Posts Tagged ‘Israel’

Bernie Sanders and the Israel lobby

March 29, 2016

Bernie Sanders is the only major-party Presidential candidate of Jewish heritage, the only one to have worked on an Israeli kibbutz and the only one to be eligible for Israeli citizenship.

160321221404-bernie-sanders-israel-aipac-the-final-five-election-special-5-00011615-large-169He also is the only one to separate himself, even a little, from the war policy of the present Israeli government.

He was the only candidate to decline to appear before the American Israel Public Affairs Committee last week, and the only one to attempt to discuss the Israel-Palestine situation objectively.

Criticizing the Netanyahu government is, of course, far different from being anti-Israel, much less anti-Semitic, but you wouldn’t think so from the responses of the other candidates.

LINKS

Speech in Salt Lake City on March 21, 2016 by Bernie Sanders.

What They Said: Candidates double down on Israel at AIPAC by Philip Giraldi for The Unz Review.

Photo Credit: CNN

Who got what in US foreign aid

November 19, 2015
usaidmoneyhowmuch

Double click to enlarge.

.

Double click to enlarge.

Double click to enlarge.

The Jewish scene: November 6, 2015

November 6, 2015

These links are from my expatriate e-mail pen pal Jack and his friend Marty.

THE Most Amazing Falafel Assembly OF ALL TIME    🙂

The Soldier Who Voluntarily Became A Prisoner in Auschwitz

[Not about Jews, but an interesting story nevertheless -M]
http://www.todayifoundout.com/index.php/2015/10/soldier-voluntarily-became-imprisoned-auschwitz/

Hitler & the Muslims

[2 books reviewed from ‘The NY Review of Books’ -M]
http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2015/apr/02/hitler-and-muslims/

She gives me partridges – Domineering, drunk, anti-Semitic: The composer Alma Mahler sought relationships with Jewish men.  She wanted to “improve” them
http://www.lrb.co.uk/v37/n21/bee-wilson/she-gives-me-partridges

Preaching to the converted: how Kabbalah keeps on growing
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/oct/26/kabbalah-religion-marcus-weston-madonna

This Day in History: October 30, 1944 – Margo and Anne

[The last days of the Frank sisters -M]
http://www.todayifoundout.com/index.php/2015/10/this-day-in-history-october-30th-margo-and-anne/

(more…)

Nationalism and religious fanaticism in Israel

October 16, 2015

Nationalism and religious fanaticism are a dangerous combination in any country.

It means that people worship their collective selves instead of a universal God, and regard rival nations as the equivalent of demons.

I hesitated to post this video because I don’t want to associate myself with the anti-Semites in the comment thread.  I have had many Jewish friends and acquaintances during my life, none of whom adhered to the theology described by the brave Israeli journalist Yossi Gurvitz.   I do not think that what he describes represents the best values of Judaism.

But I think what he describes is real, and should not be ignored in the name of tolerance.

I do not criticize Israeli policy from the standpoint of moral superiority.  I don’t think the Israeli government has done anything that the American government has not done.

Zionism, colonialism and national liberation

October 7, 2015

In the 1950s and 1960s, I thought of Israel mainly as a refuge for Jewish refugees from Hitler and from the “displaced person” camps after World War Two.

Zionism was in fact partly a movement to give Jews a refuge from anti-Semites, but it was two other things as well.

Vladimir Jabotinsky

Vladimir Jabotinsky

It was a national liberation movement for people who had never before constituted an independent nation, like the Kurds today.  At the same time it was a colonial movement, an attempt to take over a land inhabited by other people.

Vladimir Jabotinsky, one of the early Israeli settlers, saw clearly that Zionist leaders were kidding themselves if they thought they could peacefully co-exist with Arabs.  Neither Arabs nor anybody else will ever tolerate being made a minority in their own country.

He called upon his fellow Zionists to face up to the fact that Zionism was colonialism, and that making the Palestine Mandate a Jewish nation could not be accomplished without force.

He said peace between Israeli Jews and Palestinian Arabs could only happen when the Arabs were convinced that the Jews could not be dislodged by means of force.

