The road to Jerusalem leads through Tunis and Cairo

The neoconservatives told us that the road to Jerusalem lay through Baghdad. They meant that invading Iraq and installing a democracy there would lead to peace in Israel and Palestine. The way they imagined that peace was a neocolonial landgrab: a greater Israel with portions of the West Bank amalgamated by Jordan. Still, that is what they believed– that creating democracy in Iraq would lead to a peace in Palestine.

These ideas are in smithereens today. The Palestine Papers have revealed that the peace process was a Trojan horse for Israeli expansionism and that even the American client in the West Bank could not accept a future state without Ariel and Ma’ale Adunim, the long fingers of Jewish territory.

And the lessons of Iraq and Tunisia and Egypt are that you don’t install democracy anywhere; no, democracy must arise from the people themselves, you damage the processes of establishing popular will by seeking to impose such a system. The western democratic revolutions also arose from within.

The lesson of Tunisia and Egypt for American foreign policy is that the United States is the most conservative force in the world, in this region. It didn’t see democracy coming because it didn’t want to see it coming to the Arab world and to the palaces we supported. And when democracy did come, the U.S. creditably reversed field in Tunisia, but has stuck by its dictator in Egypt.

Barack Obama’s failure to honor the Egyptian protesters in his State of the Union speech Tuesday night, and Joe Biden’s cold negativity toward them last night (they’re not up against a dictator, we can’t encourage them, this is not the awakening of eastern Europe) reveal the unwavering influence of the Israel lobby in our public life, and how conservative that influence is. The administration’s statements reveal that it prefers stability in Egypt, no matter the cost to civil rights and human rights there, to freedom for Arab people. And why? Because Egyptian stability preserves the Israeli status quo, in which Israel gets to imprison West Bank protesters without a peep from the U.S. government and gets to destroy civilians in Gaza again without a peep from the alleged change-agent in the White House.

Thankfully, P.J. Crowley was forced to reveal the policy yesterday by Shihab Rattansi of Al Jazeera, when he admitted that the difference between the administration’s response to Tunisia and Egypt stems from the fact that Egypt has a peace deal with Israel and has come to terms with Israel’s existence, a model to the region. And this line is echoed all over the American news, when they say that Egypt is helping the “peace process,” a process that has produced only suffering and dispossession for Palestinians.

The hole in the bottom of the world here is the fear that Arabs have not accepted Israel’s existence. They didn’t accept it in 1947 in New York, and they didn’t accept it in 1967 in Khartoum. They always warned that its presence would create instability in the region, and the State Department said it would radicalize Israel’s neighbors, and 60 years on this is more true than ever. The Arab Peace initiative of 2002 was a great gesture of realism: the Arab states did accept Israel’s existence, on the ’67 lines. But nothing has come of this incredible shift, and Brian Baird tells us that leading American congressmen, tucked in at night by the Israel lobby, didn’t even know about the Arab Peace Initiative, and Israel scoffed at the offer because it had American power behind it.

Now in Tunisia and Egypt, the Arab street has taken the neocons at their word and said, Yes we want democracy, and we will get it. And Arab youth has taken facebook and twitter and done more with these tools than Americans have done, and said we want free speech and social freedom.

And when they get it– if not this year then within ten years, the internet is too dynamic a force, along with Assange and Al Jazeera– when they get it, they will expose the power of the Israel lobby so that even Chris Matthews will have to address the contradictions. For we will be seen to have only one policy, the preservation of a Jewish state, even if that means Jim Crow and apartheid and stamping out democratic movements everywhere and tolerating a prison for 1.5 million innocent people in Gaza. I waffle about the two state-solution more than anyone, I actually imagined that partition might preserve tranquility, but when democracy comes to Cairo the pressure on Jerusalem to allow equal rights for all citizens will be massive. And the claim that Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East will have completely dissolved. 

You see the pressure on Jerusalem beginning in earnest now, from new quarters. You see it in Admiral Mullen’s awareness that Americans will come home in wheelchairs until Palestinians have freedom, in Senator Rand Paul’s call for cuts in military aid to Israel.

That pressure must come to bear soon on the Democratic Party. It is the natural home for the recognition of minority rights and the self-determination of formerly-oppressed people. How sad that even Russ Feingold can scarcely talk about Obama’s war when he speaks out to a progressive audience, and can’t even talk about Palestine. Pathetic.

What we see in Cairo is the destruction of American racist attitudes. A year or so back a Jewish friend said to me that if Jews could take on the Israel lobby and reform American foreign policy it would be a model for human rights leadership across the world. And I agreed; and we are working at it.

But that was an elitist conceit. The moral leadership in the region is coming not from any American movement in our imperfect democracy, no, we are the most conservative country in the world right now; it is coming from the streets in Tunisia and Egypt.

About Philip Weiss

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

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

  1. Phil wrote:

    And the lessons of Iraq and Tunisia and Egypt are that you don’t install democracy anywhere; no, democracy must arise from the people themselves, you damage the processes of establishing popular will by seeking to impose such a system. The western democratic revolutions also arose from within.

    Jeffrey Feltman was sent to Tunisia precisely to “damage the process of establishing popular will.”

    The Arab states surrounding Israel will pressure Jerusalem, but who will pressure American Jewish agents of influence on US State Department and foreign policy? With Dennis Ross in the White House and the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs committee dominated by radical Israel advocates, Jewish and non-Jewish, how is the message of the Arab street — otherwise thoroughly demonized by US media, going to get through to the US administration and legislators?

