51 thoughts on “What’s That Giant Sucking Sound? Peace Talks Going Down the Toilet – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم
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  1. This comes as absolutely no surprise. Nothing will happen until there is a radical change of leadership in Tel Aviv. That wont happen either. Israel needs to get real. They need to understand that diplomacy, accessibility, and acceptance rather than isolation, warmongering, and fear, is the only long lasting path to peace for the Israeli state.

    I believe Israel is important for all Jews – a homeland for a peoples who have not had one in over two thousand years. A homeland for a people that has endured more injustices and horrors than much of the world combined. All over a religious group that has never exceeded the size of 15 million.

    Yet the path Israel is taking is one of self-destruction. I am profoundly worried at the future for the state of Israel. We are acting like those who have caused us such horror and injustice in the past. How blind have we become?

    In a world in which Jewish fortunes have radically changed, the best way to memorialize the history of Jewish suffering is through the ethical use of Jewish power.

    1. “….Israel is important for all Jews.” I disagree. Most Jews have no interest in living there, and its policies do not represent the wishes of most Jews in the diaspora. Why do Jews need a “homeland” any more than any other religious group? Do Christianity or Islam have “homelands”? Whether I am a Jew or a Christian, my homeland was America, and is now Switzerland. Judaism is a religion, and as such, can be practiced anywhere. Israel is a political entity and does not represent Judaism; witness the number of secular atheists among its population. Israel means no more to me than Tibet or Timbuktoo, as a homeland. If it disappeared as a “Jewish” state, I would not miss it.

      1. As long as you speak for yourself, you’re entitled to your opinion, but don’t pretend to know what most Jews think or feel.
        Firstly, “most” of world Jewry already lives in Israel, thanks mostly to the high rate of assimilation in Western countries (about 70% a year in USA).
        Secondly any Jew outside Israel who ever makes it to a synagogue prays about Jerusalem and in the direction of Jerusalem.
        That leaves a small minority who MAY think like you, or may not – no one asks them what they think.
        Most Jews identify as a religious group and a people who are entitled to a homeland, your idea of Jewish identification is legitimate but extremly marginal.
        Do you also comment on blogs about Tibet and Timbuktoo? If not, then I rest my case, you seem to have some “concern” about the Jewish homeland.

        1. You are right, shmuel. I have great concerns about the Jewish “homeland.” It is exactly that designation that is at the root of all the problems between Israel and Palestine. Do you ever consider what has happened to the homeland of Palestinians, qua Palestinians, as opposed to Muslims?

          I don’t know where you get your statistics about “most” of world Jewry living in Israel. Do you make them up? The majority of world Jewry happens to live in the diaspora. The assimilation you speak of is not a renunciation of religion, rather an acceptance of the position of integration among the communities in which diaspora Jew have been born, or emigrated to.

          My idea of Jewish identification may be “extremely marginal” for now. But more and more Jews are beginning to adhere to them, thanks to the policies of Zionists in Israel.

          1. PS – Those Jews who “ever make it into a synagog”, who do pray, pray about, and face, Jerusalem, not Israel. There is a big difference. Do not confuse goals.

        2. the high rate of assimilation in Western countries (about 70% a year in USA).

          Israeli ZIonists are quick to point to dubious claims & statistics about the rate of assimilation in the Diaspora. I for one don’t know what these numbers mean or what they refer to. Are we losing 70% of American Jews? No. And to what & how are we defining their assimilation? I find this a losing proposition & wish Zionists would quit trying to make it. American Jewry is doing fine. And Israel isn’t such a great example to hold out to world Jewry as a beacon of light.

          1. I’m not sure exactly how to precisely define or quantify assimilation, but I can point at the extremes:
            1. An individual whose parents identify themselves as Jews, and whose 4 grandparents also identify themselves as Jews – such a person would likely think of himself as a Jew and would be identified by others as such
            2. An individual whose 3 out of 4 grandparents aren’t Jewish (by self identification). Nothing or almost nothing of Jewish culture is considered at home. Such a person would likely think of himself as non Jewish.

            Now, here’s a question for you. Suppose two people marry and start a family. one of them is a Jew, the other is not. Would they raise their children as Jewish? Would they teach them some tradition? History? Language? Would they observe the holidays at home?

            What I’m getting at here is that assimilation isn’t a binary, black and white process, where you can say “now you’re a Jew, and now you aren’t”. But it happens nonetheless. When a Jewish person “assimilates”, i.e., has children with a non-Jew, there’s a chance the children will abandon their Judaism. Of course, there’s always such a chance (even in completely Jewish families), but it’s higher when one has a non-Jewish example at home. Over generations, those chances will accumulate and erode a Jewish community.