Israelis today think of themselves as a nation like any other, fighting to maintain their national existence.  Palestinian Arabs and their allies think of Israelis as invaders, like the white settlers of the former Rhodesia.  The problem is that both beliefs are true.

I think that someday both sides will accept that neither one can get rid of the other, and they have no choice but to live together in peace.

LINKS

The Jewish Terrorists by Asaf Sharon for The New York Review of Books.  [Hat tip to my expatriate e-mail pen pal Jack]

The Iron Wall by Vladimir Jabotinsky (1923)  [Hat tip to Jack]

The Jewish scene: October 1, 2015

October 1, 2015

Hat tip for these links to my expatriate friend Jack and his friend Marty.
WWIIPoland

How a Fake Typhus Epidemic Saved a Polish City From the Nazis

http://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/how-a-fake-typhus-epidemic-saved-a-polish-city-from-the-nazis

Survivors in Ukraine: unearthing the hidden stories of Holocaust survivors

http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/photography-blog/2015/sep/30/survivors-ukraine-stephen-shore-holocaust

14 Fascinating Facts About ‘Schindler’s List’

http://mentalfloss.com/article/69150/14-fascinating-facts-about-schindlers-list

Hostile Intelligence: Reflections from a Visit to the West Bank

http://internationaltimes.it/hostile-intelligence-reflections-from-a-visit-to-the-west-bank/

You Are Here! You Were Here! Chutzpah or Kharbata?

http://www.jadaliyya.com/pages/index/22754/you-are-here-you-were-here-chutzpah-or-kharbata

Jews in America struggled for decades to become white. Now they must give up whiteness to fight racism.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2015/09/22/jews-in-america-struggled-for-generations-to-become-white-now-we-must-give-up-that-privilege-to-fight-racism/

(more…)

USA should join with Iran against ISIS

July 16, 2015

Israel and Saudi Arabia are not friends and do not even have diplomatic relations, but they work in parallel when it is in their national interest to do so.

Why should not the governments of the United States and Iran work together against our common enemies, the Islamic State (aka ISIS, ISIL or Daesh) and Al Qaeda?

This would make more sense than trying to fight ISIS and Al Qaeda while making common cause with Israel, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf emirates against the main enemies of ISIS and Al Qaeda.

axis.satan

Tom Jansson cartoon for The Cagle Post

Maybe this is what President Obama had in mind.  Maybe this is already U.S. policy.  If so, good!

Americans criticize the Iranian government for giving weapons and other help to armed factions in other countries, but that is no different from what the Saudis, the Gulf emirates, Israel and the United States itself does.  Iran’s current intervention in Iraq and Syria is at the invitation of the governments of those countries.

I think the violent conflicts in the Middle East, including the Sunni-Shiite conflict, would die down if Iran, Saudi Arabia, the Gulf emirates, the USA and other countries agreed among themselves to stop giving weapons, supplies and money to the various battling groups.

Unfortunately that’s unlikely to happen anytime soon.  But I have to say the such an agreement is more likely than other nations agreeing to be neutral while the US government continues conducting bombing campaigns and arming its own proxies.

Iran and the United States are neither friends nor enemies.  They are countries with their own interests, which sometimes overlap and sometimes conflict.

LINKS

Rethinking Iran by Kevin Schwartz and Arjun Singh Sethi for Counterpunch.

Alan Dershowitz on the Iran deal

July 15, 2015

Harvard Law School professor Alan M. Dershowitz made this argument against the proposed deal with Iran.

Does the proposed deal with Iran actually prevent the Mullahs from ever developing a nuclear weapon?  Or does it merely delay them for a period of years? That is the key question that has not yet been clearly answered.

Alan M. Dershowitz

Alan M. Dershowitz

In his statement on the deal, President Obama seemed to suggest that Iran will never be allowed to develop a nuclear weapon. He said that this “long-term deal with Iran… will prevent it from obtaining a nuclear weapon.” … …

But is that what the deal itself does?  Or, as stated by its critics, does it actually assure that Iran will be allowed to develop a nuclear arsenal after a short delay of several years?  That is the key question that the Obama administration has refused to answer directly.  It must do so before Congress can be asked to buy a pig in a poke for the American people.

