Swans Commentary » swans.com January 12, 2009  



Walking Away From Israel Made Easier


by Gilles d'Aymery





(Swans - January 12, 2009)  When even Roger Cohen of The New York Times cannot stomach the Israeli rampage in Gaza -- "I have never previously felt so despondent about Israel, so shamed by its actions, so despairing of any peace that might terminate the dominion of the dead in favor of opportunity for the living." ("The Dominion of the Dead," NYT Op-Ed, January 8, 2009) -- you sense that the gatekeepers' efforts to keep the official narrative going -- Israelis (Jewish Israelis), light of civilization; IDF, ethical, doesn't shoot at civilians; "there is no humanitarian crisis;" Palestinians (Arabs, Muslims), barbarians; Israeli Arabs, Fifth Column, Hamas, terrorists) -- are being increasingly frustrated by a worldwide outcry. Officialdom may still be fossilized in the old paradigm, but public opinion has moved on thanks mainly to the Internet, generational change, and with the help of the repeated ferocity and strategic blunders of a country, Israel, that is no longer admired and cherished, but viewed as the little Sparta that it has become.

People are walking away from the old narrative in droves -- people of all congregational backgrounds. And people are less and less afraid to let their voices be heard. I am actually stupefied by the huge increase in the number of people that just "have had it." Here are a few names in the U.S. -- all writers with a constituency and a following: Robert Scheer, Chris Hedges, Gary Kamiya, Glenn Greenwald, Juan Cole, Gary Leupp, Jimmy Carter, Wallace Shawn, Jeff Huber, Helen Thomas, Andrew J. Bacevich, Amy Goodman, Max Blumenthal, Naomi Klein, Robert Dreyfuss...and that's just a small sampler. The flood has broken the gates.

Walking away can be a long and painful emotional process, like fleeing from a violent and abusive father, but once done, there is no turning back. It may subject you to the usual accusations of being an anti-Semite or a self-hating Jew, but you no longer care. You've become immune to the slandering epithets. You have broken the shackles of the narrative and the myths, once and for all. To me, it happened over a twenty-year period, upon which I may, or may not, reflect in the future. It actually took place in 2006 (see the archives). I've not been looking back ever since. I do not care whether Israel becomes a pariah nation that may well take the entire world down with its psychopathic paranoia. There is little I can do about this tragedy. I simply walked away -- and I do my best not to buy anything that has a tag that reads, "Made in Israel." Like I do my best not to buy books online because of my attachment to local bookstores, I also do my best not to buy anything from a country that has lost my support because of its lack of ethics, morality, and simple humanness.

Enough said. Instead of going on with my thoughts, let me pass on a series of articles and analyses that will help you make up your mind and, hopefully, convince (and comfort) you in the absolute necessity to walk away from that folly. You won't be alone.



•   How Israel brought Gaza to the brink of humanitarian catastrophe
By Avi Shlaim - The Guardian, 07 January 2009
("Oxford professor of international relations Avi Shlaim served in the Israeli army and has never questioned the state's legitimacy. But its merciless assault on Gaza has led him to devastating conclusions." Shlaim: "The only way to make sense of Israel's senseless war in Gaza is through understanding the historical context." An excellent, must-read analysis.)


•   Understanding Gaza
By Tony Karon - Rootless Cosmopolitan, December 31, 2008
(Tony Karon takes on the demagoguery of Benny Morris in Morris's NYT Op-Ed of December 30, 2008, "Why Israel Feels Threatened," and the cynical politics behind the failed US-Israeli strategy vis-à-vis the Palestinians.)


•   Party to Murder
By Chris Hedges - Truthdig, December 29, 2008
(Hedges "covered the Mideast for The New York Times for seven years." Hedges: "The Israelis in Gaza, like the American forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, are foolishly breeding the next generation of militants and Islamic radicals.")


•   Why bombing Ashkelon is the most tragic irony
By Robert Fisk - The Independent, 30 December 2008
(What the MSM won't tell you, "that the original, legal owners of the Israeli land on which Hamas rockets are detonating live in Gaza.")


•   The Mutual Suicide Pact of Israelis and Palestinians
By William Pfaff - williampfaff.com, December 12, 2008
("The goal of the settler movement - there is no secret about it - is the annexation of Palestine, logically requiring expulsion of the Palestinians from the entire country, or their reduction to a permanent condition of subordination, in which they would be deprived of elementary political rights.")


•   An Unnecessary War
Jimmy Carter, The Washington Post, January 8, 2009
("I know from personal involvement that the devastating invasion of Gaza by Israel could easily have been avoided." Which party really broke the cease-fire?)


