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Obama and the Israel Lobby: a Tale of Two Foreign Policy Choices

I delivered this talk today for the Foreign Policy Association’s Great Decisions program here in Seattle:

To follow the arc of Israel-U.S. relations, let’s begin with the founding of Israel in 1948.  In the period leading up to independence, David Ben Gurion desperately craved international recognition.  Soviet Russia under Stalin was on board.  But if you read John Judis’ new book, Genesis, about the founding of Israel, you’ll learn the remarkable fact that Harry Truman, while he eventually recognized Israel, did so reluctantly, and not as a religious state.  He pointedly did not use the term “Jewish” in official statements regarding recognition.  Truman wanted Israel to be a State of all its citizens, whether Jewish or Muslim.  This is highly relevant to the current dispute between Palestinians and Israelis about whether the former should concede that Israel is the State of the Jewish people, an issue that rankled as far back as 1948.

By the early 1950s, Israel had launched Aipac, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.  It was founded by a visionary Canadian-American named Si Kenen.  It didn’t always have the power it has now.  In the beginning, it was a small struggling group.  But quickly, wealthy pro-Israel Jews rallied to its cause and by the early 1960s, its power began to resemble what it is now.

From Israel’s inception, Ben Gurion understood that while Israel might have a technological advantage over its Arab enemies, that the latter had superiority of numbers.  This is why he adopted a similar strategy to Iran’s military planners.  Each of these countries believed it could make up for a serious military deficit by developing the ultimate weapon: that is WMD.

Israel began this process in the 1950s, when it commenced research on nuclear technology and a few years later built its plutonium reactor in Dimona with French assistance.   Officially, the U.S. government had no involvement with the Israeli effort.  In fact, our intelligence officials distrusted assurances they received from Israel that the reactor would be for purely civilian use (an assurance Iran is also giving to the west about its program).

But there is a largely unknown factor about Israel’s nuclear program: that U.S. Jewish philanthropists under the leadership of Abraham Feinberg, whose name now graces a building at Brandeis University, raised millions to finance Israel’s nuclear project.  In fact, it’s doubtful Israel would have the 200 nuclear warheads it now has without such essential assistance.  Or if it could have done so without this assistance, it would’ve taken much longer.

If you’ve read Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer’s extraordinary account of the Israel Lobby, then you understand both the power of this lobby and how it exercises it.  I’m not just talking about Aipac.  The Lobby includes a range of pro-Israel advocacy groups including the ADL, American Jewish Committee, American Jewish Congress, StandWithUs, The Israel Project, Zionist Organization of America, Conference of Presidents, and many others.

They exert a full-court press on the American political system on behalf of Israel’s interests.  This involves a number of different tactics from legislative lobbying, to all-expenses-paid Israel junkets for Congressional representatives and staff, to massive contributions to Congressional and presidential races.  The latter is incredibly corrosive both in its impact of legislation and the formulation of foreign policy.

How else could you imagine the U.S. government would formally renounce policies it’s adhered to for decades in UN Security Council votes concerning recognition of a Palestinian state and opposition to settlements?

You may know that in Democratic presidential primaries pro-Israel donors give as much as 40% of the cash that candidates get.  Pro-Israel Democrats in these primaries provide as much as 20% of those who vote in several key states with large Jewish populations.  Overall, Jews are only about 2% of the U.S. population.  This causes a weird distortion effect in mounting a rational, effective policy toward Israel.  It means that candidates have to do a delicate dance when it comes to this subject.  Certain subjects like BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement) that may not be touched.  Other subjects can be discussed, but only in certain ways.  Israel is the third rail of American politics.  If you touch it, it can be deadly.  House and Senate members who said the wrong things or voted the wrong way in the past have found this out when they were voted out of office after massive campaigns by the Lobby.

But usually, the Lobby doesn’t have to get it hands that dirty.  Members of Congress and their staffs know what the limits are and abide by them.  When they exceed them, they hear about it from Lobby donors and their constituents.  Like the NRA, Aipac has a well-oiled, well-financed machine that makes its presence felt in matters big and small.

Today, the Obama administration is engaged in two critical sets of foreign policy negotiations involving Israel.  In one, it has largely taken Israel’s side and in the other it has largely abandoned Israel.  I’m speaking of the Israel-Palestine negotiations led by John Kerry and the Iran nuclear negotiations.

