In any rational order, Lieberman would be a doorman

Over the weekend Avigdor Lieberman said that the Golan Heights was part of Israel because the Sykes-Picot treaty (English-French-Russian agreement 1916) drawing a boundary line west of the Golan Heights was “imperialist” and “arbitrary.” Here is Yossi Gurvitz at 972, taking “Homo Sovieticus” and “doorman” Lieberman down. Here again we see an Israeli challenging the foundational myths of Israel. Breathtaking:

if Liberman finds the Sykes-Picot Agreement to be invalid because of its inherent imperialism, what can he possibly say about documents such as the Balfour Declaration and the San Remo decision? These are two documents which the delusional right likes to return to, in order to skip the annoying problem of the UN’s decision to create Israel – that it created two countries, Arab and Jewish. It turns out (thanks again to Didi) that the foreign ministry also quotes them with approval. Is there a more imperialistic move than granting a region, to which you have no rights, to a third group while blithely ignoring the wishes of the native residents?

Thirdly, and most important, questioning the Middle East borders, as set after the First World War – much influenced by the Sykes-Picot Agreement – means reopening all its borders. Provided that Sykes was deeply involved in setting the borders of Mandatory Palestine, it also means questioning Israel’s borders. Actually, given that the dreadful imperialist Sykes (and he was a dreadful imperialist, also an anti-Semite who supported Zionism because he bought the Zionist bluff which, never explicitly stated but always hinted, claimed to represent “world Jewry”, i.e. the Elders of Zion) was the most important British official to press for the Balfour Declaration, it is also questioning Israel’s existence in itself.

After all, if Syria has any historical meanings, it includes many bits of Mandatory Palestine, not just the Golan Heights. This, by the way, was mentioned by Arabs and Arabists over 90 years ago. A re-opening of the post-WWI borders question – which is precisely what Liberman’s move means; that Israel can consider those agreements something it can change at its will – is a recipe for opening the gates of Hell. After all, Israel, too, is the child of an imperialist conspiracy. There’s no reason it would have any benefit over its neighbors in this regard.

In a government which takes itself seriously, a foreign minister wouldn’t be uttering such nonsense about the documents which, in no small degree, are also its country’s founding documents. He certainly would not have done so without a serious debate by the government. Then again, in a government which takes itself seriously, Liberman would not be holding any office, except perhaps that of the doorman. Netanyahu heard Liberman and kept silent, as usual; once more he preferred to sacrifice Israel’s interest, the shreds of its name as not-entirely-out-of-its-mind country, on the altar of his coalition.

About Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.
Posted in Israel/Palestine | Tagged , , , , ,

{ 26 comments... read them below or add one }

  1. MRW says:

    The Official Docs…they contradict Lieberman’s statements (Doesn’t he assume that others can read them?)

    The Sykes-Picot Agreement 1916
    link to avalon.law.yale.edu
    The words Israel, Zion, Zionist, Jew, or Jewish are nowhere to be found in it.

    The Palestine Mandate
    link to avalon.law.yale.edu

    The British White Paper of 1922 (The San Remo Agreement).
    link to avalon.law.yale.edu
    It says

    It is also necessary to point out that the Zionist Commission in Palestine, now termed the Palestine Zionist Executive, has not desired to possess, and does not possess, any share in the general administration of the country. Nor does the special position assigned to the Zionist Organization in Article IV of the Draft Mandate for Palestine imply any such functions. That special position relates to the measures to be taken in Palestine affecting the Jewish population, and contemplates that the organization may assist in the general development of the country, but does not entitle it to share in any degree in its government.

    British White Paper of 1939
    link to avalon.law.yale.edu

    “Unauthorized statements have been made to the effect that the purpose in view is to create a wholly Jewish Palestine. Phrases have been used such as that `Palestine is to become as Jewish as England is English.’ His Majesty’s Government regard any such expectation as impracticable and have no such aim in view. Nor have they at any time contemplated …. the disappearance or the subordination of the Arabic population, language or culture in Palestine. They would draw attention to the fact that the terms of the (Balfour) Declaration referred to do not contemplate that Palestine as a whole should be converted into a Jewish National Home, but that such a Home should be founded IN PALESTINE.”

    But this statement has not removed doubts, and His Majesty’s Government therefore now declare unequivocally that it is not part of their policy that Palestine should become a Jewish State.

  2. Well, if Sykes-Picot is irrelevant then so is the San Remo agreement.

    • And likely the Balfour Declaration, and any determination by the League of Nations (San Remo), or even the United Nations.

      He doesn’t think very far upfield.

      • mig says:

        Balfour Declaration is irrelevant completely. Brits had in time just military sovereignty over palestine. Mandate came some 3 years later.

