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December 6, 2012

EDITOR: After the big bang at the UN, Israel returns to normal – theatre of the absurd…

It supplied much excitement for few days, and many photo opportunities for Netanyahu and Lieberman – very useful in their preparations for the January elections and the final takeover of Israel by the extreme right, if the polls are anything to go by. Now is the time to go back to the normality of extending the occupation to the point that even Europe and the US will have no choice but to admit that their mantra of the Two State ‘solution’ is not even funny. Now is the time to deepen the oppression in the West Bank to Abbas, and create contradiction with Hamas, so as to make the rift between them impossible to heal… This is an art form the Israelis have perfected for decades. As long as Palestinians fight each other, they have less energy to fight the occupation effectively.

Israel never sleeps. Never relaxes, never stops to rethink. It is always right. And it is always brutal. As long as it has the US and EU on its side, it can afford to be. So, onward with the destructive work, onward with the apartheid wall, onwards with destroying the olive groves, the fields, the villages, onwards with cutting up the West Bank, and with killing in Gaza, onwards with burning mosques. We have returned to the normality of military occupation and settlement activity.

This relaxed atmosphere of military control allows Israel to play the new game of political frenzy, of musical chairs changing bottoms at high speed, of a Jerusalem Waltz of bizarre nature. New parties are formed daily, with names such as “Independence’ , ‘The Movement”, “Likud is our Home” – it all reminds us of a post-Soviet Asian republic, with the corruption rife, and with the differences between parties being in the colour of posters. This is not just the post-ideological age, it is also the post-political age – it is the age of pure power, with all sides sharing in the agreement over continuing the military occupation and the attacks on Gaza, Lebanon, Sudan, Syria, and then Iran. It is a party to end all parties, the bar at the end of the world. Even the dance of vampires in the cemetery at midnight is a more lively affair than Israeli politics right now, with the odour of political corpses spreading, and attracting the young vultures of the J14 ‘movement’ – already well-ready to share in the corruption and the spoils. The results of this danse macabre can only be the victory of Israeli fascism. All combinations are fine – Lieberman and Netanyahu, Yachimovich and Peretz, J14 with Likud; what next? Rabbi Ovadia and Yossi Sarid will set up shop as the Jewish Heart Party? Shulamit Aloni will join Danny Ayalon in the Second Chance Party? Likud Beitenu will amalgamate with Degel Hatorah in the Big Party Party? Nothing is impossible, the sky is the limit, or rather, the gutter is the limit. Watch this space for more theatre of the absurd performances.

Below, some of the writers in Haaretz chronicle the fall. They are all good Zionists, of course… They still cannot see that the problem is deeper than this group of war criminals now running Israel.

Now you show up, Europe?: Haaretz

Good morning, Europe, you’re late once again: too little and too late.

By  | Dec.06, 2012

Good morning, Europe. The sleeping beauty, the enlightened white continent, is “rebuking” Israel for its intention to build in the forbidden E-1 region. The ambassadors are duly rebuked, and the rebukers feel satisfied: They’ve made a contribution to peace. It’s classic Europe in the best tradition: a dance of hypocrisy and sanctimoniousness. Why, what happened, Europe? Now you’re showing up? Now you’re rebuking? Where were you before?

Europe is rebuking Israel because this time, America permits it. Before, America forbade it; hence the self-restraint. While public opinion in Europe has been raging against the occupation for years, European governments have continued to be its greatest collaborators: They finance the virtual Palestinian Authority and give Israel carte blanche to rampage and settle to its heart’s content. It’s the shadow of the past, you understand.

Just two or three weeks ago, Europe was still supporting yet another unnecessary Israeli military operation in Gaza, just as it threw off all constraints in supporting Operation Cast Lead in Gaza, complete with all its war crimes, four years earlier. Now, all this has seemingly ended. But only seemingly. Another day or two and the “rebukes ” will be forgotten, and Europe will once against support Israel’s next violent caprice. Israel, which in any case never paid any heed to Europe, can stop worrying. Nothing happened. And it could be nothing ever will happen.

As with the “illegal outposts,” which are neither morally nor legally different than the “legal settlement blocs,” here, too, Europe (and the United States ) has invented a bogeyman for itself in the form of a ridiculous red line: E-1. If Israel dares to build there, that will spell the end of the two-state solution. Some 500,000 settlers are fine; it’s just this minor detail, E-1, that disturbs Europe’s peace.

Back in the summer of 2005, when Aluf Benn reported in Haaretz about Israel’s intention to build a police station in E-1, the world also raised an outcry, and America (with Europe following right behind ) “expressed concern.” So great was this concern that it gave birth to the magnificent building housing the headquarters of the Judea and Samaria District Police in the heart of E-1. Then, too, everyone knew that this was merely the appetizer, in whose wake 3,000 homes would arise, and nevertheless, they restrained themselves. Just as they did with the settlement of Har Homa in its day, which was also intended to slice and dice: The world felt “concern” – and Israel built. All the rest is irreversible history and geography.

