Archive for August, 2012

Domestic Terrorism American Style – An Analysis (27 August 2012) by Lawrence Davidson



Part I — Some Background


The Ku Klux Klan (the name derives from the Greek word Kuklos meaning circle with a modification of the word clan added), an American terrorist organization, was founded in Pulaski, Tennessee in 1865. It was organized by Southerners who refused to reconcile themselves to the defeat of the Confederacy in the Civil War, and its declared mission was to “maintain the supremacy of the white race in the United States.” To this end it adopted tactics in the southern states that would so terrify emancipated African Americans and their white allies, that they would not dare to vote, run for public office, or intermingle with whites except in “racially appropriate” ways.


Intimidation took many forms. Non-whites and their allies who sought to assert civil rights were threatened, assaulted and frequently murdered. If they were women they were subjected to assault and rape. The property of these people was destroyed, their homes and meeting places attacked with bombs or burned. Finally, a favorite tactic was lynching.


Lynching was/is murder carried out by a mob that collectively thinks it is protecting the community and/or its traditions. Between 1882 and 1930 the Klan and allied organizations lynched some 3,000 people, mostly black men. Often the accusation was that the black male victim had sought sexual relations with white women.  It was very rare that those involved in these murders, which were carried out quite openly with little effort to hide identities, were arrested for their actions much less convicted and adequately punished. This, in turn, was possible because of a number of factors:


— First and foremost, the belief that African Americans, and subsequently all non-whites, were dangerous to “white civilization.” This belief was built into the cultural perceptions of the majority. With rare exceptions, a white person could not grow up in this environment without acquiring a knee-jerk prejudice against non-whites.


— As a result, local white populations, as well as local law enforcement, often sympathized with the Klan, sometimes feared it, or just did not care about what happened to the non-white population.


In the years following the Civil War, the activities of the Klan only subsided when the U.S. government allowed the Southern states to impose laws that prevented African Americans from voting and acquiesced in a harsh regime of segregation. When the Civil rights movement finally took place in the 1960s, the Klan reappeared and participated in the violent opposition to desegregation and racial equality. This abated only when the federal government started seriously enforcing its own civil rights laws.


Part II – Old Tactics and New Victims


While today the Ku Klux Klan as an organization is nearly (but not quite) gone, it would be a mistake to think that the Klan mentality is dead in the U.S. Quite the contrary. The nation’s deep seated history of racism has helped preserve an apparent permanent subset of Americans who grow up with prejudicial feelings against anyone they perceive as a threat to their version of the “American way of life.”


This background can help us understand the on-going attacks against American Muslims. Since 2010 there has been an increase in the number of attacks on American Muslims, their mosques and other property, as well as American minorities (such as Sikhs) who are regularly mistaken for Muslims. These attacks are not the work of a refurbished Ku Klux Klan but, nonetheless, have about them the same nature: fear of American Muslims as cultural subversives (for instance, the delusion that they seek to impose Sharia law in the United States); anonymous threats of violence (via telephone, internet, and also in the form of abusive graffiti); bomb, arson, and gun fire attacks on property; and finally assaults and murders. The Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Justice Department has investigated over 800 such incidents in the last eleven years. Eight such attacks occurred in the first half of the present month of August 2012, including the murder of six Sikhs in Milwaukee on August 5.


An important factor in all of this is the role of a number of campaigning politicians who go around proclaiming the threat that American Muslims supposedly represent to the country. For instance, just prior to a spate of arson attacks in the Chicago area, U.S. Representative Joe Walsh held town hall meetings in the area where he proclaimed, “One thing I am sure of is that there are people in this country–there is a radical strain of Islam in this country–it’s not just over there–trying to kill Americans every week.” His talk was filmed and posted on YouTube. Similar rhetoric has been heard from a dozen other politicians including Peter King, the Chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee and Michele Bachmann, who was among those running for GOP candidate for president.


