Netanyahu seizes on Tunisian turmoil as yet another pretext for iron wall

on 48 Comments

I’m told by Dimi Reider that much of the coverage of Tunisia in Israel has been quite negative, including this sour assessment by Netanyahu, saying that it demonstrates the need for strong security provisions in any deal with the Palestinians. No you can’t trust these violent Arabs. The special prize goes to YNET: “Tunisia turned into Iraq overnight.”

I understand the Israeli fears. They’ve been a colonialist dream, a western state, a settler state since the beginning; and the occupation is tyranny. The removal of Arab dictatorships removes much of their moral sanctimony. Isn’t this a great time/argument for a peaceful transition to democracy? (And can’t American Jews, beneficiaries of democracy, help their cousins to imagine a better future?)

48 Responses

  1. annie
    January 16, 2011, 11:51 am

    “If there was a tsunami in Asia, a flood in Latin America or a lunar eclipse, Netanyahu would use it as a pretext not to negotiate,” said chief negotiator Saeb Erekat.

  2. Potsherd2
    January 16, 2011, 11:55 am

    “Might” again. A Palestinian state might overthrow its puppet government and develop democracy. So no deal for a Palestinian state.

    An Egyptian state might see its Israel-supporting dictator die and be replaced by a democratic government. So no peace with Egypt.

    A paranoid can trust no one, since anyone might change their mind. That’s Israel.

    • Pamela Olson
      January 16, 2011, 3:32 pm

      “A paranoid can trust no one, since anyone might change their mind. That’s Israel.”

      Precisely. Nothing worse than a paranoid with nukes, and their boots on the necks of millions. The way the Israeli government thinks (and behaves), no peace will be possible until everything in the world is totally perfect and every single Arab is absolutely in love with the idea of a “Jewish democracy” in all or nearly all of historic Palestine.

      Until then, everyone shut up and let Israel keep killing and colonizing and waiting for a miracle.

  3. annie
    January 16, 2011, 11:57 am

    speaking of dimi,

    I’ll buy beer to whoever sends me a you-tube link describing a similar mob-cop moment from some American gangster movie.

  4. Richard Witty
    January 16, 2011, 11:57 am

    Israel rationally fears what you applaud. “This is the first of general uprising”, translated to relations to Israel “A dozen Arab countries actively hating Israel and they can’t continue to exist. And we don’t even have to attack militarily.”

    • bijou
      January 16, 2011, 12:26 pm

      I’m wondering if you can see how incredibly narcissistic this viewpoint it. Arabs are angry at their own oppressive governments and all you can see/hear/understand is that anger must BY DEFINITION equate to hatred of Israel and ergo its inevitable destruction????????? I believe in psychology this is referred to as “catastrophizing…”

      How about some alternative scripting for once…. For example, Arabs are angry at their own oppressive governments because they have failed to deliver on any of the public’s needs and instead served their own narrow elite interests. Arabs are exercising their democratic rights to self-rule. A government that emerges from popular support will be more responsive to the needs of the people and therefore will REDUCE public anger which could actually be good for Israel…

      More to the point, why the hell doesn’t Israel ask itself what it could change in its own behavior and approach to the Arab masses to make it more in their interests to see some reason to build a normal relationship? Starting with granting them the basic human dignity of being entitled (in your own perception) to a better and more responsive and effective government…. not to mention the basic respect of assuming that they are capable of constructing such a government. All you seem to be able to see are hordes possessed by hatred, all of it exclusively targeted at Israel for absolutely no rational reason whatsoever….

      I seriously dispute your characterization of this thought process as “rational.”

      • Citizen
        January 16, 2011, 2:26 pm

        It’s rational to Witty. He only think in terms of the right to self-govern as a right of the Jewish people. In fact, he goes even farther; he doesn’t think his childhood pal, Phil, has a right to self-govern himself–Phil’s sin in Witty’s eyes is that he is too individualistic and simultaneously too universalistic; in short, Phil is just not a good faith member of the tribe.
        Hence, a la Witty, the Arabs have no right to self-govern if Witty thinks such a right in any way might adversely affect Israel. He takes the exact opposite view of his version of the Jewish people’s right to self-govern,
        embodied in the aggressive, predatory nuclear state of Israel. Anything Israel deems necessary to assure its survival is ipso facto moral, ethical, and something to stand up and die for (while he watches).

