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lundi, 14 novembre 2016

"Against Our Better Judgment" The Hidden History of How the U.S. Was Used to Create Israel,

Zionism-1124.jpg

Review:
"Against Our Better Judgment"
The Hidden History of How the U.S. Was Used to Create Israel, by Alison Weir
 
Ex: http://www.unz.com
 
weir.jpgAlison Weir's relatively short book covers the history of Zionism in the United States from the last decades of the 19th century until the creation of the state of Israel in 1948. (She is working on a second volume that will carry this history to the present.) Its brevity does not mean, however, that it is in any sense superficial, as it brings out key historical information, all well-documented, that sets the stage for the troubled world in which we now live. While histories of Zionism have usually focused on Europe, Weir shows that American adherents of this ideology have been far more important than generally has been recognized

The basic theses of this book are encapsulated in the title and subtitle. The history of how American Zionists used America to create Israel was “hidden” in two respects. First, it was “hidden” in the sense that American Zionists often worked behind the scenes. More importantly, however, that history is known but has been kept hidden from the general public, who rely on the mainstream media, and exists almost exclusively in works produced by small publishers—often of a scholarly bent—read by only a few. As Weir points out, those who have tried to bring this information to the general public have suffered both venomous verbal attacks and economic threats that quickly silence the message and often destroy the messenger. This treatment obviously serves to prevent others from doing likewise—“Pour encourager les autres.”

America’s support for Israel ran “against our better judgment” in the sense that American foreign policy experts of the era covered by this work recognized that support for Zionist goals would damage American national interest and that this support only came about because of the political power of American Zionism.

While Weir is not a professional historian, she has intensively studied the literature on this subject for years, much of it rather arcane, as well as spending considerable time traveling in the region. Having a Ph.D. in history myself, I would like to point out that the writing of history does not require any specialized talents as are needed in such fields as theoretical physics or medicine, so that intelligent, hardworking laypersons can often produce works of great value. Weir does not purport to have pored over primary sources to discover new information, which is the hallmark of the professional historian’s craft, but rather synthesizes information from existing published studies that are largely unknown to the general public. Moreover, she brings to her work knowledge of the land and the peoples which she has picked up from her travels.

For those who still might find her background insufficient for her task, it should be further added that Israel apologist Alan Dershowitz, who lacks as far as I can tell any college degree in history, manages to produce works on Israel that are picked up by major publishers who would not think of publishing anything done by most academic historians. It might be added that academic historians, who specialize in monographs, would be loath to produce a comparable account of this subject from Weir’s perspective, since it would do little for their careers and might serve as their professional death knell.

While the book’s narrative is very readable and the key points can easily be digested by the average reader, it is nonetheless well-documented. To satisfy the more academic reader, the book has a section of extended endnotes longer than the narrative. I found the endnotes section valuable not only for confirming and expanding upon the content of the narrative but also in serving as a point of departure for additional research. I often switched from my Kindle book to a Web search, coming up with names of related books and articles that I would like to peruse, should I ever have the time to venture to a research library.

The work goes over a large number of little known but very important topics to demonstrate the powerful influence of Zionism over American foreign policy. Space, naturally, precludes me from discussing all the topics in detail so I have focused on those which seem to deal most directly with the major themes of the book.

The early political influence of Zionism is illustrated by the fact that in 1887 a Jewish American was made ambassador to the Ottoman Empire, which then controlled Palestine and was thus considered by Zionists as the key country with which to deal. This set the precedent of a Jewish ambassador to this country that was continued for the next 30 years, by which time the Zionist search for outside support had turned elsewhere.

The book brings up the central importance of Louis Brandeis and his disciple Felix Frankfurter in advancing the interests of Zionism. Brandeis was a noted social and economic reformer who was a Zionist and happened to be very close to President Wilson, who would put him on the Supreme Court in 1916, the first Jew to hold such a position. Even after joining the Supreme Court, Brandeis used this access to Wilson to promote Zionist interests, sometimes acting as a go-between for Wilson and British Zionists.

Brandeis would head the international Zionist Central Office during the teens but, perhaps even more significant, he would be a leading member of a secret society, the Parushim, the Hebrew word for “Pharisees” and “separate,” which covertly advanced the interests of Zionism in the United States and Europe. The Parushim was founded in 1913 by a University of Wisconsin philosophy professor, Horace M. Kallen, who ironically is considered to be the father of cultural pluralism in the United States. Obviously this idea conflicted completely with his support for the creation of a Jewish exclusivist state, but it is a contradiction that is rather commonplace among many Jews and liberal gentiles alike.

kallen.jpgKallen was regarded by some as first promoting the idea for what became the Balfour Declaration, which would set the stage for the modern state of Israel. He promoted this scheme in 1915 when the U.S. was still a neutral. He told a British friend that this would serve to bring the United States into World War I. It should be pointed out that at that time, despite serious diplomatic issues regarding German submarine warfare, the great majority of the American people wanted to avoid war and Wilson would be re-elected president in November 1916 on the slogan “He kept us out of war.” Kallen’s idea for advancing the Zionist goal, however, soon gained traction.

Frustrated in their efforts to achieve a Jewish homeland in Palestine from the Ottoman Empire, the American Zionists turned toward Britain to bring this about. In 1916 as World War I dragged on indecisively, Zionist leaders promised the British that in return for a Jewish homeland in Palestine—which the British could expect to gain from the Ottomans as one of the spoils of a victorious war—American Zionists would work to bring the United States into the war on behalf of Britain and its allies. Many British strategists at the time, such as Winston Churchill, believed that such an event would turn the tide for victory. Weir holds that it “appears” that the Zionists’ activity was one factor in bringing America into the war [1] and cites a number a number of reputable books and leading contemporary figures—such as then-British Prime Minister Lloyd George—that held that Zionists carried out their side of the bargain by pushing the United States into war.

The Balfour Declaration was a letter, dated November 2, 1917 (and coming out in the press one week later), from British Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour to Walter Rothschild, a British Zionist leader, officially stating that Britain would use its “best endeavours to facilitate the achievement” of a Jewish Homeland in Palestine.

Now even to give attention to the Balfour Declaration in a history of World War I is somewhat outré; to claim that it caused the United States to enter war is one of those ultra-taboos. Although my Ph.D. was in American history with a focus on diplomacy (and a minor in 20th Century European history), never did I come into contact with anything about the Balfour Declaration in my college studies (which, granted, did not deal with the Middle East). I only knew about it from reading what the mainstream historical profession would regard as disreputable authors.

Reference to the Balfour Declaration and the Zionist role in it was considered one of the daring things done by the iconoclastic Israeli “New Historian” Tom Segev who discussed it in his book, One Palestine, Complete: Jews and Arabs Under the British Mandate (2000). In a lecture on his book that I heard at the University of Maryland in 2002, Segev, though acknowledging that the British goal was winning over Jews to their side [2], derided the idea of any real Jewish power, attributing that mode of thinking to “anti-Semitism.” In 2010, Segev expressed this view in a review of a new book on the Balfour Declaration: “Obviously there was no ‘Jewish power’ controlling world affairs, but Weizmann [3] successfully pretended that the Jews were in fact turning the wheels of history. For once, the anti-Semitic image of the Jews proved useful — they were believed to be so maliciously dangerous that one would do best to acquire them as allies rather than as enemies.”[4]

segev.jpgAlthough Segev is a daring historian who often rejects the Zionist myths on the creation of Israel, in this case he essentially relies on a classic Zionist-constructed strawman, which involves greatly exaggerating the view that the Zionists (and Jews in general) don’t like. It is highly doubtful that the British foreign office believed that Jews were so powerful as to be “turning the wheels of history.” (If that had been the case, one would think that the British would have offered Jews much more than Palestine from the very start of the war.) Furthermore, as noted earlier, Weir does not subscribe to anything like this Zionist strawman in regard to the Balfour Declaration, or anything else, I should add.

However, what is important is not only whether the American Zionists were able to bring the United States into a war, but that they made a solemn promise to a foreign country that they would try to do so. As a matter of fact, since Zionists such as Brandeis knew much about Wilson’s thinking and undoubtedly were kept abreast on what Germany was likely to do (it being well-known that Germany was suffering from the British “starvation” blockade and that politically powerful voices there wanted to retaliate by pursuing a harsher submarine policy toward neutrals such as the U.S.), they may have realistically thought in 1916 that there was a good chance that the United States would shortly go to war whether they interceded or not, which meant it would be a wise move to make such a deal and be able to get credit for a result that was not of their own making.[5]

It is also of significance that the American Zionists promised to push the U.S. into war not because they believed that it was in their own country’s national interest—as was the case for a number of prominent Americans such as former President Theodore Roosevelt—but solely for what they considered to be in the interests of world Jewry. Ascribing “dual loyalty” to any Jews is regarded as a classic anti-Semitic canard. In this case, however, the American Zionists’ position did not even rise to the level of “dual loyalty,” being purely singular in that it evinced no apparent concern whatsoever for American interests.

Linked to the Balfour Declaration, Weir points out that “American Zionists may also have played a role in preventing an early peace with the Ottoman Empire.”[6] In 1917, the U.S. State Department had heard that the Ottomans were becoming weary of the war, and it decided to send a secret mission to explore the possibility of detaching the Ottoman Empire from its alliance with the other Central Powers. Such a separate peace would likely leave the Ottoman Empire (or Turkey as it would become shortly)[7] in control of its Asian possessions, which would mean that since Britain would not gain Palestine, no home for Jews could emerge there.

This mission was headed by former Ambassador Henry Morgenthau, who, though Jewish, was not a Zionist. However, he was persuaded by Zionists such as Brandeis protégé Felix Frankfurter, who was a member of the mission’s delegation, to abandon the effort. In a meeting with Morgenthau, Chaim Weizmann, a leading British Zionist who was alerted by American Zionists as to the danger posed by Morgenthau’s mission, also played a major role in stopping the potentially-peacemaking mission, as is indicated in Weir’s endnotes.[8]

Other obstacles to the Zionists’ goal in Palestine would also arise soon after the end of the war in November 1918. Important Christian Americans who were intimately involved in the Near East and supported self-determination for the Arabs recognized that this could not take place if the Zionists were able to set up an ethnic Jewish enclave on Arab land. They went to the Paris Peace Conference which, among a number of issues stemming from World War I, would deal with the territorial settlement.

As a result of the divergent views on the future status of the territory to be given up by the Ottoman Empire, President Wilson decided to send an investigatory commission to the region, which became known as the King-Crane Commission.[9] In line with Wilson’s goal of national self-determination, the commission sought to discover how the region’s inhabitants wanted to be governed, and they overwhelmingly expressed opposition to a Jewish home in Palestine.

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Weir points out that “Zionists through Brandeis dominated the situation, however, and the report was suppressed until after the Peace Accords were enacted.”[10] At the Paris Peace Conference, Weir writes, “[t]he U.S. delegation was forced to follow Zionist directives.”[11]

kingcranebook.jpgOne minor criticism here is that the reader might incorrectly get the impression that the King-Crane Commission dealt solely with Palestine, while it actually involved all the territories severed from, or expected to be severed from, the Ottoman Empire (Turkey).[12] The issue of Palestine made up about half of the report on “Syria,” which also included present day Syria and Lebanon. The other two geographical sections of the report were “Mesopotamia” and “Non-Arabic speaking portions of the Former Ottoman Empire (Asia Minor).”[13] Thus the suppression of the commission’s report was likely due not only to opposition by Zionists, but also to other interested parties disturbed by its findings in areas other than Palestine. These parties would include the British, French and Greeks.

In regard to the report’s description of Palestine, however, Weir’s presentation was completely on the mark. The King-Crane report reflected extreme opposition to Zionism expressed by those Muslims and Christians who lived in Palestine as well as by those who lived in neighboring areas.

Weir points out that during the inter-war period, when Palestine was governed by Britain under a League of Nations mandate, which was intended to prepare the country for eventual independence, the American Zionists moved away from openly pushing for the establishment of an exclusivist Jewish state in Palestine since this ran counter to the temper of the times—which reflected American opposition to militant nationalism and dual loyalty, and respect for majority rule and national self-determination. Instead, Zionists focused on the development of Jewish institutions in Palestine, which would serve as a basis for a Jewish state. Zionist leaders, such as David Ben-Gurion, still viewed American support as key to their establishment of a Jewish state.

With World War II on the horizon, Zionists began to return directly to their goal of a Jewish state. A precursor of the current Israel lobby, the American Zionist Emergency Council (AZEC), began in 1939. In order to pressure the U.S. government to support a Zionist state, AZEC worked to establish more than 400 local committees under 76 state and regional branches to promote this goal. These committees distributed Zionist pamphlets, circulated petitions, and engaged in letter writing campaigns to promote the Zionist cause. AZEC also funded books, articles and academic studies for this same purpose.

By the end of World War II, Zionist efforts gave them considerable power in American politics. In order to appeal to the general American populace, they stressed the needs of the many Jewish European refugees, connecting the refugee problem to Palestine, the latter destination purportedly being the only solution to their existing homelessness. By this humanitarian argument, Zionists could thus appeal to many Americans who did not necessarily believe the Zionists’ contention that Jews had a historical right to control Palestine.

As Britain opted to turn over the troublesome issue of Palestine to the United Nations in 1947, Zionists pushed for a partitioning of Palestine between Jews and the indigenous Palestinian population. The partition plan discriminated in favor of the Zionists, since while the Jewish population comprised about 30 percent of Palestine’s population, the plan would award them with 55 percent of the land. And the Zionists’ real goal was not to be content with that amount but to also grab the remainder.

U.S. State Department officials strenuously opposed the partition plan, looking upon this approach as both contrary to America’s professed principle of national self-determination and its vital interests in the Middle East, where a vast majority of the governments and their people were vehemently opposed to Zionism. A leading State Department official in this opposition was Loy Henderson, Director of the Office of Near Eastern and African Affairs. Zionists viciously attacked him, demanding his removal and even threatening his family. The State Department chose to move him elsewhere and in 1948 President Truman named him Ambassador to Nepal, which kept him far away from anything to do with Palestine.

Removing Henderson, however, did not make the State Department favorable toward transforming any part of Palestine into a Jewish state. Among the higher level opponents were the head of the State Department‘s Division of Near Eastern Affairs, Gordon P. Merriam; Undersecretary of State Dean Acheson, who later became Secretary of State; and George F. Kennan, the State Department‘s Director of Policy Planning, noted as the architect of America’s containment policy against Soviet Communism.

The State Department was not the only part of the executive branch of the United States government that opposed the Zionist goal for Palestine. The newly-created CIA reported in 1947 that the Zionists were seeking goals that would be harmful to both Jews and “the strategic interests of the Western powers in the Near and Middle East.”[14] The Joint Chiefs of Staff opposed partition and expressed the prescient fear that the Zionist aim was to involve the U.S. in their conflict with their Middle East enemies.

Despite this opposition from a consensus of foreign policy and national security experts within his own government, Truman opted to support the Zionist partition plan for political reasons, relying heavily on the views of his domestic political advisor, Clark Clifford, who maintained that the Jewish vote and financial backing were necessary to win the presidential election in 1948. Truman‘s Secretary of State George Marshall, noted for the famed Marshall Plan that helped to rebuild devastated Western Europe, and Secretary of Defense James Forrestal remained staunchly opposed to what they regarded as Truman’s willingness to sacrifice vital national security interests on the altar of domestic politics.

Weir points out that a number of wealthy Zionist Jews provided financial support for Truman’s presidential campaign in 1948, which may put us in mind of Zionist mega-donors of today such as Sheldon Adelson. One of these backers was Abraham Feinberg who funded Truman’s epic whistle-stop train campaign. Truman would give Feinberg credit for his victory. As quid pro quo, the Truman administration remained inert when the CIA later reported that Feinberg was involved in illegal gun-running to Zionist groups in Palestine.

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I should add that while Truman has become something of an idol for recent historians, he was looked upon during his time as being driven by what would benefit his own political interest. As the redoubtable journalist H. L. Mencken quipped about Truman’s 1948 campaign: “If there had been any formidable body of cannibals in the country he would have promised them with free missionaries, fattened at the taxpayer’s expense.” In Truman’s defense, however, it should be pointed out that two of his key opponents in the 1948 presidential election, Republican Thomas Dewey and the left-wing Progressive Party candidate Henry Wallace, Franklin Roosevelt’s former Vice-President, were both staunchly pro-Zionist.[15]

Weir describes a number of Zionists who maintained personal contact with Truman and likely played a role in shaping his policies. David K. Niles, Truman’s executive assistant, was regularly briefed by the head of the Washington Office of the Zionist Organization of America and was believed to be passing top-secret information to the Israeli government. Truman’s long-time friend and former business partner, Eddie Jacobson, was a staunch Zionist with close access to Truman who would describe his information to be of “decisive importance.”[16] Sam Rosenman, a political advisor to Truman, screened State Department memos to Truman.

Although the United States had announced its support for the partition of Palestine, it was apparent that the partition plan still lacked the necessary two-thirds vote to pass in the UN General Assembly. Consequently, the Zionists were able to get a delay in the vote and used that time to intimidate or bribe opponents to reverse their positions.

For example, Weir notes that Wall Street financier and perennial presidential adviser Bernard Baruch threatened war-torn France that it would be denied aid from the United States if it voted against partition. David Niles was able to get rubber baron Harvey Firestone to tell the Liberian president that he would terminate his planned expansion in his country if it did not vote in favor of partition. Haiti was promised economic aid if it would change its vote and support the measure. Costa Rica’s President Jose Figueres was said to have received a blank checkbook to get his country’s vote.

As a result of this behind the scenes skullduggery, the UN General Assembly on November 29, 1947, voted in favor of the adoption and implementation of the partition plan as UN General Assembly Resolution 181. Although this resolution is widely believed in the United States to have created Israel,[17] Weir correctly points out that it “was of limited (if any) legal impact” since General Assembly resolutions, as opposed to those of the Security Council, are not binding on member states. Although the resolution recommended that the UN Security Council implement the partition, it never did.[18]

The effect of the General Assembly’s resolution, however, was to increase the fighting in Palestine. While the Zionist myth would have it that the Jews in Palestine were simply a peaceful community set upon by violent Arabs intent on genocide, Weir points out that Zionist military forces had been covertly preparing for war for some time. They had amassed extensive armaments, some of it coming illicitly from the U.S., and their troop numbers exceeded those of their foes even after five Arab governments had joined the fray. The traditional Zionist portrayal of Israel’s war for independence (which, of course, prevented independence for the Palestinians) as a David versus Goliath conflict in which the Jews miraculously overcame overwhelming odds is pure fiction, but it is still believed in many quarters today and continues to generate sympathy for Israel. On May 15, 1948, Zionists announced the establishment of their new state of Israel, for which they did not establish any boundaries.

sniego.jpgA quick aside here: somewhat ironically, in my view, Weir barely touches on the United States decision to recognize Israel. Moreover, what does exist is largely in the endnotes. Although there will be a second volume to Weir’s history, and the cut-off point for this volume has to be somewhere, still the fact that the book does make reference to events in 1948 would seem to have made it appropriate to discuss in some detail the issue of America’s quick recognition of Israel.

A number of interlocking organizations operated in the U.S. to raise money for Zionist paramilitary groups in Palestine, though this goal was kept secret. These organizations were under the direction of the leader of the Irgun Delegation, Hillel Kook, who operated under the name of Peter Bergson. During World War II, these organizations purported to be trying to alert people to the genocide of European Jews and trying to rescue those still alive. By promoting this purpose these organizations were able to attract substantial public support, including from those who would be repulsed by their funding of terrorist activities, which, Weir implies, was their real intent. The latter, she maintains, was made manifest by the organizations’ failure to actually rescue Jews from Europe.

The Irgun group engaged in numerous public activities to raise money, one of the most successful being a pageant entitled “We Will Never Die!” which, woven within the backdrop of the Nazi genocide, celebrated the Jewish contribution to Western civilization. Written by Ben Hecht, an Academy Award-winning screenwriter, the pageant included such Broadway and Hollywood celebrities of the era as Edward G. Robinson, Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, and Leonard Bernstein. Forty thousand attended the extravaganza’s New York performances. It went on to play in a number of other large American cities. The group produced a number of other plays and rallies, one of which featured a young Marlon Brando, and raised $1 million.[19]

Some American Zionists, Weir observes, actually planned terrorist activities outside of Palestine in order to influence developments there. One such terrorist activity conceived by a group of American Zionists headed by an Orthodox Rabbi named Baruch Korff consisted of a plan to drop bombs along with threatening leaflets on the British foreign office in London, or anywhere in London if that were too difficult. The airplane pilot sought for this task, however, went to the Paris Police—he and Korff both being in France at the time—and Korff was arrested. Powerful people rushed to Korff’s defense and the charges were dropped. Korff thus was able return to his former activities in America as if nothing had happened. With this particular event thrown down the Orwellian “memory hole,” Korff resurfaced over two decades later as a public figure close to President Richard Nixon, influencing the latter’s Middle East policies.

The amount of money raised for Zionist groups during in the United States during these years is impossible to calculate accurately, but it would be enormous. Weir writes that between 1939 and May 1948 the Jewish Agency for Israel alone raised the equivalent of $3.5 billion in today’s dollars.

David Ben-Gurion, then de facto leader of the Jewish community in Palestine, realized that the international concern for Jewish refugees could be used to advance the cause of a Jewish state by making it appear that no other safe refuges for Jews existed. Weir illustrates this deception by a discussion of the famous ship Exodus, which carried Holocaust survivors to Palestine when the British were not allowing illegal immigration there.

Weir points out that what is generally unknown to the public is that the French were willing to take in those Exodus refugees but Ben-Gurion rejected that solution, forcing those survivors to remain on board the ship for seven months. Weir quotes historian Baruch Kimmerling on the significance of the Exodus affair: “Ben-Gurion‘s strategy in the Exodus affair paid off. The fate of the refugee ship attracted considerable and sympathetic attention around the world, and served the Zionist cause well. Few observers at the time knew that many of the refugees from the Exodus had applied for immigration visas to the United States, and were hardly anxious to settle in Israel . . . . By dramatizing the fate of the survivors, in whom he had little interest except as future residents of the state he was building . . . Ben-Gurion helped to make Israel the world’s chief power broker over Jewish affairs.”[20]

urisexo.jpgWeir includes a brief reference to Leon Uris’s bestselling 1958 novel on the Exodus ship, and though it falls outside the chronological purview of this volume, I would add that the impact of the already mythologized Exodus event was greatly magnified by Uris’s book, which sold over 7 million copies and was turned into a blockbuster movie in 1960 by Otto Preminger, a leading film director of the era. The film has been identified by many commentators as having greatly enhanced support for Israel in the United States by Jews as well as gentiles and in the view of some scholars this movie has had a lasting effect on how Americans view the Israeli–Palestinian conflict. Weir even acknowledges that it had initially shaped her thinking on the subject.[21]

While the pro-Zionist propaganda that inundated the American media played up the existence of Jewish refugees who allegedly sought to come to Israel, there was little popular attention paid toward the hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who were being driven from their homeland as a result of Zionist massacres and other forcible expulsion measures. A State Department study in March 1949 found the American public was “unaware of the Palestine refugee problem, since it has not been hammered away at by the press or radio.”[22]

To underscore the importance of what Weir presents on this subject, it should be pointed out that until fairly recently, Israel’s denial of ever having expelled the Palestinians dominated the public discourse in the U.S. It was alleged that when Arab armies were about to invade the newly-declared state of Israel, Palestinians left their homes in the new Israel at the behest of their leaders, expecting to return with the victorious Arab armies. Beginning in the 1980s, however, Israel’s so-called “New Historians,” relying on newly released Israeli documents, exploded this myth. They concluded that the major cause of Palestinian flight was Israeli military action, which included terrorist massacres and the fear of them.

Even without the discovery of this Israeli documentary evidence, or any other documentary evidence for that matter, the use of the cui bono test would strongly point to Zionist culpability for the removal of the native Palestinians. For the Zionists planned to create a state that was both democratic and Jewish. This would be impossible if a large number of non-Jewish people, who were largely hostile to Zionism, resided within the country. From this fact, it would seem reasonable to conclude that the emptying of Palestine in 1948 was not a serendipitous development from the perspective of the Zionists, but one that was intentionally brought about by them.

