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Israel’s political crisis wouldn’t be happening if not for violent Palestinian resistance

on 36 Comments

The big political split in the Israeli establishment is now getting coverage from Politico, in a piece describing Israeli war “heroes” as the most moderate force in the country, arrayed against Benjamin Netanyahu’s extremist right. Written by an Israeli, the piece is typical of our mainstream coverage in its utter Israel-centeredness, its adoration of Israeli generals and their medals for bravery, and the complete absence of Palestinian voices.

Just because Palestinians are absent from US and Israeli coverage doesn’t mean they are absent from the Israeli political scene. In fact, the big split that is taking place inside the Israeli establishment would not have happened without Palestinians playing a part: in violent resistance.

Let’s review the events that precipitated the political shift (as chronicled by Yakov Hirsch): on March 24, the murder of an incapacitated Palestinian by an Israeli medic in occupied Hebron that was captured on camera and that shocked the world; the determination by military leaders to try the medic for manslaughter; the overwhelming support for the medic from Israeli Jews and the Netanyahu cabinet, to the point that Netanyahu called the murderer one of “our children” and telephoned his family; the April speech by the army’s deputy chief of staff, Yair Golan, saying that Israel was reminiscent of Nazi Germany in its intolerance toward non-Jews; the resignation of the Defense Minister, Moshe Ya’alon, after Netanyahu summoned him to repudiate Golan and he refused; Ya’alon’s replacement by a racist ideologue, in Avigdor Lieberman; a speech by Ya’alon that Israeli leadership contains the “seeds of fascism”; a speech by former PM Ehud Barak saying that Netanyahu has been taken hostage by the right and has no intention of securing the country’s future by establishing a Palestinian state; and many reports that Netanyahu will be taken on politically by one Israeli general or another.

These have been momentous events in Zionist history. And however they are resolved in the next year or so, in an even more rightwing government or a government that makes a genuine effort toward creating a Palestinian state (likely a bantustan), it is wrong to give the credit for these changes to Israeli Jews. The Israeli security establishment has swallowed a lot from Netanyahu before, and it has signed off on massacres and persecution and apartheid against Palestinians for decades.

What crossed the line here? The total demonization of the Palestinian people by Netanyahu (and his propagandists) as subhumans who just hate Jews in their blood. That degree of ethnocentric incitement makes it impossible for the security establishment to police the occupation, it turns the conflict into a religious and racial battle that can only escalate into more extreme forms of violence.

So now there is a crisis in the Israeli establishment, and many are warning that the entire Zionist project is in jeopardy. It’s about time, I say (because Zionism/Jewish supremacy is an anachronism.)

But again I must point out that Jews had little to do with this. This crisis would not have take place without Palestinian agency; and in this case Palestinian agency has been the series of attacks that some call the intifada of knives that broke out last October, lone and uncoordinated attacks using knives, cars, or guns that has now claimed about 40 Israeli lives and resulted in the killings of over 200 Palestinians, a great number of them by extrajudicial execution.

Many of these Palestinians are hailed as martyrs, as I saw for myself on my travels in the occupied territories in January; I am sure it is impossible to criticize these Palestinians inside Palestinian society, even as they are called terrorists in Israel and in due order linked to ISIS by the New York Times.

These people are not heroes to me because they caused bloodshed and suffering; but I’m not seeking to moralize here, just describe the Israeli reality. And anyone who has studied history knows that terrorist attacks are an essential tool of revolution. The Zionists compelled the British to abandon their control of Palestine in 1947 through a series of terrorist attacks, including the destruction of a wing of the King David Hotel, killing 91. Nelson Mandela openly embraced the tactic of “terrorism” in order to bring down the apartheid regime in South Africa. The Civil War, which liberated the slaves and killed 600,000 people, was precipitated by John Brown’s terrorist attack on a slave state in 1859. Today both that site and Brown’s farm in upstate New York are places of honor because Brown so hated slavery. And he said that it could only be ended by “verry much blood.”

