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Chickenshitgate: A dissenting view

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Last Wednesday Philip Weiss and Adam Horowitz grudgingly tipped their hats to Jeffrey Goldberg for another agenda-setting story, but I think their quick appraisal of Chickenshitgate misses the true significance of this episode. “The comment has stung Netanyahu,” they observe, referring to accusations of cowardice by an unnamed White House official, “and maybe hurt him politically.” With respect to Netanyahu’s domestic audience, there is almost no chance this is the case. Obama is not popular in Israel generally, and as Gideon Levy observes, “Nothing can bolster [Netanyahu] more in the right wing than turning him into the enemy of the supposedly ‘hostile’ American administration.” In the international realm, Goldberg’s story reflects much more poorly on the US than on Netanyahu, since it betrays the Obama administration’s terrible misunderstanding of the conflict. It may be the case (as Weiss and Horowitz write, citing Ari Fleischer) that “the damage was intentional,” but the questions are: damage to whom, and intentional on whose part?

Weiss and Horowitz don’t address the accuracy of our anonymous official’s estimation of Netanyahu, but this is critically important. Assuming Goldberg’s reporting to be truthful (something M. J. Rosenberg doubts), his source told him, “The thing about Bibi is, he’s a chickenshit,” and adduced the following evidence: “he’s scared to launch wars” (characterized as “good”), and “he won’t do anything to reach an accommodation with the Palestinians or with the Sunni Arab states [bad]. The only thing he’s interested in is protecting himself from political defeat. He’s not Rabin, he’s not Sharon, he’s certainly no Begin. He’s got no guts.” In its correspondence to reality, this account of Netanyahu conforms to the wildest conservative fantasies of the Obama team’s naiveity and foolishness with respect to foreign affairs.

First, Netanyahu’s purported reluctance to launch major military operations: a familiar theme for Israel apologists, this was already dubious by Operation Pillar of Defense; in the wake of Protective Edge, the most savage punishment yet inflicted on the much-scourged Gaza Strip, it can safely be discarded. (Prime ministers of Israel have done worse, but who honestly expected the criminality of Cast Lead to be exceeded so soon?) It seems our unnamed official was thinking primarily of Iran, but as Stephen Walt points out, in this case “an actual attack was never a serious possibility” (despite what a war lover like Goldberg might have thought). Netanyahu’s failure to bomb Iran is evidence not of gutlessness but of sanity. The fact that his assaults on Gaza don’t count as “wars” in our official’s eyes is symptomatic of the US government’s depraved indifference to the fate of the Palestinians: they are simply expected to be slaughtered by the score every couple of years, in addition to being routinely cut down in smaller numbers by their occupiers.

Even more disconcerting is the inexplicable illusion that Netanyahu’s hostility to the so-called peace process can be attributed to political cowardice — that he avoids making concessions to the Palestinians in order not to be kicked out of office. This might seem plausible to an Obama apparatchik — someone who works in a White House that has allowed Israel to continue its absorption of the West Bank and immiseration of Gaza despite probably disapproving of these measures — but it betrays complete ignorance of Israeli politics.

The scion of a prominent Revisionist Zionist family, Netanyahu began his political career as an advocate of transfer, placing him at the rightward extreme of the Israeli policy spectrum. When he was deputy foreign minister in the Shamir government, Netanyahu proposed seizing the opportunity provided by the world’s focus on Tiananmen Square “to carry out mass expulsions among the Arabs of the Territories. However,” he explained in a speech at Bar Ilan University in 1989, “to my regret, they did not support that policy that I proposed, and which I still propose should be implemented.” Netanyahu came to power in 1996 opposing the Oslo Accords, an agreement that was fatally weighted against the Palestinians but which he nonetheless worked vigorously to destroy, as he boasted during a visit with West Bank settlers when he thought the camera was off.

Toward the indigenous population Netanyahu favors not concession but brutalization: to those same settlers, who lost a family member in a terror attack, he explained that when it comes to the Arabs you have to “beat them up, not once, but repeatedly; beat them up so it hurts badly, until it’s unbearable.”

By his second premiership, Netanyahu had attained the political savvy of your average Labor politician, wising up enough to know more or less how the so-called peace process works: you pair rhetorical support for a Palestinian state with continued actions toward making that outcome impossible (construction in the West Bank, destruction in Gaza). Or, as he put it during a meeting with young Likud supporters in 2013, “What matters is that we continue to head straight toward our goal, even if one time we walk right and another time walk left.” (“When one of the Likudniks asked about peace talks with the Palestinians,” reports The New Yorker’s Connie Bruck, “Netanyahu is said to have replied, as the audience laughed, ‘About the — what?’”) That goal, in accordance with the Revisionist tradition of Netanyahu’s forbears, is Greater Israel, secured through an eventual surrender agreement by which some Palestinian entity, less than a sovereign state, accepts the scraps of the West Bank. (The fate of Gaza, which is to remain cut off in flagrant contravention of Oslo, has never been clear in Zionist thought; in 1955 Ben Gurion told his cabinet, “If I believed in miracles I would pray for it to be swallowed up in the sea.”)