Weir observes that U.S. State Department experts at the time were aware of Israel’s inhumane actions and sought to take action to at least moderate Israel’s effort to achieve a permanent removal of Palestinians. The State Department threatened to withhold $49 million of unallocated funds from an Export-Import Bank loan to Israel if it did not allow at least 200,000 refugees to return to their homes. Although Truman sympathized with the Palestinians’ plight, and in early 1948 even briefly considered backtracking from the partition and supporting a UN trusteeship for the entirety of Palestine, he ultimately prevented the State Department’s move from being implemented.

Weir points out that those in the mainstream media who attempted to alert the American people to the reality of the dispossession of the Palestinian people were effectively prevented from doing so by pro-Zionists. The latter relied on hurling the career-destroying charge of “anti-Semitism” and threatening economic measures to harm any media outlet that would dare to disseminate information they deemed to be too negative toward Israel.

The individual whom the Zionists caused to fall the farthest was Dorothy Thompson. Weir deserves much credit here for pulling this once well-known figure out of the Orwellian memory hole. Thompson happens to have been one of the principal figures in my doctoral dissertation titled, ”The Intellectual Wellsprings of American World War II Interventionism, 1939-1941.”[23] And I have added a few additional points to what Weir has in her book to illustrate the high reputation Thompson had at one time.

Thompson was an early and persistent critic of Nazism. She had an interview with Hitler in 1931 before he had become German Chancellor, which was made into a book. Thompson portrayed Hitler and Nazism in a negative light and in 1934, the now Nazi government of Germany expelled her when she attempted to visit the country. From 1934 onward, the bulk of her writing dealt with the danger posed by Nazism to the Western democracies. After the start of World War II in Europe in September 1939, Thompson was a staunch interventionist who initially advocated greater American aid to the allies but by the latter part of 1941 she was advocating American entrance into the war.

doroth.jpgIn 1939, Time Magazine named Thompson the second most popular and influential woman in America behind Eleanor Roosevelt.[24] She spoke out about anti-Semitism and the plight of the Jews in Europe, and urged a relaxation of immigration restrictions so the U.S. could be a safe haven for Jews under threat in Europe. She also was a strong supporter of Zionism.

In early 1945 she took a trip to Palestine where she saw firsthand Jews oppressing Palestinians. She came to realize that the Zionists sought to create a Jewish exclusivist state, not one that would include all of its current inhabitants. Her criticism of Zionism led to charges against her of “anti-Semitism” and even pro-Nazism, as absurd as that was given her background.[25] As a result of this all-out Zionist attack, newspapers began to drop her columns. Especially harmful was her loss of an outlet in New York City—where she had received a large proportion of her income—when the New York Post dropped her column with no other major New York City daily being willing to pick it up. Her radio program and speaking engagements also disappeared. Despite these problems, Thompson would not back away from her criticism of Zionism. And she continued to do so in the dwindling number of newspapers that still took her column, which did not end until 1958.

It is significant that the black-out of Dorothy Thompson has continued after her death, and perhaps even become worse. In the effort to make the subject of American history more inclusive, recent historians have often added women who were little known in their own eras, whereas Thompson who had been an important figure remains unmentioned. It seems likely that she has remained largely unmentioned both for what she had to say about Zionism and also by the fact that she was blacklisted by pro-Zionists, the power of whom one is not allowed to publicly acknowledge. (This contrasts with those Americans who were blacklisted for being pro-Communist, who are now often praised as martyrs because of this treatment.)

To conclude the review, it should be emphasized that this concise book should be of value to a wide audience. The general reader with little background knowledge should easily pick up a number of key points that serve to dispel the many myths that loom large today in the mainstream media, while even those individuals familiar with the subject are almost guaranteed to profit from little known facts, especially in the notes section, that should augment their knowledge. And it is essential that many more Americans become aware of this knowledge if America’s position is to change regarding Israel and the Middle East in general. Such a change is essential not only to bring about some degree of justice for the Palestinians but in order to extricate the United States from the debilitating regional conflicts that its close connection with Israel has entailed. It will be interesting to see how Weir, in her forthcoming volume, deals with the problems America has faced in more recent years that ineluctably derived from the events described in this work.

References

[1] Alison Weir, Against Our Better Judgment: The Hidden History of How the U.S. Was Used to Create Israel, (CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2014), Kindle Edition, Kindle Location 364. Weir contends that there were a number of factors that caused the United States to enter World War I in April 1917, some of which she lists, and that “Zionism appears to have been one of those factors.”

[2] Some historians have diluted this Jewish factor, attributing motivation to British foreign policy goals in the Near East. A Jewish homeland allegedly could serve as a buffer zone that would protect the Suez Canal.

[3] Chaim Weizmann was a leading figure in the Zionist movement who served as President of the Zionist Organization and later as the first President of Israel.

[4] Tom Segev, “‘View With Favor’, Review of The Balfour Declaration: The Origins of the Arab-Israeli Conflict by Jonathan Schneer, International New York Times, August 20, 2010, accessed December 13, 2015, http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/22/books/review/Segev-t.ht...

In other parts of his review, Segev’s analysis is impressive. For example he writes: “The Balfour declaration thus finds its place among a multitude of fruitless schemes and indulgent fantasies, except, of course, that in this case, surprisingly, the British by and large kept their word. For at least two decades they allowed the Zionist movement to bring hundreds of thousands of Jewish immigrants into Palestine, and these new arrivals set up hundreds of settlements including several towns, as well as the political, economic, military and cultural infrastructure of the future state of Israel. But if Israel’s existence originated with the British, so did the Palestinians’ tragedy.”

[5] The controversial House-Grey memorandum, developed with Britain in February 1916, stated that at an appropriate time Wilson would call for a peace conference. If the Allies accepted the offer and Germany rejected it or acted intransigently at the conference, the United States would go to war against Germany. And if Germany accepted the offer and a peace conference did take place, the settlement would not be unfavorable to the Allies. Wayne S. Cole, An Interpretive History of American Foreign Relations (Homewood, Ill.: Dorsey Press, 1968), 363

[6] Weir, Against Our Better Judgment, Kindle Location 449.

[7] The Wikipedia entry for “Ottoman Empire,” states that the “’Ottoman Empire’ and ‘Turkey’ were often used interchangeably, with ‘Turkey’ being increasingly favored both in formal and informal situations. This dichotomy was officially ended in 1920–23, when the newly established Ankara-based Turkish government chose Turkey as the sole official name,” accessed December 13, 2015, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ottoman_Empire .

[8] Weir, Against Our Better Judgment, Kindle Locations 2668-2669 .

[9] The King-Crane Commission was originally created as the American Section of the Inter-Allied Commission on Mandates in Turkey, which was also to include British and French members, and be like a number of other fact finding missions stemming from the Paris Peace Conference of 1919. These two countries failed to participate. Ken Grossi, Maren Milligan, and Ted Waddelow, Restoring Lost Voices of Self-Determination: Background to the Commission, August 2011, Part of the King-Crane Commission Digital Collection, Oberlin College Archives, accessed December 13, 2015, http://www.oberlin.edu/library/digital/king-crane/intro.h... .

[10] Weir, Against Our Better Judgment, Kindle Locations 502-503.

[11] Weir, Against Our Better Judgment, Kindle Location 505.

[12] The King-Crane Commission Report, August 28, 1919, http://www.hri.org/docs/king-crane/. The report includes discussions of territory intended to have been taken from Turkey in the Treaty of Sevres, which Turkey never accepted and was not implemented.

[13] Ibid.

[14] Quoted in Weir, Against Our Better Judgment, Kindle Location 798.

[15] Wallace had no chance of winning the election but Truman’s backers feared that he could syphon off enough liberal votes in large Northern and Midwestern states to enable Dewey to win the election. The issue of Israel did not play a role in Strom Thurmond’s 1948 campaign in the South, which focused on states’ rights and racial issues.

[16] Quoted in Weir, Against Our Better Judgment, Kindle Location 894.

King-Crane Commission Report, August 28, 1919.

[17] Jeremy R. Hammond, “The Myth of the U.N. Creation of Israel,” Foreign Policy Journal, October 26, 2010, accessed December 13, 2015, http://www.foreignpolicyjournal.com/2010/10/26/the-myth-o...

[18] More than this, the UN General Assembly, after the vote, created another committee that came to quite different conclusions. Jeremy Hammond writes: “The Ad Hoc Committee on the Palestinian Question was established by the General Assembly shortly after the issuance of the UNSCOP report in order to continue to study the problem and make recommendations. A sub-committee was established in turn that was tasked with examining the legal issues pertaining to the situation in Palestine, and it released the report of its findings on November 11. It observed that the UNSCOP report had accepted a basic premise ‘that the claims to Palestine of the Arabs and Jews both possess validity’, which was ‘not supported by any cogent reasons and is demonstrably against the weight of all available evidence.’ With an end to the Mandate and with British withdrawal, ‘there is no further obstacle to the conversion of Palestine into an independent state’, which ‘would be the logical culmination of the objectives of the Mandate’ and the Covenant of the League of Nations. It found that ‘the General Assembly is not competent to recommend, still less to enforce, any solution other than the recognition of the independence of Palestine, and that the settlement of the future government of Palestine is a matter solely for the people of Palestine.’’’ Hammond, “The Myth of the U.N. Creation of Israel.”

[19] Marlon Brando was very close to Jews before he became a movie star and later donated a considerable amount of money to Zionist causes. He expressed more negative views of Jews toward the end of his life. See: Allan M. Jalon, “How Marlon Brando Became Godfather to the Jews,” Forward, September 16, 2015, accessed December 13, 2015, http://forward.com/culture/320671/how-marlon-brando-becam...; Danielle Berrin, “Marlon Brando and the Jews,” Jewish Journal, July 30, 2014, accessed December 13, 2015, http://www.jewishjournal.com/hollywoodjew/item/marlon_bra....

[20] Weir, Against Our Better Judgment, Kindle Locations 1249-1256.

[21] The movie had an all-star cast (and a very popular, award winning theme song), which included: Paul Newman, Eva Marie Saint, Peter Lawford, Sal Mineo, and Lee J. Cobb.

[22] Weir, Against Our Better Judgment, Kindle Locations 1370-1371.

[23] Stephen John Sniegoski, “The Intellectual Wellsprings of American World War II Interventionism, 1939-1941,” (PhD diss., University of Maryland-College Park, 1977).

My research on Thompson included a visit to the archival collection of her papers at the George Arents Research Library at Syracuse University in Syracuse, New York, in 1976, where I perused some material dealing with her break with American Jews, which was outside the scope of my dissertation.

[24] Thompson’s correspondence in her manuscript collection at Syracuse University illustrates her importance. The Overview of the Collection states: “Correspondents include authors (John Gunther, Wallace Irwin, Alfred M. Lilienthal, Edgar A. Mowrer, Vincent Sheehan, Johannes Urzidil), literary figures (Jean Cocteau, Rose Wilder Lane, Thomas Mann, Rebecca West), politicians and statesmen (Bernard M. Baruch, Winston Churchill, Ely Culbertson, Ralph E. Flanders, Felix Frankfurter, Charles de Gaulle, Cordell Hull, Clare Boothe Luce, Jan Masaryk, Gamal Abdel Nasser, Franklin D. and Eleanor Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman).” Overview of the Collection, Dorothy Thompson Papers, Syracuse University Libraries, accessed December 13, 2015, http://library.syr.edu/digital/guides/t/thompson_d.htm.

[25] Thompson’s relationship with American Jews actually began to sour toward the end of the war before the emergence of the issue of Zionist mistreatment of Palestinians. She differed with the Jewish establishment regarding her opposition to the Anglo-American incendiary bombing of German cities, which involved the killing of tens of thousands of civilians, and also the demand for a Carthaginian peace with Germany that was reflected in the Morgenthau Plan. She viewed these actions as violating the alleged idealistic purpose of the war, whereas many Jews sought punishment of the German people because of what the Nazis had done to their co-religionists.

samedi, 15 octobre 2016

Sufi Brotherhoods in Syria and Israel

sufi1.jpg

Itzchak Weismann:

Sufi Brotherhoods in Syria and Israel

A Contemporary Overview (full text)

Ex: http://elkorg-projects.blogspot.com

In the geographical area of Syria, as in other parts of the Muslim world, Sufism found itself during the twentieth century under increasing attack. Though accustomed to strictures against their theosophical meditations and popular-ecstatic practices, with the advent of modernity Sufis had to contend with challenges of an altogether different magnitude. These derived not only from the direct impact of the West with its rationalist mode of thinking, but, even more so, from the growing intervention of a secularized State and the concomitant antagonism of a rising Islamic fundamentalism. Under such circumstances, many Sufi brotherhoods declined; yet others were able to develop a variety of strategies from within their divergent traditions to survive, adapt, and at times even thrive. Since the 1980s, with the turn of Muslim governments against the radical upsurge, and the general rise of interest in “Oriental” mysticism in the West, there has been a marked revival in Sufi activities. [1]

This paper focuses on the current manifestations of Sufism and Sufi brotherhoods in the states of Syria and Israel, with occasional references to Lebanon and Jordan. Although subjected to increasingly differentiated socioeconomic and political processes since the later part of the Ottoman period, Sufis in three of the four countries share in a basic situation of living under non-Sunni governments. In Syria, the sectarian-based authoritarian Ba‘th regime, in power since 1963, has been generally hostile toward independent Sufi activity, the more so during the Islamic uprising that culminated in Hamah in 1982. The same regime imposed itself on the Christian-Maronite-dominated political system in Lebanon following the outbreak of civil war in 1976. In the Jewish State of Israel such activity had been almost eliminated by the disruption of the War in 1948, but partly revived after the renewal of contacts with the Palestinians of the West Bank and Gaza in the wake of the 1967 War. Rather than an exhaustive survey, my aim in this paper is to analyze the various ways by which different Sufi brotherhoods in Syria and Israel have responded to the challenges of modernity in general, and to the peculiar political circumstances in which they live in particular.

Among the Syrian brotherhoods that experienced a marked decline or that disappeared during the twentieth century, De Jong includes the major turuq of the Qadiriyya, Khalwatiyya and Mawlawiyya in his mid-1980s survey. [2] The weakening of the Qadiriyya had already become conspicuous by the turn of that century. Essentially an urban brotherhood in Syria, its major branches were led by the notable Kaylani family of Damascus and Hamah, who claimed descent from the founder ‘Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani. In the late Ottoman period leading members of the family became administrators, later turning into influential politicians and entrepreneurs.[3] The last actual shaykh in the family was Muhammad Fariz al-Kaylani, a follower of Ibn ‘Arabi who died in Damascus in 1971 without designating an heir.[4] In Hamah, the Qadiriyya continued to be observed as a family tradition until its open support of the Islamic uprising in 1982 brought upon it the brunt of the regime. Many members of the family were killed by the security forces, while their illustrious lodge (zawiya), and indeed the entire quarter in which they resided, were razed to the ground.[5] In the rural areas local leading Qadiri families, such as the Zu‘bis of the Hawran, have continued to enjoy influence among the peasants even after relinquishing their Sufi identity.[6]

A closer look at this process of decline is provided by Paolo Pinto in a recent anthropological study conducted in Aleppo. One of the focuses of this study is the Hilaliyya brotherhood, which since the eighteenth century has combined the local Qadiri tradition with the then reformist Khalwati import. At present the dhikr is still performed in two lodges in the city, but the brotherhood’s characteristic practice of seclusion (khalwa) is no longer in use because, as its leaders maintain, in modern times people have neither the leisure nor the possibility to set aside their work.[7] Shaykh al-Hilali, a physician, follows his ancestors’ tradition in stressing the primacy of the shari‘a and in combining the religious and secular sciences. Subscribing to the decision of his grandfather to discontinue the path rather than compromise its ideals, he avoids guiding disciples and is content with conducting the dhikr and with providing spiritual advice for the community. In the weekly session (hadra), Pinto reports, around one hundred adherents are assembled, most of them belonging to the old commercial families of Aleppo. Some of the participants are organized into an informal study group in which they discuss their spiritual experiences and read Sufi texts. Among these texts is the Sufi compendium of the local Shadhili-‘Alawi reformist shaykh ‘Abd al-Qadir ‘Isa, which has appeared in several editions since it was first published in 1961.[8]

The other major brotherhood that De Jong considers as having lost its ground in Syria, the Mawlawiyya, may have done so in its traditional form. In Aleppo, to where the Great Master moved following the ban on Sufi activity in Turkey in 1925, the tariqa died out in the late 1950s. Yet, as elsewhere in the Muslim world, as well as in the West, groups of Mawlawis have exploited the unique ritual resources of their brotherhood – the whirling dance, musical improvisations, and special clothing – to turn the dhikr into a highly impressive, though often touristic, performance. In Damascus, the leader of the new-style whirling dervishes is Shaykh Hamza Shakkur, the choirmaster of singers (munshidin) in the Umayyad mosque and a vocalist who is much in demand for official religious ceremonies. Shakkur also cooperates with the al-Kindi Ensemble from Aleppo, which was founded in 1983 by Julien Jalaleddin Weiss, a converted Frenchman of Swiss extraction who had studied Arab music and specialized on the qanun. The group holds regular concert tours both in the Arab world and in Europe and America.[9]

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As against the general decline of these basically urban-elitist brotherhoods, their rural-popular counterparts have proved more capable of holding to their traditions. Such is the case with the Sa‘diyya, although the spectacular dawsa (the shaykh riding a horse over the backs of his murids) has been long prohibited by the state. Numerous local shaykhs are affiliated with this brotherhood in both the major Syrian cities and in the countryside. Its two centers are the Golan village of Jaba’, the site of the founder’s tomb, and Damascus, where his descendants vie for control over its rich awqaf. The Sa‘diyya in the capital is considerably weakened, but still it is the only brotherhood to take part in the annual procession of laylat al-qadar, in which the first revelation to the Prophet is commemorated by exhibiting one of his hairs in the presence of religious dignitaries and State representatives. In Jaba’ and the neighboring villages, by contrast, hadarat are still regularly conducted with all their traditional vigor, including beating drums, piercing the body with swords and eating burning coal and glass.[10]

Even more popular is the Rifa‘iyya brotherhood, of which the Sa‘diyya is sometimes considered a branch. Rifa‘i zawiyas can be found in most towns of Syria, although, as in the case of the Qadiriyya, the leading families have been incorporated into the local elites; in Damascus rich merchants who are attached to the tariqa are engaged in editing and publishing its basic manuscripts. In Aleppo, however, some of its zawiyas were closed under Shishakli’s military regime in the early 1950s, while in Hamah shaykh Mahmud al-Shaqfa, who was associated with the Muslim Brothers, was killed by Asad’s security forces and his lodge closed in 1979.[11] The mainstay of the Rifa‘iyya has always been in the countryside. The fortunes of the tariqa were enormously enhanced in Syria in the days of the infamous Abu al-Huda al-Sayyadi, who under the patronage of Sultan ‘Abdülhamid II (1876-1909) attracted to the brotherhood a great number of people from the towns, the villages, and the tribes.[12] Considerably reduced during the interwar period, it still persists in many villagers. Thus for instance in Nahjat Brak in the Ghuta the dhikr is held, though only once a year, and is attended by peasants from the adjacent regions.[13] Pinto describes the working of another Rifa‘i lodge in the predominantly Kurdish village of ‘Afrin, north of Aleppo. The head of this zawiya, Shaykh Mahmud, is a descendant of a local family of the brotherhood and has eighteen disciples in various stages of the path. The dhikr of the group includes healing and expulsion of jinns, as well as, like the Sa‘diyya, transpiercing the abdomen with an iron skewer (shish), walking over burning coals and glass eating.[14]

Popular mystical traditions are maintained in contemporary Syria, to some extent or another, also in their non-tariqa forms, particularly around the numerous tombs of prophets and saints which are dispersed throughout the country. The richest locus of sacred sites is naturally Damascus, and it may serve as an illustration of some of the still existing practices. Thus the caves on Mount Qasyun, overlooking the city from the north, are believed to contain the remains of literally hundreds of prophets. Barren women visit Maqam Ibrahim, while wayfarers address themselves to the alleged tomb of al-Khidr, their legendary patron. To this day sixty shaykhs will climb up the mountain in times of drought to perform the traditional prayer for rain. Another important sacred focus is the central Umayyad mosque where, it is claimed, the Prophet Yahya and Imam Husayn’s severed head are interred. At the first, women solicit help in solving problems of motherhood and marriage, and many of them tie a rope to the lattice-work as a symbol of their commitment to fulfill their vow. The second tomb is the starting point of the afore-mentioned solemn procession of laylat al-qadar.[15]

Among the saints (awliya’) buried in Damascus, the most illustrious is Muhyi al-Din ibn ‘Arabi, in whose shrine in the north of the city an impressive hadra is conducted on Friday evenings. Al-Shaykh al-Akbar is visited both by common believers asking for worldly benefits and by mystics who attach themselves to his tomb for spiritual illumination. For the local population, though, even more important is the shrine of Shaykh Arslan, the twelfth-century patron saint and protector of the city. A recent saint is Shaykh Ahmad al-Harun (d. 1962), whose picture adorns many shops and whose miraculous deeds (karamat) are still widely circulated. A stonecutter in Mount Qasyun Harun, who had fiercely fought the French, immersed himself at an advanced age not only in the intricacies of Ibn ‘Arabi’s theosophy but also in the natural sciences, gaining the respect of both ulema and laymen.[16] The “Tales of the Saints” genre is indeed still popular in Syria, as is testified to, for example, by the posthumous publication of a collection of such stories compiled by Muhammad Abu al-Yusr ‘Abidin, the Grand Mufti of the country between 1954 and 1962.[17]

Beyond the unchecked decline of an “elitist”-urban Qadiriyya or the retrograde traditionalism of a “popular”-rural Rifa‘iyya, the Shadhiliyya and Naqshbandiyya Sufi brotherhoods of Syria have tapped into their reformist traditions in an effort to adapt themselves to the modern situation. Such adaptability allows their leaders not only to transcend the urban-rural divide, but – more importantly - to adopt elements from Western culture as well as from Islamic fundamentalist discourse. Moreover, in some cases the Sufi brotherhood appears to have transformed itself into new forms of religious organization in the face of these challenges, notably the educational society and the political movement.