In Palestine, it was an alleged knife attack on occupying Israeli soldiers in Hebron on March 24 that led to the shooting down in the street of two Palestinian men, both 21, followed by the filmed execution of one of them, Abdel Fattah al-Sharif. Al-Sharif sacrificed his life for a larger cause, and seems to have propelled that cause forward. Al-Sharif sparked the Israeli political crisis.

Of course no one can say where this crisis will lead. The Politico piece, by Amir Tibon, suggests that the Israeli generals’ political coup will fail and the United States will have to get used to “a new reality in the Jewish state,” in which rightwing zealots run the country for the forseeable future. I am more hopeful that there will be a real shift in Israeli politics, leading toward the (inevitable) non-Zionist future. Or if not, that the political solidification of Israeli extremism will lead U.S. Jews, and therefore the U.S. government, to cut ties with a pariah state.

But something has been set in motion, and the credit belongs to Palestinian martyrs/terrorists. I wish I did not have to say that, I wish that the world and Israeli had wakened to warnings about fascism in that society years ago issued by countless writers of conscience, who were then all smeared or ignored by the Zionist intelligentsia; I wish that the US power structure had embraced the nonviolent means of pressuring Israel– Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS)– years ago. But that’s not how the world works. Humans effect historical changes through violence.

Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is senior editor of and founded the site in 2005-06.

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36 Responses

  1. annie on July 4, 2016, 2:57 pm

    thanks phil

  2. Rooster on July 4, 2016, 3:09 pm

    Is this what it looks like when the leftmost margins of the self-described right starts realizing that they’ve gone beyond “biting off more than they can chew” to the point of actually choking to death?

  3. amigo on July 4, 2016, 3:49 pm

    Sit back and watch the inevitable accusations of ” terrorist lover ” and inciting terror against Jews and supporter of genocide against the people of Israel ” etc etc etc.

    Phil will catch hell for this display of tribal treachery.

    Weiss has really gone off the rails on this one.

    With a bit of luck some of the zios might get mad enough to never again post on MW. What have you done Phil.

    • eljay on July 4, 2016, 4:08 pm

      Zio-supremacists will hate Phil for what he says, but they will continue to love themselves in spite of – and perhaps even because of – the hateful and immoral things they do and even as their insatiable greed and hypocritical thirst for injustice undermines their religion-supremacist “Jewish State” project.

    • just on July 4, 2016, 4:14 pm

      heh, amigo!

      Thanks for this excellent piece, Phil. Of course Palestinians had to assert themselves individually with whatever means, including violence, since Israel is determined to ignore their peaceful resistance and worse, react to it with their wicked ultraviolence. Israel denies them their very existence and humanity, and the US (and everybody else) goes right along and enables their inhumanity and criminality.

      “PA: Netanyahu Doesn’t Condemn Israel’s Killings of Innocent Palestinians

      Sources close to Abbas says Israel is too busy worrying about PA not condemning recent terror attacks instead of preventing them. …

      … Meanwhile, the Palestinian leadership has been very busy on the diplomatic front, particularly with regard to the report of the Quartet (the United States, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations) that was issued Friday, which said that Israel’s settlement policy in the occupied territories was eroding the viability of the two-state solution. The PA seems to be convinced that the Quartet report was meant to scuttle the French peace initiative.

      “This is a report that can’t be a basis for anything – a report that compares the occupier to the occupied, doesn’t speak of borders, and still speaks of the need for direct negotiations even though all the obstacles Israel is presenting renders that option not serious,” Shtayyeh said, adding that the Quartet is basically a dead and irrelevant entity.

      PLO Executive Committee chairman Dr. Saeb Erekat was due Monday to address the Quartet report today at a press conference in Ramallah. Palestinian leaders believe he will announce that the Palestinians are severing ties with the Quartet, which after 15 years has, in their view, outlived its usefulness after failing to contribute anything toward ending the occupation and establishing a Palestinian state.”

      read more:

      • annie on July 5, 2016, 4:45 am

        “…Palestinians are severing ties with the Quartet, which after 15 years has, in their view, outlived its usefulness after failing to contribute anything toward ending the occupation and establishing a Palestinian state.”

        uh oh. will tony blair will be out of a job? what a pity tsk tsk.

