This is an insightful article by Huffinton Posts’ Robert Naiman. One can put a positive spin on Obama’s visit and speeches. While he didn’t promise to do anything to help the ‘peace process’ along, he didn’t seem to want to hinder it either – something that the Israeli government has relied on the US to do through successive administrations!
Indeed Obama would be doing the world a great service if he allowed some of Israel’s Arab and international neighbors to take a more intentional role in solving the Israel/Palestine debacle, and we all know that he has no personal desire to prop up Benjamin Netanyahu!
Flotilla 3.0: Redeeming Obama’s Palestine Speech With Gaza’s Ark
There’s a half-empty way and a half-full way of looking at President Obama’s Jerusalem speech about the creation of an independent Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem.
The half-empty way of looking at it is: this was Obama’s white flag of surrender. To everyone around the world who for decades has been assuming that at the end of the day, the president of the United States would lead the way to resolution of the Israel-Palestine conflict, Obama was saying:
Don’t look at me. Just because the United States is the principal military, diplomatic, and economic protector of the Israeli government, doesn’t mean that I, as the president of the United States, will do anything about the military occupation of millions of Palestinian human beings. Bibi doesn’t want an independent Palestinian state, Bibi’s government doesn’t want an independent Palestinian state, AIPAC doesn’t want an independent Palestinian state, and Congress — which defers to AIPAC — doesn’t want an independent Palestinian state. Of course, many of them mouth the words — not Bibi’s government, they don’t even do that — but those who mouth the words oppose any practical measure that would help bring an independent Palestinian state into existence. They’re “two state fakers.” Settlement freeze? Impossible. UN membership for Palestine? Can’t be done. No, according to the two state fakers, the only option on the menu in the restaurant for the Palestinians is to return to negotiations without a settlement freeze, negotiations that for 20 years have brought more land confiscation, more settlements, more restrictions on Palestinian movement and commerce, more oppression. And so, Obama was saying, my hands are tied. Don’t look at me.
The half-full way of looking at it is this: it was a great speech. If you “price in,” as the markets say, acceptance that the U.S. government isn’t going to lead on this, it was a great motivational speech. President Obama made a very compelling case that someone else should do something.
The interesting thing is that whether you see it as a great motivational speech or a white flag of surrender, the practical consequences for the public are largely the same: the initiative for justice is going to have to come from somewhere else. The best that we can probably expect from Obama is that if the initiative for justice comes from somewhere else, he won’t get in the way, or won’t get in the way very much. While that is much less than we are entitled to expect, it is much more than the Netanyahu government and its supporters want. They demand that President Obama do everything he can to get in the way of justice. So, if he doesn’t get in the way of justice, or only does so halfheartedly, he’ll be helping us more than they want.
Some people look to Europe. If Europe got serious about curtailing imports from Israel if the occupation doesn’t end, that’s something the Israeli business elite would take seriously, and they would put pressure on the Israeli government to compromise, rather than lose their export income. It’s striking to contrast how Europe is treating its trade with Israel to how it is treating its trade with Iran. In the case of Israel, Europe is toying with the idea of seriously curtailing imports from illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank. In the case of Iran, Europe has shut down virtually all trade, including trade in lifesaving medicines, in violation of international humanitarian law. Giving Israel a little more of the Iran treatment could go a long way. In addition, Europe could support membership for Palestine at the International Criminal Court, and then could support legal action against the settlements and land confiscation at the ICC. So, Europe certainly has a lot of room to get serious about ending the occupation.
Some people look to the Arab Spring. Since 1979, the Camp David Treaty as implemented has been a pillar of the occupation. As many Egyptians see it, it wasn’t supposed to be like that. Under the treaty, the Israeli military was supposed to withdraw from the West Bank. But of course, that never happened. What happened instead is that for 30 years the Mubarak regime traded compliance with Israeli policy towards the Palestinians for U.S. agreement to look the other way while the Egyptian government beat the Egyptian people. Now Egypt has a democratically-elected government. What if that government made ending the occupation a political and diplomatic priority?
read the rest of this article here
According to this report from the Tehran Times, we’ve had yet another statement from the Iranian President in support of Palestine! It seems that the man is trying to position himself as a bridge-builder between Shiite and Sunni Muslims through his open support of Hamas.