Part III – What It Takes to Break a Bad Habit


This is what you get when you practice a culture that has evolved around racist views. And, you get it more or less in perpetuity. In the case of the United States, the nation spent from 1789 (counting from the establishment of the Constitution which legitimized slavery) to 1954 (the year the Supreme Court declared, in Brown v. Board of Education, mandatory segregation of public schools unconstitutional), or 165 years, building up an “American way of life,”  which legitimized discrimination against non-whites. Subsequently, it has spent from 1957 (counting from the year that Brown v. Board of Education actually began to be enforced) to the present, or 55 years trying to undo that legacy. If it takes about as long to undo a nationwide bad habit as it did to establish it,  we have a long road ahead of us.


What the years since 1957 have done is to legally enforce non-racist public behavior. This is certainly a necessary step which, if consistently applied, will eventually lead to an internalized change in the outlook and morality of most of the population. In this regard Barack Obama’s election as the first African American president in 2008 was a sure sign of progress. However, the virulent reaction to Obama by more than a few is another sign that, while 55 years is long enough to alter the public behavior of some people, it is not long enough to change the private attitudes of many. Thus, there are still those groups of citizens who are deeply racist. Today, under normal circumstances, they keep their feeling to themselves and their like-minded circle. However, when conditions allow, that racism emerges in a public way, often in hate speech but sometimes more brutally. These extremists are the modern day versions of yesterday’s klansmen and, given a chance, they will happily commit mayhem in the name of their cherished traditions. American Muslims are now their target.


Part IV – Another Example = Our Ally Israel


If you want to see another example of a society that has historically cultivated discriminatory outlooks and practices, one that American Zionists consider quite similar to the U.S., take a look at Israel.  By the way, If there is any truth to the belief that Israel is “just like us,” it can only refer to the United States prior to 1957–prior to the introduction of civil rights laws.


Much like the American south of that pre-legal equality era, Israel is shaped by a culture of ethno/religious exclusiveness practiced amidst a larger out-group (in this case the Palestinian Arabs). This has led the Israeli Jews to teach successive generations that it is proper and necessary to discriminate against Palestinians. And, sure enough, over the years Israel has produced its own terrorist organizations that intimidate and attack Palestinian Arabs: the Irgun and Lehi during the years leading to the establishment of the state in 1948, Gush Emunim and Terror Against Terror in the 1970s and 1980s, and today’s “Price-Taggers” and West Bank settler vigilantes. Just like klansmen in the American south, these terrorists are rarely prosecuted and almost never adequately punished for their crimes because much of the Jewish population as well as the organs of the state sympathize with them.  And, just like the American south, they operate in an environment conducive to an Israeli version of lynching.


That brings us to the Isreaeli style lynching that occurred on the night of August 17 in Jerusalem. Raised in an environment that purposely cultivates prejudice and hatred against Arabs, a mob of some fifty Israeli Jewish young people attacked four Palestinian male youths, almost killing one of them. The attack was unprovoked and apparently random, though the attackers “claimed they wanted to prevent them [the Arab boys] from speaking to Jewish girls.” “Hundreds” witnessed this event but did not interfere.  The entire thing was predictable, and indeed inevitable. It is what you get when you practice a culture that has evolved  around racist views.


Part V – Conclusion


There might be a human genetic inclination toward group solidarity, but its worst manifestations are not inevitable. You can feel solidarity with your family, your religious community, your ethnic group, your nation, etc. without hating others. The hating part is a learned attitude. And, as is often the case, fear will underly the hatred.


Both American and Israeli bigots or terrorists have focused on Arabs and Muslims as a threatening out-group. Both the Americans and the Israelis who do so draw strength from a culture that has deep racist roots. In today’s U.S.A. many know that this is wrong and so there is a moral position from which to combat this behavior.  Unfortunately, it is not possible to say the same thing about Israel.


In the United States the core need is consistent educational and legal pressure against racist behavior both in terms of individual and institutional behavior. When I say consistent I mean over multiple generations, for at least as many years as it took to create the nationwide bigotry in the first place. If we do not succeed in this endeavor then American Zionists will be proven correct.  We in the U.S. will be just like the Israelis.



