AIPAC American foreign policy American Jews Charles Freeman Israel Israel lobby

Two myths about Charles Freeman and the Israel lobby

I’ve patiently tried to dissect who was responsible for the Charles Freeman fiasco and to discern what it portends for the Obama administration. Some commentary on the commentary:

Myth #1: The “Israel lobby” and AIPAC per se were not behind the opposition to Freeman; it was just a bunch of loud neocons.

AIPAC has publicly denied that it lobbied against the appointment. Joe Klein writes that Freeman: “ pins his departure on ‘the Israel Lobby,’ which is imprecise. He was the victim of a mob, not a lobby. The mob was composed primarily of Jewish neoconservatives–abetted by less than courageous public servants like Senator Chuck Schumer, who has publicly taken credit for the hit.”

Similarly, Jim Besser (a great reporter whom I admire) writes that he “saw no evidence the “lobby” — meaning AIPAC itself – was involved in the anti-Freeman effort, although that effort was sparked to a considerable degree by Steve Rosen, a former top AIPAC employee, and there’s plenty of evidence the more right-wing elements of the pro-Israel movement were heavily involved.”

Sorry, fellas. Very reliable sources inform me that Josh Block, an AIPAC spokesperson, contacted bloggers and journalists expressing concern about Freeman. That is probably what Freeman referred to when he mentioned “easily traceable e-mails” in the announcement that he was giving up the fight. Trust me on this one. I had to think twice about writing it because I want Block, who is generally very nice to critical journalists at the AIPAC Policy Conferences, to be nice to me. There is no way I would have written it unless it were manifestly true, and important.

Even it were not true, it is simply inconceivable that Mark Kirk, Charles Schumer and other Congressfolk who publicly objected to Freeman would have done so without the encouragement –or winks and nods– of AIPAC. The Hill is where it lives and breathes, and nothing this important could have been orchestrated without its blessing.

Myth #2: The Freeman fracas proves that the conventional Israel lobby has the power to dictate Middle East policy by ensuring that no one willing to criticize Israel will get a hearing in the Administration. Here is Andrew Sullivan on the meaning of power in Washington: “You get to dictate to a president who he can and cannot appoint to his own intelligence staff. This was not a Senate-confirmation issue. And it was not because of some financial or tax issue. It was because of what he believed. And a president is simply not allowed to have that kind of diversity of view in his administration. And he knows this is a battle he shouldn’t fight.”

Almost, but not quite…The Freeman affair shows that the lobby knows how to convey the IMPRESSION that it has the power to dictate Middle East policy, and that it will make life miserable for any President who wants to take an independent course on Israel. Ron Kampeas of the JTA has an interesting take on this:

I’d like to argue that if, theoretically, a critic of Israel’s occupation had been appointed to a sensitive, senior security position without Freeman’s baggage, jampacked with apologias for the Saudi and the Chinese dictatorships, such a person would have been a serious test of the pro-Israel lobby’s power. I’d like to argue the point, but I don’t have to: Samantha Power, after all, handles multilateral organizations on the National Security Council.

Samantha Power, who accused Israel of war crimes, who called for moneys for Israel to be diverted to the Palestinians, who called for an interventionary force to protect the Palestinians from Israel. And yes, I know the White House placated pro-Israel figures by saying that her work would be confined to Darfur and other non-Israel issues. And then her first assignment was: Durban. With nary a pro-Israel complaint. With the blessing (not that it would have mattered, I think) of one of Freeman’s fiercest critics, Marty Peretz.

Freeman’s appointment was not a serious test of the lobby’s power. Not even close. He had enough extra baggage to make him an easy mark. It is an example of a pattern that is familiar to those who follow the lobby closely: it only picks fights that it knows it can win, at least when it comes to assaulting individual reputations. One important goal of these very occasional battles is to demonstrate the ability to affect political outcomes in order to make the political elite more docile. As one Congressional staffer told me: “They only kill the deer when it is wounded and in the middle of the road.”

This whole Freeman affair is an example of what my wife, who is in the ad biz, calls “power puffery.” AIPAC and its allies manipulate perceptions and create exaggerated notions of their resources and influence, and foster the widespread belief that both elected and appointed officials cross swords with the lobby at their peril.

But the Hill is filled with an increasing number of Representatives and Senators who don’t hesitate to criticize Israel and even the Israel lobby, and nothing ever happens to them. There can and should be many more. For example, if anyone is a logical target for AIPAC’s wrath, it is Rep. Jim Moran, the Virginia Dem who blamed Israel’s supporters for the Iraq War and was roundly condemned by his own party in 2002. He’s been re-elected twice. The AIPACers know they can’t beat him, so they haven’t tried (at least they haven’t tried very hard). I get into all of this is in much more detail in my book. Sorry, can’t give away more now.

Yes, Hobbes was mostly correct: ‘The perception of power is power.” But that is true only if people allow it to be true, if they don’t bother to scrutinize carefully the extent to which someone can actually do what he wants you to believe he can do. Samantha Power got the Durban portfolio, for God’s sake! Of course, Obama will take political risks if he relies on people who want to help him chart a truly independent course in the Middle East. But the risks are not as great as the lobby, and the critics who help it puff up its power, want us to believe. And that is good news.

100 thoughts on “Two myths about Charles Freeman and the Israel lobby

  1. I don’t doubt that individuals within AIPAC participated in the suggestion and even direct character assassination. How can you be sure to what extent that occurred?

    E-mail is very easy to bulk mail, and to falsify addresses. Ask any professional spammer.

    I guess you’re saying that they wanted Freeman and others to know that it was AIPAC and “supporters”.

    What specifically was Freeman accused of?

  2. Zoya,
    I’m a skeptic. I take seriously my responsibility to not defame others without some knowledge, and limited to what I actually know.

    If I don’t know but suspect, I state that my impression is a suspicion, not knowledge.

    I don’t know the facts about Freeman, and am unwilling to weigh in in condemnation or even criticism, until I have some basis of knowledge.

  3. Dan,

    I agree with the gist of the post, and it’s probably true that Freeman’s comments about Israel, in and of themselves, would not have been sufficient to sink his nomination. That being said, the comparison to Samantha Power is problematic. Freeman was not an academic celebrity the way that Samantha Power is, and didn’t have the kind of network of support that Power has. More importantly, how much has Power really written about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? Yeah, she’s touched on it in a few essays, but it’s far from being a major focus of her writing; certainly nowhere near as extensively as Freeman has.

  4. And Power isn’t exactly squeaky clean on past matters either re: Bosnia. I am not too distinguished on her views on Israel but Peter did make a good point: she is somewhat of a celebrity, like Albright.

    Freeman’s baggage is really not that much baggage when held up in the spotlight. Alot of it was mangled and contorted to fit into a good smear campaign (and that whole Saudi thing is rather embarrassing since so many who serve have or have had ties to Saudi money.).

    As we would have it, Freeman would not be where he is (or was) today if it were not for this “baggage”. What a paradox.

  5. Peter,

    “Freeman was not an academic celebrity the way that Samantha Power is, and didn’t have the kind of network of support that Power has”

    True. That reinforces my second argument. They knew they were less likely to win with Power. It doesn’t matter that her focus hasn’t been on the Is-Pals; she let loose with enough opinions to qualify her as a candidate to be a target. But she didn’t pass the test.

  6. Dan: Block is quoted in the NYT as saying Aipac “took no position on Freeman.” You’ll note that at no time does he deny he spread material against Freeman. Smearing him in private is diff. than “taking a position” on him. This is plausible but mendacious deniability.

    One blogger I read (can’t remember the name) asked Block point blank whether Aipac was “informing” people about Freeman’s history. His reply: “No comment.” That is all ye need to know.

    You’re giving Block far too much power to be afraid of crossing him. He’s not God & he’s not even your Jewish mama. He’s just a paid PR flack earning too much money for doing really nasty things to people like Chas. Freeman. I doubt he considers you or I more than a fly in his ointment.

  7. Phil Weiss is in a foul mood because of Freeman’s exit and kicked me and other defenders of Israel off his site this evening.

    Unless I was going to talk about exporting Jews, the Jewish conspiracy, or how Freeman was brave (not!) for stamping his feet, Phil didn’t want to hear it.

    It’s probably a good thing I’m banned because his blog is a very negative atmosphere. He’s attracted haters, and there is no meaningful dialogue there.

    Anyway, I agree that it wasn’t the Jewish Lobby that ousted Freeman. I don’t agree that it was strictly neocons though.

    I think the guy rubbed a lot of people the wrong way.

    Apparently Nancy Pelosi took issue with his remarks about China. I heard she’s been heavily involved in human rights issues in China and she was disgusted by what he said re: Tiannamen.

    I didn’t have a definite opinion on him one way or the other until he pulled out and acted like a volatile, graceless sore loser. Now I’m just grateful that we found out about him before it was too late.

    He’s a very divisive individual–and the concern about him was spot on.

  8. BTW–hopefully I’m not repeating old news everyone already knows…but Freeman apparently contacted Laura Rozen of Foreign Policy and insisted that Charles Schumer wasn’t involved in this.

    His name has been thrown a lot, so I figured I’d mention it. 🙂

  9. Suzanne,

    You will probably feel more welcome here. The whackos leave Dan alone, by and large. I don’t generally care much about these strictly inside-the-Beltway tiffs. They are tiresome and don’t usually teach me anything useful. But Schumer is my Senator, so I checked him out. He may not have had anything to do with it, but his office sent a statement claiming credit for it, according to Greg Sargent:

  10. Again, so what was Freeman accused of?

    I can’t find anything substantive written except for the fracas.

  11. Richard,

    Go to Steven Rosen’s blog :

    Rosen is the guy who started it, on Feb. 19th:

    “This is a profoundly disturbing appointment, if the report is correct. Freeman is a strident critic of Israel, and a textbook case of the old-line Arabism that afflicted American diplomacy at the time the state of Israel was born. His views of the region are what you would expect in the Saudi foreign ministry, with which he maintains an extremely close relationship, not the top CIA position for analytic products going to the President of the United States.

