Archive for the ‘ISRAEL AND EGYPT’ Tag


John Chuckman



“Why we can be hopeful on Palestine”


I very much wish the title represented something more than a new version of Candide’s optimism.

The single state solution is an idea that has been around a long time.

If I’m not mistaken, the late Edward Said embraced it many years ago.

It’s perfectly rational, but that is part of the reason that the bitter, brutal men running Israel will never accept it.

They are harsh ideologues, embracing a dark fantasy, the re-creation of an ancient land based on doubtful religious texts of 2,500 years, or more, ago. Texts in which people are stoned for doing things we do every day. Texts in which certain kinds of cloth and certain kinds of food, things we all use, are forbidden. Texts in which a great many events are either fantasies – Jonah and the whale or Lot’s wife as a pillar of salt or the Tower of Babel or Noah’s Ark – or things which never occurred – Israel’s captivity in Egypt and the reign of King David.

Those are hardly a sound basis for modern political affairs and the founding of a state which is heavily armed. But the truth is they provide only the start of a grim list of problems associated with today’s Israel.

Jews in fact flourish in a number of places in far better situations than they do in Israel. It seems to me that there is something in the Israeli temperament resembling the reclusive religious institutions of the Middle Ages, the ones where self-flagellation and other extremes were the norm – not the kind of people ready to embrace large numbers of outsiders with different ways. We find the same qualities in cults sometimes, the desire for separateness and unwillingness to mingle with others.

If Zionists had taken Albert Einstein’s advice, embracing the native people and living among them without iron walls, there could have been something harmonious and peaceful and constructive for everyone over the last 70 years.

But they did not embrace that vision. They embraced instead a bitter and hostile vision of iron walls and racial segregation. And militarism and police and security forces everywhere.

Moreover, Israel is the most heavily subsidized entity on earth, counting both government and private subsidies, and we all know the highly debilitating effects of subsidy over time. And subsidies cannot continue indefinitely. People do not endlessly give away money and resources, particularly when they see the recipient makes absolutely no progress at creating an improved situation.

It would be wise to seriously start making peace with the neighbors and cooperating because what we see today in Israel simply is not a situation which can be sustained long term, that is, without the kind of endless harshness we see, much the same kind of harshness we saw in the old Soviet Union, a state whose circumstances also were not sustainable. But fanatics, like the men who run Israel, do not look at hard realities.

Israel deliberately maintains an embattled situation, making life far more difficult for most there than in, say, Canada or the US or France or many other places.

Israel’s open abuse of millions causes its citizens to be greatly disliked in the world, too, and I don’t really think most people enjoy being disliked.

The place is an armed camp, a crusader fortress. The level of military and security services make it in many ways resemble the old USSR. A state top-heavy with military and police and spies is not a healthy one for the long term. A recent book revealed that Israel’s security services have conducted 2,700 assassinations. Serial murder, then, is a founding value of the nation.

The cost of living in Israel is very high, houses are hard to buy, and career opportunities are quite limited. It is a small place, with about half the population of Ecuador. It can never enjoy great economies of scale, and its international trade literally is force-fed by American subsidies and pressures on others.

People only voluntarily live that way – having actually gone out of their way to create the circumstances – when a fantasy or a fanatical belief dominates rational thinking. Fanatical beliefs provide no sound foundation for anything.

I wouldn’t care if Israelis wanted to indulge their fantasies, providing they could do so without hurting and abusing millions of others.

But they are hurting and abusing millions of others. That fact is at the heart of the matter.

It is not a matter of a war or conflict, as it is so often inaccurately and lopsidedly presented in our press and by our politicians, when you have a situation where other people’s farms and houses are regularly stolen. It represents a state where the rule of law does not apply, a kind of ongoing criminal enterprise with no justice for its victims.

The rule of law simply is not to be found in Israel and the territories it occupies. Something called the law exists, but it is the same kind of law we saw in places like the American Confederacy and in Nationalist South Africa. It is law to protect only a specific group of residents, and it is law which oppresses all others.