On the Road to Ryan and Ruin – An Analysis ( 19 August 12) by Lawrence Davidson


Part I –  The Good Old Bad Days


In the 132 years between 1797 and 1929, there was no effective regulation of U.S.  economy.  No federal agencies existed to control corruption, fraud and exploitation on the part of  the business class.  Even during the Civil War, economic management on a national level was minimal and war profiteering common.  As a result the country experienced 33 major economic downturns which impacted roughly 60 of the years in question. These included 22 recessions, 4 depressions, and 7 economic “panics” (bank runs and failures).


Then came the Great Depression starting with the crash of the New York stock market in 1929.  This soon became a worldwide affair which lasted until the onset of World War II.  Millions were thrown out of work, agricultural production partially collapsed, and the fear of rebellion and revolution was palpable both in the U.S. and Europe.


It is to be noted that the way capitalism worked over these 132 years was a function of ideology.  This was (and still is) the so-called free market ideology which taught that if the government was kept as small as possible (basically having responsibility for  internal order, external defense, and the enforcement of contracts), the citizenry would have to pay very low taxes and be left alone to pursue their own prosperity.  Thus, as the ideology goes, everyone would be free to maximize their own wealth and in doing so also maximize the wealth of the community as a whole.


The Great Depression was a real moment of truth for the capitalist West because it suggested to the open-minded that the free market ideology was seriously flawed.  Free market practices had brought the economic system to the brink of collapse, and Russia’s newly triumphant communists, espousing a command economy,  represented serious competition.  So the question that had to be answered was how best to modify the capitalist system so as to preserve the position of  the ruling elite.


It was President Franklin Delano Roosevelt who came up with an answer, at least for the United States.  Through a series of economic and social experiments he crafted the New Deal and promoted the notion of the welfare state. It should be emphasized that this was not socialism.  In essence,  the New Deal was capitalism with safety nets and subsidies.  It meant that some entrepreneurs in areas such as agriculture, defense, and other businesses, actually got money from the government to produce their products.  On the other end of the spectrum,  government money was made available to keep the really poor people from starving and the unemployed solvent while they sought new employment.  A national pension plan was devised in the form of social security, and bank deposits up to a certain amount were insured.  In addition, new agencies were created to monitor business activities, particularly the stock market and the banks, to prevent the sort of activities that had brought on many of the economic downturns of the past.   This was a major step away from the ideal of a wholly free market but most of the citizenry, with the Great Depression at their backs, understood the necessity of the New Deal.  Of course, taxes would eventually have to go up to help pay for it all.


Part II – How Quickly We Forget


Essentially, Roosevelt and the New Deal saved capitalism from itself.  Left to those, such as Herbert Hoover,  who could not escape the paradigm of free market ideology, capitalism in the U.S. may well have followed much of Europe in succumbing to the revolutionary movements of the right or the left.


It has been 67 years since the end of WWII and during that time there have been 11 recessions impacting only 10 years of that timespan.  Most of these recessions have been mild affairs compared to the 33 that came prior to the onset of the Great Depression, and the welfare safety net has helped the hardest hit to survive.  However, since the 1980s, the U.S. economy has become more unstable and some of the downturns more severe.


What of the steadfast adherents to the free market ideology?  It would have been nice for the world if the Great Depression had put an end to them all–but that was not to be.  For those who can understand things only with the help of rigid and all inclusive paradigms, ideology is what makes sense of an otherwise  chaotic world.  Ideology is also what defines good and evil for such minds. So it stood to reason that many committed free marketeers would retreat into a temporary silence and wait for a time to reassert their beliefs.


It did not take long.  In fact, counting from 1939 and the outbreak of the World War II (the event that finally marked the end of the Great Depression), it took only until 1980 or 41 years.  That is two generations which is actually just about right.   Unless purposefully passed on from one generation to the next, both skills and memories tend to dim and lose their meaning.  So it has been with the memories of what unregulated capitalism cost the nation in the years before the New Deal.


