Israel 61: The country that wouldn’t grow up

As Zionists prepare to celebrate the 61 anniversary of the ethnic cleaning of Palestine, and declaration of the state of Israel, its an opportune moment to republish some of the better literature covering the six decades.  The following is by Tony Judt published in the Haaretz in May 2006 titled The country that wouldn’t grow up.

wk2By the age of 58 a country – like a man – should have achieved a certain maturity. After nearly six decades of existence we know, for good and for bad, who we are, what we have done and how we appear to others, warts and all. We acknowledge, however reluctantly and privately, our mistakes and our shortcomings. And though we still harbor the occasional illusion about ourselves and our prospects, we are wise enough to recognize that these are indeed for the most part just that: illusions. In short, we are adults.

But the State of Israel remains curiously (and among Western-style democracies, uniquely) immature. The social transformations of the country – and its many economic achievements – have not brought the political wisdom that usually accompanies age. Seen from the outside, Israel still comports itself like an adolescent: consumed by a brittle confidence in its own uniqueness; certain that no one “understands” it and everyone is “against” it; full of wounded self-esteem, quick to take offense and quick to give it. Like many adolescents Israel is convinced – and makes a point of aggressively and repeatedly asserting – that it can do as it wishes, that its actions carry no consequences and that it is immortal. Appropriately enough, this country that has somehow failed to grow up was until very recently still in the hands of a generation of men who were prominent in its public affairs 40 years ago: an Israeli Rip Van Winkle who fell asleep in, say, 1967 would be surprised indeed to awake in 2006 and find Shimon Peres and General Ariel Sharon still hovering over the affairs of the country – the latter albeit only in spirit.
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Philip Weiss on the Harman Case

Scott Horton interviews our good friend Philip Weiss on the Jane Harman-Israel lobby-Espionage case.

Philip Weiss discusses all the implications of the Jane Harman wiretap story the MSM hasn’t run with yet, the evidence of Israeli attempts to dominate U.S. policy decisions on Iran to start a war, the J Street lobby’s moderating influence and how Israeli leaders are oblivious to the political re-evaluation of Israel by American Jews.

MP3 here. (25:46)

Philip Weiss is an investigative journalist who has written for The Nation, New York Times Magazine, The American Conservative, Jewish World Review and other publications. He is the author of American Taboo: A Murder in the Peace Corps and writes the blog Mondoweiss.

End Palestinian demolitions in Jerusalem, UN tells Israel

A new report by the UN OCHA details the demolition of Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem and calls on Israel to immediately halt the activities. 60 000 Palestinians are at risk of being dispossessed. Rory McCarthy reports for the Guardian, in his typically bland style:

The United Nations has called on Israel to end its programme of demolishing homes in East Jerusalem and tackle a mounting housing crisis for Palestinians in the city.

Dozens of Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem are demolished each year because they do not have planning permits. Critics say the demolitions are part of an effort to extend Israeli control as Jewish settlements continue to expand. The 21-page report from the UN office for the co-ordination of humanitarian affairs is the latest round in an intensifying campaign on the issue.

Although Israel’s mayor of Jerusalem, Nir Barkat, has defended the planning policy as even-handed, the US secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, in March described demolitions as “unhelpful”. An internal report for EU diplomats, released earlier and obtained by the Guardian, described them as illegal under international law and said they “fuel bitterness and extremism”. Israel occupied East Jerusalem in the 1967 war and later unilaterally annexed it, a move not recognised by the international community.

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Resurrecting America’s Defense Line

America’s Defense Line: The Justice Department’s Battle to Register the Israel Lobby as Agents of a Foreign Government, by Grant F. Smith, IRMEP, 340 pp., $29.95, August 2008, ISBN 978-0976443728,

Reviewed by Muhammad Idrees Ahmad, The Electronic Intifada, 1 May 2009

The Israel lobby has come under more public scrutiny in the past three years than it has since US Senator William Fulbright’s famous hearings into its activities in 1963. Questions over its role in fomenting the Iraq war have no doubt served as a catalyst; hubris and overreach have done the rest. First there was the espionage case involving two senior executives with the lobby group AIPAC caught passing purloined classified documents to Israeli handlers. Then there was the public lynching by the lobby’s attack dogs of Chas Freeman, an outspoken critic of Israel who had been nominated by the Obama administration to head the National Intelligence Council. Now we learn that a National Security Agency wiretap had caught Congresswoman Jane Harman agreeing in a late 2005 conversation with a suspected Israeli agent to intervene with the Justice Department on behalf of the two AIPAC espionage suspects. In return, according to Jeff Stein’s Congressional Quarterly expose, the agent pledged to lobby House minority leader Nancy Pelosi to appoint Harman chair of the House Intelligence Committee.

If there is something unique about this story it is the level of interest that it has generated. Neither spying, nor the influence peddling is new; but until professors John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt broke the silence on the lobby’s influence, few were willing to discuss either. Things have moved on considerably since. Many fine books have come out in recent years that have shed light on the lobby’s operations, specifically on its frequently decisive role in shaping US Middle East policy. No analyst however has been as tenacious as Grant F. Smith of the Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy (IRMEP) who in a series of books has brought crucial new information to light through the use of the Freedom of Information Act. His latest, America’s Defense Line: the Justice Department’s Battle to Register the Israel Lobby as Agents of a Foreign Government, focuses on an important aspect of the lobby’s origins that has implications for how it operates today.

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The Way We Were and What We Are Becoming

hudson02Another excellent Guns and Butter interview with economist Michael Hudson.  The interview is almost a month old but still well worth listening to.  Hudson examines the death of Europe and how neoliberalism, with its favouring of property and finance over labour and industry, is driving society back to feudalism.  As Gore Vidal has said, in the future, Europe will just be a big farm for China.

The Way We Were and What We Are Becoming (59:52): MP3

The Way We Were and What We Are Becoming with financial economist and historian, Dr. Michael Hudson.  We begin with an analysis of the continuing bailout of insurance giant AIG and Monday’s stock market selloff; price and debt deflation; the two sectors of the economy; two definitions of ‘free markets’; the classical economists; revolution from the right and the former Soviet states; the threat of war; IMF/World Bank resurgence; the dollar versus the euro; analogies to Rome, neo-feudalism.

Manufacturing Consent for Apartheid

Ali Abunimah, author of “One Country,” discussed here, exposes One Voice, a Zionist organisation posing as pro-peace pollsters, and shows that the supposed consensus among Palestinians and Israelis for the mythical two-state solution does not exist. The one-state solution seems increasingly viable to Palestinians, and this reality may panic ‘realist’ Zionists to arrange a formal bantustan settlement during the Obama term. This is a fertile moment, argues Ali, “when no vision carries a consensus among Palestinians, underscoring the urgent need for an inclusive debate about all possible democratic outcomes.”

How do Palestinians living under Israeli military occupation and siege see their world, especially after Israel’s massacre of more than 1,400 people, mostly civilians, in the occupied Gaza Strip three months ago?

Two recent surveys shed light on this question, although one — published on 22 April by the pro-Israel organization One Voice — appears intended to influence international opinion in a direction more amenable to Israel, rather than to record faithfully the views of Palestinians or Israelis (“OV Poll: Popular Mandate for Negotiated Two State Solution,” accessed 30 April 2009). The other — a more credible survey — was published in March by the Oslo-based Fafo Institute for Applied International Studies and funded by the Norwegian government (“Surveying Palestinian opinions March 2009,” accessed 30 April 2009).

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