      • just on July 5, 2016, 9:49 am

        lol, Annie! Blair may lose more than that. The Chilcot report is supposed to finally come out, and there was this article in The Guardian yesterday:

        “Tony Blair faces calls for impeachment on release of Chilcot report
        Labour and SNP figures consider legal action against former PM to ban him from office over role in Iraq war”

        I recommend this report from Reuters in its entirety. It’s disheartening, but is actually getting the ugly truth out. Sunlight most welcome:

        “Diplomatic ties help Israel defang international criticism

        JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Ahead of the release last week of a report on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by the Quartet of Middle East mediators, the word from diplomats was that it would be hard-hitting, especially on Israel and its settlement building.

        The United States, the European Union and the United Nations were fed up with Israel’s consistent violation of international law, which views all settlements on occupied land as illegal, diplomats said. While Russia, the fourth Quartet member, might be more restrained, Israel was set for a serious ticking off.

        Those concerns reached Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office. Officials briefed that he was determined to talk the Quartet down. He flew to Moscow to see President Vladimir Putin, and met U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and the EU’s foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, in Rome.

        In the end, after weeks of delay, the report was mild in the extreme. Israeli settlement-building was criticized but not called illegal. The prime focus was on Palestinian incitement. One regional analyst described the overall impact as “banal”.

        Palestinians were outraged. Chief negotiator Saeb Erekat said the Quartet had attempted to “equalize the responsibilities between a people under occupation and a foreign military occupier”. The international community had given in, he said.

        Among a number of American, European and U.N. diplomats, there is a fair degree of sympathy with that view.

        “There’s just no appetite to go toe-to-toe with Israel and deliver a really harsh indictment,” said one European ambassador. “No one sees the upside to it.”

        Privately, diplomats raise a host of concerns about Israel’s actions: its restrictions on Palestinian movement, security clampdowns they say amount to collective punishment, the demolition of attackers’ homes, the blockade on Gaza, and settlements. But in public, there is far more restraint.

        Statements from European Union foreign ministers and U.S. officials often express concern about all those issues, but they fall short of threatening action or concrete censure. It is usually much more about carrots than sticks. …”

        much more @

      • annie on July 5, 2016, 3:01 pm

        thanks for that guardian link just i had not seen that. i’m so disgusted w/how the blairites (rightist/zionist/labour members) are trying to take down corbyn — labour will sink like a rock if they succeed — and deserve it too! i’ve been following the daily updates as well the spineless quartet shenanigans.

        often express concern about all those issues, but they fall short of threatening action or concrete censure

        concern! worthless handwringing from cowards.

  4. RoHa on July 5, 2016, 1:56 am

    “The Civil War, ..”

    Do you mean the American Civil War, as distinct from the important Civil War between the Parliamentarians and the Royalists, or the Spanish Civil War, or the Syrian Civil War, or the Russian Civil War, or the Nigerian Civil War , or …

  5. benedict on July 5, 2016, 5:03 am

    random killing as a tool for precipitating political change?

    what a novel idea worthy of a great intellectual like philip weiss!

    but, wait, isn’t that exactly how the extreme right justifies israeli massacres in Gaza?

    how interesting that Weiss is now using arguments strait out of the hasbara hand book.

    • ahadhaadam on July 5, 2016, 9:36 am

      There is no symmetry between oppressor and oppressor. The oppressed have a right to use violence to free itself from oppression but the oppressor does not have a right to use violence to maintain his oppression. The oppressor also does not have a right to dictate and lay the rules to the oppressed on how to resist his oppression. His sole obligation as an oppressor is to end the oppression by giving equal civil rights to Palestinians under his control.

    • Mooser on July 5, 2016, 7:50 pm

      “random killing as a tool for precipitating political change?”

      What’s wrong, “benedict”, not enough Jews have been killed yet for you? How many Jews should be killed before it provokes a crisis in Israel? Do you think we have lots and lots of lives to waste?

