Monday, 16 March 2009

'ZIONISM IS THE PROBLEM'

The Zionist ideal of a Jewish state is keeping Israelis and
Palestinians from living in peace


By Ben Ehrenreich
LA Times
March 15, 2009

It's hard to imagine now, but in 1944, six years after Kristallnacht,
Lessing J. Rosenwald, president of the American Council for Judaism,
felt comfortable equating the Zionist ideal of Jewish statehood with
"the concept of a racial state -- the Hitlerian concept." For most of
the last century, a principled opposition to Zionism was a mainstream
stance within American Judaism.

Even after the foundation of Israel, anti-Zionism was not a
particularly heretical position. Assimilated Reform Jews like
Rosenwald believed that Judaism should remain a matter of religious
rather than political allegiance; the ultra-Orthodox saw Jewish
statehood as an impious attempt to "push the hand of God"; and
Marxist Jews -- my grandparents among them -- tended to see Zionism,
and all nationalisms, as a distraction from the more essential
struggle between classes.

To be Jewish, I was raised to believe, meant understanding oneself as
a member of a tribe that over and over had been cast out, mistreated,
slaughtered. Millenniums of oppression that preceded it did not
entitle us to a homeland or a right to self-defense that superseded
anyone else's. If they offered us anything exceptional, it was a
perspective on oppression and an obligation born of the prophetic
tradition: to act on behalf of the oppressed and to cry out at the
oppressor.

For the last several decades, though, it has been all but impossible
to cry out against the Israeli state without being smeared as an
anti-Semite, or worse. To question not just Israel's actions, but the
Zionist tenets on which the state is founded, has for too long been
regarded an almost unspeakable blasphemy.

Yet it is no longer possible to believe with an honest conscience
that the deplorable conditions in which Palestinians live and die in
Gaza and the West Bank come as the result of specific policies,
leaders or parties on either side of the impasse. The problem is
fundamental: Founding a modern state on a single ethnic or religious
identity in a territory that is ethnically and religiously diverse
leads inexorably either to politics of exclusion (think of the
139-square-mile prison camp that Gaza has become) or to wholesale
ethnic cleansing. Put simply, the problem is Zionism.

It has been argued that Zionism is an anachronism, a leftover
ideology from the era of 19th century romantic nationalisms wedged
uncomfortably into 21st century geopolitics. But Zionism is not
merely outdated. Even before 1948, one of its basic oversights was
readily apparent: the presence of Palestinians in Palestine. That led
some of the most prominent Jewish thinkers of the last century, many
of them Zionists, to balk at the idea of Jewish statehood. The Brit
Shalom movement -- founded in 1925 and supported at various times by
Martin Buber, Hannah Arendt and Gershom Scholem -- argued for a
secular, binational state in Palestine in which Jews and Arabs would
be accorded equal status. Their concerns were both moral and
pragmatic. The establishment of a Jewish state, Buber feared, would
mean "premeditated national suicide."

The fate Buber foresaw is upon us: a nation that has lived in a state
of war for decades, a quarter-million Arab citizens with second-class
status and more than 5 million Palestinians deprived of the most
basic political and human rights. If two decades ago comparisons to
the South African apartheid system felt like hyperbole, they now feel
charitable. The white South African regime, for all its crimes, never
attacked the Bantustans with anything like the destructive power
Israel visited on Gaza in December and January, when nearly1,300
Palestinians were killed, one-third of them children.

Israeli policies have rendered the once apparently inevitable
two-state solution less and less feasible. Years of Israeli
settlement construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem have
methodically diminished the viability of a Palestinian state.
Israel's new prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has even refused to
endorse the idea of an independent Palestinian state, which suggests
an immediate future of more of the same: more settlements, more
punitive assaults.