Let’s say that this time, Israel does pay heed to the world’s rebuke and postpone its plan to build in E-1. What will happen then? Peace? Justice? An end to the occupation? Two states? This ability to set a marginal, ridiculous goal and do battle over it, but only over it, while ignoring everything else is no more than a grotesque costume party to ease the troubled European conscience.

After 45 years of brutal occupation, Europe has remembered to rebuke Israel. And even this rebuke is no more than a dance step: The British foreign minister has already hastened to promise that economic sanctions aren’t on the agenda; even recalling the ambassador was merely “considered.” But why, really? Is the occupation not harsh enough? Is the violation of international law not blatant enough? Is the European interest in resolving the Palestinian problem, which helps nourish global terror, not clear enough? Has European public opinion not made itself clear?

But all this is dwarfed in Europe by two excuses: the past and America. Both haunt the continent. Yet both are dubious excuses: Precisely because of the past, Europe should now mobilize to save Israel from itself and its occupations. And precisely because the United States, with its blind support for Israel, is playing such a destructive role in resolving the conflict, Europe is obligated to provide an independent voice.

It’s not clear why, in the reality of the 21st century, Europe continues to be a pale, subjugated shadow of the United States in the Middle East. And it’s impossible to explain what connection there is between the horrors of the past and support for the occupation. Good morning, Europe, you’re late once again: too little and too late.

Netanyahu is leading Israel into an abyss: Haaretz

Netanyahu keeps behaving in a way that profoundly contradicts the values of the club of the Free World, of which he wants to be a valued member: His disregard for international law and individual human rights of Palestinians simply doesn’t square with the standards of the Free World.

By  | Dec.05, 2012

PM Benjamin Netanyahu speaks on the Palestinians' UN bid, Nov. 29, 2012

PM Benjamin Netanyahu speaks on the Palestinians’ UN bid, Nov. 29, 2012, on a backdrop of former Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and former Prime Minister Menachem Begin. Photo by AP
Carlo Strenger

Europe’s reaction to Netanyahu’s decision to build in area E-1 has been swift, but ended up being lighter than originally expected. France and Britain considered recalling their ambassadors from Israel, but haven’t done so at this point. Israel’s ambassadors in Europe were summoned by various governments to hear that Europe is no longer willing to put up with Israel’s expansion of the occupation – and there were rumors that European governments would consider rescinding trade agreements with Israel.

Bibi will hear hard words from Angela Merkel on Wednesday, but in the end he’ll be happy to point out that it wasn’t that bad. European ambassadors haven’t been recalled yet, and the EU can only rescind trade agreements by unanimous vote – and the Czech Republic will, for the time being, prevent any punitive measures against Israel.

Ergo, Bibi will argue, he’s shown, once again, what a master he is at eating his cake by extending the occupation, and having it too by retaining the West’s support.

He’ll say that things are under control, that he is successfully continuing the policies of the last four years. Netanyahu thinks he has manipulated the world into dropping the Palestinian issue by turning Iran into the number one problem the international community has to deal with. And, he will conclude, the West will always stand behind Israel, because it is the Free World’s outpost in the Middle East.

Netanyahu is certainly right on one account: Israel is located in one of the world’s more volatile corners. Nobody can predict the results of the Arab world’s upheavals, and Israel’s survival will indeed depend on the support and loyalty of the Free World. But he is completely wrong in believing that his double-crossing Israel’s allies for years will leave the alliance with the Free World intact in the long run.

Anger in Britain, France, Germany and Spain, all formerly staunch allies of Israel, is now palpable. They see Netanyahu’s commitment to building in area E-1 as proof that he is actively trying to destroy the two-state solution to which he is officially committed.

Netanyahu’s lectures to the world about how Israel is the Middle East’s only democracy are far less effective than he thinks. Israel’s friends in the Free World have come to the conclusion that Netanyahu is unreliable, and that he cannot be believed or trusted. They think that he has been trying to lull the world with the speech he gave at Bar Ilan University in 2009 endorsing the two-state solution, while continuing Israel’s colonization of the West Bank.

Netanyahu keeps behaving in a way that profoundly contradicts the values of the club of the Free World, of which he wants to be a valued member: His disregard for international law and individual human rights of Palestinians simply doesn’t square with the standards of the Free World.

In the long run, the price of double-crossing Israel’s allies is bound to be very high indeed. Public opinion in Europe is turning ever more strongly against Israel, and Netanyahu doesn’t see that the moment will come when European governments will align policy with their electorates’ views.

Moreover, Netanyahu’s general worldview is incredibly shortsighted. Long-term alliances can be based either on common interest or true friendship, and commonality of values. He doesn’t see that in the long run the Free World, including the U.S. and Europe will have few common interests with Israel. They are not interested in deepening the conflict with the Islamic world, and their support of Israel is exacting an increasing price: the Arab world sees the West as being unfair because it supports an Israel that behaves like a colonial power.

