Saturday, June 26, 2010

Report: Israel seizes oxygen machines donated to PA

As reported in Haaretz.  Seven machines donated by Norwegian agency were confiscated en route to the PA over the chance that generators attached could be used for purposes other than medical treatment.

Again, very similar to what the US did during the "sanctions era" vs. Iraq.  This won't be the only "dual-use" item that the Israelis will prohibit.

Michael O'Hanlon's mindless optimism about Afghanistan

Says Brookings think-tanker O' Hanlon, it's all about staying the course. . . and about numbers: more US troops in Afghanistan, more trainers arriving for Afghan police and military. all of the supposedly unheralded slow progress.  The man is straining to the point of herniating himself to identify nuggets of "success." - reasons to keep on keeping on in Afghanistan, even when the vast majority of realistic experts judge that there is in fact very little reason to believe that "victory" is in the cards, and that any kind of "success" that's to be had will come only if the bar is lowered to something you might see in a limbo dance.

Meanwhile, as the LA Times reports, Iraqi officials (and some Americans as well) sense that the growing US commitment in Afghanistan has sucked all of the US's energy out of whatever commitment it may still have to Iraq - where the situation is, by the way, anything but stable or pacified. 

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Meanwhile, in the country Petraeus "fixed" . . .

At least 11 killed, 16 wounded in attacks across Iraq
By the CNN Wire Staff

    * At least 11 killed, 16 wounded in attacks across Iraq
    * Two separate attacks in Mosul area kill 5, wound 8
    * Roadside bombing kills at least 2 policemen, wounds 8 in Baghdad
    * Home invaders kidnap and kill 4 men in Baquba.

Read on, here . . .

Petraeus' calming influence?

Analysis by the WaPo's Rajiv Chadrasekaran and Karen DeYoung suggests that replacing McChriystal with Petraeus could provide a "calming influence."   Indeed, Petraeus is beloved by the Capitol Hill crowd, whom he has cultivated assiduously; and he gets along well with US diplomats.

But he's now faced with - by his own admission - a much tougher war in Afghanistan than was that in Iraq.  And his hard-earned demi-god status, which this very ambitious man is surely intent on preserving (and his name has been mentioned as a possible presidential candidate in 2012 or after), will surely be riding on his ability to "fix" things in Afghanistan. 

But can he do that?  There's no real reason to believe that Afghanistan is indeed fixable - at least by the US - in the short term.  And according to Mr. Obama's statements when the Afghanistan "Surge" was announced, the US has only a bit more than one year to achieve "success" before at least some troops begin to come home.  All of which begs certain questions - one of them, in fact, set up by Chandrasekaran and DeYoung, who note: "in turning to the nation's most prominent general, Obama has embraced a commander who may become a formidable advocate for slowing, or arresting outright, the pace of troop reductions next summer. So, . . .
  • What happens if, as the clock begins to tick down, Petraeus begins to make it known to his adoring fans in Congress that he wants more time - an extension of the "Surge"?
  • Indeed, did Petraeus demand from Obama some accommodation on this score before he agreed to accept this new command? 

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

McChrystal Out; Petraeus to Succeed Him

Just reported by the NYT and others: McChrystal out, Petraeus to succeed him.  Makes sense:
  •  Petraeus is the author of the counterinsurgency doctrine that McChrystal was brought in to implement.
  • Petraeus seems to have the respect of both the military establishment and  (especially) the Lieberman - McCain - Graham clique in the Senate.  It will be difficult for the red-meat-eating "victory"-seeking bunch in Congress or at the American Enterprise Institute to argue with this one.

But there's potentially a huge down-side for Petraeus, who still shimmers in the glory of his alleged "victory" via the Surge in Iraq.  Now he's going to be in charge of the Surge in Afghanistan, which is not going nearly as well as the Iraq Surge and shows no real promise of going any better.  If Afghanistan continues to swirl the bowl (which, IMO, it will - bringing in Petraeus is not a game changer), his reputation as a miracle worker is going to suffer.

On the other hand, can Obama trust Petraeus to stick to his July 2011- start-the-withdrawal game plan?  Or might Petraeus end up undercutting that and force Obama's hand?

