Israel Veers Even Further Right

Hillary Clinton says she wants to take the U.S.-Israeli relationship “to the next level” even as Prime Minister Netanyahu’s right-wing regime plumbs new depths of extremism, as ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar notes.

By Paul R. Pillar

There already shouldn’t have been any doubt about the orientation of the current Israeli government and the associated obduracy of that government in blocking any path toward resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The government led by Benjamin Netanyahu is firmly rightist, dominated by those opposed to the relinquishing of occupied territory or the creation of a Palestinian state.

Netanyahu, who comes across as one of the more moderate members of his own coalition, has paid more lip service than some other members of that coalition to the idea of an eventual Palestinian state, but he has made clear with other words and actions that he has no intention of any such thing coming into being on his watch, or of taking any meaningful steps toward such a state coming into being.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the United Nations in 2012, drawing his own “red line” on how far he will let Iran go in refining nuclear fuel.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the United Nations in 2012, drawing his own “red line” on how far he will let Iran go in refining nuclear fuel.

Now come reports that Netanyahu is offering the Defense Ministry to former Moldovan nightclub bouncer (and resident of a West Bank settlement) Avigdor Lieberman. This will bring into the ruling coalition Lieberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu party, which even within the Israeli context is usually described as “hard right.”

Bringing Lieberman into the government is indicative not only of the overall orientation of that government but also of some larger disturbing trends in Israeli attitudes that the government has fomented more than it has discouraged.

If Lieberman is made defense minister he would replace Moshe Ya’alon, who in recent days has backed the Israeli military in prosecuting (though only for manslaughter, not the murder that occurred) an Israeli soldier who was caught on videotape shooting in the head, at close range, a Palestinian man who was wounded and lying on the ground, already subdued and obviously not a threat. Lieberman has joined other hardliners in expressing support for the soldier. (Netanyahu has visited the soldier’s family to express sympathy.)

Netanyahu had been trying to recruit another coalition partner to increase his government’s thin majority in the Knesset. Talks with centrist leader Isaac Herzog fell through; the government evidently had more in common with the crude hard right tendencies of Lieberman. Perhaps the timing of this latest political move was a natural outcome of this sequence of negotiations.

Or maybe it was at least as much another example of Netanyahu’s proclivity for poking a stick in the eye of foreign leaders who look like they might be getting on his case about the Palestinian conflict — such as timing an announcement of more settlement expansion to coincide with a visit of Vice President Biden. This time the stickee is the French government, which is organizing an international conference for later this year on Israeli-Palestinian peace.

All honest outside observers should use the report about Lieberman coming into the Israeli government as an occasion to remind themselves that this tragic and long-running conflict continues to run because one side refuses to end it. The gross asymmetry between the two sides is all-important.

One side, the occupying power — the side with the firepower — has the ability to end the occupation and resolve the conflict if it decided to do so. The other side has no such power. That other side, the Palestinian side, has tried to use violent resistance but has subsequently and correctly drawn the conclusion that such violence is not the answer; the violence, unsurprisingly, only stokes legitimate fears among Israelis about their security.

Violence has been continuing in the unplanned, spontaneous, and frustration-driven form of young people grabbing knives and stabbing the first Israelis they can find. The Palestinian leadership has turned to multilateral diplomacy, which, besides popular boycotts, is about the only tool it has left. And the Israeli government does everything it can to impede and to foil such diplomacy, as it is trying to do now with the French initiative.

A common urge to sound impartial leads to the common refrain that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict persists because neither side has the political will to settle it. Nonsense. The overwhelming majority of Palestinians do not want to continue to live under Israeli occupation. They have the will but not the power to settle.

