NOTE: Middle East Eye has just published my latest article, Unprecedented and combustible: Why the boycott of Al-Aqsa matters. It deals with last week’s attack on the Haram al Sharif and the Muslim boycott of the holy sites.
It hasn’t been a good week for Bibi Netanyahu. A few days ago he left for Europe under a foreboding cloud of scandal concerning a corrupt $10-billion deal for German nuclear submarines. His personal lawyer and another close confidant are accused of offering bribes on behalf of their German client to get the deal. Netanyahu was also being savaged for cozying up to one of his hosts on the trip, Viktor Orban, who attacked Hungarian-American financier, George Soros, using anti-Semitic slurs.
Things only got worse today when reporters heard a live feed of supposedly private remarks Israel’s PM made to a conference of central European leaders. There he unburdened himself of some of the most vicious, unbridled comments he’s ever made. I haven’t been able to find a full transcript of the entire set of remarks. But in piecing together coverage from a number of sources, this is what he said:
The Israeli premier was overheard blasting the EU’s approach to Israel, saying “it’s crazy. I think it’s actually crazy” that the 28-nation bloc maintains that resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict must come before closer trade ties.
“There is no logic here. Europe is undermining its security by undermining Israel. Europe is undermining its progress by undermining the connection with Israeli innovation because of a crazy attempt to create conditions [for peace with the Palestinians].”
Here Netanyahu urges the Europeans to give up their silly obsession with political progress between Israel and the Palestinians. He suggests they divorce politics from commerce and focus solely on the latter. Leave the rest to me, he implies, and all will be fine. Of course, he neglects the fact that the EU believes that the Israel-Palestine conflict is a lit match in a region awaiting a spark to set off a conflagration. Further, it believes that a stable and secure Middle East is in Europe’s best interest. This small detail seems to elude Netanyahu:
”The European Union is the only organization that stipulates its relations with Israel, which provides technology,on political conditions.”
”No one does that. It’s insane. It’s against Europe’s interests,” Netanyahu was heard stating. ”I suggest that first and foremost you help us and Europe speed up [the formation of] agreements with Israel, and that you pass a message to your colleagues in Europe on how to help Europe. Everything [Israel can offer] is at your disposal, in any field,
Netanyahu wasn’t hesitant to play the racist, colonialist card that Israel is the “villa in the jungle,” the last beacon of civilization before entering into the zone of the primitive “Oriental East” (where is Said when you need him!), home of the Muslim hordes:
“We are part of the European culture,” Netanyahu continued. “Europe ends in Israel. East of Israel, there is no more Europe. We have no greater friends than the Christians who support Israel around the world. Not only the evangelists. If I go to Brazil, I’ll be greeted there with more enthusiasm than at the Likud party.”
“The European Union is the only association of countries in the world that conditions the relations with Israel – that produces technology in every area – on political conditions. The only ones. Nobody does it,” Netanyahu said, citing Russia, China and India’s willingness to do business with Israel despite politics.
“So stop attacking Israel. Start supporting Israel … start supporting European economies by doing what the Americans, the Chinese and the Indians are doing,” he said, referring to increasing technological cooperation.
It’s no wonder that the Russians, Chinese and Indians wouldn’t predicate development of trade on progress in human rights…because each of these countries is a major offender on the issue. None of them can afford to, or has any interest in seeing that their commercial partners adhere to human rights covenants, because they themselves don’t. That’s why Netanyahu finds himself in such pleasant company when he deals with the world’s tyrants and dictators. They see the world pretty much as he does.
It’s truly incredible that the leader of a country of 7-million with an economy that is barely a blip on the radar compared to Europe’s overall economic output, has the chutzpah to warn the continent and its ruling body the EU, that it might disappear:
“I think Europe has to decide if it wants to live and thrive or if it wants to shrivel and disappear,” he was quoted as saying by Times of Israel.
“I am not very politically correct. I know that’s a shock to some of you. It’s a joke. But the truth is the truth – both about Europe’s security and Europe’s economic future. Both of these concerns mandate a different policy towards Israel,” the Times of Israel quoted.
Netanyahu also unburdened himself regarding his views about former Pres. Barack Obama comparing him unfavorably to Donald Trump. Note also that the Israeli leader considers the best aspect of the U.S. presence in the Middle East to be our military firepower:
Speaking about the change in US administration, Netanyahu attacked former President Barack Obama. ”We had a big problem with the United States. It’s different now. There’s a renewed American presence in the region and more bombings. That’s positive,” he said, implying that he approved of the new tone set at the White House by US President Donald Trump.
