Obama must stand up to Israel on Iran

Update: We have added below excerpts from Avi Shlaim’s piece in the Independent which echoes the same line. (via War in Context)
John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt have a blistering piece in today Financial Times. Here are some excerpts:

US president Barack Obama today welcomes arguably his least favourite foreign leader to the White House. Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit neatly coincides with the annual policy conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (Aipac). That event offers both men a chance to appeal to some of Israel’s most ardent American supporters. We can therefore expect to hear repeated references to the “common interests”, “unshakeable bonds” and “shared values” of the two countries.

This familiar rhetoric is misleading at best and at worst simply wrong. No states have identical interests, and Israel and America are at odds on two vital issues: Iran and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Mr Obama should continue to rebuff Israel’s efforts to push him into military confrontation with Tehran, while reminding Mr Netanyahu the true danger to Israel lies in its refusal to allow a viable Palestinian state…

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Avi Shlaim on the Neoconservative Middle East War Agenda

by Stephen J. Sniegoski

A friend, Phil Collier, an avid student of and sometime writer on Middle East affairs (and  a National Master in chess), recently  informed  me that Avi Shlaim, in his recent book, Israel and Palestine: Reappraisals, Revisions, Refutations, has one chapter, “Palestine and Iraq,” that presents a thesis almost identical to what I have written in The Transparent Cabal. This naturally encouraged me to obtain the book, and Collier’s description turns out to be correct.

This similarity is quite significant since what I have written on the neocons regarding their strong influence on U. S. Middle East policy and their connection to Israel is taboo in the American mainstream, with even numerous antiwar individuals (especially those with higher status) and publications shying away from my work. But Shlaim, a professor of international relations at Oxford,  is a recognized scholar, with such notable books on Israel and its neighbors as The Iron Wall: Israel and the Arab World (2001).  And he is also Jewish and an Israeli citizen, who served in the Israeli Defense Forces.  His works cannot be ignored, nor can he be accused of anti-Semitism. His book was honored as a  Kirkus Best Book for 2009.

Now, in his  ten-page  chapter on this subject, Shlaim could only present a much-abbreviated version of the major themes that I elaborate on at length in my 447 page book.   The following are some poignant examples from Shlaim’s work, with my commentary drawing comparisons to The Transparent Cabal.

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Empire – Israel and the US

You won’t see anything like this on the BBC. The Al Jazeera show Empire on the US relationship with Israel.  Interviewees include Stephen Walt, Jim Lobe, Avi Shlaim, Ilan Pappe, Anatol Lieven, Stephen Walt and Aaron David Miller. There is a hard hitting segment on AIPAC towards the end of the Part 1. However, despite the excellent contributions from interviewees, especially Lobe, Shlaim, Lieven and Stephen Walt, the host keeps imposing the tired old Leftist view of Israel as a ‘strategic asset’ to the US on the narrative. The program could have also done without the Egyptian idiot in the second part of the show.

In this episode of Empire, Marwan Bishara, Al Jazeera’s senior political analyst, and his guests zero in on the special relationship between the US and Israel.

They explore who benefits from the special relationship and whether the status quo will prevail.

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The Military Domination of Gaza

Avi Shlaim, one of Israel’s new historians, on the crisis: “Israel’s real aim is not peaceful coexistence with its Palestinian neighbours but military domination.”

The only way to make sense of Israel’s senseless war in Gaza is through understanding the historical context. Establishing the state of Israel in May 1948 involved a monumental injustice to the Palestinians. British officials bitterly resented American partisanship on behalf of the infant state. On 2 June 1948, Sir John Troutbeck wrote to the foreign secretary, Ernest Bevin, that the Americans were responsible for the creation of a gangster state headed by “an utterly unscrupulous set of leaders”. I used to think that this judgment was too harsh but Israel’s vicious assault on the people of Gaza, and the Bush administration’s complicity in this assault, have reopened the question.

I write as someone who served loyally in the Israeli army in the mid-1960s and who has never questioned the legitimacy of the state of Israel within its pre-1967 borders. What I utterly reject is the Zionist colonial project beyond the Green Line. The Israeli occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in the aftermath of the June 1967 war had very little to do with security and everything to do with territorial expansionism. The aim was to establish Greater Israel through permanent political, economic and military control over the Palestinian territories. And the result has been one of the most prolonged and brutal military occupations of modern times.  Continue…