Right for the Wrong Reasons


The foreign policy mantra of Israel’s radical, Moldovan-born foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, can be accurately summarized in just four words: always blame the victim.

He may be more vocal than most, but it is the paradigm by which all Israeli ministers operate: the victims, not the perpetrators, are responsible for their own suffering. Whether it was the July 2006 war on Lebanon or the 2008-2009 assault on Gaza, the innocents killed effectively brought Israel’s wrath upon themselves.

The doctrine also applies to those accidently/deliberately killed (always a murky distinction) by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) for standing up for Palestinian rights, such as when an armored bulldozer crushed American peace activist Rachel Corrie to death as she tried to prevent a home’s destruction; or when an IDF sniper shot British activist Thomas Hurndall in the head while he was rescuing  Palestinian children in the line of fire; or when American student Emily Henochowicz lost an eye after being shot in the face with tear gas grenade as she peacefully protested the Israeli raid on the Turkish flotilla.

So when Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogen demanded a formal apology from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for the May 31 commando raid on the MV Mavi Marmara (the Gaza Freedom Flotilla’s lead relief vessel aboard which nine Turkish aid workers were murdered) Lieberman replied that it was Ankara who owed Israel the apology for attempting to break the inhumane Gaza embargo.

“I think the matter of an apology borders on chutzpah or beyond. If anything, we are waiting for an apology from the Turkish government, and not the other way around.”

But in the midst of his speech to Israeli ambassadors, two rare statements of truth emerged from the mendacious Lieberman.

Mahmoud Abbas is an illegitimate president

“It is forbidden for us to reach a comprehensive deal today with the Palestinians. To put it clearly, you have to understand that their government is not legitimate ? It is a government that has postponed elections three times, that lost elections, that does not hold elections, does not plan to hold elections and there are no guarantees that next time they do hold elections, that Hamas won’t win again.”

Peace is certainly not dependent on an elected party or person to take effect. It remains true, however, that the four-year term of the Palestinian Authority’s ostensible leader, Mahmoud Abbas, expired on Jan. 9, 2009 (he unilaterally extended his term for an additional year thereafter). Abbas’ authority can thus legitimately be called into question.

Because he holds no love for Hamas?the landslide victor in the January 2006 Palestinian parliamentary elections?Abbas has remained in the good graces of the United States and is regarded by Israel as a leader with whom they can do business.

Little headway has been made in Fatah?Hamas reconciliation ever since Fatah was ousted from Gaza in June 2007 when Abbas dissolved the unity government and declared he would rule by presidential decree. Indeed, his protestations of Israel’s brutal December 2008 attack on the tiny enclave were notably feeble, if not mute.

Lieberman is technically correct in his statement although it remains the hollowest of excuses, meant solely to avoid substantive negotiations with the Palestinians (and an ironic one, considering what Israel was able to accomplish under the docile Abbas).

Peace is impossible

“It’s not only that it is impossible [to reach a peace agreement with the Palestinians], it is simply forbidden.”

Once again putting aside the ridiculous assertion that peace is “forbidden,” Lieberman is correct in contending that it is impossible at present.

Peace cannot occur when West Bank land is being expropriated by new and expanding settlements. Peace cannot occur when Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem are evicted from their homes. Peace cannot occur when 1.5 million residents of Gaza are not free to obtain medical care, leave their open-air prison to visit relatives in the West Bank, or adequately rebuild their homes, hospitals and schools.

For once Avigdor Lieberman got it right ? for all the wrong reasons.

RANNIE AMIRI is an independent Middle East commentator.


Weekend Edition
November 27-29, 2015
Andrew Levine
The Real Trouble With Bernie
Gary Leupp
Ben Carson, Joseph in Egypt, and the Attack on Rational Thought
John Whitbeck
Who’s Afraid of ISIS?
Michael Brenner
Europe’s Crisis: Terror, Refugees and Impotence
Ramzy Baroud
Forget ISIS: Humanity is at Stake
Pepe Escobar
Will Chess, Not Battleship, Be the Game of the Future in Eurasia?
Vijay Prashad
Showdown on the Syrian Border
Dave Lindorff
Gen. John Campbell, Commander in Afghanistan and Serial Liar
Colin Todhunter
Class, War and David Cameron
Jean Bricmont
The Ideology of Humanitarian Imperialism
Dan Glazebrook
Deadliest Terror in the World: the West’s Latest Gift to Africa
Mark Hand
Escape From New York: the Emancipation of Activist Cecily McMillan
Karl Grossman
Our Solar Bonanza!
Mats Svensson
Madness in Hebron: Hashem Had No Enemies, Yet Hashem Was Hated
Walter Brasch
Terrorism on American Soil
Louisa Willcox
Grizzly Bears, Dreaming and the Frontier of Wonder
Michael Welton
Yahweh is Not Exactly Politically Correct
Joseph Natoli
A Politics of Stupid and How to Leave It Behind
John Cox
You Should Fear Racism and Xenophobia, Not Syrian Refugees or Muslims
Barrie Gilbert
Sacrificing the Grizzlies of Katmai: the Plan to Turn Brooks Camp Into a Theme
Rev. William Alberts
The Church of “Something Else” in “an Ecclesiastical Desert”
Andrew Gavin Marshall
Bank Crimes Pay
Elliot Murphy
Cameron’s Syrian Strategy
Thomas S. Harrington
Jeff Jacoby of the Boston Globe and the Death of Ezra Schwartz
Gareth Porter
How Terror in Paris Calls for Revising US Syria Policy
Michael Perino
The Arc of Instability
Yves Engler
Justin Trudeau and Canada’s Mining Industry
Tom H. Hastings
ISIS and Changing the Game
Lars Jørgensen
Vive la Résistance
John Halle
A Yale Education as a Tool of Power and Privilege
Norman Pollack
Syrian “Civil War”?: No, A Proxy War of Global Confrontation
Sheldon Richman
Let the Refugees In
James Anderson
Reframing Black Friday: an Imperative for Déclassé Intellectuals
Simon Bowring
UN Climate Talks 2009: a Merger of Interest and Indifference
Ron Jacobs
Rosa Luxemburg–From Street Organizer to Street Name
Aidan O'Brien
Same-Sex Sellout in Ireland
David Stocker
Report from the Frontline of Resistance in America
Patrick Bond
China Sucked Deeper Into World Financial Vortex and Vice Versa, as BRICS Sink Fast
Majd Isreb
America’s Spirit, Syrian Connection
James A Haught
The Values of Jesus
Binoy Kampmark
British Austerity: Cutting One’s Own Backyard
Ed Rampell
45 Years: A Rumination on Aging
Charles R. Larson
Chronicle of Sex Reassignment Surgery: Juliet Jacques’s “Trans: a Memoir”
Jeffrey St. Clair - Alexander Cockburn
CounterPunch’s Favorite Films
November 26, 2015
Ashley Nicole McCray – Lawrence Ware
Decolonizing the History of Thanksgiving