In this sense Netanyahu is indeed not Rabin, Sharon, or Begin; the predecessor he most resembles is his old boss, Yitzhak Shamir. In 1992, after Likud lost the election to Labor and Rabin, Shamir admitted in an interview that his peace negotiations with the Palestinians had been a sham, mere cover for colonization: “It pains me greatly that in the coming four years, I will not be able to expand the settlements in Judea and Samaria and to complete the demographic revolution in the land of Israel,” Shamir told Ma’ariv (at the time a right-paper paper). “I would have carried on autonomy talks for ten years, and meanwhile we would have reached half a million people in Judea and Samaria.” Netanyahu has employed essentially the same run-out-the-clock strategy. During the Clinton years he haggled interminably and reneged outright on implementing withdrawal agreements, thereby preventing final-status negotiations within the five years specified by Oslo; at the same time he continued expropriating land and building settlements, moving closer to integrating “Judea and Samaria” with Israel. His Obama-era approach has been aptly characterized by David Zonsheine, chairman of B’Tselem, as a “status quo strategy”:

“In Netanyahu’s case, preserving his rule without any apparent progress towards a clear goal is part and parcel of his plan to deepen the deeply-ingrained process of preventing a Palestinian state in the West Bank and splintering the Palestinian people… Every day that Netanyahu tries to maintain his seat is another day of settlement construction in the West Bank, another day of Palestinian displacement, of destroying Palestinian assets and other grave human rights violations; another day in which Netanyahu’s strategic goals are being achieved.”

Zonsheine goes on to explain that, since Netanyahu’s objectives run contrary to the international consensus, he has to act “cunningly” in order to be effective; hence, “His declaration of support for the two-state solution at Bar Ilan University and the negotiations led by Kerry were conducted in parallel to government actions on the ground — constituting an integral part of his strategy.”

The perspicacity of Zonsheine’s analysis far outstrips the understanding displayed by US elites, who continue to speak and act as though something other than deep ideological commitment stands between Netanyahu and a two-state solution. For David Rothkopf, editor and CEO of Foreign Policy, Chickenshitgate was an occasion to chide the Obama administration for the “dysfunctional character” of its national security team — evinced in his view by someone’s “venting about Netanyahu” to Goldberg, “one of the most respected journalists in Washington” and “an important voice on Middle East matters who is read as closely in Israel and elsewhere in the region as he is inside the Beltway.” Such an indiscretion “can only damage relations and inflame a bad situation — and it has.” It’s not that the official’s analysis was wrong; in fact, Rothkopf seems to agree with it: “US officials since the Clinton administration in which I served have, in fact, felt that Netanyahu is chickenshit.” Not to be outdone by the highly respected and important Goldberg, Rothkopf offers in support his own anonymously sourced quote: “In the words of a former top Obama official who dealt with the Middle East, on top of Netanyahu’s irritating personality and embrace of inflammatory and counterproductive policies, ‘he’s an accountant.’ In other words, he thinks small; he’s all tactics and no strategy.”

It’s hard to believe that someone who worked in the Clinton administration wouldn’t have a better idea of what Netanyahu is up to, until you find out Rothkopf was Deputy Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade Policy and Development. Still, he might have done some reading in the relevant diplomatic history, perhaps consulting Yossi Beilin’s The Path to Geneva: The Quest for a Permanent Solution, 1996-2003, where it is made plain that Netanyahu’s “strategic goal” was halting the Oslo process (p. 69). This generalizes, in the post-Oslo era, to thwarting the possibility of Palestinian statehood, and it is almost incredible that Netanyahu’s “accountant” act should still be fooling anyone. (According to Goldberg, “current and former administration officials have described Netanyahu as a national leader who acts as though he is mayor of Jerusalem, which is to say, a no-vision small-timer who worries mainly about pleasing the hardest core of his political constituency.” A total misreading, needless to say.) Unfortunately for the region and the world, the charlatans of the US foreign policy establishment don’t have to face the daily reality of Netanyahu’s strategy in action, as Zonsheine does, so they are free to believe that no such strategy exists.

Of course, the problem of the occupation is much larger than Netanyahu, but our official’s grasp of history is no better than his or her appraisal of current events. Presumably, the references to Rabin, Sharon and Begin were intended to remind us how a onetime hardliner can change his stripes, making the tough decisions necessary to advance the cause of peace; this is what Netanyahu should do, the implication goes, but lacks the character for. What’s so tragic about this reasoning is that anyone could possibly accept it. None of those prime ministers wanted, or even grudgingly accepted, a Palestinian state — not even Rabin, contrary to myths much cherished in this country. (To the end Rabin advocated “a Palestinian entity, less than a state, that runs the life of Palestinians… This is my goal, not to return to the pre-Six Day War lines but to create two entities, a separation between Israel and the Palestinians who reside in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.”) The actions they took were intended to preserve Israeli control of the most desirable parts of the occupied territories (land, resources), though the details differed from plan to plan.

