, prevent the humiliation of Abbas. Tomorrow morning he could free a thousand prisoners belonging to Fatah, including Barghouti, as a gesture to Abbas. That would take the sting out of the Hamas victory.

    Simple? Certainly. Smart? For sure. Possible? Not at all. Not in our country. Not for Olmert and his ilk. To give Abbas something for nothing? Preposterous. Out of the question!

    This exposes again the divided attitude vis-à-vis the PLO that has bedeviled Israeli policy for dozens of years already. An inconsistency that is political, but also psychological.

    SOME 40 YEARS ago I read a book by the psychologist Eric Berne, “Games People Play”.

    One of the book?s theses is that the ostensible motive for an action often contradicts the real, unconscious one. For example: a habitual felon sets out to rob a bank, and is caught and sent to prison. The obvious motive is clear: he wants to get rich the easy way. But his real motive is quite different: he is afraid of life outside prison. In his unconscious mind he hopes to be caught, because in prison he feels secure. His place in the prison hierarchy is assured.

    I am often reminded of this theory when I think about the curious behavior of successive Israeli governments towards the PLO.

    IN SEPTEMBER 1993, after a long and bloody fight, Yitzhak Rabin signed an agreement with Yasser Arafat and recognized the PLO as the sole representative of the Palestinian people. The logical continuation would have been for Israel to help in establishing a Palestinian state next to Israel and to do everything to strengthen Arafat and the Palestinian Authority created by the agreement.

    But, oddly enough, successive Israeli governments have done exactly the opposite.

    It started already with Rabin himself on the morrow of the Oslo agreement. After deciding that our national interest demanded a partnership with Arafat, it would have been logical for him to reinforce Arafat?s authority in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip and sign a peace agreement with him as soon as possible, even before the time limit set by Oslo (1999).

    Contrary to the demonic image that Israel constructed for him, Arafat was the ideal partner. He was a strong leader and all sections of the Palestinian public accepted his authority completely ? including those who criticized him, even including Hamas. He had the two attributes essential for making peace: the will to achieve it and the ability to convince his own people to accept it.

    But, strangely enough, our government moved in the very opposite direction. The peace negotiations did not even start. The settlement drive continued unabated. Everywhere in the West Bank one could see the red tile roofs of the settlers springing up. The absolutely essential passage between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip was not opened ? in spite of the solemn undertaking of the Israeli government to open four “safe passages”. Not only did the economic situation of the Palestinians not improve, but on the contrary, it worsened perceptibly. Before Oslo, Palestinians could move freely in the whole of the country (including Israel proper). After Oslo, that freedom of movement was restricted more and more.

    All this was already happening under Rabin, and became much worse after his murder. The stupid decision of his successor, Shimon Peres, to assassinate the Hamas bomb-maker Yahya Ayyash brought about a series of bloody revenge attacks and raised the prestige of Hamas ? something totally opposed to Israeli interests as presented by our leadership.

    Things reached a climax at the 2000 Camp David summit conference. Ehud Barak, the then prime minister, initiated the conference and then scuttled it himself with a blend of arrogance and ignorance. In the following days, instead of declaring that the talks would continue until peace was achieved, he spread the mantra “There is no one to talk with! We have no partner for peace!” In this he was inspired by the evil genius of his advisor (then and now), Amos Gilad, who twisted army intelligence reports to suit his destructive purpose.

    Not only did Barak destroy the “Zionist Left”, but he also dealt a shattering blow to Fatah, the movement that had promised the Palestinians peace with Israel. Not content with that, Barak allowed Ariel Sharon to carry out his provocative visit to the Temple Mount, accompanied by hundreds of soldiers and policemen. Thus he triggered the outbreak of the second
    intifada and prepared the ground for Sharon to come to power.

    When Sharon was elected Prime Minister at the beginning of 2001, he was determined to destroy Arafat and Fatah. He blockaded Arafat in the Ramallah Mukataa and demolished the Fatah infrastructure throughout the occupied territories. When Arafat was murdered (one can guess by whom) Mahmoud Abbas was elected to fill his place.

    Contrary to Arafat, who had been demonized by the Israeli leadership for decades, Abbas was seen in Israel as a nice, peace-loving person, an absolutely ideal partner for peace. It could have been expected that our leadership would now move energetically to fortify his regime by a rapid advancement in the peace negotiations, a massive release of prisoners and the freezing of the settlements. But lo and behold: the opposite happened. Sharon ridiculed him publicly by calling him a “plucked chicken”, the settlements were enlarged and the Wall was extended at a frantic pace.

