Archive for October, 2010

Some Odd E-Mails


Dear Friends,

Some of you have received e-mails, seemingly from me, saying that “blog service has been discontinued” for The Third Way. These e-mails have been sent by Feedblitz, not me, and they refer to the blog that used to be housed at the Jewish Voice for Peace web site. Subscriptions to this blog are managed by Feedburner, and they are still live.

I don’t know why Feedblitz is suddenly sending out these notices when the JVP blog hasn’t been live for nearly three years. But as far as I can make out, there is no effect on this blog, so please disregard those notices. I have asked Feedblitz to stop sending them, but it’s not in my hands.

Thanks, as always, for following my work.

Mitchell Plitnick

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The following was just released by Gush Shalom. Since it doesn’t seem to be on the web yet, I decided to post it here:

Press Release 10/19/2010

Dutch police raided the offices of a company leasing cranes for building the West Bank Separation Fence and settlements. Company executives, including the Israeli Doron Livnat, may face trial for violating International Law. Dutch government warned the Riwal Company two years ago not to engage in construction in the Occupied Trritories. Gush Shalom: another warning sign of the abyss of international isolation into which the Government of Israel leads us

A few days ago, the Dutch police’s National Crime Squad raided the offices of the Riwal Holding Group in the city of Dordrecht, confiscating computers documents relating to the leasing of cranes owned by the the company’s Israeli branch for the construction of the “Separation Wall” and of settlements in the Occupied Territories. Police findings have been passed on to the Dutch State Prosecution, which should decide whether or not to prosecute the corporate executives – including the Israeli businessman Doron Livnat – on charges of violating International Law.

The affair started with the 2004 ruling by the International Court in The Hague, which determined that construction of the “Separation Wall” within the West Bank territory constituted a violation of International Law, and that if Israel wants to build a border fence to prevent infiltration into its territory it should have been placed on the border, i.e. on the  Green Line. Accordingly, the International Court judges called for upon all UN member states and Geneva Convention signatories not to cooperate with erection of the Wall and to prevent their citizens from any such cooperation.
(more…)

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Israeli Blogger Yaacov Lozowick sent a challenge over Twitter on Sunday to my arguments about Israel’s demand for recognition, not merely of its sovereignty, but as a Jewish state. He states: “the problem with your article, Mitchell, is that the facts are all backwards. Will you retract?”

In an e-mail he sent me, he clarifies: “Contrary to what you write, indeed, contrary to your entire thesis, the demand was first inserted into the negotiations in July 2001… by a group of lefties: Amos Oz, A.B.Yehoshua, David Grossman and others like them.”

Yossi Beilin (l) and Yasser Abed Rabbo (r)

I did not immediately recognize the statement he referred to. My initial thought was that, in any case, what several writers of literature said, however politically active they may be, really didn’t mean much, but I was curious about what he was referring to. So I asked him for citation.

Though Yaacov was not able, due to constraints on his time, to clarify the source, I realized shortly that what he referred to was a Joint Statement organized by Yossi Beilin and Yasser Abbed-Rabbo in July 2001. I had, actually, referred to this statement many times in public talks I’ve given as an example of the extent to which the two-state solution was a real possibility. This project eventually led to the Geneva Initiative.

But, I had to confess, it had been some years since I actually read the text of the statement. Was there something there which indicates that a demand for recognition of Israel as a Jewish state was actually put forward by Beilin and his cohorts? (more…)

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My latest piece at Meretz USA looks at the shameless list the ADL has put out of its “Top 10 Anti-Israel Groups.” Incredibly, ADL puts Jewish Voice for Peace on that list (and a few others equally absurd). When looking at who is harming both Israel and the Jewish people, I suggest Abe Foxman look in the mirror.

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Israel has, in the past, conducted some reasonably credible investigations of itself. Sure, there is always an issue of credibility when a country investigates itself, and on many, maybe most, occasions (most recently, the investigations Israel launched into its own conduct in Operation Cast Lead) such investigations have been whitewashes designed to cover up, rather than seriously examine, Israeli misdeeds.

Still, there have been some counter-examples, such as the Kahan Commission, which investigated the Lebanon War and Sabra-Shatilla massacre of 1982-83 and the Or Commission which investigated the killings of 12 Palestinian citizens of Israel and one other Palestinian at the beginning of the second intifada. Both of these commissions faced obstacles (especially Or), and many were less than satisfied with their results (again, especially Or), but rare indeed is it that any country investigates itself as honestly as these two commissions did. That’s back-handed praise for Israel; it is more illustrative of how the United States in particular (since it has the most to investigate by far) does so poorly in this regard.

So I’m willing to give an Israeli commission a chance if it is not an obvious sham. The Turkel Commission, investigating the killing of nine people aboard the Mavi Marmara at the end of May, did not begin as an obvious sham. There was plenty of reason for skepticism (not the least of which is the consistency with which Israel has turned to such shams with regard to Gaza), but some seriousness was possible.

That benefit of the doubt has not been whittled away, but blown out of the water.

Several human rights groups were called to testify before the commission. But given the obvious hostility toward them expressed by the commission, the slim chance that the Turkel Commission would be at all serious is now down to none.

The Jerusalem Post reported on the testimony: (more…)

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OK, I have officially had it, and am throwing in the towel.

Followers of my work are aware that, for the past 20-plus months, I have been either hopeful or trying to maintain hope in the Obama Administration’s efforts toward a two-state solution. No doubt, it has been getting progressively tougher, and many colleagues who were once with me in this endeavor have jumped ship long since.

Make room on the lifeboat, because I’m jumping in.

A few events this week produced the final straws. First came word of the generous package the United States was offering Israel in order to extend a largely meaningless “moratorium” on settlement construction. Actually, “generous” is a misleading term, which vastly understates the case.

The US offered to unconditionally surrender one of its key tools – its veto in the UN Security Council – by guaranteeing it would not refrain from vetoing any resolution for one year; to support an Israeli military presence in the Jordan Valley after a peace deal is arranged; and a number of other items that are high on Israel’s agenda.

This is akin to paying ten thousand dollars for a pack of bubble gum. Stale bubble gum.

Every piece in the proposed package is one that Israel wants very much. That Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has not yet accepted the package indicates two things. One is that Bibi can easily live with the direct talks breaking down. And the second is that he expects to get all or most of this package without having to pay even this meager price for it, albeit perhaps further down the road.

Bibi is probably right on both counts. (more…)

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My latest piece for the Meretz USA blog can be read by clicking here. I examine the deeper implications of the appalling video that some IDF soldiers seemed to think was just hilarious when they posted it in YouTube.

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