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‘I was wrong in my presumption that Israel desired peace’ –Chas Freeman

To be disillusioned, one must first have illusions. Few things have been as disillusioning to partisans of the consolidation of a secure homeland for Jews in the Middle East (the most important objective of U.S. diplomacy in the region for decades) as the evolution of Israeli policies and practices over the past quarter-century. This period began with an internationally sponsored conference in Madrid from October 30 to November 1, 1991. The Madrid Conference brought Israel, its Arab neighbors, and the Palestine Liberation Organization together for the first time in an effort to achieve regional acceptance for the Jewish state. This led by circuitous means to the signing in Washington (on September 13, 1993) of the Oslo accords, which envisaged Palestinian elections to establish self-government, Israeli withdrawal from Palestinian lands, and a process of self-determination that would culminate within five years in the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside Israel.

This era may be said to have definitively ended on October 26, 2015, when Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu told the Knesset that, while he rejected the idea of a binational state, Israeli Jews “need to control all of the territory [of historic Palestine] for the foreseeable future.” Mr. Netanyahu showed that he understood that this would preclude a secure peace for Israel with Palestinians, other Arabs, and the world’s Muslims when he added, “I’m asked if we will forever live by the sword—yes.”

The essays in America’s Continuing Misadventures in the Middle East reveal my own gradual and grudging realization that I had been wrong in my presumption that Israel desired peace and reconciliation with those its Western-backed establishment and military consolidation in the Middle East had injured or offended. As events unfolded, it became increasingly hard to deny that the absence of peace was explained not by the unwillingness of the victims of Israeli colonialism to compromise, but by Israel’s own view that it had no need to make concessions as long as it had the backing of the United States.

With great reluctance, I came to see that, given U.S. enablement, Israel has never been prepared to risk peace with those it displaced from their homes in Palestine. When faced with a choice between territorial expansion and advances toward reconciliation with Arabs, Israel always chooses land over peace. The now-defunct American-sponsored “peace process”— on which the United States staked its reputation in the Middle East and elsewhere, and which I labored to support—has been revealed to all as part of an elaborate diplomatic deception, intended to provide political cover for Israel’s continued territorial expansion at Palestinian expense.

To be clear, this hypocrisy matters to me as a patriotic American less because of its injustice to the Palestinians than because of its political and military consequences for Israel and the United States. Israel can enjoy neither domestic tranquility nor security from non-hostile neighbors and the world’s Muslims if it continues to deal with its captive Arab population through the culling of their leaders by targeted assassination, the tyranny of occupation, and the persecution of checkpoints and separation walls, punctuated by sniper attacks and occasional bombing campaigns against defenseless Palestinian civilians. Such an approach guarantees violent resistance by Palestinians and hostility by those who identify with them.

Equally, or perhaps more importantly, it represents a secession by Israel from both Western civilization and the humane values of the Judeo- Christian moral tradition. As such, it delegitimizes Israel internationally and alienates it from Jews in other countries. This is a prescription for escalating regional enmity and declining support for Israel in Europe and America. It is a suicidal strategy for Zionism. Given American solidarity with Israel, it foretells rising politico-military costs for the United States from anti-American terrorism by estranged Muslims, accompanied by division between the United States and major European allies. It is in the interest of the United States that citizens raise their voices to head off this scenario. That is what I have tried to do.

- See more at: http://mondoweiss.net/2016/06/presumption-desired-freeman/#sthash.9VWlLku5.dpufACMITME cover 02426.1446756715.826.1280

Video of the Week New Clashes Erupt Between Israeli Security Forces, Muslim Worshippers

Temple Mount temporarily closed to Jewish visitors after clashes with police




The Temple Mount was temporarily closed to Jewish visitors on Wednesday at the order of Jerusalem District Commander Yoram Halevy after Jews broke visitation rules at the holy site, police said. The Jewish visitors were expelled from the compound for bringing sacred books to the Mount and trying to pray there. After one of the individuals was cautioned, another took out a holy book, and the group was expelled. Meanwhile, renewed clashes erupted between protesters and Israeli security forces near the Lion's Gate in the Old City, where police used stun grenades against the demonstrators. A regular dynamic has developed involving clashes between Palestinians and Israel Police over the past several days near the Lion's Gate. Dozens of Palestinians are present at the site on a regular basis, urging devotion to the Al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount and condemning Israel. During Muslim prayer times, particularly the midday and nighttime prayers, hundreds and sometimes even thousands have been gathering there.

There have been outbreaks of violence during these periods, including stone-throwing or physical confrontations with the police. In most of these incidents, the police have been using stun grenades and sponge-tipped bullets to disperse the crowds. In a number of cases, journalists in the area have also suffered violence at the hands of the police. On Tuesday, Hassan Shaalan, a reporter for the Ynet news website, was struck by a policeman even after he identified himself as a member of the press. A group of Jerusalem-based journalists released a statement of condemnation over the incident and called on the police to permit reporters to do their jobs. The Jerusalem Police responded: "This involved an incident that took place in the course of violent disturbances of the peace that occurred in Jerusalem while the police were acting to remove the demonstrators from the street after some of them refused to vacate. The forces working on the scene are under constant threat to their lives. http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/1.802141

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