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Israel's watershed moment that wasn't

Liberals abroad seem to think that for Israel, Operation Protective Edge was a turning point — a wake-up call telling this country that it couldn’t keep going on like this, from war to war to war with no chance for peace. +972 speaks to a number of powerful figures in Prime Minister Netanyahu’s inner circle, past and present, to hear their vision of where Israel is headed following the latest Gaza war.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at Ammunition Hill in Jerusalem. (Photo by Haim Zach / GPO)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at Ammunition Hill in Jerusalem. (Photo by Haim Zach / GPO)

On the first weekend after Operation Protective Edge ended in a cease-fire, I drove down to Sderot, the original rocket-plagued Gaza-border town and a stronghold of the ruling Right, to hear what people had to say. The idea was to try to gauge Israel’s postwar direction in its conflict with the Palestinians. And since the right-wing calls the shots in this country, the thing to do was listen to right-wingers – on the street, in the media, in the think tanks, in the Prime Minister’s Office.

The car radio was tuned to the Friday morning talk show hosted by Judy Nir Mozes Shalom, wife of Likud cabinet minister Silvan Shalom and a rich, self-satisfied, often-caricatured socialite. She was talking to Boaz Bismuth, deputy editor of Sheldon Adelson’s pro-Netanyahu newspaper Israel Hayom about his recent trip to Turkey.

“Why did you go to Turkey? It sounds vile,” said Shalom, what with Erdogan and all the anti-Semitism. “I had to get permission to visit the main synagogue in Istanbul,” said Bismuth. “What?!” said Shalom, who seemed to think Jews in Istanbul now needed permission from the government to go to synagogue. No, Bismuth explained, he needed permission from a Jewish communal organization to make sure he wasn’t a security threat. And what about that Jewish couple who got murdered? “Purely criminal,” Bismuth explained; they’d evidently been killed by their housecleaners over money, there seemed to be no anti-Semitic motive. “But the atmosphere is tense. The atmosphere is anti-Israeli, which is anti-Semitic,” said Bismuth. “Why don’t the Jews there move to Israel, dammit,” said Shalom. “I hope everyone wakes up in time.”

In the center of Sderot, none of the people I talk to expect the cease-fire to last. They all supported the war as one of no-choice. They all express sympathy for the civilians killed in Gaza, but blame the deaths and destruction on Hamas. Most want peace negotiations with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas but don’t expect anything to come of them. They say many of the people they know shifted to the right during the war. “We don’t believe in a long-term arrangement with Gaza. We also don’t believe in Bibi. I was in the Likud Central Committee. My whole family was for Bibi, but now a lot of them are going to Liberman, to Bennett,” said Jacky Azran, owner of the Tovaleh restaurant.

On the drive home, I listen to the Friday afternoon musings of Yehoram Gaon, one of Israel’s most beloved entertainers and a household name for 50 years, a former Laborite who has grown cranky and conservative in this post-Oslo century. His monologue is thick with sarcasm. “When Africans are slaughtering Africans or Muslims are slaughtering Muslims, the UN doesn’t care. But when Israel fires in self defense – oh no. … Now they’re threatening us with The Hague. What about Boko Haram, maybe the UN should give them a little Hague, no? Syria, 200,000 dead, Islamic State, they cut off heads. How about a little UN debate about that?”

I’m not being selective here: This was the sequence of what I heard that Friday, August 29, three days after the cease-fire. Besides one voice of relative moderation – the owner of the Sderot minimarket, who supports Tzipi Livni and speaks of Abbas as “our only partner” – it was solid right wing, in person and on the air.

And it didn’t stop with Yehoram Gaon. The next host on the program, culture journalist Haim Adar, said the war had reminded Israelis that “we are a people that dwelleth alone, fighting for its life,” and that while Europe rebukes Israel without let-up, “it doesn’t pay any attention to Islamic State cutting off people’s heads.” That night on the Channel 2 news, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon waved off the possibility of negotiating peace with Abbas, saying, “Without the activity of the IDF and the Shin Bet, Abbas would not have survived.” On the news show’s studio panel, Amnon Abramovitch, the leftist in an otherwise completely pro-government quintet of war commentators, finally caved in, giving Netanyahu and Ya’alon a backhanded compliment for “showing restraint” in Gaza.

And that’s the way it was, as Walter Cronkite used to say.

‘Hamas is ISIS, ISIS is Hamas’

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz and Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon. (Photo by Kobi Gideon / GPO)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon. (Photo by Kobi Gideon / GPO)

Liberals abroad seem to think that for Israel, Operation Protective Edge was a turning point, a wake-up call telling this country that it couldn’t keep going on like this, from war to war to war with no chance for peace – Israelis couldn’t stand it, the Palestinians couldn’t stand it, and the world couldn’t stand it anymore. The recent years of Israeli security and prosperity had been an illusion, and it had just popped. Things have to change, the constructive critics have been saying, and now is the time.

That’s not the dominant strain of thinking in Israel, though, not from what I heard. The “national camp,” the Right, led by Netanyahu, is going on just like it did before the war – expanding West Bank settlements, stonewalling the Palestinians diplomatically, crushing any sign of resistance, and blowing off the world’s complaints, notably those from the Obama administration. In terms of policy, nothing has changed.

What has changed, though – and this is always at least half the game for Netanyahu – is the hasbara, the spin, the international selling job he and the rest of the right wing do for the policy of endlessly entrenching the status quo. This new information campaign can be summed up in Bibi’s now-famous saying, “Hamas is ISIS, ISIS is Hamas.” As military affairs analyst Yoav Limor wrote in a postmortem on the war in Israel Hayom:

The event that was most helpful to Israel in its public relations battle that it waged alongside the military battle in Gaza took place thousands of kilometers from here – the execution of American journalist James Foley. … The Islamic State group is giving us a rare opportunity to tell an attentive audience in the West something that it has thus far refused to hear: Israel is not the problem, but the solution.

Another talking point in the postwar hasbara campaign is the upsurge in anti-Semitism, especially in Europe, that coincided with Operation Protective Edge. That it was Israel’s actions which rattled so many anti-Semites out of the woodwork goes unacknowledged and unmentioned.

One other change in the Right’s postwar approach, one that’s part hasbara and part genuine strategy, is what Netanyahu calls the “new diplomatic horizon.” He and his allies think Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and other “moderate” Arab states now see Israel as the “enemy of their enemy,” their primary enemy being radical Islam, including Hamas, and that this could strengthen Israel’s position against Gaza. They also see it as a good argument against the West’s criticisms of Israeli overkill during the war: If your Arab allies are happy – privately if not publicly – why are you complaining?

So the national camp doesn’t see the war with Gaza as the occupation’s last stand, not by any means; it sees the war not only as a military success but as a political advance, too, one that leaves this country freer to pursue its prewar policy toward the Palestinians, which is, as noted, the entrenchment of the status quo.

The destroyed mosque and water reservoir seen in the village of Khuza'a, East of Gaza Strip, September 9, 2014. (Photo by Anne Paq / Activestills.org)

The destroyed mosque and water reservoir seen in the village of Khuza’a, East of Gaza Strip, September 9, 2014. (Photo by Anne Paq / Activestills.org)

They’re not worried about all the dangers that liberals, foreign and domestic, warn Israel about: losing U.S. and European support, being tried for war crimes at The Hague, getting hit with more and more boycotts, sanctions and divestment (BDS).

At most, they pay lip service to the old, repeated-to-death danger posed by the occupation somewhere down the line – that it will cost Israel either its democracy or its Jewish character. This “threat” isn’t pressing on the national consciousness any more urgently than global warming.

The danger to the economy posed by the current policy, though, is taken seriously; the cost of the fighting in Gaza was enormous, and people here will soon feel it in the deep budget cuts to education, health and every other civilian sector needed to pay for the war, and possibly in higher taxes and recession, too. Yet the Israeli economy has proven resilient after recent wars, at least for the rich and the solidly middle class, while the lower middle class and poor don’t have much of a say. At any rate, everyone understands that wars cost money, so people have to tighten their belts – and people here are not in much of a position to complain, when 95 percent of them, according to Israel Democracy Institute polls, supported Operation Protective Edge.

As for the loss of hope in peace, and the nation’s resigning itself to a future of one war after another – that didn’t begin with this last campaign in Gaza.

“No one believes the cease-fire is going to last, the rockets will start again in another month, another year, another few years. It never ends. We always try to make peace with the Palestinians, and they always choose terror,” said Shai Sofferman, a customer at the Sderot mini-market. “I thought Bibi did a good job during the operation,” he added.

What Operation Protective Edge did was to take Israelis’ apathy and fatalism and deepen it, which is another gain for Netanyahu and the Right. What could be more comfortable for a national leadership going from war to war than a public that no longer expects anything else?

The same way forward

On the night of 9/11, Netanyahu, then out of office, was asked by The New York Times what he thought the attack would mean for Israeli-U.S. relations. “It’s very good,” he said. Then, according to the Times, he “edited himself” and added, ”Well, not very good, but it will generate immediate sympathy.”

It’s not fair to suggest that Netanyahu was “happy” over 9/11, but he knew, like seemingly all Israelis knew, that it was a godsend for the cause of an embattled Israel. Similarly, there’s no reason to think Netanyahu is pleased by Islamic State’s nightmarish exploits, notably its decapitation of two American journalists, but he knows that they serve his purposes.

In speech after interview after statement, he lumps Hamas together with Islamic State as violent Islamist movements, throwing in Al-Nusra in Syria, Hezbollah, Al-Qaida and Iran – and voila, the slaughter in Gaza was a holy cause, one that all decent people share. On September 1 he told a pair of visiting U.S. congressmen:

What we see is that al-Nusra, Hamas, Hezbollah – backed by Iran, al-Qaeda and these other terrorists groups are basically defying all international norms, breaking them whether in Lebanon, in Syria or in Gaza. … I know that this is part of your common position and I welcome it. It helps that Israel, the United States and the other civilized countries stand together against this grave threat to our future.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with U.S. Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA) and U.S. Rep. Eliot L. Engel (D-NY). (Photo by Kobi Gideon / GPO)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with U.S. Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA) and U.S. Rep. Eliot L. Engel (D-NY). (Photo by Kobi Gideon / GPO)

The next day he told a different pair of congressmen:

We’re fighting not just Israel’s war, but I think a common battle against enemies of mankind – Hamas, Hezbollah, al-Qaeda, ISIS, supported many of them by regimes that propel terrorism to the front, like Iran. I think this is a challenge to all civilized nations. Israel and the United States stand together …”

And who’s going to argue with him? Who’s going to point out that Hamas, violent, tyrannical Islamist organization though it is, represents 1.8 million Gazans who have lived under Israeli military control since 1967, and that the other half of their country, the West Bank, remains under full Israeli military dictatorship? Who’s going to suggest that this gives Hamas, frightful as it may be, a legitimacy that the marauders of Islamic State, Al-Qaida and Al-Nusra obviously lack?

In the Western mainstream, which is Israel’s world, not many.

This is the national camp’s postwar defense of those horrific scenes in Gaza, and of its continuation of the policy that led up to them. And since the uproar over the war has largely ended with the cease fire, and the world seems more than happy to forget about Gaza, and even the largest takeover of Palestinian land for West Bank settlements in 30 years, which the government pulled off last week, elicited no more than the usual U.S. whine of “counterproductive,” the national camp’s defense seems to be working.

“The situation in the Middle East and, I don’t like to say it, but what’s happening with ISIS and so on, strengthens our point of view,” Zalman Shoval, a long-time Netanyahu ally and former ambassador to the United States, told me. Asked if he thought the ISIS-equals-Hamas argument was being accepted by the democratic world, Shoval said, “Not sufficiently yet, but that’s the direction it’s going in because if you look at Hamas, the only difference between them and the more extreme Islamist groups is that Hamas wants to work in stages – first is the destruction of Israel, but afterward it has the same goal for the world as ISIS and the others.”

One would never guess that it is Gaza which is actually lying in ruins, and not from the bombs of Hamas or ISIS.

A destroyed quarter in At-Tuffah district of Gaza city, which was heavily attacked during last Israeli offensive, Gaza city, September 5, 2014. (Photo by Anne Paq / Activestills.org)

A destroyed quarter in At-Tuffah district of Gaza city, which was heavily attacked during last Israeli offensive, Gaza city, September 5, 2014. (Photo by Anne Paq / Activestills.org)

Netanyahu and the Right also believe that having Hamas as an enemy not only gives them a very strong hasbara card, but strengthens Israel in the Middle East by offering it the prospect of an alliance of convenience with Arab states threatened by Islamic militancy – mainly Egypt, but also Jordan and Saudi Arabia. This is Netanyahu’s “new diplomatic horizon.” He said in an August 30 interview with Channel 2:

There are not a few [Middle Eastern] countries that see Israel facing the same threats that they face, and that view Israel not as an enemy but as a potential ally. … The Middle East is changing, mainly for the worse, [but] we have to see if we can go hand in hand with [the changes for] the better.

The anti-Hamas alliance with Egypt’s military regime has already paid off very nicely for Israel; before the Gaza war, Egypt destroyed Hamas’ tunnels leading from Sinai into the Gaza Strip, and the Egyptian-brokered cease-fire that ended the war was tailored to Israel’s specifications.

“Egypt is basically on Israel’s side,” said Shoval.

“I don’t know if it’s practical to try to demilitarize Gaza, but it is practical to stop Hamas from getting [additional] weapons, and as long as we’re sitting with Egypt on Gaza’s borders, we can prevent it – even without an agreement,” said Prof. Ephraim Inbar, director of Bar-Ilan University’s Begin-Sadat (BESA) Center for Strategic Studies, the most prominent of Israel’s think tanks aligned with the Right.

How far such an alliance between Israel and the anti-Hamas Arab states can go is up in the air; there is a price to pay on the Egyptian, Jordanian and Saudi “street” for siding with Israel against Palestinians. But Netanyahu and the Right believe Middle East politics is breaking their way, and that this will strengthen their hand against Hamas and Gaza. And as no one has ever gone broke overestimating the Machiavellian capacities of Arab dictators, Netanyahu and Co. may be right.

‘What boycott?’

If there’s one thing the world (and the Israeli opposition) is pleading with Netanyahu to do, it’s to try to make peace with Abbas (Abu Mazen). Netanyahu was asked his plans regarding Abbas in that August 29 interview with Channel 2. “Abu Mazen has to choose,” he replied. Between what? Between “Hamas and peace,” said Netanyahu.

This is what the ruling Right believes – that Abbas, whose troops have been fighting violence in the West Bank alongside the IDF and Shin Bet for 10 solid years, and who has little to show for it but humiliation, has not yet proven his commitment to peace.

And so they brush off all of Abbas’ long-standing demands – that Israel freeze settlements, agree to a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders with land swaps and with East Jerusalem as its capital – as well as his new demand, that the stalling end and the deal be essentially done in a matter of months. Instead of taking even a step toward Abbas, the most you’ll hear from right-wingers is that the Palestinian leader has to climb down from his “inflexible” stance in the Kerry-sponsored, nine-month peace talks that ended in failure in April, and accept small, incremental deals that wouldn’t solve the conflict, but might, in their view, defuse it.

Inbar, of Bar-Ilan University’s BESA Center, doesn’t bother with such notions. Asked if he thinks Netanyahu should be more forthcoming to Abbas than he was before the war, he tells me, “No, I think Israelis in general don’t see the Palestinians as partners for peace, and that we have to continue the policy we had before. We shouldn’t offer the Palestinians any more than we did.”

His prescription for how Israel should deal with Abbas: “Keep playing the game even though we know there’s no solution.”

Abbas’ threat to take Israel to The Hague, the International Criminal Court, doesn’t worry Israel’s powers that be, either. An official in Jerusalem who’s familiar with Netanyahu’s thinking told me, “I think we would know how to respond. Netanyahu talks about the ‘double war’ crime committed by Hamas in Gaza. If Abbas is in a unity government with these people, he’s in control of them, so for him, going to The Hague would be a double-edged sword.”

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas shake hands before a meeting in Paris, France, on February 19, 2014. (State Department photo)

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas shake hands before a meeting in Paris, France, on February 19, 2014. (State Department photo)

This complacency might be surprising seeing as how Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch argued even before the Gaza war that the occupation was highly vulnerable to a Palestinian challenge at The Hague. Maybe it’s not so surprising, though, because Israel, the United States and Europe are reportedly threatening Abbas with severe punishment if he dares such a move, which is evidently why he hasn’t made good on his threats yet, and why he may never do so. Here again, on the possibility of war crimes trials, the Right’s blithe attitude toward the supposed pitfalls of their policy toward the Palestinians may be based on a clear-eyed reading of the political map.

Neither does the prospect of a postwar spread of the BDS movement scare the national camp. Yaakov Amidror, formerly Netanyahu’s national security adviser, told me, “The BDS movement exists only on the radical margins. These people are already against Israel, the fact that we hurt civilian infrastructure and civilians in Gaza just gives them one more incentive to attack.”

Added Inbar: “What boycott? Business people buy the best product for the lowest price – politics doesn’t interest them. We’re selling more and more to India, to China. We give too much importance to the reactions of the Europeans.”

And who can say that they’re wrong? Before the war, I was one of those who had high hopes for the BDS movement. But then Israel went and committed such a high-profile, long-running outrage, made itself look so brutal in the eyes of hundreds of millions if not billions of people, and … nothing. For all the anguished statements, no foreign government or powerful entity of any sort has sought to make this country or its leaders pay any price for Operation Protective Edge. Gaza and its people have been trampled, and Israel has gotten off scot-free.

So why should the Israeli political establishment and the broad public that identifies with it feel any need to change?

There is of course a price to the nation for taking this direction, beyond the economic price, beyond the unacknowledged moral price, and that is the periodic rounds of death and injury to Israelis, the anxiety, the darkening hopelessness. But Israelis are ready to pay it, or certainly the ruling right-wing Jewish majority is, because they see no other way this country can survive.

The idea that the Palestinians would stop fighting if Israel took its knee out of their spine, or that Israel’s interlocutor in the West Bank has long since stopped fighting, or that the Palestinians, like every other Middle Eastern nation, would be deterred by Israel’s terrible military might if they, like every other Middle Eastern nation, didn’t have Israel’s knee in their spine – such an idea is swatted like a fly by the national camp.

I asked Yoaz Hendel, a Yedioth Ahronoth columnist and Netanyahu’s former communications director, if he thought this was a sustainable future for Israel, if the country could go on fighting the Palestinians indefinitely.

“Unfortunately, yes,” Hendel said. “As long as the Palestinian leadership doesn’t educate its population to democracy, it won’t be a free society but a fear society, as Natan Sharansky put it. And we will find ourselves in conflict because it’s not in our hands. … I don’t see how there won’t be military conflicts with the Palestinians as long as they embrace Islamic fundamentalism.”

No, Israel’s direction hasn’t changed since Operation Protective Edge, only the hasbara is different. The world’s policy toward Israel hasn’t changed, either. And that’s the way it is. And as Edward R. Murrow used to say, good night and good luck.

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    COMMENTS

    1. Richard Witty

      Great insignts.

      What makes change?

      1. Emphasis on democracy as PART of Zionism. There is no Zionism that is not an #and# construction, Jewish AND democratic.

      2. In practice, common needs expressed as common needs.

      3. Emphasis on democracy, equal rights, in all lands, occupied and in the future Israel AND Palestine.

      4. Support for Palestinian unity government as Palestinians, but support for those that support democracy in it.

      Reply to Comment
    2. Pedro X

      Larry’s lament:

      By the cafes of Rishon LeZion
      Larry sat down and he wept
      When he remembered leftists of Zion

      Larry, Israel has turned to the right because the policies of the left have failed both the Israelis and the Palestinians. The left’s land for peace became land for terrorism. The peace of the brave became the peace of the dead. The myth that Israel should negotiate with terrorists exploded in their living rooms and streets.

      The left ignored the reality of Palestinian rejection of a Jewish state on any portion of the land of Israel and their trust in violence as an arbiter of conflict, no matter how poorly that strategy had failed them.

      Israelis understand that even Palestinian moderates seek a solution which would see the destruction of a Jewish state. Palestinians believe that the creation of a Palestinian state is only one step in the elimination of Israel. Palestinians could counter this belief by acknowledging there is no right of return, recognizing Israel as a Jewish state and agreeing that any agreement will end the conflict.

      Reply to Comment
    3. Khaled Khalid

      Pedro X

      Your two bit cheap sarcasm aside, Who says Palestinians embrace Terrorism? You and your Right Wing Trash say it.

      Since when is resisting Israel’s Zionist Brutality considered “Terrorism?” Only a Nazi would call the French Resistance or the Greek Resistance acts of “Terrorism.”
      – And Israel’s collective punishments of Palestinians are the same as the Nazis.

      Reply to Comment
      • Whiplash

        Au contraire mon ami (amie?). It is not only right wing Israelis saying Palestinians embrace terrorism, it is centrists and leftists not to mention Palestinians themselves.

        Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research released Sept. 2, 2014 shows that the majority of Palestinians embrace terrorism. 72% of Palestinians polled favor the transfer of Hamas’ armed approach to the West Bank. 60% support a return to an armed intifada. An overwhelming majority of 86% support the launching of rockets from the Gaza Strip at Israel if the siege and blockade are not ended. 57% of the public say that they supported the June 2014 kidnapping of the three Israelis. Similarly, a majority of 54% supported the killing of the three kidnapped Israelis. A majority of 53% believe that armed confrontation is the most effective means to establish a Palestinian state. Only 22% believe in negotiations as the best means. 62% say that the two-state solution is no longer practical. 57% oppose disarming armed groups in the Gaza Strip. Further Palestinians gave Hamas an approval rating of 88% even though they caused the death of 2150 Palestinians.

        This indeed is concrete proof of Palestinians support of terrorism.

        Reply to Comment
        • Scottish Chap

          As the man said ‘you and your right wing trash say it’.

          What exactly do you call it when the IDF indulges in a 51-day binge that kills 530 children (never mind the non-combatant adults)? What do you call it when Israel uses illegal weaponry such as white phosphorus and DIME weapons against civilians? Or when they target children playing football on the beach? Doesn’t this qualify as terrorism, or is terrorism only only committed by non-Israelis, preferably Muslims?

          Reply to Comment
    4. Tomer

      The Israeli Left is a failed experiment. Polls show that Labor & Meretz are becoming more unpopular by the day.

      In the end, only 2 groups support the Left:
      1. The mentally ill eg. eg G. Levy
      2. Ilan Pappe-style Selfhaters

      Reply to Comment
    5. Scottish Chap

      An outstanding piece of journalism seeking important answers to current questions regardless of how unpalatable those answers may be.

      There may however be some unforeseen twists in the story yet to unfold. For example Channel 2 is supposed to have reported that 30% of Israelis are thinking of leaving. Now I don’t know if that is true and I don’t know if they meant 30% of Israelis or 30% of Jewish Israelis. But it does kind of suggest that a large portion of the population may not have the stomach to take this to the wire. Does that matter?
      https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/news/middle-east/14024-30-per-cent-of-israelis-want-to-emigrate

      Reply to Comment
      • JohnW

        Wet dreams, Scottish Chap, wet dreams. It is the stuff that Arabs and extreme leftists long to hear that we Israelis would be “rats deserting a sinking ship” as you guys would like to see it (and call it) but alas (for you guys) it is only a wet dream.

        On another note, in your opinion, Scottish Chap, are 50% of the Scottish people, those who want to separate from Britain, are racists bigots who like to live in ethnically pure apartheid Scottish state?

        I am just asking because some of you stupid lefties accuse us Zionists of racism because we want to live in a Jewish majority (not even ethnically pure) state.

        Me? I am consistent. I say neither us, nor the Scottish separatists are racists for not wanting to be dominated by another group of people.

        Reply to Comment
    6. Ira Rifkin

      Larry: while I do not agree with some of your reasoning, I congratulate your ability to articulate so well the deep sense of sadness and hopelessness that I, too, feel about Israel’s state of affairs and it’s future.

      Reply to Comment
      • The Right’s ‘newfound’ stance of ‘Hamas = ISIS’ isn’t very worrisome to me because it isn’t new found anyway.

        The Israeli Right has since the 70s blamed everything on the Palestinians, all the while continuing their colonial project under everybody’s noses.

        So now it’s ‘Palestinians = ISIS’ but that’s only a variant on ‘they’re terrorists’.

        Anyone can see through that device if they’re not a dyed-in-the-wool rightist Zionist.

        The Right will be milking this ISIS thing for all it’s worth but if it wasn’t for ISIS it’d be ‘Hizbollah’, ‘Iran’ or take your pick.

        A country where the political pendulum doesn’t swing anymore is in deep trouble, of course: where leftists become a small minority they become endangered.

        Reply to Comment
    7. Gustav

      Oh dear, another loonie leftie displaying his ignorance. Yes, you Gertie!

      Yes, there is a lot more in common between ISIS and Hamas than there are differences. They are both mysogonists. They both hate infidels and homosexuals. They both summarily execute those whom they hate in the streets and yes, they are both Islamo fascists.

      Oh and Gertie, if we are colonialists, then American Indians are colonialists in America, Australian Aborigines are colonialists in Australia and Maoris are colonialists in New Zealand.

      As for loonie leftists in Israel, they have only themselves to blame for being part of a dying breed. And you loonies outside of Israel will share their fate. You know why Gertie? Because the rest of the human race don’t want to be candidates for the Darwin Award. We will leave that to you lot.

      Reply to Comment
      • Gustav:

        The parallels between ISIS Hamas are about as valid as those between Zionism and Nazism: not very much.

        Hamas and ISIS share no common goal or territory. They don’t cooperate or even have any contacts. While ISIS finds support from Sunnis, Hamas is backed by Shias. Hamas is a religiously inspired resistance group that came into being rather late in the day, as a reaction to the non-achievements by Fatah/PLO. Initially it was by backed… Israel, never shy of a Machiavellian manoeuvre that later backfires.

        Re. your point about colonialism: nail your colours to the mast and claim all of Israel (and more besides that) is Jewish, always was and always will be and that Arabs have no place in it. Only from that absurdity can you make the sort of comments you made. So please, show your true colours, so I don’t have to waste any time on tin foils like you anymore…

        Re: ***They are both mysogonists [sic]. They both hate infidels and homosexuals.*** There’s no shortage of these sentiments in some of Israel’s more radical Rabbis.

        Reply to Comment
        • Gustav

          “The parallels between ISIS Hamas are about as valid as those between Zionism and Nazism: not very much.”

          Nazism was didecated to the destruction of all the Jewish people, including Zionists.

          ISIS and Hamas BOTH fight for the supremacism of Sunni Muslims. Both using the same methods.

          I did not however say that ISIS and Hamas are IDENTICAL, I said that they have greater similarities than differences.

          “Hamas and ISIS share no common goal”

          Au contraire. They share similar goals. They both believe in subjugating and murdering infidels. They both believe that Islam should and is destined to rule the world. They have different starting points but their methods and goals are the same.

          “or territory.”

          Like I said, their starting points are different but both Hamas and ISIS believe that Islam should end up ruling the world. Neither has a philosophy of live and let live.

          “They don’t cooperate or even have any contacts.”

          How do you know? But even if they wouldn’t that does not make them all that different from each other.

          “While ISIS finds support from Sunnis, Hamas is backed by Shias.”

          So? Both are Sunnis and Hamas is prepared to accept help even from the devil if it helps them fight their prime enemy, Israel. And Iran is prepared to help Hamas because the enemy of their enemy is their friend of convenience. Both Shia and Sunni hate us. But if they would succeed in eliminating us, they would immediately be at each other’s throats. A case in point was when Hamas backed the Sunni rebels against Assad in Syria. Iran halted assistance to Hamas which they only recently resumed.

          “Hamas is a religiously inspired resistance group”

          Hamas like ISIS are religiously inspired to fight Jihad for the glory of Allah against infidels.

          “that came into being rather late in the day, as a reaction to the non-achievements by Fatah/PLO.”

          ISIS came into being even later in the day. Both Hamas and ISIS are inspired by similar sentiments. They cannot bear the idea of non Muslims “lording it” over Muslims. And according to each of them the only Muslims are the Muslims who believe what they believe. The rest are infidels marked for at least subjugation or at worst death.

          “Initially it was by backed… Israel, never ….”

          So? Who says we don’t make mistakes? America too backed up Al Quaida at first, as a means to fight Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. And look what happened subsequently?

          “Re. your point about colonialism: nail your colours to the mast and claim all of Israel (and more besides that) is Jewish,”

          Sure. Of course it is. It is our ancestral homeland. It is the only valid home which we the Jewish people have.

          “always was and always will be”

          Yep. Always and always will be …

          “and that Arabs have no place in it.”

          Most Israelis, including me, don’t say that. We are happy to have Arab citizens as long as they are willing to accept our laws and live amongst us in peace.

          “Only from that absurdity can you make the sort of comments you made. So please, show your true colours, so I don’t have to waste any time on tin foils like you anymore…”

          I just did. I also showed that you and your kind love building straw men.

          “Re: ***They are both mysogonists [sic]. They both hate infidels and homosexuals.*** There’s no shortage of these sentiments in some of Israel’s more radical Rabbis.”

          Unlike ISIS and Hamas, Israel’s more radical Rabbis don’t rule nor do they summarily execute opponents in the streets and drag their bodies behind motor cycles. Nor do those Rabbis aspire to rule the entire world.

          Reply to Comment
          • Eliza

            Gustav – Hitler and the Third Reich were not actually dedicated to the destruction of all Jews. Nazism was pursuing an ethnic purity for an expanded Germany and wanted all Jews removed from Germany and Europe. Whether this was by way of voluntary transfer or death was secondary. In this own way, Hitler was a Zionist. He supported the transfer of German Jews to Palestine, in fact the Germans and Zionists came to a formal agreement regarding this in 1933 (or thereabouts). Hitler was not ever going to pursue Jews who lived outside of Europe.

            Zionists are also pursuing an ethnic/religious purity though not in as an extreme form as the Third Reich. Israel is able to accept a minority non-Jewish population but fears non-Jews as an existential demographic threat. Too many non-Jews will not be tolerated. Right now, Palestinians are being transferred from Area C to Areas A & B.

            And let us not ever forget that non-Jews do suffer discrimination within Israel Proper (are there still present absentees’?) and non-Jews within Greater Israel are subject to a belligerent occupation.

            There are similarities between Nazism and Zionism and there are differences.

            Despicable as Hitler and the Third Reich were, neither cared a hoot about Jews or non-Jews in Palestine.

            Reply to Comment
          • andrew r

            Hitler was not ever going to pursue Jews who lived outside of Europe.

            Not the case; the Germans actually occupied Tunisia for six months in 1942-43 and while the Jewish Tunisians were not exterminated, they were sent to labor camps.

            Vichy France implemented anti-Jewish measures in its African colonies. (Syria and Lebanon were taken from Vichy control relatively early in the war.)

            It’s a given that Hitler would not have stopped at anything to exterminate anything that could be identified as Jewish. This is why it was short-sighted of the Zionists to select Palestine for settlement and one reason (not the only one) its defenders are full of crap when they try to portray it in retrospect as a movement to rescue Jews.

            I’ve thought about (facetiously) juxtaposing photos of F16s and Messerschmidts firing missiles in response to the Hamas-ISIS meme.

            Reply to Comment
          • Gustav

            nsttnocontentcomment

            Reply to Comment
      • Tony Litwinko

        Well that’s wonderful Looney tunes logic. I suppose the NATIVE AMERICANS colonized the scorpions and homing pigeons; the Australian aborigines the marsupials.

        Reply to Comment
        • Kiwi

          “Well that’s wonderful Looney tunes logic. I suppose the NATIVE AMERICANS colonized the scorpions and homing pigeons; the Australian aborigines the marsupials.”

          Yes that is exactly the point which Gustav made. The natives of a land cannot be colonists. The jewish people cannot be considered to be colonisers of their ancestral homeland. The Arabs are the colonisers.

          Reply to Comment
    8. bor

      Larry Derfner’s watershed moment that wasn’t.

      As Larry watched the Middle East explode into sectarian wars that include the type of brutality that gets women sold into sexual slavery, a government using chemical weapons on its people, a terror group kidnapping and murdering teenagers and launching thousands of rockets at civilians, he didn’t conclude that Israel remains a safe haven for his little sectarian group called the Jewish people and those minorities fortunate enough to live within their system. Nope, he thought that Israel should cede ground physically, diplomatically, politically and in every other way he could conceive to the forces of anarchy, hate and violence.

      One can only hope that he wakes up soon.

      Reply to Comment
    9. Peter Hindrup

      If this article is even half right, then the Palestinians have no option but to resort to targeted killings of Israeli hawks, be they politicians or military, respective families.

      Not suicide bombers, the price is too high, the ratio in the Palestinians favour needs to be in the order of 100 to one.

      Look for the weaknesses, Israel definitely has a few, and plan.

