Israel’s Abnormal ‘Normal’ with its Neighbors

Israel often acts as if a simmering state of war with its Muslim neighbors is the only possible future, while occasionally playing off one nation against another, a “normal” that is not normal, says ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar

By Paul R. Pillar

It has long been generally regarded, and properly so, to be in everyone’s best interests if Israel had normal relationships with its regional neighbors. Normal relations are a condition for commerce and mutual prosperity. Normal relations are the stuff of peace rather than of the repeated wars that have been fought between Israel and its Arab neighbors.

We rightly applauded Anwar Sadat when he negotiated a peace treaty and established diplomatic relations with Israel, and we rightly criticized other Arab states for ostracizing Egypt itself after Sadat’s initiative. Even small instances of Arab ostracism of Israel get criticized today, as when an Egyptian judo athlete refused to shake his Israeli opponent’s hand after a match at the Olympics.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Aug. 6, 2014, announced the success of Operation Protective Edge, which killed some2,000 Gazans. Netanyahu said, "The goal of Operation Protective Edge was and remains to protect Israeli civilians." (Israeli government photo)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Aug. 6, 2014, announced the success of Operation Protective Edge, which killed some 2,000 Gazans. Netanyahu said, “The goal of Operation Protective Edge was and remains to protect Israeli civilians.” (Israeli government photo)

Israel could have had full and normal relations with its Arab neighbors long ago. Many years have passed since most Arab governments in effect accepted Zionism. A peace initiative by the Arab League, offering full normalization of Arab relations with Israel in return for an end to the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory and a “just settlement” of the Palestinian refugee issue, has been on the table since 2002.

The Arab governments later reaffirmed the offer and indicated additional flexibility regarding the acceptability of land swaps when drawing a final boundary between Israel and a Palestinian state. Israeli leaders, despite saying some favorable things about the initiative, have in effect ignored it, preferring to cling to all of the conquered Palestinian territory with a continued occupation.

But although these have been the Israeli priorities, the possibility of full and normal relations with the neighbors has at least been out there as a potential carrot, to add to whatever other incentives there might be for Israel to get off its destructive path of indefinite occupation.

Sunnis vs. Shiites

More recently, as an editorial in the New York Times observes, there has been de facto development of ties, in the absence of full diplomatic relations, between Israel and some Sunni Arab states, especially Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. There also has been a warming of relations with Egypt, a relationship that had mostly been a cold peace since Sadat’s time.

As the editorial correctly notes, such developments reflect how the political status of the Palestinians is not a top priority for most Arab governments, and indeed it has long had to compete with more parochial concerns of those governments. But the plight of their Palestinian brethren still is a salient issue for most Arabs, as is the status of holy places that are among the issues that would have to be resolved in any Israeli-Palestinian final agreement.

The principal author of the Arab League peace initiative, the late Saudi King Abdullah, made clear that he was especially interested in the status of the Muslim holy places in Jerusalem and was willing to accept whatever resolution of other issues was acceptable to the Palestinians themselves.

The kind of de facto and semi-secret relationships that have been developing are the wrong kind of Israeli-Arab relations. They are not in the best interests of the United States or of anyone else. Far from being a basis for peace and prosperity, they are themselves based on conflict, regional divisions, authoritarianism, and the threat or use of force.

With regard to Egypt, the warming of ties with the regime of strongman Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has to do with el-Sisi’s harsh internal crackdown and especially his bashing of the Muslim Brotherhood, which is related to his willingness to cooperate with Israel in bashing the Brotherhood’s Hamas cousins in the Gaza Strip.

With regard to the Gulf Arab monarchies, the dealings with Israel have to do with the determination of those regimes to expand their regional influence and to pursue their rivalry with Iran. That determination has become so strong in the Saudi case that it has led to the reckless aerial assault and consequent humanitarian disaster in Yemen — a situation that has gotten so bad that a bipartisan group of U.S. congressmen is urging the Obama administration to delay a major sale of arms to the Saudis.

More Conflict

In short, the recently developing Israeli ties with these authoritarian Sunni Arab regimes are a matter of more regional conflict and instability, not more peace and prosperity.

Two comments about current Israeli incentives follow. One is that there is even less interest than before (if that is possible) on the part of the Netanyahu government in taking up the Arab League initiative or taking any other steps toward making peace with the Palestinians. If Israel is at least partially shaking off its regional isolation while still clinging to all the occupied territory and not even making a move toward relinquishing it, then the determination of that government to live forever by the sword is only strengthened.