    Even more blatantly, Sharon evacuated the costly Gaza Strip settlements without any arrangement with the Palestinian Authority, leaving behind a complete chaos in which Hamas thrived.

    THE CONSEQUENCES were not late in arriving: in the Palestinian elections, closely monitored by international inspectors, Hamas won a victory that surprised everyone, including the Hamas leadership itself. Israel boycotted the new Hamas government. In order to minimize the damage to his party, Abbas formed a Fatah-Hamas unity government, but Israel (followed by Europe and the US) boycotted that one, too.

    This situation benefitted, of course, Hamas. Palestinian support for Abbas is based mainly on the hope that he can bring about peace with Israel. If he is unable to do that, who needs him?

    The Israeli government ? and its satellites in Washington DC ? were not content with that. They tried to establish Muhammad Dahlan, a man considered by many Palestinians as an agent of Israel and the US, as the strong-man of the Gaza Strip. To preempt this move, Hamas assumed direct power in the Strip, turning it into “Hamastan”. Thus Abbas lost all power over almost half of the Palestinians in the occupied territories.

    This would probably have been impossible if Israel had not completely cut off the Gaza Strip from the West Bank, in violation of the agreements it had signed. In Oslo it was declared that the West Bank and the Strip constitute one single entity, and that they would be connected by safe passages. In practice, not a single passage was opened, not for a single day. Those who claim that Israel has served the Strip to Hamas on a platter do not exaggerate.

    The continuation is well-known: Israel imposed a blockade on Gaza, Hamas launched rockets at Israel, a cease-fire was declared, which the Israeli army violated on November 4 by entering the Strip and killing several Hamas militants, Hamas launched more Qassam rockets, Israel started the Gaza War. Israeli leaders asserted publicly that they were waging the war also for Abbas? sake, thus marking him in the eyes of the Palestinians as a collaborator with the enemy against his own people. The Hamas regime in Gaza survived.

    The net result: Hamas was hugely strengthened and according to all expectations will increase its power in the next elections. Most governments in the world understand now that they must start a dialogue with Hamas.

    MANY PEOPLE around the world believe in the anti-Semitic myth that we Jews are immensely clever and that all our actions prove our diabolical cunning. Therefore, the ascent of Hamas must be the result of a shrewd Zionist conspiracy. The existence of Abbas (and Arafat before him) hinders the Jews from taking hold of the whole country, because the world demands a compromise with the “moderate” Palestinian leadership. But the world accepts that there can be no compromise with the murderous Hamas, and therefore the clever Jews are interested in a Hamas victory.

    On the other hand, many Israelis believe that our governments are composed of exceedingly stupid politicians who do not know what they are doing. These Israelis believe that the series of actions that have weakened Fatah and reinforced Hamas are just a march of folly, the result of Israeli stupidity.

    I propose a compromise between the two perceptions: Israeli policy is indeed foolish, but there is method in this foolishness. It can go on only because it conforms with a deep-seated desire, which most people are not conscious of or do not want to admit: to hold on to all of Eretz Israel and not to allow a Palestinian state to come into being.

    If we want to change this, we must drag the unconscious motivation up to the level of consciousness: what do we want? Peace or more territory? Co-existence between two states or occupation and eternal war?

    It is too late to turn the wheel back. Hamas is now a part of reality. It is in the Israeli interest that a Palestinian unity government be set up, a government with which we can reach an agreement that will be kept. If we have already played such a pivotal role in turning Hamas into a central Palestinian power, by all means let?s talk with them!

    This way we can also free Gilad Shalit in a prisoner exchange ? before his 1000th day in captivity.


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    correspondence @ gush – shalom . org

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    Address for contributions:

    GUSH SHALOM p.o.b. 3322 Tel Aviv 61033

    Recommended occupation related reading & data :

  8. Did war make any difference?

    Here follow the March 3, 2009 press picks on Occupation Magazine from what was published recently by different sources. Today TOI-staff posted some articles. OM is updated each day of the week by different editors. For earlier articles use the powerfull search function & view the sections.