It would be interesting to know exactly what transpired between Ahmadinejad and Marzook on the subject of Syria. Syria is Iran’s main ally in the region and does not want to see the current regime overthrown. Hamas, on the other hand, have been channeling military personnel into Syria to help topple the Assad government!
Even so, however we understand Syria’s place in the equation, the basic picture for Israel is clear. Muslim countries are uniting more openly around Palestine and Israel is experiencing ever-greater international isolation. And already their last remaining ally – the USA – is starting to waver!
Liberation of Palestine, the goal of Muslims, freedom-loving nations: Ahmadinejad
TEHRAN – Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has said that the liberation of Al-Quds (Jerusalem) has become a common goal of all Muslims and freedom-loving nations.
He made the remark during a meeting with Mousa Mohammed Abu Marzook, a senior member of Hamas, in Tehran on Monday.
A glance at Zionists’ decades-long presence in the region proves that they are in a state of collapse, Ahmadinejad noted.
He added that the Palestinian question is a crucial issue for the whole world, and its liberation is tied with the destiny of the entire region.
The president also reiterated Tehran’s support for the oppressed people of Palestine until they achieve victory.
Commenting on the Syrian crisis, Ahmadinejad noted that it is a high time that all sides in Syria make efforts to settle the conflict through dialogue.
For his part, Marzook said Palestinians can achieve victory over the Zionists only through resistance, emphasizing the need to promote unity between the Islamic Ummah.
The Palestinian official also called for making efforts to resolve the Syrian crisis through mutual understanding.
This article from Gulf News no doubt reflects the pessimism of much of the Middle East with regards to Obama’s potential to make a meaningful contribution to the so-called ‘peace process’ between Israel and Palestine.
Obama’s up-coming trip to Israel might be a ground for hope though, as the author points out, there was nothing in his Union address to suggest that peace between Israel and Palestine was a priority. Even so, there was plenty to suggest that Afghanistan and Iran were priorities and only a fool would think the issues could be easily disconnected.
Israel-Palestine peace push not a priority for Obama
State of the Union address shows issue is far off President’s radar
In his first State of the Union address in his second term, US President Barack Obama laid down the plans for his legacy years — but reaching a comprehensive peace deal between Israel and Palestine will not be on his foreign policy agenda.
Obama’s speech was that of a president preoccupied with reviving a moribund economy, increasing the basic wage for full-time workers, getting legislation through a divided Congress and being able to put reasonable limits on America’s gun culture. For immigrants living in the shadows of illegality, it offered hope that they would become free and equal members of US society.
But in all of the words, the standing ovations, the platitudes and the rhetoric, Obama neither uttered the word “Palestine” nor the word “Palestinians” even once. It shows how far off the radar this pressing issue has fallen for the president of the US. In his political judgement, there is no need for his administration to become embroiled in an arm of foreign policy where he feels there is little prospect of success or realistic hope of enduring peace.
However, Obama did utter the word “Israel” — if only briefly — saying he and his administration would stand steadfast with the Jewish state in pursuit of peace and lasting security. What we have learnt is that Obama is committed to winding down the US military presence in Afghanistan, committing to bringing home 66,000 troops and wrapping up the mission by the end of 2014.
Obama is more committed than ever to enforcing security through drone operations — going to great pains in his address to note that the US had developed a legal framework to allow for the continued and intensified drone campaign against militants in the border areas of Pakistan, Afghanistan and Yemen.
And Iran is very much on the Oval Office radar, with Obama urging Tehran to sit down and talk about its nuclear programme. He also added the rider that the US “would do whatever is necessary to prevent them from getting a nuclear weapon”.
