Israel's clash with Obama at the boiling point

Netanyahu's intransigence on movement that would facilitate peace in the Middle East, the kernel of which is a real two state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, is for all practical purposes dead in the water. The Israelis have spoken. If Obama is unable to move Netanyahu toward goals that extend beyond empty words, he will be seen as a puppet of Israel, and Israel will again be seen as wagging America's tail.

It is too late for Obama to withdraw his envoy, George Mitchell; it is too late to curb Hillary Clinton's public policy stances; and it is definitely too late for Obama to cancel the Cairo speech. We once talked about Netanyahu being between a rock and a hard place, between US support and his right wing settler supporters. Now we just might think of Obama being in the same position.

An update on where Israel's intransigence stands is available from the Israeli newspaper Haaretz this morning:

On freezing settlements: go to hell.

Lieberman to Clinton: Israel won't freeze settlements

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman told U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Wednesday that Israel could not accept the Obama administration's demand to "completely" halt activity in West Bank settlements.

"We have no intention to change the demographic balance in Judea and Samaria," Lieberman said during his talks with the secretary of state in Washington. "Everywhere people are born, people die, and we cannot accept a vision of stopping completely the settlements. We have to keep the natural growth."

Still, he said, Israel is "ready for direct negotiations with the Palestinians."

Negotiations for what? Israeli diplomats never say, "West Bank." It's rather the possessive phrase, "Judea and Samaria."

On the issue of the Gaza siege, which Obama asked Israel to cease months ago, and Jimmy Carter called inhumane, Israel is likewise unyielding: go to hell.

U.S. ups pressure on Israel to end Gaza blockade

The United States has stepped up pressure on Israel regarding the Gaza Strip: Three weeks ago it sent Jerusalem a diplomatic note officially protesting Gaza policy and demanding a more liberal opening of the border crossings to facilitate reconstruction.

U.S. and Israeli sources say the note was followed by a verbal communication clarifying that the Obama administration thinks Israel's linkage of the case of abducted soldier Gilad Shalit and the opening of the crossings was not constructive.

So what can we make of these positions? David Grossman put it succinctly in yet another Haartez article: Peace? Go to hell.

Netanyahu's message is there will be no peace

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's speech was indeed, as it has been described, the speech of our lives. Our bogged-down, hopeless lives.

Once again, most Israelis can snuggle up around what appears to be a daring and generous offer, but what is in fact, as usual, a compromise between the anxieties, the weakness and the self-righteousness of the center just-to-the-right and the center a-little-left. But what a great distance between them and the harsh demands of reality, as well as the legitimate needs and rightful claims of the Palestinians, now accepted by most of the world, including the United States.


Other than acceptance of the two-state principle, which was wrung out of Netanyahu under heavy pressure and sourly expressed, this speech contained no tangible step toward a real change of consciousness. Netanyahu did not speak "honestly and courageously" - as he had promised - about the destructive role of the settlements as an obstacle to peace. He did not look the settlers in the eye and tell them what he knows full well: that the map of the settlements contradicts the map of peace. That most of them will have to leave their homes.

Ball in Obama's court. Stay tuned.

Tags: Israel, Netanyahu, obama, Palestine (all tags)



Re: Israel's clash with Obama at the boiling point

The difference between the United States and Israel is that in America, many of our leaders are afraid to travel abroad for fear of being arrested.  In Israel, they are afraid to return home for the same reason.  /rimshot

I can't really believe they let this Lieberman guy out of the closet, but I honestly see him as a blessing, sorta like how the neocons root for Ahmadinejad to win.

by Steve M 2009-06-18 07:43AM | 0 recs
Re: Israel's clash with Obama at the boiling point

Actually I don't think Lieberman is considered a war criminal. A racist, yes. A war criminal, well, not yet.

It was Ariel Sharon who feared traveling out of the country, because he was wanted as a war criminal by the international court at the Hague. Only the US accepted him and he came to Washington several times since the Camp David meetings.

by MainStreet 2009-06-18 07:49AM | 0 recs
Re: Israel's clash with Obama at the boiling point

No, Lieberman is not a war criminal, but he appears to be a domestic criminal.  That's the point of the joke, you see, about why he can travel abroad but not return home!

Sometimes I wonder if you might be an ElizaBot.

by Steve M 2009-06-18 07:58AM | 0 recs
Re: Israel's clash with Obama at the boiling point

Accept the deserved insult. I read and write too fast these days, and missed the joke.


by MainStreet 2009-06-18 08:12AM | 0 recs
Israel's clash with Obama at the boiling point

To understand what David Grossman means by "the map of the settlements contradicts the map of peace," here is the settlement map. To date, the settlements control over 40% of the West Bank, which takes into account the Jordan Valley.


Just yesterday, the Israeli occupation forces removed 13 families, via the usual house demolitions, from the Jordan Valley, claiming it was a military reservation, even though the families had resided there for over 50 years. The ethnic cleansing also continues, therefore.

by MainStreet 2009-06-18 07:46AM | 0 recs
I am fucking furious about this

If Obama doesn't stop this ethnic cleansing then he is a failure as a President.

by Winston Smith 2009-06-19 02:42AM | 0 recs
Re: I am fucking furious about this

There are reports of continuing land confiscations like in the Jordan Valley above and the continuing house demolitions in East Herusalem, something Hillary used the benign term "unhelpful" to describe. So it is not only settlement expansion that is at issue.

by MainStreet 2009-06-19 02:57AM | 0 recs
Someone needs to be shown the boot.

