Category Archives: Palestine

Israel and Hezbollah: From the Swamp of Ramallah to the Fires of Beirut……….

Shuwaikh-school1 Me1 (2)Sharqeya-Baneen-15

KuwaitCox2 Hiking

The Lebanese party/militia Hezbollah, the main bogeyman of Israel and American politicians and media, is in the news again this week. There are rumors and reports in some Arab media, mainly pro-Hezbollah media, that Israel has plans to assassinate Hassan Nasrallah, its leader. No doubt there are contingency plans of all kinds, which is normal, but there are claims that Israel has been leaking this report deliberately.
Israel has a long failed history of counterproductive assassinations of its Arab opponents. Don’t get me wrong: the assassinations often succeed, but they ended up having the opposite effect of what the Israeli Mossad expected.


Take the case of Hezbollah and its leader Hassan Nasrallah. He became leader of Hezbollah after the Mossad assassinated his predecessor Abbas al-Musawi with a bomb in 1992 (so, assassination by remote bombs is one thing the Israelis and Lebanese have in common). Israel thought that the beheading of Hezbollah would weaken it. They got the biggest surprise in their history, the biggest surprise since the time when their ragtag under-estimated Jewish forces in Palestine defeated all the combined Arab armies in the 1948 war.

Israel had been occupying Southern Lebanon, a Shi’a bastion, since 1982, and Hezbollah was partly formed (with Iranian help and money) to kick them out. The Israelis had forced the Palestinian forces out of Lebanon around 1982, which also opened the way for Hezbollah (and its older rival/ally Amal). Instead of beheading Hezbollah with the assassination of Musawi in 1992, the Israelis got a tougher more wily more determined opponent in the new Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah. 

Under Nasrallah, the Lebanese militia forced the Israelis to end their occupation and free Southern Lebanon in the year 2000. Hezbollah is now the strongest military and political force in Lebanon. It is also very likely the strongest Arab military force, having defeated IDF once and forced a stalemate in the 2006 war, and having helped Bashar Al Assad defeat the Jihadists in Syria. Moreover, with Iranian-supplied missiles and improvised local technology, Hezbollah now has achieved a what I called a few years ago a balance of terror with the mighty IDF. Both sides holding each other’s population centers hostage to guarantee good behavior. Korean Peninsula style. Hezbollah also won, along with its Christian and Sunni allies, the Lebanese parliamentary elections earlier this year.

Another example? In 2004 Israel assassinated the elderly Sheikh Ahmad Yassin, the founder of the Islamic fundamentalist group Hamas (initially an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood). Two years after that Hamas won a majority in the first Palestinian free elections. It won in both Gaza and the Occupied West Bank (a reflection of the bankruptcy and corruption of the PLO/PA under Abu Mazen and his old guard). Friction with the PLO (Fatah) increased and led to a military confrontation over Gaza. Hamas easily defeated the PLO forces lead by Mohammed Dahlan, another corrupt PLO functionary. There has been no Palestinian elections since then, perhaps the continued and incurable corruption and kleptocracy of the PA leaders in Ramallah insures that the fundamentalist Hamas will win again. Hence no elections. Meanwhile Dahlan is biding his time in Abu Dhabi (UAE) waiting to become the next Palestinian puppet of the Persian Gulf potentates if he ever succeeds in replacing Abu Mazen as Mayor of Ramallah.

The moral for the Israelis? Beware the enemy you don’t know, cherish the devil you know. Stay the hell out of Lebanon, just give up this moth-like attraction you have to the fires of Beirut.

(P.S.: FYI, rhetoric aside, in the end Hezbollah is highly unlikely to represent an existential or serious threat to Israel. No doubt its leaders realize that, as do the Israeli leaders. For decades Arabs have been threatening to destroy Israel in its current form, and they have failed. The final seal on that was done in June 1967. That was when the Arab World woke up to the reality of defeat. The 1973 war only confirmed that. But then there are the unpredictable results of the current Likud policies and their demographic impact on the future of Israel-Palestine, apparently a topic and a dilemma for another day).


Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

 

John F. Kerry of Arabia: an Honorable Man, a Futile Quest……

Shuwaikh-school1 Me1 (2)Sharqeya-Baneen-15

KuwaitCox2 Hiking

John F Kerry is an honorable man. We knew that from the 1960s. He served honorably in Vietnam, did not evade or avoid the war like most his current critics. He also honorably spoke out afterward.
Later today, soon, he will speak about the “Middle East” problem: Palestine-Israel. But he will get nowhere. The Israeli Likud has a lock on both houses of the U.S Congress, on both parties. It will probably be a good speech, but too optimistic. It will get nowhere.
Mr. Trump has already contributed his own drivel to complicating the issue.
Cheers
M. Haider Ghuloum

Kushner Of Arabia: Just Who Outside Europe Believes in a Two-State Solution Anymore?…..

Shuwaikh-school1 Me1 (2)Sharqeya-Baneen-15

KuwaitCox2 Hiking

“Can Obama save the two-state solution? ShibleyTelhami says the verdict is still out..…”

No, not really, although his abstention on UNSC 2334 was an attempt to keep the two-state idea alive.

Give it up? It is almost not a serious option now, given the deliberate facts being created fast on the ground. Obama is/was probably the last US president to actually believe in the feasibility of two states. The whole Israeli cabinet doesn’t believe in it. Most US senators/congressmen don’t believe in it (apparently it ain’t seemly for a real man to espouse a two-state/bi-state thing). AIPAC only pays lip service to it when it suits them and consistently supports policies that undermine it.

The fact is that many Palestinians don’t believe in it either: the same goes for many other Arabs and Muslims. Some pay lip service to it, some still think and often openly talk about one-state extending “from the River Jordan to the Sea“. So some Arabs and Muslims are as one-staters as the Israeli Likud and its allies are. And we all know what is also meant by this alternative “one state”.

Arab media have in past years extensively quoted former PLO leader Yassir Arafat that there is a plaque outside the Israeli Knesset that says: “Your land, O Israel, extends from the Nile to the Euphrates“. Many, nay most Arabs believed him. Some referred to a vague map on a coin as proof. I have always had my doubts. Could be just some irresponsible quote from the Old Testament (many such quotes exist in all Holy Books). It is more likely that some far-out Christian Zionists in America believe in such borders than Israelis or American Jews. Something to do with a Levantine version of Manifest Destiny and From Sea to Shining Sea.

AS for the Two-State solution, apparently only the Europeans consistently believe in it anymore. Plus some Arabs and a few marginalized Israelis. But there is a suspicion in Washington that the Europeans are a bunch of latent anti-Semitic wusses, right? (Well, probably some of them still are).

So: what to do? Mass expulsion (a k a ethnic cleansing)? It was done in Palestine post-1948, and it was also done to many Jews in the Arab countries around that time. Apartheid or Separate but (allegedly) Equal? History in South Africa and French Algeria and the American South does not give that a high mark. Separate never means equal.

A catharsis? Maybe Netanyahu and Lieberman (Avigdor not Joe) will show up on the steps of Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem and start a Kumbaya session with Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas, for the benefit of the television cameras. Newly Likudnik Alan Dershowitz can be there too.

Maybe Trump will send his son-in-law as he has reportedly threatened, to do something. But being Jewish, even (or especially) Jewish-American is no guarantee of success over there. Besides, this is not some money-focused real-estate business deal in Manhattan: too many historical emotions are involved on both sides.

The prognosis doesn’t look good for the next four years, but the past eight years were not so great either for Israel-Palestine. Especially when the US Congress (both houses) talks and acts as an extension of the Israeli Likud and its more extreme components.

A Nobel Prize or two are waiting, but I know neither Trump nor Netanyahu nor any current Arab leader will do anything to deserve it. The Nobel Committee was bitten by that same bug a couple of decades ago.
Cheers

M Haider Ghuloum

Jerusalem: from Humorless Ottomans to Humorless Jordanians to Humorless Israelis……..

