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Posts Tagged ‘South Africans’

Israeli Squatters fire with Impunity at Palestinian civilians as Israeli Army watches

May 22nd, 2012 Comments off

The slow civil war in the Palestinian West Bank, occupied illegally by Israel, between the hundreds of thousands of Israeli squatters planted there by the Israeli government and the local people who are being displaced, is a daily affair. Armed Israeli squatters encroach on Palestinian water and land daily. In recent days, remarkably, video has begun surfacing of settler shootings of Palestinians, with the complicity of the Israeli army, which typically stands by and watches the slaughter.

Aljazeera reports:

Meanwhile, Israel has been repackaging goods produced by the squatters in the Palestinian West Bank as ‘made in Israel.’ South Africa and Denmark have decided to forbid this practice, raising howls of rage in Tel Aviv.

When South Africans accuse you of Apartheid practices, you have to admit they know whereof they speak.

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Apartheid and Zionist Apartheid

May 24th, 2010 Comments off

“Let’s start with the most obvious. This is a cynical ploy by the Israeli government to divert attention from the findings of the UN report. Government officials have almost said as much. A foreign ministry official described the investigation by the Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth as “explosive PR material”. Hasson claims: “Had [the Israeli foreign ministry discovered this earlier], it would have greatly helped us in our activity against the report.” But the report is about Gaza, not Goldstone. Having lost control of the message, Israel is now trying to shoot the messenger. That Israel would try to do so on the backs of black South Africans is a laughable indication of its desperation. For if Goldstone was complicit in apartheid’s crimes, then Israel was far more so. Israel was South Africa’s principal and most dependable arms dealer. As we learn elsewhere in the Guardian today, it even offered to sell the South African regime nuclear weapons. “Throughout the 70s and 80s Israel had a deep, intimate and lucrative relationship with South Africa,” explains Sasha Polakow-Suransky, author of The Unspoken Alliance: Israel’s Secret Relationship With Apartheid South Africa. “Israel’s arms supplies helped to prolong the apartheid regime’s rule and to survive international sanctions.” No criticism of Goldstone’s complicity from representatives of the Israeli state can be taken seriously that does not acknowledge and condemn Israel’s even greater support of the self-same system.” (thanks Laleh)

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Israel offered Nukes to Racist South Africa for Use on Black Neighbors

May 24th, 2010 Comments off

A suppressed historical episode has emerged into the light of day in such a way as to deeply embarrass Israel and the United States in their campaign against Iran’s peaceful nuclear enrichment program at Natanz near Isfahan.

In a recent interview, Tzahi Hanegbi, chairman of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee in Israel said, “We are frustrated with the fact that Iran does not feel the pressure of the world, does not care about the demands of the International Atomic Energy Agency and the U.N., because we feel that time is running out.” On Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said, “The greatest danger mankind faces is a radical regime, without limits to its cruelty, obtaining nuclear capabilities.”

Such Israeli eruptions of outrage about Iran depend on a key bit of misdirection, including denial of Israel’s own small arsenal of nuclear warheads. But it used to be difficult to prove Israel’s arsenal exists. No longer.

Iran appears not to have a nuclear weapons program, according to US intelligence, and its civilian nuclear research program is permitted under the terms of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. The UN Security Council, however keeps insisting that Iran cease enrichment, though it is unclear why that body thinks it has the authority to amend the NPT ex post facto in that way. It is true that Iran did not inform the UN as it was required to when it began trying to enrich uranium in the late 1990s. And it is also true that Iran is not today as transparent with the International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors as that organization would like.

For their parts, , Iranian political figures such as speaker of the house Larijani and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad have threatened to withdraw from the agreement reached last week with Turkey and Brazil whereby it would send a substantial amount of its stock of low enriched uranium to Turkey to be held in escrow, in return for the international community providing fuel enriched to 19.75 percent for the reactor that produces medical isotopes.

Barry Posen has demolished the argument, sometimes trotted out by the ‘overthrow Tehran’ crowd, that Iran would give nukes to third parties, including terrorists, if it had them. But that argument is one among many deployed against Tehran on a somewhat fantastic basis (since Iran does not have a bomb in the first place and likely couldn’t have one for a decade or more even if it were trying, which as far as US intelligence can tell, it isn’t.)

The implication, that Iran must be stopped because it would proliferate to neighbors, may come back to haunt pro-Israeli propagandists, given Tel Aviv’s own secret role in attempting to proliferate nukes to South Africa.