You know, we should have Hillary walk into the next negotiations wearing one giant boot.  She doesn't even have to say anything about it; she just wears the boot and presses them to stop the settlements.  See if Bibi gets the point.

The "natural growth" line is such bullshit, and the Israeli's know it.  It's impossible for them not to realize that there's a german word for what they're talking about, and it ain't complementary for them.

by Dracomicron 2009-06-18 07:48AM | 0 recs
Re: Someone needs to be shown the boot.

The "natural growth" line of bullshit is actually secondary to the "defense" line of bullshit. The latter claim actually goes back to the 1970s. Israel would be unable to defend itself if it gave up the West Bank.

by MainStreet 2009-06-18 07:51AM | 0 recs
Iran is boiling, Isreal not so much....

Well, IMO, this dance is just at the intro, Bibi drew his line in the sand, and now Obama/Clinton have to respond.

This is round one, and each are just jabbing and checking out the others defenses.

We have yet to see a full out press from AIPAC to try to back Obama off, I suspect that is being saved if there is an escalation from the Obama/Clinton team.

This is at a simmer, it would be boiling for example, if Obama/Clinton upped the ante, and were willing to put some teeth behind it, such as making Israeli support conditional on some action by Bibi.

But, we ain't there yet, nothing really moving, just a lot of words.

Iran, now THAT is what boiling looks like.

Israel is in that same slow simmer, and I expect no real visible action, whatever is going on now with the Clinton response is behind the scenes.

by WashStateBlue 2009-06-18 08:30AM | 0 recs
Re: Iran is boiling, Isreal not so much....

It is possible that the next confrontation, the second round, will actually be Obama vs AIPAC-Congress. But Obama took the plunge in Cairo and went all the way with his Middle East outreach to stop the inane Bush-Cheney foreign policy by undermining the concocted West versus Islam conflict.

I don't know of many Americans who do not support him on his antiNeocon policy and resort to diplomacy in dealing with the Middle East. A core issue is the IP conflict and if Obama can't resolve it, what good is he?

by MainStreet 2009-06-18 08:58AM | 0 recs
MainStreet, I really think your a lone voice here

A core issue is the IP conflict and if Obama can't resolve it, what good is he?

First, as much as you like to believe it, Obama CANNOT force the Israelis to comply, it will only happen with and when the population of Israel forces it's political leaders to move to a solution.

Also, I know you will find this hard to believe, but if you polled the American people on 50 issues, I bet Obama forcing Isreal to stop the settlement expansion would be issue 51.

And, here's another shock to you, for your "what good is he."

I would almost promise Obama's relection will have ZERO to do with solving the IP problem.

Most Americans would probably like to see a solution, but I think probably less then 5% will allow that to effect their vote about Obama in 2012 compared to the economy, etc.

They, unlike you, realize this is NOT just about Obama forcing Israel to do what YOU think they should do.

And, besides, NO OTHER US President in the last 60 years has solved this problem, why should only Obama be judged on that criterion?

by WashStateBlue 2009-06-18 09:16AM | 0 recs
I really think your a lone voice here

Is silence better than a lone voice?

Although it is obvious that the American people are preoccupied with the economy, that does not mean that liberal values should be ignored. We have diaries on topics here that are also of minority concern to Americans as a whole: immigration, same sex rights, abortion rights, equality of sexes, and so on. So too, freedom and self-determination of peoples around the world such as in Iran, Myanmar, Israel-Palestine, and so on.

My impression is that Obama is a values-based liberal Democrat and that he will chose the right path for this country. He has chosen our position with respect to the Israelis, who have been killing Palestinians for years in order to confiscate their lands.

THe US gives Israel 6 billion a year in aid and military equipment. Our weapons are used everyday to kill Palestinians, just as they were used in Gaza recently to kill 1400 Palestinians, mostly innocent civilians, including 313 children.

You may choose to be silent and look the other way, but for me silence is not an option.

by MainStreet 2009-06-18 09:51AM | 0 recs
Re: MainStreet, I really think your a lone voice h

Mainstreet is not a lone voice.  I am happy to join the chorus.

The point that Americans dont care is well taken, but I disagree that only Israel can solve the problem.  South African apartheid was not solved internally, it was solved when the US decided (late 1980's) that it was no longer worth providing diplomatic coverage for the apartheid government of South Africa.  Then the (white) people of SA were faced with a simple choice: try to sustain the nation as a rogue nation opposed by world, or accept that fundamental change is necessary.  

And so this issue will end the same way.  99% of UN nations, including all NATO allies, have voted in General Assembly that Israel is apartheid and that the occupation, including ALL settlements are illegal.  If the US adopted the same stance as our allies, then Israel would become a rogue nation, and it wouldnt last long as such.

So Obama has massive immediate sticks to wield.  If the US stopped vetoing UN security council resolutions, then Israel is fucked and the internal political dialogue of Israel would morph dramatically.  

Other subtle things can be done, and I hope are.  The BBC has a reciprocal exchange agreement with the American TV network PBS.  That is why Carl Sagan's Cosmos was shown in Britain, and why The Blue Planet was shown on PBS.  

The BBC has produced about 20 documentaries about I/P for domestic consumption, but the were excluded under the Bush administration from the reciprocal exchange.  The reason.. they are "foreign propoganda."  If Obama allowed PBS to show these documentaries, then Americans may start to view the situation as something that is unfathomable to something that may be solved in time.  

by Winston Smith 2009-06-19 02:31AM | 0 recs
Re: MainStreet, I really think your a lone voice h

Censorship and biased reporting have been occurring in the US for a long time. As Jimmy Carter said in an interview several months ago, Americans don't really know.....(the reality in the Middle East or however he put it). The site, If Americans Knew, is also all about this censorship and bias concerning what is happening in the Palestinian  territories. One would suppose that if Americans did know, about what has been happening to Palestinians under military occupation, and about the ongoing colonization, they might have been more difficult to be carried out over the decades.

