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In the strange political gyrations that contributed to forming the new Israeli government, Bibi Netanyahu left open the foreign ministry portfolio, ostensibly for Labor chief Isaac Herzog.  Prevailing wisdom from the Likud is that after a post-election cooling off period, Herzog will see the light and join the ruling coalition and accept the job.  This will prove terribly convenient to Netanyahu, who desperately needs a liberal fig-leaf to shield the fascist, and even criminal elements who prevail in the present iteration of the cabinet.

Leaving the post open creates an odd vacuum by which the deputy foreign minister, Tzipi Hotovely, becomes in effect the acting or interim foreign minister.  Netanyahu doesn’t work out of the ministry.  The person who sits there physically and commands authority is Hotovely.  She, like all her colleagues in the cabinet, is an ardent settlerist.  She also has the benefit of adding a feminine luster to the cabinet boys club.

In my post about the new government ministers, I noted that it would be impossible for the world to deal with her.  Her views are, if anything to the right of Lieberman’s (who yesterday called Netanyahu’s affirmation of a two-state solution the equivalent of “autism“).  She opposes a two-state solution, which is where it gets a bit complicated.  Everyone in the cabinet opposes two states…except the prime minister.  Who supports two states when he’s talking to foreign leaders.  But not when he’s talking to a domestic audience.  Which bring us to another irony: the hasbarists used to chortle about Arafat saying one thing in Arabic and another in English.  This is precisely what Bibi does, except he says two different things in ONE language, English!  If you’re confused, don’t be.  This is Israel, after all.

Returning to Hotovely, today she gave her inaugural address to the foreign ministry staff.  It was a doozy.  She argued that the MFA in the past has been too concerned about the niceties of diplomacy; about advancing clever legal arguments to advance Israel’s position before the world.  Instead, she argued, we have to cease with such sophistries and tell the world what is morally right.  It is simply moral, right and just for Israel to own the entire Land of Israel.  We know it from our Bible.  God has told us so and our sages endorse this.

She harkened back in Jewish history to the Middle Ages and dragged poor Rashi, the 12th century French Talmudist, into the fray on behalf of the nation.  Here is how she characterized Rashi’s commentary on the opening verse of Genesis:

“Rashi says the Torah opens with the story of the creation of the world so that if the nations of the world come and tell you that you are occupiers, you must respond that all of the land belonged to the creator of world and when he wanted to, he took from them and gave to us.”

walls of jericho fall

Israelites attacking as walls of Jericho fall in first battle of wars of conquest.

Hoping that the deputy minister had mangled Rashi, I researched his commentary.  In truth, Hotovely erred in attributing this to Rashi.  The latter was quoting another scholar, Rebbe Yitzchak, who’s quoted as saying:

“Rebbe Yitzchak said, ‘[God] need only have begun the Torah from ‘This month shall be to you” which is the first Commandment which Israel was commanded. For what reason did it begin with ‘Bereishit’?… So that if the nations of the world will say to Israel, ‘You are bandits, for you conquered the lands of the seven nations’ Israel will say to them, ‘The whole earth belongs to the Holy One, Blessed is He; He created it and He gave it to the one found proper in His eyes. By His wish He gave it to them, and by His wish He took it from them and gave it to us.'” (Rashi, Bereishit 1:1)

Unfortunately, Hotovely appears to have gotten the passage right.  The rabbis did justify the Jewish people’s conquest and eternal control of Israel through resorting to a vague Divine blessing.

But in the process, Hotovely opened up an entirely new can of worms.  Who were these “seven nations” from whom Israel might be accused of stealing the Land?  They are the nations which occupied the Land of Israel when the Israelites first entered it following their forty years of wandering in the desert: the Hittites, Hivites, Jebusites, Perizzites, Amorites, Girgashites, and Canaanites. What happened to them? The Bible recounts wars of conquest in which the tribes were eventually wiped out. In many cases, there were battles, exceedingly bloody ones, in which the tribes were conquered. In other cases, perhaps they were assimilated into the Israelite tribal population.