Why did things change for the worse in 1980?  That was the year Ronald Reagan, a grade B actor and man of little intelligence, surrounded by neoconservatives and free marketeers, was elected president.  Working within the context of generational forgetfulness, he set us all on a path toward deregulation and a resurgence of the free market ideology.  It is to be noted that the country’s most recent recession (2007-2009) has been the worst of the post war era and a direct result of prior deregulation.


We are still on that path and the living proof of this fact is that the Republican presidential candidate, Mitt Romney has just selected Congressman Paul Ryan as his running mate.  Ryan is the Chairman of the Budget Committee in the Republican controlled House of Representatives, and author of a proposed federal budget that would slash social spending (and those safety nets) by some $3.3 trillion, ditch Medicare and Medicaid, while simultaneously cutting taxes for the wealthy.  Ryan is no less than the reincarnation of a free marketeer who wants to recreate the circumstances that brought us all 33 major economic downturns crowned by the Great Depression.  How quickly people forget.


Part III – Social Darwinism As Well


It was University of California Professor Robert Reich who recently explained what Paul Ryan in a position of real power would mean.  “More than any other politician today, Paul Ryan exemplifies the Social Darwinism at the core of the today’s Republican Party.”  And what is Social Darwinism?  It is a belief in the necessity of a struggle for survival where only the “fittest” survive.  Here is how William Graham Sumner,  the 19th century’s leading American spokesman for this outlook, put it.  “Civilization has a simple choice.  It is either liberty, inequality, survival of the fittest or not-liberty, equality, survival of the unfittest.  The former carries society forward and favors all its best members; the latter  carries society downwards and favors all its worst members.” This is may well be Paul Ryan’s version of the struggle between good and evil.  By the way, liberty here is defined as the freedom of individuals to pursue wealth in an unfettered way.


Following this ideology, a Mitt Romney presidency, with Ryan as VP,  would most likely increase the pace of deregulation and destroy what is left of the country’s safety nets.  It would ultimately devastate the middle class, greatly increase the ranks of the poor and unemployed, do away with union rights, and reserve prosperity for the upper class alone.  All of this will be done in the name of the liberty.  And, it will be guided by an ideological paradigm that has already been historically proven to be disastrous.


We can speculate about popular reaction to these policies as time goes on.  There will probably be eventual demonstrations in the streets. Those in power will respond with red-baiting tactics and repression against the protesting victims of their policies.  Also, keep in mind that these ideologues will almost certainly bring us a new set of wars.  And, as we already know, in wartime repression comes easier.  If the electoral system works, those  responsible should be cast out of office in four to eight years.


All in all it is a pretty grim picture.  It was George Santayana (1863 to 1952), a philosopher with both Spanish and American roots who said that “those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”  We in the United States, so thoroughly attached to our local here and now, are certainly candidates for this fate.




The Know-Nothing Candidate – An Analysis (9 August 2012) by Lawrence Davidson



Part I – The Know-Nothings, Then and Now


There is a universal phenomenon that I call natural localism.  The majority of people, wherever they might live,  are affected by this condition.  It results in limited knowledge–knowledge of what is local and ignorance (often breeding fear) of what is not local.  Unless countered by positive education and tolerance,  natural localism can result in aggressive behavior toward the unfamiliar.


In the year 1849, natural localism was institutionalized in a small nativist party in the United States called The American Party.  It was basically an anti-immigrant affair.  White men who were ignorant and fearful of outsiders came to see Catholic immigrants of all descriptions undermining the true character of the U.S,  The party was powerful for a short time, particularly in the northeastern states,  electing candidates to local office throughout the region.


Appropriately enough, adherents to the American Party came to be called “Know-Nothings.”  There were two reasons for this:  On one hand, party members tended to be secretive about their political affiliations, giving their party a strong conspiratorial flavor.  When asked about the activities of the American Party they would reply, “I know nothing.”  On the other,  they really knew almost nothing of the groups that exercised their passions.  They thought all Catholics were under the complete command of the Pope,  like religious zombies.


