July 2012 Archives

2

I find Larry Derfner’s argument in the following article unconvincing. Derfner says that only Gantz can stop Barak and Netanyahu, but are any of them really going to launch a war without the permission of the USA?

If Israel attacks Iran, Iran will close the Strait of Hormuz, and American can’t afford to have those shipping lanes closed. It would require the US committing to a full-scale ground assault in order to re-open the Strait, and the US cannot afford to do that! Therefore, for the very worst of reasons (ie. economic), America will not allow an attack, and Israel will do as its told!

Of course there are better reasons NOT to attack Iran (such as Iran having no intention of attacking Israel or anywhere else, and Ayatollah Khamenei’s fatwa forbidding the production, stockpiling and use of nuclear weapons) but the economic argument is the only politically relevant one.

Peace. Dave

Original link: 972mag.com…

Not even the IDF chief can stop this war

By Larry Derfner

A leading Israeli defense reporter writes that Barak and Netanyahu have decided to attack Iran before November, and only IDF chief Benny Gantz can stop them. I say even he can’t.

Channel 10 defense reporter Alon Ben David, who’s been covering the Israeli security establishment for about 20 years and is as plugged in up there as anyone alive, writes in Haaretz today that the only person who can stop an Israeli attack on Iran before the November 6 presidential election is IDF chief Benny Gantz. This is an extremely newsworthy op-ed because Ben David is not a pundit, he’s a top-drawer reporter (also writing for the “Bible” of military affairs, Jane’s Defence Weekly) and he’s saying Netanyahu and Barak have made the decision to strike between August and October. He also says the cabinet – a majority of which supports an attack, and no surprise there – ”will only be convened right before the strike to prevent leaks.” Interestingly, the key leaker whom Netanyahu and Barak want to keep in the dark about the exact time of the attack is Shimon Peres, who, Ben David writes, might go so far as to alert the White House to try to stop it.

The chief of the Mossad, head of military intelligence and commander of the Air Force all oppose a war, according to Ben David – and so does Gantz, at least for now. ”The State of Israel cannot go to war without the support of the chief of staff,” Ben David notes, so it’s going to be up to Gantz to face down the entire political leadership. He would be speaking on behalf of the security establishment, which opposes an attack.

Much of what Ben David has to say about Gantz is encouraging. First of all, he’s not gung ho.

Gantz is familiar with the widespread assessment that an attack will not only not scuttle the Iranian bomb project, it is liable to intensify the pace of its development. Israel will be dragged into a painful war, which will not defeat it but will paralyze it and deliver a critical blow to the home front, after which Israeli society may be irrevocably changed. It will be a war that is liable to lead many Israelis to reconsider their future in this place.

Also, in line with Gantz’s hesitancy about a war with Iran, Ben David says he has an “accurate moral compass.” All very good to hear. On the worrisome side, though, he “so dislikes personal confrontations.” Barak, who is Gantz’s direct boss, lives for them. There’s another problem – Gantz was not Barak and Netanyahu’s first choice for IDF chief; their first choice, Yoav Galant, who lost the appointment over his tricky land dealings, was said to be in favor of a war.

Ben David writes that the military/intelligence brass are “walking around like they’re carrying a heavy burden” – they don’t want to do it. With few exceptions like Galant and Amos Yadlin, director of Israel’s leading security think tank, the retired military/intelligence types are against it, too. So is a majority of the Israeli public (though a majority of the public, like most of the military/intelligence establishment, would like the U.S., with it’s far superior capabily, to do the job instead).

It’s only the politicians who are eager to strike. A huge problem is that that the politicians include three former IDF chiefs (Barak, Mofaz and Ya’alon) as well as other stars of the military/intelligence establishment.

Ben David says it all comes down to Gantz. If he agrees with Netanyahu, Barak and the cabinet majority, Israel will attack; if he doesn’t, Israel won’t.

