Annapolis: How to Get Out? By Uri Avnery

Dandelion Salad

By Uri Avnery
11/23/07 “ICH

THE ANNAPOLIS conference is a joke. Though not in the least funny.

Like quite a lot of political initiatives, this one too, according to all the indications, started more or less by accident. George Bush was due to make a speech. He was looking for a theme that would give it some substance. Something that would divert attention away from his fiascos in Iraq and Afghanistan. Something simple, optimistic, easy to swallow.

Somehow, the idea of a “meeting” of leaders to promote the Israeli-Palestinian “process” came up. An international meeting is always nice – it looks good on television, it provides plenty of photo-opportunities, it radiates optimism. We meet, ergo we exist.

So Bush voiced the idea: a “meeting” for the promotion of peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

Without any preceding strategic planning, any careful preparations, anything much at all.

That’s why Bush did not go into any details: no clear aim, no agenda, no location, no date, no list of invitees. Just an ethereal meeting. This fact by itself testifies to the lack of seriousness of the entire enterprise.

This may shock people who have never seen close up how politics are actually conducted. It is hard to accept the intolerable lightness with which decisions are often made, the irresponsibility of leaders and the arbitrary way important processes are set in motion.

FROM THE MOMENT this idea was launched, it could not be called back. The President has spoken, the initiative starts on its way. As the saying goes: One fool throws a stone into the water, a dozen wise men cannot retrieve it.

Once the “meeting” had been announced, it became an important enterprise. The experts of all parties started to work frantically on the undefined event, each trying to steer it in the direction which would benefit them the most.

  • Bush and Condoleezza Rice want an impressive event, to prove that the United States is vigorously promoting peace and democracy, and that they can succeed where the great Henry Kissinger failed. Jimmy Carter failed to turn the Israeli-Egyptian peace into an Israeli-Palestinian peace. Bill Clinton failed at Camp David. If Bush succeeds where all his illustrious predecessors have failed, won’t that show who is the greatest of them all?
  • Ehud Olmert urgently needs a resounding political achievement in order to blur the memory of his dismal failure in the Second Lebanon War and to extricate himself from the dozen or so criminal investigations for corruption that are pursuing him. His ambition knows no bounds: he wants to be photographed shaking the hand of the King of Saudi Arabia. A feat no Israeli prime minister before him has achieved.
  • Mahmoud Abbas wants to show Hamas and the rebellious factions in his own Fatah movement that he can succeed where the great Yasser Arafat failed – to be accepted among the world’s leaders as an equal partner.

This could, therefore, become a great, almost historic conference, if …

IF ALL these hopes were something more than pipedreams. None of them has any substance. For one simple reason: no one of the three partners has any capital at his disposal.

  • Bush is bankrupt. In order to succeed at Annapolis, he would have to exert intense pressure on Israel, to compel it to take the necessary steps: agree to the establishment of a real Palestinian state, give up East Jerusalem, restore the Green Line border (with some small swaps of territory), find an agreed-upon compromise formula for the refugee issue.

But Bush is quite unable to exert the slightest pressure on Israel, even if he wanted to. In the US, the election season has already begun, and the two big parties are bulwarks standing in the way of any pressure on Israel. The Jewish and Evangelistic lobbies, together with the neo-cons, will not allow one critical word about Israel to be uttered unpunished.

  • Olmert is in an even weaker position. His coalition still survives only because there is no alternative in the present Knesset. It includes elements that in any other country would be called fascist (For historical reasons, Israelis don’t like to use this term). He is prevented by his partners from making any compromise, however tiny – even if he wanted to reach an agreement.

This week, the Knesset adopted a bill that requires a two-thirds majority for any change of the borders of Greater Jerusalem. This means that Olmert cannot even give up one of the outlying Palestinian villages that were annexed to Jerusalem in 1967. He is also prevented from even approaching the ‘core issues” of the conflict.

  • Mahmoud Abbas cannot move away from the conditions laid down by Yasser Arafat (the 3rd anniversary of whose death was commemorated this week). If he strays from the straight and narrow, he will fall. He has already lost the Gaza Strip, and can lose the West Bank, too. On the other side, if he threatens violence, he will lose all he has got: the favor of Bush and the cooperation of the Israeli security forces.

The three poker players are going to sit down together, pretending to start the game, while none of them has a cent to put on the table.

THE MAJESTIC mountain seems to be getting smaller and smaller by the minute. It’s against the laws of nature: the closer we get to it, the smaller it seems. What looked to many like a veritable Mt. Everest first turned into an ordinary mountain, then into a hill, and now it hardly looks like an anthill. And even that is shrinking, too.

First the participants were to deal with the “core issues”. Then it was announced that a weighty declaration of intentions was to be adopted. Then a mere collection of empty phrases was proposed. Now even that is in doubt.

Not one of the three leaders is still dreaming of an achievement. All they hope for now is to minimize the damage – but how to get out of a situation like this?

As usual, our side is the most creative at this task. After all, we are experts in building roadblocks, walls and fences. This week, an obstacle larger then the Great Wall of China appeared.

Ehud Olmert demanded that, before any negotiations, the Palestinians “recognize Israel as a Jewish state”. He was followed by his coalition partner, the ultra-right Avigdor Liberman, who proposed staying away from Annapolis altogether if the Palestinians do not fulfill this demand in advance.

Let’s examine this condition for a moment:

The Palestinians are not required to recognize the state of Israel. After all, they have already done so in the Oslo agreement – in spite of the fact that Israel has yet to recognize the right of the Palestinians to a state of their own based on the Green Line borders.

No, the government of Israel demands much more: the Palestinians must now recognize Israel as a “Jewish state”.

Does the USA demand to be recognized as a “Christian” or “Anglo-Saxon state”? Did Stalin demand that the US recognize the Soviet Union as a “Communist state”? Does Poland demand to be recognized as a “Catholic state”, or Pakistan as an “Islamic state”? Is there any precedent at all for a state to demand the recognition of its domestic regime?

The demand is ridiculous per se. But this can easily be shown by analysis ad absurdum.

What is a “Jewish state”? That has never been spelled out. Is it a state with a majority of Jewish citizens? Is it “the state of the Jewish people” – meaning the Jews from Brooklyn, Paris and Moscow? Is it “a state belonging to the Jewish religion” – and if so, does it belong to secular Jews as well? Or perhaps it belongs only to Jews under the Law of Return – i.e. those with a Jewish mother who have not converted to another religion?

These questions have not been decided. Are the Palestinians required to recognize something that is the subject of debate in Israel itself?

According to the official doctrine, Israel is a “Jewish and democratic state”. What should the Palestinians do if, according to democratic principles, some day my opinion prevails and Israel becomes an “Israeli state” that belongs to all its citizens – and to them alone? (After all, the US belongs to all its citizens, including Hispanic-Americans, African-Americans, not to mention “Native-Americans”.)

The sting is, of course, that this formula is quite unacceptable to Palestinians because it would hurt the million and a half Palestinians who are Israeli citizens. The definition “Jewish state” turns them automatically into – at best – second class citizens. If Mahmoud Abbas and his colleagues were to accede to this demand, they would be sticking a knife in the backs of their own relatives.

Olmert & Co. know this, of course. They are not posing this demand in order to get it accepted. They pose it in order that it not be accepted. By this ploy they hope to avoid any obligation to start meaningful negotiations.