But in the case of other neighboring tribes like the Amalekites, whom the Israelites battled on their way to Canaan, God commanded his people to utterly wipe them off the face of the earth–every man, woman, and child.  Further, he cursed any Israelite who showed any mercy.  This can only be called the earliest record in literature of genocide.

What Hotovely didn’t tell you was that the medieval rabbis she invoked are offering their blessing to this genocide.  Which means that by quoting them she herself is approving of historical genocide.  In one of my posts, I wrote of Nakba as Israel’s Original Sin.  And in a strict sense that remains so.  But if we want to speak of the entire breadth of Jewish history, the wars of conquest are the Original Sin of the Jewish people.

But unlike today, there’s little we can do to redeem the suffering we caused to the seven nations, since they’ve been wiped out.  But there is something we can do regarding Palestine.  We must not permit this benighted Israeli government led by knaves and fools like Hotovely, to drag us back to the days of Biblical holy wars.

Contrary to what the minister said in her address to her colleagues, Rashi is not the relevant halachic or civil authority determining Israeli policy toward the Palestinians.  No one in the world, contrary to Hotovely’s belief, will be moved by resorting to Rashi to bolster a modern claim for what amounts to conquest and theft.

World leaders ought to do a very quick calculation about whether they can afford to be seen with this person.  Can you imagine her telling the foreign ministers of the world that a latter day claim of modern Israel is justified by a medieval rabbi who spent his entire life in rural France?  Is this the image you want to project?

Finally, lest anyone misunderstand what I wrote or seek to exploit it for their own fraudulent purposes, none of this negates the immense suffering of the Jewish people throughout its history.  What this post suggests is that the history of a single people is full of acts of good and evil.  When you have power you can do great evil, when you don’t you can suffer great evil.  The key is to walk a fine line between the two.

NOTE: My first article published in Counterpunch, an expanded version of Dimona: Israel’s “Little Hiroshima,” originally published by Middle East Eye.

israeli oil pipeline disaster

The largest environmental disaster in Israeli history, in which the Eilat-Ashkelon pipeline devastated a nature reserve.

The Swiss Court of Arbitration ruled (Iranian report) that Israel owes Iran $1.1-billion resulting from a joint oil venture founded in the era of the Shah.  After the Iranian revolution, Israel nationalized the venture and sold the hundreds of millions worth of Iranian oil flowing through the pipeline.  Israel never returned anything to the Iranians.  Nor has it been willing to negotiate terms.  Even after Iran filed suit, Israel argued the international court had no jurisdiction.  Israel’s positions throughout the proceedings, which have lasted 25 years, have been summarily rejected.  This latest ruling is yet another rebuff.

Now, the question is: what can Iran do to recoup the judgment?  Though I’m not an expert in international law, Iran has the opportunity to do precisely what Shurat HaDin does: go after Israeli assets wherever it can find them.  Yossi Melman argues that Iran won’t do this, but I thoroughly disagree:

Homayoon Arfazadeh

Homayoon Arfazadeh, Swiss-Iranian lawyer who won major legal victory in Iran-Israel oil dispute

A source familiar with the matter told The Jerusalem Post that if Israel is indeed obligated to pay the debt, it would be a symbolic blow to its morale, and would cause some damage to Israel’s public relations and image in the world. “But practically speaking, it is highly unlikely that there will be any change and that Israel will pay the debt,” the source said…

If Israel does not pay, Iran reserves the right to try to sue the government of Israel in international courts and freeze its foreign bank accounts and assets, including property such as embassies. But this would be a complicated legal process, and it is doubtful that Iran – whose own status in the international community is at a low point – would try such a move.

Iran’s international status has nothing to do with whether or not it can recoup the judgment.  Whatever deficiency it may face would’ve been factored into the Swiss judgment.  The resounding victory means Iran’s position has been fully vindicated.  Now, it needs to create its own Shurat HaDin and go after Israeli assets wherever it can find them.  The prospect of Israel’s London or Paris embassies being seized as the result of such proceedings would send the appropriate note of seriousness to the Israelis.