I happen to disagree with Ben David, and I’m speaking strictly out of my own reading of things. Finally, the army takes orders from the elected political leadership. If the IDF chief of staff tells the prime minister and defense minister he’s against a war, that Israel cannot do enough damage to Iran’s nuclear facilities to make the consequences worth suffering, I’m sure Netanyahu and Barak will listen to him politely – and then tell the cabinet it’s time to vote, the vote will be for war, and Gantz and the army brass will have no choice but to launch it. Unless, of course, they resign on the spot, which is not the sort of thing these career military men would ever dream of doing. They may voice their disagreements, but in the end they will follow orders – and as Ben David reports, the people who give the orders, the political leaders, are down for war. Sometime before November 6.

Unfortunately, Netanyahu, Barak and the people they frighten into obedience, which is a lot of people, hate to hear dissent, especially on Iran. Anybody who speaks out, like Dagan, like Diskin, like Netanyahu’s long-time chief aide Uzi Arad, is discredited and turned into an outsider. With the political leadership set on war, Gantz, as head of the military, will make it his business to remain an insider. He may stick to his current opinion and even say it out loud, but he will also make it absolutely clear that if those who give the orders want war, he will be a 100% loyal soldier and lead the IDF toward its objective with everything he’s got.

“All the weight of this decision has been placed on the narrow shoulders of a single army officer,” Ben David concludes. I’m afraid this is much, much too big for any one officer, even the IDF chief, to stop.

0

Could it be that ‘Old Aunty’ – the Church of England – is going to take a prophetic role in standing up against the Palestinian Occupation?

Evidently some pundits are getting quite concerned that the church has woken up and it going to take action! Personally, I am not optimistic, and anticipate our British brethren showing the same lack of backbone as did their American counterparts.

Link: www.jpost.com…

Church of England weighs link to anti-Israel group

By JONNY PAUL, JERUSALEM POST CORRESPONDENT

LONDON – Jewish and Christian community leaders have expressed widespread concern that the Church of England, the country’s officially established Christian church, is next week set to discuss formally deepening links with a politicized anti-Israel group.

On Tuesday, the General Synod in York, the Church’s national assembly and highest legislative body, will vote on a motion that seeks to formally adopt the Church’s links with the Ecumenical Accompaniment Program in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI).

The motion encourages parishioners to take part in the program – which brings internationals to the West Bank to experience “life under occupation,” according to its website – and urges churches to make use of the experiences of returning participants.

However EAPPI – founded by the World Council of Churches and supported in the UK by Christian Aid and the Quakers – are considered to be a controversial group and stand accused of being anti-Israel advocates whose work “runs the risk of leading to anti-Jewish sentiment.” “EAPPI is a one-sided advocacy group promoting the Durban strategy of boycotts, divestment and sanctions against Israel, supporting the Palestinian claim of a ‘right of return,’ which is code for ending Israeli sovereignty, and systematically ignoring continuous Palestinian terror attacks against Israeli civilians – each one a war crime,” Yitzhak Santis, chief programs officer at the Jerusalem-based NGO Monitor, told The Jerusalem Post.

The decision to discuss the motion has led to an outcry in the Jewish community, with British Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks and the Board of Deputies of British Jews leading protests.

Alarmed that it could raise the group’s profile and legitimacy, the Board of Deputies has sent a letter to all synod participants outlining their concerns.

“The Board naturally commends those who want to protect the rights of the Palestinians living in the West Bank. As a result we support any organization which encourages reconciliation, but it appears to us that EAPPI does not promote this,” wrote board president Vivian Wineman. “I fear the negative impact which the passing of this motion could have on that work and on relations between the two communities.” Warning that the motion could do “serious damage” to relations between Christians and Jews, Sacks said it presents a one-sided narrative on a complex and difficult issue.

“I am deeply concerned about the private members motion being debated. Were it to be passed it would do serious damage to Jewish-Christian relations in Britain, which have been so positive in recent decades. But that is not my only concern.

“The work of EAPPI does not provide its participants with a full reflection of the conflict. It presents a one-sided narrative on a complex and difficult issue. It thus fails the test of natural justice: ‘Audi alteram partem – Listen to the other side.’ By minimizing Israel’s well-founded fears, it will not advance the cause of peace or an end to the conflict,” the chief rabbi added.