McChrystal, Rolling Stone, and Obama's credibility

Unless you've just landed from Mars, you're aware  that the Rolling Stone profile of Stanley McChrystal is the news story of the hour.  The opinions are flying in fast and furious: fire him, don't fire him, can he be replaced, etc.  Afghan president Hamid Karzai evidently has implored the White House to keep him on as a "good partner" for that country; and the WaPo piece reporting this notes that
 "The endorsement illustrated what is likely to be McChrystal's best shot at saving his job and legacy: The general is arguably the U.S. official who has the most influence over, and credibility with, the Afghan government."
But IMHO, Dana Milbank's take is on the money: The disrespect and insubordination in the remarks of McChrystal and his staff require that McC be canned, especially after the comments of Obama's press secretary Robert Gibbs:

Only two words were missing from this disembowelment of the commander: You're fired. Gibbs hinted that Obama would deliver that message to McChrystal in person on Wednesday. If he doesn't, it's hard to see how he can maintain his credibility as a leader.

Even before the quotes in the Rolling Stone article (the accuracy of which McChrystal hasn't challenged), the commander in chief had surprised foes and worried friends by how far he allowed himself to be pushed. That accounts for an Washington Post-ABC News poll earlier this month finding that 57 percent of respondents viewed Obama as a strong leader and 43 percent did not; 14 months ago, it was 77 percent to 22 percent.

On the Hill, Democrats have ignored White House pleas for party unity, and intraparty disputes are preventing action on the budget, war spending, job creation, immigration reform and energy legislation. In the media, stalwart allies such as MSNBC's Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow panned Obama's speech on the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. Obama's own secretary of state, Hillary Rodham Clinton, told the world about his unannounced plan to file suit over Arizona's new immigration law.

Republicans, in turn, have reached new levels of presidential disrespect. After Obama pushed BP to set aside money for those hurt by the oil spill, the opposition apologized -- to BP. Jon Kyl (Ariz.), the No. 2 Republican in the Senate, took the extraordinary step of attacking Obama at a political rally over comments he says (and the White House denies) the president made in a private meeting.

Through it all, Obama has given precious little pushback, taking the disrespect like a President Dangerfield. When the public saw no anger from him over the oil spill, Gibbs assured Americans that he had, in fact, seen the president clench his jaw. Obama then insisted that he was looking for "whose ass to kick" on the Gulf Coast -- but no bottoms were bruised.

Now Gen. Bite Me may have gone too far even for President Dangerfield to tolerate. The insults from McChrystal and his men -- packaged with vulgarities, a middle finger and drunken singing in a Paris bar -- challenge not just Obama but the sacred concept of civilian control of the military. That's probably why figures such as Republicans Sens. John McCain (Ariz.) and Lindsey Graham (S.C.) gave Obama a free pass on Tuesday to fire the general.

The president, nibbling around the edges, said nothing about McChrystal until remarking in the evening that the general had shown "poor judgment." Gibbs, in the briefing room, was similarly slow to bare his teeth when asked for Obama's reaction. "Well, suffice to say, our combatant commander does not usually participate in these meetings from Washington," he said of Wednesday's session in the Situation Room.

But it didn't suffice to say that, and reporters tried to provoke Gibbs, sniffling and sipping tea from a paper cup, to unload on McChrystal: "How can the president keep someone in his job who offers that level of insubordination? . . . Does the president at all feel betrayed?"

The Wall Street Journal's Jonathan Weisman, pointing out that McChrystal had already been in trouble (for disagreeing publicly with Biden), asked: "How many times can this man be taken to the woodshed?"

Gibbs followed the familiar route of expressing the president's anger. "I gave him the article last night, and he was angry," he announced.

"How so?" asked CBS's Chip Reid.

"Angry. You would know it if you saw it," Gibbs said.

Reporters pressed: "Did he pound the table? Did he curse? Can you elaborate?"

"No," Gibbs said. "I'm not going to elaborate."

Good answer. It's time for Obama and his aides to stop talking about his anger, and start acting on it.
Indeed.  Obama has put much stock in crafting the image of a calm, cool, unruffled, non-impulsive leader.  But this kind of insubordination requires a strong response, if for no other reason than to reaffirm the established principle of civilian authority over the military in the American system.  When Truman fired WW II and Korean War hero Gen. Douglas MacArthur during the latter war, MacArthur had achieved huge popularity and respect across the board; and Truman ran a great risk in dismissing him.  But the consensus view today is surely that Truman made the right decision.

Now some argue that Obama cannot fire McChrystal, because McChrystal is indispensable to the US effort in "Afpak."  For me, that only brings to mind a comment attributed to French president (and WW II military hero) Charles De Gaulle:  "The graveyards are full of indispensable men."

