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State of Denial: Searching for Peace in Israel

Posted on Feb 12, 2010
soldier and boy
Wikimedia Commons / Justin McIntosh

A Palestinian boy and an Israeli soldier regard each other at the Israeli West Bank barrier in this photo from August 2004.

By Robert Fisk

(Page 5)

In Gaza, I find Palestinians living in tents beside homes that were destroyed in the war a year ago, living in mud homes constructed by the United Nations. One family greets me amid a pool of water and mud, the woman slopping through the filth in her plastic shoes. Her family of 11 children has been dispossessed by a greedy landlord who wanted more money, no war victims these but refugees from society. They were Bedouins. Indeed, their family, the Moughasibs, originally came from a village near the Israeli town of Sderot – yes, that very hamlet so beloved of Hamas’ rockets, original name Deir el-Balah, though of course we don’t mention that today – and before the ‘Nakba’, the disaster of the Palestinians, they lived there, in a tent. In a tent before their catastrophe and in a tent after the Gaza war. I splash back to the car, but there is to be a meeting with the Hamas ‘Deputy Foreign Minister’, Ahmed Youssef. My driver, Ashraf, is worried about my shoes. He washes them, one by one, under a garage hose-pipe and then he cleans the rubber floor of the car.

And when we arrive at the home of Ahmed Youssef, the ‘House of Wisdom’ – it might also be translated as the ‘House of Reflection’ – I understand why. Shoes are left at the door. The sofa and pillows are immaculate, the marble floor spotless. No muck from the Moughasibs must stain this place. Nabil Shaath has just been visiting, that scion of the Palestinian Authority. They talked about the lifting of sanctions and the rebuilding of Gaza (some hope!) and about the preparedness of Hamas to allow Palestinians loyal to the Authority to return “unless they were involved in bloody clashes”. Odd, this. The Israelis refuse to free Palestinian prisoners who have “blood on their hands”. Now Hamas uses the same terminology about its enemies. It’s like the Israeli government demanding that the Lebanese government disarm Hizbollah – an idea that would split the Lebanese army and create a new civil war. Just as the Palestinians demand the withdrawal of all Jewish colonies in the West Bank – which the Israeli government won’t contemplate for fear of, yes, civil war. The Hizbollah and the settlers have more in common than they realise (as perhaps my finance officer at the King David Hotel knows all too well).

Youssef is all smiles. Yes, Mohamed Dahlan, the hated PLO security boss, can return to Gaza – but he must use Hamas’s own security men for his protection. He wanted to come back with his own protection – this could not be tolerated. “He did not accept Hamas security. He wanted other political factions to take care of his security.”

I ask about the Hamas murders of collaborators during the Gaza war a year ago. They killed 35 Palestinians, almost three times the number of Israelis who died in the war. Youssef is a little cowed by this. The police and security authorities were attacked, he said. Individual people who wanted revenge for the death of their loved ones wanted retaliation. In some cases, they were waiting at the homes of the collaborators to kill them. “Revenge is part of our culture here. If there is no law-and-order, people will sometimes take the law into their own hands.”


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This is extraordinary. The Deputy Foreign Minister of Hamas is telling me that revenge is part of Palestinian “culture”. But then he talks about negotiating with the Israelis – which, of course, Hamas did, before it became the “centre of world terror”. “The Israelis always take you into this big room of optimism. But you quickly figure out that there is, after the light at the end of the tunnel, another tunnel and then light and then tunnel after tunnel.” And could Tony Blair help? And here I suspect my heart might warm to Youssef – as indeed it does. “He is a very hypocritical man. He says something one day and the next day he says something else.” There, indeed, lies the man we watched speaking before the Chilcott inquiry a few days ago.

And of course, it all boils down to this. The Israeli-Arab conflict is about land. It is about colonies and walls and about bi-national states and two states and – in the end – about who has power. The Israelis with their eternal American supporters? Or the Palestinians, hopelessly divided and soaked – in Gaza, at least – in corruption and nepotism. The tunnels that feed Gaza are skimmed for profits by Hamas.

But what of the hatred of the soul? I went to Hebron and saw, on the walls, for the foreign tourists, the words of the Jewish settlers: “The Torah, kindness and happiness.” Then, just up the road, where the Palestinians are being driven out and tourists do not venture, another graffiti. “This is for the Arabs,” it said in Hebrew. And beneath was drawn a dagger. Strength and rectitude, moral image and human values. What would Ben-Gurion have made of this?

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By call me roy, March 24, 2010 at 7:35 am Link to this comment

Say, are you a movie stars? Your terrorist sounding rhetoric sounds just like the bad guys in the Arnold Swartzennegger movie “True Lies.”  It’s almost verbatim.
Also, the famous author Joel Richardson breaks new ground with a devastating account of the possible connection between the Biblical Antichrist and the Islamic Mahdi. The Bible predicts that in the last days a charismatic leader will establish a global following in the name of peace. The Quran also predicts that a man will rise up to lead the nations, pledging to usher in an era of peace. The man in the Quran is called the Mahdi, or Islam’s savior. However, the man in the Bible is the Antichrist. Could it be possible that they are one and the same person? Richardson’s stunning research and analysis suggest that it is.
Hey dude, I would recommend that you put this on your reading list, it could open some eyes?

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By Inherit The Wind, February 19, 2010 at 9:47 pm Link to this comment


While I agree with you, I can assure that at TruthDig you are just p***ing into the wind.

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By sharonsj, February 16, 2010 at 11:10 am Link to this comment

I would like to see a comparable article on searching for peace in Arab/Muslim countries.  You won’t find much encouraging there either, nor do you find the mainstream media talking about the endemic civil violence.  Muslims are killing each other in greater numbers when not attacking non-Muslims.  Egyptian Muslims are attacking Christian Copts.  Muslim Palestinians are attacking Christian Palestinians, and so forth.  And they all have run out whatever Jews may still be left or, in the case of Iran, hold them hostage.

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By thebeerdoctor, February 15, 2010 at 5:21 am Link to this comment

Just a typographical error to note on the Feb1 14 post. The quote from Conrad is different rather than “dufferent”.

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By johannes, February 15, 2010 at 3:58 am Link to this comment

To, Inherit the wind,

We have all some times very bad feelings about our country, not the citizen, bud the politics.

You as an person can maintain a certain distance from the politics executed by the Israeli governement, and still love and defend your feelings,
fot your ” roots ” and nostalgie for the Israel of ” Rabin “.

Maby you have read it all ready, the book from ” Benjamin Freedman “.


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By Inherit The Wind, February 14, 2010 at 8:56 pm Link to this comment

johannes, February 14 at 9:32 pm #

The Jews I know, have an big problem, they love Israel, but hate his politics.


Johannes: This may be the single most perceptive and intelligent thing you’ve posted on Truthdig.  You’ve put in a nutshell my angst and frustration.  I think Israel is being run NOW by bad people, people as bad as Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, people even worse than John Ashcroft.

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By johannes, February 14, 2010 at 5:46 pm Link to this comment

To Night gaunt,

If I was you, I should not be so very sure, about Israel this time, Iran has some secret on his sleeve.

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By johannes, February 14, 2010 at 5:32 pm Link to this comment

The Problem is to be found in the past, as usual, never integrated, the chosen tribu, like Hitler with the Aryans.

More apartheid politic as in South Africa, in its haydays.

Living from money Pumped by their brothers, in frienly countrys, on land stolen from their neighbours.

An very good friend, sayd the following words : The good Jews are in their hart always humanist and socialist, bad Jews do not excist, they are not Jewish but Zionist.

The Jews I know, have an big problem, they love Israel, but hate his politics.

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By Night-Gaunt, February 14, 2010 at 3:02 pm Link to this comment

No John Ellis the Iranians would be too busy, even if they cared, to do anything about Palestine as the last remnants vanished from sight. Not when Israel is the sole nuclear power in the area. You forget that don’t you? Because they are circumspect about it. They let their enemies and friends know they have them but don’t boast about it. The recent posturing by Iran is laughable if not so tragic. The Iranians are so afraid of nuclear attack and the constant attack on them but not Israel, even though it is Iran that is following the law and Israel, along with Pakistan and India who are USA allies and also not in the Non-proliferation Treaty are not subject to the same treatment are they? Ironic isn’t it? By not constantly mentioning the nuclear arsenal of Israel, people have this strange idea of the dynamics of the region. Like yourself John Ellis. That only if Iran arms itself with nukes, for protection, would start an arms race! Not Israel.

The USA would destroy their sub fleet and clear out any such attempts at “blockade” by any of the countries there. Iran is the only one who might be able to try but that is all. The scenario you give is full of holes based upon the wrong assumption that Israel is helpless as is the USA. Not going to happen that way. Of course expect that during this time our gov’t will fall and be replaced by an oligarch dictatorship of corporate theocrats & then you will see what a full empire is like. Very efficient when it is run by psychopaths and their adherents—-morality is such an impediment to control. To them command & compassion are a fool’s mixture.

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By Samson, February 14, 2010 at 9:58 am Link to this comment

Always remember that this initially became Israel’s “Holy Land” only after the Israelis marched in and slaughtered the Canaanites.

This has been going on for an awfully long time.

The sad part is that anyone would adopt the bloody ideas of these people, with all of their ‘eye for an eye’ ideas, as the basis for a religion.

The one thing Christians should always remember is that Jesus preached an end to all of this. He preached a message of ‘love thy brother’ and ‘love thy enemy’ as a direct opposition to this sort of thinking.

