Appreciate this article? +972 depends on your support -- click here to help us keep going

Analysis News

Notes from Brussels: Israel, U.S. and the growing European involvement in the conflict

Attendants at a conference on the peace process in Brussels couldn’t believe their ears after what the representative of Israel’s settler party had to say.

The European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) and MP Marietje Schaake of the Netherlands hosted an event in the European Parliament in Brussels on the European Union’s role in the Israel/Palestine question. I participated in the first of two panels – below are some of my impressions from the day’s events:

This was the third discussion of this sort that I took part in within just three weeks. In that sense, I think that 2013 was indeed a transformative year, with Europe becoming, for the first time, a major stakeholder in the political debate, and not just the bankroller for whatever idea the U.S. promotes.

This understanding, which is shared by all parties, is a result of the publication of the guidelines regarding EU projects in Israel, the intention to label settlement products and the decision by private companies or corporations to reconsider investments in Israeli firms which are located or invested in the West Bank. And while the official line you often hear from the EU is that these are only bureaucratic procedures – a long overdue implementation of its own laws and regulations – one could also detect a certain satisfaction in Brussels from the ability to gain the respect of other players, not to mention winning Israel’s attention for the first time.

Although some of the European measures have been put on hold until the fate of the diplomatic process becomes clear, I do not think Brussels is going to let go, especially since European involvement is very different in its nature from the American kind. While the Israel/Palestine policy in the U.S. is defined and executed mostly by the political echelon – and is therefore prone to constant changes – the EU’s involvement has a lot to do with the bureaucracy, and thus tends to be more consistent. Bureaucrats have a legal framework to work with in the form of EU laws, regulations and trade agreements; and using them as a normative power (one that has the ability to enforce standards and norms on its member states and entities with which it has formal relations) is pretty much in line with what Europe always does. Again, this is very different from the U.S., where it is all about politics and diplomacy.

Last summer I was skeptical about Europe’s ability to influence the political dynamic in Israel, but I am less so today. The EU cannot and does not want to replace the U.S. as a mediator, but through its own normative power it is able to dramatically change the dynamic on the ground. As Daniel Levi from the European Council on Foreign Relations put it during one of the panels, the EU could become the “accidental game changer.”

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton with PM Benjamin Netanyahu (Photo: GPO/Avi Ohayun)

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton with PM Benjamin Netanyahu (Photo: GPO/Avi Ohayun)

A couple of speakers drew special attention during the event. The first one was Uri Bank, Secretary-General of the national-religious Jewish Home political party, who made the most hardline remarks I heard from any Israeli politician in such a forum, even settlers.

Bank opened by saying that he represents the Israeli mainstream, then went on to openly rejecting the two-state solution. He explained that there is a consensus in the Israeli right regarding the need to annex Area C of the West Bank (under Israeli civil and military control), and the debate is between those advocating the annexation of Areas A (under full control by the Palestinian Authority) and B (under Israeli military control, but where the PA is in charge of civil matters), to those who believe in full annexation. The latter camp is the right-wing’s version of the one-state solution while the former – Bank included – think that Palestinians should be allowed to vote to the Jordanian Parliament yet remain under Israeli control (Bank is active in the Israeli Initiative, which advocates this radical version of the “Jordanian option”). I later probed Bank on his ideas, and he admitted that Palestinians will have fewer rights than Israelis in the unified territory.

Bank also called for the EU to stop financing UNRWA (the UN agency in charge of Palestinian refugees) as well as for the organization’s dismantling, stating that Israel is singled out by the world and is treated with “double standards.” He denied the existence of the occupation, citing the Israeli reading of international law, according to which the West Bank was “unclaimed territory.” Regarding the aforementioned EU measures, he mentioned that 24,000 Palestinians work in Israeli factories or settlements in the West Bank, and that “they will be the first to be hurt.”

Bank’s ideas were so far out there that they became the center of the debate (which was supposed to be about the EU’s role in the diplomatic process). Several people explained that his line of thinking necessitates a total reinterpretation of the essence of international law, not to mention the rights of minorities, definitions of citizenship, etc. Not only did the European officials present disagree with him, they believed that accepting his view would mean giving up on the current platform for analyzing international relations.

I found the response by Leila Shahid, the Palestinian Ambassador to the EU, Belgium and Luxembourg, to be the most perceptive. Shahid called Bank’s remarks “a combination of naivety and chutzpa,” capturing something very profound about Israeli society today. There is a kind of cocooning which has taken over this country, especially its right-wing elite. This is what allows such bizarre ideas to flourish; as if people can live in one country, yet have their elected officials live in a different one, without the ability to influence the lives of their constituency. The Israeli government’s arrogance is not the only problem here; it is indeed incredibly naïve to believe that this kind of thinking could actually work, or that it would not bring about a disaster on Israelis themselves.

***

Another interesting appearance was by Robert Wexler, the President of the S. Daniel Abraham Center for Middle East Peace and a former seven-term Democratic member of the U.S. House of Representatives. He also served as an advisor on Middle East and Israel issues to President Barack Obama during his 2008 presidential campaign.

Wexler went straight to the heart of the Kerry peace process, explaining the American position on two core issues: the settlements and the recognition of Israel as a Jewish state. Regarding the latter, he explained that “Netanyahu made it into the fifth core issue of the conflict, next to refugees, Jerusalem, security and borders… The U.S. actually views the Jewish state demand as his most modest request, and not as a new concept.”

He criticized the Europeans for their measures against all the settlements, claiming that they should be divided into two categories: settlements that prevent the two state-solution and settlements that do not (adding that the latter should not even be referred to as settlements). Wexler specifically mentioned the Jewish neighborhoods of East Jerusalem (and possibly beyond – this part wasn’t clear), which “Israelis see as suburbs of Jerusalem.”

Treating the two groups of settlements equally, Wexler said, will only prolong “what you refer to as occupation.” Finally, he stated that he “simply cannot understand” how measures against settlements are even debated “while Netanyahu agrees to talk to the Palestinians.”

I had heard that Wexler was fairly informed on the Kerry process, and his appearance at the event only strengthened that notion. With that in mind, he confirmed the suspicion that the Americans are moving away from the Clinton parameters and in the Israeli direction – by doing so, they are rewarding Israeli governments for their insistence on creating “facts on the ground.”

