An Israeli’s Wiki-piphany

Israel/Palestine
on 29 Comments

WikiLeaks keep resonating. My friend David Bromwich writes:

Here, an Israeli liberal centrist, after a small step in anti-colonial self- criticism, swings back to self-justification. All it took was the Wikileaks cables saying what everyone in Israel already knew: that Iran is dangerous.

On November 18, the Haaretz columnist Ari Shavit published a column asserting that “Settlements Are Destroying Zionism.” On December 3, after the Wikileaks cables reporting the approval by Sunni Arab governments of an attack on Iran,  Shavit reverses field and decides the settlements are a secondary matter for the Middle East. Only after Iran has been attacked and definitively weakened should Israel be expected to withdraw from the occupied lands:


“The settlements are indeed a disaster. The occupation is intolerable. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is dangerous. But. . . there is no chance of signing an Israeli-Palestinian agreement as long as Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) is living under the menacing shadow of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. . . .

“After all, just as the Egyptian president, the Saudi king and the Gulf emirs whisper, Iran is the heart of the problem. Iran is the source of the poison and the source of the consternation. As long as Iran is growing stronger, is seeking nuclear weapons and is terrorizing the Middle East, there is no chance for peace. . . .

“Therefore the dove of peace has to be extremely hawkish toward Iran. The peace-seeker must deal with Iran. . . .It’s true that a moratorium on the settlements will help in the struggle against the centrifuges. But…when we rise from the ruins of the dogma, the strategic order of things is utterly clear–Iran first.”

That the leaders of Saudi Arabia and Egypt are hostile to Iran has been well known for decades; yet the column embraces the wisdom of Arab autocrats as a confirmation of Israeli fears. On the Israeli center-left, if Shavit’s two weeks of anger at the occupation are any measure, the idea of decolonization has the strength of a half-remembered scruple. Show it a discouraging rumor which seems to give permission to injustice and it surrenders with relief to the old “strategic order of things.”

About Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.

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29 Responses

  1. David Samel
    December 5, 2010, 11:22 am

    Until now, I considered Shavit to be one of many columnists who might occasionally say something worthwhile, but usually do not. This column strikes me as so idiotic that it virtually disqualifies him from being seriously considered ever again.

    However, he may have inadvertently touched upon a connection between Iran and the I/P peace process.” Assuming Iran really is pursuing nuclear weapons (I am agnostic on that), and assuming that Iran intends to use nukes in an unprovoked attack on Israel (I am atheist on that), here’s how the Israelis can foil this nefarious scheme. The one-state solution! Let the Israeli Jews and the Palestinians freely intermingle in a state of equal citizens. That would not only remove an incentive for the Hitler-like Ahmadinejad to attack but would make it impossible for him to aim his attack at the devil Jews without slaughtering comparable numbers of noble Muslims. Mahmoud can scream all he wants about the Jews using Muslims as human shields, but the deed will be done. Iran’s nukes will be neutralized. Why didn’t Shavit think of this?

    • Avi
      December 5, 2010, 2:57 pm

      Under current conditions Jaffa’s Palestinians live a mere one mile from Tel-Aviv. Tel-Aviv itself is only 10 miles from the occupied West Bank.

      Iran isn’t interested in nuclear weapons, and even if it were to acquire such capability, it wouldn’t be a threat to Israel.

      In addition, from a meteorological perspective, winds blow from west to east in the region. Any nuclear fallout from an attack on Tel-Aviv, for example, would find its way to Jordan and Iraq within less than 24 hours.

      What Israel fears is the abstract threat a nuclear Iran would pose to Israel’s regional hegemony in the region. If the Middle East were a flat fallow land, Iran would be that pesky boulder standing in the way of Israel’s farm plow as it ravages the Middle East.

