Peoples Geography — Reclaiming space

Creating people's geographies

There are alternatives, Norman

ADDED: Thoughtful comments from friends and response from Norman, with thanks

I have a bone to pick with Norman Finkelstein, whose scholarship and stances in the past I have expressly supported. He comes out swinging in an interview on Lebanese TV last month, and I can only agree with the first half of the interview. While no doubt the Israeli neocons who own MEMRI will latch on to and inflate statements such as ‘Israel has to suffer a defeat’, I was more bemused with his expression of singular values in “there is no alternative” to military resistance.

To Norman: While it has its place, there IS an alternative, many of them, there is no single strategy. South Africa didn’t “have” to suffer a military defeat before it ended its belligerence, the defeat in Vietnam did not do much to dent US militarism. It is a combination of diplomacy and military strategies, Norman, and you are quite wrong that the Arab people — not their governments — have no self-respect. The dignity I have encountered speaks volumes to me personally.

Your expression of values and your preference for what you describe as the chosen Jewish strategy: “never to forgive, never to forget” is not always the right attitude. Violence tends to beget more violence. You invoke a false cliched binary of choosing either to die on one’s feet or to live on one’s knees: inspired as a catchcry, not really a strategy.

I think that is a totalistic mindset that straitjackets Arabs and Lebanese, it does not liberate them. Military resistance is only half the equation, it has to be accompanied with people-to-people ties, second- and third-track diplomacy, cultural and civil society exchanges, and other grassroots and cultural and social changes. Will a military defeat by Israel stop a significant number of Israelis despising Arabs and actively discriminating against them, which crucially is what public polls provide as a mandate for war? I don’t think so. Poll after poll tells us that these types of attitudes are not only prevalent, they are increasing.

Your wholly militaristic strategy is misguided, Norman. How you can discount effective lobbying, given the behemoth AIPAC and the Likud Lobby in the US and its undue influence, is perplexing. These strategies should be pursued on all fronts in tandem, not simply ‘military resistance’. ‘Never to forgive, never to forget’ is the very ‘Jewish’ attitude that spawns Israeli government intransigence and cynical exploitation of perpetual victimhood, Norman, the very type you have so well documented in the past. Either strategy on its own is naive and one-dimensional, and I don’t buy your views on strategy as presented as being the only way. Castigate Arab and the Lebanese governments by all means, express solidarity with Hezbollah (for whom, with you, I also wholeheartedly support the right to resist Israeli aggression), but yours is a view that is only the flipside of the appeasement coin, and I proffer my dissent.


The transcript of the interview can be read here at Dave’s site, I’m not wild about linking to MEMRI. Also see Rannie Amiri’s recent piece that gives Lebanese warmongers a good kick up the backside.


Some thoughtful comments received by email, reproduced with permission:

“No one else in our movement at Norman’s stature has come out with such a clear acceptance of the right to violent resistance. … I’m the type who follows anyone who picks up the flag and runs toward the lines. He’s either a saint or a bloody fool, but we can’t let him go alone. You are after a resolution. Norman has accepted that resolution is impossible until Israel is defeated (and the U.S.) because Israel will continue to provoke war forever unless their ideology is shown to be abhorrent.” [from Dean]


I would agree with much of what you say in terms of multiple strategies being helpful. Although I don’t think Washington has Lebanese interests at its heart and diplomacy will not prevent further conflict (but still an influence and and ear could have some affect).

I do think Israel is looking to attack Lebanon once again and that its useful to remind people that the US bombed them (through Israel) and will support Israel when it bombs them again. The only way out of this situation is to submit to Israel/US. Obviously Lebanese in the south are not going to submit to Israel so theres definitely another war coming. In which case I found Norman Finklestein’s interview a refreshing wake up call to remind Lebanese who their real enemy is (who is planning the next war). The few Lebanese I know are horribly affected by war and as a survival mechanism seem to forget about it and ignore it. They especially like to ignore their biggest threat Israel because they feel powerless in the face of it eg they blame the civil war on Palestinian refugees rather than Israel for creating the refugees. I think his stark choices, bleak future and frankness are a good shake that they need. Lebanon should be preparing for resistance (of all forms) not pulling itself apart.

I felt when he said there was no other option than military resistance it was in reference to an Israeli military campaign against Lebanon. I didn’t think he meant it was the only tactic you should use – its just unfortunately a necessary component.

I’ve more or less said the exact things as norman to my Lebanese friends but without the fury behind my words. I understand that they want peace at all costs and are very hurt and damaged. I don’t like to push on them what I think – I haven’t lived there. Although I do feel part Lebanese now :D I have too many connections there not to be involved.

Ultimately I wasn’t so sure his polemic should be taken literally – but was a strategy to give Lebanon a rather a big wake up call.

I do think many Lebanese are too sycophantic to Washington considering they destroyed the country. Reminds me of my trip to Japan where all the cool kids were wearing t shirts that said “US airforce” even though the same airforce nuked them twice and committed countless other massacres from the air. I just can’t understand it.” [from Dave]


Norman responds:

The actual interview was an hour long. The excerpt accurately reflects my opinions but not the reasoning behind them. In life we sometimes have only stark alternatives. Hence, the famous union song, “Which side are you on?” This talk of “binaries” is often an excuse for doing nothing.


I should have replied at greater length but I just don’t have the time right now. However, for the record, I am not a big believer in forgiveness. In my opinion it breeds moral irresponsibility: people should be held accountable for their actions and, anyhow, no one can forgive for the dead. My late parents would NEVER forgive the murderers of their families and I would NEVER forgive what was done to my parents. It’s for those who ACTUALLY SUFFERED to decide whether or not to forgive. Of course, these questions don’t even arise in the Lebanese case. It’s the most craven moral cowardice and opportunism to welcome the murderers of Lebanon. And let’s be clear: it’s those who suffered LEAST who now claim the NECESSITY of welcoming the Americans. Israel was very careful only to bomb the poor Muslims. The rich parts of Beirut, e.g., were untouched by the war, although of course the destruction of infrastructure hurt everyone.

29 comments on “There are alternatives, Norman

  1. Crimson East
    20 February, 2008

    Well, Ann, I must disagree with your criticism of Finkelstein’s position.

    First, the very basis of military resistance is that it is a last resort. You take up arms against imperialism when all other avenues of resistance have proven futile. Now, when you yourself admit that you support the military resistance, the other “ways of resistance” that you recommend have little significance.

    Cultural exchange?! What cultural exchange do you expect beween a poor Palestinian refugee and a rich European colonizer who deprived the former of his/her lands in 1948? Perhaps a well-aimed rocket from Gaza is a meaningful form of cultural exchange. :P

    You talk of lobbying to counter the Zionist lobby. Firstly, this kind of lobbying means becoming a part of the US establishment itself. We do not make deals with imperialism, we crush it. The institutions developed within imperialist governments are meant to ENSLAVE us, not provide an alternative path to our liberation.
    Secondly, I find it rather impractical for, say, the Lebanese people to compete with the immense money behind the Zionist lobby. :P
    We do not lobby with the First-World corporate establishment. We actively seek to destroy its profits, ruin its ventures and punish its transgressions in the Third-World. And I’m sure, at some point the American working-people will realize their interests are also served by siding with us.

    You say that military resistance is only one part of a broader strategy. I agree. We must politically mobilize people in our exploited nations, we must liberate women, we must educate our people, we must help them fight for improvements in their everyday lives.

    To quote you,

    South Africa didn’t “have” to suffer a military defeat before it ended its belligerence,

    Well, the racist government of South Africa was AFRAID. It realized that if it carried on with its repressive policies, the majority of South Africans, who were working-class blacks, were going to resort to ever more drastic steps. A repressive elite has to step back when it realizes that a failure to do so will result in its extermination.

    the defeat in Vietnam did not do much to dent US militarism.

    It certainly dented US imperialist aggression to the extent that they left Vietnam alone. :P

    Plus, if you recall what Che Guevara says in his “Message to the Tricontinental”, he talks about creating not one but SEVERAL Vietnams, all over the Third-world.

    Lebanon must become a defiant Vietnam. Iraq must become one. Afghanistan must become one. Pakistan must become one. Somalia must become one. Venezuela must become one. Bolivia must become one.