I’ve never understood why the Old Testament is even included in the Christian bible.

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By PatrickHenry, February 14, 2010 at 8:52 am Link to this comment

How much money does your state contribute to Israel and what else could we do with that money?

Very good interactive map.

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By thebeerdoctor, February 14, 2010 at 5:29 am Link to this comment

“They were conquerors, and for that you want only brute force—nothing to boast of, when you have it, since your strength is just an accident arising from the weakness of others. They grabbed what they could get for the sake of what was to be got. It was just robbery with violence, aggravated murder on a great scale, and men going at it blind—as is very proper for those who tackle a darkness. The conquest of the earth, which mostly means taking it away from those who have a dufferent complexion or slightly flatter noses than ourselves. is not a pretty thing when you look into it too much.”
JOSEPH CONRAD, Heart Of Darkness

Under the present world control, not looking into anything very much is paramount. Emotional mythology is very powerful alternative to rational thought.

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By ron_woodward, February 14, 2010 at 3:29 am Link to this comment

Expendable Citizens Should Unite in Common Cause
Citizens in the USA, Iran and Gaza have become expendable. In the US workers have been outsourced and the middle class has been denuded of net worth. An elite group of corporate communists administers government power through the military, the mass media and a set of legislative and judicial lackeys.
They have marginalized the people into a cadre of wage and debt slaves. They have expanded these evils worldwide through the monopolization of resources, by the distribution of toxic assets and by perpetual [preemptive] warfare. Many citizens are uncomfortable under the weight of a tyrant, but do nothing too conditioned by long years of oppression.
The Iranians sent their children to the west for education. Along with math and science, they absorbed heretical teachings on governance and philosophy. They took their learning to the streets many times defeated by brute force. As the US War on Terror proved, it is impossible to destroy a worthwhile idea with weapons.
Many in the Muslim World insist that Palestinians have been corrupted by the west [especially by proximity to Israel]. Their leaders begin hostilities indifferent to the casualties they bring.
We citizens realize our governments serve their interests and not ours. This process began when the first caveman conked his rival on the head to become the tribal leader. We cloud our vision with histories, personalities and commentary until we pound the active possibilities into the ground. The time horizons of 50+ years discussed are excuses for inaction. The first item on our agenda should be how we can survive for another 50 years.

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By Jack, February 13, 2010 at 9:14 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Is Illan Pappe right that Ben-Gurion went around to personally give the orders for Plan D orally to commanders in the field so that there would be no record that he did so? Was he really trying to create a public record that would absolve him of responsibility for the worst of the atrocities that he was actually ordering? Is Fisk too kind to Ben-Gurion’s memory?

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By Robert, February 13, 2010 at 8:06 pm Link to this comment

Zionism: A Fairy Tale That’s Become a Terrifying Nightmare

By Alan Hart

February 12, 2010

What is a Zionist today?

Short answer: One, not necessarily a Jew, who (to quote Balfour) supports the Zionist state of Israel “right or wrong” and who cannot or will not admit that a terrible wrong was done to the Palestinians by Zionism - a wrong that must be acknowledged and then corrected on terms acceptable to the Palestinians if there is ever to be peace and the countdown to catastrophe for all is to be stopped. The Arab word for the catastrophe of the original dispossession of the Palestinians is Nakba. In my view, Zionism’s Nakba denial is as obscene and as evil as denial of the Nazi holocaust.

One thing nobody can deny is the effectiveness of Zionism’s propaganda machine. Zionism’s spin doctors probably learned from the Nazis that the bigger the lies and the more frequently they are told, the more likely it is that they will be believed in the mainly Gentile, Judeo-Christian or Western world; and all the more so when the mainstream media is terrified of offending Zionism either too much or at all.

The biggest of all of Zionism’s propaganda lies is the one which asserts that Israel has lived in constant danger of annihilation, the “driving into the sea” of its Jews. As I document in detail in my book, Israel’s existence has never, ever, been in danger from any combination of Arab force. Not in 1948. Not in 1967. And not even in 1973. Zionism’s assertion to the contrary was the cover which allowed Israel to get away where it mattered most, in North America and Western Europe, with presenting its aggression (often state terrorism) as self-defense, and itself as the victim when actually it was, and is, the oppressor.

The companion propaganda lie is that Israel never had Arab partners for peace.


Click on link for the rest:

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By TAO Walker, February 13, 2010 at 4:24 pm Link to this comment

“The Arab-Israeli conflict….” is being CONducted for exactly the same purpose as every other such CONflict over the last ten thousand years or so.  It is to satisfy the CONstant blood-sacrifice demanded of ‘his’ worshipers by “the-one-god” WAR.  Wearing many masks and known by as many names, this disembodied retro-viral entity feeds-off the misery (in all its gradations from chronic low-grade fear to pain-wracked death, and its CONsequent grief) of the now billions of inmates trapped in the virtual world-o’-hurt called “civilization.”