Moreover, according to the deceased Road Map, which all parties pretend to accept, Israel must dismantle all settlements set up after March, 2000, and freeze all the others. Olmert is quite unable to do that. At the same time, Mahmoud Abbas must destroy the “terror infrastructure”. Abbas can’t do that either – as long as there is no independent Palestinian state with an elected government.

I imagine Bush tossing and turning in his bed at night, cursing the speechwriter who put this miserable sentence into his mouth. On their way to heaven, his curses must be mingling with those of Olmert and Abbas.

WHEN THE leaders of the Jewish community in Palestine were about to sign the Declaration of independence on May 14, 1948, the document was not ready. Sitting in front of the cameras and history, they had to sign on an empty page. I am afraid that something like that will happen in Annapolis.

And then all of them will head back to their respective homes, heaving a heartfelt sigh of relief.

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11.19.07 Uncensored News Reports From Across The Middle East (video; over 18 only)

The Palestinian path to peace does not go via Annapolis By Jonathan Steele + MIR: Annapolis: Dead on Arrival (video)

The Mother of all Pretexts By Uri Avnery

Dandelion Salad

By Uri Avnery
10/13/07 “ICH

WHEN I hear mention of the “Clash of Civilizations” I don’t know whether to laugh or to cry.

To laugh, because it is such a silly notion.

To cry, because it is liable to cause untold disasters.

To cry even more, because our leaders are exploiting this slogan as a pretext for sabotaging any possibility of an Israeli-Palestinian reconciliation. It is just one more in a long line of pretexts.

WHY WAS the Zionist movement in need of excuses to justify the way it treated the Palestinian people?

At its birth, it was an idealistic movement. It laid great weight on its moral basis. Not just in order to convince the world, but above all in order to set its own conscience at rest.

From early childhood we learned about the pioneers, many of them sons and daughters of well-to-do and well-educated families, who left behind a comfortable life in Europe in order to start a new life in a far-away and – by the standards of the time – primitive country. Here, in a savage climate they were not used to, often hungry and sick, they performed bone-breaking physical labor under a brutal sun.

For that, they needed an absolute belief in the rightness of their cause. Not only did they believe in the need to save the Jews of Europe from persecution and pogroms, but also in the creation of a society so just as never seen before, an egalitarian society that would be a model for the entire world. Leo Tolstoy was no less important for them than Theodor Herzl. The kibbutz and the moshav were symbols of the whole enterprise.

But this idealistic movement aimed at settling in a country inhabited by another people. How to bridge this contradiction between its sublime ideals and the fact that their realization necessitated the expulsion of the people of the land?

The easiest way was to repress the problem altogether, ignoring its very existence: the land, we told ourselves, was empty, there was no people living here at all. That was the justification that served as a bridge over the moral abyss.

Only one of the Founding Fathers of the Zionist movement was courageous enough to call a spade a spade. Ze’ev Jabotinsky wrote as early as 80 years ago that it was impossible to deceive the Palestinian people (whose existence he recognized) and to buy their consent to the Zionist aspirations. We are white settlers colonizing the land of the native people, he said, and there is no chance whatsoever that the natives will resign themselves to this voluntarily. They will resist violently, like all the native peoples in the European colonies. Therefore we need an “Iron Wall” to protect the Zionist enterprise.

When Jabotinsky was told that his approach was immoral, he replied that the Jews were trying to save themselves from the disaster threatening them in Europe, and, therefore, their morality trumped the morality of the Arabs in Palestine.

Most Zionists were not prepared to accept this force-oriented approach. They searched fervently for a moral justification they could live with.

Thus started the long quest for justifications – with each pretext supplanting the previous one, according to the changing spiritual fashions in the world.

THE FIRST justification was precisely the one mocked by Jabotinsky: we were actually coming to benefit the Arabs. We shall redeem them from their primitive living conditions, from ignorance and disease. We shall teach them modern methods of agriculture and bring them advanced medicine. Everything – except employment, because we needed every job for the Jews we were bringing here, which we were transforming from ghetto-Jews into a people of workers and tillers of the soil.

When the ungrateful Arabs went on to resist our grand project, in spite of all the benefits we were supposedly bringing them, we found a Marxist justification: It’s not the Arabs who oppose us, but only the “effendis”. The rich Arabs, the great landowners, are afraid that the glowing example of the egalitarian Hebrew community would attract the exploited Arab proletariat and cause them to rise against their oppressors.

That, too, did not work for long, perhaps because the Arabs saw how the Zionists bought the land from those very same “effendis” and drove out the tenants who had been cultivating it for generations.

The rise of the Nazis in Europe brought masses of Jews to the country. The Arab public saw how the land was being withdrawn from under their feet, and started a rebellion against the British and the Jews in 1936. Why, the Arabs asked, should they pay for the persecution of the Jews by the Europeans? But the Arab Revolt gave us a new justification: the Arabs support the Nazis. And indeed, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Hajj Amin al-Husseini, was photographed sitting next to Hitler. Some people “discovered” that the Mufti was the real instigator of the Holocaust. (Years later it was revealed that Hitler had detested the Mufti, who had no influence whatsoever over the Nazis.)

World War II came to an end, to be followed by the 1948 war. Half of the vanquished Palestinian people became refugees. That did not trouble the Zionist conscience, because everybody knew: They ran away of their own free will. Their leaders had called upon them to leave their homes, to return later with the victorious Arab armies. True, no evidence was ever found to support this absurd claim, but it has sufficed to soothe our conscience to this day.

It may be asked: why were the refugees not allowed to come back to their homes once the war was over? Well, it was they who in 1947 rejected the UN partition plan and started the war. If because of this they lost 78% of their country, they have only themselves to blame.

Then came the Cold War. We were, of course, on the side of the “Free World”, while the great Arab leader, Gamal Abd-al-Nasser, got his weapons from the Soviet bloc. (True, in the 1948 war the Soviet arms flowed to us, but that’s not important.) It was quite clear: No use talking with the Arabs, because they support Communist tyranny.

But the Soviet bloc collapsed. “The terrorist organization called PLO“, as Menachem Begin used to call it, recognized Israel and signed the Oslo agreement. A new justification had to be found for our unwillingness to give back the occupied territories to the Palestinian people.

The salvation came from America: a professor named Samuel Huntington wrote a book about the “Clash of Civilizations”. And so we found the mother of all pretexts.

THE ARCH-ENEMY, according to this theory, is Islam. Western Civilization, Judeo-Christian, liberal, democratic, tolerant, is under attacked from the Islamic monster, fanatical, terrorist, murderous.

Islam is murderous by nature. Actually, “Muslim” and “terrorist” are synonymous. Every Muslim is a terrorist, every terrorist a Muslim.

A sceptic might ask: How did it happen that the wonderful Western culture gave birth to the Inquisition, the pogroms, the burning of witches, the annihilation of the Native Americans, the Holocaust, the ethnic cleansings and other atrocities without number – but that was in the past. Now Western culture is the embodiment of freedom and progress.