Wexler insisted on the urgent need to reach a two-state solution. However, there was something in his appearance that reminded me of Bank, who completely rejected the two-state solution. In their own way, each of them sees the solution to the Palestinian problem–I don’t write “occupation,” since both rejected the term–as something that needs to be determined by the Israeli consensus, while ignoring the will of Palestinians or international law.

Wexler’s remarks made me even more pessimistic regarding the Kerry process. He praised American involvement, claiming that President Obama was the only leader in the world (!) that has invested political capital in this issue. However, I also heard from several Europeans that his remarks actually demonstrated America’ shortcomings vis-a-vis the issue, and the inherent problem of having Washington serve as an neutral negotiator.

There was also something in the tone of his language – and the complete indifference to the internal Palestinian dynamic – which made me realize, once more, that America’s bias toward Jerusalem and against the Palestinians is not only due to the influence of the pro-Israel lobby or the role of Jewish elites. It is almost inherent to the general American culture and consensus. But this is something for a separate post.

Related:
How EU money enables the occupation
When reality becomes hate speech: President of EU Parliament visits Israel
EU policy on Israel: ‘More-for-more’ or carrots and sticks?

For additional original analysis and breaking news, visit +972 Magazine's Facebook page or follow us on Twitter. Our newsletter features a comprehensive round-up of the week's events. Sign up here.

View article: AAA
Share article
Print article
  • COMMENTS

    1. BaladiAkka 1948

      Robert Wexler is a Zionist Jew. Just as choosing Martin Indyk as the US special envoy, doesn’t that tell us all there is to know about the US as an honest broker….

      Reply to Comment
      • george smiley

        Powerful arbiters sharing ethnic or ideological sympathies with one party in the dispute? What could go wrong?

        Reply to Comment
    2. It’s high time for some European politician to stand up on his legs and say, clearly, loudly, and publicly — for attribution — that: [1] all the territories occupied by Israel in 1967 (and still occupied) [yes, those OTs] are, in contemplation of law, “belligerent occupied territory”; [2] all the settlements (building projects) in these OTs are illegal at international law and should be dismantled (per UNSC 465/1980; and [3] all Israeli citizens settlers residing in these OTs do so illegally at international law and should be removed by Israel, whose duty it was to protect the “protected persons” living in the OTs rather than to oppress them.

      This statement would embody three very imortant ideas: [1] the law is clear on the meaning of “occupied territory”; [2] the consequences of the law — even if ignored for 46 years, is also clear; and [3] it is possible for a decent person to stand up and say so without being thought mad, antisemitic, or cockeyed.

      Reply to Comment
      • george smiley

        You just wait til Ginger gets back. He’s the master of (a) (b) (c) or even 1. 2. 3. arguments. He’ll run rings around you in a clash of bulleted sub-clauses.

        Reply to Comment
    3. Philos

      It will be interesting to see what happens after the European Parliamentary elections in May this year when the hard-right in nearly every European country (except Germany) is expected to win big. It will be also for an EU parliament with real powers so we will see if they can change policy. Indeed, for Israel’s right, the elections in May could yet be their salvation when it will be packed with xenophobes, Islamophobes, Roma haters, fascists and not-so-secret anti-Semites.

      Reply to Comment
      • Philos — very interesting comment. Hard-right advancing in USa too. Here, however, pro-Israelism seems rather permanent. Scary what you report about EU.

        Reply to Comment
      • I asked some people this exact question, and got mixed responses. A lot depends on the identity of the person that will replace Ashton.

        Reply to Comment
      • shachalnur

        Can’t see EU playing a big role,since it’s the EU itself under attack by these “hard-right” parties.

        UKIP in GB is expected to win the upcoming elections,and they are anti-Europe,anti-immigration,anti-carbon tax,and anti-London Bankers.

        No nutcases.

        Keeping the EU together will be difficult enough,and the EU is in no shape to deal with the Ukraine, or the Middle East, because of internal unrest in economically collapsing countries in the south(PIIGS).

        They will ultimately boycott Israeli goods,in line with orders from higher up.

        Reply to Comment
    4. Bar

      Of course, Noam, you did nothing to dispel the notion that Banks is a mainstream speaker. And, of course, despite the last election results (which you folks called wrong) that prove that Banks isn’t mainstream and despite the fact that all the polls of Israelis that show that Banks isn’t mainstream, SOMEHOW he became the talk of the session.

      Very good. After all, if you can’t convince Israelis to side with your skewed view on the conflict, then maybe you can get the Europeans to believe you and act to further your goals (have you ever considered how unethical this is?).

      Let’s not even begin to go to that ugly place where we talk about Europeans and Jewish history in Europe, including in the lifetimes of our grandparents and parents. The Europeans should really stay out of this.

      Your position is detrimental to peace because as long as the Palestinians don’t have a motive and incentive to compromise, they will not.

      If you are counting on the Europeans to place sufficient pressure on Israel that somehow something magical will happen and Israel will do something to change the status quo, you should try to think a few steps ahead. We know that Israel isn’t leaving the Jewish neighborhoods in eastern Jerusalem and certainly not the Old City. It will go to war before it even considers doing something of this sort. At the very least, no government will survive such a decision since it is the raison d’etre of ZIONism.

      This doesn’t leave Israel a way out of these new European demands which are in breach of UNSCR 242 and 338 and consider Jordanian Jerusalem of 19 years to be Palestine. If Israel doesn’t have a way out, then it has to choose other options. Annexation of Area C? War? Alignment with Asian economies? Unilateral withdrawal up to the fence which will almost certainly lead to future wars like in Gaza?

      Who knows? You will do everything in your power to ignore the elephant in the room: Palestinian desire to take over all of Israel.

      Reply to Comment
      • “Israel isn’t leaving the Jewish neighborhoods in eastern Jerusalem and certainly not the Old City. It will go to war before it even considers doing something of this sort. At the very least, no government will survive such a decision since it is the raison d’etre of ZIONism.”

        The ingathering of the exhiles is distinct from total control of Jerusalem, which is not to say that at the moment majoritarian Zionism is as you define.