      • Citizen
        December 5, 2010, 7:14 pm

        That is exactly right–Israel fears Persian competition for hegemony in the region. It probably fears it even more now that Turkey decided to get some balls and is not playing ball dissing Iran. The threat to the Arab regime clans is of course, that Persia/Turkey will inspire the arab masses, who may just be getting a few of those Wikileaks dumps, the ones where the Arab kings are calling to bite the head off the snake. It’s a Muslim snake after all. You can bet China is watching all this very closely, as is Putin. And so are the Intelligence arms of India, Pakistan, Yemen, and Afghaistan. Even Cuba and Venezula.

  2. Jim Haygood
    December 5, 2010, 11:55 am

    ‘there is no chance of signing an Israeli-Palestinian agreement as long as Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) is living under the menacing shadow of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. . . .

    This is absurdly over the top on Shavit’s part. Last I heard, Abbas’s PA accepted $150 million from the US. Where is Iran’s $150 million? It don’t exist!

    Abbas is Obama’s bitch, not Ahmedinejad’s.

    Linking Israeli-Palestinian peace to the alleged Iranian threat is wholly spurious. Israel was illegally occupying Gaza and the West Bank even while Iran was ruled by the US-installed shah. The problematic Israeli occupation has nothing to do with Iran.

    It seems that since the ‘Holocaust trump card’ expired on 27 Dec 2008 with Operation Cast Lead, ‘nuclear Iran’ has become Israel’s new ‘open sesame’ trump card, which answers any and all objections to its flagrantly illegal, outlaw behavior.

    Israel should think twice, though — ‘nuclear Israel’ is a countervailing trump card whose implications — e.g. international inspections — have never been explored or implemented.

    • Citizen
      December 5, 2010, 7:42 pm

      Just another giant pink Israeli elephant in the room. What nukes? What settlements? Can’t you see Glen Beck crying?

    • talknic
      December 6, 2010, 2:12 pm

      Jim, the occupation was agreed to by the regional powers.. Read the armistice agreements.

      Israel’s actions as the Occupying Power have been highly illegal. The UN/UNSC International Law, Laws of War, GC’s do not care which High Contracting Power occupies a non-state entity as long as the Occupying Power abides by the rules. Israel has not.

  3. Jeffrey Blankfort
    December 5, 2010, 12:02 pm

    What is totally absent from any discussion about the Saudi position toward Iran is its link to the results of the Iraq War which brought the Shia in power in a country before it became Iraq and was called Mesopotamia had been under the Sunni domination for centuries.

    As guardians of the holy sites of Mecca and Medina the Wahabi Saudis are more than resentful that the war, thanks to the US (and indirectly, Israel) has enhanced the power of their Iran and I believe that, as much as they are concerned about a potential Iranian nuclear weapon, is the driving force behind their desire to see Iran taken down.

    When Iran began its nuclear weapons program under the Shah when the country was allied with Israel as well as the US, I don’t recall that Saudi concerns were ever mentioned.

    Another reason for the Saudis and all the other Arab states under US control to take the Saudi position, apart from their desire to please Washington and the Israeli-controlled Congress, is because of the positive manner in which Iran is viewed among the Palestinians who can see every day on Iran’s Press TV serious, well done programs documenting their struggle against Israel which, without saying it, shames the leaders of Sunni led Arab countries who have done nothing to help their Palestinian Sunni brothers and, in the case of Egypt, little for their own people.

    • Colin Murray
      December 5, 2010, 2:08 pm

      Another reason … is … Iran’s Press TV … shames the leaders of Sunni led Arab countries who have done nothing to help their Palestinian Sunni brothers and, in the case of Egypt, little for their own people.

      This is an excellent point.

    • MRW
      December 5, 2010, 10:42 pm

      What Jeffrey is saying is entirely on point.

      It was not long ago that a catacylsmic event happened in Saudi Arabia. The head of the Wahhabis in SA made peace with the head Sufi (Iran) imam, and it was televised, I watched it. After over 200 years. Sufis are Sunnis, albeit a highly unique and spiritual group within the Sunni groupings.

