Analysis News

Israeli leaders' obscene reaction to the Brussels murders

Netanyahu, Bennett and Liberman used the most horrible sort of anti-Jewish attack as a shield against criticism of their anti-Palestinian policies.

Right-wing Israeli leaders get away with such shameless political exploitation of Jewish tragedies, and no one calls them on it. Their use of the Holocaust is of course an old story; the new one is the way they’ve capitalized on the murders of four people, including a Tel Aviv couple, at the Jewish Museum in Brussels on Saturday.

Prime Minister Netanyahu said the killings were caused by “ceaseless incitement against Jews and their state. On European soil, tales and falsehoods against the State of Israel continue to be heard …”

Far-right religious party leader Naftali Bennett made roughly the same point on his Facebook page: “In this generation anti-Semitism has disguised itself as anti-Israel or anti-Zionist. Why are there people who hate the Jews? That is just the way it is. Why are there people who hate Israel? That is just the way it is.”

Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman singled out the BDS movement for blame. “It’s the result on the ground of anti-Israel and anti-Semitic incitement, among other things in calls to boycott Israel and Israeli products, in anti-Israel activities in international forums and in an automatic, one-sided anti-Israel position.”

Every decent, intelligent person can see what this is: Israel’s leaders are using the most horrible sort of anti-Jewish attack as a shield against criticism of their anti-Palestinian policies. And every decent person has to be appalled by this. Yet you won’t hear any criticism of Netanyahu, Liberman or Bennett from mainstream Jews and certainly not from European gentiles. They’re intimidated, they’re being emotionally blackmailed – the Jews by their fear of being accused of Jewish self-hatred, or treason, or collaboration, or whatever; the gentiles by their fear of being called anti-Semites.

So Israel’s right-wing leaders get away with this, and with everybody else remaining silent, their views are considered the “official” Jewish position, and maybe even the accepted “truth” of the Brussels murders.

This is depressing. As with so much having to do with contemporary Israel, it brings to mind the line from Yeats’ “The Second Coming”: “The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity.”

The murders in Brussels were most likely committed by a Toulouse-style jihadist or a Kansas City-style neo-Nazi – and neither of those two lethal...

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After Kerry, only BDS may save the two-state solution

Not even Ben-Gurion would be able to rally the political support necessary to displace masses of settlers as long as there is no price to be paid for the occupation. So how much longer can liberal Zionists sit and watch the status quo remain static? If instead of trying to persuade Israel to change, two-state supporters started holding it responsible for refusing to change, it could have a jarring psychological impact on the country and its leaders.

Secretary of State John Kerry waves goodbye. (File photo by State Dept.)

Secretary of State John Kerry waves goodbye. (File photo by State Dept.)

Now that the Kerry peace talks have failed and everyone has given up hoping that Netanyahu will change, what’s the new plan for ending the occupation one day? For liberal Zionists – people who want Israel to become a Jewish state that respects Arabs – it would seem to focus on Isaac Herzog, head of the Labor Party. Unlike fellow centrist party leaders Tzipi Livni and Yair Lapid, Herzog hasn’t been in a position of leadership long enough yet to fail or sell out, so he’s the one. The hope is that he can get elected in the coming years to head a coalition government of the center, left, maybe an ultra-Orthodox party, maybe even an Arab party for once, and do what prime ministers going back to Yitzhak Rabin 20 years ago tried but were unable to do – reach a peace deal with the Palestinians.

Putting their hopes on Herzog is a natural progression for liberal Zionists. After all, they can’t just throw in the towel and resign themselves to the occupation being permanent; it’s unthinkable, psychologically insupportable. Besides, who can tell the future? Herzog seems solid; he’s very smart, competent, likable, the son of a beloved army general and president – a consensus-type figure. And now that the Kerry initiative has failed, and even the timid Obama administration is blaming the Netanyahu government for it while exonerating the Palestinians (off the record), clearly the thing to do is replace the Netanyahu government. Then there will be a fighting chance for peace again (unless of course the Republicans get elected).

Here is my heartfelt, urgent advice: forget it. It’s a waste of time. Electoral politics in either Israel or America, as far as it...

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Left Jabs: Getting ready for Independence Day, and more

Short, polarizing comments about the news.

Jerusalem Day (Activestills)

Jerusalem Day (Activestills)

————-

Celebrate Israel 

Former heads of Shin Bet and Mossad say Israel could, without question, stop the runaway settler attacks on Palestinians if it wanted to, it just doesn’t want to.  