There is an enormous difference between a deal that merely delays Iran’s development of a nuclear arsenal for a period of years and a deal that prevents Iran from ever developing a nuclear arsenal.

via Gatestone Institute.

It is perfectly true that the Iran nuclear deal does not present Iran from ever developing nuclear weapons capability.   Every advanced industrial nation has the capacity to develop nuclear weapons if it so chooses.

What the deal does is to prevent Iran from secretly developing nuclear weapons capability.

So long as the terms of the deal are observed, any action to manufacture plutonium or weapons-grade uranium would be transparent and would take a long enough period of time for United States or other countries to act.

It also is the case that continuation of sanctions will not prevent Iran from ever developing nuclear weapons.  In fact, Iran is further along toward developing weapons-grade uranium (although not very far) than it will be under the agreement.

If I were an Iranian leader, and I thought that sanctions would continue no matter what, I would go ahead with the uranium enrichment program.  As the saying goes, you might as well be hanged for a sheep as a lamb.

(more…)

Religious extremists warp U.S. policy on Israel

April 29, 2015

Many of us Americans distrust the Iranians because we think of them as apocalyptic religious fanatics who can’t be trusted to behave rationally.   We ought to look at the apocalyptic religious fanatics in our own midst—and in Israel.

These are the evangelical Christian Zionists such as John Hagee and Pat Robertson who say that the United States should give unconditional support to Israel because Biblical prophecies say the foundation of Israel is part of God’s plan.

-1x-1A recent Bloomberg poll indicated that 46 percent of Americans—and 58 percent of American born-again Christians—believe that the United States should support Israel even when it is not in the American national interest.

Now there is a sense in which I believe this myself.  I think it was right for the U.S. government in the 1970s to send aid to Israel when Israel was in danger of being wiped out, even though the United States lost some geopolitical advantage by doing so.  This is a different thing from saying today that the United States should attack Iran for Israel’s benefit.

It is also a different thing from Mitt Romney saying in 2012 that Americans should not allow any “daylight” between American foreign policy and Israel’s.  Or Ted Cruz a few months ago making support for Israel a litmus test for persecuted Middle Eastern Christians.

(more…)

Strong opposition to Darwinism in Israel

March 30, 2015

evolution-views

The United States is exceptional among economically-advanced nations in the large percentage of the population who reject Darwin’s theory of evolution.

But the USA has a partner in this respect.  A large percentage of the population of Israel also reject evolution.

us_il_evo3

Religious fundamentalists—that is, those who believe that Scripture should be taken as literal fact as well as teaching a lesson—are strong in both countries, and are politically allied to right-wing nationalists.

Right-wing nationalism is not inherent in religious fundamentalism.  The Old Order Amish are fundamentalists.  But when fundamentalism and nationalism are allied, they make a powerful and dangerous force, because the nation and its military are treated as if they are sacred.

The Likud Party in Israel is close to the Republican Party in the United States, in spite of the fact that most Jewish citizens in the United States support the Democrats.

I believe that is because the Likud supporters and Republicans have an affinity in their leaders’ assertive nationalism and in their appeal to religious fundamentalist voters.   The majority of Jewish people in the United States, on the other hand, are liberal humanitarians who accept the conclusions of modern science.

LINKS

In Israel, Will Creationists Reign? by Josh Rosenau for the Science League of America.

A Shande Vor De Goyim: Israelis Are as Creationist as U.S. Non-Jews by Josh Rosenau for the Science League of America.

Israeli politicians views on evolution: more waffling and denialism by Jerry Coyne.

Why the alliance of Netanyahu and the GOP?

March 16, 2015

The overwhelming majority of Jewish people in the United States vote for the Democratic Party, but it is the Republicans who are the strongest supporters of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.  And vice versa.  Why is this?

P.M. Benjamin Netanyahu and Sen. Tom Cotton

P.M. Benjamin Netanyahu and GOP Sen. Tom Cotton

I think that Republican hawks see Netanyahu’s Israel as a model of the kind of aggressive, militarist nation that they would like to see the United States become.

