There are a number of shibboleths U.S. and Israeli officials repeat endlessly as if doing so might make them come true. This one is from Hillary Clinton:
“The only way of getting a lasting solution is through direct negotiations between the parties, and the route to that lies in Jerusalem and Ramallah, not in New York.”
But is there any truth in this claim? What has direct negotiation achieved for the Palestinians in the past decade or more? Nothing. Why does Clinton have any confidence that a Palestinian return to negotiations would achieve anything for them? She offers no evidence to support this claim. Why? Because of Bibi Netanyahu (and before him Ehud Olmert). Israel simply isn’t prepared to negotiate in good faith. Sure Israel will negotiate on its terms and possibly agree to a sham (for the Palestinians) settlement that gave it virtually all it sought and the Palestinians virtually nothing. That’s what was proposed during the Olmert years as shown by the Palestine Papers published by Al Jazeera.
Another shibboleth, this one articulated by former IDF chief of staff and Kadima MK, Shaul Mofaz:
…The EU should not back a Palestinian unilateral declaration of state as this would only engender “another round of violence.”
The argument–and an incredibly condescending one it is, as it presumes Israel and the west can divine Palestinian motivations–is that Palestinian hope will expand at the prospect of statehood granted by the UN. But when such hopes are dashed and Palestinians see how little it has actually achieved for them, they will turn to a third Intifada out of frustration. This in turn will bring waves of strikes and violence which Israel will be forced to crush with force, thus setting the peace process back even farther than it was before the statehood bid began.
The fallacy of this claim is that no one knows, and certainly not U.S. and Israeli policymakers who’ve proven they are the most tone-deaf in understanding Palestinian interests, what the outcome of the statehood bid will be, and how it will impact public opinion in Palestine. Most Palestinians are exceedingly pragmatic and patient. They understand that their leadership cannot deliver full statehood on a silver platter all at once. I seriously doubt there will be such mass uprisings when so-called despair sets in.
On the other hand, there is a party which would gain immensely if there was such violence: Israel, and specifically its far right government. They want no settlement with the Palestinians and violence plays into their hands. If there is no such violence it would not at all be above Israel to provoke it. Targeted assassinations in the West Bank or Gaza, bombing of Gaza tunnels and killing workers inside them, all of these would ratchet up tensions to the boiling point and set off the sort of mass violence the U.S. and Israel feign they fear. The fact that the IDF has stockpiled weapons and sanctioned vigilante patrols for “self-defense” is also deeply alarming. The Israeli media is also replete with IDF announcements that it is readying military units for service should there be an uprising. This is also adding tinder to the situation, for where soldiers sit idle, there will be generals seeking a reason to fight.
Israel has done this before. This was how the first and second Intifadas began: one with Ariel Sharon traipsing through the sacred grounds of the Temple Mount; and the IDF southern commander Tzvika Fogel attesting that the army played its part in provoking the second Intifada. And of course, Operation Cast Lead was preceded by Israel breaking the Gaza ceasefire by bombing the Egypt tunnels and killing a number of Hamas activists in the process. Of course, it takes two to tango and the Palestinians play along with retaliatory missiles, etc. But as Israel is far stronger militarily, the onus lies on it when it comes to provocation.
In truth, I worry that the violence will arise from the Israeli side. Either it will react to a Bilin-type peaceful protest with massive force as it did along the Lebanon and Syrian borders. Or it will provoke such violence with the type of provocation I outlined above. Either way, this is what could light the tinderbox. We could see scores, if not hundreds dead. Israel would look upon the Palestinian dead in mock horror and say: “Look what they made us do to them.” Then the world might blame the statehood bid for the violence. This is for Bibi a notion devoutly to be wished for.
The problem with this scenario is that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is no longer easily managed by Israel with its U.S. handlers. Now, all the countries liberated by the Arab Spring will be watching. And especially Turkey will be watching. Its leader has signaled it will no longer be business as usual and that his nation sees a vested interest in settling this conflict. So if Israel wants to go about killing Palestinians, it will no longer face a few hundred Qassam missiles in reply. Instead, it will face a nation whose population, military and economy is many times larger than Israel.