    “Here is a sample of his views on Israel, from his Remarks to the National Council on US-Arab Relations on September 12, 2005: “As long as the United States continues unconditionally to provide the subsidies and political protection that make the Israeli occupation and the high-handed and self-defeating policies it engenders possible, there is little, if any, reason to hope that anything resembling the former peace process can be resurrected. Israeli occupation and settlement of Arab lands is inherently violent. …And as long as such Israeli violence against Palestinians continues, it is utterly unrealistic to expect that Palestinians will stand down from violent resistance and retaliation against Israelis. Mr. Sharon is far from a stupid man; he understands this. So, when he sets the complete absence of Palestinian violence as a precondition for implementing the road map or any other negotiating process, he is deliberately setting a precondition he knows can never be met.”

    There are other accusations, including the funding he received from Saudi clients and his defense of the Saudis’s attempts to modernize. But they are relatively easy to find.

  12. Oh yeah, Richard Witty is a real skeptic, except when it comes to “Hamas” and their “shelling civilians,” a ridiculously trumped-up charge necessary to keep Gaza 2008/09 from looking like the criminal Israeli war of aggression it was. Neither does his skepticism extend to anything written by Alan Dershowitz or other notorious fact-free Zionist partisans.

    Skepticism is useful and I am all for delineating what “the Lobby” is and isn’t; at the same time, it’s clear at this point that hair-splitting is a conscious obfuscatory strategy among Israel apologists and Lobby-deniers.

  13. Unless I was going to talk about exporting Jews, the Jewish conspiracy, or how Freeman was brave (not!) for stamping his feet, Phil didn’t want to hear it.

    Obviously Phil just hates the JOOOOOOOOOOOOOS, right Suzanne? That’s the only logical explanation for anyone raising questions about Zionist corruption and power politics in the U.S.

    Your comments on his site are beyond useless; you’re a closed-minded Jewish bigot and war-monger whose indoctrination into eternal victimhood makes you paranoid, hysterical, disruptive, and passive-aggressive. I’m pretty sure Phil didn’t really even ban you–but don’t let the facts stop you from screaming “pogroms!”

  14. Is that the sum total of the accusation, or was there more?

    Please review what was and is still said of Rahm Emanuel’s prospective appointment (some true no doubt, but intended to INFLUENCE Obama’s internal staff decision).

    Its fear based. “We fear that Rahm will do this in a biased manner.” “We fear that Freeman will do this in a biased manner.”

    Neither holier and more transparent than the other.

    What is the content? is the important question.

    If there are substantive doubts stated as doubts (Shumer’s public comments at least), then it is not irrational to voice them. And, it is the responsibility of the candidate to address them.

    Although I am skeptical of Commentary, there was a posting on Stephen Walt’s blog inquiring why Freeman’s supporters did not publicly and clearly describe the basis of their SUPPORT for his candidacy.

    Instead it was treated as nearly solely a partison question relative to the fetished distorter. (You know the mote in the eye question. Lots of distortion going around from multiple sides, and a lot of adrenaline, and NOT a lot of reasoning.)

    Do we need to demonstrate the cliche of the left, of how divisive and willing we are to similarly assassinate character?

  15. MM, I don’t have the time or energy to regularly monitor comments but did catch this last one. The last paragraph is a collection of insults and not much more. Let’s try for substantive conversation, OK? Thanks in advance

  16. Teddy–I’ll take your word for it that the exchange here is mostly civil. 🙂

    MM is in denial about the climate at Mondoweiss, but anybody can go there and read it for themselves.

    And yes, I was banned. My posts don’t show up.

    It was lazy of me to continue posting there. I don’t frequent a ton of blogs and started posting there by default. Bad decision, really. There’s little intellect there, zero logic or rational thought. And immaturity up the wazoo.

    I’m not going to get into any baiting here with MM & ilk….if the tone here is balanced and civil, I will certainly be the same.

  17. One of the reasons I wasn’t too hung up on Freeman’s appointment was because I heard that his views had no effect one way or the other on the work he’d be doing.

    of course, I took that at face value and didn’t really try to educate myself about what exactly he’d be doing. I don’t even know if that information is widely available.

    Has anybody explored that at all?

  18. His job as I understand it would be to select intelligence data collected for communication upstream to National Security staff and eventually the president. I don’t know what relation the position has to the CIA, which would ultimately be under Podesta.

    The failings during the Iraq War and prospectively prior to 911 in conveying interpreted data upstream was a conspicuous lapse of the Bush administration.

  19. From the Forward:

    ‘The responsibilities of the chairman of the NIC vary according to the decision of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. Freeman, if chosen for the post and confirmed by the Senate, is expected to play an important role in shaping the National Intelligence Estimate, which is one of the main tools in forming the national security policy on a broad range of issues, including Iran. Freeman could also take part in the daily intelligence briefings provided to Obama.’

  20. Suzanne, I bet you your comments don’t show up because of some technical issue (cookies?) Phil doesn’t have time to filter comments and even if he did he would have filtered chril berel before you. From checking the last thread there, this guy is alive and kicking.

  21. re: chairman of NIC responsibilities: I can JUST IMAGINE the conspiracy theories flying around as to why he was pushed out of that job. haha!

    Peter—maybe it was a glitch. I’d rather be on a less divisive blog though. I was getting way too snarky and emotionally invested in my opinion–and it started eating away at my time.

  22. Did you read the Washington Post editorial on his resignation?

    “It wasn’t until Mr. Freeman withdrew from consideration for the job, however, that it became clear just how bad a selection Director of National Intelligence Dennis C. Blair had made. Mr. Freeman issued a two-page screed on Tuesday in which he described himself as the victim of a shadowy and sinister “Lobby” whose “tactics plumb the depths of dishonor and indecency” and which is “intent on enforcing adherence to the policies of a foreign government.” Yes, Mr. Freeman was referring to Americans who support Israel — and his statement was a grotesque libel. ”

    If there was a campaign, its leaders didn’t bother to contact the Post editorial board. ”

    “Just how controversial the choice would be became clear on Tuesday, when Mr. Freeman, a former ambassador to Saudi Arabia under the first President Bush, angrily withdrew his name from consideration and charged that he had been the victim of a concerted campaign by what he called “the Israel lobby.””

    With opposition to Mr. Freeman mounting, many in the White House were debating the wisdom of the selection, despite Mr. Blair’s public support for him. “In conversations with people associated with this administration, I NEVER DETECTED ANY ENTHUSIASM FOR THIS PICK,” said Ira N. Forman, executive director of the National Jewish Democratic Council.”

    Freeman’s anger.

    This morning, I expect multiple blog posts describing the conspiratorial mass media, which may be true relative to a small pond. Freeman’s public anger though contrasted with Obama’s reflectiveness.

  23. Suzanne-
    If it makes you feel any better, I was finally banned by MJ Rosenberg at TPM-Cafe, a supposedly “progressive” site. It seems Israel bashers have a problem with freedom of speech. Fortunately, this site is more civilized.

  24. looks like they lifted the ban at MOndo. I tried once more last night and it didn’t appear. But then both posts were up this morning. I find it hard to believe it was a tech problem that involved only me. Maybe Phil saw my post here. lol!

    In any case, engaging with negative people breeds one’s own negativity. So I’m going to try to make a switch and have constructive dialogue.

    Richard, the op-ed and NY times article express my sentiments exactly. It was like he was caught red-handed and lashed out. That’s the perception.

    It doesn’t hurt him because he is retired. But now there is red alert regarding any cabal seeking to undo AIPAC.

  25. Richard-
    I was frankly fed up with his endless rants about his claims that there is this gigantic conspiracy led by AIPAC and “The Jewish Lobby” to drag the US into wars and carry out other policies that supposedly are against the interests of the US (i.e. support for Israel and opposition to unreasonable Arab demands), and in addition to his claims that American Jews who support “Right-wing” positions in Israel are “disloyal” Americans. I finally said that one could do the same thing about what he is doing and exptrapolate that he is “really” a paid-for spokesman of the Arab lobby. I later said it is probably not really the case, so he should stop claiming that there is this AIPAC conspiracy he is endlessly harping on (he is now making several postings a day on this issue, whereas before the Gaza war he was making 2 or 3 posting per week). He then warned me I would be banned if I continued this line, which I didn’t. The discussion then turned to his claim that American Jews who support “right-wing Israeli positions” are really “disloyal Americans” because they are supposedly supporting a position that damages America’s interests. Other commentators there, in addition to myself pointed out that Americans have freedom of speech and freedom of association and can try to influence American foreign policy in any way they see fit, and in fact, others, besides the Jews do this, such as the anti-Castro Cuban lobby, the Greek lobby which can be said to interfere with US relations with an important NATO ally, Turkey, the Irish lobby, etc, etc, yet MJ Rosenberg doesn’t claim they are disloyal American as he does Jews. It was at this point I was banned. He even removed my existing comments on the “disloyalty” thread while leaving some replies to them hanging there in space. The fact is he has repeatedly said I had no business posting there because I live in Israel and because I am, as he defines it, “an extremist”, but he hadn’t threated to outright ban me up until now. I think it is important ot note that the Freeman case was going on at the time (I did not post any comments regarding it), but it is interesting to note what Suzanne stated about her being banned by Phil Weiss… seems that these people somehow believed that Obama’s election was going to bring about at major change in policy regarding Israel (and , thus AIPAC’s role in this) in the direction that Weiss and Rosenberg were hoping, and seeing this defeat was a shattering blow to their hopes, so perhaps they are taking out their frustrations on their critics.

  26. Y. Ben-David

    It occurs to me reading your post that a lot of this boils down to a left-wing vs right-wing power struggle–and the Jewish aspect is almost (but not quite) incidental.

