Israelis Up the Ante

While there was nothing all that new in the President’s speech on the Middle East, most of the discussion has been centered around the Israeli reaction, rather than the content of Obama’s ten-page peroration. In tandem with the usual pledges to keep borrowing money from the Chinese so we can give it to the Egyptians, Obama simply reiterated the terms of the deal Yasser Arafat refused and the Israelis agreed to at Camp David: a return to the 1967 borders with the understanding tha tland swaps could be made within that context in order to bring about a real and lasting settlement. This has been the framework of the entire “peace process” since Day One.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu now rejects this framework, like Samson puling down the temple upon his own head. He claims the 1967 borders are “indefensible,” but the real story is that Israel is no longer concerned with defending its borders, only in expanding them.

In case no one else has noticed, I hasten to point out that the Israel of Camp David is no more. A new Israel has arisen to take its place,  one with an electorate that sees the idea of a Greater Israel as the only “defense.” Forget about poor little beleaguered Israel, beset on all sides by relentless enemies: the states bordering the Jewish state are weak and in disarray. Militarily, Israel is by far the most powerful nation in the region, perhaps even more potent than their American patrons.

It is no longer a question of whether Israel’s borders can be defended: the question is, will they be extended? Israel’s strategic posture is best described in the old adage that the best defense is a good offense.

That is why the status quo — the old framework embodied by the 1967 borders — is no longer acceptable to the Israelis. Faced with a demographic time bomb that shows every sign of going off early, not to mention increasing international pressure and isolation, the Israelis have upped the ante. Placing all their coins on a single bet, they’ve decided it’s expand or die.

The Israelis are increasingly distanced even from many of  their own traditional supporters in the US and have to depend on the likes of  Glenn Beck and a bunch of backwater hicks to gin up support for Israeli in the US. The mainstream Jewish organizations always support the old framework, and are uneasy with Netanyahu’s new dispensation. The main result of Netanyahu’s rejectionist response will be to further alienate American Jews from his government and its policie.

On the other hand, in Israel, it will bolster the Prime Ministe’s standing — and that was always the point, anyway. In public, Netanyahu must roar like a lion, lest his constituents perceive him as a mere satrap of the Americans. Anti-Amerianism plays a role here, just as it does in Pakistan, whose leaders in public rebuke us, and in private say something quite different. Both have a direct line to the US Treasury, and have an interest in keeping it open. And while Netanyahu’s posturing is mainly for public consumption, it serves Israeli interests by keeping the occupied territories in limbo, and allows the settlements to expand and create more “facts on the ground.”

  • JJJihad

    "The main result of Netanyahu’s rejectionist response will be to further alienate American Jews from his government and its policies."

    NFW. They're all for it. The move looks choreographed. Have Obama state what has always been the premise of the "peace process," then blitz him in the press, congress, democratic party, AIPAC, etc. The impression of an overwhelming adverse response positions Obama to look like a statesmen when he accepts the Netanyahu framework for further negotiation. And by such machinations a new normal is born, and the legitimacy of Israeli colonization is established. The point has always been to drive the Arabs out of Judea and Samaria altogether. The Jews are patient. This may only be accomplished incrementally–although this one is a grand move toward victory. (It is unimportant that the Palestinian people would never agree. The Jews will use a puppet like Abbas or, failing that, drive the Arabs out through Israel's own version of the Nuremberg laws.

  • skulz fontaine

    I think that Netanyahu told the Obama to "up your arse." Seated all polite and proper next to Amerika's President. Not much fight in the old Obama.

  • John_Muhammad

    I suspect if you asked Netanyahu for a list of demands and gave him everything- no matter how outrageous- in exchange for peace, the offer would be rejected. Or, more likely, it would be accepted and then promptly ignored as Israel demanded more and more after the fact.

    Netanyahu, and the Israel government as a whole, does not want peace under any circumstances. Its politicians have demonstrated this for decades- when will we wake up and see it?

