Total number of comments: 183 (since 2012-12-04 18:20:15)
I am Israeli
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In considering a boycott on Israel there is little doubt that there are quite a few in Europe who would love to do that. Yet, while there will be some problematic steps for Israel a boycott is unlikely even to a limited degree – and a Luxemburg`s politician is not the person who can change that. There are too many reasons for Europe not to get into that to count. The Jewish history in Europe - mainly affecting Germany`s reluctance from too strong moves against the Jewish state; The recent warming-up relations with France; The lingering-on financial difficulties in the EU, which is a main focus there now and also makes common economic European action harder; The shrinking “West camp” in general (of which Israel is a part), which is especially acute now in the face of the Putin challenge and also due to the loss of Turkey, which is sliding into autocracy; The chaos in the Mid-East region, especially in the unresolved Syria case and the Egypt conundrum – not a good time to add another crisis; The big shadow of China; The anticipated US objection; The spectacular rise of the Euro-skeptics in the EU, which will distract attention and hinder moves that require strong commitment from members states - also some of these new parties are against anti-Israel moves; The lack of appetite of Eastern-European countries for a quarrel with Israel 9and perhaps then losing some US sympathy) – they are too worried from Putin and also have their own agendas, which are separate from Western-European countries.
“I feel a BDS tsunami building up”
Relax. There is indeed in the UK a group of committed anti-Israelis. That is so though for decades now and they jump enthusiastically on every anti-Israel move. For instance, there was a couple of years ago and again a couple of years earlier a vote in two university-lecturers unions for an academic boycott of Israel. After an outcry and disapproval of the UK government both were cancelled. The previous London mayor was vehemently anti-Israel until voted out (and probably the Jewish vote there tipped the balance since he lost with a small margin). And there are many other cases and there will be many more, so if you enjoy anti-Israel expressions follow closely the UK scene. But, don`t expect actual results.
“The only places your side have the numbers…..”
These are the ones that matter pal – Israel is what is at stake and the US congress runs the world (or at least this side of it). The Europeans have too much of a historical baggage (and current issues with minorities there) to play a real role (despite much talk to the contrary) and the rest of the world (like China, Japan and the rest), believe me, could not care less about all that – their focus, history, problems and emotions are elsewhere.
The BDS is seen, correctly, as an act of war only adapted to today`s times (Banks not Tanks). What it does is to extend the conflict in the region to elsewhere, indeed everywhere. The Israeli – Arab conflict has grown gradually international after bloody warring in the Mid-East; It is already in Europe for a long time; It will be coming to the UN soon; and right now it has reached the US campuses. It will be there as all conflicts everywhere: aggressive and nasty.
The point is that Israel must play to the tune here - it is under huge pressure from Kerry and also the EU. It is clear to all that the gap is unbridgeable so a REAL agreement is not on the table but the façade must remain since it serves the interests of many. This is a show that goes on for decades now and just keeps changing appearances and shapes. The next “act” will most likely take place in the UN – expect a lot of “drama” there. In the meantime life goes on.
Sorry, but aren`t you dramatizing here a non-event?
“Dahlan is “our guy””
Exactly, and herein lies a problem for Israel. It will have great difficulties not agreeing to things that it could refuse Arafat (the extreme case) and even Abu-Mazen (the middle way). In this sense it could go the opposite of the predictions made above.
No, no the people “on the ground” have an altogether different take on things then warrior cheerleaders from far away. Life is about some degree of normalcy - not perpetual heroic. Bot Abbas and Dahlan represent the only viable path for Palestinians, namely coming to terms with Israel and do so under the auspices of the US and Saudi-Arabia. The alternative of more bloodshed, chaos and destruction has already been tried and left bitter memories plus the terrible scenes from Arabia (not there in the previous Intifadas) make everybody understand exactly what lies behind the grand rhetoric.
“Palestine is still the issue”
Pilger is dead wrong and I think you are confusing 2 issues here. It is plausible that the everyday Saudi (or other Arab citizen) still cares about Palestine – after all that issue was center-podium for too long to be just gone overnight. The point is that for the leaders, those who need to deal with everyday decisions, the priorities have been drastically changed. Not that they love Israel – the Saudi leaders used in the past to exercise all the pressure they could on the US to promote the Palestinian case, up to sharp and open rifts (so you are also wrong here). Simply realities have been dramatically transformed recently and leaders can`t ignore such things, while ordinary citizens can. Primarily there is the upheaval in many Arab countries (a relatively new phenomenon – just about a decade old; then there is the fear of Iran and a growing Sunny-Shea split; there is the active Syria/Lebanon front and there is also an increasingly problematic Turkey. And, well, it so happened that the interests of Israel and the Saudis coincide in all of the above (as well as in Egypt and Jordan). That`s Realpolitik for primers, not much more than that.