    I haven’t thought this through so the logic may be flawed.

    Certainly there is an emotional component around the issue of Israel for Jews.

    But if you take that all away, would a similar fight be going on between non-Jews on both sides?

    In other words, would the same conditions be in place because of ME logistics, American interests, etc…

    I wrote this hastily, and I have to run, so hopefully what I’m trying to say makes sense.

  27. looks like they lifted the ban at MOndo. I tried once more last night and it didn’t appear. But then both posts were up this morning. I find it hard to believe it was a tech problem that involved only me. Maybe Phil saw my post here. lol!

    Many people had problems with posting. It started when Typepad changed the community software sometimes last year. Me included. It took me quite a while to realize the reason. I still have occasionally problems including disappearing mails, which I haven’t studied close enough. My default assumption is always, I must have made a mistake or there is a software problem. If you can’t post and end up on the Typepad interface. Go back reload the site and post again. It helps of couse to copy the message before, just in case. I doubt Phil censored you. What exactly happened?

    The problem with your presence on Phil’s list is that it is much harder to see what is purely reactive and what may in fact be attraction to antisemitic lines of thought. You are harming your cause more than you help it. Constant generalizations, stereotypes and invectives aren’t especially helpful to open up people to your point of view.

    At the moment you among the most divisive forces on the list.

    Why can you see the negative aspect of Freeman’s anger so clearly, including your reactions, but not consider the result of your own that drives you to really outrageous statements sometimes?

  28. E-mail is very easy to bulk mail, and to falsify addresses. Ask any professional spammer.

    This is something really easy to check, Richard. You only need to look at the header.

    Strictly, this is an interesting scenario, but why would someone falsify an address and still we see a familiar crowd picking up its contents?

  29. Who posted to me anonymously here?

    In any case, the problem with my presence on that blog, similar to the ever civil, ever patient Witty, is that I bother to show up at all.

    The statement about constant generalizations, stereotypes and invectives describes EVERYONE there, including Phil.

    That is not a blog for balanced discussion. Period.

    If stormfront, david duke, vanguard etc–as well as onsite anti-semite groupthinkers are endorsing his blog…something stinks in Denmark. 🙂

  30. The other thing I didn’t like about this divisive Freeman incident is that it potentially harmed Obama’s careful positioning as a centrist.

    I don’t know Blair all that well or where he’s coming from…but now all the nutters on the right have new fuel to add regarding his affiliations with Ayers, his patriotism, his religion etc.

    Maybe it was politics as usual, but it sure didn’t help Obama.

    I tend to think he’d been too overwhelmed to study this carefully, and it was an appointment that slipped by him. I skeptical that he knew much about Freeman before now. Maybe I’m wrong, but that’s how it appears until proven otherwise.

  31. The statement about constant generalizations, stereotypes and invectives describes EVERYONE there, including Phil.
    This is somewhat true, but it is funny coming from your mouth, Suzanne. When I first started following comments there I was taken aback by a lot of commentators with hardly concealed antisemitism, but I was equally surprised by a lack of a well-articulated opposition. The situation only got worse since then (I drop by from time to time to check comments on some posts) and the addition of the likes of chris berel and you, sorry to say, did not help, since you never contribute anything to the discussion except for sparring with the other side. Eurosabra is a bit better in this respect but even s/he ignores the discussion as soon as s/he has no good rejoinder (faced with facts contradicting his assertions.)
    I know that this will anger you but I am telling it to you straight and hope you will see it as a fair and constructive criticism. In your case, from what I saw, I feel that you don’t have a good command of facts on the I/P conflict and most of your comments there (admittedly, some of them hilarious) came as knee-jerk reactions to the comments by critics of Israel as well as the antisemites I mentioned.

  32. Peter

    Thanks so much for your daddy-esque constructive criticism. Considering that I have already acknowledged my own role in the love fest over there…your statement is a bit after-the-fact– don’t you think?

    The more objective reality is that I made BOTH substantive and reactive comments (admittedly more of the latter) over there–but YOU are too biased to see that.

    The truth is, like I said, it is NOT a place for balanced exchange.

    Do we want to keep harping on it ad nauseum or should we move on?

  33. Any chance we can avoid the personal attacks?

    The appeal of this site is substantive discussion, rather than sniping.

    I think there are number of issues that this brouhaha raises.

    There still seems to be underlying conflict between the more traditional intelligence and defense “realists” that historically have ignored or hated Jews frankly. It seems in some ways a replay of 1948, with Marshall submitting a tentative resignation to Truman if he “gave in” to the Zionists.

    There definitely is the prospect that the US will reject its commitments to Israel in favor of commitments further east (all in the name of “the Iraq war was not for oil”).

    There are obviously very large fights among old oil money over foreign policy. Cheney/Bush vs Baker/realists.

    Oil companies are among the very few that thrived so far during the recession, with ENORMOUS amounts of cash. Coming out of a recession/depression those with cash are at great advantage coming into the next growth cycle. You know social change in power dynamics.

    The fight will obviously go on, with likely many caught in the middle. Both conclusions are guessing and picking their single issue to consider.

    For example, I genuinely think that Freeman confirmed that he was the wrong man for the job, on merit, by the excessive tone of his “resignation” letter. Even if true, it was undiplomatic, graceless, an illustration of the degree of anger in him, and his willingness to allow it influence his public presentation. For example, like those that he accuses, his letter was mass-mailed (from what I read).

    To have let the fear that the Israel Lobby would be exposed motivate not objecting to an unqualified candidate, would have been a worse motivation, an enabling of poor judgement.

    If he was a confidently appropriate candidate (including demeanor under pressure), the implications about the Israel Lobby as corrupting influence might have been right. If he was the wrong candidate and only the Israel Lobby stepped up to point that out, then the country owes the Lobby an acknowledgement rather than condemnation.

    How is the norm of character assassination reduced as an acceptable means of determining qualifications or other decisions?

    Not by indulging in it (as I just did in forming a judgement about Freeman without really knowing his work at all, except my reaction to the tone of his letter.)

  34. but YOU are too biased to see that.

    cozy attitude. Bias is always something others have. This surely helps a lot in life.

    The truth is, like I said, it is NOT a place for balanced exchange.

    Has balance any meaning without looking at the argumentative load in the opposing sides of the scales? I don’t think you tried to be balanced, but you are partisan. Strictly no problem. The problem, here I agree with Peter D. is that you substitute argument with invectives. Not always, but more frequently than not.

    Balance for you is the mainstream perception, the power perception. You drew my anger when you attacked two persons with no argument at all and perceivable no understanding for them. You simply perceived them as enemies. Immediately attacked them and used invectives.

    Do you know now, who I am?

  35. Richard W, did you consider that maybe the guy saw this letter as an opportunity to expose what he considers an ill, rather than just behaving ungracefully under pressure? In that case it was a brilliant move, since all of a sudden the words “Israel Lobby” appeared on the pages of MSM worldwide, especially in the US. Thus, he was able to transform his defeat into an opportunity to expose the almost untouchable issue.

  36. He could have been a guerilla, in his last public voice.

    His letter did not say “see, I was the right man for the job”.

  37. oh jaysus…Witty’s anonymous critic shows up expressing abandonment issues over my departure from THAT BLOG. haha!

    Peter wrote: “did you consider that maybe the guy saw this letter as an opportunity to expose what he considers an ill, rather than just behaving ungracefully under pressure?”

    Maybe, but it’s all in the perception. I believe in general, people don’t take kindly to someone who looks like they are whining. Even if they are correct in what they say. It’s one of those unfair things in life.

    As for Richard speculating about whether or not he’s right for the job–I’ve never worked for Intelligence so I know diddly squat about whether his views potentially compromised the position.

    His statements about China etc were pretty offensive in any kind of context. In the end, too little is known about the man or the job for any of us to truly form an educated opinion, imo. ( Unless somebody here works in Intelligence??? )

    The other question is…what is the truth (not speculation) about why various sectors wanted him out of that job?

    And appended to that question: was he a political pick or a purely qualified pick? Or a little of both?

  38. I am getting the feeling that the ongoing crisis in the Zionist Left is reaching unprecendented levels of despair. Here are a couple of examples:
    (1) Richard Silverstein has a thread today entitled “AIPAC-THE LYING LIARS OF THE ISRAEL LOBBY” (“lying liars”? as opposed to “truthful liars”?) His passionate views are garbling his expressing of his views.

    (2) MJ Rosenberg has a thread today at TMP CAFE which he calls a “FIRESTORM” of opposition to the Israel Lobby’s supposed success in getting Freeman to withdraw his nomination for the post he was seeking. He has a hypertext link under the word “FIRESTORM”. I would have assumed that there would have been a whole series of articles from around the US referenced, instead there was ONE article by himself in the Los Angeles Times, which then refers to another op-ed piece by the Times. Nothing else, no “firestorm”.
    I feel a lot of rage and frustration from Silverstein who seems to be bursting out with epithets (while keeping his language clean) and Rosenberg, grossly inflating the response to his pet subject. I didn’t see any other TPM commentator even refer to it.
    What is happening here? As I pointed out above, Rosenberg used to post 2 to 3 pieces a week, but since the Gaza War, it has gone up to 2 to 3 pieces every day.

    I am using them as examples of part of the the American pro-Zionist Left. They along with the more mainline parts of this movement are truly in an existential crisis, but their part of it is truly immersed in immense rage and frustration-there are no other words for it. Why is this?

    First of all, Labor Zionism has inherent contradictions in its ideology….Jewish nationalism combined with socialism and universalism. The socialism has long-ago died so this leaves the tension between the essentially incompatible Jewish nationalism and universalism. For Rosenberg, this manifests his insistence that American Jews who don’t agree with his far-Left fringe views on Israel are “disloyal Americans”.