On Tuesday, why shouldn’t we celebrate Israeli Independence Day? This is a great country if you’re Jewish.

—————

The king’s speech 

Bibi: ‘Iran openly declares its intention to destroy the State of Israel … there will never be another Holocaust.’

Watching Netanyahu’s Yom HaShoah speech, the way he turns Iran into today’s Nazi Germany, making people believe that the Holocaust is still at the doorstep, the way he scares the shit out of them – but then delivers salvation at the end: Israeli military might! In his strong, sure hands! – I just have to marvel. The standard definition of demagogue is someone who can scare the public with invented or greatly inflated dangers being posed by some “them,” then convince the public that he alone can protect it from the them. By that standard definition, Bibi is the greatest, most effective demagogue I’ve ever seen. If anybody can think of a greater one, at least one that’s living, let me know.

Turning your opponent’s weapon against him

Abbas: ‘The Holocaust is the greatest crime against humanity in the modern era.’

Good for Mahmoud Abbas. The Palestinians, the Muslims in general, have been beaten over the head with the Holocaust by Netanyahu and other Islamophobes for so long, so now Abbas uses the Holocaust in self-defense. Nice move. If the Muslim-haters can use the Holocaust as a club, Abbas can use it as a judo hold.

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Killer endorsement   

Jewish Home leader Naftali (“I’ve killed lots of Arabs and there’s no problem with it”) Bennett says he would have acted exactly the same as “David from Nahal,” the Israeli soldier caught on video cocking his rifle at a Palestinian teenager standing toe-to-toe with him in Hebron.

Oh, Naftoush, don’t be so modest – you would have done better than David from Nahal, you would have killed the Palestinian and bragged about it in the cabinet.

—————-

A day in the life 

‘Gazan Ark’ protest boat blows up in Gaza port; Israel mum

Does anybody seriously think...

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U.S. post-mortem on peace talks: Israel killed them

Americans involved in Kerry initiative give interview indicting Netanyahu government and exonerating Palestinian leader Abbas.

Yedioth Ahronoth’s Nahum Barnea, Israel’s No. 1 print journalist, has a long interview on Friday with unnamed U.S. officials involved in the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, giving their view of why they failed. The interview is quite a bombshell, as well as a historic document. (Hours after this post went online, Yediot translated the interview and put it up on its English-language website.) 

The quote from the Americans that’s likely to make the most news is this:

Afterward Barnea suggested that the interviewees seemed to be wishing for an intifada, and they responded, “The opposite is the truth. It would be a tragedy.” The point they make is that unfortunately, recent history shows that Israeli-Arab peace only happens after war makes it urgent.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem. (State Dept. Photo)

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem. (State Dept. Photo)

But the real importance of the American officials’ reading of the Kerry peace talks, which Barnea describes as being “as close as can be to an official U.S. position,” is that they place virtually all of the blame for the failure on the Israeli side. They especially blame the announcements of a combined 14,000 new settlement housing tenders, adding that they just learned about a massive expropriation of West Bank land for settlement construction, which sounds like a reference to a recent Haaretz report. “This doesn’t go together with an agreement,” the officials say.

Settlement as sabotage

They say they wanted the talks to start last July with a settlement freeze, but dropped the idea after becoming convinced that Netanyahu’s right-wing coalition partners wouldn’t go along with it. Now they realize their mistake:

Imbalance of power

But beyond the settlement expansion, the Americans said the power of Israel’s position and arrogance toward the Palestinians made Israel virtually immovable (except Tzipi Livni, who is singled out among the Israelis as a “heroine”), while it made the Palestinian side extremely frustrated.

Abu Mazen’s bitter experience

Israeli actions over the last 20 years – from the Oslo Accords through the Kerry talks – left Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) deeply pessimistic, especially about Netanyahu’s intentions, but...

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Abbas just shot the Palestinian cause in the foot

He needs the world to win independence for his nation, and in the eyes of the world, Hamas, with whom he just joined forces, is anathema.

I’m truly hoping that there’s some deep strategic genius on Mahmoud Abbas’ part that I’m missing here, because I keep turning it around and I can’t escape the impression that he has shot the cause of Palestinian independence in the foot by signing a reconciliation agreement with Hamas. And just when the Palestinians seemed ready to go on the march.

