“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Monday, August 18, 2014

Novelist David Grossman warns Gaza operation, rabid nationalism is turning Israel into a 'militant, xenophobic cult'

10,000 attend Tel Aviv anti-war rally
Famous author warns Gaza operation, rabid nationalism is turning Israel into a 'militant, xenophobic cult'
A few thousand left-wing demonstrators gathered Saturday evening at Tel Aviv's Rabin Square to protest what they described as their government's hawkish policies in Gaza and to call for a diplomatic solution to the conflict with the Palestinians.
The rally, organized by Peace Now, was attended by left-wing politicians and cultural luminaries including popular novelist David Grossman, who lamented what he described as the “rise of the forces of darkness" in Israeli society.
Grossman referred to the violent counter protests which have routinely been held opposite peace demonstrations during Israels military operation in Gaza and the violent rhetoric inciting to violence against Israeli leftists on social media.

(David Grossman - Three years ago)

"Certain phenomena and processes that have become apparent lately might transform Israel into an extremist, militant sect, xenophobic, isolated and ostracized," Grossman said. "We are losing our home to hatred and bigotry."
"All the while Gazans are being suffocated, we won't be able to breathe freely. Israel ought to present the Palestinians with more inclusive, meaningful offers. Not another local agreement but an extensive plan that would address their needs and treat them as human beings deserving of respect," the author further added. "You can argue about the small print, but what needs to change is the spirit. We ought to remind to those negotiating in Cairo that even if today Gaza residents are our enemies, they shall forever remain our neighbors."
Meretz Chairwoman Zahava Gal-On urged the premier -- more popular than ever with the Israeli public following his conduct during Operation Protective Edge -- to step down. "Bibi, you failed. You should hand in your office keys and go home. You rank failure is due to your five year-long refusal to pursue the path of diplomacy, to accept the Palestinian peace Initiative."
The rally came two days after another mass demonstration in which 10,000 people came out to express solidarity with residents of communities along the Gaza border and call on the government to take a firmer stance opposite the Palestinians.
The rally was originally due to take place last week, but was postponed by order of the police, which prohibited gatherings of more than 1,000 people before the ceasefire was called, while the threat of rocket attacks on the city was still in force.


  1. In New York, meanwhile, the United Nations Security Council met to discuss the Middle East, including the cease-fire talks in Gaza.


    Egypt and Norway plan to co-host a donor conference to help toward the reconstruction of Gaza once a durable cease-fire has been negotiated, the Norwegian Foreign Ministry said on Monday.

    “The invitations to the conference, to be held in Cairo, will be duly extended once an agreement on a sustainable cease-fire has been reached as a result of the ongoing talks in Cairo,” the ministry said in a statement.

  2. An Israel Without Illusions
    David Grossman: Stop the Grindstone of Israeli-Palestinian Violence

    JERUSALEM — Israelis and Palestinians are imprisoned in what seems increasingly like a hermetically sealed bubble. Over the years, inside this bubble, each side has evolved sophisticated justifications for every act it commits.

    Israel can rightly claim that no country in the world would abstain from responding to incessant attacks like those of Hamas, or to the threat posed by the tunnels dug from the Gaza Strip into Israel. Hamas, conversely, justifies its attacks on Israel by arguing that the Palestinians are still under occupation and that residents of Gaza are withering away under the blockade enforced by Israel.

    Inside the bubble, who can fault Israelis for expecting their government to do everything it can to save children on the Nahal Oz kibbutz, or any of the other communities adjacent to the Gaza Strip, from a Hamas unit that might emerge from a hole in the ground? And what is the response to Gazans who say that the tunnels and rockets are their only remaining weapons against a powerful Israel? In this cruel and desperate bubble, both sides are right. They both obey the law of the bubble — the law of violence and war, revenge and hatred.

    But the big question, as war rages on, is not about the horrors occurring every day inside the bubble, but rather it is this: How on earth can it be that we have been suffocating together inside this bubble for over a century? This question, for me, is the crux of the latest bloody cycle.