Didn't know aobut the censored British documentaries. Thanks for mentioning them.

by MainStreet 2009-06-19 03:21AM | 0 recs
A Group which accuses the BBC of anti-semitism:

Of the seventeen documentary programs the BBC produced on Israel over the past four years, only one presented Israel in a positive light; the other sixteen were overwhelmingly pro-Palestinian, casting Israel as a brutal aggressor nation.

Here's the link.

I doubt the BBC documentaries are actually anti-Israeli, but even if they are, why is it a crime for an American to watch them?  They are not Bin Laden rants, they are British Broadcasting Corporation documentaries.  AIPAC, and a well-orchestrated political pressure campaign limits the free access to information in this country.  Its no wonder that all our allies are willing to call Israel apartheid, and why Americans are shocked that anyone would criticize our "loyal democratic ally."  

Once Americans have been educated sufficiently about the truth about Israel and Palestine, it wont take long for US opinion to come into line with that of our allies.

by Winston Smith 2009-06-19 09:36PM | 0 recs
Re: Israel's clash with Obama at the boiling point

The US supplies a significant percent of Israel's defense budget including what might be the majority of the fuel to keep Israel's military rolling. If Obama has the resolve and could withstand the domestic blowback he could stop the settlement expansion tomorrow and bring down Bibi's government.

The Israeli's have been laboring under the delusion that they are a super power on a level with the US. That is an illusion that could be punctured very quickly if Obama, like Eisenhower did before him, chose to act. Obama is not an ideologue, he is practical, results oriented and ruthless when he needs to be. He plans on accomplishing some things while in office and solving the IP issue in a way that guarantees security for Israeli's and Palestinians is one of them. Right now the Israeli government is standing in his way.

What do you think is more likely? Bibi destroys Obama politically or Obama destroys Bibi? It's quickly approaching one or the other outcome. I know who I'm betting on.

by hankg 2009-06-18 09:58AM | 0 recs
Re: Israel's clash with Obama at the boiling point

I suspect that Bibi will appeal to AIPAC, which has been right wing Likud for the past couple of decades, and its notorious influence on Congress to back Obama off.

If Obama blinks on the issue of freezing settlements, he is done. Even making an exception is failure.

As to your last question, my answer is likely the same as yours.

by MainStreet 2009-06-18 10:10AM | 0 recs
Re: Israel's clash with Obama at the boiling point

I think both men will back off and accept a stalemate on the issue rather than risk losing it in the US Congress.  If one of them actually loses the AIPAC issue, then Netanyahu will see his ethnically-pure state fall, or B. Hussein Obama will be seen as anti-semitic.  They are both too politically astute for that to happen.  

by Winston Smith 2009-06-19 02:39AM | 0 recs
Re: Israel's clash with Obama at the boiling point

I think it's fair to critique Israel as an ethnocracy.  Calling it "ethnically pure," however, is immediately falsifiable and undermines the critique.  More than 20% of Israel's citizens are not Jews.  While de jure equal under the law, they indeed struggle with clear and sometimes extreme de facto secondary status.  Still, Bibi's state cannot be fairly described as "ethincally pure."  Again, doing so simply flies in the face demonstrable reality and more importantly undermines the ability to persuade any one of anything.  It also rhetorically strengthens the hands of those on the right by providing them with examples of progressives who misconstrue the situation, even as they misconstrue it even more severely.  This is not, then, a quibble.  I suggest the critique be framed with the term "ethonocracy" which is much easier to demonstrate and oppose.

by Strummerson 2009-06-19 03:27AM | 0 recs
In The Category

Broad Strokes Paint Poor Portraits Observations, the Bloggie Award goes to Strummerson.

I conccede the point, and I admit that serveral layers of understanding need to be explained when unpacking the adjectival phrase "ethinically pure."

Israel is not exclusively Jewish, many thousands of people who ascribe to different religions, or no religion at all, reside within the borders of Israel, and they have citizenship rights.

But Israel is demanding of the Palestinians that it (the country of Israel) be recognized as a Jewish nation, and no peace talks can precede without such recognition.

This demand is generally misrepresented in the US.  It is perfectly reasonable that a nation demand to be acknowledged by its neighbors.  But in Israel, and to the Palestinians, the demand actually means that Israel must be recognized, not as a nation, but as a Jewish nation  that will serve the interests of this ethnic colonial class above other citizens.

Palestinians who were ethnically cleansed from their homeland, and who are told by the United Nations that they may return to the lands from which they were expelled, will not accept terms which abrogate these claims.  Nor should they.

But if Israel moves in a way that international law requires, it will need to allow millions of Palestinians, many of whom have property claims and deeds to land in Israel proper to return to their homeland.  And it will need to recognize West Bank Palestinians as full citizens, or allow then to form a true nation with sovereignty.

Key to US support for Israel is the understanding that Israel is a western-style Democracy.  Without US support, Israel could not sustain itself, and a perception that Israel is rejecting democracy would undermine its image in the US, and threaten the diplomatic coverage that the US gives to Israel allowing it to exist.

In determining a disposition for the Palestinians, Israel, under Netanyahu, is not willing to allow the creation of a Palestinian state with sovereignty, which could be a military threat to Israel, nor to allow Palestinians to to vote, which would threaten the "Special Jewish Nature" of Israel, as millions of christians and muslims claim citizenship. So his answer is to avoid confrontation with the US, and maintain the status quo.  