      Reply to Comment
      • Eliza

        This article is certainly depressing to read. There is no reason to hold out that its not an accurate reading of the Israeli mindset in the immediate aftermath of Protective Edge. But the Israeli mindset is not necessarily aligned to reality.

        No-one will seriously believe that Hamas is IS or that it should be lumped in indiscriminately with Al-Qaida etc regardless of how many times Netanyahu whispers in the ears of Congressmen. Those that matter such as the State Dept etc don’t listen to Netanyahu.

        BDS is a relentless but slow moving thing. It is unreasonable to expect it to suddenly flash into greater activity in a few weeks. Yes, it is difficult to see the Chinese or Indians not trading with Israel because of the Palestinians. But it is also difficult to see either China or India having a ‘special relationship’ with Israel. They wouldn’t give a toss if either Israel or the Palestinians disappeared. Why should they?

        There has never been any real hope that the desire to come to a just resolution of the I/P conflict would spring spontaneously from within Israel. The idea that the left, when in power in Israel did anything substantively different from Netanyahu is bollocks. Settlements festooned, the peace fakery process blossomed.

        The movement against Israel is a slow boil – its not going to go away. We know that there is still a long hard struggle in front of the Palestinians but targeted killings of Israeli hawks is hardly attacking Israel at a weak point. Far more interesting is the number of young, secular and educated Israelis getting out of the place.

        Reply to Comment
        • Gustav

          “This article is certainly depressing to read.”

          May you and the likes of you have lots more things to be depressed about. And you will, we promise.

          “There is no reason to hold out that its not an accurate reading of the Israeli mindset in the immediate aftermath of Protective Edge.”

          Yes there is. We love the Palestinian Arabs as much as they love us. Is that good or bad, Eliza?

          “But the Israeli mindset is not necessarily aligned to reality.”

          I would not bet on that, Eliza dear.

          “No-one will seriously believe that Hamas is IS or that it should be lumped in indiscriminately with Al-Qaida etc”

          No one? Not everyone is as muddled up as you are Eliza dear. There are lots of people out there who see reality for what it is.

          “regardless of how many times Netanyahu whispers in the ears of Congressmen.”

          He doesn’t have to. Many of them know for themselves.

          “Those that matter such as the State Dept etc don’t listen to Netanyahu.”

          They don’t have to.

          “BDS is a relentless but slow moving thing.”

          If it would be any slower, it would be moving backwards.

          “It is unreasonable to expect it to suddenly flash into greater activity in a few weeks.”

          Yep, you said it.

          “Yes, it is difficult to see the Chinese or Indians not trading with Israel because of the Palestinians.”

          Yep, again, you said it.

          “But it is also difficult to see either China or India having a ‘special relationship’ with Israel.”

          Yep, poor Eliza, all you see is difficulties in front of you.

          “They wouldn’t give a toss if either Israel or the Palestinians disappeared. Why should they?”

          Yep, why should they? Should that worry us?

          “There has never been any real hope that the desire to come to a just resolution of the I/P conflict would spring spontaneously from within Israel.”

          Depends on one’s definition of “just”. If it’s yours, it isn’t just. Don’t you just know it, Eliza dear?

          “The idea that the left, when in power in Israel did anything substantively different from Netanyahu is bollocks.”

          Yep, you got it in one. Don’t you just hate it? Hey, Israeli lefties, are you listening to Eliza? She hates both you and us. She is obviously a believer in equal opportunity hatred for all Israelis. Left or right. Personally, I feel privileged being hated by the likes of her. It makes me think we are doing at least some things right.

          “Settlements festooned, the peace fakery process blossomed.”

          The settlements are just a convenient excuse for not making peace. The real reason for the stalemate is the refusal by the Arabs to withdraw the right of return demand and their refusal to recognize Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people.

          In other words, the Arabs offer nothing but they want Israel to give up concrete assets (land). In any other conflict, they would be a laughing stock if the militarily weaker, losing side who started the conflict in the first place, would make such demands. But oil speaks.

          “The movement against Israel is a slow boil – its not going to go away.”

          Nope, not for a while yet. But it will. We are a very patient people.

          “We know that there is still a long hard struggle in front of the Palestinians”

          Yep. And they will never win their zero sum game.

          “but targeted killings of Israeli hawks is hardly attacking Israel at a weak point.”

          See, Eliza? You are not always stupid.

          “Far more interesting is the number of young, secular and educated Israelis getting out of the place.”

          I didn’t know women have wet dreams too. Learn something every day …

          Reply to Comment
    10. Gustav

      “Hitler and the Third Reich were not actually dedicated to the destruction of all Jews.”

      No, not much. Have you read Mein Kampf? Have you heard of the Holocaust?

      “Nazism was pursuing an ethnic purity for an expanded Germany and wanted all Jews removed from Germany and Europe.”

      They paid lip service to that. As a means of propaganda, to show that they are not the only ones who don’t like Jews, they offered to let German Jews to migrate to other countries. And guess what happened, Eliza dear, most of the “civilized world” didn’t want us. Very few of us were offered sanctuary. The Nazis were then able to crow and say: “see? Nobody likes Jews, nobody wants them”.

      That is why we need Israel. Had Israel existed then, a lot more Jews would have been saved.

      “Whether this was by way of voluntary transfer or death was secondary.”

      Not really. Hitler was totally consistent. As lunatic as he was, he understood the world around him. He knew that nobody wanted more Jews. In any case, his plan was to conquer the entire world. Therefore, as far as he was concerned, he would sooner or later get his chance to get at all the Jews, if you know what I mean.

      “In this own way, Hitler was a Zionist.”

      LOL (a bitter LOL) what next? Next thing you will claim Hamas are Zionists? You are far gone, Eliza dear.