Three Shadhili sub-brotherhoods have had a lasting impact on the Syrian lands in the modern period, all three crossing current political boundaries. The oldest among these branches, and the less effective today, is the Yashrutiyya, which has always stressed its a-political character. Founded in Acre by the Tunisian Shadhili-Madani Shaykh ‘Ali Nur al-Din Yashruti (ca. 1815-1899) in the mid-nineteenth century, the brotherhood spread swiftly throughout the region, from Aleppo in the north to Gaza in the south, attracting both orthodox educated urban elites and disaffected villagers from the countryside with antinomian tendencies.[18] The leadership of the Yashrutiyya has remained within the founder’s family, while its center moved first to Beirut, in the wake of the War of 1948 and then, in 1980, in the midst of the Lebanese civil war, to Amman. In Damascus a regular hadra is still held in the zawiya of Abu al-Shamat, ‘Ali Nur al-Din’s principal deputy (khalifa) in the city, though the once glorious construction is now in a deplorable state. Concentrations of Yashrutis are also found in small towns in the Hawran, in Sirmin near Aleppo, and in the Ghuta villages of Harasta and Daraya. Still a predominantly Palestinian brotherhood, its members are most numerous in the refugee camp of south Damascus, and even more so in the camps near Beirut and Sidon.[19] Another Shadhili sub-brotherhood introduced in Syria in the Second half of the nineteenth century was that of Yashruti’s Madani colleague Muhammad al-Fasi. Brought to Damascus by the celebrated amir ‘Abd al-Qadir al-Jaza’iri, it seems to have remained confined to his elitist circle and died out before the end of the French Mandate.[20]

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The second major modern Shadhili branch to strike roots in Syria was the Dandarawiyya, which had been founded toward the end of the nineteenth century by the Egyptian Muhammad al-Dandarawi (1839-1910), a spiritual grandson of the reformist Sufi scholar Ahmad ibn Idris. Spreading to both Damascus and the surrounding Ghuta in the 1890s, the tariqa still has a small presence in these areas, particularly in the village of Jisrin. Its center of activity in the Syrian lands, however, moved to Beirut, where it underwent a major transformation.[21] A glimpse at the working of this brotherhood is provided by Mark Sedgwick in a study of the worldwide spread and “normalization” of Ibn Idris’ legacy. Its current head is the founder’s grandson, Fadl al-Dandarawi (b. 1934), a Cairo-based wealthy businessman who in the early 1970s launched a new project to remold the tariqa. He was assisted by Su‘ad al-Hakim, a Lebanese professor of Arab and Islamic philosophy and author of a celebrated study on Ibn ‘Arabi’s terminology.[22] On one level, Sedgwick argues, the new “Dandarawi thought” represents an attempt to return to the original reformist Ahmadi path; on another it is designed as an inclusive way which combines Sufism and Salafism and is appropriate for the modern world. This is embodied in the “Dandarawi family”, and the history of the Dandarawiyya is reconstructed as having been a social organization in this “family” mold from the outset, rather than a Sufi tariqa. Fadl insists on being addressed as amir and regards the hadra as an “art” or “folklore”. Hakim, a woman, conducts in Beirut, in accordance with this philosophy, a sober hadra for both men and women, as well as an educated discussion group.[23]

No research is as yet available on the Syrian ‘Alawiyya, the third modern Shadhili branch to operate in the country, although the brotherhood as a whole is well known in the West, having been the inspiration for a remarkable group of mystically-minded intellectuals in Europe and North America.[24] Founded by the Darqawi shaykh Ahmad ibn ‘Aliwa of Mustaghanim, Western Algeria, in the early nineteenth century, the ‘Alawiyya was introduced by him in Damascus in the course of a pilgrimage he undertook shortly before his death in 1934. Combining, not unlike the Idrisi tradition, the theosophy of Ibn ‘Arabi with a call to strictly follow the Qur‘an and the Sunna, the brotherhood under the leadership of Muhammad al-Hashimi soon spread to other parts of the country, from Aleppo in the north to Amman in the south, and was very active both in the field of religious education and in the struggle against the French.[25] Similar to the case of the urban Rifa‘iyya, the leaders of the Damascene ‘Alawiyya have been lately engaged in publishing the writings of their masters, but more significant were the shaykhs from the north, who maintained its original militant zeal in supporting the violent struggle against the Ba‘th. Among them were disciples of the above-mentioned Aleppine ‘Abd al-Qadir ‘Isa, who was consequently forced to spend the last years of his life in exile in Jordan, as well as those of ‘Abd al-Ghaffar al-Durubi of Homs, many of whom were killed along with the Muslim Brothers in the notorious massacre in the Tadmur (Palmyra) military prison in June 1980.[26]

The Naqshbandiyya, unquestionably the most active brotherhood in contemporary Syria, has been long characterized by a tradition combining a strong orthodoxy with a sociopolitical orientation. Both traits were reinforced in the early nineteenth century by Shaykh Khalid, the founder of the Khalidi sub-brotherhood whose mausoleum lies in Damascus. Two of his spiritual descendants were responsible for turning the Khalidiyya into the most widespread Sufi organization in Syria in the twentieth century. These were ‘Isa al-Kurdi (1831-1912), an immigrant scholar who ordained a great number of disciples in Damascus and the Ghuta, and Abu al-Nasr Khalaf (1875-1949), who propagated the path in the villages around his hometown Homs, as well as in Aleppo and Hamah.[27] A third center of the Naqshbandiyya-Khalidiyya can be found in the Kurdish areas of the northeast - the Jazira and Dayr al-Zor.[28] These essentially independent local branches adopted different and, in some respects, even opposing attitudes toward the questions of religious renewal, the Salafi challenge and, above all, relations with the Ba‘th regime. Mention should also be made of Nazim al-Qubrusi, founder of the Haqqaniyya branch, who had initially established himself at his master’s shrine in Damascus, but whose brotherhood has now become a truly international organization counting members in many countries around the globe, from Lebanon and Turkey to England and the United States.[29]

The leading Naqshbandi branch in Syria today is that of Ahmad Kuftaro (b. 1915), son of one of ‘Isa al-Kurdi’s principal deputies in Damascus.[30] This is the only Sufi organization in the country to be allowed freedom of action by the regime, with whom it is closely associated. Despite claims for early beginnings, the Kuftariyya seems to have emerged following the Ba‘th takeover in 1963, and the election of Kuftaro a year later to the highest religious position in Syria, that of the Grand Mufti.[31] In 1971, after the rise to power of Hafiz al-Asad who sought to appease the Sunni population, Kuftaro’s mosque in north Damascus was made the basis of the Abu al-Nur Islamic Foundation. The first recognized college within this trust, The College for Islamic Propagation, was inaugurated in 1982, at the height of the Islamic uprising. The Kuftariyya appeals to social strata generally higher than other Sufi brotherhoods in Syria, especially small merchants and junior functionaries. It has a female wing under Kuftaro’s younger daughter, Wafa’, who propagate his message among women in weekly lectures in the Abu al-Nur Foundation, where she also conducts the dhikr, and in various mosques in Damascus.[32] Kuftaro regards himself in addition as the spiritual father of the more independent female Sufi organization of the Qubaysiyya, which directs its attention to women from higher social classes. Members of this organization run highly appreciated private schools in Syria, and it has lately spread to other countries of the Middle East.

Faithful to the reformist tradition of the Naqshbandiyya, Ahmad Kuftaro seeks to adapt its path to the modern situation by propagating a learned and discreet form of Sufism which is based on the Qur’an and the shari‘a. Particularly under the inspiration of the Indian scholar Abu al-Hasan al-Nadwi, he also stresses engagement in social affairs and rejects monastic mysticism (rahbaniyya) as a major cause of the social and cultural weakening of Islam.[33] The focus of Kuftaro’s reformist activity lies in the sphere of education. On the basis of the Abu al-Nur Foundation, where he himself continues to deliver a weekly lesson in front of thousands of people, Kuftaro has founded numerous religious institutions, from private schools for boys and girls to an Islamic center of higher education which since 1992 has provided Ph.D. degrees in Islamic Law. To enhance the prestige of the foundation, he formed connections with various universities in the Muslim world – in Libya, Pakistan and Sudan – as well as in North America, where an Abu al-Nur Institute was opened in 1993 in Baltimore, Maryland. In view of the great importance that Kuftaro attaches to modern technology, the foundation also supports students of high-status professions, while inculcating in them its religious values. Some of his close relatives are themselves engineers trained in the West, and they helped him develop the Abu al-Nur Foundation beyond its strictly religious functions into an effective economic, social and political organization.

Yet in face of the fierce Salafi critique of Sufism, Ahmad Kuftaro has proved ready to go beyond the traditional reformism of the Naqshbandiyya and eventually adopt much of the discourse and argumentation of his rivals. In this endeavor, he downplays his relation to the great Naqshbandi masters of the past, including Shaykh Khalid,[34] while stressing his good relations with most moderate Islamists.[35] Moreover, once again in the footsteps of Nadwi,[36] Kuftaro suggests to do away with the Sufi terminology in favor of a strictly Qur’anic vocabulary. In this scheme of “spiritual education” (tarbiya ruhiyya) the terms tasawwuf and tariqa themselves are to be substituted by the less controversial ihsan and tazkiyat al-nafs.[37] Kufatro explicitly follows the Salafis in denouncing legal school partisanship and the practice of imitation (taqlid) in favor of individual reasoning (ijtihad). He likewise stresses the need to interpret Islam in relation to the present, and of being guided by reason, often declaring that religion is nothing but “mature reason”. On the other hand, Kuftaro and his associates are keen to demonstrate to the Salafis that the Sufis’ inner search of God has not diverted them from active participation in jihad.[38] Muhammad Sa‘id Ramadan al-Buti, a highly popular doctor of Islamic Law from the University of Damascus who is also affiliated to the Naqshbandiyya,[39] fully supports Kuftaro’s approach. In a book dedicated to the refutation of extreme Salafi positions, Buti approves of the shaykh’s terminology while showing, by way of ijtihad, that the dhikr and other Sufi practices are fully compatible with the Qur’an and the Sunna.[40]

Another aspect in which Ahmad Kuftaro departs from the traditional way of the Naqshbandiyya, in this case even beyond the reformism of the Salafis, concerns his propagation of the religion. As already mentioned, the Abu al-Nur Foundation has an active da‘wa department, which uses modern devices - from videotapes and audio cassettes to the Internet - to spread the shaykh’s message among both Muslim and non-Muslim audiences. For the latter, a collection of lectures translated into English was published in 1993 under the title “The Way of Truth”, and was expanded in a second edition in 1997. Kuftaro himself has exploited his extensive travels in an official capacity to present Islam and Sufism, his earliest visit being as early as 1966 to the United States.[41] His da‘wa is nevertheless characterized by an intentional ambiguity. On the one hand, Kuftaro adheres to the orthodox position, held by Naqshbandis and Salafis alike, that Islam is the final and most perfect religion; on the other hand, however, he points out that the three monotheistic religions stem from a common source, and further maintains that all denominations are different traditions of the one universal religion. In harmony with the latter position, also indicated in the title of his official website – Abrahamic religions - Kuftaro has been long engaged in interfaith dialogue, taking part in various conferences around the world and hosting delegations of clergymen, particularly Christian, in the Abu al-Nur mosque. In recent years his interests have expanded to include other issues of international concern, notably those of human rights and the environment.[42]

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Students of the Syrian religious scene assess differently the special relations between Ahmad Kuftaro and the Asad regime. Thus the more affirmative Geoffroy counts the shaykh among those resilient men of religion, mostly from Damascus, who have sought to assuage the hostility of the Ba‘th and avoid complete rupture. The accusations against his compromising stands are, according to this interpretation, nothing but the age-old claim about the corruption of ulema in the service of rulers.[43] Stenberg, on his part, stresses the fact that although Kuftaro may be allied with – or even controlled by – the Syrian regime, he also can influence the political leadership through his position as the highest religious authority at the head of a large religious movement.[44] He however concurs with Böttcher’s view of Kuftaro as a tool in the Islamic policy of the regime,[45] and with De Jong’s assertion that the cultivation of the Kuftariyya seems to have been designed to weaken the position of the politically unreliable Naqshbandi shaykhs of the north and northeast.[46] In my view, its cultivation was more specifically aimed at offsetting the influence of Sa‘id Hawwa, the foremost ideologue of the Islamic opposition in Syria, who was deeply attached to Sufism in general, and to the northern branch of the Naqshbandiyya in particular.[47]

The affinity between the ideas and discourse of the Naqshbandi brotherhood of Syria and its Salafis-Islamists, which has been noted even in the case of the state-backed Kuftaro, was much more pronounced in the north, where disciples of Abu al-Nasr Khalaf were instrumental in founding local branches of the Muslim Brothers in the 1930s and 1940s. Outstanding among these Naqshbandi-oriented Brothers were Muhammad al-Hamid (1910-1969) in Hamah and ‘Abd al-Fattah Abu-Ghudda (1917-1997) in Aleppo.[48] Under the rule of the Ba‘th, Abu-Ghudda emerged as the leader of the Islamists’ northern faction, while Sa‘id Hawwa (1935-1989) perpetuated Hamid’s work on the national level. Sufism permeates Hawwa’s entire oeuvre, one of the expressed aims of which was to familiarize the Islamic movement with the reformist Sufi tradition and thus provide it with a spiritual “depth”. In a series of books he dedicated to the subject, notably Tarbiyatuna al-ruhiyya and al-Mustakhlas fi tazkiyat al-anfus, Hawwa in all probability preceded Kuftaro in deemphasizing the Sufi vocabulary.[49] Indignant, though, at the Damascene shaykh’s complicity with the un-Islamic Ba‘th, he went beyond the latter’s rejection of rahbaniyya to elaborate upon Nadwi’s complementary concept of rabbaniyya, making it the basis for a sociopolitical alternative. Through this concept, Hawwa conceived of a grass-roots organization, a popular supra-brotherhood as it were, that would unite all the Islamic forces in the country and lead them in the struggle for religious revival in general, and against the secular tendencies of the Ba‘th in particular.[50] The Hamah uprising of 1982, and its brutal suppression by Asad’s regime, left Kufatro’s accommodating collaboration the only alternative open before the Syrian Naqshbandiyya.

Sufi manifestations in contemporary Israel differ considerably from those in Syria in both their scope and the identity of the brotherhoods involved. The differences go back to Ottoman Palestine, in which the Sufi brotherhoods were less organized and of a more limited social significance. The Naqshbandiyya has never struck roots here, its presence being generally restricted to a zawiya run by Uzbeks in Jerusalem, while the Mawlawiyya and Rifa‘iyya had practically disappeared, the first already by the beginning of the twentieth century, the other in 1948.[51] Three brotherhoods - The Qadiriyya, Yashrutiyya and Khalwatiyya-Rahmaniyya were able to adapt themselves to the Israeli realities, in ascending order of success. Various local groups of the Qadiriyya were active in Palestine during Ottoman times, in both towns and villages. These groups disintegrated in 1948, but in recent years new ones appeared, in the same fragmented manner, under leaders who received the path from different shaykhs in the West Bank and Gaza. They include Sa‘id Abu-Laban, a descendant from the leading Qadiri family of Ottoman Ramla which was responsible for the ziyara at Nabi Salih’s tomb; ‘Abd al-Salam Manasara, an ex-Communist from Nazareth who adheres to a more sober type of Sufism; and the charismatic though controversial Abu Filastin from Sahnin in the Lower Galilee. In some cases, to fortify their standing, the shaykhs combine with the Qadiriyya other affiliations such as the Rifa‘iyya and ‘Alawiyya.[52]

The Yashrutiyya, whom we met in the refugee camps of Syria and Lebanon, introduced into Palestine a more organized type of Sufism during the last decades of Ottoman rule. Retaining its essentially centralized structure, the brotherhood was able to attract a wide membership throughout the country well into the British Mandate. Its fortunes were severely affected, however, by the events of 1948, when Muhammad al-Hadi, the founder’s grandson, moved with many of his followers to Beirut. Several zawiyas were lost during the battles, and in 1952 the economic basis of the mother lodge in Acre was further undermined as most of its awqaf were confiscated. After 1967, the Yashrutis in Israel regained some of their former strength as they were allowed to establish contacts with adherents in the West Bank and Gaza, as well as in other parts of the Muslim world. The main figure in this renewed activity was Ibrahim Abu al-Hashish of Umm al-Fahm, where the largest concentration of Yashrutis is found today. With contributions from abroad the zawiya in Acre was also renovated, al-Hadi being buried there beside his fathers in 1981 with Israel’s permission.[53] His son Ahmad occasionally visits the lodge and conducts a celebrated dhikr, but otherwise activity is limited to the religious festivals, notably the Prophet’s mawlid.[54]

Much more successful in its accommodation to the Israeli realities is the Rahmani branch of the Khalwatiyya, a brotherhood that eventually disappeared in other parts of the Syrian lands. This branch was founded immediately after World War I by ‘Abd al-Rahman al-Sharif, a former deputy (muqaddam) of the Yashrutiyya in Hebron who switched to the Khalwati silsila returning to the great reviver of the brotherhood in the eighteenth century, Mustafa al-Bakri. In his footsteps, the Rahmaniyya has propagated, possibly as a counterbalance to the antinomian tendencies among the rural Yashrutiyya, a reformist type of Sufism combining strictly following the Qur’an and the Sunna with the pursuit of worldly concerns.[55] Splitting after the founder’s death in 1925, his most outstanding khalifa, Husni al-Din al-Qasimi, established himself in the village of Zayta, and further spread the path to the villages that now form the Triangle area in Israel.[56] Most important among these is the lodge in Baqa al-Gharbiyya, which four successive sons of Husni al-Din, the last being the present shaykh ‘Abd al-Rauf al-Qasimi, managed by keeping cordial relations with Israeli authorities to develop after 1967 into an impressive religious-educational complex. It includes both a large mosque-zawiya where a regular dhikr is held for both men and women in separate rooms, and a rapidly expanding Islamic College, which was opened in 1989 and is served by a modern academic library. Enjoying the official recognition of the Ministry of Education, the college has currently more than five hundred students.[57]

sufi-5.jpg

Finally attention should be drawn to an Israeli version of the tariqa Ibrahimiyya. Although, as in Syria, this way aims at enhancing an interfaith dialogue, in Israel it was founded by a Jewish group, including a conservative Rabbi and academic scholars, who relate themselves to the Jewish Sufi tradition inaugurated by Rabbi Abraham son of Maimonides in the thirteenth century. The members used to meet to read Sufi texts and perform the dhikr under the guidance of Muslim Sufi shaykhs. These activities were interrupted following the break of the last Intifada in 2000, but recently they have been renewed.[58]

Although clearly losing ground in the face of the multi-faceted challenge mounted against it through the twentieth century, Sufism is still conspicuously present in many countries of the contemporary Muslim world. As the cases of Syria and Israel show, among the diverse Sufi traditions, it was primarily the reformist brotherhoods of the pre-modern era, particularly the Naqshbandiyya but also the Shadhiliyya and the Khalwatiyya, which proved most capable of adjusting to the modern circumstances. Adopting a seemingly paradoxical strategy of accommodating one agent of modernity or another - western rationalism, Islamic fundamentalism or, most importantly, the all-powerful State – by the close of the century branches from these brotherhoods have managed not merely to preserve their mystical traditions, but also at times to expand into new enterprises in the educational, socioeconomic and political realms.

-------------------

[1] For a general discussion of the debate on Sufism in the twentieth century, see Carl W. Ernst, Sufism: An Essential Introduction to the Philosophy and Practice of

the Mystical Tradition of Islam (Boston: Shambhala, 1997), 199-228; Elizabeth Sirriyeh, Sufis and Anti-Sufis: The Defence, Rethinking and Rejection of Sufism in the Modern World (Richmond, Surrey: Curzon Press, 1999), chs. 4-6.

[2] Fred de Jong, “Les confréries mystiques musulmanes au Machreq arabe,” in Alexandre Popovic and Gilles Veinstein (eds.), Les Ordres mystiques dans l’Islam: Cheminements et situation actuelle (Paris: Editions de l’EHESS, 1986), 214.

[3] Linda Schatkowski Schilcher, Families in Politics: Damascene Factions and Estates of the 18th and 19th Centuries (Stuttgart: Steiner Verlag, 1985), 194-196; Zaim Khenchelaoui and Thierry Zarcone, “La Famille Jilânî de Hama – Syrie (Bayt al- Jilânî),” Journal of the History of Sufism, 1-2 (2000), 61-71.

[4] On Fariz al-Kaylani, see Muhammad Muti‘ al-Hafiz and Nizar Abaza, Tarikh ‘ulama’ Dimashq fi al-qarn al-rabi‘ ‘ashar al-hijri, (3 vols. Damascus: Dar al-fikr, 1986-1991), 3: 363-365.

[5] Eric Geoffroy, “Sufism, réformisme et pouvoir en Syrie contemporaine,” Égypte/Monde arabe 29 (1997), 17.

[6] Hanna Batatu, Syria’s Peasantry, the Descendants of its Lesser Rural Notables, and their Politics (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1999), 107-108.

[7] On the Hilaliyya, see Julia Gonnella, Islamischer Heiligenverherung im urbanen Kontext am Beispiel von Aleppo (Syrien) (Berlin: Klaus Schwartz Verlag, 1995), 248-250, 261-263. Similar reasons are given for the actual disappearance of the Khalwatiyya from its once thriving center of Tripoli, see Daphne Habibis, “Change and Continuity: A Sufi Order in Contemporary Lebanon,” Social Analysis 31 (1992), 49-50.

[8] Paolo Pinto, “Proof and Experience: the Construction of Religious Identity in the Sufi Zawiyas of Aleppo, Syria,” a paper read at the 16th Middle East History and Theory Conference, University of Chicago, May 11-12, 2001, 3-8; ‘Abd al-Qadir ‘Isa, Haqa‘iq ‘an al-tasawwuf (5th ed. Damascus: Mu’assasat al-Sham lil-tiba‘a wal-tajlid, 1993).

[9] www.turath.org/Events/Dervishes.htm. See also the discussion in Ernst, 191-194.

[10] De Jong, “Machreq arabe,” 212-214; Pierre-Jean Luizard, “Le Moyen-Orient arabe,” in Alexandre Popovic and Gilles Veinstein (eds.), Les voies d’Allah (Paris: Fayard, 1996), 361-362.

[11] De Jong, ibid., 215-216; Gonnella, 118-119, 263-268. For Mahmud al-Shaqfa, see Johannes Reissner, Ideologie und politik der Muslimbrüder Syriens von den Wahlen 1947 bis zum Verbot unter Adīb aš-Šišaklī 1952 (Freiburg: Klaus Schwarz Verlag, 1980), 427-428.

[12] Butrus Abu-Manneh, “Sultan Abdulhamid II and Shaikh Abulhuda al-Sayyadi,” Middle Eastern Studies, 15 (1979), 131-153; Batatu, 107-108.

[13] Ibid., 105-108.

[14] Pinto, 8-14. For the practice of piercing the body with a shish, see also Gonnella, 74-76.

[15] Eric Geoffroy, “L’empreinte de la sainteté,” in Anne-Marie Bianquis (ed.), Damas: Miroir brise d’un Orient arabe (Paris: Éditions Autrement, 1993), 166-169.

[16] Ibid, 169-174. On Ahmad al-Harun see also Hafiz and Abaza, 753-762.

[17] Muhammad Abu al-Yusr ‘Abidin, Hakaya al-Sufiyya (Damascus: Dar al-basha’ir, 1993).

[18] On the history of the brotherhood see Josef Van Ess, “Libanesische Miszellen, 6: Die YašruÔīya,” Die Welt des Islams, 16 (1975), 1-103; Itzchak Weismann, Taste of Modernity: Sufism, Salafiyya, and Arabism in Late Ottoman Damascus (Leiden: Brill, 2000), 219-224, 252-255.

sufi-6.jpg[19] De Jong, “Machreq arabe,” 217-218.

[20] Weismann, Taste of Modernity, 197-198.

[21] Ibid., 255-256; De Jong, ibid., 216.

[22] Su‘ad al-Hakim, al-Mu‘jam al-sufi: al-hikma fi hudud al-kalima (Beirut: Dandara lil-tiba‘a wal-nashr, 1981).

[23] Mark J.R. Sedgwick, “The Heirs of Ahmad Ibn Idris: The Spread and Normalization of a Sufi Order, 1799-1996,” (Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Bergen, 1998), 235-247, 266-277.

[24] See Martin Lings, A Sufi Saint of the Twentieth Century - Shaykh Ahmad al-‘Alawi: His Spiritual Heritage and Legacy (2nd ed. London: George Allen & Unwin, 1971); Mark Sedgwick, “Traditional Sufism”, Aries 22 (1999), 3-24.

[25] See the entries on Muhammad al-Hashimi and Muhammad Sa‘id al-Burhani in Hafiz and Abaza, 747-751, 794-804; as well as ‘Isa, 618-631, and Muhammad Riyad al-Malih, al-‘Allama Muhammad Sa‘id al-Burhani: Arba‘un ‘amm fi mihrab al-tawba (Damascus: n.p., 1387 A.H.).

[26] Geoffroy, “Sufism, réformisme et pouvoir,” 17-18.

[27] See my two articles, “The Forgotten Shaykh: ‘Isa al-Kurdi and the Transformation of the Naqshbandi-Khalidi Order in Twentieth Century Syria,” Die Welt des Islams 43 (2003), 273-293; and “Sa‘id Hawwa: The Making of a Radical Muslim Thinker in Modern Syria,” Middle Eastern Studies 29 (1993), 607-611.

[28] De Jong, “Machreq arabe,” 214-215; Gonnella, 224, 269-270.

[29] On Nazim al-Qubrusi and his international activity, see Muhammad Hisham Kabbani, The Naqshbandi Sufi Way: History and Guidebook of the Saints of the Golden Chain (Chicago: Kazi Publications, 1995), 375-408; Habibis, 44-78; Annabelle Böttcher, “The Naqshbandiyya in the United States”, www. naqshbandi.net/haqqani/features/ Naqshbandiyya_in_us.htm.