Yes, BDS is the issue where all those that have any positive sentiment for Israel will circle the wagons. In this sense it is a unifying force as it makes people who care about Israel to any degree understand that the squabbling among them on nuances is meaningless in face of what is in effect being confronted - forces whose REAL intention is to undo Israel underpinned with a limitless hate of it.
The HRC has tons of anti-Israel resolutions. It has lost a lot of credibility in general by its almost exclusive focus on Israel in a world with a million human-rights problems. Amazing how the Israel “black hole” continues to devour those that get obsessed with it
Forget the context and just ask: is the “blood bath” choice appropriate for the killing of 3 people? And ones who conspired to carry out a terror attack? If you use this term here what language would you use for an incident in Syria where 200 civilians are killed with no militant-context at all? And especially so if it happens there daily
So if that is what he thinks of Americans` views just how seriously s can he be taken?
He is a man who devoted his life to fight Israel and at some point, with so much investment of time and efforts, a person begins to see reality through his wishes. Can`t he also see what catastrophe this obsessive antagonism of Israel has brought on Arab countries? Was that worth it? And then isn`t the general condition of Arabs in Israel far better than minorities in other countries in the region – should not that be taken into account to?
Israel seems like a “black hole” that devours all those that want to hurt it or even just defame it (whatever other good things they might be doing). This includes the Human Right council in the UN, which lost its credibility when it turned out that the vast majority of its condemnations were of Israel, the Human Right Watch was disowned by its founder when it turned once against Israel, Amnesty made itself several times look ridiculous by a strong bias against Israel (and a “recommendation: that nobody pays attention to of stopping arms supply to Israel) and now Oxfam - and that is just few examples that come to mind. The reason is that the anti-Israel stance is often a litmus test for general integrity and readiness to see things fairly, while not succumbing to what “the mob” advocates (a test that this actress did pass)
Why was Israel absent? Well, that has nothing to do with Mandela. S. Africa has become very pro-Palestinian and made the present political climate there not conducive for visits of Israeli political figures. It makes much better political sense for Israel to expand contacts and spend efforts on countries in the continent that are politically closer to Israel, e.g. Kenya.
Walid, be careful with phrases if you truly care about the Arab region:A cancer can kill the whole body…
Well, I have a completely different take on things here. In my view Hezbollah caused a huge damage to Lebanon. That country used to be seen in past times as the jewel of the Arab world – modern, sophisticated, liberal (in Arab world terms), prosperous and what not. Troubles there began when it was “recruited” against its will to the “big cause”, namely fighting Israel, first by the PLO and then by Hezbollah - doing it in alliance with a non-Arab entity that looked for hegemony (it`s over now) in the region. Lebanon is another tragic casualty of the colossal Arab error of making Israel its main target with massive efforts dedicated to that “front” instead of to matters that have been far more important, even crucial, for the Arab world well-being. In Lebanon, this only got worse now with the involvement in the Syrian war. In the future Hezbollah will be remembered in Lebanon as the greatest disaster that ever occurred to it – I have no doubt about that.
Annie: “What `propaganda move` you are referencing”
The thing is that there is a huge criticism in Lebanon for the involvement of Hezbollah in Syria because they are afraid, rightly, that it will bring the war there (by retaliatory moves) – as already happening to some degree. There is also criticism from other Arab quarters to their moves because they side with Assad. The one sure way in the Arab world to deflect criticism is to show their “steadfastness” in the fight against the ”Small Satan” and this (practically vacuous) move “reminds” everybody that they didn`t forget their “primary mission”.
Annie, I am afraid you missing the real context here. In practice this is clearly a meaningless move – after all Hezbollah had just as a free hand in its fighting with Israel, with or without a formal permission from the Lebanese state, because they are the most powerful and most armed group there.
This essentially propaganda move is aimed to distract attention from an on-the-ground dramatic shift: Hezbollah, in the recent year, has actually changes warring arenas. At the behest of the Iranians (whose requests they cannot ignore even if it wanted to because they are the paymasters) it is now fully engaged in the war in Syria and in that they are in effect, in unintentional way, also doing Israel`s bidding, which is just as worried as they are from Al Queida gaining power in Syria. This is an amazing strategic shift that has been lost on many and consequently Israel will not want to harm Hezbollah as long as the war in Syria goes no (which is seemingly forever) - apart perhaps from active blocking of the transfer of long-range missiles to Lebanon, which serves no purpose in the fight in Syria and is just a threat to Israel. Now who would have predicted this development? Things are that volatile in the Mid-East.