Netanyahu instanced the peculiar danger of Iran, but surely few regimes were as brutal and cruel or as threatening to their neighbors as Apartheid South Africa, which demonstrably wanted nuclear weapons in a way that cannot be equally well proven regarding Iran.

The Guardian reports on findings of historian Sasha Polakow-Suransky in the South African archives demonstrating that Israel offered Praetoria nuclear weapons in 1975. The documents are detailed in Polakow-Suransky’s book, The Unspoken Alliance: Israel’s Secret Relationship with Apartheid South Africa. The relevant memos and minutes are reproduced by The Guardian here.

The White South African government appears to have wanted to buy Israeli nuclear-tipped missiles for potential use against Black African neighbors such as Angola, Botswana, Zambia and (at certain points) Mozambique– countries against which the rogue regime often launched cross-border raids.

It is worth remembering what kind of pariah, racist and repressive regime Apartheid South Africa really was. Non-binding UN Security Council resolutions starting in the 1960s discouraged conventional arms sales to the regime, much less nuclear weapons! (The UN-imposed arms sale ban became mandatory on member states in 1977, shortly after the Israeli offer had been made). The impact of officially imposed white supremacism on the wealth and health of the population of was clear by 1978:

The Israel-South Africa partnership even extended to having the Anti-Defamation League, supposedly a civil rights organization fighting anti-Semitism, spy on and play dirty tricks on organizations and individuals in San Francisco who supported Palestinians or who opposed South African Apartheid.

The embarrassment is compounded by the increasing similarities between South African policies toward Black Africans and Israeli policies toward Palestinians. There is a sense in which Gaza and the West Bank have become much like the “homelands” created for denaturalized South Africans, making them foreigners in their own country and requiring that they carry papers at all times.

But it is not clear that even the South African Apartheid regime imposed anything as cruel as the Israeli siege and blockade of the Gaza Strip. That blockade is being challenged by a volunteer aid flotilla, which, however, risks being turned away before it can deliver humanitarian assistance to the half-starved Gazans, half of whom are children.

Whether it was intentional or not, the double standard in the UNSC concerning Israel’s nuclear weapons (including the recklessness with which its leaders have hinted they would use them, and the willingness to proliferate) and Iran’s civilian enrichment program, which may well never lead to a bomb has been underlined by Polakow-Suransky’s revelations. The research discoveries make it at least a little more difficult for the US and Israel to persuade other UNO states that Iran is a rogue and needs special intervention, while Israel is held harmless.

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Harvard Professor’s Modest Proposal: Starve the Gazans into Having Fewer Babies

February 23rd, 2010 1 comment

Martin Kramer revealed his true colors at the Herzliya Conference, wherein he blamed political violence in the Muslim world on population growth, called for that growth to be restrained, and praised the illegal and unconscionable Israeli blockade of civilian Gazans for its effect on reducing the number of Gazans.

M. J. Rosenberg argued that Kramer’s speech is equivalent to a call for genocide. It certainly is a call for eugenics.

It is shocking that Kramer, who has made a decade-long career of attacking social science understanding of the Middle East and demonizing anyone who departs even slightly from his rightwing Israeli-nationalist political line, should be given a cushy office at Harvard as a ‘fellow’ while spewing the most vile justifications for war crimes like the collective punishment of Gazan children.

Kramer’s remarks are wrong, offensive and racist by implication. He is driven to them by his nationalist ideology, which cannot recognize the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians by Israelis in 1948, cannot see that most Palestinians have been deprived by Israeli policies of citizenship rights (what Warren Burger called ‘the right to have rights’, as Margaret Somers pointed out), and that Palestinians are even at this moment being deprived of basic property and other rights by Israeli occupation. To admit that any of these actions produces a backlash is to acknowledge the Palestinian movements as forms of national liberation movement, and to legitimize Palestinian aspirations. Rightwing Zionism is all about erasing the Palestinians from history. And now Kramer wants to make it about erasing future Palestinian children!

Where have we seen the picture Kramer draws before? It is just a recycled form of Malthusianism, where the population growth rates of “some people” is seen as dangerous to society. Barbara Brown wrote of Apartheid South Africa:

‘ [White] South Africans who express a [concern with Black population growth] perceive a close relationship between population growth rates and political instability. There are two variants of this approach. The first holds that a growing black and unemployed population will mean increased poverty which will in turn lead to a black revolt. . .