In the Kerry-led talks, he’s appointed two senior advisers formerly affiliated with Aipac to assist him: former ambassador to Israel, Martin Indyk and David Makovsky.  He has no similarly Palestine-friendly senior advisers.

Though there has been radio silence regarding the negotiations, there have been enough statements and leaks to tell us that the agreement outlined and advocated by the U.S. will not be favorable to Palestinian interests.  In fact, Peter Beinart has written an alarming account (especially for a liberal Zionist) for Haaretz confirming my fears.

First, the “framework” they’re proposing won’t even deal with Jerusalem, one of the thorniest issues for both sides.  There are even some indications that when the final deal is announced it will confine Palestinian sovereignty over East Jerusalem to a few neighborhoods, rather than that entire portion of the city.  The framework will in some way finesse the issue of Israel as a Jewish state, so that the Palestinians will concede this point to the Israeli side.  In doing so, the Palestinians will have abandoned the Right of Return, which is so cherished by those whose families were expelled in 1948.  The Palestinians will also give up the right to include the Jordan Valley in a future Palestinian state for at least five years.

It is true that the Palestinians could reject the deal being offered, bringing everything back to square one.  But Mahmoud Abbas has a history of caving to western demands when enough pressure is brought to bear.  He has neither the stature nor the support nor the self-confidence to withstand the blandishments and naked threats used by both the Israelis and Americans.  For example, a Palestinian news agency ran a story that John Kerry warned Abbas that if he didn’t agree to a deal, his fate might be the same as Yasser Arafat’s.  It’s suspected by many, including Palestinians, that Israel’s Mossad assassinated Arafat through poisoning.

I don’t know how this delicate negotiation will turn out.  But if the eventual agreement is as outlined in the media, then Israel will have succeeded in obtaining a highly favorable outcome finessed on its behalf by the U.S.

Now let’s turn to the Iran negotiations.  Here, the Obama administration is taking a different approach.  While it is listening attentively to Israeli concerns, it is not adopting the hardline approach advocated by Israel.  The U.S. has turned away from military intervention (Israel’s preferred option) and embraced a diplomatic solution.  In the case of Iran, pragmatism has trumped ideology, while I would argue that in the case of the I-P talks our alliance with Israel has trumped a fair and just solution.

There are several reasons for this discrepancy: first, we judge the I-P talks to be at the heart of Israel’s interests, while we reject Israel’s contention that Iran is an existential threat to Israel.  Because a resolution of the I-P conflict involves parties and issues right on Israel’s doorstep, we see a reason to side with Israel on the major elements of the talks, even if the proposed solution will leave Palestinians out in the cold.

Further, in the case of the Palestinians, we view them as largely powerless to influence events.  They have no Lobby to speak of.  They have relatively weak military capacity.  They have nothing we covet like gas or oil.  Their only allies, mainly in the Arab world, aren’t critical to U.S. foreign policy interests.  That’s why the Palestinians are likely to get short shrift.

The Iranians are a different story.  They have been a major destabilizing force in the region for three decades.  Their influence in Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, Palestine, and throughout the Gulf has been a severe thorn in our side going back to 1979.  Iran has potential markets and natural resources the west craves.  There is tremendous motivation on the part of the Obama administration to grasp the opening offered by the pragmatist Iranian regime which took power last year.

Obama also realizes that if he can resolve major outstanding issues with Iran, this will allow a host of other implacable issues to be resolved including (possibly) the civil war in Syria, the Hezbollah insurgency in Lebanon which destabilizes Israel’s northern border, Sunni-Shia ethnic conflict in Bahrain (a major U.S. naval port), and possibly even bringing Hamas into the fold to enable an Israel-Palestine agreement.

That’s a rich target, and one Obama feels he can have a major impact in shaping.  I think Obama feels that the Israel-Palestine conflict is one that has been too poisoned and that the parties are either weak or intransigent.  He either doesn’t have the political capital to overcome these obstacles, or he doesn’t have the will to expend that capital, in opposition to the massive power of the Lobby which he’d have to battle.

Above all else, and often to his detriment, Obama is a pragmatist, one who seeks the lowest common denominator.  He seeks to achieve some of his objectives while avoiding knock-down drag-out political warfare.  That’s why Obama may satisfy himself with an imperfect Israel-Palestine deal.