All of this has led to a revival of the Brit Shalom idea of a single,
secular binational state in which Jews and Arabs have equal political
rights. The obstacles are, of course, enormous. They include not just
a powerful Israeli attachment to the idea of an exclusively Jewish
state, but its Palestinian analogue: Hamas' ideal of Islamic rule.
Both sides would have to find assurance that their security was
guaranteed. What precise shape such a state would take -- a strict,
vote-by-vote democracy or a more complex federalist system -- would
involve years of painful negotiation, wiser leaders than now exist
and an uncompromising commitment from the rest of the world,
particularly from the United States.

Meanwhile, the characterization of anti-Zionism as an "epidemic" more
dangerous than anti-Semitism reveals only the unsustainability of the
position into which Israel's apologists have been forced. Faced with
international condemnation, they seek to limit the discourse, to
erect walls that delineate what can and can't be said.

It's not working. Opposing Zionism is neither anti-Semitic nor
particularly radical. It requires only that we take our own values
seriously and no longer, as the book of Amos has it, "turn justice
into wormwood and hurl righteousness to the ground."

Establishing a secular, pluralist, democratic government in Israel
and Palestine would of course mean the abandonment of the Zionist
dream. It might also mean the only salvation for the Jewish ideals of
justice that date back to Jeremiah.


Ben Ehrenreich is the author of the novel "The Suitors."

Friday, 13 March 2009

CIA PREDICT ISRAEL'S END

CIA report: Israel will fall in 20 years

Press TV

Fri, 13 Mar 2009
International lawyer, Franklin Lamb

A study conducted by the
Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)
has cast doubt over Israel's
survival beyond the next 20 years.

The CIA report predicts "an inexorable movement away from a two-state
to a one-state solution, as the most viable model based on democratic
principles of full equality that sheds the looming specter of
colonial Apartheid while allowing for the return of the 1947/1948 and
1967 refugees. The latter being the precondition for sustainable
peace in the region."

The study, which has been made available only to a certain number of
individuals, further forecasts the return of all Palestinian refugees
to the occupied territories, and the exodus of two million Israeli -
who would move to the US in the next fifteen years.

"There is over 500,000 Israelis with American passports and more than
300,000 living in the area of just California," International lawyer
Franklin Lamb said in an interview with Press TV on Friday, adding
that those who do not have American or western passport, have already
applied for them.

"So I think the handwriting at least among the public in Israel is on
the wall...[which] suggests history will reject the colonial
enterprise sooner or later," Lamb stressed.

He said CIA, in its report, alludes to the unexpectedly quick fall of
the apartheid government in South Africa and recalls the
disintegration of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s, suggesting the
end to the dream of an 'Israeli land' would happen 'way sooner' than
later.

The study further predicts the return of over one and a half million
Israelis to Russia and other parts of Europe, and denotes a decline
in Israeli births whereas a rise in the Palestinian population.

Lamb said given the Israeli conduct toward the Palestinians and the
Gaza strip in particular, the American public -- which has been
voicing its protest against Tel Aviv's measures in the last 25 years
-- may 'not take it anymore'.

Some members of the US Senate Intelligence Committee have been
informed of the report.

MRS/MMN

Thursday, 12 March 2009

MULLAH OMAR CALLS ON PAKISTANI TALIBAN TO FOCUS ON FIGHTING NATO IN AFGHANISTAN AND DESIST FROM ALIENATING PEOPLE

Taliban rivals unite to fight US troop surge

Saeed Shah in Peshawar
The Guardian
Tuesday 3 March 2009


Taliban fighters have taken over the Swat valley, in the lawless
north-west of Pakistan, and have forced the government to impose
sharia law in the region.

Three rival Pakistani Taliban groups have agreed to form a united
front against international forces in Afghanistan in a move likely to
intensify the insurgency just as thousands of extra US soldiers begin
pouring into the country as part of Barack Obama's surge plan.

The Guardian has learned that three of the most powerful warlords in
the region have settled their differences and come together under a
grouping calling itself Shura Ittihad-ul-Mujahideen, or Council of
United Holy Warriors.

