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The bigger the hopes and trust we place in a leader, the greater the dissappointment when he fails and betrays us. We were awed by the great vistas that were opened when Amir Peretz was elected to head the Israel Labor Party. Peretz would bring fresh leadership. At last an authentic representative of the Israeli working class headed the Labor Party. As last a veteran supporter and key member of Peace Now was in a key leadership position in the Israeli government. It seemed that a new era was dawning.
A new era indeed dawned, but not the one we expected. Now we are in shock at the rapidity with which Peretz has betrayed every trust, and shown himself to be both a fool and a knave, whose unbounded egotism makes him more than a liability to his party, a danger to his country.
At a certain point in his campaign, Peretz had convinced even the doubters that despite his habit of shouting, his demagogic behavior and lack of education, he was a serious contender for leadership.The first disillusionment came when the great social reformer Peretz gave up virtually every one of his social and economic demands in coalition negotiations, opting to trade concessions in his programs for ministerial posts and perks. Despite a great budget surplus (those were the days) Peretz and his colleagues agreed to approve the penny pinching budget inherited from Benjamin Nethanyahu virtually unchanged. His famous minimum wage law was turned into a farce. His verbiage about peace with Palestinians vanished with almost no trace, as he opted to become Minister of Defense.
He conspired with an incompetent government to launch a war of choice without adequate preparation. Israel must defeat the Hezbollah one day, but there was no point in going to war when you are not ready. Peretz boasted that Hassan Nassrallah will not forget the name of Amir Peretz. He is right. Neither will anyone else in the Middle East. Peretz wasted many hundreds of Lebanese lives, 150 Israeli lives and a billion dollars, dragged the name of Israel in the mud throughout the Middle East, and made the psychopathic Messiah stand-in Hassan Nasrallah and his tiny band of assassin fanatics look good. Like the Roman emperor Galba, it might be said of Peretz: Omnium consensu capax imperii, nisi imperasset (everyone believed him capable of ruling, had he not ruled).
How could we forget the name Amir Peretz? How could we forget the man who took charge of the finest and bravest army in the Middle East, the army that beat three Arab countries in six days, and and perpetrated a fiasco of the first order?
But Peretz is not done with us yet. He had the gall to blame the failure on the IDF, which failed to warn him that Nasrallah and his rockets are dangerous. Perhaps he thought Nasrallah was collecting all those rockets for a fireworks display? Maybe he didn't know there were rockets, and maybe he didn't even know there is a country called Lebanon. After all, he was a labor leader, so you can't expect him to know the details of foreign policy, right? Peretz was not content to blame his incompetence and stupidity on the IDF either. In response to calls to replace him with someone of at least moderate competence, Peretz was obstinate. He cannot resign. You see, he needs his post of defense minister to launch his future bid to be Prime Minister! The architect of Israel's greatest military fiasco expects a grateful public to reward him with the post of Prime Minister.
Peretz can share credit for this debacle with Ehud Olmert. Fair is fair. If Olmert can be Prime Minister, then why not Peretz? From Olmert though, we did not expect so much. He looks like a book keeper. In this case, it turns out that what you see is what you get. When, in a Ha'aretz interview before his election, Olmert promised that Israel would be a fun place to live in, I was sceptical. I was wrong. Playing dodge the rocket is really fun. During the war, Nahariya rocked, Haifa was a blast. It is interesting to note that even when he gave that interview to Ha'aretz, Olmert already gave evidence of the same problem of reality denial and false military prognostication that characterized his war performance. IDF was having no success in stopping Qassam rockets in Gaza, but as usual, Olmert was in one place, and reality was in another. He told Ha'aretz:
Perhaps what ensures Mr. Olmert's tenure in office is the nature of the alternatives. Look at the other party leaders. Who would replace Olmert? Benjamin Netanyahu? Avigdor Lieberman? Amir Peretz?
Original text copyright by the author and MidEastWeb for Coexistence, RA. Posted at MidEastWeb Middle East Web Log at http://www.mideastweb.org/log/archives/00000499.htm where your intelligent and constructive comments are welcome. Distributed by MEW Newslist. Subscribe by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please forward by email with this notice and link to and cite this article. Other uses by permission.
Replies: 10 comments
Agin with the "Israel must defeat the Hezbollah one day"?
Why? As long at Hezbollah stays in Lebanon and minds its own business, what's the problem? A formal position that Israel should cease to exist is not the same as an intention to carry that out. Nasrallah has said publically that if the Palestinians accept a two-state solution, that is a matter for them alone.
Hostile co-existence may not be too comfortable, but it worked reasonably well for the USSR and the West for 80 years. Better than the alternative anyway.
Posted by Spike @ 08/19/2006 03:31 PM CST
I think the Bush administration must also answer to the American electorate and the people of Israel for this defeat. It seems to me that Condi Rice (who I admire in many ways) helped preside over the terms of the toothless cease fire. I also suspect that in the back channels she was making it clear to Israel that she would not support victory in any form. The result is that Hezbollah is still very much in business, Nasrallah, Iran, and Syria are being viewed by an increasing number of Arabs as heroes, and in time they will all be emboldened to carry out Hezbollah's founding mandate, which is the complete destruction of the state of Israel and the Jewish people.
One of the twisted seeds sown in all of this is the growing tide of anti-Semitism in the United States. For the first time in my life I am hearing more and more scholars, pundits, and even some politicians questioning the legitimacy of the existence of the state of Israel. I think that perhaps one of the next stages in the development of this line of thought is going to be for the world to find a discreet way to deal with "the problem of Israel's existence."
It's true that we lived in a state of benign hostility with the Soviet Union for years, but the U.S.S.R. was not Hezbollah and Nikita Kruschev was not Nasrallah, Ahmadinejad, or Bashar al-Assad. The Soviets understood mutually assured destruction and accepted the limits that doctrine placed on their use of power. I don't believe that Nasrallah, Ahmadinejad, or Bashar al-Assad really care about mutually assured destruction. They've just picked up the mantle worn by the Ayatollah Khomenei and added a double portion of his hate to the mix. Right now, for example, Iranian children are learning things like the following statement he made a generation ago in their schools:
โI am decisively announcing to the whole world that if the world-devourers (i.e., the infidel powers) wish to stand against our religion, we will stand against their whole world and will not cease until the annihilation of all them. Either we all become free, or we will go to the greater freedom which is martyrdom. Either we shake one another's hands in joy at the victory of Islam in the world, or all of us will turn to eternal life and martyrdom. In both cases, victory and success are ours.โ
Co-existence, I suspect, would be acceptable to Israel. That, however, is not the case for Iran, Syria, Hezbollah, and Hamas. Nothing but the annihilation of Israel will satisfy them.
Posted by Phil Dillon @ 08/19/2006 08:12 PM CST
This is just a suggestion to unsubscribe an enemy of Israel who is on your list
Posted by Ann Limberg @ 08/20/2006 09:16 AM CST
"the U.S.S.R. was not Hezbollah and Nikita Kruschev was not Nasrallah, Ahmadinejad, or Bashar al-Assad."
Lumping together those three is clear evidence of a lack of perspective. They are all very different. Furthermore, Ahmadinejad is not the real power in Iran. (And why pick Kruschev and not Stalin?)
"The Soviets understood mutually assured destruction and accepted the limits that doctrine placed on their use of power. I don't believe that Nasrallah, Ahmadinejad, or Bashar al-Assad really care about mutually assured destruction."
Why not? These people are not maniacs. They are politicians, of varying degrees of astuteness and cynicism. Caricaturing them as psychopatic cyborgs is just an excuse to avoid having to think about compromise and peacemaking, in my opinion. In reality, all of the forces ranged against Israel are well aware of the limits of their power, or there would be a full-scale shooting war going on perpetually.
"Iran, Syria, Hezbollah, and Hamas. Nothing but the annihilation of Israel will satisfy them."
What, the same Syria that has offered to recognise Israel if it gets the Golan Heights back? Hamas that has offered a 20 year Hudna? Hezbollah that says a two-state solution would be a matter for the Palestinians and they would not interfere? Iran that Israel sold arms to when Khomeini was in power? Please.