You simply cannot have a viable country in the long term without the stability of the rule of law, yet the people running Israel appear to believe that you can.

You know, it is impossible to look at images of Gaza and not immediately think of a giant concentration camp. And what we see there is Israel’s doing completely. Penning people in with fences and guard towers, including towers with automated, radar-activated machine guns. Bombing them frequently, invading them periodically, blockading their imports, even the materials required for repairs and rebuilding. Curtailing all their natural rights such as how far fishermen can go out in their boats and whether people can travel anywhere, even for medical care or education.

Just imagine how Israel would thrive treated the same way. Of course, it wouldn’t. It couldn’t. It would stagnate and begin to rot. In a way, Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians provides a self-fulfilling prophecy for them. Many Israelis really do believe it is only themselves capable of making a thriving place. You can very much see that notion on display in propaganda films and lobbying efforts. It surely represents a form of racism which just jumps out at us periodically.

And when peaceful, desperate people protest for rights to which they are entitled by all the reckonings of Western tradition, Israel can only think of lining up firing squads of soldiers to shoot into the crowds from behind fences. Where in God’s name does such behavior take you? It is a one-way trip to nowhere.

The idea of a mixed state is abhorrent to a great many Israelis because it violates the confused dream that dominated the founders’ thinking.

It would only be possible if the United States used its inordinate power and authority to push for justice. Indeed, that is the reality for any settlement, whether two states or one. But how likely is that? It is not only unlikely, it is impossible given the political realities of America with its money-driven elections and its tolerance for powerful lobbies to supply money along with other assistance such as favorable press treatment.

The lobby for Israel in the United States is one of the most powerful and well-run in the country. It is for many a political death sentence to oppose it. It will maintain the status quo so long as the leaders in Israel want it to be so. There is a kind of vicious circle involved in all discussions of Israel-Palestinian peace.

Only in the remote case of American Jews becoming convinced that Israel should no longer be supported so vigorously, or in the equally remote case of America changing its terrible laws around money in politics and the governance of political lobbies, would there be a possibility for America to use its strength and influence for justice. Well, it’s gone on the way it is for seventy years, and there seems little reason to expect change in either of those American circumstances which support Israel.

Further contributing to Israel’s distaste for a single-state solution is the fact that, in general, Arab birth rates are higher, considerably, than Israeli ones. Of course, keeping Palestinians in relative poverty only helps to extend that reality since we know birth rates invariably drop with prosperity. So, how long would it be before Jews became a minority? I know Israel’s leadership is keenly aware of this reality and greatly fears it.

Israel plays an intellectual game around the concept of democracy, always trying to gain plaudits as the “only democracy in the Middle East.” But what kind of democracy is it where only certain people can immigrate, become full citizens, and vote? Yes, there is a minority population of Palestinians who are citizens (now about 20% of total population), but their status was an accident of history, of events around 1948.

It was never intended to be so, and many Israelis would like to change their status. Prominent people have addressed that very subject. Netanyahu once described them as a “demographic bomb,” such are his fair-minded views.

And this minority is treated unfairly with specialized laws against their interests. It is even spoken out against and threatened by some Israeli politicians, men of the caliber of Avigdor Lieberman, of which Israel has considerable numbers, their presence being consistently required in the formation of governments under Israel’s political system.

In effect, some of the darkest voices in Israel always have a seat at the table of government. They provide the required margin to form a government, and they employ that margin to maintain disproportionate influence.

As well, whenever Israel meets democracy in the Arab world around it, it treats it with open hostility. It loved the long-term dictator of Egypt, Mubarak, hated and worked against Egypt’s one brief democratic government, and now embraces the new Egyptian dictator, el-Sisi. It embraces the bloody tyrant in Saudi Arabia. It embraces the King of Jordan.

It tried to totally destroy democratically-elected Hamas in Gaza, whose original non-corrupt and democratic ways only got it labelled as “terrorist.” It somewhat supports the so-called President of Palestine, Abbas, a man whose legitimate mandate ended many years ago and who has not faced an election since. Its tepid tolerance for Abbas is based only on his relative ineffectiveness and his opposition to Hamas in Gaza.

