When you bomb an ally, you apologise. When you bomb an enemy, you don’t. What does that make IS to Israel?
It is an alliance of convenience to be sure and one that’s not boasted about by either party. But is not terribly different from one that Israel enjoys with its other Muslim allies like Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states.
"Bogie" Moshe Yaalon served as defence minister in the current Israeli government until he had a falling out with Netanyahu in May 2016. Now Yaalon plans to form his own party and run against his former boss. Unfortunately for him, he’s not polling well and doesn’t appear to be much of a political threat.
So Yaalon enjoys the position of having little to lose. He can speak more candidly than the average politician. In this context, he spoke at length on security matters at a public event in the northern Israeli city of Afula this past Saturday.
There is always much that I disagree with whenever I read Yaalon’s views. For example, while warning in this video about the danger of favouring too heavily one side over the other in Syria, he essentially justifies Israel’s interventionist approach. It has largely favoured Assad’s Islamist opponents. Nor do I much like, in another context, Yaalon’s choice of political allies - from Islamophobe blogger Pam Geller to Meir Kahane’s grandson.
The attack he refers to was never reported in Israeli media. Either the information was placed under gag order or under military censorship
But he did reveal Israel’s ties to IS in Syria. I’ve documented, along with other journalists, Israeli collaboration with al-Nusra, an affiliate of al-Qaeda. But no Israeli until now has admitted it has collaborated with IS as well.
Yaalon implicitly confirmed this in his statement:
"Within Syria there are many factions: the regime, Iran, the Russians, and even al-Qaeda and ISIS. In such circumstances, one must develop a responsible, carefully balanced policy by which you protect your own interests on the one hand, and on the other hand you don’t intervene. Because if Israel does intervene on behalf of one side, it will serve the interests of the other; which is why we’ve established red lines. Anyone who violates our sovereignty will immediately feel the full weight of our power. On most occasions, firing comes from regions under the control of the regime. But once the firing came from ISIS positions – and it immediately apologised."
The attack he refers to was never reported in Israeli media. Either the information was placed under gag order or under military censorship. It was suppressed most certainly because both the firing by an Israeli Islamist ally on Israeli territory and IS’s apology would embarrass both Israel and the Islamists.
What defines an ally?
Some critics claim that an IS apology doesn’t signify an alliance or serious collaboration between the Islamist group and Israel. To which I reply – when you bomb an ally you apologise. When you bomb an enemy – you don’t. What does that make IS to Israel?
Keep in mind, this is the same IS which beheaded a Jewish-American who had lived in Israel: Steven Sotloff. The same IS which raped Yazidi women and threw gay men off buildings. The same IS which has rampaged through the Middle East sowing havoc and rivers of blood wherever it goes. The same IS which Netanyahu routinely excoriates as being the root of all evil in the world. Like here, for example:
“Iran and the Islamic State want to destroy us, and a hatred for Jews is being directed towards the Jewish state today,” said Netanyahu, adding, “those who threaten to destroy us risk being destroyed themselves.”
It’s common knowledge that Israeli foreign policy going back to the days of Ben Gurion has been exceedingly opportunistic and amoral as exemplified in this infamous statement:
”Were I to know that all German Jewish children could be rescued by transferring them to England and only half by transfer to Palestine, I would opt for the latter, because our concern is not only the personal interest of these children, but the historic interest of the Jewish people.”
So I suppose one shouldn’t be surprised at this new development. But still it does momentarily take one’s breath away to contemplate just how brutally cynical Israel’s motives and choices can often be.
- Richard Silverstein writes the Tikun Olam blog, devoted to exposing the excesses of the Israeli national security state. His work has appeared in Haaretz, the Forward, the Seattle Times and the Los Angeles Times. He contributed to the essay collection devoted to the 2006 Lebanon war, A Time to Speak Out (Verso) and has another essay in the upcoming collection, Israel and Palestine: Alternate Perspectives on Statehood (Rowman & Littlefield).
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Eye.
Photo: Islamic State militant waving the group's flag (AFP)
Isis-affiliated fighters “apologised” after launching an attack on Israeli soldiers, the country’s former defence minister has claimed.
Moshe Ya’alon was reportedly referring to an incident when a group linked to Isis in the Syrian Golan Heights exchanged fire with Israeli forces last November.
The area is a rocky plateau in southwestern Syria, which was partly seized by Israel during the Six-Day War of 1967 and later annexed in a move never recognised by the international community.
“There was one case recently where Daesh [Isis] opened fire and apologised,” Mr Ya’alon said speaking at an event in the northern city of Alufa, during which he was was being interviewed about Israel’s policy on Syria.
After a short gun battle, the Israeli military attacked Syrian jihadist group Khalid ibn al-Walid with airstrikes and tank fire, killing four of them, The Times of Israel reports.
Under Israeli law, communication with the group is illegal because it constitutes contact with an enemy agent.
Mr Ya’alon is the former chief of staff of the Israel Defense Forces and served as Defence Minister from 2013 until his resignation in May 2016.
During the interview, he said Israel carried out strikes against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces in retaliation when the Golan Heights was attacked.
Israel has adopted a largely non-interventionist position regarding the complicated conflict on its doorstep, although it has retaliated on occasions when conflict has spilled over into territory it controls.
Een tegenstem wordt niet geduld in 'the land of the free. home of the brave.'
VRIJDAG 28 APRIL 2017
Voltallige Amerikaanse Senaat eist in brief dat VN ''anti Israel agenda laat varen''
VN secretaris generaal Guterres
De Amerikaanse Senaat heeft vrijdag een brief gestuurd aan secretaris generaal Antonio Guterres van de Verenigde Naties, waarin hem gevraagd wordt actie te ondernemen tegen de "anti-Israelische agenda" van de VN. De brief is opgesteld door de senatoren Marco Rubio (Rep.-Florida) en Christopher A. Coons (Dem.-Delaware) en werd donderdag door alle 100 leden van de Senaat ondertekend.
“We roepen u op om er met woord en daad voor te zorgen dat Israel niet slechter of beter behandeld wordt dan enig ander goed bekend staand lid van de VN, '' aldus de brief. De “voortdurende aanvallen op Israel” in de VN werden in de brief “onacceptabel” genoemd.''Hoewel we als Republikeinen en Democraten in veel zake van mening verschillen, zijn we verenigd in onze wens dat de VN zijn behandeling van Israel verbetert.''
Israel, which recently said it could launch a preemptive nuclear strike “in the most extreme circumstances,” runs the risk of being “wiped off the face of the Earth,” the deputy head of a Russian upper house committee said.
“The statement made by Israel’s Defense Minister calls for a harsh response and I’m not afraid of going too far. At best this statement may be seen as an element of a psychological war, which looks especially revolting in this context”.
“There is a quite natural question then: what country could be primitively targeted byIsrael?” the deputy head of the Federation Council’s Committee for Defense and Security said.
In case Israel strikes a nuclear power, then “Israel, which doesn’t have vast territory, will be literally wiped off from the face of the earth with a counterstrike,” Klintsevich said.
In the event of targeting a non-nuclear country, this will remind of the US nuclear attack on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, he added.
Klintsevich’s comment comes after Israel’s Defense Minister on Monday said that Israel is prepared to carry out a preemptive nuclear strike against any enemies, even if Israel is not under attack.
“In the most extreme circumstances we have made it very clear that you can’t rule out the use of nuclear weapons as a first strike”
“The whole point about the deterrent is that you have got to leave uncertainty in the mind of anyone who might be thinking of using weapons against this country,” he said.
A recent report by the UN Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR) showed that the threat of a “nuclear weapon detonation event,” accidental or deliberate, is “arguably at its highest in the 26 years since the collapse of the Soviet Union,” as relations between nuclear powers continue to deteriorate.
I imagine I’m not the only political and media observer sickened by the dominant (“mainstream”) corporate media’s habitual reference to xenophobic, right-wing, white-nationalist, and neo-fascist politicians like Donald Trump, Geert Wilders, Nigel Farage, and Marine Le Pen as “populists.” Populism properly understood is about popular and democratic opposition to the rule of the money power – to the reign of concentrated wealth. It emerged from radical farmers’ fight for social and economic justice and democracy against the plutocracy of the nation’s Robber Baron capitalists during the late 19th century. It was a movement of the left. As the left author and journalist Harvey Wasserman notes:
“The Morgans, Rockefellers and their ilk had captured the industrial revolution that dominated the U.S. after the Civil War. The farmers of the South and West fought back with a grass-roots social movement…They formed the People’s Party. Its socialistic platforms demanded public ownership of the major financial institutions, including banks, railways, power utilities and other private monopolies that were crushing the public well-being.”
“At their national conventions in Omaha in 1892, and St. Louis in 1896, and elsewhere, they demanded an end to corporate and foreign ownership of land. They wanted a national currency based on food rather than gold and silver. They endorsed universal affordable medical care, free public education and a general guarantee of the basics of life for all humans. They demanded equal rights for women, including the vote…They also preached racial unity, especially among black and white farmers in the South, and between native and immigrant workers in the cities.”
Contemporary populists worthy of the label are leftists. They back “human rights, social democracy, peace and ecological sanity” (Wasserman). They support racial and ethnic equality and unity in the interest of working class solidarity and struggle from the bottom up. They want government to serve the broad working class majority of the populace and the common good, not the wealthy corporate and financial Few.
The dominant media sometimes has the decency to distinguish between the “left populism” (democratic socialism) of an Evo Morales (Bolivia’s Indigeneous and ecosocialist president), a Jean-Luc Melenchon (the ecosocialist French presidential candidate) or a Jeremy Corbin (the left leader of the British Labor Party) on one hand and the “right wing populism” of a Trump, Le Pen, Wilders, or Steve Bannon on the other hand. But the makers of this distinction fails to understand that “‘Populists of the Right’ are fascists. Their goal,” Wasserman writes, “has a clear definition, as put forward by the term’s originator, Benito Mussolini: ‘Corporate control of the state.’” Further:
“When they take power, they become National Socialists, using the government to enrich the corporations and the rich, rather than Democratic Socialists, or social democrats, using the state to serve the people. Fascists support enriching the rich and to hell with the rest of us. They are racist, misogynist, anti-ecological, militaristic and authoritarian. They hate democracy, freedom of speech and an open media. They take power by fomenting hate and division. Le Pen, now in in the runoff for the leadership of France, is a classic fascist…”
Trump is no populist. His tax plan released last Wednesday by Goldman Sachs veterans and White House officials Gary Cohn and Steven Mnuchin would slash tax rates for businesses from (a seldom paid) 35 percent to 15 percent. The Trump scheme includes a “pass-through” tax cut on business income that is currently taxed at the business owners’ individual income tax rates rather than the corporate rate.
Calling Trump’s proposal as “a very big step in precisely the wrong direction,” the Economic Policy Institute’s Josh Bivens and Hunter Blair say that the pass-through tax cut “will help private equity managers and people like President Trump: wealthy people who will now be able to reconfigure their taxes by reclassifying themselves as independent contractors.”
Another regressive part of Trump’s plan would liquidate the alternative minimum tax, which is meant to stop the super-rich from using loopholes to escape all tax liability. Trump would deepen inequality further by repealing the estate tax on wealth transferred from deceased people to their heirs.
Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen, calls Trump’s tax plan “Goldman Sachs populism.”
How journalists can continue to call the billionaire and billionaires’ President Trump a “populist” in light of such oligarchic policy initiatives is an interesting question.
Of course, Trump is something worse than just a non-populist. He’s a neofascist who hopes to rally white “heartland” working class support for his fake-populist plutocratic agenda with a toxic brew of hyper-militarism, immigrant-bashing nativism, law-and-order racism, sexism, and anti-intellectualism. Like Hilter in the early middle 1930s, Trump hopes to use the scapegoating of demonized others and foreigners – Muslims, Mexican immigrants, “China,” and other targets (Canadian timber exporters!) – to divert popular attention away from his service to the rich and powerful.
Sometimes mainstream journalists make no effort to distinguish between “populism’s” right and left variants. In a recent reflection titled “Western Populism May Be Entering an Awkward Adolescence,” New York Times reporters Max Fisher and Amanda Taub delete the left version altogether. Fisher and Taub matter-of-factly proclaim that “a wave of recent elections seemed to offer contradictory evidence as to whether populism is advancing or receding. It triumphed in the British vote to leave the European Union [the ‘Brexit’ vote} and in the American presidential race [Trump’s victory],, fell short in the Dutch elections [Dutch nationalist Geert Wilders’ defeat] and won its greatest-ever success in France’s first presidential round [Le Pen’s 21%]…”
Never mind that all the politicians and parties Fisher and Taub call “populists” are in reality neofascists. They combine loyalty to an ugly and authoritarian model of capitalism with white nationalism, immigrant-bashing, racism, sexism, and an appeal to “traditional values.”
Meanwhile the mainstream media writes off politicians closer to real populism – left leaders like Corbin and Melenchon – as “the extreme left.”
It’s too much, I suppose, to expect the U.S. corporate media to acknowledge that a neofascist sits in the White House as the representative of one of the nation’s leading two capitalist parties. One might at least hope they could use the F word (fascism) to describe the quite more openly fascistic white-nationalist militia groups that have seen chilling membership gains under Obama and Trump. So far, those groups too have avoided accurate description as fascist by “mainstream” U.S. news authorities (see this from “P”BS, for example) – a disturbing fact. It does not bode well.