    • Potsherd2 says:

      It may not be the Arab street that gets the message through. It may be the fed-up American public, sick of the stranglehold that Israel has on foreign policy. Look at the reactions to Rand Paul’s proposal to cut off Israeli funding. Total horror from the politicians, support from the population.

  2. Jim Haygood says:

    ‘Joe Biden’s cold negativity toward them last night (they’re not up against a dictator, we can’t encourage them, this is not the awakening of eastern Europe) reveals the unwavering influence of the Israel lobby in our public life, and how conservative that influence is.’

    ‘Conservative’ seems like a charitable euphemism at best. Applying the analogue of the Soviet satellite states of yore, a more pointed term might be ‘repressive.’ Maybe that’s what Premier Obama meant in his speech, with his puzzling reference to our ‘Sputnik moment.’ The Hungarian rebels are crushed, comrades! And so shall be the Egyptian ones, avers Windsock Joe Biden, our first invertebrate vice president:

    Asked if he would characterize Mubarak as a dictator Biden responded: “Mubarak has been an ally of ours in a number of things. And he’s been very responsible on, relative to geopolitical interest in the region, the Middle East peace efforts; the actions Egypt has taken relative to normalizing relationship with – with Israel. … I would not refer to him as a dictator.”

    It’s too obvious now. Biden and Clinton and Crowley have thrown it right in our faces: Israel’s stability requires a US-sponsored pan-Arab arc of repression. To support Israel, Americans have sold out the principles of the Declaration of Independence, making Israel’s claim to be the region’s only democracy a ghastly self-fulfilling prophecy by nullifying elections and arming autocrats.

    At least the enormous stakes are fully disclosed now. Egypt is the cultural heart of the Arabic-speaking world — 83 million people. Egypt tipping over would be huge. And then America’s brutal mini-Mubaraks in repressive Jordan, Yemen and Saudi Arabia will find themselves in a cauldron of popular revolt, as the ossified dictatorial dominoes tip.

    A blogger named George Ure, whose associate runs a web bot project to sniff emerging themes from internet chatter, began writing last autumn about a ‘Global Rev[olution]‘ meme. All of the predicates are in place: economic crisis; runaway food prices; plutocratic looting; dictatorial regimes. If Global Rev unfolds, America’s 150-year-old Depublicrat duopoly will end up stuffed in a refuse barrel along the way. In utterly selling out our principles, the bipartisan War Party has amply proven that it’s no natural home for minority rights and self-determination. It’s so thoroughly penetrated and subverted by the Lobby that it’s incapable of reform. Like the Soviet Union, it will simply have to go.

  3. MRW says:

    We are not the most conservative country in the world .

    We are the most anemic. The only thing ‘conservative’ about the US right now is that it is ‘conserving’ energy it should use to lead according to its (supposed) values. [But that's probably what you mean, Phil]

    In reply to “Tunisia spirit hits Kentucky” and Haygood, the Israel Lobby is selfish, and would damage the US and its citizens without so much as a ‘by your leave’.

  4. annie says:

    BRILLLIANT! i love you phil weiss! i love this place! thank you thank you thank you. i want to SCREAM your post from my rooftop. i want the whole world to hear it!

    • annie says:

      oh, one more thing. i’ve just linked to this post several times but it’s a great read so i’ll post it again because it totally sync’s w/this thread. helena

      So that pro-Zionist partisanship is now majorly helping to drag our country down. So be it. Let all Americans know and understand what is happening, and what gross follies (if not, crimes) have been committed by our leaders in the region, in our name.

      * * *

      There will be major change in the Middle East. Though the US-Israeli imperium may find a way to survive in the region beyond tomorrow (#jan28), there is no way it can survive in its present form beyond the end of 2012.

      And you know what? That will be a good thing for the vast majority of Americans and our country as a whole. After the imperium is brought to an end, it will be a whole lot easier for Americans to have good relations with both Israelis and the peoples of the Arab world– and they, with us– than it has been for the past 15 years. Ending the imperium is not a recipe for any kind of “clash of civilizations”. It is, rather, an essential prerequisite for being able to build a decent relationship based on fairness, mutual respect, and shared commitment to the values that all of us hold dear.

    • I read the first half of this article, then went to get a cup of coffee, thinking while pouring that this was the most brilliant thing Phil had written.

      I came back to read the second half , clenched a bit at the over-emphasis on twitter & facebook but chose to let it ride; but I got stuck here:

      And when they get it– if not this year then within ten years, the internet is too dynamic a force, along with Assange and Al Jazeera– when they get it, they will expose the power of the Israel lobby so that even Chris Matthews will have to address the contradictions.

      Internet has been around for about 20 years, Phil; how have Americans used the “dynamic force” of internet to expose the Israel lobby in all these years?

      I recall one of the scientists who examined the drawing on the Caves at Lascaux. He was asked why the images had remained hidden all these millenia. He said, “When we are not looking for a thing, we cannot see it.” Americans do not WANT to see what is right in front of them — Izzeldin Abu Laish’s moan is the icon of our era: “They do not want to know the truth.”

      The internet is a useful tool, yes; I can’t make myself go that far re twitter and fb — I think they’re faddish and when their creators warn us that privacy is no more when social media is concerned, I take notice.

      But technology cannot change the hearts and minds of men who “do not want to know the truth.”