    So on so forth, until we drive the mercenary armies of the imperialist governments out of every poverty-stricken land.

    It is a combination of diplomacy and military strategies, Norman, and you are quite wrong that the Arab people — not their governments — have no self-respect. The dignity I have encountered speaks volumes to me personally.

    Here I must agree with you. Norman Finkelstein is being unnecessarily emotional. To speak of “the Arab people” is pointless.

    The Arab world is divided into classes. The Arab working-class and peasantry will always find that their interests oppose those of imperialism.

    Among the ruling elites, there will be comprador elements who work with imperialism (for instance the current Lebanese government) and nationalist elements who work against imperialism (for instance Hizbullah).

    And yes, of course the Arab people, just like any other humans, have self-respect. It is only the treacherous sell-out rulers among them who have no self-respect.

    Throughout the Third-world, these parasites must be eliminated without remorse and without mercy.

  2. Crimson East
    20 February, 2008

    Oh, sorry for a second comment, but listening to Finkelstein reminded me of my own country.

    There are those who say that the Pakistani military regime was very wise in siding with NATO aggression when Bush gave us the option “you’re either with us or you’re not”. That was 2001.

    Look at what they are making us do. They are forcing us to fight and bomb our own people in the north-west. I wish I could convey the anguish of a Pakistani soldier, recruited from the Pashtun north-west, who has to fight against his own people.

    We surrendered to US imperialism and look what it did. They’re making us kill our own flesh and blood.

    What have we gotten out of being stooges? This miserable fearful existence? A few billion dollars in aid from America, thrown as scraps to us, which all went into the pockets of the military elite?

    Are we better off today? No. Our country is being torn apart. There is no security on the streets. You never know when a suicide bomb will blast you into oblivion.

    Ann, I’ve had this conversation a 1000 times with people. They ask,
    “What should we have done in 2001? Get bombed back to the Stone Age, as the Americans threatened?”

    YES, I say. We should have stood up and said:
    “NO, we will not be a party to this aggression. Bomb us back to the Stone Age, if that’s what you want to do.”

    We should have stood up like proud men and women, and then history might have been different. But we allowed our rulers to sell us out. And now, we pay the price for it.

  3. Ann El Khoury
    20 February, 2008

    Feel free, my friend. Its always welcome and you’ve added much of value to the debate. I’ll respond more substantively when I can, and invite others to do so too if they wish.

  4. Pingback: Redirection « Forever Under Construction

  5. ressentiment
    20 February, 2008

    I hope Professor Finkelstein (the honorary title is used intentionally) will find the time to talk about his reasoning behind his comments.

    There are so many audiences for Norman’s words. My American ears are tuned to his caveat that he’s not telling the Lebanese what to do with their lives. I felt the sharp message for me when he talked about the myths surrounding of the French Resistance. I’m like one of the 20% who just reads the newspaper and nothing else, hoping that the 10% who are really resisting will save me from my own cowardice.

    I can’t imagine what I would do if Israel were doing to my country what they’ve done to Lebanaon. If another country were trying to destroy the U.S. – were trying to undermine in my government – were trying influence my politicians – were using divide and conquer tactics to create strife among the factions – if they were trying to get me killed and trying to use our armed forces to fight a proxy war to maintain their status as a client state. If someone were doing that to the United States …

    Aw hell, who am I kidding? Israel doing all that and more to the United States. They’re using our soldiers to fight their war. They’re draining our treasury to fight a proxy war against their enemies. They’ve even expanded their list of enemies and their lobbyists are doing everything they can to get the United States to destroy Iran for them.

    They’re even getting professors fired who tell the truth about what they’re doing.

    The only thing they haven’t done that they have done to Lebanon is drop cluster bombs on us. But Israel is the root cause of the 9/11 attacks, make no mistake about it. I will never forget and I will never forgive them.

    Americans have to ask themselves: whence terrorism if not for Israel?

    The United States is rapidly being turned into an armed camp with the same walls and the same checkpoints and the same police with machine guns and the same police spying on citizens just like Israel. And we just recently passed a law which authorizes the president to use our military against our own citizens.

    The United States is being turned into Israel as surely as the rich are getting richer. And I’m supposed to pay for it, and we’re supposed to send our children to die for Israel.

    I’ve had enough of it. Israel is not worth one dead American let alone all the blood and treasure that has been pissed away in the sand for nothing.

    Norman’s got so many good points in that interview there’s not enough room to enumerate why I agree with all of them. But I know he’s not just talking to the Lebanese. He’s talking to Americans too.

    It is time that we put a stop to the Israeli domination of U.S. foreign policy. The United States could squash Israel like a bug if we wanted to. All we have to do is put a stop to it.

  6. 99
    20 February, 2008

    Those Lebanon must resist or appease have shown throughout human history to be unstoppable by any means short of brute force. Yes, sometimes it’s merely the threat of it, but it has to be a solidly credible one, and the level of force necessary to dissuade them ever increases as their means of enforcing their will also ever increase. My whole life is dedicated to transcending exactly this, but since there are so few enlightening beings, practically speaking, within a human lifespan, violence is in fact the only way to remove evil influence for real. And, even that will only be temporary. They absolutely will regroup and press again.

    Honestly, there is nothing more evolved that will do the trick. Look what they’ve done to the religions put in place to prevent their aggression. They’re now reasons for it. What diplomacy works against those determined to have more? Gathering so much public opinion against them that they are too embarrassed to keep pressing? That finally worked last time, in combination with violence, but, well, look around. How many in power are embarrassed enough about this to desist nowadays? Far, far fewer than before. Tricking them that what they prize is really worthless? Definitely not going to work. What diplomacy could actually work?

    I hope no one takes this wrong, but I really feel that the human unwillingness to risk life and limb is the entire reason such aggression is never transcended. Do you doubt that if we could be relied upon to die rather than brook injustice, injustice would be history? The awful news is: That is what it takes.

    I am encouraged to hear Norman’s words here.

  7. 99
    20 February, 2008

    It’s like the laws in place to preserve the environment. Those who profit from pillage NEVER stop throwing everything they have against those laws until they are shot with so many holes they cease in any way even to impede the pillage.

    It’s the same with Zionism. They have demonstrated it convincingly over and over and over again since the inception of this idea, and they are far more powerful now than ever before.

  8. Ann El Khoury
    20 February, 2008

    Response coming soon … thanks for the comments.

  9. Pingback: Norman Finkelstein - Defending Hezbollah « Israel’s 60th Birthday

  10. Sophia
    21 February, 2008


    Thanks for the birthday wish you left at UrShalim’s for me.

    This is a very interesting discussion going on here. I cannot explain the reasoning behind Finkelstein’s conviction but I agree with him for the following reason which I developped in my article on the blog: ‘Hassan Nasrallah, the new face of moderation in Lebanon and the middle east’. I then argued that if Hezbollah could have toppled the government of Sanyura in July 2006. It could have done so after. But it chooses to talk and negotiate a unity government. The main reason Hezbollah took this path is confidence, confidence in their ability to wage war and sustain aggression, a confidence they acquired from two victories on Israel. Scoring a victory against Israel a powerful ennemy and foe of Arabs is the only road to moderation for what it is felt as weakness in the face of this superpower in the middle east I then wrote. On the other hand, submission, as it is defended by Arab countries like Jordan, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia, as ‘moderation’, breeds extremism and Al-Qaida.

    The contrary is true. Defeat of the superpowerful at the hands of those who are considered as colonised, occupied, is the only road to moderation and eventually, peace. It is the ‘rapport de forces’ that is crucial here. As long as the powerful feels secure militarily speaking, it won’t negotiate. And as long as the oppressed are oppressed, they will feel their military loss as a higher stage in opression.

    So, yes, the problematic of violence and non violence besides (and I know that it is this problematic that occupies you Ann), I think the only way out is a defeat for Israel. It shouldn’t be a military defeat but it could be, why not ? Israel has been supporting other colonial wars in the ME, Iraq, Iran, in order to maintain its military supremacy in the area and increase the submission of Arab regimes. To which extent it will go in order to escape a possible defeat, which has already happened more than once.
    Remember the first intifada ?
    Remember the two defeats inflicted by Hezbollah ?

