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Apparently 'democracy is poison to Arabs'

By Antony Loewenstein - posted Tuesday, 29 January 2008


During a meeting at the home of the US ambassador to Israel in 2007, Haaretz editor David Landau told Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice that Israel was a "failed state" that needed to be "raped" by the United States. Aggressive American intervention was essential to resolve the Israel-Palestine conflict.

Landau's strident comments were considered shocking because leading American Zionists remain silent in the face of Israeli atrocities. Take the settlements. Hebron in the West Bank has about 600 Jews living among close to 200,000 Palestinians. The settlers, with the wholehearted support of the Israeli Defence Forces, routinely beat, intimidate, harass and ruin the lives of the Palestinians.

A fundraiser was held in a flashy New York hotel late last year to raise funds for these settlers, with barely a word uttered about the Palestinians and their plight. Prospect magazine journalist Matthew Duss spoke to a spokesman for the settlers in Hebron - the recipient of the raised funds - and the spokeman’s racism was something to behold. "Democracy is poison to Arabs," he said. "You'll never get the truth out of an Arab. Israel should give the Arabs social rights but not give them a say in how the country is governed."

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Duss explained the issue well. "Hundreds of thousands of dollars flow annually into this community from private donors in the United States like the Hebron Fund, causing thousands of Hebron's Palestinians to live a nightmare so a few hundred Israeli religious extremists can live out their biblical historical fantasies," he wrote.

If the US were serious about solving the Israel-Palestine conflict, it would shut down the flow of money immediately, including from its own coffers. The mainstream Jewish community, the vast majority of whom remain publicly silent over such behaviour, are complicit in the crimes. Half-hearted excuses will no longer do.

George W Bush's recent visit to the Middle East, in the final year of his presidency, is an attempt to solidify Washington's position towards its client states - Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Israel and Palestine - against the troublesome rising star of Iran (Bush's visit to Saudi Arabia redefined sycophancy).

The situation in Iraq is desperate. Despite the rhetoric from the US military and its media courtiers, the country is irrevocably divided and Iraqi refugees in countries like Syria are suffering terribly, with even US diplomats turning away from the mission. At least Israel's Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi Yona Metzger greeted Bush on his arrival with praise for the Iraq debacle.

Bush's arrival in Israel and Palestine was greeted with soaring rhetoric. Visiting Ramallah, the President said that he was confident a peace treaty would be signed in 2008 and demanded an end to the Israeli occupation. But the reality on the ground belies his optimism.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert refused to cease building illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank and told Bush that the Jewish State had the right to continue building colonies in areas that make the establishment of a Palestinian State impossible. Days before Bush arrived, the Israelis refused to release information that revealed the extent of illegal settlements built without permits in both outposts and established colonies in the West Bank.

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The photo opportunities with Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas were little more than giving the impression of a peace process when both sides remain miles apart (something confirmed by a former advisor to Bill Clinton).

The Hamas control of Gaza is ignored. About 40 Palestinian MPs, seized after Hamas secured victory in early 2006, remain in Israeli prisons, uncharged. A recently released human rights report found that Israel's military court for Palestinians in the West Bank nearly always produced automatic convictions.

Finally, Jerusalem must be separated - despite the opposition of many American Zionists - and Palestinian refugees compensated for their violent expulsion in 1948.

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First published in New Matilda on January 18, 2008.



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About the Author

Antony Loewenstein is a freelance journalist, author and blogger. He has written for the Sydney Morning Herald, Haaretz, The Guardian, Washington Post, Znet, Counterpunch and many other publications. He contributed a major chapter in the 2004 best seller, Not Happy, John!. He is author of the best-selling book My Israel Question, released in August 2006 by Melbourne University Publishing and re-published in 2009 in an updated edition. The book was short-listed for the 2007 NSW Premier's Literary Award. His 2008 book is The Blogging Revolution on the internet in repressive regimes. His website is at http://antonyloewenstein.com/ and he can be contacted at antloew@gmail.com.

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