Israel lost — LRB

The west is now reckoning with the ways that the Gaza conflict changed the political terrain of the Middle East. From Why Israel Didn’t Win, by Adam Shatz in the LRB (thanks to Idrees Ahmad):

That Netanyahu stopped short of a ground war, and gave in to key demands at the Cairo talks, is an indication not only of Egypt’s growing stature, but of Israel’s weakened position. Its relations with Turkey, once its closest ally in the region and the pillar of its ‘doctrine of the periphery’ (a strategy based on alliances with non-Arab states) have deteriorated with the rise of Erdogan and the AKP. The Jordanian monarchy, the second Arab government to sign a peace treaty with Israel, is facing increasingly radical protests. And though Israel may welcome the fall of Assad, an ally of Hizbullah and Iran, it is worried that a post-Assad government, dominated by the Syrian branch of the Muslim Brothers, may be no less hostile to the occupying power in the Golan: the occasional rocket fire from inside Syria in recent days has been a reminder for Israel of how quiet that border was under the Assad family. Israeli leaders lamented for years that theirs was the only democracy in the region. What this season of revolts has revealed is that Israel had a very deep investment in Arab authoritarianism. The unravelling of the old Arab order, when Israel could count on the quiet complicity of Arab big men who satisfied their subjects with flamboyant denunciations of Israeli misdeeds but did little to block them, has been painful for Israel, leaving it feeling lonelier than ever. It is this acute sense of vulnerability, even more than Netanyahu’s desire to bolster his martial credentials before the January elections, that led Israel into war.

The Palestinians understand that they are no longer facing Israel on their own: Israel, not Hamas, is the region’s pariah. The Arab world is changing, but Israel is not. Instead, it has retreated further behind Jabotinsky’s ‘iron wall’, deepening its hold on the Occupied Territories, thumbing its nose at a region that is at last acquiring a taste of its own power, exploding in spasms of high-tech violence that fail to conceal its lack of a political strategy to end the conflict. Iron Dome may shield Israel from Qassam rockets, but it won’t shield it from the future.

To this list I would add the uplifting of Hamas, as 2006 uplifted Hezbollah, and the further discrediting of the two-state paradigm inside Palestinian society.

Also, the point I find most resonant above is Israel’s dependence on Arab dictators. The “leftists” on the streets of Jerusalem who praised Mubarak to me– astounding. And of course the U.S. was complicit in that suppression of the popular will; and the role of the Israel lobby in that suppression is among its greatest negative achievements.

About Philip Weiss

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

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

  1. American says:

    Points that are also reinforced by Levy. Everyone sees the new realities….the question is does Israel.

    link to lobelog.com

    Daniel Levy, a former Israeli peace negotiator, provides seven takeaways from the Gaza ceasefire………

    “”Let’s keep this short. Hamas-run Gaza in the midst of conflict with Israel has just played host to the Secretary General of the Arab League, the Prime Minister of Egypt and the Foreign Ministers of Turkey, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, the Palestinian Authority, Qatar, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia and Sudan.
    Prior to this escalation, regional developments had obviously shifted in Hamas’s favor, including a visit to Gaza by the Emir of Qatar and the commitment to provide some $400 million.
    Hamas has again proven that it can create a degree of mutual deterrence with Israel, that it is taken seriously by Israel, and can bargain effectively with Israel, from securing prisoner releases to securing commitments barring IDF incursions into Palestinian territory, right back to claiming success in having driven Israel from Gaza. Just to rub it in, on the same day that the IDF was committing not to enter Gaza, its troops were busy conducting raids and arrests throughout the West Bank.
    What’s more, Gaza is likely to witness more rapid economic growth than the West Bank in the next period, not only because there is a lower base to start from, but also given the likelihood of delivery of assistance commitments from Turkey, Qatar and elsewhere (initially for reconstruction—think of the rebuilding in southern Lebanon and Beirut neighbourhoods after 2006).
    The Palestinian balance has shifted, full stop.
    Fatah and the PLO cannot be dismissed in Palestinian politics, but their longstanding approach of currying American favor, in the hope of delivering Israel absent the creation of Palestinian leverage and assets, has run its course. They appear to have missed the boat in leading a popular campaign of unarmed struggle and the PA’s security cooperation with Israel looks distinctly unseemly in the eyes of many Palestinians. Palestinian unity remains an obvious need but that is far from easy to secure.””