For Begin, the advantage of peace with Sadat was “giving Israel a free hand elsewhere by effectively excluding Egypt from the conflict,” as Noam Chomsky observes. (From the official post-agreement “Government policy guidelines” adopted by the Knesset: “After the transition period laid down in the Camp David accords, Israel will raise its claim and will act to fulfills its rights to sovereignty over Judea and Samaria and the Gaza district” [see Fateful Triangle, p. 62]). This was also the purpose of the murderous 1982 Sharon-Begin invasion of Lebanon, which aimed to destroy the PLO and thereby crush Palestinian nationalism; in Israel it was understood to be a war for the West Bank. With respect to Sharon’s premiership, much effort has been expended in presenting him as “the Israeli de Gaulle” (Ari Shavit’s ludicrous formluation for The New Yorker), but the true purpose of the Gaza disengagement has always been hiding in plain sight, in Dov Weissglass’s candid remarks to Ha’aretz from 2004: “It supplies the amount of formaldeyde that is necessary so there will not be a political process with the Palestinians.” (The results confirm this cruel and cynical judgement, and US commentators have played their part in strenuously ignoring the obvious.)

The reality is that a viable Palestinian state has never been on offer — not even from Netanyahu’s old rival Ehud Barak, whom our official did not mention — but it doesn’t matter how often this is conclusively demonstrated; it is ideologically unacceptable, since it gives the lie to the notion of a good-faith US-brokered peace process (and benign US hegemony more generally). The question raised by Chickenshitgate, following Kerry’s doomed effort to reach a final agreement without putting real pressure on Israel, is whether the US political class is now too stupefied by ideology to manage the conflict at all effectively. It is dangerous to construct the kind of myths that surround the US-Israel relationship: people start to believe them, and eventually it becomes impossible to respond to reality, which changes.

With Arab nationalism long since smashed, and the region in flames in large part because of the US’s own disastrous occupation of an Arab country, Israel’s cruelty towards the Palestinians has become a liability for its patron. The energy and prestige Kerry expended in attempting to broker a settlement — what Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon called “misplaced obsession and messianic fervor” — suggests the level of American desire to drain this almost-50-year-old swamp, yet Kerry failed, for the most predictable reason possible: instead of pressuring Netanyahu, he tried to bribe him. According to The New Republic’s account of the talks (which reflects several standard misrepresentations but contains some interesting details), Kerry consented to additional settlement construction in order to get the negotiations going, then tried to prolong them in the face of Israeli intransigence by offering to free Jonathan Pollard (a desideratum of Netanyahu’s since the Wye River summit of 1998). But Israel has everything it needs from the US: lavish aid, advanced weaponry, a veto in the Security Council. It cannot be cajoled into respecting the human and national rights of Palestinians, which the state was built on trampling; it can only be compelled, whether Likud or Labor is in power. There’s no excuse for US officials not to know this by now, and Kerry’s blindness indicates terrifying levels of vanity, incompetence, and ideological delusion.

This brings us to the nature of Goldberg’s story as an intervention in the special relationship. As several commentators noted, the purported thesis — “The Crisis in US-Israel Relations Is Officially Here” — is an obvious exaggeration. Obama and Netanyahu don’t like each other, but neither did Netanyahu and Clinton; where there has been no change in policy, there can be no crisis. George H. W. Bush withheld loan guarantees to Israel over Shamir’s settlement policy, so by Goldberg’s standard the relationship imploded in 1991.

Of course, not even the factually-challenged Goldberg really believes that the crisis is here — and he’s determined to keep it at bay. For although US policy hasn’t changed, the administration’s rhetoric is getting harsher: on Oct. 1 Jen Psaki said settlement expansion in East Jerusalem will “poison the atmosphere” with the Palestinians, and on Monday she went further, explaining that it “flies in the face” of Israel’s stated commitment to peace. For a partisan of Israel as dedicated as Goldberg, who polices the discourse in this country like he’s back at Ansar Three in his IDF uniform, this is ominous. For all his liberal posturing, Goldberg doesn’t favor Palestinian statehood; he admits as much in this latest story:

“Unlike the U.S. secretary of state, John Kerry, I don’t have any hope for the immediate creation of a Palestinian state (it could be dangerous, at this chaotic moment in Middle East history, when the Arab-state system is in partial collapse, to create an Arab state on the West Bank that could easily succumb to extremism), but I would also like to see Israel foster conditions on the West Bank and in East Jerusalem that would allow for the eventual birth of such a state.”