      The young people in Egypt are being forced to put their lives — skin, blood, bones, brains, futures — on the line to effect that change.

      We Americans think we can do it on the cheap; achieve a force multiplier — and the complete protection of our lives, comfort, wealth, and privacy — by tweeting out our truth, then protecting ourselves in the shell of anonymity.

      I think we need more courage than that. I’m not sure I have it.

      I thank you, Phil, for the tremendous way you have put your self, your identity, your skills, your spirit, into speaking the truth that you know.

      Now excuse me, the coffee needs more sugar.

  5. pabelmont says:

    “That pressure must come to bear soon on the Democratic Party.”
    If a prayer, amen.

    If a prediction, waaaal, not so sure. I’ve known some ostriches in my time * * *. The other day, Dov Hikind, a Zionist pol in Brooklyn, got a teacher fired from Brooklyn College (see petition here. People are still listening to traditional power, adn that means that traditional power is STILL power.

  6. Jim Haygood says:

    Whether Joe Biden read this cable or not, he certainly had access to it:

    ————

    WikiLeaks has released a timely new cable on police brutality in Egypt.

    Written by the US ambassador to Egypt Margaret Scobey it says:

    Torture and police brutality in Egypt are endemic and widespread. The police use brutal methods mostly against common criminals to extract confessions, but also against demonstrators, certain political prisoners and unfortunate bystanders. One human rights lawyer told us there is evidence of torture in Egypt dating back to the times of the Pharaohs.

    link to guardian.co.uk

    ————

    Yet Biden gives Mubarak’s torture regime a pass because he’s ‘solid on Israel.’

    Thanks, Joe, for making so explicit what the pathological special relationship with Israel has cost us. Money — hundreds of billions — is the least of it. We sold out our founding principles — and all we got was this crappy ‘I [heart] Israel’ T-shirt?

  7. Shmuel says:

    The US administration is merely protecting American jobs in the for-export democracy industry.

    • Citizen says:

      No, the US administration is merely protecting their own jobs; they know the young AIPAC volunteers in their offices are watching their every move, and reporting them.

  8. eee says:

    Phil,

    Talk is easy. But if Egypt falls into chaos or is taken over by the Muslim Brotherhood, would you say that this was a price worth paying to get rid of Saddam, sorry Mubarak?

    Put yourself on the record clearly now saying that the US should go against Mubarak whatever the outcome. Or is the plan to blame Israel also if this revolution goes wrong?

    Obama and Biden are making a different call than Carter did with the Shah of Iran. Was Carter right to abandon the Shah and allow the Khomeini regime?

    Every choice one makes has consequences. Mubarak’s police state could not stop the bombing of the Coptic church a couple of weeks ago. You think a “democratic” Egypt has any chance of containing such actions?

    I want democracy in Egypt. But I know that the way it is being brought about will most probably lead to much bloodshed. I think this is Obama’s position and understanding.

    • Colin Murray says:

      Mubarak’s police state could not stop the bombing of the Coptic church a couple of weeks ago. You think a “democratic” Egypt has any chance of containing such actions?

      Your view is predicated on erroneous assumptions. No amount of policing can completely eliminate terrorism: the best one could hope for is to end up like you Israelis.

      Policing is a necessary but not sufficient condition for prevention of terrorism: the only stable long term solution is an adequately healthy civil society. A post-Mubarak government not addicted to Israel Lobby-arranged handouts may not be able to achieve this, but you as a colonial Zionist have a transparently vested interest in convincing others that any change in Egypt will be for the worse.

      Chicago Project on Security and Terrorism

    • Donald says:

      “Was Carter right to abandon the Shah and allow the Khomeini regime?”

      This is both arrogant and foolish. Arrogant, because it assumes that it was Carter’s right to prop up an Iranian dictator. And foolish, because it assumes that if the US had intervened and supported the Shah, that would have been the end of it.

      I doubt that very much. Suppressing the Iranian revolution would have required a bloodbath and apart from the morality of it, it would guarantee an even greater degree of hatred for the US. And it would have only postponed the revolution. We might have had 9/11 a couple of decades earlier if we’d intervened as you wish we had.

      The US is not responsible for all the pathologies in the Mideast and neither is Israel, but we are responsible for some of them. And your advice, if followed back then, would have made things even worse.

  9. James North says:

    3e: In other words you (and, presumably, Israel) believe that you have the right to choose Egypt’s government, instead of its people.

    • eee says:

      James,

      “3e: In other words you (and, presumably, Israel) believe that you have the right to choose Egypt’s government, instead of its people.”

      Of course not. But just as it was stupid to expect democracy in Iraq, it is stupid to expect a functioning democracy in Egypt.
      If you think otherwise, just say so but also hold yourself accountable to the results of your decision. If the islamists take over or if there is a bloody and prolonged civil war, will you accept the responsibility for willing to chance it? That is the decision Obama is facing.

      • Danaa says:

        Let us behold the blatantly racist, condescending attitudes on full display here by the triple e. Behold the penetrating arguments, breathtaking in their circularity:

        1. It is ‘stupid’ to expect “functioning” democracy in Egypt (because Arabs are inherently incapable of it).
        2. “Democracy” failed in Iraq – must be those ‘stupid” Arabs again – (can’t possibly have anything to do with the destruction of the country by a conquering empire, urged on and abetted by its imperial lackey, Israel, can it?)
        3. What about the scary brotherhood? surely they’ll take over! after all, we have the creeping example of the take over by the religious orthodox and their nationalist militant halachic hard liners in Israel – so that’s got to be the dominant meme. But since the Egyptians are a-a-arabs, it”ll be a blood bath – by definition (go back to #1).