The world, including even Washington, blames Israel for the failure of the Kerry peace talks, which means that after their allotted time runs out on April 29, Abbas can go to the UN and turn the world more and more strongly against the occupation, which would set off a chain reaction of international sanctions and boycotts – everybody sees this, everybody is warning Israel about it. But now Abbas has gone and joined forces with Hamas, which has a terrible image in the world – one that’s entirely deserved. If Hamas were to recognize Israel and endorse the two-state solution and agree to land swaps on the West Bank and to compromise on the right of return, as Abbas and the Palestinian Authority have done, then Abbas would have co-opted Hamas in Wednesday’s unity deal, he would have dragged it into moderation, he would have achieved a great coup and would deserve the Nobel Peace Prize.

But does anyone believe that that’s what Hamas is going to do – in other words commit political and, in their eyes, moral, suicide? No, Hamas is going to remain more or less Hamas, a militant Islamist outfit with violently anti-Semitic language in its charter. In terms of winning international support for a Palestinian state alongside Israel, which remains Abbas’ goal, Hamas is an albatross on his back. It’s not just the U.S. which demands that Hamas change its spots as the price of recognition, it’s also the European Union, the United Nations and Russia – the rest of the Mideast Quartet – which Abbas obviously needs in his corner. He had them, too, until Wednesday afternoon when the deal with Hamas was struck – but now?

Netanyahu and Abbas in Washington, September 15, 2010 (State Dept. Photo)

Netanyahu and Abbas in Washington, September 15, 2010...

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Weekly Notebook: On 'the Jews,' ‘price tag,’ Colbert and more

New feature: A selection of Larry Derfner’s sociopolitical outbursts on Facebook for the week ending Saturday, April 12.

Illustrative photo by Shutterstock.com

Illustrative photo by Shutterstock.com

THE GREAT COLBERT
As he moves into the mainstream of the mainstream (taking over the David Letterman show), a reminder of Stephen Colbert’s unforgettable roast of George W. Bush (and the press) at the 2006 White House Correspondents Dinner (FB status, April 12):

This is to the Bush years what Edward R. Murrow’s famous TV takedown was to the McCarthy era. In 2006 it was finally sinking in on America that Bush and his wars were a disaster, and that the press had been rolling over for it. Colbert stands up there 10 feet from Bush and just skewers him in that fake-O’Reilly character of his. “I believe that the government that governs best is the one that governs least, and by that standard we have set up a fabulous government in Iraq.”

And he also shat all over the White House correspondents. “Let’s review the rules. The president makes the decisions – he’s the decider. The press secretary announces those decisions. And you people in the press type those decisions down.” Twenty-four minutes of this, and it ends with a filmed indictment of the Iraq war. There was palpable tension in the room, and Colbert naturally got a lot of very bad reviews from the press. This is a historic document, one of the greatest works of political art ever.


 

PALESTINIANS – YA CAN’T LIVE WITH ‘EM, YA CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT ‘EM
Bibi’s dilemma: How to punish Abbas for his disobedience? (FB status, April 12):

Even Roni Daniel, Channel 2′s superhawk war correspondent, said it’s a bad idea for the government to go through with its decision to withhold the $100-million monthly revenue transfer to the Palestinian Authority. (The money belongs to the PA; it’s customs fees Israel collects from Palestinians returning to the West Bank, because Israel, like a good occupying power, doesn’t allow the Palestinians to control the border crossings into their own territory.) Daniel’s point was that the PA needs the money to pay the troops that police the West Bank cities, villages and refugee camps to keep Israel safe, and if they don’t...

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Headlines say ‘Kerry blames Israel’ – who would have dreamt it?

If the road to the UN was open to the Palestinians before, now there may as well be a red carpet on it.

It goes without saying that Kerry’s blaming of Israel for the blow-up in the peace talks is a great thing, a bigger win for the fight against the occupation than anyone could have expected to come out of this process. From the time about a year ago that these negotiations were a twinkle in Kerry’s eye, the name of the game for Israel and the Palestinians was to avoid being held responsible for their inevitable failure. The best anyone had a right to hope for was that the Americans would blame Israel off the record, but on Tuesday Kerry did it on TV in front of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee!