    • Les says:

      The US pays for the PA’s security cooperation which means they only shoot at fellow Palestinians, an updated version of Judenrat.

  2. Citizen says:

    Duh.
    It’s a double dependency, by way of literal tax on US taxpayer street (direct and indirect). and by indirect tax on Egyptian street. All for a tiny group of people who claim that right. Some day the streets will call an accounting, as they always has around the world.

  3. I’ve linked below to an interesting article from the English version of the Lebanese paper Al Akhbar. The paper is very favourably disposed towards the Palestinian resistance, but the editor – pointing to the lack of genuine Arab support and indications that Hamas may be considering abandoning the ‘resistance axis’ – believes that this war has exposed serious problems faced by the Palestinian resistance.

    From the article:

    ”There is also impatience in the US and Israel to push things further – to get the resistance in Palestine to break off its relationship with Iran and, by extension, Syria and Hezbollah. The aim would be to employ Hamas’ popular legitimacy and record of struggle in the confrontation with the opposing camp, seeing as it is the involvement of the Iran-Syria-Hezbollah axis in resisting US and Israeli occupation that gives it sway in the wider Arab and Islamic worlds.

    Are forecasts like these well-founded?

    The harsh truth is that there are growing indications that such prospects need to be taken seriously. We need to take into account that Arab attitudes to the Palestinian cause and resistance are changing. It must be noted by the pro-resistance camp, for example, that not one Arab capital witnessed a serious demonstration in solidarity with the Gaza Strip.”

    link to english.al-akhbar.com

    • talknic says:

      ” It must be noted by the pro-resistance camp, for example, that not one Arab capital witnessed a serious demonstration in solidarity with the Gaza Strip”

      Doesn’t make sense. Why would they demonstrate when their countries have been supportive of the Palestinians for almost a century?

      • Which Arab country is supportive of the Palestinians? I must have missed that. Oh sure, they’ll send token ‘delegations’ to Gaza and have meaningless meetings of the Arab League, but not a single Arab state has ever done anything substantive to help the Palestinians for decades now. It’s well known that most of the Arab states are de facto allies of Israel, even if few dare to say so publicly.

  4. seafoid says:

    Israel is controlled by reactionaries just like alabama in 1968 and time has moved on beyond that reactionary ideology. Bibi is just another white racist.

  5. The “leftists” on the streets of Jerusalem who praised Mubarak to me– astounding.

    It is lamentable that the Israelis are still focused on Mubarak. But how about some comment about the moderates protesting Mursa’s attempted seizure of total power in Egypt. (maybe only temporary, but the moderates are quite upset.) The commitment to Egyptian democracy on this web site is wobbly. When protests erupt against Mursa, nary a word.

    • yourstruly says:

      the difference is that Egypt is going through its post-revolutionary ups & downs, whereas, Israel’s strictly status quo or worse, what with its use of nukes a definite possibility, its slow motion genocide in Gaza, a reality.

    • American says:

      I wouldn’t get my pants in a wad over Morsi declaring himself some unusual powers……the thing everyone is making the most fuss about is his-taking rein over the Egyptian court and ditching some of the judges….however I think it was a good, if bold move, the head Judge he ditched was a hold over from the former Mubarak regime and thoroughly corrupt as most of Murbarak appointees were. There are still many Murbarak cronies trying to reverse the revolution so if I were Moris I might have given myself some kingly powers too to deal with them and get them out of my way so they couldn’t create any problems while I deal with the economy which is the most pressing issue…and now also Gaza and Israel….and having to negotiate the Brotherhood, the revolutionaries, the military domestically, plus relations with all the other Arabs states on Syria, Iran, Israel, and of course the US…..yea some unusual powers are handy to deal with all these problems. I say give him time before saying he’s assuming a these powers permanently.