[30] For biographical details, see Muhammad Habash, al-Shaykh Amin Kuftaru fi dhikra khamsin ‘am ‘ala wafatihi (Damascus: Dar al-ma‘rifa, 1989); idem, al-Shaykh Ahmad Kuftaru wa-minhajuhu fi al-tajdid wal-islah (Damascus: Dar al-nur, 1996).

[31] My description of the Kuftariyya and its working is mainly based on the following sources: Annabelle Böttcher, Syrische Religionspolitik unter Asad (Freiburg, 1998), 147-223; Leif Stenberg, “Naqshbandiyya in Damascus: Strategies to Establish and Strengthen the Order in a Changing Society,” in Elisabeth Özdalga (ed.), Naqshbandis in Western and Central Asia (Istanbul: Swedish Research Institute, 1999), 101-116; Geoffroy, “Sufism, réformisme et pouvoir,” 11-18.

[32] See also Annabelle Böttcher, “L’élite féminine kurde de la Kaftariyya: une confrérie Naqshbandi Damascène,” in Martin van Bruinessen (ed.), Islam des Kurdes (Paris: ERISM, 1998), 125-139.

[33] See Abu al-Hasan ‘Ali al-Hasani al-Nadwi, Rabbaniyya la rahbaniyya (4th ed. Beirut: Mu’assasat al-risala, 1986). On his acquaintance with Kuftaro see idem, Mudhakkirat sa’ih fi al-sharq al-‘arabi (2nd ed. Beirut: Mu’assasat al-risala, 1975), 224-225, 236-238.

[34] Stenberg, 109.

[35] ‘Imad ‘Abd al-Latif Naddaf, Al-Shaykh Ahmad Kuftaru yatahaddath (Beirut: Dar al-rashid, 1997), 150-192. Stenberg reports that among Kuftaro’s young adherents the ideas of Hasan al-Banna are well-known and widely discussed.

[36] Nadwi, 7-11.

[37] For an exposition of this doctrine in the context of the anti-Salafi debate, see Muhammad al-Shaykhani, al-Tarbiya al-ruhiyya bayn al-Sufiyyin wal-Salafiyyin (Damascus: Dar Qutayba, 1990), esp. 191-195, 287-297.

[38] Ibid., 299-303. For a widely acclaimed historical exposition of the Sufi’s contribution to jihad struggles, see As‘ad al-Khatib, al-Butula wal-fida’ ‘inda al-Sufiyya (Damascus: Maktab al-Ghazali, 1995).

[39] See Andreas Christmann, “Islamic Scholar and Religious Leader: a Portrait of Shaykh Muhammad Sa‘id Ramadan al-Buti,” Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations 9 (1998), 149-169.

[40] Muhammad Sa‘id Ramadan al-Buti, Al-Salafiyya: marhala zamaniyya mubaraka, la madhhab Islami (Damascus: Dar al-fikr, 1988), 189-209.

[41] On Kuftaro’s philosophy of da‘wa, see Wahid Taja, al-Khitab al-Islami al-mu‘asir: muhawarat fikriyya (Aleppo: Fussilat lil-dirasat wal-tarjama wal-nashr, 2000), 21-34.

[42] See Naddaf, 120-149; www.abrahamicreligions.com/kuftaro/Interfaith.htm and www.abrahamicreligions.com/kuftaro/Environment.htm. For meetings with German and Swiss delegations see Naddaf, 295-309, and with an American delegation, see Syria Times, 18 December 1999, www.islamic-study.org/new

[43] Geoffroy, “Sufism, réformisme et pouvoir,” 17.

[44] Stenberg, 106-107.

[45] Böttcher, 149.

sufi-7.jpg[46] Frederick De Jong, “The Naqshbandiyya in Egypt and Syria. Aspects of its History, and Observations Concerning its Present-Day Condition,” in Marc Gaborieau, Alexandre Popovic and Thierry Zarcone (eds.), Naqshbandis: cheminements et situation actuelle d’un ordre mystique musulman (Istanbul and Paris: ISIS, 1990), 600.

[47] For his biography, see Itzchak Weismann, “Radical Muslim Thinker”, 601-623.

[48] For Abu-Ghudda, who was a disciple of Khalaf’s deputy ‘Isa al-Bayanuni, see Hanna Batatu, “Syria’s Muslim Brethren,” Merip Reports 110 (1982), 14; Muhammad ibn ‘Abdallah Al Rashid, Imdad al-fattah bi-asanid wa-muruyyat al-Shaykh ‘Abd al-Fattah (Riyadh: Maktabat al-Imam al-Shafi‘i, 1999), esp. 149-150, 152; and www.aboghodda.com. For Hamid see my, “Religious Strife on the Periphery: Sufi Populists, Salafi Ideologues, and Muslim Brothers in Twentieth-Century Hamah,” forthcoming in International Journal of Middle East Studies.

[49] Sa‘id Hawwa, Tarbiyyatuna al-ruhiyya (2nd ed. Amman: Maktabat al-risala al-haditha, 1981), 6-8. See also the discussion in Geoffroy, “Sufism, Réformisme et Pouvoir,” 12-13.

[50] Itzchak Weismann, “Sa‘id Hawwa and Islamic Revivalism in Ba‘thist Syria,” Studia Islamica 85 (1997), 131-154.

[51] F. De Jong, “The Sufi Orders in Nineteenth and Twentieth-Century Palestine,” Studia Islamica 58 (1983), 149-158, 167-174.

[52] De Jong, “Machreq arabe,” 221-223; Luizard, 364-365; Arnon Dancho, “Ha-techiya shel ha-Sufim (The Revival of the Sufis),” Eretz ve-Teva 53 (1999), 45-53.

[53] De Jong, “Palestine,” 179-180.

[54] Interview with Ibrahim Satal, attendant at the Shadhiliyya-Yashrutiyya complex in Acre, 7 August, 2002.

[55] ‘Afif ibn Husni al-Din al-Qasimi, Adwa’ ‘ala al-tariqa al-Khalwatiyya al-Jami‘a al-Rahmaniyya (n.p., 1997).

[56] De Jong, “Palestine,” 175; idem, “Machreq arabe,” 220. For the Rahmani silsila see Qasimi, 4-7. For the activities of its successive shaykhs, ibid., 59-63.

[57] Interview with ‘Adil Badran, chief librarian of the Islamic College, Baqa al-Gharbiyya, 28 October, 2002.

[58] Zohara Ron, “Be-Darko shel Avraham (In the Path of Abraham),” Masa Akher 111 (2000), 83-88.

14:22 Publié dans Islam, Traditions | Lien permanent | Commentaires (0) | Tags : soufis, soufisme, islam, tradition, traditionalisme, israël, syrie | |  del.icio.us | | Digg! Digg |  Facebook

dimanche, 10 juillet 2016

President Hillary – Be Afraid, Very Afraid

By examining Hillary Clinton's foreign policy record, Pat Harrington concludes that she is a warmonger who favours more US intervention across the globe.

We know quite a bit about Clinton and her foreign policy. What we know indicates that she is a warmonger and interventionist – as bad as any Republican ‘hawk’. I believe that her record on foreign policy should concern not just Americans but the world. A Clinton presidency is likely to lead to confrontations around the globe.

During her period in the Senate (2001-2008), she sat on the Armed Services Committee. The Village Voice dubbed her ‘Mama Warbucks’ in 2005. Clinton voted for war against Iraq and peddled the same lies as Tony Blair and his dodgy dossier. In a speech to the Senate in 2002 she said:

In the four years since the inspectors left, intelligence reports show that Saddam Hussein has worked to rebuild his chemical and biological weapons stock, his missile delivery capability, and his nuclear program. He has also given aid, comfort, and sanctuary to terrorists, including Al Qaeda members…

It was not until December 2006, as she began her first presidential campaign, that she changed her position by blaming her original viewpoint on bad intelligence during a spot on NBC’s Today programme. ‘If we knew then what we know now, I certainly wouldn’t have voted that way’, she said in reference to her initial support for the Iraq War.

When Clinton was US Secretary of State between 2009 and 2013, she showed the same eagerness for threatening or for the actual use of force. Anne-Marie Slaughter, Clinton’s Director of Policy Planning at the State Department, said of her, ‘When the choice is between action and inaction, and you’ve got risks in either direction, which you often do, she’d rather be caught trying.’  She is therefore an interventionist by nature.

To give you an understanding of what this interventionist instinct brings about, I want to look at some of the countries she has directed it toward and its consequences.

Honduras

In 2009, the State Department supported the CIA-backed coup against Honduras’ democratically elected President, Manuel Zelaya.

E-mails subsequently released from Clinton’s time as Secretary of State show that some of her top aides urged her to dub the putsch a military coup and to cut off US aid. She refused to do so. Instead, the US pushed for the world to recognise the coup’s new government.

In her memoir, Hard Choices, she described the events in Honduras as a ‘victory for democracy’.

The coup was followed by a wave of political violence which targeted a range of activists. Statistics from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) show that the murder rate increased from 60.8 per 100,000 in 2008 to 81.8 in 2010 following the coup, continuing to increase to 91.4 in 2011 and remaining high at 90.4 in 2012. Honduras is now a corrupt narco-state.

Kosovo

During the 1999 Kosovo War, in which Bill Clinton called in NATO to bomb Belgrade (resulting in 500 civilian deaths), Hillary, whilst traveling in Africa, telephoned her husband to offer him some advice. ‘I urged him to bomb’, she told reporter Lucinda Frank. As First Lady from January 1993, she encouraged her husband, and later also his Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, to attack Serbian forces in the disintegrating Yugoslavia – not just in Bosnia in 1994 but also in Serbia in 1999.

When Hillary Clinton visited Pristina as Secretary of State, her support for Kosovo was clear: “For me, my family and my fellow Americans this is more than a foreign policy issue,” she affirmed. “It is personal.”

Whilst the case for some form of intervention in Kosovo is more hotly debated than those in other areas, the events which led to the recognition of the state by President George W Bush had unintended consequences. At the time, Russian President Putin said:

The precedent of Kosovo is a terrible precedent, which will de facto blow apart the whole system of international relations, developed not over decades, but over centuries. They have not thought through the results of what they are doing. At the end of the day it is a two-ended stick and the second end will come back and hit them in the face.

The Republic of Crimea proclaimed its independence from Ukraine on 11 March 2014, citing the Kosovo precedent.

Afghanistan

As Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton supported the ‘surge’ in Afghanistan: she supported sending a further 40,000 US troops there (on top of the 70,000 which were already present).

drone-firing-400x300.jpgDespite the high level of civilian casualties, Clinton has long been a strong supporter of drone strikes in Afghanistan and Pakistan. In an interview with The Guardian in July 2014, Clinton said:

Clearly, the efforts that were made by the United States, in cooperation with our allies in Afghanistan and certainly the Afghan government, to prevent the threat that was in Pakistan from crossing the border, killing Afghans, killing Americans, Brits and others, was aimed at targets that had been identified and were considered to be threats. The numbers about potential civilian casualties I take with a somewhat big grain of salt because there has been other studies which have proven there not to have been the number of civilian casualties. But also in comparison to what? The Pakistani armed services were always saying, ‘Well, let us bomb these places.’ That would have been far more devastating in terms of casualties. But of course anyone who is an innocent bystander, especially a child, who’s caught up in any operation against terrorists, that is a cause of great concern and it is a cause of real disappointment and regret on our part.

Armed conflict in Afghanistan continues. Afghanistan now produces around 90 per cent of the world’s heroin. The Taliban had banned the production of opium in 2000.

Syria

In 2011, as Arab regimes were overthrown in the so-called ‘Arab Spring’, Hillary’s State Department decided to withdraw diplomatic recognition of Syria. The US began to help the armed opposition, secretly at first. Although there was much talk of assisting a ‘moderate opposition’, it soon became clear that the ‘allies’ Clinton wanted to use to topple the secular Syrian regime were radical Islamists aligned with the al-Nusra Front, a branch of al-Qaeda. Yet, even now, Clinton defends US intervention in Syria, speaking of a ‘failure to help build up a credible fighting force of the people who were the originators of the protests against Assad – there were Islamists, there were secularists, there was everything in the middle – the failure to do that left a big vacuum, which the jihadists have now filled.’ Clinton expresses no regret over the civil war she helped start in Syria. Her only regret is that more arms and ammunition were not supplied to her favoured side. In recent debates, Clinton has advocated a no-fly zone over Syria: ‘ I am advocating the no-fly zone both because I think it would help us on the ground to protect Syrians; I’m also advocating it because it gives us some leverage in our conversations with Russia.’ The potential for conflict with Russia and Iran, both of whom are supporting the Syrian government, is both obvious and frightening.

The result of her policies toward Syria is that millions of Syrians have been displaced, and that refugees are drowning in the Mediterranean or else threatening the stability and identity of Greece, Turkey, and the European Union itself. Not to mention the fact that ISIS has a base in Syria from which to launch terrorist attacks across the world.

Libya

Clinton was an enthusiastic player in the destruction of the Libyan state by the US and NATO during 2011. Robert M Gates, the Secretary of Defense at the time, described President Obama’s decision to intervene as a ’51-49′ proposition, adding, ‘I’ve always thought that Hillary’s support for the broader mission in Libya put the president on the 51 side of the line for a more aggressive approach.’ It started with a ‘no-fly zone’, allegedly to protect civilians and dressed-up in all kinds of humanitarian language, and ended with a US-led bombing campaign which killed over 1,100 civilians. Her humanitarianism was absent in an interview with ABC’s Diane Sawyer. She was asked about the brutal murder of Col. Gadaffi by jihadists (after being sodomised with a knife on camera). Paraphrasing Julius Caesar, she said, ‘We came, we saw, he died!’ amidst much laughter and chuckling.

hillkadhenImKBXEejxNn4ZJNZ2ss5Ku7Cxt.jpg

The result of her policies in Libya is that the country descended into civil war. Unsecured arms stashes in Libya soon spread west across the African Sahel and east to Syria. The Libyan catastrophe has led to war in Mali, made more weapons available to Boko Haram in Nigeria, and assisted ISIS in Syria and Iraq. One could also reference the persecution of Black Africans and Tuaregs within Libya and the emergence of Benghazi as a jihadist stronghold.

Clinton has continued to defend US intervention in Libya, claiming that the situation would have been worse without it: ‘We would be looking at something much more resembling Syria now.’

NATO

As Senator in 2008, Hillary co-sponsored 2008-SR439, which called to integrate Ukraine and Georgia into NATO. Whilst Clinton was Secretary of State, two more countries, Albania and Croatia, joined the US-dominated alliance. Many Russians believe they are now surrounded by an anti-Russian military alliance along their borders, stretching from the Baltic states in the north to Romania and Bulgaria. Clinton favours even further expansion.

Israel

As Secretary of State, Clinton oversaw the Obama Administration’s first attempt to broker an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal. She took a stance against Jewish settlements on land claimed by the Palestinians. However, in her memoir she noted that ‘[o]ur early hard line on settlements didn’t work.’

During her last year as Secretary of State, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz characterised her as ‘Israel’s new lawyer’ in response to her sympathetic view toward Binyamin Netanyahu’s 2014 bombardment of Gaza and his desire to maintain ‘security’ throughout the occupied West Bank.

More recently, Clinton drew applause for a speech to lobbyists for Israel when she declared,

The United States and Israel must be closer than ever, stronger than ever, and more determined than ever to overcome our common adversaries and advance our shared values. […] We will never allow Israel’s adversaries to think a wedge can be driven between us,” she said, explaining that when the U.S. and Israel have differences, she would work quickly to resolve them.

Clinton further added that America and Israel ‘must take our alliance to the next level’ through reaching a new 10-year memorandum of understanding on defence ‘as soon as possible’.

Iran

Clinton still publicly favours the Iran nuclear deal. In fact, she has claimed that it was her work to impose ‘crippling sanctions’ that forced Iran to the negotiating table. She said that the deal ‘put a lid’ on the Iranian nuclear programme by increasing Iran’s potential breakout time and creating new  verification measures. Nevertheless, she said that the approach to Iran should be ‘distrust and verify’.

Her language toward Iran is bellicose:

This deal must come with vigorous enforcement…and a broader strategy to confront Iran’s aggression across the region,” said Clinton. “We cannot forget that Tehran’s fingerprints are on almost every conflict across the Middle East….There’s a big difference between talking about holding Tehran accountable and actually doing it…. The United States will act to stop [Iranian violations of the nuclear deal] and we will do so with force if necessary.

China

A Clinton presidency is a concern to China.

The State Department’s traditional stance  was that ‘we take no position’ on the Sino-Japanese dispute concerning sovereignty over the Senkaku/Daioyutai islands in the East China Sea, which had been seized by Japan in 1895. As Secretary of State, Clinton departed from this by emphasising that the islands fall within the defence perimeter of the US-Japanese alliance.

In a 2011 interview, Clinton attacked China’s ‘deplorable’ human rights record, calling the government’s efforts to crack down on dissent ‘a fool’s errand’. China is wary of the way in which human rights issues are used tactically by the United States to sow dissent abroad and soften domestic public opinion for confrontation. No fools, those Chinese!

In 2010, she intervened in the South China Sea disputes at the ASEAN Regional Forum. Beginning by stating that Washington had no stake in the territorial disputes, she then laid out US interests in the South China Sea: ‘[A] national interest in freedom of navigation, open access to Asia’s maritime commons, and respect for international law in the South China Sea.’  Clinton further said that ‘legitimate claims to maritime space in the South China Sea should be derived solely from legitimate claims to land features’. China took this to mean that the US views the nine-dash line, which encircles almost all of the South China Sea, as not a ‘legitimate claim’.

China’s then-Foreign Minister, Yang Jiechi, walked out of the meeting. When he returned, he told the ASEAN members, ‘China is a big country and other countries are small countries, and that’s just a fact.’

China is deeply suspicious of Clinton and her views on rebalance which were set out in her 2011 Foreign Policy article, ‘America’s Pacific Century’. China views this as part of a strategy of containment.

The state-run China Daily commented regarding her departure as Secretary of State, ‘Clinton always spoke with a unipolar voice and never appeared interested in the answers she got.’

Conclusion

A brief look at the record and statements of Hillary Clinton shows how frightening the prospect of her becoming the American President is. Her confrontational instinct has led only to misery and death. We should all be very concerned about this woman gaining one of the most powerful positions in the world. My next article will explore whether Donald Trump is a better choice.

samedi, 25 juin 2016

Israël-Palestine: la guerre de l'eau

paleau2.jpg

Bob Woodward
Ex: http://www.decryptnewsonline.com

Le Proche-Orient est une zone géographique qui connaît ce que les experts appellent, une situation dite de « stress hydrique », c’est-à-dire un déséquilibre structurel entre son capital en eau limité et sa consommation, en très forte croissance compte tenu de son rythme démographique et de son développement économique.

L’Organisation des Nations Unies pour l’agriculture et l’alimentation a développé une échelle permettant d’évaluer la situation hydrique de différents Etats. Une situation hydrique suffisante a été fixée à 1 700 mètres cubes d’eau par personne par année. Entre ces deux extrêmes on considère que les Etats sont en situation de stress hydrique, c’est-à-dire que la situation est préoccupante.

On ne peut valablement aborder la bataille de l’eau dans le conflit israélo-palestinien, et plus largement dans la cadre de la crise au Proche-Orient, sans tenir compte de l’effet inducteur d’un ensemble d’épiphénomènes vecteurs d’accélération d’une issue, que celle-ci soit la paix ou l’enlisement de la guerre. L’eau, tout comme la violence qui règne dans ces territoires, est chargée d’une force perturbatrice dans un contexte où l’hégémonie est validée et radicalisée par une sémantique de nature idéologique, celle de l’Etat d’Israël.

La question de l’eau a pris un caractère géopolitique évident dans les relations entre Israël et les Palestiniens de Cisjordanie et de Gaza, où les tensions prennent leur origine dans une disparité flagrante de consommation entre ces deux communautés qui partagent les même sources d’approvisionnement en eau.

Dans cette région au climat semi désertique, où les pluies sont inexistantes d’Avril à Septembre, avec des températures oscillant durant cette période entre 30°C et 50°C, la question de l’eau prend une dimension cruciale dans le processus de paix israélo-palestinien.

Le contrôle de l’eau c’est ce qui permet la viabilité et la puissance économique de l’Etat Hébreu. Elle est très vite devenue la clé de voûte de la stratégie sioniste dès le début du XXème siècle.

On peut se demander alors quelle place occupe l’eau, dans la culture et dans la religion de l’Etat d’Israël. Comment et dans quelle mesure, cet élément naturel, devient un symbole culturel et religieux important dans le politique ?

paleau.gifComment l’Etat Hébreux pourrait-il accepter de partager de manière plus équitable cette ressource si rare et risquer de se mettre en péril ?

Il en va de la viabilité, de la puissance de l’Etat Hébreux mais aussi des promesses que Dieu a fait à ce peuple.

Comment le peuple élu de Dieu, dont les valeurs doivent s’étendre dans le monde entier, pourrait-il vivre dans une terre promise qui serait trop pauvre en eau pour maintenir son niveau de développement ? Autrement dit, comment accepter de ne pas être à la hauteur des promesses que Dieu a fait à Moïse, et avant lui, à Abraham ?

C’est un fait que depuis 65 ans, l’Etat Hébreu utilise une grande partie des eaux souterraines qui s’écoulent aussi, en suivant une courbe naturelle, dans son territoire. Les deux tiers des besoins hydrauliques d’Israël sont assurés par les eaux souterraines de Cisjordanie, qui sont de plus en plus exposées à la pollution et à l’exploitation excessive. L’épuisement des réserves, combiné à l’arrivée de nouveaux migrants, ne fait qu’accentuer le problème. Le potentiel en eau de la Cisjordanie est constitué de l’eau de surface du Jourdain et de petits cours d’eau, plus de l’eau souterraine de trois nappes phréatiques régulièrement générées grâce aux pluies.

Les disponibilités en eau sont très préoccupantes pour Israël et les Territoires occupés, car il se situe bien en-deçà du seuil de 500 mètres cubes par an et par habitant. Les prélèvements dépassent les ressources et il y a surexploitation des nappes souterraines.

En effet les nappes phréatiques, d’un accès facile et peu coûteux, sont trop souvent surexploitées et elles peuvent connaître des rabattements importants. Cela entraîne une salinisation des eaux. Quand elles sont en position littorale il y a appel au vide et intrusion de l’eau de mer : c’est le phénomène du biseau salé des hydrogéologues. Les exploitants pompent alors dans les puits les moins profonds de l’eau salée ou saumâtre.

Ce phénomène est connu à Gaza, en Palestine, où l’eau de la nappe devient peu à peu impropre à la consommation humaine.

Dans ce contexte alarmant, Israël exploite la majeure partie des ressources en eau laissant les Palestiniens se contenter de la portion congrue.

Rajoutons que la plus grande partie de ses ressources ont été obtenues après la création de l’Etat d’Israël en 1948, grâce à l’occupation de territoires s’appropriant ainsi toutes les sources d’approvisionnement de la région. Cette occupation des différents territoires dits « occupés » nous permet de qualifier cette action de la part d’Israël, d’hydro-stratégique, puisqu’elle visait, certes, une extension territoriale, mais pas n’importe laquelle, celle qui permettait d’accroître son contrôle sur les ressources en eau de la région.

L’hydro-stratégie peut se définir comme l’art de manœuvrer des forces pour accomplir les fins de la politique selon des considérations hydrauliques.

I. Historique du contrôle de l’eau par Israël : un enjeu de conflit

Il faut remonter au début du XXème siècle pour saisir la complexité et la sensibilité du problème des frontières et celui de l’eau, au moment où commence la colonisation juive, lancée par Théodore Herzl, le théoricien du sionisme.

Simultanément, alors que le sionisme politique n’affichait, hors ses prétentions territoriales, que des aspirations culturelles, un parti religieux, le Mizrahi, se forme en 1902 pour revendiquer la "terre promise" afin de ré-ancrer les juifs dans le territoire biblique que Dieu leur a concédé et qui leur a été retiré parce qu’ils ont refusé l’Alliance. Il s’agit donc d’un mouvement de re-judéisation morale et religieuse qui risque de faire capoter le sionisme. En 1904 cependant, le sionisme politique reçoit l’appui de Chaïm Weizmann, d’origine russe, qui sera plus tard président de l’Etat d’Israël et qui s’installe en Angleterre.