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Israel Unveils Procedures to Ease Gaza Blockade

 Israel says it will ease the blockade, but retain the prerogative to ban "dual-use" materials.

The US insisted on a similar prerogative during its sanctions imposed on Iraq between 1991 and 2003 - depriving ordinary Iraqis of vital materials, including chemicals crucial for sanitation and infrastructure. I expect Israel to do the same.  This easing of the blockade will likely not be all that it will be cracked up to be.

Turkey's emergence as hero of the "Arab street"

The LA Times' Jeffrey Fleishman today has an interesting, wide-ranging analysis that discusses Turkey's emergence within a deeper historical and broader Middle Eastern context, including the long rivalry between Egypt and Turkey - with a money quote from Mustafa Karahan, director of an energy investment company:
"The [Turkish AKP] party figured, 'Instead of being a small brother in the West, let's be a big brother in the East.' The only problem with this is that a lot of Arabs, especially Egyptians, don't like Turks. But Egypt's time is done. It's over."

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Another "victory" for Israel

AP reports that Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas has called off scheduled municipal elections in the West Bank.  The reason?  Even with Hamas sitting out the election, indications were that Fatah, the secularist nationalist party that Abbas leads, was headed for a drubbing by independent candidates.  According to the report, Fatah . . .

looked sure to triumph in the July 17 elections in 300 towns and villages since Hamas announced it would not compete, fearing its candidates would be targeted in the crackdown Abbas' security forces have waged on the militants since they seized Gaza.

However, last week, with the deadline for registering candidates just hours away, Fatah leaders were getting increasingly worried about problems in many districts. In Nablus, the second largest city, former Mayor Ghassan Shakaa defied local Fatah leaders and formed his own slate, arguing that he would do better as an independent.

In the largest city, Hebron, little-known Fatah candidates seemed poised for defeat by independents.

With these reports in hand, the party leaders called Abbas, who was in Washington at the time, and urged him to cancel the election. Abbas quickly agreed and a terse statement said the vote was being postponed to give reconciliation with Hamas another chance.

Yes, Fatah has been plagued with corruption for many years, starting under its most celebrated leader, Yasir Arafat; but the real reason for its slide in popularity is that Israel's years of delaying tactics (in which the US has  consistently acquiesced for many years)  during the so-called "peace process," accompanied by Fatah's inability to stop the burgeoning Israeli settlement enterprise in the West Bank, left Fatah - and Mr. Abbas - discredited and delegitimized in the eyes of most Palestinians, many of whom consequently turned to Hamas in the 2006 Palestinian elections.  Hamas was democratically elected to power (in an election, by the way, that at the time the US insisted take place); the US and Israel refused to accept the results (so much for the US's democracy promotion in the Middle East); Israel arrested dozens of Hamas parliamentarians, with the US cheerleading the effort; and then Israel and US turned to Abbas as the truly "legitimate" Palestinian leader.

In truth, Abbas has been turned into a pathetic puppet to be manipulated by his American benefactors as they have seen fit.  Hence, his party's political fortunes are on the ropes.

And Israel can chalk up another win.  It can continue its oft-repeated wail that it has no "partner" for peace (gee, ya think?) . . . and keep on doing whatever it wants to do, whenever it wants to, to keep Abbas and the West Bank under its thumb . . . and Gaza, under its heel.

Philip Stephens, Financial Times: West must offer Turkey a proper seat

Stephens makes an excellent point in noting that the US - and, for that matter, Israel - has become accustomed to having its way with Turkey, especially during the Cold War and with Turkey's inclusion in NATO.  But Turkey now is reasserting what it sees as its rightful place in the Middle East region.  The US needs to accept that, even embrace it - and if Turkey continues its current tough line against Israel's high-handedness, the US ought to be seeing the writing on the wall and re-evaluate its slavish support for Israel.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

America's Useful Idiots

Or perhaps I ought to say, "Israel's useful idiots."  M J Rosenberg calls them out . . .

And now, they want to kick Turkey out of NATO?!

US lawmakers blast 'disgraceful' Turkey over Iran, Israel

disgraceful Turkey?!  How about disgraceful, ignorant, myopic congressmen . . . in particular, Democrat Ms. Shelley Berkley, who  turned Turkish officials away from her office this week and said she would continue to do so "until I see a change in policy" and vowed to fight against Turkey's accession to the European Union.

