Sunday, May 09, 2010

A Survey of Opinion from the Israeli Left

Here are a few snippets gleaned from the Israeli newspaper, Haaretz:

Amos Harel notes the growing influence of religious Right in the Israeli military.

"...the IDF of 1993 is not the IDF of 2010. Here is what happened in the officers' course for the infantry corps, the spearhead of the combat units, during that period: In 1990, 2 percent of the cadets enrolled in the course were religious; by 2007, that figure had shot up to 30 percent. And this is how the intermediate generation of combat officers looks today: six out of seven lieutenant colonels in the Golani Brigade are religious and, beginning in the summer, the brigade commander will be as well. In the Kfir Brigade, three out of seven lieutenant colonels wear skullcaps, and in the Givati Brigade and the paratroopers, two out of six. In some of the infantry brigades, the number of religious company commanders has passed the 50 percent mark - more than three times the percentage of the national religious community in the overall population.

Harel also notes the rightward shift of Israel's officer corps that followed the abandonment of officer training by the Israeli left and members of the Kibbutzim put off by the first Lebanon war and the first Intifada. As the Left has shunned officer school, the Right and the religious Right has gained increasing influence in the Israeli Defence Force.

Zvi Bar'el writes that there'll be no peace for his homeland unless Israel returns the Golan Heights:

... there is a balance of terror between Israel and its neighbors, whose purpose is deterrence. That's what every rational country does when it feels threatened and can't find a nonmilitary alternative. No doubt, Israel is threatened, but so are Syria, Lebanon, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. It's enough to listen to Israel's threats to "take Syria back to the Stone Age," "destroy Lebanon's civilian infrastructure" or smash Hamas to understand that the style of the Israeli threat approaches that of Iran. If anyone should be waking up in the morning in a cold sweat, it's the Lebanese, Syrians and Gazans, not the Israelis.

...But unlike Israel, which sees the threat but forgets the catalyst, each of its neighbors has territory under Israeli occupation, each has a legitimate national claim to get its occupied land back. Anyone looking for a nonviolent alternative can find it well-packaged and waiting to be used, but it's merely getting wet in the rain.

...Peace with Syria might neutralize the military threat from that country, stop Hezbollah from arming and put Iran in a confusing situation, even if it doesn't break off its relations with Syria. Peace with Syria and the Palestinians would also change Turkey's position and neutralize the hostility between Israel and the other Arab countries.

In short, the military threat would lose a great deal of its punch. A rational country, even one not seeking peace - and Israel, after all, is not one - would have done the arithmetic long ago and understood that by continuing to hold on to the Golan Heights, the chances of a confrontation would simply grow.

The paper's editorial calls on Netanyahu to change course while there's still time to save Israel's "very existance as a Jewish and democratic state."

Three destructive trends threaten Israel's very existence as a Jewish and democratic state. The first is the continued occupation of the territories, which as of next month will have gone on for 43 years. Ruling over a large Palestinian population through forceful and nondemocratic means compromises Israel's moral case and destroys its image in the eyes of the international community, while buttressing extreme nationalist sentiment within the country.

The second destructive trend involves the expansion of the ultra-Orthodox community, whose members do not work and do not bear the burden of military service or paying taxes. Instead, they are dependent on welfare payments and they deprive their children of the kind of education that would give them the necessary skills to join the labor force.

The third destructive trend is the discrimination against and marginalization of Israel's Arab citizens, who want to study and to work but have difficulty finding employment and integrating into society. If these trends are not reversed, the Haredim will continue to be isolated at the expense of the shrinking core of Israelis who work and serve their country, while the Arabs, in the absence of opportunities, will be pushed to the margins of society. The shortage of working people will cause the Israeli economy to collapse.

...In a weekend interview with Haaretz, opposition leader Tzipi Livni called for ending these destructive trends before it is too late. She also called for two strategic decisions to be taken: the first, to partition the country into two states, one Jewish and the other Palestinian; the second, to impose the teaching of a core curriculum to Haredim in order to enable them to integrate into the labor market.

Unfortunately this body of wisdom doesn't reach far beyond the Israeli Left which, today, is becoming increasingly marginalized by a national drift to the Right.


Okie said...