    Since I cannot ask Hamas, nor do I purport to understand its way of thinking, I ask the leaders of my own country, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his predecessors: How could you have wasted the years since the last conflict without initiating dialogue, without even making the slightest gesture toward dialogue with Hamas, without attempting to change our explosive reality? Why, for these past few years, has Israel avoided judicious negotiations with the moderate and more conversable sectors of the Palestinian people — an act that could also have served to pressure Hamas? Why have you ignored, for 12 years, the Arab League initiative that could have enlisted moderate Arab states with the power to impose, perhaps, a compromise on Hamas? In other words: Why is it that Israeli governments have been incapable, for decades, of thinking outside the bubble?

    And yet the current round between Israel and Gaza is somehow different. Beyond the pugnacity of a few politicians fanning the flames of war, behind the great show of “unity” — in part authentic, mostly manipulative — something about this war is managing, I think, to direct many Israelis’ attention toward the mechanism that lies at the foundation of the vain and deadly repetitive “situation.” Many Israelis who have refused to acknowledge the state of affairs are now looking into the futile cycle of violence, revenge and counter-revenge, and they are seeing our reflection: a clear, unadorned image of Israel as a brilliantly creative, inventive, audacious state that for over a century has been circling the grindstone of a conflict that could have been resolved years ago.


    1. {...}

      If we put aside for a moment the rationales we use to buttress ourselves against simple human compassion toward the multitude of Palestinians whose lives have been shattered in this war, perhaps we will be able to see them, too, as they trudge around the grindstone right beside us, in tandem, in endless blind circles, in numbing despair.

      I do not know what the Palestinians, including Gazans, really think at this moment. But I do have a sense that Israel is growing up. Sadly, painfully, gnashing its teeth, but nonetheless maturing — or, rather, being forced to. Despite the belligerent declarations of hotheaded politicians and pundits, beyond the violent onslaught of right-wing thugs against anyone whose opinion differs from theirs, the main artery of the Israeli public is gaining sobriety.

      The left is increasingly aware of the potent hatred against Israel — a hatred that arises not just from the occupation — and of the Islamic fundamentalist volcano that threatens the country. It also recognizes the fragility of any agreement that might be reached here. More people on the left understand now that the right wing’s fears are not mere paranoia, that they address a real and crucial threat.

      I would hope that on the right, too, there is now greater recognition — even if it is accompanied by anger and frustration — of the limits of force; of the fact that even a powerful country like ours cannot simply act as it wishes; and that in the age we live in there are no unequivocal victories, only an illusory “image of victory” through which we can easily see the truth: that in war there are only losers. There is no military solution to the real anguish of the Palestinian people, and as long as the suffocation felt in Gaza is not alleviated, we in Israel will not be able to breathe freely either.

      Israelis have known this for decades, and for decades we have refused to truly comprehend it. But perhaps this time we understand a little better; perhaps we have caught a glimpse of the reality of our lives from a slightly different angle. It is a painful understanding, and a threatening one, certainly, but it is an understanding that could be the start of a shift. It might bring home for Israelis how critical and urgent peace with the Palestinians is, and how it can also be a basis for peace with the other Arab states. It may portray peace — such a disparaged concept here these days — as the best option, and the most secure one, available to Israel.

      Will a similar comprehension emerge on the other side, in Hamas? I have no way of knowing. But the Palestinian majority, represented by Mahmoud Abbas, has already decided in favor of negotiation and against terrorism. Will the government of Israel, after this bloody war, after losing so many young and beloved people, continue to avoid at least trying this option? Will it continue to ignore Mr. Abbas as an essential component to any resolution? Will it keep dismissing the possibility that an agreement with West Bank Palestinians might gradually lead to an improved relationship with the 1.8 million residents of Gaza?

      Here in Israel, as soon as the war is over, we must begin the process of creating a new partnership, an internal alliance that will alter the array of narrow interest groups that controls us. An alliance of those who comprehend the fatal risk of continuing to circle the grindstone; those who understand that our borderlines no longer separate Jews from Arabs, but people who long to live in peace from those who feed, ideologically and emotionally, on continued violence.