These developments also underscore the Israeli government’s incentive to stoke conflict with, and fear of, Iran as much as possible. It was the Israeli government’s interest in keeping Iran as a perpetual bugbear that underlay its posture toward the nuclear agreement with Iran — a posture that never made sense as far as the nuclear issue itself was concerned, given that the agreement severely restricts and monitors the very nuclear program about which the Israeli government had been sounding so many cries of alarm.

The scaremongering about Iran serves not only as a distraction from Israeli-relevant issues and a rationale for extraordinary U.S.-Israeli ties, but also as the basis for isolation-breaking relations with the Gulf Arabs.

So the prospects for any progress toward an Israeli-Palestinian peace are as dim as they have been in a good while. The right-wing Israeli government is not feeling pressure to get off its destructive path. On the Palestinian side, it is not a matter of, as the Times editorial incorrectly suggests, the Palestinians having no more “interest in serious peace talks” than Israel does.

Very few Palestinians want to live under the Israeli occupation, and the great majority of Palestinians recognize that serious peace talks are needed for the occupation to end. But the only tolerated Palestinian interlocutor, the Palestinian Authority, has become a sclerotic auxiliary to the occupation and has long passed its “best if used by” date.

Credible secular alternatives languish in Israeli jails. (Marwan Barghouti, call your office, if you can.) The Hamas alternative, which seems poised to win municipal elections in the West Bank in October], will no doubt be the target of the same Israeli rejection of popular sovereignty that it has been when winning free elections in the past.

The gloomy prognosis is not an excuse to avoid the issue. The plight of the Palestinians is partly a matter of denial of basic human and political rights. It also has been, as the editorial correctly notes, “a source of regional tension for decades.”

Paul R. Pillar, in his 28 years at the Central Intelligence Agency, rose to be one of the agency’s top analysts. He is author most recently of Why America Misunderstands the World. (This article first appeared as a blog post at The National Interest’s Web site. Reprinted with author’s permission.)

45 comments for “Israel’s Abnormal ‘Normal’ with its Neighbors

  1. NBrady
    September 3, 2016 at 15:20

    The Palestine mandarle was one of 5 class A mandates: Palestine trans Jordan Iraq for the Brits; Syria and Lebanon for the French. The class B mandates were in Africa under European administration and class C mandates in the South Pacific for Australia and New Zealand to administer.

  2. NBrady
    September 3, 2016 at 15:09

    ASF: do yourself a favor and listen to John. We at this site have heard all of your hasbara bs for DECADES. All of it crap. The zionist terrorists (Ben gurion begin shamir sharon etc etc – king david hotel i.e) were operating in the Palestine mandate. Not Jordan not trans Jordan or other. Go fight at mondoweiss where they kick your troll ass up and down. Leave us out of your twisted fabricated uninformed shite. You are not welcome here.

    http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2016/08/israel-tells-palestinians-textbooks-funding-160829114956237.html
    http://mondoweiss.net/2016/08/occupation-includes-palestinians/

    Plenty more to offer.

  3. Zachary Smith
    September 3, 2016 at 00:16

    The crappy NYT editorial was an extended gloat. That organization does not give a solitary damn about the Palestinians, but it chose to pretend it did this time.

    Unfortunately, neither the Israelis nor the Palestinians show interest in serious peace talks.

    What does the swinish NYT Editorial Board think the Palestinians have to talk about? Their land was stolen, they’re being abused and murdered at every turn, and the Israelis believe they’re sub-human squatters on Holy Land.

    The danger is that these countries will find more value in mending ties with each other and stop there, thus allowing Palestinian grievances, a source of regional tension for decades, to continue to fester.

    Israel has been illegally occupying the West Bank and Gaza and East Jerusalem since the 1967 Land Grab War. That is coming up on 5 decades. Again, what do the smug ******* at the NYT Editorial Board expect to happen when the murders and thefts continue unabated for half a century?

    • ASF
      September 3, 2016 at 00:50

      Oh, that New York Times! They must be a bunch of JEWS, uh, “Zionists”, right, Zachary? They NEVER support the Palestinians, those widdle friendless victims! Do you guys live in a cave somewhere and gobble magic mushrooms while reading Anti-Zionist tracts by candlelight? One has to wonder where your disconnect from reality actually comes from.