  6. silamcuz on July 5, 2016, 6:24 am

    Violence is a perfectly natural, God-given right of reacting to injustice, in any form and in any scale. I have yet to know of a better way than to set a person straight through a old-fashioned slap, which is infinitely more efficient and effective compared to modern liberal techniques of preaching and explaining morality, right and wrong etc.

    The issue is not violence in itself, but why and how the violence is being perpetrated. Killing a rapist is just as violent as rape itself, but no way is both form of violence equal in the eyes of universal justice.

    • Mooser on July 5, 2016, 1:36 pm

      “Violence is a perfectly natural, God-given right of reacting to injustice, in any form and in any scale. I have yet to know of a better way than to set a person straight through a old-fashioned slap, which is infinitely more efficient and effective compared to modern liberal techniques of preaching and explaining morality, right and wrong etc.”

      Are we going to have to put up with you much longer?

      • silamcuz on July 6, 2016, 12:29 am

        Nobody is forcing you to read what I write, let alone agree with them. I suggest you educate yourself on this simple concept known as freedom of speech, before expressing your contempt on folks saying things you don’t agree with.

      • annie on July 6, 2016, 1:14 am

        actually, mooser is exercising his freedom of speech. btw, mondoweiss doesn’t offer complete freedom of speech per se — we moderate comments here as i am sure you’re aware. why don’t you just not read mooser’s comments if you don’t like them. before expressing your contempt on folks you don’t agree with.

      • silamcuz on July 6, 2016, 8:01 am


        Very well, but let’s not lose track of reality when we mindlessly admonish physical violence as some sort of unthinkable evil while at the same time, doing nothing to bring about circumstances where violence would not be needed. From disciplining a child to knocking some senses into an individual, to bringing down oppressive nation-states, all of these noble endeavours would not be possible without violence.

        Why is violence wrong? I never have never understood this bizarre creed of the left. Is violence not merely a means to an end? Is smacking a child any worse than leaving him to degenerate into a beast of an adult, making life hell for who knows how many people? Is castrating a rapist any worse than placing him in a secure cell for a particular length of time? Is going to war against a foreign occupier any worse than meekly accepting subjugation for the sake of ensuring peace?

        Ideally, we should strive for building a world where there wouldn’t be any rapist for us to castrate, or any child to grow up to be a sociopathic criminal, no delusional politicians capable of war crimes on the nation-state scale. But fanatically prohibiting violence in a society would only be counter-productive to this greater goal.

        Just take a look at the Nordic countries, where violence is religiously frowned upon. Despite extreme material prosperity and peace from war and foreign intervention, people still rape, still kill, still cheat on their spouses, still elect politicians that are totally fine in bombing and murdering civilians in third-world countries for vague geopolitical reasons. Adding to that, they are a depressingly sad society where suicide rates are among the highest in the world, and popping pills for some form of mental ailments is as normal as drinking bottled water. So much for being an enlightened society. I would rather be happy in the tough but real neighbourhoods of Gaza along with “violent” Palestinians than be stuck in a soulless, manufactured society of Denmark or Sweden.

      • Mooser on July 6, 2016, 1:31 pm

        “Why is violence wrong? “

        Well, excuse my white fragility, but I thought violence was generally wrong because violence is the way “white people” have so ‘effectively’ and ‘efficiently’, enslaved and dominated POC.

        So you know, I thought it was bad. You figure you can beat them at that game, on a ‘white vs. POC basis?

      • Mooser on July 6, 2016, 1:56 pm

        “Just take a look at the Nordic countries”

        Where they make the cuckoo-clocks?

        “Ideally, we should strive for building a world where there wouldn’t be any rapist for us to castrate,”

        Don’t need to go that far, do I. Plenty of cuckoo right here.

      • silamcuz on July 7, 2016, 1:48 am

        “violence is the way “white people” have so ‘effectively’ and ‘efficiently’, enslaved and dominated POC. “

        The wrongs here are the enslavement and domination by those who are not fit to enslave and dominate, not the violence in itself. White people are not superior to black people, nor are Jews superior to Arabs, a fundamental truth that Zionism and White Supremacy is at war with. These folks are trying to turn 2+2 into a number other than 4, and is using violence to force their “truth” onto the world.