Israel has little prospect for healthy future in-migration of Jews. Indeed, it experiences some years with net out-migration. Jews are a relatively small group in the world, and not many would trade their prosperity and opportunity and freedom for the intense stress and unpleasant realities of Israel.

The Russians were the world’s last remaining large source for serious immigration, and now that’s used up.

It is important for understanding Israel’s political psychology to realize that many of its leaders and leading economic citizens have dual citizenships, as American or British, and they are secure in the backs of their minds that they can always pack-up and leave should the situation become too nasty. That is not the case for many ordinary citizens now born there. They are stuck.

Israel’s prospects, with relatively low birth rates and limited in-migration are for population decline and a whole lot more of the same grief and violence, given the extreme ideologue beliefs of its leaders and the inherent instability of its situation.

It’s a bleak long-term outlook.

But accept Palestinians? Whew, that’s like telling devout, old-fashioned Catholics they should accept abortion and married priests and stop reciting the Rosary.

Modern Israel, by all objective evidence, is, in fact, a pretty racist society, too. We’ve seen ugly controversy and manipulation at every turn involving race. Black refugees were treated terribly. Black Jews from Africa, too, were not even allowed to live in some neighborhoods. Of course, the same is true for Arabs who cannot rent or buy in many places and face open hostility. Some national laws, too, are different for Jews versus non-Jews.

I just do not see how a hopeful future can come from that.

It really was a hopeless enterprise from the beginning, creating a nation based on ancient myths and mumbo-jumbo texts, an enterprise based on anger and desperation with no larger guiding vision. But, again, if it could have been done without hurting millions of others, that would be only Israel’s’ business. But it cannot be done without hurting millions of others, and things continues along that path without any signs of let-up.

There can be no repeat of the Holocaust. It was a unique event under unique circumstances, not to be repeated, which is indeed the case with all truly terrible events. New horrors will happen somewhere to someone, but they won’t be a repeat of the Holocaust. A brilliant ancient Greek compared history to a flowing river into which you could never step into the same place twice.

Yet the Holocaust is used almost as raison d’etre for Israel. It truly is not since most of the world’s Jews do not live there. Of course, this also ignores the fact that the Holocaust was an event in another continent, involving one group of Germans against another. The Ashkenazim who created Zionism and who dominate Israel are a Germanic, Eastern European people. The word Ashkenazi means German.

So, what are they doing in the Middle East generating misery for still another people, people who had nothing to do with the Holocaust? Well, again, who would care about them being in the Middle East so long as they respected their neighbors and lived in peace. But they do not.

It’s nonsense to believe that the Holocaust could be repeated, but holding it over people’s heads serves much like the threat of hell does in American Christian fundamentalism or did in the Catholic Church for centuries of the Dark Ages.

The phrase “never again” contains no hint of reality, both because history never repeats itself and because the very people uttering it have demonstrated insincerity and hypocrisy in their efforts. Again, just look at images of Gaza and see what Israel has consciously created while uttering the words. It’s beyond shameful.

I regret to say that I see virtually nothing in the entire situation about which to be optimistic.





Posted October 11, 2018 by JOHN CHUCKMAN in Uncategorized

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The Globe editorials in recent years have become noted among thinking and informed people as right-wing hack work, a la Margaret Wente or John Ibbitson.

But this one is truly breathtaking for its brutal stupidity.

Too much power?

For an elected government?

As opposed to a military junta?

Further analysis is appropriate here.

This move may well have been an orchestrated shadow-play to boost the democratic claims of the new government.

It may well have been part of an agreement worked out with Washington.

The removal of a couple of generals – out of hundreds in the junta – can be regarded as token.

This notion is re-inforced by two important observations.

One, the entirely inappropriate statement by the Pentagon that it will continue its relations with Egypt’s military hierarchy.