    Secondly, the death of the “peace process”. This has lead to despair that any peace agreement can be reached. But instead of blaming the Arabs, who are the cause of this impasse, they blame Israel (and the Israel Lobby) by claiming that it is the Arabs who want peace, and if only Israel were pressured enough there would be peace. The election of Obama and the choice of harsh critics of Israel like Freeman were supposed to herald a new era in which, finally, the magic forumla would be found to make peace and an American Administration would finally use force against a recalcitrant Israeli gov’t to make it happen. Freeman’s withdrawal, and Obama’s incoherent policies are indicating that nothing is going to change. (of course, as I indicated, those who think Obama can really make a difference and removing “pro-Israel” advisors like Dennis Ross and replacing them with critics of Israel would cause peace to break out are only deluding themselves, because the impasse is on the Arab side).

    Third, the fact that the outgoing government, a government of the Left, without the “usual suspects” Likud/settler/Haredi-Ultra-Orthodox
    parties in the coalition, not only led Israel into an impasse in the so-called “peace process”, but bequethed Israel TWO wars within THREE years, both of which are now viewed as failures, not to mention the ongoing hostage crisis involving Gilad Shalit that can only be resolved by a complete capitulation to HAMAS demands which would mean a total, complete, unmitigated defeat by Israel (Churchill’s words).
    Thus, there is no “political savior” on the horizon for this Left in despar which would allow them to say “if only so-and-so were in power, there would be peace”

    Fourth, the fact that the classical Zionist Left parties, i.e. Labor and MERETZ suffered a devastating defeat in the Israeli elections, in addition to the fact that the Israeli public INCLUDING THE LEFT, overwhelmingly supported the Gaza war. Even classical pro-Zionist Left figures like Eric Yoffe blasted J-Street for its “neutral” position during the Gaza war, and I do note they have been pretty quiet since then.

    This, it seems to me explains the anger we see emenating from these figures. The question I have is: “how representative of the Zionist Left are people like Rosenberg and Silverstein?”-is the fact they are well-known in cyber-circles mean they are representative of anyone other than themselves? We see polls show that the Gaza war did not affect support for Israel in the general American public very much if at all. Is this true of the Jewish community as well? If Silverstein and Roseberg really speak for a significant number of Jews, are we going to see this group finally turn their back on Israel and the Jewish people entirely and go in the direction of Phil Weiss? ….or are they essentially a fringe phenomenon? There are people like this in Israel…a good example is Avraham Burg, who has pretty much turned his back on Zionism and is someone who curses Israel at every opportuntiy. Richard Silverstein viewed his book as a major break in Israeli society, indicating that that a significant part of Israel society is adopting his (Silverstein’s) views, but it was explained to him that Burg is not taken seriously by more than a handful of people in Israel, which upset Silverstein to hear. The proof, of course, that this is the case is the major turn to the Right in the elections and the mass support for the Gaza War.

    Thus, it is unclear if we are on the verge of a major crisis within the Zionist camp or not. Is the Zionist Left on the verge of giving up on Israel (as Silverstein and Rosenberg are doing) or not?

  39. Y B-D,

    You just wrote:

    If Silverstein and Roseberg really speak for a significant number of Jews, are we going to see this group finally turn their back on Israel and the Jewish people entirely and go in the direction of Phil Weiss?… Is the Zionist Left on the verge of giving up on Israel (as Silverstein and Rosenberg are doing) or not?”

    I don’t know Richard Silverstein except through his writing but MJ Rosenberg is a friend. He loves Israel, cares about its future and believes that you –and those who share your ideology –are helping the democratic Jewish state to commit suicide. The fact that he is out there, plugging away, means he is not turning his back on Israel. Just the opposite. He is facing Israel squarely, with all of its contradictions, and trying to help it survive in spite of you.

  40. Is the Zionist Left on the verge of giving up on Israel (as Silverstein and Rosenberg are doing) or not?

    It is hard to predict. Certainly a lot of people not only from the Zionist Left but even mainstream American Jews are going to try to dis-associate themselves from Israel. I cannot imagine a flow in the opposite direction (such as happened after the Six Day War.) Those with strong “Israel right or wrong” attitude won’t be affected, but for those somewhat ambivalent every operation like Gaza, every day the misery of the Palestinians continues and finds its way into the news, makes them question their support of Israel. But the real extent of this sift is hard to gauge or predict at the moment.

  41. The common thread that I see about Phil Weiss and Richard Silverstein (I don’t know Rosenberg), is that their approach is based on what they oppose, rather than what they support.

    You did say that Yitzchak, I think.

    That leaves very little momentum and nothing created.

    Socialism has two elements to it. One is the concept of sharing (whether charity or neighborly cooperation). The second is that the agency of that sharing is the state, rather than informal or entirely voluntary organizations.

    I would hope that nature and spirituality would never let us forget that sharing and helping one another is a self-evident good. It is the real rising tide that lifts all boats. And, that that charitable urge should be so strong that whether the state or individuals or a combination does it, it results in every single individual having a path and realization of success in their lives.

    To hope for anything less on any grounds is to curse the world.

    That is the spirit that I seek to realize with Israel and with Palestine. Seeing some succeed by less than ethical means, and seeing others fail by artificial obstacles, makes a tension, a discomfort.

    There are tangible problems that must be solved, and opportunities for improvements in well-being that must be pursued, that we are entirely distracted from currently.

    An example. There was a poster on Silverstein’s blog who referenced a joint Israeli/Palestinian solar energy project that was similar to one that I had attempted to organize twelve years ago. The tone of his comments though was so critical that if he was one of the organizers it must have created a tension among the group, even to have difficult issues unnecessarily reinforced.

    I don’t hear about groups collaborating on “loving the land” that they both claim to love. (There definitely are some and deserve GREAT support in all respects.) I don’t hear much about assisting the others’ public health, that when neglected enables the spread of disease and excessive social burden all unnecessarily.

    I’m disappointed with the negativity. I’m disappointed with it among Israelis, usually stated as dismissal of the others’ lives and needs. I disappointed with the it among dissenters, that demonstrate such little self-restraint in their judgemental comments and such little commitment to those they claim to want to help.

    We talk so much, and do so little.

  42. I agree with a lot of what Richard says…and I, too, am tired of all the finger pointing.

    Everybody wants to dwell on the past, it seems–and that does nothing for Israel or Palestinians in 2009.

    It seems to me that the number 1 problem is that the Pals are economically and politically unstable. I’m sure we can sit around all day and speculate as to why (which some people prefer to do)–but the fact of the matter is that they can’t get it together. No matter how much money or aid comes their way.

    They are just too vulnerable. It makes them untrustworthy, and also–human nature–the Israelis have no respect for them and run all over them. Part of it is due to mutual hatred, it seems to me, but much of it has to do with the lack of balance in power.

    There is no way to change the dynamic, imo, until you change the balance of power.

    So I lean towards Gaza & West Bank being absorbed, respectively by Egypt and Jordan. It will give the Pals more stability, better bargaining power for water rights and zoning etc–and it assures Israel that they are living next to a neighbor who prefers life over death.

    I was pleasantly surprised to find out this Israeli General feels similarly. And perhaps it is something being discussed behind the scenes.

    It’s either this or the 5-state solution (second best, but again, the Pals can’t seem to run a state without self-imploding, so I’m doubtful):

    Reassessment of Palestine

  43. Richard, over at Peace In The Middle East, Charles Lechner is trying mightily hard to find websites that cater to ALL points of view, from Likud to Hadash, from PFLP to Fatah to Hamas and from everyone involved.

    It should be newsworthy that there are many organisations that attempts to bridge the gap between the two warring enemies. I heard on CBC Radio that there were many Israelis and Palestinians working together to figure out the water problems in the West Bank. BUT that is overshadowed by the overpowering structure of division that sees the biggest discreptancy of distribution between Israeli and Palestinian.

    Unlike yourself Richard, I’m not disappointed with the negativity. I expect it. I’m actually surprised there isn’t more pessimism, especially on the part of the Palestinian side. I certainly can not pinpoint how you came to such an attitude, but Israelis deal with occupation-life and all the baggage that comes with being under attack and attempting to go on with life as if it were normal.

    “We talk so much, and do so little.”

    I understand that sentiment. It seems that we go on and on and on, in a roundabout of debates and philosophy about what should happen, how it should happen and where things go wrong and where it can go right, and yet the situation appears unchanged, and sometimes even worse.

  44. “Everybody wants to dwell on the past…”

    There is a difference between “dwelling” and recognising it. Moving forward is one thing, but how could such a strategy be effective when nothing is addressed which involves SO MANY.

    “It’s either this or the 5-state solution (second best, but again, the Pals can’t seem to run a state without self-imploding, so I’m doubtful)…”

    Or Israel could commit itself to a two-state solution and give Palestinians sovereignty. Would “dwelling” on the past forget about how and why the Palestinians are so “unstable” economically?

    I just don’t understand why everyone else seems to know what is best for the Palestinians. No one cared about them before and now this is their way of benevolence? There has to be major steps to build here but this whole idea of “absorption” failed thirty years ago. Ironic that this attempt to assess the situation for 2009 has led it back to 1970 when the Palestinians were routed by civil wars in Jordan and Lebanon. Funnily enough, the Palestinians were more stable back then economically than they were now, and this is the best solution they can muster to IMPOSE on Palestinians.

  45. Joshua–you’re just finger pointing again, boxed into the same old dynamic with no incentive for Israel to change…and I’m telling you right now–it’s a recipe for 40 more years of the same crap.

    Screw the moralizing and the misguided idealism. If Jordan and Egypt are up for absorption (certainly there are Palestinians who have expressed interest) then go for it.

    It boils down to whether Jordan & Egypt feel differently than they did 30 years ago. If General Giora Eiland is talking about it, then presumably Egypt and Jordan are at least thinking about it.

    In any case, Israel is not my sovereign nation, and they are going to do what they’re going to do. I’m glad they are looking into this.

