Israel

Armageddon Approaches

“An Israeli attack on Iran would create a disaster.” — Zbigniew Brzezinski

“The entire lake will become a killing field…the Gulf will run red with American blood.” — Military specialist Mark Gaffney.

Bombing Iran could be the final nail in the coffin of America—a decaying and morally bankrupt superpower where torture has been normalized and where the President is now free to kill anyone he chooses, anywhere in the world, who he happens to suspect is a terrorist.

Right now, Iran appears to be the object of universal detestation, at least among those who control the mainstream media and who are anxious to persuade the easily duped masses that Iran is a major threat to civilization. Read more

A Deal with the Devil: The Strange Case of Israel and South Africa

Review of The Unspoken Alliance by Sasha Polakow-Suransky

Israeli checkpoints, concrete walls, and the ongoing blockade of the Gaza strip continue to reinforce the growing opinion of Israel as an apartheid state. Sasha Polakow-Suransky’s The Unspoken Alliance details Israel’s ties to the original apartheid state—South Africa. The book describes how “material interests gave birth to an alliance that greatly benefited the Israeli economy and enhanced the security of South Africa’s white minority regime.” (p11)

The background to this cooperation is complex. South Africa’s governing political party, the National Party, primarily represented the Afrikaner people. These were the descendants of Dutch, French, and German Protestants. They were marked by their staunch Calvinism as well as their unique ethnic identity. Despite early opposition to Jewish immigration and some pro-German sympathies during the Second World War, the Afrikaners were not inherently anti-Jewish. The strong Protestant religious feeling that shaped much of Afrikaner identity played a role in their perception of Israel as the ‘Holy Land.’ As Polakow-Suransky notes, “Afrikaner nationalists drew heavily on Jewish history and symbolism.” (p14) In 1953 South African Prime Minister D.F. Malan would become the first head of government to visit Israel while in office. During the 1967 Six-Day War the South Africans cheered the Israeli success as a David-and-Goliath victory against Soviet-backed regimes. Read more

Israel’s Malaise: Prepare for the Next Diaspora?

In the discussion about the status and the future of Israel most people tend to overlook its social and economic structure because of  its political and military prowess. But the greatest threat to the Jewish state does not seem to come from abroad, despite the lobbying against Iran. The Arab Spring is coming to Tel Aviv, but not in the way it was foreseen.

When Zionism was launched in the 19th century by Theodor Herzl it was not very appealing to Jews, not in the least because Palestine was part of the economically backward and politically unstable Ottoman Empire. If European Jews chose to migrate, they preferred North America where industry was rapidly developing and the economy was booming. Zionism was not only unappealing but it was also widely regarded as unrealistic—could rural Palestine economically sustain the livelihood of the millions of urban Jews living in diaspora?

Today the question of economically sustaining Israel is more urgent than ever. Israel has enjoyed generous U.S. economic and military support and German reparations for decades, but the pumping of billions of dollars into the Israeli economy has not been enough to counterbalance Israeli expendures. Israel’s economy is burdened by its defense budget which is close to 25% of GNP and its huge state-apparatus accounting for one third of the workforce. Also its elaborate social welfare is a big burden on the state budget which is plagued by the low level of labor participation among the growing number of Orthodox Jews. These Jews are also exempt from military service. Read more

Jewish Pressure Resulted in Goldstone’s Partial Recantation

Richard Goldstone’s statement that there was no evidence that Israel intentionally targeted civilians has been a Godsend to Israel apologists–whose default position is to claim that this entirely compromises the entire report. This is definitely not the case:

As many others have pointed out, Goldstone’s op-ed does not stand as a recantation of the Goldstone Report. Even if one accepts Judge Goldstone’s claim that Israel did not intentionally target civilians during Operation Cast Lead – a position that the U.N. Committee of Experts, the official body charged with monitoring Israeli and Palestinian investigations into Cast Lead, does not support – the vast majority of the report stands as written. As Judge Goldstone has said himself in an interview with the Associated Press, “I have no reason to believe any part of the report needs to be reconsidered at this time.”

This means that Judge Goldstone still believes that Israel and the Palestinian authorities committed war crimes during the conflict, that Israel intentionally targeted Gaza’s civilian infrastructure and used “deliberately disproportionate force designed to punish, humiliate and terrorize the civilian population.” These are the damning charges that remain unchallenged and that demand international action. (‘The Goldstone Report’ now belongs to the world by Adam Horowitz, Lizzy Ratner and Phil Weiss, Mondoweiss, April 7, 2011) Read more

Our Rachel

For Patrick Willis, a true lover of Palestine, who decided to take a Rachel poem of mine and turn it into a moving new video: In Memory of Rachel Corrie.