Can you imagine a more inappropriate statement in diplomatic terms, yet it raised no red flags?

Two, Israel has shown not nearly the same reaction it had during the original anti-Mubarak revolution, a time when many prominent Israelis made terribly anti-democratic, anti-human rights, and pro-dictatorial public statements.

Israel’s knows that this little stage play was part of the deal, so it isn’t concerned.

After all, you do need some stability in Egypt.

The huff-and-puff of this unthinking piece is just part of the stage setting for the shadow-play.








“Attack on Israeli embassy in Cairo a ‘severe injury to the fabric of peace’: Netanyahu”

Netanyahu does have a penchant for comedy, dark comedy, although I am pretty sure he is not the least aware of it.

Fabric of peace?

Where does he see that in the region?

I see only Israel trying to starve out the poor people of Gaza and willing to shoot anyone who even tries to help them with their needs.

I see Israel ready to attack every neighbor that it has, from buzzing jets over Lebanon to creating provocations with Syria and to shooting five Egyptian policemen only doing their duty in Sinai when Israeli soldiers crossed the border with no permission and with a dark purpose.

Of course, a day does not go by that Israel does not threaten to attack, or harangue the United States to attack, Iran, a nation generally living at peace with its neighbors.

Netanyahu has never so much as lifted a finger in his entire nasty career in the name of genuine peace.

And it does seem anymore that where Israel is there can be no peace.

The people of Egypt are only expressing legitimate frustrations with this regional bully who worked hard behind the scenes to keep them perpetually under the thumb of a U.S.-sponsored tyrant.


“I would think israel security firing off a few rounds through their skulls would disperse them real quick…”

Now there’s a fine comment, something of which to be proud.

That is, if you are a bully or a psychopath.

The person commenting only succeeds in revealing the genuine attitudes of the Israeli government.

Here are a few interesting facts for readers to consider in light of this savage comment – they are taken from Israeli journalist Amira Hass in her book about Gaza:

Physicians for Human Rights, during the five years of the intifada, a Palestinian child under the age of six was shot in the head every two weeks. According to United Nations Relief records, nearly 1,100 people treated at its clinics during the first four years had been shot in the head, with about 15% of that number being women. During the four years, over sixty thousand Gazans were shot, severely beaten , or tear-gassed.


“canadians are morons.


“canadians are morons.”

Gee, now there’s an enlightened way to address people and to make your point.

Again the writer reveals, undoubtedly without realizing it, why there is such terrible problems in the region.

There’s a government, armed to the teeth and utterly ruthless, which regularly speaks this way.


A reader says the last time he checked Israel was an independent nation.

Israel an independent nation?

Since when?

It is the most heavily subsidized place on earth, by far.

It receives about $500 per year per Jewish citizen from the United States, and it has done so for decades.

But that is only the beginning.

There are periodic loan guarantees of tens of billions.

There is constant access at the highest level for this nation with the population of Ecuador, something virtually no other country, even far more important ones, has.

It has a plum free-trade agreement – indeed, with sending its subsidized crops to the U.S. Israel’s agriculture would disappear. It was a gift to Israel because it has no tangible benefits for Americans at all.

The opportunity cost of water Israel squanders on tomatoes and clementines to export is unbelievably high because it is the cost of desalination-plant water. It sends subsidized produce to the United States under free trade, produce the United States doesn’t even need.

Israel receives billions worth of intelligence and defense cooperation every year from the United States, something few other countries receive.

The two billion dollars a year going to Egypt is a bribe paid on Israel’s part paid by Americans since the Camp David Agreements.

Israel receives heavily below cost natural gas from Egypt, the result of U.S. pressure on Mubarak. Everyone knows this is scandalous, and the U.S. has offered to pay a subsidy to top up the price.

Israel also receives billions from the Jewish communities of America and Europe, and it receives important business intelligence and connections.

The great privilege granted to American Israelis to be dual citizens means they move back and forth regularly, all the while sharing business and other intelligence.

