The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

Tag: Israel

Jewish, Israeli & Zionist Are Three Different Things

There are few people I despise more than those who conflate being anti-zionist with being anti-semitic.

Anyone who does this is a write off to me. Worthy of no respect; moral or intellectual. I only hope they are being paid well to be both evil and intellectually dishonest.

“We are going to emigrate to Palestine until we are the majority, then use force to steal Palestinian homes” is not defensible in any terms except “the strong do what they will, the weak suffer what they must.”

And no one who is Jewish should want to live in such a world.

Some Jews are Zionists, but not all Jews are Zionists. This is fairly basic.

One can be against the Zionist project and not be against the Jewish people. It is evil of Israel to wrap themselves in Jewishness, and push their crimes onto people who had nothing to do with them.

Some Jews are Zionists, but not all Jews are Zionists. This is fairly basic. One can be against the Zionist project and not be against the Jewish people. It is evil of Israel to wrap themselves in Jewishness, and push their crimes onto people who had nothing to do with them.

In the long run, the crimes of Israel, because Israelis wrap them in “Jewishness” do more damage to Jews than perhaps even to Palestinians.

Being Jewish and being Israeli and being Zionist are three different things.

Conflating them is wrong.

There isn’t much of a real opposition left in Israel; of people who genuinely oppose stealing other people’s homes. But they exist. That’s why being Israeli /= being Zionist.

Being Zionist means believing you have a right to take other people’s homes. Being Israeli is citizenship

This is similar to the fact that both Russia and the US have done a lot of evil shit, but that doesn’t mean all Russians or Americans are evil, just the ones who support doing evil shit.

Likewise, there were Germans who opposed the Nazis. They were not evil. They were good.

You don’t get to choose if you’re German, or Jewish, or American, or Russian. You do get to choose whether you’re a Nazi, a Zionist, a Neocon or a Stalinist.

You get to decide whether you support doing evil or oppose it.

Apartheid is evil. Are you for it, or against it?

This is a donor supported site, so if you value the writing, please DONATE or SUBSCRIBE

Jews to Be a Nationality


President Trump will sign an executive order defining Judaism as a nationality, not just a religion, thus bolstering the Education Department’s efforts to stamp out “Boycott Israel” movements on college campuses

This is, of course, the standard anti-semitic smear of the 19th and 20th centuries: That Jews cannot be loyal to their country, because they are loyal to other Jews first. This was also said, by the way, of Catholics, because of the Pope, and it’s why John F. Kennedy becoming President as a Catholic was a big deal, and why he felt he had to explicitly state that he wouldn’t take orders from the Pope.

But all those Jews, and there are many, who have been so vehement in support of Israel that they say, in effect, that any criticism of Israel is criticism of Jews and therefore anti-semitic have also brought us here.

Trump just believes them. The interests of Jews and Israel are identical, to him. Just like they are to the Anti-Defamation League.

This is, of course, a horrible thing. It will lead, in time, to many people being sure that Jews are traitors to the US, because they put another country before the US. Traitors are generally considered to deserve death.

How did we get here?

Well, Hitler genocided millions of Jews–after he liquidated the socialists and trade unionists (he knew his real enemies). That scared and horrified many Jews, as it would anyone. So a bunch of them, in a land they didn’t control, used military force to throw out the then-current occupants (if they didn’t, then their opposition to Palestinians returning and taking their homes back is odd), and set up a religious ethnostate. Because if someone genocides your people, the best response is to ethnic cleanse another group. (Yeah, it meets the definition, sorry.)

At this point, the Israelis rule a lot of Palestinians and treat them terribly, in what many consider an apartheid system. Nelson Mandela always opposed the occupation, and his grandson has straight-up said Israel is an apartheid state.

So the sort of people who oppose injustice now want to treat Israel the way South Africa was treated when it was an apartheid state. But the Israeli lobby is extremely strong in the US (please don’t waste anyone’s time denying this), in large part because of the large numbers of American Jews who support Israel, even when it’s doing evil things. (The other large group supporting Israel is the evangelicals, who want Israel to put up the Temple so that the apocalypse can happen. Nice folks.)

So Trump is giving Israeli supporters and Jews (not the same group, always) what he thinks they want.

Perhaps the real problem is nationalism: the idea that every ethnic group deserves self-determination in the form of its own state. Perhaps that’s a bad idea, actually. (Nazism comes directly out of this: “Blood and land and folk.”) Perhaps ethnic states aren’t a good thing, because we shouldn’t base how we treat people on their ethnicity. This doesn’t mean everyone has to open their border to unlimited immigration or any thing silly, but it does mean people in their country should be treated equally.

That’s all that’s being asked for these days. Treat Palestinians equally. Make them citizens with equal rights. The two-state solution is dead, anyone looking at a map knows that. So, are you going to have a massive second-class population or actually be a genuinely democratic state?

The problem is that Israel can’t remain a religious ethnostate if it does that.