      Wahhabis are the original fundamentalists. I would say they gave Islam a bad name because before their existence, Islam was known as intellectual, scientific, and highly creative culturally. Their adherents gave us the first universities, and the basis of scientific thought and methodology, not to mention surgery, chemistry, and algebra. The arc of their influence extended from Cordoba to Baghdad and Tehran.

      Don’t forget there is no such thing as a priestcraft in Islam. Their religious heads are religious scholars, not people like Christian priests or Jewish Rabbis. More like Chris Hedges, who has an advanced degree from Harvard in Religion.

    • MRW
      December 5, 2010, 10:51 pm

      Jeffrey,

      Who is doling out the cables piecemeal? The papers or Wikileaks?

      • Sumud
        December 5, 2010, 11:53 pm

        MRW ~ I responded to this elsewhere. It’s wikileaks. Select members of the press were given the archive and have done some preview reporting of cables wikileaks has yet to release, but it is wikileaks that is now responsible for the drip-release of the cables…

      • MRW
        December 6, 2010, 2:37 am

        Thanks, Sumud, I searched for the answer elsewhere, but I don’t pick up my computer until this week some time. Have extraordinarily limited ability to search these posts until then. (Feel like I’m in Siberia.)

        As for that info. So just to confirm: select press orgs got all 250,000 cables. Is that correct? Theses orgs got the whole thing?

        Then, Wikileaks decides the order of release?

        Do you know if that is predetermined, or if someone from Wikileaks releases from their site (which I am assuming is after the orgs have vetted for names and got back to Wikileaks as part of what the orgs do to assist) and that then becomes the signal that the copy can be released publicly?

        Rather than wear you out with this, do you know somewhere this has been explained? I’ve read three different official procedures.

        Too bad ‘they’ didn’t go after Bush and the admin for their Iraq lies with the same fervor as they are Assange.

      • Sumud
        December 6, 2010, 3:28 am

        As for that info. So just to confirm: select press orgs got all 250,000 cables. Is that correct? Theses orgs got the whole thing?

        That’s it, as far as I know. I couldn’t tell you much more about the release schedule. It’s certainly slow and I can’t work out the logic behind the selection of the cables, if there is any. It’s not chronological, it’s not by embassy. I just don’t know, but I’d like to.

        I don’t have any links sorry, I read stacks of articles along the way and just sort of imbibed it along the way without making any references or notes.. sorry! If I come across anything I’ll make a not and pass it on to you.

        This is a current link to wiki’s site, I believe this is the version hosted in Sweden so it should be up to-date:

        link to 213.251.145.96

        [dreadful poser picture, almost looks like a parody, they should remove it]

        There is some info on their “About” page on their process but I haven’t read it.

        There is also the wikileaks twitter feed & a blog of sorts which might give u some insight as to their operation:

        link to twitter.com

        link to wlcentral.org

    • occupyresist
      December 6, 2010, 5:49 am

      Jeffrey,

      you don’t understand how creepy that analysis is, even if it is on point. I try to put it at the back of my head, but it keeps coming to the fore.

      It goes to show that, no matter how ‘progressive’ the monarchy attempts to appear, it is nothing more than the fruit of Wahhabist indoctrination. Prince Nayef is one of its most powerful figures. The vice grip of this ideology is not dying down, unfortunately, and one can feel it becoming stronger domestically, even if the youth today are fed up of it.

      Try telling that to American Bedu. She thinks that the leaks should never have been released.

      I know I’ve said this before, but I would urge those who are interested to check out “The Great Theft” by Dr. Khaled Abou El Fadl.

    • talknic
      December 6, 2010, 2:53 pm

      Jeffrey Blankfort “the leaders of Sunni led Arab countries who have done nothing to help their Palestinian Sunni brothers “

      Odd… How much do you think it costs to host hundreds of thousands of refugees for 62 years? Or fight wars on behalf of the Palestinians.