American Jewish voters mostly support Democrats because, based on their historical memory as an oppressed people, they favor civil rights, labor rights and humanitarian causes.   These are values rejected by the dominant faction of the Republican Party and by the Likud party in Israel.

I think that another reason is that Republicans appeal to the apocalyptic Christian minority that believes that the establishment of Israel is the fulfillment of a Biblical prophecy about the End Times.  Jewish people in the USA find these Christians scary, recalling their history of persecution, but they are exactly parallel to the apocalyptic Jewish minority in Israel.

(more…)

If the US attacks Iran, what happens next?

March 15, 2015

Suppose the United States attacks Iran, as we did Iraq, in order to destroy its nuclear weapons program.

That’s pretty much what Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu wants.  It’s what Senator Tom Cotton and his supporters want.  It’s what influential neo-conservatives such as Joshua Muravchik, writing in last week’s Washington Post, want.

Put to one side the question of whether such a program actually exists.  Also put to one side the morality of attacking a nation that is not a threat to the United States and killing bystanders who have as much right to live in this world as you or I or the people who worked in the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001.

What would happen next?

Iran's President Hassan Rouhani

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani

Given the U.S. experience in Iraq, I don’t think the United States would actually attempt to invade Iran, a nation whose population is more than double Iraq’s and whose area is three times as big.   What is more likely is a bombing attack—hopefully not nuclear—to destroy Iran’s nuclear infrastructure.

What would happen after that?  Whether or not the Iranian government has the intention of developing nuclear weapons now, it surely would do so then.   Muravchik wrote that this would not be a problem.  Just drop more bombs.

What if Iranian-backed Shiite Muslims, in retaliation, attack Americans in the Middle East or even in our homeland?  Muravchik said this would be a price the U.S. would have to pay in order to keep bombing Iran as long as necessary.

Would this be a solution to the Iran problem?  The U.S. pursued an policy similar to this with Iraq following the 1991 Gulf War, with economic warfare and intermittent bombing.  It didn’t solve the problem.

Israel’s attacks on the population of Gaza haven’t made Israel safer.   Turning Iran into a Gaza writ large wouldn’t make either Israel or the United States safer.  The only result would be to make both countries more hated.

(more…)

The warmongering record of Hillary Clinton

March 4, 2015

The frustrating thing about the right-wing Republican critics of Hillary Clinton is they criticize her for all the wrong things.   I think I’m as strongly opposed to Clinton as they are, and they put me in the position of defending her.

Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton

In the U.S. intervention in Libya, she is criticized for failing to arrange protection for the U.S. ambassador from the terrorist attack on Benghazi, a legitimate issue, and for mis-characterizing the attack as a spontaneous reaction instead of a planned terrorist attack, an insignificant issue.

But neither of these things matter as much as the total disaster she brought down on the people of Libya.

My e-mail pen pal Bill Harvey sent me a link to an article in Counterpunch that sums up what’s wrong with Clinton very well.

First Libya:

The results of “Operation Unified Protector” … … include the persecution of black Africans and Tuaregs, the collapse of any semblance of central government, the division of the country between hundreds of warring militias, the destabilization of neighboring Mali producing French imperialist intervention, the emergence of Benghazi as an al-Qaeda stronghold, and the proliferation of looted arms among rebel groups.

Now the whole Clinton record:

(more…)

The passing scene: January 3, 2015

January 3, 2015

Social Programs That Work by Ron Haskins in The New York Times.

Many social welfare programs fail.  The Obama administration has identified some that succeed.   While this does not change my unfavorable opinion of the President’s policies overall, I think he is entitled to credit for having this research done.

This City Eliminated Poverty and Nearly Everybody Forgot About It by Zi-Ann Lum for Huffington Post.

Between 1974 and 1979, the small city of Dauphin, Manitoba, guaranteed all residents a basic income—employed or not, able to work or not.  What was the ultimate outcome of this radical experiment?  Nobody ever bothered to check and find out.

What’s Wrong With Georgia? by Alana Semuels for The Atlantic.