There certainly are divisions and political weakness on the Palestinian side — of which the Israeli government has striven to prevent any repair, such as in “punishing” the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority through withholding tax revenue whenever it has moved toward reconciliation with Hamas — but there is no significant pro-occupation party among Palestinians.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton addressing the AIPAC conference in Washington D.C. on March 21, 2016. (Photo credit: AIPAC)

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton addressing the AIPAC conference in Washington D.C. on March 21, 2016. (Photo credit: AIPAC)

The hardliners who control Israel policy have the power but — as ample evidence, even without Avigdor Lieberman, has shown — not the will, as long as third parties do not make them suffer any meaningful consequences. They do want the occupation to continue.

The Netanyahu government’s repeated claim that it wants to negotiate with the Palestinians should be described as the charade that it is. It is understandable that Palestinian leaders have no desire to engage in talks that have no prospect of leading to anything, when such engagement would just mean participating in the charade while the occupation continues and more facts are built on the occupied ground.

The insincerity is all the more obvious when Netanyahu speaks of talks with “no preconditions” while at the same time insisting that the Palestinians pronounce Israel to be a “Jewish state” — a precondition that implicitly limits how the issue of Palestinian refugees and right of return can be resolved, and also would mean the Palestinian leadership formally signing on to a declaration that non-Jewish Israelis are second-class citizens. Those are the only things such a pronouncement would mean.

The Palestinian leadership long ago recognized, formally and unequivocally, the state of Israel. As Palestinian leaders have noted, that state is free to describe itself any way it wants.

With the American political system still wearing its usual straitjacket on this issue, the main hope right now for taking any steps out of this tragic situation lies with the French initiative. If the United States is to do anything helpful any time in the foreseeable future, it probably will have to come in the remaining eight months of the Obama administration.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaking to the AIPAC conference in Washington D.C. on March 21, 2016. (Photo credit: AIPAC)

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaking to the AIPAC conference in Washington D.C. on March 21, 2016. (Photo credit: AIPAC)

One of the two presumptive presidential nominees speaks of taking U.S.-Israeli relations “to the next level” — and it is safe to assume she doesn’t mean that the next level will consist of imposing consequences for the continued occupation.

The other presumptive presidential nominee caused nervous moments in the Israel lobby when he talked about being impartial, but the nerves were soothed with a speech to AIPAC that said all the “right” things. And now he has Sheldon Adelson and Adelson’s heavyweight bankroll on his side, with everything that implies for this nominee’s future posture on Israel-related issues if he were to be elected.

Paul R. Pillar, in his 28 years at the Central Intelligence Agency, rose to be one of the agency’s top analysts. He is now a visiting professor at Georgetown University for security studies. (This article first appeared as a blog post at The National Interest’s Web site. Reprinted with author’s permission.)

15 comments for “Israel Veers Even Further Right

  1. May 31, 2016 at 02:49

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  3. JohnWV
    May 30, 2016 at 15:10

    Dating back to Imperial Rome, it happened again and again. Organized Jews enraged their host countries and repeatedly suffered disastrous pogroms. Excesses of Wiemar Germany’s monied Jewish minority led to the most recent holocaust which Israel promotes, actually advertises, as justification for its apartheid malevolence. Prominent American Jews (Sheldon Adelson, Lloyd Blankfein, Rahm Emanuel, Richard Fuld, Rupert Murdoch etc.), abetted by Israeli Jews and cunning distribution of enormous amounts of Jewish money have wrested control of our government, diminished our economy, enabled Israel’s wars, racist slaughter, and continuing violent acquisition of territory.

