Backtalk, December 29, 2006

The Trap of Recognizing Israel


Interesting and well put together. But I would like to suggest that it does not withstand analysis. It’s fundamental flaw, as in so many arguments of the type, is in the premise: If you accept the premise that recognizing Israel’s right to exist necessarily means the subjugation of Palestinians, then you can approve the Hamas position. But it means no such thing. There can be two states living in peace and with a degree of prosperity – if both the Palestinians and the Jews and the rest of the world work for it. You would be more constructive to promote that result than to blame the Jews alone. The blame game doesn’t solve problems.

And you have to agree: prettying up Mr. Ahmadinejad’s threat is rather difficult in light of the Holocaust conference he just sponsored.

If you seek peace, reducing inflammatory rhetoric on both sides would be helpful. Failure to do so makes peacemaking harder.

~ Jack

Jonathan Cook replies:

Let’s be precise. I don’t blame the Jews for anything; I blame Israel. The problem with your argument is that you assume Israel wants peace and a Palestinian state alongside it. But what if you are wrong and Israel wants regional hegemony and the destruction of the Palestinians as a nation, as all the evidence suggests? My reasons for taking this view are set out at length in my book. Unfortunately, with the inevitable limitations imposed even by a lengthy article, I can only sketch out the basic themes of the argument. But the important point to note is that no serious peacemaking has ever been conducted by Israel, and cannot be as long as it continues to be an ethnic state demanding privileges for Jews.

Jonathan Cook’s article entitled “The Trap of Recognizing Israel” is nothing but anti-Semitic propaganda. According to Cook, Israel is the only country in the world that does not have the right to exist. Apparently, Pakistan can exist as a Muslim State, India can exist as a Hindu State, France can exist as a French state, but Israel can’t exist because of its Jewish character. If that is not anti-Semitism, it is hard to imagine what is.

Why can’t Israel exist as a Jewish State? The Arabs have dozens of States, but the Jews can’t have even one? It is especially absurd that the Jewish nation should be challenged given that Jewish statehood preceded the emergence of most modern nation-states by thousands of years.

There is nothing wrong with Israel existing as a Jewish State. It is not unusual that one community should be the majority within a nation and seek to maintain that status. In fact, this is true in nearly every country in the world. In addition, societies usually reflect the cultural identity of the majority. Bashing Israel alone for these aspects is an obvious example of bigotry.

The legitimacy of Israel’s existence is not in question, in doubt, or open for debate. It is as legitimate as any other nation. Recognizing Israel is not a “trap”; it is an essential component of the peace process. As long as the Palestinians and their Hamas government refuse to recognize Israel and stay committed to its violent destruction, there can be no peace. The Palestinian government must immediately and unconditionally agree to recognize Israel, now and forever, before any progress can be made.

Furthermore,’s publication of an article advocating the destruction of a sovereign nation makes a complete mockery of its supposed “antiwar” goals.

~ Corey Suydam

Jonathan Cook replies:

I almost wonder whether Corey bothered to read my article, or just the headline. The problem, as I stated, is that certain states do not have the right to exist. All of us can cite a few examples. Does Corey think Nazi Germany had a right to exist, or apartheid South Africa? It is worth remembering that at the time many people did think so, but almost no one does today. Israel need not be a replica of either Nazi Germany or apartheid South Africa to be characterized similarly as an illegitimate state. It has precisely the same racist ideology at the very heart of its identity.

As I have argued endlessly in my articles, and more systematically in my recent book Blood and Religion, Israel is a racist state. Like Nazi Germany, it defines itself in ethnic terms (“Jewish” rather than “Aryan”); it refuses to demarcate its borders and is waging aggressive wars against its neighbors; it oppresses sections of the population it rules over; and it carries out policies of ethnic cleansing. And like apartheid South Africa before it, Israel is separating from and ghettoizing its subject population in the interests of racial purity.

But Corey and others are not prepared to draw the same conclusions they would in the case of either Nazi Germany or apartheid South Africa. That is because they adopt one of two positions when they defend Israel as a Jewish state:

1. either they want Israel to be such a state because they are Zionists and happy with the idea of a racist state for Jews;
2. or they genuinely fear what the consequences of reforming Israel would be for its Jewish population, with which they identify.

It is pointless to argue against the racists who take position 1, but it is worth trying to challenge the view of those who adopt position 2. The reform of Israel as a racist state does not entail the destruction of the Jewish population who live inside it; it simply means the racist regime has to be replaced with a non-racist one. Destroying Nazi Germany did not mean killing Germans, and wiping apartheid South Africa off the map did not require the eradication of whites. The same is true of Israel as a Jewish state.

The fact that apologists like Corey identify more with the concerns and interests of Jews than they do with those of Palestinians is unfortunately the legacy of a popular racism that has always been common in our colonial Western societies.

Who Might Be Shooting at Both Sides?

Well, we know it is in the major oil companies’ interests to have high-priced oil. We know George Bush is looking for any reason to set up permanent bases in Iraq. We know two BRITISH SOLDIERS were found in Basra dressed as Arabs and in possession of explosives. We know the occupation forces would be up against it if the Shias and Sunnis united against them as nearly happened in the first U.S. slaughter at Fallujah where Sadr publicly stood on the side of the Sunni Iraqis. A lot has happened since then to kill off that sentiment. Who blew up the mosque? Muslims?

I think we know who the prime suspects are. Don’t we, George?

~ Brendon Porter

The U.S. itself is one of the principal parties interested in continuing the violence. It plays to U.S. interest to let the warring parties self-destruct while the U.S. secures the prizes of war, oil, etc., for itself. The U.S. could easily be covertly manning and abetting the chaos. The dismantling of Iraq is a principal objective.

~ George J. Palmer

Jon Utley replies:

Yes, this idea is in fact often expressed by many Arabs. Personally I think it is too smart by half. Some neocons during the early occupation may have thought this way, but not most of our government. America’s whole past policy has been that of dealing with any dictator who can deliver oil; occupying the areas ourselves would mean unending chaos and disruptions of shipments, as we now see happening.

Another Civil War Exacerbated

Between 1992 and 1995, Ahmad Shah Massoud smuggled arms to Somalia aboard the national carrier, Ariana Airlines. For this, Massoud was paid ten million dollars by Osama bin Laden. Lest we forget, Massoud was the darling of the Western press and of both the Clinton and Bush administrations.

~ Bruce G. Richardson, author: Afghanistan, Ending the Reign of Soviet Terror

Ivan Eland replies:

And they are probably still being used in the fight!

Thanks for the comment.

The Urge to ‘Surge’


According to Tom Ricks, author of Fiasco, “the urge to surge” is not about rescuing a clearly lost cause in Iraq but about the White House preparing the 2008 election battlefield to share equally with Congress in the responsibility for who lost Iraq. If Congress declines the urge to surge, the White House will attempt to blame them for snatching defeat from the jaws of the White House’s surge to victory. But if the new Congress surges, the matter of political accountability will be muddied and effectively neutralized for the 2008 campaigns.

Tactician Karl Rove’s finger prints are all over this damage control effort to salvage the political viability of diehard pro–Iraq war candidates for the 2008 elections. The surge proposal offers the new Congress a Plutonium 210 flavored Kool-Aid they would be ill-advised to partake. What the electorate wants from Congress is Iraq in the nation’s rear view mirror getting smaller faster. Congress needs to surge the troops coming out of Iraq and to double down on the critical need to begin restoring our much abused and depleted force structure to full readiness.

~ PT Garrett

Previous Backtalk