Israeli newspaper, Ha'aretz, is one of the few media
outlets worldwide to focus
on the Israeli far-right's effort to undermine the much-touted
"road map" that Bush is throwing like a bone after
a banquet to the family pet. The administration is touting
its peace plan to give the appearance of the U.S. as an honest
Middle East broker, but there's just one problem: that dog
won't bark. The reason it won't is that the
Israeli right-wing won't let it, nor will the American
Likudniks in this country, who are far to the right of
former responded quickly to the Ameican initiative: neo-fascist
National Union politician Benny
Elon is on a
tour of the United States, promoting his own ghastly program
of ethnic cleansing as the only solution – one might even
say the final solution – to Israel's Palestinian problem.
Final in the sense that the Elon plan, entitled "In
the Wake of the War in Iraq - A Historic Opportunity for a
Regional Solution to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict,"
calls for the uprooting and mass transfer of the Palestinians
to "neighboring countries," principally Jordan:
international community will recognize the Hashemite Kingdom
as the sole representative of the Palestinians, and will
help it economically as it absorbs a limited number of refugees;
will become sovereign over Judea, Samaria and Gaza, and
the Arabs living there will be Jordanian citizens living
under a form of autonomy to-be-determined;
exchange of Jewish and Arab populations begun in 1948 will
be completed …"
isn't some marginal figure in Israeli politics, but the Minister
of Tourism speaking. That's how far the Israeli political
landscape has shifted toward the Twilight
Zone: it's as if President Bush had appointed Amiri
Baraka the national poet laureate, or Dr.
Peter Duesberg the AIDS czar. "Come to Israel, the
land of ethnic cleansing" – how's that for a marketing
party, the National Union, is not an isolated grouping of
a few stormtroopers, but a mass movement with real influence
inside Sharon's Likud party.
They won 7 Knesset seats in the recent national elections,
entered the governing coalition, and were awarded
two ministerial portfolios, transportation and tourism, as
well as a Deputy Minister of Education, Culture, and Sport.
is a notorious figure in Israel, where his demagogic billboard
campaign last year covered the country in signs reading "Only
transfer will bring peace." As the Christian Science
says that under conditions of war, Israel has the right to
bring upon the Palestinians 'another nakba,' or catastrophe,
similar to 1948, when an estimated 700,000 of them were expelled
or fled during the Arab-Israeli war."
Elon puts it:
are saying we have had enough, we have seen wars and we have
seen the Oslo agreement with all of its bloodshed. I want
to remind them of this platform and to remove the taboo from
civilized societies have taboos, and, in the West, the taboo
against these sorts of ideas is very strong. Given the history
of the twentieth century, the reason for this interdiction
is all too apparent. The degree that Elon's ideas become representative
of Israeli opinion is the extent to which Israel ceases to
be a civilized nation – and the
poll numbers don't look good.
year, according to the Jaffe Center for Strategic Studies
at Tel Aviv University, 46 percent of Jews in Israel supported
the mass expulsion of Palestinians from the West Bank and
Gaza Strip. 31 percent of those polled supported the "transfer"
of Israeli Arabs, while 60 percent liked the idea of strongly
"encouraging" Arabs to leave Israel. The numbers
are bound to be higher today.
the neo-fascist Elon in his anti-"road map" campaign
is a star-studded cavalcade of Israel-firsters, including
Martin Peretz, publisher of The New Republic, who is
in San Francisco today [Sunday], speaking at the Commonwealth
Club. He appeared on a local news program denouncing the "quartet"
and advocating a road map of his own: a unilateral American
"settlement" that would dissolve the Palestinian
Authority (a plank in the National Union platform, see above)
and effectively foreclose the possibility of an agreement.