All because Turkey dared to condemn an Israeli act of piracy against a ship bringing aid to blockaded Gaza that caused the death of 8 Turkish and 1 American citizen.  Says Ms. Berkley,
 "As far as I'm concerned, Turkey is responsible for the nine deaths aboard that ship, it is not Israel's troops that are responsible. . . .  They don't deserve to be a part of the EU until they start behaving more like the European nations and a whole lot less like Iran."
Except that people across Europe have joined in condemning Israel's act of piracy, as well as its earlier faked-passport shenanigans, for which the Irish government has just expelled the Israeli ambassador.

On the other hand, it's tough to be too hard on Ms. Berkley when our shiny-bright Democratic president declares himself well satisfied with Israel's decision to investigate itself over the piracy matter.  As Helena Cobban reports,
Washington rushed to express its support for a formula under which an all-Israeli body would conduct the investigation, aided by two "international" observers who would not have voting rights within the investigatory body (and whose access to all the documents it works with is by no means assured, either.) . . . .  Israel's creation of this whitewash self-investigation meets the goal of the White House that it further postpone the day when the Obama administration feels it needs to do anything concrete about the May 31 incident, in which non-NATO member Israel attacked a peaceful convoy of boats and killed one US citizen and eight citizens of NATO ally Turkey...
Again, when it comes to Israeli high-handedness, Washington's response is to kowtow to political expediency, rather than take a course of action that might serve the larger interests of justice.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Political Murders on the Rise in Iraq

Tony Shadid in the NY Times, on how as many as 20 gunmen who arrived  in pickup trucks and then went door to door, hunted down and killed a politician allied with Ayad Allawi's Iraqiya bloc, which won a narrow victory in the March elections but will likely be denied an influential role in the new Iraqi government (when/if it's ever formed).  One politician elected in March, but yet to be seated, stated that:

“Members of Parliament have had to stay inside their homes for two months now, and no one is getting any security protection from either the police or the army . . . .“I expect it to get worse."

US Media's Dismal Failure on the Freedom Flotilla incident

Glenn Greenwald with a scathing critique at Salon, and with a money quote from Anonymous Liberal:
As Anonymous Liberal put it -- in response to my request to all television journalists that they interview journalist Jamal Elshayyal about what he witnessed on the ship -- "why do that when you can interview some U.S. politician who wasn't on the ship but knows what Israel said happened?"  And I would add:  "or watch highly edited videos from the IDF, which spent days blocking access to witnesses and journalists and continues to conceal the full, unedited videos"?   But that's American "journalism" for you in a nutshell.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Krauthammer, as usual, over the top

The WaPo's/Fox News' Charles Krauthammer, as usual, pleading the case for poor little Israel - and, as usual, with nothing but scorn for international law and human-rights as they might apply to Arabs.  And as for those human-rights activists who were aboard the Turkish ship that tried to run the Israeli blockade of Gaza (and please, let's dispense with the nonsense: the vast majority of them were indeed human-rights activists willing to risk their lives on behalf of the people of Gaza) . . . well, according to CK, we should number them among the "terror sympathizers and useful idiots." 

But in the final paragraph, CK goes way over the top, throwing down the ultimate trump-card:
The world is tired of these troublesome Jews, 6 million -- that number again -- hard by the Mediterranean, refusing every invitation to national suicide. For which they are relentlessly demonized, ghettoized and constrained from defending themselves, even as the more committed anti-Zionists -- Iranian in particular -- openly prepare a more final solution.
All the guilt-button buzz words are there: six million, ghetto, troublesome Jews, Iranian, and final solution.  No mention, of course, of the Holocaust survivor who was among the activists. 

Could CK could ever admit even in the slightest the extent to which Israel's actions and policies since 1948 have been calculated to terrorize the Arabs - and the Palestinians in particular - into submission?  No, never.  It's high time that he point the terror sympathizer/useful idiot finger at himself.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Mealy-mouthed Hasbara of the worst kind

Pitiful essay by Daniel Gordis (a vice president of the Shalem Center, a research and education institute, and the author of “Saving Israel: How the Jewish People Can Win a War That May Never End.”) in the NY Times is platitudinous hasbara with all the standard, overused tropes: poor little Israel, alone against the world, victim of a horrid double standard, with no partner to make peace with.  Meanwhile, those nasty evil Turks are teaming up with the mad mullahs of Iran.  And if people don't have enough food in Gaza, well, don't blame us, blame the evil Hamas terrorists.

Finally, poor little Israel "will have to gird ourselves for the long, dangerous and lonely road ahead, buoyed by hope that what ultimately prevails will be not what is momentarily popular, but rather what is just."

