Truth and Consequences in the Middle East

My latest on Tomdispatch:

Israel Won’t Change Unless the Status Quo Has a Downside

Obama’s peace plan is doomed because failure costs Israel nothing

Uncomfortable at the spectacle of the Obama administration in an open confrontation with the Israeli government, Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman — who represents the interests of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party on Capitol Hill as faithfully as he does those of the health insurance industry — called for a halt. “Let’s cut the family fighting, the family feud,” he said. “It’s unnecessary; it’s destructive of our shared national interest. It’s time to lower voices, to get over the family feud between the U.S. and Israel. It just doesn’t serve anybody’s interests but our enemies.”

The idea that the U.S. and Israel are “family” with identical national interests is a convenient fiction that Lieberman and his fellow Israel partisans have worked relentlessly to promote — and enforce — in Washington over the past two decades. If the bonds are indeed familial, however, last week’s showdown between Washington and the Netanyahu government may be counted as one of those feuds in which truths are uttered in the heat of the moment that call into question the fundamental terms of the relationship. Such truths are never easily swept under the rug once the dispute is settled. The immediate rupture, that is, precludes a simple return to the status quo ante; instead, a renegotiation of the terms of the relationship somehow ends up on the agenda.

Sure, the Obama administration and the Netanyahu government are now working feverishly to find a formula that will allow them to move on from a contretemps that began when the Israelis ambushed Vice President Joe Biden, announcing plans to build 1,600 new housing units for settlers in occupied East Jerusalem. He was, of course, in Israel to promote the Obama administration’s failing efforts to rehabilitate negotiations toward a two-state peace agreement, a goal regularly spurned by Israel’s continued construction on land occupied in 1967.

Once again, as when Obama demanded a complete settlement freeze from the Netanyahu government in 2009, the Israelis will fend off any demand that they completely reverse their latest construction plans. Instead, they will shamelessly offer to continue their settlement activity on a “don’t-ask-don’t-tell” basis, professing rhetorical support for a two-state solution to placate the Americans, even as they systematically erode its prospects on the ground.

There is, as former Secretary of State James Baker has noted, no shortage of chutzpah in this Israeli government. “United States taxpayers are giving Israel roughly $3 billion each year, which amounts to something like $1,000 for every Israeli citizen, at a time when our own economy is in bad shape and a lot of Americans would appreciate that kind of helping hand from their own government,” Baker said in a recent interview. “Given that fact, it is not unreasonable to ask the Israeli leadership to respect U.S. policy on settlements.”

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42 Responses to Truth and Consequences in the Middle East

  1. Colin Laney says:

    It’s time to face the horrible fact that the two state solution is as dead as Monty Python’s parrot.

  2. spyguy68 says:

    Not only is the two-state solution utterly and completely dead, but so are most of the other five possible scenarios.

    The reality that Israelis can not seem to grasp is history is never static and power shifts constantly around the globe. This means that while the Israelis can successfully suppress the Arabs for now, they will NOT be able to do so forever.

    Why is it that no Israel can ask the question, “what happens when the US is weak and the Arabs are strong?”

    Because as sure as the sun will come up tomorrow, both of those things will happen. My best guess is that within the next 25 years, the Arabs will have the ability to forcibly remove all Jews from the ME.

    Why is it that no Israeli can see that Israel does not have a future unless it gives up lots of land, water and cash to the Palestinians.

    Why can’t Israelis understand they are the colonial invaders and that virtually ALL colonial invaders get driven out eventually?

    Given the five possible scenarios (and there are only five) for how this all ends, why aren’t Israelis trying to make the least bad one for Jews happen? The five possible scenarios are for the area between the Jordan River and the Med Sea:

    – two state – A Jewish state and a Muslim state equally share the land and water – not possible unless Israel forcibly removes 500,000 illegal squatters. Why do Israelis think land squatting is sustainable?

    – One state – Everyone are equal citizens – Basically the model the US followed after colonizing America – Jews would be a (large) minority in the state.

    – Gaza to Egypt and scraps of the WB to Jordan – Neither country would agree – to do so would make both countries unstable and lead to very anti-Israel governments in both.

