Palestinians as Pawns

Palestinians as Pawns

Trump’s “vision” for Palestine well illustrates that in his eyes (not to mention the eyes of Netanyahu, Kushner, and others), the Palestinians are mere pawns to be manipulated in the service of Israel’s and Trump’s designs.

This can be readily seen in an obscure provision of Trump’s plan, which “contemplates the possibility” that Israel and the future pseudo-state of Palestine could together redraw their boundaries so that nearly a dozen Palestinian towns within Israel, in an area adjacent to the line separating Israel from the West Bank known as the Triangle, would become part of the future pseudo-state. Were that to happen, the residents, who today are Israeli citizens, would lose that status without their consent and become citizens of the new pseudo-state. That would be an injustice.

While Palestinians are at best second-class citizens in Israel, they evidently do not like being ordered about by two entities they distrust: the Israeli government and the Israel-empowered Palestinian Authority, both corrupt and unmindful of individual rights. Netanyahu would no doubt like to see these towns transferred to the future pseudo-state (if there must be one) because that would mean fewer Palestinian Israeli voters and members of parliament. It would be ethnic cleansing by another means.

Read more here.

Trump Lays an Egg: The Israel/Palestine Vision

Trump Lays an Egg: The Israel/Palestine Vision

Trump’s long-dreaded diktat to the Palestinians is now public. (See details here and here if you have the stomach for them.) The so-called plan of the century — the “Vision” — is pretty much what the early reports described, so I have little to add to what I wrote before. (My articles are here, here, and here. You can find more in my book Coming to Palestine.)

Suffice it say here that this “plan” is dead on arrival. The Palestinians will not be bribed by a $50 billion jobs program to give up their hope of full rights, which would never be achieved in Trump’s proposed Palestinian “state,” a  fragmented territory surrounded and border-controlled by Israel. That barely begins to describe how Trump envisions Palestine. Look closely at the map accompanying this article: those red dots represent an unspecified number of “Israeli conclave communities” scattered throughout what would be Palestine. (See this.) It would bear no resemblance to a sovereign country. Israel would annex the Jordan Valley to the east of Palestine and the areas of the exclusively Jewish settlements in the West Bank — all of it territory having been acquired through war, which is illegal under international law. (See the “conceptual maps” here.) Netanyahu calls the term occupied territories a “big lie” because, he says, it is the land “where our patriarchs prayed, our prophets preached and our kings ruled.” But that is the big lie. One has no valid claim to land that others live on because one’s imagined ancestors lived there in ancient times, especially when the most likely descendants of the Israelites and Judahites are today’s Palestinians and most Jews descend from converts.

Under Trump’s Vision, Israel would have unified Jerusalem as its capital (it has it now), although Palestinian would have East Jerusalem as its capital — yeah, that’s incoherent. Of course, Israel would not be required to recognize that Palestinians were robbed of their land in 1948 and 1967. The refugees would gain neither the right of return nor compensation.

To quote the official document: “The State of Israel and the United States do not believe the State of Israel is legally bound to provide the Palestinians with 100 percent of pre-1967 territory (a belief that is consistent with United Nations Security Council Resolution 242 [WRONG!]). This Vision is a fair compromise [sic], and contemplates a Palestinian state that encompasses territory reasonably comparable in size to the territory of the West Bank and Gaza pre-1967.”

But the Palestinians and much of the world believe, with good grounds, exactly what the “State of Israel and the United States do not believe” about the land that Israel conquered by war. The International Court of Justice nearly 20 years ago declared the occupation of the territories and the Jewish settlements illegal.

As for the size of the proposed Palestinian “state,” Yuma Patel of Mondoweiss commented, “While Trump boasted that his plan would promise a contiguous Palestinian state, doubled in size from its current form, the ‘conceptual map’ released by his administration shows a fragmented and dwindling territory, connected by a series of proposed bridges and tunnels.” (Again, look at the “conceptual map.”)

Trump, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and Trump’s shameless team of zealous Jewish nationalist-chauvinists, led by son-in-law Jared Kushner, have conspired to keep the Palestinians under the thumb of the so-called state of the Jewish people. That is intolerable.

As outrageous as Trump’s diktat is for its details, we should not overlook Trump’s presumptuousness in thinking it is his place to come up with a plan to settle the conflict between Palestine and Israel. It is not his place. A settlement is to be negotiated between the parties — without the American and Israel condescension that is always directed at the Palestinians, as though any discussion of their predicament is a favor to them for which they should be eternally grateful. In fact, bona fide negotiations would begin with an Israel apology to the Palestinians for the massive land theft and oppression it has perpetrated over so many decades.