There’s a lot to unpack in this remarkable passage — first, how Goldberg couches a prescription (don’t create a Palestinian state, “it could be dangerous”) in the language of predictive analysis (“I don’t have any hope for the immediate creation of…”), dressing his rejectionism in journalistic guise. There’s also the complete lack of reference to Gaza, home to 1.7 million people, in keeping with Israeli policy of hoping it withers away into nothing but obviously incompatible with support for two states. So what does Goldberg say he wants? For Israel to “foster conditions on the West Bank and in East Jerusalem that would allow for the eventual birth of [a Palestinian] state,” a meaningless notion in a conflict between two opposing nationalisms, one of which has virtually all the power. As everyone knows who has ever lived, there’s always some reason not to do the right thing — in international politics, almost always “security.”

What’s amusing about Goldberg’s argument is that it’s identical to the reasoning offered by Moshe Ya’alon, whom Goldberg likes to portray as the Bad Israeli sticking his finger in the US’s eye. (Any good popular fiction needs a villain; Ya’alon, who once spoke of “applying chemotherapy” to the Palestinian “threat” — “I maintain that this is a cancer” — is perfect for the part.) Compare Goldberg’s view with the defense minister’s Sept. 30 remarks to the Institute of National Security Studies, as reported by the Times of Israel:

“In this situation, can one even consider restricting the freedom of action of the defense forces in Judea and Samaria?” […] A withdrawal, Ya’alon said, would facilitate the rise “of Hamastan” in the West Bank, followed by mortars, rather than rockets, on Israel’s international airport. The military air bases, in Ramat David in the Galilee and Nevatim in the northern Negev, would come under threat of anti-aircraft weapons. And the territory would be used, as in Gaza, by global jihad organizations. “Who can allow himself this sort of security situation in Judea and Samaria?” he said. “And not just vis-a-vis Israel; also vis-a-vis the Hashemite Kingdom. Can it survive that?”

In an inspired outburst on Israeli television, Gideon Levy once told Ari Shavit, “You are a spokesman of the extreme right, masquerading.” Were we blessed with an American Levy, he would say the same to Goldberg. Instead we have sycophants like Rothkopf, who drone on about Goldberg’s access and influence without interrogating the source of either. Like Netanyahu redeploying from Hebron — a maneuever he said was in keeping with his father and grandfather’s maxim, “to give 2 percent in order prevent 100 percent” — Goldberg subjects Israel’s worst excesses to limited criticism while defending the overarching project of dominating the Palestinians.

Because this position corresponded to US policy, Goldberg’s career has thrived, despite the stunning wreckage of his journalistic record. But since his work depends on getting powerful people to talk to him, for the past several years he has had to play a bit of a double game, maintaining good relations with the Obama and Netanyahu camps through public disagreements over Iran and settlements. With Chickenshitgate, Goldberg finally made his choice. He carried a fair amount of water for Obama to earn his access, and he made good use of it; but on the eve of the president’s becoming a lame duck — and possibly reaching a deal with Tehran that will outrage Israel’s apologists — Goldberg published a quote that the White House had to disavow at once. “In a sign of how urgently the administration has sought to put out this fire,” Foreign Policy reported, “congressional aides said White House officials didn’t even wait for a response from the Hill before trying to do pre-emptive damage control.” And Kerry, who six months ago went before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to blame Israel for the breakdown in peace talks, had to revert to groveling type, calling Netanyahu to apologize for the “disgraceful, unacceptable, damaging” remark. This is service to the occupation that far surpasses Goldberg’s prison guard duties during the first intifada.

In light of the predictable response to Chickenshitgate — in Israel, indignation on the right and exasperation on the left, pearl-clutching and tongue-clucking here at home — Goldberg’s warning about “unsurprising, post-November” changes to US policy seems like a case of saying it to keep it from happening. Publicly presenting a map with borders and withdrawing diplomatic cover for Israel in the UN would be positive steps for the Obama team; but letting their ostensible pet journalist put them on the defensive against Netanyahu is representative of the wisdom with which they manage the special relationship.

About Eamon Murphy

Eamon Murphy is a journalist in New York City. Follow him on Twitter @epmurph.

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46 Responses

  1. Horizontal
    November 5, 2014, 11:34 am

    Great article; clear, concise, sweeping. Another valuable entry, MW.

    The one question that I can’t seem to wrap my brain around is how can Israel’s duplicitous policy regarding Palestinian statehood be so crystal clear to so many of us, yet such a murky mess to the political establishment, who all ought to know better?

    (Actually, I believe I already know the answer to that question, but the answer is just too damn depressing.)

    • jd65
      November 5, 2014, 1:27 pm

      Agreed. This is one of the best articles up on MW recently.

      And to Horizontal – your question: “[H]ow can Israel’s duplicitous policy (which Murphy correctly points out in the above article was built on trampling the human and national rights of Palestinians) regarding Palestinian statehood be so crystal clear to so many of us, yet such a murky mess to the political establishment, who all ought to know better?” My answer (possibly the same as your “depressing” one) is, “It’s not [murky to them].” They simply talk one way, then walk the other; just like Netanyahu does. Their rhetoric doesn’t match their actions. And it hasn’t for many decades. And, yes, it’s depressing.