        • eee says:

          It is stupid to expect a functioning democracy in Egypt because there are no democratic institutions, just like in Iraq. It is stupid to expect a functioning democracy in Egypt because the major opposition party is the Muslim Brotherhood which has no democratic traditions or commitment. Nothing to do with them being Arabs. It was stupid to expect a functioning democracy in Afghanistan also. A working democracy cannot appear out of nowhere despite what everybody wants. Wishful thinking will not get you anywhere.

        • Citizen says:

          The US military adventures in those countries you name, eee, were not motivated by democracy-building.

  10. James North says:

    3e: You are now saying that I (or Barack Obama) should choose Egypt’s government, and that I must afterwards remain “accountable” for my “decision.” Why should Egyptians listen to “me”? Do you really think they would?

    • eee says:

      James,

      Like it or not the US is the world superpower and is responsible for world stability more than any other power. If the US does not support Mubarak, he will be more likely to fall. So, as a US policy maker, what would you do? Throw Mubarak off the cliff? Ask for reforms? What?

      • James North says:

        Recognize the right of the Egyptian people to choose their own government.
        Cut the more than $1 billion in U.S. aid each year to the Mubarak regime.
        (And while we’re at it, cut the more than $3 billion the U.S. sends Israel every year.)

        • eee says:

          And if the Muslim Brotherhood take over what do you do? Do you then interfere to free the Egyptians?

        • Taxi says:

          Well eee we got the jewish ‘brotherhood’ running israel and America so what’s the problem? Islamophobic much?

          You actually been following the news: perhaps deduced by now that it won’t happen because YOUNG ARABS WANT DEMOCRACY, SECURITY AND PROSPERITY.

          They don’t want Bin Laden’s lifestyle, nor do they want YOUR FAKE version of democracy.

          They want their OWN WAY and you’re just darn jealous and fearful it’s now and suddenly come to this.

          I’m glad you’re shaking in your stupid old IDF boots.

          Or you still fantasizing about occupying Sinai again you pathetic hasbeen?

        • And if the Muslim Brotherhood take over what do you do? Do you then interfere to free the Egyptians?

          This is the bogeyman we have seen over and over again, used to justify keeping caïds and thugs in power in order to keep the populations in line – otherwise, the “Islamists” will take control, and the “disease” will spread. Since 9/11 it’s been the new Red Scare. Utterly false and disingenuous.

          “Free” them from what? Even if the MB “took over”, as you say, is there any reason to believe the population in Egypt would be any LESS free than they are now under the surveillance and the boot of criminal regimes who deny them many of the most fundamental liberties? How is it justifiable to engage in state terrorist tactics and repression in order to prevent some other mythical terror from gaining control? The result is the same for the population, even though the US-backed dictators have the money to put on a show for the foreign diplomats and TV cameras, giving an illusion of some sort of “Western” aestheticism and other superficial trappings – living under “secular” repression is no better than living under “religious” repression.

          Secondly, members of the MB were imprisoned by the police in Egypt, for fear that they would influence the unfolding of events, as they are the most powerful opposition party. If anyone is being oppressed in this case, it’s them. You have railed on here about “democracy” and how it is supposed to embody some kind of “proportional representation” (which is simplistic anyway) , yet when there are elements of that proportion which are to your disliking, you deftly discard this idea when it gives you the wrong results. You can’t have it both ways. You can’t pretend that scary men in beards and women in scarves don’t know what democracy is, or haven’t earned the right to eat at that table simply because you find it distasteful, AND at the same time imply that you support some kind of representative democracy. You have no authority or right to decide that for them, end of story.

          I’ll just repost what I wrote at PULSE, because I can’t think of anything else :

          Rattansi, 7:02 :
          “Because democracy would be ‘destabilizing’ to the region, wouldn’t it?”
          - bingo !

          One of the reasons the Hamas election 2006 election victory was so disconcerting to the US administration (that even the Gaza closure and the massacre of Cast Lead weren’t able to reverse completely).

          The traditional logic is that “Islamism”, or political entities having even the faintest whiff of religious connotations, is totally incompatible with its version of democracy, therefore the “caïds” and strongmen are appreciated for their capacity to keep the populations at bay and crush any type of opposition from successfully forming (1.3 b in military aid for this type of “crowd control”).

          Separation of church and state is a wonderful thing for America (I’m glad it’s there), but they are going to have to get used to the fact that other people may have other visions of what democracy exactly looks like, instead of trying to shove it down their throats. This is all contingent upon and linked to what could begin the inevitable rollback of the US empire in the region. Rest assured, they are monitoring it closely.

          Washington’s reaction (overt and covert) to all this will be very instructive.

          What happens in Egypt will probably affect the whole Arab world, more than in Tunisia – and Israel/Palestine. The US will try to ramp things down and support the nomination of another, softer version of tyranny (Mukbarat 2.0) who will have learned his lessons from studying the previous mistakes of his tyrant-neighbors and try to carry on essentially the same policies under the guise of something more tolerable. But make no mistake, the ball has been set in motion, there’s no going back completely.

        • Mubarak, not Mukbarat (!!!!)