In this Walla report, the Israeli treasury ministry claims it cannot pay the judgment because it would violate sanctions imposed on Iran.  I note that this hasn’t stopped Israel from trading with Iran as recently as a few years ago.  In separate cases, it’s sold cargo ships to Iran, bought oil from Iran, and sold spare aircraft parts to Iran–all while sanctions were (supposedly) firmly in place.  It seems that when it’s in Israel’s interest it willingly does business with Iran and violates sanctions.

Israel is pretty damn angry about this news.  For some reason it’s tried to censor it so Israel and the world won’t find out either about the judgment or the existence of the partnership in the first place.  It announced a dramatic investigation trying to discover who leaked the story to Haaretz, whose managing editor, Aluf Benn, broke it.  No news yet on how that’s progressing.

NOTE: Middle East Eye published my latest piece, Dimona: Israel’s Little Hiroshima, about the terrible nuclear secrets concealed at Dimona and the price paid by its workers for their devotion to the nuclear project.  They are based on a riveting Israeli TV documentary aired last week.  Counterpunch republished an expanded version of the article.  Please read and share.

israeli apartheid buses

Palestinian workers on earlier apartheid bus line

It seems the right hand doesn’t know what the farther right hand is doing in Israel’s new government.  An Israeli friend tells me this story reminds him of the “wise men” of Chelm!

A few hours ago, Defense Minister Yaalon announced with fanfare that he was implementing a three-month “study” that involved forbidding Palestinian workers in Israel from riding buses with Jewish settlers.  It’s worth noting that even Rosa Parks could ride on the same bus with whites during the Montgomery Bus Boycott.  Israel wouldn’t even permit this level of racial ‘mingling.’

The plan had been discussed and advocated by the settlers and government ministers for at least two years.  Clearly, with the new cabinet being the most radical in Israeli history, this apartheid bus plan had the full support of the entire government.

But apparently, Yaalon didn’t get all his Likud ducks in a row.  Former minister Gideon Saar, no liberal he, tweeted that the bus plan created a severe image problem for Israel in the world and that the plan should be stopped forthwith.  I’m guessing the prime minister may’ve also heard from Pres. Rivlin, who seems to be what’s left of Likud’s moral conscience.

At any rate, only a few hours after the apartheid bus plan was announced, it was scrapped by order of the prime minister.  The suspension happened precisely at the same time the new deputy defense minister was introducing and defending it in the Knesset! Go figure.

Please, don’t let’s hear from our liberal Zionist friends shouting a Huzzah for democracy and the triumph of reason.  The suspension is no victory for anyone.  Everyone knows that apartheid buses are what the government wants and will eventually get.  The time wasn’t right in this instance.  But next time, Bibi and Yaalon will do the spade work and ram this sucker down everyone’s throats.  And the world be damned.

I also guessing there is sensitivity on the part of some in Likud that at the same time as its introducing the most extremist government in the nation’s history might not be the most appropriate time to highlight the more racist, incendiary plans the government has in store.  Better to have a cooling off period to let the world get used to the new government before going whole hog on that score.

I’m amused by liberal Zionist journalists like Anshel Pfeffer who claim the bus plan was a “screw-up” brought on by a strident, powerful settler movement.  This obscures the fact that this government IS a settler government.  It is all settlers, all the time.  It exists to serve settlers.  Without them it would have no rhyme of reason.  This was no screw-up.  They knew exactly what they were doing.  But the optics and timing turned bad and the plan was shelved temporarily.


ibrahim siam

Ibrahim Siam, Jordanian-Canadian businessman arrested secretly by Shabak

We’re used to the Shabak secretly arresting Palestinians, torturing them for days or weeks, refusing to allow any contact with their lawyers, and when they’re ready announcing to the world they’ve caught a terrorist red-handed.  In the case of Anat Kamm, we saw some of these same procedures used against an Israeli Jew.  But it’s very rare for the secret police to treat foreigners this way.