If pundits in the US are indeed starting to question Israel's existence, perhaps Israel needs to look at its own behaviour rather than simply blaming everyone else.
And if the Muslims really are as implacable as you suggest the Zionist project is clearly doomed and it would be safer for all Israeli Jews to move to America. You can't really have it both ways. I'm sure there is a negotiated democratic solution to be had, no matter how hard some people try and wish it away.
Posted by Spike @ 08/21/2006 03:17 PM CST
Israel Must Not Return to the Status Quo Ante Bellum
Now, with the cessation of fire in Lebanon when we are no longer under constant threat of death, we look around us and allow ourselves to estimate the full extent of the devastation. We bury our dead. We mourn. We clear away the rubble of what once were homes and other structures. We assess the ecological loss of forestry that was set back fifty years. We ask: "Why? We ask: "Did this have to be?" We ask: "Why weren't the lives of our soldiers protected to the absolute maximum?" We ask: "Did our government betray and attempt to befuddle us?" We ask: "How could Hezbollah have been left to arm itself and train without disturbance for six long years?" We ask: "Why didn't our leaders obviate this war?" We know that something, many things really, were blundered horrifically. Young men paid with their lives and the integrity of their bodies and psyches. Families are devastated.
But the execrable prosecution of this war was not just a matter of blundering. It is not just a matter of faulty intelligence. Our government always disappoints us. They always fail us. They always abuse use. We always pay for their luxurious lifestyles with the quality of our lives, if not our lives themselves. During wartime the faults of governments are highlighted because they are exaggerated. The truth is, governments are always bodies characterized by the crudest methods of intimidation and grossest excesses of mendacity. They are always peopled by those who, were they wiser and better, would refuse to be government officials for the shame of the debauchery, improbity and moral squalor being part in a government necessarily entails. We simply see this in greater relief clearly after a war, but we see nothing that is not always apparent, just somewhat less so. It is only after a war that we all become agreed that the failings of government must be addressed.
The government of Israel will now be faced with questions, but they will still not be faced with the questions that most urgently need to be asked in the forms in which those questions really must be formulated. They will be faced with questions that they are eminently capable of fielding and they will answer on their terms. They will answer the questions posed to them such that they retain their political positions; such that the economic status quo in Israel, which keeps a full one third of Israel's children below the poverty line, remains intact; such that Israeli workers continue to be worked to exhaustion and live in constant trepidation of losing their jobs, not being able to pay their mortgages or the many payments they are responsible for; such that Israel's children remain the victims of violence in public schools, to which they are sent in order to be systematically broken into docile, subservient citizens who run to their death when the government calls them to wars that need not have been fought, wars they do not know how to prosecute, wars that are fought so that the filthy businesses of the super-wealthy who produce armaments continue at a brisker pace.
In the wake of this war we are at a crossroads. We can change society substantially. Israel must not return to the status quo. The Israeli people, if we are not to continue to be used, abused and sent to our deaths, if we are not to fool ourselves that any victory in war is anything but a Pyrrhic victory, must mature and take steps closer to the way in which mature, fully Human beings organize society - that is, the way of Anarchy.
The term anarchy has been much maligned. Anarchy does not mean a lack of order. Governments would have the public think that Anarchy is a state of violent chaos. It is anything but.
Governments and big businesses would paint pictures of Anarchists as those dedicated to the destruction of society. We are anything but. It is our purpose to build society โ real society that is inhabitable for fully realized, fully human beings.
Anarchy means simply the absence of government. It is a condition in which there is no state โ the people rule themselves and society is a dynamic kaleidoscope of purely voluntary social and economic interactions based on the common advantage of all who choose to take part in those interactions. So too in an Anarchistic society, one may choose freely not to take part in any human interactions that are not personally palatable, productive or otherwise satisfying or desirable.