Meanwhile, putting Israel first, before Jews has, in effect, lead to a situation in the US which imperils Jews. In Britain it has lead to an entire campaign run on the idea that Corbyn is anti-semitic, when he’s spent his entire life fighting racism. Why? Because Corbyn is opposed to current Israeli policy towards Palestinians.

The funny thing is that both Israel and Jewish people would be safer and better off if they simply did the right thing and gave Palestinians citizenship.

But people who have been terribly abused too often think that abusing other people is the only way to be safe.

It’s sad, and I hope for everyone’s sake–especially the Jews and Palestinians–that this era of conflating Jewish and Israeli interests and of weaponizing charges of anti-semitism against people who oppose injustice, ends soon.

We’ll all, minus some settlers, be a lot better off.

(Or, to put it another way: Don’t be evil, K?)

Money would be rather useful, as I don’t get paid by the piece. If you want to support my writing, please DONATE or SUBSCRIBE.

The End of Israel?

I will confess that over the years I have moved from a strong support of the Israeli side to a disgust so deep that it is almost existential. I am not so self-righteous, so sure of my Gandhi-nature, to think that if I had been born in Palestine, as a Palestinian, that I would be committed to a non violent solution.

People don’t seem to get it. Most Palestinians have never known anything but occupation. They have never known anything but curfews, residences being bulldozed, travel passes and settlers moving in increasing numbers and taking the best land, along with access to water.

They have never known anything but a boot in the face. It’s that simple.

And the Israeli army, once the finest in the world, has been, as all armies are, coarsenened by the occupation. The Israeli state bemoans suicide bombers, then kills Palestinian opposition leaders with rockets – rockets they know will cause collateral damage (a phrase that means “will kill innocents”). They have complete access to the country and could easily assassinate people cleanly, without collateral casualties – they choose not to. They could arrest those same people, again easily. They chose not to. The blood is on their hands as much as those of the innocent Israeli citizens killed by Palestinian suicide bombers and rockets.

But there is much more blood on their hands. Much, much more. As with the narcissism that is America bewailing its losses (oh, you’ve lost 2,500, eh? How many have the Iraqis lost?) Palestinian losses are much higher than Israeli, and like Israeli they are predominantly innocent civilians who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

But I find it funny too, in a dark sort of way. My cold hard calculation is that the odds favouring Israel’s survival as a Jewish state have never been worse. Over time demographic realities will end the possibility of a two state solution. They will come to be an ethnic and religious minority ruling over bantustans full of Muslims who can’t vote, who are subject to attack, who are not allowed enough water for agriculture, who require passes to trvel from one part of Palestine to another – people who are clearly disenfranchised second class citizens.

Failure to make peace with Palestinians; greed for more and more of Palestine; the constant undermining of any faction capable of actually delivering a peace (ie. what is happening to Hamas right now); refusal to negotiate until the Palestinians have given up most of the items on the table prior to negotiation – all of these have doomed Israel to turn into South Africa.

Oh, none of this is to say that Palestinians bear no blame, let alone all the Muslim nations who have chosen to use the Palestinian situation as a political football. There have been despicable acts on both sides. But Israel chose to occupy Palestine – they chose to rule over non-citizens, and to keep them down with a military boot. They are the ones with the most power in the relationship – and in the end it is their dream of a safe Jewish state which is going to be destroyed by their own actions.

For the two-state dream is dying. Failure to achieve it leaves Palestinians clearly under Israeli rule. The majority of them have never known anything but Israeli rule.

What do you call a person who is subject to the authority of a country, who was born in land that country rules, who does not have a vote?

The failure of a two state solution, the insistence that Israel has the right to do anything it wants, including arresting cabinet ministers of a foreign government, in their own country, makes it clear that Palestine is not a separate country.

And if it is not a separate country, then it is part of Israel. And in the end it will be recognized as such.

Soon enough America is not going to be able to afford to continue massive subsidies of Israel. Soon enough protectionism and isolationism is going to be on the upswing. Soon enough other powers, like Europe and China, will find their relative power growing.

Soon enough, Uncle Sam isn’t going to be enough.

Soon enough, Israel is going to find itself all alone, locked in a country with a mjority of the population being Palestinian – Palestinians who have every reason to hate their occupiers.

And they will be faced with a series of horrible choices, choices that will either see the end of Israel as a Jewish state, will see them turn to ethnic cleansing, or will require them, at long last, to face what occupying another people’s country has done to their noble dream.

Originally Written June 29th, 2006 at the Agonist. More true now than it was then.

Netanyahu’s Delusional Desire to Attack Iran

Netanyahu states that if the US doesn’t deal with Iran’s “nuclear program”, Israel will.

Neither Netanyahu nor his principal military advisers would suggest a deadline for American progress on the Iran nuclear program, though one aide said pointedly that Israeli time lines are now drawn in months, “not years.” These same military advisers told me that they believe Iran’s defenses remain penetrable, and that Israel would not necessarily need American approval to launch an attack. “The problem is not military capability, the problem is whether you have the stomach, the political will, to take action,” one of his advisers, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told me.