Writing in Commentary magazine, Adam
Sofaer chimes in, denouncing not only the "so-called"
road map, but also the United States for supposedly enabling
the violence-prone Palestinians:
violence is a much more serious and difficult problem than
even [U.S. State Department official and former Middle East
negotiator] Dennis Ross now admits. It is the product of an
environment that fosters, shelters, encourages, and rewards
acts aimed at nullifying Israel's very existence. And that
environment is itself the creation not only of the Palestinians,
or of the Arabs, but also of the international community including
the United States. To change this situation requires changing
not just the actions and attitudes of Palestinians but the
policies and practices of others, again including the United
about blaming America first! Compared to this, Noam Chomsky,
Ted Rall, and the Dixie Chicks are super-patriots. It takes
a lot of gall to blame the U.S. for the suicide bombers –
especially when we subsidize the state of Israel to the tune
billion per year. But then Israel's amen corner is getting
increasingly desperate as the showdown over Bush's road map
approaches. For Sharon to accept the U.S. demand that the
settlements be rolled back would likely bring down his government,
and so the American supporters of Likud are fighting this
tooth and nail, in collusion with Israeli extremists and the
followers of Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson.
is scheduled to meet with officials of the Christian Coalition
and the Christian Broadcasting Network, as well as Gary
Bauer and Christian talk show host Janet
Parshall: he is also going to meet with unspecified "leaders
of the US Senate and the House of Representatives."
This is according to Elon's spokesperson Ronn
Torossian, who has an interesting record, to say the least.
Israeli national associated with the right-wing Likud Party,
director of the
Christian Coalition and also a member of an openly
fascist organization known as "Betar." Speaking
at a New York City rally, Torossian issued a terrorist threat
Shapiro, the pro-peace Jewish-American activist:
is a traitor, a piece of garbage, and we are going to make
his life and his parents' lives a living hell."
shameless Reverends Falwell and Robertson are Elon's natural
hosts, but why is this Israeli equivalent of David Duke being
greeted and feted by members of Congress? Let's find out which
Senators and House members are meeting with the Hitlerian
Elon and collaborating with his hate-crazed followers, so
that each of them can experience their Trent Lott moment.
all, what if they met with Joerg
Haider, or the head of the British
National Party? The outcry would be deafening, and the
invitations soon rescinded. In the case of a virulent extremist
of Elon's type, however, one wonders: will anyone dare to
a great show of angrily denouncing the National Union's
American initiative, saying in effect that Israelis shouldn't
intervene quite so openly in internal American politics. But
the sincerity of this denunciation is dubious when we consider
that his coalition government is hardly going to break up
over the dispute. And there are other reasons to wonder if
Sharon and Elon aren't merely playing the old "good cop/bad
in B'sheva, an Israeli weekly newspaper, Haggai Segal
statement by Ariel Sharon which has not been reported
in the Western media, as far as I can tell, that shows the
Israeli Prime Minister's true sympathies are much closer to
Elon's than anyone in the U.S. State Department is willing
talk about the Road Map, but those who know me know that I'm
here to preserve the Land of Israel, not divide it… But we
have to work smartly and cleverly. Why fight with Bush if
we can talk nicely to him? After all, nothing will come out
of this Road Map plan anyway…"
is right. Congress
is already on record as leery of the President's plan:
an open letter, initiated by congressmen Tom Lantos, Roy Blunt,
Stenny Hoyner and Henry Hyde, asking the President to please
stop leaning on poor little Israel, had 315 signatures: a
similar letter originating in the Senate bore 88. Pat Buchanan
was excoriated for accurately describing Congress as "Israeli-occupied
territory," but this confirms the dead-on accuracy of
his quip. The majority of the GOP congressional caucus is
clearly siding with Minister Elon and the American Likudniks
over their own President – and that's why they call it the
goes on to quote more from Sharon:
the long-range, the only chance to prevent an erosion of our
position depends on the settlers [the Jewish residents of
Judea, Samaria and Gaza]. They're the only ones who are separating
between the Arabs and their dreams. Without them, a Palestinian
state would long have been established in all of Yesha. In
the merit of their stubbornness, their willingness to sacrifice,
it can still be possibly stopped or at least neutralized.