While not ethnically pure, Israel has succeeded in denying a state to the Palestinians, and keeping them from returning to Israel proper.

If Obama decides to confront Israel, informed by international law, then Israel may well be faced with a choice: allow citizens to return and a) lose "Jewish Nation Status" or b) become an formal apartheid nation.  And annex or withdraw from the West Bank which will lead to the choice: a) incorporate Palestinians into your country and lose "Special Jewish Nation" status, or b) risk allowing the creation of a sovereign state whose people think you owe them something.  

If Israel rejects these parameters it may be relegated to rouge nation status, and considering how poorly the rest of the world views Israel, it could not last long.  

So Netanyahu is intent on preventing this confrontation and maintaining the current status of Israel, which can hide its apartheid under the guise of popular democratic will, and I am not convinced that Obama has the decisiveness to push the question.

by Winston Smith 2009-06-19 07:34AM | 0 recs
Re: In The Category

I find that people tend to basically make up their own definition of what it means to be a "Jewish state," and then they get all outraged that Israel could demand such a thing.  Or, to be more direct, "a Jewish nation that will serve the interests of this ethnic colonial class above other citizens" is just rhetoric you made up as opposed to anything Israel has actually demanded.

by Steve M 2009-06-19 07:39AM | 0 recs
Re: In The Category

Winston is correct: "as a Jewish nation that will serve the interests of this ethnic colonial class above other citizens."

There are at least twenty laws on the books in Israel, upheld by the High Court, which permits discrimination of Arabs and supports segregation of Jews from Arab (Palestinian) citizens. Now we hear about practices, inspired by the loyalty oath demands of Avigdor Lieberman, "Israel as a Jewish state," infusing Jewish only Israeli communities, where Palestinians apply for residency. In addition to loyalty oaths, there seems to be "vetting" process required, and it seems that no Palestinian citizen has yet to pass it. Some candidates allegedly have personality issues.

I don't know where I picked up this fact, but Palestinian citizens are kept out of 80% of Israel by virtue of laws and other gatekeeping practices.

by MainStreet 2009-06-19 09:02AM | 0 recs
Re: In The Category

There are more than two ethnic/religious groups in Israel.  Are all groups other than Palestinians similarly excluded?

by Steve M 2009-06-19 09:12AM | 0 recs
Re: In The Category

The Druze actually serve in the Israeli army, but I don't know their status socially. Christian Palestinians, I suppose, are treated in the same manner as Muslim Palestinians. Your question otherwise exceeds my knowledge.

by MainStreet 2009-06-19 09:19AM | 0 recs
Re: In The Category

You might want to look into it, as treating the Palestinians like crap is hardly equivalent to "elevating the rights of Jews above all other citizens."

The point is that the treatment of the non-Jewish, non-Palestinian residents of Israel puts the lie to the claim that it is oh-so-impossible to expect recognition of Israel as a Jewish state.  Plenty of Christians, for example, live quite happily in Israel while having no problem with the fact that Israel is a Jewish state.

In my personal vision of a two-state solution, Palestinian residents of Israel contentedly look at things much the same way.  Of course, a lot of attitudes have to change on both sides for us to get there, but everyone knows that.

by Steve M 2009-06-19 09:52AM | 0 recs
Re: In The Category

From all that I have read, and frankly posted in this conversation, I just cannot agree with you.

Sweden also has a population of nonSwedes, about 20% of so. Is Sweden demanding that its nonSwede citizens agree that Sweden is a Swedish and democratic state?

The racism in such a notion would be immediately evident.

by MainStreet 2009-06-19 10:03AM | 0 recs
actually, they do

as the name Sweden implies the state of the Swedish people. some countries do have names which imply just more than the name itself, but the people. Israel was the name of the old Jewish Kingdom, and just as Iran has the right to be an "islamic state," as does Pakistan, Israel has a right to be the Jewish State.

by Lakrosse 2009-06-19 10:11AM | 0 recs
Re: actually, they do

Stop trying to speak for Sweden. Swedes are one of the most liberal social democratic peoples in Europe. Sweden has never declared itself as a country exclusive to Swedes.

by MainStreet 2009-06-19 10:31AM | 0 recs
Re: actually, they do

But once again, by saying "exclusive to Swedes" you're just making up your own definition of what "Jewish state" means and getting offended at your own definition.

Israel has many Christian residents who have no problem accepting the fact that Israel is a Jewish state without feeling "oh no, that means we have to leave, Israel is exclusive to Jews!"  Of course it's not, and Israel is not demanding that it be exclusive to Jews.  Even far-right racists like Lieberman are not trying to make it exclusive to Jews!

Explain to me what rights Jews have in Israel that non-Jewish, non-Palestinian residents don't have.  I don't think you can identify any, because Israel is not a state built around "Jewish supremacy" or "Jewish exclusiveness" - it is simply a state that treats one specific group, the Palestinians, pretty badly!

by Steve M 2009-06-19 11:01AM | 0 recs
Re: actually, they do

I did not define Sweden as being exclusive to Swedes. Just the opposite. As far as I can tell, no other country has declared itself a state of one religious or ethnic group. And I would not be inclined if I were you to speak the minds of nonJewish Israelis. I have not heard of any statements coming from them concerning the ethnic laws being propagated by Jewish Israelis.