Professor Huntington was not thinking about us in particular. His task was to satisfy a peculiar American craving: the American empire always needs a virtual, world-embracing enemy, a single enemy which includes all the opponents of the United States around the world. The Communists delivered the goods – the whole world was divided between Good Guys (the Americans and their supporters) and Bad Guys (the Commies). Everybody who opposed American interests was automatically a Communist – Nelson Mandela in South Africa, Salvador Allende in Chile, Fidel Castro in Cuba, while the masters of Apartheid, the death squads of Augusto Pinochet and the secret police of the Shah of Iran belonged, like us, to the Free World.

When the Communist empire collapsed, America was suddenly left without a world-wide enemy. This vacuum has now been filled by the Muslims-Terrorists. Not only Osama bin Laden, but also the Chechnyan freedom fighters, the angry North-African youth of the Paris banlieus, the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, the insurgents in the Philippines.

Thus the American world view rearranged itself: a good world (Western Civilization) and a bad world (Islamic civilization). Diplomats still take care to make a distinction between “radical Islamists” and “moderate Muslims”, but that is only for appearances’ sake. Between ourselves, we know of course that they are all Osama bin Ladens. They are all the same.

This way, a huge part of the world, composed of manifold and very different countries, and a great religion, with many different and even opposing tendencies (like Christianity, like Judaism), which has given the world unmatched scientific and cultural treasures, is thrown into one and the same pot.

THIS WORLD VIEW is tailored for us. Indeed, the world of the clashing civilizations is, for us, the best of all possible worlds.

The struggle between Israel and the Palestinians is no longer a conflict between the Zionist movement, which came to settle in this country, and the Palestinian people, which inhabited it. No, it has been from the very beginning a part of a world-wide struggle which does not stem from our aspirations and actions. The assault of terrorist Islam on the Western world did not start because of us. Our conscience can be entirely clean – we are among the good guys of this world.

This is now the line of argument of official Israel: the Palestinians elected Hamas, a murderous Islamic movement. (If it didn’t exist, it would have to be invented – and indeed, some people assert it was created from the start by our secret service.) Hamas is terroristic, and so is Hizbullah. Perhaps Mahmoud Abbas is not a terrorist himself, but he is weak and Hamas is about to take sole control over all Palestinian territories. So we cannot talk with them. We have no partner. Actually, we cannot possibly have a partner, because we belong to Western Civilization, which Islam wants to eradicate.

IN HIS book “Der Judenstaat”, Theodor Herzl, the official Israeli “Prophet of the State”, prophesied this development, too.

This is what he wrote in 1896: “For Europe we shall constitute (in Palestine) a part of the wall against Asia, we shall serve as a vanguard of culture against barbarism.”

Herzl was thinking of a metaphoric wall, but in the meantime we have put up a very real one. For many, this is not just a Separation Wall between Israel and Palestine. It is a part of the world-wide wall between the West and Islam, the front-line of the Clash of Civilizations. Beyond the wall there are not men, women and children, not a conquered and oppressed Palestinian population, not choked towns and villages like Abu-Dis, a-Ram, Bil’in and Qalqilia. No, beyond the wall there are a billion terrorists, multitudes of blood-thirsty Muslims, who have only one desire in life: to throw us into the sea, simply because we are Jews, part of Judeo-Christian Civilization.

With an official position like that – who is there to talk to? What is there to talk about? What is the point of meeting in Annapolis or anywhere else?

And what is left to us to do – to cry or to laugh?

Uri Avnery is an Israeli author and activist. He is the head of the Israeli peace movement, “Gush Shalom”.

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The Iron Wall

Two Knights and a Dragon By Uri Avnery

Dandelion Salad

By Uri Avnery
10/04/07 “ICH

THERE ARE books that change people’s consciousness and change history. Some tell a story, like Harriet Beech Stowe’s 1851 “Uncle Tom’s Cabin”, which gave a huge impetus to the campaign for the abolition of slavery. Others take the form of a political treatise, like Theodor Herzl’s “Der Judenstaat”, which gave birth to the Zionist movement. Or they can be scientific in nature, like Charles Darwin’s “The Origin of Species”, which changed the way humanity sees itself. And perhaps political satire, too, can shake the world, like “1984” by George Orwell.

The impact of these books was amplified by their timing. They appeared exactly at the right time, when a large public was ready to absorb their message.

It may well turn out that the book by the two professors, John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt, “The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy”, is just such a book.

It is a dry scientific research report, 355 pages long, backed by 106 further pages containing some thousand references to sources.

It is not a bellicose book. On the contrary, its style is restrained and factual. The authors take great care not to utter a single negative comment on the legitimacy of the Lobby, and indeed bend over backwards to stress their support for the existence and security of Israel. They let the facts speak for themselves. With the skill of experienced masons, they systematically lay brick upon brick, row upon row, leaving no gap in their argumentation.

This wall cannot be torn down by reasoned argument. Nobody has tried, and nobody is going to. Instead, the authors are being smeared and accused of sinister motives. If the book could be ignored altogether, this would have been done – as has happened to other books which have been buried alive.

(Some years ago, there appeared in Russia a large tome by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, the world-renowned laureate of the Nobel Prize for Literature, about Russia and its Jews. This book, called “200 Years Together”, has been completely ignored. As far as I know, it has not been translated into any language, certainly not into Hebrew. I asked several of Israel’s leading intellectuals, and none of them had even heard of the book. Neither does it appear on the list of Amazon.com, which includes all the author’s other works.)

THE TWO professors take the bull by the horns. They deal with a subject which is absolutely taboo in the United States, a subject nobody in his right mind would even mention: the enormous influence of the pro-Israel lobby on American foreign policy.

In a remorselessly systematical way, the book analyzes the Lobby, takes it apart, describes its modus operandi, discloses its financial sources and lays bare its relations with the White House, the two houses of Congress, the leaders of the two major parties and leading media people.

The authors do not call into question the Lobby’s legitimacy. On the contrary, they show that hundreds of lobbies of this kind play an essential role in the American democratic system. The gun and the medical lobbies, for example, are also very powerful political forces. But the pro-Israel lobby has grown out of all proportion. It has unparalleled political power. It can silence all criticism of Israel in Congress and the media, bring about the political demise of anyone who dares to break the taboo, prevent any action that does not conform to the will of the Israeli government.

In its second part, the book shows how the Lobby uses its tremendous power in practice: how it has prevented the exertion of any pressure on Israel to for peace with the Palestinians, how it pushed the US into the invasion of Iraq, how it is now pushing for wars with Iran and Syria, how it supported the Israeli leadership in the recent war in Lebanon and blocked calls for a ceasefire when it didn’t want it.

Each of these assertions is backed up by so much undeniable evidence and quotations from written material (mainly from Israeli sources) that they cannot be ignored.

MOST OF these disclosures are nothing new for those in Israel who deal with these matters.

I myself could add to the book a whole chapter from personal experience.

In the late 50s, I visited the US for the first time. A major New York radio station invited me for an interview. Later they cautioned me: “You can criticize the President (Dwight D. Eisenhower) and the Secretary of State (John Foster Dulles) to your heart’s content, but please don’t criticize Israeli leaders!” At the last moment the interview was cancelled altogether, and the Iraqi ambassador was invited instead. Criticism was apparently tolerable when it came from an Arab, but absolutely not coming from an Israeli.