Nato officers fear that the new extremist partnership in Waziristan,
Pakistan's tribal area, will significantly increase the cross-border
influx of fighters and suicide bombers - a move that could undermine
the US president's Afghanistan strategy before it is formulated.
Saeed Shah on how the Taliban in Pakistan are being called to fight
Link to this audio

The unity among the militants comes after a call by Mullah Omar, the
cleric who leads the Afghan Taliban, telling Pakistani militants to
stop fighting at home in order to join the battle to "liberate
Afghanistan from the occupation forces".

The Pakistani Taliban movement was split between a powerful group led
by the warlord Baitullah Mehsud and his bitter rivals, Maulvi Nazir
and Gul Bahadur. While Mehsud has targeted Pakistan itself in a
campaign of violence and is accused of being behind the assassination
of the former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, Nazir and Bahadur sent
men to fight alongside other insurgents in Afghanistan.

The move potentially provides short-term relief in Pakistan but
imperils Nato forces, especially those stationed in southern and
eastern Afghanistan, including the British, close to the Pakistani
border.

"It's of concern to us when we see a grouping like that," said a
western security official in Pakistan. "This can't be ignored."

Fears of an increase in fighting come as the International Committee
of the Red Cross (ICRC) warned yesterday that civilians would face
the brunt of any increase in violence in Afghanistan. Ordinary
Afghans were now more at risk from the fighting than at any time
since the start of the war in 2001, said Pierre Kraehenbuehl,
director of operations for the ICRC.

Violence in Afghanistan intensified last year with some 5,000 people
killed, including more than 2,100 civilians, a 40% increase on the
previous year, the UN reported last month.

Pakistan was already under intense western pressure to act against
extremists based in its tribal area. A western military adviser, also
based in Pakistan, said a Pakistani Taliban alliance would cement the
grip of the militants over Waziristan. The region is also home to
Afghan Taliban and al-Qaida, who use Waziristan and other parts of
the tribal area as a haven to regroup and launch attacks against
Afghan and Nato forces.

"No insurgency has ever been destroyed as long as the sanctuaries are
still alive. If the sanctuaries are gaining more strength, that
certainly worries Nato," said the military adviser.

The Obama administration in Washington has announced 17,000 extra
troops for Afghanistan. American forces will concentrate on areas
close to the Pakistani border, which are seen as the most
troublesome. Obama is pressing European countries to also boost their
troop numbers.

In an apparent response to the augmented US challenge, Mullah Omar
has directed Pakistani militants in Waziristan to halt attacks on
Pakistani forces.Baitullah Mehsud is feared in Pakistan, having led
an assault on his own country since 2007, killing hundreds of
soldiers, policemen and ordinary Pakistanis through suicide attacks
and other bombings. But his tactics, influenced by al-Qaida, were
controversial even within the Taliban.

"If anybody really wants to wage jihad, he must fight the occupation
forces inside Afghanistan," Mullah Omar told Pakistani militants in a
letter. "Attacks on the Pakistani security forces and killing of
fellow Muslims by the militants in the tribal areas and elsewhere in
Pakistan is bringing a bad name to mujahideen and harming the war
against the US and Nato forces in Afghanistan."

The Pakistani Taliban recognise Mullah Omar, founder of the Taliban
movement in Afghanistan, as their ultimate leader, although
operationally they work independently.

"Baitullah Mehsud is now taking on the Americans," said Talat Masood,
a retired Pakistani general turned analyst. Baitullah Mehsud has
recently called off his fighters in two key battles inside Pakistan,
with ceasefires declared in Swat valley, in the North West Frontier
Province, and Bajaur, another tribal area. While Pakistani forces
claim to have "won" in Bajaur, they show no appetite for taking the
war to Waziristan.

Controversially, the Pakistani government has acceded to the
militants' demand for Islamic law in Swat. Under two secret peace
deals signed by Pakistani authorities with the militants last year,
covering north and south Waziristan, a truce exists there.

While western countries want to see the Pakistani army take the fight
to Waziristan, Pakistani forces have been repeatedly defeated there.
Major General Athar Abbas, chief spokesman for the Pakistan army,
said that there was "no plan" to start operations in Waziristan.
"It's the government that decides these things," he added.