    Worldwide appeal calling for security for all the people in Israel and Palestine
    Concerned Jews online petition to end occupation, settlements and blockade, initiated in Switzerland


    Did war make any difference?
    Haggai Matar – Ynet – Where are all those people who hurled insults and eggs at us? Do they still care about the south? Do they now understand what the traitors from the margins said before the war – that there is no military solution, and that we must end the siege?

    Despair and rage among Gaza`s youths
    Heather Sharp – BBC News – “We`re dead – either by Israeli weapons or as the living dead,” says Mahmoud Abuqammar, 22.

    Gazans want open borders, not handouts
    AP – Ynet News – “I want a ceasefire and open borders. Crossings are better than tunnels,” said 22-year-old smuggler Abu Mahmoud, leaning over a shaft as workers tried to clear a 100-meter stretch of tunnel that had collapsed under a recent Israeli air strike.

    Palestinian Workers Union slams Israel`s arrest of 77 workers
    Saed Bannoura – IMEMC – The Nablus Workers Union: harassing of workers who are seeking work to provide food to their families is illegal, violating international law and the Fourth Geneva Convention.

    Global systemic crisis paradigm shift and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict
    Zeki Ergas – With the global crisis developing rapidly towards the fifth stage, paradigm shift to a better and sustainable world is a necessity. If the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has lasted such a long time, it is also because it was fully part of the old paradigm.

    Sports and the Gaza war
    Adam Keller – Efter Arbetet – I hope the day will come when Israeli sports teams would be welcome to play in Malmo and everywhere else – also in Arab and Islamic countries, also in the towns and cities of Palestine. The representatives of an Israel at peace, an Israel which is truly integrated in its Middle East environment, would face no trouble in Malmo or anywhere else.

    Ministry of Housing’s Plans for the West Bank – March 2009
    Peace Now – The Ministry of Construction and Housing is planning to construct at least 73,300 housing units in the West Bank

    Israel may face war crimes trials over Gaza
    Peter Beaumont – The Guardian – Court looks at whether Palestinians can bring case � International pressure grows over conflict

    The pasta, paper and hearing aids that could threaten Israeli security
    Anne Penketh – The Independent – “`When have lentil bombs been going off lately? Is someone going to kill you with a piece of macaroni?` asked Congressman Brian Laird. It was only after Senator John Kerry, the head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, raised the issue with Defence Minister Ehud Barak after their trip last month that Israel allowed the pasta in”

    23 Palestinians killed in February
    Saed Bannoura – IMEMC & Agencies – “The International Solidarity for Human Rights reported Sunday that the Israeli army carried repeated violations in the occupied territories in February and killed 23 Palestinians, including four children and three women”

    Recommended older articles

    Donald Macintyre: Israel`s death squads: A soldiers story

    Amira Hass: Return to Gaza

    Uri Avnery: War is Peace & 10 Ways to Kill Fatah

    Meron Benvenisti:Interesting only when they are violent

    Gideon Levy:Let Netanyahu win

    Gideon Spiro: Red Rag Weekly Column: `Eyes right`

    Ben White: The real Israel-Palestine story is in the West Bank

    Daily headlines & action alerts in English and Hebrew

  9. Ad in Haaretz, March 6, 2009


    Tzipi Livni wants
    To join the opposition
    And lead the peace camp.

    In the meantime,
    She is part of the government
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    In a prisoner exchange
    And obstructs the cease-fire
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    But the task of the
    ?Leader of the peace camp?
    Does not start tomorrow ?
    It starts
    Right now!

    ads to: Gush Shalom, P.O.Box 3322, Tel-Aviv 61033

    URI AVNERY Remember Ophira? Full text English in the end
    Avnery columns’ archive

    New in Forum:

    Paradigm shift & the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by Zeki Ergas

    a catching Gaza animation film

    Did war make any difference?
    Haggai Matar in Ynet,7340,L-3678804,00.html

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    Uri Avnery

    Remember Ophira?

    THIS WEEK I had a nostalgic experience. I met a parliamentary delegation from one of the European countries. What turned this meeting into a special occasion for me was its location.

    The “Pasha Room” of the “American Colony” Hotel in East Jerusalem is a beautiful square hall, decorated in traditional Arab style. I was in this hall at the moment Yitzhak Rabin held out his hand to Yasser Arafat on the White House lawn at the Oslo agreement signing ceremony.