At least, we know now how little to expect.
Father Roy writes: This is precisely the kind of publicity Israel’s present government needs. The following article was published in an Israeli newspaper. The highlights are mine. How likely are we to find this information in US newspapers? Peace, Roy
Netanyahu’s arrogance strengthened Ban’s resolve to visit Iran, UN officials say
Israeli PM requested that the UN chief cancel the trip, then proceeded to launch a social media campaign to that effect; Foreign Ministry official: If we had kept it quiet, it’s possible we would have achieved better results.
by Barak Ravid
The pressure exercised by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to cancel his trip to the Non-Aligned Movement meeting in Tehran apparently boomeranged. According to blogger Colum Lynch, who provides reports and analysis on the United Nations for the Foreign Policy website, the Prime Minister’s Office campaign only convinced Ban that it was vital for him to fly to Tehran and present a peace initiative related to the nuclear crisis.
According to Lynch, senior UN officials “said that Netanyahu’s public appeal to Ban — delivered in what staffers viewed as a condescending tone – backfired, fortifying Ban’s resolve to go.”
About a week ago, Netanyahu called Ban to ask him to cancel his appearance at the conference in Iran. But instead of exercising discretion about his conversation with the UN secretary-general, after the call Netanyahu hurried to issue a lengthy press release, in which he detailed everything he had said to Ban on the phone.
Ban’s office was furious that Netanyahu had “leaked” the contents of the conversation, and Ban’s fury only increased when he discovered that within days their conversation had morphed into an entire campaign. The Prime Minister’s Office initiated a social media drive, calling on Web surfers to send e-mails to the UN secretary-general asking him not to fly to Tehran. At the same time, a series of Jewish organizations, including the Anti-Defamation League, the American Jewish Committee and the World Jewish Congress issued press statements harshly criticizing Ban’s plan to travel to the conference in Iran. Ban’s associates were convinced that the attacks by Jewish groups had also been directed by the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem. A senior Foreign Ministry official in Jerusalem said that Netanyahu’s behavior in this instance had been mistaken, and his attack on the UN secretary-general had been totally superfluous.
“If we had continued making quiet contacts with Ban’s people it’s possible we would have achieved better results,” the official said.
Ban will arrive in Tehran on Wednesday to attend the opening ceremony of the Non-Aligned Movement meeting. At this stage it looks as if the conference will turn into an unprecedented public diplomacy effort by Iran regarding its nuclear program. In front of the building in which the conference is to be held, the Iranians have placed the cars of Iranian nuclear scientists who have been assassinated over the past two years, killings for which Iran blames Israel.
In addition, the Iranians announced that it will offer to take foreign leaders who come to the conference on a tour of the nuclear reactor at Bushehr, and also to visit other nuclear installations in an effort to prove that Iran’s nuclear program is meant solely for civilian purposes.
The Iranians are also looking into organizing a tour of the suspicious military base at Parchin, where the International Atomic Energy Agency has said Iran is conducting nuclear activities with military characteristics.
I find it good for the heart (as well as the mind) to touch base with Uri Avnery on a regular basis. He remains consistently optimistic about the impossibility of an Israeli attack on Iran. He has said it repeatedly: ‘it will not happen!’ And the truly encouraging thing is that his positive prophecy isn’t based on his faith in his leaders, let alone in God (being an atheist) but on his cold, hard political realism.
August 18, 2012
Mad or Crazy?
by Uri Avnery
BINYAMIN NETANYAHU may be crazy, but he is not mad.
Ehud Barak may be mad, but he is not crazy.
Ergo: Israel will not attack Iran
I HAVE said so before, and I shall say so again, even after the endless talk about it. Indeed no war has been talked about so much before it happened. To quote the classic movie line: “If you have to shoot, shoot. Don’t talk!”
In all Netanyahu’s bluster about the inevitable war, one sentence stands out: “In the Committee of Inquiry after the war, I shall take upon myself the sole responsibility, I and I alone!”