    – Israel ethnically cleanses the entire area of non-Jews – trying to do so would lead to massive war, which Israel would lose (causing scenario 5) – Israel can not get rid of the millions of Arabs currently under their control and eventually the Arabs are going to have enough support to force scenario 2 (one state).

    – The Arabs ethnically cleanse the area of Jews – This is the most likely scenario because the Israel is becoming isolated and has few resources to fight off the Arabs once the US is no longer able (willing) to help.

    One of the things I learned from studying Chinese history is to take the long view and to sense the power shifts. The power is rapidly shifting to China from the US. The US has vastly overextended itself in pursuit of its empire so it will soon be unable to protect Israel.

    I wonder how long the US government will take before it bluntly tells Americans either Americans throw Israel under the bus or the future of the US is very dire? It appears that some people are beginning to understand.

    BTW – While the US has been wasting money and power in defense of Israel, China has been quietly using its vast wealth to ensure that most of the oil that will remain after world peak oil happens, will belong to China.

    Th US may have allowed Israel to squander America’s future.

  3. Colin Laney says:

    Spyguy68: You miss a couple of points.

    (1) You mention the option of an ethnic cleansing of all Arabs, but you don’t consider that an ethnic cleansing doesn’t have to be complete to solve Israel’s demographic problem. A partial cleansing would do just fine.

    What would the US do in response to a partial ethnic cleansing by Israel? Vote for a Security Counsel resolution condemning the crime, sure, but I can’t see Congress allowing any real punishment.

    (2) You consider the ethnic cleansing of Jews without considering that the Jews have nuclear weapons. Israel would reduce all its neighbors, Gaza, and half the West Bank to radioactive rubble before they would evacuate the region. Israel’s neighbors understand this, and Gabriel Kolko has written about it.

    I am deeply pessimistic. I think the region is headed for nuclear war, and I don’t mean the current brouhaha about Iran. Sometime before mid-century.

  4. spyguy68 says:


    If Israel tries to ethnically cleanse the WB, it will force the so-called moderate Muslim states to join up with the radical ones and attack Israel. Contrary to popular belief, Israel will lose the next big war because conditions have dramatically changed since 1967. The US is NOT in any position to do anything more than nominally help Israel if a war starts. Granted that China is now Saudi Arabia’s main customer, but since oil is traded on the world market, the US is very vulnerable to higher oil prices which would come along with the war.

    As for Israel throwing nukes, that is a suicidal move because once Israel does it, there are a number of countries that will nuke Israel in return. For example, if Israel destroyed any of China’s energy sources, China would be more than willing to nuke Israel because China knows that the US would not go to war with China over Israel because the US would lose.

    The bottom line is Israel has ONLY one option – give up lots of land, water and cash to the Arabs, but that will require Israelis to fight a civil war with lots of Israelis being killed by other Israelis.

    Since I see no one in Israel with the power and the will to bring on a civil war so there can be a fair agreement with the Arabs, I fully expect a massive war within the next 25 years with Israel being on the losing side. How many Israelis get killed will be determined by whether Israel starts throwing nukes of not – If Israel throws nukes, all Israelis die.

  5. realityzone says:

    Israel does not want peace. They survive, and thrive on chaos. If there were peace they could not justify their endless expansion [illegal settlements].

  6. Warren Metzler says:

    I find it fascinating that people like to discuss doomsday scenarios. Instead of discussing reality. Why is the US the strongest country in the world, the country most people want to go to? Because it was based on a philosophy of personal freedom. Only freedom of white men with property according to the founders. But that philosophy was taken up by more and more people, and after 200 years, in the US, is now considered the inalienable right of every person, male or female, with or without property, regardless of ethnicity, race, or culture.

