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Daniel Dworsky
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Quote Daniel Dworsky Replybullet Posted: 21 January 2008 at 3:00pm

We, the Israeli organizations signed below, deplore the decision by the
Israeli government to cut off vital supplies of electricity and fuel (and
therefore water, since the pumps cannot work), as well as essential
foodstuffs, medicines and other humanitarian supplies to the civilian
population of Gaza. Such an action constitutes a clear and unequivocal
crime against humanity.
Prof. John Dugard, the UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in the
Palestinian Territories, called the Israeli government’s actions “serious
war crimes” for which its political and military officials should be
prosecuted and punished. The killing of more than 40 civilians this past
week violates, he said, “the strict prohibition on collective punishment
contained in the Fourth Geneva Convention. It also violates one of the
basic principles of international humanitarian law that military action
must distinguish between military targets and civilian targets.” Indeed,
the very legal framework invoked by the Israeli government to carry out
this illegal and immoral act – declaring Gaza a “hostile entity” within a
“conflict short of war” – has absolutely no standing in international law.
We call on the Secretary General of the UN, Mr. Ban Ki-Moon, to lead the
Security Council to a decisive decision to end the siege on Gaza when it
meets in emergency session on Wednesday.
We call on the governments of the world, and in particular the American
government and the European Parliament, to censure Israel’s actions and,
in light of recent attempts to revive the diplomatic process, to end all
attacks on civilians, including the continuing demolition of Palestinian
homes at an alarming rate.
We call upon the Jews of the world in whose name the Israeli government
purports to speak, and upon their rabbis and communal leaders in
particular, to speak out unequivocally against this offense to the very
moral core of Jewish values.
And we call upon the peoples of the world to let their officials and leaders
know of their repudiation of this cruel, illegal and immoral act – an act
that stands out in its cruelty even in an already oppressive Israeli
We condemn attacks on all civilians, and we acknowledge the suffering
of the residents of Sderot. Still, those attacks do not justify the massive
disproportionality of Israeli sanctions over a million and half civilians of
Gaza, in particular in light of Israel’s oppressive 40 year occupation. Such
violations of international law by a government are especially egregious
and must be denounced and punished if the very system of human rights
and international law is to be preserved.
The Israeli government’s decision to punish Gaza’s civilian population,
with all the human suffering that entails, constitutes State Terrorism
against innocent people. Only when Israeli policy-makers are held
accountable for their actions and international law upheld will a just
peace be possible in the Middle East.

The Alternative Information Center * Bat Tsafon * Gush Shalom * The
Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD) * Physicians for
Human Rights * The Women's Coalition for Peace
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Daniel Dworsky
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Quote Daniel Dworsky Replybullet Posted: 10 February 2008 at 5:22am
Uri Avnery

                      An End Foreseen

A WISE person once said: "A fool learns from his experience. An intelligent
person learns from the experience of others." To which one could add:
"And an idiot does not even learn from his own experience."

So what can we learn from a book which shows that we do not learn from

All this is building up to a recommendation for such a book. I don't
recommend books as a rule, not even my own. But this time I feel the
need to make an exception.

This is William Polk's book, "Violent Politics", which has recently appeared
in the United States.

Polk was in Palestine in 1946, at the height of the struggle against the
British occupation, and since then he has studied the history of liberation
wars. In less than 300 pages he compares insurgencies, from the
American Revolution to the wars in Afghanistan. His years on the
planning staff of the State Department involved him with the Israeli-
Palestinian conflict. His conclusions are highly illuminating.   

I HAVE a special interest in this subject. When I joined the Irgun at age
15, I was told to read books about previous liberation wars, especially the
Polish and Irish ones. I diligently read every book I could lay my hands
on, and have since followed the insurgencies and guerrilla wars
throughout the world, such as those in Malaya, Kenya, South Yemen,
South Africa, Afghanistan, Kurdistan, Vietnam and more. In one of them,
the Algerian war of liberation, I had some personal involvement.

When I belonged to the Irgun, I worked at the office of an Oxford-
educated lawyer. One of our clients was a high British official of the
Mandate government. He was an intelligent, pleasant and humorous
person. I remember once, when he passed by, a thought crossing my
mind: How can such intelligent people conduct such a foolish policy?