      • ToivoS says:

        There has as yet been no revolution in Egypt. There is some kind of process going on and in the future it may be correct to call it a revolutionary process. The reason there has been little comment on Egyptian developments is that those of us is the West have little understanding. If you are interested in entering the guessing game, as I have, check out MoonofAlabama. The two things that are clear to me is that, one none of us have any good insight into what is happening there and two, right now, this weekend, things are in flux.

    • Two days later, and still no word from Mondoweiss in support of those protesting Morsi’s undemocratic moves. Mondoweiss WOBBLY on democracy.

      • Woody Tanaka says:

        So far Morsi has talked and when called on it he talked some more and backed down some. When he takes some action, we’ll talk about it. Until then, what’s the use of getting in a tizzy about statements that might mean nothing in the end?

        • piotr says:

          Indeed. This is a transition period, which hopefully will produce a constitution that is not overly crappy and some reasonably codified free elections. As long as the transition period lasts, the power belongs to those take it, and so far Morsi seems an improvement. It is a positive element in Morsi decree that he wants to keep the transition period short.

          Mubarak appointees intruded on elections in quite pretty bizarre ways, so Morsi may be justified. At least he did not pull out of his posterior the right to assassinate anyone anywhere, unlike the God-King of a North American country.

        • Mayhem says:

          @woody, such hypocritical double standards.

        • Woody- Let’s remember that Phil considers the Arab spring to be the harbinger of Israel’s demise. (0verstated of course, but you know what I mean.) I accept that given the unknown nature of Syria’s rebel movement, plus the violent nature of that movement, that there is a disagreement between Phil and Annie Robbins regarding the news coming from Syria. The news coming from Egypt is not as troubling as some other types of news, but nonetheless, even if it all turns out as temporary problems on the route to a good constitution and a fair separation of powers and respect for minority rights (and we’ll forget about women’s rights because westerners are not allowed to comment on women’s rights in Muslim countries or else be accused of Islamophobia.) But still, when the nonIslamic elements take to the streets of Egypt protesting a decree by Morsi, I think it is incumbent on someone who views Egypt as the symbol of the future to comment on the situation. Whereas in fact the knowledge regarding the Arab spring is superficial and fragmentary here at Mondoweiss, seeing 17 days as a sign of the future, I really don’t expect any better, I only expect superficial comments and thus not up to the moment on any issue other than I/P, especially if the moment to moment puts the Muslim Brotherhood in a bad light, god forbid, we should find out what the thinking here is, until the wheel stops spinning. For real in depth knowledge or concern for Egypt, this is not the place.

        • Woody Tanaka says:

          “(0verstated of course, but you know what I mean.)”

          No, actually, I don’t. Why don’t you simply say what you mean.

          “even if it all turns out as temporary problems on the route to a good constitution and a fair separation of powers and respect for minority rights”

          even if… what? You seem to have dropped off in the middle of your sentence.

          “(and we’ll forget about women’s rights because westerners are not allowed to comment on women’s rights in Muslim countries or else be accused of Islamophobia.)”

          That is simply nonsense. There are many comments on women’s rights in Muslim countries which are Islamophobic, but more which are not.

          “But still, when the nonIslamic elements take to the streets of Egypt protesting a decree by Morsi, I think it is incumbent on someone who views Egypt as the symbol of the future to comment on the situation. ”

          What, exactly, should the substance of that comment be other than the fact that he made a claim to power, other parts of the society (the judges and th public) have reacted, and no one has yet taken any action concerning it??

          ” knowledge regarding the Arab spring is superficial and fragmentary here at Mondoweiss”

          Then why are you sitting around complaining? If you’re the expert on the Arab Spring, please draft some articles on it and sumbit them to Phil. I’m sure he’d love to have some articles from someone who has the in-depth and comprehensive knowledge that you do.

          Oh, by the way, do you speak Arabic? I assume you must be fluent, if you’re such an expert and all…

          ” I really don’t expect any better, I only expect superficial comments and thus not up to the moment on any issue other than I/P… For real in depth knowledge or concern for Egypt, this is not the place.

          Well, consider for a moment that the focus on this blog is on the situation in Palestine and Israel, it should come as no surprise that that issue is the one most covered in depth.