    We gathered there spontaneously, Israeli peace activists and Fatah leaders, to celebrate the event together. We watched the proceedings on TV and cracked bottles of champagne. I still have one of the corks.

    Just an hour before, I had witnessed a no less exciting meeting. A group of young Palestinians, delirious with joy, marched through the streets, olive branches in their hands and a large Palestinian flag fluttering over their heads. At the street corner, a unit of the Border Police ? the most aggressive anti-Arab force in Israel ? was waiting. At the time, even the simple possession of a Palestinian flag was a crime.

    For a moment, we held our breath. What is going to happen? The Palestinians ran towards the policemen and thrust olive branches into their hands. The policemen did not know what to do. They were obviously in a state of total disorientation and did not react at all. The enthusiastic youngsters continued on their way through the streets of East Jerusalem, singing and rejoicing.

    Today, 15 and a half years later, one can only look back with longing at the passion for peace that possessed all of us then. Nothing has remained of that fervor, that hope, that zeal for reconciliation.

    All these have now been replaced by a poisonous mix of hopelessness and dejection.

    IF YOU stop any ten random passers-by in a Tel Aviv street and ask them what they think about the chances of peace, nine of them will shrug their shoulders and answer: It won?t happen. No chance. The conflict will just go on forever.

    They will not say: We don?t want peace, the price of peace is too high. On the contrary, many will declare that for peace they are ready to give back the occupied territories, even East Jerusalem, and let the Palestinians have a state of their own. Sure. Why not? But, they will add: No chance. There will be no peace.

    Some will say: The Arabs don?t want it. Others will say: Our leaders can?t do it. But the conclusion is the same: It just won?t happen.

    A similar poll of Palestinians would probably yield the same results: We want peace. Peace would be wonderful. But there?s no chance. It won?t happen.

    This mood has produced the same political situation on both sides. In the Palestinian elections, Hamas won, not because of its ideology but because it expresses the despair of peace with Israel. In the Israeli elections, there was a general move to the Right: Leftists voted for Kadima, Kadima people voted for Likud, Likud people voted for the fascist factions.

    Without hope there is no Left. The Left is by nature optimistic, it believes in a better future, in the chance of changing everything for the better. The Right is by nature pessimistic. It does not believe in the possibility of changing human nature and society for the better, it is convinced that war is a law of nature.

    But among the despairing there are still those who hope that an intervention by foreigners ? Americans, Europeans, even Arabs ? will impose peace on us.

    This week, that hope was severely shaken.

    ON TV we were shown a uniquely impressive conference, a huge assembly of world leaders, who all came to Sharm-el-Sheikh. (Remember that during our occupation of Sinai it was called Ophira? Remember Moshe Dayan saying that he preferred Sharm-el-Sheikh without peace to peace without Sharm-el-Sheikh?)

    Who was not there? Chinese and Japanese rubbed shoulders with Saudis and Qataris. Nicholas Sarkozy was everywhere (Indeed, it was well-nigh impossible to take a photo without the hyper-active French president appearing in it somewhere.) Hillary Clinton was the star. Hosni Mubarak celebrated his achievement in getting them all together on Egyptian soil..

    And for what? For little, poor Gaza. It has to be rebuilt.

    It was a celebration of sanctimonious hypocrisy, in the very best tradition of international diplomacy.

    First of all, nobody from Gaza was there. As in the heyday of European imperialism, 150 years ago, the fate of the Natives was decided without the Natives themselves being present. Who needs them? After all, they are Primitives. Better without them.

    Not only Hamas was absent. A delegation of Gaza businessmen and civil society activists could not come either. Mubarak just did not allow them to pass the Rafah crossing. The gate of the prison called Gaza was barred by the Egyptian jailers.

    The absence of delegates from Gaza, and especially from Hamas, turned the conference into a farce. Hamas rules Gaza. It won the elections there, as in all the Palestinian territories, and continues to govern it even after one of the mightiest armies in the world spent 22 days trying to dislodge it. Nothing will happen in the Gaza Strip without the consent of Hamas. The world-wide decision to rebuild Gaza without the participation of Hamas is sheer foolishness.