Ignorance was the hallmark of the “Know-Nothings” and, while they never did capture national power, they never went away.  Today you can find their successors throughout the land, fixated on a wide range of issues:


— There are Americans who really know nothing about Muslims but are sure they are a mortal threat to the country.  They have replaced Catholics as the Know-Nothing”s modern version of religious zombies.


— There are some who know nothing about Mexicans and others from south of our border but are sure that anyone who speaks like they do  is a threat.


—- There are some who know nothing about Iran, can not even locate it on a map, but are sure it is a threat and should be attacked.


Actually the list is nearly endless.  And, given that Americans know so little of so much of what they have strong opinions about, it is inevitable that know-nothingness contaminates the politics of the nation.  For instance, the Republicans stand in for today’s Know-Nothing party.   Strong evidence for this conclusion comes from the circus that was the Republican presidential nominating campaign.  Since almost all of the contenders for the nomination were self-congratulatory Know-Nothings, it is no surprise that the man who won that contest, Willard Mitt Romney, is one as well.


Part II – The Know-Nothing Candidate


Romney affirmed himself as the standard bearer of America’s modern Know-Nothing party during his recent trip to England, Israel and Poland.  Here is how it went:


— He came close to being declared persona non grata in England by gratuitously questioning the adequacy of British security for the Olympic Games.  All security issues had already been addressed .  The British papers pilloried Romney for his comments.


— In Israel, he made a speech before an audience of wealthy potential donors to his campaign (many of them flown in from the United States for the occasion).  He told them that the difference between Israel’s economic achievement and that of the Palestinians was a function of a) superior Jewish culture and b) God’s will.  Not one word about the Israeli occupation of Palestine.


This statement was so outrageous, so historically off the mark, that one might wonder  if it was just a publicity stunt to win favor with a monied crowd.  But that is doubtful.  Romney had long ago aligned his views with his friend Israel’s right-wing prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.  Netanyahu comes from a long line of fanatical Israelis who see the Palestinians as inherently inferior.  And,  there is the fact that Romney has publicly stated that his thinking about Israel and the Jews has been shaped by a book written by Don Senor (now a foreign policy adviser to the Romney campaign) titled Start-Up Nation – The Story of Israel’s Economic Miracle.  This book suggests that Israel succeeded economically because of genetics:  Jews are born smart and entrepreneurial.


Of course, this is just rubbish.  Israel is a “donor state.”   That is,  from the beginning of its modern history and to a great extent today,  it continues to thrive because of a huge annual influx of  foreign aid.  Billions of dollars pour into Israel every year from the U.S. government, donations from elements of world Jewry and also from crazy Christian Zionists.  Given a similar level of  handouts, any relatively stable nation with a well educated citizenry could do what the Israelis are economically doing – no Jewish genes required. Yet, just as the reality of occupation is absent from Romney’s frame of reference, so is the largess that has sustained Israel’s economic “miracle” for over sixty years.


— If you would like to publicly challenge Romney or his campaign staff on any of this, the reply you can expect was set down during his brief stay in Poland.  As reporters sought to ask questions, Mr. Romney’s press assistant Rick Gorka replied, “kiss my ass.”  Mr. Gorka is a Know-Nothing too.  His response has not been disavowed by the candidate.


Willard Mitt Romney knows about what has been local in his life.  He knows how to be a particularly negative businessman, the kind who takes corporations apart and exports their jobs.  He also appears to know how to make a lot of money and not pay taxes on it.  As a politician he can glad-hand you in order to get a donation and play the chameleon so you are not sure what many of his positions are.  He probably knows the other local things that most of us also know:  how to balance a checkbook, drive a car, and stay clean, etc..  Beyond this, however, it is a safe bet that he is a Know-Nothing.  Worse yet, he is prone to fill his void of ignorance with magical thinking.  For instance, that declaration that Israeli success is not only based on cultural superiority, but is also a function of the “hand of Providence.”