I posted the beginning of an article by Uri Avnery above. I suggest going to Gush Shalom and reading the entire thing. You might also want to look over the site, Jewish Voice for Peace for their views, and also the site of a Jewish Canadian organization (???) that just issued a damning statement against Israel for its racist developments.

by MainStreet 2009-06-19 12:04PM | 0 recs
Re: actually, they do

You yourself used the words: "Sweden has never declared itself as a country exclusive to Swedes."  Unless you think Israel has declared or is attempting to declare itself as a country exclusive to Jews, then you are just introducing a strawman into the discussion.

Your evidence that Israel is attempting to elevate the Jews to some status above everyone else is that they deny rights to the Palestinians, and nothing more.  If you want to show that non-Palestinian Christians or any other non-Palestinian group suffers from the same type of second-class status as the Palestinians - something you said about three comments ago you had no idea about - feel free to present the evidence.

by Steve M 2009-06-19 12:39PM | 0 recs
Re: actually, they do

And have made mention of many ways in which Jewish Israelis are excluding Israeli Palestinians, and presumably other small groups from equal rights in Israel.

Perhaps you might to make a stab at informing people about just what purpose there is for Israel to declare itself a Jewish state, and then attempt to attach oaths to it, excluding nonJews from residency in 80% of Israel, requiring recognition from Palestinians ready to negotiate a two state solution that Israel is a Jewish state, and so forth.

The point is what?

by MainStreet 2009-06-19 01:27PM | 0 recs
Re: actually, they do

I assume "presumably other small groups" is your way of admitting you have no evidence that other groups are similarly treated.

A few posts ago you claimed that Palestinian citizens are excluded from 80% of Israel.  Now that allegation has morphed into the exclusion of "nonJews" from 80% of Israel.  Which is it?

You don't seem interested in discussing these issues in any sort of rigorous way.  Does Israel really want to give rights to Jewish citizens that are denied to everyone else?  Gosh, who cares, let's just call them Jewish supremacists either way.  It's polemics all the way down.

by Steve M 2009-06-19 01:36PM | 0 recs
Re: actually, they do

There are 1.5 million Palestinians, Muslim and Christian, living in Israel as citizens.

If you want to deviate the discussion from them to other much smaller minority groups, you may. But at this point, I'm not getting your point, and thus will withdraw from the interaction.

by MainStreet 2009-06-20 03:29AM | 0 recs
Re: actually, they do

You are speaking for sweden as well... /EN_EU_ZE_racism.pdf

...just as in other countries, there is an ethnic hierarchy with native born Swedes at the top and non-Europeans at the bottom. The denial of this system naturally benefits those with the power to discriminate.

or hives/2004/06/15/2003175184/print

Newcomers to Sweden are smothered with kindness when it comes to welfare and education, but where jobs are concerned it still pays to be a "true Svensson," as the archetypal Volvo-driving Swede is known.

The Social Democrats who have ruled Sweden for decades have crusaded to wipe out class differences, sexism and racism and Sweden's racial make-up has changed hugely: more than a fifth of the population is now foreign-born or has one foreign parent.

But while Sweden is proud of its reputation for tolerance, experts and immigrants give a different picture of paternalism and prejudice conspiring against foreigners in the workplace.

"If you are black you only get offered menial jobs in Sweden, things like cleaning, no matter how qualified you are," said a black Zimbabwean woman with an economics degree.

The lack of Swedish-language skills is not an excuse, since even after five years of adult education in Sweden immigrants have a 30 percent less chance of finding a job than locals, according to a study by the government's own Integration Board.

Sweden showed little racism back when 99% of the residents were native born Swedes. But that is so mid-20th century. Today, about 20% of the population are immigrants.

Don't get me wrong, Sweden is still a fantastic place, it's just there overall 'tolerlance' levels are shifting as their country becomes more diverse.

by oc 2009-06-19 12:03PM | 0 recs
Re: actually, they do

I would not expect Sweden to be any different than the USA in that regard, considering the many more minorities and newcomers we have. (England and France likewise.)

But neither Sweden nor the USA have made some official declaration that "we are a .... and democratic state," naming one exclusive ethnicity or religion. And although Sweden never had the problem, we got rid of our Jim Crow laws forty years ago. Israel hasn't, not yet anyway.

by MainStreet 2009-06-19 12:11PM | 0 recs
Re: actually, they do

The Swedes have the fortunate luxury of never having to defend themselves against pogroms, holocausts, second class citizenship and stand accusations of blood libel and controlling world finances and media. Sweden does not have a recent history of its neighbors wishing its end. You fail to understand not all nations need to live under the same set of rules because different nations and people have different challenges.  As of now, it looks as though Obama does not have an issue with Israel as a Jewish state.  

by oc 2009-06-19 01:27PM | 0 recs
Re: actually, they do

Pulling out the Holocaust card when it is not possible to justify an ethnocentric solution in any other manner seems last gasp in nature. And it is especially inappropriate here.

In the end wasn't it European ethnocentrism, nationalism, and fascism that created the basis for the Holocaust in the first place, the exclusion of one ethnic group by another?

The Holocaust is not deserving of such distorted, even ironical uses.

by MainStreet 2009-06-19 04:29PM | 0 recs
Re: actually, they do
The Holocaust is not 'card' and I'll bring it up any time I wish.
Secondly, you alone do not define what the Holocaust is and how it is defined. I know the Holocaust can be an inconvience for you in these topics, but deal with it.
by oc 2009-06-19 04:52PM | 0 recs
Re: In The Category

More on the racism issue:

Racists for Democracy: Israeli racist laws with a distinct fascist odor

By Uri Avnery
Gush Shalom, June 3, 2009
(see the site for the full article.