They have in the case of Ibrahim Siam, a wealthy Jordanian-Candian businessman who entered Palestine to attend a business conference to which he was invited by PA President Mahmoud Abbas.  He is originally Palestinian, but left his home decades ago and now divides his time between Amman and Canada.  He has business interests based in China, Qatar and Croatia.

Haaretz notes he’s been in prison for twelve days, which would put his arrest on May 6th.  One of the reasons Haaretz knew about his arrest was through a website which publicizes the arrests of Palestinians, especially those affiliated with Hamas.  Siam’s detention is noted here.

Shabak claims they arrested him because he’s a Hamas operative.  There’s one little problem with this:  Abbas is the leader of the PA, which detests Hamas.  So the thought that Abbas would invite a Hamas loyalist to participate in a conference promoting business relations in Palestine is ludicrous.  In other words, the Shabak explanation is a lie.

I should note Israel has a history of arresting Palestinians attending business and technology conferences hosted by the PA and Palestinian NGOs.  The State Department hosted a similar event meant to promote the use of technology by Palestinian NGOs.  It invited leaders of various non-profit organizations.  But one of them, according to the Shabak was a big bad terrorist.  Imagine that, the U.S. State Department consorting with Palestinian terrorists!  Of course, the guy was nothing of the sort.  He ran a perfectly legitimate non-profit.  But the notion that the U.S. government was helping Palestinian NGOs so enraged the secret police, they decided they’d take someone down a peg or two and teach him his place.  Of course, the Shabak later claimed it was all a mistake and released the poor lad a few weeks later without any charges.  Sure it was.

In the same light, the secret services may dislike the notion that Palestinians are promoting their own economic development.  Given that the PA plans to bring Israel before the ICC and bring the question of statehood before the Security Council, it makes perfect sense to harass any businessman brave enough to want to try to help his own, like Siam.  I note that Siam disappeared after recording an interview with al-Falastina which aired on May 5th.  He speaks in the interview purely about Palestinian economic development.  I’m guessing the Shin Bet wanted to make an example of a foreigner trying to boost the Palestinian economy.

He mentions in this interview that he’d already attended the conference in Ramallah.  So the Haaretz report which claims he was arrested before the conference is wrong.  My guess is that Siam may’ve said something in this interview which angered the Israeli secret police.

We know that Shabak desperately wishes to prevent Hamas-PA reconciliation and the formation of a national unity government.  It may be possible that Siam’s mission in Ramallah was promoting such negotiations.  Though I strongly doubt this possibility.

One thing is for sure: Siam chose the two worst nationalities in the world for the purpose of aiding him in his detention.  Canada’s rightist government detests Palestinians and has a cozy relationship with Israeli intelligence services.  Jordan too has an exceedingly intimate relationship with the Shabak and Mossad, as shown by the former’s collusion with the Mossad in the arrest of Dirar Abusisi while on his way from Gaza to the Ukraine.  Neither country will do much, if anything on his behalf.  In fact, if they could betray him either one might.  Nevertheless, the article does say both countries have protested his arrest and denial of legal representation.  I suppose that’s something.

Of course, there are strict protocols governing the arrest of foreign nationals which include immediately notifying their consulate or embassy so the detainees may be provided support and legal-diplomatic representation.  Israel, of course, ignores such procedures when they’re inconvenient as they did for some time in this case.  Another example of a nation which derogates democratic principles and flouts international diplomatic protocols.


Israeli Government Most Racist, Extremist in History

Images David Sheen

Israel named its new cabinet (Hebrew) yesterday and the names are a Who’s Who of the most rabid, racist, brutal and cruel politicians in the nation.  The only one who rivals them and is missing from the show is Avigdor Lieberman, who’s bowed out for political reasons of his own.  In the past, nations of the world have isolated individual leaders of nations and refused to visit or meet with them because their ideas are so noxious that they fall outside the consensus of international discourse.  Kurt Waldheim and Jorg Haider are examples of this.  The time has come to put the Israeli government in herem.  You can pick your poison among them as to which deserves special ostracism.