In 1970, the respected American “Fellowship of Reconciliation” invited me for a lecture tour of 30 universities, under the auspices of the Hillel rabbis. When I arrived in New York, I was informed that 29 of the lectures had been cancelled. The sole rabbi who did not cancel, Balfour Brickner, showed me a secret communication of the “Anti-Defamation League” that proscribed my lectures. It said: “While Knesset Member Avnery can in no way be considered a traitor, his appearance at this time would be deeply divisive…” In the end, all the lectures took place under the auspices of Christian chaplains.

I especially remember a depressing experience in Baltimore. A good Jew, who had volunteered to host me, was angered by the cancellation of my lecture in this city and obstinately insisted on putting it on. We combed the streets of the Jewish quarters – mile upon mile of signs with Jewish names – and did not find a single hall whose manager would agree to let the lecture by a member of the Israeli Knesset take place. In the end, we did hold the lecture in the basement of the building of my host’s apartment – and functionaries of the Jewish community came to protest.

That year, during Black September, I held a press conference in Washington DC, under the auspices of the Quakers. It seemed to be a huge success. The journalists came straight from a press conference with Prime Minister Golda Meir, and showered me with questions. Almost all the important media were represented – TV networks, radio, the major newspapers. After the planned hour was up, they would not let me go and kept me talking for another hour and a half. But the next day, not a single word appeared in any of the media. Thirty-one years later, in October 2001 I held a press conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, and exactly the same thing happened: many of the media were there, they held me for another hour – and not a word, not a single word, was published.

In 1968, a very respected American publishing house (Macmillan) brought out a book of mine’ “Israel Without Zionists”, which was later translated into eight other languages. The book described the Israeli-Arab conflict in a very different way and proposed the establishment of a Palestinian state next to Israel – a revolutionary idea at the time. Not a single review appeared in the American media. I checked in one of the most important book stores in New York and did not find the book. When I asked a salesman, he found it buried under a heap of volumes and put it on top. Half an hour later it was hidden again.

The book dealt with the “Two States for Two peoples” solution long before it became a world-wide consensus, and with my proposal for Israel’s integration in “the Semitic Region”. True, I am an Israeli patriot and was elected to the Knesset by Israeli voters. But I criticized the Israeli government – and that was enough.

THE BOOK by the two professors, who criticize the Israeli government from a different angle, cannot be buried anymore. This fact, by itself, speaks volumes.

The book is based on an essay by the two that appeared last year in a British journal, after no American publication dared to touch it. Now a respected American publishing house has released it – an indication that something is moving. The situation has not changed, but it seems that it is now possible at least to talk about it.

Everything depends on timing – and apparently the time is now ripe for such a book, which will shock many good people in America. It is now causing an uproar.

The two professors are, of course, accused of anti-Semitism, racism and hatred of Israel. What Israel? It is the Lobby itself that hates a large part of Israel. In recent years is has shifted even more to the Right. Some of its constituent groups – such as the neo-cons who pushed the US into the Iraq war – are openly connected with the right-wing Likud, and especially with Binyamin Netanyahu. The billionaires who finance the Lobby are the same people who finance the extreme Israeli Right, and most of all the settlers.

The small, determined Jewish groups in the US who support the Israeli peace movements are remorselessly persecuted. Some of them fold after a few years. Members of Israeli peace groups who are sent to America are boycotted and slandered as “self-hating-Jews”.

The political views of the two professors, which are briefly stated at the end of the book, are identical with the stand of the Israeli peace forces: the Two-State Solution, ending the occupation, borders based on the Green Line, and international support for the peace settlement.

If this is anti-Semitism, then we here are all anti-Semites. And only the Christian Zionists – those who openly demand the return of the Jews to this country but secretly prophesy the annihilation of the unconverted Jews at the Second Coming of Jesus Christ – are the true Lovers of Zion.

EVEN IF not a single bad word about the pro-Israel lobby can be uttered in the US, it is far from being a secret society, hatching conspiracies like the “Protocols of the Elders of Zion”. On the contrary, AIPAC, the Anti-Defamation League, the Zionist Federation and the other organizations vociferously boast about their actions and publicly proclaim their incredible successes.

Quite naturally, the diverse components of the Lobby compete with each other – Who has the biggest influence on the White House, Who scares the most senators, Who controls more journalists and commentators,. This competition causes a permanent escalation – because every success by one group spurs the others to redouble their efforts.

This could be very dangerous. A balloon that is inflated to monstrous dimensions can one day burst in the face of American Jews (who, by the way, according to the polls, object to many positions adopted by the Lobby that claims to speak in their name.)

Most of the American public now opposes the Iraq war and considers it a disaster. This majority still does not connect the war with the actions of the pro-Israel lobby. No newspaper and no politician dares to hint at such a connection – yet. But if this taboo is broken, the result may be very dangerous for the Jews and for Israel.

Beneath the surface, a lot of anger directed against the Lobby is accumulating. The presidential candidates, who are compelled to grovel at the feet of AIPAC, the senators and congressmen, who have become slaves of the Lobby, the media people, who are forbidden to write what they really think – all these secretly detest the Lobby. If this anger explodes, it may hurt us, too.

This lobby has become a Golem. And like the Golem in legend, in the end it will bring disaster on its maker.

If I may be permitted to voice some criticism of my own:

When the original article by the two professors appeared, I argued that “the tail is wagging the dog and the dog is wagging the tail”. The tail, of course, is Israel.

The two professors confirm the first part of the equation, but emphatically deny the second. The central thesis of the book is that the pressure of the Lobby causes the United States to act against its own interests (and, in the long run, also against the true interests of Israel.) They do not accept my contention, quoted in the book, that Israel acted in Lebanon as “America’s Rottweiler” (to Hizbullah as “Iran’s Doberman”).

I agree that the US is acting against its true interest (and the true interests of Israel) – but the American leadership does not see it that way. Bush and his people believe – even without the input of the Lobby – that it would be advantageous for the US to establish a permanent American military presence in the middle of this region of huge oil reserves. In my view, this counter-productive act at was one of the main objectives of the war, side by side with the desire to eliminate one of Israel’s most dangerous enemies. Unfortunately, the book deals only very briefly with this issue.

That does not diminish in any way my profound admiration for the intellectual qualities, integrity and courage of Mearsheimer and Walt, two knights who, like St. George, who have sallied forth to face the fearful dragon.

Uri, is an Israeli author and activist. He is the head of the Israeli peace movement, “Gush Shalom”.

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. This material is distributed without profit.

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‘Warfare’ – 1984 by George Orwell (video)

Dissenting at your own risk By Cecilie Surasky + The Israel Lobby (MP3)

‘The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy’ by John Mearsheimer & Stephen Walt

So Who’s Afraid of the Israel Lobby? By Ray McGovern

So What About Iran? By Uri Avnery

Dandelion Salad

By Uri Avnery
09/29/07 “
ICH

A RESPECTED American paper posted a scoop this week: Vice-President Dick Cheney, the King of Hawks, has thought up a Machiavellian scheme for an attack on Iran. Its main point: Israel will start by bombing an Iranian nuclear installation, Iran will respond by launching missiles at Israel, and this will serve as a pretext for an American attack on Iran.

Far-fetched? Not really. It is rather like what happened in 1956. Then France, Israel and Britain secretly planned to attack Egypt in order to topple Gamal Abd-al-Nasser (`regime change` in today`s lingo.) It was agreed that Israeli paratroops would be dropped near the Suez Canal, and that the resulting conflict would serve as a pretext for the French and British to occupy the canal area in order to `secure` the waterway. This plan was implemented (and failed miserably).