HOW LUCKY we are to have the extreme Right standing guard over our democracy.

This week, the Israeli parliament (Knesset in Hebrew) voted by a large majority (47 to 34) for a law that threatens imprisonment for anyone who dares to deny that Israel is a Jewish and Democratic State.

The private member's bill, proposed by MK Zevulun Orlev of the "Jewish Home" party, which sailed through its preliminary hearing, promises one year in prison to anyone who publishes "a call that negates the existence of the State of Israel as a Jewish and Democratic State", if the contents of the call might cause "actions of hate, contempt or disloyalty against the state or the institutions of government or the courts".

One can foresee the next steps. A million and a half Arab citizens cannot be expected to recognize Israel as a Jewish and Democratic State. They want it to be "a state of all its citizens" - Jews, Arabs and others. They also claim with reason that Israel discriminates against them, and therefore is not really democratic. And, in addition, there are also Jews who do not want Israel to be defined as a Jewish State in which non-Jews have the status, at best, of tolerated outsiders.

The consequences are inevitable. The prisons will not be able to hold all those convicted of this crime. There will be a need for concentration camps all over the country to house all the deniers of Israeli democracy.

Fortunately, the day before, oaths were knocked down.

Racist Law Rejected by Israeli Government

June 2, 2009

Earlier this week the Israeli Ministerial Committee for Legislation rejected a bill proposed by Avigdor Lieberman's Israel Beitenu party, which would permit the government to strip the citizenship of anyone not swearing allegiance to Israel as a Jewish State.

However, last week the same Committee approved the Nakba Law, which would make marking the Nakba (the Arabic word for the tragedy of the War of Independence for the Palestinian people) a criminal offence. The proposed law will receive its first reading in the Knesset tomorrow.  Many social change organizations from the NIF family will stage a demonstration outside of the Knesset prior to the vote. acist-law-rejected-by.html

When Avnery mentions "fascism," it is not hard to see where all of this is going.

by MainStreet 2009-06-19 09:27AM | 0 recs
Re: In The Category

Not sure I understand the "award," but I agree with almost everything in this post.  The most atrocious thing is that I do not believe the Israeli right, including the present PM of course, even desire an "ethnically pure" Jewish state.  I think they require a mostly quiescent minority of "Arabs" to exploit for cheap labor, to maintain their pretensions to liberalism, and which they can use for politically opportunistic fear-mongering.  Their ideology requires an "other" against which to struggle and to define themselves as superior.

by Strummerson 2009-06-21 05:45AM | 0 recs
Re: Israel's clash with Obama at the boiling point

A possibility. Still, it is the executive that carries out US foreign policy, and while the Congress may have an advisory role, and use its influence through legislation, I can't see Obama backing off after such a strong beginning. This effort actually proceeded his Cairo speech. If the Israeli-Palestinian peace effort faulters, it pretty much ends his new dawn foreign policy towards the Muslim world. So far all words and no action or deeds.

by MainStreet 2009-06-19 03:41AM | 0 recs
Re: Israel's clash with Obama at the boiling point

Obama didn't just jump into such a strong and risky position on a whim. He gamed this out, knew exactly what the reaction of the Likud would be and how they would try and use organizations like AIPAC. He knew the end game before he opened his mouth. He knew how he would handle the Democrats and AIPAC.

Bibi on the other hand went home in shock that everything did not go as it always does. This is not business as usual. Obama has decided he is not ready to move on gay rights and he has not. Obviously he is ready to move on the IP issue. He will not take no for an answer and barring some outside event that changes the landscape in a way he could not anticipate he will move forward regardless what Hamas, the Likud or any of the rejectionist parties that usually get a veto on peace want.

by hankg 2009-06-19 06:31AM | 0 recs
Israel as a Jewish state

Although this may mean different things to different people for the purposes of the peace process I take it to mean a state with a sizable Jewish majority. Given recent history that is the only near term guarantee of security for the Jewish population of Israel.

The danger of the settlements from the point of view of Israeli security is that they threaten to incorporate a huge Palestinian population into an expanded Israeli state threatening the existence of a Israel as a majority Jewish state.

For this reason the 'right of return' can not accommodate more then some token number of Palestinians and 100% of the settlements must go and the Palestinians have a real viable state if there is to be peace.

by hankg 2009-06-19 08:49AM | 0 recs
Re: Israel as a Jewish state

The alternative, as repeated many times before, is Apartheid, and Jimmy Carter wasn't the first.

It would be actually convenient is Israel would make a choice and declare. In the case of solidifying the colonialism, which seems to be where Likud is going, we could just get on with the boycotts and sanctions and stop fooling around.

It already has a good start. As only the latest example, the Brazilian soccer team has just announced that it will no longer play in Israel.

by MainStreet 2009-06-19 10:28AM | 0 recs
Not being an expert on this

I think we have a lot of historic minuatue being thrown around, as well as a game of semantics, i.e. Here's what is meant by Right of Return and here is what is meant by Jewish State.

But, NOT having a dog in this hunt (though, I do lean towards it's time to kick the Israeli political intellgensia in the nads, Bushy be gone, and the free pass went with him) what I see is a lot of people who REALLY don't want a Solution.

What I think that fight is about is, those who WANT the status quo to continue, and whose political futures depend on ongoing conflict (I mean, why else would anyone elect Bibi?) simply want to fight forever over semantics, AND, make arguments that sounds superficially reasonable, but actually are loaded grenades, that they know the other side can't accept.

Really, how can you have Right of Return accepted by the Israelis AND a recognition of a historic Jewish state by the Palestianians?