        • Sumud says:

          And if the Muslim Brotherhood take over what do you do? Do you then interfere to free the Egyptians?

          Now might be a good time to watch the 3 part documentary from 2004 about the neocons and militant/political islam, “The Power of Nightmares”. It’s online thanx to google video:

          The Power of Nightmares: Part 1 Baby it’s Cold Outside
          The Power of Nightmares: Part 2 The Phantom Victory
          The Power of Nightmares: Part 3 The Shadows in the Cave

          Even more than in the US, Israelis have an irrational fear of muslims and arabs. You are the victim of hasbara eee, every bit as much as Palestinians are.

          Phil is right to bring up the Arab Peace Initiative. It matters, and not only is it the position of the entire Arab League it’s also endorsed by all 57 nations in the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC), including Iran.

          *If you don’t have time to watch the whole series now just watch the first 5 minutes of part 2, it’s highly relevant given Obama’s apalling statement about the uprising in Egypt. It’s Ronald Reagan dedicating the 1982 Space Shuttle Columbia mission to the islamic extremists/freedom fighters of Afghanistan:

          Just as the Columbia, we think, represents man’s finest aspirations in the field of science and technology, so too does the struggle of the Afghan people represent man’s highest aspirations for freedom. I am dedicating, on behalf of the American people the March 22nd launch of the Columbia, to, the people of Afghanistan.

          I’m no fan of Reagan, but please, compare and contrast with Obama’s dismal Egypt statement and see just how low America is aiming these days…

        • Good call Sumud, Power of Nightmares is a must watch.

  11. Theo says:

    eee

    I just love to read your blogs and reasonings!
    Israel uses the Moslem Brotherhood as the devil that must be avoided at all costs. How wrong you are.
    They were organized in 1928 to help the poor, they built clinics, pharmacies, schools for the poor. During 1948 they protested against the colonial status of Egypt, therefore they were attacked and demonized. Since decades they have a peaceful opposition to the consequent US installed dictators of that land.

    You are afraid that they will come to power and build an islamic states.
    Don´t you in Israel do exactly the same? You came to power with bloodshed that did not stop since. You have a state where your history book is the Talmud, full of faity tales, and you are building a jewish state where only jews have full rights. In other words you are doing exactly the same what you do not allow the Brotherhood to have.

    This is the year when the ME will change drastically, you will feel the pain.

    • eee says:

      “This is the year when the ME will change drastically, you will feel the pain.”

      Nasserism is back I see. Just keep repeating your mistakes.

      • Taxi says:

        eee

        You sound shit scared.

        You thought all you had to do was deal with the Lebanese, Syrians and Palestinians while you stole more and more Arab land eh? You thought that doing the moody tango with Arab dictators would be enough to subdue 390 million Arabs forever eh?

        Well guess what? Go back to the drawing board.

        It’s a brand new world for israel out there.

        Or I should say the clearest beginning of the end of American Empire and all it’s despotic and oppressive regimes, yes including israel.

        You guys think you can be zionists thugs in a sea of Arab democracy?

        The squeeze is on li’l eee and your eyes are getting crossed from too much worrisome information.

        Why don’t you lie down and do some breathing exercises. It won’t make the bad news go away but it’ll give us a break from your predictably incessant, racist and islamophobic remarks.

  12. Theo says:

    eee

    It is still not known who bombed the coptic church.
    Don´t you think the Mossad may have done it to cause problems
    for the left in Egypt, if there is one left after years of supression.

    • annie says:

      the lavon affair..not like it hasn’t happened before. it’s a toss up w/the coptic church tho, i have no idea why that happened.

    • ddi says:

      It’s most likely the work of salafi jihadists, they are more than willing to commit these kind of atrocities…

  13. Jim Haygood says:

    The ‘middle east’s only democracy’ displays its profoundly antidemocratic instincts:

    “We believe that Egypt is going to overcome the current wave of demonstrations, but we have to look to the future,” says the minister in the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “Having said that, I’m not sure the time is right for the Arab region to go through the democratic process.”

    link to news.yahoo.com

    ————

    Well, after the nullified Gaza elections of 2006, I think we knew that.

    What a blight this nasty little militarized client state has been on our own democracy.

  14. jimby says:

    What happens when the uprising spreads to Jordan? I think Israel will go literally ballistic.

  15. Surcouf says:

    The events in Egypt are bound to have an impact on what will come next on the Palestine question.

    First, irrespective of the outcome of this popular uprising, one thing for sure is that the Mubarak regime is gone. Just like in Tunisia, some sort of national unity government will need to be formed, and just like Tunisians, Egyptians will not tolerate that members of the current NDP participate in that unity government. Such national unity government would remain in place until fair, free and internationally monitored elections are held and translate into a democratic popular representation.

    Second, the setting up of a national unity government will be accompanied by greater, not less, personal freedoms and individual liberties, as it did in Tunisia. The martial law will certainly be lifted. State control of the media will be eliminated.
    Mohamed ElBaradei is bound to play a crucial role in such national unity government. In light of previous statements he has made on the question of Gaza it is fairly accurate to believe that the illegal blockage, in which the Mubarak regime has eagerly participated, will not stand. It is hard to imagine that such a national unity government would continue to participate in the ongoing oppression of their fellow Arab citizens in a cage where they are kept barely at a survival levels. Remember the trend we are witnessing in the Arab world is towards more personal freedoms and individual liberties.