    Final thought…they can arguably be absorbed into an autonomous confederacy and maybe evolve towards statehood. I have no idea how that works. But ANYTHING is better than the status quo.

    They can’t make it on their own. Deal with it and move on.

  46. I have no problems with “evolving” into anything here to improve the situation. Your insistence on “finger-pointing” really absolves the power that is still expropriating land that led to the situation we are faced with in the first place.

    Personally, my own reading of Jordan and Egypt sees them are very reluctant to take in Palestinians. Mubarak and Abdullah aren’t exactly the Palestinians best friends either.

    “In any case, Israel is not my sovereign nation, and they are going to do what they’re going to do. I’m glad they are looking into this.”

    You speak as if it is though. So then if they are “looking” into a one-state solution, would you be glad too if it improves the situation.

    I am also skeptical whether your solution would improve ANYTHING at all. Simply giving Palestinians another form of citizenship without any rights of sovereignty will NOT make the situation better at all. By all accounts, it seems Israel will have every leverage in the West Bank and there will be two laws for two sets of peoples, the same situation it is NOW.

    This whole “ANYTHING is better” than what it is now may sound profound, but most are refusing to advocate the one-state solution when that is partly different from what it is now. So clearly there are things that are worse.

    “Incentive for change…”

    I really don’t understand this at all. “Incentive” to “change” a situation where you allude is so despicable that “ANYTHING is better” really deconstructs how silly your idea is, how misconstrued your viewpoint is and how truly illusory this attempt to move on really is. If Israel needs an “incentive” to change the status quo, clearly it is the one who is imposing the conditions of the hopelessness for the Palestinians (as they are the ones in clear control of their lives here). But yet you want them to have “incentives” to “change” a situation that they benefit so mightily from (ie the occupation is a haven for profit and Israeli settlers gain what they want by waiting out the occupation). The situation is untenable for the Palestinians; the case cannot be made that it is for the Israelis (unless you’re one of those Zionists who care about the character of Israel). Bibi is in NO hurry to do anything about the Palestinians. There is no emergency in the Knesset about what to do. They just shell out “proposals”; how is that different from the previous forty years?

    “Final thought…they can arguably be absorbed into an autonomous confederacy and maybe evolve towards statehood.”

    Or they could be absorbed into Israel and evolve that way? I find all of this just as kooky.

    “Screw the moralizing and the misguided idealism.”

    Easy for you to say; you aren’t screwed by checkpoints, outposts and a status quo that has “ANYTHING” being better.

  47. Dayem, Joshua…you come across like the Palestinians are your special wards of state and everybody else can just shut up. Downright territorial.

    A lot of good that’s done them.

    You’re boxed into this delusion that you can make the Israelis bend to your will–but anybody can see that is NOT going to happen. It hasn’t and it won’t. Accept it.

    You also seem to think the Palestinians have leverage and a host of options and they don’t. That’s reality. They are the weak player in this game and it’s time to start facing that fact and considering REALISTIC options.

    That, my friend, means you need to start considering Israel’s concerns as well.

    As for Palestinians being more economically stable 30-40 years ago…it was because they were able to work in Israel.

    That’s over with. Kiss it goodbye.

    If General Eiland is talking about possible absorption, then it is arguably up for consideration. Whether you approve or not.

  48. One General does not mean a thing. You make alot of assumptions, ie Palestinians have no leverage. If General Eiland is “talking about possible absorption” and you’re speaking for a situation that “ANYTHING is better than the status quo”, it seems they have a lot of leverage. In fact, Israel insists on solutions to make the situation better for Palestinians since they occupied them. You missed the point about the scenario of 30 years ago: WE ALL KNOW why they were economically better and yet they are still using the same solutions as they did back then when things were better for the Palestinians. Now they are worse off and it’s still the same old thing over and over.

    Incorrect that I am a bastion for the Palestinians: I just want justice here. Simply ignoring what has happened in the past won’t relieve a thing and it won’t make things better. Palestinian Israelis are better off and their situation is regarded as untenable; what to speak of the refugees who still want rights? What do you say to those who are still continually dispossessed and those who have lost so much in this conflict?

    Alot of things have changed. Alot of things are “over with”. This “peace process” should be kissed goodbye honestly.

    Israelis can do what they want whether I like it or not; they do it every day. So will the Palestinians whether I agree with it or not and there is alot that I don’t agree but I definitely don’t wish to impose more solutions on them when they have a clear focus on independence. That to me is reality. You want to try to make Palestinians accept something they clearly don’t want, we’ll see how that happens.

    I think you make a mistake in thinking that the Palestinians have done this all on their own. There has been so many hands on this conflict that it’s difficult to know where the occupation ends and where the Palestinian self-governance begins (that’s not to say that the Palestinians aren’t making their own mistakes, they do it an awful lot). How about stopping the occupation? That hasn’t happened.

    Weak versus strong really is a narrow point of view. Colonialism is a lesson that should never be forgotten. Just because one is weak does not mean that one has no cards to play with. This conflict may be so one-sided but that’s the way it looks now. The suffering must stop and both sides really need a retooling here but rest assured, the Palestinians can continue to resist and the Israelis can keep occupying and that really is untenable for Israel in the long run, no matter how many times they want to keep the land.

  49. Giora Eiland is a puffed balloon that hardly ten people in Israel take seriously. There are several problems with the Jordanian option or the Egyptian option. One is that neither Jordanians nor Egyptians have the slightest inclination of having anything to do with them. You could say: “but the Israelis also don’t have inclination for a solution”. Fair enough, with a couple of major differences: Palestinians are mostly Israel’s problem. Israel is trying to get rid of them, so, it is not in the same position as Egypt or Jordan on whom Israel could hypothetically try to foist them. Second, is that there is no moral imperative in the eyes of the world for Egyptians or Jordanians to accept anything of the kind, while there is one for Israel to solve the Palestinian problem. You say “Palestinians lack leverage etc”, but this also is bound to change. The world is getting tired of Israeli behavior and more and more people even in the US are beginning to realize that Israel is more a liability than asset. Every Chas Freeman-type victory is a small defeat that sooner or later will eat away at the public support of Israel in the States. Then Israel will be cornered from all directions. Both Israelis and Palestinians think that time is on their side. I am not sure about the Palestinians but it is definitely not on the side of Israel.
    Uri Avnery has a nice piece on the Jordanian option:

    The Jordanian Option is a euphemism. Its real name is “Anti-Palestinian Option”. That’s what it’s all about. Everything else is unimportant.
    THAT MAY explain the curious fact that since the 1967 war, no effort has been made to realize this “option”. The High Priests of the Jordanian Option, who preached it from every hilltop, did not lift a finger to bring it about. On the contrary, they did everything possible to prevent its realization.
    For example: during Yitzhak Rabin’s first term as prime minister, after the 1973 war, Henry Kissinger had a brilliant idea: to return the town of Jericho to King Hussein. Thus a fait accompli would have been established: the Hashemite flag would wave over West Bank territory.
    When Foreign Minister Yigal Allon brought the proposal to Rabin, he was met with an adamant refusal. Golda Meir had promised in her time that new elections would be held before any occupied territory was returned to the Arabs. “I am not prepared to go to elections because of Jericho!” Rabin exclaimed.
    The same happened when Shimon Peres reached a secret agreement with King Hussein and brought the finished product to the then prime minister, Yitzhak Shamir. Shamir threw the agreement into the waste bin.

  50. I don’t know if Israel was lying when it said that it was willing for a fair peace following Oslo. The recognition of Palestinian assertions hasn’t really improved since 1995 or so, and the degree of settlement construction truly does divide prospective Palestine.

    If Israel is not willing for a sovereign Palestine, then the two-state solution is dead in fact. Netanyahu is adamently opposed to a fully sovereign and viable Palestine.

    If Netanyahu isn’t able to form a government, what happens? Does it go to another election? Its been three weeks and he doesn’t have a coalition yet.

    The precipice posturing is so unsettling. Precipice posturing relative to Iran. Precipice posturing relative to Gaza borders.

    So many poor judgements. So many horrible consequences that prospectively could have been avoided with communication links.

    I still end up at the quandry relative to Hamas. If they had affirmed that they regarded Israel as valid, accepted (in whatever language they wanted to use for that), then a reconciliation process could have occurred. I don’t accept the sources that embellish their floating a couple times a medium term hudna. A hudna is a waiting game, an agreement to avoid each other, not a commitment to reconcile.

    I don’t know if reconciliation is possible with the horror that Hamas inflicted on Israel in the 90’s, and the experience of last month’s military actions in Gaza.

    I sincerely wish that Hamas would say, “Enough already, we’re done with this method of “resistance”. We’ll make the best of what we’ve got”.

    That’s what a state does.

  51. Its also very upsetting to me to see the tenor of dissent shift towards functional advocacy for Hamas, and the anti-semitism that they share with opportunistic demonizing propagandists.

    It very much upsets me to see Phil repeat ad nauseum the “Israel Lobby” rancor, rather than INVEST in supporting J Street, or even a sober pro-active single-state orientation, or better yet, collaborative cross cultural tangible projects.

    Thats what I mean by talk rather than act.

    They don’t realize the shifting to anger, imprinted into actual hatred.

    If there was even a viable path, a viable goal stated, then that adding pressure might result in some good, but when adding pressure is adding pressure to a pressure cooker (no prospective path or goal), then the outcome is violence.

    Only someone without children would consider encouraging revolution. We need parents and particularly mothers to lead dissent, rather than the gamut of young and childless for whom revolutionary actions have such limited consequences.

  52. What is also not discussed is that this gives perfect legitimacy for further expropriation as all of this land grab would have been legalised. No punishment there for the dispossession.

    What more of an incentive could they have to continue to fault another “peace process”?

  53. Joshua,
    You are wrong when you say that Hamas does not have options.

    It has options similar to the PLO had options, to reconsider its permanent nature of objection to the existence of Israel, and from that sincere reconsideration to actually develop civil relations around common goals.