    That is the wave of the future, and cannot be denied to anyone for too long. It will eventually, for example, be present in China and all the current Moslem Arab countries. Israel was founded as a country for one particular ethnic group over all others. And that is a denial of personal rights for all others who live in that area. That is why Israel cannot last. As soon as the people of most of the countries of the world wake up, and realize that Israel denies basis rights to all people who aren’t Jewish; try to be an American Caucasian and set up a proselytizing church in Israel and see how long your rights are accepted; and demand that their governments treat Israel as the same pariah as South Africa was being treated by the late 1980’s, and let the US citizens force the US government to remove all subsidies to Israel, and that country will sue for peace with the Palestinians with a pace that makes Bolt (100 meter record holder) seem liked a paralyzed statue.

  7. Warren Metzler says:

    Please add “American Caucasian Christian” to my above post.

  8. Christina says:


    “The reality that Israelis can not seem to grasp is history is never static and power shifts constantly around the globe. This means that while the Israelis can successfully suppress the Arabs for now, they will NOT be able to do so forever.”

    Completely agree.

    We’re forever hearing about how ‘brilliant’ Israelis are and about all the hi-tech industries they set up and so on, but it seems bizarre that they cannot – or will not – grasp this basic fact. Their ability to surive and even thrive in the heart of the Muslim Arab world is due mainly to one thing – the Pax Americana, whereby almost all of the regional powers are clients of the US and will not risk that status by tackling Israel. This state of affairs, hwoever, cannot last. In fact, it is already starting to crumble: Witness the rise of Iran, the assertiveness of Turkey and Syria, as well as the general decline in US power.

    The future world powers are countries like China and India who have no cultural, religious or historical links to Israel whatsoever. For them, Israel is simply a piddling Levantine state with no economic or strategic importance. They don’t have powerful pro-israel lobbies who can hush anyone into silence simply by whispering ‘anti semite’.

    In other words, the international environment is changing, inexorably, in ways not favourable to Israel. Yet Israelis act as though their current power is going to continue forever. If they had any sense, they would make peace on equitable terms (in so far as the wrongs to the Palestinians can ever be righted) and cross their fingers. Because unless they do so – and perhaps even if they do so – there is no hope of Israel ever being accepted in the region.

    BTW spyguy one option you left out of your list is the possibility of Israel just ‘fading away’ through emmigration until it becomes basically another Green Zone. More and more Israelis are emmigrating as they see no future in Israel. As and when times get tougher for them – as they surely will – it is to be expected emmigration will increase, and attachment to Zionism will fade among all but the zealots. I’m not sure if Israel will have to go out with a bang, as you are suggesting, though it’s certainly possible.

  9. spyguy68 says:


    Since I have lived in more war zones than I care to remember, I am surprised by how many people are still sticking it out in Israel considering that it is guaranteed to be a perpetual war zone and most Israelis have dual citizenship and there are so many financial opportunities outside Israel. For example, Both the US and China would pay nicely for some of the brain power in Israel.

    That being said, I agree with you that as things deteriorate, more and more sane people will exit Israel, leaving behind the crazies. once the Jewish population gets small and weak enough (all those brains leaving will take a lot of wealth with them), either scenario 2 (one state) or scenario 5 (Jewish ethnic cleansing) will take place. Which scenario will prevail? I think it may be a matter of how violently the remaining Jews resist the inevitable.

    Personally, I wish Israelis would just give up lots of land, water and cash to the Arabs and accept the inevitable, but as the religious myths clearly document, hubris/pride is one of the greatest failings of humans.

  10. Christina says:

    I guess right now – and probably for the foreseeable future – things in Israel aren’t bad enough to persuade many Israelis to leave. However, from what I’ve read, not only have increasing numbers of Israelis been emigrating, so too have large numbers been dodging military service. Not out of any great principle, in most cases, but simply because they can’t be bothered. In other words, commitment to Zionism is fading even within Israel itself.

    I’ts possible that, over time, and as their position becomes more untenable, Israeli Jews will go for the “South Africa option”, and agree to equal rights for all citizens, of all faiths and ethnicities, in Israel/Palestine. However, that’s a long way down the road, if it ever happens. It’s equally possible that we might see the Israeli Jews become the ‘pieds noir’ of the Middle East.Either way, there is surely a lot more pain and suffering in store for that part of the world.

  11. israeliamericangirl says:

    I really appreciate the article and the level of discourse and thought in the comments.

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