      The Arab States, for almost a century represented the Palestinians including ironically the indigenous Jewish Palestinians , bearing the complete cost for proceedings in the League of Nations and the UN in their fight for the right to self determination.

      The Zionist movement wasn’t even from Palestine. Herzl could have lived anywhere in Palestine in his lifetime. He didn’t ever live in Palestine, had no ties to the land and only visited for a few weeks. Didn’t work on a Kibutz, didn’t make any desert bloom. Probably had more suits than Peres had pants . The Zionist Federation only moved to Palestine in 1936.

      To say the Arab States have done nothing is BULLSH*TE!! It is not the host country who caused the refugee problem. It is not the Arab host countries preventing their return to their RIGHTFUL home turf.

      The Arab States have adopted legislature to guarantee the Palestine refugees they host maintain their RoR as desired by the Palestinians. Which I am sure pisses off the zionutters, as Jewish refugees gave up their refugee rights by taking citizenship in countries other than that of return.

      The Arab States have sacrificed thousands of lives and spent huge amounts of money trying to achieve self determination for the Palestinians as guaranteed by the League of Nations and later the UN Charter.

      Furthermore, despite the Arab States not being democracies themselves, democracy was what they fought for the Palestinians. Democracy and freedom of religion. link to wp.me

  4. Jim Holstun
    December 5, 2010, 12:36 pm

    Flexible Monsieur Shavit sez: “As long as Iran is growing stronger, is seeking nuclear weapons and is terrorizing the Middle East, there is no chance for peace.”

    Let’s see now, let’s match states 1 and 2 with bombing records A and B.

    1. Israel
    2. Iran

    A. Has bombed Egypt, Lebanon (multiple), Jordan, Iraq, Palestine, Sudan, Syria. Has world’s fourth-largest nuclear arsenal, and submarines bearing nuclear cruise missiles, and has the active support of the world’s largest military power.

    B. Has bombed no countries except Iraq, after Iraq launched a war of aggression. Has no nuclear weapons, and the active enmity of the world’s largest military power.

    Gee whiz, M. Shavit: I’m a-scared of a Middle-Eastern country, and it’s not Iran.

  5. Kathleen
    December 5, 2010, 12:58 pm

    Democracy Now really has a lot up about the Wikileaks Dump

    Glenn Greenwald
    link to democracynow.org
    # CIA Engineered Spying on U.N. Diplomats
    # Cables: Britain Allowed U.S. Cluster Bombs
    # Amnesty Intl: Cables Confirm U.S. Attack Killed Yemeni Civilians
    # State Dept. Bars Staffers from WikiLeaks, Warns Students
    # Attorney: Assange Accused for Not Wearing Condom During Consensual Intercourse

    Another important spot for well thought out discussions
    link to raceforiran.com

  6. yourstruly
    December 5, 2010, 2:31 pm

    Remember during the Cold War days how our government insisted that since the rulers of USSR dominated Eastern European countries weren’t elected democratically, they were nothing but Soviet puppets? Well, there are no elections in Saudi Arabia, ruled as it is by a few thousand royal thiefs, yet not a word from the U.S. government about a Saudi puppet government not speaking for the Saudi people. Oh, I forgot, our government’s not about to accuse a puppet government of being the puppet govenment of a certain Empire when said Empire happens to be Empire USA.

  7. traintosiberia
    December 5, 2010, 2:38 pm

    Precisely for this reason ( that Iran is a threat as felt by corrupt regime of gulf and Saudis ), the world wont see any honest and just resolution of I-P conflicts.the goal post will keep on being pushed further and further to the horizon. It seems also a lot of Israeli ‘leftie” intellectuals are always on the lookout for an excuse to support the the changing narrative of the rightwing . It is in some way reminiscent of Bush asking for a plausible excuse to go after Iraq. After Iran is done the fate will visit Pakistan and then the so called moderate Saudis will be exposed in due course of unfolding plans to remake ME.The world will forget that the same people and the same country itching for destruction of Saudi ,
    saw just days ago in WiKi leaks common interest and causes with Saudis and Gulf countries on iran.The road to peace in Palestine will run its course from Baghdad to Tehran then back to Riyad just to satisfy the Zionist desire of total control of Gaza and West Bank and south Lebanon.