Kalithea: “I got your number”
No, no it is clear that you don`t have any “number”. You seem to want to simplify what is in reality a titanic clash, which practically divides the world and defies any simple solution, by what is really just a "formula talk” with “half liners” - that cannot be anywhere near where things really are or are heading to
“Stop stealing other people land”
When is the last time you looked at the map Kalithea? Land is what the Arabs have in abundance – while their problems, a myriad of them, lie elsewhere. So why should it be such an important issue for them to “take back” a microscopic piece of land from an otherwise miniature-size country? Can`t you see that this has never been the REAL issue. They want it because it serves their wish to see Israel as a whole undone (in fact many of them are honest enough not to deny that). It`s that simple!
"hostility to their basic interests"
Well, of course. There is now a rare understanding between Israel and Egypt, with the US backing, who the “bad guys” are. Syria is practically out of the game and the Hezbollah is busy there too but the Islamic Jihad is still supported by Iran so the game is far from over. At least though its perimeters are getting clearer.
The people who take part in this boycott acts don`t seem to understand how it risks them. There is a growing anti-Moslem trend in a wide range of European countries and disruptions in private French commercial outlets - seemed as sheer lawlessness to many there - only add fire to that. In addition, it pushes the French Jews to the anti-Moslem front and that is not a small thing. For instance, influential Jewish French philosophers, who are otherwise sensitive to minority discrimination because of past bitter experience of Jews in such regards, are not supporting the Moslem case and some even turned against them. In contrast, Martin Luther King was surrounded in the US by Jews in the various committees that he formed and a great deal of financial support for the big marches, - both essential for his success - came from Jewish individuals and organizations.
@RobertB: “Can anybody imagine…..
No need to imagine. As a response to your query I can refer you to information sources on the second Intifada. You will surely find an encyclopedia of cases there and not just with 6 Israelis killed but entire cafes and buses suicide-bombed, with far many more casualties, including, in particular, the event which brought the IDF back to the West-Bank where a large group of old people celebrating the Passover in a hotel in Netanya (where I was at that time with my family in a nearby one) were gunned down in a single event.
AIPAC is indeed a fact but then what is so surprising about Jews in the US setting up a lobby to support a Jewish state. The fact that it managed to do that effectively is no more than the American Story in general, namely if you do something you try to do it well. That its mission is to persuade American policy makers to see matters in ways that favor Israel with arguments that strive to show that Israel`s position is the correct one in the conflict is just doing what it was established for in the first place. And likewise, naturally, it would be mainly interested in matters that concern Israel rather than ones that happens elsewhere in the world (even if they happen to have some commonality in structure). And then if the Ukraine case helps to advance their own case – would not they mention that?
What I am trying to say is that there is nothing out of the ordinary here – it is all on the table and makes perfect sense.
So, Zionists are running Ukraine, the US, Russia, Palestinians, Egyptian coup (according to Erdogan at least) and everything else. Now some would connect it to claims about who runs wall St. and responsible for the financial crisis in the EU (as many there actually believe) and the alleged masters of the media and Hollywood and you have “The Protocols” resuscitated. Turns out tiny Israel is some bigger than life force on earth…
Some key flaws: if something serves Israel interest (or anybody else for taht matter)it does not follow automatically that it engendered it; If two things are Jewish there may still not be any real connection between them – in reality the people behind them might even be rivals; To show conspiracy you need to demonstrate pre-planning, masterminding or control over affairs; Proportions matter: a small country taht is hugely occupied with own problems, as Israel certainly is, cannot meddle, even just find the attention space for it, in global geo-strategic issues.
" I am not impressed Enough!"
The point is that nobody in Israel is trying to impress you anymore. Israel`s main focus now, within the Western segment, is on its relationships with the “New-World” Western countries - nobody here trusts too much the Europeans` good will anyway. While European countries are civilized, they also have a horrible track record, as recently as in the lifetime of presently living people, Jews in particular, and that`s another reason why Israelis don`t care that much about “moral expectations” of Europeans. Too much disillusioned with them even during the short history of Israel itself.
The difference is, seafoid, that when you give money to Israel it usually does something useful with it – so much so that it there is often some reciprocal benefit for the Us in that. In case of most other country-recipients of aid the picture is much gloomier due to mainly corruption or incompetence
That`s actually correct seafood. It is impossible to stay on top forever – never happened. But then, down from the top can be still high enough… And that is indeed the likely scenario. After all, the functioning apparatus is intact and the many connections and perfected political mechanisms over a long time don`t just vanish.
