Zionists Against Zion?

By M. Shahid Alam

Zionists have worked hard and cleverly for their successes, but their cause has been greatly advanced at each stage by the logic of their colonial project aimed at the creation of a Jewish settler state at the very center of the Islamicate.

Most importantly, Zionism created a geopolitical realignment of great importance. It brought together two strands of the Western world, previously at odds – Christians and Jews – to join their forces against the Islamicate.

At every stage in its history, Israel has ratcheted its power by unleashing forces, even negative forces, that it has then turned to its advantage. Power, intelligence and luck have played into this.

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Finkelstein in Prague

Last week, Norman Finkelstein delivered a series of lectures in Prague as part of his European speaking tour. Finkelstein was initially invited to speak at the prestigious Czech Academy of Sciences but had his invitation revoked less than 24 hours prior to his scheduled talk, allegedly at the behest of the Prime Minister’s office. A similar fate befell Finkelstein’s appearance in Munich and Berlin, where the Heinrich Boll and Rosa Luxembourg Foundations cancelled the events, following “a concerted campaign by neoconservative and pro-Israeli pressure groups, such as Honestly Concerned and BAK Shalom, known for their unconditional support of Israeli policies and the defamation of critics as anti-Semites.”

Here is Finkelstein’s lecture at Casa Gelmi in Prague, organised by the Czech pro-Palestinian group ‘Friends of Palestine’.

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No hope or change from Obama-Netanyahu meeting

President Barack Obama talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel in the Oval Office, 18 May 2009. (Pete Souza/White House Photo)

The Lobby has spoken once again, as in ’76 when Gerald Ford’s threat to ‘reassess’ US relation with Israel were preempted by an AIPAC letter signed by more than seventy Senators advising against such move, Obama has been served with a similar letter even though in his case there hasn’t even been a hint of any departure from US policy. Notice that he did not use the word ‘occupation’ once. As Ali Abunimah reveals, behind all the hype about alleged differences beween the two leaders, it appears little has changed.

Seldom has an encounter between an American and Israeli leader been as hyped as this week’s meeting between US President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. As expected, Obama committed himself to diplomacy with Iran and pledged an enormous effort to achieve a two-state solution. Netanyahu continued to incite confrontation with Iran and refused to commit himself to a Palestinian state.

On the surface it may seem there are real differences and that the forces arrayed on each side — including the formidable Israel lobby — are gearing up for an epic battle to determine the fate of US-Israeli relations.

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The Plot Against Hamas and Khalid Mishal

Khalid Mishal, leader of Hamas' political wing
Khalid Mishal, leader of Hamas' political wing

Paul McGeough’s Kill Khalid on the rise to prominence of the Hamas leader Mishal is examined in The London Review of Books this month. This astute analysis by Adam Shatz helps to dispel some of the myths propagated towards the Palestinian resistance group and its leader as a mindless Islamist entity hellbent on eradicating world Jewry, instead portraying Mishal as a shrewd realist politician. For instance, it is often circulated by Israel and its western backers that Hamas is “committed to the destruction of Israel”, making reference to its renowned 1988 charter. Much like the misquoted and possibly misinterpreted words attributed to Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad towards Israel, the charter in fact makes calls to ‘raise the banner of Allah over every inch of Palestine’, which certainly falls short of a complete annihilation of Jews in the region that is often suggested. However even if this early manifesto does imply such extreme measures, Shatz notes that its fails to reflect the contemporary thinking of the group, with Mishal reportedly viewing that particular article as an embarrassment. Other important aspects of the group (often absent in the rhetoric of the mainstream western narrative towards Israel-Palestine) is Mishal’s announcement in Mecca in 2007 that the group would be willing to begin negotiation over a peace settlement based on a pre-1967 borders two-state solution (which would not necessarily be the permanent solution). Another is and the offering of a ‘Hudna’, a truce lasting as long as 30 years. Although the Obama administration’s language has softened, the relative isolation towards Hamas remains. While Hamas retains such popular support amongst Palestinians in occupied lands, the legitimacy of any peace talks will be questionable.

In early September 1997, Danny Yatom, the head of Mossad, arranged a special screening for Binyamin Netanyahu, who was then prime minister. The film, shot on the streets of Tel Aviv, presented the plan for the assassination of Khalid Mishal, the head of Hamas’s political bureau in Amman. Twenty-one Israelis had died in Hamas suicide attacks in the previous two months, and Netanyahu was eager for revenge. The peace process might be undermined, but that would be just as well: Netanyahu shared Hamas’s hostility to Oslo, and had compared trading land for peace to appeasement with Hitler. Mishal, Paul McGeough writes in Kill Khalid, his gripping account of the plot, was selected from a list of targets by Netanyahu not only because he was suspected of orchestrating the suicide bomb campaign, but because he made an articulate case for Hamas’s position, in a suit rather than clerical robes: ‘he was too credible as an emerging leader of Hamas, persuasive even. He had to be taken out.’ Continue reading “The Plot Against Hamas and Khalid Mishal”

What Next for Palestine After Gaza 2009?