Since then, the more I have become became engrossed in other
insurgencies, the stronger this wonderment has become. Is it possible
that the very situation of occupation and resistance condemns the
occupiers to st**id behavior, turning even the most intelligent into idiots?

Some years ago the BBC screened a long series about the process of
liberation in the former British colonies, from India to the Caribbean
islands. It devoted one episode to each colony. Former colonial
administrators, officers of the occupation armies, liberation fighters and
other eye-witnesses were interviewed at length. Very interesting and very

Depressing - because the episodes repeated each other almost exactly.
The rulers of every colony repeated the mistakes made by their
predecessors in the previous episode. They harbored the same illusions
and suffered the same defeats. Nobody learned any lesson from his
predecessor, even when the predecessor was himself - as in the case of
the British police officers who were transferred from Palestine to Kenya.

In his compact book, Polk describes the main insurgencies of the last 200
years, compares them with each other and draws the obvious

EVERY INSURGENCY is, of course, unique and different from all others,
because the backgrounds are different, as are the cultures of the
occupied peoples and the occupiers. The British differ from the Dutch,
and both from the French. George Washington was different from Tito,
and Ho Chi Minh from Yasser Arafat. Yet in spite of this, there is an
amazing similarity between all the liberation struggles.

For me, the main lesson is this: from the time the general public
embraces the rebels, the victory of the rebellion is assured.

That is an iron rule: an insurgency supported by the public is bound to
win, irrespective of the tactics adopted by the occupation regime. The
occupier can kill indiscriminately or adopt more humane methods, torture
captured freedom fighters to death or treat them as prisoners of war -
nothing makes a difference in the long run. The last of the occupiers can
board a ship in a solemn ceremony, like the British High Commissioner in
Haifa, or fight for a place in the last helicopter, like the last American
soldiers on the roof of the American embassy in Saigon - defeat was
certain from the moment the insurgency had reached a certain point.

The real war against the occupation takes place in the minds of the
occupied population. Therefore, the main task of the freedom fighter is
not to fight against the occupation, as it may seem, but to win the hearts
of his people. And on the other side, the main task of the occupier is not
to kill the freedom fighters, but to prevent the population from embracing
them. The battle is for the hearts and minds of the people, their thoughts
and emotions.

That is one of the reasons why generals almost always fail in their
struggle against liberation fighters. A military officer is the least suitable
person for this task. All his upbringing, his whole way of thinking, all that
he has learned is opposed to this central task. Napoleon, the military
genius, failed in his effort to vanquish the freedom fighters in Spain
(where the word guerrilla, little war, was originally coined), no less than
the most st**id American general in Vietnam.

An army officer is a technician, trained to fulfill a particular job. That job
is irrelevant to the struggle against a liberation movement, in spite of its
superficial appropriateness. The fact that a house-painter deals with
colors does not make him into a portrait painter. An outstanding
hydraulic engineer does not become a skilled plumber. A general does
not understand the essence of a national insurgency, and therefore does
not come to grips with its rules.

For example, a general measures his success by the number of enemies
killed. But the fighting underground organization becomes stronger the
more dead fighters it can present to the public, which identifies with the
martyrs. A general learns to prepare for battle and win it, but his
opponents, the guerrilla fighters, avoid battle altogether.

THE ICONIC Che Guevara well defined the stages which a classic war of
liberation goes through: "At first, there is a partially armed band that
takes refuge in some remote, hard-to-reach spot [or in an urban
population, I would add]. It strikes a lucky blow against the authorities
and is joined by a few more discontented farmers, young idealists, etc.
It…contacts residents and conducts light hit-and-run attacks. As new
recruits swell the ranks it takes on an enemy column and destroys its
leading elements…Next the band sets up semi-permanent
encampments…and adopts the characteristics of a government in
miniature…" and so on.

In order to succeed all along the way, the insurgents need an idea that
fires the enthusiasm of the population. The public unifies around them
and provides aid, shelter and intelligence. From this stage on, everything
that the occupation authorities do helps the insurgents. When the
freedom fighters are killed, many others come forward and swell their
ranks (as I did in my youth). When the occupiers impose collective
punishment on the population, they just reinforce their hatred and their
mutual assistance. When they succeed in capturing or killing the leaders
of the liberation struggle, other leaders take their place - as the Hydra in
Greek legend grew new heads for every one that Hercules chopped off.