      Murphy writes in the article, “There’s no excuse for US officials not to know this by now [Israel’s true designs/goals]…” I’d be interested to ask Murphy himself if he actually believes “US officials” aren’t aware of Israel’s true goals of completely controlling the entirety of “Greater Israel” and disallowing Palestinians any actual sovereignty, or right of return, on their historic homeland. Does he really believe Obama, Kerry, Hillary, etc… aren’t aware of this? Since at least the mid 80s, it’s been apparent to anyone who has done even a modicum of honest, diligent research. Even w/out Murphy coming out and saying these people know but aren’t forthcoming about it, this article is tremendously great.

    • Krauss
      November 5, 2014, 2:41 pm

      The key words are clear and concise, for Eamon’s primarily fault is assuming rationality on the part of the actors, as exemplified here:

      Netanyahu’s failure to bomb Iran is evidence not of gutlessness but of sanity

      For Bibi’s critics, this point is utterly lost, which is why their perception of him is baseless, but it wouldn’t be the first time that the Obama administration has soaked the Israeli-Zionist narrative. Notice that the supposed unnamed source uses Sharon as some kind of peacenik model to aspire to, just like the caricature in the Zionist press even if anyone with rudimentary knowledge should know that Sharon was never ever serious.

      It’s in essence the same phenomenon that explains the Beltway mentality. Very Serious People keep saying the same thing, it becomes established fact, whether or not it is grounded in reality.

      • Horizontal
        November 6, 2014, 11:24 am

        Krauss & jd ~

        Yes, that’s pretty much what I was afraid of. So instead of being governed by idiots, we’re ruled by disingenuous manipulators instead. I suppose that’s the depressing part. It might help if we had a new Helen Thomas , but wasn’t her WH seat taken over by Fox?

        Regardless, we need to challenge that false narrative in every possible way. Having the congress lurching to the right won’t make that task any easier.

  2. just
    November 5, 2014, 11:35 am

    Fantabulous article! Will bookmark and pass around. Thank you, Eamon.

    (it’s certainly apparent that you are gifted at much more than “financial journalism”!)

  3. Blownaway
    November 5, 2014, 11:37 am

    This is it in a nutshell…i cant believe the “elites” dont know it, but they are counting on the sheeple to not know it. Anyone who reads this should share it with as many people as they can

  4. JLewisDickerson
    November 5, 2014, 11:46 am

    RE: “Even more disconcerting is the inexplicable illusion that Netanyahu’s hostility to the so-called peace process can be attributed to political cowardice — that he avoids making concessions to the Palestinians in order not to be kicked out of office. This might seem plausible to an Obama apparatchik — someone who works in a White House that has allowed Israel to continue its absorption of the West Bank and immiseration of Gaza despite probably disapproving of these measures — but it betrays complete ignorance of Israeli politics. “ ~ Eamon Murphy

    FROM JOEL KOVEL, 1-20-13:

    [EXCERPT] . . . As with everyone I know of in official political culture, [Thomas] Friedman [probably like most Obama apparatchiks – J.L.D.] assumes that Israel is a rational actor on the international stage who will obey the calculus of reward and punishment that regulates the conduct of normal states.
    The presumption is that if you tell it the truth, and even pull back US support, it will get the message, reflect, and change its ways. But Israel is not a normal state, except superficially. It will make adjustments, pulling back here, co-operating there, making nice when necessary, crafting its message using a powerful propaganda apparatus employing the most up-to-date social science. But this is simply tactical and no more predicts or explains the behavior of the Zionist state than an individual sociopath can be explained by the fact that he obeys traffic signals while driving to the scene of his crime. . .

    SOURCE – http://mondoweiss.net/2013/01/israel-nominaton-hagel.html

    • JLewisDickerson
      November 5, 2014, 11:46 am

      P.S. RE: “By his second premiership, Netanyahu had attained the political savvy of your average Labor politician, wising up enough to know more or less how the so-called peace process works: you pair rhetorical support for a Palestinian state with continued actions toward making that outcome impossible (construction in the West Bank, destruction in Gaza). Or, as he put it during a meeting with young Likud supporters in 2013, “What matters is that we continue to head straight toward our goal, even if one time we walk right and another time walk left.” ~ Eamon Murphy

      FROM ALISTAIR CROOKE, London Review of Books, 03/03/11:

      [EXCERPT] . . . Israel’s vice-premier, Moshe Ya’alon, was candid when asked in an interview this year: ‘Why all these games of make-believe negotiations?’ He replied:

      Because … there are pressures. Peace Now from within, and other elements from without. So you have to manoeuvre … what we have to do is manoeuvre with the American administration and the European establishment, which are nourished by Israeli elements [and] which create the illusion that an agreement can be reached … I say that time works for those who make use of it. The founders of Zionism knew … and we in the government know how to make use of time.

      SOURCE – http://www.lrb.co.uk/v33/n05/alastair-crooke/permanent-temporariness

      • Horizontal
        November 6, 2014, 11:26 am

        I say that time works for those who make use of it. The founders of Zionism knew … and we in the government know how to make use of time.