Trump, who is unable even to disguise his contempt for the Palestinians, will be responsible for the tragedy that the future surely holds.

TGIF: The Insidious Wiles of Foreign Influence: Trump, Bin Salman, and Netanyahu

TGIF: The Insidious Wiles of Foreign Influence: Trump, Bin Salman, and Netanyahu

Even if the Saudi monarchy or Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in particular did not murder journalist Jamal Khashoggi, that regime is an especially evil one in both its domestic and international conduct. To see that, one need only consider the horrendous Saudi war against the people of Yemen, which has been backed by the U.S. government since Barack Obama was in office. That war, with its merciless killing of defenseless thousands, spread of disease, and inevitable benefits to al-Qaeda, is just the latest in a series Saudi atrocities.

Predictably, Donald Trump wants it all ways. He’s made the obligatory mild critical remarks at the same time as he floated his “theory” that Khashoggi’s death may have been carried out by rogue agents. But since that explanation, along with the “interrogation gone wrong” alternative, is hardly likely, Trump seems to be banking on his warm relationship with and confidence in the credibility of King Salman and the crown prince to reassure us. Actually, Trump has two things on his mind: arms sales and Iran.

He believes, first, that he can make the U.S. economy vibrant by being the country’s arms-trafficker-in-chief. He may throw multibillion-dollar figures around like confetti all day, but he can’t erase the fact that a thriving arms industry is not the key to real and general prosperity. Quite the contrary, its products either destroy lives and wealth or rust. Real prosperity is not captured by aggregate numbers, whether they refer to military contractors’ profits, stock prices, or GDP. Real prosperity means regular people having increasingly easier access to the goods and services they believe will enhance their lives. As long as the laws of physics operate, scarcity — though, thanks to technology and innovation, not its severity — will be with us. So if people are devoting resources to making warplanes, killer drones, and bombs, they and those resources aren’t making things that you and I actually use. Arms-industry fatcats and their workers will make money, but they could be making money in ways that actually serve consumers instead of murderous and oppressive dictators, monarchs, presidents, and prime ministers.

Trump is wrong: this is not about the economy. His position is a dangerous mix of economic illiteracy fueled by nationalism and a hegemonic geopolitical vision according to which Iran is throttled and Israel is enabled, with Saudi Arabia as a beneficiary. Those objectives serve neither most Americans nor the rest of the world’s people.

The old admonition about permanent and entangling alliances still holds. As often as it’s been quoted, it’s worth quoting again — Washington’s Farewell Address, that is. Despite its qualifications, Washington’s essential message is clear:

Against the insidious wiles of foreign influence (I conjure you to believe me, fellow-citizens) the jealousy of a free people ought to be constantly awake, since history and experience prove that foreign influence is one of the most baneful foes of republican government. But that jealousy to be useful must be impartial; else it becomes the instrument of the very influence to be avoided, instead of a defense against it. Excessive partiality for one foreign nation and excessive dislike of another cause those whom they actuate to see danger only on one side, and serve to veil and even second the arts of influence on the other. Real patriots who may resist the intrigues of the favorite are liable to become suspected and odious, while its tools and dupes usurp the applause and confidence of the people, to surrender their interests.

The great rule of conduct for us in regard to foreign nations is in extending our commercial relations, to have with them as little political connection as possible. [Emphasis added.]

While steering clear of alliances is good advice, we may still question why the American regime has, beginning long before Trump, chosen one government for an ally over another. Why, for example, is the U.S. government close to Saudi Arabia rather than Iran? It certainly is not the case that the former is more liberal than the latter. That would be a laughable proposition. To pick a random test, how close are centers of Riyadh and Tehran to the nearest synagogues? I wouldn’t want to live in either place, but if those were my only choices, please give me Tehran.

As for Iran’s allegedly creeping hegemony in the Middle East, check your premises. George W. Bush made Iran influential in Iraq by invading and knocking off Iran’s nemesis Saddam Hussein. (Iraq invaded and waged a long war, using chemical weapons, against Iran in the 1980s — with U.S. help — not vice versa.) Then Bush and Obama brought Iran closer to Syria by their continued war in Iraq, giving birth to the Islamic State, and Obama’s and Hillary Clinton’s declaring open season on Bashar al-Assad after the putative civil war broke out. Iran, no matter what Trump tells you, does not aspire and never has aspired to be a nuclear power. (See Gareth Porter’s Manufactured Crisis: The Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare.) Nor does it aspire to attack the United States or Israel, though it does oppose Israeli oppression of the Palestinians. Iran is not on the march.