    Israel, even though defeated by Hezbollah, never aknowledges it. Partly because they feel a defeat on the hands of a guerilla is not a defeat. So they are trying to destabilise Lebanon and divide ti, as they did for the PA, in ordert o hide these defeats and tranform them into gains by increasing violence in the region.

    This leads me to think that given israel’s free hands in the ME and the silence of the international community, the only way out for us is Israel’s defeat and it could be done in many ways.

  11. peoplesgeography
    21 February, 2008

    Friends, comments much appreciated and all good points. I have a number of thoughts on all this and will address them in two parts.

    PART ONE: Rejoinder to Norman
    To take it from the top and to first address Norman’s points in this comment. Thank you Norman for your two prompt email responses. I sympathise with being time-pressed, its also a reason my response has just been posted. I think this is a debate eminently worth having, and it goes to the heart of what should be our best strategies in pursuit of social justice in the face of belligerent brute force.

    I agree with some of what you say but definitely maintain my dissenting stance and I’ll explain why.

    The two scenarios we seem to be presented with are capitulation or war/resistance for the Lebanese people. I accept those choices exist, and I certainly don’t support “welcoming” one’s destroyers, but consider that there are other, as yet unconsidered factors.

    The Hezbollah resistance has been successful in driving Israel out in 2000, and exists not just as a resistance, but much else besides as you know, active in reconstruction, social welfare, as a political party and so on. It exemplifies, if anything, that military resistance is a necessary, but on its own, insufficient strategy to bringing justice and restitution.

    Instrumentalising Resistance
    My first concern is that military resistance can and has been instrumentalised by Israel in service of its goals. Like the war in Iraq, war is not meant to achieve victory as much as destabilization to divide and fragment the region. We also see this clearly in Palestine, whereby Israel has funded Hamas to keep up this deadly game. In this scenario, the goal may not actually be to win in a war, conventionally conceived, so much as to keep the conflict going, providing the prolonged pretextual oxygen to sustain a still expansionist settler state.

    By war of instrumentalisation, resistance also has much potential to lend itself to Israeli Mossad black flag operations and agents posing as locals to foment sectarian division and violence as has happened in Iraq, where two British SAS snipers were recently caught out a couple of years ago.

    For Lebanon, as Franklin Lamb and Seymour Hersh have suggested, the Welch Club is after the same dividing aims.

    I would certainly see the value of a military defeat in Israel, like most readers here, yet I am doubtful about the chastening effect this is expected to have with respect to its foreign policy. Germany’s defeat and humiliation in WWI directly laid the foundations for its involvement in WWII.

    I’d love to be convinced otherwise, but given the particularities or peculiarities of the more militarist-than-most Israeli state (it is a military with a state rather than a state with a military as someone once quipped), and in looking at the experience of its past wars, I’d argue that the expected impact of a loss is possibly negated if the greater goal is in fact just to prolong low intensity conflict.

    The challenge is not simply to resist militarily – which may feed directly into Israel’s aims and war justifications – but to disrupt that game that Israel are playing. Otherwise the resistance becomes a part of the fuel for Israel’s fire, not something that drenches it.

    What exactly makes you think a defeat by Israel wouldn’t lead to a bigger war, whether played out through Usraeli neocons in the US or of its own doing?

    What if resistance from Hezbollah was deliberately being encouraged to justify going after bigger target Iran?

    As mentioned, we see this illustrated with the fractured Hamas/ Fatah resistance. While the Israeli government provided funds for Hamas in the past, Fatah has been given funds by the US, fostering a sectarian divide and pitting Palestinian against Palestinian but continuing the game of resistance–occupation–war–resistance.

    The reason Hamas has been funded by Israel is because Israel does not really want to destroy Hamas outright, it needs it as a continued pretext for its “low-intensity” genocide against Gazans and Palestinians in the West Bank. Hamas resistance simply fuels its fire, and continues the murderous game Israel is playing.

    Put another way, the overriding image I have in my mind in conceptualising this conundrum is that of the mice wheel. As long as the wheel of almost scripted violence of war-resistance-war-resistance keeps turning, Israel’s terrible aims are served. Israel wins.

    Surreptitious Resistance
    Resistance happens to be a current research interest of mine, but this conflict is not merely an academic matter for me personally; I know people who were killed and who killed, my heritage is Lebanese, and I care about the country.

    I also recently visited some of the same places you did, Norman when you were in the country last month, and met with many of the Hezbollah leaders you met with just weeks before you did, including Sheikh Kaouk, and stayed for a time in a Shia suburb of Beirut. I support the Lebanese Opposition and its platform as outlined in the MOU between Aoun and Nasrallah.

    I posit that there are a number of types of resistance that can be effectively deployed. Resistance need not be as direct as you, dear Norman. To envisage only slavery or death seems to apply too blunt an instrument of appraisal. I support the presentation of stark choices where warranted and, like you, eschew inaction, but I also seek to repudiate the undue narrowing of available strategies. It is an epistemological violence that produces violence on the ground.

    First, let us remember that this is not a society that is afraid of resistance. Lebanon withstood Israeli brute force, the biggest military bully in the region. Twice. You will have seen the scores of martyrs posters prominently displayed both in Lebanon and in Palestine.

    Yet the dead cannot resist, and fighting back to immediate threats is crucial but only addresses the symptoms. As Thoreau once wrote: “There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root.”

    Striking at the Roots

    Responding to symptoms does not address the why of why Israel and the US governments will not tolerate Arab resistance as you note in the interview. I will seek to address this a little later.

    While the dead can’t forgive, only the living can resist, and striking at the root causes is the most effective means by which longer term resistance may be successfully waged.

    There have been a number of examples in history where a group of peoples have either maintained the façade of cooperation in order to re-group, organise and mount an effective campaign of strategies, or done so covertly rather than overtly.

    You might consider James C. Scott’s work in his superlative Domination and the Arts of Resistance (DATAOR), which you might appreciate as a fellow academic but also general carer of what happens in global politics and how resistance is conceptualized, which directly informs agency.

    Scott offers a different way of recognizing political action and agency too often missed in conventional analyses. He sees that the official politics we normally analyse in international relations and political science is but one layer, which he calls the public transcript, and that this ignores or downplays what he terms the hidden transcript.

    In Scott’s words, “the process of domination generates the social evidence that apparently confirms notions of hegemony.” (DATAOR, p. 77). Many forms of resistance not only exist but thrive in the most repressive and apparently acquiescent societies with strategic disguising of insubordination where open resistance would be imprudent and counter-productive. I am not saying outright revolt and rebellion does not also occur, or that it is sometimes not a better strategy when it does, merely that is only part of the story, and the latter is what tends to make the history books.

    Thus, the French Resistance that you mention in the interview clip was not necessarily nonexistent or a joke. This is one reading of history, and misses the unseen resistances when viewed with a public transcript lens only. This offstage parallel is not to be undervalued. Everyday informal resistance is not always recorded for historical posterity, yet in aggregate that is often the subterranean swell that may underpin and support the 10% of the declared direct resistance.

    The majority of public events, including resistance, is consecrated to the public ‘official’ transcript, which conventional political and historical research overwhelmingly focuses upon, and the disguising of resistance may not lend itself to historical documentation in the same way. Subordinate groups themselves may even be complicitous in contributing to a sanitised official transcript of elites, posits Scott (p. 87), in order to cover their tracks. Apparent and outward compliance does not necessarily mean capitulation, and can occur with a quieter corrosion and more discreet subversion of hegemony.

    So this ‘offstage history’ of subversive, covert and surreptitious resistance is less well documented, and in the public transcript most scholars study, sometimes may as well not exist, but has a hugely important parallel and supporting role to play, and one that is unacknowledged.

    The upshot of all this without delving too much into Scott’s notion of infrapolitics (which as the term suggests, might involve resistance and off stage acts that the conventional range of political analysis does not capture) is to repeat the assertion that there are a range of alternatives, and that a peoples spectrum of resistance is not always captured in conventional political analyses.

    Apparent acquiescence is not a lack of self-respect. All may not be as it seems at first sight, and certainly not by reading only the public transcript. Human agency and resistance takes many forms, often ingenuous and hidden—and ingenuously hidden. Tactical invisibility is often required in resistance, and provides requisite cover to incubate and eventually publicly mount strategies. The open ‘declared’ political action is often only the visible tip of the iceberg.