Frequently the occupation authorities succeed in causing a split among
the freedom fighters and consider this a major victory. But all the factions
go on fighting the occupier separately, competing with each other, as
Fatah and Hamas are doing now.

IT IS a pity that Polk did not devote a special chapter to the Israeli-
Palestinian conflict, but that is not really necessary. We can write it
ourselves according to our understanding.

All along the 40 years of occupation, our political and military leaders
have failed in the struggle against the Palestinian guerrilla war. They are
neither more st**id nor more cruel than their predecessors - the Dutch
in Indonesia, the British in Palestine, the French in Algeria, the Americans
in Vietnam, the Soviets in Afghanistan. Our generals may top them all
only in their arrogance - their belief that they are the smartest and that
the "Jewish head" will invent new patents that all those Goyim could never
think of.

From the time Yasser Arafat succeeded in winning the hearts of the
Palestinian population and uniting them around the burning desire to rid
themselves of the occupation, the struggle was already decided. If we had
been wise, we would have come to a political settlement with him at the
time. But our politicians and generals are not wiser than all the others.
And so we shall go on killing, bombarding, destroying and exiling, in the
foolish belief that if only we hit once again, the longed-for victory will
appear at the end of the tunnel - only to perceive that the dark tunnel has
led us into an even darker tunnel.

As always happens, when a liberation organization does not attain its
objectives, another more extreme one springs up beside it or instead of it
and wins the hearts of the people. Hamas-like organizations take over
from Fatah-like ones. The colonial regime, which has not reached an
agreement in time with the more moderate organization, is in the end
compelled to come to terms with the more extreme one.

General Charles de Gaulle succeeded in making peace with the Algerian
rebels before reaching that stage. One and a quarter million settlers
heard one morning that the French army was going to pack up on a
certain date and go home. The settlers, many of them of the fourth
generation, ran for their lives without getting any compensation (unlike
the Israeli settlers who left the Gaza Strip in 2005). But we have no de
Gaulle. We are condemned to go on ad infinitum.

If not for the terrible tragedies we witness every day, we could smile at
the pathetic helplessness of our politicians and generals, who are rushing
around without knowing where their salvation should come from. What to
do? To starve all of them? That has led to the collapse of the wall on the
Gaza-Egypt border. Kill their leaders? We have already killed Sheik Ahmed
Yassin and countless others. To execute the "Grand Operation" and re-
occupy the entire Gaza strip? We have already conquered the Strip twice.
This time we shall encounter much more capable guerrillas, who are even
more rooted in the population. Every tank, every soldier will become a
target. The hunter may well become the prey.

SO WHAT can we do that we have not already done?

First of all, to get every soldier and politician to read William Polk's book,
together with one of the good books about the Algerian struggle.

Second, to do what all occupation regimes have done in the end in all the
countries where the population has risen up: to reach a political
settlement that both sides can live with and profit from. And get out.   

After all, the end is not in doubt. The only question is how much more
killing, how much more destruction, how much more suffering must be
caused before the occupiers arrive at the inescapable conclusion.

Every drop of blood spilt is a drop of blood wasted.

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Quote Sign*Reader Replybullet Posted: 07 June 2009 at 10:17pm
It seems Daniel has left us after four years of hangin out; I found this Uri's archived articles for anyone who would like to peruse them till Dan comes back.......
 Uri Avnery's Columns

Edited by Sign*Reader - 15 July 2009 at 12:32am
Kismet Domino: Faith/Courage/Liberty/Abundance/Selfishness/Immorality/Apathy/Bondage or extinction.
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Quote Daniel Dworsky Replybullet Posted: 05 September 2009 at 11:48am
Uri Avnery

                    The Boycott Revisited                    

THE PEOPLE of Sodom, the Bible tells us, were very wicked indeed.

They had a nasty habit of putting every passing stranger into one particular bed. If the stranger was too tall, his legs were shortened. If he was too short, his body was stretched to the required length.

