Why Not Sanctions for Israel? – Gross Violations of Human Rights (SANCTIONS NOW!)

In Israel, a country stolen from the Palestinians, fanatics control the government. One of the fanatics is the prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. Last week Netanyahu called for “crippling sanctions” against Iran.

The kind of blockade that Netanyahu wants qualifies as an act of war. Israel has long threatened to attack Iran on its own but prefers to draw in the US and NATO.

Why does Israel want to initiate a war between the United States and Iran?

Is Iran attacking other countries, bombing civilians and destroying civilian infrastructure?

No. These are crimes committed by Israel and the US.

Is Iran evicting peoples from lands they have occupied for centuries and herding them into ghettoes?

No, that’s what Israel has been doing to the Palestinians for 60 years.

What is Iran doing?

Iran is developing nuclear energy, which is its right as a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty. Iran’s nuclear energy program is subject to inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which consistently reports that its inspections find no diversion of enriched uranium to a weapons program.

The position taken by Israel, and by Israel’s puppet in Washington, is that Iran must not be allowed to have the rights as a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty that every other signatory has, because Iran might divert enriched uranium to a weapons program.

In other words, Israel and the US claim the right to abrogate Iran’s right to develop nuclear energy. The Israeli/US position has no basis in international law or in anything other than the arrogance of Israel and the United States.

The hypocrisy is extreme. Israel is not a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty and developed its nuclear weapons illegally on the sly, with, as far as we know, US help.

As Israel is an illegal possessor of nuclear weapons and has a fanatical government that is capable of using them, crippling sanctions should be applied to Israel to force it to disarm.

Israel qualifies for crippling sanctions for another reason. It is an apartheid state, as former US President Jimmy Carter demonstrated in his book, Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid.

The US led the imposition of sanctions against South Africa because of South Africa’s apartheid practices. The sanctions forced the white government to hand over political power to the black population. Israel practices a worse form of apartheid than did the white South African government. Yet, Israel maintains that it is “anti-semitic” to criticize Israel for a practice that the world regards as abhorrent.

What remains of the Palestinian West Bank that has not been stolen by Israel consists of isolated ghettoes. Palestinians are cut off from hospitals, schools, their farms, and from one another. They cannot travel from one ghetto to another without Israeli permission enforced at checkpoints.

The Israeli government’s explanation for its gross violation of human rights comprises one of the greatest collection of lies in world history. No one, with the exception of American “christian zionists,” believes one word of it.

The United States also qualifies for crippling sanctions. Indeed, the US is over-qualified. On the basis of lies and intentional deception of the US Congress, the US public, the UN and NATO, the US government invaded Afghanistan and Iraq and used the “war on terror” that Washington orchestrated to overturn US civil liberties enshrined in the US Constitution. One million Iraqis have paid with their lives for America’s crimes and four million are displaced. Iraq and its infrastructure are in ruins, and Iraq’s professional elites, necessary to a modern organized society, are dead or dispersed. The US government has committed a war crime on a grand scale. If Iran qualifies for sanctions, the US qualifies a thousand times over.

No one knows how many women, children, and village elders have been murdered by the US in Afghanistan. However, the American war of aggression against the Afghan people is now in its ninth year. According to the US military, an American victory is still a long ways away. Admiral Michael Mullen, Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, declared in August that the military situation in Afghanistan is “serious and deteriorating.”

Older Americans can look forward to the continuation of this war for the rest of their lives, while their Social Security and Medicare rights are reduced in order to free up funds for the US armaments industry. Bush/Cheney and Obama/Biden have made munitions the only safe stock investment in the United States.

What is the purpose of the war of aggression against Afghanistan? Soon after his inauguration, President Obama promised to provide an answer but did not. Instead, Obama quickly escalated the war in Afghanistan and launched a new one in Pakistan that has already displaced 2 million Pakistanis. Obama has sent 21,000 more US troops into Afghanistan and already the US commander in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal, is requesting 20,000 more.

Obama is escalating America’s war of aggression against the Afghanistan people despite three high profile opinion polls that show that the American public is firmly opposed to the continuation of the war against Afghanistan.