      • Donald
        January 16, 2011, 11:44 pm

        “Hence, a la Witty, the Arabs have no right to self-govern if Witty thinks such a right in any way might adversely affect Israel. ”

        Exactly. I don’t know how this Tunisian uprising will end–revolutions often end with some new set of thugs seizing power after the common people have overthrown the previous thugs. So it could go badly, sure.

        But that isn’t the only thing that bothers RW–he’s probably more afraid that Israel’s Arab neighbors will become democracies and still not like the way Israel practices apartheid.

      • Richard Witty
        January 16, 2011, 3:05 pm

        If the content, the headline is, “Netanyahu seizes on Tunisian turmoil”, then my comment was on point.

        Are you serious?

        Do you applaud the implied threat to Israel of the Tunisian uprising, that the Arab masses will fight their oppressors (US, Europe and Israel).

      • bijou
        January 16, 2011, 3:32 pm

        I support any attempt to throw off political oppression, even if it involves a cost to my own country. The values that we supposedly embrace as a nation do not extend to oppressing others. We were born by virtue of overthrowing our oppressors.

        Are you serious? Or rather, did you really mean what you just wrote???

        If there is an implied threat to Israel (which is your perception, not mine), then the fault is Israel’s for behaving as an oppressor in the first place.

        Peoples have a right to determine how they govern themselves in ways that serve their collective interests.

      • Shingo
        January 16, 2011, 3:32 pm

        Do you applaud the implied threat to Israel of the Tunisian uprising, that the Arab masses will fight their oppressors (US, Europe and Israel).

        The threat to all tyranical and crimninal oppressors in the region shoudl be applauded.

      • Kathleen
        January 16, 2011, 4:08 pm

        What do we hear over and over again from former head of the CIA Bin Laden unit Micheal Scheuer, former CIA analyst Ray McGovern, Queen Noor, King of Jordan, other heads of nations from that part of the world, Former President Jimmy Carter and many others about why so many Muslims and others hate the U.S.

        1. Our military bases on their (Muslim) soil to protect our access to their oil

        2. The Israeli Palestinian conflict and the U.S.’s continued support for Israel no matter what they do and how many treaties and UN resolutions they are in violation of.

        3. U.S. support for tyrannical regimes.

        How many times do we have to hear this to get it?

      • Richard Witty
        January 17, 2011, 6:12 am

        I don’t think that we have a right to oppress others (or at least a sincere obligation to do so minimally).

        I differ with your view of what freedom is constructed of. I literally don’t believe that freedom is constructed of “throwing off one’s oppressors” so much as “asserting ones own dignity and responsibility”.

        One is a negatavist approach that describes the absence of oppression by other as the definition of freedom, that is then dependant on warring (and harming) to succeed.

        The approach of assertion and development is already liberated, its already taking one’s own life into one’s hands. There are circumstances where oppression exists, and the oppression is an initial focus of one’s community’s development, but that is a passing and small part of the process and definition of the process.

      • Shingo
        January 17, 2011, 7:00 am

        I differ with your view of what freedom is constructed of. I literally don’t believe that freedom is constructed of “throwing off one’s oppressors” so much as “asserting ones own dignity and responsibility”.

        You can’t do one without the other Witty and you know that, but when Israel is the oppressor, you cannot bring yourself to take that final step and be honest about it.

        The approach of assertion and development is already liberated, its already taking one’s own life into one’s hands.

        Rubbish. The Palestinians delcared independence in 1988 and it hasn’t liberated them in any way. if they were to declare an independet state, it would incur Israel’s wrath.

    • occupyresist
      January 16, 2011, 12:35 pm





      or do you only value lives that belong to certain ethnic groups and think they are worth more than others….is that it then?

      Thank you, RW. You’ve finally, unabashedly, shown your true colors.

      • Citizen
        January 16, 2011, 2:28 pm

        Two legs bad, four legs good.

      • Potsherd2
        January 16, 2011, 3:07 pm

        If Arab states democratize, Israel fears it might cease to exist. But then, it might cease to exist if they don’t.