In a way, each of us has such a bed, into which we put everything new. Confronted with a novel situation, we tend to equate it with a situation we have known in the past.

In politics, this method is especially pervasive. It relieves us of the irksome necessity of studying an unfamiliar situation and drawing new conclusions.

Once, the pattern of Vietnam was applied to every struggle around the world – from Argentina to North Korea. Nowadays, the fashion points to South Africa. Everything resembles the struggle against apartheid, unless proven otherwise.

SINCE SENDING out last week’s article, “Tutu’s Prayer”, I have been flooded with responses, some laudatory, some abusive, some thoughtful, some merely angry.

Generally, I don’t argue with my esteemed readers. I don’t want to impose my views, I just want to provide food for thought and leave it to the reader to form his or her own opinion.

This time I feel that I owe it to my readers to clear up some of the points I was trying to make and answer some of the objections. So here we go.

I HAVE no argument with people who hate Israel. That’s entirely their right. I just don’t think that we have any common ground for discussion.

I would only like to point out that hatred is a very bad advisor. Hatred leads nowhere, but to more hatred. That, by the way, is a positive lesson we can draw from the South African experience. There they overcame hatred to a remarkable extent, largely thanks to the “Truth and Reconciliation Commission” headed by Archbishop Tutu, where people admitted their past offenses.

One thing is certain: hatred does not lead towards peace. Let me be quite explicit about this, because I sense that some people, in their righteous indignation over Israel’s occupation, have lost sight of this.

Peace is made between enemies, after war, in which awful things invariably happen. Peace can be made and maintained between peoples who are prepared to live with each other, respect each other, recognize the humanity of each other. They don’t have to love each other.

Describing the other side as monsters may be useful in waging war, but singularly unhelpful in waging peace.

When I receive a missive that is dripping with hatred of Israel, that portrays all Israelis (including myself, of course) as monsters, I fail to envision how the writer imagines peace. Peace with monsters? Angels and monsters living side by side in peace and harmony in one state, hating each other’s guts?

The view of Israel as a monolithic entity composed of racists and brutal oppressors is a caricature. Israel is a complex society, struggling with itself. The forces of good and evil, and many in between, are locked in a daily battle on many different fronts. The settlers and their supporters are strong, perhaps getting stronger (though I doubt it), but are far – even in their own view - from a decisive victory. Neve Gordon, for example, has been left unmolested in his post at Ben-Gurion University, because any attempt to remove him would have caused a public outcry.

I ALSO have no argument with those who want to abolish the State of Israel. It is as much their right to aspire to that as it is my right to want to dismantle, let’s say, the USA or France, neither of which has an unblemished past.

Reading some of the messages sent to me and trying to analyze their contents, I get the feeling they are not so much about a boycott on Israel as about the very existence of Israel. Some of the writers obviously believe that the creation of the State of Israel was a terrible mistake to start with, and therefore should be reversed. Turn the wheel of history back some 62 years and start anew.

What really disturbs me about this is that almost nobody in the West comes out and says clearly: Israel must be abolished. Some of the proposals, like those for a “One State” solution, sound like euphemisms. If one believes that the State of Israel should be abolished and replaced by a State of Palestine or a State of Happiness – why not say so openly?

Of course, that does not mean peace. Peace between Israel and Palestine presupposes that Israel is there. Peace between the Israeli people and the Palestinian people presupposes that both peoples have a right to self-determination and agree to the peace. Does anyone really believe that racist monsters like us would agree to give up our state because of a boycott?

The French and the Germans did not agree to live in one joint state, though the differences between them are incomparably smaller than those between Jewish Israelis and Arab Palestinians. Instead, they set up a European Union, composed of nation-states. Some 50 years ago I called for a similar Semitic Union, including Israel and Palestine. I still do.

Anyway, there is no sense in arguing with those who pray for the disappearance of the sovereign State of Israel, rather than for the appearance of the sovereign State of Palestine at its side.

THE REAL argument is among those who want to see peace between the two states, Israel and Palestine. The question is: how can it be achieved? This is an honest debate and is generally conducted in a civil manner. My debate with Neve Gordon is in this framework.

The advocates of boycott believe that the main, indeed the only way to induce Israel to give up the occupied territories and agree to peace is to exert pressure from the outside.