Finally, I wanted to return to my earlier theme of the power of the Lobby.  Were it not so strong, there might be an Israel-Palestine agreement that followed along the lines of the potential Iran nuclear agreement.  Such an I-P agreement would share Jerusalem, recognize two states (without prejudicing its religious identity), recognize a Right of Return, and bring about an Israeli withdrawal to 1967 borders.  It would also bring recognition to Israel of the Arab states and resolution of border conflicts with all frontline states. Further, the economic assistance the world would offer both to Israel (to accept Palestinian refugees) and Palestine (in order to build a viable economy) would be substantial and fuel an even larger economic boom for years.

The fact that Barack Obama appears to have given up on reaching such an accord speaks volumes to the power of the Lobby and the distortion effect I mentioned at the beginning of my talk.  American policymakers have known for decades what the outline for a Mideast peace agreement should be, they simply don’t have the power to implement it.  And it’s not so much they don’t have the power.  Rather they make a cold, hard political calculation that to take on the Lobby on an issue that is so central to its core mission (preserving Israel’s existence) and so close to home, would be political suicide.

There simply is no U.S. equivalent of Ariel Sharon, the tough political leader with impeccable military and pro-Israel credentials, who’s willing to dare the Israel Lobby to stand in his way.  The closest we ever came to that was the administration of the first President Bush, whose secretary of state, Jim Baker, used the F-bomb in public to describe then-Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir and offered him the State Department phone number if he ever wanted to talk peace.  We followed up by freezing U.S. aid to Israel, conveying just how serious we were.  As a result, Shamir lost the next election and was followed by a moderate Yitzhak Rabin.  It’s no accident that Rabin is the closest Israel ever came to a leader capable of negotiating a comprehensive peace agreement.  And he was assassinated by a pro-settler extremist who understood that.  No U.S. leader since the first George Bush has been willing to do anything like that.

My worry is that if there is an Israeli-Palestinian agreement and it does tilt toward Israeli interests, that the Palestinians will remain sullen and defiant despite their signature on the document.  We all know what happened after World War I when Germany was forced to sign punitive measures that impoverished it for decades.  The resentment that built up led to the rise of National Socialism and we all know where that led.  I am not making a literal prediction that anything like this will happen in Palestine.  But when a nation feels its interests have been sold out and it has been forced to sign away its rights, this will not be conducive to bringing the security that everyone hoped for.  It is a recipe for continued unrest, resentment, and possibly even acts of terror that everyone hopes to avoid.

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{ 32 comments… add one }
  • Bob Mann March 13, 2014, 4:23 AM

    Thanks so much for sharing the text of this excellent speech.
    You have very clearly laid several of the ways in which the Israel Lobby negatively influences American policy. What do you think can and should be done to reduce its power?

    • Renfro March 15, 2014, 6:13 PM

      ”What do you think can and should be done to reduce its power?” ..ask Bob Mann.

      Take down the politicians AIPAC owns. However this requires the American people to find their balls, confront the politicians as their ‘employees’ , not as serfs appealing to their royal lords and ladyships, and not be afraid to used the one word guaranteed to scare them shitless—–TRAITORS to America.

  • Dave Terry March 13, 2014, 9:56 PM

    Regarding Trumans role in the recognition of the “Zionist state; it was pure cynical political pragmatism, as expressed by this well know quote; “I am sorry gentlemen, but I have to answer to hundreds of thousands who are anxious for the success of Zionism. I do not have hundreds of thousands of Arabs among my constituents.”

  • Good Speech March 13, 2014, 11:11 PM

    Nice speech. Very succinct.
    Interesting news coming out of the Israeli papers today: apparently Kerry has grown a pair and said out loud what everyone knows: Netanyahu’s demand that the Palestinians officially recognize that Israel is a “Jewish state” is nothing more than a crude attempt to derail the negotiations.

    Going to be mighty interesting to see what the response is from the PM’s Office, because at the moment there is nothing but stunned silence.

    Apparently they are too busy picking up their jaws from the floor to respond….

  • Truth March 14, 2014, 6:50 AM

    ” It’s no accident that Rabin is the closest Israel ever came to a leader capable of negotiating a comprehensive peace agreement. And he was assassinated by a settler extremist who understood that.”

    Yigal amir was not a settler. He was born in Herzliya and studied in Bar-Ilan.
    Please correct the article.

    • Richard Silverstein March 14, 2014, 12:34 PM

      This is a distinction with no difference.