A very revealing statement.
First of all, committees of inquiry are appointed only after a military failure. There was no such committee after the 1948 War of Independence, nor after the 1956 Sinai War or the 1967 Six-day War. There were, however, committees of inquiry after the 1974 Yom Kippur war and the 1982 and 2006 Lebanon Wars. By conjuring up the specter of another such committee, Netanyahu unconsciously treats this war as an inevitable failure.
Second, under Israeli law, the entire Government of Israel is the Commander in Chief of the armed forces. Under another law, all ministers bear “collective responsibility”. TIME magazine, which is becoming more ridiculous by the week, may crown “King Bibi”, but we still have no monarchy. Netanyahu is no more than primus inter pares.
Third, in his statement Netanyahu expresses boundless contempt for his fellow ministers. They don’t count.
Netanyahu considers himself a modern day Winston Churchill. I don’t seem to remember Churchill announcing, upon assuming office, “I take responsibility for the coming defeat.” Even in the desperate situation of that moment, he trusted in victory. And the word “I” did not figure large in his speech.
IN THE daily brainwashing, the problem is presented in military terms. The debate, such as it is, concerns military capabilities and dangers.
Israelis are especially, and understandably, worried by the rain of tens of thousands of missiles expected to fall on all parts of Israel, not only from Iran, but also from Lebanon and Gaza. The minister responsible for civil defense deserted just this week, and another one, a refugee from the hapless Kadima party, has taken his place. Everybody knows that a large part of the population (including myself) is completely defenseless.
Ehud Barak has announced that no more than a measly 500 Israelis will be killed by enemy missiles. I do not aspire to the honor of being one of them, though I live quite near the Ministry of Defense..
But the military confrontation between Israel and Iran is only a part of the picture, and not the most important one.
As I have pointed out in the past, far more important is the impact on the world economy, already steeped in a profound crisis. An Israeli attack will be viewed by Iran as American-inspired, and the reaction will be accordingly, as explicitly stated by Iran this week.
The Persian Gulf is a bottle, whose neck is the narrow Strait of Hormuz, which is totally controlled by Iran. The huge American aircraft carriers now stationed in the gulf will be well advised to get out before it is too late. They resemble those antique sailing ships which enthusiasts assemble in bottles. Even the powerful weaponry of the US will not be able to keep the strait open. Simple land-to-sea missiles will be quite enough to keep it closed for months. To open it, a prolonged land operation by the US and its allies will be required. A long and bloody business with unpredictable consequences.
A major part of the world’s oil supplies has to pass through this unique waterway. Even the mere threat of its closure will cause oil prices to shoot sky-high. Actual hostilities will result in a worldwide economic collapse, with hundreds of thousands – if not millions – of new unemployed.
Each of these victims will curse Israel. Since it will be crystal clear that this is an Israeli war, the rage will be turned against us. Worse, much worse – since Israel insists that it is “the state of the Jewish people”, the rage may take the form of an unprecedented outbreak of anti-Semitism. Newfangled Islamophobes will revert to old-time Jew-haters. “The Jews are our disaster,” as the Nazis used to proclaim.
This may be worst in the US. Until now, Americans have watched with admirable tolerance as their Middle East policy is practically dictated by Israel. But even the almighty AIPAC and its allies will not be able to contain the outburst of public anger. They will give way like the levees of New Orleans.
THIS WILL have a direct impact on a central calculation of the warmongers.
In private conversations, but not only there, they assert that America will be immobilized on the eve of elections. During the last few weeks before November 6, both candidates will be mortally afraid of the Jewish lobby.
The calculation goes like this: Netanyahu and Barak will attack without giving a damn for American wishes. The Iranian counter-attack will be directed against American interests. The US will be dragged into the war against its will.