    2. {...}

      I believe that Israel still contains a critical mass of people, both left-wing and right-wing, religious and secular, Jews and Arabs, who are capable of uniting — with sobriety, with no illusions — around a few points of agreement to resolve the conflict with our neighbors.

      There are many who still “remember the future” (an odd phrase, but an accurate one in this context) — the future they want for Israel, and for Palestine. There are still — but who knows for how much longer — people in Israel who understand that if we sink into apathy again we will be leaving the arena to those who would drag us fervently into the next war, igniting every possible locus of conflict in Israeli society as they go.

      If we do not do this, we will all — Israelis and Palestinians, blindfolded, our heads bowed in stupor, collaborating with hopelessness — continue to turn the grindstone of this conflict, which crushes and erodes our lives, our hopes and our humanity.

      David Grossman is the author, most recently, of “Falling Out of Time.” His other books include “To the End of the Land,” “Death as a Way of Life” and “The Yellow Wind.” This essay was translated by Jessica Cohen from the Hebrew.

    3. Deuce has stated numerous times that he does not believe that Israel has any right to BE.

      His views are the same as Hamas.

      That will only create a new war.

  3. Israelis make mistakes. For instance, the number and extent of Hamas’ tunnels into Israel was apparently a surprise to Israeli intelligence.

    Israel also seemed unprepared for Hamas’ offensive battlefield tactics and almost certainly the occasional soldier lost his head and committed what might be a war crime. But the truth — the prosaic truth — is that Israel is neither as good as Ronald Reagan once believed nor as bad as its critics insist.

    Israelis are only human. If you prick them, they will bleed.

    Unobtainable Standard

    1. True, sam, but they no longer do it quietly. As to Reagan's relationship with Israel, it was stormy. It is now forgotten that the USMC was in Lebanon in 1982 to protect Arafat and the PLO from the IDF until the Muslims could be safely evacuated. Moreover, the IDF refused to withdraw from Lebanon, a cause for friction, and did not do so until 2000. James A. Baker III, Bush I's enforcer absolutely hated Israel.

  4. REPORTER: More than dozen witnesses confirm Ferguson cop's version of shooting...
    'Michael Brown rushed officer'...
    Militant protesters growing in number, many coming from out-of-state...
    'BLACK POWER'...
    BUCHANAN: 1960s-like Riots Could Cause Voter Rebuke For Obama...
    KURTZ: Some Liberal Outlets Creating 'Almost Lynch Mob Mentality'...
    MSNBC Crew Hit With Rocks During Live Coverage...
    Trayvon Martin's Mom: 'We Will Make Them Feel Us'.......drudge

    Hmm, what's going on here?

    This doesn't fit 'the narrative'.

    The truth of this matter has a long ways to go before a rational determination may be made, but do I see a trend developing here? It may be that one day the usual suspects around here that are always accusing me of something or other, and I will name two - Ash and Rufus - may have some back tracking to do.


      Michael Savage, my wife informs me, has been saying this for days.

    2. If the local prosecutor declines to to prosecute, what then?

      Another White House demanded 'Special Prosecutor'?

      That movie would just be a rerun of the former circus.

      But things are getting interesting.

      Did you see the video from the convenience store of 'Big Mike' Brown pushing that poor old clerk around ? She was hardly a third his size but had thirty times his courage.

  5. Damned Jewish scientists, always seeking ways to interfere in nature's intentions for the world ....

    August 19, 2014
    Ground-breaking medical research millions choose to reject
    By Carol Brown

    Dr. Leslie Lobel is an Israeli virologist conducting cutting edge research on a cure for Ebola -- a cure he believes is three to five years away. As reported in the Times of Israel:

    Unlike many people, Dr. Leslie Lobel has not been shocked to hear about the current Ebola epidemic in West Africa, the largest ever recorded since the virus’s discovery in 1976 in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (then Zaire). A Ben-Gurion University of the Negev virologist and a leader in the search for a cure for the devastating disease, Lobel had been predicting such an outbreak. (snip)

    “This outbreak is really just a progression of what has been happening,” Lobel said of the epidemic, which has so far killed more than 1,600 people since March.