Despite Israel’s continual denial that it is “taking sides” in the Syrian conflict, Netanyahu conceded publicly that Israel has intervened repeatedly on behalf of the Syrian rebels:
“We blocked the border not only in Egypt but in the Golan Heights,” he said. “We built the wall because there was a problem with ISIS and Iran trying to build a terror front there. I told Putin, when we see them transferring weapons to Hezbollah, we will hurt them. We did it dozens of times.”
Though he had said this to Israeli media before, this is the first time his confession has been widely reported outisde Israel.
Israel Continues to Maintain Humanitarian Intent in Syria in Face of Increasing Contradictions
Netanyahu’s unintended candor puts the lie to this bit of Israeli “humanitarian” propaganda. The IDF announced it would open a field hospital to treat Syrian victims of the civil war. It calls this bit of international goodwill, “Operation Good Neighbor.”
Of course, it had no intent to take sides in the conflict nor any political agenda. Israel’s heart is pure and its aim is true:
Fink insisted the operation was motivated purely by humanitarian concerns, he acknowledged that the goodwill it had created could ease tensions down the road and that the “international language of medicine” could lead to a more peaceful future.
The image of Syrians bonding with their Israeli benefactors would have been unthinkable just a short time ago.
Excuse me, but I think I’m going to throw up.
Aron Heller, the reporter writing this piece of swill is an excellent stenographer, as this ludicrous passage makes clear:
Israel has largely stayed out of Syria’s six-year war, wary of being drawn into the fighting.
There are literally hundreds of examples proving this is not so. Not to mention Bibi’s own admission above. Many of these examples have been featured here including Israel’s establishment in the Golan of a camp for the families of al Nusra fighters; IDF commando sorties and raids inside Syria which have killed government-allied fighters; IDF intelligence liaisons with al-Nusra commanders and provision of war matériel to the rebels; almost a score of Israeli air strikes attacking weapons convoys inside Syria; the assassination of Syrian generals, IRG commanders, and Hezbollah senior commanders.
A passage like this one truly touches the heart…until you realize that of the millions of Syrian refugees absorbed by Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan, not a single one has been resettled inside Israel. Not even any of those severely injured al Nusra fighters or their families, which Israel boasts of treating in its hospitals:
At the same time, it has quietly provided humanitarian assistance — treating some 4,000 civilians, including 900 children. That effort has been expanded significantly over the past year to include aiding not only wounded civilians but also ill children needing life-saving medical care. The military says it has provided 450,000 liters of fuel, more than 360 tons of food and 600 meters of pipes to repair ruined water infrastructure. It’s currently building a field hospital on the frontier with advanced medical equipment.
Col. Noam Fink, the chief medical officer of the northern command, said the aid was essential since some 70 percent of Syrian doctors had fled and the country’s medical infrastructure had been destroyed.
“We just cannot stand aside and ignore this,” he said.
Another factor that goes unmentioned: Israel is known for exploiting the medical and material needs of its enemies in order to recruit (or blackmail) spies, agents and intelligence sources. Given that the IDF is providing the medical aid, it’s terribly easy for its AMAN agents to be placed inside the field hospitals where they can identify high value targets. For some odd reason, this important element of Israel’s effort goes unmentioned in the story.
Finally, how can you read about such purity of intent without shedding a tear at Israel’s heartfelt goodwill:
“The only thing they [Syrians caught in the conflict] know about Israel is the stories,” said Col. Barak Hiram, the commander of the regional brigade along the border. “If they decided that the only safe place to run to is the Israeli border, you can imagine how rough it is.”
To assuage their fears, he said the Syrians were welcomed with breakfast and the children greeted by Arabic-speaking clowns. Crates full of beans, wheat, sugar and oil were stacked at a nearby base, ready to be dispatched, alongside incubators, respirators, baby food and diapers.
Hiram said Israel insisted on treating only civilians and had not come into contact with Islamic State and other jihadi militants.
Which is rich, considering numerous news stories over the past few years have documented that Israel treats wounded Syrian rebel fighters, patches them up and sends them back to the battlefield, where they pursue Israel’s regional interest in weakening central government power inside Syria. This in turn permits Israel to dominate the Golan region on both sides of the armistice line. This ensures what Israel believes (erroneously in my view) to be a stable environment on its northern flank.
Silverstein has published Tikun Olam since 2003, It exposes the secrets of the Israeli national security state. He lives in Seattle, but his heart is in the east. He publishes regularly at Middle East Eye, the New Arab, and Jacobin Magazine. His work has also appeared in Al Jazeera English, The Nation, Truthout and other outlets.