What would happen to us if we agreed to Cheney`s plan? Our pilots would risk their lives to bomb the heavily defended Iranian installations. Then, Iranian missiles would rain down on our cities. Hundreds, perhaps thousands would be killed. All this in order to supply the Americans with a pretext to go to war.

Would the pretext have stood up? In other words, is the US obliged to enter a war on our side, even when that war is caused by us? In theory, the answer is yes. The current agreements between the US and Israel say that America has to come to Israel`s aid in any war – whoever started it.

Is there any substance to this leak? Hard to know. But it strengthens the suspicion that an attack on Iran is more imminent than people imagine.

DO BUSH, Cheney & Co. indeed intend to attack Iran?

I don`t know, but my suspicion that they might is getting stronger.

Why? Because George Bush is nearing the end of his term of office. If it ends the way things look now, he will be remembered as a very bad – if not the worst – president in the annals of the republic. His term started with the Twin Towers catastrophe, which reflected no great credit on the intelligence agencies, and would come to a close with the grievous Iraq fiasco.

There is only one year left to do something impressive and save his name in the history books. In such situations, leaders tend to look for military adventures. Taking into account the man`s demonstrated character traits, the war option suddenly seems quite frightening.

True, the American army is pinned down in Iraq and Afghanistan. Even people like Bush and Cheney could not dream, at this time, of invading a country four times larger than Iraq, with three times the population.

But, quite possibly the war-mongers are whispering in Bush`s ear: What are you worrying about? No need for an invasion. Enough to bomb Iran, as we bombed Serbia and Afghanistan. We shall use the smartest bombs and the most sophisticated missiles against the two thousand or so targets, in order to destroy not only the Iranian nuclear sites but also their military installations and government offices. `We shall bomb them back into the stone age,` as an American general once said about Vietnam, or `turn their clock back 20 years,` as the Israeli Air Force general Dan Halutz said about Lebanon.

That`s a tempting idea. The US will only use its mighty Air Force, missiles of all kinds and the powerful aircraft-carriers, which are already deployed in the Persian/Arabian Gulf. All these can be sent into action at any time on short notice. For a failed president approaching the end of his term, the idea of an easy, short war must have an immense attraction. And this president has already shown how hard it is for him to resist temptations of this kind.

WOULD THIS indeed be such an easy operation, a `piece of cake` in American parlance?

I doubt it.

Even `smart` bombs kill people. The Iranians are a proud, resolute and highly motivated people. They point out that for two thousand years they have never attacked another country, but during the eight years of the Iran-Iraq war they have amply proved their determination to defend their own when attacked.

Their first reaction to an American attack would be to close the Straits of Hormuz, the entrance to the Gulf. That would choke off a large part of the world`s oil supply and cause an unprecedented world-wide economic crisis. To open the straits (if this is at all possible), the US army would have to capture and hold large areas of Iranian territory.

The short and easy war would turn into a long and hard war. What does that mean for us in Israel?

There can be little doubt that if attacked, Iran will respond as it has promised: by bombarding us with the rockets it is preparing for this precise purpose. That will not endanger Israel`s existence, but it will not be pleasant either.

If the American attack turns into a long war of attrition, and if the American public comes to see it as a disaster (as is happening right now with the Iraqi adventure), some will surely put the blame on Israel. It is no secret that the Pro-Israel lobby and its allies – the (mostly Jewish) neo-cons and the Christian Zionists – are pushing America into this war, just as they pushed it into Iraq. For Israeli policy, the hoped-for gains of this war may turn into giant losses – not only for Israel, but also for the American Jewish community.

IF PRESIDENT Mahmoud Ahmadinejad did not exist, the Israeli government would have had to invent him.

He has got almost everything one could wish for in an enemy. He has a big mouth. He is a braggart. He enjoys causing scandals. He is a Holocaust denier. He prophesies that Israel will `vanish from the map` (though he did not say, as falsely reported, the he would wipe Israel off the map.)

This week, the pro-Israel lobby organized big demonstrations against his visit to New York. They were a huge success – for Ahmadinejad. He has realized his dream of becoming the center of world attention. He has been given the opportunity to voice his arguments against Israel — some outrageous, some valid – before a world-wide audience.

But Ahmadinejad is not Iran. True, he has won popular elections, but Iran is like the orthodox parties in Israel: it is not their politicians who count, but their rabbis. The Shiite religious leadership makes the decisions and commands the armed forces, and this body is neither boastful nor vociferous not scandal-mongering. It exercises a lot of caution.

If Iran was really so eager to obtain a nuclear bomb, it would have acted in utmost silence and kept as low a profile as possible (as Israel did). The swaggering of Ahmadinejad would hurt this effort more than any enemy of Iran could.

It is highly unpleasant to think about a nuclear bomb in Iranian hands (and, indeed, in any hands.) I hope it can be avoided by offering inducements and/or imposing sanctions. But even if this does not succeed, it would not be the end of the world, nor the end of Israel. In this area, more than in any other, Israel`s deterrent power is immense. Even Ahmadinejad will not risk an exchange of queens – the destruction of Iran for the destruction of Israel.

NAPOLEON SAID that to understand a country`s policy, one has only to look at the map.

If we do this, we shall see that there is no objective reason for war between Israel and Iran. On the contrary, for a long time it was believed in Jerusalem that the two countries were natural allies.

David Ben-Gurion advocated an `alliance of the periphery`. He was convinced that the entire Arab world is the natural enemy of Israel, and that, therefore, allies should be sought on the fringes of the Arab world – Turkey, Iran, Ethiopia, Chad etc. (He also looked for allies inside the Arab world – communities that are not Sunni-Arab, such as the Maronites, the Copts, the Kurds, the Shiites and others.)

At the time of the Shah, very close connections existed between Iran and Israel, some positive, some negative, some outright sinister. The Shah helped to build a pipeline from Eilat to Askelon, in order to transport Iranian oil to the Mediterranean, bypassing the Suez Canal. The Israel internal secret service (Shabak) trained its notorious Iranian counterpart (Savak). Israelis and Iranians acted together in Iraqi Kurdistan, helping the Kurds against their Sunni-Arab oppressors.

The Khomeini revolution did not, in the beginning, put an end to this alliance, it only drove it underground. During the Iran-Iraq war, Israel supplied Iran with arms, on the assumption that anyone fighting Arabs is our friend. At the same time, the Americans supplied arms to Saddam Hussein – one of the rare instances of a clear divergence between Washington and Jerusalem. This was bridged in the Iran-Contra Affair, when the Americans helped Israel to sell arms to the Ayatollahs.

Today, an ideological struggle is raging between the two countries, but it is mainly fought out on the rhetorical and demagogical level. I dare to say that Ahmadinejad doesn`t give a fig for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, he only uses it to make friends in the Arab world. If I were a Palestinian, I would not rely on it. Sooner or later, geography will tell and Israeli-Iranian relations will return to what they were – hopefully on a far more positive basis.

ONE THING I am ready to predict with confidence: whoever pushes for war against Iran will come to regret it.

Some adventures are easy to get into but hard to get out of.