        So, british empire didn’t have any legality to give anything in that time 1917. And same goes to league of nations and mandate. Area wasn’t member of league, and it didn’t have any legal right to give away land which wasn’t under their jurisdiction. And more, mandate system wasn’t creation of league of nations. It was creation of winners of WW1, who give themselves some sort of “right” to control those areas.

        And in 1920 when these “secret” vowes came to surface, arabs put revolt in palestine. Rest is history.

  3. “In any rational order, Lieberman would be a doorman.” Is that to suggest that Lieberman’s rise to power is above all an offense to Israel’s European class system? That a “rational order” is one in which Israel’s leaders have the requisite manners and sophistication of most other Western political elites?

    Personally, I find Lieberman’s crudeness one of his more endearing qualities. The fact that he has not devoted any attention to the refined skill of shoveling shit brings some clarity to a political culture in which artful dissemblers usually run the show.

    • Evildoer says:

      “Homo Sovieticus” is a racist slur in this context. Of course, the endearing quality of Mondoweiss is that it has no patience for the distinction between racism and anti-racism.

      Why would someone purporting to oppose colonialism join in a racist attack on an immigrant Foreign office who dares to put colonialism in question?

      God knows, and She’s not telling me.

      More on the racism against the Russians here:

      link to jewssansfrontieres.blogspot.com

      link to jewssansfrontieres.blogspot.com

      • Philip Weiss says:

        could it be an anti-aliyah slur? reaching

        • Evildoer says:

          It isn’t anti-aliyah. Alyah is a wonderful thing in principle, if you ask any jewish Israeli . But the olim are supposed to know their place, however, be grateful for the good state that brought them to Israel, and submit to the cultural and political hegemony of the founding European settlers. Whenever they do not, whenever they claim, for some unfathomable reason, that, that they are equal to the Ashkenazi elite, racist discourse is brought in to “put them in their place.” The oldest examples are from already the 1920s’, when party apparatchiks used antisemitic stereotypes to explain the “low quality” (or insubordination) of the new immigrants from Poland. Since then, every immigrant community got the same treatment, although some got it far worse than others. In particular the Arab Jews got the worst of it because of the intersection of this standard immigrant put down with white European orientalist racism. And recently Ethiopians got it even worse.

        • Avi says:

          Evildoer November 15, 2010 at 12:30 pm

          It isn’t anti-aliyah. Alyah is a wonderful thing in principle, if you ask any jewish Israeli . But the olim are supposed to know their place, however, be grateful for the good state that brought them to Israel, and submit to the cultural and political hegemony of the founding European settlers. Whenever they do not, whenever they claim, for some unfathomable reason, that, that they are equal to the Ashkenazi elite, racist discourse is brought in to “put them in their place.” The oldest examples are from already the 1920s’, when party apparatchiks used antisemitic stereotypes to explain the “low quality” (or insubordination) of the new immigrants from Poland. Since then, every immigrant community got the same treatment, although some got it far worse than others. In particular the Arab Jews got the worst of it because of the intersection of this standard immigrant put down with white European orientalist racism. And recently Ethiopians got it even worse.

          This is a nice strawman argument. Nowhere in your post do you address the discriminatory and racist law of return. You should have included a photo of a crying puppy in your post. It would have done a better job of guilting people into supporting aliyah….because it’s wonderful.

        • Evildoer says:

          The full sentence is “Alyah is a wonderful thing in principle, if you ask any jewish Israeli ”

          That is, it is a statement about how Jewish Israelis view Alyiah, responding to Weiss speculating that they might view it negatively.

          That you would try to represent it as my own view says everything about you that needs to be said. You are contemptible.

        • Evildoer says:

          Philip, I tend to be combative in comments because, well, because that is my habit. It expresses my frustration more than anything else.

          The real issue is that paying attention to racism goes beyond the obvious of supporting Palestinians against oppression. Part of the evil genius of our era is that the system has learned to channel the rage against it into practices that only strengthen it over time. If the genius of the successful terrorist is to get the system to react in self-damaging ways, the genius of our current system of domination is that it has so far managed to transforms the energies that rage against it into tools for entrenching itself. The Israeli leadership of course has mastered that technique. But this is true in the US as well. Here is what I wrote about the “Russian” question in a calmer moment (quoted above).

          We should always remember and repeat that Palestinians are the first and foremost victims of Israeli racism. But the racism of the state manifests itself well beyond that, in the dominance, legitimacy and recurrence of strategies of racialization at all levels and against any group when the dominant classes considers it useful. It is particularly difficult to grasp that even “excessive” racism against Palestinians (as opposed to what is supposedly the correct dose of racism!) can become the basis for racialization. Recognizing this does not mean forgiving or excusing racists. Whoever told the pollsters that the state should encourage Arabs to emigrate should be held accountable for his or her execrable politics. Yet these racializations, even when they masquerade as political moderation and opposition to racism, are still racist, and moreover, they serve the specific purpose of defending and maintaining the racist apartheid regime in Israel, with white, secular Ashkenazi Jews at the top and Palestinians interred in camps at the bottom. Therefore echoing and supporting these subsidiary forms of racism, however gratifying it may momentarily feel, is in fact counterproductive.