Aren't those two kind ideas of diametrically opposed?

To me, this looks like a trick by both sides, who again in my non-expert opinion, benefit by a continuation of the status quo.

by WashStateBlue 2009-06-19 09:17AM | 0 recs
Re: Not being an expert on this

Those questions need a legal basis, if not a moral-ethnical one, to unravel and resolve. On these grounds, the Palestinians are obviously one up, and that's why we are here discussing them.

It was Israeli historians who blew the lid off of Israeli propaganda concerning the Palestinians and their ethnic cleansing in 1948. Somehow this dastardly deed is overlooked or minimized and trivialized. Now we are told that Israel cannot accept the return of Palestinians to their homes, lands and villages because Israel is now, at least since 2006, a Jewish state without room for nonJews no matter what injustice they experienced at the hands of the Zionists.

by MainStreet 2009-06-19 10:22AM | 0 recs
Re: Not being an expert on this

damn you and you good comment forcing me to respond seriously!

you're right - they are diametrically opposed. which is why one side is a non-starter - ill leave it up to you to decide which side that is.

by canadian gal 2009-06-19 12:37PM | 0 recs
Re: Not being an expert on this

They are not diametrically opposed, they are simply in conflict to a degree.  If people really believe that an unconditional right of return would lead to millions of Palestinians migrating to Israel and changing the government through force of numbers, then fine, impose numerical or other limits on the right of return.  Personally, I don't really buy that theory, but either way there's got to be some sort of accommodation that can be reached.

by Steve M 2009-06-19 12:42PM | 0 recs

nuance you say?

sadly while i don't necessarily disagree with what you wrote, big bold negotiation positions will be the name of the game in any peace process.

i just do not see what you suggest happening actually working.

perhaps i am wrong and the free-flow of palestinian immigrants into israel and vice versa will go off with out a hitch - doesn't seem likely though.

more feasibly i think will be that there will financial reparations similar to that which occurred in the sinai.

by canadian gal 2009-06-19 02:03PM | 0 recs
Re: aha!

It's not a free-flow!  It would be regulated just like any other immigration process is regulated.  I just don't envision a harmonious two-state solution looking like North Korea and South Korea.

Big bold positions are the nature of the opening move in negotiation - but when people actually sit down at the table and roll up their sleeves, suddenly we find there's details on which we can compromise.  I don't think it's productive to rule out any possibility of a middle ground on this particular issue.

by Steve M 2009-06-19 02:51PM | 0 recs
Re: aha!

perhaps this may be the first time we disagree - i must note this in my calendar!

i find it highly unlikely that any israeli (or zionist) would agree with any plan or legislation which could make jews a minority in their own state. the return of palestinian refugees would put an end to jewish self determination and the notion of a jewish homeland. obviously the above claim goes against the interests of israel's founding and its equivalent would be americans agreeing to rip up the constitution.

so i am not sure what would be the middle ground here is - in the here and now.

by canadian gal 2009-06-19 03:44PM | 0 recs
Re: aha!

If you regulate the number of Palestinians who are allowed to immigrate each year, how does it become inevitable that the Jews become a minority?  Pick a number that doesn't let it happen!

by Steve M 2009-06-19 09:17PM | 0 recs
Re: aha!

i would also add another wrench to the proverbial mix by asking what of the nine hundred thousand Jews who were forced out of arab countries in the region?

they have been refugees for many years.

most of them, about 650,000, went to israel because it was the only country that would admit them. most of them resided in tents that after several years were replaced by wooden cabins, and stayed in what were actually refugee camps for up to 12 years.

they never received any aid or even attention from the UNRWA, or any other international agency. although their plight was raised almost every year at the UN by Israeli representatives, there was never any other reference to their case at the world body. is you start down this 'right of return' road - what message does this send?

by canadian gal 2009-06-19 04:00PM | 0 recs
Re: aha!

I admit, it would be funny to see the look on the face of the Egyptian representative at the peace talks when he hears that the victims of Pharaoh's ethnic cleansing insist on their right of return.  But let's not make this more complicated than we have to!

by Steve M 2009-06-19 09:35PM | 0 recs
Re: aha!

well i'm think more about the more recent events...

The Arab League should continue to press for a "just solution" to the Palestinian refugee problem, but Arab states which once had Jewish communities should also offer an equivalent "right of return". Perhaps many Jews, particularly those living in Israel, would not accept this offer, but it is the virtue of the thought that counts.

but just trying to point out a slippery slope.

by canadian gal 2009-06-19 10:32PM | 0 recs
Re: aha!

The key to understanding the Guardian article is this phrase: "about half the Jews who left or were expelled from Arab countries ended up in Israel."

The article then goes on to discuss the specific countries involved: Iraq and Egypt where expulsion was a formal policy. Yes, there should be a repatriation in those countries involved in expelling Jews, or for that matter, Jews should be permitted to emigrate anywhere by choice.

The issue is otherwise a case of turning the exception into the rule. And in all of this, unless one carries a myopic attitude and somehow considers that Arabs are Arabs, and that somehow Palestinians are just Arabs as well, you might agree that Palestinians had nothing to do with the status of Jews living in Arab countries after 1948.

Jewish emigration from Arab countries is an entirely different issue, one that hardly comes close to the formal preplanned ethnic cleansing of Palestinians in 1948. There is no tit for tat.

by MainStreet 2009-06-20 03:17AM | 0 recs
Re: aha!

of course another red herring.  as is any israeli concern right?

by canadian gal 2009-06-20 11:59AM | 0 recs
Re: aha!