        In the novel 1984, the main character, Winston was inflicted great amount of violence in order to force him to accept that 2+2=5 by a state representative. Which was wrong in this case, the actual infliction of pain and suffering onto Winston, or the forcing Winston to accept 2+2=5 using violence as a tool?

        If I were to use the same form of violent torture methods in order to force a person who claim otherwise in admitting 2+2=4, would that be wrong in your opinion?

      • Mooser on July 7, 2016, 4:10 pm

        Never mind, I think “not too much longer” turned out to be “not to much longer”.
        No response necessary.

  7. Ossinev on July 5, 2016, 7:54 am

    “will tony blair will be out of a job? what a pity tsk tsk.”
    Annie Tony “Teflon” Blair actually gave up this little ego trip number last year not least because it was becoming increasingly obvious to the Palestinian leadership that he was blatantly pro-Israel and would have kissed any part of the Yahoo`s anatomy on demand.
    He has got his fingers in all sorts of sticky little financial numbers all round the world and is a wealthy man indeed. But what he really is really interested in is his self image as a “world statesman”. After he was effectively bounced out of the UK PM job he expected to waltz in to the job of President of the EU Commission but surprise surprise he was rebuffed so since then he has been licking his wounds and has been desperate to be seen to be an international player ergo the Quartet “role” and his nice little office in Jerusalem.
    The UK “Chilcot” enquiry into the Iraq war is due out today and hopefully this will bury him. He is unlikely to be prosecuted for war crimes but the revelations over WMD (none) , the cosy arrangement with Yo Blair ! Bush and his sheer incompetency in the lack of planning and resourcing which led to so many British deaths and horrendous numbers of Iraqi deaths will I hope be fully exposed. All of it as I said before was simply to indulge his vanity and his perception of himself as a major history changing world leader (not).

    To get the real flavour of this self serving p…k I recommend reading “Broken Vows” by Tom Bower

    Keep up the good work.

  8. CigarGod on July 5, 2016, 9:28 am

    Hey, I just combined an admiring, atta-boy smile with the suggestion of a cringe.

  9. hophmi on July 5, 2016, 10:07 am

    I just love it when people comfortably ensconced in wealthy NY suburbs write things like this. It’s like orthodox leftist patricianism.

    • Mooser on July 5, 2016, 1:42 pm

      “I just love it when people comfortably ensconced in wealthy NY suburbs write things like this.”

      Well, “Hophmi” you should have seen this coming. Zionism doesn’t pay what it used to, and you’re struggling. Need a loan?

      “It’s like orthodox leftist patricianism”

      Is that what it’s “like”? So you won’t be satisfied until Jews go to Israel and play an active part in destroying Zionism?

  10. housedoc on July 5, 2016, 11:28 am

    Phil’s article led me back to something written in 1843. Here’s an excerpt from an abstract of that article.

    “The weapon of criticism cannot, of course, replace criticism by weapons, material force must be overthrown by material force; but theory also becomes a material force as soon as it has gripped the masses. Theory is capable of gripping the masses as soon as it demonstrates ad hominem, and it demonstrates ad hominem as soon as it becomes radical. To be radical is to grasp the root of the matter. But for man the root is man himself. The evident proof of the radicalism of German theory, and hence of its practical energy, is that it proceeds from a resolute positive abolition of religion. The criticism of religion ends with the teaching that man is the highest being for man, hence with the categorical imperative to overthrow all relations in which man is a debased, enslaved forsaken, despicable being…..”

    Abstract from The Introduction to Karl Marx’s Contribution To The Critique Of Hegel’s Philosophy Of Right

    and a bit more

    “We must make the petrified relations dance by singing before them their own true tune.”

  11. genesto on July 5, 2016, 12:10 pm

    The ANC in South Africa, the 1960’s civil rights movement int he US, and even Ghandi’s so-called non violent movement to secure freedom from colonial England, relied on violence to some extent for their success.

  12. Pixel on July 5, 2016, 12:59 pm

    Well, they’re heroes to me.