    “It is a result of the fact that the world has fallen asleep when it comes to fighting infectious diseases. There has not been enough surveillance or development of expertise to control infectious diseases since the 1970s,” he said. (snip)

    Lobel has been following 120 Ugandan Ebola survivors, half of them since he began his research program more than a decade ago. It took the doctor a number of years to gain the trust of the survivors, who come from a culture in which people are very suspicious of medical professionals and some even blame doctors for the spread of the disease.

    Setting up effective logistics and social work systems have been crucial to Lobel’s team’s work in Uganda.

    “It really took me a while to change my philosophy of how to work with people. I work with local scientists and have learned to be very respectful,” Lobel said. “I spend a lot of time with each Ebola survivor.”

    Whereas in the developed world, survivors of terrible diseases are seen as blessed, Ugandan survivors of Ebola are viewed as cursed by their countrymen.

    “They feel like pariahs. Many of them have lost their jobs because they survived the disease,” Lobel said.

    Lobel is keeping a close eye on the current outbreak, which is spreading faster than previous ones. He believes this is because of its location in West Africa, where the imposition of quarantines that would cause the disease to burn itself out are not being successfully imposed.

    “This one is so bad because in the past the outbreaks were limited to Central Africa, where there is very good security. The police and army in those countries can control the movement of people,” the doctor said.

    Unfortunately, Lobel’s research has not yielded a vaccine in time to help the victims of the current Ebola epidemic. However, the doctor believes that he and his team are just three to five years away from arriving at what he calls a “cocktail” consisting of a vaccine and a therapeutic that can be deployed as soon as an outbreak is detected.

    “It’s going to happen, but there is nothing around the corner yet,” he said.

    Too bad Lobel’s eventual cure for Ebola might not be available in European countries. The EU has passed legislation to boycott some Israeli products.

    Imagine a world without Israel. Then take action to make sure this magnificent nation that gives so much to the world, survives.

    Read more:
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    1. The moral indignation of the EU will diminish in direct proportion to their need for drones, cellphones, pharmaceuticals, and advanced IT, avionics, etc. This latest bout of anti-Semitism bears much in common with the Middle Ages: When we need you, we love you, when we don't, we hate you. I look forward to the obsolescence of the Israeli technology that makes the loquacious Hawking possible. The silence of Mr. Arafat's buddy will be refreshing.

      The growing trade with Russia, China, India, East Asia, and Australia will compensate for the loss of some third-rate European librarians.

  6. The report I saw yesterday claimed that the peace rally was small. Indeed, hecklers far outnumbered the demonstrators. With the rabid anti-Semitism of the news media these days and a hateful UN, who knows?

    I do know that when people shoot thousands of projectiles into another country and brag about keeping up the fire, the targeted group gets mean. Mr. Netanyahu is in deep political trouble because he confused his Israeli constituents with Mr. Kerry. As written previously, I believe the Netanyahu government is not long for this world. When the troops publicly ridicule the government, it is a bad sign.

    About 90% of the Israeli public wants Hamas dismantled and Gaza demilitarized. Even the EU Foreign ministers are demanding the removal of weapons from Gaza. To get there, however, something will have to be done about Iran. This war is going to make strange bedfellows. For example, as the Egyptians are acting as middlemen, their armed forces are working with Israel to seal off Gaza and hunt down jihadis in the Sinai. Additionally, Mr. Putin is shipping heavy duty weaponry to Egypt.

    As the Libyans continue to act out, their major oil fields and enormous aquifer are sorely tempting the Egyptians. With Israeli technical expertise in irrigation, eastern Libya could bloom again and become a reserve breadbasket for a hard pressed Egypt.

    IDF says 3 Gaza rockets land in Beersheba despite cease-fire

    155mm artillery and iron bombs...Under international law, Israel has the legal right to defend itself with whatever conventional weapons come to hand, even if they are not smart.