  • andy

    Israel is just bad news for America….

  • Jamal

    Is all oratory by the US/EU-NATO capitalism system.., is from within the systems nature talking for the US/NATO interests with continues of the same policies toward nations in Middle East.., one thing is for sure.., anything and everything that any US president been saying about a Palestinians states for last 20 years or so have turn out to be rhetoric saving the US and EU emporium interests to begin with.

    The only change here is that Barack Hussein Obama is point out the notion presented by Saudis 5-10 years ago into his speech asking for Israel to go back to 1967 Israeli borders.., in that regard Israel already have rejected the idea.., which means that there is not going to be any peace no matter what Obama have said or going to say or for that matter the up coming president; nonetheless’ throughout the years Israel has rejected anything and everything that practically been presented to them. In the other hand and in regard to what happening in Middle East and Libya.., once again a US president been humiliated by Israel rejecting the idea in peace or for that matter establishing a Palestinians States making sure that the Middle East turmoil is going to continue benefiting Israel political demands asking for more change all over the Middle East.., today is Hama’s, tomorrow is Iranian, after tomorrow is Saudi Arabia and later Israel will demand for US to remove President Chaves in Venezuela or the Chinas communist regime for Israel to negotiate with Palestinians. So the question is: where would it end and when would the US wars ends.

    Talking about peace between Islamic sects is yet another reelection party line based on Obama doctrine mimicking Jimmy Carter doctrine.., regarding religious democracy and how to achieve it in Middle East.., but the idea behind democracy no matter how you look at it is not based on religion.., so by US and EU establishing and supporting Muslims Brotherhood is establishing another dictatorial regime which would not work for democracy and Israel will reject to that as well.

    Here, Iran and Iraq are example of what kind of ”democracy” that Obama is talking about.., or for that matter Bahrain and other royal tyrants family which Hillary Clinton, Susan Rice, Power and Obama is protecting., the brutality, murdering and displacing Sunnis or Shiites’ or Christianity is a daily happening in Iraq, the brutal Saudis or Bahraini or Iranian regime killing of its people, Israel militarism regime hand in hand with its religious fundamentalisms killings of Palestinians.., the non existing freedom of speech, the non existing rights of women and or political parties.., and whatever is there is only based on religious framed laws; therefore the notion that there will be a peace and democracy later in time is ridicules by itself.

    Mr. Obama.., Israel is designed and based on idea in Zionism.., as US and EU are imperialism.., here there is that idea .., Zionism and Imperialism.., bounding US/NATO and Israel which in reality all the party have a common goal and that is: by dividing it they would rule the world.., it started many years ago and been active since then.., here for US to show the world that the US idea is truly based on democracy, it needs to separate itself from AIPAC.., AIPAC is representing Israel interests in US.., therefore it is not a peace core nor a American social movement but rather a economical and political movement that Israel have built in US.., penetrating the US social political and economic system .., here by US government ignoring that influence and not acting on be half of American people whom are demanding such separation then US militarism is going to be at war to when its ends.., that is to say if it ends.

    Having said that: democracy is a two way street leading to all other junctions.., limiting it then is going to be a one way street.., therefore, for last 50 years or so is all been talks and no actions from US or EU to force Israel to accept the fact that they cannot go around calling themselves the only democracy in the region receiving all kind of economical and political help from US and EU while it is Israel who sabotaging the peace and forthcoming of a democratic government of Palestine.., while such behavior been one of the reasons for uprising of religious fundamentalism in Middle East .., so if Obama wants peace then Israel have to be forced to accept the peace plan accepting what the Palestinians are formed of.., if not.., then boycott the country and reject all kind of payment to Israel.., ($whatever the billions amount is that US annually paying to Israel) . As US and EU have done to Iraq.., doing it to Libya and Syria and other nation in Middle East.., then for the sake of peace US and EU needs to boycott Israel.., then and only then Obama doctrine is about democracy and not just a rhetoric in peace or democracy.., otherwise as many president before the entire matter is just another re-election lies as before.