Scott Walker has failed Wisconsin and Minnesota is the proof by Jimmy Anderson for the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.

Georgia and Wisconsin are the latest American states to discover that a Third World economic strategy—low wages, low taxes, low services and low regulation—is not a successful formula for creating jobs and promoting economic growth.

(more…)

The passing scene: November 5, 2014

November 5, 2014

Voting rights groups challenge electoral purges by Greg Palast by Al Jazeera America.

One of the techniques for depriving black people and other minorities of the right to vote is by means of the interstate Crosscheck program, in which voters are removed from the rolls if a voter of that name is recorded as voting in two different states in the same election.

The problem is there are many people of the same name.  “Phil Ebersole” is not so common a name as “John Smith,” but a Google search turns up the names of more than half a dozen Phil Ebersoles in different states, most or all of whom presumably voted in the same election.

Crosscheck assumes “double voting” even if the voters have different Social Security numbers, different middle initials or one is “Jr.” and the other is “Sr.”   Investigative reporter Greg Palast, who’s been writing about voter suppression and election fraud for more than 10 years, said millions of voters, mostly Democrats and mostly minorities, were disqualified during the current election.

Israel’s desire to remake the Middle East challenges the Obama presidency by Geoffrey Aronson for Al Jazeera America.

Geoffrey Aronson, a former adviser to the World Bank and European Union on Palestinian issues, wrote that Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has a long range goal to reshape the Middle East in ways that enhance Israel’s power and weaken the surrounding Arab states.

Netanyahu believes that the boundaries of existing Arab states, which were drawn by Britain and France following World War One, are unnatural, Aronson wrote; Israel’s leader would like to see an independent Kurdistan, a breakup of Syria and many small states reflecting the ethnic divisions among Sunni Arabs, Shiite Arabs and other groups.

This is compatible with the goals of the Islamic State (ISIS), which wants to unite Sunni Arabs in Syria and Iraq.  It does not fit the desire of President Obama for a united and stable Iraq.

(more…)

Why we fight

September 25, 2014

ByX_Ou3IYAADiaHAbove is a letter to the editor to The Daily Mail in London concerning what military intervention in the Middle East is all about.  Actually it’s a bit out of date.  The Saudi Arabian government doesn’t officially support the Islamic State militants any more, which doesn’t necessarily mean that they don’t get any support from individual Saudi Arabs.

Another interesting question is where Israel stands in all this.  The Islamic State (ISIS) and the other Sunni Muslim militias fighting in Iraq and Syria are enemies of Israel’s Shiite Muslim enemies, especially Hezbollah, the Shiite Muslim militia and political party in Lebanon, and Hezbollah’s backer, Iran.

I am always in doubt at moments such as this as to whether the President (whoever he is at the time) lacks a clear purpose, or whether he has a purpose that is not revealed.

LINKS

War Without End: The U.S. may still be fighting in Syria in 2024, 2034, 2044 by Jack Shafer for Bloomberg News (via Naked Capitalism).

The War Nerd: Bombs away in the Middle East!  But why is Israel so quiet? by Gary Brechter for Pando Daily.

The long odds against Israel-Palestine peace

August 9, 2014

The Israeli novelist Amos Oz is an example of a sincere Zionist who sincerely wants peace between Israel and the Palestinians.  He favors lifting the blockade against Gaza and recognition of a truly independent Palestinian Arab state.

But in regard the Israeli army’s attack on Gaza, he posed the following questions:

Amos Oz

Amos Oz

Question 1: What would you do if your neighbor across the street sits down on the balcony, puts his little boy on his lap and starts shooting machine gun fire into your nursery?

Question 2: What would you do if your neighbor across the street digs a tunnel from his nursery to your nursery in order to blow up your home or in order to kidnap your family?

via Deutsche Welle

I might say that if my neighbor had been the original occupant of my house, that if I’d kicked him out, and that if I had a record of killing my neighbor’s relatives, regardless of age, he would be exceedingly foolish to expect me to be deterred from anything by a child on his lap.