Anarchy is a condition in which there is no private property. Everyone owns all, but of course, it is recognized that each individual needs certain private effects that may differ from the needs of others and those are provided for in such a way that the genuine needs of the person are fulfilled, while capital cannot be made of the effects nor can power accrue from them. Unlike Marxist Communism, as it is has been expressed so dreadfully, there is no central state that controls the modes of production. That which differentiates Anarchy from Marxism must be made clear. We are non-authoritarian and therefore do not accept the existence of any kind of state. The expression "dictatorship of the proletariat" is half honest. It is indeed a dictatorship, but in no wise represents the interests of or is concerned with the welfare of the proletariat. Moreover, we understand that people are more than just workers. Work is absolutely essential, of course, but we must associate in the fullness of our humanness in order to access, express and share the deepest levels of our being.
In an Anarchic society there is no state that retains an army and a police force that are illegally utilized to put people out of their homes and force them to live in tents. There is no value of commodities or labor. Anarchists understand that it is impossible to determine how much any item is "worth" based on the hours or difficulty of work that went into it per se. Therefore, our motto is: From each according to his or her ability, to each according to his or her need.
Anarchy is a condition in which children are not sent to prison-like schools, which are nothing but indoctrination facilities and holding pens in which they are subjected to monotony, humiliation, competition, violence and more โ all intended to break the child's spirit and make him or her malleable.
In a state of Anarchy children learn for the sake of the joy of learning, as was the case in the system of education developed by Francisco Ferrer. The best in children is creatively drawn from them. They are not force-fed unsupported and unsupportable assumptions like ducks and geese being force-fed with pneumatic pumps for pate gras.
Anarchy is not only simply in keeping with Judaism, it is a particularly Jewish mode of living and interaction.
Before Israel took upon itself the government of a king we lived in a state of Anarchy. There was no centralized government during the periods of early prophets and the judges. Prophets lived communally with their students who attributed honor and authority to their revered and beloved Teachers solely on the basis of their loving-kindness and wisdom. Wise and trusted elders, who were known personally by the people who sought out their counsel, settled disputes. The Dead Sea Sect lived likewise communally.
The accepting upon ourselves of kings in order to be "a people like every other people" was a decision that proved to be a disaster โ even the best of Israel's kings stumbled under the weight of a responsibility that no human being can bear. From this we learn that more than their appointed leaders, those who appoint leaders over themselves are reprehensible.
When we accepted kings upon ourselves we abrogated the right to self-determination. We became subjects, that is, we became slaves.
To this day the Jewish people remain slaves. We are slaves to government. We are slaves to public opinion, which is shaped by professional propagandizers, who are in the employ governments and, more particularly, international corporations, which retain governments as their private body guards. We are slaves to our jobs, which rob us of the lion's share of our production and force us to work brutally long hours under extreme physical and psychic pressure in workplaces that are always understaffed in order to "cut the cost of labor". (It was calculated by Anarchist economist over one hundred years ago that to attain a middle class standard of living for all, all that was required was four or five hours of labor a day. All labor above and beyond that was, and is, pocketed by employers.)
It is a precept that slaves are forbidden to perform some of the precepts of Jewish law. We cannot so much as understand the foregoing precept profoundly or correctly. We imagine that it applies to others. We imagine that we have understood the circumstances being described. We do not realize that it is we to whom it applies. We do not realize that it relates to our circumstances. I have explained how we, in fact, are slaves in so very many ways. We are, then, in fact, exempt from the practice of many precepts. When we insist upon practicing those precepts we do so without deep understanding and in the way of slaves, that is, hurriedly, under pressure and without real joy. We are, in fact, forbidden to practice many of the precepts that we, in our present state of slavery, try to do and in so doing we make a mockery and a travesty of Judaism, which is none other than Freedom. When we learn Torah we cannot possibly understand what we have read and carry out the commandments properly. Chained, shackled, mutilated, crippled and truncated as we are; we cannot move our bodies to do the precepts properly. Poisoned as we are by state propaganda as well as toxic air, water and food; we cannot possibly see or cognate clearly.
Do you know anyone personally who has attained true and complete emancipation of the Soul, body, mind and emotions as a result of carrying out the precepts as they are performed today? No! And neither will you find such a one. Of course we are told tales about perfectly righteous people who possess this freedom. Do you know them? Do they deign to come to your home and live amongst you? No! Why? Because they are yet more phantasmagoria concocted to enslave you still further.