    It is far easier to fight for principles than to live up to them
    (Adlai Stevenson)

    It is possible, and probable, then, for publicly undeclared resistance to exist. History is not always recorded. It is usually partial. These are things with which you are most familiar. Undeclared resistance is an alternative strategy to petitioning power, and the Lebanese case in particular denotes patron groups who are outside countries as we know. In the Lebanese case, what you, Norman, find abhorrent is the prospect of George W. Bush being accepted into the country, one for which the US is a potential rival patron among others such as Iran and Syria, depending upon the group, be they March 14 Alliance (USA, France as patrons), or one of the Opposition groups (Iran, Syria).

    We all know GWB is little more than a figurehead, and a bumbling one at that, for your country’s neocon-dominated corporatocracy. Receiving a figurehead as a diplomatic courtesy is not I think necessarily tantamount to welcoming in a “murderer” of Lebanon, and there’s not much opportunity for opportunism with a lame duck President, rather only domestic electoral liability for the association if anything. I do however agree with your “who cares” if he’s visiting sentiments.

    In contrast, accepting into the country one of the core neocons and policy architects of the US’s disastrous set of policies in the region, either a US or Israeli directly responsible for the destruction, would indeed have been craven cowardice.

    Speaking of patrons, we know the US government is Israel’s patron, with Washington and Congress demonstrating enough craven cowardice of its own to the Israel Lobby. This is one of the sources rather than symptoms that should be addressed referred to earlier, hence my appeal to diplomatic and lobbying strategies, and not just for the sake of Lebanese and Palestinians, but for American citizens who themselves would not wish to be turned into ‘slaves’. Lebanon has as much a right to lobby as much as Israel, whose Lobby has effectively hijacked your government. I am not saying you are denying them that right, I am however mentioning it as an important strategy that would be included as part of striking at the roots.

    On Forgiveness
    I understand you are an atheist, and a secular Jew (as I am a secular Catholic); what’s interesting to me is that we seem to have imbibed at least some of the respective outlooks of the faiths in which we were born. Your self-described Jewish attitude of ‘never forgive, never forget‘ reminded me of the Judaic Old Testament with a vengeful and unforgiving God, whereas the New Testament was more yielding, forgiving and drew more upon the feminine principle.

    Forgiveness has an important place and a moral role, to my mind, whether in personal or political life. Australian Aboriginal and South African reconciliation are transformative processes. I’m not saying it should be present in situations or with perpetrators that persist or show no remorse, but where they atone and make amends, and sometimes even when that doesn’t happen, it is both possible and desirable to forgive.

    I can accept that forgiveness, misapplied, breeds moral irresponsibility where actors might be held accountable for their actions. Yet I also recognise that forgiveness is a moral virtue, a magnanimous and rare mark of integrity. I may not personally be able to forgive individual killers of my parents, for example, nor would I expect you to, I should think I would be more forgiving of a group or a whole peoples.

    It could be equally be claimed that ‘Never forgive, never forget’ breeds moral vindictiveness and fuels the propagation of perpetual victimhood. Exhibit A: There has been no let-up of it from the state of Israel, not a bit. I think Israel as a state personifies and exemplifies the very worst of this attitude. For over sixty years now, Germany has been trying to atone for the holocaust as a result of never forgive, never forget. Christian Ukrainian victims of the holodomor aren’t receiving or demanding compensation or erecting a large number of holocaust museums. Never again, and never forget, certainly. Never forgive can be psychologically unhealthy in some cases, but its your prerogative and not for me to pronounce better or worse than my attitude. Our beliefs on forgiveness are value judgments.

    To this observer then, your preferred attitude seems to be the same parent that also birthed the enfant terrible of the state of Israel, perhaps also an expression of unconscious Jewish chauvinism. “I respect the Jews a thousand times more”, you said in the video clip, adding again with emphasis: “never to forgive, never to forget.” You once quipped in a very good recorded lecture available for purchase as a CD something to the effect that you could not ever really be accused of Jewish chauvinism. The context is that you were citing the impressive fact that Jews make up a third of the International Solidarity Movement (I agree, impressive and I applaud them); yet I can not help but see some chauvinism in your attitude here.

    A defeat in war will not effect meaningful change if those wars are not intended to be won, simply sustained. This is a game where even resistance can be made to have an instrumental role for Israel. You treat war implicitly as something that creates transformative conditions, and I would simply say that that transformation needs to come about through other ways rather than military defeat.

    Further embedded links may be subsequently added where it helps provide evidence or examples, where I haven’t inserted them now, for want of time. I’ll endeavour to return

    Part Two of my response is forthcoming.

  12. m.idrees
    22 February, 2008

    We also see this clearly in Palestine, whereby Israel has funded Hamas to keep up this deadly game.

    This is an oft repeated allegation for which as far as I am aware there is no evidence. If supporters of Palestine begin to quote erstwhile proponents of torture and repression of the Palestinians (see Cordesman’s ‘Peace and War: Israel versus the Palestinians: A Second Intifada’) to slander the most effective resistance organization then the movement is clearly gone off the rails. Especially at a time when one Palestinian faction has actively assume its role as Vichy to Israel’s Nazis.

    As for Norman Finkelstein’s comments re the Hizbullah and military resistance, they are to be lauded. For too long the myth of ‘nonviolence’ has arrested the likelihood of meaningful pressure being brought on the Zionist entity.

    Where I strongly disagree with NF is on his disingenuous position on the Lobby and the two state solution. I was rather disappointed recently to watch him first misrepresent Mearsheimer and Walt’s argument during his LSE presentation in order to tackle a strawman. But now I hear that he is actually on a tour arguing against M&W. This is a curious position to take for a defender of Palestinian rights, when it is only the pressure brought about by the M&W intervention that has created the space for the kind of dissent — within and without the establishement — that has prevented an attack on Iran and has put the Zionists on the backfoot (check out the interview with Martin Peretz in Ha’aretz. Unlike NF, he is more forthright about what M&W’s intervention has meant).

    Secondly, the nonsense about a ‘two-state solution’ crippled the Palestinian leadership while giving Israel a free pass for continued expansion. The phrase is interpreted by a number of different factions in as many different ways. Even Sharon believed in a 2-state solution. After all, they do have to dispose of the superfluous palestinian population once they have expropriated all the land and resources. It has failed to put any pressure on Israelis. On the other hand mention of the one state solution brings about immediate reaction. It causes jitters. So even if somoene were serious about the 2 state solution, they would actually be calling for a one state solution. Even if it was for tactical reasons.

    Lastly, it was rather ironic to hear NF blame the Palestinians for their lack of action, when at the same time he denies the lobby’s significance. Does he really believe Palestinian, no matter how well organized, could reverse the course of US politics when they are confronted by the Israel lobby goliath with its limitless resources, its strategic media domination, its total infiltration for US political apparatus, its cultural power?

  13. Emmanuel
    22 February, 2008

    This post and all the comments on it could be a very effective propoganda tool in the hands of far-right Israelis. “Look,” they’d say to peaceniks like me, “these guys all talk about strategies to defeat Israel and not strategies to achieve peace with it. They want Israel at its knees, not peace!”

  14. 99
    22 February, 2008

    I don’t know, Ann. My point was precisely about striking at the root, that only enlightenment and death cure human greed. There is no trend toward enlightenment in Zionism, but there very apparently is a solid framework for the perpetuation of aggression for the purpose of the gratification of their urges for more. Is it likely Lebanon can teach Zionists enlightenment with undeclared resistance, with any but the most punishing resistance… if even that?

    I understand your wish to avoid gratifying them in the destabilization objective. They have us in a double bind there for sure, but really, practically speaking, what kind of diplomacy can strike at this root? Religion no longer pacifies the greedy. It has morphed over the centuries into the justification for pursuing greed’s ends. That is plain. Thousands die while Israel, Zion, expands, and the only peaceful way around it is to get the hell out of one’s own home… to let them exile you, if you even can.

    And, very aggravatingly, both enlightenment and death are only temporary cures in human history… which forever threatens to make my head explode, but I’d like to point out that violence in defense of life is not violence; it is defense of life. This is a crucial distinction. Too many pacifists hide their cowardice, their own greed for personal freedom from harm, under the banner of “pacifism”. For as filthy evil as I find the aggression under discussion, as horrifying, as utterly wasteful, and eternally despicable, that is equally pernicious.