    Not so long ago in response to possible increases of Iraian influences in Iraq post any war against saddam, these voices educated US that the liberation of Shias from Saddam would rekindle secualr and democratic power within Iran and would bring Ayatollahs down.Interestingly sametime they were contradicting themselves by rooting for return of a Hashemite as king to Iraq
    or allowing Chalabi to take over.The contradiction were knowingly lost to the pure aand holy stream media.

  8. Kathleen
    December 5, 2010, 5:27 pm

    Interesting take by Justin Raimando
    WikiLeaks Exposes Israeli Mafia’s Growing Influence
    link to original.antiwar.com

  9. Hu Bris
    December 5, 2010, 11:12 pm

    A little thought exercise I’ve been playing with for a while:

    What if Iran is not the one in the firing line?

    What if the US Sabre-rattling is a bluff just to explain their presence in the Gulf

    What if the real target is Saudi, and the continued threats against Iran help keep Saudis in the dark as to US intentions?

    Out of a choice between Iran and Saudi, which of the two could the US actually take-over and occupy with any hope of success?

    • occupyresist
      December 6, 2010, 5:51 am

      “What if the real target is Saudi, and the continued threats against Iran help keep Saudis in the dark as to US intentions?”

      Hu Bris,

      the US already took over Saudi, after the death of King Faisal.

    • talknic
      December 6, 2010, 3:01 pm

      “Out of a choice between Iran and Saudi, which of the two could the US actually take-over and occupy with any hope of success?”

      None. Iraq was virtually disarmed by 2003. Saudi Arabia is armed to the teeth, 4.5 times BIGGER than Iraq and it is an essential supplier of oil to the US.

      • Hu Bris
        December 6, 2010, 3:35 pm

        Well you see, I used to think that too, about them being armed to the teeth and all, BUT then a little while ago I had the opportunity to speak/listen to 2 different people who had recently returned from Saudi.

        One serviced Aircraft and told me that the Saudi Technicians were really really crap at their jobs and that from what he had seen their pilots were no better. He claimed that this applied both to civilian and military technicians and Pilots.

        The 2nd person I spoke to was involved in what he called ‘hardware sales’ which he didn’t elaborate on but which I took to mean ‘military hardware sales’ – he said that in his opinion the Saudi forces were ill-trained, ill-disciplined and had low-morale. He thought that any half-decent Army worthy of the name could take easily take out the Saudi Armed forces in a couple of days, irrespective of the amount and type of hardware the Saudis had in their arsenal.

        He was still blustering about the incompetence, ignorance and all-round uselessness of the Saudi Officer Corps when I left the gathering at which I heard him say all of this

        Also: the Saudis are important suppliers to not only the US but also China, Japan, Taiwan Korea as well as many European Nations (Germany for example) – it was when I found that out that I started to wonder about just who the US had in mind for a full-force take-down – well THAT and I also had a good look at a Map of the Terrain in the Country of Iran. – it was the Terrain Map that really set the ball rolling

  10. Hu Bris
    December 6, 2010, 2:44 pm

    Ok I get the point you are making, but you and I might have a very different opinion of the purpose of warfare as practised by the US Military and US Elite

    as far as I can tell from what I’ve seen these last few years the purpose of having a war, at least when the US practices warfare, seems to have nothing to do with actually winning anything and more to do with finding a big-hole in order to waste much of the resources of the US as possible in the shortest amount of time, which in turn can be (and is) used as an excuse for dragging it deeper and deeper into Debt – PLUS the war serves as a convenient tool/excuse for implementing various social and political and economic restructuring of US society

    Who 15 years ago would have taken me seriously were I to tell them that in 15 years time all US citizens would have to either submit to having their genitalia fondled OR submit to having themselves irradiated with a possibly dangerous amount/type of radiation which results in the production of images clearly showing their naked from, all just in order to travel by Air within the borders of their own country?