True Judaism is nothing but Freedom and slaves know nothing of freedom and are not capable of living as free human beings.
It follows, if we are to practice Torah as we should, that our first order of business is to ransom one another, to emancipate ourselves and one another mutually. The only real precept that we can carry out in our present reduced state of bondage is to set ourselves free, to throw off the yoke of government, to unloose the chains and shackles that keep us captive to promises of that will never come to realization, to illusions and addictions, to become free moral and moral-spiritual agents.
To build an Anarchistic society is holy work. In fact, it is the only holy work that we are fitted to perform at this juncture. It is the sine qua non of being able to be fully realized Jews. We cannot pray more perfectly than to toil for the purpose of building such a society. No self-sacrifice is greater than this.
Only when we live in a non-authoritarian society characterized by propertylessness, when there will be no more rich and poor, when there will be no more institutionalized injustice that we must submit ourselves and our children to for fear of being prosecuted by state law, when we will have more free time to learn, interact with one another freely and reflect deeply - then and only then will we be able to know what it is to be Jews and know what Judaism is. Until such time the vast majority of our religious expression is frustrated impotency at best, a cruel and pathetic parody in the middling case, at worst manipulation and suppression of the very best in us by agents of the government who reduce masses of people to spiritual servility by heaping upon them meaningless acts to perform and distorted "interpretations" which are devised to prevent us from taking truly moral direct action to rebuild society.
How many are straddled with poverty because of this pseudo-religion? How many children subsist on white bread devoid of nutrition and unhealthy, artery-clogging margarine while their parents give the expected "presents" to their Rabbis and take part in pilgrimages and other "obligatory" religious practices, which seem to multiply exponentially? Those who turn to religion lonely, confounded and disillusioned by the cruelty of society find not a programme for reconstruction of the society that has failed them, but rather, have laws and customs heaped upon them until they are crippled and break.
On the following link you will find essays on Anarchy. Most are in English. Only the essay entitled ืื ืจืืื ืืืืืงืช is in Hebrew, having been translated by my husband, Daniel Dotan, at my request. The original English version of ืื ืจืืื ืืืืืงืช, under the rubric "Authentic Anarchy", is to be found on the site as well.
Unfortunately, very little about true Anarchy is familiar to Israelis and, thus, there are practically no treatments of the subject in Hebrew. For the time being; we will have to suffice with the writings in other languages, principally English, and only those who can read other languages will be able to access this school of thought and programme of action we call Anarcho-Syndicalism. It is the hope of the writer that others will be inspired to take it upon themselves to translate Anarchistic essays, lectures and books into Hebrew.
Many of the greatest Anarchists were Jewish. It is not difficult to understand why. Anarchy is an integral part of true Judaism. No true Judaism is possible without it. Those Jews who have loved and love freedom best are those Jews who not only were attracted to Anarchy, it was they who best expressed the heart, soul and intent of true Judaism โ emancipation of the human being for the sake of allowing each to actualize his or her absolute optimum and interact fully with others.
It has been said that Anarchists are non-believers, that they are atheists. This writer, it should be stated categorically, is not an atheist, but a convinced Jew.
It is true that most Anarchists do not believe in an authoritarian God who compels people to actions that are not in keeping with their will. It is true that Anarchists do not accept the authority of self-proclaimed religious leaders. It is true that Anarchists do not accept religious institutions bleeding the masses of their money and impoverishing them. It is true that Anarchists do not accept compulsory education of precepts without rational analysis. It is true that Anarchists reject any and all superstitions and the inculcating people with fear. It is true that Anarchists abhor telling the poor, hungry, cold, sick, lonely and miserable that a better life awaits them in the World to Come when a better world could be made for them here.
Are they, then, anti-religionists? No! It is by virtue of the foregoing rejections that they are the very truest of those who express Judaism. Emma Goldman (1869-1940), one of the most prominent Anarchist activists and lecturers of her time and who continues to be an inspiration to all of us, once addressed a large conference of clergymen. She explained her antireligious position. Upon finishing, a Rabbi who had heard her lecture said: "In spite of all Miss Goldman has said against religion, she is the most religious person I know." Anarchists walk the walk that the pseudo-religions only talk the talk about. Anarchists live to emancipate those who are enslaved โ and they take great personal risks in so doing for governments and corporations do not easily surrender their power. Anarchists are the prophets and students of prophets of modern times and they pay all the prices for freedom that prophets and students of prophets of yore paid.