Annie: “Something`s gotta break sometime”
This summarizes well what the Arab outlook on Israel has ever been. Here we have this miniature country, surrounded by many hostile forces, embroiled with a restive Palestinian population that is relatively big, In the intl. scene the Arabs influence outdoes by far that`s of Israel, and so on - so just wait it out patiently until all the above add up to the inevitable. Admittedly, this has also been a constant worry on the mind of Israelis. Yet, miraculously, other things happened, contrary to these expectations and some of them pretty much of the opposite kind (e.g. the one by one collapse of Arab countries), the huge economic and technological strides of Israel and its demographic growth, the perennial warnings, which never materialize, about an “imminent” change of attitude in the US vis-a-vis Israel, and so on – so, at some point, you begin to think that, well, perhaps there is some other higher logic in play here.
Yes, it crossed my mind too that cutting of arms supplies to a country which is itself a major arms supplier – doing so on a global scale and competing with the very Big Guys of this market – is a bit antiquated as a threat.
"Guardsmen killed at Kent state"
Reason is, Hostage, that other aspects, qualitative in nature, could be more important than the no. of casualties. Killings in a university, is a shocker and what happens at home always matters more.
Yes, Annie, this is one of the intractable conflicts of our times and it has always involved violence and bloodshed. It is long enough indeed but that also means that “the spectators” already got used to the bad news from there – already in effect immune to that. Another Amnesty report and a figure of 22 casualties for a year, is unlikely to make a dent in that.
Your hunch is correct Annie - they always choose the timing to dovetail with hard moments of Israel. That was also, for instance, also the case with another similarly harshly worded indictment of Israel (if I am not wrong by the Intl red cross) before a scheduled UN security council meeting following the release of teh Goldstone committee report.
The big problem for those who wish that the report will make a real impact is quantitative. In this world and also recalling numbers of casualties from suicide bombings of Palestinians in the second Intifada - the 22 number for casualties IN A YEAR pretty much sounds as an evidence of the contrary, demonstrating that exceptional measures of restraint are being taken by the IDF in tackling these highly explosive situations.
“The rationale for Merkel`s strategic….. is unknown”
Not so difficult to figure out. It in fact, as well summarized here, acts towards ensuring Israel`s very existence – one that has been explicitly challenged in the Mid-East by various parties (because those who may attempt to undo it can fully realize the associated prices). This is clearly a wish to counteract a repeat of the Holocaust scenario for which, as a German leader, she feels a responsibility.
The writer here ignores the broader perspective in regard to the US and EU moves on Israel – perhaps because Israel has been for decades now his only real focus. There is little question that the US and Europe leadership is hundred times more concerned now about what goes on in Syria, Lebanon and Egypt, or Ukraine, or Turkey, or potential financial collapse of Greece, Spain, Portugal and Ireland and then the Euro - and that`s just the main headlines. Israel is a footnote in today`s long list of real big problems. And besides would they really want to add yet another big REAL problem (as different from a subjectively bloated one) to the list?
Well, it is generally true that the masquerading is over and the so called “special relations” between Israel and Germany are in the process of going Kaput. It was not totally unexpected as basically there has always been an element of anomaly in this relationship. Yet, even if the purported intimacy in the relationship is over, cold-headed politicians will make sure that it will not go too low. That is simply in the interest of BOTH sides – of small Israel for sure but it is likewise, for a host of reasons, for ostensibly big and powerful Germany too.
Moving beyond the water issue to the bigger picture wouldn`t it be interesting to check data about the relative position of the Palestinians in the West-Bank in regard to ALL criteria that defines standard of living and other related attributes as compared to the broader Arab world (that they are inherently part of)? This is not done because the results are pretty obvious.
It is as clear as the sunshine to me that in the real moment of truth Left, Right and Center in the Jewish community will circle the wagons. The nation is too small and the history too traumatic to allow otherwise. When Judge Goldstone understood what is at stake (with other people involved) he retracted. And that`s what happened with Benny Morris, who became an icon for the European anti-Israel camp by his purely academic studies (because they happened to serve their case) - he did the same turn when he became aware of the political implications for Israel.
Generally, the Israel saga is uniquely characterized by a big group with vehemently anti-Israel views, to the point of obsession, and another group, much smaller but with relatively many top infleuntial figures, comprising Jews and (many) non-Jews (few in Europe but plenty in the US and Canada), who are not less committed in their total and dedicated support of Israel. That`s surely the stuff that real historical dramas are made off.