On the other hand, Saudi Arabia has been an indispensable party to a great deal of mischief, including mischief involving al-Qaeda — you know, the organization that brought down the Twin Towers — throughout the greater region and the Taliban in Afghanistan. The U.S. friendship with Saudi Arabia has benefitted al-Qaeda and even worse offshoots in Syria.

Thus the demonization of Iran and the glorification of Saudi Arabia, whence Muslim extremism was born, has no rational basis.

And Israel? The self-declared State of the Jewish People (a label rejected by countless Jews worldwide) has forged an alliance with Saudi Arabia for the dual purpose of intimidating Iran and cowing the long-suffering Palestinians. America’s entangling alliance with Israel has amounted to a gross offense against humanity, blackening whatever reputation the United States once might have had as a beacon of freedom, justice, and goodwill. Further, the partnership has endangered Americans by provoking a desire for revenge in those who identify with the Muslim victims of U.S.-Israeli policy.

One final matter: the question of whether the U.S. government should block arms sales to the Saudis. We can say for sure that the government should in no way facilitate the sales. That’s an easy one. But maybe the arms makers need neither material government help nor Trump’s salesmanship to close deals with the House of Saud. In refusing to come down too hard on Saudi Arabia over the Khashoggi disappearance, Trump said, “I will tell you up front, right now they’re spending $110 billion purchasing military equipment. And if we don’t sell to them, they’ll say thank you very much, we’ll buy it from Russia or China.” (On the actual size of the deal, see this.)

Is Trump right that Russian or China might have gotten the deal? I don’t know, but if he is right, it raises interesting questions: did Trump make any side promises to close the deal; if so, what were they? Most likely, any promises have involved things Trump and perhaps Israel would or would not do with respect to Iran and the Palestinians. We deserve answers.

Assuming American arms makers would sell arms to Saudi Arabia and other regimes without government help, we may complicate the matter further by pointing out that those firms are not actually private enterprises, no matter their appearance. Rather, they are creatures of the American state and deserve no respect from supporters of free enterprise. It’s unlikely they would exist in anything like their current form, if at all, were it not for the U.S. government, its captive taxpayers, and its global imperial apparatus, whose personnel rotate regularly between “national security” jobs and lucrative seats on defense contractors’ boards of directors.

The upshot is that these nominally private firms are really state-held, that is, illegitimately held, property and could legitimately be liberated and turned to the production of goods for the consumers. In 1969 Murray Rothbard and Karl Hess wrote provocatively about when an apparently private entity is actually not private and what we might do about it. Some of their solutions are debatable, but Rothbard was surely correct when he wrote: “What we libertarians object to, then, is not government per se but crime, what we object to is unjust or criminal property titles; what we are for is not ‘private’ property per se but just, innocent, non-criminal private property. It is justice vs. injustice, innocence vs. criminality that must be our major libertarian focus.”

The Arms Export Control Act of 1976 (AECA) requires a president to ensure that arms sold to other governments are used for defensive purposes only. Obviously, this act is flouted every day. Imagine if it were applied to Saudi Arabia and Israel! It’s not that I’m a fan of the AECA: a president who wanted to see arms sold to a repressive regime would find ways to give that regime a clean bill of health, and the AECA would have no force in such a case. On the other hand, it has been used to harass exporters of encryption software to people who would use it to protect themselves from their oppressors’ prying eyes.

So what can we do? Our options are limited at this point. But one ought to do whatever one can to sow public hostility toward these “merchants of death”: public shaming, divestment campaigns, and the like. It’s the least we can do. At least let us make a loud noise!

If somebody is going to sell arms to the Saudis and other regimes, we should prefer that it be someone other than Americans because we shouldn’t want to be even remotely associated with the inevitable crimes against humanity that will follow.

TGIF — The Goal Is Freedom — appears Fridays.

What Vox Gets Wrong with Its “11 biggest myths about Israel-Palestine”

What Vox Gets Wrong with Its “11 biggest myths about Israel-Palestine”

I’ve written an article titled “Top Ten Myths about the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict” that is among my all-time most popular, so when I learned that Vox has a feature called “The 11 biggest myths about Israel-Palestine”, I naturally took an interest. Unfortunately, while Vox gets some things right, what it gets wrong it gets badly wrong.

So, to set the record straight, here’s a quick examination of each of Vox’s eleven supposed myths and corrective for its egregious misinformation.

“Myth #1: The conflict is too complex to possibly understand”

Although I don’t include it on my own list of myths, I agree this is indeed false. In fact, I’ve written an article titled “The Simplicity of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict” that starts with, “There is a general perception that the reason the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has continued for so long is because it is extremely complex. Nothing could be further from the truth. Placed in historical context, understanding the root cause of the conflict is simple, and in doing so, the solution becomes apparent.”