Is the realization of a society based on justice, equality and oneness not the discovery and expression of the God of Israel in creation? Is it not God which propels us toward this ultimate freedom which needs be and will?
I invite those of you who truly love freedom and are intrepid enough, who love humankind enough, to bear the responsibility of building a better world, here in this world, to enter the world of the Anarchists and to join hands with us. Is this not the Israel that we envisioned during our two thousand years long Diaspora?
Doreen Ellen Bell-Dotan, Tzfat, Israel
Posted by Doreen Ellen Bell-Dotan, Tzfat @ 08/23/2006 07:38 AM CST
Cute idea Doreen.
This "no government" thing has worked so well in Somalia, after all.
Posted by Spike @ 08/23/2006 03:58 PM CST
Of course, the analogy of the Soviet Union works. You even used MAD in your original comment. I always hold comments like "Lumping together those three is clear evidence of a lack of perspective." at arm's length. They seem rather stuffy to me, a way one person can hold him or herself above someone else in an argument or debate without answering the original point made.
I'm not 100% sure where you stand. You seem to be saying a negotiated settlement (without Israeli consent, I assume) for the dismantling of Israel and a new Diaspora would be acceptable to you.
Is that where you stand? Knowing that would help move the dialogue along
Also, I don't want things both ways. My firm conviction is that Israel has the established right to exist as a member of the family of nations. Now, my view may not some be the majority view. If that day comes I can assure you that any member of the Jewish nation would be welcome in my home or home town. It's the same view I held for a Palestinian friend some years back when the Murrah Building in Oklahoma City was blown up by Timothy McVeigh. My friend was concerned on the day of the bombing that there would be a backlash against Muslims. I assured him that I, and millions of other Americans stood with him and the guilty would be found (which they were), and that he and his family could always find a place to stay with me and my wife if America ever changed for the worse. Of course, the backlash never came and he still lives in peace somewhere in New Jersey right now.
Posted by Phil Dillon @ 08/24/2006 12:01 AM CST
"A formal position that Israel should cease to exist is not the same as an intention to carry that out."
I think that the above is one the most important ideas to understand in the present situation. For exmaple there are politicians in Iran telling the position that 'Israel has no right to exist'. Do you think that those politicians are really trying to stop Israel existing? Do you have any concrete evidence that they are really planning for a war? If you have got such an evidence, why don't you start pressing your leading politicians to contact those politicians in Iran to find out, what is the problem? There were a long time big problems between Egypt and Israel, nowadays there are arranged tourist trips from Israel to Egypt and also from Egypt to Israel?
Posted by Hannu virtanen @ 08/27/2006 12:20 AM CST
A "negotiated solution" would necessarily involve Israel being one of the negotiators, so, no, obviously I am not talking about Israel ceasing to exist. I am talking about a workable two-states solution. (I do think there may be ways in which a "Jewish State" is different from say the French state, but I think decisions on those matters are best deferred until well after the current conflict is defused).
When I say you are trying to have it both ways, I mean you are using statements such as "Nothing but the annihilation of Israel will satisfy them" as an excuse to avoid accepting the need for compromises to be made, while at the same time maintaining that Israel can and should go on existing in the face of such unremitting hostility. (Personally if I thought my neighbours were all trying to kill me and absolutely nothing could ever convince them to desist I would move to a more congenial neighbourhood).
In fact I think the evidence shows that for the most part the people and organisations you mention will accept the existence of Israel if certain conditions are met. No matter what they say now. As has already happened with Egypt and Jordan.
Posted by Spike @ 08/30/2006 04:16 PM CST
This is by Uri Avnery of Gush Shalom. I think it covers some of the same ground, with considerably more eloquence than I am able to provide......
In his latest speech, which infuriated so many people, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad uttered a sentence that deserves attention: "Every new Arab generation hates Israel more than the previous one."