    (Great piece, Phil.)

    • WH on July 5, 2016, 5:59 pm

      I’m OK with attacks on soldiers, but some civilians have also been injured or killed. Nothing heroic about that.

      • Mooser on July 5, 2016, 10:04 pm

        “Nothing heroic about that.”

        About being an illegal settler in co-operation with the occupying power and army? Nope, nothing herioc about that, and nothing “civilian” about it either. Nothing unarmed about it, and every “price tag” attack is carried out by “civilians”

  13. brent on July 5, 2016, 1:26 pm

    “Humans effect historical changes through violence. ”

    Unfortunately, it’s usually negative change. Thank god the Black Power Movement didn’t employ violence… that would have created one hell of a mess, perhaps like what we see in Palestine. Violence, if used, has to be calculated, not random and seen as heinous.

    Political success is possible when tactics are framed in a way few disagree.

    I reason, “The ongoing taking of territory compromises the integrity of the negotiating process”, should have been language considered by the Democratic Platform Committee.

    “Equality or Independence for Palestinians”, one state or two is a campaign that can affect positive change.

    Violence against people who see themselves as exceptional and chosen, while being unfairly treated… Americans and Israelis…. is unlikely to produce more good than bad.

  14. MHughes976 on July 5, 2016, 1:35 pm

    The Palestinians are not bound by any social contract with the Israelis and so have no absolute duty to respect the sovereign power which the Israelis exercise and the conquest which they are steadily putting into effect. However, revolutionary violence to shorten the birth pangs of the new order has sometimes, like the sleep of reason, assisted at the birth of monsters.

    • Mooser on July 5, 2016, 1:45 pm

      ” However, revolutionary violence to shorten the birth pangs of the new order has sometimes, like the sleep of reason, assisted at the birth of monsters.”

      Wake me when I need to worry about Palestinian nuclear weapons.
      And I can tell you right now that every Zionist who leaves Palestine will say they were chased out by a monster.

  15. wondering jew on July 6, 2016, 4:52 pm

    here’s my prediction. Netanyahu will survive the revolt of the generals and he will run in the next israeli elections and win.

    Palestinian violence of varying levels and sorts has existed since 1921 and certainly since 1936, so this statement that without Palestinian violence the current crisis wouldn’t be occurring really says next to nothing other than an opportunity to wax wise about the role violence plays in political change.

    This is netanyahu’s habit: forcing powerful personalities out of the Likud. Both Bennett and Lieberman began their careers as allies of Bibi and they were not sufficiently servile, so they had to go. They achieved their own power bases outside of Likud and now Bibi makes coalitions with them.

    (If the generals have influence over judges and prosecutors, there is a possibility that scandal will bring Bibi down. if judges and prosecutors are truly independent then there is also a possibility that scandal will bring Bibi down. But meanwhile the far right parties did not get stronger in the last elections, and there is nothing to indicate any short term vision of Bennett or Lieberman being the next prime minister of Israel.)

  16. klm90046 on July 9, 2016, 3:33 pm


    Over just the last few months moderators at MW have shot down several of my comments, presumably because they were too critical of certain Jews, or “explained” the causes of Palestinian violence, or for other reasons I cannot fathom.

    Yet Philip Weiss here breaks several of his own rules on Comments, and gets away with blue murder. He happily quotes Yair Golan juxtaposing Israel and Nazi Germany, something that is taboo for commenters; he refers to Israeli leaders with appellations worse than cuss words; he uses language and tropes that any “reasonable Zionist” would consider anti-Semitic, whatever that means. For all practical purposes, he upholds Palestinian violence–something he won’t let commenters do. Where are the moderators, now? I realize Weiss owns the website. So?

    Why this injustice? Palestine is gradually but inexorably moving toward the Final Solution. I hope it will be less violent than the previous one. But it does need to be dwelt on, to be tracked and, at a certain stage, it will inevitably be cherished and admired even by the bigots of today. Everybody loves a winner.

    So let your hair down, and let strident comments also find a place in your otherwise excellent publication.

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