Ali Abunimah,co-founder of the Electronic Intifada, discusses Israel’s siege on Gaza and the growing boycott, divestment and sanctions movement against Israeli apartheid. (via Flashpoints)

The Obama-Netanyahu Showdown

Robert Dreyfuss is one of the best analysts of the forces shaping US foreign policy. Had more people been reading him in the lead up to the Iraq war, it is likely that they could have acted more effectively to prevent the war. While some like Noam Chomsky would have you believe that there is a unified ‘elite’ which makes unanimous decisions, the reality is far more complicated and far less hopeless. There are forces within the establishment who are deeply wary of the neoconservative worldview, and while 9/11 had put them in a disadvantaged position, now they are silent no more. Here Dreyfuss reports on the stern advice Obama received from one of the leading lights of the Realist camp.

President Obama got some strongly worded advice yesterday on how to deal with Israel’s Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu, who’ll be making his first visit to the United States as Israel’s new leader in mid-May. The Obama-Netanyahu meeting promises to be a showdown.

Zbigniew Brzezinski, the veteran strategist and hardliner — who was Jimmy Carter’s national security adviser — told a conference yesterday that in the history of US peacemaking in the Middle East, the United States has never once spelled out its own vision for what a two-state solution would look like. That, said Brzezinski, is exactly what President Obama needs to do. And fast.

Brzezinski was speaking at a conference on US-Saudi relations sponsored by the New America Foundation and Saudi Arabia’s Committee on International Trade. Brzezinski, who advised Obama early in the presidential campaign, was exiled from Obamaland after his less-than-devout support for Israel made him a liability.

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Chomsky On Gaza

Noam Chomsky interviewed by Christiana Voniati.

Voniati: The international public opinion and especially the Muslim world seem to have great expectations from the historic election of Obama. Can we, in your opinion, expect any real change regarding the US approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict?

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The End of Israel’s Impunity?

Muhammad Idrees Ahmad, Variant 34, Spring 2009; Palestine Chronicle, 16 March 2009

The assault on Gaza marks the end of an era for Israel. For the second time in two years its colonial ambition has floundered in the face of determined resistance. It may persist for some time; but the trajectory is clear – it is losing both legitimacy and power. Support for it is dwindling in Washington; its friends are alarmed. Citizens are acting where governments have failed; the movement for boycott, divestment and sanctions is snowballing. Apologists are finding it more difficult to justify its persistent criminality. Rifts have emerged in the transatlantic alliance over its recent actions; EU leaders have broken with Israel and the US, questioning the wisdom of continuing to isolate Hamas. Even the pliant Tony Blair will no longer toe the line.

This leviathan may yet be tamed, accountability restored; but what part, if any, will International law have played in this?

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Why Hamas is no ‘extremist’

‘Revisiting the reasons for the Islamist Revolution,’ writes Alastair Crooke, ‘we need to understand that Hamas are the ‘moderates’, in a self-defeating western drama which has bequeathed a much more dangerous Middle East’.

In the mechanistic template imposed by western leaders on the Middle East, of ‘moderates’ who must be supported versus ‘extremists’ who must be isolated and undermined, Hamas has to be painted, by mechanical necessity alone, as ‘extremists’. Hamas has become the ‘extremists’ to answer in neat symmetry to the ‘moderates’ of Ramallah, who for other reasons American and European leaders wish in any event to support.

But such models, once generally accepted, force a deterministic interpretation that can blind its advocates to the perverse results of such narrow and rigid conceptualising: a defeated and humbled Hamas, western leaders suggested, was to be ‘welcomed’ as a blow to Hizbullah, which in turn represented a strike at Syria, which weakened Iran – all of which strengthened the ‘moderates’; and, the model implies, serves to make Israel safer. It is a narrative that has reduced the Palestinian crisis to no more than a pawn in the new ‘Great Game’ of an existential global struggle waged against ‘extremism’.

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Israel’s War Crimes

‘Israel blamed its earlier wars on the threat to its security, even that against Lebanon in 1982’, writes Richard Falk in the latest issue of Le Monde Diplomatique, one of the world’s best publications. ‘However, its assault on Gaza was not justified and there are international calls for an investigation. But is there the political will to make Israel account for its war crimes?’

For the first time since the establishment of Israel in 1948 the government is facing serious allegations of war crimes from respected public figures throughout the world. Even the secretary general of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, normally so cautious about offending sovereign states – especially those aligned with its most influential member, the United States – has joined the call for an investigation and potential accountability. To grasp the significance of these developments it is necessary to explain what made the 22 days of attacks in Gaza stand shockingly apart from the many prior recourses to force by Israel to uphold its security and strategic interests.

In my view, what made the Gaza attacks launched on 27 December different from the main wars fought by Israel over the years was that the weapons and tactics used devastated an essentially defenceless civilian population. The one-sidedness of the encounter was so stark, as signalled by the relative casualties on both sides (more than 100 to 1; 1300-plus Palestinians killed compared with 13 Israelis, and several of these by friendly fire), that most commentators refrained from attaching the label “war”.

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