            Case in point: Jews in the Russian empire. In the 19th century, it was largely forbidden by both sides (legally, religiously, socially) for Jews to marry non Jews. During this time, Jewish tradition flourished and Jews multiplied. Since the Communist revolution, Jews were integrated into society and many married non Jews. Together with the official ban on religions, the result was that by 1990 and the Aliyah, many Jews from the former Soviet Union wouldn’t know what a bar-mitzvah is. Had the union and it’s iron curtain survived for another two or three generations, there wouldn’t be a single Jew left.

            now, before you jump with your Jewish supremacy/racism claims, I’m not being judgmental about it. I’m not saying it is right or wrong on the personal level to have a family with a non Jew. anything could happen (in terms of Jewish identity) in such a family. Question is, in terms of the community, what happens more often?

            Now, for some specific claims you’ve made: “The American Jewry is doing fine”. Is it really? Or is it some wishful thinking on your part?
            I found this interesting article:
            http://www.nysun.com/foreign/future-of-judaism/8189/. It claims the following:

            “The Orthodox proportion of American synagogue members, for example, went from 11% in 1971 to 16% in 1990 to 21% in 2000-01. (In absolute numbers, it bears noting, the American Jewish population went steadily down during these decades.)”

            D you think that the American Jewish population going steadily down is “doing fine”?

            Another claim of yours: “And Israel isn’t such a great example to hold out to world Jewry as a beacon of light”

            This is a fallacy. Just because Israel does some thing wrong, doesn’t mean everything about it is wrong. During the same time frame, (1971-2001), The Jewish population in Israel has increased, even without Aliyah. Aliyah itself has helped both countries in terms of it’s Jewish population. Despite the face that twice as many soviet Jews immigrated to the US rather than to Israel (2 out of 3 million, source: Wikipedia), Israel’s growing ever closer to the US in terms of Jewish population, which is another bad sign for the Jewish community in the US.

            So, I don’t know about “70% a year”. But there is a problem and it should be acknowledged.

          2. An individual whose 3 out of 4 grandparents aren’t Jewish (by self identification). Nothing or almost nothing of Jewish culture is considered at home. Such a person would likely think of himself as non Jewish.

            So now you’re a sociologist & expert in ethnic-religious identity? Can you tell me where you derive yr expertise? You have no idea what you’re talking about & know nothing about American Jewry. NOthing. You don’t know whether a Jew with 1, 2, 3 or 4 grandparents identifies as Jewish. Jews w. 4 grandparents like Jack Abramoff make me sick to my stomach to be an American Jew while Jews with no Jewish grandparents make me proud to be one. So stop mouthing off on subjects you know nothing about. Besides, your classification system strikes me as closer to Nazi definitions of Jewish identity than anything that reflects Jewish reality as we know it here.

            When a Jewish person “assimilates”, i.e., has children with a non-Jew

            More lameness. YOu think because a Jew marries a non Jew they have assimilated? By what criteria? Do you know whether there children will be raised Jewish, do you know if they celebrate Jewish holidays? Do you know even if the children are NOT raised Jewish whether they will return to Judaism at some pt in their lives? No, you don’t know the answer to any of these questions because you’re dealing with Zionist theoretical classifications which again have nothing to do w. reality.

            You’re quoting the NY Sun on the question of assimilation & the future of Judaism? This is like quoting Bibiton on the question of whether Likud is good or bad for Israel. Pls. stop doing this. Stop quoting Jewish neocon shmattehs as if they have anything useful to say about anything.

            Just because Israel does some thing wrong, doesn’t mean everything about it is wrong.

            No, you misunderstand. We’re talking about Judaism & Jewish identity here. Israel is an absolutely horrible representative to world Jewry of what Jewish identity means. Hardly anyone outside Israel sees Israel as an arbiter of what Judaism should be or should become. Israel has warped Judaism & what has happened to our religion there is a shande. I don’t care whether Jewish population has increased. Of course it has increased. Haredi families are having 15 children while secular families are having 1 or 2 or emigrating altogether. That you leaves you with an Israel where Judaism is more and more dominated by fanatics. So no, Israel is no beacon of light to world Jewry, while the U.S. is.

            Other than that I have absolutely no interest in talking about the issue of assimilation, intermarriage or any such dreck. What an utter waste of time. Don’t you have anything better to do like make peace with your neighbors w/o worrying about whether there are going to be Jews here in 10 yrs. or 100???

            No more on this subject. It’s done.

            Palestinians but they’ve just came out of the last intifada.

            Last Intifada? You mean the one that ended 8 yrs ago? Do you even know what you’re talking about?

            How would it diffuse the situation with Hezbollah? Iran? Syria?

            Every dispute w. Israel’s Arab neighbors is bound up w every other one. If the IP conflict is resolved all the others would be resolvable in much easier fashion.

        3. “<i“most” of world Jewry already lives in Israel, thanks mostly to the high rate of assimilation in Western countries (about 70% a year in USA).”

          Are you seriously suggesting that by assimilating into the society in which they live Jews relinquish their right to be part of “world Jewry”? I find that to be utter rubbish. Virtually all of the Jews I have known from Baghdad to San Francisco, religious and secular, are well assimilated and in their daily lives indistinguishable from other members of society. Some, including Jews in and from Arab countries, have intermarried. Still they identify comfortably as Jews. What right have you to suggest that are no longer part of “world Jewry” simply because they have chosen to also be part of their larger society?

      2. Gene: You are so wrong about the relationship of most Jews to Israel. It IS important. For many of them very important. In fact, I wouldn’t be writing this blog if it weren’t for my relationship w. Israel. So really you speak for yrself and a minority of world Jewry in yr claims on this matter. Is it the MOST important thing for these Jews? Probably not. But important? Yes. For many, very.

        As for why Jews need a homeland, the reasons for that are self-evident & you were disingenous in not recognizing this in yr comment.

        1. I wasn’t being disingenuous. I merely omitted stating the obvious. But what kind of a homeland can it be? If it had been created as one-state Palestine, a home for Jews and Palestinians as Buber and Magnus (?) had envisioned it, then yes. But today? Even Israelis are deserting it faster than immigrants arriving, many not Jews at all.

          I empathize with your position, Richard, and I wouldn’t be commenting on your blog if I didn’t think you were sincere and important. But don’t expect me to agree with everything put out here. Especially some of m fellow commenters.

          1. If it had been created as one-state Palestine, a home for Jews and Palestinians as Buber and Magnus (?) had envisioned it…

            And the Balfour Declaration! In fact, it is that aspect of this historic document that made it less than perfect for the Zionists. Somehow they managed to overcome that limitation and turn a document that endorsed merely a Jewish homeland that did not violate the status and rights of the existing majority non-Jewish population into a document that validated their quest for a full-fledged state that utterly disregarded the rights of the non-Jewish indigenous population, and justified ethnic cleansing by a largely illegal immigrant European Jewish group.

      3. witness the number of secular atheists among its population

        Consider the fact that Zionism was a secular, not a religious movement many of whose leaders were atheists.

  2. On the bright side, Now the U.S should be certain there’s no one to talk to in Israel.

    There’s a lot to be said for certainty – especially since it didn’t end up costing the U.S a cent. Perhaps they originally offered so much in order to prove Bibi’s bluff.

    1. Yes, it’s great the U.S. lost nothing this time. Israel is the only one gaining more and more Palestinian land.

      And Palestinians have suffered the greatest loss of all in time, decades hoping for nothing, freedom, rights, homes, land, livelihood, and human treasure over nothing but a charade.

      1. Wait and see. Palestinians and Israelis have suffered for 40 (or 60) years – 1 month is not a long time to wait to see what the Obama’s administration’s next step will be.

        Hopefully the crazy republicans you guys have over there won’t further tie his hands up.

        Akiva Eldar has a rather optimistic view of this “next step” – let’s hope he’s right:

        http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/news/obama-s-show-of-strength-against-netanyahu-1.329404

        1. I really object to your equation of Palestinian and Israeli suffering. The overwhelming majority of Israelis have not suffered at all, especially relative to the suffering, dispossession and loss they have inflicted daily on Palestinians, including their own less equal fellow citizens, for nearly a century.

  3. I look for George Mitchell to announce shortly that he must reluctantly resign for “personal reasons”. And of course, he would also like to spend more time with his grandchildren.

  4. Some South American countries Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay have issued statements recognizing an independent state along the pre-67 borders. 104 countries now recognize this state.

    Obviously this means very little with 500,000 settlers illegally occupying Palestinian land. It’s a moral victory however, but I’m not sure where it could lead with the reality of illegal settlements.

    What might work however is if the PA disbands and Israel is saddled with the responsibility of millions of Palestinians and global pressure especially by those 104 countries to restore full rights to these people.

    But will Israel do the right thing even under pressure? And what will happen to Gaza?

    This is a bad situation all around. I know what will work; the same strategy that worked in South Africa, BDS, but I fear that Israel’s proxies will put pressure on many governments to make it illegal.

    Palestinians deserve to have their rights, dignity, land and homes restored and everyone should rally around their cause. We cannot allow Israel to inflict even more suffering on these people.

    1. The world never recognized the annexation of the Baltic states after WWII. They reemerged as independent states in the 1990s.