Part III – Conclusion


Now the Know-Nothing candidate wants to be president.  And he may well succeed depending on just how many other Americans know nothing in ways that make them comfortable with Mr. Romney’s ignorance.  For instance,  we know that Christian Zionists (who outnumber the American Jewish kind) are the same sort of Know-Nothings and magical thinkers as Romney.  They will vote for him.  The infamous 1%, many of whom agree with Mr. Romney’s assertion that corporations “are people too” and have the same rights as individuals (more magical thinking) will vote for him.  The “American Firsters,” many of whom think Barack Obama is a closet Muslim and no U.S. citizen at all, will vote for him.   But, that is not enough to win unless the election day turnout is exceedingly low.  So, how many other Americans, who otherwise might pass for relatively rational individuals of voting age, will successfully be lured into Mr. Romney’s Know-Nothing party?  After all, most Americans really know very little about the world beyond their local realm.  “Ignorance is as ignorance does,” particularly on election day.


History On A Billboard – Fanaticism On The Ground – An Analysis (1 August 2012) by Lawrence Davidson


Part I – History On A Billboard


For the past few weeks, those taking local trains from New York City’s wealthier suburbs into Manhattan have encountered a succinct billboard history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  The lesson comes in the form of four aligned maps showing the absorption of Palestinian land by Israel from 1946 to the present, along with a declaration that “4.7 million Palestinians are classified by the U.N. as refugees.”  In all respects, the ad is historically correct.

This was made possible thanks to the efforts of Mr. Henry Clifford, chairman of the area’s local Committee for Peace in Israel/Palestine, who purchased the billboard space so as to educate readers to what really is happening under the Israeli regime of occupation so generously supported by U.S. dollars.

Immediately the ads were labeled “anti-Semitic” by area rabbis and Jewish community leaders.  Here is the reasoning of Dovid Efune, “editor of the Manhattan-based Jewish newspaper, The Algemeiner.”

“This is anti-Semitic because when people think of the Jews they think of the

Jewish state.  Jews have seen this happen many times.  It always starts with

messaging that says Jews are committing a crime.”

Three things are to be said about Mr. Efune’s reaction: 1) On the one hand, he seems not to care that the map display and UN statistic are real and accurate and what that means for the lives of millions of people.  2) On the other, and no doubt quite inadvertently, he does infer that what the ad reveals is criminal behavior.   3) Finally, if there is any truth to the assertion that “when people think of the Jews they think of the Jewish state” it is because Zionist propagandists have, for over 64 years, incessantly insisted on that identification.  Those Jews who have publically denied the connection have been abused and libeled.  So, to the extent that Jews in general are identified with Israel’s “committing a crime,” you can thank the Zionists for that.

Rabbi Joshua Davidson (no relation of this blogger), senior Rabbi of Temple Beth El in northern Westchester, N.Y.,  says the map ad presents “a distorted and skewed view of a complicated conflict.” Actually, that is untrue.  The ad simply puts forth historical truth.  In addition, the conflict really is not as complex as Zionists say it is.  It is the consequence of a rather straightforward, post-World War I,  imperialist land grab that, in the case of Palestine, is on-going even now.  It was and continues to be justified by religious mythology on the one hand and the history of anti-Semitic persecution on the other.  The land grab was originally abetted by the British imperial politicians, some of whom imagined that they were helping to fulfill biblical prophecy, and others who saw a Jewish homeland in Palestine as a way of solving the “Jewish problem” in Europe.  The Palestinians, being seen as inferior natives, were then and are now still, pushed aside.


Part II – Fanaticism On The Ground


Rabbi Davidson might object to such simplicity, but Dani Dayan would not.  Dayan is the leader of the “Yesha Council of Jewish Communities” a leading organization espousing Israeli settlement of the West Bank.  Unlike Rabbi Davidson,  Dayan does not seek refuge in historical complexity.  He lays it on the line in a recent New York Times Op-ed.

“Arabs called for Israel’s annihilation in 1967, and Israel legitimately

seized the disputed territories, and the right of Israelis to call them home

today, is therefore unassailable.”

Unfortunately, the days when conquest automatically resulted in a transfer of sovereignty ended with World War II.  The primary rationale for the creation of the United Nations and the expansion of international law was to prevent just the sort of behavior Dayan describes.