In an opening address to a major private sector conference on ‘population dynamics’ in South Africa, the president of the 1820 Foundation argued that ‘Rapid population growth translates into a steadily worsening employment future, massive city growth . . . and an increase in the number of poor and disadvantaged. All are rightly viewed as threats to social stability and orderly change.’

A second, but smaller, group believes the black threat arises simply out of the changing ratio of white to black. This group sees that ‘THE WHITES ARE A DWINDLING MINORITY IN THE COUNTRY’ and argues that this situation will lead to a ‘similar reduction of white political authority’.

Some argue for birth control on even more overtly racist grounds, but few people in leadership positions do so, at least publicly. Debates in the House of Assembly have included remarks to the effect that blacks are unable to make a contribution to South African society and so should be encouraged to limit their numbers. The organiser of a ‘Population Explosion’ conference, a medical doctor who is deputy director of the Verwoerd Hospital, argued that whites must organise a family planning programme for blacks because the latter group is biologically incapable of exercising foresight.’

– Barbara B. Brown, “Facing the ‘Black Peril’: The Politics of Population Control in South Africa,” Journal of Southern African Studies, Vol. 13, No. 2(Jan., 1987), pp. 256-273, this quote pp. 263-64.

There are other notorious examples of this sort of argument, including eugenics theorist Madison Grant, who warned in the early 20th century that white Americans were being swamped by inferior eastern and southern Europeans such as Poles, Italians, and Jews.

How ironic, that Kramer should now resort to the very kind of arguments Madison used to condemn Martin Kramer’s ancestors being allowed to come to the United States.

As usual, Kramer, a notorious anti-intellectual opposed to the mainstream academic study of the Middle East, is wrong as a matter of social science.

Population growth in and of itself explains nothing, and certainly not terrorism. Between 1800 and 1900, Great Britain’s population tripled, whereas France underwent a demographic transition and grew very slowly. Yet Britain experienced no revolution, no great social upheavals in that period. France, in contrast, lurched from war to war, from empire to monarchy to empire to Republic, and saw the rise of a plethora of radical social movements, including the Paris Commune.

High population growth can be a problem for development, and can contribute to internal conflict over resources, but it is only one factor. If economic growth outstrips population growth (say the economy grows 7 percent and population grows 3 per year), then on a per capita basis that is the same as 4 percent economic growth, which would be good for most countries. Or if a place is thinly populated and rich in resources, population growth may not be socially disruptive. Most countries in the world have grown enormously in population during the past century, yet they display vastly different rates of social violence.

Although under some circumstances, rapid population growth can contribute to internal social instability, it is irrelevant to international terrorism as a political tactic. The deployment of terror, which the US Federal Code defines as the use of violence against civilians for political purposes by a non-state actor, is always a form of politics. The Zionist terrorists who blew up the King David Hotel in Jerusalem in 1946, which killed 91 persons and wounded 46, did not act because Jewish Irgun members had too many brothers and sisters. (And if you think about who exactly might have made an argument of that form in the 1940s, it becomes clear how smelly Kramer’s is.) Irgun blew the hotel up because British Mandate intelligence had offices there, and because they did not care if they killed dozens of civilians.

Studies of groups that deploy violence against civilians for political purposes show that [pdf link] they are characterized by higher than average education and income, which correlate with smaller family size.

Political violence is about grievances, land, resources and politics. Palestinians were no more violent than any other group in the Middle East until they were ethnically cleansed and their property was stolen by Jewish colonists in their homeland, for which they never received compensation. As Robert Pape has shown, suicide bombings cluster in the area in and around Israel, in Iraq and Afghanistan/ Northern Pakistan, places where people feel militarily occupied. But there are none in Mali or Benin, countries with among the highest population growth rates in the world.

Kramer’s argument is implicitly racist because he applies the population-growth calculus mainly to Arabs, whose family size he minds in ways that he does not others. Belize and the Cameroons have higher population growth rates than Libya. Is Kramer afraid of those two countries? Why is it only Arab children he marks as a danger?

If population growth rates were the independent variable in predicting a turn to terrorism, moreover, the fast-growing ultra-Orthodox or Haredi Jewish population of Israel would be a concern. But in fact they refuse to serve in the Israeli army and so are the least violent part of the population (though there have been occasional Haredi attacks on Palestinians.)

Kramer will find, in his new role as the Madison Grant of the twenty-first century, that his arguments are a double-edged sword that even more unsavory persons than he will gleefully wield against groups other than Arabs.