Some interesting pieces here on the Goldstone report, plus mention of the report called "Breaking the Silence. Also interesting are the attempts to villify Goldstone and the extent of the pettyness up to and including trying to interfere with his attending his Grandson's Bar Mitvah. Even blogs are being employed in that effort. Which reminds of a certain visit to the Holy Land.

"In many ways, the report was more sensitive to Israel's argument that "Hamas was guilty of war crimes by firing rockets into its territory" and that "Israel was acting in self-defence against a terrorist adversary" (34), than many previous reports had been. A well-documented previous report, called "Breaking the Silence" collected testimonies from more than 650 soldiers that served in the Occupied Palestinian Territories since the Second Intifada. The testimonies – some given anonymously – demonstrate cases of abuse towards Palestinians. "… Looting and destruction of property have been the norm for years, but are still excused as military necessities, or explained as extreme and unique cases." The "testimonies portray a different and grim picture of questionable orders in many areas regarding Palestinian civilians. These demonstrate the depth of corruption which is spreading in the Israeli military. While this reality, which is known to Israeli soldiers and commanders, exists in Israel's back yard, Israeli society continues to turn a blind eye and to deny that which happens in its name" (35). Israel has always rejected international criticism of the conduct of its military, claiming that "the IDF was the most moral fighting force on the face of the earth" (36). The Goldstone Report concentrates on IDF's "excessive and indiscriminate" use of force especially in relation to civilian, non-military targets in Gaza (37)."

Regarding the response from the Israeli government; "Richard Falk calls it a cry of "foul play" designed to avoid "looking at the substance of the charges" or "the politics of deflection" whereby "the attention of an audience" is deliberately shifted "away from the message to the messenger"

This is very critical.

More here;

The Mound of Sound said...

I read the Goldstone report. Did you see the piece just a few weeks ago where his grandson was to be denied Bar Mitzvah because of it. Only after Goldstone agreed to stay away did the Rabbi permit the ritual to proceed. How low is that - getting revenge by punishing the man's grandson and his parents.

The Mound of Sound said...

Sorry Okie, I read through your comment and somehow missed your reference to the Bar Mitzvah incident. I wonder if that's part of getting old?

The Mound of Sound said...

You may have noticed that a small number of prominent bloggers just enjoyed a free junket to Israel. They emphasize that their Israeli hosts haven't tried to swing them over which indicates they don't grasp what's going on.

The Israelis know they have slim to no chance of converting critics to their side. That sort of thing is too obvious and can backfire. What they do seek to do is shift opinion moderately toward their side, tame the beast. By controlling where a person goes, whom he meets and dines with, they are able to swing opinion even if the subject doesn't recognize it. In fact, the approach is measured so that the subject likely won't recognize it.

The Israelis have been doing this "junket" thing as far back as the early 70's. They still do bring favourable politicians over and have long tried to get opinion shapers in the media onboard too.

We used to consider these junkets as strictly taboo and shunned them like the plague.

Israel has had decades to hone and refine their junket technique and handling a mini-bus full of Canadian bloggers would have been a piece of cake for them.

Okie said...

On old age, I had trouble with copy and paste a few threads back. Wisdom is the only thing we may gain for the loss of the physical powers of youth.

I noticed the visit by the bloggers, is why I mentioned a certain visit to the Holy Land. I thought it interesting, and that Kate and Kathy were going said a great deal.

Having read todays offerings on this aggregate, my inclinations haven't changed, and I thought this quote from the BC fellows site worthy of mention;

"Finally, he said that the uncritical support for the Palestinians from the international community serves to “infantilize” them and is counter-productive to long-term solutions."

That fits well with what I posted earlier. Nothing like a good old fashioned bit of name calling to make one look superiour, wot?

The Mound of Sound said...

Typical "straw man" propaganda. The problem is supposedly uncritical support for the Palestinians. What "uncritical" support? Very few, if any, outside the Arab countries are uncritical of some Palestinian actors, including Hamas. What "Palestinians"? It's pretty simplistic - make that deceitful - to imply that the Palestinian community isn't deeply fractured just as the Israeli community is in its attitude toward the West Bank and Gaza.

This jackass is simply setting up straw men in order to knock them down. The international community is not blind nor is it uncritical and anyone who suggests it is most likely is just regurgitating the nonsense he's just been fed. That is, however, the very sort of indoctrination I expected to hear from anyone on this junket. Mission accomplished!

bav said...

we must look at the facts]