Rappelons les grandes dates de l’histoire de la création de l’Etat d’Israël, ses extensions territoriales et sa mainmise sur les ressources hydrauliques de la région :

• 1917. Par la Déclaration Balfour, la Grande-Bretagne promet la « création d’un foyer national juif en Palestine » . Les premiers sionistes rachètent alors les terres en Palestine pour les cultiver afin d’y forger un nouveau peuple juif, comme ce fut déjà le cas, précédemment dans l’histoire.

Ce retour à la terre s’est immédiatement heurté à un obstacle majeur : le manque d’eau. La Palestine du mandat britannique est une terre aride où la seule réserve d’eau douce importante est le Lac de Tibériade qui fait frontière avec la Syrie et la Transjordanie.

• 1919. Le Président de l’Organisation Mondiale sioniste, Chaïm Weizmann adresse une lettre au Premier Ministre britannique, Lloyd George, lui demandant d’étendre la frontière nord de la Palestine de manière à englober toutes les sources d’eau tenant ainsi compte au-delà des considérations historiques ou religieuses, des considérations hydrauliques.

Il y soulignait déjà que « Tout l’avenir de la Palestine dépend de son approvisionnement en eau pour l’irrigation et pour la production d’électricité ; et l’alimentation en eau doit essentiellement provenir des pentes du Mont Hermon, des sources du Jourdain et du Fleuve Litanie » . Les frontières ainsi proposées englobent Israël, mais aussi Gaza, la Cisjordanie, les hauteurs du Golan, des portions du Liban, de la Syrie et de la Jordanie.

paleau3.jpgC’est dans ce contexte qu’un hydrologue américain, Elwood Mead, sera invité par les sionistes à venir en Palestine, c’est chose faite en 1923 et en 1927.

Lors de ces deux voyages, il ne visitera que les colonies juives et établira un Etat des lieux de la situation de l’eau et des futurs projets hydrauliques à prévoir par les sionistes. Il donnera ensuite, des indications pour irriguer le Néguev, aride, en prélevant l’eau du Jourdain.

Ses travaux inspirent le Plan Hayes du nom d’un ingénieur américain qui préconise « l’irrigation des terres de la vallée du Jourdain, la dérivation des eaux du Jourdain et du Yarmouk pour la création d’énergie hydraulique, le détournement des eaux du nord de la Palestine vers le désert du Néguev au sud et l’utilisation de l’eau du Litani au sud du Liban » .

Ceci confirme l’importance que revêt l’eau dans la construction et la viabilité de l’Etat d’Israël sur le plan humain, économique et sécuritaire.

A la suite du génocide juif, l’ONU vote un plan de partage créant deux Etats et un statut International pour Jérusalem. Les juifs acceptent mais les Palestiniens le rejètent prétextant que leur population est plus nombreuse que la population juive.
• 15 mai 1948. L’Etat d’Israël est proclamé, et la même année le nouvel Etat se fixe quatre objectifs :
o contrôler le Lac de Tibériade ;
o le Jourdain ;
o la zone côtière et ses villes ;
o ainsi que le désert du Néguev dans le but de le faire fleurir pour absorber les flux migratoires et rassembler la diaspora juive.

• 1953. Israël va mettre en pratique notamment les directives du plan Hayes et commencer à détourner les eaux du Jourdain. Elle entreprend la construction du « National Water Carrier », colonne vertébrale à partir du nord du Lac de Tibériade qui lui permet de détourner vers elle la majeure partie du cours d’eau.
La Syrie et la Jordanie se plaignent et les Nations Unis critiquent ces actions israéliennes. Le Président Eisenhower décide d’envoyer en « médiateur » ou plutôt en conciliateur, Eric Johnston pour proposer un plan de répartition des ressources hydrauliques.
Après plusieurs négociations, en 1955 il fait une proposition favorable aux Israéliens.
Israël va donc poursuivre ses projets.

• 1964. Israël a fini de réaliser à partir du lac de Tibériade, l’interconnexion des eaux sur l’ensemble du territoire jusqu’au désert du Néguev, mis en valeur par l’irrigation, réussissant ainsi à réaliser l’idéal sioniste qui consiste à « faire fleurir le désert ». Les Arabes ripostent à plusieurs reprises, mais sans succès.

• 1967. La « guerre des six jours » est d’une certaine manière une guerre pour l’eau puisque les territoires désormais dits « occupés » par Israël lui permettent de contrôler la totalité des ressources, c’est-à-dire :
o le Golan, véritable château d’eau ;
o plus une partie du cours du Yarmouk ;
o ainsi que les trois grandes nappes aquifères de Cisjordanie, ce qui lui permet donc le contrôle de tout le cours du Jourdain.

Cette guerre lui permet d’achever la mise en œuvre de ses plans hydrauliques et son emprise territoriale sur toute la Cisjordanie, Gaza et les hauteurs du Golan.
Elle accapare le désert du Sinaï, non pour les ressources mais pour forcer l’Egypte à la laisser passer par le canal de Suez, ce qui donnera lieu à l’accord de Paix dit les "Accords de Camp David" et lui permettra en 1982 de rendre le Sinaï.

Cette guerre des six jours sera suivie d’une politique de colonisation c’est-à-dire d’implantations de juifs dans ces territoires conquis par la force. Cette colonisation permet de contrôler directement sur le terrain le niveau d’utilisation de l’eau par les populations locales (interdiction pour l’agriculture, pour le forage de puits...), mais également de développer la politique du fait accompli c’est-à-dire faire en sorte qu’il devienne impossible de rendre ces territoires par la présence de villes entières juives.

• 1978. Elle occupe le sud Liban pour achever en quelque sorte cet approvisionnement - avec notamment l’usage et le détournement d’une partie du Fleuve Litani par un système de pompage - sud Liban qu’elle ne libérera qu’en 2000, suite à une résistance acharnée du Hezbollah installé dans cette région.

II. Une répartition inégale de cette eau rare dans cette région

Israël contrôle tout le système de l’eau des territoires occupés de Palestine. Il organise un partage inégal et délibéré des ressources en eau : Israël détourne 75 % des ressources en eau des territoires occupés, ne laissant que 25 % aux Palestiniens.

La consommation moyenne en eau par habitant d’un Israélien est 5 fois plus importante que celle d’un Palestinien. Outre le rationnement en eau, les Palestiniens sont victimes de destruction de puits, de canalisation d’eau et d’assainissement, par l’armée israélienne.

Israël n’a cessé d’implanter des colonies juives (voir carte en annexe) dans les territoires occupés, au plus près des réserves en eau, voire en les détournant à leur profit. La surexploitation des puits de Gaza rend l’eau impropre à la consommation domestique. Le contingentement de l’eau imposé par Israël rend tout développement impossible dans les territoires occupés, met en cause la survie des Palestiniens et engendre de graves problèmes sanitaires.

La 26ème mission de protection du peuple palestinien, en juillet 2002 a relevé :
• La destruction des puits dans la bande de Gaza et dans la région de Rafah, du système d’assainissement et des canalisations en eau.
• La destruction des citernes sur les toits, mitraillés par l’armée (à Ramallah, Jénine et Rafah)
• Les vertes collines des colonies juives dans la vallée du Jourdain et leur arrosage incessant parfois inutile, à côté des espaces caillouteux et secs occupés par les Palestiniens.
Aujourd’hui, les 2/3 des besoins d’Israël sont assurés par les ressources provenant de l’extérieur des frontières de 1948 :
• environ 1/3 provient de Cisjordanie et de la nappe de la bande de Gaza ;
• et 1/3 provenant du lac de Tibériade et du Yarmouk.
Cette utilisation des eaux ne peut se faire que par un contrôle draconien et inégalitaire de la consommation palestinienne dans les Territoires :
• limitation des cultures ;
• interdiction de forer ;
o prix prohibitif de l’eau, etc.
75 % de l’eau des Territoires occupés est consommé par Israël et ses colonies. Le rapport de population entre Israël et les Territoires est de 2 à 1 et celui de la consommation d’eau de 11 à 1 !

Les discussions à venir avec les Palestiniens s’averrent difficiles : ils réclament 80 % des ressources de la Cisjordanie ce qui signifierait pour Israël une diminution de 20 % des ressources actuellement disponibles! Le dossier de l’eau est donc de toute première importance dans un éventuel règlement de paix.

De l’autre côté, Israël ne semble donc pas vouloir concéder une partie des ressources et applique bon nombre de règlements malgré leur contestation.

Ignorant les conventions de Genève, le gouvernement israélien applique aux Territoires occupés une loi datant de 1959 faisant de l’eau « une propriété publique soumise au contrôle de l’Etat ».

En effet, juste après l’occupation, le contrôle de l’eau fut confié à l’autorité militaire qui fit interdire toute nouvelle construction d’infrastructures liées à l’eau, puis elle s’empara de toutes les ressources en eau de Palestine, les déclarant propriété de l’Etat. En 1982, la compagnie d’eau israélienne, Mekorot, prend le contrôle de la ressource palestinienne en eau.

Des puits palestiniens sont ainsi détruits et les ressources en eau sont asséchées par des forages à grande échelle et des prélèvements à partir de puits très profonds pour le seul usage des Israéliens.

La législation militaire est introduite et la colonisation signifie le maintien stratégique sur les ressources hydrauliques de la Cisjordanie et de la bande de Gaza, sans quoi Israël ne peut ni se développer, ni survivre.

Dès lors on comprend comment, le contrôle de l’eau et de la terre, couple indissociable, dirige la stratégie sioniste.

La politique agricole israélienne est l’expression même de l’idéal sioniste de « faire fleurir » le désert. Ainsi porter atteinte à l’agriculture est synonyme de s’attaquer à l’âme du pays.

Les exportations sont aussi une manière de montrer au reste du monde qu’en Israël rien ne manque sur le plan de la qualité de vie, qu’elle est vouée à être un grand pays, et que l’immigration des juifs vers Israël, considérer comme un « havre de paix », peut continuer à se poursuivre.

paleau4.jpgC’est pourquoi, aucun responsable politique israélien ne peut renoncer à « l’or bleu » des Territoires occupés. Israël considère comme un casus belli toute tentative d’appropriation de ses ressources en eau par les pays voisins. C’est le cas par exemple pour la Syrie, qui convoite une partie du Jourdain. Aujourd’hui le territoire de Gaza restitué aux Palestiniens, est un territoire qui a connu des pompages tellement excessifs que ce qu’il reste d’eau est impropre à la consommation (pollution, salinisation…), sachant que les nappes phréatiques mettent des décennies à se reconstituer.

Les perspectives à long terme sont alarmantes, car la région manque d’eau et en manquera de plus en plus car les ressources sont limitées et la demande ne fera qu’augmenter, compte tenu du rythme démographique élevé des deux côtés !

La Banque Mondiale prévoit que la demande vers 2040 pour Israël, les Territoires occupés et la Jordanie pourrait s’élever à 7 milliards de mètres cubes !

De toute évidence les ressources du bassin du Jourdain sont insuffisantes.

De ce fait la solution pourrait être régionale par des transferts d’eau, d’où l’intérêt porté au Litanie libanais, ou par le recours coûteux à des ressources non conventionnelles : dessalement de l’eau de mer, recyclage des eaux usées (...), mais là aussi les ressources financières sont inégales et les Palestiniens ne pourront se permettre d’endosser ces coûts. Ainsi, la perspective d’une coopération régionale pourrait s’avérer être une solution difficile à mettre en place, mais réalisable car cette eau si rare et si précieuse va aussi terriblement manquer pour Israël, si les surexploitations sont maintenues à ce rythme.

La question du partage de l’eau est un point clé d’un éventuel processus de paix israélo-palestinien et d’un apaisement des relations interétatiques au sein « d’une région du monde où le problème de la pénurie en eau avec ses répercussions politiques, se pose avec le plus de gravité ». Car, exception faite du Liban et de la Turquie dotés d’un potentiel hydraulique conséquent, les climats arides ou semi désertiques des autres pays du Proche-Orient, aggravés par des phénomènes de surexploitation et de surconsommation chroniques, font de l’eau une ressource rare et convoitée, donc polémogène. Des alternatives permettent cependant d’espérer une issue positive aux problèmes de la rareté et de la gestion de l’eau sur le plus ou moins long terme.

En 1995, Ismail Serageldin, vice-président de la Banque mondiale pour les questions de développement durable, déclarait : « les guerres du prochain siècle auront l’eau pour objet ». Un géographe de l’Université de l’Oregon, Aaron Wolf, s’est intéressé aux discordes entre États liées à l’eau de 1950 à 2000: sur 1831 litiges - soit en moyenne 30 par an -, deux tiers ont été réglés par des accords de coopération, 507 sont apparus véritablement dangereux et 21 seulement ont débouché sur des opérations militaires. Sur ces 21, 18 ont été le fait d’Israël. On peut identifier trois conflits importants au Moyen-Orient liés au contrôle de la ressource hydrique : celui opposant l’Irak, la Syrie et la Turquie à propos des fleuves de l’Euphrate et du Tigre ; celui entre la Syrie, Israël, les Territoires palestiniens et la Jordanie sur le partage des eaux du Jourdain ; le problème de l’utilisation des nappes aquifères entre Israël et l’Autorité palestinienne. Ce sont ces deux derniers cas qui nous intéressent ici.

Il peut être intéressant de croiser l’étude d’Aaron Wolf avec un rapport de la FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization) qui signale que dans le bassin du Jourdain, partagé entre quatre Etats (Liban, Syrie, Territoires palestiniens - donc Israël - et Jordanie), la ration d’eau individuelle est des plus réduites. En considérant qu’une situation de « stress hydrique » advient à partir du moment où un pays dispose de moins de 500 m3 d’eau par habitant et par an, presque tous les pays du Proche-Orient en sont victimes. La FAO estime que la quantité d’eau potable de bonne qualité disponible par personne et par an est de 250m3 en Israël, 85m3 dans les Territoires palestiniens et 200m3 en Jordanie. La ressource est rare, mais aussi très inégalement répartie puisque le nord d’Israël dispose de 500m3/pers/an, et le Liban et la Syrie, soit les deux pays en amont du Jourdain, disposent de 3000m3 pour le premier et 1200m3 pour le second.

Israël, qui développe dès sa création en 1948 l’utilisation agricole, met très tôt en œuvre une stratégie de conquête hydrique. Car son eau vient de l’extérieur de son territoire national. Le Jourdain constitue sa principale source d’eau. Né au Liban, le fleuve se dirige du Nord au Sud et reçoit trois affluents majeurs. Il traverse le lac de Tibériade, grande réserve d’eau douce d’Israël, avant de se jeter dans la mer Morte. Le bassin du Jourdain intègre aussi des aquifères souterrains localisés notamment sous les collines de Cisjordanie, et entre Haïfa et Gaza (plaine littorale).

Les rapports de force actuels autour de la ressource en eau remontent ainsi à la fondation d’Israël et surtout à la guerre des Six Jours, parfois perçue comme la première guerre de l’eau. Selon Ariel Sharon : « Les gens considèrent généralement que la guerre des Six-Jours a débuté le 5 Juin 1967. C’est la date officielle, mais en réalité, elle avait débuté deux ans et demi plus tôt, le jour où Israël avait décidé d’intervenir contre le détournement des eaux du Jourdain. A partir de là, une tension sourde et permanente s’installa le long de la frontière israélo-syrienne ». En 1953, Tel-Aviv entreprend le creusement du canal du National Water Carrier, destiné à détourner l’eau du bassin du Jourdain depuis le lac de Tibériade, soit le nord de la mer de Galilée, vers le désert du Néguev. Cette initiative provoque la colère des Etats arabes voisins, qui lancent à leur tour des projets de détournement des eaux du Jourdain en établissant des barrages sur ses affluents du Yarmouk et du Litani. Israël bombarde à plusieurs reprises les travaux, entrainant une grave détérioration de ses relations avec le Liban, la Syrie et la Jordanie. Lors de la Guerre des Six Jours, les Israéliens conquièrent le plateau du Golan et la Cisjordanie, contrôlant de facto les ressources hydrauliques. A partir de là, il est tentant de voir dans la question de la sécurité de l’approvisionnement en eau d’Israël un motif majeur du déclenchement de l’attaque de 1967. Mais, comme le rappelle le géographe Frédéric Lasserre, l’eau n’est qu’un facteur parmi d’autres, la stratégie militaire d’Israël visant d’abord en 1967 à réduire la menace égyptienne et à contrer les entrées en guerre de la Jordanie et de la Syrie. Néanmoins, il n’en reste que contrôler la vallée du Jourdain répond à des considérations de sécurité – créer une zone tampon contre d’éventuelles incursions ennemies – mais aussi d’approvisionnement en eau. Car en ayant la mainmise sur les territoires palestiniens, Israël contrôle les ressources aquifères de Gaza et de la Cisjordanie. L’occupation du Sud Liban lui permet aussi de contrôler le plateau du Golan et de détourner, jusqu’à son retrait en 2000, les eaux du Litani. De pays en aval, Israël passe ainsi à la position très enviée de pays en amont du Jourdain.

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L’eau est donc un paramètre à prendre en compte dans le conflit israélo-palestinien. Car, alors que les ressources se situent principalement chez les Palestiniens, Israël en dispose et les gère seul pour pourvoir aux besoins des deux populations. Dans l’ensemble, 40 % de son eau provient des Territoires palestiniens.

Pour combler ses besoins croissants, l’Etat juif a élaboré une législation rigoureuse sur l’eau. Une loi de 1959 stipule qu’elle est une propriété publique soumise au contrôle de l’Etat. En 1967, elle est étendue aux Territoires occupés dont les eaux sont déclarées « ressource stratégique sous contrôle militaire », permettant à Israël d’exercer un monopole. D’après un rapport de l’UNICEF de 2005, s’appuyant sur une étude de la Banque Mondiale, Israël puise ainsi dans le seul aquifère de Cisjordanie 86% de ses ressources en eau (soit le quart de sa consommation nationale), les colons 4% et les Palestiniens 10%. Dans l’ensemble, un tiers des ressources d’Israël provient des eaux de surface, notamment du Jourdain, le reste provient des eaux souterraines (sa nappe littorale, celle de Cisjordanie, et de la bande de Gaza). S’ajoutent d’importantes restrictions à l’accès à l’eau pour la population palestinienne qui est soumise à des quotas, qui doit obtenir une autorisation spéciale des autorités militaires israéliennes pour creuser tout nouveau puits et qui doit payer son eau agricole au prix de l’eau potable, soit un prix quatre fois supérieur à ce que payent les colons israéliens profitant d’un système de subventions. Le mur de sécurité séparant Israël et la Cisjordanie vient en outre désorganiser les systèmes d’irrigation palestiniens.

Et le problème, à première vue, semble s’aggraver. Déjà en situation de stress hydrique, les besoins en eau tendent à augmenter avec la forte pression démographique, l’existence de projets de développement agricole basés sur une forte irrigation et la dégradation des ressources existantes. Car la surexploitation des ressources se traduit par une baisse significative de la quantité disponible et par une importante salinisation de la nappe phréatique, provoquant à Gaza une situation de quasi pénurie. « La nappe phréatique a été tellement exploitée que c’est de l’eau salée qui coule aujourd’hui au robinet […] ‘’95% de l’eau ne correspond pas aux standards de l’eau potable et, en 2016, ce sera 100%’’ assure Monther Shoblak, directeur général du service des eaux de Gaza ».

C’est ainsi qu’en 2005, toujours d’après l’UNICEF, Israël consommait environ 2 000 millions de m3 d’eau par an alors que ses ressources oscillaient entre 1 400 et 1 600 millions de m3. Jusque-là, il semblait ainsi qu’un accord de paix avec les Palestiniens poserait à Israël de graves problèmes d’approvisionnement en eau, car l’Autorité palestinienne demande trois choses :

Les droits sur la presque totalité de la nappe de montagne, en bonne partie centrée sur la Cisjordanie

Le droit au partage des eaux du Jourdain

Le droit au partage des eaux de la Mer morte, lac salé bordé par la Jordanie, la Cisjordanie et Israël

Malgré un conflit qui semble, au premier abord, insoluble, il faut éviter de tirer des conclusions hâtives. Frédéric Lasserre montre bien que la gestion de l’eau ressort bien plus de choix politiques et sociaux que de spéculations sur la réduction des quantités disponibles. C’est le concept d’adaptation sociale et son corollaire, la gestion des tensions internes par les pouvoirs publics, qui constitue pour lui la pierre angulaire de toute étude sur les conflits de l’eau. Au Proche-Orient, comme partout ailleurs, les recours sont nombreux pour tenter de combler les besoins des uns et des autres.

1) La coopération internationale

Le droit international relatif à l’eau est encore flou et peu homogène. On peut distinguer trois doctrines juridiques concurrentes : les pays d’amont privilégient celle de « la souveraineté territoriale absolue » sur les eaux présentes sur le territoire national ; les pays d’aval celle de « l’intégrité territoriale absolue », chaque Etat devant permettre aux cours d’eau de poursuivre leur cours ; celle enfin de « la première appropriation » consistant à donner la priorité à ceux étant les premiers à avoir mis l’eau en valeur. En d’autres termes, les Palestiniens disent la géographie est pour nous, les Israéliens l’histoire est pour nous. Le droit international ne tranche pas entre ces deux positions. La convention de New York de 1997 sur le droit relatif aux utilisations des cours d’eau internationaux à des fins autres que la navigation comprend ainsi des contradictions implicites. L’article 5 mentionne le principe de « la souveraineté territoriale absolue » alors que l’article 7 mentionne celui de la « première appropriation ».

Les accords régionaux et bilatéraux ont quant à eux donné des résultats mitigés. En 1953, le plan Johnson prévoit la conclusion d’un accord à l’échelle du bassin du Jourdain, pour tenter de favoriser la coordination entre les usages respectifs. Mais Israël refuse de signer l’accord, tandis que la Ligue arabe décide de rejeter tout accord sur le partage de l’eau dans le bassin du Jourdain tant qu’un accord politique n’aura pas réglé la question palestinienne.

Une entente n’est pas pour autant impossible. Le traité de paix signé entre la Jordanie et Israël en 1994 ouvrent ainsi les bases d’un règlement de répartition équitable entre les deux pays.

2) L’amélioration du système d’irrigation

Près de 70% des ponctions en eau sont destinées à l’agriculture. On constate d’ailleurs que le niveau du Jourdain est sept fois plus bas aujourd’hui qu’il y a 50 ans en raison des nombreux détournements pour les projets d’irrigation. Par ailleurs, plus le pays est pauvre, plus il consomme d’eau pour irriguer : les pays dits « du tiers-monde » utilisent ainsi deux fois plus d’eau par hectare que les pays industrialisés, pour une production agricole en moyenne trois fois inférieure en valeur. Dans les Territoires palestiniens, réduire les besoins en eau agricole consisterait à améliorer le système d’irrigation en modernisant un réseau vieux et défectueux dont le taux de fuite est estimé à 40%. Israël dispose de toute la technologie nécessaire pour les y aider (taux de fuite de moins de 10%).

Faire revivre la Mer Morte

mermorte.jpgDe plus en plus d’espoir sont placés dans le projet fou consistant à faire revivre la mer Morte, qui était à terme condamnée si aucune action politique n’était entreprise. Comme la mer d’Aral, ce lac salé a perdu en un demi-siècle près du tiers de sa superficie, si bien qu’il est aujourd’hui divisé en deux bassins distincts. En cause, les prélèvements excessifs du Jourdain qui l’alimente et l’évaporation importante de l’eau due aux usines de production de sel qui le bordent.

Jusque-là, la principale solution mise en avant pour contrer la menace d’assèchement total du lac consistait à creuser un canal depuis la mer Rouge jusqu’à la mer Morte pour l’alimenter. Une étude de faisabilité a même été réalisée en 2006, estimant le projet à 3 ou 4 milliards de dollars. Le « canal de la paix » porte bien son nom puisqu’il pourrait bénéficier à terme à l’ensemble des protagonistes. Cependant, certaines organisations environnementales ne manquent pas de pointer le risque écologique d’un tel projet.