    Third, the opening of the Egypt-Gaza border, providing greater access to the rest of the world to witness the conditions in which they have been kept for so long, would allow Palestinians to move back and forth unhindered and finally get the food commodities, medicines and building materials that they need. Come to think of it, it’s as if they would no longer be living under the Israeli matrix of control. Unlike their brethren in the West Bank, Palestinians in Gaza would not be subjected to the violence of illegal settlers high of ziocaine, or the checkpoints with IOF trigger-happy teenagers, or the constant stealing of their land, or the military enforced Apartheid regime which is their daily challenge, or…you get the picture. In fact, Palestinians in Gaza would be better off than the Palestinians in the West Bank, enjoying more freedoms and liberties. This new reality could be the last straw that broke the Fatah-led PA camel’s back after the release of the Palestine Papers.

    • Jim Haygood says:

      ‘In fact, Palestinians in Gaza would be better off than the Palestinians in the West Bank, enjoying more freedoms and liberties.’

      Oh, no-o-o-o-o-o-o!

      You’re not supposed to say that.

      This is why Obama cast his lot with Mubarak. The Quartet, the two-state peace process, the frog-marched Palestinian negotiation of surrender terms — Egypt’s revolt has exposed all this as an emperor with no clothes. And suddenly it’s stark naked in the cold blue spotlights.

    • Surcouf- Some of what you write makes sense. There is a high likelihood that if the Mubarak regime falls that el Baradei will play (at least at first) a pivotal role. (Even if the Mubarak regime does not fall, one might see el Baradei playing a role as the heir apparent to Mubarak instead of Mubarak’s son, and thus there may be some gradualism involved.)

      From the vantage point of Israel: the opening of the border with Gaza will possibly result in a few things: 1. an increase in weaponry reaching the Hamas military regime. 2. the free flow of people in and out of Gaza through Egypt. This second will be partially in Israel’s interest. The free flow of people into Gaza will introduce people interested in fighting Israel, but the free flow of people out of Gaza will increase the inter relatedness between Gaza and Egypt and further the separation of Gaza from the West Bank and Israel.

      (There have been no settlers living in Gaza since 2005 and so whatever violence has been aimed towards Gaza from Israel has been government sanctioned rather than settler caused since that time, so the open border with Egypt would not affect that.)

      Because of the poverty of Gaza (and of Egypt) and the lack of international funds finding their way to Gaza, I don’t think the economic situation in Gaza will surpass the economic situation in the West Bank. The liberties of the people of Gaza will be limited by two factors close to the core of Hamas’s modus operandi- they will not be free to oppose Hamas and they will not be free to express themselves in an anti Islamic fashion.

      On some other issues- one should examine countries with large Muslim populations and study the inter relatedness of Islam and democracy. Turkey would be the first example, with its recent experience with the ascendancy of a pro Islamic party. (Is the scarf still forbidden in government buildings in Turkey, despite the fact that the wife of the president wears a scarf? Then obviously the dynamic of Turkey with its relatively long history of secularism- 80 years? and then the ascendancy of an Islamic party through the ballot box will not be an apt model for the ascendancy of an Islamic party after a prolonged period of dictatorship. ) What does Indonesia tell us about Islam and mode of government? (I have no idea.) Is it democratic? What is the relation between state and religion there?

      While an attitude that repression must continue in eternity because the Muslim Brotherhood will take over in the aftermath of dictatorship is anti historic, the attitude that the people desire the dictatorship of the mullahs is not quite historic either. If Baradei becomes the nominal leader with the Muslim Brotherhood controlling the legislature may be they will be able to figure out a mode of operating that will allow freedom to those who do not wish to don the scarf. But this is not a sure thing and just because overthrowing dictatorship fulfills the human desire for freedom, this does not mean that one can ignore the propensity of human society to squelch that freedom in various ways in the aftermath of revolution.

      From the viewpoint of the United States the ascendancy of Iran in the region is a true danger. Although Iranian nukes present a potentially existential threat to Israel, they present a geopolitical threat to the United States as well, for the control of the region and its oil passing into the hands of the Iranian ayatollahs is not in the US interest. There are various ways to deal with a geopolitical situation that involve a combination of diplomacy and compromise that Israel with its existential fears is not open to. But to ignore the threat that Iran poses to the US seems to mean that those who oppose Israel have blinded themselves to US interests out of hatred for Israel rather than out of support for Israel, which seems to be not the realism that is advocated by Phil Weiss. There is little question that Muslim Brotherhood ruling Egypt will be less confrontational and less of a counter balance vis a vis Iran than the dictatorship of Mubarak and thus there are US interests (other than Israel) at stake here and the negligence of this aspect of US interests in this discussion seem to indicate a blindness to US interests.

      (In Dylan’s “Neighborhood Bully” his song supporting Israel, he has a line- “time stands still”, which I interpret that Israel needs/desires for time to stand still in order to maintain its existence. Obviously time does not stand still and that is what we are observing in Egypt this week. I don’t think you should underestimate the ability of Israeli/Jewish thinkers to attempt to adjust to the changing times in order to maintain the survival of Israel and its people. Unfortunately the settlement enterprise was very wrongheaded particularly in its shortsightedness and there is a large constituency that seems to be wedded to a philosophy that needs for time to stand still for its survival. Whether Netanyahu and his close advisers have the ability to adjust to the changing times is highly questionable, as their need for “time to stand still” seems to be very near the essence of their philosophy as well. Thus the thinking Israeli Jewish public who are able to theorize ways to adjust to the changing times may have to sell their ideas to the Israeli public in order to gain governmental power. Given the large populations of Haredi and settlers who are wedded to “time stands still” the question arises whether enough of the population is willing to listen to new theories of adjustment. But the idea people must sculpt their ideas no matter what.)