    Yet because of the WAR ON TERROR (!!!! Run!!!) these things are now common place.

    • Hu Bris
      December 7, 2010, 7:30 am

      Seems like even Adam Smith, in his Wealth of Nations agreed with my basic theory of “What is the purpose of [foreign] war?” –

      . . . . . . Adam Smith’s argument against waging foreign wars was basically an argument that they were not worth the debt burden and the associated taxes to pay interest on it. These payments transferred income from taxpayers to creditors: largely foreign creditors, the Dutch in Smith’s day . . . . . . Smith wrote that even a land tax could not finance governments or “compensate the further accumulation of the public debt in the next war.” His argument was that to free the economy from taxes, nations should avoid wars. And the best way to do this was to wage them on a pay-as-you-go basis. Borrowing rather than taxing led the population not to feel the real cost of war, and thus deterred it from making an economically informed choice. So the Bush-Obama administration has taken a fiscal stance diametrically opposed to that of the patron saint of free enterprise. While escalating war in Afghanistan and maintaining over 850 military bases around the world, the administration has run up the national debt that Smith decried. By shifting the tax burden off property and off rent-seeking monopolies, above all, off the financial sector, this policy has raised the US cost of living and doing business, thereby undercutting its competitive power and running up larger and larger foreign debt. The Wealth of Nations traced the growth of Britain’s national debt, listing how each new war borrowing was secured by a new excise tax. Writing in the wake of the Seven Years War with France, fought largely over their respective possessions in the New World, Smith urged Britain to free its American colonies. In a similar vein after France’s Revolution, its Minister of the Navy, Bertrand de Molleville, wrote that Louis XVI in 1792 had blamed the overthrow of his monarchy on the burdensome taxes levied to finance the War with Britain in America. This did not prevent a new wave of Franco-British war under Napoleon, and by the time this new wave of warfare ended in 1815, interest charges absorbed some three-quarters of British government revenues, and devastated French finances as well as well. Led by Henri de Saint-Simon, French free marketers focused as much on freeing economies from interest-bearing debt as the Physiocrats had sought to tax the landed nobility.
      • Hu Bris
        December 7, 2010, 7:41 am

        ‘the Dutch’ . . . hahaha . . .I like it . . . .’Dutch Schultz’ more like

    • Hu Bris
      December 7, 2010, 7:40 am

      And Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano, with her new “Sic the Feds on your swarthy Mooooslim-looking neighbour down the street who you never liked anyway” campaign, appears to heartily agree with the second part of my little theory, namely “the war serves as a convenient tool/excuse for implementing various social and political and economic restructuring of US society . . . because of the WAR ON TERROR (!!!! Run!!!) these things are now common place.”

      link to dhs.gov

      Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano today announced the expansion of the Department’s national “If You See Something, Say Something” campaign to hundreds of Walmart stores across the country ~ launching a new partnership between DHS and Walmart to help the American public play an active role in ensuring the safety and security of our nation.

      “Homeland security starts with hometown security, and each of us plays a critical role in keeping our country and communities safe,” said Secretary Napolitano. “I applaud Walmart for joining the ‘If You See Something, Say Something’ campaign. This partnership will help millions of shoppers across the nation identify and report indicators of terrorism, crime and other threats to law enforcement authorities.”

      So . . . . Let’s git dem Eye-rain-ians!

      • Hu Bris
        December 7, 2010, 7:47 am

        The perfect Partnership between Private Enterprise and Public Money – Mussolini would have loved that

        “Fascism should more properly be called corporatism because it is the merger of state and corporate power.” — Benito Mussolini

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