An Israeli’s Wiki-piphany

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WikiLeaks keep resonating. My friend David Bromwich writes:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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