    In resuming the shelling of civilians following the formal end of the cease-fire, it confirmed that it was NOT undertaking that reconsideration.

    Noone in a state of war has good options. Israel cannot consider killing 1300 individuals (however many were aggressors) a good outcome. The best that they can say is that it was a necessity. (Which they can’t say honestly.)

    The point is that thinking that Hamas is not mature enough to pick a path that actually fixes things, is an insult to them, a statement that they are adolescents, rather than adults.

    Their actions have and do affect a great deal.

    Again, I conclude that Hamas shelling Sderot after the cease-fire ended, added at least 10 seats to Likud and Israel Beitanyu.

    A change would affect a different electoral result in Israel, a prospect of idealism and hope, rather than a long-term endurance.

  54. …the horror that Hamas inflicted on Israel in the 90’s, and the experience of last month’s military actions in Gaza.

    A perfect Wittycism.
    Whatever… You are incorrigible. A couple of weeks it looked like you were finally shifting in the right direction, speaking of stopping supporting Israel if Netanyahu is elected. Apparently, since then you figured a perfect escape: “Hamas elected Netanyahu! Israel has nothing to do with it!”

    Regarding your criticism of Phil and other radicals, you clearly have no idea that in politics there is something called “moving the center” (Naomi Klein’s words). Without “radicals” like Phil J-Street would be radical and AIPAC the center.

  55. Richard-
    “Long-term endurance” is the ONLY option. Giora Eiland is somewhat more perceptive than other members of the power structure in Israel who deluded themselves during the Oslo euphoria…he has finally realized that the Palestinians neither want a state nor are capapble of running one if they had it. But then he falls into the old wishful thinking mode that motivated the Oslo believers in the first place…that somehow the Arab world is going to bail Israel out by taking the Palestinian hot potato out of Israel’s hands. The delusion is that the Egypt and Jordan are concerned about the Palestinians and want to improve their lives, so they would presumably take over and administer the Palestinian territories so that there can be peace with Israel.
    The only problem is that no one in the Arab world wants peace with Israel. The Arab countries, particularly those bordering Israel face a difficult dilemma. On the one hand, the Arab world agrees that the existence of a Jewish state within ANY borders is an intolerable humiliation for the Arab/Muslim world and it must be eradicated. On the other hand, it has been shown that eradicating Israel is not easy (prior to 1948 it was based on Palestinian terrorism, from 1948-1973 it was assumed that direct military force applied by Israel’s neighbors would do the trick, when this failed, it reverted to Palestinian terrorism in the 1970’s up through the recent suicide bomber war, now it is shifting to long-range rocket attacks based in neighboring territories that have no central government to restrain them-i.e. Lebanon and Gaza. Future plans include a possible Iranian nuclear weapon-but through all of this Israel has only grown stronger). On the other hand, the neighboring Arab countries need to stabilize their regimes and provide for some minimal standard of living for their populations and constant mobilization against Israel, while useful for maintaining internal discipline and for getting the people’s minds off their problems, is a serious drain on their countries economic system. Jordan has maintained a policy since 1970 of maintaining quiet on their border with Israel because they fear an exodus of Palestinians from Judea/Samaria into their country which is a matter of self-interest.
    In reality, the Arab world views the Palestinian as nothing more than cannon fodder, and they have no interest in “improving their lives”. If you find this shocking, especially considering how we have always been told that “all Arabs are brothers” and “all Muslims love one another”, then all you have to do is look at the indifference the Arab world showed to the years-long bloodshed in civil wars in Lebanon and Algeria, the popular support for the “resistance” in Iraq which consists, to a large degree, of attacks on the civilian population (much more than direct attacks on the American military presence), the popularity in the Arab street for tyrants like Saddam Hussein, etc. In fact, where was the famous “rage of the Arab street” in the recent Gaza War? While it is true that the Arab regimes try to prevent demonstrations, even those in favor of the Palestinians (in fact, the only place in the Middle East where Arabs can conduct spontaneous anti-Israel demostrations is in Israel) didn’t put up much of a show. For heaven’s sake…there were almost no demonstrations in support of the Gazans by the Palestinians in Judea/Samaria!

    Thus, we see that there is no real political pressure in the Arab world to “help improve the lives of the Palestinians”, so Giora Eiland’s proposals are a non-starter. A Palestinian state is no understood by most Israeli’s to also be a non-starter. So we are back to Richard Witty’s “tsumud”, an Arabic word meaning long-term endurance. I believe that the Arab world will eventually see that radical political Islam is leading them to a dead-end (although it is currently viewed as being in the ascendancy, with the Iranian bomb being the next milestone) just as Communism collapsed, when that happens the Arab-Israeli conflict can be addressed with a new openness and good will, but we are not at that stage, and it will be many years before we are. Most Israelis now understand what I am saying, and this is no doubt adding to the rage of Richard Silverstein, MJ Rosenberg and those who agree with them. If they can not accept this situation, then they will have no choice but to finally turn their backs on Israel because what they want is simply not achievable.

  56. Peter,
    I said substantive comments. You don’t want to look at Hamas, that’s your selective ignorance. I’m seeking a path to actually improve things, rather than end up with “I told you so” as the only good outcome, but the objective conditions end up horrible.

    I differ with you on fundamental conclusions. The primary one is your assertion that “Palestinians neither want a state nor are capapble of running one if they had it.”

    In 1947, with the severe conflicts between Irgun and Haganah (that periodically expressed in internal warring), it appeared the Israel was not able or willing to self-govern. It was desirable for Jews and for the world that an Israel emerge that could govern, and Irgun reluctantly yeilded to a more civilized approach.

    The hope is that Hamas will do so similarly, either in relation to Fatah (unlikely) or relative to other prospective leaders that offer the acknowledgement of Israel’s existence, without the historical baggage of either Hamas or Fatah.

    The current reality is that land is being stolen slowly but strategically, that does in fact harm. Whether you see it in this light is irrelevant. It is occurring, and amounts to a violation of Torah, a violation of civil law, a violation of international law. (Thats a lot of law to violate).

    By “violate” I mean that strategems are applied to take parcels of land by decree without regared to civil or in many cases, existing Israeli law, nor with any opportunity of due process that affirms the color-blind application of property laws. (That constructs an irony for Netanyahu’s advocacy of free-market principles.)

    The standard of title within civil oriented law is the standard of consent of the reasonable person.

    On questions of sovereignty, the term “violate” applies to the very rational objective to optimize the status of relative “consent of the governed”.

    The point of this for Israel, is that to employ a long-term strategy of “endurance” RATHER than reconciliation, is that that status has costs.

    There are reasons to undertake those costs in some conditions, and there are conditions in which those costs amount to a POOR CHOICE.

    The current wisdom of all the right-wing parties is that it is plausible that the Palestinian residents, and the Arab world will eventually accept that they are subordinate in former Palestine, and happy with the status that individuals’ and collectives’ land may be expropriated without due process.

    I think that is a ludicrous assumption. Its the result of a thinking that has renounced the two virtues of a mensch (compassion and intelligence/design imagination).

    I get how you got there, but I note that as a failing rather than as a source of pride. Its good to be tough, if your toughness is for a reasonable goal. This is toughness for a corrupted one.

    The common word that applies to both standards of sovereignty (what is the jurisdiction and standard of law and process applied within the jurisdiction), and of title (the application of law to specific individual relations, claims, remedy) is the word “CONSENT”.

    It is the root concept of peace.

    Unless you formally and clearly renounce peace as any objective of yours (thereby renouncing a significant portion of historical Jewish aspiration), then I would consider seeking and building alternatives.

    Are you one of the people, like Islamic Jihad, that would advocate harming those that seek and achieve reconciliation whether respect between individuals, respect between communities, respect between nations?

    Your assessment of the intent of the Arab World, conflicts with the twice affirmed offer by all of the Arab states (with the exception only of Hamas’ abstention – somehow invited even to abstain) to recognize and establish full diplomatic relations with Israel.

    Maybe it was a ploy, only propaganda. But, the reality on the ground, is that there have been many exchanges around Netanyahu’s pet integrated Middle Eastern economic free market zone.

  57. Richard-
    The conflict in pre-state Israel between the underground groups (ETZEL and LEHI) and the organs of the yishuv (i.e. the Establishment) was not over who would run the yishuv, everyone agreed that it would be run democratically, there dispute was on hard they yishuv should push the British to get out. The Yishuv set up the infrastructure of state institutions long before the British left. The situation of the Palestinians is not all analogous. There is no agreement on who should run their regime. While it is true that there were apparently democratic elections once, the losers were not prepared to accept their loss and the winners thought they had the right to more power than the other side was prepared to give them. More importantly, the Palestinians have failed to set up the infrastructure of a modern state apparatus (tax collection, judiciary, law enforcement, etc). Of course, this problem is endemic throughout the Arab world. This is the reason not one is a western-style democracy (there is an attempt to set up one in Iraq, but it is being propped up by American bayonets, we’ll see how it works after the American presence is drawn down substantially), and I include Lebanon in this because although there are free elections there, political power is not divided up along the lines of the results but are determined by confessional groups and the feudal warlords who are the real power in the country. All Arab states are run by strongmen and their all-pervasive mukhabarat (secret police) apparatus. Some are more tolerant of dissent than others, but none are really democracies, including those that do have elections such as Kuwait and some of the Gulf States.
    It was assumed that when Arafat arrived, he would set up a dictatorship along these lines that would suppress violence against Israel. Recall that Rabin said “Arafat will rule with BAGATZ and B’TZELEM”, i.e. without need for judicial restraint and concern for human rights. Odd how Israelis who brag about being a democracy would say something like that. But I guess Rabin realized that if the Palestinians were a true democracy, there could never be peace because if the true will of the Palestinian “street” were expressed, there would only be terror, not peace, as in fact we saw when the elected HAMAS to power.
    In any event, Arafat didn’t do what Rabin wanted and Rabin admitted to Boogey Ya’alon shortly before he was murdered that Oslo wasn’t working out.