I would not go as far as saying that normal people expect problems, yet you have a point here. In the Israeli mind this is just another chapter in the historical Europe vs. Jews saga. The fact that Europe is now posed as human-rights defender in justifying the BDS makes very little difference – after all in every past round there were the accusations were morally based (Jews are thieves and exploiting others, traitors for national causes, involved in “unethical” acts as mixing Christian blood in Matzos, or wishing outright control of everything – as in the protocols of the elders of Zion). From this angle, the question at stake is what difference did the emergence of Israel in this regard, namely by having it will this round go less disastrously for “the Jewish team” than the past ones.
As a matter of fact the water issue or this incident itself is not the main thing. This has been for some time ago an-explosion-waiting-to-happen and the only question was what exactly will be the trigger and when. The first salvo was already with the Horizon 2020 cooperation agreement and there surely will be more incidents. Yet another Europe vs. Jews round is in the offing and how it will play out will surely provide a lot of juicy stuff for this site too. If History is a guide then the Jewish side will suffer serious damages but survive it while the European side will end up regretting the whole affair. Follow the drama as it unfolds....
How many babies need to be thrown with the tub-water? So now it is the American elite, the Universities` presidents and administrations and before it was the entire congress that needed to be undone so as to hurt Israel? Relying on “the people” is a catch- slogan but in a democracy, as different from a tyranny, without elites nothing happens. The Arab world`s used to have this suicidal attitude in the past, namely sticking with a main goal that is hurting Israel and never mind the consequences. That turned out so devastating for it that it was abandoned by most, alas a bit too late. So now you suggest the same strategy for the US?
This is the moment to remember the Jewish roots of John Kerry – his grandfather, a Jewish immigrant to the US by the name of Kohn (a variant of Cohen) converted into Christianity and also changed his name (to Kerry). I am not sure those who said what they said know that, but then who knows?
So much fuss about a soda company? And Israel should tremble because of an article on that in the FT, which has been hostile to Israel ever since. Looks bizarre to me.
I don`t know. I still think that the Palestinians together with other likeminded Arabs are making a big mistake in pursuing the boycott of Israel. The point is that this sends a clear message to Israelis that the general hostile attitude from those quarters towards Israel has not changed a bit, which from an Israeli angle translates to an even stronger determination not to consider any gestures and continue as if it is an indefinite existential struggle. This later episode is another chapter in this saga.
I have a feeling that all this only helps the PR of SodaStraem PR. With so much publication it might end up rivaling Coca Cola….
Here is another way to see it all. At long last it downed on people that the “Palestinian cause” has been for too long a distraction of Arabs from their real problems, which are a myriad and lies elsewhere. This abnormal focus on tiny Israel as the “big target” didn`t make sense in the first place yet nobody in the Arab world had the courage or the will to stand up to it – and foreign “friends” did their share in encouraging this mistaken trend, which only brought calamity to the Arab world (while the potential gains in regard to the “eternal struggle” with Israel have always been negligent in comparison). It is possible that the extent of the tragedy in Syria is, at long last, opening some eyes. Arabs want to deal with what really matters. It is indeed possible that some types of contacts will open between Saudi-Arabia and Israel and other things too but that is only natural.
The massive plight of Christians in Arab countries, among Moslems, cannot be separated from what goes on in Christian regards in Israel, since, practically, it makes Israel the only place in the region where Christian live in the main in safety.
It is not about victimhood Taxi, rather exasperation with the Palestinians in their incapability to see where their real interests lie – not in a zero-sum and eternal conflict with Israel but rather in finding ways to cooperate with it. They keep looking for the next big fight but will that bring them the hoped for salvation?
There is no Hasbara here Annie just plain facts and cold logic. Ramzi, given what we already know about the situation on the ground and with so many years of experience behind us you can conclude yourself that viewing Israel as the big and eternal enemy was not good for either side. In the West-Bank placing all the hopes on the expulsion of some hundreds of thousands of setter Jews from the West-Bank, under the banner of “freeing Palestine”, while viewing them as land thieves just because they arrived later after the indigenous population (as is the case in many places including the US), is what spoils everything. Why not rather try to cooperate for the benefit of all the people there? There is a big scope for that. As a matter of fact that was the situation long time ago in Israel proper until eyes got opened and real cooperation between Jews and Arabs has begun and even if imperfect it worked far better for both sides. Suspicions, irrational enmity and empty slogans have been replaced by realism and hard work and advanced common interests. Now, isn`t that more compatible with the spirit of peace?