        I get the image of a cat playing with a mouse for some reason.

    • JLewisDickerson
      November 5, 2014, 12:13 pm

      P.P.S. “Netanyahu has employed essentially the same run-out-the-clock strategy. During the Clinton years he haggled interminably and reneged outright on implementing withdrawal agreements, thereby preventing final-status negotiations within the five years specified by Oslo; at the same time he continued expropriating land and building settlements, moving closer to integrating ‘Judea and Samaria’ with Israel.” ~ Eamon Murphy

      SEE: “New Israeli Government Will Support Settlements”, By Geoffrey Aronson, Al-Monitor, 4/05/13

      . . . It is not for nothing that it has long been said that “the Likud will announce 10 settlements and build one while the Labor Party will announce one and build 10.” Leaders from the heart of the Labor Zionist movement — the same one that transformed 78% of Mandatory Palestine into a Jewish state — were the principal architects of Israel’s post-1967 settlement policies in the occupied territories and employed all the instruments of Israel’s national power and authority to place the territorial future of the “liberated territories” beyond Palestinian reach.
      Moshe Dayan, Shimon Peres, and Ariel Sharon epitomized the leadership of this national effort. They were unabashed supporters of Greater Israel. Recently released protocols of discussions held between US President Jimmy Carter and an Israeli delegation led by PM Menachem Begin in March 1979 recorded Sharon telling Carter, “I don’t see any possibility whatsoever to draw any geographical line which can divide [the] Jewish population and Arab population, because we live here together. Believe me, Mr. President, when I use this figure of one million, saying that in 20 to 30 years I hope that one million Jews will live there, Mr. President, I can assure you, they will live there. There’s nothing to do about it. They will live there, and if we said that we believe that in Jerusalem, what we call the Greater Jerusalem, it is a crucial problem for us, to have one million Jews, they will live there, and they will live in what we call the area of Gush Etzion, in Tekoa, in Ma’ale Adumim. They will live there. There is nothing [you can] do about it.” . . .

      ENTIRE COMMENTARY – http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2013/04/new-israeli-government-settlement-expansion-support.html

  5. Eva Smagacz
    November 5, 2014, 12:06 pm

    “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!”

    Upton Sinclair

    Pro-Zionist politicians are bought by Israel Lobby. Simples

  6. MHughes976
    November 5, 2014, 12:37 pm

    To my mind C/shit can mean only ‘too cowardly either to attack Iran or to make peace’. The first clause is justifiable in a way, in the sense that there were several empty threats against Iran. The second reflects the inveterate belief of Obama and of American centrist opinion that the present situation is unsustainable: so that the refusal of one after another Israeli leaders to make peace, or even to make a proposal for some form of 2ss, is due to lack of leadership, which means cowardice or head-in-sand refusal to face facts. To show that this is wrong it’s not enough to say that intransigence actually generates popularity – you have to show that the situation is not unsustainable at all and that the logical conclusion of Israeli policy, the final relocation of the Palestinians elsewhere, is entirely possible and practicable. It just may be.

  7. JLewisDickerson
    November 5, 2014, 12:50 pm

    RE: Obama and Netanyahu don’t like each other, but neither did Netanyahu and Clinton; where there has been no change in policy, there can be no crisis.” ~ Eamon Murphy

    SEE: “If Netanyahu Lies, Why Do We Keep Listening?” ~ by Sharmine Narwani (Senior Associate, St. Antony’s College, Oxford University), mideastshuffle.com, 11/09/2011

    [EXCERPT] But Obama isn’t the only US president to bemoan the constant need to coddle both Israel and its irritating prime minister, in particular. Scroll back to Bill Clinton’s presidency, which coincided with Netanyahu’s first gig as head of state…
    According to ex-special envoy to the Middle East Aaron David Miller, [President Bill] Clinton was so agitated by Netanyahu during their first meeting in 1996, he exploded: “Who the fuck does he think he is? Who’s the fucking superpower here?”
    Barely a year later, Clinton had to personally wrest from Netanyahu an antidote for the toxin used by Israeli agents in their assassination attempt on Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal. “I cannot deal with this man. He is impossible,” [President] Clinton allegedly said in reference to Netanyahu, who initially lied about his involvement in the murder plot.
    But these cannot possibly compare to Netanyahu’s big “gotcha” moment where he is caught on camera telling a settler family that he deliberately deceived his partners in peace over the Oslo Accords. . .

    ENTIRE COMMENTARY – http://mideastshuffle.com/2011/11/09/if-netanyahu-lies-why-do-we-keep-listening/

    • just
      November 5, 2014, 12:54 pm

      thanks for your very relevant links, JLewisDickerson.

  8. OyVey00
    November 5, 2014, 1:03 pm

    The Obama administration is doing the same as Netanyahu, pretending to broker for peace talks that they know are a sham to keep their image. I don’t believe that they are so gullible that they believe the Israeli propaganda themselves.