They must be delirious in the Muqata, the Palestinian Authority’s headquarters in Ramallah. If the road to the UN was open to them before, now there’s almost a red carpet on it. This may or may not be the start of the endgame for Palestinian independence, and even if it is, it’s going to take years and be terribly painful for them, but whatever happens in the next stage of the conflict, the Palestinians start it with the wind clearly at their back.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas speaks to some of his aides before the start of a meeting with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, January 4, 2013. (State Dept. photo)

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas speaks to some of his aides before the start of a meeting with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, January 4, 2013. (State Dept. photo)

The funny thing is that Kerry didn’t consciously intend to blame Israel. He’d have to be crazy or stupid to do such a thing in a setting like that, and he’s neither. What he said was this:

The U.S. is now trying to assure Israel that Kerry wasn’t playing the “blame game,” he was just giving a “factual account” of the events. But here’s the thing – when you give a factual account of events that begins with one side’s violation of the agreement (Israel’s refusal to release 26 prisoners as promised), followed by that same side’s provocation (the announcement of the new settlement units), followed...

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Weekly Notebook: On Bibi's lies, BDS, reality shows, and more

New feature: A selection of Larry Derfner’s sociopolitical outbursts on Facebook (and one email) for the week ending Saturday, April 5. 

Illustrative photo by Shutterstock.com

Illustrative photo by Shutterstock.com

 

WHAT HAVE THEY DONE FOR US LATELY?
FB reaction to commenter who asks, “What have the Palestinians done to advance peace recently?” (Sunday, March 30):

Close, daily security cooperation with the IDF and Shin Bet for 10 full years. They’ve arrested thousands of Hamasniks. It’s a key reason why terror is so low, and the only reason why you don’t see massive anti-Israeli demonstrations. Palestinian forces are policing the Palestinian population areas – the cities, the villages, the refugee camps – not the IDF. As Dov Weisglas once said, the West Bank is the world’s only prison where the prisoners guard themselves.

This is why Israel does not want the PA to fold, why it dreads the prospect of it, and why Abbas keeps threatening it. When I say “Israel” I mean the army and the government – the Israeli public has no responsibility, it doesn’t need to keep this information in mind, so it doesn’t, which allows people to ask “what have the Palestinians done to advance peace recently?”


 

EXPOSING DERSHOWITZ:
On his Haaretz op-ed, “J Street’s hypocrisy must be exposed.” (FB, Friday, March 28):

Alan Dershowitz goes after J Street as being dangerously left-wing, calls the Goldstone Report “mendacious and despicable” (he called its author an “evil, evil man”) while describing himself for the zillionth time as a supporter of the two-state solution. Dershowitz is the ultimate new Zionist “centrist” – a bloodthirsty warmonger who cheers home every Israeli bullet aimed at any Arab, but says with a smile that he wants peace. He’s reminiscent of Nixon at his most lethal. This is the sort of person who gets raised up as a Zionist hero for our time.


 

ISRAELIS ABROAD:
On Haaretz op-ed “Why Israelis make the worst tourists,”  about how South American Jews are tired of apologizing for the often offensive, destructive behavior of ubiquitous Israeli backpackers. (FB, Monday, March 31):

This is written by an “active member of the Jewish community” in Santiago, Chile. She’s describing Israeli post-army trekkers – but it holds true for the pre-army trekkers, too, who may...


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A hard choice faces the Palestinians

Politically, this is a moment of opportunity, but it carries a painful human price.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry meets with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Amman, Jordan, June 29, 2013. (Photo by State Dept.)

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry meets with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Amman, Jordan, June 29, 2013. (Photo by State Dept.)

The Palestinians have “won” the Kerry peace initiative: the Obama administration is blaming both sides for its likely failure, not just the Palestinian side, which is the most they could have expected. The New York Times editorial goes one better: it points the finger pretty squarely at Netanyahu, which is radical for a Times editorial. So the Palestinians, having the clear sympathy of Europe and the rest of the world as the aggrieved party, can go to the UN after the talks run out on April 29 and be able to say: “We are seeking our independence here because Israel refused to give it to us.”

At the same time, the BDS movement will almost certainly expand further into the mainstream – including among Jewish liberals. The Netanyahu government has shown itself on a very brightly lit stage to be the Palestinians’ rigid, punitive, mean overlord; it’s screwed itself in international opinion, which was always lousy, but now I think is going to be horrendous.

So the Palestinians and their supporters – whose success is Israel’s success, regardless of their intentions – have a great opportunity. Politically, now is the time for the UN, for The Hague, for BDS, for unarmed “popular resistance.” Politically it’s the only option because if the Palestinians continue playing by America’s rules, they will never be free. From a purely selfish point of view, I hope they go for it.