I am amazed by how people can let slogans captivate their minds. What in reality waits behind well-sounding slogans as “fear is elf-defeating”, “let`s free Palestine” or in getting intoxicated with a subjective understanding of justice is violence and bloodshed. In practice the people in the Wets-Bank joining the general Mid-East scene where everybody uses similar slogans, (only adapted to the local context) and it nowhere leads to peace but to the opposite. In the concrete case here it would mean that an Arab population that by and large until now escaped the misery of Syria. Iraq, Yemen, Libya, Sudan and others in the region will “join the crowd” in endless futile fights. Is that what you wish them? And is the likely suffering that it will bring to Jews in Israel justifies that and makes it worthwhile?
Demonizing Israel is simple. Given the struggle for existence it is in and the hard choices it has to make given how small it is and given a campaign of hate against Israel since its birth – all these must have an impact on the psyche of a nation and what it is ready to do to survive in region where the rules of struggle, as we see all around the region, are pretty wild. Doing cherry-picking on events and opinions can be hugely distorting in general and especially so in the exceptional circumstances that Israel is in. It appears that the general public in the US understands that.
Well, there is a much simpler explanation to it all: there is simply not enough space for two real countries in such a very small piece of land – I think many often forget the geography. Example: the distance between the Mediterranean and the old green line near the population-congested center of Israel at the city of Netanya is 7(!!!) miles. Can a modern country as Israel live within such boundaries in the practical sense of things? Would a mini superpower as Israel go back to that on its own will whatever pressure is applied? Would the US force its main ally to do that? Would anybody uproot hundreds of thousands of people in the West-Bank and could that be a formula for peace? After you consider all that and other realted key issues you see that the rest is just details
The point is that no matter how you look at it there is no way an agreement can be reached since the constraints that bind each of two sides are inherently irreconcilable. Hence “the process” on and off theatre must go on to ensure that the limited normalcy that does exist is retained. At some point though the general setting will change, most likely due to broader events that are unrelated directly to the conflict, e.g. by dramatic development in Syria and Lebanon and/or a violent clash with Iran, etc., and then everything will have to be recalculated. History has many examples for such dramatic turns and it is therefore more about patience than trying to force the unattainable.
Well, Annie, given what you expect from Marwan Barghouti you should, as they say, be careful with what you wish for… Barghouti is a realist and may very well be also the candidate of choice for Israel. It is little coincidence that he chose to write this (and almost nothing until now) since he may very well see Mandela a role model also in yet another respect - Mandela, after all, has become upon his rise to power a close ally, a darling, of the West.
When I see the outrage here about fnlevit`s arguments and the profuse insults but no concrete counterargument I suspect he must be onto something…
The surge of the Palestinian refugees from the original hundreds of thousands into the millions is grotesque. Extrapolated into the future you will have in 2-3 decades 20 million….All wanting “to return” to a miniature piece of land (which the lion share of them has never seen) while leaving behind the immense territories of Arabia.. All this makes very little sense to me
I am not surprised by Marc`s anguish. It seemed so logical that this miniature piece of land will not survive the many pressure forms applied against it: Intifadas, terror, in the UN, embargos, wars and what not. Just push hard enough and persevere and you have it – and this was indeed the prevalent mindset in involved circles. What they ignored is the inherent fragility of the Arab monolith that drove the crusade and how the effects of that will change the calculations. In addition, size stopped to matter that much: in the new general conditions big and small can be devastated with not so much different efforts. Then there was the fundamental switch of the US in its attitudes to the main players here. You start to add all that up (plus the present try to neutralize Iran as an active player in the game) it become clear that over the 6-7 decades of the existence of Israel tectonic changes have taken place and what is reported in this article is the unsurprising consequence of that. In fact, a reverse rephrasing of the above may now apply, namely (for Israel): push hard enough and persevere and you will have it.
A regional struggle? For the Middle-East in its present condition? Good luck
The problem with attitudes like that of Massad that they not only perpetuate the suffering of the people he claims he wants to help but that the disproportionate obsession of a big Arab world with a tiny Israel has distracted it from real problems it had and contributed to the downfall of entire Arab countries and societies. The question therefore is: just how much more in very real terms the Palestinians and the Arab world at large still have to pay just to make Massad feel that his case (as seen from the safe US) is being advanced? How lower Arabs still need to go in order to satisfy that?
"Israel won`t survive another 65 years in its present form"
That`s possible, indeed, likely. Israel is a new creation and didn`t reach equilibrium neither outside – the relations with Arab countries are still in flux – nor inside. The final political configuration with Palestinians, the West-Bank and Jordan (the other semi-Palestine) is still undetermined. Israel as a young country is a project in the making and it clearly bears little semblance to what it was 65 years ago with less than 1 million inhabitants, a far less advanced economy, an amateur army and much narrower area under its control. The Arab world has changed a lot too, which is also part of the Israeli-existence equation.
Exactly, there is no need to look for political motives or aspects in everything. Berlin became attractive to many with intellectual and artistic inclinations – it is a symbol of Germany`s makeover especially given its central role in Nazi Germany. Global political and economic power-games have moved elsewhere and the city has been freed to indulge in other things.
“How do Jews think is going to end?”
Nobody knows but, Seafoid, you keep placing too much weight on size and the “long run”. While size was a determining factor in the past in today`s conditions it can create an “optical-vision” error (and that is also why “the long run” didn`t work until now). In an era of warfare asymmetry and globalized all (including economics) the apparent big, in size and population, can unfold just as easily – e.g. WMD with missiles can instantly undo a whole set of much bigger countries, so can a cyber-attack and outside interference by global players can devastate just as much a big country. Times have changed and old rules don`t apply anymore
Let us not forget that the sanctions were an alternative to war. Iran is also in effect a military dictatorship cum theocracy ans threatened Arabs and Israel (with which it conducted proxy wars for decades) - all that is the main cause of the problem, not the sanctions - those are just reactions and quite mild at that, given the extensive maliciousness of the regime there.
Well, alot of it is purely circumstantial. Technology advances give huge advantage to those who can use it well - whether in terms of setting organizations that can harness it effectively or through warfare asymmetry. It eliminates a past intrinsic disadvantage of the small – if you command hi-tech you can create advanced tools, for military purposes or economic one (and get prosperous); if you command cyber-tools you can get information (e.g. by able to spy on others) and disrupt other`s systems – no matter how big is the other entity; if you have an advanced air-force you can win wars against bigger rivals and then the ultimate warfare asymmetry tool – nukes. No matter how small you are if you have 100 warheads and long-range missiles you have a decisive advantage over entities far bigger than you. So real simply, Israel has been and still is a David by physical circumstances (it cannot change that) but has become a Goliath due to general technological advances (which it managed to exploit and create a compensatory trade-off).
Kayq: ” Netanyahu and the Israelis dug themselves into a ditch”
Those who yearn for that to happen will see it (and everything else) that way. In reality, there is a chance here to avert a war, which serves everybody`s interest, Iranians and Israelis alike, and that`s a good thing. Even if it is just a slim hope it needs to be explored. Netanyahu is playing here the “bad cop” vis-à-vis Iran, which, as usual, is helpful for the “good cop”, and the “bad cop” never looks good. If the move succeeds and Iranian nuclear and a war over it are averted then let the “good cop”, Obama, take the credit – why not? If however it fails then “the cops” will surely reunite in their original goal – maybe even more resolute than before.
There is too much focus here on the PR side of things. In the end the essence of things is what will win the day. That is, if the Iranians really decided to back off in order to really improve own world status and relations with the West then that will win. If however they are bluffing, and that will become clear quickly, the charm offensive will be over and all will return to where it was before
Annie: It may also serve Israeli Hasbara, but is that not a real contradiction - it may still be valid on its own. My feeling is that what has been going on for so long in the region as well as outside it (e.g. prominently Sep 11) is dominating the mindset of the American public as far as the region goes. This does not vindicate unsavory opinions by some Israelis (after 65 years of quite dreadful conflict it is not entirely surprising that it happens) but it makes that much less relevant in the eyes of people who are already themselves wary about the Arab scene
‘If it was shown to Dick and Jane”
Dick and Jane are busy watching how minorities all around the region are persecuted in an abhorrent manner and they also see the unimaginable cruelty in Syria and beforehand Iraq and turmoil elsewhere. The inevitable result of that is that all conflicts that involve Arabs are now seen by the American public in a different light – a category of its own.
The plain truth is that all these would have been more compelling if the entire region was not in flames – compared to which the troubles in Gaza pale so much as to actually look benign. After all troubles are not just political, for instance in a disadvantaged neighborhood in the US the people might feel hugely frustrated - and there are numerous other categories. In fact, when the Palestinians complained, even shortly rioted, about a prisoner who died from cancer claiming that it was because he didn`t get good enough medical care – to many it may have even sounded as a compliment to Isreal (if that is such a big issue against it….)