Shuwaikh-school1 Me1 (2)Sharqeya-Baneen-15

KuwaitCox2 Hiking


Many Arabs & Muslims are commemorating an occasion called Jerusalem Day. ِStarted by the Iranian Ayatollah Khomeini, it is held on the last Friday of the month of Ramadan every year.

History has taught us that commemoration does not get you there. It took two millennia and a European not-so-Final Solution, among other steps, for “Next Year in Jerusalem” to bear results.

A month ago was the 49th year of the day when the vaunted Jordanian Army took only a few hours of inept firing to surrender the whole West Bank and East Jerusalem to the Israeli forces. That was the balance of historic Palestine (not counting the Trans-Jordan desert). In June of 1967.

In some Arab & Muslim cities they burnt effigies and the usual flags. The Quds Brigade of the Iranian IRGC, named after Jerusalem, did its own Pride Day in Tehran. Burning flags and effigies.
Once it was over, all passions spent, Jerusalem still securely in Israeli hands (and getting more so each day), the effigy burners and flag burners and “Death To” shouters felt quite liberated. Mission Accomplished, they all went home for lunch, and to wait another year.
The Israelis have their own Yom Yerushalayim, Jerusalem Day,”celebrating” that Jordanian handover of East Jerusalem. But it goes according to the Hebrew Calendar.


The Palestinian Arabs, of course, are the perennial losers no matter who controls East Jerusalem, be they Turks, other Arabs, or Jews……. Be it humorless Jordanians pre-1967 or humorless Israeli bureaucrats and soldiers and assorted zealots post-1967.

Cheers

Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

Netanyahu King of Israel: the Arab Dilemma of Theodor Herzl……..

Shuwaikh-school1 RattleSnakeRidge Sharqeya-Baneen-15

KuwaitCox2

Netanyahu won by throwing under the bus the remnants of the anemic and failed ‘Peace Process’. No two-state solution now, unless he backtracks again. So, no Palestinian State means One State for Jews and Arabs? At least not for the next two to four years. In doing so, he may have thrown part of Israel under the bus as well. Few world leader take him seriously or believe him now, outside the US Congress and the Republican Party. The “wolf” warning could have been a little bit more credible if the boy doing the crying had been a different one.

That leaves two eventual options:

(1) A democratic option: everybody votes, which is the case in Israel now. Which also means the Palestinians in the West Bank get their first truly free vote. The Israeli right does not like this, the idea of Arabs voting “in droves” as Netanyahu complained on election day. The Israeli Arabs were given the vote at a time when the center-left (Labor) dominated Israeli politics, with what they could salvage from the ruins of their old European ideals. Had the Likud and the extreme right-wing been in power in 1948, the Arabs probably would not have gotten the vote. Even now the right (Lieberman) has tried to keep them away from the Knesset (an Israeli version of the claimed voter suppression in some American states). To be fair, Arabs don’t also get to vote in most Arab countries, but then the princes and potentates and generals don’t claim to be democratic, not convincingly. When they do, nobody believes them anyway.

(2) a moderate version of the untenable South African option, pre-Mandela. Which means Arab townships surrounded by concrete walls. We already see the beginnings of that now. Two unequal states in one country: unless they get the vote. The Israeli right wants to keep the West Bank but keep its voters away from the polls, and the Israeli center-left would probably want universal voting rights. If they get the vote, and in such large numbers, what would that do to the original Zionist visionary idea of Theodor Herzl

There are other options which some hard-nosed Israelis might prefer. A Jordanian option, back to pre-1967 state when Amman ruled the West Bank and Egypt ruled Gaza (forget Gaza for now, it is a different entity). But Likud does not win elections by uprooting Jewish settlements and displacing settlers and new immigrants, its reliable political base.

So, a dilemma. Best left for some future date to resolve. Easier politically for now.

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum                          Follow ArabiaDeserta on Twitter
m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

Hey , Anyone Remember the Palestinian Problem?……..