Of all that has been said about the Second Lebanon War, these are perhaps the most important words.
The main product of this war is hatred. The pictures of death and destruction in Lebanon entered every Arab home, indeed every Muslim home, from Indonesia to Morocco, from Yemen to the Muslim ghettos in London and Berlin. Not for an hour, not for a day, but for 33 successive days - day after day, hour after hour. The mangled bodies of babies, the women weeping over the ruins of their homes, Israeli children writing "greetings" on shells about to be fired at villages, Ehud Olmert blabbering about "the most moral army in the world" while the screen showed a heap of bodies.
Israelis ignored these sights, indeed they were scarcely shown on our TV. Of course, we could see them on Aljazeera and some Western channels, but Israelis were much too busy with the damage wrought in our Northern towns. Feelings of pity and empathy for non-Jews have been blunted here a long time ago.
But it is a terrible mistake to ignore this result of the war. It is far more important than the stationing of a few thousand European troops along our border, with the kind consent of Hizbullah. It may still be bothering generations of Israelis, when the names Olmert and Halutz have long been forgotten, and when even Nasrallah no longer remember the name Amir Peretz.
IN ORDER for the significance of Assad's words to become clear, they have to be viewed in a historical context.
The whole Zionist enterprise has been compared to the transplantation of an organ into the body of a human being. The natural immunity system rises up against the foreign implant, the body mobilizes all its power to reject it. The doctors use a heavy dosage of medicines in order to overcome the rejection. That can go on for a long time, sometimes until the eventual death of the body itself, including the transplant.
(Of course, this analogy, like any other, should be treated cautiously. An analogy can help in understanding things, but no more than that.)
The Zionist movement has planted a foreign body in this country, which was then a part of the Arab-Muslim space. The inhabitants of the country, and the entire Arab region, rejected the Zionist entity. Meanwhile, the Jewish settlement has taken roots and become an authentic new nation rooted in the country. Its defensive power against the rejection has grown. This struggle has been going on for 125 years, becoming more violent from generation to generation. The
A fool will say: to stand up to the rejection with a growing dosage of medicaments, provided by America and World Jewry. The greatest fools will add: There is no solution. This situation will last forever. There is nothing to be done about it but to defend ourselves in war after war after war. And the next war is already knocking on the door.
The wise will say: our objective is to cause the body to accept the transplant as one of its organs, so that the immune system will no longer treat us as an enemy that must be removed at any price. And if this is the aim, it must become the main axis of our efforts. Meaning: each of our actions must be judged according to a simple criterion: does it serve this aim or obstruct it?
According to this criterion, the Second Lebanon War was a disaster.
FIFTY NINE years ago, two months before the outbreak of our War of Independence, I published a booklet entitled "War or Peace in the Semitic Region". Its opening words were:
"When our Zionist fathers decided to set up a 'safe haven' in Palestine, they had a choice between two ways:
"They could appear in West Asia as a European conqueror, who sees himself as a bridge-head of the 'white' race and a master of the 'natives', like the Spanish Conquistadores and the Anglo-Saxon colonists in America. That is what the Crusaders did in Palestine.
"The second way was to consider themselves as an Asian nation returning to its home - a nation that sees itself as an heir to the political and cultural heritage of the Semitic race, and which is prepared to join the peoples of the Semitic region in their war of liberation from European exploitation."
As is well known, the State of Israel, which was established a few months later, chose the first way. It gave its hand to colonial France, tried to help Britain to return to the Suez Canal and, since 1967, has become the little sister of the United States.
That was not inevitable. On the contrary, in the course of years there have been a growing number of indications that the immune system of the Arab-Muslim body is starting to incorporate the transplant - as a human body accepts the organ of a close relative - and is ready to accept us. Such an indication was the visit of Anwar Sadat to Jerusalem. Such was the peace treaty signed with us by King Hussein, a descendent of the Prophet. And, most importantly, the historic decision of Yasser Arafat, the leader of the Palestinian people, to make peace with Israel.
But after every huge step forward, there came an Israeli step backward. It is as if the transplant rejects the body's acceptance of it. As if it has become so accustomed to being rejected, that it does all it can to induce the body to reject it even more.