EAPPI takes about 20 “Ecumenical Accompaniers” to the region every year, where they volunteer in Hebron, Jayyous or Yanoun to accompany Palestinians through checkpoints, while monitoring any perceived abuses. They have no contact with mainstream Israelis and on their return are expected to fulfill 10 speaking events, with most doing many more.

The Council of Christians and Jews (CCJ), the UK’s oldest interfaith organization, said its members have been at EAPPI meetings in which accompaniers who have returned from the Palestinian territories have given talks.

“Unfortunately the speeches and presentations can appear to be anti-Israel and run the risk of leading to anti-Jewish sentiment. This is a worrying situation for those of us dedicated to Jewish-Christian relations and the fight against anti-Semitism,” the CCJ told the Post.

The Board of Deputies said the volunteers receive two weeks of residential training beforehand, with just two hours dedicated to the Israeli perspective. All of the Israeli groups they come into contact with are of the fringe Left or Right.

“The result is the creation of a cohort of very partisan but very motivated anti-Israel advocates who have almost no grasp of the suffering of normal Israelis. They are considered experts on the overall situation, despite having a very narrow experience which takes almost no account of the suffering of Israelis. This helps generate a climate of hostility to Israel in the churches,” the Board said in its letter to synod participants.

Santis said that the EAPPI uses the language of morality to promote highly immoral activities, which has contributed to obstacles to a peace based on mutual understanding and acceptance.

“Its program of bringing volunteers to the territories, and then sending them home to act as pro-Palestinian advocates, makes EAPPI an active participant in the conflict. Western governments that fund the World Council of Churches have a responsibility to ensure that taxpayers’ money is not being used to fund EAPPI’s activities,” Santis said.

Canon Andrew White, an Anglican vicar based in Baghdad, said the motion is “unjust.” He asked why the synod is being asked to adopt “a one sided ‘Nakba’ narrative” against Israel – referring to the term many Palestinians use when referring to the “catastrophic” events of the founding of the State of Israel – while fellow Christians are dying in Iraq, Sudan, Egypt and Syria.

“It neglects the wars against Israel’s very right to exist. It overlooks the persecution of Jews in the Middle East that preceded the establishment of the modern State of Israel. Israel – like all countries – is not perfect, but she sincerely wishes to find peace.” White said there are many peace-loving people in the Palestinian territories who are entangled in a conflict they do not endorse, “but the culture of incitement against Jews and Christians as well as the continuing rocket bombardments on Sderot are factors that the synod is being asked to ignore or at best discount.” “As someone who has spent many years living in the Middle East, the land of the Bible, risking life and limb for peace and who is proud to be a friend of Israelis and Palestinians, Jews, Christians and Muslims, I do hope the synod will reject the motion calling for endorsement of EAPPI,” White added.

The CCJ also said it hopes the General Synod does not support the motion.

“CCJ is troubled by some of the actions and behavior that goes on around the settlements and at crossings. This concern is shared by both Jewish and Christian members. The work of the Ecumenical Accompaniers to document incidents is well understood. However, CCJ fears that the EAPPI program, rather than being a conduit for understanding, peace and reconciliation, can portray a picture of an intolerant Israeli society with little sympathy towards the Palestinian plight and ignore the deep desire of many ordinary Israelis for a just resolution to the conflict.” In a statement to the Post, a Church of England spokesperson said: “A Private Member’s Motion is a motion moved by an individual member of the synod. Unless and until it has been passed by the synod, it is simply an expression of the opinion of the member who has moved it.

Synod members sign Private Member’s Motions in order to express their view that the motion should be debated. Those with the most signatures are debated. The signatures do not necessarily indicate that the members concerned agree with the motion as drafted. Motions can be, and often are, amended by the synod.”

0

Here’s something as encouraging as it is unexpected – the Church of England has shown both courage and initiative by supporting a Private Members Motion on Israel/Palestine that gives a clear message to the Israeli government that the church does not accept the Palestinian Occupation!

Who would have thought that Old Aunty would take the lead where our US sisters and brothers so recently failed! Congratulations, sisters and brothers of England!

Father Dave.