Read +972′s full coverage of the peace process

But if they do, they’re going to pay a high price in day-to-day suffering. Israel will crack down on them and make their lives even harsher in any number of ways. And America, as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power told Congress on Wednesday, will do everything it can to block their advance in the UN. Congress will certainly cut off hundreds of millions of dollars in foreign aid. Maybe Europe, the UN and the Muslim states will...

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Israel is reneging on its promise to release Palestinian prisoners

That’s the long and short of this latest ‘crisis’ in the peace talks.

This couldn’t be more black-and white, more writ in bold, if Israel set off fireworks in the night sky that spelled out: “WE LIED.” Netanyahu and his government – including, very forthrightly, house “peacenik” Tzipi Livni – are reneging on their promise to free 26 Palestinian and Israeli Arab prisoners on Friday.

The numbers, the names, the date of release were all agreed on between Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Abbas and overseen by Secretary of State Kerry when the current peace talks, such as they are, began last July. The Israeli cabinet approved the prisoner agreement on July 28 by a vote of 13 to 7 with two abstentions. But now Netanyahu and Co. are  saying they won’t free the prisoners – all in jail on murder charges since before the 1993 Oslo Accord – unless Abbas agrees to go on with the talks beyond their April 29 time limit, and to again set aside his plans to pursue statehood via international avenues such as The Hague.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas delivers a speech to released Palestinian prisoners, at his headquarters in the West Bank city of Ramallah, August 14. (Activestills.org)

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas delivers a speech to released Palestinian prisoners, at his headquarters in the West Bank city of Ramallah, August 14. (Activestills.org)

“[T]he keys to the prison doors are in the hands of Abu Mazen and the decisions he will take in the coming days,” Livni warned last week. Israel’s co-negotiator at the peace talks insisted that the government never made an “automatic commitment to release prisoners unrelated to making progress in negotiations.”

She’s lying. There are no conditions, no caveats in the deal. Abbas did not agree to make what Israel would consider “progress” in return for the prisoners’ release; he simply agreed not to go to the UN or make any other unilateral moves for the nine-month duration of the talks, and in return Israel agreed to release the 104 prisoners in four groups at the appointed times. (Israel freed the first 78 prisoners as promised; the 26 who were slated to be released Friday are the last on the list.)

It’s comic how ministers in the government are trying to weasel their way out of...

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Israel’s ‘war between wars’ backfires

A self-fulfilling prophecy is playing out in the north.

After nearly eight years of quiet, Israel’s northern border got stormy over the past week. The culmination of the tit-for-tat violence was a bomb placed on the border with Syria that wounded four Israeli soldiers, one seriously, which was followed by an Israeli air strike on a Syrian military base that killed a soldier and wounded others. Amos Harel, Haaretz’s military affairs correspondent, wrote the following:

The fear is that the escalation will continue, whether by design or miscalculation, and Israel will end up with soldiers fighting in Lebanon and Syria while rockets are falling on its civilians.

And what set off this first serious, sustained clash between Israel and its enemies to the north in nearly eight years? Everyone agrees: Israel’s lethal February 25 attack on a convoy carrying advanced weapons from Syria to Hezbollah. Not only the relatively dovish Harel, but Yedioth Ahronoth’s hawkish military affairs commentator Alex Fishman acknowledges that:

That Israeli air strike followed at least six others last year, some of them fatal, on sophisticated weapons in Syria that were evidently meant for Hezbollah. There were no retaliations after any of those attacks, so Israel kept going until Syria and Hezbollah finally hit back this past week, and now everyone’s worried.

But nobody here is suggesting that Israel shouldn’t have attacked those weapons sites and killed those Syrians and Hezbollah members in the first place. Nobody here is saying Israel brought this on itself, that it provoked the new fighting by dropping bombs on other people’s countries and killing other people’s soldiers when those countries weren’t attacking Israel. And nobody here is saying, God forbid, that the blood of those four wounded Israeli soldiers is ultimately on Israel’s hands.

People in this country don’t say that sort of thing anymore. They did once, during the Lebanon War in the early 80s, and during the First Intifada in the late 80s, but no more. Now Israelis think it doesn’t matter what we do or don’t do, the Arabs are always going to try to kill us, so let’s just bash them up as much as we can to weaken them for the next round, which is inevitable. If they don’t hit us back, good for us; if they do, it was going to happen sooner or later anyway. So we have no choice...