        This is what we call “irrational”.

      • bijou
        January 16, 2011, 3:33 pm

        And by the way, any “democracy” that can only exist if all its neighbors are tyrannies is certainly not a “democracy.”

      • Kathleen
        January 16, 2011, 4:10 pm

        The U.S. did their best to undermine the democratically elected leader in the Iran in the 50’s. It worked.

        And people wonder why so many hate our foreign policy and then hate us? No need to wonder

      • VR
        January 16, 2011, 8:49 pm

        The discussion would all be fine, that is Israel’s participation in the democratization of Arab states, except Israel is not a democracy. Now that is a succinct statement, the only problem is that many seem to be unaware of how Israel functions outside of recognizing its settler state condition.

        In Israel you have, for the most part, one driving force to colonize to their hearts content – there is no left and right, no internal ideological clash in the powers. Take for instance, there can be no significant force like labor that can arise in Israel, because it all falls under one rubric – a centralization under Histadrut, and apartheid labor “union.”

        Israel survives on unilateral capital transfers, which are than distributed through the Jewish Agency, which means the state has large control over sectors of the economy. I could go on, but these are just a couple of reasons you do not have a democracy inside of Israel, and why it can go full bore fascist in record speed. So lets dispense with the democracy and western capitalist parallels.

      • VR
        January 16, 2011, 9:16 pm

        Essentially, I guess, those who are aware of the internal workings of Israel find it amusing whenever this discussion arises about “the only democracy in the ME,” and how it can contribute to democratization in the region. Well, I don’t find it amusing, and will step up my efforts to make people aware of how Israel functions, because when you make appeals or demands of a country not even knowing historical and functional particulars it does no good, and makes people who contribute look foolish. It helps Zionists to keep talking about some non-existent democracy in the ME.

      • seafoid
        January 17, 2011, 7:48 am

        agreed, VR.
        Israel has most to lose from a democratised Arab world.
        Its survival is based on 4 pillars

        -Weak and divided Arab dictatorships
        -Weak and ignorant Palestinians
        -European holocaust guilt
        -US lobby political backing

        Each of these is in the process of change. Zionism the ideology got this far but doesn’t have the legs to go much further.

      • occupyresist
        January 18, 2011, 2:54 am


        best, lucid, bullet-point summary of situation.

  5. Taxi
    January 16, 2011, 12:22 pm

    Yes it’s very worrisome for israel when Arab crowds revolting against their corrupt governments, march their streets and en mass be chanting “Free Tunisia” instead of ‘Allahuakbar’.

    Heh heh heh and dear old me:

    Imagine all that propaganda Zillions zionists spent in the west trying to convince us that EVERYTHING ARAB/MOSLEM is ALWAYS anti-democratic and irredeemably savage.

    Oh yeah you bet Tunisia puts a smile of my face for SO many reasons!

  6. eee
    January 16, 2011, 12:32 pm

    Bibi is perfectly right. Any peace agreement must be such, that if there is regime change in the country with which we sign the agreement, be it from tyranny to democracy or vice versa, Israel’s security will not be compromised. This is a very reasonable request.

    • Woody Tanaka
      January 16, 2011, 1:23 pm

      What a load of nonsense. Netanyahu isn’t saying that there must be a mechanism whereby succeeding states are bound by the agreements made by predecessor government (because he knows that no such mechanism can exist). What he is doing is using the events in an Arab country to justify his crimes against other Arabs in Palestine and his decision to continue the illegal and undemocratic oppression and occupation.

      Not reasonable at all, even given the standards of “reasonable” one can express from an Israeli politician and it is quite racist. (But with a Judeo-supremacist thug like Netanyahu, what does one expect?)

    • Krauss
      January 16, 2011, 2:27 pm

      I’m hardly surprised by the extreme Likudniks – posing as something else – such as Dersh or Goldberg anymore.

    • Citizen
      January 16, 2011, 2:33 pm

      Let’s turn this around and look at it, eee. No agreement Israel signs is to be honored unless the security of any other country that might be affected by it is not compromised. Sounds reasonable, eh? What’s good for the goose is good for the gander. If this is reasonable, then why is the US screwing itself by putting itself at risk by giving blank checks to Israel for decades now? America awake!