Church of England backs Palestine motion in spite of strong Israel lobby pressure

Submitted by Ben White on Mon, 07/09/2012 – 20:26

Original link: electronicintifada.net…

Today the Church of England General Synod — the church’s legislative body — overwhelmingly voted in favor of a Private Members Motion (PMM) on Palestine/Israel, in spite of pressure from pro-Israel organizations before and during the gathering.

In an embarrassing defeat for the Board of Deputies of British Jews (BoD) and the Jewish Leadership Council (JLC), both of whom had lobbied hard for Synod to reject the motion, members also rejected an amendment by the Bishop of Manchester which would have omitted support for the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI).

A huge majority

During the afternoon debate, speaker after speaker backed the PMM, and praised the work of EAPPI. When it came to the vote, which was done according to ‘house’, bishops voted 21 to 3 in favour (with 14 abstentions), clergy 89 to 21 (44 abstentions), and laity 91 to 30 (35 abstentions). In total, the unaltered motion received 201 votes, while only 54 members voted against.

The short motion commits Synod to support: the work of EAPPI (including making “use of the experience of returning participants”), aid agencies working with Palestinians, “Israelis and Palestinians in all organisations working for justice and peace in the area” (citing Parents Circle – Family Forum specifically), and “organisations that work to ensure” the “continuing presence [of Christian Palestinians] in the Holy Land”.

The proposal, authored by Dr. John Dinnen of Hereford Diocese, had received backing from groups like Jews for Justice for Palestinians, Independent Jewish Voices (IJV), and the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD). Despite that, BoD and the Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks argued that the church risked harming “interfaith relations” by supporting the motion.

The displeasure of Israel’s supporters was focused on the singling out of EAPPI, an initiative of the World Council of Churches that over the last decade has sent more than 1,000 volunteers to Palestine/Israel. The motion also backed bereaved relatives group The Parents Circle-Family Forum, “aid agencies”, Israeli and Palestinian “organizations working for justice and peace”, and bodies assisting Palestinian Christians.

Pro-Israel groups insinuations of anti-Semitism fall flat

Initially misleading their own supporters, the BoD sent a letter to Synod members, along with a leaflet attacking EAPPI. While in the letter the BoD said it “naturally commends those who want to protect the rights of the Palestinians living in the West Bank”, Chief Executive Jon Benjamin told The Times that to focus on “the perceived iniquities of the Israelis” also, “by implication”, points the finger at “Jews abroad.”

Aside from the Chief Rabbi’s intervention, there was an unsubstantiated insinuation of antisemitism by the Council of Christians and Jews, and weak attempts at guilt by association from JLC CEO Jeremy Newmark. Canon Andrew White released a rather bizarre statement – reprising his contribution to the 2006 divestment controversy – in which he claimed “Synod is being asked to adopt a one sided ‘NAKBA’ [sic] narrative against Israel while our fellow Christians are dying in Iraq, Sudan, Egypt and Syria”.

Those efforts were aided by sympathizers in the media, specifically The Times’ Ruth Gledhill, and the Church of England Newspaper. In a piece last week, Gledhill described the Chief Rabbi’s intervention as “highly unusual”; in fact, it is a repeat of (unsuccessful) efforts in 2010 to persuade the Methodists not to back a boycott of settlement products.

In an article in the Church of England Newspaper, Florida-based journalist George Conger, did not even get motion-proposer John Dinnen’s name correct, and contrary to Conger’s claim, Dinnen says he was not approached for comment. During the 2006 divestment controversy, Conger was praised by a pro-Israel campaigner as a helpful point of contact.

Both Gledhill and Conger cited NGO Monitor as an authority on the activities of EAPPI, an organisation which routinely attacks Israeli, Palestinian and international human rights groups, including through the use of misleading translations and disingenuous allegations of antisemitism.

Indeed, even during the debate itself, as well as after the vote, leaders of the BoD and JLC resorted to making pathetic claims of antisemitism on Twitter.

Defending the indefensible

Israel’s apologists claimed to be speaking in the name of the Jewish community – for example, BoD Vice President Jonathan Arkush said he was attending Synod as a means of the “Jewish community expressing its views.” Yet many do not share the BoD’s “views” on Israeli policies.