Apart from asserting an opinion as an absolute truth, though, the problem here is that Vox and the feature’s editor, Max Fisher, are feigning to understand the conflict and to be able to help you understand it, too. Unfortunately, Vox only serves to muddy the waters by getting absolutely critical points wrong.

“Myth #2: The conflict is all about religion”

Here, again, Vox gets it right. I would go further, though, and say it’s not about religion at all. It’s about the rejection of the Palestinians’ right to self-determination and the consequences of that rejectionism.

“Myth #3: They’ve been fighting for centuries”

Again, Vox gets it right. In fact, my own “Myth #1” is that “Jews and Arabs have always been in conflict in the region.”

“Myth #4: Europe created Israel to apologize for the Holocaust”

Here, Vox is certainly correct to say that the belief that the Holocaust was “the only significant impetus for Israel’s creation” is false.

However, Vox gets it wrong in a major way by falsely asserting that “Israel was not a creation of European colonialism”.

Yes, it most certainly was!

Zionism Was Absolutely a European Colonialist Project!

Vox tries to sustain this falsehood by arguing, “Israel’s creation was in large part the work of Jews who moved to present-day Israel, despite European efforts to stop them, and who dragged the world into accepting them as a state. It is true that in 1917, Britain issued its famous Balfour Declaration promising the Jews a homeland in British-controlled Palestine as long as this did not undercut the rights of non-Jews there. But in the 1930s, as Jewish immigration and Jewish-Arab tension increased, the British tried to sharply limit Jewish immigration into the area, forcing many Jews into refugee camps in Cyprus and elsewhere.”

In other words, Vox is arguing that since the British “tried to sharply limit Jewish immigration into the area”, therefore the Zionist project to reconstitute Palestine into a “Jewish state” was not a European colonialist project.

For starters, this argument overlooks the fact that the Zionist movement originated in Europe. Its leaders were European. And most of the Jewish immigrants who colonized Palestine were also European. It was a European movement promoting a colonization project.

So in what way was it not a European colonization project?

One of the Jewish colonization organizations, incidentally, was literally called the “Palestine Colonization Association” (PICA), established in 1924 by Baron Edmond James de Rothschild, a French member of the famous European banking family.

Plainly, with or without British support, the Zionist project was ipso facto a European colonialist project.

But Vox is also woefully wrong to suggest that European powers by and large “tried to stop” the Zionist project and that the British, too, eventually stepped in to oppose it.

This claim is completely false.

Whereas Vox states that “the British tried to sharply limit Jewish immigration into the area”, a more accurate way to put it is that the British facilitated Jewish immigration to the full extent that it was politically feasible to do so, given the Arab inhabitants’ opposition to the reconstitution of their homeland into a “Jewish state”.

Indeed, while the British government’s support for Jewish immigration was by no means unrestricted, British policy was explicit in its aim of helping the Zionists to increase the proportion of Palestine’s Jewish population!

Moreover, the whole purpose of the League of Nations’ Mandate that the British were operating was to facilitate the Zionist project. While Vox tries to downplay the significance of the Balfour Declaration, the text of it was actually incorporated into the Mandate, which was actually drafted by organized Zionists to serve their interests—as the British themselves observed at the time.

For discussion and documentation of this, see my article “What Was the Balfour Declaration of 1917 and Why Is It Significant?”, as well as my book Exposing a Zionist Hoax.

The British were in essence the hired guns of the Zionists. Not literally hired, but there was a quid pro quo, which, again, the British themselves explained, and which was that the Balfour Declaration was a propaganda documented intended to garner Jewish support for its war effort.

The British also promised the Arabs their independence in support for the war effort, but that was a promise they never intended to keep. Instead, the whole purpose of the Mandate was, to put it another way, to establish an occupation regime in Palestine precisely to prevent the majority Arab inhabitants from exercising their right to self-determination. British officials were quite candid about this, emphasizing that for the Arabs to exercise this right would be contrary to the Balfour policy incorporated into the Mandate to facilitate the Zionist project.

So, you see, Vox’s claim that Israel was not a European colonialist project is a whopper. The effect of this outrageous lie, of course, is to completely misinform Vox readers about the fundamental cause of the conflict.

No, the UN Did Not Create Israel!

Next, to the same end, Vox tells another whopper: “The United Nations did come around to creating a Jewish state with its 1947 plan for partitioning Palestine”.

No, no, no, no, NO!

That is absolutely false!

What Vox is referring to is UN General Assembly Resolution 181, which contrary to popular myth, neither partitioned Palestine nor conferred any legal authority to the Zionists for the unilateral declaration of the existence of Israel on May 14, 1948.