Several other publications have covered this story.  But you won’t find a more thorough list nor accounting of their Greatest Hits of Hate than here:

eli ben dahan

Deputy defense minister

♦Moshe Yaalon: defense minister; warned Israel would consider using nuclear weapons against Iran, but “wasn’t quite there yet.”  He called Peace Now a “virus” and spoke of Palestinians as a cancer when he said: “some say it may be necessary to amputate organs, but at the moment I’m applying chemotherapy.”

Rabbi Eli Ben Dahan: deputy defense minister; called Palestinians “animals, said “Jews always have higher souls than goyim, even if they’re gay.” He will serve as chief Israeli administrator for the Palestinian Territories. Imagine how the “beasts” will feel about that!

Tzipi Hotovely: deputy foreign minister; adamantly opposes two-state solution, supports West Bank annexation, invited Lehava, NGO advocating Jewish racial purity, to Knesset

Naftali Bennet: minister for education, minister for Jerusalem and Diaspora; supports transferring Palestinians from West Bank and ethnic cleansing: “I’ve killed many Arabs in my life. There’s no problem with that.”  He has also called for Palestinians to be shot. Contrary to Israel’s vaunted gay rights claims, opposes gay marriage. He will be specifically responsible for Judaization of the Negev, which means the ethnic cleansing of Bedouins.

Ayelet Shaked: justice minister; republished settler screed advocating Palestinian mothers should be killed because they are raising “snakes” to attack Israel.  Anglo-Israeli columnist said behind her “wide-eyed innocent face lurks the Angel of Death.”

Moshe Kahlon: finance minister; the so-called “moderate” in the bunch devoted solely to economic issues.

Danny Danon: ministry of science, technology and space; “the biggest problem of the State of Israel is the Arabs of Israel,” ejected by Netanyahu from last government after he denounced last summer’s Gaza ceasefire.

Miri Regev: minister of sport and culture; during violent anti-African riots in Tel Aviv, she incited the crowds by calling the victims a “cancer” and then apologized to cancer patients
Silvan Shalom: interior minister; wealthiest MK, failed in campaign for Israeli president, denied foreign ministry job he coveted, said that the 16% of Eilat residents who are African refugees “endanger the future of the city.”

Yoav Galant: building minister (responsible for settlement construction); failed IDF chief of staff candidatelied in a legal deposition and stole public lands to enlarge private villa

Aryeh Deri: minister of economy and Negev development; an ex-felon convicted of taking $155,000 in bribes, served three years in prison

Uri Ariel: minister of agriculture and rural development; as minister in last government, single-handedly torpedoed U.S.-Israel relations by announcing thousands of new settlement units during delicate peace negotiations, admitting he’d passed on information to settlers about IDF troop movements

Zeev Elkin: immigrant and absorption minister; “proud to be a settler,” and admitted that he’d spied on the IDF on behalf of settler extremists

Yisrael Katz: minister of transportation and road safety, intelligence minister; suspended from studies at Hebrew University for use of violence in breaking up campus meetings of Palestinian students.

Ophir Akunis: minister without portfolio; denies existence of a Palestinian people or its right to settle anywhere in the Land of Israel (including within the Green Line), claims Israel’s right to all territory from Egypt to the Jordan River. Sponsored bill to restrict foreign funding for left-wing NGOs.  Regarding them, he compared them to supposed Soviet agents in America exposed by Sen. Joseph McCarthy.  “Sen. McCarthy was correct in every word he said–there were Soviet agents in America [sic].”

Haim Katz: minister of welfare and social service; accused of arranging for Likud Party dues of thousands of Israeli defense industry employees he oversaw (who voted for him in the primary) to be paid for by NGO he also supervised.

Yuval Steinitz: minister for infrastructure, energy and water;

Yariv Levin: minister of internal security and tourism; accused the Supreme Court of holding values at odds with the “traditional” values of the public; and said this “endangered our ability to secure our existence.”