Shuwaikh-school1 RattleSnakeRidge Sharqeya-Baneen-15

KuwaitCox2

Hey , Anyone Remember the Palestinian Problem?………..
The ‘what‘ problem?…….

Used to be that ‘the Middle East problem‘ was the Palestine/Israel issue. At some point, with the Iraqi wars (1980-2015) and Jihadist growth it became one of the Middle East issues. Now, well, nobody is talking about it anymore, not much. Not even many Palestinians, or maybe nobody listens to them anymore.

Only when Israeli leaders unleash a huge attack on Hamas-ruled Gaza, or blow up the homes of some Palestinians, do the world (and Arab) media remember the Palestinian issue. So, maybe Mr. Netanyahu is actually a brilliant strategist after all. He may have alienated the political and other classes everywhere outside the USA, but he has managed to downgrade ‘Palestine’ as an issue.

In Washington next month, in his expected old rehashed dishonest campaign speech, he may declare the end of the Palestinian problem, and he will get another standing ovation from his elected groupies. He may be right, but only officially.
Cheers

Mohammed Haider Ghuloum                          Follow ArabiaDeserta on Twitter
m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

Israeli Settlers Greet New Year with Stones and Uprooted Olive Trees……

Shuwaikh-school1 RattleSnakeRidge Sharqeya-Baneen-15

KuwaitCox2

“On Friday, American security personnel accompanying staff from the United States Consulate in Jerusalem drew their weapons on violent Israeli settlers who attacked a two vehicle U.S. convoy outside the Palestinian town of Turmusaya in the West Bank. Consulate staff were investigating a incident which took place on private Palestinian land on the first night of 2015 when six thousand recently planted olive saplings were uprooted, and dozens of old olive trees were destroyed by violent Jewish settlers from an illegal outpost the Adei Ad near Turmusaya. Officials from Turmusaya notified the U.S. consulate in Jerusalem and requested an investigation because some of the owners of the land are Palestinian-Americans. When the U.S. delegation arrived in the area to investigate settlers started hurling stones at the convoy…………..”

The U.S. Congress, most of its Adelson-ized members, in a brave fit of loyal patriotism, would probably blame the incident on the American diplomats. Not on their foreign soul brothers from among the extreme right-wing Israeli colonists who resort to terrorist tactics and get away with it.

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum                          Follow ArabiaDeserta on Twitter

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

Will the Next Knesset be Arabfrei?……..

Shuwaikh-school1 RattleSnakeRidge Sharqeya-Baneen-15

KuwaitCox2     ChristmasPeanuts

Have Yourself a Merry Little——-> Kenny G. Holiday 

Judenfrei: “free of Jews” (German term used by Nazis)

“The fate of Israel’s embattled Arab parties is in the balance as Israel’s next parliamentary elections approach. The election season officially started last week when Knesset formally dissolved itself, setting an unconfirmed date at the polls of March 17, 2015. Yet as campaigns take off, the question of Israel’s smaller parties and the survival of Arab political groups in particular is in the background. Presently there are 12 Arab members of Knesset (one from the far right group Yisrael Beiteinu, four from mixed Arab-Jewish parties, and seven far Arab-identified parties), yet next year’s early elections will be the first since Israel raised the voter threshold to require 3.25-percent of the popular vote in order for a party to secure a seat in Knesset, which will impact the number of representatives from smaller factions. None of the Arab parties has reached this threshold on its own…………”

I was shocked to read that there is an Arab member of the Knesset from Yisrael Beiteinu, the strongly anti-Arab party of foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman. I mean the guy is reputed to prefer to send all Israeli Arabs to humorless Jordan or to somewhere farther but as humorless like Abu Dhabi.

The Haneen Zoabi affair and its noisy aftermath must have rattled the right-wing Israeli establishment. Another defected former Arab Knesset member has been ensconced in Qatar for a few years, from which he hits the Aljazeera TV circuit, also owned by the rulers of Qatar.

Will the next Knesset be Arabfrei? I doubt it: the Israelis are quite aware of the importance of having Arab members. Even the most right-wing rabidly anti-Arab among them.