This huge lie from Vox once again serves to misinform readers fundamentally about the cause of the conflict by leaving them falsely to believe that Israel was established through some kind of legitimate political process in 1947. It was not.

For more on that, read my article “The Myth of the UN Creation of Israel”.

On the contrary, Israel was established in 1948 through violence and the ethnic cleansing of most of the Arab population from their homes in Palestine.

For more on that, read my essay “Benny Morris’s Untenable Denial of the Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine”, also available as an e-book here.

“Myth #5: Palestinians/Israelis aren’t a real nationality”

Here, Vox makes the appropriate point that “the world is organized on an idea called national self-determination, which says people are allowed to determine their own national identity and then organize politically around it. Israelis and Palestinians clearly each see themselves as holding a strong national identity, so the world should respect that.”

In his hoax book “What Justice Demands”, Elan Journo claims that the Palestinian national movement never existed until the 1960s. I debunk that nonsense in Exposing a Zionist Hoax. The point Vox is making here, in addition to pointing out that “Palestinians began developing a distinct national identity in the early 1800s”, also suffices to do so.

The problem is that Vox is implying that the establishment of Israel was nothing more than an exercise of the Jews’ right to self-determination. As we’ve already seen, that is totally false.

“Myth #6: Most Israelis and Palestinians hate everyone on the other side”

The point Vox makes here is that the routine violence we see between Israelis and Palestinians “does not mean that Israelis and Palestinians broadly hate one another or are racist against one another”.

And this is correct.

That’s true going back to the Mandate. Another claim Journo makes in his hoax book is that the Arab violence against Jews during this time was due to their inherent anti-Semitism. In fact, the British observed that until the Zionist project began, Jews and Arabs had gotten along as neighbors in Palestine. They observed how, during the implementation of that project, in colonies where Jewish National Fund (JNF) racist land policies didn’t apply, Jews and Arabs were friendly with each other. Their inquiries into the root causes of the violent outbreaks concluded that there was no inherent anti-Semitism among Arabs, but that they were frustrated about Britain’s broken promise to recognize their independence and the knowledge that the Zionists and their British benefactors aimed to deny them their rights.

The British attitude about that was reflected in how they described Arabs who were willing to collaborate with their occupation regime as “moderates”, while Arabs who demanded that Britain respect their right to self-determination were dubbed “extremists”.

For details and documentation, again see Exposing a Zionist Hoax.

“Myth #7: The US could force Israel to end the conflict if it wanted”

Here, Vox argues that if the US ended its support for Israel and instead “used its influence to bring the conflict to an end”, the conflict would not end “overnight”.

The “overnight” renders that argument a meaningless strawman. But Vox goes even further by absurdly claiming that the US’s support for Israel does not make it “the de facto sponsor of the conflict”.

Well, yes, it does.

I demonstrate that incontrovertibly at great length and in extraordinarily well-documented detail in my book Obstacle to Peace: The US Role in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. (Don’t take my word for it; Noam Chomsky has described it as a “carefully documented and highly informative study of how Washington has joined Israel in undermining the efforts to achieve a peaceful political settlement of the Israel-Palestine conflict”.)

Vox tries to sustain this absurd assertion by arguing that “Israel was already engaged in the conflict before it enjoyed so much US support”.

But this is a logical fallacy. The syllogism being employed here is that since the conflict already existed before the US provided Israel with the level of support it does today, therefore this US support does not contribute to perpetuating the conflict. It’s a non sequitur. The conclusion does not follow from the premise.

Next, Vox delves even deeper into absurdity by arguing that US support for Israel doesn’t contribute to the conflict because the US and Israel “bicker frequently”.

Once again, the syllogism presented is a non sequitur.

Vox acknowledges that “the US does provide Israel with an awful lot of military, financial, and diplomatic support”, but persists in its preposterous denial by thirdly arguing that this support “does not buy much real leverage on Israel-Palestine conflict issues.”

But that is just plain nonsense. Ridiculous sophomoric nonsense. And it’s made all the more ridiculous by the fact that Vox here links to another Vox article that talks all about how much leverage and influence the US could have by eliminating or even just reducing aid to Israel, but how consecutive US administrations are just totally unwilling to do so!

It’s laughable!

“Fourth,” Vox continues, “when the US has overtly pressured Israel on the conflict, as Obama did during his first term, Israel’s response has often been to defy the US by doing the opposite of what is asked.”

But what is Vox even talking about when it says that the Obama administration “overtly pressured Israel on the conflict”?

Well, Vox doesn’t say, but I can tell you what they are referring to. They are talking about how the Obama administration asked the Netanyahu government in Israel to freeze its expansion of illegally constructed Jewish settlements in the West Bank, the Netanyahu government effectively said “No”, and the Obama administration effectively said “Okay” and proceeded to shower even more support on Israel, including vetoing an uncontroversial UN Security Council Resolution condemning Israel’s illegal settlement regime.

That’s the evidence Vox is presenting to support its argument that the US just can’t do anything about it, has no leverage, and isn’t contributing to the conflict by showering Israel with military, financial, and diplomatic support.

It’s downright idiotic!

But Vox isn’t done with its idiocy yet. It proceeds by arguing that this support is not intended to support “Israel’s role in the conflict”, but to “nudge the Israelis to the negotiating table”.

But it’s not even a question of intent. The US militarily, financially, and diplomatically ipso facto supports Israel’s crimes against the Palestinians. Therefore the US is ipso facto a “sponsor” of the conflict.

The whoppers just keep getting bigger as Vox next asserts that to nudge them to the table “is the same reason the US gives heavy financial and political support to the Palestinian Authority [PA].”


Wrong, wrong, wrong!

First of all, the US has given the PA about $216 million on average annually since 1994. Israel, on the other hand, has receives more than $3 billion annually just in military aid.

Second, the purpose of the US aid to the PA is to enable the PA to fulfil the function for which it was created under the Oslo Accords, which is to serve as Israel’s collaborator in enforcing its occupation regime. (More details on that, also, in Obstacle to Peace.)

Next, Vox states, “There is a valid case to be made that the high level of American support for Israel does, to some extent, enable its policies in the conflict.”

But there is also a valid case to be made, of course, that the high level of US support for Israel to a very large extent enables Israel’s criminal policies.

Finally, Vox argues that there’s also a “valid” case to be made that “withdrawing American support would make Israelis and their leaders feel more threatened and isolated, thus empowering anti-peace politics and making peace that much less likely.”

But this just makes no sense. By “anti-peace politics”, Vox means the politics of Netanyahu and the Israeli right (which we can learn by clicking a link Vox provides here that says as much). So, how, exactly, does unconditionally giving more than $3 billion in annual military aid to the Netanyahu regime in Israel not empower anti-peace politics?!

Vox at this point is just insulting the intelligence of its readers.

It concludes by reiterating its basic claim that “it is not the case that American support for Israel is so overwhelmingly decisive that switching it off would end the conflict.”

Not “overnight”, at least. But it would certainly be a step in the right direction.

Simply stated, the status quo of Israel’s occupation regime could not be sustained without the US’s military, financial, and diplomatic support.

Just read my book Obstacle to Peace. You’ll see what I’m talking about. I also show in it how the media—like this Vox feature—serve to manufacture consent for the US government’s policy of supporting Israel’s crimes against the Palestinians by systematically misinforming the public about the true nature of the conflict.

“Myth #8: A Palestinian Gandhi could bring peace”

Here, Vox addresses the “popular view among Americans that Palestinians have rejected nonviolent resistance, and that if only they took up the lessons of nonviolent Indian independence leader Mohandas Gandhi, then that would bring the conflict to an end.”

The point made is that, actually, nonviolent resistance has long been tried by Palestinians, but that the outcome has always been that “they’re put down by Israeli security forces, or because they lose momentum against the overwhelming force of the occupation itself.”

Which is correct.

“Myth #9: Things are basically peaceful during periods of relative calm”

This is an absurdity, and Vox is right to say it is false, but it leaves me wondering who the heck Vox has in mind when it suggests that there are people who actually believe that, outside of periods of escalated violence, the conflict is not “destroying lives and communities, and still scarring these two societies every day.”

Perhaps such people exist. I don’t recall ever having heard of one, much less having met or spoken to anyone holding that view.

“Myth #10: Israel is explicitly seeking Palestinians’ total destruction”

Here once again Vox simply manufactures a strawman to beat down rather than addressing any real misconception. The supposed “myth” Vox is challenging here is that “all Israelis” want the Palestinians to suffer “under a suffocating blockade in Gaza and military occupation in the West Bank”.

But who has ever claimed that there are no Israelis who oppose their government’s criminal policies?

This is just more sophomoric intellectual flatulation.

Worse than that, though, Vox here once again simply misinforms its readers by going further and arguing that the Israeli government itself has no “nefarious secret plan” to oppress the Palestinians.

To support this assertion, Vox offers the following: “Take, as a micro example, Israel’s approach to Gaza since Hamas took over in 2006. Israel has invaded or launched extended bombing campaigns in Gaza every few years; this costs many Israeli lives, in addition to the much higher Palestinian death toll, and it never actually solves the underlying problems.”

Yet Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s senior adviser Dov Weissglass characterized the purpose of Israel’s illegal blockade of Gaza by saying, “It’s like an appointment with a dietician. The Palestinians will get a lot thinner, but won’t die.”

“Israeli officials have confirmed to Embassy officials on multiple occasions”, a 2008 State Department cable to US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice informed, “that they intend to keep the Gazan economy functioning at the lowest level possible consistent with avoiding a humanitarian crisis.”

The cable reiterated, “As part of their overall embargo plan against Gaza, Israeli officials have confirmed to econoffs [US embassy economic officers] on multiple occasions that they intend to keep the Gazan economy on the brink of collapse without quite pushing it over the edge”.

So much for Vox’s absurd denial that the Israeli government’s nefarious plan is to deliberately oppress the entire civilian population of Gaza!

Next Vox argues that the Israel government would not have signed the Oslo Accords if their intent was to sustain the status quo of Israeli occupation, and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert would not have “offered the Palestinians a two-state peace deal” in 2008.

But this simply overlooks that the whole purpose of the Oslo Accords to sustain the Israeli occupation!

That is why the Palestinian Authority was established under the Accords, for example.

The PA’s purpose, in the words of former Israeli Foreign Minister Shlomo Ben-Ami, was to serve as “Israel’s collaborator” in enforcing Israel’s occupation regime. As former Knesset member Natan Sharansky explained in 2008, “the idea of Oslo was to find a strong dictator to … keep the Palestinians under control.” Hebrew University professor Dr. Israel Shahak explained that the PA’s role was to serve as “Israel’s Enforcer”.

As for Olmert’s supposed “offer” in 2008, here’s an excerpt from my book Obstacle to Peace:

“Olmert initially proposed in August that Israel would annex 6 percent of the West Bank with a 5.5 percent land swap in which Israel would keep the good land it wanted and in exchange give the Palestinians desert territory next to the Gaza Strip. By December, Olmert’s proposal was slightly revised to include Israeli annexation of 6.3 percent of the West Bank corresponding largely with the route of the separation wall and a 5.8 percent swap for land in the Judean Desert. Moreover, illustrating the lack of seriousness with which Olmert’s proposal was made, a key aspect was its inclusion of the precondition that the PA must oust Hamas and regain control of Gaza. ‘There is going to be no agreement, period,’ an Israeli official explained to Haaretz. Olmert was merely concerned with establishing his legacy. Abbas’s spokesman appropriately called Olmert’s proposal a ‘waste of time’ and reiterated the PA’s adherence to the international consensus on a two-state solution: complete Israeli withdrawal and a Palestinian state along the pre-June 1967 boundaries, with East Jerusalem as its capital.”

In other words, Olmert wasn’t offering anything to the Palestinians. The amount of concessions Olmert was “offering” were negative. Olmert did not make an “offer” so much as issue a demand that the Palestinians cede even more of their land to Israel.

The fact that Vox takes the so-called “peace process” and such Israeli “offers” so seriously is exactly why its supposed “myth”-busting article cannot be taken seriously.

Myth #11: Everyone knows what a peace deal would look like

The myth challenged here is “that everyone broadly agrees on the terms of a peace deal”. Vox is correct to say that this is false.

Unfortunately, Vox badly mangles the reasons why that is false.

The real reason this is false is because the entire so-called “peace process” is the means by which the US and Israel have long blocked implementation of the two-state solution.

Yet Vox confuses the goal of the “peace process” with the two-state solution, in favor of which there is indeed otherwise a strong international consensus.

For example, Vox treats the status of Jersualem as controversial, characterizing it as disputed territory despite it being a completely uncontroversial point of fact under international law that East Jerusalem, along with the rest of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, is “occupied Palestinian territory”.

Vox notes that Israel in 1967 undertook measures to annex East Jerusalem but declines to inform its readers that Israel’s annexation measures are illegal, null and void under international law, as confirmed time and again by over by seventeen UN Security Council resolutions, as well as the 2004 Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

The second issue Vox addresses is the problem of the five million Palestinians who are today refugees as a consequence of the Zionists’ ethnic cleansing of Palestine in 1948. Here’s how Vox treats this one: “Palestinians frequently ask for what they call the ‘right of return’: permission to return to their land and live with full rights.”

So, as Vox characterizes the issue, the right of return is merely something Palestinians claim to have.

That is a malicious lie.

The right of refugees of war to return to their homeland is in fact an internationally recognized universal right, as reflected in UN General Assembly Resolution 194, which resolved “that the refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbors should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return and for loss of or damage to property which, under principles of international law or in equity, should be made good by the Governments or authorities responsible . . . .”

