Israel’s Freeze Fraud
Ethan Bronner writes in today’s NYT that senior Israeli officials say Ehud Barak will come to Washington Tuesday and offer what I’m calling “freeze-lite.” That is, a partial, temporary (as in, the blink of an eye) settlement freeze which Israel is naturally calling, according to Bronner’s formulation, “a complete freeze.” The problem? It isn’t complete. Not by a long-shot. Just note this sentence from Bronner’s second paragraph:
The freeze would not affect construction that was already under way, nor include East Jerusalem.
Well, that’s a loophole big enough to drive a Mack truck through. A settlement freeze that omits East Jerusalem is like Peter Stuyvesant purchasing Manhattan from the Indians, excluding Central Park.
Bronner is clearly a “believer” in this offer, as he characterizes it thus:
While such an offer falls short of President Obama’s demand that Israel halt all settlement building now, it is the most forthcoming response that senior Israeli officials have given to date and suggests that American pressure is having some effect.
Again, the phrase “some effect” is so vague as to be almost meaningless. Unless Israel agrees to a full settlement freeze that includes all portions of the Territories including East Jerusalem, then American pressure is not having enough of an effect. The same holds true of freezing all current construction.
In the report, the Israelis tell Bronner that 2,000 housing units are under construction and would be completed. That’s not a drop in the bucket. And it’s likely many of those units are in Maale Adumim, a prime area of contention, whose ‘thickening’ by Israeli builders and planner is a primary impediment to a territorially-contiguous Palestinian state.
I realize that Israel’s annexation of East Jerusalem poses particular political problems for an Israeli government since, if it did agree to a freeze in East Jerusalem, it would be tacitly conceding that East Jerusalem is the same as the rest of the Territories. But this is Israel’s problem and not ours. It annexed East Jerusalem against the explicit wishes of the U.S. and most of the rest of the world. So now it will have to eat that crow if it wishes to get on board with the Obama administration.
Barak himself is always good for sheer chutzpah and effrontery and doesn’t disappoint here:
“Many Israelis fear that what Palestinians want is not two states but two stages,” meaning an end to Israel in phases. He also said that by focusing solely on settlement building and not on what the Arab countries should also be doing for peace, Israel felt that it was being driven to its knees and delivered to the other side rather than asked to join a shared effort.
He’ll have to pardon our collective jaws dropping at that whopper. Israel “being driven to its knees?” By a settlement freeze? Puh-leeze. Barak conveniently forgets that the Arab League has already offered simultaneous mutual recognition to Israel if it withdraws to 67 borders. But what has Israel offered that anyone can take seriously? Gorsnisht.
I don’t even know whether Bronner realizes that in this passage, discussing Israel’s conquest of the Territories in the 1967 war, he reveals himself as a Revisionist:
…Taking the West Bank, previously held by Jordan, fired the collective imagination in Israel because so much of it — including the cities of Hebron, Nablus and Jericho — was part of the biblical Jewish homeland that Zionism sought to reclaim.
Parse that carefully: Zionism sought to reclaim the “biblical Jewish homeland.” That’s pure Jabotinsky. In truth, David Ben Gurion accepted Partition, which meant precisely the opposite of what Bronner is claiming. Not to mention that aside from the Revisionists, mainstream Zionism never felt it needed the entirety of the “biblical Jewish homeland” in order to establish the State of Israel. I suppose one could argue that Bronner phrased this awkwardly and didn’t mean to say that Zionism wanted to reclaim the “biblical Jewish homeland,” at least not necessarily in its entirety. But when you write about a subject as freighted as this, you must be careful and nuanced. If not, you leave yourself open to all sorts of mischief, which is what this journalist does regularly in his reports.
And lest anyone claim that Bronner is not an apologist for Israeli policy, read this passage:
Israel says the real problem is Arab rejection of its existence in any borders at all…
Excuse me? The 2002 Saudi offer explicitly offered Israel Arab recognition. Syria is practically clamoring to recognize Israel if it returns the Golan. The PLO has for several decades recognized Israel. So what is Bronner “on” about?? Once again I ask in vain–if Bronner doesn’t want to write more carefully about these delicate issues isn’t there an editor in the house to do so for him?
Ever the cheeky one, Barak has more. Here he touts Israel’s ‘generosity’ toward the Palestinians:
It has formed a ministerial committee headed by Mr. Netanyahu aimed at starting economic projects in the West Bank. It has also given the Palestinian security forces greater freedom of action in the past couple of weeks.
Mr. Barak presented such steps as examples of concessions Israel had already made that deserved recognition from Washington and Arab leaders.
Wow, you set up a government committee and hand over a few IDF roadblocks to PA security forces and all of a sudden you’re ready to make peace with the Palestinians. Israel has zero credibility on these issues and so will have to do much better before the Arab states will risk being burned by offering anything to Israel in response to such alleged “good faith.”
22 thoughts on “Israel’s Freeze Fraud – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم”
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When I read in today’s NY Times about Israel’s latest absurdity, only one word entered my mind: bullshit – period. The simple fact of the matter is that official Israel has fundamentally become a Jabotinsky entity with its principal mantra, stated or understood, as “facts on the ground”. This latest “offer” regarding settlements insults us all. Each day it seems Israel continues its slide down that proverbial slope until what might have been a just and decent society is the absolute opposite. What a tragedy this all remains as Israel belies what I once thought was an iconic high standard of Jewish ethics and intelligence. It appears to me that Israel has permanently established for itself a government of, by and for a neocon future. Sad!
one that a Dick Cheney and such
A follow-up on my comment. I failed to excise that last bit about Cheney, although one could easily identify this man with all sorts of murderous absurdities.
re: “A settlement freeze that omits East Jerusalem is like Peter Stuyvesant purchasing Manhattan from the Indians, excluding Central Park.”
*** TELL OBAMA “FREEZE MEANS FREEZE” ***
FROM J STREET: Following Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s rejection of a full settlement freeze, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said…that President Obama “wants to see a stop to settlements – not some settlements, not outposts, not natural-growth exceptions.”
This is exactly the sort of leadership we need from the President and Secretary of State if we are going to achieve a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict – the only way to truly secure Israel’s future as a Jewish, democratic homeland.
Please send the President a message telling him you support his “Freeze means Freeze” approach to Israeli settlements.
* TO SEND MESSAGE – http://salsa.wiredforchange.com/o/2747/t/3251/petition.jsp?petition_KEY=593
Good post. I don’t think Bronner has trouble writing nuanced reports–I think he writes what he writes knowing exactly what he’s doing. He’s subtly framed it as though Obama’s stance is extreme and Netanyahu is now meeting him halfway. He’s basically acting as Netanyahu’s stenographer.
Unfortunately Obama’s stance isn’t extreme–asking for a settlement freeze is just the first step, and already the NYT is presenting this as something that will have to be watered down.
OK, Norman Weinstein and J STREET, “bullshit – period”, Israel should freeze the new housing for 3 “bullshit”….. Well, 3 month “period” and see if Arabs are really seek peace, as you dream they might be. There are for now some hundreds new complete houses which can serve the new settlers with out the need to start buildings.
Israel should make it clear to Obama that settlement is reversible and that it is not postponed peace. Terror is irreversible and unrepentance!!!!
500,000 settlers in the West Bank & E. Jerusalem is not so easily reversible despite what you claim. Stealing Palestinian land on the one hand & Palestinian terror against Israel are quite similar tactics in that they seek to make a real solution impossible.
Its an important issue, and that Obama is taking it on directly is inspiring.
There is a disconnect between the term “Palestinian land” and reality though.
There are TWO meanings of “Palestinian land”. One is that the land is part of prospectively sovereign Palestine, and any land that is held by Israeli state in trust as a temporary occupying power, preceded by Jordanian state land, prospectively transferred to Palestinian state land.
The Palestinian state has the right to consider the use of that state-owned land in accordance with Palestinian law.
The second meaning relates to individual’s title. In other words the question of whether it is really Palestinians’ land. A nationally exclusive basis of title is fascistic, whether it is Israeli or Palestinian fascism.
Israel asserting that the status of ownership of occupied state land REMAINS undefined would be in conformity with the Geneva protocols for maintaining law and order over temporarily occupied territory.
They both should stop building, though stopping water from flowing is a bit unnatural.
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Who reads the NY Times for context and guidance anyways?
Although I have to say, it’s quite telling that Bronner is taking Israel’s side so blatantly. So we’ve arrived at the near-breaking point where we see how right Mersh and Walt were about the Israel lobby.
But I think Jewish intellectuals like Bronner who have so much invested in Israel aren’t ever going to be objective in the slightest.