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum                          Follow ArabiaDeserta on Twitter

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

Caca Del Pollo Diplomacy: Chickenshit as New Codename for Netanyahu?………

Shuwaikh-school1 _9OJik4N_normal Sharqeya-Baneen-15

Follow ArabiaDeserta on Twitter   KuwaitCox2

Chickenshit? What took you so long, lame duck?…………..
Ever since Barack Obama became U.S. president Mr. Netanyahu (his groupies in America prefer Bibi!) has been going out of its way to disrespect him, in his own house. Which means disrespecting the office of the president and disrespecting the United States.

There is a pattern: whenever there is a high level American-Israeli meeting or visit, there is an announcement of new settlements in the West Bank or Jerusalem, or the expansion of existing settlements. It is like flicking a middle finger in Mr. Obama’s face even as he provides support to Israel. It is probably not racist, probably not, although he never did it to Bush. Nicolas Sarkozy, who can hardly be called anti-Israel or antisemitic, once dismissed him as a ‘liar’ into an open microphone.

Adding insult to injury, Netanyahu reportedly has had the habit of doing much of his American diplomacy with Congressional and Senate members, mainly Republicans. They would deal, nay connive, directly with a leader of a foreign country to undermine official American foreign policy.
Mr. Netanyahu is a petty hack and political hustler, for all this strange mix of  American groupies who seem to consider him some kind of Guru Noir. He has managed to patch together a cabinet of the extreme right, with strong support from Jewish Wahhabis and settlers. In other words, he has no other choice if he wants to remain in power.
Chickenshit? Probably yes, almost certainly yes. But it is worth it to him. As someone in the U.S. Congress might say these days: those who are not chickenshit finish last come November. In Israeli power struggles, and every other November in the USA.
Chickenshit? Hell yeah, why not………

A great succinct American term. I have been trying accurate Arabic and Persian and French and German translations for it. Spanish sounds the most plausible and most exotic for now: caca del pollo.

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com

Shifting Limelight: Netanyahu in Jerusalem, Nuclearless Iran, Congressional Wildcatters……..

_9OJik4N_normal Sharqeya-Baneen-15    DennyCreek2

Follow ArabiaDeserta on Twitter   KuwaitCox2

Where is Benyamin Netanyahu?
Where is the Iranian “threat”?
Where is the nuclear watchdog IAEA (Amano who?)?
Where is Waldo?
Accelerating and competing events in far-flung places like Ukraine, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Hong Kong, and the regional mayhem caused by the well-financed wild Salafi Abus, possibly others, have sucked the air out of these normally reliable stealers of limelight and world attention.
For Netanyahu, it can be a double-edged sword. He likes the attention being diverted from Israel and its illegal settlements in the West Bank and Jerusalem (annexation, including East Jerusalem is illegal according to international law and the UN, regardless of what the wildcatters in the U.S Senate and Congress think).
All these shifting world headlines have emboldened Netanyahu, enough to, yet again, poke a finger in Barack Obama’s eye even as he visits with him. That finger came in the from of reports about new plans for more illegal settlements in East Jerusalem while he was visiting in New York and Washington.
Yet Netanyahu does not like attention moving away from Iran and toward his landgrab. He professes loudly that he worries they will move closer to the nuclear weapons they do not have, the weapons they swear they do not want to develop. Unlike Israel. He also wants any attention on the Middle East to focus on Iran and not on the Palestinian land issue. To have his cake and eat it too (or vice versa).
At the UN, there was not much extensive coverage of his annual speech (I assume he gave his usual speech). Clearly there were no funny Looney Tunes cartoon drawings and amusing graphs of the type he used in past years. The same cartoons the anchor ladies on CNN and MSNBC and Fox had swooned over in the past.

Yet he is stirring again, pulling his many strings in Washington, warning against complacence. Complacence is a dangerous thing, be it about nuclear proliferation or illegal annexation.

Cheers
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

m.h.ghuloum@gmail.com