      • Avi says:

        I have yet to read a more self-diluted piece of nonsense.

        Although Iranian nukes present a potentially existential threat to Israel

        The weasel word here is “potentially”.

        they present a geopolitical threat to the United States as well, for the control of the region and its oil passing into the hands of the Iranian ayatollahs is not in the US interest.

        It’s already in the hands of the Ayatollahs.

        There are various ways to deal with a geopolitical situation that involve a combination of diplomacy and compromise that Israel with its existential fears is not open to. But to ignore the threat that Iran poses to the US seems to mean that those who oppose Israel have blinded themselves to US interests out of hatred for Israel

        Wow. It’s as though you don’t have to make any effort to type up utter nonsense.

        In other news….someone feels more comfortable when the plane is full of Jews, the mishpocheh.

        Back in America you may act like a stranger to fellow airline travellers and object to my touching your carry-on bag, but that strangeness is no longer appropriate here. See, all I’m doing is moving your bag a few inches and placing my own bag in here with plenty of room. You see- that strangeness in America doesn’t make sense here, Calm down and accept that we’re familiar.”

        Consult a psychologist about your social anxiety and sense of inferiority.

        Israel has become the refuge of the socially inept and inadequate. Funny how I feel at home in the U.S., but feel queasy when in Israel.

        • eljay says:

          >> From the viewpoint of the United States the ascendancy of Iran in the region is a true danger. … the control of the region and its oil passing into the hands of the Iranian ayatollahs is not in the US interest.

          Yup, and we all know that what is in the US interest is what is most important to every person everywhere on this planet. It’s another one of those “common values” Israel shares with the U.S.: “Give us what we want, or we’ll take it from you.”

      • Surcouf says:

        Wondering Jew,

        You commented on some points I raised and added some of your own.
        I will start with those I raised. Will address yours in a second post.

        ElBaradei:
        ElBaradei sees his role as a facilitator for a transition from a ”pharaohnic dictatorship” (his words) to a democratic popular representation, something Egyptians have never had. In fact, he has been criticized a lot for not involving himself more closely with the opposition movements, which in itself could be a good thing since neutral arbitrators will be greatly needed in the months to come. As to your assertion that he would be anointed by Mubarak I find it highly unlikely since he has recently said on AlJazeera (today) that he seeks the end of that regime, not its continuation.

        It is also important to keep in mind that he was educated both in Geneva and in NY, currently resides in Vienna, and has therefore experienced first hand functioning democracies in action. I think he aspires nothing less for Egypt. What ElBaradei will not be, and this is where the GOI gets antsy, is to be as pro-American policy or as pro-Israeli policy (I suspect they’re the same) than the Mubarak dictatorship was. American and Israeli policy makers reached the top of their influence in Egypt with Mubarak. Anything after that is downhill. It is a change the GOI does not welcome but it will have to deal with this new realpolitik. They had it good until now.

        Opening of Egypt-Gaza border:
        Hamas certainly stands to gain from the opening of the Egypt-Gaza border but those gains are not limited to the physical capacity of bring in more missiles or arms. In fact, financially speaking, the opening of the border will translate into a lost of revenues for Hamas since the current tunnel economy benefits mostly them, being those who control it. No, the most important gains to be made by Hamas are in the more moral and political arenas. On the Palestinian side, morally and politically speaking, their standing is bound to improve as they will be seen as those who steadfastly maintained a strong front again Israel, as opposed to the craven way in which the Fatah-led PA has behaved itself, and now the Palestine Papers have made this even more abundantly clear. They will have shown that time is on the side of their cause, on those who don’t compromise the rights of Palestinians, if only they had real support among the Arab governments in the region, which Egypt might finally just provide them with.

        From Hamas’ perspective they haven’t traded anything yet and they are gaining in legitimacy. An new Egyptian support, coupled with the support they already get from Syria, plus the potential new support from Lebanon with the change of government favouring Hezbollah, plus the potential new support from post-Ben Ali Tunisia, it seems to me that they are sitting pretty good there. And this of course is what worries both the GOI and the Fatah-led PA. What the events in Egypt are about to do is to restore the moral and political legitimacy that Hamas had gained through the Palestinian elections of 2006.

  16. FROM: “That pressure must come to bear soon on the Democratic Party” – Weiss
    MY COMMENT: Good luck with that! See below.
    FROM WIKIPEDIA:

    (excerpts)…Haim Saban was born in Alexandria, Egypt in 1944.[1]
    As a result of the 1956 Suez War [Israel, Britain and France having conspired to attack Egypt - J.L.D.], which pitted Egypt and Israel against each other, Haim, along with his family, and much of the Egyptian Jewish community, fled to Israel.[1]…
    Democratic Party – Saban has been a generous and consistent donor to the United States Democratic Party according to his mandatory Federal Election Commission filings.
    Bill Clinton presidencyMother Jones, in an analysis of the major donors to the campaigns of 1998 election cycle, ranked Saban 155th among individual donors.[14] Amy Paris noted that Saban’s Clinton-era “generosity did not go unrewarded. During the Clinton administration, the entertainment executive served on the President’s Export Council, advising the White House on trade issues.”[14] The New York Times reported that Haim and his wife “slept in the White House several times during President Clinton’s two terms.”
    Saban remains close friends to the former President. Clinton described Saban as a “very good friend and supporter.”[4]
    Haim Saban also contributed between $5 million to $10 million to the William J. Clinton Foundation.[15]