Sadly, the ironclad agreement between Israel and Washington to war against Muslim peoples is far stronger than the connection between the American public and the American government. At a farewell dinner party last Thursday for Israel’s military attache in Washington, who is returning to Israel to become deputy chief of staff of the Israeli military, Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, Undersecretary of Defense Michele Flournoy, and and Dan Shapiro, who is in charge of Middle East affairs on the National Security Council, were present to pay their respects. Admiral Mullen declared that the US will always stand with Israel. No matter how many war crimes Israel commits. No matter how many women and children Israel murders. No many how many Palestinians Israel drives from their homes, villages, and lands. If truth could be told, the true axis-of-evil is the United States and Israel.

Millions of Americans are now homeless because of foreclosures. Millions more have lost their jobs, and even more millions have no access to health care. Yet, the US government continues to squander hundreds of billions of dollars on wars that serve no US purpose. President Obama and General McChrystal have taken the position that they know best, the American public be damned.

It could not be made any clearer that the President of the United States and the US military have no regard whatsoever for democracy, human rights, and international law. This is yet another reason to apply crippling sanctions against Washington, a government that has emerged under Bush/Obama as a brownshirt state that deals in lies, torture, murder, war crimes, and deception.

Many governments are complicit in America’s war crimes. With Obama’s budget deep in the red, Washington’s wars of naked aggression are dependent on financing by the Chinese, Japanese, Russians, Saudis, South Koreans, Indians, Canadians and Europeans. The second this foreign financing of American war crimes stops, America’s wars of aggression against Muslims stop.

The US is not a forever “superpower” that can indefinitely ignore its own laws and international law. The US will eventually fall as a result of its hubris, arrogance, and imperial overreach. When the American Empire collapses, will its enablers also be held accountable in the war crimes court?

Ref: Counterpunch

Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration. He is coauthor of The Tyranny of Good Intentions.He can be reached at: PaulCraigRoberts@yahoo.com

OBAMA SPEECH: Convenient Crutch: Forget ‘Negotiations’, Mr. Obama

Whenever western leaders lecture us about a solution to the Israel-Palestine problem, they rely on those comfortable, woolly words “negotiation” and “peace process”… it’s a convenient crutch.

Kick away the crutch and they’d finally have to grasp the nettle of justice, something they have always avoided.

Justice is underpinned by law, but the operation of law in the Holy Land is conspicuously absent. The Arabs, I believe, want plain, simple justice. Why is this such a problem to a western alliance that claims to itself sweeping moral authority?

President Obama, speaking the other day in a BBC interview, said he believed the US was “going to be able to get serious negotiations back on track” between Israel and the Palestinians. Asked about Israel’s defiance of his call for a halt to illegal Jewish settlements in the West Bank, Obama urged patience, saying it was early in the conversation. “Diplomacy is always a matter of a long hard slog. It’s never a matter of quick results.”

Diplomacy hasn’t produced a result in 61 years, and he made no mention of implementing international law and enforcing UN resolutions. Like others, he much prefers the soft and fluffy option of negotiations that go nowhere and a “process” that is doomed to fail, enabling Israel to pursue its evil designs indefinitely. In their minds, and for some unexplained reason, Israel is exempt from laws, conventions, codes of conduct and respect for human rights that other nations of the civilised world are expected to observe. It is allowed to act the brutal aggressor with impunity

“Negotiations” Without Law Are Immoral

There are, of course, several objections to the idea of “negotiations” in the Israel-Palestine context. In particular, it is immoral to put a weak party and a strong party together and expect a fair outcome when the strong party is in permanent occupation and has its military boot on the other’s throat.

It is immoral to expect a weak party to negotiate with a strong party that’s daily in breach of international law, commits war crimes and acts of piracy and continues to steal land and dispossess the weak party’s citizens in order to unlawfully expand its borders.

It is immoral for the sponsors of the negotiations to be partisan and vilify the democratically elected representatives of the weak party, and to refuse to acknowledge the weak party’s right to political self-determination and territorial integrity.

It is immoral to force negotiations without first establishing a level playing field in terms of compliance with international law and UN resolutions. The international community has shirked this responsibility for decades – not because the peoples of the member nations are reluctant but because their leaders are corrupt.