    Who could stand for it if they had any choice? They bank on death not being an acceptable option to their victims. That is the entire reason evil prevails. If you are unable to turn the tables on them, and for as long as you are unable, they will not be stopped.

    We can all stake your lives on that… and, I’m pretty sure, we should.

  15. peoplesgeography
    22 February, 2008


    99, excellent thought-provoking points well taken, I was just meditating upon them and your comments required responding to separately to the articulation of dissent to Norman. It opens up the question of whether a reform zionism is at all possible, which some like to believe (Uri Avnery, Richard Silverstein) it is and I just don’t know.

    Truth is often paradoxical and if it is true that those who aren’t willing to die for something haven’t got much to live for, then that speaks in favor of the credo you have articulated.

    Crimson East, your point on Pakistan hit home for me, and I agree most with you there. The first comment draws forth the perennial reform-revolution (or resistance) dilemma and choosing one strategy over the other is usually a value judgment about the best means to effect social change. I also learned from other points, and am reminded that no analogy or comparison is equal, and that South Africa for example had some significantly different circumstances, and white citizens were already numerically outnumbered in the apartheid regime.

    Sophia, thanks for contributing, especially as you have lived through parts of the civil war. I will have a look at the post you mentioned and consider your argument. I am thinking about this a lot, a point you put across very clearly: “As long as the powerful feels secure militarily speaking, it won’t negotiate.”

    Ressentiment well reminds us that Washington is Israeli occupied territory and wants to take back his country too, and that in this way, our ‘liberation’ is intimately connected. I appreciate his support of Norm’s stance, as everyone else’s.

    Emmanuel, it is the language they themselves talk, so if they would choose to use this as propaganda, that’s neither here nor there. Who doesn’t want to defeat Israel who is engaged in a war against it, particularly spearheaded by it? Norman’s point was that the conditions for achieving peace would likely only be created in the aftermath of a military defeat in your country, with which i disagreed.

    Achieving peace rests upon the foundation of genuine good faith restitution and justice. To date, there has not been that commitment from Israel, spurning offers of peace talks at every turn, and chopping down or sabotaging the few Israeli public officials who come even close to it (Rabin, and his concessions were not much to write home about, either). The Israel government of any administration hasn’t yet demonstrated that it wants peace, only that high-octane hubris continues to inform its foreign policy.

    Idrees, thanks for also bringing up the crucial question of the Israel Lobby. I’ll endeavour to add more evidence about funding for Hamas, dealt with in past posts. For me this does not incriminate or compromise Hamas’s resistance at all now, it happened in the 1970s and there’s no way of always knowing the source of funds. I mentioned it because to me it is revealing of Israel’s strategy, a “direct attempt to divide and dilute support for a strong, secular PLO by using a competing religious alternative,” according to a former senior CIA official interviewed by Richard Sale of UPI.


    Besides the link in the comment above, also consider Justin Raimondo here. ALSO read up on who funded Village Leagues, mentioned by Raimondo and described at greater length here at electronic intifada (thanks Ressentiment), by Ray Hanania here and more on Hamas an offshoot of the western-intelligence supported Muslim Brotherhood from the 20s on by Robert Dreyfuss here (.mp3), recognising that Hamas was formally established in the late 1980s and we are simply also considering its roots.

    Note that I do not support Dreyfuss’s stance on the election of Hamas, I merely point to his work on their rise and what this owes to Israel’s deliberate strategy of fostering them as a counter to the PLO and attempt to undermine Palestinian secular nationalism. Dreyfuss mentions a conversation between Rabin and Arafat whereby Rabin told Arafat that Israeli support for Hamas was a fatal error. Incidentally, Adam Curtis’s documentary The Power of Nightmares also looks at the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood and the western role in deliberating cultivating this (transcript here)

    Resist aggression, yes, but let’s not be pawns in a compromised or co-opted resistance if and where it is made a racket by the Israel regime and that feeds into their own expansionist ends. In the longer term, we should also crucially refuse to accept an Israeli definition of the problem, a dichotomous framing that locks us into an oppositional straitjacket rather than propositional strategies.


    Addendum – Related: I’ve just noticed that Allan Nairn lays out a somewhat similar view in Dying for a Second Round: Israel’s New Plan to Attack Lebanon

  16. m.idrees
    22 February, 2008

    First of all, you are conflating Hamas and the Village Leagues. Two entirely different things.

    Secondly, the sources on Hamas are anything but credible, with a clear conflict of interest in most cases. The only thing that is confirmed is that in the 80s Israel did not obstruct Hamas projects in the hopes that it would divide Palestinian support. That is not ‘supporting’ Hamas.

    Wouldn’t an ex-CIA man love to present Hamas as tainted? As for Dreyfuss, he also wrote a book claiming the Shah of Iran was the secular-progressive hope of the Middle East and it was the Islamic Revolution backed by the US[!] that derailed him. Interesting that you should mention Power of Nightmares: its biggest flaw was trying to draw a parallel between Islamists and the Neocons, while ignoring the fact that the latter had to manufacture imaginary threats, whereas the former were responding to real ones. Also, the film mentioned US assistance to Islamic Jihad, not to the Muslim Brotherhood, and the assistance was in the form of getting Egypt to release them from prisons and ship them off to Afghanistan. Same thing keeps being said about the Afghans during the 80s. Some took money from CIA, the majority did not. Even the minority would not take it from the CIA, thats why the ISI had to be used as a conduit. Raimondo merely regurgitates the same sources so a response would be superfluous.

    As for ‘secular nationalism’, that is a damn fine idea. Except it never worked. Its strength is as much a myth as the Shah of Iran’s revolutionary credentials. As Robert Fisk pointed out, the difference between the days of PLO in South Lebanon and the present is that back then when Israeli tanks would roll across the border, Fatah men would get into cars and rush to Beirut, whereas now, Hizbullah men get into cars in Beirut and rush to the South. The question is one of committment. Compare PLO’s abject collapse in 1982 to Hizbullah’s magnificent resistance in 2006.

    A better insight came last year however when I asked a well known Iraqi dissident and writer about her time in the PLO (she joined late 70s). She said she only stayed 6 months, and it was 6 months too long. It was a brutal totalitarian system, where anyone disagreeing with Arafat in public would usually not be seen again.

    As regards propositional strategies, resistance, as opposed to meaningless bilateral peace processes where the massive imbalance of power precludes justice, is clearly a more effective one. But I agree with you, that it has little or no chance of success unless it is complimented by a political campaign to check the unconditional support it has enjoyed from the super power. And here it becomes important to amplify and diffuse awareness of the lobby and its deleterious role. Slowly but surely America is turning against it. Let us help accelerate this.

  17. LDU
    22 February, 2008

    Wowwwwww Ann! Great response.

  18. peoplesgeography
    22 February, 2008

    Thanks LDU. Still didn’t address everything but its a process.

    Ed, I recognise that Hamas and the Village Leagues are two different entities in time. The Leagues wound up around the early eighties whilst Hamas was formally started in the late 1980s. Nevertheless there is much connective links between the two, crucially including Sheikh Yassine.

    Let me be clear that considering the possibility of past covert support for Hamas by Israel does not in my eyes diminish them or the continued imperative of resistance and justice. It simply speaks to the need to consider the instrumentalisation of resistance, and the need to make that resistance as united and uncompromised as possible. Being aware of it can help destroy the whole game that the Israeli regime has set up to continue its egregious injustices, depriving it of oxygen.

    I disagree that the sources on the Hamas issue are not credible simply because it was ex-CIA. The Christisons are ex-CIA and many formerly establishment figures often provide insights from the inside. Think of Chalmers Johnson, Andrew Bacevich. Second, Hamas was already well and truly tainted in the US, and he was also implicitly criticising Israeli administration policies and his own government’s in the process.

    Let us be skeptical and fact-check by all means, mindful that facts do not always glare out nor are readily able to be confirmed. I recognise that the claim is widely suggested but not definitively confirmed, inasmuch as it can be. It does however have much supporting evidence which we can weigh up and may aggregate into a strong probability rather than a possibility.