Mostly, the story of the so-called Jewish refugees from Arab countries is false, an attempt to draw a tit for tat justification for not permitting the right of return.

The emigration of Jews from Arab countries went on between 1948 and 1968, and it was a slow process, one which was encouraged by Israel which needed population. There are repeated references to Israeli agents attempting to induce emigration through fear by engaging in anti-Semitic acts in many Arab countries.

Only two of the more than 20 Arab countries forced Jews to emigrate: Iraq sometime after 1948, and Egypt after the 1967 war. There was otherwise no formal ethnic cleansing that would deserve the term "refugee" to be applied to Jews emigrating to Israel.

The notion that there was a mass forced emigration of Jews from Arab countries is just part of the Zionist propaganda mill. But I'm certain that you know that. Alternatively, if you want to make the case for the truth of your contention, please put it in a diary.

by MainStreet 2009-06-20 02:54AM | 0 recs
Aren't they kind of BOTH non-starters...

Or at least, land mines that either side sets in place to keep the bridge of peace from being crossed.

I get that if Israel recognizes the right of return free and open, they risk being overwhelmed by returners. Plus, how do you determine if someone qualifies as a returner? I doubt they issued them all rights of return documentation all those years ago.

But, if Palestian accepts the historic right of the Jews to the land, essentially, not only have they given up any claim to soveriegnity, they have basically said Israel has been absolutely justified and everything any opposition has done has been absolutely wrong. It's a free pass for Israel.

That will never fly, and I think Bibi knows that.

In a very convulated way, you could use the historic Jewish right as complete justification for the excursion into Gaza, or even expelling 100% of the existant population?

After all, if you buy 100% the Jewish historic right, then the Palenstians literally have NO RIGHTS to be there at all?

Finally, WHAT DO EITHER have to do with making a two state solution work?

How do they help either side come to a just settlement, if one is even possible?

To me, you put those out if your end game, your reason for political existence, be you Hamas or Likud, is to never have this change.

by WashStateBlue 2009-06-19 01:17PM | 0 recs
Re: Aren't they kind of BOTH non-starters...

im not sure what you mean about the palestinians accepting the israeli position in this regard.

its done.

as obama said - there has to be some acknowledgement that israel is not going away - so this idea that somehow backing away from the right of return is justification for anything other than itself is a bit well - wrong.

simply put - does the right of return mean to the future land and borders of the palestinian state to be agreed upon in a negotiation? or does it mean (as we all know it likely does) the right to return to israel proper and stake claim to lands that are 'not in dispute'?

as you said this is a recipe of chaos and well - being realistic never going to happen.  this is what i mean - non-starter.  kind of like the issue of the settlements is a non-starter, there will be no peace until israel stops building and accommodates dismantlement or hands over control of them.  

by canadian gal 2009-06-19 02:11PM | 0 recs
Are you jumping over the verbaige here?

im not sure what you mean about the palestinians accepting the israeli position in this regard.

its done.

Because, there is a far leap from "I recognize Israel right to exist"  End statement...


I recognize THE JEWISH PEOPLES (i.e. by way of their religions) HISTORIC RIGHTS to the holy land.

That is the whole different kettle of fish.

Read my posts.

First statement means, OK, you're here, we're here, we have to work this out.

Second statement, at least to this novice means:

"Look, GOD gave us this land, so no matter what, everything we did was justified, and you really have NO historic rights here. You are and always were interlopers, tresspassers. Now, let's make a deal...

It's the same deal killer as

"We have the historic right of return, Unlimited, now and forever, no matter how many, no matter that we have no proof to ownership of the land.  Now, let's make a deal.

Sorry, if I am on EITHER side, I see them both as show stoppers.

by WashStateBlue 2009-06-19 03:04PM | 0 recs
Re: Are you jumping over the verbaige here?

whoa. first, i agree with:

First statement means, OK, you're here, we're here, we have to work this out.

as being the place we are now. and this place is the only path that can lead to peace.  this means forgetting the past and cycles of tit-for-tat.

that is precisely why i say that both of these claims are not the same thing. this israeli claim of "acknowledgment' today is related to its viability in the future.

no one (at least this no one ;) is asking anyone to accept historic or religious rights to the last as this would be unproductive and impossible to resolve.  

rather i think that this is tied more simply to - what does the palestinian acceptance of the state of israel as jewish do - in there here and now - except appease fears of it being otherwise.   this is why i mentioned obama's statement - acceptance that israel is not going away is the foundation of this claim.

now as to the claim of right of return.....

clearly - this "compromise" proposal, whereby all refugees would return to israel gradually is ridiculous. jews would became a minority in their own state. return of the refugees would put an end to jewish self determination and the notion of a jewish homeland which goes against both the UN resolutions all those years ago and the interests of its founding.

it seems more than unlikely that anyone that calls themselves a zionist would agree to this claim for the reasons we have both outlined.

of course includes being realistic to the integrity of a peaceful resolution includes compromise, but legislating against the ideals of its founding clearly is not going to happen.

by canadian gal 2009-06-19 03:35PM | 0 recs
my god.

that's gibberish.

i must proof my comments better. please let me know if you need clarification on any points.

by canadian gal 2009-06-19 03:38PM | 0 recs
I hear you

I think I got your points.

Still, I think Bibi is trying to state a little more then you are with point one, when I hear the "Historic Jewish State" arguement put forward.

I think if we just sent You and Stummerson over there, and got rid of Bibi, we could move things along!

by WashStateBlue 2009-06-19 04:01PM | 0 recs


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