It is against this background that one should weigh the words spoken by Assad Jr., a member of the new Arab generation, at the end of the recent war.
AFTER EVERY single one of the war aims put forward by our government had evaporated, one after the other, another reason was brought up: this war was a part of the "clash of civilizations", the great campaign of the Western world and its lofty values against the barbarian darkness of the Islamic world.
That reminds one, of course, of the words written 110 years ago by the father of modern Zionism, Theodor Herzl, in the founding document of the Zionist movement: "In Palestine we shall constitute for Europe a part of the wall against Asia, and serve as the vanguard of civilization against barbarism." Without knowing, Olmert almost repeated this formula in his justification of his war, in order to please President Bush.
It happens from time to time in the United States that somebody invents an empty but easily digested slogan, which then dominates the public discourse for some time. It seems that the more stupid the slogan is, the better its chances of becoming the guiding light for academia and the media - until another slogan appears and supersedes it. The latest example is the slogan "Clash of Civilizations", coined by Samuel P. Huntington in 1993 (taking over from the "End of History").
What clash of ideas is there between Muslim Indonesia and Christian Chile? What eternal struggle between Poland and Morocco? What is it that unifies Malaysia and Kosovo, two Muslim nations? Or two Christian nations like Sweden and Ethiopia?
In what way are the ideas of the West more sublime than those of the East? The Jews that fled the flames of the auto-da-fe of the Christian Inquisition in Spain were received with open arms by the Muslim Ottoman Empire. The most cultured of European nations democratically elected Adolf Hitler as its leader and perpetrated the Holocaust, without the Pope raising his voice in protest.
In what way are the spiritual values of the United States, today's Empire of the West, superior to those of India and China, the rising stars of the East? Huntington himself was compelled to admit: "The West won the world not by the superiority of its ideas or values or religion, but rather by its superiority in applying organized violence. Westerners often forget this fact, non-Westerners never do." In the West, too, women won the vote only in the 20th century, and slavery was abolished there only in the second half of the 19th. And in the leading nation of the West, fundamentalism is now also raising its head.
What interest, for goodness sake, have we in volunteering to be a political and military vanguard of the West in this imagined clash?
THE TRUTH is, of course, that this entire story of the clash of civilizations is nothing but an ideological cover for something that has no connection with ideas and values: the determination of the United States to dominate the world's resources, and especially oil.
The Second Lebanon War is considered by many as a "War by Proxy". That's to say: Hizbullah is the Dobermann of Iran, we are the Rottweiler of America. Hizbullah gets money, rockets and support from the Islamic Republic, we get money, cluster bombs and support from the United States of America.
That is certainly exaggerated. Hizbullah is an authentic Lebanese movement, deeply rooted in the Shiite community. The Israeli government has its own interests (the occupied territories) that do not depend on America. But there is no doubt that there is much truth in the argument that this was also a war by substitutes.
The US is fighting against Iran, because Iran has a key role in the region where the most important oil reserves in the world are located. Not only does Iran itself sit on huge oil deposits, but through its revolutionary Islamic ideology it also menaces American control over the near-by oil countries. The declining resource oil becomes more and more essential in the modern economy. He who controls the oil controls the world.
The US would viciously attack Iran even it were peopled with pigmies devoted to the religion of the Dalai Lama. There is a shocking similarity between George W. Bush and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, The one has personal conversations with Jesus, the other has a line to Allah. But the name of the game is domination.
What interest do we have to get involved in this struggle? What interest do we have in being regarded - accurately - as the servants of the greatest enemy of the Muslim world in general and the Arab world in particular?
We want to live here in 100 years, in 500 years. Our most basic national interests demand that we extend our hands to the Arab nations that accept us, and act together with them for the rehabilitation of this region. That was true 59 years ago, and that will be true 59 years hence.
Little politicians like Olmert, Peretz and Halutz are unable to think in these terms. They can hardly see as far as the end of their noses. But where are the intellectuals, who should be more far-sighted?
Bashar al-Assad may not be one of the world's Great Thinkers. But his remark should certainly give us pause for thought.
Posted by Spike @ 08/30/2006 04:27 PM CST
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