End/ (Not Continued)

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Israelis call for talks with Hamas

February 19th, 2010 Comments off

On February 15, Israeli ‘refusenik’ soldiers Arik Diamant and David Zonscheine published a short, tightly argued piece in the Guardian’s ‘Comment is Free’ section under the title ‘Talk to Hamas’.

Here’s the core of their argument:

    An open dialogue with Hamas is clearly in Israel’s interest.

    First, because Hamas was democratically elected in Gaza and has won the trust and respect of a significant part of the Palestinian people, anyone hoping to resolve this conflict will eventually need to bargain with the group.

    Second, Hamas has proven capable of delivering peace and quiet to the citizens of southern Israel. As demonstrated before, Hamas has a strong hold on all organisations acting in Gaza and can enforce a truce.

    Third, a prisoner exchange deal is our only chance to bring back the abducted IDF soldier, Gilad Shalit.

Diamant and Zonscheine are founders of the flagship, eight-year-old organization Courage to Refuse, which has organized a persistent campaign to refuse to serve in the Occupied Territories.

A few quick notes regarding news of Diamant and Zonscheine’s latest campaign:

    1. Actually, it’s not a brand-new campaign. Back last November, the two men and their supporters were already issuing a public call, I think in Hebrew, for people to support their call for their government to talk with Hamas. That account notes that, at the Rabin Memorial Rally held in Tel Aviv on November 7, the pro-talks activists “managed to collect hundreds of signatures.”

    2. They are not the only Israelis calling openly for their government to talk to Hamas. Back in March 2008, a Haaretz-Dialog poll found that 64 percent of Israelis favored their government talking directly to Hamas. (As reported here.) Former Mossad chief Efraim Halevy has been arguing since at least 2006 that Israel should talk to Hamas. In general, despite the occasionally heated and hateful rhetoric coming from some hard-right leaders in Israel, the public there has a far more realistic view of what’s needed for peace than do most Americans.

    3. I just recall that in the long years before the Oslo Accord of 1993, the idea of “talking with the PLO” was a complete taboo within just about all of the U.S. political elite. But then– in the very instant it was revealed that the Rabin government in Israel had not just been negotiating secretly with the PLO for many months but also that it had concluded an entire interim peace agreement with it– the whole U.S. political elite turned on a dime… Members of congress, TV news anchors, big-name pundits, you name it: They were lining up and drooling to have their photos taken with Yasser Arafat.

    This time around, regarding Hamas, it may end up being the same dynamic that will shake opinion in the U.S. But I certainly hope not… Not least, because the political elite in Israel (if not, perhaps, the entire populace) has shifted considerably to the right since Rabin’s day. Anyway, the U.S. can and should include Hamas in its peace diplomacy if it judges that is a wise thing to do. Why should have to wait for a seal of approval from the government in that tiny country in the Eastern Mediterranean?

    4. Just a final note about Diamant and Zonscheine’s broader refusenik movement. In the waning days of apartheid South Africa, the End Conscription Campaign, which in the circumstances was an almost wholly “White” organization, played a huge role in organizing those “White” South Africans who wanted to start questioning and then oppposing the whole apartheid system. I think “Courage to Refuse” and the other anti-militarist movements within Jewish Israeli society have a similarly prophetic role to play. because after all, the occupation and all its iniquities are sustained only through the barrels of the IDF’s extremely sophisticated arsenal of highly advanced and mega-lethal guns. Wielding those guns in battle inevitably exacts a moral and psychological price from those forced to do it.

Hats off to Diamant, Zonscheine, and their comrades!

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Goldstone’s careful documentation & argument

October 7th, 2009 2 comments

I’ve had the chance to be reading more of the report of the Goldstone Commission Report (PDF). It’s 425 pages long, so not an easy or light read!

But I’ve been very impressed with the thoroughness of both the documentation and the argumentation in the report. Goldstone and his team are very professional and careful investigators of atrocities. He, of course, got his first experience of doing such work when he was investigating allegations of serious wrongdoing by the security forces in his native South Africa in 1989-90. There, too, his investigation was hampered by serious non-cooperation from the state authorities and he was subjected to some fairly vile slurs mobilized by the state’s propaganda apparatus… But he persisted; and his report opened a chink of understanding among many White South Africans who until then had preferred to turn a blind eye, into the actions the Apartheid-era security forces took against their non-White compatriots, allegedly on their behalf…

His latest report shows the same thoroughness he brought to his work there, and later to the indictments he drew up against leading perpetrators of atrocities in former Yugoslavia and Rwanda.