        The idea that Noam can control discussion in European panels is a bit much, although we all commonly attribute more power to our adversaries than they have. The interest in Bank’s position reflects the impossibility of real Two States under Israeli security sovereignty. I have come to the view that it is time to stop talking over an internally inconsistent Two States and ask rather what can really be done to evolve the social economy of the area. At least Bank admits that present residents aren’t going to go away, so seeks to make them legally vanish to retain a “Jewish and Democratic State,” a kind of social alchemy; but, then, alchemy didn’t work, and chemistry finally came.

        Reply to Comment
      • I actually said in the panel that I believe Bank’s ideas do not enjoy a majority (only legitimacy, which is different), and that I don’t think Israel will annex area C. I’ve also written this many times.

        Reply to Comment
        • Bar

          Great, so then you are perfectly aware of how ridiculous their stance is. Now, please read this story and note the European actions in this story:

          http://www.timesofisrael.com/how-to-defeat-airplane-terrorists-from-the-only-pilot-who-ever-foiled-a-skyjacking/

          There is a long and ugly history regarding Israel and Europe that leaves Europe in a very unethical space. Hoping for them to turn the screws on Israel may reflect reality, but don’t mistake it for being ethical, or ultimately for having the effect you seek of making Israel bow to the Palestinians. Israel has no way of simply exiting Judea and Samaria, as you well know, because even a unilateral exit won’t satisfy the demands being made and a single state isn’t going to happen because neither side wants one, even if a few insane leftists, who are so focused on Israel that they fail to see what is going on in other “imposed” multi-ethnic Arab states such as Lebanon, Syria and Iraq, do.

          Reply to Comment
      • Johnboy

        Bar: “Your position is detrimental to peace because as long as the Palestinians don’t have a motive and incentive to compromise, they will not.”

        You are not advocating their “compromise”, you are insisting upon their “surrender”.

        Noam is correct. The narrative that both the Zionists and their American “brokers” have is this: the Israelis need to decide what it is they must have, and what there is let over that they can do without, and the role of the Palestinians is to enter the tent and to sign on the dotted line.

        Bar: “This doesn’t leave Israel a way out of these new European demands which are in breach of UNSCR 242 and 338 and consider Jordanian Jerusalem of 19 years to be Palestine.”

        Yeah, of course the is another way out for Israel; it can surren… sorry… it can “compromise” in exactly the same manner that you insist that the Palestinians “compromise”.

        All that is needed is for the Europeans to lean on Israel so that it has a motive and an incentive to surren…. sorry… to “compromise” on that which you claim it is unwilling to compromise upon.

        After all, what’s good for the goose is also good for the gander.

        Reply to Comment
        • Bar

          Attempt at compromise has been tried by the Yishuv and by Israel. No such luck. Just a reminder, because you seem to need one: during Jordan’s 19 year rule over eastern Jerusalem it destroyed all Jewish prayer houses, destroyed Jewish cemeteries turning their stones into pathways, prevented Jews from entering these areas or praying anywhere inside there including at the Western Wall and prevented any Jewish scholars from entering the area to study anything that was relevant to Jewish history.

          And, of course, these rules were in explicit violation of the armistice agreements the Jordanians had signed with Israel.

          It’s time for the Arabs to compromise .

          Reply to Comment
          • Johnboy

            I suggest you go back and re-read your original post.

            In it you put forward two propositions:
            1) Israel will not compromise on its demands, ergo, everyone must allow Israel to Have Its Way.
            2) The PLO will not compromise on its demands, ergo, everyone must lean on the PLO until it does relent.

            In both cases the Israelis get what they want and the Palestinians get shafted.

            That’s “surrender”, not “compromise”, and it is (correctly) seen that way by the Europeans.

            Unlike the Americans the Europeans will not do as you say, precisely because they place a value on the international norms and laws that the USA sees as a nuisance.

            The only question then is whether the Europeans are willing to let the USA continue to thrash around like a hapless water buffalo, or whether they will place a cost upon Israel’s insistence on acting contrary to international law.

            I don’t know whether they will swing from the former to the latter, but that’s the *only* direction that any change in European policy will go.

            It certainly won’t swing in the direction that you are advocating i.e. leaning ever harder upon the Palestinians.

            Reply to Comment
          • Tzutzik

            “I suggest you go back and re-read your original post.”

            Don’t tell me, let me guess, JB, now you are going to say that he “moved the goalposts”, LOL, isn’t that what you always say to anyone when you lose an argument?

            Gosh Sigh … LOL.

            Reply to Comment
          • Johnboy

            “Don’t tell me, let me guess, JB, now you are going to say that he “moved the goalposts”,”

            No. I pointed out that his original post clearly contained two propositions, both of which involved the Israelis getting its way and the Palestinians getting nothing.

            What? You don’t bother to read the comments that you mock?

            How bizarre. But how very, very Tzutzik…..

            Reply to Comment
          • Johnboy

            All Arabs look alike to you, do they?

            Bar: “Just a reminder, because you seem to need one: during Jordan’s 19 year rule…”

            Yeah, that would be “Jordan”, who aren’t the “PLO”.

            Israel is negotiating with the PLO, not with Jordan.

            Bar: “And, of course, these rules were in explicit violation of the armistice agreements the Jordanians had signed with Israel.”

            Yeah, that would be “Jordan”, who aren’t the “PLO”.

            Israel is negotiating with the PLO, not with Jordan.

            Bar: “It’s time for the Arabs to compromise”.

            The. Arabs.

            All of them, presumably?

            Which is odd, since Israel is negotiating only with the “PLO”, not with “the Arabs”, just as the Palestinians are negotiating with “Israel”, not with “the Jews”.

            Your racist attitude is poking through, Bar. You might want to look at that, coz’ it looks pretty nasty.

            Reply to Comment
          • Bar

            Haha, I should have a dollar every time some pro-Palestinian calls a supporter of Israel “racist.”

            I can’t help it that Israel’s adversaries are Arabs. I can’t help it that the states which attacked Israel in 1948 together with Palestinian Arab militias are Arab states. I can’t help it that the Arab League is a body to which Abbas and before him Arafat went in order to receive support for their political decisions. I can’t help it that the conflict against Israel has always involved Arab enemies.

            As for Jordanian actions in 1948 and subsequently, I can’t help it that this is the history of the conflict or that Palestinian forces were allied with the Jordanian forces any more than I can help that during British rule the Palestinian Arabs were given control over the Western Wall and significantly reduced and restricted access to Jews who wanted to pray there…just as the Jordanians did in 1948.