Une autre alternative se dessine aujourd’hui. Selon Gilbert Benhayoun, professeur d’économie et président du groupe d’Aix, Israël arrive à faire en sorte d’extraire moins d’eau du lac de Tibériade, permettant un débit plus rapide des eaux du Jourdain. A terme, si cette politique se poursuit, on peut penser que le Jourdain pourra à nouveau alimenter, ou réalimenter, le mer Morte.

4) Les eaux non conventionnelles

Toujours d’après G. Benhayoun, la situation a changé avec les avancées technologiques et la crise de l’eau en Israël est en passe d’être définitivement terminée. Les Israéliens pourraient ainsi produire bientôt suffisamment d’eau pour pourvoir à leurs besoins dont près de la moitié serait déjà couverte par de l’eau dite « non conventionnelle », c’est-à-dire issue du traitement des eaux usées et de la désalinisation. Israël est d’ailleurs le premier pays au monde pour le traitement des eaux usées, à hauteur de 90%, ressource qui est ensuite réutilisée dans l’agriculture. A noter cependant que les colons ne recyclent que 60% des leurs.

Alors qu’aujourd’hui près d’1% seulement de l’eau potable est produite par dessalement dans le monde, Israël dispose déjà de quatre usines de désalinisation, une à Ashkelon, une à Hadera, une à Palmachim et la dernière en date à Ashdod. Et le gouvernement israélien a approuvé récemment la construction d’une cinquième usine à Sorek, au sud de Tel-Aviv, qui permettra de combler encore un peu plus l’écart entre les besoins et les ressources en eau propres d’Israël. D’après certains experts qui se sont exprimés lors du Symposium « énergie-eau » qui s’est tenu cette année au sein de CleanTech pour son 17e Sommet annuel, Israël pourrait bientôt produire environ 600 millions de mètres cubes d’eau dessalée par an, couvrant près de 80 % de l’eau potable en milieu urbain.

L’eau de mer pourrait ainsi devenir l’une des principales ressources alternatives à la rareté de l’eau douce au Proche-Orient comme en témoigne les projets en cours pour construire une usine de dessalement à Gaza dont la population a essentiellement accès à de l’eau souterraine polluée, ou encore à Aqaba (projet israélo-jordanien). Mais les freins sont encore nombreux. Ces installations nécessitent en effet des besoins énergétiques lourds et coûtent extrêmement chères.

Ainsi, même si la crise de l’eau est encore bel et bien une réalité au Proche-Orient, elle change progressivement de nature. Au fil du temps, il s’agira plus d’une crise de répartition, de distribution, plutôt qu’une question de rareté réelle. Cela rejoint les conclusions de Frédéric Lasserre affirmant que le problème de l’eau est moins géographique que politique. Et le principal problème entre Israël et les Territoires palestiniens est que les accords d’Oslo II de 1995, qui devaient régler la question de l’eau pour cinq ans en attendant un accord final, n’ont toujours pas été mis à jour alors que le cadre n’est plus du tout adapté. Ses besoins en eau douce étant en passe d’être pourvus, Gilbert Benhayoun souligne que ce serait un beau geste politique de la part de l’Etat hébreu que d’accéder aux demandes de l’Autorité palestinienne qui souhaite récupérer la souveraineté sur ses ressources hydriques.

lundi, 14 décembre 2015

Toenadering Putin tot Israël; Turkije vormt anti-Russisch blok met Oekraïne

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Toenadering Putin tot Israël; Turkije vormt anti-Russisch blok met Oekraïne
 
Ex: http://xandernieuws.punt.nl

Putin: ‘Alles wat onze troepen in Syrië bedreigt zal onmiddellijk worden vernietigd’ 

Turks-Oekraïens blok tegen Rusland 

Tijdens een toespraak roemde de Russische president Vladimir Putin de samenwerking van zijn luchtmacht met de Israëlische (1). Internationale analisten stellen dat Putin Israël nooit kwaad zal doen vanwege de ruim 1 miljoen Russisch sprekende inwoners van de Joodse staat. In Israël steken velen hun bewondering voor Putin niet onder stoelen of banken, vooral omdat hij –in tegenstelling tot hun eigen premier Netanyahu- vastbesloten tegen Turkije durft op te treden. Tegelijkertijd gaan de potentiële toekomstige EU-lidstaten Turkije en Oekraïne militair samenwerken om een vuist tegen Rusland te kunnen maken. De NAVO zal deze ontwikkeling met instemming begroeten, overduidelijk niet beseffende dat Putin het meende toen hij zei dat ‘als oorlog onvermijdelijk is, ik geleerd heb dat je dan als eerste moet toeslaan.’

Sinds eind jaren ’90 emigreerden ruim een miljoen Russen naar Israël, wat van grote invloed op de Joodse staat is geweest. Veel Russische politicologen vragen zich zelfs hardop af of het feit dat 18% van de Israëlische bevolking inmiddels Russisch spreekt betekent dat het land nu ‘feitelijk een deel van Rusland is geworden’. Ook als deze vraag niet met ‘ja’ kan worden beantwoord, dan nog is Israël een proces van ‘Russificatie’ ondergaan, ongeveer zoals Europa door miljoenen moslims wordt geïslamiseerd.

‘Putin zal Israël nooit kwaad doen vanwege 1 miljoen Russen’

Op veel sociale media en populaire blogs werd dan ook met grote instemming gereageerd op de harde reactie van Putin op het neerschieten van een van zijn bommenwerpers boven Syrië door Turkse F-16’s. Ondanks het feit dat de Russen in Syrië ook Iran en Hezbollah –verklaarde vijanden van Israël- steunt in hun strijd tegen de moslimrebellen die Assad willen afzetten, zijn ook analisten de mening toegedaan dat Putin zelf nooit ruim 1 miljoen Russisch sprekenden leden van ‘zijn volk’ in Israël zal bedreigen, mede omdat die een belangrijke rol in de Israëlische politiek zijn gaan spelen.

Goed voorbeeld is Avigdor Lieberman, voormalig minister van Buitenlandse Zaken en leider van de Russisch-Israëlische partij Yisrael Beytenu. Lieberman staat bekend vanwege zijn vriendschap met Putin, en verklaarde laatst dat de crisis tussen Turkije en Rusland niet moet worden gebruikt om de slechte verhouding met Erdogan te verbeteren, zoals sommige politieke partijen voorstelden. ‘Dat is een dom idee, want het is nog steeds hetzelfde Turkije.’ (2)

Militaire samenwerking Turkije - Oekraïne

Datzelfde Turkije gaat militair samenwerken met het illegale anti-Russische regime van Oekraïne, dat na een door het Westen veroorzaakte staatsgreep aan de macht kwam. De Turkse wapenfabrikant ASELSAN gaat in samenwerking met het staatsbedrijf Ukroboronprom Oekraïense tanks moderniseren. De afspraken tussen beide landen komen kort nadat Moskou na het neerschieten van de Su-24 door Turkije alle militaire samenwerking met Ankara opzegde. (3)

Erdogan zoekt al sinds het begin van de burgeroorlog in Oekraïne toenadering tot Kiev, omdat er op de Krim, dat zich na een referendum bij Rusland aansloot, een grote groep etnische Turken, de zogenaamde ‘Krim-Tartaren’, woont. De Russen vochten in het verleden tal van oorlogen uit met het toenmalige Turks-Ottomaanse Rijk, dat Erdogan met behulp van de NAVO en de EU uit alle macht probeert te herstellen.

Putin: Alle bedreigingen worden vernietigd

In een TV-toespraak zei Putin gisteren dat hij ‘extreem harde actie’ heeft bevolen ‘tegen iedere bedreiging van onze troepen in Syrië. Zulke doelen moeten onmiddellijk worden vernietigd.’ Dit was overduidelijk gericht aan het adres van NAVO-lid Turkije. Tegelijkertijd onthulde de Russische president dat hij met zijn Amerikaanse collega Obama is overeengekomen samen het Free Syrian Army te ondersteunen. Daarmee zou een oplossing voor het Syrische conflict mogelijk dichterbij zijn gekomen. (4)

Onafhankelijkheidsoorlog gewonnen met Russische wapens

De toenadering tussen Rusland en Israël hoeft niet als een volslagen verrassing te komen als naar de geschiedenis wordt gekeken. De pas geboren Joodse staat had de onafhankelijkheidsoorlog tegen de Arabieren in 1948-1949 vermoedelijk nooit kunnen winnen als Sovjetleider Joseph Stalin de Joden geen wapens had gegeven om tegen het door Britse (!) generaals aangevoerde Arabische invasieleger te kunnen vechten.

Stalin stond weliswaar bekend als een felle antisemiet, maar besloot toch om Israël te steunen, vermoedelijk omdat hij hoopte de Joodse staat tot Russische vazalstaat tegen het Britse Rijk te maken, dat toen nog over grote delen van het Midden Oosten heerste. Na het verdwijnen van Stalin koos de Sovjet Unie tientallen jaren lang juist partij voor Israëls Arabische vijanden –zo werd PLO-terrorist Yasser Arafat door de KGB getraind-, maar na de val van het communistische imperium begon een periode van hernieuwde toenadering, die versnelde nadat Israël ruim een miljoen Russen tot het land toeliet. (5)

Gog = Turkse leider, geen Russische

Westerse Bijbel- en profetie uitleggers, die altijd beweerd hebben dat Rusland de grote vijand ‘Gog uit Magog’ is die in de eindtijd Israël zal binnenvallen, zouden nu toch eindelijk eens onder ogen moeten durven zien dat hun theorieën misschien wel helemaal verkeerd zijn. Sowieso hebben zij altijd de historische feiten tegen zich gehad, omdat ‘Gog’ in Ezechiël 38 tevens de prins van ‘Meschech en Tubal’ wordt genoemd. En die plaatsen lagen in het huidige Turkije, niet in Rusland.

Het foutieve ‘Gog = Rusland’ scenario is onder andere gebaseerd op de tekst waarin staat dat deze –ook wel ‘antichrist’ genoemde- leider uit het ‘verre noorden’ komt. Bekende uitleggers beweerden altijd dat er maar één grote macht in het ‘verre’ of ‘uiterste’ noorden ligt: Rusland. Deze theorie heeft nog een paar andere grote gaten:

* Deze ‘experts’ trekken op een platte wereldkaart een rechte lijn naar het noorden, en komen dan in Moskou uit. Echter, de wereld is rond. Op een ronde bol gaat een rechte lijn naar het noorden vanuit Jeruzalem niet door Rusland, maar dwars door... Ankara, de hoofdstad van Turkije (en overigens ook door Oekraïne):

 

* ‘Gog’ komt volgens de Bijbel plotseling aan zijn eind als hij met zijn legermacht Israël is binnengevallen. Kort hiervoor wordt hij opgeschrikt door ‘geruchten uit het noorden’ (en oosten). Hoe kan Gog Rusland zijn, als er noordelijk van Rusland enkel nog de noordpool is te vinden? Als Gog inderdaad Turkije is, dan wordt het gezien de toenemende spanningen tussen beide landen alleen maar logischer dat juist de Russen de oorzaak zijn van de ‘geruchten uit het noorden’. Bovendien staat er ook uit ‘het oosten’, wat heel goed kan duiden op China.

Westen aan de verkeerde kant, namelijk van de islam?

* In dit scenario staat het Westen als het niet oppast aan de verkeerde kant – en ook daar zijn alle tekenen van aanwezig. Turkije is NAVO-lid, en de gevestigde orde in de EU en VS hebben overduidelijk de Soennitische islam tot partner gekozen.

Dit uit zich niet alleen in het bondgenootschap met Saudi Arabië en de Arabische Golfstaten en het steunen van islamitische terreurgroepen (eerst in Libië, daarna in Syrië, maar ook de Moslim Broederschap in Egypte, en bovendien is bewezen dat ISIS een creatie is van de CIA, de Turken en de Saudi’s), maar ook door het islamiseren van Europa door het binnenhalen van miljoenen moslim migranten. Daarnaast stelt met name de EU zich onder de snel groeiende invloed van al die moslims steeds vijandiger tegen Israël op.

Xander

(1) DEBKA
(2) Deutsche Wirtschafts Nachrichten
(3) Deutsche Wirtschafts Nachrichten
(4) DEBKA
(5) Ynet News

lundi, 05 octobre 2015

Shlomo Sand : «Israël se diabolise lui-même chaque jour»

Shlomo Sand : «Israël se diabolise lui-même chaque jour»

ShlomoSand.jpgL’historien israélien Shlomo Sand a répondu à une tribune de Pierre-André Taguieff publiée dans Le Monde, à propos de l’antisémitisme en France.  « De mon point de vue, la principale caractéristique de la judéophobie parmi les groupes marginaux de banlieues est l’identification dangereusement erronée entre : sionisme, Israël et juifs. Or, c’est précisément ce que font, sans relâche et sans distinction, les dirigeants d’Israël, le CRIF…. et toi.»

Je viens de lire ton article publié dans Le Monde, en date du 23 septembre: « L’intelligentsia française sous-estime l’antisémitisme », et, une fois de plus, je suis stupéfait !

Lorsque nous nous sommes connus, dans les années 80 au siècle dernier, j’avais la plus grande estime pour tes travaux investiguant les fondements du racisme théorique, dans la France de la deuxième partie du 19ème siècle.

J’avais beaucoup apprécié tes apports dans l’analyse et la déconstruction de la judéophobie qui a, effectivement, joué un rôle de tout premier ordre, dans la constitution d’une partie des identités de l’Hexagone, et ce jusque vers le milieu du 20ème siècle. Toutefois, depuis quelques années, à la lecture de tes publications, j’ai de plus en plus de mal à comprendre la logique qui t’anime : affirmer que la judéophobie demeure hégémonique en Occident, considérer l’islamophobie comme un phénomène plutôt marginal, dont les intellectuels exagèrent l’importance, et se faire, en en même temps, le défenseur inconditionnel du sionisme et d’Israël me laisse très perplexe !

En vérité, tu as notablement baissé dans mon estime lorsque tu as soutenu, avec enthousiasme, la guerre de George Bush contre l’Irak, et lorsque tu as exprimé une sympathie manifeste pour  « La rage et l’orgueil  », le livre islamophobe d’Oriana Fallaci (dans lequel, il est écrit, notamment, que les musulmans « se multiplient comme des rats »).

Tes prises de positions passées me paraissent, cependant, moins préoccupantes que celles que tu développes, ces temps-ci, alors que se profile, dans la société française, un dangereux terrain miné, lourd de menaces pour « l’autre ».

Tu sais bien que la haine envers celui qui est un peu différent, et que l’imaginaire apeuré face à celui qui affiche une singularité, ne se limitent pas aux émotions stupides de gens incultes, situés au bas de l’échelle sociale. Tu sais bien que cela n’épargne pas les classes sociales bien éduquées. Durant la période tragique pour les juifs et leurs descendants (1850-1950), le langage judéophobe ne se donnait pas uniquement libre cours dans les faubourgs populaires, mais il s’exprimait aussi dans la haute littérature, dans la philosophie raffinée, et dans la grande presse.

shlomo9782081307872.jpgLa haine et la peur des juifs faisaient partie intégrale des codes culturels, dans toutes les couches de la société européenne. Cet état de fait s’est, fort heureusement, modifié dans les années qui ont suivi la fin de la seconde guerre mondiale. Et si, bien sûr, il subsiste encore des préjugés à l’encontre des descendants imaginaires des meurtriers de Jésus Christ, il n’en demeure pas moins que, dans le monde occidental : de Los Angeles à Berlin, de Naples à Stockholm, de Buenos-Aires à Toronto, quelqu’un d’ouvertement judéophobe ne peut plus être journaliste ou présentateur à la télévision, ni occuper une place dirigeante dans la grande presse, ou encore détenir une chaire de professeur à l’université.

En bref, la judéophobie a perdu toute légitimité dans l’espace public. L’antisémitisme de Barrès, de Huysmans ou de Céline n’est plus admis dans les cénacles littéraires, ni dans les maisons d’éditions respectables du Paris d’aujourd’hui. Le prix à payer pour la disparition de cette « belle haine », ( pour user d’un qualificatif de l’antisémitisme en vogue , il y a un siècle), fut, comme l’on sait, très élevé. De nos jours, la « belle haine » est effectivement tournée vers d’autres gens, et nous ne savons pas encore quel en sera le prix.

Cela ne veut pas dire qu’une hostilité à l’encontre des juifs n’existe pas aux confins de la société, parmi des marginaux issus de l’immigration venant du monde musulman. Dans des cités-ghettos, certains jeunes, qui n’ont pas ingurgité la judéophobie chrétienne multiséculaire, sont, malheureusement, à l’écoute de quelques imams délirants ou de gens comme Alain Soral ou Dieudonné. Comment combattre cet inquiétant phénomène marginal ? Faut-il, comme tu ne cesses de le faire, justifier la politique menée par Israël ? Faut-il, comme tu t’y emploies également, nier que l’islamophobie a, effectivement, remplacé la judéophobie, et jouit d’une légitimité croissante dans tous les secteurs culturels français ?

T’es-tu demandé quels livres ont été des « best sellers », ces derniers temps : des pamphlets ou des romans contre les juifs, comme à la fin du 19ème siècle, ou bien des écrits qui ciblent les immigrés musulmans, (et cela ne se limite pas à Houellebecq, Finkielkraut et Zemmour ) ? Quels partis politiques ont le vent en poupe : ceux qui s’en prennent aux anciens « sémites » d’hier, ou ceux qui affichent leur rejet des nouveaux « sémites » d’aujourd’hui, et au passage, ne tarissent pas d’éloges sur la façon dont Israël traite les arabes (Marine Le Pen n’est pas la seule concernée !).

Et cela m’amène au dernier point, qui m’a le plus indisposé, dans ton article. De mon point de vue, la principale caractéristique de la judéophobie parmi les groupes marginaux de banlieues est l’identification dangereusement erronée entre sionisme, Israël et juifs.

Or, c’est précisément ce que font, sans relâche et sans distinction, les dirigeants d’Israël, le CRIF… et toi.

Les voyous de quartier ne sont pas devenus judéophobes uniquement sous l’effet de prêches venimeux prononcés par des démagogues. Il y a à cela bien d’autres causes : et notamment, l’identification constante des institutions juives officielles avec la politique israélienne. Pas une seule fois, le CRIF n’a émis la moindre protestation face à l’oppression subie par la population palestinienne. Et qu’on ne vienne pas nous parler de « diabolisation d’Israël »; Israël se diabolise lui-même chaque jour !

Comment un État considéré comme une démocratie occidentale peut-il, depuis bientôt cinquante ans, dominer un autre peuple, et lui dénier tout droit politique, civique, syndical , et autres ? Comment dans une ville–capitale démocratique, où des intellectuels français ont fondé un institut Emmanuel Levinas, de philosophie et d’éthique juives, un tiers de la population, qui y a été annexée de force en 1967, se trouve-t-elle encore privée de tout droit politique, et exclue de toute participation à la souveraineté ?

Et par delà tout ceci : que signifie être sioniste, aujourd’hui ? Simple est la réponse : soutenir Israël comme État des juifs. Comment un État à prétention démocratique, peut-il se définir, non pas comme la République légitime de tous ses citoyens israéliens, mais comme un État juif, alors même qu’un quart de ses citoyens ne sont pas juifs ? Es-tu capable de comprendre que l’Etat « juif », qui t’est si cher, appartient plus, en principe à ceux qui en France se disent juifs, qu’aux étudiants palestino-israéliens à qui j’enseigne l’Histoire à l’université de Tel-Aviv ?

Est-ce la raison pour laquelle tu te considères comme sioniste et fervent sympathisant d’Israël ? Si l’on suivait ton raisonnement sur cette question, la France ne devrait-elle pas cesser de se définir comme la République de tous ses citoyens, pour devenir « l’État gallo-catholique » ? Non ! Bien évidemment non, après Vichy et le génocide nazi.

Peut-être serait-il plus facile de définir un État français ressemblant à Israël, en recourant à un terme qui fait aujourd’hui florès parmi l’intelligentsia parisienne : « République judéo-chrétienne » ?

Shlomo Sand

Cette réplique à Pierre-André Taguieff a été publiée sur le blog « Les invités de Médiapart », sous le titre : « Lettre ouvert à un ex-ami ». Traduit de l’hébreu par Michel Bilis.

Shlomo Sand est historien, spécialiste de l’histoire contemporaine. Il est professeur à l’université de Tel Aviv depuis 1985.
Il est l’auteur de nombreux ouvrages, dont plusieurs ont été publiés en français, tels que: Comment le peuple juif fut inventé (Fayard – 2008) – « Comment j’ai cessé d’être juif » (Flammarion – 2013), Les mots et la terre – Les intellectuels en Israël (Flammarion – 2010), Comment la Terre sainte fut inventée – De la Terre sainte à la mère patrie (Flammarion – 2014)

Source: http://www.pourlapalestine.be/shlomo-sand-israel-se-diabolise-lui-meme-chaque-jour/

dimanche, 10 mai 2015

Les juifs éthiopiens ne veulent plus être les «nègres» d’Israël

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LES FALACHAS ET LE RACISME A L’ISRAÉLIENNE

Les juifs éthiopiens ne veulent plus être les «nègres» d’Israël

Jean Bonnevey
Ex: http://metamag.fr
Israël s’est retrouvé aux prises avec une «  intifada «  noire. Tout a commencé il y a une dizaine de jours, lorsqu’une chaîne de télévision israélienne a diffusé une vidéo montrant deux policiers passant à tabac, sans raison, un soldat de peau noire. Le lendemain, un autre Israélien d’origine éthiopienne a également été battu dans la rue, mais par trois inspecteurs municipaux cette fois.
 
Ce qui s’est passé a déclenché un mouvement de protestation contre les violences policières vis à vis des noirs, similaire à celui des USA.

Arrivés massivement en Israël dans le courant des années 1980, les juifs d’Ethiopie représentent aujourd’hui 2% de la population de l’Etat hébreu mais 30% de sa population carcérale et 40% de sa jeunesse délinquante.

Sans doute parce qu’ils étaient pauvres et illettrés, les olim (nouveaux immigrants) ont immédiatement souffert du racisme. Depuis lors et contrairement aux autres communautés de la diaspora, les ex-Ethiopiens sont les seuls juifs à ne pas pouvoir émigrer comme ils le veulent en Israël. Ils sont soumis à un quota et lorsqu’ils veulent acquérir un logement, l’Etat ne leur accordera une aide que s’ils installent dans des zones excentrées bien définies où les infrastructures sociales sont aussi défaillantes que le système scolaire.

Les manifestations violentes en Israël de juifs éthiopiens rappellent étrangement les manifestations des originaires d’Afrique du Nord dans les années 1970. Les mêmes causes produisent les mêmes effets. La cohabitation de communautés de différentes contrées ne se fait pas sans heurts, même si elles ont en commun la même religion. Hier, les juifs d’Afrique du Nord souffraient de discrimination et aujourd’hui c’est au tour des juifs éthiopiens, victimes en plus de racisme.

En Israël, dans les années 1970, les Blacks Panthers, par similitude avec les Afro-Américains, conduits par le leader marocain Charlie Biton, avaient créé un mouvement de protestation et de soutien des immigrants d’origine marocaine. En communauté de destin avec les Arabes israéliens, ils avaient constitué la première organisation qui s’était donnée pour mission d’œuvrer pour la justice sociale et pour la défense des défavorisés orientaux, victimes de discrimination dans le pays.

En mars 1971, les Blacks Panthers avaient manifesté pour protester contre la pauvreté de leur communauté, contre l’écart entre riches et pauvres et contre les tensions ethniques dans la société juive. Le 18 mai 1971, entre 5.000 et 7.000 manifestants s’étaient réunis à la place Sion à Jérusalem alors que la manifestation avait été interdite par la police. Les forces de l’ordre s’étaient violemment opposées à une foule en colère faisant une vingtaine de blessés hospitalisés et 74 arrestations. Le Premier ministre de l’époque, Golda Meir, avait refusé de reconnaître ce mouvement social. Mais la manifestation du 18 mai avait contraint le gouvernement israélien à prendre en compte les revendications des Orientaux en créant une commission dont les conclusions avaient confirmé que la discrimination existait à de nombreux niveaux de la société.