      • Zachary Smith
        September 3, 2016 at 01:12

        Kindly link all the instances you’re aware of where the NYT calls for Israel to totally withdraw from the stolen lands. Given your confidence, there are surely a lot. Right?

      • Tannenhouser
        September 3, 2016 at 01:22

        Kept in the dark and fed shyte. Such a fungi you are. Has the NYT ever been friendly to the plight of the people living in the West’s de facto open air prison? We can observably and demonstrably see it’s support….ecstatic glee even for the Zionist creep jailers. What’s that about disconnected reality?

      • John
        September 3, 2016 at 13:02

        ASF…
        Anti-Semitic Fraud?
        Anti-Semantic Fraud?
        Always Spewing Filth?
        Amalekite Support Fetish?
        Apartheid Supporting Fool?
        Abundant Shit Flinger?

        You really should be warned that any regular to this site is far too informed to fall for Hasbara. We realize that Zionism is anti-Semitism, not only because Palestinians are a Semitic people who speak a Semitic language (as opposed to AshkeNazis, who are Europeans who speak a Germanic or Syncretic language), but also because, as Theodor Herzel stated openly in his Diaries, “Anti-Semites will be our closest friends, and Anti-Semitic nations our closest allies”.

        Please do, however, continue to spew forth your Hasbara, so that we can continue to point out to you the lies that you have been indoctrinated with, and inform you of the truth that those lies are meant to cover up. If there is any capability of critical thought within you, and also any shred of human decency left in you, then I have no doubt you will come around, given some time and encouragement.

      • Joe Tedesky
        September 3, 2016 at 21:16

        John, I hope you will continue to comment on this site when you feel up to it. I personally feel that the Zionist got far too much mileage out of the Balfour Declaration. I also regret what Harry Truman did in order to get elected back in 1948. If I had been there I would have sided with George Marshall. What Marshall advocated at that time still makes sense today. I also feel that when Truman accepted the two million dollars from the then Israeli lobby, he started a long line of pay to play which is still with us to this day. I don’t hold all Jewish people accountable for what has happened, the same way all Americans can’t be held to task for what our leaders do. There is a slippery slope, and one we should all be careful not to slide down. I just want to make myself clear where my criticism of Israel is aimed, and that target is the Zionist.

      • Rikhard Ravindra Tanskanen
        September 6, 2016 at 14:33

        I have said above the Ashkenazis ARE Jews. You sound like my idiotic uncle.

  4. John
    September 2, 2016 at 14:41

    There are many excellent writers who contribute to consortium news. I challenge any of the contributes to pen an open letter to Israel’s god Yahweh …..It must receive lots of media attention for the sake of Palestinians ……..Help them ! Please !

    • Joe Tedesky
      September 2, 2016 at 16:08

      Do you have Yahweh’s street address, or does Yahweh use a post office box?

      • John
        September 2, 2016 at 18:54

        This challenge is not a joke…Truth is there isn’t anyone willing to go out on a limb demanding real evidence. Isn’t the pen mightier than the sword ? Meanwhile victims suffer……Who is up for the challenge ?

      • ASF
        September 3, 2016 at 00:47

        Actually, most Jews in Israel are secular. But JOHN either does not know this or he simply ignores that fact since it doesn’t support his argument. By the way, JOHN, the most fanatical Orthodox Jews are some of the biggest Anti-Zionists around. Because they believe that any nation of Israel brought about by mortal means, rather than directly by the hand of God, is a blasphemy. So, they will be glad to march with you during your BDS Anti-Zionist protests. Politics and religion make strange bedfellows, indeed.

      • Gregory Herr
        September 3, 2016 at 11:58

        Secularism, in the sense of which it is most broadly used, is the separation of “church and state” and the recognition that people of differing religions & beliefs are equal before the law. One can be religious, devotedly so, and at the same time think it best that government be “secular”.

        As for John’s call for an open letter to Yahweh…that is something that, if well done, could be creatively constructive and thought-provoking. You don’t need an address to write an open letter. For it to be read you just need it published. For instance, I could write an “open letter” to Barack Obama or Jesus of Nazereth. It might be allowed in this comment section.

      • Joe Tedesky
        September 3, 2016 at 21:03

        Gregory, you are right. I make no excuses for my joking around. I guess my Johnny Carson turned on by reflex. John, after reading some of his other comments, has apparently done some research on the Zionist/Jewish history, and I will respect that. I don’t mine legitimate debate, but sometimes these comments can take a turn for the worst, and nasty never accomplishes nothing of any good. I hope John will post more on this site, and forgive my not being able to pass up a good punch line, or at least what a meant to be in fun. I’m actually a better straight man, than a comic. So who’s on first?