Mr. Obama says there needs to be “a good deal of truth-telling” if the rift between America and the Muslim world is to be healed. Which of the many painful truths will he tell? As David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s first prime minister, remarked: “If I were an Arab leader I would never make terms with Israel. We have taken their country. Sure, God promised it to us, but what does that matter to them? Our God is not theirs. We come from Israel, it is true, but 2,000 years ago, and what is that to them? There has been anti-Semitism, the Nazis, Hitler, Auschwitz, but was that their fault? They only see one thing: we have come here and stolen their country.”

Truth-telling: What is Obama’s Version of the Truth?

The whole rotten 90 years of lies and betrayal needs to be ventilated and understood in the West… the chicanery leading up to the 1947 United Nations partition of Palestine that gave the Jews 57 percent when they accounted for only 30 percent of the population, and how the plan designated Jerusalem, with its major religious sites, an internationally administered city.

How the Jews apparently accepted the plan, declared statehood in May 1948 but wanted more. How the new Israel immediately proceeded to uproot 750,000 Palestinian Arabs from their homes and lands, obliterated nearly 400 Arab villages and towns, and allegedly committed some 34 massacres in pursuit of its territorial ambitions.

How Israel demolished 125,000 Palestinian homes, and after 1967 destroyed 18,000 more. How house demolition is still used today as a deliberate strategic tool to break the Palestinians’ will, achieve ethnic transfer and help make Israel’s control of Occupied Palestine permanent.

And how, in the process, Israel has flagrantly breached of every rule, convention and declaration governing civilised conduct.

UN Resolution 194, re-passed many times since 1948, requires Israel to allow Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and compensate those choosing not to. Israel has refused to comply. Meanwhile any Jew from anywhere in the world, who has never before lived in Israel and whose ancestors have never lived in Israel, can go and live in Israel while Palestinians who can prove title to their former homes may not.

In 1967, under the pretext of the Six Day War, Israel seized what remained of Palestine – the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip. Resolution 242 ordered Israel to withdraw its armed forces, but again it defied the international community and international law. As a result Palestinians today comprise the largest refugee population in the world and have endured the longest, most brutal occupation in modern times.

Obama should remind himself of the countless other UN resolutions that Israel has defied.

Israel says it “withdrew completely” from Gaza in 2005. It didn’t. It still occupies Gaza’s airspace, airwaves and coastal waters, and the military invade with tanks, bulldozers and aircraft to shoot the place up whenever they please. Israel still controls all the border crossings except the one with Egypt, which it is allowed to ‘monitor’.

Gaza’s 3,000 licensed fishermen are unable to put to sea and earn their living for fear of being fired on by Israel patrol boats.

We in the West are asked to believe the siege of Gaza is about rockets “raining down” on Sderot, an Israeli township built on stolen Palestinian land. Stop the Gaza rockets and things will be OK, says Israel. But Palestinians in the West Bank don’t fire rockets and the Israelis are still in occupation after 41 years. They have seized Palestinian agricultural land and water resources for their own use. While Israelis fill their swimming pools and wash their cars, Palestinians have to survive on as little as 10 to 15 litres a day. More than 38% of their territory is now off-limits to them. In the Gaza Strip the UN reports that a border “exclusion zone” imposed by Israel bites as much as a mile into the narrow enclave and renders 30 percent of Gaza’s farmland unusable.

Gaza overflows with unpalatable truths. Hamas have invited Obama to visit and see the evidence for himself. He could demonstrate his good intentions by accepting.

The ‘roadmap’ endorsed by the UN Security Council puts Israel under an obligation to immediately dismantle outposts erected since 2001, freeze all squatter activity and do nothing to undermine trust, including confiscation and/or demolition of Palestinian homes and property. Israel rides roughshod over these obligations.

“Because Israel does not recognize Ottoman or British-era deeds, 72% of the West Bank is considered Israeli ‘state lands’. More than 200 settlements have been constructed in the Occupied Territories, and 450,000 Israelis have migrated across the 1967 boundaries,” says the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions. The main aim of the squatter project, together with the exclusive Jewish claim to the entire country, is to prevent the establishment of a viable Palestinian state. “The settlements, the infrastructure serving them and the security system necessary to protect them have carved the Occupied Territories into dozens of isolated, impoverished enclaves. Palestinians are forbidden to travel between these enclaves without military permission, thus turning their own towns and villages into prisons.”