      So you want to argue that Amir isn’t allied with settler ultranationalist ideology? That he wasn’t goaded & motivated by settler rabbis who gave a heksher for his murderous activities? Why do you think some settlers who had a conscience carried signs afterward saying “I’m ashamed.” What were they ashamed of? Why did they feel especially guilty? At least those few who had a conscience about the matter.

      • Truth March 15, 2014, 3:52 PM

        First I’m happy to see that you changed the article to pro-settler. this might be a more accurate description.
        99% of settlers condemn the murder. What you are doing is trying to create שנאת חנם towards settlers.

        • Richard Silverstein March 15, 2014, 4:04 PM

          @ Truth: Again a distinction without a difference. Most settlers live on conquered & stolen Palestinian land. It doesn’t matter if they are Gandhi & the Besht combined. They live lives based on injustice & dispossession. But I would take strong issue with your claims about the innocence of settlers. The loudest, most influential settler leaders & rabbis both hate Palestinians & any Israeli viewed as a collaborator or betrayer of settler values (which they view as sacred Jewish values). My view of settlers is not sinat hinam. Settlers have brought this on themselves through their murder, maiming & hateful acts against Palestinians & Israelis as well.

          Yigal Amir is an embodiment of settler values. If he isn’t literally a settler he might as well be. All of his ideological influences come from settler rabbis & ideologues. He’s a settler through & through. Just because his physical address wasn’t a settlement means virtually nothing.

          • Sara March 15, 2014, 7:19 PM

            “Most settlers live on conquered & stolen Palestinian land. It doesn’t matter if they are Gandhi & the Besht combined. They live lives based on injustice & dispossession.”

            Doesn’t this apply to all of Israel? I’m interested to know how you make this attitude and position apply to the Jews of West Bank only.

          • Richard Silverstein March 16, 2014, 1:14 AM

            @ Sara: You’ve published 10 comments here. You haven’t bothered to read much of the thousands of words I’ve written on this subject. Yet you try to goad me into an argument about Israel’s legitimacy expecting me to say its an entirely illegitimate State. That’s rich.

            There was at least a semblance of international process that involved the UN & 1947 partition. That gives some semblance of legitimacy to Israel’s existence, though it doesn’t in any way justify Nakba. There are many ways in which Israel can redeem this crime (Nakba, not Israel’s existence). If you bothered to read the many posts in which I’ve addressed this question you wouldn’t ask such a disingenuous question.

          • Sara March 16, 2014, 6:11 AM

            Well there was an even more legitimate process that predates the partition plan (which was merely a UN resolution rejected by the Arabs themselves and therefore void): San Remo, Balfour, etc which gives all of Palestine west of the Jordan to Jewish settlement.

          • Richard Silverstein March 16, 2014, 12:49 PM

            @ Sara: You betray your hasbarist motives by mentioning San Remo, a document proposed by an international body that isn’t even in existence, which makes any document it offered null & void. You’ve also mischaracterized Balfour, which was a White Paper and only an advisory document from 1917 & certainly not anything that promised Jews all the territory of Palestine. Neither of these were “more legitimate” than partition. In fact since the UN partition followed them in time & was ratified by a world body still in existence, it is far more legitimate. In fact, if there is ever a 2 state solution (by no means an outcome that is guaranteed) the result will be a form of partition.

            Your entire comment is propaganda & disingenuous. Read the comment rules. I do NOT allow getting bogged down in debates over ancient Zionist history. If you go in that direction you’ll be off-topic & violating the comment rules.

          • Truth March 16, 2014, 1:40 PM

            ” The loudest, most influential settler leaders & rabbis both hate Palestinians & any Israeli viewed as a collaborator or betrayer of settler values (which they view as sacred Jewish values)”
            That’s just not true. If you go around the settlements you would see that most of them do not hate Arabs or Israelis who disagree with them. Most settlers disagree with murder of anyone including innocent Palestinian.
            Saying that “Yigal Amir is an embodiment of settler values” is just a lie in which you try to spread hatred toward settlers. Yigal Amir’s act has nothing to do with settler values.
            You can argue the legitimacy/legality of the settlement’s , but trying to portray the settlers as the The embodiment of all evil is just twisted and wrong.They are normal people who just want to live there life in peace.

          • Richard Silverstein March 16, 2014, 2:06 PM

            @ Truth:

            If you go around the settlements you would see that most of them do not hate Arabs or Israelis who disagree with them.