Israel’s farms and cities and water supply were all taken with absolutely no payment or reparations from other people. That is the biggest subsidy ever received, the very substance of the nation.

And it is not satisfied with what happened in 1948, it keeps stealing the property of others regularly, refusing to live in peace because it still wants more.

Israel has received tens of billions in reparations from Germany – wholly appropriate in view of the past but still a subsidy.

The list is even longer than this, but I think the point is clear: Israel is in no sense of the word an independent nation.

It is in truth a gigantic international welfare case.




“Ms. Colton, The U.S. Embassy spokeswoman, told The Associated Press on Thursday that the U.S. is not interfering in Egypt’s politics.”

Well, if that were true, it would mark a first.

CIA bribes and influence are the norm in all such countries; the CIA maintains a huge secret fund for just that purpose.

I also think the situation in Egypt is more complicated than this story suggests.

The United States always maintains a noisy public commitment to words about democracy, but that is a very different matter than what goes on behind closed doors.

Not only is the United States comfortable with the stability and predictability of rule by military groups in the region, it must always be looking to the interests of its client-state, Israel.

A truly democratic Egypt is unlikely to be overly friendly to Israel, but a group of well-bribed military men or others keeps things on course.

I have heard an eloquent expert speak on parts of the situation in Egypt, and he said that Egyptian military is perhaps the country’s greatest industrial operation, controlling many profitable factories and businesses, much as the military in China or the Republican Guard in Iran.

The small number of people who control these enterprises are reluctant to give up any influence to popular notions about democracy.

The feeling is that if they, the military, just go slowly, the people will tire of their demonstrations and demands, and things can settle to something they regard as normal.

It is hard to believe that the United States government would seriously oppose this strategy, although, as always, it will do some public blubbering.


‘Claims of a “meddling foreign hand” have routinely found resonance among Egyptians.’

And, considering Egypt’s history, why would it be otherwise?

That kind of statement is completely naive or it is dishonest.

Once controlled by Turkey. Once controlled by France. Once controlled by Britain. Britain, France, and Israel conspiring to take over the Suez Canal in the 1950s?

A popular hero like Nassar the target of foreign plots and plans for assassination?

A tyrant president like Mubarak, completely in the pay and in the pocket of the United States, for thirty years?


“Noticably absent from this is how Saudi Arabia has been furiously funding fundamentalist groups as they are also terrified about the spread of democracy in the Middle East. Why don’t the world powers call Saudi Arabia out on this?”

Sorry, but that is very naive.

Behind the scenes, the Saudi princes, the United States, and Israel have long been great pals.

They often work together secretly towards certain ends.

None of them would value democracy in Egypt, each for its own reasons.


“Never trust muslims [sic].”

I prefer never trusting people who make ignorant statements like yours.


“Democracy is not for everybody. To make it work you need an educated, enlightened and engaged population.”

That is a very old and rather trivial idea. It is also quite arrogant.

Just where, among advanced democratic states do you see these conditions?

In the United States?

The United States that believes in polls that Saddam assisted in 9/11 and had secret weapons of mass destruction?

The United States that has ignoramuses like Michele Bachmann or Sarah Palin seeking the highest office?

The United States whose greed and complete lack of self-control just pitched the planet into a years-long financial disaster?

“As a nation, Egypt would be better served by a benevolent tyrant.”

And who selects the tyrant? And who determines that he is off on the wrong path?

Churchill had it right when he said that democracy was the worst form of government, except for all the others.

The historical truth is that democracy comes when a society has a large enough middle class who feel that their many interests cannot be properly looked after by a tyrant or king. Peasants don’t have many interests beyond keeping alive, but the middle class has business needs, investment needs, property-law needs, and many other interests.

Democracy flows naturally out of economic growth, always and everywhere.

The flow is often temporarily interrupted by old established interests, but only temporarily.

There is no reason to believe Egypt is not ready for democracy. It has a large middle class. It has millions of educated people.


The Egyptian military has made deals with people like the Muslim Brotherhood in order to broaden its base of support.