The last one to find this out was Saddam Hussein. He thought that it would be a cakewalk – after all, Khomeini had killed off most of the officers, and especially the pilots, of the Shah`s military. He believed that one quick Iraqi blow would be enough to bring about the collapse of Iran. He had eight long years of war to regret it.

Both the Americans and we may soon be feeling that the Iraqi mud is like whipped cream compared to the Iranian quagmire.

Uri Avnery is an Israeli author and activist. He is the head of the Israeli peace movement, “Gush Shalom”.

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. This material is distributed without profit.

A Warning to Tony Blair By Uri Avnery

Dandelion Salad

By Uri Avnery
Tel Aviv.

07/30/07 “ICH

Last week, James Wolfensohn gave a long interview to Haaretz. He poured out his heart and summed up, with amazing openness, his months as special envoy of the US, Russia, the EU and the UN (the “Quartet”) in this country – the same job entrusted now to Tony Blair. The interview could have been entitled “A Warning to Tony”. Among other revelations, he disclosed that he was practically fired by the clique of Neo-cons, whose ideological leader is Paul Wolfowitz.

What Wolfensohn and Wolfowitz have in common is that both are Jews and have the same name: Son of Wolf, one in the German version and the other in the Russian one. Also, both are past chiefs of the World Bank.

But that’s where the similarity ends. These two sons of the wolf are opposites in almost all respects. Wolfensohn is an attractive person, who radiates personal charm. Wolfowitz arouses almost automatic opposition. This was made clear when they served, successively, at the World Bank: Wolfensohn was very popular, Wolfowitz was hated. The term of the first was renewed, a rare accolade, the second was dumped at the earliest opportunity, ostensibly because of a corruption affair: he had arranged an astronomical salary for his girl friend.

Wolfensohn could be played by Peter Ustinov. He is a modern Renaissance man: successful businessman, generous philanthropist, former Olympic sportsman (fencing) and Air Force officer (Australia). In middle age he took up the cello (under the influence of Jacqueline du Pre). The role of Wolfowitz demands no more finesse than that of the average gunman in a western.

But beyond personal traits, there is a profound ideological chasm between them. To me, they personify the two opposite extremes of contemporary Jewish reality.

Wolfensohn belongs to the humanist, universal, optimistic, world-embracing trend in Judaism, a man of peace and compromise, an heir to the wisdom of generations. Wolfowitz, at the other end, belongs to the fanatical Judaism that has grown up in the State of Israel and the communities connected with it, a man of overbearing arrogance, hatred and intoxication of power. He is a radical nationalist, even if it is not quite clear whether it is American or Israeli nationalism, or if he even distinguishes between the two.

Wolfowitz is a standard-bearer of the neo-cons, most of them Jews, who pushed the US into the Iraqi morass, promote wars all over the Middle East, advise the Israeli Prime Minister not to give up anything and are ready to fight to the last Israeli soldier.

To avoid misunderstanding: I don’t know either of the two personally. I have never seen Wolfowitz in person, and heard Wolfensohn only once, at a Jerusalem meeting of the Israeli Council for Foreign Relations. I admit that I liked him on sight.

Wolfensohn arrived in this country some months before the “separation plan” of Ariel Sharon. He says now that the separation would have succeeded “if the withdrawal had been accompanied by the second part of the separation, which, according to my understanding, would have created an independent entity that would become a Palestinian state.” He believes (mistakenly, I think) that this was the intent of Sharon, whom, unlike his successor as Prime Minister, he respects.

Wolfensohn envisioned a blooming Gaza Strip, flourishing economically, open in all directions, a model to the West Bank and a basis for the new state. To this purpose he raised eight billion dollars. Unlike other idealists, he invested several millions of his own money in the greenhouses left behind by the settlers, hoping to turn them into the basis of the Palestinian economy.

He stood at Condoleezza Rice’s side during the signing ceremony for the document that was to prepare the way to a brilliant future: the agreement for the opening of the border crossings. The crossings between the Strip and Israel were to be again wide open, Israel undertook to fulfill at long last the obligation it took upon itself in the Oslo agreement (and has violated ever since): to open the vital passage between Gaza and the West Bank. On the border between the Strip and Egypt, a European unit was already taking control.

And then the whole edifice collapsed. The passage between the Strip and the West Bank remained hermetically sealed. The other border crossings were closed more and more frequently. The products of the greenhouses (together with Wolfensohn’s investment) went down the drain. The frail economy of the Strip disintegrated altogether, most of the 1.4 million inhabitants descended into misery, with 50 per cent and more unemployment. The inevitable result was the ascent of Hamas.

Wolfensohn’s complaint stresses the immense importance of the border crossings. Their closure – ostensibly for security reasons – spelled death to the Gaza economy, and, by extension, to the hope for peaceful relations between Israel and the Palestinians. Before the Hamas victory, Wolfensohn saw with his own eyes the awful corruption that governed the crossings. Relations between Israelis and Palestinians there were openly based on bribery. The Palestinian products could not cross without payment being made to the people in control on both sides.

Wolfensohn lays at least some of the responsibility for the ascent of Hamas on the Palestinian Authority – meaning Fatah – which was infected by the cancer of corruption. The victory of Hamas in the democratic elections both in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip did not surprise him at all.

What caused this idealistic person to resign?

He puts the main blame on one person, who belongs to the clique of Wolfowiz: Elliott Abrams. Like Wolfowitz, Abrams is a Jew, a neo-con, a radical Zionist beloved by the Israeli Right. He was appointed by President Bush as deputy advisor for national security, responsible for the Middle East. With this appointment, Wolfensohn says, “all the elements of the agreement achieved by Condoleezza Rice were destroyed”. The passages were closed, Hamas took over.

Wolfensohn accuses Abrams openly of undermining him, in order to get him out. True, the Quartet is not under the authority of Abrams, but a person in this position cannot function without solid American support. Abrams pushed him out in cooperation with Ehud Olmert and Dov Weisglass, Sharon’s confidant, whose plans were menaced by Wolfensohn’s activity. It was Weisglass, it will be remembered, who promised to “put the Palestinian issue in formaldehyde.”

In the eyes of Wolfensohn, both sides are to blame for the current situation, but he clearly blames Israel more, since it is the stronger and more active party. No doubt, Israel is very important for him. He had a lot of sympathy for it (In World War I, his father was a soldier in the Jewish battalions which were set up by the British army and sent to Palestine.) He gave the interview to the Israeli paper in order to voice a severe warning: time is not working for us.

The demographic clock is ticking. Today, Israel is surrounded by some 350 million Arabs. In another 15 years, it will be surrounded by 700 million. “I don’t see any argument that supports the idea the Israel’s situation will get better.”

As an expert on the global economy, with a world-wide perspective, Wolfensohn could also point out that the importance of the US in the world economy is gradually declining, with new giants like China and India rising.

We, the Israelis, like to think that we are the center of the world. Wolfensohn, a person with a world-wide outreach, sticks a pin into this egocentric balloon. Already now, he says, only the West considers the Israeli-Palestinian issue so important. Most of the world is indifferent. “I have visited more than 140 countries: you are not such a big deal there.”

Even this limited interest will also evaporate. Wolfensohn rubs salt into the wound: “A moment will come when the Israelis and the Palestinians will be compelled to understand that they are a secondary performance … The Israelis and the Palestinians must get rid of the idea that they are a Broadway performance. They are only a play in the Village. Off-off-off-off-off Broadway.” Knowing that this is the worst one can tell an Israeli, he adds: “I hope that I am not getting into trouble by saying this, but, what the hell, that’s what I believe, and I am already 73 years old.”