For example, the Report has pulled together an excellent chronology of all the military incidents that occurred during the six-month ceasefire that started June 19, 2008. This account makes clear– as many official Israeli sources already have– how few in number were the incidents of firing any kind of ordnance from Gaza into Israel during the whole period until November 4– the day on which Israel itself undertook a major and deliberate violation of the ceasefire. But it goes beyond the official Israeli sources in noting that those rockets and missiles that were fired from Gaza prior to November 4 were not attributable to Hamas. many were attributed to– or even claimed by– the Fateh-affiliated Al-Aqsa Brigades. Others, to Islamic Jihad.

So this picture of an “unstoppably violent” Hamas that Israelis like to portray to the world is quite simply untrue. Yes, Hamas uses violence for political ends. (Like Israel.) But it does not do so irrationally or uncontrollably; and indeed, it turns out that Hamas– like Israel– is deterrable.

The report has a lengthy consideration of the Israeli forces’ firing, on January 6, of four mortars against Al-Fakhoura Street, near to an UNRWA school being used as a shelter for civilians who had fled other zones of fire. The mortars apparently killed more than 31 people. In the course of many, heavily-footnoted pages the report considers all the evidence available to it concerning what actually happened. It noted that the Israelis’ official version of what had happened changed over time.

It finds, para. 690, that:

    the attack may have been in response to a mortar attack from an armed Palestinian group but considers the credibility of Israel’s [argument to this effect] damaged by the series
    of inconsistencies and factual inaccuracies.

It then does some very thoughtful legal analysis of the Israelis’ decision to use mortars in this quite evidently heavily populated area, and concludes thus:

    696. [T]he Mission finds the following:

      (a) The military advantage to be gained was to stop the alleged firing of mortars that posed a risk to the lives of Israeli armed forces;
      (b) Even if there were people firing mortars near al-Fakhura Street, the calculation of the military advantage had to be assessed bearing in mind the chances of success in killing the targets as against the risk of firing into a street full of civilians and very near a shelter with 1,368 civilians and of which the Israeli authorities had been informed.

    697. The Mission recognizes that for all armies proportionality decisions will present very genuine dilemmas in certain cases. The Mission does not consider this to be such a case.

I note that one of the other three members of Goldstone’s fact-finding team was Colonel Desmond Travers, a former officer in the Irish Armed Forces and member of the Board of Directors of the Institute for International Criminal Investigations (IICI).

One of the real strengths of the report is that it provides, for the world public, real details about the terrible way in which named people were hurt during the fighting. It also provides a record of evident and systematic disinformation about the nature of the Israeli actions.

In discussions here and elsewhere in the week since the report came out, supporters of the government of Israel have ranted and raved against the report, against Judge Goldstone himself, and against the UN. They have not, however, presented any factual evidence that refutes any of the report’s findings.

And most of them have given no indication whatsoever that they have even read the report. They should. So should everyone concerned about the prospects for peace in the Middle East. And so should all US citizens who are concerned about how Israel uses all the financial and military aid our government gives to it.

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Trashing one-staters with Hussein Ibish

September 11th, 2009 Comments off

This morning I dropped by the Woodrow Wilson Center, a serious think-tank here in Washington DC that’s headed by the near-iconic Lee Hamilton. They had a panel discussion that had been convened to help a man called Hussein Ibish launch a book he has just published, titled What’s Wrong with the One-state Agenda?

Now, as longtime JWN readers know, I’m personally agnostic on whether Palestinians and Israelis should aim at a one-state or two-state outcome to their lengthy and very damaging conflict. But I do think that anyone who discusses this topic– or, come to that, any other topic, either– has a duty to be fair-minded, and in particular not to mis-characterize the arguments of his/her opponents.

Sadly, that was just what Ibish was doing this morning. He stated so many things that were untrue about the position of one-state supporters! Here is a partial list of these untruths:

1. That “The one-state idea emerged in some Palestinian circles at the time of the Second Intifada”.

    No. The idea is much, much older in Palestinian politics than that. Indeed, the stated national goal of Fateh and the PLO from 1968 through 1974 was the establishment of a single and secular democratic state (SDS) in the whole area of Mandate Palestine. In 1974, the PLO moved toward reframing its goal as being the creation of a “national authority” in the West Bank and Gaza; but it didn’t jettison the idea of an eventual SDS until 1996. And even after 1996, attachment to the idea of an eventual SDS remained among many secular Palestinian nationalists, inside and outside the historic homeland. Among Islamist Palestinians, there is probably even greater attachment to the idea of a one-state outcome than there is among secular nationalists; but their version of the desired single state is, of course, an Islamist one.