It’s amazing really when you think about it. It’s not enough that the MSM is always within the parameters of State/business interest but the next filter is ethnic/tribal loyalty (after a certain threshold).
Is there a light at the end of this tunnel? I would hate to be Palestinian. I mean, tribal Jews and Zionists would tear apart any society that lived next door to them and resisted their land theft and criminality.
Not to mention that aside from the Revisionists, mainstream Zionism never felt it needed the entirety of the “biblical Jewish homeland” in order to establish the State of Israel
What you call “Mainstream Zionists” certainly tried to get the entire Biblical Jewish homeland for a Zionism. The British mandate upon which the Balfour Declaration was first applied included all of the area west of the Jordan River and Transjordan (the “East Bank”). Chaim Weizmann tried also to get Southern Lebanon as well. This pretty much includes the entire area of Biblical settlement as elaborated in the Bibilcal Book of Numbers. It is true that Ben-Gurion did agree with the 1937 Peel Partition, but there was consider opposition in the Labor movement to accepting it. After the 1967 War, there was many members of the Labor movement who supported the “Greater Land of Israel Movement”, so the Biblical borders did resonate with at lot of people outside the Revisionist and religious sectors.
If Netnyahu agrees even to a “partial, temporary” freeze there will be a firestorm of opposition from the Right. This is a betrayal of his election platform, and in any event, he will simply be digging a hole for himself with regards to Obama, since, no matter what the Arabs do, Obama will consider it to be irreversible, just as Carter did with Begin’s agreement to a “temporary freeze”. Even if Netanyahu will agree to it and survives the outcry, he will be accused of acting in bad faith because Obama’s people will say any continuing construction is “really” new and Netanyahu is acting in bad faith. There is nothing Obama can do to force Israel to freeze settlements and Bibi needs to act according to this. Otherwise he will be eroding his power.
I believe that if
As usual, your comments need to be parsed to tweeze out the propaganda fr. the truth. First, to say that Jews expected that their homeland or state would include all the territory of the British Mandate is false. Those are two completely diff. concepts. Mainstream Zionism pretty much always realized there was an Arab minority with which it would have to come to some sort of territorial compromise. As for Partition, Ben Gurion accepted not only the 37 Partition, but the 1948 one as well. So he accepted Partition not once but twice. You’ll recall that the territory on which Ben Gurion declared his state was considerably curtailed & divided into Jewish & Arab sectors. So much for yr claim that Labor Zionists were no diff. fr. Revisionists in terms of their territorial vision.
And there were many who didn’t.
No, that’s wrong. Obama will insist that the Arabs meet Israel halfway. Just as he will knock heads together among Israelis if he has to, he will do the same with Palestinians.
You are simply ridiculous. Obama can entirely freeze the aid pipeline. He can refuse to see Israeli leaders who wish to visit the U.S. You’re simply so blind that you cannot see that if he wishes to use them, Obama holds virtually all the cards. You also refuse to see that 2 previous Israeli leaders tried to cross U.S. presidents & both were voted out of office by Israeli voters. Bibi is one of the two & would suffer the same fate if he tries to go it alone. Israelis are stubborn, unreasonable & self-centered much of the time. But they aren’t stupid. And they know the U.S. is their lifeline & their only one.
bar_kochva – the history of zionism in europe is far more complicated and layered than you present. In fact, most historians agree that the anti-zionist jewish camp would have probably won the day if not for the holocaust. The majority of the jewish people did not have any intention of rushing off to some country in the middle east, which had at most some sentimental value to the more religiously inclined and hardly any for the assimilated jews of Europe’s capitals. The yishuv ultimately awed its success to nazi germany rather than to any bizarre entitlement notions by jihadists such as jabotinsky. Yes, there were also quite a few younger jewish people who were interested in the social zionism concept, and saw an opportunity to try their ideas in palestine. Something that, BTW, was greatly encouraged by the likes of Churchill (cf the 1920 memo supporting a state for jews in palestine – his words – see link below). These are the ones who founded the kibutzim and the moshavim, which were fundamentally secular through and through, based more on the best of marx, engels and trotsky than the ravings of cult-like right wing jabotinskites. The “great israel” historical picture you paint is fundamentally false, even though you correctly identify Weitzmann as belonging to the camp of maximalists. But seeing as you might want to learn some real history, here is a great link on the history of zionsim:
read and learn!