I have no quarrel with the idea of outside pressure. The question is: pressure on whom? On the government, the settlers and their supporters? Or on the entire Israeli people?

The first answer is, I believe, the right one. That’s why I hope that President Barack Obama will publish a detailed peace plan with a fixed timetable and apply the immense powers of persuasion of the USA to get both sides to agree. I don’t think that this is politically possible without the support of a large part of Israeli society (and, by the way, of the US Jewish community).

Some readers have lost all hope in Obama. That is, without doubt, premature. Obama has not surrendered to Binyamin Netanyahu – indeed, it is quite conceivable that the opposite is happening. The struggle is on, it is a hard struggle against determined opposition, and we should do all we can to help Obama’s peace policy to prevail. We must do this as Israelis, from inside Israel, and thereby show that this is not a struggle of the US against Israel, but a joint struggle against the Israeli government and the settlers.

It follows that any boycott must serve this purpose: to isolate the settlers and the individuals and institutions which openly support them, but not declare war on Israel and the Israeli people as such. In the 11 years since Gush Shalom declared a boycott of the products of the settlements, this process has been gaining momentum. We must laud the Norwegian decision, this week, to divest from the Israeli Elbit company because of their involvement with the “Separation Fence” that is being built on Palestinian land and whose main purposeis to annex occupied territories to Israel. This is a splendid example: a focused action against a specific target, based on a ruling of the International Court.

I think that far more can be done by a concentrated national and international campaign. A central office should be set up to direct this effort throughout the world against clear and specific targets. Such an effort could be helped by world public opinion, which recoils from the idea of boycotting the State of Israel, and not only because of the memory of the Holocaust, but will identify itself with action against the occupation and the oppression.

I have been asked about the Palestinian reaction to the boycott idea. At present, Palestinians do not boycott even the settlements, indeed it is Palestinian workers who are building almost all the houses there, out of economic necessity. Their feelings can only be guessed. All self-respecting Palestinians would, of course, support any effective measure directed against the occupation. But it would not be honest to dangle before their eyes the false hope that a world-wide boycott would bring Israel to its knees. The truth is that only the close cooperation of Palestinian, Israeli and international peace forces could generate the necessary momentum to end the occupation and achieve peace.

This is especially important because our task in Israel today is not so much to convince the majority of Israelis that peace is good and the price acceptable, but first that peace is possible at all. Most Israelis have lost that hope, and its revival is absolutely vital on the way to peace.

TO REMOVE any misconceptions about myself, let me state as clearly as possible where I stand:

I am an Israeli.

I am an Israeli patriot.

I want my state to be democratic, secular, and liberal, ending the occupation and living at peace both with the free and sovereign State of Palestine that will come into being next to it, and with the entire Arab world.

I want Israel to be a state belonging to all its citizens, without distinction of ethnic origin, gender, religion or language; with completely equal rights for all; a state in which the Hebrew-speaking majority will retain its close ties with the Jewish communities around the world, and the Arab-speaking citizens will be free to cherish their close ties with their Palestinian brothers and sisters and the Arab world at large.

If this is racism, Zionism or worse – so be it.

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Quote Sign*Reader Replybullet Posted: 07 September 2009 at 8:00pm
Daniel Dworsky
THE PEOPLE of Sodom, the Bible tells us, were very wicked indeed.

They had a nasty habit of putting every passing stranger into one particular bed. If the stranger was too tall, his legs were shortened. If he was too short, his body was stretched to the required length.

Why would they do this and how? Just curiousWink

Btw where it is in Bible?

Edited by Sign*Reader - 07 September 2009 at 8:25pm
Kismet Domino: Faith/Courage/Liberty/Abundance/Selfishness/Immorality/Apathy/Bondage or extinction.
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Quote Daniel Dworsky Replybullet Posted: 12 September 2009 at 10:25pm
Book one Genisis Abraham Lot and the angels. Nasty business. I think it's in the "midrash" (Babylonian exile's musings) of the old testament and not in the direct text but the later expansions of the original text. I just knew we were in trouble when we started with the bible related metaphors. That always goes south. It's not the point that was being made- You are such a trouble maker.

now read something:

Wobbly Stools


EVEN THE Romans never saw a game like this in their arena: three gladiators fighting against each other, while at the same time each of them has to defend himself against attackers from behind.