This is a new ballgame for Israel. It’s always succeeded, with a few exceptions, in dividing and conquering its Arab enemies. And there has never been any Arab-Muslim power that was decidedly stronger than Israel. Those days are rapidly coming to an end. The only question is whether Israel will recognize this, trim its sails, and avoid a confrontation; or whether it will have to be taught a lesson before it recognizes the new limitations.
Of course, I’m outlining what I think the new realities are. It remains to be seen how this will play out. Some or most of what I foresee could happen. Or it could happen differently. But I doubt it will happen much differently.
What is truly annoying about the role the U.S. is playing in all this is that serves as the stereo speakers and amplifier of Israel’s far-right government. In not a single way is Obama’s “policy” out of sync with the Netanyahu government. We know Obama hates this guy’s guts. We know Obama supports a two state solution. We know Obama opposes settlements. But alas, we also know that Obama doesn’t have the guts for a fight. So instead he runs along in the shadow of big brother, Bibi. It’s shameful when you think of it. A major failure of will. And all to get re-elected. In order to serve a second term, in which he will squander his possibilities as he squandered them in his first term.
In his article ‘Dogs of War’ Uri Avneri gives a chilling account of what happened last time there were demonstrations against the occupation:
“After the first intifada, which was considered a Palestinian success story (and brought about the Oslo agreement), our army diligently prepared for the second one. The chosen instruments were sharpshooters.
The second (“al-Aqsa”) intifada started after the breakdown of the 2000 Camp David conference and Ariel Sharon’s deliberately provocative “visit” to the Temple Mount. The Palestinians held non-violent mass demonstrations. The army responded with selective killings.
A sharpshooter accompanied by an officer would take position in the path of the protest, and the officer would point out selected targets – protesters who looked like “ringleaders”. They were killed.
This was highly effective. Soon the non-violent demonstrations ceased and were replaced by very violent (“terrorist”) actions. With those the army was back on familiar ground.”
I am afraid this is what will be tried again.
What have changed are the regional and global popular attitudes towards this conflict.
With public opinion gaining more weight in the Arab world (most importantly, but not only, in Egypt), with Palestinians better trained in non-violent resistance and with global public awareness more exposed to instant non-mainstream media, Palestinian blood might be considered not as cheap as it used to be.
Right, Yossi Tabaja and Madhad Yosef were killed by those peaceful demonstrators before things got violent….
And the precursor to Operation Cast Lead – what an ugly phrase for an ugly event – was an intent by Israel to provoke Hamas into a response. If they had not responded there would have been more provocation as we have seen many times before. The attack on Hamas leaders was on US Election Day 2008 when the media were otherwise occupied. Even the Israelis (in the shape of the squirming Mark Regev) grudgingly acknowledged that Hamas had launched no rockets in 4 months prior to that. But Olmert wanted to appear tough to the Israeli electorate and so 1400 Palestinians had to die.
Maybe the Palestinians did play their part but I doubt whether anything they did or did not do would have changed the outcome.
Richard Silverstein says
The term “Cast Lead” actually comes from a beautiful children’s poem about Hanukah in which Chaim Nachman Bialik, Israel’s great national poet talks of a dreidel made out of “cast lead.” It’s the war that was ugly & appropriated this wonderful phrase & trampled it in the dirt of war.
(Turkey being) “a nation whose population, military and economy is many times larger than Israel”
It’s easy to size a population – one, relatively stable, quantity.
Its harder to evaluate an economy with multiple, fast changing, quantities and qualities.
Its even harder to appreciate military strengths where multiple, fast changing, quantities and qualities are often unknown and/or subject to elaborate misinformation.
Today’s Turkey’s major advantage over Israel lies with the personal strength and calculated purposefulness of its even-minded leadership.
“Today’s Turkey’s major advantage over Israel lies with the personal strength and calculated purposefulness of its even-minded leadership.”
No, it’s major advantage is that its military could beat the snot out of the IDF without really raising a sweat.
Yehh, especially when you consider the old equipment used by the Turkish air-force. Old F4’s Old F5’s mostly old F16’s.
Beat the snot ? using what ?
Old F5’s ? old F4’s ? maybe the old F16’s ?
Since the turks would have to fight away from Turkish land, they will be depended on their Air-Force, and they do not stand a chance.
They have the third largest Air Force in NATO and that includes 240+ F-16s. Nearly all of them are the latest block 50s. The overwhelming majority of Israel’s fighters are F-16s too. The IAF isn’t brand-new or invisible either, and your runways aren’t moving targets. So the IAF would certainly have their hands full and some of the neighbors, like Hezbollah just might join-in too.
