In the aftermath of the horrific terrorist attacks in Paris last week, Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon remarked on the tension between security and liberty. “In the United States until the events of September 11, the balance between security and human rights favored human rights on the issue, for example of eavesdropping on potential terrorists,” he said. “In France and other countries in Europe, [a shift toward security] hasn’t yet happened. Countries fighting terrorism have no alternative in this other than shifting in the direction of security. I assume that we will see a large number of steps [to carry out] inspections: passport inspections, inspections at the entrance to public places.”
As in the U.S. this dichotomy between security and human rights is at the very heart of the debate in Israel. ”We believe not only are these not contradictory, but that human rights provides security,” said Hagai El-Ad, the Executive Director of B’Tselem, Israel’s leading human rights groups monitoring its occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, on a recent press call. “Indeed, we think that human rights are the reasons for which we have security, they are why people have a society that must be protected. So one has to wonder what kind of society do we end up with (in Ya’alon’s framework) and would that society be worth defending if you take Ya’alon’s idea to extremes. I hope that idea will work differently in France. Time will tell.”
The attempt to resolve the ongoing, albeit highly uneven, exchange of fire between Israel and Gaza has now reached the United Nations Security Council (UNSC). The draft proposal, initially pushed by the United Kingdom, France, and Germany, bears many of the same hallmarks as the most recent Egyptian ceasefire proposal. The United States came late to the game, but at least so far, it appears supportive of the idea. It remains to be seen how this will play out as the proposed resolution nears Security Council consideration.
The goals of the West are clear. One, resolve the current violence. Two, remove the difficult blight of the assault on Gaza, which is a much more powerful motivator for people to join pro-Palestinian protests than the more banal occupation of the West Bank. And three, bring the Gaza Strip back under the control of the Palestinian Authority (PA). Read more at LobeLog.
The big news coming out of the EU Parliamentary elections this past weekend was the gains the right wing made, and these were very real and important. But what we’re really seeing is a response to the eurozone which is not working for way too many in Europe. The right, in most countries, was the side that offered some sort of alternative. Greece demonstrated, however, that there is a real opening for a leftist party that is going to offer opposition to big European capital interests. I explore in Souciant today.
The Obama Administration has never had the best relationship with Israel. Benjamin Netanyahu has never hidden his disdain for Barack Obama, and worked for his defeat in 2012. But the level of invective between the US and Israel in recent days is quite unprecedented.
No doubt, a lot of this has to do with Netanyahu’s inability to chart a course for Israel that includes resolution of any of its conflicts–either diplomatically as the center-left would prefer or by massive exercise of force, as the right favors. Instead, he has chosen a path of perpetual conflict, which has not sat well in Washington and Brussels, where the past decade has whetted their appetites to turn attention elsewhere and, most of all, to extricate themselves from the spreading conflicts and increasingly hostile politics in the Middle East.
But a good deal also is due to an apparent determination on the parts of Obama and John Kerry to change the way the US pursues its agenda in the Mideast. Despite the hysteria of those, such as Abe Foxman, Malcolm Hoenlein, David Harris and Netanyahu himself, who prefer to see Israel in perpetual conflict, the US is not about to abandon Israel, nor its new BFF, Saudi Arabia. But Obama’s opponent in ’12, Mitt Romney, actually laid out the issue very well. When he describes how he would decide on US foreign policy in the Mideast, he said his first step would be to phone his friend, Netanyahu. That’s actually how it has worked for some time, and Obama is trying to change that, though the odds are against his success. I explore in Souciant.
Both opposition to and support of Barack Obama’s proposal to bomb Syria have been focusing on a chemical weapons attack that killed some 1400 people while pushing to the background a civil war that has killed 100,000. The spiraling situation in Syria and the growing callousness of the discourse around it, in the West and elsewhere is long on what should not be done but tragically bereft of what should be done. I try to change that in my piece this week in Souciant.
I continue to believe that Obama correctly does not want to escalate US involvement in Syria. But the geo-politics are robbing him of options very quickly. I explore at LobeLog.
Israel is acting like any small, but relatively powerful country would act when it feels afraid and has blanket and unqualified protection for any of its acts from the world’s only superpower. It is the United States that is acting abnormally and entrenching this vexing conflict. I elaborate at Souciant today.