Even the allamericangod “money” pays tribute to WAR, and “power,” that seductive chimera so many pretend to serve, is nothing-at-all without WAR’s support.  So let’s quit all the make-believe rationalizations for why homo domesticus is addicted to armed “CONflict,” and admit the plain truth:  Their ‘god’ is an AWFUL ‘god’!....and any old excuse for spilling blood in ‘his’ “name” will do.

The ‘toll’ taken by the tin ‘god’ Lizzie is chump-change, tame Sisters and Brothers….and guess who’re the chumps?


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By bozh, February 13, 2010 at 2:48 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Both the white ‘jews’ and christian lands my be uing the shemitc peoples with islamic, christian, and talmudic or mosheic cults.
Most white ‘jews’ [‘jews’ means an multiethnicity having no connection whatever with palestine or hebrews; including yehudim] are in diaspora; safe-rich-secure.

Actually ‘god’ cldn’t have ‘promised’ them a worst region to live in. It is devoid of lakes, rivers, minerals, game;surrounded with etern enemies.

It doesn’t augur well for dark-skinned shemites with mosheic cult that the ‘zionists’ [read please land robbers]have not yet established a state for ‘jews’ only nor an israel.
Israel is still borderless with no de jure recognition.
Now the question arises why is that so? Well,for one thing, palestina is not of any strategic value- only a political one.
So why recognize any israel? Nato/us need badly mayhem/disorder/‘terrorism’; thus avoidance of peace at any cost; especially, since costs to US/nato/israel are so little.
By avoiding peace in palestina, US/nato/isr was able to bring all arab fascists onside. So that was ‘great’ achievement for US/nato.

Palestinian leaderships are also strongly asocialistic just like israeli and US. So, birds of a feather eventually flock together.
Expect, tho, a one state solution in expalestina with white ‘jews’ leaving it in great numbers! When? Probably after total pacification of both afgh’n, syria, lebanon, iraq, and iran
more cld be said. tnx

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By Robert, February 12, 2010 at 7:37 pm Link to this comment

February 5 - 7, 2010

NYT’s Israel Editor’s Sticky Situation

Ethan Bronner’s Conflict With Impartiality


Breaking the silence

“Recently, the Israeli organization “Breaking the Silence” published 96 testimonies by female Israeli soldiers. They describe a pervasive pattern of violence, harassment, theft, and humiliation practiced by Israeli forces against Palestinian men, women, and children. Below are excerpts:

“We caught a five-year-old… the officers just picked him up, slapped him around and put him in the jeep. The kid was crying and the officer next to me said ‘don’t cry’ and started laughing at him. Finally the kid cracked a smile – and suddenly the officer gave him a punch in the stomach. Why? ‘Don’t laugh in my face’ he said.”

“’s boring, so we’d create some action. We’d get on the radio, and say they threw stones at us, then someone would be arrested… There was a policewoman, she was bored, so okay, she said they threw stones at her. They asked her who threw them. ‘I don’t know, two in grey shirts, I didn’t manage to see them.’ They catch two guys with grey shirts… beat them. Is it them? ‘No, I don’t think so.’ Okay, a whole incident, people get beaten up. Nothing happened that day.”

“...two of our soldiers put him [a Palestinian child] in a jeep, and two weeks later the kid was walking around with casts on both arms and legs…they talked about it in the unit quite a lot - about how they sat him down and put his hand on the chair and simply broke it right there on the chair.”

An officer described soldiers shooting to death a nine-year-old as he was trying to run away: “They shot in the air, as they say – shot in the air in the lungs…”

In their testimonies, these soldiers emphasize that mistreatment of Palestinian civilians is widespread, routine, and known to everyone. Both the Israeli and the Palestinian press have published excerpts.

Yet, New York Times Bureau Chief Ethan Bronner has so far failed to report this information about Israeli forces.

And his son has just joined up.


Click on link for the rest:

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By EJH, February 12, 2010 at 6:20 pm Link to this comment

Other commentators sometimes leave a reader with a
sense that there is hope for the Palestinians.  Fisk
does not do that.  Quite a downer, that Fisk.  Of
course, he is almost always right and, unfortunately, I
cannot see reason to doubt him on Palestine.

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By ofersince72, February 12, 2010 at 5:43 pm Link to this comment

Night Gauntlet,
You and I have way more agreements then we
do disagreements!!!!!!!!

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By Night-Gaunt, February 12, 2010 at 5:02 pm Link to this comment

From what he observes you know it won’t end well for the Palestinians. And if the leaders of Israel finally get their attack on Iran? Expect the last 10% of Palestine to just vanish as if it were never there. The fog of war can do just that. No ovens or showers either, just the muscle of military force to burn them out with extreme prejudice.

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