            Use relevant search terms to search this blog for the scores of posts I’ve written documenting precisely the hate you claim doesn’t exist. All you have to do is view the film of the infamous Likud rally in 1995 which motivated Rabin’s assassination. If you can’t find the video it’s in The Gatekeepers film. Watch it. It’s as clear as day that the screaming, foaming at the mouth settlers (including children) who rage against Rabin and picture him in an SS uniform, epitomize settler values. And who were the politicians goading these madmen on? Bibi & Sharon who followed as prime ministers. They are all guilty of his murder even if they didn’t pull the trigger.

            As for whether “most settlers” disagree with murder, that’s debatable and also irrelevant. Whether or not they approve of murder, they’re living their lives on stolen land & perpetrating a profound injustice. They cannot live their lives “in peace” unless they’re prepared to live under Palestinian sovereignty & pay the Palestinian state properly for the land they’ve stolen.

            My claims about Amir are so patently obvious that I simply can’t debate you on the subject.

          • Sara March 16, 2014, 4:03 PM

            Richard if you want a more balanced look at settlers I highly recommend this presentation:

            http://www.telegraph.co.uk/meetthesettlers/index.html

            You could also visit Israel and visit the Settlements and meet them in person and see how they are indeed regular people with families and not full of hate who support murder. You are truly demonizing people here.

          • Richard Silverstein March 16, 2014, 11:54 PM

            You want me to visit Israel? How naive you are & how little you know of what I write here!! I have no need for seeing settlers as kindly gentlemen and ladies. I know what they do and what they represent. That’s quite enough. I have demonized no one. By their own acts shall they be known (and are) here.

          • Sara March 16, 2014, 4:24 PM

            Just look at some of the videos on Meet the Settlers. Look at the at the second video of chapter 1 in a supermarket, a 45 second interview with a customer named Lenny Ben-David, and you see Jews and Arabs mingling freely in the store like in any regular supermarket.

          • Richard Silverstein March 16, 2014, 11:56 PM

            @ Sara: You’ve done something the comment rules direct you not to do. You’ve repeated in your second comment what you wrote in your first. This blog is not a showcase for the settler movement. If you want that, you know where you can find it. Not to mention that your comment is off-topic. Again, read the comment rules & stay on topic.

  • David Sucher March 15, 2014, 11:03 PM

    How would you go about weakening the Israel lobby?

  • David Sucher March 16, 2014, 12:33 PM

    I see that you have a concern that Jews are too influential.
    So what do you propose should be done?
    Are you concerned that Jews are doing something illegal?
    Social sanction to discourage Jews from being involved in politics?
    Prohibit Jews from making campaign contributions?
    Publish a notice in the media when a Jew makes a campaign contribution?

    I ask because you are pointing out the obvious: people seek to influence government.

    If you are suggesting campaign/lobbying reform across the board, then I’d probably agree — there seems to be tremendous need for reform.

    But that’s not really your point. You are simply disagreeing with certain political positions and suggesting that The Jews are doing something wrong.

    • Richard Silverstein March 16, 2014, 12:46 PM

      @ David Sucher: If you propose to post a comment would you try to make the comment less obviously tendentious & provocative. Either you know your questions set up straw men that are easy to knock down, or you should.

      I never said the “Jews are too influential.” THis is your false characterization of what I said. I strongly urge commenters with right-wing or pro-Israel views to QUOTE what I write rather than mischaracterizing it by paraphrase as you’ve done. There is no substitute for my own words if you want to dispute them. You seem to have an obsession with proving that I was attempting to sanction “Jews.” Nothing is farther from the truth.

      The issue concerns pro-Israelists of whom some are Jewish and some non-Jewish (Christian Zionist). As for the Lobby, it is strangling a reasonable solution to the Israeli-Arab conflict. That is my sole concern & criticism.

      • David Sucher March 16, 2014, 12:57 PM

        You have no idea what my opinions are so please don’t read anything. My initial question which you read and ignored was to simply ask what you would suggest as to this apparently unwarranted undue influence by Jews. You still don’t answer. You avoid the question.

        But it is preposterous for you to suggest that you were not implying that Jews at=re too influential in a way that you don’t like. Go back read what you wrote. If you really truly sincerely don’t understand the import then you are not as smart as I think you are.