This leaves friendship and closeness based on common values. Netanyahu’s lectures to the world about Israel’s democracy are contradicted by settlement expansion and the erosion of the two-state solution, and by the illiberal laws that Netanyahu’s allies promote.

I keep speaking to many genuine friends of Israel who feel that the country is changing beyond recognition. In the 1960s and 1970s Israel was, for many of them, a heroic attempt to create a model of social justice. They simply don’t understand where this country has disappeared.

The right is a danger to Israel: Haaretz

An Israel that insists on national pride but that is harming national security and eroding national fortitude in a dangerous way.

By  | Dec.06, 2012

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman shaking hands

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman shaking hands. Photo by Reuters

Let’s set aside values. Are we indeed prepared to reinforce our status as an occupying state that controls another people for a prolonged period? Let’s set aside justice and morals. Are we indeed prepared to turn Zionism into an apartheid movement that denies millions of residents their basic rights? Let’s set aside identity. Are we indeed prepared to exchange a Jewish democratic state for a state of ultra-nationalist zealotry that tramples on its minorities?

Let’s set aside universal values, and Jewish values, and what Israel once aspired to be. In terms of national security, the political map that seems to be shaping up arouses aversion. The sharp right turn that the ruling party and its partners have taken is endangering the Jewish state’s diplomatic, security and economic interests. It is likely to lead to a situation in which, very soon, Israel loses the last few bases of support it has left in the West and becomes a state that weakens itself to death.

Iran? Iran. The government that Benjamin Netanyahu, Avigdor Lieberman and Zeev Elkin can set up will have the most limited ability to deal with the Iranian nuclear challenge. Since it will be conceived of in the West as an irrational government, no one will want to listen to its rational claims on the irrationality of Tehran. Since it will be conceived of as an illegitimate government of a country that is gradually becoming illegitimate, it will not have the necessary legitimacy to curb Iran, either diplomatically or militarily. An Israel that is controlled by “ultra-nationalism-is-our-home” parties will be an Israel that is isolated and weakened, whose ability to prevent the nuclearization of Iran is slim.

Deterrence? Deterrence. A government whose values are those of Likud MK Yariv Levin will be conceived of in the international community as if it were a government of Afrikaners. The Afrikaners do not have the right to self-determination and self-defense. Since they do not recognize the natural rights of others, their natural rights too are undermined. That being the case, the ability of the Israeli Afrikaners to use force against Hamas and Hezbollah will be close to nil. Any justifiable act of defense on their part will be seen as a war crime. Any wild settlement project will take them to the international court in The Hague. A Netanyahu painted in the hues of Levin will not enjoy the same umbrella of sympathy and forgiveness that Shimon Peres enjoyed with the Oslo Accords, or Ariel Sharon with the “road map,” or Ehud Olmert with the Annapolis talks. With a backward kind of logic, precisely this ultra-nationalist leadership that strives to be strong will be the weak leadership of a weak country whose strategic situation is in dire straits.

Economics? Economics. The bitter herbs that the European Union is dishing out to us this week are merely the first course. Let’s not get things wrong: Everything was planned in advance and known in advance. While the prime minister and foreign minister were busy celebrating the fact that they had prevented the diplomatic tsunami of 2011, the Palestinians, Europeans and Americans were working diligently to prepare the diplomatic tsunami of 2012 and 2013. All they were waiting for was the reelection of Barack Obama as America’s president. Now, when the Democratic regime in the United States is stable and sure, there is no Sheldon Adelson in the world who can hold back a coalition of progressive forces in the West with zero tolerance for a continuation of the occupation and settlements.

If the wild construction in the territories continues, the diplomatic protest gestures will soon become legal and commercial protest gestures that will badly harm the Israeli economy. Supporters of the Likud will learn the hard way that there is a price tag to electing Moshe Feiglin, and the citizens of Israel will learn the hard way that there is a price tag to electing Feiglin’s devoted supporters.

Thin out your stock portfolio, dear readers. The Israel of Likud Beitenu is an Israel that is going to crash into the wall. In another month and a half, Israelis will go to the polls. To our great regret, they won’t find in the voting booths a worthy and high-quality alternative in the center-left bloc. But whoever votes for the extremist slates of the new right-wing bloc must know exactly what he is voting for – a weak Israel. An Israel that insists on national pride but that is harming national security and eroding national fortitude in a dangerous way.

These friends of Israel now begin to feel that Netanyahu’s commitment and that of his allies to the Free World’s core values is iffy, to say the least. His actions show that behind the polished facade, Netanyahu’s polished English only provides a cosmetic cover-up of him as a believer in brute force.

Netanyahu’s behavior is about to erode many genuine friendships. His belief that you can lie to all of your friends most of the time and retain their friendship is completely unrealistic. Once the Free World will no longer accept Israel as a genuine member, we will have to pay a price much higher than the summoning of ambassadors. Netanyahu still doesn’t see that he is leading Israel into an abyss.

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