Eine Kleine Nichtmusik

Witty and pertinent observations on matters of great significance OR Incoherent jottings on total irrelevancies OR Something else altogether OR All of the above

Saturday, May 23, 2009

A waste of time?

As we all know, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recently visited Washington, where he wittered on about the supposed nuclear threat from Iran and refused to endorse the idea of a Palestinian state.

Still, his lack of interest in peace is good news for America's arms manufacturers.

On a positive note, Mr Netanyahu last week ordered the demolition of one illegal Israeli settlement, comprising seven huts. So that's all right then.

I thought this piece a few weeks ago in the Guardian by Max Hastings was spot on. When I was in my teens and twenties everyone I knew thought Israel could do no wrong and that it set an example of "courage under fire". Of course, then we all thought that the Six-Day War had been a surprise attack on Israel rather than a long-planned surprise attack by Israel, but we were young and naive. Israel was cool then: if you need proof of that, consider Adam Diment's super-cool secret agent Philip McAlpine (think James Bond but with a AR15 and a large spliff rather than a Walther PPK and a martini). In the last McAlpine book, Think Inc. one of his colleagues in crime (literally as it happens) is an ex-IDF tank commander, and he and his military experience are is portrayed entirely positively with not a hint of criticism.

Yet it was Israel's own right-wing extremists who removed the gilt from the gingerbread. As Hastings describes it:

I also became dismayed by the naked imperialism displayed by Israel's rightwing zealots. One night at a dinner party in Jerusalem in 1977, I heard a young Israeli talking about the Arabs in terms which chilled my blood. "In the next war," he said, "we've got to get the Palestinians out of the West Bank for good."

And who was that young Israeli?

By a curious quirk, that young Israeli whom I heard enthuse about emptying the West Bank of Arabs was Binyamin Netanyahu, today his country's prime minister.

Did Barack Obama really imagine that Benjamin Netanyahu, proponent of ethnic cleansing or worse and bitter opponent of a Palestinian state, was going to listen to a single word he had to say?


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