        • Philip Weiss says:

          thanks evildoer, no offense taken, i like combative

        • Avi says:

          That is, it is a statement about how Jewish Israelis view Alyiah, responding to Weiss speculating that they might view it negatively.

          [...]

          That you would try to represent it as my own view says everything about you that needs to be said. You are contemptible.

          And yet, you’re the one who tried to spin Phil’s views on aliya. You’re a hypocrite through and through and you’re accusing me of being a hypocrite, even though I did not misrepresent your views.

          Saying “Alyah is a wonderful thing in principle, if you ask any jewish Israeli,” and then trying to weasel your way out of owning that statement is what’s truly contemptible. Perhaps you need to work on your writing skills.

        • Avi says:

          Evildoer November 16, 2010 at 7:52 am

          Philip, I tend to be combative in comments because, well, because that is my habit. It expresses my frustration more than anything else.

          So long as it’s frustration based on sound reasoning, not frustration based on a misunderstanding.

          Capish, Mr. contemptible?

        • Evildoer says:

          I am not going to defend myself from a contemptible and illiterate Dershowitz sock puppet. I have a record of writing on Palestine going back 10 years, and anyone who wants to know my opinion can check it. Or they can take your word for it. I have no problem with either.

        • Avi says:

          I am not going to defend myself from a contemptible and illiterate Dershowitz sock puppet. I have a record of writing on Palestine going back 10 years, and anyone who wants to know my opinion can check it.

          Your nonsensical post doesn’t dignify a serious response.

      • Shmuel says:

        Evildoer,

        I agree with the substance of your criticism (and have made similar comments myself in the past), but not with your condescending generalisation.

        • Avi says:

          It isn’t anti-aliyah. Alyah is a wonderful thing in principle, if you ask any jewish Israeli . But the olim are supposed to know their place

          Sure, aliya is a wonderful thing, especially if you ask any Jew who receives $4000 on arrival and then an annual payment for the next 5 years, in addition to tax exemptions, both sales and income.

          It’s fantastic. Declaring “independence” in 1948 after ethnically cleansing more than 700,000 Palestinians was a wonderful thing, too. Things are always rosy from the colonizer’s perspective.

          That you are unable to make a distinction between normal immigration wherein immigrants go through a naturalization process like everyone else and a process by which an ethnic group is privileged over the indigenous minority isn’t shocking in the least.

          The “Know their place” quip is a nice touch given the fact that it appeals to American sensibilities on equality.

          This “know their place” claim is a cute twist on shooting and crying, shooting and crying.

  4. Scott says:

    greatest headline ever

  5. Les says:

    You have to be a bully to be an effective bouncer.

  6. annie says:

    i wish gurvitz’s article had linked to didi’s. i’d like to read it for context.

  7. marc b. says:

    i agree. lieberman is the real problem here, what with his crude mannerisms, his steriod-muscled bodyguards, and the bits of borscht stuck in his facial hair. his presence is a downright afront to the clean-shaven, MIT-educated netanyahu. i didn’t even attend a university in cambridge or new haven, and i’m offended.

  8. marc b. says:

    Aside from the historical errors and the poor Hebrew, there are a couple of essential points which need to be made.

    his poor hebrew. is this classism or racism? not that lieberman’s comments shouldn’t be dissected, but the incessant whinging on about netanyahu’s inability to respond to lieberman’s ‘excesses’ is horse-bleep. he is serving netanyahu well, on multiple fronts.

  9. pabelmont says:

    OK, we’re all having fun with (or against) Lieberman. (I’d rather have him instead of the senator. Less smooth, more wretched.)

    But we mistake his purpose. When any powerful Israeli talks of redrawing maps, it’s always because they want to do it, and are agonna do it, not because their argument makes any sense. Or, perhaps, as part of all that, to inflame their weak-minded cohorts, who will believe that an erudite explanation has been given for doing what they want to do anyway.

    Look at Bush and all his stupid arguments for why the USA should go to war. And it got the job done.

    Never forget the bottom line is getting the job done.

    Thus Israel will point out that the 1948 armistice lines were not permanent, but subject to adjustment in peace treaties. And they NEVER, NEVER, EVER, NEVER mean by such talk that their own pre-1967 borders might shrink, but only that they are willing to take even more of other people’s territory (OPTs).

  10. RE: “Israel, too, is the child of an imperialist conspiracy. There’s no reason it would have any benefit over its neighbors in this regard.” – Gurvitz
    A FEW REASONS IT MIGHT:
    1. Uncle Sam(bo)’s blind support
    2. All that U.S.-supplied military hardware
    3. Israel’s nukes