    Dreyfuss’s views on Iran too are a separate issue. I would like to get confirmation of the conversation between Rabin and Arafat that he mentions, if true, that seems a compelling admission to me.

    Yes, The Power of Nightmares is not perfect and though quite a worthwhile documentary, flaws can be pointed out. Nevertheless it was mentioned incidentally not as evidence for US assistance to Islamic Jihad, but as a reminder to consider the whole edifice of the manufacturing of threats and the means by which those threats are perpetuated and supported — not inserted as a reminder to you as you are well familiar with them, but a general mention.

    As Robert Fisk pointed out, the difference between the days of PLO in South Lebanon and the present is that back then when Israeli tanks would roll across the border, Fatah men would get into cars and rush to Beirut, whereas now, Hizbullah men get into cars in Beirut and rush to the South. The question is one of committment. Compare PLO’s abject collapse in 1982 to Hizbullah’s magnificent resistance in 2006.

    I wholeheartedly agree, as I do about our need to tackle the Lobby, as you know.

  19. Sophia
    27 February, 2008


    Just to let you know that Emmanuel is a notorious zionist. And like all zionists he disguises himself as a peacenik.

  20. Ann
    27 February, 2008

    Thanks Sophia, a zionist he is. It is my hope that conversations engaged in may provide a platform for readers either already or potentially interested in this conflict(s) the opportunity to see what claims are put up by zionists and how they fare or founder when stood up to scrutiny and fact. I would hope that this is an effective way for readers to weigh up unreconstituted zionism’s incompatibility with peace and justice.

  21. Emmanuel
    3 March, 2008


    it is the language they themselves talk, so if they would choose to use this as propaganda, that’s neither here nor there.

    Exactly my point. It is the language of Israeli extremists, not of the mainstream. Mainstream Israelis don’t speak of defeating the Arabs or the Palestinians, only of defeating the extremists, while people here speak of defeating Israel as a whole. Are the commenters Arab (or at least anti-Israel) extremists? I certainly hope they are, because if they’re the Arab mainstream then everybody in the Middle East is screwed.

    Who doesn’t want to defeat Israel who is engaged in a war against it, particularly spearheaded by it?

    It takes two to tango. Arab countries are as much to blame for the wars between them and Israel as “the Evil Zionist Entity” is. And how about not dreaming of defeat but rather of ending the wars peacefully?

    (Rabin, and his concessions were not much to write home about, either).

    The greatest degree of self-rule the Palestinians ever had is nothing to write home about? Sure, what they have is not enough, but it is a process. Surely you didn’t expect the Palestinian state to be created within a year of the beginning of Oslo. You keep belittling the advancements made during the 1990’s.


    Just to let you know that Emmanuel is a notorious zionist. And like all zionists he disguises himself as a peacenik.

    I deny your allegations. I am not, I repeat, I am not notorious. Who ever heard of me?! :)

    But more seriously now, just like Israelis can’t expect Arabs to become Zionists, Arabs can’t expect Israelis to abandon Zionism. The term Zionist peacenik is not an oxymoron. I want Israel to co-exist in peace with its Arab neighbors, including a Palestinian state. What’s not peacenik-y about that?

    How would you define a peacenik, Sophia? If your answer is someone who is sorry Israel exists and who agrees to every last bit of Palestinian and Arab demands, then I’m definitely not your kind of peacenik.

  22. Ann
    3 March, 2008


    Mainstream Israelis don’t speak of defeating the Arabs or the Palestinians, only of defeating the extremists

    In the mainstream public Israeli lexicon, all Palestinians are in fact presented as terrorists and / or “terror-sympathizers” — that’s what legitimates collective punishment and what underscores the indiscriminate killing of civilians which has not resulted in an outcry, opposition or protest from any but the most fringe-dwelling of peace organisations in Israel (most peace orgs are sadly on the fringe in Israel). If 60+ Aboriginal Australian civilians were killed in one day by willful Australian military strikes, there would be an outcry here. Palestinian and Arab lives, even Israeli Arab lives, are not worth as much in Israel. Things haven’t changed much from Rabbi Dov Lior, Chairman of the Jewish Rabbinical Council saying, in praise of Baruch Goldstein, the murderer of 29 Palestinians at prayer in a Hebron mosque in 1994, that “…a thousand non-Jewish lives are not worth a Jew’s fingernail”. More recently in 2004, a group of prominent rabbis urged the Israeli army “not to flinch from killing Palestinian civilians, including children.” In a letter to Shaul Mofaz, then Defense Minister, the rabbis wrote that “killing civilians was a normal thing in war time” and that the Israeli army “should not hesitate to kill non-Jewish civilians to save Jewish lives.” [that of course, is nonsense, its not saving Jewish lives but further endangering them]. The letter was signed by dozens of rabbis, including Haim Druckman, a former Knesset member who heads a large religious youth movement known as the Bnei Akiva Society.

    Or only last year, when former Sephardi chief rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu claimed to invoke “Jewish war ethics” in saying that all civilians living in Gaza are collectively guilty for Qassams falling upon Sderot, and could/ should be carpet-bombed. To quote from the J-Post article: “Eliyahu ruled that there was absolutely no moral prohibition against the indiscriminate killing of civilians during a potential massive military offensive on Gaza aimed at stopping the rocket launchings.”

    If one claims that these mainstream religious views do not hold sway in what is claimed to be a secular society, then why the insistence upon an exclusively/ predominantly Jewish (ie religiously defined) state? Secularism is inherently plural, not mono-religious. Why not have a state for all its citizens, regardless of the demographic make-up? Israeli Jews are included, so are the indigenous Arab Palestinians. Its a far cry from the present Israeli regime which is established and continues to be operated on a fundamentally ethnocentric, racist, premise: its own citizens are not treated equally, let alone those in the territories it continues to occupy who are treated like garbage.

    It takes two to tango. Arab countries are as much to blame for the wars between them and Israel as “the Evil Zionist Entity” is. And how about not dreaming of defeat but rather of ending the wars peacefully?

    Again, demonstrably false. Israel’s actions are mostly unilateral, whether it is the decision to launch air strikes or willfully reject Hamas’s offer of a ceasefire on more than one occasion — despite most of the population supporting talks with Hamas — or to “withdraw” from Gaza, all the while tightening the Israeli noose around Gaza’s economy and freedom of movement. This is disingenuous in the extreme, and what we’ve come to see as the typical pattern. It has always been my position that you can no more ‘win’ a war than win an earthquake. Civilians on both sides suffer. Nevertheless, victory for Palestine and Lebanon means simply thwarting the encroaching, belligerent Israeli military who serve a regime that has never demonstrated that it wants peaceful coexistence and a just resolution to this conflict. I consider Hezbollah’s success in forcing Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon in 2000 a victory, definitely.

    Arab countries are NOT as much to blame for the internecine conflicts Israel has mostly started. This is very much asymmetric and Israel is indeed mostly to blame for launching offensive rather than defensive wars, including its border provocations in the lead-up to the Six day War. Your rhetoric is wholly unconvincing here.

    The greatest degree of self-rule the Palestinians ever had is nothing to write home about? Sure, what they have is not enough, but it is a process.

    Yes it is a process, and you in turn have a proclivity to inflate any so-called concessions (crumbs) Israel “offered” to the PA in the 1990s. I support a process, but not one whereby Israel uses it to simply stall genuine negotiations and keep building illegal settlements as we have seen over and over, and which actually accelerated under Labor rather than Likud administrations. This is deception, not process.

    Right from the outset of the Madrid Peace Conference, in 1991, Israel refused to abide by the basic, fundamental Fourth Geneva Conventions. The process was never really in good faith, it was rotten from the start. The occupying power continued to confiscate lands, dispossess Palestinians, impose closures and checkpoints, and continued to bomb a population under its occupation, including assassinating its leaders.

    Arabs can’t expect Israelis to abandon Zionism.

    Quite apart from the fact that more and more Israelis are abandoning adherence to it as an ideology, whatever the rest of us may think; what we would expect is that Israelis jettison the more racist parts of zionism. Zionism has demonstrably failed, as Meir Margalit states, because it has failed to protect its Jewish residents which is the ostensible raison d’etre of having a Jewish state. Israel is now the worst place for Jews, not the safest. And this is a result of militarist and expansionist Israeli policies, not because of some sort of irrational Judeophobia from Arab semites.