Les Falachas ou Falashas étaient des habitants de l'Éthiopie, maintenant qualifiés en Israël de « juifs éthiopiens ». Le terme Falasha est rarement utilisé par les juifs éthiopiens qui emploient plutôt Beta Israël (la « maison d’Israël », au sens de la « famille d’Israël »). Il signifie en amharique « exilé » ou « immigrés » et est généralement considéré comme péjoratif. Les Beta Israël ont une origine mal définie. Ils ont vécu pendant des siècles dans le Nord de l’Éthiopie, en particulier les provinces du Gondar et du Tigré. Après avoir bénéficié de petits États indépendants jusqu’au XVIIe siècle, ils ont été conquis par l'empire d'Éthiopie, et sont devenus une minorité marginalisée, à laquelle il était interdit de posséder des terres et qui était accusée d’avoir le « mauvais œil ».
 

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Ils rentrent en contact avec le judaïsme occidental à la fin du XIXe siècle. À compter du début du XXe siècle, une redéfinition en profondeur de l'identité de la communauté se fait jour et l'amène à se considérer désormais comme juive, et plus seulement comme Beta Israël. Cette évolution réduit progressivement les forts particularismes religieux originels et rapproche la religion des Beta Israël du judaïsme orthodoxe.

En 1975, le gouvernement israélien reconnaît la judaïté des Beta Israël. Ceux-ci vont alors mener une difficile émigration vers Israël dans les années 1980 et 1990. En 2009, ils sont environ 110 0002 en Israël.

Les Beta Israël eux-mêmes ont deux principaux récits concernant leurs origines. Selon le premier, « la plus répandue dans la tradition orale », les Beta Israël descendraient des Israélites ayant accompagné le prince Ménélik, fils du roi Salomon et de la reine de Saba lorsqu’il apporta l’arche d’alliance en Éthiopie, au Xe siècle av. J.-C. On peut noter que ce récit est étroitement connecté à la légende des chrétiens d’Éthiopie concernant l’Arche d’alliance. Elle en est peut-être une adaptation.

racisme,israël,anthropologie,ethnologie,éthiopie,afrique,affaires africaines,falachasLe second récit présente les Beta Israël comme les descendants de la tribu de Dan, une des « Dix tribus perdues » (déportées par les Assyriens en 722 avant Jésus-Christ). En Israël, ce récit tend à devenir dominant, sans doute car il est officiellement accepté par le grand rabbinat israélien en 1973.

On trouve aussi des récits moins répandus et qui tendent à disparaître de la tradition orale Beta Israël :
  • les Falashas descendraient d’un groupe d’Hébreux ayant refusé de suivre Moïse lors de la sortie d’Égypte.
  • selon un récit du XIXe siècle, qui semble aujourd’hui disparu, les Falashas seraient des Éthiopiens convertis par Moïse lors d’une ancienne visite dans le pays.
  • les Falashas seraient venus en Éthiopie à la suite de la fuite d’Israélites après la prise de Jérusalem en 587 avant Jésus-Christ par les Babyloniens.
  • les Beta Israël se considèrent comme les descendants des Hébreux .

Les Falashas n’ont pas une perception claire et unique du lien entre eux-mêmes et leurs ancêtres supposés. Mais la réciproque est encore plus vraie.
 

jeudi, 23 avril 2015

Le fanatisme religieux est un élément essentiel du soutien étasunien à Israël

Le fanatisme religieux est un élément essentiel du soutien étasunien à Israël

Auteur : Glenn Greenwald
Traduction Dominique Muselet
Ex: http://zejournal.mobi

Un nouveau sondage de Bloomberg Politics parvient à des résultats qui, quand on y pense, sont pour le moins étonnants.

En ce qui concerne les relations entre Israël et les Etats-Unis, à laquelle de ces propositions adhérez-vous :

- Israël est un allié mais nous devrions poursuivre nos intérêts quand ils divergent de ceux d’Israël : 47%

- Israël est un important allié, la seule démocratie de la région, et nous devrions le soutenir même si nos intérêts divergent : 45%

- Je ne sais pas : 8%

Près de la moitié de tous les Américains veulent soutenir Israël, même si les intérêts de ce pays divergent des intérêts de leur propre pays. Seule une minorité d’Américains (47 %) disent que leur pays doit poursuivre ses propres intérêts plutôt que de soutenir Israël quand il faut faire un choix entre les deux. C’est le reniement complet du Discours d’adieu de George Washington de 1796 dans lequel il soulignait qu’"il était absolument capital de ne pas se laisser aller à la haine invétérée et irréductible contre certaines nations et à la passion amoureuse pour d’autres ... La nation qui s’habitue à détester ou à aimer une autre nation en devient forcément plus ou moins l’esclave".

Il est inimaginable qu’une grande partie des Etasuniens veuille soutenir un pays étranger, quel qu’il soit, même lorsque cela est contraire aux intérêts étasuniens. Seul Israël suscite ce degré de ferveur et d’abnégation chez les Etasuniens. Cela vaut donc la peine de se demander d’où vient cette bizarrerie de l’opinion publique étasunienne.

La réponse devrait nous mettre tous mal à l’aise : c’est le fanatisme religieux. Les médias étasuniens adorent se moquer du fait que des nations ennemies, surtout les nations musulmanes, soient menées par des forces religieuses extrémistes, mais c’est précisément ce facteur qui explique en grande partie le fervent soutien de la population américaine à Israël. En donnant les résultats de son sondage, Bloomberg a fait la remarque suivante :

La religion semble jouer un rôle important dans ces chiffres. Les chrétiens sont plus nombreux que l’ensemble des sondés, 58% contre 35%, à soutenir Israël même contre l’intérêt des Etats-Unis. Les Etasuniens sans appartenance religieuse ont été les moins prêts à le faire, à 26%.

La principale raison pour laquelle les chrétiens évangéliques des États-Unis sont si dévoués à Israël est simple : leur doctrine religieuse radicale leur enseigne que c’est Dieu qui l’exige. En 2004, Pat Robertson a prononcé un discours intitulé "Pourquoi les chrétiens évangélistes soutiennent-ils Israël ?" dans lequel il a dit : "Les chrétiens évangélistes soutiennent Israël parce que nous croyons que les paroles de Moïse et des anciens prophètes d’Israël ont été inspirées par Dieu," et "nous pensons que la création d’un état juif sur la terre promise par Dieu à Abraham, Isaac et Jacob a été ordonnée par Dieu." Il a ajouté que "le peuple élu de Dieu" – les Juifs - avaient un devoir envers Dieu, celui de lutter contre les "vandales musulmans", afin qu’Israël reste uni entre leurs mains :

Si le peuple élu de Dieu laissait ses sites les plus sacrés, tomber aux mains d’Allah – si les vandales musulmans se rendaient maîtres des tombeaux de Rachel, de Joseph, des patriarches, des anciens prophètes – s’ils croyaient que leur droit à la Terre Sainte vient uniquement de Lord Balfour d’Angleterre et de la volage ONU plutôt que des promesses du Dieu tout-puissant alors dans ce cas, l’Islam aura gagné la partie. Dans le monde musulman se répandrait le message qu’"Allah est plus grand que l’Eternel" et que les promesses de l’Eternel aux Juifs n’ont aucune valeur.

C’est cet épouvantable discours extrémiste religieux au sujet d’Israël qu’on entend encore et encore dans les plus grandes églises évangélistes d’Amérique. La très populaire secte "dispensationaliste"* repose sur la croyance dogmatique qu’un Israël unifié aux mains des Juifs est la condition préalable à l’Armageddon ou à l’Enlèvement et à la Seconde venue de Jésus : une croyance partagée non par des milliers, mais par des millions d’Américains. Comme l’évangéliste Robert Nicholson le dit dans un essai nuancé et réfléchi de 2013 portant sur les différences doctrinales qu’on trouve dans ce groupe : "Les évangélistes croient que Dieu a choisi le peuple bibliques d’Israël comme instrument de la rédemption de l’humanité, un agent terrestre à travers lequel il accomplirait son grand plan pour l’histoire." Comme, le célèbre et influent, John Hagee, l’a dit en termes simples : "Nous soutenons Israël parce que toutes les autres nations ont été créées par l’action des hommes, mais Israël a été créé par un acte de Dieu !".

Il va sans dire que la croyance religieuse joue également un rôle dans le soutien à Israël des juifs américains. En effet, les néocons font fréquemment le lien entre la judéité américaine et le soutien à Israël en faisant valoir qu’un bon Juif Américain ne devrait pas être Démocrate parce que ce parti ne soutient pas suffisamment Israël (ce qui ne les empêche pas d’accuser "d’antisémitisme" les critiques d’Israël qui font état du même lien que celui qu’ils exploitent eux-mêmes). Comme le montre un sondage Pew de 2013 :

La plupart des Juifs américains ressentent au moins un certain attachement affectif pour Israël, et beaucoup se sont rendus dans l’état juif. Quatre sur dix croient qu’Israël a été donné au peuple juif par Dieu, une croyance que partagent environ huit sur dix juifs orthodoxes.

L’extrémisme religieux juif est directement lié au soutien à Israël, comme l’a noté The Forward : "De tous les Juifs, ce sont les Juifs orthodoxes qui soutiennent le plus l’AIPAC". Le New York Times a récemment parlé du lien entre l’activisme juif et le soutien à Israël : "Les Républicains ... sont plus inconditionnellement pro-israélien que jamais" en partie à cause "d’une forte augmentation des dons en leur faveur" de la part de ce que J. Street appelle un "petit groupe de très riches juifs américains", comme Sheldon Adelson.

Mais les Juifs ne forment que 1,4% de la population américaine, ce qui limite encore ce phénomène. (En revanche, 82% des Américains se disent chrétiens et "37 % de tous les chrétiens se disent nés de l’Esprit-Saint ou évangélistes"). De plus, les Juifs américains ont longtemps été divisés sur le poids à donner à Israël dans leur vision politique et il y a une érosion de ce soutien chez les jeunes Juifs américains, en particulier. De fait, les chrétiens évangéliques sont beaucoup plus fermes dans leur soutien à Israël que les Juifs américains, comme le dit Bloomberg : "Pour de nombreux Démocrates, même ceux qui sont juifs, la question n’a pas la même importance." Le soutien d’origine religieuse des évangélistes - et l’alliance cynique entre les deux factions religieuses - est crucial pour le maintien de ce soutien.

Il est important de ne pas trop simplifier le rôle joué par le fanatisme religieux. Il y a, bien sûr, d’autres facteurs qui expliquent ce bizarre soutien américain à Israël même au détriment de leur propre pays. Le profond rejet des musulmans qui a suivi le 11 septembre a été habilement exploité pour générer ce soutien. On répète aux Etasuniens depuis des dizaines d’années qu’Israël est une “démocratie” - une affirmation de plus en plus difficile à soutenir - et donc un allié politique naturel. Les Américains ont tendance à ne pas remettre en question ni même à débattre des raisons politiques qui sous-tendent le soutien bipartite, et le dévouement sans faille à Israël est depuis des années,la prise de position bipartite par excellence. Et, comme David Mizner l’a récemment expliqué dans Jacobin, Israël est depuis longtemps un "état-client" qui permet au gouvernement américain de déployer par procuration sa volonté de puissance au Moyen-Orient.

Mais on ne peut nier que l’extrémisme religieux joue un rôle très important dans l’attitude des Américains envers Israël. Compte tenu de son importance, c’est un phénomène remarquablement peu discuté pour la bonne raison que les personnalités médiatiques étasuniennes trouvent très agréable d’accuser calomnieusement d’autres pays d’être animés par le fanatisme religieux, tout en ignorant le fait que leur propre pays l’est tout autant. Le fait que le journaliste politique de NPR, Domenico Montanaro, soit choqué de ce que le soutien à Israël ait engendré le soutien passionné de la foule lorsque Ted Cruz a annoncé sa candidature à la présidentielle à Liberty University donne la mesure du peu de place que cette question occupe dans le débat public.

Comme Dave Weigel se l’est demandé, après avoir vu ce tweet, comment quelqu’un dont le métier est de couvrir la politique peut-il trouver cela surprenant ? C’est parce que ce phénomène est très rarement discuté. C’est amusant, facile et auto-satisfaisant de croire que les pays que nous n’aimons pas sont la proie d’un fanatisme religieux qui dicte leur politique étrangère. C’est beaucoup moins amusant et moins réconfortant de penser à nous-mêmes de cette façon. Mais il ne fait aucun doute que l’extrémisme religieux prévaut en Amérique, et que le soutien général et bizarrement inconditionnel à Israël a pour origine principale une doctrine religieuse extrémiste sur la volonté de Dieu.


- Source : Glenn Greenwald-Traduction Dominique Muselet

mardi, 31 mars 2015

Israel’s Future Vision of the Middle East

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Israel’s Future Vision of the Middle East

Wayne MADSEN 

Ex: http://www.strategic-culture.org

 
Beginning in 1982 with the «Yinon Plan», a proposed Israeli future for a Middle East based on a series of failed Arab states divided into warring smaller fiefdoms, and maturing in the 1990s with Binyamin Netanyahu’s commissioned policy paper called «A Clean Break,» which foresaw scrapping the entire peace process with the Palestinians, Netanyahu enters his fourth term as prime minister in command of an Israel that has scrapped a Palestinian state and which has provided assistance to the Salafist/Saudi axis in support of the Islamic State, Al Qaeda, and other radical jihadist groups. Today, as a result of Israeli right-wing/Saudi/Gulf Wahhabist collusion, Iraq, Syria, Libya, and Yemen are failed states and the Middle East is becoming increasingly «balkanized».

In December 2014, a Shin Bet intelligence report revealed that during the first few months of 2015 the disintegration of Iraq, Syria, Yemen, and Libya into warring factions would accelerate. That prediction has materialized. The Israeli report also saw Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey becoming more autocratic states. That, also, has come about, especially in Saudi Arabia where the new king, Salman, has started to reverse some of the minor reforms instituted by his late predecessor, Abdullah.

remapped300_khavare_miane_new.jpgThe Israelis predicted that Syrian president Bashar al-Assad would rule over what the Israelis called "Little Syria," withy effective control of only 20 to 30 percent of the country. The Israelis saw the remainder of Syria in the hands of jihadist groups like the Islamic State and Jabhat al-Nusra, with smaller cantons in the hands of Syrian Kurds and non-jihadist Sunni tribes, all of which would be fighting each other, as well as against the Assad government. The report supported Israel enhancing its position in the Golan Heights. In fact, Israel has done much more than that. The Jewish state has actively supported logistically and with weapons and intelligence Syrian and foreign jihadists, including Jabhat al-Nusra and the Islamic State forces that have militarily engaged Assad’s forces and Lebanese Hezbollah near the Golan Heights, which remains in Israeli hands without any threat to Israel’s interests in the region from the Islamic State.

The Islamic State/Jabhat al-Nusra unholy alliance with Israel comes as a bitter pill for the Palestinians of the West Bank and Gaza who have never been able to count on the support of the duplicitous Saudis and Gulf Arabs when it comes to the overall strategic and sectarian interests of the Saudis and Persian Gulf sheikhdoms. Riyadh, Doha, and Abu Dhabi place greater value on their unsigned pact with Israel against Shi’a Iran, Alawite Syria, and Hezbollah-controlled southern Lebanon than in any commitment to the Palestinian cause of self-determination. This abandonment of the Palestinians by the Wahhabist Muslims was always a foregone conclusion since the pampered Saudis and their Gulf friends have historically harbored a deep-seated jealousy of the better-educated and more resourceful people of Palestine.

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The Shin Bet report also saw Libya being divided into three states – Cyrenaica in the east, Tripolitania in the west, and Fezzan in the Saharan south. Cyrenaica is dominated by local jihadists who have pledged their loyalty to the Islamic State and showed their commitment to the Islamic State’s self-declared caliph, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, by beheading 21 Egyptian Coptic oil workers who were taken prisoner.

Yemen and Iraq are the scenes of bloody civil wars between proxy forces loyal to the Saudis and the Iranians. In Iraq, the Islamic State swept into control of large portions of the north and west of the country, committing genocide against Kurds, Yazidis, Shi’as, resistant Sunnis, Christian Assyrians and Chaldeans, and Turkmen while destroying their religious and historical shrines. The United States has, under Central Intelligence Agency pro-Saudi director John O. Brennan, never displayed a more inconsistent policy in the Middle East. Washington’s role is duplicitous in Iraq and Syria, where it, like Israel, supports groups allied with the Islamic State with weapons while, very much in opposition to Israeli and Saudi goals, militarily supports Iranian counter-offensives near Tikrit and Syrian operations against the jihadists in eastern Syria.

It is also noteworthy that the Islamic State, which is now active near Jordan’s Ma’an region and in the Sinai Peninsula, where the Ansar Bait al-Maqdis group, a group allied with the Islamic State, has targeted Egyptian security personnel, has not made any moves against Israel, which has a significant presence in both Jordan and Sinai.

Israel is more interested in supporting any group, including Sunni jihadists who have beheaded Americans, Britons, Japanese, and others, against Shi’a Iran, Syria, Lebanese Hezbollah, and the Houthis in Yemen. Hamas in Gaza, like the Fatah government of the Palestininian Authority in Ramallah in the West Bank, feels betrayed by the Saudis, Qataris, and other Wahhabist nations. For that reason, Iran began providing covert military aid to Hamas in the West Bank. It is clear that the Islamic State would take the beheading swords to both Hamas and Fatah Palestinians if they were ever to take over in Gaza or Palestinian sectors of the West Bank. Covertly, the Israelis relish in such a prospect.

The Saudis claim nine other nations, including Egypt, Morocco, Pakistan, the Gulf states, and Sudan, have joined its military campaign in Yemen against the Shi’a Houthis. The Saudis have called their assault in Yemen Operation DECISIVE STORM, which sounds much like America’s Operation DESERT STORM against Saddam Hussein in 1991. The Houthis, backed by Iran and Lebanese Hezbollah, succeeded in driving out the pro-Saudi and pro-U.S. Yemeni government from Sana’a, Taiz, and Aden. Behind Saudi Arabia’s DECISIVE STORM is the hidden hand of Israel, which has made no secret of its military and intelligence alliance with the Saudis against Iranian influence in the Middle East. One country that has rejected any role in Saudi aggression in the region is Oman, which has served as a diplomatic bridge between the West and Iran and between Sunnis and Shi’as. Oman also has an interest in countering Saudi jihadist expansion in the former independent nation of South Yemen, which has always adhered to a secular profile against Saudi-financed radicalization in the Hadhramaut, the South Yemeni region that borders Oman.

 

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Houthi leaders said their interest in driving into South Yemen was to root out Islamic State and Al Qaeda elements and that they had no desire to remain in control. Indeed, there is some indication that the Houthis agreed to allow South Yemen to have its independence restored. But that was not in the interest of the Saudis, who worked behind the scenes with Zionists in the U.S. State Department to create a six-region federation of Yemen, one that saw the rights of the Houthis diminished. It was this Feierstein Plan, named after Gerald Feierstein, the former Jewish-American ambassador to Yemen, which triggered the Houthi rebellion in the first place. Feierstein wanted to diminish the role of the Houthis and the Southern Yemeni independence Hirak movement in his plan for a federal Yemen because he saw both groups as proxies for Iran. Yemen’s disintegration is a direct result of the actions of a dupe for Israel who also happened to control the U.S. embassy in Sana’a. The Omanis know this is the case and so do the Iranians. In fact, Houthi leaders have correctly ascertained that the Islamic State and Al Qaeda were formed as the result of a conspiracy hatched by Israel, Saudi Arabia, and Brennan’s CIA. 

Brennan recently told Fox News that the Islamic State was on the run in Syria and Iraq. Not only is Brennan’s contention patently false – and Brennan knows it is because he tacitly supports Saudi, Israeli, and Qatari assistance to Sunni jihadists in both countries – but the Islamic State has expanded its operations into Tunisia from Libya, as witnessed by the recent attack on tourists in Tunis, and Nigeria, as shown by the fealty sworn to the Islamic State by the Boko Haram jihadists. Boko Haram’s operations have also spread into Niger, Chad, and Cameroon. Brennan has every reason to soft peddle the Saudi/Israeli/Gulf Arab alliance that supports the most radical elements of Sunni Wahhabist Islam. Brennan’s support for the Yinon Plan, Clean Break, and Saudi Arabia’s DECISIVE STORM stems from his taking his marching orders from Jerusalem, Riyadh, and Doha.

lundi, 30 mars 2015

Yemen: le coup de poignard d'Israël

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YEMEN : LE COUP DE POIGNARD D'ISRAEL
 
Comment on piège les États-Unis

Michel Lhomme
Ex: http://metamag.fr
 
Cela va beaucoup plus vite qu'on ne le pense. On n'attendra pas Hillary Clinton. De toute façon, à Jérusalem, nous sommes dans l'agenda 2015. Le problème iranien doit être résolu avant la fin de l'année. On a compté et recompté les centrifugeuses. Téhéran devrait avoir la bombe à la fin de l'année. 

En fait, on l'attendait en Syrie, en Irak ou en Iran mais il est fort probable que la grande bataille du Moyen-Orient ait commencé cette semaine au Yémen. Cette grande bataille aura lieu. En quittant Aden, le président Abdo Rabbu Mansour Hadi a ouvert le scénario du pire. La fuite du chef de l’état confirme que sa garde rapprochée et l’armée nationale ne sont plus en mesure de faire le poids face aux rebelles chiites Houthis, dont l’avancée est fulgurante. C'est le nouveau grand échec d'Obama puisqu'il y a encore quelques mois, ce dernier présentait médiatiquement le Yémen comme le modèle d’une lutte efficace contre les réseaux islamistes, en particulier le groupe Al-Qaeda très présent dans le pays ainsi que la région ( Coulibaly le terroriste français de l'hypercasher de Vincennes s'en réclamait ). Ce qui se joue au Yémen est plus grave que la crise syrienne car il peut amener très vite un affrontement entre toutes les puissances régionales aujourd'hui déchirées sur le front syrien ou la question iranienne. Un choc frontal entre les monarchies du golfe, l'Arabie Saoudite et leur rival régional, l’Iran semble inévitable mais pourrait aussi entraîner très vite et de facto leurs alliés dans l'intervention. La Russie fait route militairement vers le Yémen. Elle avait pourtant mis en garde les Etats-Unis et son principal allié, l'Arabie Saoudite contre le déclenchement de toute invasion du Yémen, appelant à l'arrêt immédiat des attaques. La Russie débarquera ses forces sur le territoire yéménite si l'Arabie Saoudite ne se retire pas. Hier, selon l'agence Reuters, les navires russes se dirigeaient vers le détroit de Bab el-Mandeb.
 
Car c'est avec 100 avions, 150 000 soldats que l'Arabie saoudite a envahi le Yémen pour contrer l’Iran. Pendant que les médias étaient occupés par un crash européen suicidaire dans les Alpes, l’Arabie Saoudite réussissait à mobiliser en un temps record une coalition régionale pour mener des frappes contre des positions Houthis autour de la ville d’Aden. Avec succès puisque l’aéroport aurait déjà été repris aux rebelles. Or, derrière l’Arabie Saoudite, se trouve le Qatar, le Koweït, le Bahreïn et les Émirats arabes unis. Quatre navires de guerre égyptiens seraient aussi en route vers le golfe d'Aden. La Ligue arabe dans son ensemble soutient cette intervention saoudienne, par ailleurs défendue par les Etats-Unis et... la France ! Le feu vert a d'ailleurs forcément été donné par Washington, sapant de fait les efforts réels d'un rapprochement avec l'Iran.