It is hoped that the essay presented below will serve as an introduction to this widely acclaimed video as well as a tribute to Rachel on the 8th anniversary of her death on March 16.

She was called “St. Pancake” by her killers soon after her death. It was a term of derision for a young woman determined to make a martyr of herself. She had gotten herself pancaked. Flattened. Crushed beneath the blades of a bulldozer while giving succor to terrorists.

In the words of Zionist professor Steven Plaut, Rachel is “a sort of Mother Teresa for the radical left and apologists of Islamofascism. She is a martyr-saint for the pro-terror lobby.”

16 March will mark the 8th anniversary of Rachel’s death. It’s a good time to remember her and ask ourselves what she died for. Are the Palestinians any nearer to achieving their dreams of an independent state? Are those who killed Rachel in a stronger or weaker position than they were eight years ago? Read more

Benjamin Netanyahu: Like Father, Like Son

The War Party is beating the drums again, and much of the media is obediently falling into line. Jeffrey Goldberg, whose article for the New Yorkerwas an important part of the disinformation campaign that was so central to the successful neocon push for the Iraq war, is leading the charge once again. His recent Atlantic article, “The Point of No Return,” is a brief for another war, this time with Iran. Rather than present his own doubtless  warmongering views, he slants his article as objective reportage on the mindset of Israel’s leaders, particularly Benjamin Netanayahu’s “belief … that Iran is not Israel’s problem alone; it is the world’s problem, and the world, led by the United States, is duty-bound to grapple with it.

“Duty-bound”? That’s quite a sense of duty. The world has a duty to deal with a regime whose overt animus is directed at Israel, and if it doesn’t, Israel will do it itself. Goldberg claims that a military strike is also favored by Arab states, a point cogently disputed by Marc Lynch writing in Atlantic. In any case it’s a bit difficult to believe that “Several Arab leaders have suggested that America’s standing in the Middle East depends on its willingness to confront Iran.” How about America’s standing in the region depending on its ability to pressure Israel from its expansionist aims and end Israeli oppression of the Palestinians?Nah, the Arabs could care less about that.

In any case, one still wonders how attacking Iran is in the interests of the US or the rest of the world. But of course, interest is irrelevant. That’s the  thing about duties. When one has a duty, self-interest and personal desire are irrelevant. You have a duty. Be a good soldier. Do it and don’t ask questions. End of story.

Goldberg never tells us why the US has a duty to initiate a military strike against Iran (although one can infer it has something to do with the Holocaust). So his main thrust is to show that Netanyahu would do it unilaterally if the US won’t. And why is Netanyahu so gung-ho on war? It’s because of the influence of his father, Ben-Zion Netanyahu: “To understand why Netanyahu possesses this deep sense—and why his understanding of Jewish history might lead him to attack Iran, even over Obama’s objections—it is necessary to understand Ben-Zion Netanyahu, his 100-year-old father.”

The senior Netanyahu is a premier example of a Jewish academic ethnic activist. Goldberg informs us that he was Vladimir Jabotinsky’s secretary. Jabotinsky was the father of racial Zionism and the inspiration of the terrorist wing of Zionism prior to 1948. Since that time, Jabotinsky has been the inspiration for the pro-expansion, pro-settler Likud Party—racial Zionism in all but name.  As Geoffrey Wheatcroft recently pointed out, at the present time Israel “is governed by [Jabotinsky’s] conscious heirs.”

Goldberg describes Ben-Zion Netanyahu’s most important work, The Origins of the Inquisition in 15th-Century Spain (1995), as follows: “He argued that Spanish hatred of Jews was spurred by the principle of limpieza de sangre, or the purity of blood; it was proto-Nazi thought, in other words, not mere theology, that motivated the Inquisition. Ben-Zion also argued that the Inquisition corresponds to the axiom that anti-Semitic persecution is preceded, in all cases, by carefully scripted and lengthy dehumanization campaigns meant to ensure the efficient eventual elimination of Jews. To him, the lessons of Jewish history are plain and insistent.”

Netanyahu’s apologetic account of the Spanish Inquisition is a major topic of Chapter 7 of Separation and Its Discontents (“Rationalization and Apologia: The Intellectual Construction of Judaism”), including especially a long appendix.I remember when I first read his work that I was struck at how baldly apologetic it was—up front and in your face. One reviewer referred to his “almost mystical jeremiads against the Inquisitors” — not exactly the mark of an objective historian.