    I’ll let Sophia speak for herself but as for myself I have been on record as stating that a reform zionism might be feasible, citing such people as Machsom Watch and my fellow blogger Richard Silverstein, but that mainstream zionism is in crisis and is an ideology out of step with the times, to say the least.

    … someone who is sorry Israel exists and who agrees to every last bit of Palestinian and Arab demands …

    I think many people rightly regret that Israel was allowed to establish itself on the back of another people, entailing ethnic cleansing and ongoing genocide and brutal occupation. This is a natural and authentic response and does not preclude accepting that despite this we must look to the future toward restitution and justice — to 1967 borders (Israel refuses), an end to the Israeli military occupation, and an evacuation of all illegal Israeli settlements. Your disingenuous use of the phrase ‘Arab demands‘ would somehow seem to suggest that it is Arab rather than Israeli recalcitrancy that is responsible here. Palestinian and Arab requirements are quite reasonable, as set out in the 2002 Saudi Plan. It is Israeli intransigence and repeated rejection of any genuine peace offer, unwillingness to accede to any meaningful concessions that is at the heart of the problem. And refusing to renounce the Law of ‘Return’ that displaces ever more native Palestinians to make way for Jews non-indigenous to the region, whilst simultaneously insisting that there can be no Right of Return offered to Palestinians driven from their land (a right recognised in international law), is the height of unreasonableness.

    Israel may be here to stay, yes, but not in its current form, and that goes for the failing zionist project.

    The USraeli neocon aims of starting another war in the Levant and widening it regionally (enunciated in the ‘Clean Break’ and elsewhere) is but an extension of the terrible internal logic of this hawkish and morally bankrupt ideology. In its current hegemonial form it has no rightful place in a civilised world and most of the world sees that, which is why Israel is churlishly refusing to attend the second international UN conference on racism in Durban next year. Are all the rest of the world just anti-Israeli and/or anti-Jewish? Or could there somehow be more than a grain of truth to the reservations the international community has about the crimes and atrocities Israel is committing?

    How many more innocent people will die and suffer before Israelis and their blind Christian zionist enablers in the US take their blinkers off? The tide is turning when establishment figures like former President Carter and academics Walt and Mearsheimer speak up, and more will join the chorus that brings to task a worse than apartheid regime that leads the world only with the dubious distinction of the most violations of international laws and UN Resolutions.

  23. LDU
    4 March, 2008

    Ann, the spiritual leader of the Shas Party, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, said of the Arabs during a sermon:

    “It is forbidden to be merciful to them. You must send missiles to them and annihilate them. They are evil and damnable.”

    Here’s the full story –

  24. Emmanuel
    5 March, 2008


    In the mainstream public Israeli lexicon, all Palestinians are in fact presented as terrorists and / or “terror-sympathizers”

    That used to be true during the Second Intifada, but that hasn’t been the case these last few weeks. Israeli media has reported extensively on what is happening in Gaza, Gazans have been interviewed on television. For example, there was an interview with a doctor from Shifa Hospital in Gaza (he might have been the head of the hospital, I don’t remember) who talked about the dead and wounded and the hospital’s overcrowded state.

    If 60+ Aboriginal Australian civilians were killed in one day by willful Australian military strikes, there would be an outcry here.

    First of all, there has been an outcry. Many have criticized what the army is doing in Gaza. Second of all, your analogy isn’t the right one. The Aboriginals are not engaged in a violent fight with Australia and they are Australian citizens. Gazans are not Israeli citizens and do not live in Israel.

    Regarding the rabbis – Dov Lior is really in the fringes. Some of the others are more mainstream among religious people, but their comments about killing civilians have been condemned by the media and mainstream politicians.

    If one claims that these mainstream religious views do not hold sway in what is claimed to be a secular society, then why the insistence upon an exclusively/ predominantly Jewish (ie religiously defined) state?

    Secularism isn’t the exact opposite of religion in Israel’s case. About half of the Jewish population sees itself as secular, but it still sees itself as Jewish and celebrates Jewish holidays. Secular Jews don’t adhere to any rabbis.

    Arabs in Israel should be given equal rights, not only legally but also de facto. That doesn’t mean Israel doesn’t have the right to define itself as a predominently Jewish state (which it is). Once the Palestinians are a majority they can vote to change that.

    This is very much asymmetric and Israel is indeed mostly to blame for launching offensive rather than defensive wars.

    There are two wars where Israel can be considered more at blame than Arab countries: the Sinai War in 1956 (which it launched alongside the UK and France) and the first Lebanon War of 1982.

    Israel has made many more mistakes, including the decision to leave Gaza without an agreement. Refusing to have a ceasefire with Hamas has a good reason – the fear they would just use the time to regroup ahead of the next round of violence since Hamas isn’t about to enter final-status negotiations any time soon.

  25. 99
    5 March, 2008

    … It takes two to tango. Arab countries are as much to blame for the wars between them and Israel…


  26. Ann
    6 March, 2008

    Thanks for the info and link, LDU. They are a disgrace to Judaism.

    Emmanuel, I don’t doubt that Israeli media has reported on the massacre extensively, and your national media is generally far more critical than your other citizenship’s country, the mainstream media in the USA. There has been great opposition from Israelis of conscience but this has not, I would contend, permeated into the mainstream. The analogy is imprecise as most are, nevertheless illustrates that the Israeli military’s operations in Gaza that have massacred hundreds in the past year alone, a majority civilians, does have far more support in the mainstream than they might elsewhere. A majority of the US public is now against continued involvement in the war against Iraq; the same could not be said of Israel as the occupation wears on into its sixth decade rather than sixth year.

    And again, the rationale posited against a ceasefire with Hamas is entirely speculative and the fear simply a pretext and an unconvincing one at that. As 99 calls it, it is also disingenuous to state that these are the only two conflicts for which Israel is more to blame, but this may be due to a function of semantics as to what is termed an ‘operation’ and what is considered a war.

    Franklin Lamb compellingly argues that Israel has in fact launched six offensive wars against Lebanon alone, for example:

    Excerpt (read in full)

    Three rather simple but basic bits of advice Hughes may not have offered Rice but she might consider nonetheless in her current crusade could include her use of language because many Middle Easterners are genetic linguists.

    Specifically, Rice repeats the Israel lobby labeling of the July 2006 Israeli war against Lebanon as ‘The Second Lebanon War‘ .

    Maybe it seems picayune in Washington and Tel Aviv but in Lebanon most citizens count differently.

    Lebanese consider the July 12th, 2006 conflict as Israel’s 5th War (not second war) against Lebanon. The wise owl of Lebanon, Timor Goksel, 25 years with UNIFIL and who did a lot of counting over the years agrees. Some would argue it was Israel’s sixth war, if one includes Israel’s role in igniting Lebanon’s 1975-90 Civil War.

    To wit:

    Israel’s First War against Lebanon:

    On March 14, 1978 Israel launched ‘Operation Litani’, a war against Lebanon during which it carved out a ’security zone’ of 500 square kilometers covering 61 towns and villages. 10,000 Israeli troops and 200 tanks invaded southern Lebanon, killing hundreds of civilians. 250, 000 Lebanese were displaced, many moving to the southern suburbs of Beirut, which become known as the ‘misery belt’ (including the Palestinian refugee camps of Sabra and Shatilla): an area Rice and her neocons/ziocons friends refer to as Beirut’s ’slums’.

    The Lebanese Army barracks at Khiam were taken over by Israeli forces and given to their allies, the Israeli created and US taxpayer funded South Lebanon Army. Israeli forces indiscriminately attacked homes and factories in the Awazi area near Beirut, killing 36 civilians.

    On the same day an Israeli warplane attacked a mosque in the southern village of Abbasiya, killing 40 people and wounding over 100.

    Two days later on 17 March 1978 Israeli commandos at the shore of Adlun killed 20 members of the Tawil family.

    An Israeli economic blockade resulted in an influx of Israeli goods and the end of production in southern Lebanon, further crippling the country’s economy.

    Finally, US President Jimmy Carter intervened with Israel, saying: “I consider this major invasion to be an overreaction…” and “a serious threat to the peace in the region.” UN Security Council Resolution 425, demanding that Israel withdraw from Lebanon, was passed and UNIFIL was sent to Lebanon. 30 years later UNIFIL is still here and UNSCR is still not fully implemented as Israel holds onto Shebaa Farms, half the village of Ghajar, and conducts nearly daily incursions into Lebanese airspace.