    2000 presidential election – During the 2000 presidential election, Saban increased his rank to 5th among individual donors with a combined contribution of $1,250,500.[14]
    2001-2002 Democratic National Committee – Matthew Yglesias wrote that “Saban was the largest overall contributor to the Democratic National Committee during the 2001–2002 cycle” and related the support from Saban to the fact that “the party leadership was backing the Iraq War and Terry McAuliffe was DNC chair.”[16] Saban’s donations during that 2001–2002 period exceeded $10 million, the largest donation the DNC has received from a single source up to that time.
    Hillary Clinton presidential campaign – Hillary Clinton had a long history of good relations with Haim dating back to Haim’s late 1990s support of her husband’s political efforts. Hillary told a reporter for the New York Times in September 2004 that “Haim Saban has been a very good friend, supporter and adviser to me. I am grateful for his commitment to Israel, to a just and lasting peace in the Middle East and to my foundation’s work, particularly on reconciliation issues.”[4]
    In May 2007, Haim publicly declared his support for Hillary Clinton in 2008 presidential election.[12]
    Matthew Yglesias has related Saban’s support of Hillary Clinton 2008 presidential campaign to Saban’s earlier 2001-2002-era donations to the then Iraq war-supporting DNC saying that “if Clinton becomes president, they’ll be back in the positions of influence they enjoyed back then. I doubt this all means that Hillary Clinton’s secretly itching for war with Iran, but it’s yet another illustration of the fact that her views on national security policy are too neoconnish for my tastes.”[16]…
    …In March 2008, Saban was among a group of major Jewish donors to sign a letter to Democratic Party house leader Nancy Pelosi warning her to “keep out of the Democratic presidential primaries.”[18]
    On May 19, 2008, it was reported that Haim Saban had “offered $1 million to the Young Democrats of America during a phone conversation in which he also pressed for the organization’s two uncommitted superdelegates to endorse the New York Democrat.”[19]…

    SOURCE – link to en.wikipedia.org

  17. piotr says:

    A democratic regime in Egypt would undermine one of the main premises for unconditional support for Israel: the only democracy in ME. It is already ridiculous premise, but one has to look closer to figure that out. Democratic Egypt is kind of too big and too close to overlook.

    Apart from the actual weapon, Massive Moral Superiority is the chief asset that allows to perpetuate the occupation. Ranting against “delegitimization” has a rational kernel. And moral achievement is a resource like any other: if used too much, it can be depleted and increasingly expensive techniques are require to squeeze more fuel from the long exploited fields. Hence the method of making Fair Comparisons.

    Which made Egypt an invaluable resource. While SoI is already committed to projects that will tap the moral resources, like NGO war, or the trend for more honest leadership. The latter is the competition to win voters by being more openly racist. “But our Arab citizens have more rights than in any Arab country!”.

    Current Grand Strategy to assure the survival of Israel as an unapologetically racist state requires Egypt to remain unchanged.

    Behold, you are trusting in Egypt, that broken reed of a staff, which will pierce the hand of any man who leans on it. Such is Pharaoh king of Egypt to all who trust in him.

  18. Sumud says:

    A great, great post Phil, thank you.

  19. yourstruly says:

    empire wants to control the mideast with all its oil

    to do so it can’t just maintain normal relations, trade, etc. with ME nations

    so instead it intervenes

    finds ways to build up tension between itself or a surrogate (the settler-entity) and these nations

    the better to “justify” huge expenditures on munitions & such

    the military, garrison state

    perpetual wars

    scaring citizens in the homeland with tales of demonial leaders (in iraq, iran, venezuela, for example) and their terrorist supporters

    never mind that all these nations make their oil available at market prices to all interested buyers

    which raises the question as to why (if the u.s. of a. can get all the oil it needs from the ME & elsewhere at market prices)

    it has to take control of the ME? (ans. – because that’s what empire’s do)

    and how the settler-entity figures into this? (ans. – the settler-entity’s aggression against its neighbors is what drives the ME conflict and enables empire to project its military might into the region)

    what would happen if the u.s. of a. withdrew its support of the settler-entity, cancelled its 3 plus billion annual gift, and demanded justice in palestine?

    goodby and good riddance settler-entity (not it’s people), that’s what

    whereupon there’d be peace in the ME

    with no basis for empire to meddle in ME affairs

    nor in afghanistan, iraq, pakistan, yemen & somalia

    since the reservoir of young angry arab/islamists would have dried up (no overriding cause to die for)

    meanwhile, back in the u.s. of a. (empire’s homeland)

    by this time wouldn’t there have been a turnabout?

  20. Democracy must arise from the people.

    There are two ways that happens:

    1. Reaction (spontaneous demonstration, “days of rage”, a “sugar rush”)
    2. Intentional social organizing, mutual aid, political/moral/social/spiritual consciousness raising and institution building (families, friendships, communities, regional economy). Best done in a way that is not pretentiously political, but actual encouraging of social relations and communities of frank and informed discussion.