I just hope that they don't get tired or weak suddenly. We're
in deep trouble if they get tired or stop believing. Their
job on this earth is to fight the despair of my generation,
to fight my weakness. They have to save us from our despair,
my despair. So [in Sharon's oft-quoted words from late 1998],
let everyone get a move on and take more hilltops, take more
land. Whatever we take - will be ours, and whatever we don't
take, will be theirs [the Arabs']."
this sound like someone who is about to give up the settlements,
and move on to a new era of peace?
the record: The whole "road map" idea is a losing
proposition for the U.S., a useless charade made possible
and even necessary by the U.S. invasion of Iraq. To counter-balance
our obvious tilt toward Israel – this war was, after all,
nothing but a
proxy war on Israel's behalf – the Bushies feel obligated
to "reach out" to the Arab world, in belated recognition
that we'll need their help in the ongoing war on Al Qaeda
and its successors. But just as our intervention in Arab affairs
causes resentment and fuels Islamic extremism, providing recruits
for Bin Laden's terrorist armies, so U.S. meddling and pressure
on our Israeli ally feeds the extremism of Elon and the National
Union in Israel – without solving the problem our intervention
was supposed to correct. A problem, one might add, that was
worsened if not caused by the U.S. to begin with, as without
U.S. military and economic aid the Israeli occupation of Arab
lands would not be possible in the first place.
we endlessly intervene to repair the damage done by previous
interventions, the U.S. is caught in a nightmarish cycle of
recurring disasters. The only solution is to break the cycle.
We cannot broker a peace deal among peoples who insist on
fighting each other. We need to cut economic and military
ties to Israel and the Arab states, while, simultaneously,
announcing to all parties that the United States will henceforth
have nothing to do with the "quartet." Let the UN,
Russia, and the EU fight it out with the Israelis and the
newly-installed Palestinian Prime Minister, Abu
Mazen. (Gee, if they held an election, I must have missed
spite of all this, however, it is very interesting to watch
how the pro-Israel lobby is frenetically working to undermine
what is, after all, the President's own plan for Middle East
peace. In attacking Powell's trip to Damascus as "ludicrous",
Gingrich was giving voice to the untrammeled Likudnik-National
Unionist view that meeting with the Syrian strongman is
like meeting with Bin Laden or the Taliban. But as Powell
pointed out on "Meet the Press" this [Sunday] morning,
the former Speaker of the House was really attacking the President's
policy, not the State Department's. Stay tuned for more of
this as the fight escalates.
I find interesting is how Minister Elon thinks he can directly
influence the White House. As one news account framed it:
Evangelical Christians in the USA have eschatological views
which views the establishment of the state of Israel as necessary
for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. Many therefore find
themselves in opposition to such a 'two state' solution as
the one on offer.
"'We have to strengthen our ties with those connected
to and who influence Bush. He has the strength to stand up
to international opinion,' Elon had said.
"Noting that Bush is a religious man and pays close attention
to Christian interests, Elon had added, 'He is a man who prays
daily. He knows the Bible...'"
appealing to Bush's religious views Elon may not be far off
the mark. But just in case this kind of gentle persuasion
doesn't work, Elon's meetings with Christian Coalition leaders
and others are designed to exert another less subtle kind
of pressure as the President's reelection campaign gets underway.
can only agree with Sharon, however, that this kind of
intervention is most unhelpful to Israel:
thinks that the government can function by exerting pressures
on Congress and from there on the Presidency does not understand
the situation, the relations with the U.S., and the campaign
that we are waging. This causes heavy damage to Israel… It
is a big mistake to go to the U.S. and activate elements against
the Administration. It causes great and unnecessary damage
and makes our diplomatic campaign harder."
is something that is usually done in the dark. To see such
tactics being openly used to derail the road map looks really
bad, and the spectacle of the hate-monger Elon touring the
his particular variety of poison, doesn't help.
are two road maps to peace in the Middle East on the table:
the Bush-Powell version and the Elon plan. Sharon is covertly
supporting the latter while pretending to uphold the former,
while Israel's supporters in this country are mobilizing their
forces for a preemptive strike against the State Department.
If George W. Bush, pumped up by the hubris of a quick victory
over the Iraqis, thinks he can take on the Israelis and win
just as effortlessly, he is sadly mistaken.
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