    • Potsherd2
      January 16, 2011, 3:08 pm

      And how can other countries be protected against regime change in Israel – a very reasonable concern considering Israel’s racist warmongering politicians.

    • Koshiro
      January 16, 2011, 4:55 pm

      Listen, eee, just because Israel completely trashes all progress in the peace process whenever there’s a change of government and insists on starting from square one, it doesn’t mean that countries in general operate this way. Quite the contrary.

      If everyone applied Israel’s paranoid standards for security, there would never be peace treaties anywhere. This is by the way a good test to measure the sanity of Israeli policies: Would the world work if everbody did this? If the answer is no, as it usually is, then that should be a good indication that Israel is doing something wrong.

  7. straightline
    January 16, 2011, 2:35 pm

    Can you explain to me how signing a peace treaty compromises your security?

    Perhaps Israel should revoke its treaties with Egypt and Jordan.

    Another case of Israeli exceptionalism!

    • Potsherd2
      January 16, 2011, 3:09 pm

      “It’s all about Israel.”

      • bijou
        January 16, 2011, 3:34 pm

        Otherwise known as narcissism.

    • Koshiro
      January 16, 2011, 4:49 pm

      You can bet any sum on it: If the current crop of Israeli politicians and their footsoldiers roaming the net had been in charge back then, there would be no peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan.

  8. yourstruly
    January 16, 2011, 3:38 pm

    by breaking the chains that bind it to the settler-entity israel

    and the rest of the west

    the arab world

    now free and independent

    can use its muscle (oil)

    to force the west

    to support justice for palestine

    thereby putting the settler entity (not its people) into the dustbin of history

    where it belongs

  9. Kathleen
    January 16, 2011, 4:03 pm

    Phil “And can’t American Jews, beneficiaries of democracy, help their cousins to imagine a better future?)”

    These last five years been amazing to watch how many American Jews have come out and stood for justice in the I/P conflict. Been a long time coming.

    Keep pushing folks. Great handouts, truth literature at If Americans Knew and the BDS website. Pass it out on campuses, churches, synagogoues, mosque everywhere you go. Talk about it, listen generously, respond with facts.

    Call, email your Reps about the issue. Keep pushing

  10. NorthOfFortyNine
    January 16, 2011, 6:03 pm

    I am feeling Machiavellian this evening. Suppose this was a whiff of grapeshot in Bibi’s direction, courtesy of the White House, for favours rendered.

    Tunisia is clearly bad news for Israel. The spectre of US puppets falling does indeed represent a serious threat to Israel hegemony in the area. These regimes have acted as a muzzle on the arab street, insulated Israel from local opinion and, in turn, provided Israel with diplomatic cover and a false sheen of respectability. The neighbourhood just got chillier.

    This would not have happened had the US not wanted it to happen. Not saying they provoked it, but they did turn a blind eye, didn’t they?

    Frankly, if I were Obama, this is exactly what I would do. Apply pressure, not directly, which is impossible given “domestic considerations”, but by proxy. This gives the President cover, yet acheives some desried effect. Imagine if Egypt and Jordan went “Turkey” on Israel? Local dynamics would change dramatically and perhaps then the GOI might not be then so ungrateful for the support it now receives. To me, this seems a natural thought process for some clever aide resentful of the taste of boot polish on his tongue.

    • annie
      January 16, 2011, 6:13 pm

      Imagine if Egypt and Jordan went “Turkey” on Israel?

      we can all dream can’t we?

      • yourstruly
        January 17, 2011, 12:56 am

        post-tunisian uprising

        not only dreams of a better world

        a glimpse

        of the possibilities that lie ahead

  11. jon s
    January 16, 2011, 7:04 pm

    Annie, What are you hoping for? Egypt signed a peace treaty with Israel, a treaty that required an Israeli withdrawal from all occupied Egyptian territory. Jordan also established peace with Israel. Would you rather see a return to war and bloodshed?

    • annie
      January 16, 2011, 7:27 pm

      Would you rather see a return to war and bloodshed?