All three of them – Barack Obama, Binyamin Netanyahu and Mahmoud Abbas – are fighting for their political life. The three battles are quite different from each other, yet interconnected.

OBAMA IS in big trouble. Big? Huge! The most important struggle concerns health insurance.

This has no connection with Israel. Moreover, for an Israeli it is difficult even to understand it.

For us it is hard – indeed impossible – to grasp how a modern, progressive country can function without health insurance for all. Our health system came into being long before the foundation of the State of Israel. Sick funds covered practically the whole Jewish population in Palestine. After the foundation of Israel, this became law for all citizens. Every Israeli is insured by one of four officially recognized sick funds. All of these are financed to a large extent by the government, which also decides what services they are obliged to provide.

In a progressive society, a person has a right to basic medical care, including hospital care, operations and medicines. So it seems very odd that in the richest nation in the world there are tens of millions of people who lack this essential protection. Especially in a country where medical expenditure - as a percentage of the gross national product - is far higher then in ours.

Along comes Obama and proposes a plan that offers these people an option of governmental medical insurance. What could be more natural? But in the US, powerful forces are out to prevent it, on behalf of Free Enterprise, the Market, the Right to Privacy and such high-sounding pretexts. They portray Obama as a Second Hitler or a Second Stalin, if not both, and his popularity is sinking dramatically.

Odd? Mad? Perhaps. But we have to take it seriously. It concerns us directly.

BECAUSE OBAMA is a central actor in our own play.

When he came to power, he understood that he must change the situation in the extended Middle East. Most Muslims in the world, including most Arabs, hate the United States. Even an imperial power cannot function effectively in an atmosphere of general hatred. The main reason for the hatred is the unlimited US support for the government of Israel, which oppresses the Palestinians.

For eight years, President Bill Clinton acted as an agent of the Jewish lobby for Israel. After that, for another eight years, President George W. Bush acted as an agent of the Christian fundamentalist lobby for Israel. President Obama understands that basic US interests demand an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that is poisoning the entire region.

The war in Afghanistan makes it even worse. Obama got stuck in this quagmire by mistake: in the heat of the election campaign he announced that he would withdraw from Iraq. But in order not to be accused of defeatism, he added that he would intensify the American intervention in Afghanistan.

That was a rash promise. Afghanistan is far worse than even Iraq. It is a different war, in a different environment, against a different enemy. The US has no chance of “winning” this war, which has no clear aim and no clear enemy, against a population that since antiquity has been honing its expertise in expelling foreign invaders.

It is easy to walk into a swamp, difficult to get out of it. Obama has no exit strategy from Afghanistan. That, too, will endanger his popularity in the near future.

THIS IS the situation in which he enters the struggle with Binyamin Netanyahu.

There no question anymore that the only recipe for healing the Israeli-Palestinian wound is the termination of the occupation and the establishment of peace between the State of Israel and the new State of Palestine beside it. This demands meaningful and intense negotiations, within a fixed time span. That is impossible if at the same time settlements continue to expand. As the Palestinian lawyer Michael Tarasi aptly put it: “We are negotiating about the division of a pizza and in the meantime Israel is eating the pizza.”

That’s why Obama has presented the Israeli government with an unequivocal demand: an immediate stop to all building in the settlements, including East Jerusalem. A clear and logical demand. But while pressuring Netanyahu, he himself is exposed to heavy pressure at home over the health insurance system and the Afghan war.

NETANYAHU’S SITUATION is no less complex.

His government is based on a coalition of five different parties. The settlers and their supporters constitute a majority. The “leftist” in this coalition, Ehud Barak, has been responsible for setting up more settlements than Netanyahu himself ever has.

Netanyahu is dancing on a thin tightrope at the Israeli fair, high above the heads of the audience, without a safety net. He must avoid a head on clash with Obama, while satisfying the nationalists in his own party and his coalition.

How to do this? One has to convince Obama to allow a small amount of building in the settlements, just another tiny bit, in order to appease the settlers. One has to convince the settlers that the promise to freeze building is just window dressing, and that in reality building will continue at full speed.