You should quit smoking.
Most of the F-16’s the TAF operates are block 15/30/40, The Turks started upgrading their equipment to the Block 50 standard, they completed 32 or 36 if i’t not mistaken, out of 232 that’s a small number.
Furthermore, Erdogan can’t afford to attack Israel or Cyprus, he will be thrown out of NATO faster then he can say “Kemal Ataturk”.
He is riding a tiger at the moment, he will soon fall of its back.
Turkey manufactures its own F-16s and has been upgrading everything to Block 50s for quite some time.
It doesn’t really make any difference, because any model of the F-16 can take out Israel’s runways and hangers and the Turks have more than enough aircraft to get through Israel’s defenses.
FYI, NATO is on its last legs. Neither the EU nor the US have the appetite to make up their funding shortfalls and keep it running in its current form. They could barely overcome their institutional problems long enough to address the Libya operation. DoD Secretary Gates rebuked the EU partners throughout his term for not doing enough, and they were completely unimpressed, e.g. http://blogs.wsj.com/washwire/2011/06/10/transcript-of-defense-secretary-gatess-speech-on-natos-future/
Richard Silverstein says
I don’t think so. The IDF may not be as imposing as it once was, but it will put up a very big fight if challenged & hurt the Turks if it ever came to that.
The IDF may not be as imposing as it once was, but it will put up a very big fight if challenged & hurt the Turks if it ever came to that.
Perhaps, but the IDF strategy depends on taking the war to the enemies territory right away and short lines of communication. It has never taken-on a first-class air force. The Turks have employed cluster bombs against the Kurds and Turkish companies like Selex make adequate electronic warfare equipment. I wonder how well equipped the Israelis are to cope with weapons like that? Cluster munitions make launching and recovering aircraft a bitch and can spoil your day when used on targets in ground forces staging areas too. ECW makes air defense a lot more difficult.
Some writer relates the comments of an American General to the effect that the IDF is a 4th rate force that has the advantage of having engaged only 7th grade forces. Any threat from Turkey would make the Zionists crazy with fear — which is why I like the idea, thugh I know I shouldn’t.
Richard Silverstein says
Fear is one thing, actual bloodshed another. Just as there are those inside Israel who relish a fight whether it be with Hamas, Hezbollah, Iran or whomever, we should stand back & acknowledge bloodshed is almost always bad for those we support (even Israel).
IDF is a 4th rate force that has the advantage of having engaged only 7th grade forces
Any country with 200 fighter-bombers can spoil the day of a country with a first rate military, given the right opportunities.
The US really had a war department that we labeled a defense department before 9/11. It’s priorities are still a couple of foreign wars. Geography and non-belligerent neighbors have been our greatest asset.
It never occurs to THESE shibboleth-people that the path to peace might be eased if the USA and EU and others were to require Israel to comply with I/L by removing all 550,000 settlers, demolishing all settlement buildings (homes, meeting places, factories, etc.) and demolishing the wall.
I am ALSO a shibboleth-person. Mine shibboleth is the call for enforcement of I/L.
Here is a link to some of the many territorial disputes that have been settled through international arbitration or adjudication since 1988. None of them were settled through negotiation.
Even supposing that Clinton and the other sibbloleth propagandizers were right about direct negotiation (and plainly they are not), what is the great harm in Palestinian free speech in the UN? How does this “bid” preclude direct negotiations?
It is just newspeak, the debasement of language, the hypocrisy of doing the will of Zionists in America, a “free” country. Both Clinton and Obama should be ashamed of themselves mouthing this stuff: How (and, better, why) do they do it? For re-election? What good is that? Obama has already failed the test many times over: What would lead anyone to think he’d do better with another four years, trembling in the face of the “Jewish Vote” and Jewish funding?
I’ve been thinking about the US and Israeli claims that this action by the PLO represents a unilateral move. Really? Going to the General Assembly of the United Nations, a body of 193 nations, is unilateral? Actually, that sounds like the opposite of unilateral. That sounds like the picture-perfect example of building consensus. An example of unilateral would be if there was one country that used its veto power on the Security Council to override that consensus.
I’ve been collecting silly arguments against the statehood bid. You can see ’em on my site.