Gila Gamliel: elderly affairs minister; accused of offering a bribe to a competing student council candidate at Ben Gurion University

David Azulay: religious services minister;

Avi Gabay: environment minister;

Benny Begin: minister without portfolio; son of Menachem Begin, ejected from Party leadership during last party primaries for his so-called “moderate” views; apparently he’s been included as a moderate fig-leaf for an extremist government

Netanyahu will maintain the foreign ministry for himself, hoping he can persuade Buji Herzog to join his coalition.  While I never underestimate the greediness of Israeli leaders for the perks of power, I can’t see why Herzog would throw Bibi a life preserver.  The present government has a majority of one seat.  It could fall based on the whim or vanity of a single one of its 61 members.  And even if Herzog does betray what few principles he has by joining, where is the glory in that? History shows that moderate leaders and parties that join coalitions with him (Barak, Lapid, etc.) end up wiped out in the following election.

This is not just a government of hate, but a government of war.  My prediction is that if it lives out its full term there will be two wars: one against Lebanon and another against Gaza.  Further prediction: at least 5,000 civilians will be murdered in total.  The world might want to contemplate how many more Israeli wars it can tolerate before it says, Dayenu (“enough”).

The governments of the world might want to begin considering how to justify maintaining contact with individuals holding views that range from genocide to mere homicidal impulses.

This is a government that is not only undemocratic, it abhors democracy–for non-Jews.

Pres. Obama has a general notion of what’s in store. But in a public statement he only acknowledged “some” of the new mintisters don’t share his views:

“I continue to believe a two-state solution is absolutely vital for not only peace between Israelis and Palestinians, but for the long-term security of Israel as a democratic and Jewish state,” said Obama. “I know that a government has been formed that contains some folks who don’t necessarily believe in that premise, but that continues to be my premise.”

“That prospect seems distant now,” he continued. “But I think it’s always important for us to keep in mind what’s right and what’s possible.”

In truth, none of them do.  Not a single one of these incoming Israeli ministers believes in a two-state solution.  So in addition to keeping in mind what the president thinks is “right,” he should also keep in mind that a two-state solution is not possible.  In fact, this government supports a one-state solution–for Jews only.  And that’s not only not right, it shouldn’t be possible either.  It’s long past time for Obama to get tough with Israel.  Allow the Security Council to consider Palestinian statehood.  Support an ICC referral for Israel.

Similarly, our Congress might want to consider how they can approve legislation that would outlaw BDS when this movement is fighting a government whose collective views are as odious as this one’s are.  If you do sanction BDS, what tools does that leave the world to resist such evil?  The world must come to realize that mere words and statements are no longer enough.  Much tougher measures are called for.


Aipac Wants Congress to Criminalize BDS


Congress and the Lobby wants to make this illegal

Of all the lame-brained, lumpen-brained, hare-brained schemes emanating from Aipac’s lobby shop, this is one of the truly lamest.  As Israel forms the most dangerous, aggressive, racist government in its history, Aipac thought this was a good time to remind the American people of that by conniving to amend an already contentious fast-track trade bill with a new amendment that would criminalize BDS in the U.S.  The specific language seeks:

“To discourage politically motivated actions to boycott, divest from, or sanction Israel and seek the elimination of politically motivated non-tariff barriers on Israeli goods, services, or other commerce imposed on the State of Israel…

[This] means actions by states, non-member states of the United Nations, international organizations, or affiliated agencies of international organizations that are politically motivated and are intended to penalize or otherwise limit commercial relations specifically with Israel or…in Israeli-controlled territories.”

What interesting about this language is that it outlaws both BDS and BDS-lite.  Even liberal Zionists like Peter Beinart and Peace Now support a boycott of products from settlements, though they do not support boycotting products from within the Green Line.  The Lobby-written bill would even criminalize the much softer version of BDS.

The amendment is designed to pressure the EU, which is negotiating a U.S.-Transatlantic trade deal, to drop consideration of its own planned version of BDS, which would sanction commerce with Israeli settlements.