        • Richard Silverstein March 16, 2014, 1:58 PM

          @ David Sucher: Of course I have an excellent idea of what your opinions are because you offered your opinions and they betrayed your prejudices & political views. It never ceases to amaze me when commenters like you get into high dudgeon when I use your own words to interpret your views.

          I didn’t ignore your original question. First if you’d bother to read the thread you’d know that someone earlier in the thread asked the same question. I didn’t answer that question either because I thought it a bit odd. Besides, my entire blog contains my opinions on the question. Once I’ve written on a subject I don’t necessarily want to rehash it every time someone like you asks a question. Further, since this is my blog I answer questions I want to answer & don’t answer questions that either annoy me or don’t interest me.

          it is preposterous for you to suggest that you were not implying that Jews at=re too influential

          I don’t need to go back and reread what I wrote. I didn’t say Jews are too influential. If you believe I did, it’s your responsibility to prove it by quoting whatever passage you believe supports this. The fact that you haven’t means you can’t because I never said it.

          As for how smart I am, I’m clearer smarter than you, which isn’t saying much.

          • David Sucher March 16, 2014, 2:47 PM

            I think that this passage clearly suggests that Jews are too important:

            “You may know that in Democratic presidential primaries pro-Israel donors give as much as 40% of the cash that candidates get. Pro-Israel Democrats in these primaries provide as much as 20% of those who vote in several key states with large Jewish populations. Overall, Jews are only about 2% of the U.S. population. This causes a weird distortion effect in mounting a rational, effective policy toward Israel. ”

            If you don’t know how it reads, then there isn’t much for us to discuss. But clearly, you are saying that Jews (who are the ones who give money to “pro-Israel” politicians) and that the result is “weird distortion” of American policy.

            Honestly if you don’t understand the import of your own words then you are living in your own reality distortion field.

          • Richard Silverstein March 16, 2014, 11:52 PM

            @ David Sucher:

            I think that this passage clearly suggests that Jews are too important

            It does nothing of the sort. In 2 different places I use the term “pro-Israel donors” and “pro-Israel Democrats.” Not all Jewish donors or Democrats support the Lobby. Hence I cannot possibly have been referring to all Jews. The only reference to the word “Jew” in the passage refers to their percentage of the overall U.S. population.

            If you don’t know how it reads

            I know how it reads. It reads precisely as I intended it to. And has nothing whatsoever to do with your own misreading of it.

            I’m not going to entertain any further comments from you in this thread. Move on if you wish to comment further on this blog. If you don’t respect this, then you will be moderated.

  • Truth March 16, 2014, 2:41 PM

    I cannot reply to your post, I guess we have reached the maximum nesting of posts possible.

    I find it peculiar how you bring evidence from 1995. Israeli society has gone a huge change since then.
    If I most reply to that particular demonstration here is a translation from the Hebrew wikipedia section:

    “An A4 poster of Rabin in the uniform of an SS, printed with a home printer was shown at a television camera covering the demonstration and was seen in every home in Israel. this poster became a symbol of protest.The Shamgar committee wrote on this subject – “About the photomontage – The initial operation was carried out by two minors, regardless of Avishai Raviv. However, no doubt that Raviv was it took them a photograph and handed it to TV . “It turned out that this picture of Yitzhak Rabin in the uniform of the SS. was distributed by Shin bet in order to compromise the right and show that it supports terrorism.

    Back to more relevant events. why don’t you read this one
    http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4043536,00.html
    and there are countless more examples…

    I believe I know settlers today better then you do, because I actually bother to talk to them, visit them at there homes and see the situation first hand.
    Again I believe that you can debate many subjects about the settlements but you fail to understand that these are just normal people.
    They do not support murder.

    • Richard Silverstein March 16, 2014, 11:47 PM

      @ Truth:

      Israeli society has gone a huge change since then.

      Sez you. Actually, Israeli society has changed a great deal since 1995. Now the settler extremists doesn’t need to assassinate PMs since the PMs are all extremist pro-settlerists. There’s no longer any chance a Yitzhak Rabin can become PM. So Amir has succeeded on behalf of the far-right ultranationalists who now control the country. It was more than an assassination. It was a putsch in which the Israeli electorate willingly collaborated.

      I have no confidence in Hebrew Wikipedia on any matter. Besides, it’s impossible to know what you’re quoting in that paragraph & what’s your opinion. But the claim that the protesters at that rally did not create the SS poster or that the Shin Bet did is not only preposterous, but offensive. It makes you an apologist and a pathetic one at that.