Nevertheless Israel’s allies continue preaching a two-state solution to safeguard the ‘purity’ of the racist regime, knowing that it involves the remnants of Occupied Palestine becoming a permanently ghettoized sub-state, subservient to Israel and never capable of prospering.

In 2004 the International Court of Justice ruled that the route of the Separation Wall, where it intrudes deeply into Palestinian territory, is illegal and should be dismantled. Far from complying, Israel is still building it.

In the wake of Israel’s 22-day devastation of Gaza and wholesale murder of its civilians at the New Year, the Zionist regime is not only blocking humanitarian and reconstruction aid but also denying access to teams investigating allegations of war crimes.
And let’s not forget that 10,000 Palestinians, including women and children abducted from their homes, are rotting in Israeli jails, many without charge or trial. 30+ democratically elected Palestinian parliamentarians are also imprisoned.

Here’s something else for us all – not just Muslims – to worry about. The Weapons of Mass Destruction Commission says that Israel possesses a nuclear arsenal possibly larger than the British stockpile. Israel is the only state in the region that is not a party to the Non-Proliferation Treaty. It has signed but not ratified the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty. It has not signed the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention. It has signed but not ratified the Chemical Weapons Convention.

Nevertheless the US government pours aid into Israel at a rate of around $3 billion annually. The money helps pay for Israel’s illegal occupation, its helicopter gun-ships, tanks and high-tech weaponry, Caterpillar bulldozers, and all the other paraphernalia of military oppression. Israel usually gets another $2 to 3 billion in indirect aid – military support, loan write-offs and special grants. So the US taxpayer is generously funding Israel’s destruction of Palestinian infrastructure (often paid for by British, EU and US taxpayers) and livelihoods, and its ethnic cleansing programme.

And what does the President think about the racist overtones in the manifesto of Netanyahu’s ruling Likud party? It says: “The Palestinians can run their lives freely in the framework of self-rule, but not as an independent and sovereign state… Jerusalem is the eternal, united capital of the State of Israel and only of Israel… The government firmly rejects attempts of various sources in the world, some anti-Semitic in origin, to question Jerusalem’s status as Israel’s capital.”

Rivals Kadima aim for a solid Jewish majority and claim the Jewish people have a national and historic right to the Land of Israel “in its entirety”. They seem determined to grab all of it.

The last official word on the question of Jerusalem, I believe, was the UN’s declaration at the time of the 1947 Partition that it should be a ‘corpus separatum’ – an international city. So a good starting point for Mr. Obama and the international community would be to knock these nonsensical Zionist claims of exclusive ownership on the head and properly implement at least this part of the UN plan, in order to take some of the heat out of the situation.

There are many more truths that ought to be aired. But enough are mentioned here to send a simple and obvious message to Mr. Obama. End the occupation. Apply the law. Deliver justice. Stop helping to sustain Israeli oppression. It would not be tolerated anywhere else.

Ref. Palestine chronicle

– Stuart Littlewood is author of the book Radio Free Palestine, which tells the plight of the Palestinians under occupation. He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com. Visit: http://www.radiofreepalestine.co.uk.

Barak: There is neither hunger nor crisis in Gaza

Defense Minister Ehud Barak told the cabinet on Sunday that he felt that there was no crisis in the Gaza Strip.

“There is no hunger or crisis in Gaza,” he said during a security briefing. “More supplies pass through the border crossings today than did during some points of the last cease-fire. Only sensitive materials or construction materials are not transferred in.”

Shin Bet security service Chief Yuval Diskin also briefed the cabinet “An ongoing improvement has been felt in the Egyptian efforts to curb arms smuggling along the Philadelphi route,” he said, referring to a strip of land along the Gaza-Egypt border.

The Shin Bet director explained that the Egyptians replace the forces stationed at the border every few months to prevent soldiers from becoming too attached to the local population, and that several Egyptian officers have already been arrested on suspicion of having taken bribes.

Diskin also addressed the situation within Gaza, saying that tensions were rising between Hamas’ political leadership and the organization’s military wing. According to Diskin, the political leadership wants to engage in public relations and the military wing wants to arm itself and to achieve maximum results in efforts to gain the release of Palestinian prisoners held in Israel.

Diskin added that Hamas’ “Damascus-based political leaders side with the military wing.”

Diskin also remarked that the chances that the Palestinian will successfully establish a unity government were very small, and that tensions raged between the factions over the elections and security issues.

Shin Bet: Hamas cracking down on Gaza rockets, but arming itself

Diskin also explained to the cabinet that Hamas was working to stop militants in Gaza from firing rockets at Israel, it was nevertheless taking the opportunity to reinforce its own strength in the coastal territory.

“Hamas is working against rocket fire from the Gaza Strip toward Israel, but is simultaneously building its own force within Gaza and is trying to expand its rocket range, both through internal manufacture and the smuggling of proper weapons from Egypt,” Diskin told ministers at the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem.

The Shin Bet director added that Hamas was a particular interest in maintaining calm in the Gaza Strip at this time.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded to the briefing by emphasizing that while the current cease-fire between Israel and Gaza was nearly absolute, it was still fragile and threatened by Hamas’ participation in arms smuggling.

“We are asked at all times to ease conditions for the Gaza population, to let in materials and equipment,” Netanyahu said. “But we have other interests in the Strip, and those have to do with security.”

“We do not want to strengthen Hamas, not in its capability, not in prevention, and not economically,” he added. “We want [abducted Israeli soldier] Gilad Shalit back. We are examining the matter of border crossings and trying to find the balance between easing conditions for civilians while preventing Hamas’ rearmament.”

ref: haaretz

France: Jerusalem should be capital of two states

France accused Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday of prejudicing the outcome of the Middle East peace process by declaring that Jerusalem would forever be Israel’s undivided capital.

“Jerusalem is the eternal capital of the Jewish people, a city reunified so as never again to be divided,” Netanyahu said on Thursday at a ceremony to mark Jerusalem Day in the city’s Mercaz Harav yeshiva.

Our people’s unparalleled affinity to Jerusalem has spanned thousands of years, and is at the basis of our national renaissance. It has united our people, secular and religious people alike.”

Foreign Ministry spokesman Frederic Desagneaux said Friday, “The declaration made by the Israeli prime minister yesterday in Jerusalem prejudices the final status agreement,” according to AFP.

Desagneaux also said the “Middle East road map” to peace calls on both parties to negotiate an agreement on Jerusalem.

“In France’s eyes, Jerusalem should, within the framework of a negotiated peace deal, become the capital of two states,” he said, adding that French President Nicolas Sarkozy had told Israeli lawmakers this in a speech last year.

“Actions such as the destruction of Palestinian homes or the transformation of Arab districts risk provoking an escalation in violence. They are unacceptable and contrary to international law,” Desagneaux said.

“In broad terms, France condemns the ongoing settlement, including in East Jerusalem. We reiterate the need for a freeze on colonization activities, including those linked to natural population growth,” he added.

Netanyahu said he had made the same declaration during his recent visit to Washington, where he met with United States President Barack Obama over the peace process and Iran’s nuclear program.

“Only under Israeli sovereignty will united Jerusalem ensure the freedom of religion and freedom of access for the three religions to the holy places,” he said.

Ref: Haaretz

Netanyahu’s Plan – The Emperor’s Old Clothes


Everybody is talking about the first 100 days of Barack Obama. And there’s a lot to talk about.

Like a young bull he stormed into the arena. A deluge of new ideas in every direction, a tsunami of practical initiatives, some of which have already begun to be implemented. Clearly he had been thinking about them for a long time and intended to put them into practice from his first moment in office. He put his team together long ago, and his people started to act even before his triumphal entrance to the White House. During the first days he appointed the ministers, most of whom he had designated long before – this seems to be an effective cabinet, whose members are up to their tasks.

Everything according to a rule that was laid down long ago: what a new president does not initiate in his first 100 days, he will not accomplish later on. In the beginning everything is easier, because the public is ready for change.

An Israeli cannot, of course, resist comparing Obama to Binyamin Netanyahu, our old-new Prime Minister, who did not exactly storm into the arena. He crawled into it.

* * *

ONE COULD have expected that Netanyahu would trump even Obama in this respect.

After all, he has already been there. Ten years ago he was sitting in the Prime Minister’s chair, gathering experience. And from experience – especially bad experience – one can and should learn.

Moreover, Netanyahu’s victory was no great surprise. The only unexpected part of the election results was that his opponent, Tzipi Livni, won slightly more votes than he, but not enough to prevent him from attaining – together with his partners – a majority.

He had, therefore, a lot of time to prepare for his ascent to power, consult experts, perfect plans in every field, choose his team, think about the appointment of ministers from his own and allied parties.

Yet, incredibly, it appears that nothing, really nothing, of all this happened. No plans, no assistants, no team, no nothing.

To this very minute, Netanyahu has not succeeded in putting together his personal team – a fundamental precondition for any effective action. He does not have a chief of staff, a most important position. In his office, chaos reigns supreme.

The choice of ministers threw up one scandal after another. Not only did he put together a hideously bloated cabinet (39 ministers and deputy ministers, most of them flaunting fictitious titles) but almost all the important ministries are stuck with totally unsuited persons.

At a time of world-wide economic crisis he appointed to the Treasury a Minister who has no idea about economics, apparently thinking that he himself would manage the treasury – quite impossible for a man who is responsible for the state as a whole. The Ministry of Health got an orthodox rabbi as Deputy Minister. In the middle of a world-wide epidemic, we have no Minister of Health, and according to law the Prime Minister has to exercise this function, too. In almost all the other ministries – from Transportation to Tourism – there are incumbents who know nothing about their fields of responsibility and don’t even pretend to be interested in them – they are just waiting for an opportunity to move on to higher and better things.

No need to waste many words on the appointment of Avigdor Lieberman to the Foreign Ministry. This professional scandalmonger provokes a daily scandal in this most sensitive area of government. The bull in the china shop has already succeeded into turning all the diplomats into small bullocks, each of which is running about and smashing the dishes in his vicinity. At the moment, they are busy messing up Israel’s relations with the EU.

All these appointments look like the desperate efforts of a cynical politician who does not care about anything other than returning to power, and then quickly putting together a cabinet, whatever its composition, paying any price to any party prepared to join him, sacrificing even the most vital interests of the state.

* * *

AS FAR as plans are concerned, Netanyahu does not resemble Obama either. He has come to power without any plans in any field. One gets the impression that he has spent his years in opposition with his head in hibernation

A week ago he presented a grandiose “economic plan” for saving our economy from the ravages of the world economic crisis. Economists raised their eyebrows. The “plan” consists of little more than a collection of tired old slogans and a tax on cigarettes. His embarrassed assistants stuttered that it was only a “general outline”, not yet a plan, and that now they would start working on a real plan.

The public did not really worry about the lack of an economic plan. They have faith in improvisation, the wondrous Israeli talent that makes up for the inability to plan anything.

But in the political field, the situation is even worse. Because there the unpreparedness of Netanyahu meets the overpreparedness of Obama.

Obama has a plan for the restructuring of the Middle East, and one of its elements is an Israeli-Palestinian peace based on “Two States for Two Peoples”. Netanyahu argues that he is not in a position to respond, because he has no plan of his own yet. After all, he is quite new in office. Now he is working on such a plan. Very soon, in a week, or a month, or a year, he will have a plan, a real plan, and he will present it to Obama.

Or course, Netanyahu has a plan. It consists of one word, which he learned from his mentor, Yitzhak Shamir: “NO”. Or, more precisely, NO NO NO – the three no’s of the Israeli Khartoum: No peace, No withdrawal, No negotiations. (It will be remembered that the 1967 Arab summit conference in Khartoum, right after the Six-day War, adopted a similar resolution.)

The “plan” which he is working on does not really concern the essence of this policy, but only the packaging. How to present to Obama something that will not sound like “no”, but rather like “yes, but”. Something that all the serfs of the Israeli lobby in Congress and the media can swallow painlessly.

* * *

AS A taster for the “plan”, Netanyahu has already presented one of its ingredients: the demand that the Palestinians and other Arabs must recognize Israel as “the State of the Jewish People”.

