Category Archives: Unholy War

Who Lost Fatah?

‘Who lost China?” was the battle cry of a witch-hunt conducted in the US State Department following the 1949 victory of Mao Zedong’s communists. The department’s “China hands”, critics charged, had been woefully ignorant of the dynamics at work on the ground in China after the Second World War, and undermined the US ally Chiang Kai-shek. While the purge that followed is unlikely to be repeated, Washington may soon be asking itself, albeit quietly, “Who lost Fatah?”

Last week’s announcement by the Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas that he would not seek re-election next January was a warning to the Obama administration, which had put Mr Abbas in an untenable position. Having retreated from its own demand that Israel halt all construction in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, Washington expected Mr Abbas to open talks with the Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu without conditions.

For the Palestinians, however, the settlement-freeze demand was a test of Mr Obama’s willingness to pressure the Israelis into taking steps they won’t take by choice. Mr Abbas knows that Mr Netanyahu, if it were up to him, would not yield to a viable, independent Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders. If the US is not prepared to pressure Israel, negotiations would not only be fruitless, they would actually help sustain a reality that is relatively comfortable for the Israelis but intolerable for the Palestinians…

…The sad truth dawning on Ramallah, now, is that there will be no salvation from Washington. Not now, possibly not ever. A sad truth, perhaps, but the kind that can set free those who recognise it. In the shocked aftermath of the 1967 war, Fatah took the lead in breaking the Palestine Liberation Organisation free of the tutelage of the Arab League, in a declaration of independence that put their fate in their own hands rather than relying on Arab armies to defeat Israel. Today, they face a similar challenge – declaring independence from Washington and once again taking their fate into their own hands.
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Israel’s Apartheid Anxiety

Israel fears being targeted by a grassroots boycott movement of the type that was so effective in pressuring South Africa to end apartheid

In a remarkable interview last November, the Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert cautioned that unless it could achieve a two-state solution quickly, Israel would “face a South African-style struggle for equal voting rights, and as soon as that happens, the state of Israel is finished”. The reason, he said, was that Israel would be internationally isolated. “The Jewish organisations, which are our power base in America, will be the first to come out against us because they will say they cannot support a state that does not support democracy and equal voting rights for all its residents.”

Jewish communities in western countries have long been Israel’s trump card against international pressure, because they mobilise support for Israel and restrain critics by painting opposition to Israel’s policies as motivated by hostility to Jews – a toxic accusation in a world still sensitive to the horrors of the Holocaust. But what was palpable during the Gaza conflict was the diminished enthusiasm of young Jewish people abroad for Israeli militarism, and the increasing willingness of many to openly challenge Israel.

This change is personified by Jon Stewart, the Jewish-American comic whose Daily Show is the premier vehicle of contemporary American political satire. Stewart mercilessly mocked American politicians for their slavish echoing of the Israeli narrative during the Gaza conflict. “It’s the Möbius strip of issues,” he sarcastically enthused. “There’s only one side!” Clearly, the younger, hipper Jewish liberal mainstream exemplified by Stewart intends to judge Israel on the basis of its actions, rather than express morally blind ethnic solidarity. Continue reading

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Waltz With Bashir

Trust Tom! The ever-exquisitely-indispensable Tom Engelhardt offers us weekend comix! He launched the series with an exclusive preview of Ari Folman’s printed version of the Waltz With Bashir Film. Check it Out!

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U.S. Pours Gasoline on Gaza Fires

Once upon a time, Israelis and Palestinians looked to the U.S. to intervene at moments of heightened confrontation to mediate between the two sides and contain the damage. The Bush Administration, however, has proved entirely incapable of playing this role, because its own interventions are hidebound by the illusion that it can marginalize and destroy Hamas, the party that represents at least half of the Palestinian population Continue reading

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Annapolis is About War, Not Peace

Those claiming to see signs of a plausible peace process in the events that began at Annpolis on Tuesday are clutching at straws. You only have to look at the joint declaration adopted by the Israeli and Palestinian sides under … Continue reading

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The Grinch Who Stole Annapolis

Two months into my daughter’s first year at school, she sat with her frieds, on oversized chairs, for the obligatory class photo that will forever serve as the official memento of her 2007-2008 Pre-K year. The school year may be … Continue reading

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The Problem in Pakistan

The rather silly media narrative in which Washington supposedly suddenly faces a dilemma between backing the decrepit dictatorship of General Musharraf, or the Jeanne D’Arc pretensions (Winnie Mandela may be a closer analogy) of the kleptocratic Benazir Bhutto, has mercifully … Continue reading

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Benazir vs. Musharraf is Punch vs. Judy

Shlent was the marvelous onomatopoeic term we used in my student activist days, as verb or noun, to describe the stage managing of an event or process in a manner that allowed its appearance to camouflage a power play. (The … Continue reading

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Give Fareed Zakaria a Medal!

Fareed Zakaria deserves a medal for breaking with the mainstream media pack to slap down, with the requisite rudeness, the hysteria over Iran being manufactured by the neocons, opportunist Israeli politicians and the Bush Administration. Perhaps stung by having participated … Continue reading

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Jewish Glasnost Update: Zionist Panic!

Is Israel’s top liberal daily a fifth column? Apropos my earlier piece arguing that the ferocious backlash by the Zionist right against Jewish critics of Israel — also targeting as ‘anti-semitic’ those like Archbishop Desomand Tutu who seek to judge … Continue reading

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