If Israel cared for what is just, it would have allowed the refugees of 1947-49 and 1967 to return to their homes; it would abandon all its West Bank settlements; it would allow - even assist in - the creation of a viable Palestinian state, instead of continuing a string of provocations designed to play for more time to cement its hold over "Greater Israel" and make that state impossible.
Why would the Times publish this crap, having already provided Michael Oren a platform from which to spew the same kind of stuff?  Or is the NY Times' view of justice the same as that of Daniel Gordis and others of his ilk?

Anthony Cordesman on How Israeli Actions Strain US Ties

Via J. A. Farrell's blog at US News and World Report, some comments from highly respected, and conservative, security expert Anthony Cordesman:
    America’s ties to Israel are not based primarily on U.S. strategic interests. At the best of times, an Israeli government that pursues the path to peace provides some intelligence, some minor advances in military technology, and a potential source of stabilizing military power that could help Arab states like Jordan. Even then, however, any actual Israeli military intervention in an Arab state could prove as destabilizing as beneficial. The fact is that the real motives behind America’s commitment to Israel are moral and ethical. They are a reaction to the horrors of the Holocaust, to the entire history of Western anti-Semitism, and to the United States’ failure to help German and European Jews during the period before it entered World War II. They are a product of the fact that Israel is a democracy that shares virtually all of the same values as the United States.


"the depth of America’s moral commitment does not justify or excuse actions by an Israeli government that unnecessarily makes Israel a strategic liability . . . ."

It does not mean that the United States should be passive when Israel makes a series of major strategic blunders--such as persisting in the strategic bombing of Lebanon during the Israeli-Hezbollah conflict, escalating its attack on Gaza long after it had achieved its key objectives, embarrassing the U.S. president by announcing the expansion of Israeli building programs in east Jerusalem at a critical moment in U.S. efforts to put Israeli-Palestinian peace talks back on track, or sending commandos to seize a Turkish ship in a horribly mismanaged effort to halt the 'peace flotilla' going to Gaza.
"It is time Israel realized that it has obligations to the United States, as well as the United States to Israel," Cordesman argues. Israel needs to recognize "that it is a tertiary U.S. strategic interest in a complex and demanding world. ... The United States does not need unnecessary problems in one of the most troubled parts of the world, particularly when Israeli actions take a form that does not serve Israel’s own strategic interests."

Patrick Seale on the Freedom Flotilla . . . and Obama's Dilemma

Patrick Seale (via Agence Global) has a must-read piece that places the Israeli attack on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla squarely within the historical trajectory of the overall Zionist project.  That trajectory has, from the start, been sustained by Israel's quest for - and success in - military domination of the Middle East.  But Seale also raises the disturbing possibility - indeed, probability - that, besides serving warning to the world that it will brook no interference with its strangulation of Gaza, the attack may have been designed to throw a monkey-wrench into the George Mitchell - led "proximity talks" and, more broadly, the entire process of negotiation.

To realise its expansionist ambitions, Israel has always sought to avoid serious negotiations with the Palestinians because, if negotiations were to succeed, they would inevitably mean ceding territory. Israel detests Palestinian moderates, who want to negotiate -- like Mahmud Abbas, the luckless president of the Palestinian Authority -- and far prefers Palestinian radicals, like Hamas, with whom no negotiation is possible. A familiar Israeli refrain gives the game away. ‘How can you negotiate with someone who wants to kill you?’

The attack on the flotilla off the Gaza coast must be seen as Israel’s latest attempt to radicalise the Palestinians, and hence torpedo, even before they have properly started, the so-called ‘proximity’ talks, which George Mitchell, President Barack Obama’s Middle East envoy, has laboriously set up. Mahmud Abbas will now be under great pressure to withdraw from the talks or risk being denounced as a traitor by inflamed Palestinian and Arab opinion.

Most frightening is that the majority of the Israeli population are covering Netanyahu's rear and would love nothing more than to retain the West Bank and obliterate the Palestinian resistance, and that (as a recent editorial in The Nation points out) Netanyahu can count on the support of Capitol Hill and the Christian evangelical Right to eviscerate any intestinal fortitude that Mr. Obama might be inclined to show in dealing with Netanyahu.  And if Netanyahu wanted to offer even the teensiest of "concessions" (God, do I hate that word when it's applied to this situation) to the Palestinians, the political fallout would likely bring down his government and/or touch off a civil war.