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It's the occupation and Israeli bigotry that are anti-Semitic

What we do to the Palestinians and Israeli Arabs – in the last two days, for example – has caused more damage to the Jewish people than anything since the Holocaust.

Who knows? Maybe the Jordanian judge, Raed Zueter, killed by Israeli soldiers Monday, went mad from grief over his critically ill 5-year-old son lying in a coma, and really did attack the troops, and maybe they truly had no choice but to kill him in self-defense. Or maybe there was no such attack, maybe there was just an argument and the soldiers got a little trigger happy, not for the first time. Reportedly, there are eyewitness accounts for both versions of what happened at the Allenby (or King Hussein) Bridge border crossing from Jordan into the West Bank yesterday.

And maybe Sael Saji Darwish, the 20-year-old Palestinian killed by Israeli soldiers the same day, really was throwing rocks at passing Israeli cars near the settlement of Beit El, which was built close to Ramallah. Or maybe he was just tending his goats; again; there are contradicting accounts.

But even if the soldiers at the border crossing fired at the judge in self-defense – a possibility, but by no means a certainty – why are Israeli soldiers controlling who comes into the West Bank from Jordan? Are Palestinians controlling who comes into Israel?

The funeral of Saji Sayel Darwish, killed yesterday by the Israeli army forces, March 11, 2014. (Yotam Ronen/Activestills.org)

The funeral of Saji Sayel Darwish, killed yesterday by the Israeli army forces, March 11, 2014. (Yotam Ronen/Activestills.org)

And even if the young Darwish was throwing rocks at Israeli cars, was it necessary to kill him? And why was he throwing rocks at Israeli cars? If Palestinians had gobbled up the land around Tel Aviv, Haifa and every other Israeli city for Palestinian settlements, and if a Palestinian army and Shit Bet were controlling the lives of Israeli Jews for a half-century, would Israeli Jews throw rocks at passing Palestinian cars?

Today, Tuesday, the Knesset enacted a new law sponsored by Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman and whose overriding purpose is to keep Israeli Arabs, who are 20 percent of the population, out of the Knesset.

We usurp Palestinian land, we rule their lives at gunpoint, we...

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Good news: Obama gives the Palestinians an insurance policy

The president’s high-profile interview with Jeffrey Goldberg will make it extremely hard for the administration to blame the Palestinians for the expected failure of Kerry’s peace initiative.  

U.S. President Barack Obama (Center for American Progress/CC)

U.S. President Barack Obama (Center for American Progress/CC)

Obama’s interview with the Bloomberg news agency on Sunday, in which he basically blamed Netanyahu and exonerated Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas for the intractability of the occupation, is a very important event, and very good news. With Netanyahu and Abbas jockeying to avoid the blame for the likely impending failure of Secretary of State John Kerry’s peace initiative, the Obama interview with Jeffrey Goldberg will make it very hard for the administration to do Israel’s bidding, as is its habit, by pointing the finger at the Palestinians if and when the talks, whose allotted time runs out on April 29, run aground.

At stake in the blame game is momentum: if Washington finds against the Palestinians, Abbas’ plans to take Israel to The Hague would stall, as would the “mainstreaming” of the BDS movement. If Washington finds against Israel, the effect would be the opposite. And if Washington blames neither side, then the rest of the world will be left to decide for itself, and its decision will likely be for the Palestinians. In the probable event of the talks failing, Israel’s only hope of avoiding an upsurge of world opposition – which is what Justice Minister Tzipi Livni and Finance Minister Yair Lapid, along with top Israeli business people, friendly foreign diplomats, Kerry and now Obama are trying to warn Israel against – is if Washington clears Netanyahu of responsibility and turns its wrath on Abbas.

Click here for +972 Magazine’s full coverage of the diplomatic process

But how can Washington do that after what Obama just said in that interview:

On Abbas:

I think nobody would dispute that whatever disagreements you may have with him, he has proven himself to be somebody who has been committed to nonviolence and diplomatic efforts to resolve this issue.

I believe that President Abbas is sincere about his willingness to recognize Israel and its right to exist, to recognize Israel’s legitimate security needs, to shun violence, to resolve these issues in a diplomatic fashion that meets the concerns of the people...

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+972 is an independent, blog-based web magazine. It was launched in August 2010, resulting from a merger of a number of popular English-language blogs dealing with life and politics in Israel and Palestine.

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