            There, I said Jews. Are you going to call me a racist?

            As for your other point regarding surrender and compromise, all I can say is that the history of the conflict is such that Israel needs to secure borders and secure its right to holy sites and areas. Unlike access to these sites under ARAB rule, the Israelis have ensured open access to all faiths and in fact have offered peace deals that would continue to ensure access to all faiths. This is something the Palestinians have not agreed to provide. Also, unlike the Israelis, the Palestinians have not signed on to a concept of two states for two nations, which essentially means they aren’t surrendering or compromising. They want to prolong the conflict.

            Reply to Comment
          • Scootalol

            Likewise, I wish I had a dollar every time I ran into a Israel supporter who was a dithering racist. my life would be much easier.

            You bring up “The Arabs attacked israel in 1948″ – no, they intervened in the Palestinian civil war on the very same day that israel declared independence. If you go and red the Arab League’s declaration, you’ll see “Israel” has nothing to do with it. it was penned well in advance, in anticipation of the formal end of british Rule (since it was pretty obvious by that point the british gave exactly zero cares)

            it’s very unfortunate, the vandalism done to Jewosh places of worship by the Jordanian army. But do you think it is worse than wholesale obliviation of Arab villages throughout israel and the territory occupied over the course of that war? How many mosques still stand? How many cemeteries, untouched? I imagine that after the population was heaved out, Israel had little interest in preservation of the past. it was time for a new regime, after all.

            Your whole argument is clearly based on the racist notion that Jews are more important than Arabs. Israel’s borders are important, Palestine’s are not. Jewish holy places are important, Muslim ones are not. Rocks with Jewish names cut onto them are more important than living human beings with Arabic names. The Arab league’s attempt to intervene in an ethnic cleansing is “an attack” but the perpetration of that ethnic cleansing is a heroic national struggle. So on and so forth.

            I would like my dollar now, please.

            Reply to Comment
          • Bar

            You don’t even deserve two cents.

            “You bring up “The Arabs attacked israel in 1948″ – no, they intervened in the Palestinian civil war on the very same day that israel declared independence.”

            Really?

            Then please explain how it was that for 19 years after their intervention in the civil war, neither the Jordanians nor the Egyptians gave any land or self-rule to the Palestinians in the respective areas they conquered.

            “If you go and red the Arab League’s declaration, you’ll see “Israel” has nothing to do with it. it was penned well in advance, in anticipation of the formal end of british Rule (since it was pretty obvious by that point the british gave exactly zero cares)”

            Right, “Israel” has nothing to do with it because they refer to “Israel” as a Jewish enterprise and a Zionist enterprise, not unlike the way Khameini refers to Israel as the Zionist Regime.

            Having said that, the fact you take the claims of the Arab states at face value is laughable because history proves their claims on the eve of war were lies. For example, in Paragraph VII:

            “Seventh: The Governments of the Arab States recognise that the independence of Palestine, which has so far been suppressed by the British Mandate, has become an accomplished fact for the lawful inhabitants of Palestine. They alone, by virtue of their absolute sovereignty, have the right to provide their country with laws and governmental institutions. They alone should exercise the attributes of their independence, through their own means and without any kind of foreign interference, immediately after peace, security, and the rule of law have been restored to the country.

            At that time the intervention of the Arab states will cease, and the independent State of Palestine will co-operate with the [other member] States of the Arab League in order to bring peace, security and prosperity to this part of the world.

            The Governments of the Arab States emphasise, on this occasion, what they have already declared before the London Conference and the United Nations, that the only solution of the Palestine problem is the establishment of a unitary Palestinian State, in accordance with democratic principles, whereby its inhabitants will enjoy complete equality before the law, [and whereby] minorities will be assured of all the guarantees recognised in democratic constitutional countries, and [whereby] the holy places will be preserved and the right of access thereto guaranteed.”

            Clearly that is precisely the opposite of what happened in the territories captured by Jordan and Egypt, and what would have happened if the other Arab states would have conquered territory. The fact they even talk about democracy is laughable considering they were not democracies.

            “it’s very unfortunate, the vandalism done to Jewosh places of worship by the Jordanian army.”

            Unfortunate? Yes, how “unfortunate.” This is only the holiest part of Jerusalem for Jews.

            Do you know that even non-Jews with Jewish names were kept out? “Unfortunate” indeed. Not a single Jew was permitted in there. Not one. The Jordanians would write a law in 1954 also ensuring that none of the Jews they evicted could ever gain Jordanian citizenship.

            “But do you think it is worse than wholesale obliviation of Arab villages throughout israel and the territory occupied over the course of that war? How many mosques still stand? How many cemeteries, untouched? I imagine that after the population was heaved out, Israel had little interest in preservation of the past. it was time for a new regime, after all.”

            You are right to challenge this. And yet, Israel permitted a substantial number of Arabs and their communities to remain inside its borders in stark contrast to what the Arabs did.

            “Your whole argument is clearly based on the racist notion that Jews are more important than Arabs.”

            Really? Where did I say that? You and your friend here are the ones who support the Arab states’ unconscionable behavior toward both Palestinian Arabs and Jews in general.

            “Israel’s borders are important, Palestine’s are not.”

            On the contrary. I have accepted that 80% of Mandatory Palestine, which was promised as a “home” for the Jewish people by the INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY shall remain in Arab hands. It is today’s Jordan. I have accepted that Gaza is Palestinian. I have also accepted both Barak and Olmert’s offers which place 95% of Judea and Samaria in Palestinian hands and offer land within Israel as replacement for the missing 5%. So what are you blathering about?

            “Jewish holy places are important, Muslim ones are not.”

            Where was this stated? I merely related the history both before 1948 and after 1948 when the Western Wall was in Arab hands. Jews had little access pre-1948 and zero access afterward. On the other hand, under Israeli rule, the Waqf has controlled the Haram al Sharif and churches have controlled the various churches in Jerusalem and my point was that under Israel’s rule worship at these centers has remained in the hands of those religions. To call this a “preference” for Jewish holy sites over Arab ones is not only disingenuous, it’s an outright lie.

            “Rocks with Jewish names cut onto them are more important than living human beings with Arabic names.”

            Where did I say that? It’s very dramatic, but it’s complete bullshit.