Basically, it’s the same old story: the behavior of Jews is irrelevant to the hostility people have against them. In this case, he tried to show that the Jews who converted to Christianity were sincere in their beliefs so that the Inquisition was at bottom racialist. I accept that some of the New Christians may have been sincere (and even Netanyahu admits that some were not). But I point out that, whatever their beliefs, there is a lot of evidence that the New Christians continued to intermarry and retain all the other ingroup connections that have always characterized Jews. The result was that an ethnically alien group came to dominate Spanish society even though it had adopted a surface of Christianity. In other words, Jewish racialism came first, followed by the Inquisition as a reaction. In the absence of surface religious differences, the only clue the Inquisition had was suspicion based on their ethnic ties—limpieze de sangre. Ethnicity matters as a point of conflict, even when people have the same surface beliefs.

One of Netanyahu’s comments made an indelible impression because it depicted Jews as willing and self-conscious agents of princely “massive exploitation”—a major theme of anti-Jewish attitudes in traditional societies.

It was primarily because of the functions of the Jews as the king’s revenue gatherers in the urban areas that the cities saw the Jews as the monarch’s agents, who treated them as objects of massive exploitation. By serving as they did the interests of the kings, the Jews seemed to be working against the interests of the cities; and thus we touch again on the phenomenon we have referred to: the fundamental conflict between the kings and their people—a conflict not limited to financial matters, but one that embraced all spheres of government that had a bearing on the people’s life. It was in part thanks to this conflict of interests that the Jews could survive the harsh climate of the Middle Ages, and it is hard to believe that they did not discern it when they came to resettle in Christian Europe. Indeed, their requests, since the days of the Carolingians, for assurances of protection before they settled in a place show (a) that they realized that the kings’ positions on many issues differed from those of the common people and (b) that the kings were prepared, for the sake of their interests, to make common cause with the “alien” Jews against the clear wishes of their Christian subjects. In a sense, therefore, the Jews’ agreements with the kings in the Middle Ages resembled the understandings they had reached with foreign conquerors in the ancient world. (Netanyahu 1995, 71–72)

One would think on the basis of his portrayal of Jews as willing and self-conscious agents of massive exploitation in alliance with corrupt elites that Netanyahu would realize the rationality of traditional anti-Jewish attitudes. However, there is little evidence of that, and certainly his treatment of the motives behind the Inquisition strongly suggest that he thinks Jews are blameless.  (I can’t resist pointing out the parallel to our current situation—that our new American elite is substantially composed of ethnically conscious Jews with a heavy sprinkling of corrupt White people with no allegiance or loyalty to their own people—exactly the Jewish formula for success in traditional societies.)

Indeed, the above passage can be read as saying that the Jews had to be exploiters in order to survive the Middle Ages. Survival comes first before any compunction about exploiting non-Jews.(Jewish exploitation of non-Jews was greatly facilitated by Jewish religious attitudes that non-Jews are exploitable outgroups—an ideology that is enshrined in all the founding Jewish religious documents, from the Old Testament to the Talmud.) It’s an argument that can easily be applied to issues like West Bank settlements — needed to make Israel into a viable entity. George Will’s recent column pointed once again to the pre-1967 borders of Israel as dangerously indefensible.

It’s interesting that this survival-first argument is the key to the current attitudes emanating from the Netanyahu camp. Goldberg never once mentions the reality that Jewish behavior has poisoned the atmosphere in the Middle East. It’s simply about survival. As Netanyahu the elder stated: “The Jewish people are making their position clear and putting faith in their military power. The nation of Israel is showing the world today how a state should behave when it stands before an existential threat: by looking danger in the eye and calmly considering what should be done and what can be done. And to be ready to enter the fray at the moment there is a reasonable chance of success.”

This view that the behavior of Jews is irrelevant to hatred directed against them is an incredibly important part of the Jewish self-concept. A recent review of a book on the history of British attitudes on Jews begins, “What is important about anti-Semitism—a fairly modern term for an ancient clutch of ideas—is that it has less to tell us about the Jews themselves than about their enemies” (“Inverted targets,” David Vital’s review of Anthony Julius’s Trials of the Diaspora, TLS, July 23, 2010).