Also, like the statement of Dovid Efune, Dayan’s argument is logically confused.  He is claiming that the hyperbolic rhetoric of Arab leaders in the run-up to the 1967 war somehow frees Israel from its obligations as a signatory to such international treaties as the 4th Geneva Convention.  Article 49(3) of that treaty prohibits an occupying power from “transferring parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.”  Successive Israeli governments, both of the left and the right, have energetically violated that law by transferring civilians into these conquered lands.  Dani Dayan now proudly points out there are some 350,000 of these illegal squatters (the number goes up by 200,000 if we include the Israeli transfers into Jerusalem).  And, because this now constitutes the new “status quo,” Mr. Dayan proclaims that Israelis have the “right…to call” such territories “home.”  Where did he get that right? From his god?  From very ancient history? From the fact he walks about the area with an Uzi submachine gun strapped over his shoulder?    There is certainly no basis for it in international law.

Dayan presents these illegally accomplished facts on the ground as “irreversible” and the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as “unattainable.”   He challenges his readers to understand the “realpolitik” truth of his position.  And, according to Richard Falk, United Nations Special Rapporteur for Palestinian Human Rights, it is hard to “doubt the force of Dayan’s reasoning on this central issue.”  Well, if not the settler leader’s reasoning, which is faulty, then certainly one cannot doubt Israel’s physical possession of increasing amounts of Palestinian land.  Apparently, the governments of the world have capitulated to Dani Dayan and vigilante squatters.   Hamas, which would gladly defy them,  is confined, also with international blessings, to Gaza, the world’s largest outdoor prison.  Thus, there is no military presence on the ground that can gainsay Mr. Dayan. So what does this imply, that might makes right?  Is that Mr. Dayan’s version of Israel acting as a “light unto the nations”?  Apparently so.


Part III – The Need for Outside Pressure


However, Dani Dayan and his settler movement have not written the final act in this tragedy.  Even if we take note of his present position in the West Bank, and also admit that the “peace process” is a pitiful fraud, it is premature for Dayan to proclaim that he has won the struggle and we must all accept his “status quo.”  Colonialist ventures can be defeated in more than one way.  The “usual” way is through prolonged and bloody armed struggle.  Thanks to the world-class military machine the United States has helped Israel create and maintain this is not a likely path to success.  But such regimes have also been forced to transform themselves into more equitable, more democratic, and less repressive ones through concerted outside pressure.   And such pressure is now as real and growing as Dayan’s squatter movement.

A major effort at outside pressure is the worldwide BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) campaign against Israel.   Ilan Pappe, an Israeli born professor at Exeter University in England, notes that this “campaign’s elasticity has made it into a broad process powerful enough to produce a new public mood and atmosphere….”  As someone who has spent the last 35 years espousing the Palestinian cause, I can testify to the truth of that statement, even here in the United States.

It might very well be that Israel is here to stay.  But that does not mean that it will always be the racist, oppressive society it is now.   Consistently applied outside pressure, growing in scope and strength, can wear down support for ideologues such as Dani Dayan and his backers both in and outside of today’s Israel.  It can, slowly but surely, convince ordinary Israelis that they have a choice: go along with their expansionist leaders and face increasing international isolation or, as Pappe puts it, cooperate willingly in “finding a formula for joint living” – that is creating a better society that is tolerant and mindful of the need for justice, first and foremost for Israel’s victims, the Palestinian people.  Also a nation that can be trusted to honor their obligations under international law.


Part IV – The Fate of International Law

It should be clearly understood that it is not just Israel’s future or that of the Palestinians that is at stake here.  All of us have to ask what value we place on international law.  What value do we place on a world that recognizes the primacy of law born of sane human reason,  rather than religious mythology, apocalyptic fantasies, and tribal nationalism? It is all wrapped up together; as goes the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, so goes the viability of international law.

It is ironic that in the aftermath of the Holocaust international law was strengthened and now, as is so simply demonstrated on Mr. Clifford’s billboards,  it is the Israelis who choose to cast it aside.  If we allow this to happen, the world becomes more dangerous for all of us.