But even in the unlikely event that the Iranians act with supreme self-restraint and do not attack US targets, contrary to their declarations, President Obama will be compelled to save us, send huge quantities of arms and ammunition, bolster our anti-missile defenses, fund the war. Otherwise he will be accused of leaving Israel in the lurch and Mitt Romney will be elected as the savior of the Jewish State.
This calculation is based on historical experience. All Israeli governments in the past have exploited American election years for their purposes.
In 1948, when the US was required to recognize the new Israeli state against the express advice of both the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Defense, President Truman was fighting for his political life. His campaign was bankrupt. At the last moment Jewish millionaires leaped into the breach, Truman and Israel were saved.
In 1956, President Eisenhower was in the middle of his re-election campaign when Israel attacked Egypt in collusion with France and Britain. It was a miscalculation – Eisenhower did not need Jewish votes and money and put a stop to the adventure. In other election years the stakes were lower, but always the occasion was used to gain some concessions from the US.
Will it work this time? If Israel unleashes a war on the eve of elections, in an obvious effort to blackmail the president, will the American public mood support Israel – or could it go the other way? It will be a critical gamble of historic proportions. But like Mitt Romney, Netanyahu is a protégé of the Casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, and he may be no more averse to gambles than the poor suckers who leave their money in Adelson’s casinos.
WHERE ARE the Israelis in all this?
In spite of the constant brainwashing, polls show that the majority of Israelis are dead set against an attack. Netanyahu and Barak are seen as two addicts, many say megalomaniacs, who are beyond rational thinking.
One of the most striking aspects of the situation is that our army chief and the entire General Staff, as well as the chiefs of the Mossad and the Shin Bet, and almost all their predecessors, are totally and publicly opposed to the attack.
It is one of the rare occasions when military commanders are more moderate than their political chiefs, though it has happened in Israel before. One may well ask: how can political leaders start a fateful war when practically all their military advisors, who know our military capabilities and the chances for success, are against it?
One of the reasons for this opposition is that the army chiefs know better than anyone else how totally dependent on the US Israel really is. Our relationship with America is the very basis of our national security.
Also, it seems doubtful whether Netanyahu and Barak have a majority for the attack even in their own government and inner cabinet. The ministers know that apart from everything else, the attack would drive investors and tourists away, causing huge damage to Israel’s economy.
So why do most Israelis still believe that the attack is imminent?
Israelis, by and large, have been totally convinced by now (a) that Iran is governed by a bunch of crazy ayatollahs beyond rationality, and (b) that, once in the possession of a nuclear bomb, they will certainly drop it on us.
These convictions are based on the utterances of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, in which he declared that he will wipe Israel off the face of the earth.
But did he really say that? Sure, he has repeatedly expressed his conviction that the Zionist Entity will disappear from the face of the earth. But it seems that he never actually said that he – or Iran – would ensure that result.
That may seem only a small rhetorical difference, but in this context it is very important.
Also, Ahmadinejad may have a big mouth, but his actual power in Iran was never very great and is shrinking fast. The ayatollahs, the real rulers, are far from being irrational. Their whole behavior since the revolution shows them to be very cautious people, averse to foreign adventures, scarred by the long war with Iraq that they did not start and did not want.
A nuclear-armed Iran may be an inconvenient near-neighbor, but the threat of a “second holocaust” is a figment of the manipulated imagination. No ayatollah will drop a bomb when the certain response will be the total annihilation of all Iranian cities and the end of the glorious cultural history of Persia. Deterrence was, after all, the whole sense of producing an Israel bomb
IF NETANYAHU & Co. were really frightened by the Iranian Bomb, they would do one of two things:
Either agree to the de-nuclearization of the region, giving up our own nuclear armaments (highly unlikely);
Or make peace with the Palestinians and the entire Arab world, thereby disarming the ayatollahs’ hostility to Israel.
But Netanyahu’s actions show that, for him, keeping the West Bank is vastly more important than the Iranian bomb.
What better proof do we need of the craziness of this whole scare?
Uri Avnery is an Israeli writer and founder of the Gush Shalom peace movement