Seale suggests that the way out of Obama's dilemma may lie in the possibility that enough Israelis will be worried by their country's isolation to demand Netanyahu either modify his course or else make way for a new government.  But I truly can't see that happening, unless tensions between Israel and Turkey reach the point where their respective militaries are put on high alert - which could indeed happen if, as has been promised, the Turkish navy are brought in to help the next flotilla deal with Israel's blockade.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Rami Khouri on Israel's attack on the Freedom Flotilla

A superb essay, one that deserves posting in full .  .

From Jewish Ethics to Israeli Free-Fire Zones

by Rami G. KhouriReleased: 2 Jun 2010

BEIRUT -- The events unfolding in the wake of Israel’s attack Monday against the humanitarian aid flotilla heading for Gaza can be assessed on three levels, and it matters very much how one chooses to engage the matter.

The first is the narrow technical level of who used force first -- whether the Israeli attack was the problem, or those on board who defended themselves against the Israelis triggered the fighting that resulted in death and injuries.

The second is the wider political context of the actions of both sides, raising important moral and legal issues -- the long-running Israeli blockade and recent strangulation of the people of Gaza, and the growing Palestinian-international effort to break the Israeli siege and send basic humanitarian supplies to Gaza’s population.

The third level is Israel’s standing among the nations of the world. It is about how the entire modern Zionist movement that successfully created Israel as the homeland of those Jewish people who want to live there has found itself increasingly isolated, because it ascribes to itself prerogatives that seem to place it above the laws that govern the conduct of all other states. This is why many have asked for years whether “Zionism is racism.”

The issues on all three levels are being widely discussed in the international media and political forums. The most important one, in my mind, is the third level -- the hard questions about what Israel and Zionism have become, and how they relate to other people and states, beyond their conflict with the Palestinians and Arabs. Are Israel and Zionism the noble manifestations of the Jewish people’s right to live in peace and security, without being subjected to genocidal pogroms -- as Zionists portray their movement? Or have Zionism and Israel become so narrowly and blindly obsessed with their own needs that they have lost sight of the ethical foundations -- justice, compassion, ethics-based law, and equality for all humankind -- that are widely seen as the core characteristics of Judaism, as of the other Abrahamic faiths also? Has Zionism, and by implication Israel and Judaism, been transformed from a commitment to preserving life to a media-based justification for siege, assault, piracy and murder?

These questions now being asked around the world are the deeper, more complex and often gut-wrenching, ones that Israelis and Jews themselves need to debate and resolve. Israel wants to avoid this discussion, and prefers to keep the focus very narrow and technical. It has used its well-honed propaganda machine to shift the initial discussion in the international media to how a few passengers on one ship used sticks and knives to beat off the attacking Israeli commandos.

Jews were attacked by club- and knife-wielding mobs, the Israeli-Zionist refrain goes these days, and Jews must never again allow themselves to be attacked by mobs. In the wake of several hundred years of inhuman pogroms, racism and genocidal assaults against Jews mostly by white Christian Europeans, the message of Jewish self-defense carries special weight and resonance around the world -- as it should. Yet the modern Jewish right of self-defense increasingly clashes with the modern Zionist and Israeli track record of aggression, ethnic cleansing, massacres, occupation, siege, collective punishment, low-intensity starvation, colonization, and occasional bouts of barbarism against the Palestinians and other Arabs.

The practice of Israeli Zionism increasingly contradicts the ethical and moral foundations of historical Judaism: International law applies to the entire world, but the state of Israel reserves the special right to ignore and transcend that law, and to attack humanitarian convoys on the open seas, in the name of defending the Jewish people and their values. Now, this Israeli-Zionist penchant for taking any measures deemed necessary to protect Jewish people has over-spilled the narrow conflict with Palestinians and Arabs, and has resulted in the death of Turks and a grave affront to the concept of the universality of international law.

Israel wants the world to get tangled up in an endless debate about a few knives and clubs. The world wants Israel to come to grips with the more fundamental issue of whether a Jewish state respects the laws and norms that govern all humankind – or behaves only according to an increasingly hysterical, violent and often murderous sense of its own perpetual victimhood. Israel makes of its historical and permanent victimhood an absolute right to transform any place in the world into a free-fire zone and a killing field where it can run amok – in the name of protecting the Judaism that, in fact, it only increasingly besmirches and demeans. Israel is becoming a new Jewish ghetto, increasingly isolated from and criticized by the world, and doubly tragic because this is largely the consequence of its own handiwork.

Jewish ethics hold human beings accountable to a higher moral code; does this also apply to a Jewish state?


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