But this is not a meaningful answer to Oz’s argument, which is that Israel should try to make peace, including lifting the blockade on Gaza, but that so long as Hamas militants attack Israel, Israel has no realistic choice but to respond and retailiate.

Jewish peace advocates say Israel should negotiate a truce, end the blockade and freeze the settlements (or, which is highly unlikely, shut them down).   They are right in saying that so long as Israel bombs and blockades the people of Gaza, and expands settlements on the West Bank, there is no possibility of peace.

But if bombing, blockade and settlements ceased, the Palestinian Arabs would not necessarily be content to let bygones be bygones, and to sit in peace on the 22 percent of the original Palestine remaining to them.

In the one case, peace is impossible; in the other, peace is unlikely.

I don’t say this in any gloating spirit.  The government of my own country, the United States, has done a global basis what the Israeli government has done locally.   Both countries have operated like the Michael Corleone character in Godfather II—seeking safety by trying to kill all their enemies.

But perfect safety is an illusion, the number of potential enemies is unlimited and there comes a time when it is too late to escape the consequences of past actions.   I hope it is not too late for Israel.  I hope it is not too late for us Americans.

§§§

Read and listen to some other Jewish voices below.

(more…)

Be careful what you wish for

August 1, 2014

“If Hamas were destroyed and gone, we would probably end up with something much worse. The region would end up with something much worse,” [Army Lt. General Michael] Flynn [outgoing head of the Defense Intelligence Agency] said at the Aspen Security Forum in Colorado [last week].

“A worse threat that would come into the sort of ecosystem there … something like ISIS,” he added, referring to the Islamic State, which last month declared an “Islamic caliphate” in territory it controls in Iraq and Syria.

via Reuters.

Israel reportedly supported Hamas in the 1980s as a counterweight to the secular Palestine Liberation Organization.

Israel from underdog to top dog

August 1, 2014

300px-Arab_Israeli_Conflict_6

I am not Jewish.  I am not a Zionist.  I think of Israel as I think of Britain or France—as a foreign country whose people I wish well, but whose interests are not necessarily those of my own country.

But there was a time when I had considerable sympathy for the State of Israel.  The map above shows why.  The nations in green are members of the Arab League, whose 1967 Khartoum resolution reaffirmed a long-standing policy of no peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel and no negotiations with Israel.  The countries marked in dark green show the countries that went to war with Israel at one time or another.

As long as Israel was surrounded by larger and more populous countries dedicated to its destruction, I thought of Israel as the underdog.   Their situations were not comparable.

 There was never any possibility that Israel could threaten the existence of Egypt, Syria, Iraq or the other Arab nations.  But there was a very real possibility that the Arab nations together could wipe Israel from the map of history.

I argued that the Jewish people had as much right to create a new nation as the Germans or Italians in an earlier era.  I would argue that people who are in peril cannot be expected to follow moral rules.

I argued that if the Soviet Union was providing unlimited armaments to Egypt and Syria to destroy Israel, it was only right that the USA provide military aid to Israel.  I argued—I think that 40 or so years ago, this argument was plausible—that more Arab civilians, even more Palestinian civilians had been killed by Arab governments during Israel’s existence than had been killed by Israelis.

Nowadays I no longer make these arguments because I no longer see Israel as the underdog.  The map below shows why.

No Arab government threatens to attack Israel.  Egypt and Jordan have signed peace treaties.  Israel has committed acts of war against Lebanon, Syria and Iraq with impunity.

Their only enemies are the powerless, miserable Palestinians in Gaza and on the West Bank.  All the arguments I made in justification of Israel could now be made in justification of Hamas and Fatah.

The Palestinians have as much right to constitute themselves as a nation as the Israelis did.   People who are being killed indiscriminately have the right to fight back by any means necessary, especially against a nation being given virtually unlimited aid by the USA, the world’s largest military superpower.

There is no possibility that the Palestinians can threaten the existence of Israel.  But there is a very real possibility that Israel can eliminate the Palestinian presence in Gaza and the West Bank.

map-story-of-palestinian-nationhood

(more…)

A Jewish critique of Israel’s policies

August 1, 2014

Rabbi Henry Siegman, former head of the American Jewish Council and of the Synagogue Council of America, in interviews on Democracy Now, calls for the Israeli government to cease its attacks on Gaza and to recognize the human rights of the Palestinian Arabs.  The interview is a excellent, objective summary of the situation.