This amendment is similar to a law already passed by the Israeli Knesset, a body not known for cherishing free speech rights or democratic values.  It too outlawed support for BDS inside Israel in such a way that long-time supporters of BDS like Prof. Neve Gordon feel their hands are shackled and lips sealed shut by such legislation.  As if this wasn’t bad enough, Aipac wants to do it to ya here in the U.S.

The fast track legislation sought by Pres. Obama and supported by most Republicans is already fraught with conflict over the usual issues confronting Democrats when they approach foreign trade pacts: how to protect American jobs and grant protections to foreign workers who will be making the products imported to this country.

To add even more contention to the process seems, well spiteful.  It’s almost as if the Lobby was taking revenge on Obama for championing a different matter it detests: the Iran nuclear deal.  Aipac knows the fast-track legislation is a hallmark of the President’s last term.  He wants it bad.  The Lobby figures if it can tank this bill, it may gain some leverage or clout in torpedoing the Iran deal as well.

Let’s get to another small matter of the legal status of BDS.  Boycotts are hallowed practices in Anglo-American democracy.  The Montgomery Bus Boycott sparked the civil rights movement.  In the 1980s and 90s, the South African divestment movement pressured that country to end apartheid.

There have been legal rulings on the issue as well.  Here in Seattle, the Israeli government and StandWithUs brought suit against the Olympia Food Coop for eliminating nine Israeli products from its shelves.  That case ended in defeat for the plaintiffs.  The Lobby appealed it all the way to the Washington State Supreme Court and lost there as well.

Despite what Lobby legal “scholars” will tell you, there is no jurisprudence supporting their point of view.  BDS is a free speech issue as it relates directly to political speech, a protected category under the Constitution.  It has nothing to do with commercial disputes or boycotts related to such matters.

Americans: write, call or e-mail your Congressional representatives.  This is a hare-brained scheme.  Tell them not to embarrass themselves and Congress as an institution by proposing legislation that is fundamentally unsound, prejudicial and in violation of the Bill of Rights.



obama netanyahu

The Unlikely Pair, not a Band of Brothers. Bibi’s pursed lips say it all.

Israel Radio aired this odd report from its political correspondent, Chico Menashe:

A senior source in Jerusalem said that if the U.S. resumes putting pressure on Israel on the subject of Palestine, it would indicate a political vendetta meant to topple Netanyahu, despite the results of the election.

The source, seeking anonymity, said…that there are signs that there will be pressure on Israel to stop military incursions into Area A [which is supposed to be under total PA control].  According to him, such pressure would lead to a disruption of the security “quiet” in the West Bank and would seriously threaten stability.

He said further that the Palestinians are expected to try to strengthen their political capital by means of the ICC and the Security Council.  We can only hope that the Americans will not strengthen their hand through added pressure on Israel.

We’ve all heard of red-baiting and Jew-baiting and gay-baiting.  Now we see “Obama-baiting.”  This is, as far as I can tell, a pre-emptive strike at the U.S., warning that if it gives succor to Palestinians either at the ICC or Security Council; and should such pressure lead to the toppling of the Netanyahu government, he will blame the U.S.

The message is that Bibi will make Obama a domestic political issue in Israel should there be a new set of elections.  Not that he didn’t do that in spades during the last one!  I suppose he’s saying: if you think that was bad, you ain’t seen nuthin’ yet!

Bibi’s playing a game of chicken.  He knows Obama hates him and wants to attend his political funeral.  He’s afraid of what the U.S. president is willing to do to achieve this.  To deter him, he fires this shot across the bow.

Frankly, I don’t think Obama will bite.  This won’t frighten him.  The president will bide his time until the moment is right.  Whenever there is an opening presented by Bibi’s boo-boos or the natural course of events, he will take advantage. But he’ll have to do this extremely delicately so as not to fall into Bibi’s trap.

What makes little sense here is the notion that U.S. pressure would make the government fall.  The opposite seems true.  This is not just a right-wing, but an extremist government.  Any outside intervention on the question of Palestine would make everyone more obdurate in support of the government.  It’s far more likely this government would fall over a mundane perk, scandal or petty slight offered against a member of the coalition.  Israeli governments rarely fall over issues of principle.