  58. Your reasoning is not really reasoning. There are institutions of governance in Gaza as well as in the West Bank. They will end up calling your bluff.

    That is the WRONG argument for you to make. Like my analogy that Hamas elected Netanyahu, your prescription results in Netanyahu electing Hamas.

    You know well that I am no apologist for Hamas, and an advocate for their permanent civil participation in a government that recognizes Israel.

    Your statement was that it was permanently impossible for an Arab state to function as a state. Thats a ludicrous statement. The development of state institutions is a learned relative process. By the same token that Palestine is in a state of learning (or not), Israel is in a state of unlearning.

    Think about the term LAW, please, Yitzchak.

    Also, you embellish the history of Israel’s factions. They were intent on an internal power struggle, and remain so. Please consider some of the statements from the right-wing settlement rabbis that have periodically advocated for violently confronting the IDF in conditions, even advocating for civil war periodically.

    You can’t advocate for it both ways. “I support the rule of law in Israel”, except when it is applied to me.

  59. ummmm….I was the one who brought up Giora Eiland.

    Yitchak–I’m not over there in Israel, so I don’t know the reality on the ground firsthand…and I definitely do not discount the Islamist mindset that pervades the Arab states.

    But sometimes I wonder if certain Israeli elements aren’t a tad too paranoid. And by that, I mean paranoid similar to the way the US was about the Soviet Union. It turned out in retrospect that we overestimated their intentions and capabilities. Not that they didn’t have any, mind you…but we assumed evil intent to conquer the globe in everything they did.

    I have my own paranoia about radical Islam, but I’m trying to temper it…because I think it takes on a life of its own after awhile.

    In any case, I don’t really see the Palestinians being capable of running their own state. I’m not sure what their foundational economy would be–and it seems like they’ve always relied on surrounding countries, most notably Israel for wages etc. That just seems to flimsy, and perhaps one of the main reasons they can’t stabilize.

    If I’m wrong about their economy, someone please correct me. I’m just doubtful there is potential for solid economic infrastructure.

  60. Looks like the House and Senate are firmly denying that AIPAC contacted them about Freeman or influenced their position.

    Apparently his own past remarks came back to bite him in the butt. He hung himself.

    “I’m close to AIPAC. If they did come out against Freeman, I was not in the loop because no one called me to say a word about Charles Freeman,” said [Rep. Alcee] Hastings.

    Congress members say no contact from AIPAC on Freeman

  61. Yitzhak,
    There were elements within Lehi who definitely did not want Israel to be democratic. Eldad led a faction that talked about setting up a kingdom. His whole Sulam circle after 1948 was based on this.

    Considering your grasp of Israeli politics where you set up Sharon as a leftist–apparently anyone to the left of the Yesha Council is a leftist in your mind, do we really want to have you explaining to us what the Arabs really think?

    Part of the problem is looking at “the Arabs” as a monolith in the same way that American conservatives used to look at the Communist World long after the Sino-Soviet split had broken out into the open.

  62. there could never be peace because if the true will of the Palestinian “street” were expressed, there would only be terror, not peace, as in fact we saw when the elected HAMAS to power.

    I wonder whom they could elect to please you, YBD – Ha-Ikhud Ha-Leumi? Did it ever occur to you that they might want to elect Hamas not because of their views on terror but because they were the better alternative internally?

  63. I didn’t read most of the comments that has followed since I last commented. (No time to do it justice and I am happy that this blog is getting ALOT more attention now from both sides of the conflict.) This did stick out for me though, naturally because it was directed at me in particular:

    “You are wrong when you say that Hamas does not have options.

    It has options similar to the PLO had options, to reconsider its permanent nature of objection to the existence of Israel, and from that sincere reconsideration to actually develop civil relations around common goals.”

    I don’t recall ever stating that Hamas “does not have options”, but I am willing to consider how limited these options are, as we are all aware, they are the weaker power here. How does a weaker power ever consult what to do when faced with such a stronger opponent who has even bigger backing behind them?

    This will be short as there really is no time but juxtaposing “options” with “options similar to the PLO had options” is NOT a very good path for Hamas to take because said “options” is what led to this impasse. It’s total backward logic to revisit an episode for Hamas to consider when it failed and in some cases accelerated the death of the two-state solution and it was the impetus for a Hamas rise in the first place.

    Also, I have not read through every comment, but it seems this circle of commenting by Witty ultimate goes to back to the faults of Hamas. Why? Wasn’t this about Chas Freeman?

  64. If the topic drifts, it drifts.

    You did state that “Hamas had no other option”.

    The PLO committing to non-violence made a possible path to reconciliation. It can be very confidently argued that Hamas terror at the time of Oslo, was intended specifically to make reconciliation between Israel and Palestine IMPOSSIBLE, that in that CHOICE, THEY controlled the outcome of history.

    Sorry to yell. Sometimes dissent doesn’t bother to read back a bit, instead favoring opportunistically selective “evidence”. And, then describing any conclusion that is not condemnatory of Israel as “Orwellian”.

  65. Thomas-
    The LEHI, unlike the ETZEL, was not part of a political movement. It had pro-Communists such as Yitzhak Shamir (!) and Yellin-Mor, in addition to Haredim and pro-Revisionist types. One reason Avraham Stern broke from them was because he supported parts of the Labor movement’s platform, which the Revisionists strongly objected to. You are correct that Eldad had strong anti-democratic tendencies, but on the Right he was a tiny minority. The vast majority of the Right supported Begin’s Herut (which evolved from the ETZEL and Revisionimst movement) which fully accepted Israel’s democratic system.

  66. “The vast majority of the Right supported Begin’s Herut (which evolved from the ETZEL and Revisionimst movement) which fully accepted Israel’s democratic system.”

    After military confrontation with the Haganah, when Etzel attempted to ship in weapons to preserve its militia status (similarly to Hamas in Palestine, or Hezbollah in Lebanon).

    The Haganah, by then the IDF, refused asserting that the state had the monopoly on military, and not a faction.

    They yeilded so that they could participate at all.

    Its a good lesson for Hamas, but your history is a little revisionist.


    Interview With Charles Freeman


    The only thing I regret is that in my statement I embraced the term ‘Israel lobby.’ This isn’t really a lobby by, for or about Israel. It’s really, well, I’ve decided I’m going to call it from now on the [Avigdor] Lieberman lobby. It’s the very right-wing Likud in Israel and its fanatic supporters here. And Avigdor Lieberman is really the guy that they really agree with. And I think they’re doing Israel in. “

  68. I’ve decided I’m going to call it from now on the [Avigdor] Lieberman lobby.

    He just looks more childish by the minute. It shows that he bleats stuff out impulsively and then retracts it 10 minutes later.

    As for the lobby being pro Avi Lieberman–I think Freeman has just shot himself in the other foot.

    I don’t think his claim is true, and he’ll be hard-pressed to prove it. Let’s see if he retracts that statement next.

    Americans should thank everyone who opposed this nutberger’s appointment.

    This is a bad stain on Obama’s presidency. He’s got his work cut out for him regarding the financial downturn, and the last thing he needs is that joker associated with his name.

  69. Suzanne,
    I consider that more specific definition of who and what politics he is opposing to be progress.

    My main objection to the term “Israel Lobby” was/is its vagueness and implications of monolith and conspiracy.

    I dislike the term extremely. I dislike it when Phil uses it and periodically flirts with the David Dukish application of the term. I even dislike it when Dan uses the term.

    I prefer a term that is more specific so as to actually communicate a clear distinction.

    The phrase itself resembles and evokes fascistic suggestions, and elements of the Walt/Mearsheimer thesis resembles fascistic invocations “indirectly”, but at other points in their work, they disavow that supporters of Israel are monolithic, in fact very diverse; or “control the media” as there is an active and unreliable blogosphere and access to worldwide press over the web.

    The natural consequence of “there is a united Israel Lobby that conspires to distort American foreign policy interests” is to then structure the exclusion of Jews (or anyone with suspected sympathies at all towards Israel) from any official position.

    A black kid can become president (thankfully), but a Jewish could then never.

  70. Richard-
    You are incorrect about the ETZEL wanting to maintain a separate armed force in Israel. The arms were to go to Jerusalem, and you must recall that Jerusalem was NOT to be part of the state of Israel according to the UN Partition Plan. Thus, even after the state was proclaimed on May 14, 1948, its jurisdiction did not extend to Jerusalem, and ALL the armed groups…i.e. Haganah, Palmach, ETZEL and LEHI continued to maintain their separate identities there. The agreement that was supposed to defuse the Altalena crisis said 80% of the weapons were to go to the IDF, and 20% (as the ETZEL understood it) to the ETZEL in Jerusalem (the Haganah negotiators later claimed that the 20% was to be divided among all the groups in Jerusalem.) Thus, Begin accepted the democratic rules from the beginning regarding the state of Israel.
    In fact it was the Palmach (then identified mostly with “progressive” MAPAM) that wanted to maintain a separate armed force WITHIN the state of Israel and Ben-Gurion finally had to have a show-down with them. Even after they backed down, they maintained clandestine, illegal arms dumps on their kibbutzim for several years. One just turned up recently and it was reported in the news.

  71. Palmach was a branch of the Haganah and was renamed the IDF when Israel achieved independance.

    You are revising history, Yitzhak. Perhaps in the person to person “tradition” of the revisionist parties, you’re interpretation is accurate, but the conflicts between Irgun and the IDF predated the Altalena and the Altalena affair got to a military confrontation over the “right” of the Irgun to remain as a militia within a state.

  72. Rather than as a political party.

    It took a realitively small amount of force to accomplish that re: the Irgun.

    Obviously, you still bear some resentment that Irgun yeilded.

    Good thing that Irgun did yeild. Otherwise Israel would be in a similar state of civil war as Palestine is.