It is less surprising that the BoD is attacking the proposed motion when one recalls that the body repeatedly intervenes to protect Israel on a number of issues: whether lobbying the government to change universal jurisdiction legislation, opposing schools’ participation in a Palestinian literary festival, or pressuring the Co-Op supermarket chain to reverse a decision to boycott companies complicit in breaches of international law.

This time around, the pressure on Synod members failed to thwart the adoption of the motion. This took place just after the Methodist Conference, where delegates overwhelmingly backed a Christian Aid call for a government ban on West Bank settlement products. Supporting international law and human rights is becoming less ‘controversial’, and Israel’s defenders are finding it increasingly tough to defend the indefensible.

0

And now the European Parliament has joined the party!

They say it’s always darkest before the dawn. Perhaps we really are about to see some real pressure brought upon Israel to end the Palestinian Occupation?

Orignal link: European Parliament Passes Landmark Resolution

European Parliament Passes Landmark Resolution: Condemns Israeli Policies, Alludes to Sanctions

The European Parliament passed on July 5 2012 a landmark resolution condemning Israeli policies in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, focusing on home demolitions and forced displacement, with the strongest language to date. The resolution comes as a result of a concerted advocacy effort on the part of ICAHD and other human rights organizations.

Noteworthy in the facilitation of the Parliament resolution are the EU Heads of Mission reports on East Jerusalem and Area C, who reference ICAHD legal and political analysis extensively. Years of advocacy efforts that span Jerusalem, Geneva and Brussels have culminated earlier this week in this historic resolution, unprecedentedly referring to the EU-Israel Association Agreement as a means of coercing parties to justly resolve the conflict.

Following are some of its highlights:

Whereas international human rights and humanitarian law, including the Fourth Geneva Convention, is fully applicable to the West Bank, including East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip; whereas Israel is obliged, inter alia, to ensure in good faith that the basic needs of the occupied Palestinian population are met, administer its occupation in a manner that benefits the local population, protect and preserve civilian objects, and avoid the transfer of its own population into the occupied territory and of the population of the occupied territory into its own territory;

Whereas the recent EU Heads of Mission reports on ‘Area C and Palestinian State Building’, on East Jerusalem, and on settler violence, confirmed once more alarming and potentially irreversible developments on the ground in the areas concerned;

Whereas the Palestinian presence in the West Bank, with special regard to Area C, and in East Jerusalem has been undermined by Israeli Government policies, especially by the building and expansion of settlements; whereas Israeli settlements are illegal under international law and constitute a major obstacle to peace efforts while they are subsidised by the Israeli Government with considerable incentives in the fields of taxation, housing, infrastructure, roads, access to water, education, health care, etc.;

Whereas current developments in East Jerusalem, make the prospect of Jerusalem becoming the future capital of two states increasingly unlikely and unworkable in practice; whereas East Jerusalem is increasingly detached from the West Bank while the Historic Basin within Jerusalem is increasingly detached from the rest of East Jerusalem;

Whereas Palestinians living in East Jerusalem have a permanent-resident status which can only be transferred to children under certain conditions and is not automatically transferred through marriage, preventing spouses and children of many East Jerusalem permanent residents from living with their family members; whereas, on the other hand, approximately 200 000 Israeli settlers are living in and around East Jerusalem;

Whereas protecting the Palestinian population and its rights in the West Bank, with special regard to Area C, and in East Jerusalem is of the utmost importance for preserving the viability of the two-state solution; whereas the ongoing expansion of settlements and settler violence, planning restrictions and the consequent acute house shortage, house demolitions, evictions and displacements, confiscation of land, difficult access to natural resources, and the lack of basic social services and assistance are having a significant negative impact on the living conditions of Palestinians;

Whereas Article 2 of the EU-Israel Association Agreement states that relations between the parties shall be based on respect for human rights and democratic principles, which guides their internal and international policy and constitutes an essential element of this agreement;

Stresses that ending the conflict is a fundamental interest of the EU, as well as of the parties themselves and the wider region, notes that the EU, as the largest donor to the Palestinian Authority and one of Israel’s major trading partners has instruments at its disposal to more actively encourage both parties to work towards a solution;

Expresses its deepest concern about developments on the ground in Area C in the West Bank and in East Jerusalem, as described in the EU Heads of Mission reports on ‘Area C and Palestinian State Building’ of July 2011 and on East Jerusalem of January 2012;

Stresses the importance of protecting the Palestinian population and its rights in Area C and in East Jerusalem, which is essential for keeping the viability of the two-state solution alive;

Calls on the Israeli Government and authorities to meet their obligations under international humanitarian law, in particular by securing an immediate end to house demolitions, evictions and forced displacement of Palestinians.

0

Another brilliant (and disturbing) analysis of the political landscape in Israel by Jewish peace-activist, Uri Avnery, founder of Gush Shalom.

July 14, 2012

Two Faces.

TWO FORMER Prime Ministers of Israel are in the news these days. They represent two of the many faces of Israel.

They also raise a universal question: which is preferable – an honest fanatic or a corrupt pragmatist?

YITZHAK SHAMIR died two weeks ago and was buried in the cemetery of the “Great of the Nation” in Jerusalem. He was 97 years old and had been vegetating for years in a state of dementia. Most Israelis did not know that he was still alive.

When I described him on TV as “the most successful terrorist of the 20th century”, the interviewer raised his eyebrows. But it was an accurate description.

Shamir was not a great thinker. In his teens he joined the right-wing Zionist youth organization of Vladimir Jabotinsky in Poland, and since then he did not change his world-view one iota. In this respect he was absolutely immovable. He wanted a Jewish state in all of the historical country. Period. No nonsense about Arabs and such.

We both joined the Irgun underground at the same time. I was too young to take part in actual terrorist actions, he, eight years my senior, carried them out. At the time, the Irgun killed scores of Arab men, women and children in attacks on Arab markets, in retaliation for Arab attacks on Jewish civilians. We defied the policy of “self-restraint” ordered by the Zionist leadership.

In the summer of 1940 the Irgun split. One of the commanders, Avraham Stern, founded the organization known to the British as the “Stern Gang”. (Eventually it was called LEHI, acronym for Fighters for the Freedom of Israel.)

Stern was a logical person. The aim was to set up a Jewish state in all of Palestine. The enemy was the British Empire. The enemy of my enemy is my friend. Therefore we must cooperate with the Nazis. He sent several emissaries to contact the Germans. Some were intercepted by the British, the others were ignored by the Nazis.

I could not accept this atrocious logic and did not join, though the temptation was there. Shamir did.

He was caught and imprisoned (unlike Stern himself, who was caught and shot on the spot). Within a short time, virtually all the members of the organization were killed or arrested. The group ceased to exist – until Shamir and a colleague,  Eliahu Giladi, broke out. The two acted together and brought LEHI to life again. One day Shamir had Giladi tried and shot.

Giladi was not accused of treason, but, on the contrary – of excessive zeal. He made plans for revolutionary actions, such as killing David Ben-Gurion and the entire Zionist leadership. Shamir decided that his adventurous nature endangered the organization and that he must be removed. Afterwards Shamir named his daughter Gilada.

Many years later I asked him which historical personality he admired most. He answered without hesitation: Lenin. I understood that he admired him because Lenin ruthlessly followed the maxim “the end justifies the means”.

Shamir was one of LEHI’s three leaders. He was responsible for operations and organization, meticulously building a deliberately small group of selected individuals, executing incredibly daring actions. He himself planned every single operation in the greatest detail. The most famous was the assassination of Lord Moyne, the senior British functionary in the Middle East, in Cairo.)

He was arrested again when the British shut down Tel Aviv and conducted a house-to-house search. Shamir was well disguised but could not hide his most obvious characteristic: he was very small, almost a dwarf, with a big, strong head. The soldiers were instructed to arrest every man below a certain height.

This time he was sent to a detention camp in Africa, from which he duly escaped. He reached French Djibouti, was brought by a French warship to Paris where he stayed until Israel came into being.

LEHI never amounted to more than a few hundred members. But it played a major role in driving the British out of this country.

IN ISRAEL, Shamir disappeared from view. For years he worked for the Mossad. It was rumored that his speciality was sending letter bombs. When he resurfaced, he joined the party of his erstwhile competitor, Menachem Begin. He was appointed Knesset chairman.

Once I decided to stage a small demonstration in the Knesset. I wore under my jacket a t-shirt saying “Peace is better than a Greater Israel”. During the plenary session I took the jacket off. After some minutes of shock, an usher asked me politely to see the chairman in his office. Shamir received me with a big smile and said: “Uri, where would we be if every member did something like that? Now that you have made your point, would you please put your jacket on again?” Which I did, of course.

When Begin made peace with Egypt and even I voted for him, Shamir abstained. After Lebanon War I, when Begin resigned saying “I can’t go on any more”, Shamir took his place.

As prime minister, his most outstanding achievement was to do nothing, except building settlements – quietly and unobtrusively. Under American pressure, he attended the Madrid peace conference, determined not to budge an inch. As he remarked later, he was quite ready to negotiate with the Arabs for any length of time.

He did not dream of making peace, which would have drawn frontiers and barred the way to Greater Israel. His ideology was summed up by his most famous dictum, alluding to the old adage that the Arabs want to throw the Jews into the sea: “The Arabs are the same Arabs and the sea is the same sea.” Another famous statement: “It is permissible to lie for the fatherland.”

Remarkably, this man, who joined the Irgun (like me) in protest against “self-restraint”, exercised self-restraint par excellence when Saddam Hussein rained missiles on Israel during the Gulf War. Shamir was content to let the Americans do the job.

His other great achievement was preventing Jews from reaching the US. When the Soviet leadership allowed Jews to emigrate, almost all of them proceeded straight to the US. Shamir persuaded the White House to shut the gates, and thus compelled more than a million Russian Jews to come to Israel (where they now swell the ranks of the extreme right.)

For a short time he was the mentor of the young Binyamin Netanyahu, but then he came to detest him. After Netanyahu made a small tactical concession to the Arabs, he called him “Angel of Destruction”. One may assume that he was also disgusted by Netanyahu’s penchant for luxury. When not lying for the fatherland, Shamir was straight as a ramrod, living in utmost modesty. There never was – or could be – even the slightest hint of corruption.

Which leads us straight to Ehud Olmert.

ONCE upon a time there was a Minister of Education, Zalman Aran, who was known for his dry humor. A party functionary once came up to him and said: “Ziama, you can congratulate me. I have been acquitted!”

“Strange,” Aran replied, “I have never been acquitted!”

Olmert has been acquitted many times. During his entire career, he has danced from one acquittal to the next.

This week it happened again. After a long trial, in which he was accused on five different counts of corruption, he was acquitted of four. One concerned his habit of letting himself be invited by several charity organizations to lecture in the US, and letting all of them pay separately for the same first class ticket (using the surplus for his family’s private outings.) Another count: reporting to the State Comptroller that his collection of expensive pens was worth a tenth of its real value.

The district court decided to acquit him on all counts for lack of proof, except one: that as Minister of Industry he had favored the clients of his close friend, who obliged him by keeping a large amount of cash stashed away in his safe.

Olmert celebrated his partial acquittal as a great victory. The media – the same media which celebrated his indictment when it all started – are taking part in the celebration. He is still awaiting the outcome of an even bigger trial. The accusation, this time: taking bribes for the building of a huge multi-billion architectural monster in the center of Jerusalem when he was mayor of the city. Everybody expects that he will be acquitted, as usual.

Among the outcries against the Attorney General in the media was the accusation that he, a mere civil servant, had toppled an incumbent Prime Minister on trumped-up charges. Worse, that he had done so just when Olmert was about to make peace with the Palestinians.

Nonsense. In his years in the Prime Minister’s office, during which he initiated two dirty wars (Lebanon War II and Operation “Cast Lead”), he had plenty of time to make peace. He did Indeed produce a peace plan – but only on the eve of his expected political demise. With peacemakers like this, who needs warmongers?

However, Olmert is already hinting that after his next acquittal he will return to political life.

SHAMIR, THE dead honest fanatic, has many followers. Olmert, the living corrupt pragmatist, has very few.

Netanyahu, their current successor, has the vices of both and the virtues of neither.

Read more of Uri Avnery’s excellent analysis on the Gush Shalom website