•   The Necessary Destruction of Hamas
By William Pfaff - williampfaff.com, December 31, 2008
("Whether reasonable or not, it was probably inevitable that the men and women who created Israel would turn it into a modern equivalent of Sparta. . . . . Israel was humiliated by Hizbollah in Lebanon two years ago. It must reestablish its position of total military domination of the Middle East. Destroying Hamas is the way to do it.")


•   Enough. It's time for a boycott
By Naomi Klein - The Guardian, 10 January 2009
(Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions: the author advocates the imposition of "broad boycotts and implement divestment initiatives against Israel similar to those applied to South Africa in the apartheid era."


•   Gaza: the logic of colonial power
By Nir Rosen - The Guardian, 29 December 2008
("As so often, the term 'terrorism' has proved a rhetorical smokescreen under cover of which the strong crush the weak."


•   Israel in Gaza: Irrationality
Wallace Shawn - The Nation, December 29, 2008
("Actions based on irrational premises inevitably fail in their purposes--they fail, and if the premises don't change, then the actions are inevitably repeated, in forms which are more and more grotesque.")


•   Israel struggles with youth wing of the Diaspora
Jeet Heer - The National Post, January 9, 2009
("Wars can be won on the battlefield while being lost in the realm of public opinion. . . . . As it did in earlier wars where Israel killed large numbers of civilians, global public opinion is cooling toward the Jewish state, which runs the risk of becoming an international pariah. This shift in public opinion is most striking when we look at young Jews in North America, who are much more critical of Israel than their parents and grandparents. Given the fact that Israel has always relied heavily on support, both financial and moral, from the Diaspora, the loss of loyalty of young Jews is a dangerous trend.")


•   The War Isn't Over, But Israel Has Lost
By Tony Karon - Rootless Cosmopolitan, January 9, 2009
("Repeating behaviors that have produced catastrophic failures and expecting a different result is insane; and when a person's psychotic behavior puts himself and those around him in immediate physical danger, the responsibility of those who claim to be his friends is to restrain him.")


•   Holocaust Denied: The lying silence of those who know
By John Pilger - The New Statesman, January 8, 2009
(John Pilger "calls on 40 years of reporting the Middle East to describe the 'why' of Israel's bloody onslaught on the besieged people of Gaza - an attack that has little to do with Hamas or Israel's right to exist.")


•   A Gaza Bible Story
By Gary Leupp - Counterpunch.org, January 9-11, 2009
(A chilling story of the pathology at play: "... Israel as Samson. Wild, irrational, thuggish, untamed, covetous, given to religious obsessions...")


•   Marty Peretz and the American political consensus on Israel
By Glenn Greenwald - Salon.com, December 28, 2009
("...how unusual are Peretz's views, revolting as they are, in the American political mainstream? He certainly expresses anti-Arab hatred and bigotry more bluntly than most, but this reflexive support for anything and everything Israel does is anything but unique in our political debates.")


•   Orwell, blinding tribalism, selective Terrorism, and Israel/Gaza
By Glenn Greenwald - Salon.com, January 4, 2009
(On the debasement of some right-wing pundits such as Martin Peretz ("do not fuck with the Jews"), Michael Goldfarb ("it's not clear that they are rational, at least not like us"), or Glenn Reynolds ("'Cycles of violence' continue until one side wins decisively. Personally, I'd rather that were the Israelis, since they're civilized people and not barbarians."))


•   Gaza 2008: Micro-Wars and Macro-Wars
Juan Cole - Informed Comment, January 4, 2009
(Historical trends: "It may still be 10 or 20 years in the future. But because of Israel's economic and demographic vulnerabilities, for it to lose the war of global public opinion may ultimately be more consequential than either macro-war or micro-war.")


•   When and How Was the Jewish People Invented? by Shlomo Sand, professor of European history at Tel Aviv University
Reviewed by Jonathan Cook - The National, October 06, 2008
("Dr. Sand argues that the idea of a Jewish nation - whose need for a safe haven was originally used to justify the founding of the state of Israel - is a myth invented little more than a century ago.")


•   "The Holocaust Is Over; We Must Rise From Its Ashes"
by Avraham Burg - The New York Times, December 20, 2008
("[Mr. Burg] said that Israel should not be a Jewish state, that its law of return granting citizenship to any Jew should be radically altered, that Israeli Arabs were like German Jews during the Second Reich and that the entire society felt eerily like Germany just before the rise of Hitler." Reviewed by NYT's Ethan Bronner.)


•   Study: US Jews distance themselves from Israel
Reuters, September 6, 2007
("Feelings of attachment to Israel declining among non-Orthodox American Jews, and are replaced by indifference and even alienation, study finds. . . . . Young non-Orthodox US Jews are becoming increasingly lukewarm if not alienated in their support for Israel in a trend that is not likely to be reversed.")


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Gilles d'Aymery on Swans (with bio). He is Swans' publisher and co-editor.



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This Edition's Internal Links

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Published January 12, 2009