      ? turkey and israel are not on the brink of war or bloodshed. cool off jon.

      • jon s
        January 17, 2011, 2:48 am

        Annie, it looks like you wish for relations between Israel and Egypt and Jordan to take a turn for the worse. Given the history, that could mean a return to blodshed.

      • annie
        January 17, 2011, 3:51 am

        it might look like that to you jon, the way those that have hammers see nails.

        Given the history, that could mean a return to blodshed.

        not the history of turkey and israel it doesn’t. i’m referencing a relationship w/a democracy backed by the will of the people (turkey) as opposed to western propped up dictators.

      • annie
        January 17, 2011, 4:31 am

        Annie, it looks like you wish for relations between Israel and Egypt and Jordan to take a turn for the worse.

        i do not think the relationship between israel and turkey has turned for the worst. i think it is honest, unlike that of egypt and jordan which is propped up by western back dictators. israel needs to stop sucking off the tit of american $$$ and earn it’s keep in the world by decent actions, not by the dependence on americans who demand acquiescence to their pressure and coercive compliance that ultimately kowtows to israel’s every whim where one step out of line demands their ambassadors sit in lowered chairs for waiting photographers.

        is israel so weak it cannot stand on its own integrity and requires the ‘superpower’ to coddle it every step of the way? so what happens when the mask is drawn away and america is no longer respected? watch and see. american kowtowing to israel’s whims has brought us down and turned us into a laughing stock nation.

        these dictators are temporary nothings. the people they represent are real and valuable and ageless. because you are not hearing their voice does not mean they are less than you. try asking yourself why there are billions of them and a few million jews on this planet. america is 2 centuries old. how old are they? how old is israel? how old is egypt? iran? turkey? palestine?

        these people do not wish bloodshed nor do i. the country you support thrives off bloodshed, their expansion depends on it. the one constant of israel is it’s brutality and expansion, and mark my words those driven most by expansion have much loftier goals in mind than the west bank. they believe god gave them all of eretz yisrael. you know this, i know this and they know this. so you’ve got bigger fish to fry than me. jordan is not your problem, nor egypt nor turkey. honesty is your friend. your problem is jewish fanatics. so why are you hear dearie? stop the expansion. advocate borders a constitution and democracy. join the ranks of the freedom fighters and resuscitate judaism and jewish values along the way. but most of all have faith in humanity even if the humans you’d be putting your faith in are primarily merely muslims and jews. there’s no real democracy in either egypt, jordan or israel.

        worry worry worry, get your priorities straight and start addressing the religious nutjobs in isreal because they are the problem in spades and they’ve more than infiltrated the government, they own it w/kowtowed american backing.

    • kapok
      January 16, 2011, 7:36 pm

      Is that a threat?

  12. kapok
    January 16, 2011, 7:40 pm

    OT — does anybody else experience randomly fluctuating browser settings for this particular site? w/FYI firefox v.3.6.13

  13. Citizen
    January 17, 2011, 7:11 am

    RE: “There are circumstances where oppression exists, and the oppression is an initial focus of one’s community’s development, but that is a passing and small part of the process and definition of the process.”

    Nice Witticism. Can you say Holocaust? Can you say “safe haven?”

    Witty speaks as if life is a couple of sequential chess moves. While it’s true endulging merely in demonization is not the way to go, here’s a more informative summary of what Tunsia means, over there, and over here rather than speaking abstractly about “process.” Note the question suggesting the distant mirror in the USA and among other realities, the tea party movement: link to

    • bijou
      January 17, 2011, 9:20 am

      Yes, and then there are those circumstances where oppression is so massive that it can effectively and deliberately stunt and impede all forms of community development and even individual existence. Such was the case for Jews throughout certain periods of their history; in Ireland for centuries; in South Africa; and in Israel today for the Palestinians, to name a few examples. The quote cited above is simply absurd in the context of Palestine, where “community development” has been carefully engineered to be, quite literally, impossible for the “non-desired” populace to achieve.

      In such cases, the ONLY possible way to “assert one’s dignity and responsibility” and, I might add, humanity is to work towards overthrowing the oppression first. Because it’s the sina qua non for everything else.

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