One can always understand the appeal of an existential argument, but it would be much more compelling for non-Jews if Israel’s behavior since 1967 had not appalled pretty much everyone who is paying attention. The problem is that Jews have a long history of not acknowledging the role of their own behavior in fomenting anti-Jewish attitudes. Then, when it blows up, it’s all about survival. Survival trumps everything else, certainly including any need to alter their behavior. As Tallyrand saidof the Bourbon kings, “They learned nothing, they forgot nothing.”

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The Jews turn on Turkey

Well, that didn’t take long. Turkey’s involvement in the flotilla and its support for the Palestinians has now made it an enemy of the Israel Lobby, with all that that entails. All in all, it’s a good example of Jewish power and moral particularism. After long opposing any resolution on Turkey’s genocide of Armenians, Rep. Howard Berman, a major force for Israel in the US Congress,  suddenly supports a Congressional resolution, stating, “nothing justifies Turkey’s turning a blind eye to the reality of the Armenian genocide.” He and “a host of other members of the House’s unofficial Jewish caucus have signed on as co-sponsors.”

Berman suddenly found his moral bearings, along with the organized Jewish community. The neocons are naturally leading the charge, summarized byJim Lobe who quotes from a report by the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs:

“If Turkey finds its best friends to be Iran, Hamas, Syria and Brazil (look for Venezuela in the future) the security of that information (and Western technology in weapons in Turkey’s arsenal) is suspect. The United States should seriously consider suspending military cooperation with Turkey as a prelude to removing it from [NATO],” suggested the group.

[JINSA’s]  board of advisers includes many prominent champions of the 2003 Iraq invasion, including former Defence Policy Board chairman Richard Perle, former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) director James Woolsey, and former U.N. Amb. John Bolton.

What’s interesting here is the proposal to eject Turkey from NATO. It wasn’t long ago that Turkey was being assured that it could become a member of the EU. Turkey’s exclusion from Europe is widely seen as a big factor in its change of foreign policy.Thomas Friedman: “After a decade of telling the Turks that if they wanted E.U. membership they had to reform their laws, economy, minority rights and civilian-military relations — which the Erdogan government systematically did — the E.U. leadership has now said to Turkey: ‘Oh, you mean nobody told you? We’re a Christian club. No Muslims allowed.’ The E.U.’s rejection of Turkey, a hugely bad move, has been a key factor prompting Turkey to move closer to Iran and the Arab world.”

And that’s the good news. The neocons and the organized Jewish community were big supporters of Turkey’s bid to join the EU–which would have meant that  71 million Turks would havethe right to move anywhere in Europe. This would mean the end of Europe as having any defining culture or biological coherence — obviously not a concern to Jewish activists like Friedman.

It’s worth remembering that Jewish activist organizations regarded the admission of Turkey to the EU as a way of civilizing Europe and ensuring cultural, religious, and ethnic pluralism — precisely the policy proposals that the Jewish community has advanced in all Western societies, particularly since the end of World War II. In 2002, at the height of the push for Turkey’s admission to the EU, the Simon Wiesenthal Center (SWC) had this to say in response to former French president Valéry Giscard d’Estaing’s argument that Muslim Turkey has no place in the European Union:

Ironically, in the fifteenth century, when European monarchs expelled the Jews, it was Moslem Turkey that provided them a welcome…. During the Holocaust, when Europe was slaughtering its Jews, it was Turkish consuls who extended protection to fugitives from Vichy France and other Nazi allies…. Today’s European neo-Nazis and skinheads focus upon Turkish victims while, Mr. President [d’Estaing], you are reported to be considering the Pope’s plea that your Convention emphasize Europe’s Christian heritage. [The Center suggested that Giscard’s new Constitution] underline the pluralism of a multi-faith and multi-ethnic Europe, in which the participation of Moslem Turkey might bolster the continent’s Moslem communities—and, indeed, Turkey itself—against the menaces of extremism, hate and fundamentalism. A European Turkey can only be beneficial for stability in Europe and the Middle East. (Seehere; the statement has presumably been removed from the SWC website.)

Turkey in the EU was obviously a win-win situation for Jews: The end of Europe as a Christian civilization with an ethnic core combined with a moderating influence on the Muslims that would benefit Israel. I rather doubt that we’ll be seeing this sort of thing anymore. The chances of Turkey being admitted to the EU now are less than zero.

Valéry Giscard d’Estaing’s argument that Turkey has no place in Europe is just as valid against admitting any Muslims to Europe. Although the rejection of Turkey doesn’t change the present suicidal dynamic in Europe, it will certainly slow down the process compared to what would have happened had Turkey been admitted, perhaps allowing enough time for Europe to waken from its slumbers.


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