The Americans recognize, of course, that our government is trying to deceive them. If they allow the building of just another 500 houses in the settlement blocks, and the completion of just another 2500 houses whose construction has already begun, and just a few more in East Jerusalem, in practice the building will go on unchecked.

The settlers know perfectly well that their whole enterprise has been based on deceit and trickery, house after house and neighborhood after neighborhood, and they are happy to allow Netanyahu to continue with this method. For the time being, they do not cry out, they are not worried, the more so as no large Israeli public movement has yet arisen in support of Obama’s peace efforts.

Obama’s troubles concerning the health issue look to Netanyahu like the answer to a prayer. Perhaps he is not satisfied with divine help alone, and the pro-Israel lobby is quietly helping the enemies of reform. If Obama’s people decide that the time is not ripe for a confrontation with Netanyahu and that it is worth giving in about small matters – some houses here, some houses there – that would be a huge victory for Netanyahu. Every Israeli will see it this way: Netanyahu stood up like a man, Obama blinked first. But thereafter, in the second and third battle, when Obama insists and does not give in, neither in word nor in deed, Netanyahu will be in trouble.

MAHMOUD ABBAS is the weakest of the three gladiators. His situation is the most precarious.

He is on a slippery slope and has to rely on support from Obama, who himself stands atop a tower that may collapse. He has already learned that Netanyahu does not intend to conduct real negotiations with him. And Hamas accuses him of collaboration with the occupation.

West Bank public opinion polls seem to show that the popularity of Fatah there is on the rise and that Hamas is losing. But polls in Palestine can almost be counted on to be wrong (as on the eve of the last elections, when they forecast a huge Fatah victory). More than a thousand Hamas militants are in the prisons of the Palestinian Authority. The Authority’s security services, which are being trained by the American general Keith Dayton, are working in close cooperation with the occupation forces and serve, quite openly, as their sub-contractors. What does the ordinary Palestinian in the street think about that?

Life in the occupied West Bank is built on an illusion. Commentators praise the success of the PA’s Prime Minister, Salaam Fayad, in reconstructing the Palestinian economy. Ramallah is flowering. New businesses are being opened. Netanyahu’s “economic peace” is becoming a reality. But that is, of course, a delicate bubble: the Israeli army can eradicate all this in half an hour, as it did in the 2002 “Defensive Shield” operation.

If Abbas does not succeed in achieving impressive progress towards peace within a few months, the whole structure may come crashing down. General Dayton has already warned that if peace is not achieved “within two years”, the forces now being trained by him may rise up against the Israeli occupation (and against Abbas, of course). Hamas is breathing heavily down their necks.

IN A FEW days, the three – Obama, Netanyahu and Abbas – are supposed to hold a summit conference in New York and to launch the Ship of Peace.

It will be an interesting meeting – if it takes place - because each of the three will be sitting on a wobbly stool, with unequal legs. While talking with his two colleagues, each will be preoccupied with his enemies at home.

That is not, of course, an unusual situation. Henry Kissinger once said that Israel has no foreign policy, only a domestic policy. But that is more or less true for every country. The United States, Israel and Palestine are not unique in this respect.

Commentators in ivory towers, who are used to handling out gratuitous advice to political leaders and telling them what to do, frequently miss this dimension. A person who has never experienced the heat of an election campaign cannot come near to understanding the full depths of a politician’s motives. In the words of Otto von Bismarck, a politician through and through: “Politics is the art of the possible”.

How to move the peace efforts back from the realm of the impossible? In this campaign, the Israeli peace camp has a double task: first, to expose the policy of evasion and deceit of our government; and, second, to strengthen Obama’s hand in his endeavor to bring peace to this region. It is important that a strong and authentic Israeli camp express support for his efforts. Our friends in the US, in Europe and throughout the entire world have a similar task.

This three-sided struggle is not taking place in a Roman arena, and we are not just spectators looking on from the terraces. At stake in this game is nothing less than our lives.

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Quote Sign*Reader Replybullet Posted: 10 April 2010 at 2:15pm
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Quote abuayisha Replybullet Posted: 10 April 2010 at 5:16pm
Wow, excellent analysis.  Thanks.
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