Syrian civilians are being murdered on a daily basis. Iran continues its quest for nuclear weapons capability. The Middle East is undergoing a period of unprecedented uncertainty in the wake of the Arab Spring. But for Oxford academic Avi Shlaim, writing in The Independent, there is only one source for all the trouble in the region:
The main threat to regional stability is not Iran but the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories. And the main source of hostility towards America throughout the Arab and Muslim lands is Israel’s oppression of the Palestinian people and America’s complicity in this oppression.
In a commentary piece timed to coincide with President Obama’s appearance at AIPAC and his meeting with Israeli PM Netanyahu, perhaps you would be looking for a cogent analysis of the situation. You certainly won’t find it here, however.
Avi Shlaim explodes with a hateful polemic against Benjamin Netanyahu in a manner not even reserved for the Mideast’s most brutal dictators.
Benjamin Netanyahu is a bellicose, right-wing Israeli nationalist, a rejectionist on the subject of Palestinian national rights, and a reactionary who is deeply wedded to the status quo. … he has a selective and self-righteous view of his own country’s history and he is driven by distrust and disdain, if not outright hatred towards the Arabs in general and the Palestinians in particular. This hostility towards Arabs is the central thread that runs through his public utterances, books, and policies as prime minister.
Shlaim attributes to Netanyahu an ideologically driven hatred of Arabs while terming the Israeli coalition government as “the most aggressively right-wing, diplomatically intransigent, and overtly racist government in Israel’s history” and accusing it of being “in danger of drifting towards fascism.” But the real object of Shlaim’s polemic is Netanyahu himself, the “relentless rejectionist” with an “expansionist agenda” who
knowingly and deliberately blocks progress on any of the other ‘permanent status issues’ such as borders and refugees. Netanyahu is not a peace-maker; he is a land-grabber who rides roughshod over Palestinian rights. It is he who has turned the so-called peace process into an exercise in futility. He is like a man who pretends to negotiate the division of a pizza while continuing to gobble it up.
Nowhere does Shlaim mention any role for the Palestinians in Mideast diplomacy. Only Netanyahu is responsible for its failure. Shlaim ignores historical facts by claiming that Netanyahu has rejected any settlement freeze, conveniently forgetting the 10 month freeze that did take place in 2009 when the Palestinians still refused to return to the negotiating table until the dying weeks of the freeze.
If we are talking about Israel-US relations then no anti-Israel commentary would be complete without some standard canards:
How can a jimcrack politician from a small country defy the most powerful man in the world and get away with it? At least part of the answer lies in the enduring power of the Israel lobby. Ever since 1967 the lobby has opposed every international plan for resolving the Palestinian-Israeli dispute that was not to Israel’s liking. But any proposal for a military strike against Israel’s enemies can count on the support of Israel’s friends in Washington,Iraq in 2003 and Iran today being the most obvious examples. In the case of Iran,Netanyahu is the war-monger in chief and he is doing his utmost to drag America into a dangerous confrontation that cannot possibly serve American interests.
In one paragraph, Shlaim breaks down the US-Israel relationship into one based on “the enduring power of the Israel lobby”, even falsely implying that the 2003 Iraq war was driven by Israeli interests. As for Iran, the US does not need Israel to define what serves American interests. The Iranian problem is not solely one for Israel alone and effects all free nations in the world who do not wish to see an extremist regime that indulges in state-sponsored terrorism in possession of nuclear weapons.
Avi Shlaim, The Independent and Israeli citizens are entitled to their views on Benjamin Netanyahu, the current Israeli government and its policies. Shlaim, however, is clearly motivated by an intense dislike or even hatred of the Israeli PM, the result of which is a vicious personal attack on Netanyahu and a one-sided political polemic against Israel.