The United States. Must step aside. From Arab-Israeli ‘peacemaking’. It is that simple.
For 50 years now, Washington has dominated all the efforts that the world’s nations have undertaken in their search for a just and lasting resolution to the many strands of the Israeli-Arab conflict. That U.S. move to dominate the peace diplomacy was launched in late 1973 by Henry Kissinger, who uniquely combined the roles of Secretary of State and National Security Advisor. In the aftermath of the October 1973 war, Kissinger brusquely elbowed aside the Soviet Union, which had hoped to “co-lead” the post-war diplomacy.
From December 1973 until today, the United States has dominated all Arab-Israeli diplomacy, with the level of that U.S. domination rising to a situation of unabashed hegemony after the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union. And as I’ve written elsewhere, in 2005 Pres. George W. Bush even managed to subordinate the United Nations (and the EU, and a then-very-weak Russia) to Washington’s “leadership” of the diplomacy through an extraordinary arrangement called the “Middle East Quad.”
The results, for citizens of all the Arab states with the possible, partial exception of Egypt, have been disastrous. But the impact on the Palestinians has been particularly dire. They have seen Israeli settlers grabbing huge new areas of Palestinian land in the West Bank. They have seen the lives of all the Palestinians still resident in their historic homeland tightly constrained by Israel. They’ve seen Israeli forces and their allies commit unspeakable atrocities in the Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon. They’ve seen their freedom to worship in their holy places in Jerusalem, Hebron, and elsewhere attacked.
And what has Washington done? Washington has continued to shovel massive sums of money and soaring mountains of arms into Israel. It has protected Israel from any international accountability by using its veto at the U.N. Security Council. It has given formal recognition to Israel’s (quite illegal) annexation of Greater East Jerusalem and of Syria’s Golan. It has demonized all who tried to resist Israel’s continued violence and encroachments by calling them terrorists and wielding tough sanctions against them.
And now, in Gaza City and the surrounding Gaza Strip—and also in the West Bank—we see the culmination of all that fervent, intensely one-sided support that successive U.S. presidents and their officials, and the U.S. Congress, have lavished on Israel over the past 50 years.
Continue reading “The United States. Must step aside. From Arab-Israeli ‘peacemaking’.”
I recently completed my essay on this topic, which you can read in full here. Since that space on Globalities does not allow for comments or reactions, I invite you to post your reactions to it into the Comments box here:
Last Friday, I set out (with a slight excess of ambition) to compile ten theses that might help guide analysts and policymakers through the uncharted waters of the coming weeks of the Gaza-Israel crisis. As it happened, I was able only to complete the first six of these, which can be read here. I attempted a first draft of Thesis 7, but had to stop midway through. I have now rethought and redrafted Thesis 7 and added in Theses 8-10, as shown below. (You can also read the whole unified list of ten theses, here.)
7. Israel’s decisionmaking is mired in chaos
I wrote some about the crisis of Israel’s leadership decisionmaking early last week (1, 2.) Since then, a lot more evidence has emerged about the depth and many different dimensions of this crisis, including in the NYT, in Haaretz, and elsewhere. What all these accounts point to is the following:
Continue reading “Gaza’s agony: Theses 7-10”
1. The over-arching priority right now is to get a complete, theater-wide ceasefire between Israel and Gaza
This complete ceasefire is quite distinct from a “humanitarian pause”, such as might be used merely to massage some of the pain the Gaza Palestinian are currently suffering, just a little, at some points, for a limited period of time. No! The ceasefire needs to be complete, reciprocal (as between Israel and Hamas-in-Gaza), and monitored by a trusted international body.
Should we also call for a similar ceasefire in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, along the Lebanon border, and between Israel and Syria? Probably so. But given the extreme situation of the Palestinians in Gaza, a ceasefire on that front should be the priority.
2. The UN’s long-existing body UNTSO should monitor the Gaza ceasefire
Continue reading “Gaza’s agony: Ten theses”
In yesterday’s essay here on Globalities, I started to dig through the many layers of the continuing Gaza-Israel crisis and concluded that now and for the foreseeable future, “Just continuing to bomb Gaza from the air seems to be something that Israelis and the U.S. political leadership can all agree on… ” Once those airborne weapons fall silent, I noted, two things would happen:
- The day of intense political/military reckoning that PM Netanyahu has for so long feared will very speedily come due….
- The differences of interest between the leaders of Israel and the United States will become much more evident. (And this will not be helpful for Biden in his presidential bid next year.)
My analysis of Israel’s gathering governance crisis was based to a large extent on the excellent reporting that Amos Harel has been contributing to Haaretz over these past few days. (I should have credited him for that.) Today, he and other Haaretz writers have additional far-reaching pieces about the crisis. And in the New York Times, reporter Isabel Kershner writes about the sense of unease, and of distrust in their government, having grown so great among Israelis that PM Netanyahu, his defense minister Yoav Gallant, and the IDF chief of staff had to publicly issue,
Continue reading “Israel’s leadership crisis worsening”
This terrible conflict, which since October 7 has killed 1,400 Israelis and more than 5,000 Gaza Palestinians and in which the United States is very deeply entangled, has many different layers—from the anguish of individual families in Gaza as they continually see their loved ones killed or maimed, and their children terrified… right through to the stability of the global system itself.
At this point in history, these layers are all pancaked in on each other. Perhaps like those many high-rise apartment buildings in Gaza that have been pancaked by massive U.S.-made and Israeli-delivered bombs.
My aim in this essay is to start digging through the different layers of the broadening geopolitics of the Gaza-Israel crisis. Here goes.
Continue reading “The many layers of the Gaza-Israel conflict”
Since I posted this piece yesterday, I’ve had a couple of further thoughts, as follows:
The first is that I think we should all call on Hamas to release all the Israeli noncombatants it is holding, immediately or as soon as as is physically possible. International law, religion, and basic morals would all indicate they should do this.
Continue reading “Two addenda on Gaza-Israel”
Pres. George H.W. Bush opens the 1991 Madrid Middle East Peace Conference
Last Thursday, Israel’s former ambassador to Washington Itamar Rabinovitch told a Council on Foreign Relations audience that he judged the then-current U.S.-Israeli focus on winning a Saudi-Israeli accord was badly conceived, inasmuch as it tried to bypass or paper over the Palestinian question. He likened the attitudes of Israeli and U.S. leaders to those of passengers on the Titanic, as they blithely sailed toward the large iceberg of the Palestinian issue that still lay very close to them…
36 hours later Hamas launched its Operation “Al-Aqsa Flood.”
That far-reaching and technically complex breakout took nearly all Israelis by surprise, and revealed the deep strategic complacency and tactical chaos into which Israel’s long-famed security system had fallen.
In most of Western discourse, the early reactions to what happened October 7 followed these tracks:
- Stunned surprise and horror at images of the suffering of Israeli civilians
- Weirdly racist claims that “Hamas could never have been as smart as to organize something like this… So it must have been organized by Iran“
- Horror at and excoriation of Hamas’s actions, portrayed as so frequently as “targeting” Israeli civilians
- Urgent calls for Israel to respond very forcefully indeed to Hamas, with little or no recognition that any such response would involve inflicting great suffering on Palestinian civilians—and also, potentially, on some of the dozens of Israelis now held captive within Gaza
- Repeated avowals that Hamas “must be punished”, accompanied by some unsubstantiated claims that the violence it showed during the October 7 breakout was “akin to that of the Islamic State.” (It wasn’t.)
- A general reluctance or refusal to link the October 7 breakout to the great suffering that Israelis have inflicted on Palestinians in Gaza, the West Bank (including East Jerusalem), Lebanon, and elsewhere for many decades now.
Who are Hamas?
In those Western media accounts, Hamas has nearly always been portrayed as intrinsically violent, deeply anti-Semitic, and unalterably opposed to the existence of Israel. But most of these descriptions are written by people who have never met, interviewed, or interacted with Hamas leaders. I have—periodically throughout the years between 1989 and roughly 2012. (You can find accounts of some of these interviews in The Nation, Boston Review, and elsewhere. E.g., here.)
Here is my current assessment of their positions and capabilities.
Continue reading “So, about Hamas”
Above: Pres. Putin poses with some of the African leaders who attended the Russia-African summit he hosted this past week
Biden administration officials and their supporters have long claimed that the conflict in Ukraine is a clear-cut contest between “democracy” and “authoritarianism” that affects the whole world… and that on that basis the countries of the Global South should line up to support NATO’s campaign against Russia. One big recent version of this argument has been the claim that Russia’s refusal to renew the agreement allowing Ukraine to export grain via the Black Sea is raising grain prices and preventing much-needed foodstuffs from reaching hunger-struck countries in Africa…
But the campaign to win global support for NATO’s anti-Russia crusade has never been very successful. Recall that in the three votes Washington initiated at the UN last year to denounce Russia’s actions inside Ukraine (e.g., 1, 2), three dozen countries including global behemoths China, India, and three dozen other countries failed to support the “Yes” vote.
And just this past week, the proceedings of key gatherings held in South Africa and Moscow have underscored the extent to which the “West” has lost the support of that large majority of humanity that lives in the formerly colonized countries of the Global South. (If indeed, it ever had it… Perhaps a better description of what’s been happening in recent months is that the West is now revealing itself as incapable of imposing its will on the countries of the Global South. More on this, later…)
So what happened at these two recent gatherings?
Continue reading “Global South resists Washington’s anti-Russia campaign”
The above image shows four major heat-domes over the northern hemisphere this week. Credit @WeatherProf via Umair Haque
The climate crisis we’re living through this year is real. It’s global. And it’s just a foretaste of what humankind will see over the years ahead if the leaders of our most powerful governments don’t find a way, SOON, to work together to address it.
The impact of this crisis (actual, and forecast) puts the conflict in Ukraine that has dominated the attention of Western media for so long now into a much more realistic and sobering perspective. From a global point of view, the conflict in Ukraine is yet another localized tiff between different factions in that tiny (< 12%) portion of humanity that is of European heritage. And by contrast with the two larger intra-European conflicts of the 20th century, this time around most of the rest of global humanity is actually very little involved. During the two intra-European wars of the 20th century, the global reach of that era’s European empires brought hundreds of millions of non-Europe directly into the hostilities—as combatants, as conscripted labor, or as direct or indirect victims of the conflict.
This time, not nearly as much. This time, quite appropriately, the reaction of the vast majority of non-“Western” governments and peoples to the intra-European conflict in Ukraine is mainly: meh.
It’s not that the Ukraine conflict hasn’t harmed the peoples of the Global South. It has. The main ways it has done so have been:
Continue reading “Climate crisis puts Ukraine war into perspective”