      The majority in Israel will abandon the settlement movement if the rest of the world imposes economic sanctions against Israel. That is an eventuality that the US cannot prevent in the long run, and it is very likely to happen now that the talks have collapsed.

  5. Hey, if anyone is out there collecting unemployment, don’t be selfish now! Instead of wasting that money on “bills” and “food”, donate it to the lovely State of Israel, a bastion of Democracy and American values in the Middle East, where a lot of scary brown people are.

    And before you feed your children, think of Avigdor Lieberman, who’s stomach is grumbling because it’s half an hour past his lunch time.

    Call your congressman, and make sure they drop American affairs to pass resolutions in support of Israel, who’s number one export is arms. Make sure our strings on US Aid (conditioned so that if an aid recipient produces WMDs, the aid must stop), written and ratified into United States Law, are completely ignored so we can continue to give 3 billion a year to a country smaller than NJ, which they intend to divide in half!

    I agree with you, Richard, that this was very expected. Several factors may have led to this, but ultimately, I believe, it has everything to do with current Presidency being all a sham. What many people are seeing now is the nightmare of reality: that no matter who gets voted into office, they are working on the same agenda — one uncontrolled by Americans, but rather pushed by powerful special interest groups and the Military Industrial Complex.

    Where’s that champion Iraqi shoe hurler when you need him the most?

  6. From reading this blog over the last few months I get the impression that you assume that US administrations really support and understand the Palestinian cause, but simply don’t have the leadership qualities to push this understanding through, or have their hands tied by some monolithic Jewish lobby that prevents them from doing what they really believe in.

    Well, I differ. I think the fact that so many administrations have (sometimes blindly) supported Israel’s policies points to the fact that they ACTUALLY support Israel, and any criticism they may have expressed (like on settlements) is only lip-service for outside consumption.

    Of course Obama would love to be the peace broker, as did all those who preceded him, but he boesn’t really want a settlement freeze any more than Bibi.

    The peace talks break down or don’t even start because both sides are stubborn and non-flexible. The was a 10 month freeze – did anything happen from the Palestinian side ? No! The PA arrested tens of Hamas “terrorists” – did anything happen from the Israeli side? No!

    None of the sides really want negotiations as neither leader want’s to be the one to return conquered territory or to give up rights to territory in a compromise solution. Both sides seem content to carry on the conflict until a solution is imposed by outside sources – but no outside source is willing to take on this role.

    Hence stalemate, agreed to by the silence or impotence of Israel, Palestine, the US and the UN.

    Everyone “knows” that the final agreement “should be” 67 borders, 2 states and refugee solutions, but no leader actually wants this solution. So by default the solution will be one state, and eventually the West Bank Palestians will get their rights, but all in time.

    Someone once said that everyone gets the leaders they deserve.

    1. Well I’ll be damned. Who would have believed it? shmuel has (almost) taken the words right out of my mouth. I would add only one thing, differing from Richard: Richard, like Katrina vanden Huevel over at Nation, believes that if only Obama would stand up against the Israelis and the oligarchy more firmly, something could be accomplished. Unfortunately, as I have long professed, Obama is a tool of the oligarchy and an Uncle Tom to those who hoped for some change. He has no intention of going against the mafia he really works for. I do agree with Richard about his predictions for war within 12 months. I would say even sooner, with Iran as the principal adversary.

      “Ye who enter these gates, give up all hope.”

    2. You wrote:

      “The peace talks break down or don’t even start because both sides are stubborn and non-flexible. The was a 10 month freeze – did anything happen from the Palestinian side ? No! The PA arrested tens of Hamas “terrorists” – did anything happen from the Israeli side? No!

      None of the sides really want negotiations as neither leader want’s to be the one to return conquered territory or to give up rights to territory in a compromise solution.”

      – First of all Palestinians have been complying not only with the security part of the deal but are no longer resorting to violent resistance. Secondly, the above statement appears to contradict your following statement:

      “Everyone “knows” that the final agreement “should be” 67 borders, 2 states and refugee solutions, but no leader actually wants this solution.”

      since above you imply that Palestinians do no want to give up rights to territory and below you imply that everyone knows the pre-67 borders and a refugee solution are what is required, BUT the Palestinians are willing to go along with this. So therefore only one side rejects peace and that’s the Israeli side because only land that it’s not entitled to that is illegally theirs at this time matters to that side.

      I disagre with this: “Someone once said that everyone gets the leaders they deserve.” Israelis have the leaders they deserve because it’s obvious they voted a majority that doesn’t want to give up the West Bank and EJ.

      The Palestinians have been imposed by the U.S. and Israel a leader, Abbas, that they no longer trust and who no longer represents them and whose term expired and who stands in the way of the leader Palestinians really want. And one more thing Israel stands in the way of Palestinians having a leader that will unite Fatah and Hamas supporters, Barghouti, whom Israel is holding in prison, because the last thing Israel wants is a strong leader for Palestinians. So the Pals don’t have the leader they want or deserve thanks to Israel meddling in their affairs.

      The only statement I agree with 100% is this one: “So by default the solution will be one state, and eventually the West Bank Palestians will get their rights, but all in time.”

      1. Correction: I don’t agree 100%. I take exception to “but all in time”. Palestinians have waited decades for their rights to be respected and no one should have to wait even a minute or an hour to have their rights respected. Palestinians deserve to have their rights restored immediately because we live in a world governed by the rule of law and no one not even Israel should be above the law.

        1. Kalea – by your thinking the peace talks are doomed, Abbas is not the elected Palestinian leader, and even should he sign a 2 state solution agreement it won’t be accepted by the P people as he has no right to sign!

          So what will\should happen to prevent the P’s suffering “even a minute”?

          The only way is to be practable and deal with what there is – Abbas and Bibi, and not dream of what there isn’t and won’t be, Barghouti and Barak (or other failures).

          He who said “you may say I’m a dreamer” (lennon) has long been gone, it’s time for “tachlis” (real action)

          1. oh and since when do we live in a world “governed by the rule of law”? – which world do you live in?

          2. oh and since when do we live in a world “governed by the rule of law”? – which world do you live in?

            You may live in a country only marginally governed by the rule of law. But others of us like to think that most of the time our countries are governed by the rule of law.

          3. Lennon was killed on the 8th of December 1980, i.e. 30 years ago today.
            If dreaming has long been gone, as far as Israel is concerned, the Israeli should study some Roman history, particularly reflect on the use of “Memento Mori”.

    3. The peace talks break down or don’t even start because both sides are stubborn and non-flexible

      That is categorically and demonstrably nonsense. The Palestinians have demonstrated their flexibility over and over again while the Israelis have shown themselves to be consistently and caculatedly intransigent. The fact that the Palestinians have certain red lines that the Israelis insist upon crossing in every interaction does not make it a “both sides are stubborn and inflexible” situation at all.

      1. “That is categorically and demonstrably nonsense. The Palestinians have demonstrated their flexibility over and over again while the Israelis have shown themselves to be consistently and caculatedly intransigent. The fact that the Palestinians have certain red lines that the Israelis insist upon crossing in every interaction does not make it a “both sides are stubborn and inflexible” situation at all.”

        No, this is nonsense. The stubborness on BOTH sides is just another word for “red lines”. The Palestinian’s red line is freezing all settlement, and the Israeli’s is freezing in East Jerusalem. This is intransigent and designed to torpedo the talks as NEITHER side really wants to talk peace for fear of being “too weak” and actually compromising on something.

        1. The stubborness on BOTH sides

          Sorry, but Shirin is right on this. The rejectionism is almost wholly on the Israeli side. There is none fr. the PA except that it stubbornly wishes to prevent Israel fr. stealing more & more of its lands in East Jerusalem & elsewhere which prejudges & precludes a fair settlement. Tell me how you would feel if the shoe was on the other foot & it was your land & yr homes encroached upon by creeping Palestinian annexation, land theft & settlement. If you wanted your own state & Palestine ruined it w. every action it took that involved you, how would you react?

          So don’t talk to me about who’s torpedoing the talks. It’s Israel. Patently self evident to any fair observer.

          1. If what you say is correct that it is the Israelis who are preventing the talks moving ahead, then Abba Eben was right when he said that the Palestinians never miss a chance to miss a chance.
            Who gains by the Palestinian’s standing on principle and not negotiating without a total freeze on settlements? Israel, of course, who keep on building whether negotiating or not with the Palestinians, and thereby making the eventual pullback even less likely or less territory eventually handed over.
            If the Palestinians put more into being clever rather than being right they would already be living in their own State and negotiating the final agreement.
            But Shirin and co. prefer to bemoan the situation instead of taking what you can when you can.
            Remember Khartoum in 1967 (I think) with the three big “noes” to Israel (Recognition, negotiation, peace) – if only then they hadn’t stood on principle but had accepted pre-67 Israel the Palestinians would be celebrating their 43rd Independence day this year (with or without Jordan).

          2. If what you say is correct that it is the Israelis who are preventing the talks moving ahead, then Abba Eben was right when he said that the Palestinians never miss a chance to miss a chance.

            Say what? Something doesn’t follow. If the Israelis are at fault for the talks failing then ipso facto it is NOT the Palestinians who are at fault for missing an opportunity. But rather it’s your friends who are.