This is like saying “if Russia doesn’t stop its program to create apocalyptic fairies, we will attack them”.  That is to say, while Iran certainly has a nuclear program, there is no credible evidence that it is trying to get nuclear weapons, only civilian nuclear technology.

And while Iranian defenses may be “permeable”, who, exactly, is going to give Israel overflight rights to get its planes to Iran?  Add to that the fact that Israel will need multiple sorties, unless it wants to use nuclear weapons itself (which would be somewhat ironic) and there’s a fair chunk of bluster going on here.

And then there is Netanyahu’s apocalyptic hysteria:

In unusually blunt language, Netanyahu said of the Iranian leadership, “You don’t want a messianic apocalyptic cult controlling atomic bombs. When the wide-eyed believer gets hold of the reins of power and the weapons of mass death, then the entire world should start worrying, and that is what is happening in Iran.”

This is just propaganda, or if not that, self-delusion.  There is no credible evidence that Iran is willing to accept certain nuclear annihilation in order to use nuclear weapons on Israel.  Nukes come with return addresses, even nukes given to terrorists.  Iran having nukes just means it can’t itself be nuked without retaliation, what Israel is concerned about is not the possibility of pre-emptive nuclear war started by Iran, but the fact that if Iran was to get nukes (again, there is no evidence they are trying, but Israeli decision makers don’t appear to care about evidence) then Israel would loose its Middle Eastern nuclear monopoly.

If the US greenlights an Israeli attack on Iran it risks having both Iraq and Afghanistan go up in flames, and having Iran shut down the Strait of Hormuz, which would send the price of oil through the roof and put intolerable pressure on the world economy.

In no way is an Israeli attack on Iran in America’s interests.  In no way is it in Israel’s interests.  However, like the Israeli attack on Gaza, it may serve domestic Israeli political needs, by making Israelis feel tough and as if they are doing something for their security.  Like the attack on Gaza, however, all it will accomplish is to make the rest of the world trust and like Israel even less.  And it may make Iran decide that it does actually need nuclear weapons.

Israeli decision makers are abominably bad.  After failing to achieve their goals in Lebanon (destroy Hezbollah) or Gaza (end smuggling and missile attacks) they now claim they want to attack another country for doing something there is no evidence it is doing.

George Bush would approve, I suppose.

How ‘Bout Treating Palestinians Like Equal Human Beings

Pat Lang sums it up nicely:

On a grander scale, Israeli complaints of continued Palestinian (Hamas) smuggling of supplies and munitions are a validation of the analytic comments I made here and on television to the effect that the Israeli effort at Gaza (Cast Lead) would be a total strategic failure if the Palestinians did not submit to the Israeli collective will as a result of that punitive campaign.

They have not submited and so it is fair to say that “Cast Lead” was strategically a total failure that served once again to demonstrate the impotence of Israeli arms in dealing with the essence of their “problem” with the Palestinians.  What is next, forced “re-locations,” a first strike against Iran as a relief from having to deal with the truly existential issue of Palestine?  How about face to face negotiations with the Palestinians as equal human beings?  How about that?

The Palestinian problem only as three solutions—real negotiation leading to a single state or two state solution with the settlers withdrawn, or full on ethnic cleansing.  The Israelis need to cut bait and decide if they are monsters or human beings and which one they’d prefer to do.  In the meantime, until they decide that, perhaps they should stop with the deliberate war crimes:

Well, the photograph above is of white phosphorus shell fired from either artillery or mortars.  It is bursting over an upscale civilian apartment development.  There are a lot of pictures like this.  Any old soldier, including ones from the IDF, knows that this is white phosphorus shell.

White phosphorus (a metal) burns on contact with air.  It burns under water.  If you get it on you, it will burn through your arm, leg, etc., until the burning phosporus comes out the other side.  Your only real recourse is to cut it out of you with a knofe before it does so.  White phosphorus shell is legally used for generating smoke on the battlefield.  It used to be common in aerial bombs.  Germany and Japan were heavily bombed with this among many other  things for the specific purpose of burning down their towns.

So.  The IDF spokeman is a liar.  The question of whther and to what extent the IDF also shot civilians deliberately I leave to the conscience of IDF soldiers who seem unwilling to shut up about it.  God bless them.

Saying this sort of thing is one of the last taboos, where you can get real pressure to stop.  But I don’t imagine Pat Lang cares much what people tell him to do and I think the worm is slowly turning.  The Israelis deliberate decision to commit premeditated war crimes during the Gaza incursion turned a lot of stomachs.  It was different mostly in degree, not kind, to the sort of thing they’ve done before but just people have a threshold beyond which evil becomes too hard to ignore.

Hopefully Americans and, more importantly, the arbiters of American discourse in the media and politics, are beginning to be tired of covering up Israeli atrocities.


And meanwhile the Israelis are 0 for 2.  Neither their war against Hezbollah nor against Gaza achieved the goals they themselves declared were the victory conditions.

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén