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writing for godot

The Clockwork Bibi

Written by Steven Jonas   
Thursday, 27 May 2021 08:49

By Steven Jonas, M.D., M.P.H.


"Either this nation will kill racism, or racism will kill this nation."  (S. Jonas, August, 2018)


Benjamin Netanyahu is a darling of the right-wing in America, including conservative think tanks like the Hudson Institute. Netanyahu is extremely comfortable with the American elite, having graduated from MIT and even worked for a time with Mitt Romney at the Boston Consulting Group (Hudson Institute). (From Mark Karlin, Ed./Pub. Buzzflash)


For quite some time I have written on the policies of the right-wing Israeli governments towards the original inhabitants of the lands that currently constitute the State of Israel plus the "Occupied Territories" (occupied by Israel of course in contravention of a variety of UN resolutions), otherwise known as the Palestinians. In doing this one is invariably driven to the same conclusion: that since the time of the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and the subsequent slow, grinding death of the so-called "Oslo Peace Process," with the almost uninterrupted run of right-wing Israeli governments (under the general label of "Likud"), any settlement other than that resulting from the expulsion of all Arabs living in the so-called "Land of Israel," other than those Arabs who are citizens of the State of Israel (and maybe them too), is not in the cards. This policy is of course not openly stated, but every action, and inaction, taken by Likud-led governments in relation to the Palestinian people living within their orbit would seem to reinforce this conclusion.

In terms of the recent fighting engaging the Gaza Strip and what may, or may not, be an extensive underground set of military installations there, such conflicts, for one given reason or another, arise on a regular basis. And for as long as Bibi Netanyahu has been in power (and his Likudnik predecessors as well), the timing of these outbreaks of these conflicts does not seem to be coincidental. In fact, during his tenure in office, they invariably coincide with some particular trouble that "Bibi" is in. And so, you might ask, how does that apply to this outbreak of violence?

The answers are well-known.  For one thing, Bibi has lost the best facilitator-in-Washington he has ever had, represented in the Middle East by his jack-of-all-trades-master-of-none, Jared the Kush.  Second of all, in the fourth election in two years, Bibi failed to gain a majority, which in itself is bad enough politically. But also, once he would be out-of-office he would finally be subject to trial for the crimes for which he has been indicted. But then on top of that, the coalition government excluding Netanyahu which was on the verge of taking power was to include at least one of the Arab-Israeli parties, for the first time ever. The implications of that could only be imagined. And Netanyahu couldn't imagine such a thing happening. So, three reasons to escalate the conflict with the Palestinians in Gaza. Or is it just a coincidence? Time may or may not tell.

But note a couple of points. First, Gaza must be riddled with Israeli agents and hi-technology, not to mention drones, paid informers, etc.. Otherwise, how could Israel possibly know about all the tunnels (or "tunnels"), their precise locations? Second, Hamas never seems to run out of rockets and now boasts about getting new ones. How exactly do they get into Gaza, supposedly from Iran no less, when the Strip is surrounded by a virtual wall on both the Israeli and Egyptian sides, and there is apparently a very effective sea-blockade along the Mediterranean?

Third, could it be, and I have speculated on this before, that when Bibi needs something to heat up from Gaza that it is Israeli agents provocateurs who are helping the heating up? (See further on this one, below.)  This time around the Palestinian position is that the immediate originating incident of the current conflict was the invasion of the most sacred Al Aqsa Mosque by Israeli police on the holiest day of Ramadan. Again, just speculating here, but my, so many coincidences. To say nothing of the fact that just now the Israeli government is evicting Arabs from homes in the traditionally Arab section of Jerusalem, the eastern quarter, at the same time that gangs of Israeli Jewish toughs are going around assaulting Israeli Arabs for no apparent reasons.

At any rate, one thing for sure is that Bibi has never sat down with anybody to attempt to negotiate a settlement of the Israeli-Arab conflict within the borders either of the present State of Israel or the so-called "Land of Israel."  This situation has been of concern of friends of Israel who want a peaceful solution to the Palestinian-Arab/Israeli-Jewish conflict for quite some time.

For example, Henry Siegman is a former President of the Synagogue Council of America and the American Jewish Congress, and served on the executive committee of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) for nearly thirty years, from 1965 to 1994.  In the June 11th, 2011, edition of The Nation Rabbi Siegman published an article entitled, "Can Obama Beat the Israel Lobby?" [One wonders if the same article could be written today, substituting the name "Biden?"] In it Rabbi Siegman held that an understanding of the current state of affairs dealing with the conflict must begin with an understanding that the current government of Israel has absolutely no interest in negotiating with the Palestinians [emphasis added], never has and never will.  (Remember, that was ten years ago!)  I was fascinated to read Rabbi Siegman's lengthy column, for it supported a view that I had long held (and obviously still do). Rabbi Siegman presented very convincing evidence for the position, including the fact that most Israeli Jews (as distinct from the Israeli Arabs), of whatever political persuasion, agree with it.

In Israeli governments, this stance goes back to that of Yitzhak Shamir in the 1980s. Shamir was the Israeli Prime Minister after Menachim Begun.  Begun had, under intense US pressure from the Carter Administration, negotiated with the Egyptian Prime Minister Anwar Sadat to achieve the peace agreement with Egypt (but not the Palestinians) that settled the “Sinai Question.” Shamir, a former leader of the "Stern Gang," a right-wing Zionist-terrorist organization formed during World War II to fight the British, famously said that he just loved negotiations. Just as long as they went on and on and never came to any conclusions.

Begun was actually the first former right-wing Zionist-terrorist to become Prime Minister of Israel. He was a former leader of Irgun, a larger and better organized group than the Stern Gang, from which the latter had split when it felt that Irgun was not radically anti-British enough. Succeeding Shamir in 1992 was Yitzhak Rabin, a former Chief-of-Staff of the Israel Defense Force. It happened that Rabin had come to be firmly in favor of a negotiated over-all settlement of the “Arab-Israeli Conflict.” In 1995 he was assassinated by a far-rightist Israeli. Negotiations, at that time based on a document called the "Oslo Accords" (in which the border between the two proposed countries --- the “Two-State Solution” --- was effectively to be the UN-designated "Green Line" of 1967), came to a halt.

The talks were re-started at the end of the term of President Bill Clinton, with the last center-left Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Barak. They ended with a resounding thud at the end of the Clinton Presidency. Just who was or were responsible for the collapse remains unclear to this day. But at the time the Rightist Ariel Sharon had been elected Prime Minister and he was totally opposed to any meaningful negotiations. Under the Presidency of George W. Bush, he had nothing to worry about. But worry he did, so much so that whenever there seemed to be slight step forward being taken, somehow there would be a terrorist incident or two. [Sound familiar?] There was not just one voice inside Israel, including an occasional member of the Knesset (Parliament), who thought that at least on some occasions these happenings were not coincidental. (Yes, there were folk inside Israel, not just outsiders like me, who were talking about agents provocateurs, at that time.)

With the rise to power of Benyamin Netanyahu, guessing games about whether the Right-Wing Israeli government is interested in seriously negotiating or, as Rabbi Siegman firmly said, they are not, are no longer necessary. As far back as 2011, Netanyahu's then Foreign Secretary, a former Russian (and quite secular) Jew, openly talked about expulsion, not only of the Palestinians from the Occupied Territories, but also of Arab Israeli citizens from the State of Israel.* The day before Netanyahu met with then-President Obama back in 2011, the Deputy Speaker of the Knesset and a prominent Likudnik, Danny Danon, said, in an Op-Ed published in The New York Times (May 19, 2011) that Israel should simply go ahead and annex the Occupied Territories. Shortly thereafter, Netanyahu refused to meet in Israel with a visiting delegation from the US Congress organized by J-Street, the pro-peace US liberal Jewish lobbying organization. "Just don't want to talk about negotiatin,' no way, no how, donchaknow."  Nothing has changed.

And so the question arises, "Why?" Why is the Israeli Right so opposed to a settlement with the Palestinians based on a two-state solution, with the Palestinian state being demilitarized and Israel having some kind of military presence along the Palestinian portion of the River Jordan? This is a question that does not often arise in discussions of the Israel/Palestine conflict, but to my mind it is the central one. For it explains why there will never be a settlement until either the Israeli people replace the governing Right-Far-Right coalition or the United States forces a settlement down its throat, as suggested ten years ago in the article by Rabbi Siegman. (Of course, that is as unlikely now as it was then.)  So, where does the current conflict stem from?  It goes way back, to well before the founding of the State of Israel in 1948.