I do believe him – and I, what the hell, am already 83.
The metaphor from the world of theater looks to me even more apt that Wolfensohn himself imagines.

What is happening now to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is mostly theater, and not the best in town.

The actors drink from empty glasses, recite texts that nobody believes, put on false smiles and embrace heartily while loathing each other.

The best scene so far was the Gaza “separation”. Contrary to Wolfensohn’s belief, it was merely a performance, melodrama at its best, directed by Sharon and the chiefs of the settlers, the army and the police. Many tears, many embraces, many sham battles. This week the performance was again in the media, with a huge propaganda machine trying to show how immense was the pain, how the poor evacuees have remained without villas, how many more billions will still be needed. The intended conclusion: it is impossible to dismantle the settlements in the West Bank.

The new actor on the stage, Tony Blair, is exuding charm and joviality, embracing and kissing. We, the audience, know that his lot will be exactly like that of his predecessor. Like him, he is the “special envoy of the Quartet”. His terms of reference are exactly the same as those of Wolfensohn before him: much of nothing. He is supposed to help the Palestinians to build “democratic institutions”, after the US and Israel have systematically destroyed the democratic institutions that were set up after the last Palestinian elections.

He has embraced Olmert, kissed Tzipi Livni, smiled at Ehud Barak, and we know that all three of them will do their utmost to disrupt his mission before he reaches a position that would enable him to realize his real dream: to conduct peace negotiations, as he successfully did in Northern Ireland.

All that is happening now is theater. Olmert pretends that he really wants to “save Abu Mazen”, while doing the opposite. At Bush’s request, he allowed the transfer of a thousand rifles, with a lot of fanfare, from Jordan to Abbas, so he can fight Hamas – understanding full well that to an ordinary Palestinian this will look like collaboration with the occupier against the resistance. He enlarges the settlements, keeps the “illegal outposts” and closes his eyes while the army is helping the settlers to put up more outposts. That is a foolproof recipe for a Hamas takeover in the West Bank, too.

Everybody knows that there is only one way to strengthen Abu Mazen: immediately to start rapid and practical negotiations for the establishment of the State of Palestine in all the occupied territories, with its capital in East Jerusalem. Not more discussions about abstract ideas, as proposed by Olmert, not another plan (No. 1001), not a “peace process” that will lead to “new political horizons”, and certainly not another hollow fantasy of that grand master of sanctimonious hypocrisy, President Shimon Peres.

The next scene of the play, for which all the actors are now learning their lines, is the “international meeting” this autumn, according to the screenplay by President Bush. Condoleezza will chair, and it is doubtful whether Tony, the new actor, will be allowed to take part. The playwrights are still deliberating.

If all the world is a stage, as Shakespeare wrote, and all the men and women merely players who have their exits and their entrances, that is true even more for Israel and Palestine. Sharon exited and Olmert entered, Wolfensohn exited and Blair entered, and everything is, as Sakespeare wrote in another play, “words, words, words.”

Wolfensohn can view the next parts of the play with philosophical detachment. We, who are involved, cannot afford that, because our comedy is really a tragedy.

Uri Avnery is an Israeli writer and peace activist with Gush Shalom.

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. This material is distributed without profit.

An Israeli Love Story By Uri Avnery

An Israeli Love Story

By Uri Avnery

07/08/07 “ICH

NOT SINCE the resurrection of Jesus Christ has there been such a miracle: a dead body buried in a cave has come to life again.

The “Jordanian Option” gave up its ghost almost twenty years ago. Even before that, it never was very healthy. But in 1988, some time after the outbreak of the first intifada, it was officially buried by none other than His Majesty, King Hussein, himself. He announced that he had given up any claim to the West Bank.

It was a pitiful death. There was no proper funeral. Shimon Peres, one of its parents, pretended not to know the deceased. Yitzhak Rabin turned his back. >From dust it came, to dust it returned.

And now, suddenly, it seems to have sprung to life again. Three wandering scribblers claim to have seen it with their own eyes. Not in Emmaeus, where the three apostles of Jesus saw their resurrected master, but in Washington, capital of the world!

THE ISRAELI love story with the Hashemite dynasty started three generations ago. (Hashem was the founder of the Mecca family to which the prophet Mohammed belonged.)

In World War II, Iraq rebelled against the Hashemite king, who was imposed on them by the British at the time they installed another branch of the family in Transjordan. The Iraqi king and his entourage fled to Palestine. Here he was warmly received by the Zionist leadership, which provided him with a secret radio station on Mount Carmel. Many years later, I heard this from one of the people directly involved, Minister Eliyahu Sassoon.

The British army returned the Hashemites to power in Baghdad. But, as Sassoon added in sorrow, they repaid good with bad: immediately after their restoration they adopted an extreme anti-Zionist line. By the way, the Irgun underground organization was cooperating with the British at the time, and its commander, David Raziel, was killed in Iraq in the course of the operation.

Issam Sartawi, one of the PLO leaders, a refugee from Acre who grew up in Iraq, later claimed that when the Hashemites returned to Baghdad, the British organized a massacre of the Jews in order to gain them nationalist popularity. The documents about this infamous episode are still kept under wraps in the British archives.

But the relations with the Hashemites continued. On the eve of the 1948 war, the Zionist leadership kept in close contact with King Abdallah of Transjordan. Between the King and Golda Meir, several secret plans were hatched, but when the time came, the king did not dare to break Arab solidarity, and so he also invaded Palestine. It has been claimed this was done in close coordination with David Ben-Gurion. And indeed, the new Israeli army avoided attacking the Jordanian forces (except in the Latrun area, in an attempt to open the way to besieged West Jerusalem.)

The cooperation between Abdallah and Ben-Gurion bore the hoped-for fruit: the territory that was allotted by the UN to the putative Palestinian Arab state was partitioned between Israel and the renamed Kingdom of Jordan (the Gaza Strip was given to Egypt). The Palestinian state did not come into being, and Israeli-Jordanian cooperation flourished. It continued after King Abdallah was assassinated at the holy shrines of Jerusalem, and his grandson, the boy Hussein, took his place.

At that time, the tide of pan-Arab nationalism was running high, and Gamal Abd-el-Nasser, its prophet, was the idol of the Arab world. The Palestinian people, who had been deprived of a political identity, also saw its salvation in an all-Arab entity. There was a danger that the Jordanian king might be toppled any minute, but Israel announced that if this happened, the Israeli army would enter Jordan at once. The king continued to sit on his throne supported by Israeli bayonets.

Things reached a climax during Black September (1970), when Hussein crushed the PLO forces in blood and fire. The Syrians rushed to their defense and started to cross the border. In coordination with Henry Kissinger, Golda Meir issued an ultimatum: if the Syrians did not retreat at once, the Israeli army would enter. The Syrians gave up, the king was saved. The PLO forces went to Lebanon.

At the height of the crisis, I called upon the Israeli government in the Knesset to adopt the opposite course: to enable the Palestinians in the West Bank to set up a Palestinian state side by side with Israel. Years later, Ariel Sharon told me that he had proposed the same during the secret deliberations of the army General Staff. (Later, Sharon asked me to arrange a meeting between him and Yasser Arafat, to discuss this plan: to topple the regime in Jordan and turn the country into a Palestinian state, instead of the West Bank. Arafat refused to meet him and disclosed the proposal to the king.)