    Israeli leaders called their Second War against Lebanon, the 1982 invasion ‘Operation Peace for Galilee’ a term used for Western public consumption given the favorable connotations of each of the words Operation, Peace and Galilee.

    On July 25 1993, Israel unleashed an aggression it called ‘Operation Accountability’, Israel’s Third War against Lebanon. During this seven day aggression the UN counted 1,224 air raids and more than 28,000 shells, killing 140 civilians and wounding 500. More than 200,000 residents of 120 South Lebanon villages were displaced and thousands of homes completely or partially destroyed.

    On April 11, 1996, Israel launched its Fourth War against Lebanon, which lasted for 16 days, which it called ‘Operation Grapes of Wrath’.

    Rice’s use of the Israel lobby ’second war’ label seeks to erase this aggression which included the first Qana massacre of more that 118 civilians seeking refuge at the UN HQ there and the wounding of 127 at that location alone. Lesser known war crimes committed by Israel during its 4th War on Lebanon included those at Suhmor on Day 2, al Mansouri ambulance on Day 3, and Upper Nabataea on Day 7. During this aggression more than 250 Lebanese civilians were killed and 7,000 homes were completely or partially destroyed.

    The July 2006 war against Lebanon was Israel’s 5th—not its ‘Second’ War against Lebanon.

    Some historians and political analysts identify Israeli efforts as a major cause of Lebanon’s 1975-1990 civil war making the July 2006 attack on actually Israel’s 6th War against Lebanon.

    Ron David, author of Arabs and Israel for Beginners, reminds us that Ben Gurion, Moshe Dayan and other Israeli cabinet members stated repeatedly and plainly as far back as the 1950s their intention to start a civil war in Lebanon.

    David, a contributor to the indispensable Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, notes that in Israel’s Sacred Terrorism by Livia Rokach, it is reported that “Ben Gurion himself said it would be worthwhile to pay an Arab a million pounds to start a war. What a slip of the tongue” (Quote from the Diaries of Israeli PM Moshe Sharett).

  27. Emmanuel
    6 March, 2008

    Ovadia Yosef is indeed a disgrace to Israel and to Jews.

    I don’t doubt that Israeli media has reported on the massacre extensively […] There has been great opposition from Israelis of conscience but this has not, I would contend, permeated into the mainstream.

    You’re contradicting yourself here. There’s been extensive reporting and criticism in the mainstream media, yet it isn’t in the mainstream? It is not the majority opinion but it isn’t a fringe opinion either.

    The analogy is imprecise as most are, nevertheless illustrates that the Israeli military’s operations in Gaza that have massacred hundreds in the past year alone, a majority civilians, does have far more support in the mainstream than they might elsewhere.

    Saying most analogies are imprecise is an excuse so you can use baseless analogies. There is a huge difference between a country’s own citizens who aren’t fighting the country and people who are fighting their neighbor. Israelis aren’t supporting a massacre, they’re supporting a fight against a terrorist group hell-bent on destroying our country. I wish we could destroy Hamas without harming civilians, but that is impossible under the current circumstances.

    the same could not be said of Israel as the occupation wears on into its sixth decade rather than sixth year

    The occupation is 40 years old. Israel proper is not occupied territory. I’m not going to argue about this point.

    Re: Hamas – as I have said before, there is no speculation here. Hamas wants to destroy us. As long as it doesn’t change its stance, we need to weaken them in every way possible.

    Israel’s history with Lebanon is problematic. Israel should not have been there during 1982-2000. The operations in the 1990’s and in 1978 were the results of attacks against Israeli civilians. Neither side was righteous. Again, I was referring to wars only – there have been smaller operations that Israel should never have launched (as well as many other operations that it was well in its right to launch).

  28. Ann
    6 March, 2008

    Look back upon the original statement, there is no contradiction. I said there was more extensive reporting in the Israeli media, and it was more critical in contrast with the US mainstream media, which still means it is not nearly critical enough.

    Israelis aren’t supporting a massacre, they’re supporting a fight against a terrorist group hell-bent on destroying our country. I wish we could destroy Hamas without harming civilians, but that is impossible under the current circumstances.

    Covered before: Most of Gaza support Hamas, their elected government, are they therefore all terrorists? Are all of Israeli citizens terrorists or terror supporters for supporting government policies that brought terror to Lebanon and killed over 1200 people in 33 days all for a few combatants killed or captured?

    If you support the current Israeli government policy of militarily “destroying terror”, I contend that it does effectively mean you are supporting a massacre. You may disagree with this but that is what we outside of and critical of Israel see as the clear result.

    Again, you keep repeating Hamas wants to destroy Israel, though it has offered ceasefires and implicit recognition (references supplied in earlier responses) yet it is Israel that is actually doing the destroying, actively and repeatedly. These are people, take off your “terrorist”-label blinkers. You are demonising them and acting out the very charge you implied in your other comment that protested that Israelis weren’t ‘Evil Ones’.

    You say negotiation is the way yet you expressly support military means to counter “terror” rather than direct negotiation which “emboldens” Hamas by talking to it, now there’s a contradiction. Hamas has wanted to destroy Israel because Israel wants to destroy Palestine as it is doing daily, this not chicken and egg, there’s a discernible start point here and Israel has been primarily responsible for continuing this cycle when it is within its capacity to end it, and save lives on both sides.

    Hamas has in effect changed its stance as most groups do as they evolve in governance mode and yet the Israeli state has spurned any and all ceasefires and offers with variations of the “no partner to negotiate with” excuse it has repeatedly used before.

    I’ll take the qualifier of the occupation is in its fourth decade and further qualify that Israel proper has not been defined, and that all the West Bank is Palestine proper, where illegal settlements currently take up 50% of the land and that continue to be built.

    You can not destroy Hamas and certainly not with the means your government has used. These have served moreover to strengthen them, not weaken them, and dramatically worsens the already deteriorating situation as we have seen.

    This is all material covered before, and if further comment seems likely only to repeat previous statements, I see no reason to keep arguing in circles, unless it raises factual error or evidence.

  29. ressentiment
    6 March, 2008

    Israel proper is not occupied territory. I’m not going to argue about this point.

    I don’t think anyone could argue this “point,” as it were. You have stumbled up to the brink and looked down into the abyss which is the lie that sustains Israel and you are about to fall off the edge.

    Of course you’re not going to argue about this point. I don’t think you can. I don’t think anyone can argue this point who has any intellectual integrity.

    Israel was created by means of genocide and it must be maintained on-going by means of genocide. What do you think those settlements are for, E? Are those settler-only highways just temporary? Are those check points which harass Palestinians moving from point A in Palestine to point B in Palestine – aren’t those check points simply designed to make life as miserable as possible for Palestinians on the 22% of Palestine that remains after we subtract Israel from original Palestine?

    You are very noble to get right up and look the problem in its face and acknowledge the logical and rhetorical difficulties which Israel creates for itself by its very existence. Why not go all the way? Why not be completely logical instead of self-serving logical? Why not stop lying to yourself?

    I’m glad that Ann is patient with you for the benefit of her other readers. I do not read or respond to anything that you write because you have no intellectual integrity and no credibility. Everything you say is a perversion of reason, except where you can pretend to be reasonable. But you will only go so far toward reason. Then you turn back.

    You have to turn back from reason. You have no choice.

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This entry was posted on 19 February, 2008 by in Hezbollah, History, Israel, Lebanon, Strategy, US Foreign Policy, USA, Video, Violence, War and tagged , .

Timely Reminders

"Those who crusade, not for God in themselves, but against the devil in others, never succeed in making the world better, but leave it either as it was, or sometimes perceptibly worse than what it was, before the crusade began. By thinking primarily of evil we tend, however excellent our intentions, to create occasions for evil to manifest itself."
-- Aldous Huxley

"The only war that matters is the war against the imagination. All others are subsumed by it."
-- Diane DiPrima, "Rant", from Pieces of a Song.

"It is difficult
to get the news from poems
yet men die miserably every day
for lack
of what is found there"
-- William Carlos Williams, "Asphodel, That Greeny Flower"