I think Rabbi Siegman is representative of what is best in the Jewish tradition, which is older and much richer than Zionism.  I think he is right in advocating real self-determination for the Palestinians, as opposed to the fake self-determination they have now.

I would like to think that true self-determination would open a path to peace.  Peace is impossible otherwise.  But I fear Israel may have passed the point of no return.  Rabbi Siegman said in the interview that part of the purpose of the attacks on Gaza is to destroy the possibility of an independent Palestine and of peace talks that might lead to an independent Palestine.  That purpose may have been accomplished.

I recall a story about an American officer offering compensation to an Iraqi family for the killing of the father.  The eldest son said it wasn’t enough.  The American asked how much compensation would be enough.  The son replied, “Ten dead Americans.”

But I don’t want to write anything that, in however tiny a way, would diminish the chances for peace, however small they may be.  Age-old enemies have made peace in the past, as in Ireland.  It is up to Israelis and Palestinian Arabs, not to me, to say whether peace is possible.

LINKS

Israel Provoked This War: It’s up to President Obama to end it by Henry Siegman for Politico.

The Liberal Zionists by Jonathan Freedland for the New York Review of Books.

I thank Jack Clontz for calling my attention to the Democracy Now interview.  It is well worth viewing in its entirety.

War and peace: Links & comments 7/22/14

July 22, 2014

Lessons from America’s War for the Greater Middle East by Andrew Bacevich for Notre Dame magazine.

Andrew Bacevich, a professor of history and international relations, retired career Army officer and self-described conservative Catholic, talks as much good sense about American military and foreign policy as anybody I know about.

In this article, he traces American policy toward the Middle East from the 1980 Carter Doctrine, which stated that the U.S. would use force to protect access to the oil of the Persian Gulf, down to the present day.  He sees more continuity than differences between the Democratic and Republican administrations.

The policy is based on the hope that, by the application of force, the United States can counter tendencies in the Islamic war that threaten American interests.  The result has been death and destruction, with the result that the people of the Middle East see the United States as the main threat to their freedom and well-being.

Bacevich says its time to stop ignoring reality and attempting the impossible.

Ukraine Open Thread (and Links) on Naked Capitalism.

Fact-Free Zone by Dmitry Orlov on ClubOrlov.

‘It was Putin’s missile’ by Pepe Escobar for Asia Times.

I don’t know who shot down the MH-17 airliner over Ukraine.  I agree with President Obama that a thorough and complete investigation is needed to determine the facts.  Why, then, is he ramping up a cold war against Russia, as if all the facts were known?

Israel mows the lawn by Mouin Rabbani for the London Review of Books

The author says the policy of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is to prevent, by any means necessary, the emergence of a Palestinian state that is independent in fact and not just in name.  The last thing Netanyahu wants is a peace process.

Reflections on an Unforgiving Day

July 18, 2014

The following is part of an entry in the Stratfor Geopolitical Diary.

What ties Ukraine, Russia, Israel and Gaza together is that they are all fighting for their lives, or interests that are so fundamentally important to them that they cannot live without them.

They are fighting for their nation and for that nation’s safety in a world where unspeakable things happen and where the only ones who will defend you are your family, friends and countrymen, and where all the well-wishers and advice-givers will quietly take their leave if dangers arise.

There is nothing easier and cheaper than advising others to get along. 

These conflicts are rooted in fear, and fear is always a legitimate emotion.

Others would have approached today by saying that the Russians are evil or the Ukrainians really the oppressors, the Israelis killers or the Gazans monsters.

We are sure we will hear from many condemning our moral equivalency, by which they will claim that the only truly moral position is theirs.

But this is not a moral equivalency that argues that Ukrainians and Russians, Israelis and Palestinians should therefore sit down and recognize that they really haven’t got anything to fight over.