    “Jews are opportunists of the very worst kind. Quench their thirst at the public fountain, and, next, everyone, including your benevolent self, will be paying to drink from this same fountain, or die of thirst. This is Jewry, and by extension, Israel. Jews now dream of the Levant” (and occupation of United States) “to become the singular and dominant superpower in the world. What Jewry professes love for, becomes misery for all humanity. Israel, simply, does not deserve to exist. It is the gravest mistake ever made by any international body, and the world will pay a price that will bring her to the doorstep of total destruction before things improve.” (Tee Cho in Aljazeera 12/27/2013)

  4. Peter Loeb
    May 27, 2016 at 07:42


    I am encouraged that other commenters are paying more attention not only
    to the recent history of Israel/Palestine but to Zionism’s claim of being the

    [OF NOTE: Prior also examlnes other colonialist adventures but none
    so perceptively as Zionism,]

    Beginning from the narratives as they appear in Scripture (a process which
    Prior discredits elsewhere) he writes: “It is possible to discern a certain
    development in the five books [of the Pentateuch]. God created the world
    and humanity failed him (Gen 1-11), but by way of a new start
    , God chose a single people to be faithful(Gen. 12-50)…The Israelites were to
    dispossess thee indigenous inhabitants because of their

    In his CONCLUSION, Prior writes: “As we have seen the biblical claim of
    the divine promise of land is integrally linked with the claim of divine
    approval for the extermination of the indigenous people…”(p,286)

    Other aspects of these views are addressed in detail in THE BIBLE AND

    Why is Palestine in any regard the land of our (Zionists/Jews) forefathers?
    And so on and and so forth. Of course it is not and most probably never
    was despite the narratives of Scripture about which little is known (Prior
    addresses these studies).

    Prior urges a continued discussion since he confesses he does not
    have all the answers. Unfortunately, he laments, there are few enquirers.
    (Prior died in 2004 leaving the rest to us.)

    Events of present and future Palestinian history are bound in in these
    viewpoints of chosenness (superiority, racism, m ilitarism, xenophobia etc.).

    —-Peter Loeb, Boston, MA, USA

  5. diogenes
    May 25, 2016 at 00:06

    Three of your front page articles are about Israel, the only subject addressed more than once. Is this an Israeli site, or a Jewish site, or a news site, or what? Jews are 2% of Americans and under 0.2% of world population. Is it Consortium News’ role to speak up for God’s Chosen People first and most at all time, or what?

    • diogenes
      May 25, 2016 at 00:11

      Actually, Hitlery gets four stories, Trump gets two, Sanders gets one, Israeli gets three. What kind of priorities does this express? What kind of values?

  6. Peter Loeb
    May 24, 2016 at 16:19


    Michael Prior’s title is not as given.

    It is CM.



  7. Peter Loeb
    May 24, 2016 at 07:54


    Among other Michael Prior CD in his landmark work THE BIBLE AND
    COLONIALSM: A MORAL CRITIQUE diagnoses with precision the
    basic inequities of the Torah. Entitlement to land is self-justifying,
    a given. Thus Israelites are the “Chosen People” of the divine
    power. They have to choose nothing at all. In its many differing
    traditions in Christianity one must go through an act of
    choosing,. conversion however defined by a particular
    faith group.Writes Prior (1942-2004), “A major problem with
    some of the traditions of the Old Testament, especially concerned
    with the promise of land, is its portrayal of God as what many
    modern people would regard as racist. militaristic, xenophobic…
    People with moral sensitivities and concern for the
    dignity of other peoples …” find none in the central violent
    beliefs of the Torah (DEuteronomy to Kings). (p.263)

    In most Zionist writing such views are absolutely fundamental.:
    Palestine is never anyone else’s homeland. It is as emphasized
    in scripture the homeland of Israelites/”Jews” only and no
    one else. Despite the fact that Arabs/Palestinians had
    lived there for thousands of years.

    There are other aspects, many covered by Prior and many
    written about in other critical writing as well.(Less thoroughly.)

    While Prior is a bit too lenient is his critique of Christian colonial
    projects (he was a Catholic theologian), a thorough understanding
    almost demands a thorough knowledge of his work. I have some doubts that
    “international law” is a fair measure since that it is itelf is a political
    construct of relatively recent years.

    (Note: Prior’s analysis is replete with references to scriptural
    bases for beliefs in ways that almost none of us
    have the competency to assess. These are clearly analyzed as
    the work is designed for the theologically trained as well asfor
    those of other fields.)

    —-Peter Loeb, Boston, MA, USA

    • Pauline athene lilley
      May 25, 2016 at 04:27

      WeWell I’m here in 2016..
      As told to me in December 2012..that I’m God’s daughter…
      Pauline athene..more revealed to me in 2014…

      WHO knew how things would happen

      NO ONE??

      Chosen people…..
      Are the ones that have come throu the RITES OF PASSAGE…

      FOR A REASON….

      DESERVES THE SAME rite……

  8. George Glass
    May 23, 2016 at 20:55

    America’s relatiionship with Israel doesn’t make any sense.There is no good reason for the U.S. to provide at least $6 billion annually in aid to a small, wealthy, nuclear-armed nation with goals and interests that greatly conflict with those of the U.S. — unless it has something to do with “campaign contributions” back here in the U.S. And U.S. politicians never fully explain that relationship, always falling back on talk of a “special relationship.” It’s special, all right, but only in a strange way. You don’t have to be a fan of Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Iran or Syria to notice that Israel is a very large albatross around America’s neck. And the most frightening aspect of all this is nobody — but nobody — in Washington,D.C. dares to question any of this.

    • Dr. Ibrahim Soudy
      May 24, 2016 at 19:28

      The full name of the U.S. is The United States of ISRAEL………It is about time to stop thinking of them as two entities……….The Israel Lobby holds all American Politicians Hostage because they can literally destroy your career if you get out of line………..Young Americans who want to have a career in politics start by building their credentials with the Israel Lobby…………Same in the mainstream media and any influential positions………….That is how OBAMA went from an obscure “community organizer” to becoming president in a very short span of time……….He did not even complete a term as a u.s senator!!

  9. Call A Spade
    May 22, 2016 at 06:13

    All western countries are now fascist Hitler has won after all.

    • May 22, 2016 at 22:14

      Adolf Hitler was the head of the most successful “Fascist” regime, but it is Benito Mussolini who coined the word “Fascism.”
      Mussolini concluded that a state governed by a “fascio” (bundle in italian) of the strongest and most successful would be successful and powerful. if the captains of finance and industry, supported by the captains of defense and security, would stand to profit from the success of the state, then they would rule the state well.
      that was Mussolini’s definition of “Fascism.”
      IMO Mussolini would be impressed by the way in which the captains of finance and industry in the west, control who may stand for election. an authoritarian regime where the faces change, but authority is never relinquished by those that hold it.

      • TruthTime
        May 23, 2016 at 20:41

        Indeed he would be impressed. When reading into History one see exactly how it’s always the same – out with the old, in with exactly the same or similar painted differently.

        Israel has been infected by a Fascist virus that is known as Zionism ever since it became a state. in the words of mother-fucking Albert Einstein himself, he himself a Jew:

        Albert Einstein wrote in a letter to American Friends of the Fighters for the Freedom of Israel shortly after the 1948 Deir Yassin massacre and referred to the Irgun, led by Menachem Begin later a Prime Minister of Israel, and the Stern Gang, where Yitzhak Shamir also a future Prime Minister of Israel was a member, as terrorist organizations and refused to support these “misled and criminal people.”

        “Among the most disturbing political phenomena of our times is the emergence in the newly created state of Israel of the “Freedom Party” (Tnuat Haherut), a political party closely akin in its organization, methods, political philosophy and social appeal to the Nazi and Fascist parties. It was formed out of the membership and following of the former Irgun Zvai Leumi, a terrorist, right-wing, chauvinist organization in Palestine.”

        • Pauline athene lilley
          May 25, 2016 at 03:26

          Well I’m here in 2016..
          As told to me in December 2012..that I’m God’s daughter…
          Pauline athene..more revealed to me in 2014..
          Churches here in hartlepool..

          People won’t listen.

          WHO knew how things would happen

          NO ONE??
          DONT DOUBT

Comments are closed.