            Who gains by the Palestinian’s standing on principle…

            There’s something you’re not understanding here. It’s not as if the Palestinians would come to the table w. no preconditions & successfully negotiate a settlement & get their state. If you believe this then you’re incredibly naive. Bibi & pals don’t want a settlement & don’t want a Palestinian state. If the Palestinians do come to the table w. no preconditions Bibi will find another excuse to cause the talks to fail. Of this there can be no doubt among reasonable people.

            If the Palestinians put more into being clever

            And you think the Israelis are clever? How insulting that term is. When it came to clever God missed Israel, at least in terms of being clever about their own self interest.

            taking what you can when you can.

            So you think it’s worthwhile for the Palestinians to “take what they can get?” Excuse me, but last I checked you weren’t their negotiator and aren’t even Palestinian. So you come by this special understanding of Palestinians’ true interests how? When reporters came to Norman Thomas, a perennial Socialist Party presidential candidate, during the New Deal and asked him: “Aren’t you proud of all of your political agenda which FDR has carried out?” THomas replied: “Carried out? Carried out on a stretcher, you mean!”

            In other words, taking 10% of a loaf is not very attractive to Palestinians, & for good reason. So they say: “Thanks but no thanks.” And I don’t blame ’em.

            if only then they hadn’t stood on principle but had accepted pre-67 Israel the Palestinians would be celebrating their 43rd Independence day this year

            What stupid nonsense repeated by all yr hasbarist friends times beyond measure. What of the Israeli lost opportunities? What of Golda refusing Sadat’s offer to negotiate the return of Sinai, which led to the horrendous Israeli losses of the 1973 War? What of Olmert & Sharon’s refusal to consider the Saudi Peace Initiative? And of Olmert & Bibi’s refusal to accept Assad’s olive branch peace offering?

            Puh-leeze, don’t make me ill w. yr nonsense. For every Palestinian or Arab error I can point to 3 by Israel.

  7. I’m just waiting for the announcement that Israel will get the fighter jets, the security guarantees and whathaveyou nonetheless…

  8. Nice piece that makes me wonder.
    Has Israel turned the table on its colonial sponser?
    Has America lost it soverightyto the Jewish state?

  9. You don’t need to be a professional negotiator like me to figure out that the intent of Israel specifically was far from a meeting of the minds. The fact remains that the mere condition that Israel get to the table with clean hands, so that they may negotiate in good faith, was too much for Netanyahu and Lieberman, who feared striking a freeze deal and completely ruining their right-wing Knesset coalition. Instead, you get a lot of lip service from Ehud Barak about F-35s and such, a “gentleman’s deal” with Hillary Clinton (mind you, this verbiage probably got her EXTRA teed off), when Clinton refutes that such a deal ever happened.

    The expectancy is that Israel undo its double standards and finally become a good faith negotiation partner, especially in regards to making peace with its close regional neighbors, and of long-term importance, the outlying regional countries, Turkey and Iran.

    Allow me to take the liberty of exposing one of these such double standards with historical facts:

    ISRAEL IS THE BIGGEST PRODUCER OF “TERRORISM” IN THE MIDDLE EAST!

    Israel labels Hamas and Hezbollah as the biggest “terrorist” threats against its illegal occupation and illegal settlements. However, Israel also is the reason that these organizations exist.

    FACT: Hamas was upstarted and funded initially by Israel as a counterweight to Yasser Arafat. They were toying with Palestinian politics and this is what they got.

    FACT: Hezbollah is a resistance organization that was borne out of a very long and illegal occupation of Lebanon by Israel.

    FACT: No US interests were EVER attacked before Israel became our “stalwart ally” (for reasons no American can pinpoint precisely) by Arabs or Muslims for “terrorism”.

    FACT: Michael Chertoff, an Israeli-American, is a dual citizen who ran our homeland security. His mother was the first stewardess of the infamous Gitmo in the air, El Al airlines. He brings us such wonders as the Chertoff Security Group Body Scan Devices, which were necessary only after his former department failed to fulfill its most fundamental mandate. When the TSA opt-out made news, El Al security consultants were touting Israeli security on CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, etc.

    Question: Who wants to live in that police state? Who wants to live like they do under the constant threat of “terror”?

    Question: How come Canadians aren’t subject to 9/11s?

    Answer:
    The United States must divest from Israel to save or troops in Afghanistan and Iraq from further risk and our “homeland security”. The current status quo does substantial harm to all members of the region and is deleterious to any prospects of peace. The US and Israel are acting like hot-tempered war mongers, refusing to adhere to facts and reality, eliminating the sense of social justice everywhere, as they try to strong arm nearly everyone under the Sun.