Although today rejecting the Palestinians internationally recognized rights, the US was among the majority of member states that voted in favor of the resolution.


Vox’s feature “The 11 biggest myths about Israel-Palestine” fails miserably in its purported aim of dispelling misconceptions about the conflict.

This is not so surprising given that the person credited as editor on this feature is Max Fisher. For another example of Fisher serving as crude state propagandist, see my article “The ‘Forgotten’ US Shootdown of Iranian Airliner Flight 655

Far from properly informing its readers, Vox is simply fulfilling the typical role of the US media of manufacturing consent for the US’s policy of supporting Israel’s crimes against the Palestinians.

Far from illuminating the problems in order to further progress down the path to a just peace, Vox has simply chosen to be part of the problem by grossly deceiving its readers about the true nature of the conflict.

For a remedy, read Obstacle to Peace: The US Role in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.

This article was originally published at

Palestinians as Pawns

8/8/17 Ramzy Baroud on the Palestinian response to the Jerusalem Attack

Editor-in-chief of the Palestine Chronicle Ramzy Baroud returns to the show to discuss his latest articles, “The Story Behind the Jerusalem Attack: How Trump and Netanyahu Pushed Palestinians into a Corner” and “Power to the People: Why Palestinian Victory in Jerusalem is a Pivotal Moment.” Scott and Baroud begin by discussing the history of the ’67 War, its basis in false propaganda, and how the deliberate plan put in place 50 year ago remains today. Baroud then explains the context of the clash in east Jerusalem, where Israel has used the al-Aqsa clash with Palestinians as an opportunity to permanently control Haram Sharif. According to Baroud if Israel fully controls Haram Sharif then there’s nothing left to fight for in Jerusalem for the Palestinians. Baroud details how this is just the latest act of aggression in Israel’s steady creep into east Jerusalem and how, through continual pressure and coercion, Arabs have now become a minority in east Jerusalem. Finally, Baroud explains why a two-state solution would be an impossible endeavor and how effectively the Israelis have manipulated the language of the occupation to flip the victim narrative on its head.

Ramzy Baroud is a US-Arab journalist and is the editor-in-chief of the Palestine Chronicle. He is the author of“My Father Was A Freedom Fighter: The Untold Story of Gaza.” His latest digital project is “Palestine in Motion,” intended to give a holistic understanding of the lives of Palestinians as told in their own words. Follow Ramzy on Twitter @RamzyBaroud and read his work at

Discussed on the show:

Palestinians as Pawns

7/19/17 Ramzy Baroud on how Israel is suffocating the Palestinians in Gaza

Dr. Ramzy Baroud, author of “My Father Was A Freedom Fighter: The Untold Story of Gaza,” joins Scott to discuss the Israeli suffocation of the Palestinians in Gaza. Baroud explains how the nearly two million Palestinians living in Gaza are managing to subsist despite heavy restrictions on their life, including physical confinement and outright bans on farming and fishing. The suicide rate in Gaza is dramatic and on the rise as people have started to lose hope—and things are only getting worse. Baroud tells the story of a woman with breast cancer whose permit, which she needed to travel in order to receive chemotherapy, has been denied by Israel. She’s one of thousands of Palestinians who have been denied life-saving treatment.

Baroud details how Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has made life for Palestinians that much worse and how the United States torpedoed a chance for a political solution in 2006 when Condoleezza Rice divided a peaceful coalition in Palestine. In doing so, the United States and Israel have made the establishment of a Palestinian state impossible. Israel has subsequently pushed the Gazans to the brink of starvation to break the will of the people and force them into accepting a deal in Israel’s interest. That new, misguided solution is directed by Mohammed Dahlan who is attempting to create a peace deal with the Sisi government in Egypt to open the borders with Palestine. Baroud claims this will create a split between Gaza and Palestine that will ultimately make life worse for the Palestinians. Further, such a deal would no longer demand the lifting of the Israel siege of Gaza and would create the appearance of an inter-Arab affair, removing responsibility from America and Israel. Finally, Baroud shares the books on Palestine he most recommends.

Ramzy Baroud is a US-Arab journalist and is the editor-in-chief of the Palestine Chronicle. His latest digital project is “Palestine in Motion,” intended to give a holistic understanding of the lives of Palestinians as told in their own words. Follow Ramzy on Twitter @RamzyBaroud and read his work at

Discussed on the show:

Ramzy Baroud’s Reading List:

The Question of Palestine, by Edward Said

In Search of Fatima, by Gahda Karmi

The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, by Ilan Pappe

Israeli Apartheid: A Beginner’s Guide, by Ben White

Mornings in Jenin, by Susan Abulhawa

My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza’s Untold Story, by Ramzy Baroud

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