That fact only points to the United States and Israel not being afraid so much of “Islamists” as democracies where people disagree with them.

The Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, by the way, is not a terror organization of any kind. It is a rather tame organization.

Actually, many of the Muslim organizations in Egypt expect a form of Sharia Law to be established.

Now, we have been trained by an endless bombardment of Islamophobic propaganda to think that sounds terrible, but in fact is not much different to the fundamentalist Christians – millions of them – in the United States who demand the Ten Commandments in courts and prayers in schools and other public institutions.

And it is little different to the laws of Israel which enable ultra-orthodox Jews to practice their many ancient and backward rules, especially those concerning the inferiority and submission of women and the complete control of children by the husband.




Did Ottawa drag its feet on Mubarak?

Of course it did.


Well, hasn’t our thirty-percent prime minister declared himself one of the world’s chief defenders of Israeli interests and entered the lists as a crusader against anti-Semitism, regardless of how chimerical it may be?

And never mind all the other nasty forms of prejudice and oppression in this world: that one is special and requires his personal attention.

One only has to read the articles coming from Israel and from the Israeli apologists elsewhere during the brave demonstrations in Cairo to perceive an emotional crisis over the possible disappearance of a dictator Israel has depended on closely for thirty years.

Some of the pieces are remarkably revealing in their total self-interest and even paranoia and all of them lack regard for the larger principles of human rights and democracy.

That set of facts completely explains Harper’s silence.

Harper is a highly selective advocate of human rights and democratic values.

And his behavior through a genuinely historic crisis marks another sad act in the busy work of dismantling Canada’s international reputation for fairness and decency.
From another reader:

“Stupid title from an uneducated twit.”

Now, surely, there’s the mark of an educated man, using language like that.

I do think someone who throws names around the way this anonymous person suits them far better than Jeffery Simpson, who, in general, is one of Canada’s most perceptive and astute columnists.

We haven’t seen democracy in Egypt yet?

Well, part of the reason is Israel’s support and dependence upon a dictator like Mubarak. Its constant efforts, day and night, to prop him up and use him.

Often unsaid, but nevertheless true, is the fact that Israel has been a major drag on the flowering of democracy in the Arab world.

Everything which happens within a thousand miles of Israel must be viewed through the lens of Israel’s narrow and often paranoid interests.

Iraq, previously the most advanced country in the Arab world, was unquestionably one with its previously growing middle class on the way to developing democracy after Hussein (who just happened to be a good buddy of the same United States Israel leans on until he took a turn against American policy).

Now it remains a hopeless wreck: a million dead, countless injured, treasures destroyed, and an economy in depression for a generation. And just who is it that insisted on attacking Hussein and whose narrowly-defined interests did that assault serve?

Only Israel and its apologists in the United States.

God, look at Gaza. A genuine free election, cleaner than the election of George Bush, and what does Israel do?

Arrests members of the government, threatens the leader with assassination – no idle threat coming from Murder Incorporated – refuses to even talk, breaks innumerable international laws by breaking off mail and funds to Gaza, imposes a brutal blockade designed to starve people out, pressures its friend Mubarak to build walls, and kills unarmed humanitarians on the high seas.

My, there’s a set of responses which certainly demonstrate great respect for democracy and human rights.

The entire tone of this person’s comment, as well as its almost complete lack of logic, demonstrates exactly what I addressed in my previous comment. Israel’s apologists know almost no bounds in their demands and pleadings for Israel’s self-defined interests.

Israel can only be a normal country if it behaves like one, and it is difficult to see one act or policy which in sixty years reflects normal national behavior, including respect for neighbors, respect for laws, respect for international obligations, and respect for democratic values and human rights – this last particularly involving anyone outside the borders of Israel’s own peculiar democracy, defined, as it is, to serve only one ethnic/religious group.
To another reader:

How can things get worse in Egypt?

They cannot.

And you repeat the historical fallacy of comparing today’s Egypt to 1978’s Iran.

For a dozen reasons, too long to list, that is completely inaccurate.