  10. So, the consensus is that this one is going to be a real bitch to put to bed.

    If President Obama, Hillary Clinton, George Mitchell, Tony Blair, The Quartet, The Quintet, The Sextet and whoever else has their fingers in this particular pie, cannot demonstrate even a fraction of the amount of real leadership that the situation so desperately warrants, then I would agree that war, in one form or another, is the likely outcome.

    As I’ve said before, there is no dynamic in what’s happening on the peace front; just the same old restating of everyone’s position and a wholesale inability to look much beyond the present set-up. There is no one willing to risk making the first move (cf. Shmuel); so nothing does move. Barak O has tried to grease the rails by virtue of certain inducements to Israel; it did seem a desperate ploy at the time and now even that has been rescinded. The Secretary of State’s new outline on U.S. strategy vis-a-vis the Middle East is to be revealed this Friday. If it has anything to offer other than a watered-down rehash of what’s gone before then I, for one, will be most surprised.

    If the Great and the Good remain unable to crack this particular nut; if the Strong and the Weak seem equally powerless, then that only leaves the Bad. And their input, it must be assumed, can do nothing but compound the problem even further.

    So, is there any way to remedy the matter? No? Nothing? Really?

    Then all we are left with is the problem itself.

    Can we look to it for a solution? Since everyone and everything else has been tried and found wanting, it might just be worth checking out that possibility before the next big and bloody phase of this saga starts up.

    Well, if you can think of anything better to do, please tell. But don’t be too long about it. There is the distinct feeling that time, as ever, is fast running out here.

    Still, there is always the possibility that Hillary will have the answer on Friday. Now wouldn’t that be something?

  11. Richard, you predict a war within 12 months. This is something I don’t understand. Sure, this failure will increase tensions with the Palestinians but they’ve just came out of the last intifada. I doubt they have the strength for another one within a year.

    As for Lebanon, Syria or Iran – suppose a miracle would have happened and true everlasting peace with the Palestinians would have been signed – How would it diffuse the situation with Hezbollah? Iran? Syria?

  12. the Palestinians…’ve just came out of the last intifada.

    Huh?! What on earth are you talking about? The last Intifada was what, seven or eight years ago?

    Lebanon, Syria, and Iran each have their own very legitimate grievances with Israel. It is up to Israel to ease those situations by changing its behavior. If Israel withdrew from Sheb`a farms, stopped its daily violations of Lebanon’s sovereign territory, including its regular overflights and ground incursions, Hezballah would turn its efforts away from opposition to the Israeli threat. If Israel were to reach a satisfactory agreement with Syria regarding its illegal and illegitimate colonization of Syrian sovereign land in the Golan, Syria would have no more beef with Israel, and would readily make peace. If Israel would stop threatening Iran, things would quiet down considerably there, and if Israel would withdraw from occupied territory in accordance with UNSC 242, and stop attacking and threatening its neighbors no one would have any real problems with Israel. Israel’s best move would be to sign onto and comply with the Arab League peace proposal which has been on the table constantly for seven or eight years now. Of course, that would mean Israel’s accepting as its permanent and official borders some approximation of the Green Line, and it is clear that Israel does not want that kind of limitation on its expansionist and aggressive policies.

    1. The last suicide bombing in Israel was in 2008. I count that as the end of the Intifada. “Normal” life in the occupied territories is barely back to pre- Defensive Shield levels in terms of civil liberties for Palestinians. What about the economy? GDP? GDP per capita? Unemployment?

      “If Israel withdrew from Sheb`a farms, stopped its daily violations of Lebanon’s sovereign territory, including its regular overflights and ground incursions, Hezballah would turn its efforts away from opposition to the Israeli threat”.

      I seriously doubt that would be the outcome. Hezbollah’s sole purpose is fighting Israel. It has done so from day one. It’s status in Lebanese society, at least among the Shi’a, is based on it’s “heroic struggle”. This organization draws popular support from it’s militaristic intent.

      If Israel does as you suggest, Hezbollah’s reply would be to find another territorial claim or some other reason to perpetuate hostilities if only to justify it’s own existence.

      1. One suicide bombing does not an Intifada make. The 2nd Intifada ended by most accounts including Yediot’s Sever Plocker in 2004.

        Hezbollah’s sole purpose is fighting Israel.

        What really irks me about some Israelis is their absolute ignorance about what motivates various Arab groups. Hezbollah began as a movement opposing Israel’s invasion of Lebanon. But today it is much, much more. It is the 2nd largest political movement in Lebanon. As such it derives support fr. far more than its opposition to Israel. And if Israel gives Lebanon & Hezbollah no further reason to fight by resolving territorial claims & releasing prisoners, Hezbollah will transform fr what it is now–a political-military movement into a purely political one. This is as plain as the eye can see to anyone viewing the Lebanese political landscape rationally. You are not rational.