            “The Arab league’s attempt to intervene in an ethnic cleansing is “an attack” but the perpetration of that ethnic cleansing is a heroic national struggle.”

            The Arabs attacked first in 1947 and over 1200 Jews from the Yishuv had been killed by early 1948. Arab death figures from that period are about the same. It was a war and unfortunately it was a war that the Arabs hoped would be one of ethnic cleansing. The Jewish side can stand proud and declare forever that when presented with an offer to divide the land (over 80% of which had already been given away), they accepted. They attempted to avoid war and find compromise. To turn this into ethnic cleansing and then declare the Arab states heroic when the facts after 1948 demonstrate how misleading their (and your) claims were and are is to make a mockery of history.

            “So on and so forth.”

            Indeed. You can so on and so forth with some of the best liars I’ve ever seen.

            Reply to Comment
          • Average American

            They “attacked” an invader. Foreign colonizers.

            Reply to Comment
          • Tzutzik

            Interesting how our Johnnyboy talks about the PLO and surrender.

            In a discussion with him on another thread, he opined that the PLO never promised to end terrorism as part of the Oslo accord. Indeed, he said, it would be impossible for them to stop it.

            Yet, he insisted that Israel must release terrorists because it Israel “promised” to release terrorists. Our JB all but convinced himself that Israel promised to do so unconditionally and the PLO had no obligations whatsoever to deliver anything to the table.

            So much for the opinion of JB. He does not want Israel just to surrender, he wants Israel to shoot itself in the head.

            I don’t know whether he fancies himself to be a used car salesman or a comedian. If it is the latter, he is a third rate one and if it is the former, he is a failure, he won’t be selling anything anytime soon.

            Reply to Comment
          • Johnboy

            Tzutzik: “In a discussion with him on another thread, he opined that the PLO never promised to end terrorism as part of the Oslo accord. Indeed, he said, it would be impossible for them to stop it.”

            Very true.

            The PLO could no more “promise to end terrorism” than Israel could make that promise.

            The PLO could – and have – promised not to engage in terrorism.

            And the PLO could – and have – promised to cooperate with the IDF in the fight against terrorism.

            But neither is a “promise to end terrorism”, which is a proposition that you have simply plucked out of thin air.

            “Yet, he insisted that Israel must release terrorists because it Israel “promised” to release terrorists.”

            Yeah, and I’m not actually seeing a contradiction there….

            If a party to an agreement makes a commitment then they are bound by that commitment, but they certainly **aren’t** bound by your misrepresentations.

            The PLO committed itself in 1995 to refrain from terrorism and to assist the IDF in the fight against terrorism.

            This they have done.

            Israel committed itself in 1995 to the release of Palestinians prisoners who were incarcerated before the Oslo Accords were signed.

            This they did not do.

            And, furthermore, having committed themselves to this a second time they are now attempting to renege. Again.

            A commitment is a commitment, but it isn’t up to you to unilaterally redefine what had been committed to.

            Which is a pretty simple concept to grasp, tho’ apparently these are concepts that are beyond your comprehension.

            Reply to Comment
          • Tzutzik

            “The PLO could no more “promise to end terrorism” than Israel could make that promise.”

            Yet the PLO promised exactly that. Otherwise what was in it for Israel? To give up land and no end to terrorism? Yet you say at the same time Israel promised to release more terrorists?

            You know, JB, I too know a lot of daft Jews. Most of those Jews are anti Israel but the rest of us are not daft. Nor are we anti ourselves. We would never agree to such a deal and we didn’t either. Only in your feverish imagination did we LOL.

            “The PLO could – and have – promised not to engage in terrorism.”

            Yet they too engaged in terrorism and broke their promise. Go figure …

            Reply to Comment
          • Johnboy

            Tzutzik: “Yet the PLO promised exactly that.”

            No, that exactly the point: that “promise” exists only in your head.

            The PLO promised that it would not carry out any acts of terrorism, and the PLO promised that it would co-operate with the IDF in the fight against terrorism.

            Tzutzik: “Otherwise what was in it for Israel?”

            *sigh*

            What was in it for Israel is obvious:
            a) The PLO ceased to be a source of terrorism.
            b) The PLO actively assisted the IDF in fighting against terrorism.

            There is a worth that can be placed upon those two commitments, and as far as Israel is concerned they are proven to be very, very valuable indeed.

            Tzutzik: “To give up land and no end to terrorism?”

            No. It gained a valuable partner in the IDF’s fight against terrorism i.e. the PLO.

            Honestly, this is not a difficult concept: the PLO can only vouch for itself, just as the government of Israel can only vouch for itself.

            No more.
            No less.

            Reply to Comment
          • Tzutzik

            “What was in it for Israel is obvious:
            a) The PLO ceased to be a source of terrorism.”

            Actually it didn’t. It just said it would but I demonstrated to you in the previous thread that members of the PLO continued to commit terrorist acts.

            “b) The PLO actively assisted the IDF in fighting against terrorism.”

            Really, JB? And what use was that (even if true)? Didn’t you yourself admit that the PLO could not stop terrorism because the Palestinian Arab people themselves did not want to give up terrorism?

            And given that, why should Israel release more terrorists? Presumably people like you want that because you want it even harder to stop terrorism with more terrorists being free …

            I repeat, most of us Israelis are not daft. The only one who is daft is you, for assuming that we are daft.

            Reply to Comment
    5. “as if people can live in one country, yet have their elected officials live in a different one, without the ability to influence the lives of their constituency”

      This is exactly what Apartheid South Africa tried to do in creating the bantus. One was assigned a bantu even if having never resided there as an adult, maybe not even born there. The idea that Jordan would allow such an uncontrollable influx of non-resident voters is absurd.

      The IDF action in Jenin (in Area A) this day (3/33/14) underscores that Israel will not hesitate to impinge on a Palestinian State’s sovereignty simply because a signing pen has been lifted from a peace agreement. The calculus which lead Israel into Jenin today will remain latent after such a signing. Whatever you are advocating, it is not Two States.

      Reply to Comment
    6. Ken Kelso

      Pabelmont wants a Jews free Palestinian state, but wants an Israel with millions of Arabs who’s alliance is to Fatah and Hamas.