      • Joe Tedesky
        September 3, 2016 at 08:06

        John, it’s not a joke, then quit asking such funny questions. Also, I think to communicate with Yahweh you need to be a stone mason. Seriously, if I did write a letter what mailbox would I put it in? Plus, when I (gentile) wish to have God hear me I just talk, and then I just believe God heard me. No paper, no pen, and I don’t need a stamp…I just talk (in my head) and then believe.

      • Peter Loeb
        September 3, 2016 at 07:36

        ASF must consider the Palestinians’ “terror” (the usual
        Israeli pejorative) as “self-defense”. Except only Zionists
        are permitted to defend themselves. Palestinians are
        allowed to be murdered, massacred, exterminated
        with a “thank you” to the ever peaceful oppressors.

        —Peter Loeb, Boston, MA, USA

      • Peter Loeb
        September 3, 2016 at 07:39

        TO JOE TEDESKY….

        You must know that only the CHOSEN have that address and among them
        only those that live in the hell Zionists have made in Palestine (a former name).

        —-Peter Loeb,

      • Joe Tedesky
        September 3, 2016 at 08:01

        What a relief. I guess that’s leaves me off the hook. Thanks Peter, good to hear from you. JT

    • Zachary Smith
      September 3, 2016 at 00:21

      Israel’s god Yahweh is a land-grabbing mass murder-enabling fellow himself – if you chose to believe the pretend-history of the Exodus. Naturally God’s Favorite People like that version of events. Merely evicting the animals posing as human beings from the Jewish Holy Land is a kindness compared what they claim happened in the good old days.

    • John
      September 3, 2016 at 12:46

      (Different John here)
      Israel does not worship YHWH.
      Israel, being a Zionist State, has abandoned the teachings of Judaism and worships an idol they have erected and called Israel.
      One only needs to look at the history of the founding of Israel, and compare it with the 10 commandments, to see that the founders of Israel systematically violated those commandments to create their settler colonial State.

      Israel is a Golden Calf.

  5. John
    September 2, 2016 at 14:23

    As I have stated before, Israel claim to that land is founded on the fictitious “desert god of war” Yahweh as a gift to Abraham. Simply subpoena Yahweh to bear witness to Israel’s claim in the world court…..A no show automatically forfeits the claim. This is a very sick dog and pony show the radicals of Israel have concocted ……Israel, either show real evidence or GTFO ! Anything else is just ,he said, she said, they said……

    • ASF
      September 3, 2016 at 00:43

      Yeah, because JOHN knows that Allah, personally, promised everything to the Palestinians. So, maybe we should subpoena the prophet from the grave as well. Justice is a two-way street, unless you call yourself a “Progressive” these days. Then, it can only be what YOU say it is, dammit!

      • John
        September 3, 2016 at 12:42

        Except that the indigenous inhabitants do not base their ownership of the land on some mythical and misinterpreted claim to the land by some ancient diety, but due to the fact that they, and their ancestors before them, have been living there for thousands of years, and also, in many cases, that they still posses the legal deeds to that land.

        The misinterpretation of the Zionists is simple, even if one were to make the absurd claim that the Torah serves as a legal deed to the land (despite it having been written in Babylon by people who had never set foot in Palestine), what the Torah claims that YHWH said is that the land would belong to the descendants of Abraham. The AshkeNazis, who originally invaded Palestine and unilaterally declared the settler colonial state of Israel, were not descended from Abraham, but from European converts to Judaism. Whereas the Palestinians are, as genetic tests have shown, descended from the very people who continuously inhabited Palestine for thousands of years. However, those people, long ago, converted from Judaism to Christianity and then to Islam.

        Religious conversion does not somehow majickally transform your ancestry, no matter what the Zionists (who are not Jewish, as they worship a State rather than YHWH) may believe in their sick little minds.

      • Rikhard Ravindra Tanskanen
        September 6, 2016 at 14:30

        The myth of Khazar decent has been debunked. I am tired of hearing about it. DNA tests, according to Wikipedia, actually show that they Ashkenazis are descendants of the Jews. The fact you are saying it is a fantasy of their “sick little minds” (although their minds ARE sick) shwos psychological projection, which I despise.