        1. Richard – I think you’re rather optimistic to assume so easily that Hezbollah will relinquish its military arm if Israel relinquishes the Sheb’a disputed territories. My reading of the situation is that the sheb’a farms, altogether 7 sq. km. of smuggling grounds, is by no means the root of the conflict, but rather the excuse to continue the dispute with Israel in spite of the fact that the UN agreed that Israel returned to the armistice lines. It’s not as if Israel uses these 7 km for anything (except for arresting smugglers).

          Nasrallah has many times stated his support of the Palestinian cause and by no way limits his conflict with Israel to the return of Sheb’a, but rather to a comprehensive solution of the conflict.

          And let’s see what happens if and when the Hariri murder report gets released in full and see maybe Hezbollah’s true face? Where’s Wikileak when we really need it?

          1. My reading of the situation is that the sheb’a farms, altogether 7 sq. km. of smuggling grounds, is by no means the root of the conflict

            However long you’ve lived in the Middle East & you can still say w. a straight face there is a conflict that is NOT rooted in land claims? The entire Israeli Arab conflict is rooted in land claims as is the dispute bet. Lebanon & Israel. There is also the matter of hundreds of Lebanese prisoners held in Israeli jails which is no small thing too. But territory is a BIG factor.

            There’s a rule about insurgencies & conflagrations in general: when you remove the fuel there can be no fire. Remove the land dispute, return the prisoners, reconcile w. Syria by returning Golan & you leave Hezbollah nothing to fight for even if it wanted to. Movements have to resonate with a constituency because of their agenda. If you remove the major portions of Hezbollah’s agenda it will have no choice but to become a purely political force.

            I don’t care what the UN did or didn’t say about Shebaa Farms. It’s still in Israeli hands & even Israel acknowledges it has no right to it. Give it back.

            let’s see what happens if and when the Hariri murder report gets released in full and see maybe Hezbollah’s true face?

            Just as we’ll see Israel’s true face when its first general and defense minister are brought to the Hague. Won’t be too long now. History has a way of turning on the rapaciously powerful.

  13. As for the comment about war in the next year – I think it is possible, but I don’t believe it will have anything to do with the break down of the ‘peace process.’

    With the situation deteriorating between the Lebanon gov’t and Hezbollah, it is possible that there could be some flair of violence to Israel’s north as Hezbollah tries to maintain support after the STL (2006 war earned the group plenty of popular support). Of course, this might lead Syria to war as well.

    As for Iran and Gaza I am really not sure that there will be a war soon. There really is no reason for Israel to attack Hamas. The only aggression coming from Gaza is a couple of rockets that do very little damage. A second attack on Gaza would not achieve much and result in far too much international pressure. I can’t imagine Israel moving into the strip again soon. For Iran, I suppose that Israel could attack the nuclear facilities, but I imagine that Obama is trying everything to avoid a war there (as if he could convince Bibi of anything….)

    So there could be war in Lebanon, but it would have nothing to do with what is happening in Israel.

  14. It goes without saying that what we have here is a big, bad situation and chipping away at it day by day only allows it time to grow and become more and more dominant.
    There must come a point when what’s got to be said is: ‘thus far and no further.’ Otherwise, it will roll straight on, doing its thing without a care in the world and those unfortunate enough to be in its path will have to move fast. Or end up not moving at all. It’s been a long business too, one which has been with us for some three generations or thereabouts.

    Big problem; big picture. And it’s this picture that needs to be seen, to sense, to be fully aware of.

    An old maxim comes to mind; ‘ the big battalions, in general, always win out over the smaller ones.’
    Well, the majority of human beings on the planet are the BIG battalions here. The small ones, the very small ones, are those who, for various reasons of their own, have no interest in a negotiated settlement nor a permanent peace.

    So, why haven’t the big battalions prevailed over the small battalions in all this time?
    Maybe we just don’t realise how big we can really be when push finally comes to shove.

    There are billions of us; only a few thousand of the others. I just can’t believe we don’t have the balls to stand our ground against this motley collection of some very dubious characters.
    After all, it’s not as if we’re married to them, is it?

    We have the size, we have the moral authority and we’ve got reason enough to do what’s necessary.
    But, do we know what’s necessary? That may be our problem. There has never been any overall plan of action, no blueprint to follow. We appear to be making it up as we go along. No wonder six decades have passed with little or no result. We just don’t know how BIG battalions are supposed to operate. That’s why the whole thing is taking so long.

    I think it’s high time we found out. Because I seriously doubt we’ll have another six decades to ponder the matter.

    21/12/2012 ; tick-tock.

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