      “He supported the transfer of German Jews to Palestine,”

      Yea while at the same time he supported the infamous leader of the Palestinians, the Mufti of Jerusalem. They both planned to exterminate the Jews of Palestine.

      “in fact the Germans and Zionists came to a formal agreement regarding this in 1933 (or thereabouts). Hitler was not ever going to pursue Jews who lived outside of Europe.”

      BS. First of all, only SOME desperate misguided Zionists were talking to him. They were trying to save their fellow Jews but they didn’t yet understand the monster (Hitler) that they were dealing with. A bit like Stalin who signed a non aggression pact with Hitler. In both cases it was a momentous mistake. But twenty twenty vision in hindsight is useless, don’t you think, Eliza?

      “Zionists are also pursuing an ethnic/religious purity”

      BS. We were and still are pursuing a Jewish MAJORITY state. Want proof? 20% of our citizens are Arabs, over 1.2 million Arab Israeli citizens. Your claim has no substance.

      “though not in as an extreme form as the Third Reich. Israel is able to accept a minority non-Jewish population but fears non-Jews as an existential demographic threat.”

      As do all other nations. I don’t know a single nation on this earth whose dominant group wants to end up being outnumbered by another ethnic group. Particularly if the other ethnic group has been at war with them over 100 years.

      “Too many non-Jews will not be tolerated.”

      What is too many? As I said, 20% of Israel’s citizens are Muslim Arabs. There aren’t too many other nations even in Europe where the percentage of Arabs approaches that number. France’s Muslim/Arab population is the closest to that. Their Arab population represents about 14% of the French population and there is plenty of friction between the dominant French population and it’s Arab citizens.

      “Right now, Palestinians are being transferred from Area C to Areas A & B.”

      Really? Have you got proof of that from an impartial publication? But even if you do, that would be entirely irrelevant for what we are discussing. Why? Because you are not talking about Arab Israeli citizens. We are talking about Arabs on the West Bank who never were nor will they be Israeli citizens. Instead, they are expected to become citizens of the shiny new Palestinian Arab state after the Arabs will eventually see reason and will formally recognize the Jewish nation state of Israel.

      “And let us not ever forget that non-Jews do suffer discrimination within Israel Proper (are there still present absentees’?) and non-Jews within Greater Israel are subject to a belligerent occupation.”

      I don’t know WTF you are talking about. Neither do you. Other than immigration laws, there are no laws in Israel which discriminate between Jews and non Jews. I think you are confusing us with Arab countries where they discriminate against Christians. And where Jews were kicked out of.

      “There are similarities between Nazism and Zionism and there are differences.”

      Only in your feverish and propaganda imbued imagination. I bet you never even set your feet in Israel. And I hope you never do either. We don’t need haters of Israel like you to visit us.

      “Despicable as Hitler and the Third Reich were, neither cared a hoot about Jews or non-Jews in Palestine.”

      I don’t know whether you are just ignorant, or whether you are a liar. But just read up about Haj Amin Al Hussaini, the Mufti of Jerusalem and how he met Hitler to discuss the final solution for the Jews of Palestine. Oh and read up the pact which they signed and how the Mufti established a Muslim militia in the Balkans which actively participated in murdering Jews in cooperation with Nazi Germany..

      Reply to Comment
    11. Pedro X

      Eliza

      “No-one will seriously believe that Hamas is IS or that it should be lumped in indiscriminately with Al-Qaida etc”

      The American senate has said so. Also read Fatah leader and member of the Central Committee Tawfiq Tarawi:

      “Some of the people executed [by Hamas] were officers in the security agencies. Hamas says that they were spies. Did they place them on trial? Did they interrogate them? Where are their confessions? Or maybe they brought people who had interrogated Hamas members in the past, and executed them now. What justification can there be for this? According to what law did they execute these people? What is the difference between [Hamas] and Al-Zarqawi, not to mention ISIS?”

      Reply to Comment
    12. Average American

      Pedro X – You mention the Land of Israel. So does Netanyahu. What is that? What does it look like on a map? What are its borders? It’s alot bigger than the current State of Israel, right? And it all belongs to The Jews, a racially defined nation, right? Doesn’t this suggest a Jewish racial lebensraum just like the Aryan racial lebensraum? Wasn’t the Aryan racial lebensraum “bad”? But the Jewish one is “good” of course?

      Reply to Comment
    13. Gladys Williams

      most ordinary, thinking people, the world over wish to support Palestinians in their struggle to be free. World leaders however have different plans. We have no ‘democracy’ What happens to Palestinians today, may happen to us all tomorrow. We should do all we can to help Palestine to be free. wonderful, resiliant compassionate people. Don’t give up hope. Call on Allah and God’s holy Angels to help you. We send you love and prayers.

      Reply to Comment
      • Kiwi

        Most ordinary anti-Semites support the Pslestinians and hate the Jews of Israel.

        Reply to Comment
    14. Dinu Feldman

      I think that Israel after the defeat in the last war will not dare to begin with the usual provocations which lead after a weak response from Gaza to an criminal attack against a population without any mean to defend itself.The former spill was loved by Israeli leaders and population,they bomb the terrorists,the “civilized” countries were silenced and Israelis climbed on hills to see the massacre and applaud it.Now even the most primitive israeli people with his conviction of superiority will not demand the government “to give to IDF (the “saint fighters”) to win”

      Reply to Comment
      • JohnW

        Wow another Alzheimers patient sounds off.

        Right at the beginning of the conflict, Egypt brokered a cease fire. Israel accepted, Hamas rejected it.

        So excuse me for asking, but who is to blame for what happened?

        Reply to Comment
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