THE JORDANIAN OPTION was more than a political concept – it was a love story. For decades, almost all Israeli leaders were enamored of it – from Chaim Weizmann to David Ben-Gurion, from Golda to Peres.

What did the Hashemite family have that enchanted the Zionist and Israeli establishment?

In the course of the years I have heard many rational-sounding arguments. But I am convinced that at root it was not rational at all. The one decisive virtue of the Hashemite Dynasty was – and is – quite simple: they are not Palestinians.

From its first day, the Zionist movement has lived in total denial of the Palestinian issue. As long as possible, it denied the very existence of the Palestinian people. Since this has become ridiculous, it denies the existence of a Palestinian partner for peace. In any case, it denies the possibility of a viable Palestinian state next to Israel.

This denial has deep roots in the unconscious of the Zionist movement and the Israeli leadership. Zionism strove for the creation of a Jewish National Home in a land in which another people was living. Since Zionism was an idealistic movement imbued with profound moral values, it could not bear the thought that it was committing a historical injustice to another people. It was necessary to suppress and deny the feeling of guilt engendered by this fact.

The unconscious guilt feelings were deepened by the 1948 war, in which more than half the Palestinian people were separated from their lands. The idea of turning the West Bank over to the Hashemite kingdom was built on the illusion that there is no Palestinian people (“They are all Arabs!”), so it could suffer no injustice.

The Jordanian Option is a euphemism. Its real name is “Anti-Palestinian Option”. That’s what it’s all about. Everything else is unimportant.

THAT MAY explain the curious fact that since the 1967 war, no effort has been made to realize this “option”. The High Priests of the Jordanian Option, who preached it from every hilltop, did not lift a finger to bring it about. On the contrary, they did everything possible to prevent its realization.

For example: during Yitzhak Rabin’s first term as prime minister, after the 1973 war, Henry Kissinger had a brilliant idea: to return the town of Jericho to King Hussein. Thus a fait accompli would have been established: the Hashemite flag would wave over West Bank territory.

When Foreign Minister Yigal Allon brought the proposal to Rabin, he was met with an adamant refusal. Golda Meir had promised in her time that new elections would be held before any occupied territory was returned to the Arabs. “I am not prepared to go to elections because of Jericho!” Rabin exclaimed.

The same happened when Shimon Peres reached a secret agreement with King Hussein and brought the finished product to the then prime minister, Yitzhak Shamir. Shamir threw the agreement into the waste bin.

(“You face a difficult choice,” I once joked in a Knesset debate, “Whether not to return the occupied territories to Jordan or not to return them to the Palestinians.”)

ONE OF the interesting aspects of this long love story was that not one of the Israeli lovers ever took the trouble to look at the problem from the other side. In the depths of their heart, they despised the Jordanians as they despised all Arabs.

In the middle of the 80s, I received an unofficial invitation to Jordan, then officially still an “enemy country”. True, I entered with a rather dubious passport, but, once there, I registered as an Israeli journalist. Since I was the first Israeli to go around Amman openly, declaring my identity, I attracted quite a lot of attention in higher circles.

A senior government official invited me to dinner in a posh restaurant. On a paper napkin he drew the map of Jordan and explained to me the whole problem in a nutshell:

“We are surrounded by countries which are very different from each other. Here is the Zionist Israel, and here the nationalist Syria. In the West Bank, radical tendencies flourish, and in close-by Lebanon there is a conservative sectarian regime. Here is the secular Iraq of Saddam Hussein, and here the devout Saudi Arabia. From all these directions, ideas and people flow into Jordan. We absorb all of them. But we cannot quarrel with any of our neighbors. When we move a bit towards Syria, on the following day we have to make a gesture towards Saudi Arabia. When we come closer to Israel, we must appease Iraq quickly.”

The obvious conclusion: the Jordanian Option was a folly right from the beginning. But nobody in the Israeli leadership grasped that. As the wise Boutros Boutros-Ghali once told me: “You have in Israel the greatest experts on Arab affairs. They have read every book and every article. They know everything, and understand nothing – because they have never lived for one day in an Arab country.”

OLD LOVES do not die. True, the first intifada pushed aside the Jordanian Option and the leaders of Israel flirted with the Palestinian Option. But their heart was not in the new love, and they acted as if driven by a demon. That explains why no serious effort was made to fulfill the Oslo agreement and to bring the process to its logical conclusion: a Palestinian state next to Israel.

Now, suddenly, people are once more talking about Jordan. Perhaps one could ask King Abdallah II to send his army into the West Bank to fight Hamas? Perhaps we could bury the “Two-State Solution” in a Jordanian-Palestinian federation that would allow the Jordanians to take over the West Bank again?

The King was appalled. That is just what he needs! To incorporate the turbulent and divided Palestinian population in his kingdom! To open the border to a new flood of refugees and immigrants! He hastened to deny any part in the scheme.

Federation? That is quite possible, he said – but only after a free Palestinian state has come into being, not before, and certainly not instead. Then the citizens may decide freely.

A famous book by the Israeli author Yehoshua Kenaz is called: “Returning Lost Loves”. But it seems that this old love is gone forever. Uri Avnery is an Israeli author and activist. He is the head of the Israeli peace movement, “Gush Shalom”.

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. This material is distributed without profit.


A Dark Summit-Occupation? What Occupation? By URI AVNERY

Weekend Edition
June 30 / July 1, 2007

Occupation? What Occupation?
 
A Dark Summit

By URI AVNERYThere never was a darker Middle East summit meeting. The darkest there can be.

The four leaders at Sharm al-Sheik did not sit together at an intimate round table. Each one sat alone behind a huge table of his own. That ensured a striking separation between them. The four long tables hardly touched. Each one of the leaders, with his assistants behind him, sat like a solitary island in a vast sea.

All four–Hosni Mubarak, King Abdallah of Jordan, Ehud Olmert and Mahmoud Abbas–bore a severe countenance. Throughout the official part of the conference, not a single smile could be seen.

One after the other, the four delivered their monologues. An exercise in shallow hypocrisy, in empty deceit. Not one of the four raised himself above the murky puddle of sanctimonious phrases.

A short monologue from Mubarak. A short monologue from Abdallah. A medium-length monologue from Abbas. An interminably long monologue from Olmert–a typical Israeli speech, overbearing, educating the whole world, sermonizing and dripping with morality. Held, of course, in Hebrew, with the obvious aim of appealing to the home public.

The speech included all the required phrases–Our soul longs for peace, The vision of two states, We do not want to rule over another people, For the good of coming generations, bla-bla-bla. All in standard colonial style: Olmert even talked about “Judea and Samaria”, using the official terminology of the occupation.

But in order to “strengthen” Abbas, Olmert addressed him as “President” and not as “Chairman”, which has been the de rigueur title used by all Israeli representatives since the establishment of the Palestinian Authority. (The wise men of Oslo circumvented this difficulty by referring -in all three languages–to the head of the Authority by the Arab title of Ra’is, which can mean both president and chairman.

And the word that did not appear throughout this long monologue?

“Occupation”.

Continued…

see:
Uri Avnery