As for Obama not being able to do anything to help Israel see the error of its ways, perhaps it’s a bit too early for you to celebrate.
You’re totaly wrong, dana! Most of the Jewish people supported Zionism in various ways although only few took the challange and actualy participated in the creation of big Jewish community in the land of Israel. The main two groups that opposed Zionism were The Eastern Europe communists and the hard core orthodox such as Neturei Carta group. the others sympathized and identified with Zionism although didn’t take active part in building the Yeshuv.
Only few Jews exersized Zionism and we see huge growing of Jewish communities in the Land of Israel prior to the WWII.
If the Brits were completing their duty of the Mandate by helping the Jews to build their national home in Palestine as was promised, than Israel would have been established long before WWII and by that used as safe shore and shelter to the European Jews before WWII, and the Holocaust was abstained and avoided.
Israel was created althouh the Holocaust and Not because of the Holocaust! Don’t try to wrinkle history and forcing it to be shown in your favor.
Jihadists jabotinsky? pity. I presume you don’t know what Jihadist is and who is Jabotinsky. Jabotinsky was one of the main leaders of Zionism and he created the Jewish task force and the “Shomer” that were the basis for the Jewish “Hagana” and “Irgun” that was splited in the 20th.
I think that need to learn some real history and not hanging in semi historical links.
Despite the fact that I’ve previously banned Abe, this comment is marginally less offensive than previous ones so I published it.
First, Abe you have no idea about the level of support for Zionism among Jews. Can you tell us what your sources are on which you claim the knowledge you do? Zionism was by no means a majority or consensus movement within the Jewish world until after the Holocaust. This is common knowledge, Abe. So open up a book on the subject before you betray both yr prejudice & ignorance.
Second, the British had no “duty” under the Mandate to “help the Jews build their national home.” They were there to figure out how to find a peaceful modus vivendi bet. Arabs & Jews. At various times, the British expressed sympathy with Zionist aims and at other times they expressed sympathy with Palestinian Arab aims.
I’d also suggest that you take a course in English composition. Your ideas would come across better if you had better command of the language.
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Don’t rationalize for settlement expansion in any way.
Its already too far along, to the extent that it compels harms in implementation AND harms in unraveling.
Its not necessary, and its only justification is an unholy national lust for land.
For Israel’s security, it exposes more frontier than it secures.
Richard, the Saudi plan calls on Israel to take in 5 million Palestinians. Its funny how you didn’t mention that.
Any Israel-Syria deal must be based on Hatay Model, not Sinai Model
Turkey won Hatay (Alexandretta) province back in 1939 in a war with Syria.
For those not familar with Hatay in Turkey. Read this article.
It shows how Turkey told Syria, the only peace your getting is peace for peace.
If Richard was a Turk, he would have been calling for Turkey to give up Hatay to Syria.
Proof Golan is historically Israels.Brilliant article
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Nomi: Read my comment rules. This is not a debating society. We’re not trying to work out why the left is totally wrong about everything. If that’s what you need to do online there are plenty of other sites set up for knock down drag out fights on these issues. Here, we try to discuss issues rationally and even if people disagree with me they do so discursively and in a somewhat balanced fashion.
Also, publishing six comments in a single day hogs the discourse, shows you to be either a troll or a hasbarnik, & is simply not permitted.
Further, this claim also violates my comment rules since not only is it bogus, but it is unsupported:
I have no interest in debating whether Israel’s return of the Golan to Syria is or isn’t governed by an old war between Turkey and Syria. Again, this is bogus and grandstanding.
If you further violate the rules your comment privileges will be ended.
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While I totally agree that Barak’s offer is a fraud, Richard, here again you obsess about Bronner- which is a sideshow.
Bronner reports. He reports here what he is getting from the “powers that be” on Israeli side. This does not mean he personally is for it or against. And his assessment is not brilliant but it is even handed ( fair) and not wrong either.
The above blockquote from your post is an excellent example of your interpretation which puts your feelings about Bronner onto what is said. To say that American pressure is having some effect in no way says that Bronner does not or cannot see that it falls short;it not does it mean that he is for it.
Here’s another example:
To say Bronner is a revisionist for not saying some Zionists is way overboard if not totally unfair.
Most of what you say here is not about Bronner who is the messenger. This anti-Bronnerism is tiresome.