  6. delia ruhe
    September 2, 2016 at 12:46

    “A peace initiative by the Arab League, offering full normalization of Arab relations with Israel in return for an end to the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory and a ‘just settlement’ of the Palestinian refugee issue, has been on the table since 2002.”

    And “on the table” is exactly where it will stay, gathering dust, until Israel ceases to be Washington’s pet, protected from the big bad antisemitic UN Security Council; bankrolled to cover the cost of its regular slaughterings in Gaza, the West Bank, and Lebanon; and gifted with all the war toys it could possibly need. Indeed, it would seem that Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Egypt – with the kind of authoritarian regimes beloved by Washington – have already shifted to a more Realist position. It won’t be long before the rest of the Arab state governments follow suit.

    For how else can Israel be expected to extend its borders to the full extent of biblical Israel without having finished crushing the friendless Palestinians and grabbed what for the meantime is regarded as Greater Israel?

    • ASF
      September 3, 2016 at 00:41

      The Palestinians are hardly friendless with “Anti-Zionists” with you around to defend them and enable their terror and THEIR apartheid ambitions (which are based on a history of “ownership” that never, in fact, existed, given that the “Palestinians” of 1948 were actually “Trans-Jordanians.” Theyw ere originally from Jordan. Which is why, when they were offered their own self-governing state (for the very first time ever), it was offered to them under the auspices of Jordan. In fact, most people calling themselves “Palestinian refugees today are not even remotely related to those so-called “Palestinians” of 1947-8. But, why let inconvenient facts get in the way of your “principles”? The FACT is, the term “Palestinian” was first coined by Yassar Arafat many years later…For obvious political reasons. As far as the “Arab League” is concerned, the “Palestinian territories” includes all of Israel. That’s hardly a “negotiation.” That is a demand to disappear which Israel refuses to do. Too bad if you think that’s so mean of them.. By the way, you may not have heard (or you may simply have conveniently “forgotten”)–Israel already proposed pulling its security troops back from the West Bank but Abbas, himself, requested they stay. He knows quite well that he is a dead duck and that the entire area would combust without Israel to keep some semblance of law and order. Of course, some people think anarchy is the purest form of governance. Until somebody trespasses against them personally. Then, they scream like squalling babies for the authorities to protect them and what they feel is their’s.

      • Lavern Smith
        September 3, 2016 at 01:21

        Little you say is supported by facts. As a matter of fact, you can believe almost nothing that comes out of Israel or its rabid supporters such as yourself. It all falls under the category of bs if not actual Israeli state sponsored “hasbara”.

      • Peter Loeb
        September 3, 2016 at 07:35

        ASF must consider the Palestinians’ “terror” (the usual
        Israeli pejorative) as “self-defense”. Except only Zionists
        are permitted to defend themselves. Palestinians are
        allowed to be murdered, massacred, exterminated
        with a “thank you” to the ever peaceful oppressors.

        —Peter Loeb, Boston, MA, USA

      • Cal
        September 3, 2016 at 23:04

        Zionism is a cult that operates like a Mafia and obviously you are member. All of us could give you a lesson in ‘real history’ but what would be the point. You are brain washed by myths.

        When I explain Israel to fellow Americans I do it like this:

        I ask them what they would have done in 1948 if the Jews promised land had been Virginia or their state and the UN gave it to the Jews for their own state. And then Israelis had proceeded to do what they did in Palestine—-attack and terrorize the natives , kill their livestock, poison their water , burn down their homes, uproot their crops or olive trees and then create a law known as the ‘Absentee Law’ that seized e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g– homes, business, money in the banks, that fleeing Palestines had left behind and gave it to Jews.
        Then they ‘get’ what Israel is and what it has done.

        If you had done this anywhere else in the world and particularly in the US you would all be long gone, wiped out by the inhabitants of the land you were trying to steal and Israel would have been the shortest footnote in the dust bin of history.

        You will not last. I give Israel maybe 10 more years, or less, before it makes that final ‘overstep and its hubris brings it down.

      • Cal
        September 4, 2016 at 00:36

        ” The FACT is, the term “Palestinian” was first coined by Yassar Arafat many years later”

        This is a waste of time but I am always so appalled by the astounding ignorance of history by these Zionist I feel compelled to comment.

        Palestine has been around a long time. The first clear use of the term Palestine to refer to the entire area between Phoenicia and Egypt was in 5th century BC Ancient Greece, when Herodotus wrote of a “district of Syria, called Palaistinê” in The Histories, which included the Judean mountains and the Jordan Rift Valley.
        In the treatise Meteorology c.340 BCE, Aristotle wrote, “there is a lake in Palestine”. This is understood by scholars to be a reference to the Dead Sea.
        Later Greek writers such as Polemon and Pausanias also used the word, which was followed by Roman writers such as Ovid, Tibullus, Pomponius Mela, Pliny the Elder, Dio Chrysostom, Statius, Plutarch as well as Roman Judean writers Philo of Alexandria and Josephus.

        You should also spend some time at the Library of Congress where you can find 100s of maps of ancient Palestine.

        https://www.loc.gov/item/2009579463/
        Palestine in the time of Jesus, 4 B.C. – 30 A.D

        You should also keep up with the latest archeological findings which show that David and Solomon didn’t have a huge palace in Jerusalem in the 1000s and 900s BC. The Assyrians, the gossips of the ancient world, wrote down everything on their clay tablets. They knew events in the whole Middle East. They did not know anything about a glorious kingdom of David and Solomon at Jerusalem. In the 1000s when David is alleged to have lived, Jerusalem seems to have been largely uninhabited, according to the digs that have been done. Jerusalem was not in any case founded by Jews, but by Canaanites in honor of the god Shalem, thousands of years ago. There is no reason to think anyone but Canaanites lived in the area of Jerusalem in the 1000s or 900s BC.

  7. Annie
    September 2, 2016 at 11:26

    I’m truly tired of reading articles about Israel who continues to be a racist state that ignores international law. I’m tired of the US assisting Israel in it’s lawless and often brutal behavior of the Palestinian people, and providing billions of dollars for them to do so. I’m really tired of having our presidential candidates going before AIPAC and swearing allegiance to a state that I perceive as both racist and fascist. When will this destructive alliance with Israel come to an end? Our relationship and allegiance to Saudi Arabia is equally destructive. However, I remain fully aware of our own deplorable hegemonic behavior, and maybe more then anything that explains are ties to these countries.

    I was cut short.

    • Cal
      September 3, 2016 at 22:17

      DITTO

  8. Annie
    September 2, 2016 at 11:20

    I’m truly tired of reading articles about Israel who continues to be a racist state that ignores international law. I’m tired of the US assisting Israel in it’s lawless and often brutal behavior of the Palestinian people, and providing billions of dollars for them to do so. I’m really tired of having our presidential candidates going before AIPAC and swearing allegiance to a state that I perceive as both racist and fascist. When will that alliance with Israel come to an end?

    • ASF
      September 3, 2016 at 00:22

      Well, Annie, some of us are truly tired of the Palestinians receiving tons of so-called “humanitarian aid and assistance” in ever-escalating amounts (from the U.S, as well as the rest of the world–since 1948, in fact) which mostly gets diverted into terror and provocation against Israel and Jews. Perhaps if that stopped, Israel would not NEED to receive so much defensive assistance from the U.S.(which is defending it’s own interests by doing so, given that Israel is the only halfway Democratic presence in that theocratic Muslim pit of chaos, discrimination and repression that encompasses not only the Palestinian territories but much of the rest of the Islamic world.) Cause and Effect, Annie–Learn it. Live it. Teach it to your Palestinian and pseudo-Progressive brothers and sisters. And you might also take into consideration that a great deal of the money that has been sunk into the Palestinian territories to this day gets squirreled away into the Swiss Bank accounts of senior members of both Hamas and the PA, when said funds are not otherwise squandered in cronyism, graft and corruption. Reality may not be as viscerally satisfying or entertaining as rhetoric but it might actually help to look at, and possibly consider, it once in a while.

      • John
        September 3, 2016 at 12:25

        What “right” does a settler colonial apartheid state have to exist?
        Where, in international law, does an occupying power have the “right” to “defend itself” from those it occupies?

        I will give you a hint: there is no such “right” in international law, though an occupied people does have the right, under international law, to resist the occupier.

        This makes perfect sense that it us this way. If I come into your house, kill a few of your family members, and the rest of you run off in fear and hide in your back shed, wouldn’t it only make sense if you later tried to come back (probably with friends, or police) to eject me from this house?

        The situation of the Golden Calf squatting on Palestine really is as simple as that.

    • Peter Loeb
      September 3, 2016 at 07:29

      THANKS ANNIE….

      You made precisely the points I was tryuing to make (perhaps more
      convoluted?) above.Only you did a better job. Thanks!

      —–Peter Loeb, Boston, MA, USA

      NOTE: This response should have been printed AFTER
      the comment by Annie, not before. Peter Loeb

    • JWalters
      September 3, 2016 at 22:44

      I agree it’s tiresome. Israel is the flagship project of criminal war profiteering bankers, but their stranglehold on America’s press and politicians requires they be talked about as if they were ordinary citizens. They are sucking the blood of America’s middle class through their war manufacturing machinery. Americans need to learn about their crimes against America.
      http://warprofiteerstory.blogspot.com

  9. alexander
    September 2, 2016 at 11:13

    Dear Mr.Pillar,

    I am interesting in understanding ‘why’ their is a rivalry between, lets say, Saudi Arabia , and Iran ?

    From where does it spring, and what purpose does it serve ?

    I believed what I was told, by our Neocon stewards, that there exists a ‘natural hatred’ between Sunni’s and Shiite’s until I listened to an interview of a MIT graduate student from Iraq(on Democracy Now) that seemed to dispel the notion, almost completely.

    He said he grew up in Iraq , his mother was Shiite and his father was Sunni, and there was no substantive simmering “hatred” between the two.

    In fact , just the opposite. He said everyone seemed to get along fine, certainly his parents did.

    So given this viewpoint, from someone who has lived in the region most of his life, is there really all that much substance to the alleged Shiite /Sunni hatred ?

    if it exists at all, is it really as “acute” as our warmongers insist it is ?

    Perhaps this is just another “false” construct used to perpetuate a “divide and conquer”endless war, when endless war really isn’t necessary ?

    • tjoe
      September 5, 2016 at 08:10

      Yep…it’s manufactured or at a minimum, stoked.

  10. Joe Tedesky
    September 2, 2016 at 11:02

    At what point in time does anyone call out Israel’s stalling, and bluffing?

    • ASF
      September 3, 2016 at 00:09

      It happens to be the Palestinians who refuse to come to the table every single time a peace negotiation is proposed, unless Israel meets its “preconditions” which sort of invalidates the meaning of the term “negotiation.” And it is the majority of Palestinians who, whenever polled, state they do not support even the concept of a “two-state solution”–only the “right of return” which is basically their pseudo-political term for “Jews, get out entirely because we think we rightfully own the whole ball of wax (but we don’t call THAT apartheid) even though actual history does not support that notion as anything other than pure fantasy.” I thank God that this “ex-CIA analyst” is an EX-CIA analyst.

      • Lavern Smith
        September 3, 2016 at 00:52

        Little that one reads these days supports your statements.

      • Bart Gruzalski
        September 3, 2016 at 05:46

        What about Israeli pre-conditions? Full recognition (by a state that isn’t a state, how dumb is everyone, esp. the Israelis on this ridiculous point?

        What about insisting that none of the UN-recognized stolen land be returned.

        What about agreeing to all standing agreements and policies? The main one, and for all I know it’s the only one, viz., Israel gets pretty much every drop of water it wants–for landscaping, for swimming pools, while that Palestinians are sucking dry dust, in part also from the prior bombing of water infrastructure and the closing of out-world like this.

        Aren’t these items that need negotiation?

    • Peter Loeb
      September 3, 2016 at 07:13

      NEVER ACCEPT ZIONISM

      Paul Pillar’s article above presumes the reader’s ignorance of the basic
      tenets including white supremacism, racially based colonialism. An agreement or
      some kind of “treaty” with those who advocate extermination, dispossession,
      murder, depopulation, home demolishing, Jewish only control cannot
      be acceptable. Not now, not ever.

      It would have been preferable for the so-called “Arab neighbors”
      to increase their agreements with other countries in the mid-East
      such as Iran, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Egypt. Instead they caved in
      to Israel and Israel made its former enemies into guarantors of
      Israeli(and US) oppression of Palestinians. Those nations who
      were succored into “agreements” were complicit in a myriad
      of actions in defiance of international law, associated treaties.

      It should not avoid mention that many Arab nations are recipients
      of enormous support in weaponry for the purpose of killing
      Arabs on Israel’s unwanted list.

      A deeper exploration of the origins Zionism, its in creasing
      militant and exclusive nature seems to have been considered
      irrelevant by Paul Piller.

      —-Peter Loeb, Boston, MA, USA

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