      Reply to Comment
    7. Ken Kelso

      Greg Pollack, South Africa is the number 1 country in the world for women being raped.
      Look at the statistics in this article.
      I think its urgent that Roger Waters, Elvis Costello, Emma Thompson and Noam Sheizaf help these women in South Africa.

      http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/08/south-africa-violence-against-women_n_2837804.html
      South Africa Violence Against Women Rated Highest In The World
      MICHELLE FAUL
      03/08/13

      Reply to Comment
      • Reza Lustig

        Since you’re obviously such a bleeding heart, why don’t YOU do something about it? And then, why don’t you get your ex-IDF friends to form a supercommando strike team and go take down Omar al-Bashir, Xi Jinping, Bashar Assad, and all those other nasty dictators that you Zionists insist we should ignore the Occupation in lieu of? That way, whether or not you and your mates survive, the other Zionists will once and for all stop using that particularly annoying talking point.

        Reply to Comment
        • Vadim

          The reason some people bring up other bad things happening in the world is not so others will ignore our conflict, but rather to put it in the right scale. Much worse things happen without all the drama and attention we get here. Israel is judged by a different set of rules and that what makes us angry.

          Don’t ignore the OCCUPATION, do whatever you like, but we’re tired of people portraying our conflict as the worst thing to happen on earth. I wish our world was so good so that we would have been the worst. Sadly, we’re not.

          We’re also tired of people using the word Zionist as a curse, or an negative adjective. It’s just a national movement, nothing more.

          Reply to Comment
    8. Caligula's Horse

      Yes. A talking point that unmasks your hypocrisy must be annoying. I can totally understand why you want it removed from the table.

      Reply to Comment
    9. shachalnur

      Foreign Ministry closes all embassies world wide.

      Nice timing,missing 370,nuclear top in the Hague.

      Under the banner;”The fight over HaBeit(home,The Temple) starts Bachutz(outside(Israel))”.

      Ya’alon under investigation(rape 15 years ago)

      Danon making moves to oust Nethanyahu.

      Bennett under investigation for cronyism.

      The fight over who rules Israel is underway.

      It might lead to Israel becoming independant for the first time in 66 years,because the during the first declaration of Independance the inhabitants of the fledgling state “requested “The People”to be replaced by [a Foreign Banker].”(Wiki)

      All ingredients for an internal coup d’etat are in place.

      Reply to Comment
      • shachalnur

        Now Silvan Shalom(Likud) is named as minister investigated for sexual assault.

        Reply to Comment
    10. Tomer

      The so-called European Union will not exist beyond 2018 or thereabouts. High, persistent unemployment and inflation in many countries ensures the rise of populist nationalist anti-EU movements. eg National Front in France, UKIP, Gert Wilders in Holland, True Finns, Danish People’s Party etc etc.

      Reply to Comment
    11. Johnboy

      Bar: “Haha, I should have a dollar every time some pro-Palestinian calls a supporter of Israel “racist.””

      Well, heck, if you are going to paint the PLO as “the Arabs” when they are demonstrably not “the Arabs” let alone “Jordan” then, yeah, you are a racist.

      Bar: “I can’t help it that Israel’s adversaries are Arabs.”

      Israel’s “adversaries” in this particular negotiations are “the Palestinians”, not “the Arabs”.

      And, yes, if the PLO described their “adversaries” as “the Jews” then they would be roundly condemned as racist.

      Apparently it’s different depending upon which side of the table you are sitting….

      Bar: “There, I said Jews. Are you going to call me a racist? ”

      You are a racist, dude.

      Reply to Comment
      • Bar

        “Well, heck, if you are going to paint the PLO as “the Arabs” when they are demonstrably not “the Arabs” let alone “Jordan” then, yeah, you are a racist.”

        The PLO aren’t Arabs? Please read the following:

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palestine_Liberation_Organization#Creation

        “The Arab League in Cairo Summit 1964 initiated the creation of an organization representing the Palestinian people”

        What were you saying about how they aren’t Arabs? They are not only Arabs, they are a creation of the Arab League, the same Arab League which gave us the 1948 war and which prior to 1948 assisted the local Arabs, now known as Palestinians, with strategic and military guidance.

        “Bar: “I can’t help it that Israel’s adversaries are Arabs.”

        Israel’s “adversaries” in this particular negotiations are “the Palestinians”, not “the Arabs”.”

        Really? http://www.jpost.com/Diplomacy-and-Politics/Arab-League-rejects-Israels-demand-for-recognition-as-a-Jewish-state-344791

        “And, yes, if the PLO described their “adversaries” as “the Jews” then they would be roundly condemned as racist.”

        Haha. They get an easy out, I guess. All they have to say is “Zionists.” But, of course, they don’t. Here is Maen Eirakat, the PLO ambassador to the USA:

        “[TABLET Magazine]: So, you think it would be necessary to first transfer and remove every Jew—

        [AREIKAT]: Absolutely. No, I’m not saying to transfer every Jew, I’m saying transfer Jews who, after an agreement with Israel, fall under the jurisdiction of a Palestinian state.

        [TABLET]: Any Jew who is inside the borders of Palestine will have to leave?

        [AREIKAT]: Absolutely.”

        And that’s without getting into the non-stop denials of Jewish history by the Palestinians.

        Calling the Palestinians is neither racist nor inaccurate. It is factual and right in line with the manner in which they have always described themselves. Fatah was a pan-Arab organization before you were born.

        “Bar: “There, I said Jews. Are you going to call me a racist? ”

        You are a racist, dude.”

        No, dude, you can’t win in a debate with me because you don’t know much and therefore you resort to the only weapon you have left: attempting to besmirch me.

        Let me know when you actually acquire some serious knowledge about the conflict and can debate on the merits of the debate.

        Reply to Comment
        • Johnboy

          “The PLO aren’t Arabs? Please read the following:”

          Ahem. I complained about you insistence on talking about “the Arabs”.

          The PLO aren’t “the Arabs”, just as the state of Israel is not “the Jews”.

          Honestly, Bar, do you have the slightest grasp of logic?

          Reply to Comment
          • Bar

            I have zero grasp of logic. But I respond directly to your comments. You brought up the PLO and connection to Arabs:

            “Well, heck, if you are going to paint the PLO as “the Arabs” when they are demonstrably not “the Arabs” let alone “Jordan””

            They are demonstrably “the Arabs.”

