Archive for the ‘Israel’ Category


An edited version of this article appeared first at LobeLog.

They were dueling op-eds, one in the New York Times and the other in the Jewish communal magazine, Tablet. The question being

Nationalistic signs at Salute to Israel Day in New York, July 2006 Photo by Rabih/Public Domain

Nationalistic signs at Salute to Israel Day in New York, July 2006
Photo by Rabih/Public Domain

bandied between them was whether Israel is becoming a theocracy. Not surprisingly, both pieces missed the mark. It’s not theocracy but unbridled nationalism that is the threat in Israel.

The Times piece was authored by Abbas Milani, who heads the Iranian Studies program at Stanford University and Israel Waismel-Manor, a lecturer at Haifa University who is currently a visiting associate professor of Political Science at Stanford. Their thesis is that Iran and Israel are moving in opposite directions on a democratic-theocratic scale, and that they might at some point in the future pass each other. Milani and Waismel-Manor are certainly correct about the strengthening forces of secularism and democracy in Iran, along with a good dose of disillusionment and frustration with the revolutionary, Islamic government that Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini ushered in thirty-five years ago. But on Israel, they miss the mark by a pretty wide margin.

Waismel-Manor and MIlani posit that the thirty seats currently held in Israel’s Knesset by religious parties shows growing religious influence on Israeli policies. But, as Yair Rosenberg at Tablet correctly points out, not all the religious parties have the same attitude about separation of religion and the state. Where Rosenberg, unsurprisingly, goes way off course is his complete eliding of the fact that the threat is not Israel’s tilt toward religion, but it’s increasingly radical shift toward right-wing policies, which are often severely discriminatory and militant. (more…)

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This review was published by Inter Press Service, under the title, “How Israel Sank into the Quagmire of Apartheidgoliath

WASHINGTON, Dec 20 2013 (IPS) - When one writes a book about Israel, one must expect that it will be analysed not for its quality but for its ideological bent.

The critique will generally be based on whether or not the work is “balanced,” which usually means whether the reviewer feels their own point of view was given a fair hearing in the book. On this basis, Max Blumenthal’s new book, “Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel”, was doomed to failure before it was ever published.

But that expectation, which seems so especially prevalent for any book about Israel, is bound to fail because Blumenthal’s book is not an attempt to ask what Israel is. Rather, it is an effort by a journalist to answer the question of why Israel is what it is today.

The bulk of Blumenthal’s research was done simply by being in Israel and talking to the people there. He offers us a series of snapshots that don’t reveal new and hidden facts about the issues that made headlines in Israel, and often beyond, during his four years of research for this book.

Rather, they sum up and coalesce into a picture of an Israel drifting increasingly to the right, descending into fascism and with an opposition that is increasingly being boxed in and weakened. (more…)

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Ami Kaufman at +972 Magazine appropriately trashes the settler propagandist and pseudo-entertainer Orit Arfa in this article. But it is important that people see the “videos” she produced. It is a chronicle of hate. If you watch it be prepared–Arfa can’t even sing on key in much of it, and cannot sing well at any point. The music is childish and if you listen too long it will surely give you a headache. But put up with the assault on your senses and aesthetic sensibilities for long enough to recognize that Kaufman puts it very  well when he writes: “And inshallah, as Orit hopes, the Jews won’t stop. Because the more you do these things, the more the world sees what assholes live here.”

Kaufman’s words refer both to the horrifying trash Arfa produces, with a level of hate, propaganda and insane nationalism that would have made Nazi filmmakers proud, and the militarism, anti-peace activities and basic racism that Arfa promotes. These videos say better than any sensible article ever could just how far some Israelis have fallen into pure fascism. See Kaufman’s piece here.

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The talks between the P5+1 and Iran are stirring up an already bubbling cauldron in the Middle East. The US’ position in the region is going to change in the next few years, though how that change manifests remain to be seen. One thing is certain, and that is that a deal between the United States and Iran is desired by both of those parties and scares the hell out the US’ closest regional allies, Israel and Saudi Arabia. I explore in this week’s column at Souciant.

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This article originally appeared at LobeLog.

Bibi and Kerry

Bibi and Kerry

The trick to finding an agreement between the P5+1 world powers and Iran has become clear: keep Israel and Saudi Arabia out of the room. (But don’t expect them to be happy about it.)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is touring the globe now with his message of doom about an impending Iranian nuclear weapon. “It will be tragic if (Iran) succeeds in avoiding the sanctions,” Netanyahu said in Rome on Tuesday.

That statement comes on the heels of his Meet the Press appearance where he said: “I think the pressure has to be maintained on Iran, even increased on Iran, until it actually stops the nuclear program, that is, dismantles it.” (more…)

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