    The war ended with a fragile cease-fire that is collapsing before our very eyes. In his opening speech to the conference, Mubarak hinted that it is Ehud Olmert who is now preventing an armistice (called Tadyah or calm in Arabic). Nobody at the conference reacted. But when there is no cease-fire, another even more destructive war is looming. It?s just a matter of time ? months, weeks, perhaps days. What has not yet been destroyed, will be destroyed then. So what is the good in investing billions to rebuild schools, hospitals, government buildings and ordinary homes, all of which will be demolished again anyhow?

    Mubarak spoke about the exchange of prisoners. Sarkozy spoke with much pathos about the soldier “Jilad Shalit”, a French citizen who all French people want to be freed. Interesting. There are 11 thousand Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails. How many of them also hold French citizenship? Sarkozy did not say. It doesn?t interest him. Even in this bunch of hypocrites, he strives for championship.

    The participants of the conference promised Mahmoud Abbas fabulous sums of money. Nearly five billion dollars. How much will actually be paid? How much of this will actually pass through the sieve of the high-flying set in Ramallah and reach Gaza? According to a Gaza woman who appeared on television, a homeless mother who lives in a small tent in the middle of a huge mud puddle: Not a cent.

    Was the political part of the performance more serious? Hillary spoke about “Two States for Two Peoples”. Others talked about “the Political Process” and “Peace Negotiations”. And all, all of them knew that these are nothing but hollow words.

    IN HIS poem “If”, Rudyard Kipling asked whether “you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken / Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools.” This is now a test for all those who stood at the cradle of the “Two State” idea some 60 years ago.

    This vision was ? and remains ? the only viable solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The sole realistic alternative is the continuation of the present situation ? occupation, oppression, Apartheid, war. But the enemies of this vision have smartened up and pretend to support it on every occasion.

    Avigdor Liberman is in favor of “Two States”. Absolutely. He spells it out: several Palestinian enclaves, each of them surrounded by the Israeli military and by settlers like himself. These Bantustans will be called “a Palestinian state”. An ideal solution, indeed: the State of Israel will be cleansed of Arabs, but will continue to rule over all of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

    Binyamin Netanyahu has a similar vision, but differently worded: the Arabs will “govern themselves”. They will govern their towns and villages, but not the territory, neither the West Bank nor the Gaza Strip. They will have no army, of course, and no control of the airspace over their heads, neither will they have any physical contact with neighboring countries. Menachem Begin used to call this “autonomy”.

    But there will be “economic peace”. The Palestinian economy will “flourish”. Even Hillary Clinton ridiculed this idea publicly before meeting with Netanyahu.

    Tzipi Livni wants “Two Nation-States”. Yes? Ma?m. When? Well? First of all there have to be negotiations, unlimited in time. They did not come to fruition during the years she has been conducting them, nor have they got anywhere at all. Ehud Olmert speaks about the “Political Process” ? why did he not bring it to a successful conclusion during the years of his stewardship? How long must the “Process” go on? Five years? Fifty? Five hundred?

    So Hillary speaks about “Two States”. Speaks with great vigor. Is ready to speak about it with any Israeli government that will be set up, even if inspired by the ideas of Meir Kahane. The main thing is that they talk with Mahmoud Abbas, and that Abbas in the meantime receives money, a lot of money.

    An EXTREME right-wing government is about to be set up. Kadima has laudably decided not to join. On the other hand, Ehud Barak, the father of “We Have No Partner For Peace”, is looking desperately for a way in.

    And why not? He won?t be the first political prostitute from his party.

    In 1977, Moshe Dayan deserted the Labor Party in order to serve as Foreign Minister and fig-leaf for Menachem Begin, who forcibly prevented the establishment of a Palestinian state. In 2001, Shimon Peres got the Labor Party to join the government of Ariel Sharon, in order to serve as Foreign Minister and fig-leaf to the man whose very name made all the world shudder after the Sabra and Shatila massacre. So why should Ehud Barak not become a fig-leaf for a government that includes outright fascists?

    Who knows, perhaps he will even represent us at the next conference in Ophira – sorry, Sharm-el-Sheikh ? the one that will be convened after the next war, in which Gaza will be razed to the ground. After all, a lot of money will be needed to build it up again.


    Email address for correspondence, also if you want to (un)subscribe

    correspondence @ gush – shalom . org

    (without the spaces!)

    Address for contributions:

    GUSH SHALOM p.o.b. 3322 Tel Aviv 61033

    Recommended occupation related reading & data :

  10. Pingback: Israeli Leftist Dov Khenin interviewed | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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