            As for being Jordanian, actually the majority of Jordan’s population today is of Palestinian descent, but I was referring to 1948 when the local Arabs, nee Palestinian Arabs, were fighting shoulder to shoulder with Jordanian forces.

            What can you do? You picked a really stupid concept with which to charge me with racism.

            Reply to Comment
          • Johnboy

            Johnboy: “Well, heck, if you are going to paint the PLO as “the Arabs” when they are demonstrably not “the Arabs” let alone “Jordan” ”

            Bar: “They are demonstrably “the Arabs.” ”

            Hands up anyone who can see where Bar makes a fundamental error?

            You. Yes, you up the back…..

            Correct. The Palestinians are “Arabs”, but the fact – and it is fact – that they speak Arabic does not mean that they are “the Arabs”.

            After all, any claim that the Palestinians are “the Arabs” would come as quite a shock to all those “Arabs” who aren’t “Palestinians”.

            Bar’s argument would be akin to someone claiming that the actions of “Israel” are the actions of “the Jews”.

            Such a claim would be manifestly absurd since it is a fact that over half of “the Jews” on Planet Earth do not count themselves amongst “the Israelis”.

            You appear to have a very, very difficult time distinguishing between:
            1) Ethnicity
            2) Nationality
            3) Citizenship

            Still, most Zionists do: it must be all that racist nonsense they get spoon-fed…..

            Reply to Comment
          • Bar

            I guess Oxford University Press is racist for publishing a book called “Zionism and the Arabs, 1882-1948: A Study of Ideology.”

            I guess Charles Smith is racist for writing a key text book used for teaching the conflict. It’s called, “Palestine and the Arab–Israeli Conflict.”

            I guess Electronic Intifada is racist:

            http://electronicintifada.net/content/israel-tried-brainwash-us-says-druze-pioneer-who-refused-army-service/13047

            http://electronicintifada.net/blogs/ali-abunimah/palestinian-christians-not-really-arabs-says-senior-israeli-lawmaker

            I guess the Arab states are racist:

            http://www.arableagueonline.org/hello-world/#more-1

            I guess Abbas and journalist Daoud Kuttab are racist:

            http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=667861

            I guess the British were racist:

            They called the 1936-1939 war on them and the Yishuv, “The Great Arab Revolt.”

            I guess Benny Morris is a racist:

            he called his book, “1948. A History of the First Arab-Israeli War” and it begins in 1947…

            I guess Walid Khalidi is a racist:

            “The Arab states’ system is first and foremost a “Pan” system. It postulates the existence of a single Arab Nation behind the facade of a multiplicity of sovereign states. In pan-Arab ideology, this Nation is actual, not potential. It is a present reality, not a distant goal. The manifest failure even to approximate unity does not negate the empirical reality of the Arab Nation. It merely adds normative and prescriptive dimensions to the ideology of pan-Arabism. The Arab Nation both is, and should be, one.

            From this perspective, the individual Arab states are deviant and transient entities: their frontiers illusory and permeable; their rulers interim caretakers, or obstacles to be removed. Champions of pan-Arabism speak in the name of vox populi. Their mandate is from the entire Arab Nation. Before such super-legitimacy, the legitimacy of the individual state shrinks into irrelevance. It is these credentials that pan-Arabists of various hues have presented and continue to present, be they a dynasty (the Hashemites), a party (the Arab Nationalist Movement, the Baath, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine), a charismatic leader (Nasser), or an aspirant to his mantle (Qaddafi).”

            Reply to Comment
          • Johnboy

            Bar, you are a racist.

            You insist on equating the actions of the Palestinians *now* with what you perceive to be injustices inflicted by Jordan nearly 20 years ago, even though it is manifest that the PLO is not the Hashemite Kingdom.

            Reply to Comment
          • Tzutzik

            “Correct. The Palestinians are “Arabs”, but the fact – and it is fact – that they speak Arabic does not mean that they are “the Arabs”.”

            Yes I was sitting in the back and I get it.

            Now you see it now you don’t. Everything is not what it seems. If it walks like a duck, it quacks like a duck and looks like a duck, it ain’t a duck …

            In JB’s feverish upside down world at least …

            Reply to Comment
          • Tzutzik

            REALITY CHECK:
            Article 1 of the PLO Charter:

            Palestine is the homeland of the Palestinian Arab people and an integral part of the great Arab homeland, and the people of Palestine are part of the Arab nation.

            Reply to Comment
          • Johnboy

            “No, Hamas was created by the Muslim Brotherhood.”

            No, Hamas came to prominence because of the efforts of successive Israeli governments, all of whom wanted to see a rival to Fatah.

            That is not disputed by anyone other than, apparently, Tzutzik and yourself.

            Reply to Comment
          • Johnboy

            “Palestine is the homeland of the Palestinian Arab people and an integral part of the great Arab homeland, and the people of Palestine are part of the Arab nation”

            Yeah, and?????

            The Palestinians do not dispute that they are “Arabs”. That fact becomes obvious the instant they open their mouth and start speaking…. Arabic.

            But nothing in that quote so much as hints that they are claiming the mantle of “the Arabs”.

            They are not – they are merely a SMALL PART of “the Arabs”, which is a very different thing to them claiming to be “the Arabs”.

            Only Bar is making that claim, and every time I point this out to him he goes: Huh????????

            You do too, I notice….

            Reply to Comment
          • Tzutzik

            Relax JB, I get it. The Palestinian Arabs are Arabs. They are not “THE” Arabs.

            That also means though that Bar is not a racist just because he called them “arabs”.

            So we resolved the issue now. Bar is not a racist and you were wrong to accuse Bar of being a racist.

            Reply to Comment
          • Johnboy

            Tzutzik: “That also means though that Bar is not a racist just because he called them “arabs”. ”

            *sigh*

            It isn’t a case that Bar called them “Arabs”.

            He is a racist because he conflates them with “the Arabs”.

            This is not a difficult concept, so why are both you and Bar having such problems with it?

            Reply to Comment
          • Tzutzik

            “He is a racist because he conflates them with “the Arabs”.

            Sigh …

            That is just in your own empty head because you think you can negate his arguments by calling him a racist. A very questionable tactic by you.

            You can’t out debate him. So you decide to discredit him personally.

            Let me tell you this JB. If Bar is a racist, then all you anti Israel polemicists here are racists. You included JB.

            Reply to Comment
          • Bar

            Johnboy is reduced to, “Bar, you are a racist!”