  • guest

    … and the Palestinians have one choice, too: resist or die.

  • martin

    This is just anther scene in the pantomine with one first class actor and a lazy one.

    Someone should ask Nety what exactly he sees as defendable borders.

    If he wants completely defendable borders he should perhaps consider moving to the moon.

    Plus Mr Blogger, Israel failed to address the right of return at Camp David, which is one of the reasons why Arafat rejected it.

  • liberal

    Huh? Bibi might be more aggressive in rhetoric than past governments, and his cabinet might be more openly racist, but slowly ethnically cleansing the population of the West Bank has been the policy of Israeli governments ever since 1967.

    • Nancy

      This is true. The period of most intense colonization of the West Bank came under Barak in the 1990s.

  • Neutral

    The distinguished and generally spot-on dissident, Mr. Raimondo, makes the surprising
    establishment-aligned argument that Arafat "rejected" the terms of the Camp David 2000
    peace initiative.

    The terms were eminently rejectable: a heavily cantonized West Bank, minimal sovereignty,
    an Israeli military presence along the JordanValley and only a technical presence in
    Jerusalem, etc. ad nauseum.

    Israel did not offer "90%" of the occupied territories; it offered 90% of what it was willing
    to negotiate about. This has been exhaustively documented by sources as diverse as
    Clayton E. Swisher and Noam Chomsky and Arafat was quite statesmanlike in declining
    the poison pill that was being offered.

    Having called the bluff, Arafat proposed, and Israeli Prime Minister Barak accepted, a
    more realistic continuance of the negotiations at Taba. Unfortunately, Barak was ejected
    from office by Netanyahu.

    As it stands, it would appear that Israel has four options: outright ethnic cleansing of
    Gaza and the West Bank; a single-state democracy; continued occupation and stealthy
    ethnic-cleansing of the Palestinians; a genuine two-state solution. The burden is on
    the Israelis as the occupying power and their intransigence at Camp David boxed them
    into unpalatable options that will burden both Israelis and Palestinians for generations.
    A decent peace agreement then would have precluded the rise of Hamas and perhaps
    have led to a renaissance for both parties.

    • Frank

      They've clearly already chosen option 3: occupation and slow-creep ethnic cleansing.

      • liberal

        Heh. I like to call it "go-slow ethnic cleansing." Funny that we came up with such similar labels. Or perhaps not so funny.

  • andy

    AIPAC is meeting now in Washington. Check out Steve Sailer's blog for how much power they have.

  • Tammy

    I sympathize with Palestinians but they have had more chances than anyone else in the world to grab the opportunity of an independent state starting from back in 1948 but have blown it.
    Why don't Arabs have democratic states, one wonders.

    • andy

      They were under Ottoman, then British control, until 1948. Then they got 'Pearl Harbored' by a tsunami of Jews from Europe. The Palestinians have never had a chance. You need to read some history.

    • liberal

      Yawn. You clearly know nothing about history—if you did, you'd know that it took Europeans centuries to develop democratic states.

      • andy

        And some never have. look at Russia for example.

    • tomofsnj

      The Arab states are what came out of WWI and the destruction of the Ottoman empire. The british, french and Russia got together early in WWI and made an agreement on how to split the spoil of the downfall of the Ottoman empire. What resulted is the mess in the middle east and most notable is the force creation of Israel. There were almost no jews in the area at the start of WWI. Jerusalem had the largest percentage and they were mostly very orthodox jews. The average jew in Europe had no interest in the middle east. In the first few years of 1900 millions of Russian jews left Russia and they were given the ability to move to the zionist land in the middle east. Almost none took the choice and millions voted with their feet and moved to the United States.
      The british who were obligated to manage the area allowed massive immigration into the british mandate. The creation of Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq were without the creation of any real government being created. That is one reason why you have no democracies and why the Palestinians have been screwed so many times. They are and never have been organized and developed. Today they are steady attack by the overly armed Israelis. The Israelis have never played fair and they most certainly have very powerful contacts in the powers who created the mess in the middle east.

  • andy

    Testing.

  • richard vajs

    Tammy,
    Why don't Arabs have democratic states? For the same reason that there is no real democracy in America – economic exploitation, elitism, corruption, institutionalized lying, etc. etc. And I say this as a citizen who did not vote for Bush in 2000, and saw the Supreme Court demonstrate the nature of democracy in America.
    Also, your question suggests that Israel is a democracy. That is a real painful laugh, if one is an Israeli Arab.

    • andy

      Like beauty, democracy is in the eyes of the beholder.

  • A grateful reader

    Justin,

    You need to check your facts about Camp David. The Israelis never proposed a return to the 1967 borders, and therefore Arafat had nothing of the sort to reject.

    Here are some of the key points of what was being proposed from the Israeli side:

    –Under the plan, Israel would have withdrawn completely from the small Gaza Strip. But it would annex strategically important and highly valuable sections of the West Bank–while retaining "security control" over other parts–that would have made it impossible for the Palestinians to travel or trade freely within their own state without the permission of the Israeli government (Political Science Quarterly, 6/22/01; New York Times, 7/26/01; Report on Israeli Settlement in the Occupied Territories, 9-10/00; Robert Malley, New York Review of Books, 8/9/01).

    –The annexations and security arrangements would divide the West Bank into three disconnected cantons. In exchange for taking fertile West Bank lands that happen to contain most of the region's scarce water aquifers, Israel offered to give up a piece of its own territory in the Negev Desert–about one-tenth the size of the land it would annex–including a former toxic waste dump.

    –Because of the geographic placement of Israel’s proposed West Bank annexations, Palestinians living in their new "independent state" would be forced to cross Israeli territory every time they traveled or shipped goods from one section of the West Bank to another, and Israel could close those routes at will. Israel would also retain a network of so-called "bypass roads" that would crisscross the Palestinian state while remaining sovereign Israeli territory, further dividing the West Bank.

    –Israel was also to have kept "security control" for an indefinite period of time over the Jordan Valley, the strip of territory that forms the border between the West Bank and neighboring Jordan. Palestine would not have free access to its own international borders with Jordan and Egypt–putting Palestinian trade, and therefore its economy, at the mercy of the Israeli military.

    Had Arafat agreed to these arrangements, the Palestinians would have permanently locked in place many of the worst aspects of the very occupation they were trying to bring to an end.
    http://www.fair.org/index.php?page=1113

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  • tomofsnj

    The Israeli government is playing the same game today. They want to provide the military for the Palestine. One can see the care that Israeli gave to the people of Gaza to understand what a disaster it would be for this agreement to happen. In one agreement one might thing certain matters but this is just one of very many agreements that never happened and it is pretty clear that it was not because one side was wrong. It looks very much like one side does not agree to anything but play the waiting game. Why not if you are getting billions every year waiting one can understand why waiting is the game chosen.

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  • Ricardus

    The Palestinians are being done a favour by Netanyahu and Obama. If they were really nasty they'd support the Palestinian state and allow the Abbas regime essentially to agree to a so-called country that does not control its air space or borders – "they could call it fried chicken", as a Likud politician once said in the '90s. This country would also have to pay homage to the leaders of Israel and exist in Israel's permanent security perimeter. This risk is gone and so the One State Solution becomes the only answer. The people in the vassal state would therefore have the possibility of controlling the overlord state in due course.

  • Advocate4Liberty

    How can we – ordinary enslaved Amerikans – cut that "direct line to the U.S. Treasury" What will it take to regain our freedom? A collapse of the U.S.S.A.'s empire, along with a complete collapse of civil society in our police state, with the almost-inevitable millions of deaths and destruction of wealth? Armed revolution? It's a cinch that the politicians, bureaucrats, and miiltary-industrial establishment, will not surrender their power and allow a peaceful return of American's liberties.

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