    As for Netanyahu, I actually have some respect for him, since he is a genuine Jewish nationalist and does what the head of a state is supposed to do – serving his people. Unlike the traitorous US administration with their front shabbos goy Obama, which doesn’t give a shit about their people and prefers to work for the “chosen people”‘s interests instead.

    • Mooser
      November 5, 2014, 5:31 pm

      “genuine Jewish nationalist and does what the head of a state is supposed to do – serving his people.”

      It is truly amazing, especially when one considers he is the head of the entire Jewish world! So much responsibility! I guess it’s his job to make room for us all.

  9. Boomer
    November 5, 2014, 1:48 pm

    An excellent analysis, albeit depressing. I would only add, to your concluding observation that the episode is “representative of the wisdom with which [Obama’s administration] manage[s] the special relationship,” that it is also representative of their lack of courage, vision, and morality.

  10. Jackdaw
    November 5, 2014, 3:31 pm

    PM Netanyahu is a decorated war hero who risked his life in combat many, many times.

    But a critic, a continent away, and relying on anonymity, calls him, ‘a chickenshit’.

    Pathetic.

    • just
      November 5, 2014, 4:23 pm

      PM Netanyahu is an inciter and condones– nay, orders– the massacres of children and innocents.

      thanks anyway.

    • Mooser
      November 5, 2014, 5:36 pm

      “But a critic, a continent away, and relying on anonymity, calls him, ‘a chickenshit’.”

      Jackdaw, in spite of two or three articles, you still can’t grasp the essential facts, can you? Nobody, absolutely nobody has called Netanyahoo a “chickenshit” except Jeffry Goldberg!!
      We can debate the reasons why Jeffry Goldberg said somebody said that, but there’s not much point in debating whether or not Netanyahoo is actually a “chickenshit” It is, after all, a subject on which unreasonable men might disagree, and so best avoided.

      Say, Jackdaw, you wanna vouch for Goldberg’s “running list”, too?

    • Mooser
      November 5, 2014, 5:38 pm

      “PM Netanyahu is a decorated war hero who risked his life in combat many, many times.”

      Maybe I should revise my estimate of the danger from resistance rockets. Israel seems to be down to the ten-year-olds in all departments.

    • eljay
      November 5, 2014, 8:03 pm

      >> Jackdaweee: PM Netanyahu is a decorated war hero … But a critic, a continent away, and relying on anonymity, calls him, ‘a chickenshit’.

      Bibi is a hateful and immoral Zio-supremacist who values Jewish supremacism in a supremacist “Jewish State” over justice, accountability and equality. “Chickenshit” is a better descriptor than he deserves.

      • OyVey00
        November 6, 2014, 10:32 am

        Well, he got a point. Hitler was also a “decorated war hero” though…

      • Mooser
        November 7, 2014, 11:43 am

        “Well, he got a point. Hitler was also a “decorated war hero” though…”

        And like I told ya’, I’m a soldier- in the war on poverty!

    • Horizontal
      November 6, 2014, 11:31 am

      I’d remind you that young Adolph won an Iron Cross in WWI, so maybe war decorations aren’t a valid measure of moral character.

  11. seafoid
    November 5, 2014, 3:37 pm

    All of the lies and all of the violence to stop anyone talking about peace. When one big question is where would all the settlers go in a peace deal.

    Galut is so hateful and there is nowhere Jews can be Jews.

    But there is ,actually. Where kosher food was being eaten long before Israel was founded. And it’s not far from NYC. And nobody would give a shit if the mass psychosis program of the Hebron Jewish community rolled up and started defecating on the lawns.

    Yes, it’s the Borscht belt repopulation program- YESHA 2.0
    Maybe Mooser could be the Chairman.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/travel/travel_news/article-2756693/They-ve-time-lives-Ghostly-remains-abandoned-resorts-glitzy-Upstate-New-York-hotels-setting-Dirty-Dancing.html

    600 hotels!

    • Mooser
      November 5, 2014, 5:41 pm

      I’ve actually been to some of those places back when they were operating. Both as a guest and a busboy. The part of New York they are in is beautiful.

      • Mooser
        November 5, 2014, 7:35 pm

        BTW, if you Google “Abandoned Catskill Hotels” or similar there are some very extensive and artistic websites dealing with the subject.

      • seafoid
        November 6, 2014, 7:46 am

        What was it like back in the day, Mooser? And how did you feel when it was abandoned and left to the elements ?
        There seems to be something very sad about those pictures now.

      • just
        November 6, 2014, 10:58 am

        they are really very sad photos.

      • seafoid
        November 6, 2014, 11:50 am

        They remind me of photos of Detroit. There is something very American about such grand scale abandonment

        But petrol made the move away from the borscht belt possible and it’s running down so local will be back in vogue soon..

      • just
        November 6, 2014, 12:14 pm

        exactly, seafoid. Upstate NY (Utica, etc) look very much the same.

        we waste, and lay things to wrack and ruin as a matter of course– all for a quick buck.

      • seafoid
        November 6, 2014, 3:59 pm

        Mooser

        Was Hello Muddah Hello Faddah a Borscht belt song ?
        My 6 year old loves it. We have been singing it since you posted it last week

      • Mooser
        November 6, 2014, 4:54 pm

        “What was it like back in the day, Mooser?”

        You’ve never seen “Dirty Dancing”? Nobody ever put Moosie in the corner!

      • Mooser
        November 6, 2014, 5:09 pm

        “Was Hello Muddah Hello Faddah a Borscht belt song ?”

        Rural up-state NY north of the Metropolitan area was a popular vacation retreat for a century, everything from private cottages to campgrounds to summer camps, motels, to fency resort hotels with entertainment. Some skiing (eh) is possible in the winter. During the heyday of Catskill resorts, the are was known to musicians and entertainers as the Borscht Belt, since many of the biggest hotels catered to Jews especially, I would think, in terms of having a kosher kitchen, and maybe certain kinds entertainment.

        “Here I am at Camp Grenada” (I think) that would have been, presumably a private summer camp (with your pick of emphasis, athletics, theatre, outdoorsy stuff) in the Catskills or maybe even the Adirondacks. Although he makes place sound more like something out of “Deliverance”!

      • Mooser
        November 6, 2014, 5:42 pm

        However, it is Allan Sherman’s madrigal “The Ballad of Sir Greenbaum” I find most affecting, almost unbearably apropos.
        When asked, (to the tune of “Greensleeves”) “Why, why art thou so forlorn? Sir Greenbaum, is thy heart heavy laden?” He replied:

        “Said he, “Forsooth
        ‘Tis a sorry plight
        That engendered my attitude bluish”
        Said he, “I don’t wanna be a knight
        That’s no job for a boy who is Jewish”

        All day with the mighty sword
        And the mighty steed and the mighty lance
        All day with that heavy shield
        And a pair of aluminum pants

        All day with the slaying and slewing
        And smiting and smoting like Robin Hood
        Oh, wouldst I could kick the habit
        And give up smoting for good”

      • Mooser
        November 7, 2014, 11:41 am

        “And how did you feel when it was abandoned and left to the elements ?”

        These are not stone castles or ancient monuments. I feel like somebody escaped the cost of properly demolishing the buildings after they deteriorated to unusability and disposing or recycling the concrete, wood, steel, glass and other building materials..

  12. Jerome Slater
    November 5, 2014, 7:16 pm

    Congratulations, Mr. Murphy, on a first-rate analysis.

  13. Walid
    November 6, 2014, 1:28 am

    “None of those prime ministers wanted, or even grudgingly accepted, a Palestinian state — not even Rabin, contrary to myths much cherished in this country. (To the end Rabin advocated “a Palestinian entity, less than a state, that runs the life of Palestinians …”

    Finally, someone has come out and said it. Rabin was not as peace-loving as it’s always pretended.

    • seafoid
      November 6, 2014, 7:47 am

      Rabin couldn’t have been a peacenik, not as Israeli PM.
      They are all the same – maximum land, minimum decency.

  14. HarryLaw
    November 6, 2014, 8:11 am

    Eamon Murphy links a Gideon Levy article to Haaretz unfortunately behind a pay wall, I think it is so brilliant more people should read it, here it is taken from Professor Norman Finkelsteins site.. http://normanfinkelstein.com/2014/10/31/gideon-levy-on-the-real-chickenshit/

    • just
      November 6, 2014, 11:16 am

      thanks, Harry.

      from the article:

      “Now, in the winter of his career, he is showing signs of being fed up with all this. He can still change things, but not with insults, only with deeds that shake Israel up. Two years are time enough for an American president to make it clear to Israel that its corrupt banquet is over. But for that we need a president who isn’t a chickenshit.”

      please do it, President Obama. please. you have nothing to lose, and much to gain for the US, for Palestinians (living and dead), for the world, and for your legacy.

      • Horizontal
        November 6, 2014, 11:37 am

        What’s that they say about the most dangerous man being the one with nothing to lose? It would truly be a presidential move, but my money is on the status quo.

      • just
        November 6, 2014, 12:09 pm

        I prefer to think of Eva’s quote above:

        ““It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!”

        Upton Sinclair”

        It’s no longer applicable for Mr. Obama.

  15. duglarri
    November 14, 2014, 6:40 pm

    Great post. One thing I’d point out, though: Netanyahu, far from being a CS, is the most second most successful geopolitical strategist of the post-Cold War world, after Osama. Look at his stated objectives, as he put them back in 1992: expand settlements, keep the West Bank, prevent a Palestinian State. Check, check, and check. He might also have said, “distract the world from what we’re up to by constantly diverting attention to Iran.”

    He’s not just not ineffective- he’s run circles around every American administration he’s ever encountered, and is possibly growing more powerful with every newly purchased Congress.

    Calling him CS shows that whoever said it is just plain playing checkers to Netanyahu’s chess. Or worse, doesn’t even know there’s a game on.

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