            Keep yelling, Johnboy.

            Reply to Comment
    12. Bar

      Where is my latest response to Johnboy’s claims? I particularly miss the part when I show that the PLO is an ARAB League creation.

      Reply to Comment
        • Johnboy

          “(read the part about early Palestinian national identity)”

          You do appear to want to live your life in the past, Bar.

          It’s a peculiar trait of Zionists that they want to hark back to Days Long Past.

          I guess that’s inevitable when you anchor everyone upon a 19th century doctrine of colonial expansionism and territorial acquisition by war.

          Maybe one day Israel will perfect that Wayback Machine, and then you can all go whizzing back to the Age Of Empire Building with Sherman and Mr Peabody.

          You’ll feel right at home then…

          Reply to Comment
      • Johnboy

        “I particularly miss the part when I show that the PLO is an ARAB League creation.”

        Just as Hamas is a creation of the Israeli government, though I doubt that anyone in the Netanyahu government would want to argue that this “proves” that Bibi is in charge of Hamas.

        Reply to Comment
        • Bar

          No, Hamas was created by the Muslim Brotherhood.

          The PLO was created by the Arab League.

          Get your facts straight.

          Reply to Comment
          • Tzutzik

            “Get your facts straight”

            Be fair to poor old JB, we give him the facts and he distorts them. LOL.

            Reply to Comment
          • Johnboy

            “No, Hamas was created by the Muslim Brotherhood.”

            No, Hamas came to prominence because of the efforts of successive Israeli governments, all of whom wanted to see a rival to Fatah.

            That is not disputed by anyone other than, apparently, Tzutzik and yourself.

            Reply to Comment
        • Tzutzik

          “that Bibi is in charge of Hamas.”

          Are you on drugs, JB? Be careful, don’t let Hamas know who you are or they will do you in. They hate Bibi even more than you do.

          Reply to Comment
    13. Average American

      Wexler and Indyk do not represent average Americans. They represent Zionism at the expense of the taxation and misallocation of resources of the average American. We see it, but we can’t change it, because all our representatives in government are sworn to Israel. Let me make clear again: what USA government is saying is not what average Americans are saying. We do not have representative government in USA. We have politicians-for-hire in USA. Can you now better understand our anger and frustration at being appropriated for someone else’s goals of empire-building in the middle east from which we as non-Jews will get crumbs from the table and still have to sweep up the kitchen.

      Reply to Comment
      • Tzutzik

        You are not an Average American. You only pretend to be.

        Most Americans don’t make friends with people who slag America. You do. I saw how you cozied up to hateful posters here who said the same bad things about how America controls the world and conspires against everyone to further it’s own interests. You cozied up to them because they slagged Israel too. That was your main criteria. Anyone who hates Israel is your friend, even if they hate America too.

        Most good Americans would not support people who say such things. You did, Not so – “Average American”

        Reply to Comment
        • Average American

          Slag? No, truth. You are so stuck on pro-Israel that everything revolves around that in your mind. I am not stuck on my country or on your country. I look at the reality of governments whatever country it is. So happens that my government is being wagged by your government, at our tax expense and misallocation of our resources and lives of our sons and daughters in the military. It’s obvious to anyone. Also obvious to anyone who reads Jewish guiding literature (Talmud, Torah) or watches behaviour of your government is non-Jews including American non-Jews just aren’t considered quite as important as Jews. This is reality not name-calling.

          Reply to Comment
          • Tzutzik

            “So happens that my government is being wagged by your government”

            A classic antisemitic trope. The Jews control the world etc. How about earthquakes and Tsunamis Average? Do we control those too?

            Seriously though, the Saudis don’t have any influence at all? With all their oil and oil money? How about haters like you? Didn’t you say your view is the norm in America? How come then you don’t get together and kick out those whom you describe as traitors and replace them with your mirror images?

            You are full of crap Average. You can’t even string together a self consistent story. You contradict yourself in every second sentence. You poor tortured soul.

            Reply to Comment
          • Average American

            Control the world? Maybe not. Control USA? It’s obvious. Anti-semetic? No more than recognizing the sun rising in the morning. Saudis? Unlike your country, not given more access to my own Congress than I am. Kick out the traitors? You don’t understand what I said about failed representational government, we aren’t listened to, but your country is. And no comment from you about our sons and daughters being maimed and killed “defending” your ethnocentric paranoid self-superiority? How bout next time you want to start a war, your country uses it’s own children and equipment and finances.

            Reply to Comment
          • Tzutzik

            We do use our own children and finances to fight our wars. Unlike your Saudis and Kuwaitis who required Americans to shed blood for them.

            As for your congress. Who elects members of congress? Americans do. Or ard you saying that there is no democracy in America?

            If you would be average then you could nominate your own candidates who would be elected. But obviously real average Americans are not like you so they elect people whom only YOU don’t like.

            Reply to Comment
    14. Johnboy

      Tzutzik: “Are you on drugs, JB?”

      Apparently one of us can do with some mind-expanding, though it isn’t me…

      Bar suggested that because the PLO sprung from the efforts of the Arab League then those two organizations are indivisible.

      The “logic” is manifestly absurd, and the utter absurdity is illustrated by a simple example i.e. Hamas likewise sprung from the efforts of past Israeli governments who were intent on fomenting a rival to Fatah.

      The PLO sprang from the efforts of the Arab League. That does not mean it is a puppet of that League.

      Hamas sprang from the efforts of the government of Israel. That does not mean it is a puppet of the Israeli government.

      Honestly, these are not difficult concepts…..

      Reply to Comment
      • Tzutzik

        “Bar suggested that because the PLO sprung from the efforts of the Arab League then those two organizations are indivisible.”

        He suggested NO such thing. He said that the PLO was created by the Arab League. And that is true.

        He did not say anything about what the PLO is today.

        You are a Don Quixote fighting wind mills. And in doing so, yes you did create the impression that you claimed that Bibi is the master of Hamas. And yes, I can now see that wasn’t what you meant.

        Reply to Comment
    15. Click here to load previous comments

    LEAVE A COMMENT

    Name (Required)
    Mail (Required)
    Website
    Free text

© 2010 - 2014 +972 Magazine
Follow Us
Credits

+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.

Website empowered by RSVP

Illustrations: Eran Mendel