2. “The one-state idea rejects Israelis.”

    Again, no. First of all, we should recall that the original authors of a one-state formula in modern times were brilliant Jewish members of the yishuv in Palestine like Judah Magnes and Martin Buber, both of them pioneers in the effort to establish a Hebrew-language university in Jerusalem. Their concept was for a binational unitary state in the whole of Mandate Palestine. My understanding of the position of the secular one-staters today is that they support essentially that same vision. Back in the 1960s, inside the PLO there were lots of discussions over which of Israel’s Jewish citizens should be “allowed” to remain in the SDS, once established– would it be those who were in Palestine before 1948, or only those there before “the start of the Zionist invasion” (roughly 1917), or which? Now, you don’t hear those very exclusionary discussions among one-state proponents. What you do hear is the idea that the single state they aspire to should no longer be one that privileges Jews over non-Jews– in immigration/naturalization policies, access to land and other national resources, or any other area of public life.

3. “The one-state idea is very confrontational against anything and everything Israeli.”

    This is not true, either. Go look, for example, at the biographies of the people who took part in the most recent big conference on the one-state idea, that was held in the Boston area back in March. Many of them are Israelis– both Jewish Israelis and Palestinian Israelis.

    I have particular respect for Jewish citizens of Israel who are prepared to stand up and reject and oppose the highly discriminatory form of ethnonationalism that their country embodies to this day, as it has since 1948. They are important voices of conscience, on a par with those White South Africans who in the dark days of Apartheid spoke up against the discrimination on which their state was built (and of which they were, as they clearly understood, the unwilling beneficiaries.) But the Palestinian citizens of Israel who speak up for a one-state outcome are equally important. Ibish seemed to forget about their existence completely in his speech. Many of them, including significant intellectual figures like Asaad Ghanem or Nadim Rouhanna, see the one-state formula as meeting their community’s needs much, much more effectively than a two-state formula ever could.

4. “The one-state rhetoric exists on college campuses in the US, the UK, and Europe. But it is not connected to real politics in the US– or indeed, even in Palestine.”

    The implication here is that it’s just a fringe phenomenon, with no real resonance. (Well, if that’s the case, then Ibish is going to have a hard time trying to sell a book that deals with this topic– so he was doing a tight juggling act there: trying to tell this largely inside-Washington audience that the one-state phenomenon was important enough to care about, but still demeaning it as only a “fringe” view.)

    But the fact is, as a political idea within the Palestinian community this idea is neither a “new” one, as noted above, nor a fringe one. Many Palestinians look at it with great realism, understanding that it won’t be easy to achieve it– but also, judging that there is little remaining hope left, now, for the establishment of a viable two-state outcome, and that therefore the other major item that has long been on their menu of possible political goals needs looking at once again…

Well, in sum, Ibish seemed to be carefully assembling and erecting a straw man of how he wanted to portray the one-state idea to this audience, so that then he could rip it down. It was not a seemly performance.

These are matters of deadly, even existential, import for Palestinians everywhere. So I think the least that should be required of anyone trying to have a serious impact within this discussion is the basic sense of fairness of not wilfully mis-characterizing either the arguments or the standing of her or his opponents.

Ibish is a Lebanese-American who gained serious credentials as a Palestinian-rights activist through the good work he did with Electronic Intifada. But for quite some time now he’s been working with the (Very) American Task Force on Palestine, an organization that just– by a hair– manages not to be a complete sock puppet for the US State Department. For example, both Ibish and VATFP president Ziad Asali, who spoke in the comments section at today’s event, stressed that there needs to be a complete freeze on Israeli settlement building if the plan to establish an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel is to succeed.

And that differs from the State Department position, how? Um, actually, I’m not entirely sure… because of course, the folks in the State Department do also say the same thing from time to time. But they don’t want to take the next step of imposing actual costs on Israel for its continued defiance of this request…

And no, neither do Ibish and the VATFP, it seems. Well anyway, Ibish was openly derisive this morning about the growing worldwide movement to impose some combination of boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) on Israel.

… The Crisis Group’s Rob Malley was also on the panel. His contribution was much more instructive. Later…

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