Most of the media in Israel and abroad have distorted this demand and reported that Netanyahu requires the recognition of Israel as a “Jewish State”. Either from ignorance or laziness, they obliterated the important difference between the two formulas.

This difference is immense. A “Jewish State” is one thing, a “State of the Jewish People” is something radically different.

A “Jewish State” can mean a state with a majority of citizens who define themselves as Jews and/or a state whose main language is Hebrew, whose main culture is Jewish, whose weekly rest day is Saturday, which serves only Kosher food in the Knesset cafeteria etc.

A “State of the Jewish People” is a completely different story. It means that the state belongs not only to its citizens, but to something that is called “the Jewish People” – something that exists both inside and outside of the country. That can have wide-ranging implications. For instance: the abrogation of the citizenship of non-Jews, as proposed by Lieberman. Or the conferring of Israeli citizenship on all the Jews in the world, whether they want it or not.

The first question that arises is: what does “the Jewish People” mean? The term “people” – “am” in Hebrew, Volk in German – has no accepted precise definition. Generally it is taken to mean a group of human beings who live in a specific territory and speak a specific language. The “Jewish People” is not like that.

Two hundred years ago it was clear that the Jews were a religious community dispersed throughout the world and united by religious beliefs and myths (including the belief in a common ancestry). The Zionists were determined to change this self-perception. “We are a people, one people”, Theodor Herzl, the founder of Zionism, wrote in German, using the word Volk.


The idea of “the State of the Jewish People” is decidedly anti-Zionist.
Herzl did not dream of a situation in which a Jewish State and a Jewish Diaspora would coexist. According to his plan, all the Jews who wish to remain Jews would immigrate to their state. The Jews who prefer to live outside the state would stop being Jews and be absorbed into their host nations, finally becoming real Germans, Britons and Frenchmen. The vision of the “Visionary of the State” (as he is officially designated in Israel) was supposed, when put into practice, to bring about the disappearance of the Jewish Diaspora – the Jewish people outside the “Judenstaat”.

David Ben-Gurion was a partner to this vision. He stated that a Jew who does not immigrate to Israel is not a Zionist and should not enjoy any rights in Israel, except the right to immigrate there. He demanded the dismantling of the Zionist organization, seeing in it only the “scaffolding” for building the state. Once the state has been set up, he thought quite rightly, the scaffolding should be discarded.

* * *

NETANYAHU’S DEMAND that the Palestinians recognize Israel as “the State of the Jewish People” is ridiculous, even as a tactic for preventing peace.

A state recognizes a state, not its ideology or political regime. Nobody recognizes Saudi Arabia, the homeland of the Hajj, as “the State of the Muslim Umma” (the community of believers.)

Moreover, the demand puts the Jews all over the world in an impossible position. If the Palestinians have to recognize Israel as “the State of the Jewish People”, then all the governments in the world must do the same. The United States, for example. That means that the Jewish US citizens Rahm Emmanuel and David Axelrod, Obama’s closest advisors, are officially represented by the government of Israel. The same goes for the Jews in Russia, the UK and France.

Even if Mahmoud Abbas were persuaded to accept this demand – and thereby indirectly put in doubt the citizenship of a million and a half Arabs in Israel – I would oppose this strenuously. More than that, I would consider it an unfriendly act.

The character of the State of Israel must be decided by the citizens of Israel (who hold a wide range of opinions about this matter). Pending before the Israeli courts is an application by dozens of Israeli patriots, including myself, who demand that the state recognize the “Israeli nation”. We request the court to instruct the government to register us in the official Population Registration, under the heading “nation”, as Israelis. The government refuses adamantly and insists that our nation is Jewish.

I ask Mahmoud Abbas, Obama and everyone else who is not an Israeli citizen not to interfere in this domestic debate.

Netanyahu knows, of course, that nobody will take his demand seriously. It is quite obviously just another device to avoid serious peace negotiations. If he is compelled to drop it, it will not be long before he comes up with another.

To paraphrase Groucho Marx: “This is my pretext. If you don’t like it, well, I have a lot of others.”

Ref: Counterpunch
Uri Avnery is an Israeli writer and peace activist with Gush Shalom. He is a contributor to CounterPunch’s book The Politics of Anti-Semitism.