1. In the Woody Allen movie Sleeper, when his character awakens from a (very) deep sleep well after the end of a catastrophic world war and is asked what started it, he replies, "well, there was a man named Albert Shanker."  Well, it was a man named Ze'ev Jabotinsky is the one who started it for Israel/Palestine. He was a right-wing Zionist who in the 1920s laid down the dictum that that long-range solution for what would become Israel was to establish a state within what has been held for millennia to be the boundaries of "The Land of Israel," "granted to the Jews" "by God." Questions of logic, history, and legality do not figure into this configuration for a modern State of Israel.

For Jabotinsky the solution to the problem of the Arab peoples living there was a simple one: expulsion. In the 1930s, David Ben Gurion, the future first Prime Minister of Israel, referred to Jabotinsky as the "Jewish Hitler." Netanyahu's father was a secretary to Jabotinsky. Ariel Sharon's parents were close associates of his, and Begun's Irgun was strongly influenced by him. At the time of the UN-sponsored Partition of the British Palestinian Mandate into Jewish and Arab sectors in 1947, the one-third of the Jewish Agency that represented the Jabotinskyites voted against accepting it. So Jabotinsky's " 'The Land of Israel' is ours and no one else's regardless of who else happens to be living there perhaps for quite some time," position has been at the center of the political ideology of all of the generations of the Israeli Right since his time. Of course, presently it is convenient for the Israeli Right to have the support of a strong branch of the US Republican-Christian Right which also supports the creation of the modern "Land of Israel," but for different reasons than those held by any Israelis.

2. If a settlement were to be arrived at, Israel would face the very real possibility of the outbreak of some kind of civil war. A significant proportion of the settlers (on Arab lands) are not Israelis by birth but in fact right-wing American Jewish emigre’s, often Orthodox. The biblical, "Land of Israel" story (which of course has no relevance to present day reality) is in their blood and they might very well be willing to spill quite a bit of the latter to defend the former. A right-wing Israeli government, politically built partially on the backs of the settlers, would have a very hard time opposing them, especially with force.

3. Finally, if there were to be a comprehensive settlement, with the establishment of a Palestinian state, the Israeli Right would likely become politically irrelevant. To administer a country finally at peace after decades of wars, pseudo-wars, and threats of war, almost certainly a new Center-Left coalition, with strong representation from the Arab-Israelis (who just now are putting their political toes in the water for the first time in Israeli history), would be voted into power. And then where would that leave the wealthy in a country which is rapidly approaching the United States in the rich/everyone-else split? Where would that leave the Israeli arms industry? Where would that leave the Israeli Defense Forces and Mossad? Where would that leave the tiny religious parties and their out-sized influence on social policy in return for their few votes in the Knesset that puts Likud over the top? Not good for their side(s), one should think.

The day before the May 20, 2011 Obama-Netanyahu meeting, an ad in The New York Times signed by 100 Israelis, high-ranking former military and Mossad commanders, numerous winners of the Israel Prize, and a number of other well-known political and academic leaders, sponsored by the liberal U.S. Jewish organization J-Street, was headed, "Act Now: To Achieve a Two-State Solution," based on the 1967 borders. Such statements have been issued by Jewish organizations and lists of credentialed individuals in Israel and elsewhere from that time down to the present.  But as long as Bibi and those like him remain in power, every time the pressure-for-peace seems to be increasing, Bibi’s Clockwork works, and nothing changes, except that life for the Palestinians in the Occupied Territories and Gaza, which has been described as the world’s largest open-air prison, and now, it would seem, for the Israeli-Arab citizens, has gotten worse.

Finally, it is worth noting that both Israel and the US military “benefit” from testing the performance of weaponry on Gaza. It has become a “real-time” test zone for new and advanced military weapons.


* Israel has no Constitution. It does have a Declaration of Independence, dating from 1948. Here is what it has to say about Israeli citizenship:

"The State of Israel will be open for Jewish immigration and for the Ingathering of the Exiles; it will foster the development of the country for the benefit of all its inhabitants; it will be based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel; it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture; it will safeguard the Holy Places of all religions; and it will be faithful to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations."


Note:  This column is drawn in part from one published on The Greanville Post, just about ten years ago:


This column was published under a different title at An earlier, slightly different version, was published under the title used here for this version at: your social media marketing partner
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