Taxi, you seem to be placing a lot on Hezbollah – you expect them to shoot down Israeli aircrafts, spray Israel with deadly missiles, now guiding Hamas, etc. In reality it is a much lamer duck than you would want to believe - I think they must be very nervous now watching what unfolds all around. I am afraid you are up to a rude awakening here
If you look at it strategically these are the new trends - leading to some sort of stability. Hamas is a kind of outlier even in the Palestinian context – its staunch stance to never recognize Israel cannot be part of workable program for some kind of arrangement and its general violent attitude, past terror adherence and the use of rockets against civilians in Israel (AFTER Israel quit there) disqualifies it from being a part of that. The PA is emerging as the sole representative of the Palestinian side, supported by the main existing Arab forces, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan as well as good contacts with the West while Hamas past allies, Syria and Iran are crumbling or at least on a constant decline. The PA alos enjoys a reasonable level of realtioship with Isreal. So what we see are the phases of an ongoing process of regional consolidation where the trouble makers: Saddam, Assad. Hamas and soon Hezbollah too are withering away (together with a constantly declining Iran`s “resistance axis” including the downsizing of Iran itself) – it`s all History in the making.
“The world to President Obama”
“Thrashes your presidency and consigns….. to a historical footnote”
Strong words indeed and from no less than the representative of the entire world. I am sure that will serve as a wake-up call for him.
Just: "Stop rubbing your hands in glee at the misfortune of others"
You mean I should feel bad at the downfall of the Islamic Republic in Iran? Sorry, I am not a saint. Never mourned the downfall of the Nazis either
Annie: “could you explain why you think Rouhani`s speech was so well attended vs. Ahmedinejad`s”
With pleasure. The “Iran drama” has been in the world`s political forefront for decades now involving (indirect) wars with Israel through proxies, Hamas and Hezbollah, bitter political confrontations with other Arabs, hugely provocative statements on the US and Israel (the Big and Small Satan), constant threats that Israel`s end is near, involvement in the ongoing Syria war, the nuclear drama, the sanctions and what not. Now there appears to be a potential change in direction – isn`t all that enough for people to be curious?
Generally, Ahmedinejad was also a “hit” and attracted much general attention because of his provocative statements (Cassius Clay style) on Israel and the Holocaust and other things, while in that particular UN appearance he was deliberately snubbed to demonstrate displeasure.
Annie, sorry for the shorthand styling: I use “entertaining” here clearly in an ironic sense. More appropriate characterizations would be what “dramatic” or “provocative” and usually also with underlying violence-content. It is a fact (human nature) that these tend to attract attention.
Shingo: "The Un was a packed audience during Rouhani`s speech"
I think you misinterpret the interest in Rouhani`s talk – the Iran saga and the recent switch there with the election of the new president has made it one of the main shows in town now. Ahmadinejad and Kaddafi used to attract big crowds too. People still yearn for some “entertainment” (even if it is partly macabre) - especially so in the ordinarily boring arena of politics (for instance, one of the main complaints with German politics, as in the recent elections there, is that it is boring…). In fact that is in my view why the Israel-Palestinian conflict has attracted so much attention over the years even though it is in reality a footnote in the world`s, even Arabs`, problems. However, Iraq, Afghanistan and now even more so Syria are gradually killing that – stealing the limelight.
The Iran saga is still has a long way to go with ups and downs – so will provide a lot of commentary opportunities. The key thing is that Iran is losing its original regional grandeur aspirations - they really hoped to be BIG in the region and surpass Saudi-Arabia and used the “Israeli card” also as a way to get popular with the “Arab Street’ (“your rulers do nothing – see how active and successful we are in fighting the Zionists). For a time it worked, there are always the “initial bravados”, but once the insurgency there took place, Hamas left, Syria is practically lost, the Saudis got into aggressive counter-offensive, the UN nukes agency became more aggressive with its new Japanese head and the sanctions are having an accumulated effect – the “regional dominance” aspirations got buried. So much so that they understand that even the nukes development, which beforehand was expected to make a big difference is rather turning into a liability for them. Hence the recent conciliatory moves – the Big Game is over and small games don`t worth the trouble, and the focus there is now on becoming “normal” again. Problem is, they have already got too much on the nerves of too many and it might be too late for the regime there to be re-accepted regardless of what its true intensions are.
The point is of course the difference between criticism and boycott. The former is a democratic measure the latter is a form of “declaration of war” by means other than physical violence. Being so, you can be sure that Israel (in fact any one in that situation) and supporters will fight boycott by any means they have – La guerre comme a la guerre.
Right, war indeed became central to Israel but would you be honest enough to answer why? Wasn`t it forced on it by its Arab neighbors from Day 1. You bet that had Israel embraced at its birth it wouldn`t want to spend so much energy and blood on warring and on military production, training etc. Now that it has become specialized in that, as a result of all of that, it is a bit strange to hear those that brought that about to complain about that. Just reaping what was sown and as the bible says you can sow wind and reap storms.
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