      As for who knows settlers, you haven’t read any of my posts about the crimes of settlers today. Till you do you have no credibility here (or anywhere except Times of Israel and the like).

  • Truth March 17, 2014, 1:57 PM

    in hebrew:
    http://he.wikipedia.org/wiki/%D7%9B%D7%99%D7%9B%D7%A8_%D7%A6%D7%99%D7%95%D7%9F under
    הפגנת הימין נגד יצחק רבין והסכם אוסלו ב
    in english:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shamgar_Commission
    you wrote:
    “But the claim that the protesters at that rally did not create the SS poster or that the Shin Bet did is not only preposterous, but offensive”
    You did not bother to read my comment properly the quote is:
    “The initial operation was carried out by two minors, regardless of Avishai Raviv”
    However, no doubt that Raviv was it took them a photograph and handed it to TV.
    …”was distributed by Shin bet”
    Distributed does not mean created. But you will find in every massive demonstration anywhere in the world , small groups of people with crazy signs that most people in the demonstration do not agree with.

    But I feel that we have gone of subject.
    I have been following you blog for years. I have read your posts.
    Have you read the link I sent you? have you done serious research into settler views and beliefs?

    “There’s no longer any chance a Yitzhak Rabin can become PM” if that is true , it is only because israel has been burned time after time by compromise.
    I find it funny that you write ” It was a putsch in which the Israeli electorate willingly collaborated.”
    There were democratic elections and which the left lost. I think the people in Israel have a right to vote for whoever they choose, even if it makes you unhappy.

    • Richard Silverstein March 17, 2014, 3:38 PM

      You haven’t watched the video of the protest from The Gatekeepers as I directed, which clearly shows systematic hate & violence. That event led directly to Rabin’s murder. His blood is on your hands.

      Elections do not guarantee democtacy. If Israel will not elect governments which respect international law then the international community will have to compel Israel to do so.

      The settler extremists and their allies have taken over the asylum, but the world still retains a semblance of sanity. Israel will not succeed in this travesty & farce.

      • Truth March 18, 2014, 10:45 AM

        I have already watched the movie. And I have seen youtube clips from the demonstration.
        Saying “His blood is on your hands” is just pathetic… Is that what you call a valid statement in a debate?

        While the international community gets around to compel Israel to international law (which I think Israel fully abides), I wonder if first they will try to fix the more pressing issues of the world such as the massacre in Syria, or does the US only care about the conflicts that involve there economical interests (like in Libya).

        You have not answered my previous post at all, you practically ignored it.
        So I leave it to one last question
        Have you read the link I sent you? have you done serious research into settler views and beliefs?
        If you have How can you seriously believe that most of them support murder?
        Do you know that 99% of schools in the west bank Commemorate the memory day of Yitzhak Rabin ?
        It is a day when they discuss mostly that although you disagree with someone’s political views that does not give you the right in any way to harm them.

        • Richard Silverstein March 18, 2014, 6:36 PM

          @ Truth: So after watching this blood curdling footage proving the murderous intent of the protesters which was realized only weeks later with an assassination, you still maintain neither you nor any Israel settler has blood on his hands?! Amazing.

          I wonder if first they will try to fix the more pressing issues of the world…

          No, no, no. YOu don’t get off that easy. You don’t resort to Hasbara Trick #1 of distracting from Israeli injustice & impunity by claiming there are far worse things going on in the world. Of course there are, but that doesn’t excuse the evils of Israel’s Occupation.

          For the third & last time, I don’t care whether 100% or only 42.65% of settlers support murder. It doesn’t matter. The entire settler enterprise is based in an evil proposition of Nakba, theft, exile, violence. Killing is a part of the entire apparatus. If you support the theft of Palestinian land you’re a part of the same apparatus that kills Palestinians (& Israelis) in order to maintain this evil system.

          I don’t know what schools you’re talking about but I assure you that the yeshivot in the West Bank do not do anything but curse Yitzhak Rabin.

          You’re done in this thread. Publish in other threads if you wish. But no more comments in this one.

          • Truth March 19, 2014, 3:06 PM

            Lets see if you will let me have the last comment in an argument.
            “I don’t know what schools you’re talking about but I assure you that the yeshivot in the West Bank do not do anything but curse Yitzhak Rabin.”
            I’m talking about all high schools and yeshivot . why don’t you contact some settler teachers to check?

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