        • Woody Tanaka says:

          “@woody, such hypocritical double standards.”

          LMAO. That’s rich. A zio accusing someone else of a double standard.

        • Citizen says:

          @yonah fredman

          Good to know you are concerned about the new Egyptian regime’s commitment to democracy and equal rights for all its citizens regardless of gender, religion, etc. I’m with anyone who is happy the Arab domestic tyrant regimes and puppets of the US-Israel partnership have been falling. I hope the Arab Spring comes to the Palestinians, at long last as its way overdue. Continued Israeli hegemony in the ME is not good for any country there, nor for the USA. The world will be well served by more balance of power in that key strategic region.

        • Citizen- I did not disagree with anything you wrote, although Israel naturally seeks geopolitical power, I don’t believe it’s sustainable and an evolution towards a different dynamic is desirable. The path to that new dynamic will not be smooth.

  6. yourstruly says:

    Israel’s recognition of the fact that it’s losing control is evident in this Op-ed in today’s* LA Times’, “Renew the peace process? Not now”; subtitle, “The last thing anyone needs is another failed U.S. effort to bring Israel and the Palestinians together.” How close are we* to that very moment when all at once, everyone’s thinking something like, “Why of course Israel’s in the wrong. Has been & all along, to boot!” And once this happens, how much time before thoughts turn into action, initially online and from there (whatever the thought); presto, & a chance, that good or bad, right or wrong that thought catches on & gets taken for real? Fortunately, also the chance, however dim, for the turnabout to be jump-started – from the way it is to the way it would be, were this a just and peaceful world; beginning, say, with justice for Palestine and then, because one victory is all it’ll take (what with all liberation struggles being connected) for the realization to set in, that moving towards equality (wherever possible, in the spirit of those eighteen magical days in Tahrir Square) is the right way to go. Depending, of course, on whose side one is on, that of the 99% or the 1%, that of the slave or the slaveowner, that of the colonized or the colonizer.

    *we, as in you are I, I am you, we are one

  7. Les says:

    fyi
    On today’s “Beyond the Pale” a speaker said the Times had it wrong that this was a test of the Iron Dome against Iran’s weaponry following an attack by Israel. The Iron Dome works against simple rockets but not against serious weapons like Iran’s missiles.

    • piotr says:

      I suspect that Iron Dome would systematically fail against a concerted attack that could overwhelm it, which is what Hezbollah is capable of, if directly attacked. In particular, there can be a mix of very cheap and very crappy rockets with more serious stuff that packs good portion of explosives and has some guidance system.

      And we can see that decreasing the asymmetry in respect to Israel/Lebanon stabilized the situation there, in part because IDF still doubts that Iron Dome would work in this context.

  8. Dagon says:

    Off topic.Chris Hayes’s show this morning is really a must see.Awesome.katrina van der hueven was unbeleivale.Hussein Ibish was pro his peolpe for a change .Congressman cohen was good as the fourth guest.No more fear?wow.

    • Citizen says:

      Hayes discussed Gaza on November 18th too with good guests (except for Frum). At the time Hayes expressed a desire as an American that the US get more involved with neutral observers on the ground. He agreed that when the Palestinians do nonviolent protests, the US government ignores them, as does the US main news media, and they are only given a moment of news when they protest violently, that is, with their homemade rockets. He also agreed the US and main media does not get to the root cause, the context, and that the violence is very asymmetrical, and that before Hamas, Israel’s stance was also it had no partner for peace process. This is the show where Frum dismisses concern re the settlements because, he said, they are just apartments to be turned over to the natives some day as part of the peace process. Frum also said the real war is in the alternative news media, internet, and on Twitter, etc. This drew a reply about Frum’s sense of reality from a guest who had family living in Gaza. The Israel Lobby was not mentioned in this Hayes show segment.

      • piotr says:

        “Frum also said the real war is in the alternative news media, internet, and on Twitter, etc.”

        I guess death squads and drones will be dispatched against bloggers. People who share apartment buildings with virulent anti-Israeli bloggers who pose existential risks to the only Jewish state live on borrowed time. Real war is a real war.