This is a moral equivalency that says these people have a great deal to fight over, but that it is their fight, and that — as when the Romans began wiping out Europe’s Celts — it will be settled by steel and not by kindly advice or understanding.

The problem between these people is not that they don’t understand each other. 

The problem is that they do.

Click on Reflections on an Unforgiving Day to read the whole article.

Reprinted with permission of Stratfor Global Intelligence.   Hat tip to Naked Capitalism.

(more…)

Is an Israeli-Palestinian peace even possible?

July 14, 2014

This video is an admirable effort by the Jewish Voice for Peace to describe the Israel / Palestine conflict objectively and to propose a constructive solution.  Sadly, I doubt a constructive solution is possible.  I’d be glad to be proved wrong.

I’m currently reading Empire of the Summer Moon, a history of the Comanche nation and its great chief, Quanah Parker.   The history of United States treaties with the Comanches and other American Indian nations is very like the various peace plans between Israeli and the Palestinians.

The problems with the Indian treaties were that, on the one hand, the United States government did not and maybe could not hold back white settlers who wanted Indian land, and that, on the other hand, Indians did not recognize the authority of negotiators making concessions in their names and did not consider themselves bound by the treaties.

I do not equate the Palestinian Arabs with tribal peoples of North America, but I do see parallels in their situations.  The only possible outcomes of the merciless wars between the Plains Indians and the white settlers were that the Indians would drive out the settlers, or that the United States Army would subjugate the Indians and force them to live on reservations.

Via Juan Cole.   Hat tip to Jack Clontz.

(more…)

The world scene: Links & notes 12/2/13

December 2, 2013

Obama Approves Major Fracked Gas Pipeline by Steve Horn for Counterpunch.

The oil product extracted from tar sands is a thick gunk called bitumen, which can’t be moved through pipelines unless it is diluted by a natural gas produced called condensate.  The U.S. State Department on Nov. 19 approved construction of a 1,900-mile gas pipeline to carry condensate produced by hydraulic fracturing in the Eagle Fort Shale Basin in Texas through Kankakee, Illinois, to the tar sands area of Alberta.  This will make it feasible to pump diluted bitumen through the Keystone XL pipeline from Alberta to the Texas Gulf Coast.

Under the radar: Israel’s security establishment supports new Iran agreement by Larry Derfner for +972 Magazine.  Hat tip to EconoSpeak.

Maybe “supports” is too strong a word, but Israel’s top brass would rather have negotiations and a slowing of Iran’s nuclear program than no negotiations and no concessions.   The Israeli stock market also responded favorably to announcement of the negotiations.

100 injured as second day of clashes shakes capital by the Bangkok Post.

Anti-government demonstrators in Thailand spray contents of honey wagons at police, and use giant fans to blow tear gas back at them.

War and peace: Links & notes 11/29/13

November 29, 2013

‘Aleppo is nothing but hunger and Islam’ by Francesa Borri in The Guardian.

I’m glad that President Obama decided against overt U.S. intervention in the Syrian conflict, but I admit I don’t know what to do to help the poor people of Syria.  It seems as if the only alternatives are continued rule by a ruthless and brutal hereditary dictator, and rule by local militias and warlords.

Islamist borri 12 novThe United States government, for all our high-tech flying killer drones and all our highly-trained special operations forces, does not have the capability to keep the peace in a country torn by civil war.  Arming one or more of the fighting factions makes things worse.  Bombarding the country makes things worse.  Helping victims is good to do, but it doesn’t solve the problem.  Maybe somebody who knows more about Syria than I do sees an answer.  I don’t see any.

Hollywood ‘Fight Club’ producer was Israeli spy with nuclear script by RT News.   Hat tip to O.

Arnon Milchan, producer of Hollywood movies such as Pretty Woman, Fight Club and LA Confidential, gave an interview about his earlier life as an Israeli secret agent in the 1970s who obtained materials and equipment for Israel’s secret nuclear weapons program.  This helps me understand the Israeli government’s fear of Iran’s nuclear program.  If Israel could develop nuclear weapons without the world’s knowledge, why couldn’t Iran?

(more…)