    Its self-talk to consider the West Bank as Israeli. It conflicts with all consistent applications of law.

    Better to be consistent.

  73. Richard, I am sorry but you are wrong. The ETZEL had ALREADY merged with the IDF prior to the ALTALENA incident. The argument was whether the arms would go to Jerusalem or not, which as I stated was not part of the state of Israel at the time. The ETZEL never said it wanted an independent armed militia within the state of Israel. I am NOT giving you “revisionist” history…all the histories of the period talk about the the confrontation between the PALMACH and Ben-Gurion. Ben-Gurion never appointed a PALMACH veteran to be Chief of Staff because he frankly didn’t trust them. He also had the SHABAK spy on the their affiliated MAPAM party. The first PALMACH veteran to be named Chief-of-Staff was Rabin who was appointed by Prime Minister Levi Eshkol.

  74. “I consider that more specific definition of who and what politics he is opposing to be progress.”

    Richard, that’s certainly one way of looking at it. I saw it as an attempt to make a more precise and harmful connection to someone who has been deemed the “apartheid” kind of Israel.

    Why doesn’t he just name names? I, for one, would like to know which lobby/organization supports Avi Lieberman wholesale.

    On an unrelated note: Lieberman appears to want reform for civil marriages. I don’t know exactly what kind of reform or in what context (is it exclusively marriages between non-Jews?)

  75. There are so many different reference orientations in Israeli politics, to make one numb.

    Israel Beitanyu is a civil party, adamently opposed to compromise to the religious parties. It has been a BIG obstacle in Netanyahu’s effort to form a coalition, as Kadima is wary, Labor is wary, Shas and other other religious parties are wary of being in a government with Israel Beitanyu over the religious legislation.

    You haven’t convinced me that Irgun had determined to renounce its desire to remain a militia. From my read, they did so reluctantly, and the Altalena incident was a turning point, not before.

  76. Even so, the parallel point about Hamas remains. The PA and Hamas have been fighting harshly since Oslo, and even when Hamas announced that it was pursuing electoral political strategy “rather” than militancy, they abandoned that promise very very quickly and aggressively.

    They never yeilded to be part of a democratic Palestine without asserting their “right” to revolution.

  77. Richard, the Israeli parliamentary system is beyond confusing to me. That’s why I’m wondering if Freeman is talking out of his butt.

    Besides being vague about whom he is talking about stateside, I didn’t quite understand what it meant in the context of Israeli elections.

    What exactly is he trying to say?

  78. I’m not sure what you’re asking Suzanne.

    The Israeli parliament is similar to Great Britain and other parliamentary systems.

    When people vote, they vote for a party, not necessarily for a person (although each party’s candidates are presented in priority order). It takes a majority (more than 50%) to form a government.

    If a majority does not vote for a single party, then the leading party is usually asked to form a coalition of it and other parties. This election in Israel, Kadima received the most votes, but had been unable to form a coalition before the election (when the head of Kadima resigned, Olmert, and his second on the list, Livni took over the party head). The president of Israel instead asked Likud to form a new government, in his estimation as more likely to form a majority government (the prime minister is the most important for governing. The power to determine who will have priority to form a new government is the president’s only real power).

    Israel’s politics are as divided as the US, though in this election, they shifted to the right (as the US shifted to the left).

    As Bradley Burston stated in an article in Haaretz today, the reason was missiles.

    He stated that in the first Gulf War when Israel was shelled from Iraq, citizens realized that an on-the-ground buffer zone was not going to help them with security, that forming a peace was the most effective, which stimulated the efforts that led to Oslo.

    But, as that peace did not bear out, and instead resulted in frequent traumatic unilateral rocket fire from Gaza, in this case rockets were what stimulated a distrust of prospects for peace.

    I agree with him. My feeling is that Hamas elected Netanyahu, and even willingly. He stated that Hamas has consistently stated that they can wait, that they can irritate and propaganda forever until Israel disappears.

    Maybe things will change. They haven’t yet.

  79. I may be missing some majorly obvious point here…I know ZOA, AIPAC, whoever– makes no bones about support of Netanyahu, that’s pretty transparent and he’s hardly considered radical except by those on the left. My perception is that he’s hawkish & hardline more than extreme right.

    –but I had no idea that the same organizations were collectively supporting Avigdor Lieberman or Yisrael Beitenu, as Freeman implies.

    What am I missing?

  80. Richard-
    Your statement that “Israel Beitenu is adamantly to compromise with the religious parties” is incorrect. While it is true that this could be said about MERETZ and the late SHINUI party, it is not correct about Israel Beitenu. They do have difficulties with certain things that are of importance to their Russian olim constituency, such as proposals for civil marriage, but the party goes out of its way to point out it is not anti-religious, it is not opposed to the Rabbinate and is not for separation of state and religious as are the two other parties I mentioned. In fact, in 2003 the Israel Beitenu ran on a joint list with the Right-wing, largely religious National Union.

  81. Shas stated that they would NEVER participate in a government that Israel Beitanyu was in.

    Other parties have stated similarly.

    Maybe it was just rhetoric, who knows.

    Maybe they share the willingness to revise Torah for nationalistic opportunism.

  82. Richard-
    SHAS was in a coalition with Israel Beitenu in the outgoing government (Israel Beitenu left because of Olmert’s policies regarding the Palestinians) and SHAS will sit in a coalition with them in the next government.

  83. Maybe so. But its not what they say.

    The point is of severe tensions between the anti-religious parties and the religious ones.

    There are multiple issues that divide the state.

    Do you get my comment on revising Torah for nationalist opportunism.

    “I am the Lord thy God
    Thou shalt have no other Gods before me.”

    “Thou shalt not steal
    Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s possession
    Thou shalt not kill
    Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor”.

    I don’t call settlers that base their “right” to settle on Torah. I call them revisionists. Don’t you?

  84. “I don’t call settlers that base their “right” to settle on Torah. I call them revisionists. Don’t you?”

    Have to agree, Richard. The settler issue is just about my only criticism of Israel. (they could afford to loosen up on civil marriage law too, imo)

    Disproportionate use of force etc is arguable as are some of the disputed border details.

    But the settler issue is one long, unending big headache.

    Among other things, it’s fed into the paranoia that Israel wants to take over the entire ME (as if the OT isn’t gratifying enough lol! )

    One thing I’ve wondered about: Did settlement develop as a political tactic partly because leaders presumed peace with Palestinians was a pipe dream?

  85. Settlement was early.

    Pent up demand for settlement in the West Bank and near Jerusalem and Hebron was opened up when Israel took over the West Bank in the 67 war.

    The majority of sites referred to as the Davidic and subsequent kingdoms were in the West Bank, NOT on the coast, which is the current Israel.

    When Jordan renounced its claims and appeared to transfer title over state lands to Israel in what 1994?, Israel interpreted that as an actual transfer of the legal rights that Jordan had by international law.

    The Palestinians and solidarity didn’t interpret that in the same way, obviously.

    Its still unsolved.

    Too many damn ambiguities.

    As has been said a hundred times, title questions are confused re: Palestine as a large number of residents claimed their right to live their by their residency, permission from the actual land-owners.

    So, it has always been an ambiguous situation, as to the different social codes of the degree of rights that ownership title affords. Israelis assume the western model, where title affords them the right to do anything not prohibited explicitly by law, including the right to evict a non paying resident.

    Most that criticize Israel’s history, behavior, are really only aware of political arguments, and are largely ignorant of the confused status of title regardless of who was governing or occupying.

  86. You are overstating the “religious/non-religious tension” situation. Yes, there is some tension. But the one party that based its entire platform on anti-religious policies SHINUI, and that managed to get 15 seats in 2003 completely collapsed in the 2006 elections when they got ZERO. Yes, there is some tension between SHAS and the secularist Russians, but that won’t prevent them from sitting in the same coalition, just as it didn’t in the past.

    Jordan didn’t have any international rights to Judea/Samaria. No one except Britain and Pakistan ever recognized their occupation of Judea/Samaria in 1948.

    The first settlement official approved by the government in the wake of the Six-Day War in 1967 was Kfar Etzion, which was actually simply the re-establishment of a settlement that existed before 1948, was approved as a response to the infamous pan-Arab resolution of August 1967 known as the “3 Nos of Khartoum” (1) No peace with Israel, (2) No recognition of Israel and (3) No negotiations with Israel (Yes, I know post-Zionist history Avi Shlaim has completely reinterpreted them as meaning “yes” to all threes, but such a stupid interpretation is an insult to all of our intelligences and our understanding of the English language, so I reject it). Maybe the intention was that the Arabs should make peace before Israel settled the whole area.

  87. Sorry Richard (and this is VERY LATE) but I rechecked every comment I posted and not one had “Hamas had no other option”, perhaps you may have mixed myself with another one you are battling with.

  88. Richard

    I don’t how the I/P conflict compares to others in terms of people arguing over the minutiae (and interpretation) of past events. So I don’t know if it’s historically par for the course.

    But it seems like a profound waste of time. I know that might sound naive. And I’m certainly concerned about the one-sided and often outright lying that goes on at blogs like Mondoweiss.

    I wonder what the alternative is to getting trapped into a non-ending debate. Maybe it’s as Dan suggested, some lurkers need to hear argument and counter argument.

    I guess I’m more interested in solutions than dwelling on this stuff.

  89. Spellbinding information. You’re a good writer. Your information is interesting. This is the most believable, sweeping and agreeable article.

  90. I rarely create comments, however i did a few searching and wound up here Two myths about Charles
    Freeman and the Israel lobby at Realistic Dove. And I do have 2 questions for you if you do not mind.
    Could it be only me or does it look like a few of the comments
    look like they are left by brain dead people? 😛 And, if
    you are writing at other social sites, I would like to keep up with everything
    new you have to post. Could you list of all of all your communal sites like your twitter
    feed, Facebook page or linkedin profile?

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