In their own words

On the excellent ‘Promised Land’ blog, Noam Sheizaf draws attention to an IDF slideshow which lists “the principles of Israeli policy” towards the Gaza Strip, particularly with regards to restrictions on freedom of movement. One objective is listed as “separating/differentiating Judea and Samaria [West Bank] from Gaza”. Sheizaf notes that this “is the first time an Israeli official document publicly declares that the current policy objective is to create two separate political entities in the Palestinian territories”.

This is an example of how Zionist lobby spin can often be challenged using the words of Israeli officials. Last month, Netanyahu’s testimony before the Turkel Commission included the admission that, in the words of Gaza Gateway, “Israel’s decisions on what to allow or prohibit into Gaza were based not on concern for the welfare of the population in Gaza but rather about Israel’s image in the international media”. So much for ‘security’.

Then just a week ago, the same Commission heard testimony from Maj. Gen. Eitan Dangot, the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, who said that “Israel declared economic warfare against the Gaza Strip and prevented the entry of goods – including certain kinds of food and other civilian items – that posed no security threat, with the goal of disrupting civilian life in the Gaza Strip”.

Finally, remember that in a 2007 legal case, the Israeli government’s State Attorney’s Office argued [PDF] that “harming the economy itself is a legitimate means of warfare and a relevant consideration even when deciding on allowing in relief consignments”.

Israel and the Rise of Ultra-Semitism

by M. Junaid Levesque-Alam

A prominent Israeli rabbi whose party shares power in the Netanyahu government called for the extermination of Arabs in a recent sermon.

The 89-year-old Ovadia Yosef urged God to strike “these Ishmaelites and Palestinians with a plague; these evil haters of Israel.” He then singled out the Palestinian leader of Fatah, exclaiming that “Abu Mazen and all these evil people should perish from this earth.” Yosef is the spiritual leader of the Shas Party, an ultra-Orthodox right-wing outfit that governs in concert with other parties, including Likud.

In religious terminology, the Ishmaelites are the descendants of Ishmael, who was Abraham’s elder son. As the rabbi doubtless knows, the Arabs are considered the descendants of the Ishmaelites in Islamic tradition.

In response to the genocidal exhortation, Netanyahu issued a mild non-rebuke; his office meekly offered that the rabbi’s ravings “do not reflect” the views of the prime minister or the government. The lukewarm criticism is not surprising, since Netanyahu may harbor genocidal views of his own.

Continue reading “Israel and the Rise of Ultra-Semitism”

George Will’s Irrepressible Conflict With Facts

by Max Blumenthal

George Will had a horrible run in Israel. Luckily for him, the Washington Post does not correct errors if they advance Israeli hasbara

Conservative columnist George Will was recently in Israel. His trip resulted in a series of laughably error-laden columns revealing not only a crude view of the Israel-Palestine conflict and obsequious admiration for Bibi Netanyahu, but a lack of knowledge about major historical events in his own country.

In his third column, Will begins his mutilation of history in a passage about the Peel Commission. He wrote:

In 1936, when the British administered Palestine, the Peel Commission concluded that there was “an irrepressible conflict” — a phrase coined by an American historian to describe the U.S. Civil War — “between two national communities within the narrow bounds of one small country.” And: “Neither of the two national ideals permits” a combination “in the service of a single state.” The commission recommended “a surgical operation” — partition. What followed was the Arab Revolt of 1936 to 1939.

Asad Abukhalil has already nailed Will for getting the date of the Peel Commission report wrong. It was 1937, not 1936. And the Arab Revolt broke out in Palestine before the Peel Commission introduced its findings. I would also add that David Ben Gurion privately accepted the Peel Commission’s recommendations because he saw them as the basis for a later partition that would gift the Zionist settler minority with major port cities like Jaffa and Haifa and throw the Palestinian Arabs back to the hinterlands. Moshe Sharett, a future prime minister of Israel, remarked about the Peel Commission, “the [Palestinian] Arab reaction would be negative because they would lose everything and gain almost nothing ….”

Continue reading “George Will’s Irrepressible Conflict With Facts”

Peace propaganda and the Israeli consensus

George Mitchell is in Israel/Palestine as the White House’s special envoy, in a visit described as “a final push to revive Middle East peace talks”. The focus remains on Israel’s so –called settlement ‘freeze’, with Mitchell reported as saying that there was still work to be done on the “Israeli-American dispute over construction in the West Bank”. Ahead of his meeting with Mitchell today, Netanyahu has confirmed that there will not be a “complete halt to building” in the settlements, telling a Knesset committee that “a reduction on building in Judea and Samaria will only be for a limited period”.

The ‘freeze’ is the latest warmed-up gimmick to be offered by the international community’s peace process’, though even by the standards of previous efforts such as the ‘Road Map’ and ‘Annapolis’, the settlement freeze is transparently lacking in seriousness. The Israeli government’s definition of a ‘freeze’ excludes: settlement activity in occupied East Jerusalem; 2,500 housing units already under construction; and, hundreds of new units just recently announced.

That the ‘freeze’ will last in the region of six to nine months is rather academic, given that it will make no difference to this year’s total settlement housing consolidation compared to previous years. As Ha’aretz pointed out, “instead of construction permits being given gradually throughout the year, the government intends to issue hundreds of permits within a few days, before the official announcement of the “freeze” is made”.

Even the PM’s spokesperson Mark Regev has found it hard to spin what Deputy PM Eli Yishai has called merely a “strategic delay”. The new construction in West Bank colonies ahead of the ‘freeze’ Regev argued was a case of doing something now to “actually make progress possible tomorrow”. MK Nissim Ze’ev, visiting a settlement outpost, felt no need to resort to such contortions, encouraging the settlers that there is “no one in the government who doesn’t want more and more construction throughout Judea and Samaria”, but that owing to tensions with the US, there are currently “limitations”. Continue reading “Peace propaganda and the Israeli consensus”