Un accord désormais difficile avec l'Iran
 
Mais soyons attentif : on  remarquera très judicieusement que ces interventions arrivent juste après la victoire écrasante de Benjamin Netanyahu aux élections législatives israéliennes. Or s'il est bien un pays qui dans cette affaire et surtout ces derniers jours, n'a pas cessé de jeter de de l'huile sur le feu yéménite, c'est bien Israël qui s'est efforcé de transformer un simple conflit régional et tribal en un véritable conflit international. Derrière les frappes saoudiennes, il y a donc les USA mais surtout Israël. C'est Jérusalem qui n'a pas cessé ces derniers jours de dénoncer médiatiquement les slogans antisionistes des Houthis, pointant d'un doigt vengeur l'Iran et ce alors que les Etats-Unis tentaient justement de parvenir à un accord avec la République islamique pour le 30 mars. L'accord est désormais impossible. La manipulation israélienne a été totale. En pleines négociations sur le nucléaire iranien, les Etats-Unis ont été contraints d'apporter leur soutien à l'intervention saoudienne. Pire, le secrétaire d'Etat américain John Kerry s'est senti obligé de « saluer le travail de la coalition qui agit militairement » contre les rebelles chiites. L'Arabie saoudite a mobilisé 150.000 militaires et 10 avions de combat, tandis que les Emirats arabes unis ont engagé 30 avions de combat, Bahreïn et Koweït 15 appareils chacun et le Qatar 10. En plus de ces pays du Golfe, l'opération « saoudienne » mobilise d'autres pays alliés de l'Arabie saoudite comme l'Egypte, la Jordanie, le Soudan, le Pakistan et le Maroc. Quatre navires de guerre égyptiens sont ainsi entrés dans le canal de Suez afin de sécuriser le Golfe d'Aden, au large du Yémen.
 
Pour l'instant ce qui est certain, c'est que le Yémen est entré en guerre civile mais c'est bien évidemment plus que cela, c'est en fait une guerre par procuration entre les deux poids lourds de la région, l'Iran chiite et le royaume saoudien sunnite avec derrière, le jeu des grandes alliances ( Israël, Etats-Unis, Arabie Saoudite, Egypte, France d'un côté et Russie, Syrie, Iran de l'autre ). Ce conflit conduira inéluctablement à la désintégration du pays, à la création sur place d'une sorte de Somalie, un nouveau état-chaos, un état failli. Mais combien de temps durera cette guerre « locale » ? Si la Russie envahit le Yémen, les Etats-Unis peuvent-ils rester les bras croisés ?  Semble donc bien se profiler un nouveau champ de bataille, ce champ de bataille millénaire des Perses et des Arabes, des Chiites et des Sunnites, un champ de bataille fomenté de toutes pièces par les sionistes. Il s'agit donc bien d'une guerre « mondiale régionale  » aux conséquences imprévisibles.

Il faut reprendre les vidéos et les discours de ces dernières semaines pour comprendre attentivement comment on en est arrivé là. Il faut  réécouter, par exemple, le très controversé discours de Benjamin Netanyahu devant le Congrès américain. Qu'avait-il fait là-bas si ce n'est en effet préparé habilement le terrain psycho-guerrier en accusant et en dramatisant à outrance la crise yéménite ? Nous le répétons : il y a eu une opération de détournement calculé et prémédité du passage d'un conflit tribal en conflit « mondial régional » au Yémen sous l'égide d'Israël.
 

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Tous les renseignements satellitaires dont a bénéficié l'armée saoudienne durant son invasion sont de source américaine. Les forces américaines, sans participer directement aux opérations, ont bien établi « une Cellule de planification conjointe avec l’Arabie saoudite pour coordonner le soutien américain ». C'est ce qu'a précisé Bernadette Meehan, porte-parole du Conseil national de sécurité (NSC) de la Maison Blanche, tout en réitérant malgré tout la nécessité de privilégier le dialogue politique, sous égide des Nations unies. Par ailleurs, l’intervention de l’Arabie saoudite et de ses alliés est parfaitement illégale en droit international et constitue de facto une agression internationale, un casus belli. Militairement, l’intervention de l’Arabie saoudite n’a guère de sens si elle ne se poursuit pas au sol. Du coup, en débarquant ses troupes, la Russie répondrait légitimement au casus belli. Elle obligerait l'Arabie saoudite ou ses alliés à intervenir au sol dans un face à face et une confrontation militaire. Alors les États-Unis auraient-ils sous-estimé une fois de plus la détermination russe ? Seront-ils une fois de plus les dindons de la farce israélienne ? 

Les Etats-Unis avaient pourtant tout fait jusqu’ici pour se tenir à l’écart du conflit, pensant et pariant sur la dislocation du Yémen, avec l'idée que le pays se scinderait en deux comme la Corée durant la fin de la Guerre froide. Ils ont une fois de plus mal évolué le pouvoir de nuisance d'Israël et de son allié contre-nature, Ryad. Pour l'instant, l’Iran s’en est tenu à condamner une « démarche dangereuse (…) violant les responsabilités internationales et la souveraineté nationale ». L’action militaire va « encore plus compliquer la situation, étendre la crise et faire perdre les chances d’un règlement pacifique des divergences internes au Yéme  », a simplement déclaré la porte-parole du ministère des affaires étrangères, Marzieh Afkham.

lundi, 16 mars 2015

Israel, Gaza, and Energy Wars in the Middle East

Tomgram: Michael Schwartz, Israel, Gaza, and Energy Wars in the Middle East
 
Ex: http://www.tomdispatch.com

oil-in-gaza.jpgTalk of an oil glut and a potential further price drop seems to be growing. The cost of a barrel of crude now sits at just under $60, only a little more than half what it was at its most recent peak in June 2014. Meanwhile, under a barrel of woes, economies like China's have slowed and in the process demand for oil has sagged globally. And yet, despite the cancellation of some future plans for exploration and drilling for extreme (and so extremely expensive) forms of fossil fuels, startling numbers of barrels of crude are still pouring onto troubled waters.  For this, a thanks should go to the prodigious efforts of "Saudi America" (all that energetic hydraulic fracking, among other things), while the actual Saudis, the original ones, are still pumping away.  We could, in other words, have arrived not at "peak oil" but at "peak oil demand" for at least a significant period of time to come.  At Bloomberg View, columnist A. Gary Shilling has even suggested that the price of crude could ultimately simply collapse under the weight of all that production and a global economic slowdown, settling in at $10-$20 a barrel (a level last seen in the 1990s).

And here's the saddest part of this story: no matter what happens, the great game over energy and the resource conflicts and wars that go with it show little sign of slowing down.  One thing is guaranteed: no matter how low the price falls, the scramble for sources of oil and the demand for yet more of them won't stop.  Even in this country, as the price of oil has dropped, the push for the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline to bring expensive-to-extract and especially carbon-dirty Canadian "tar sands" to market on the U.S. Gulf Coast has only grown more fervent, while the Obama administration has just opened the country's southern Atlantic coastal waters to future exploration and drilling.  In the oil heartlands of the planet, Iraq and Kurdistan typically continue to fight over who will get the (reduced) revenues from the oil fields around the city of Kirkuk to stanch various financial crises.  In the meantime, other oil disputes only heat up.

Among them is one that has gotten remarkably little attention even as it has grown more intense and swept up ever more countries.  This is the quarter-century-old struggle over natural gas deposits off the coast of Gaza as well as elsewhere in the eastern Mediterranean.  That never-ending conflict provides a remarkable and grim lens through which to view so many recent aspects of Israeli-Palestinian relations, and long-time TomDispatch regular Michael Schwartz offers a panoramic look at it here for the first time.

By the way, following the news that 2014 set a global heat record, those of us freezing on the East Coast of the U.S. this winter might be surprised to learn that the first month of 2015 proved to be the second hottest January on record.  And when you're on such a record-setting pace, why stop struggling to extract yet more fossil fuels? Tom

The Great Game in the Holy Land
How Gazan Natural Gas Became the Epicenter of An International Power Struggle

By Michael Schwartz

Guess what? Almost all the current wars, uprisings, and other conflicts in the Middle East are connected by a single thread, which is also a threat: these conflicts are part of an increasingly frenzied competition to find, extract, and market fossil fuels whose future consumption is guaranteed to lead to a set of cataclysmic environmental crises.

Amid the many fossil-fueled conflicts in the region, one of them, packed with threats, large and small, has been largely overlooked, and Israel is at its epicenter. Its origins can be traced back to the early 1990s when Israeli and Palestinian leaders began sparring over rumored natural gas deposits in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Gaza. In the ensuing decades, it has grown into a many-fronted conflict involving several armies and three navies. In the process, it has already inflicted mindboggling misery on tens of thousands of Palestinians, and it threatens to add future layers of misery to the lives of people in Syria, Lebanon, and Cyprus. Eventually, it might even immiserate Israelis.

Resource wars are, of course, nothing new. Virtually the entire history of Western colonialism and post-World War II globalization has been animated by the effort to find and market the raw materials needed to build or maintain industrial capitalism. This includes Israel's expansion into, and appropriation of, Palestinian lands. But fossil fuels only moved to center stage in the Israeli-Palestinian relationship in the 1990s, and that initially circumscribed conflict only spread to include Syria, Lebanon, Cyprus, Turkey, and Russia after 2010.

The Poisonous History of Gazan Natural Gas

Back in 1993, when Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) signed the Oslo Accords that were supposed to end the Israeli occupation of Gaza and the West Bank and create a sovereign state, nobody was thinking much about Gaza's coastline. As a result, Israel agreed that the newly created PA would fully control its territorial waters, even though the Israeli navy was still patrolling the area. Rumored natural gas deposits there mattered little to anyone, because prices were then so low and supplies so plentiful. No wonder that the Palestinians took their time recruiting British Gas (BG) -- a major player in the global natural gas sweepstakes -- to find out what was actually there. Only in 2000 did the two parties even sign a modest contract to develop those by-then confirmed fields.

BG promised to finance and manage their development, bear all the costs, and operate the resulting facilities in exchange for 90% of the revenues, an exploitative but typical "profit-sharing" agreement. With an already functioning natural gas industry, Egypt agreed to be the on-shore hub and transit point for the gas. The Palestinians were to receive 10% of the revenues (estimated at about a billion dollars in total) and were guaranteed access to enough gas to meet their needs.

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Had this process moved a little faster, the contract might have been implemented as written. In 2000, however, with a rapidly expanding economy, meager fossil fuels, and terrible relations with its oil-rich neighbors, Israel found itself facing a chronic energy shortage. Instead of attempting to answer its problem with an aggressive but feasible effort to develop renewable sources of energy, Prime Minister Ehud Barak initiated the era of Eastern Mediterranean fossil fuel conflicts. He brought Israel's naval control of Gazan coastal waters to bear and nixed the deal with BG. Instead, he demanded that Israel, not Egypt, receive the Gaza gas and that it also control all the revenues destined for the Palestinians -- to prevent the money from being used to "fund terror."

With this, the Oslo Accords were officially doomed. By declaring Palestinian control over gas revenues unacceptable, the Israeli government committed itself to not accepting even the most limited kind of Palestinian budgetary autonomy, let alone full sovereignty. Since no Palestinian government or organization would agree to this, a future filled with armed conflict was assured.

The Israeli veto led to the intervention of British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who sought to broker an agreement that would satisfy both the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority. The result: a 2007 proposal that would have delivered the gas to Israel, not Egypt, at below-market prices, with the same 10% cut of the revenues eventually reaching the PA. However, those funds were first to be delivered to the Federal Reserve Bank in New York for future distribution, which was meant to guarantee that they would not be used for attacks on Israel.

This arrangement still did not satisfy the Israelis, who pointed to the recent victory of the militant Hamas party in Gaza elections as a deal-breaker. Though Hamas had agreed to let the Federal Reserve supervise all spending, the Israeli government, now led by Ehud Olmert, insisted that no "royalties be paid to the Palestinians." Instead, the Israelis would deliver the equivalent of those funds "in goods and services."

This offer the Palestinian government refused. Soon after, Olmert imposed a draconian blockade on Gaza, which Israel's defense minister termed a form of "'economic warfare' that would generate a political crisis, leading to a popular uprising against Hamas." With Egyptian cooperation, Israel then seized control of all commerce in and out of Gaza, severely limiting even food imports and eliminating its fishing industry. As Olmert advisor Dov Weisglass summed up this agenda, the Israeli government was putting the Palestinians "on a diet" (which, according to the Red Cross, soon produced "chronic malnutrition," especially among Gazan children).

When the Palestinians still refused to accept Israel's terms, the Olmert government decided to unilaterally extract the gas, something that, they believed, could only occur once Hamas had been displaced or disarmed. As former Israel Defense Forces commander and current Foreign Minister Moshe Ya'alon explained, "Hamas... hasconfirmed its capability to bomb Israel's strategic gas and electricity installations... It is clear that, without an overall military operation to uproot Hamas control of Gaza, no drilling work can take place without the consent of the radical Islamic movement."

Following this logic, Operation Cast Lead was launched in the winter of 2008. According to Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai, it was intended to subject Gaza to a "shoah" (the Hebrew word for holocaust or disaster). Yoav Galant, the commanding general of the Operation, said that it was designed to "send Gaza decades into the past." As Israeli parliamentarian Tzachi Hanegbi explained, the specific military goal was "to topple the Hamas terror regime and take over all the areas from which rockets are fired on Israel."

Operation Cast Lead did indeed "send Gaza decades into the past." Amnesty International reported that the 22-day offensive killed 1,400 Palestinians, "including some 300 children and hundreds of other unarmed civilians, and large areas of Gaza had been razed to the ground, leaving many thousands homeless and the already dire economy in ruins." The only problem: Operation Cast Lead did not achieve its goal of "transferring the sovereignty of the gas fields to Israel."

More Sources of Gas Equal More Resource Wars

In 2009, the newly elected government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu inherited the stalemate around Gaza's gas deposits and an Israeli energy crisis that only grew more severe when the Arab Spring in Egypt interrupted and then obliterated 40% of the country's gas supplies. Rising energy prices soon contributed to the largest protests involving Jewish Israelis in decades.

As it happened, however, the Netanyahu regime also inherited a potentially permanent solution to the problem. An immense field of recoverable natural gas was discovered in the Levantine Basin, a mainly offshore formation under the eastern Mediterranean. Israeli officials immediately asserted that "most" of the newly confirmed gas reserves lay "within Israeli territory." In doing so, they ignored contrary claims by Lebanon, Syria, Cyprus, and the Palestinians.

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In some other world, this immense gas field might have been effectively exploited by the five claimants jointly, and a production plan might even have been put in place to ameliorate the environmental impact of releasing a future 130 trillion cubic feet of gas into the planet's atmosphere. However, as Pierre Terzian, editor of the oil industry journal Petrostrategies, observed, "All the elements of danger are there... This is a region where resorting to violent action is not something unusual."

In the three years that followed the discovery, Terzian's warning seemed ever more prescient. Lebanon became the first hot spot. In early 2011, the Israeli government announced the unilateral development of two fields, about 10% of that Levantine Basin gas, which lay in disputed offshore waters near the Israeli-Lebanese border. Lebanese Energy Minister Gebran Bassil immediately threatened a military confrontation, asserting that his country would "not allow Israel or any company working for Israeli interests to take any amount of our gas that is falling in our zone." Hezbollah, the most aggressive political faction in Lebanon, promised rocket attacks if "a single meter" of natural gas was extracted from the disputed fields.

Israel's Resource Minister accepted the challenge, asserting that "[t]hese areas are within the economic waters of Israel... We will not hesitate to use our force and strength to protect not only the rule of law but the international maritime law."

Oil industry journalist Terzian offered this analysis of the realities of the confrontation:

"In practical terms... nobody is going to invest with Lebanon in disputed waters. There are no Lebanese companies there capable of carrying out the drilling, and there is no military force that could protect them. But on the other side, things are different. You have Israeli companies that have the ability to operate in offshore areas, and they could take the risk under the protection of the Israeli military."

Sure enough, Israel continued its exploration and drilling in the two disputed fields, deploying drones to guard the facilities. Meanwhile, the Netanyahu government invested major resources in preparing for possible future military confrontations in the area. For one thing, with lavish U.S. funding, it developed the "Iron Dome" anti-missile defense system designed in part to intercept Hezbollah and Hamas rockets aimed at Israeli energy facilities. It also expanded the Israeli navy, focusing on its ability to deter or repel threats to offshore energy facilities. Finally, starting in 2011 it launched airstrikes in Syria designed, according to U.S. officials, "to prevent any transfer of advanced... antiaircraft, surface-to-surface and shore-to-ship missiles" to Hezbollah.

Nonetheless, Hezbollah continued to stockpile rockets capable of demolishing Israeli facilities. And in 2013, Lebanon made a move of its own. It began negotiating with Russia. The goal was to get that country's gas firms to develop Lebanese offshore claims, while the formidable Russian navy would lend a hand with the "long-running territorial dispute with Israel."

By the beginning of 2015, a state of mutual deterrence appeared to be setting in. Although Israel had succeeded in bringing online the smaller of the two fields it set out to develop, drilling in the larger one was indefinitely stalled "in light of the security situation." U.S. contractor Noble Energy, hired by the Israelis, was unwilling to invest the necessary $6 billion in facilities that would be vulnerable to Hezbollah attack, and potentially in the gun sights of the Russian navy. On the Lebanese side, despite an increased Russian naval presence in the region, no work had begun.

Meanwhile, in Syria, where violence was rife and the country in a state of armed collapse, another kind of stalemate went into effect. The regime of Bashar al-Assad, facing a ferocious threat from various groups of jihadists, survived in part by negotiating massive military support from Russia in exchange for a 25-year contract to develop Syria's claims to that Levantine gas field. Included in the deal was a major expansion of the Russian naval base at the port city of Tartus, ensuring a far larger Russian naval presence in the Levantine Basin.

While the presence of the Russians apparently deterred the Israelis from attempting to develop any Syrian-claimed gas deposits, there was no Russian presence in Syria proper. So Israel contracted with the U.S.-based Genie Energy Corporation to locate and develop oil fields in the Golan Heights, Syrian territory occupied by the Israelis since 1967. Facing a potential violation of international law, the Netanyahu government invoked, as the basis for its acts, an Israeli court ruling that the exploitation of natural resources in occupied territories was legal. At the same time, to prepare for the inevitable battle with whichever faction or factions emerged triumphant from the Syrian civil war, it began shoring up the Israeli military presence in the Golan Heights.

And then there was Cyprus, the only Levantine claimant not at war with Israel. Greek Cypriots had long been in chronic conflict with Turkish Cypriots, so it was hardly surprising that the Levantine natural gas discovery triggered three years of deadlocked negotiations on the island over what to do. In 2014, the Greek Cypriots signed an exploration contract with Noble Energy, Israel's chief contractor. The Turkish Cypriots trumped this move by signing a contract with Turkey to explore all Cypriot claims "as far as Egyptian waters." Emulating Israel and Russia, the Turkish government promptly moved three navy vessels into the area to physically block any intervention by other claimants.

As a result, four years of maneuvering around the newly discovered Levantine Basin deposits have produced little energy, but brought new and powerful claimants into the mix, launched a significant military build-up in the region, and heightened tensions immeasurably.

Gaza Again -- and Again

Remember the Iron Dome system, developed in part to stop Hezbollah rockets aimed at Israel's northern gas fields? Over time, it was put in place near the border with Gaza to stop Hamas rockets, and was tested during Operation Returning Echo, the fourth Israeli military attempt to bring Hamas to heel and eliminate any Palestinian "capability to bomb Israel's strategic gas and electricity installations."

Launched in March 2012, it replicated on a reduced scale the devastation of Operation Cast Lead, while the Iron Dome achieved a 90% "kill rate" against Hamas rockets. Even this, however, while a useful adjunct to the vast shelter system built to protect Israeli civilians, was not enough to ensure the protection of the country's exposed oil facilities. Even one direct hit there could damage or demolish such fragile and flammable structures.

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The failure of Operation Returning Echo to settle anything triggered another round of negotiations, which once again stalled over the Palestinian rejection of Israel's demand to control all fuel and revenues destined for Gaza and the West Bank. The new Palestinian Unity government then followed the lead of the Lebanese, Syrians, and Turkish Cypriots, and in late 2013 signed an "exploration concession" with Gazprom, the huge Russian natural gas company. As with Lebanon and Syria, the Russian Navy loomed as a potential deterrent to Israeli interference.

Meanwhile, in 2013, a new round of energy blackouts caused "chaos" across Israel, triggering a draconian 47% increase in electricity prices. In response, the Netanyahu government considered a proposal to begin extracting domestic shale oil, but the potential contamination of water resources caused a backlash movement that frustrated this effort. In a country filled with start-up high-tech firms, the exploitation of renewable energy sources was still not being given serious attention. Instead, the government once again turned to Gaza.

With Gazprom's move to develop the Palestinian-claimed gas deposits on the horizon, the Israelis launched their fifth military effort to force Palestinian acquiescence, Operation Protective Edge. It had two major hydrocarbon-related goals: to deter Palestinian-Russian plans and to finally eliminate the Gazan rocket systems. The first goal was apparently met when Gazprom postponed (perhaps permanently) its development deal. The second, however, failed when the two-pronged land and air attack -- despite unprecedented devastation in Gaza -- failed to destroy Hamas's rocket stockpiles or its tunnel-based assembly system; nor did the Iron Dome achieve the sort of near-perfect interception rate needed to protect proposed energy installations.

There Is No Denouement

After 25 years and five failed Israeli military efforts, Gaza's natural gas is still underwater and, after four years, the same can be said for almost all of the Levantine gas. But things are not the same. In energy terms, Israel is ever more desperate, even as it has been building up its military, including its navy, in significant ways. The other claimants have, in turn, found larger and more powerful partners to help reinforce their economic and military claims. All of this undoubtedly means that the first quarter-century of crisis over eastern Mediterranean natural gas has been nothing but prelude. Ahead lies the possibility of bigger gas wars with the devastation they are likely to bring.

Michael Schwartz, an emeritus distinguished teaching professor of sociology at Stony Brook University, is a TomDispatch regular and the author of the award-winning books Radical Protest and Social Structure andThe Power Structure of American Business (with Beth Mintz). His TomDispatch book, War Without End, focused on how the militarized geopolitics of oil led the U.S. to invade and occupy Iraq. His email address is Michael.Schwartz@stonybrook.edu.

Follow TomDispatch on Twitter and join us on Facebook. Check out the newest Dispatch Book, Rebecca Solnit's Men Explain Things to Me, and Tom Engelhardt's latest book, Shadow Government: Surveillance, Secret Wars, and a Global Security State in a Single-Superpower World.

Copyright 2015 Michael Schwartz

mercredi, 11 mars 2015

Nieuwe Saudische koning probeert moslimcoalitie tegen Iran te vormen

iran_me1.jpg

Nieuwe Saudische koning probeert moslimcoalitie tegen Iran te vormen

Al 10.000 door Iran gecommandeerde troepen op 10 kilometer van grens Israël

Arabische media kiezen kant van Netanyahu tegen Obama

Breuk tussen Israël en VS brengt aanval op Iran dichterbij dan ooit

De sterk in opkomst zijnde Shia-islamitische halve maan zal zich tegen haar natuurlijke ‘berijder’ keren: Saudi Arabië, met in de ster op de kaart het centrum van de islam: Mekka.

De Saudische koning Salman, opvolger van de in januari overleden koning Abdullah, heeft de afgelopen 10 dagen gesprekken gevoerd met de leiders van alle vijf Arabische oliestaten, Jordanië, Egypte en Turkije, over de vorming van een Soenitische moslimcoalitie tegen het Shi’itische Iran. De Saudi’s hebben Iraanse bondgenoten de macht zien overnemen in Irak en Jemen, en weten dat zij zelf het uiteindelijke hoofddoel van de mullahs in Teheran zijn.

Grootste struikelblok voor de gewenste coalitie is de Moslim Broederschap, die gesteund wordt door Turkije en Qatar, maar in Egypte, Jordanië en Saudi Arabië juist als een terreurorganisatie wordt bestempeld. Koning Salman is dermate bevreesd voor een nucleair bewapend Iran, dat hij inmiddels bereid lijkt om ten aanzien van de Broederschap concessies te doen.

Saudi Arabië zal worden vernietigd

In zo’n 2500 jaar oude Bijbelse profetieën wordt voorzegd dat de Perzen (Elam = Iran) uiteindelijke (Saudi) Arabië zullen aanvallen (Jesaja 21). Jordanië (Edom en Moab) zal hoogstwaarschijnlijk ten prooi vallen aan Turkije (Daniël 11:41), dat eveneens Egypte zal aanvallen. Saudi Arabië komt dan alleen te staan en zal totaal worden vernietigd (Jeremia 49:21).

Het land waarin de islam is ontstaan voelt de bui al enige tijd hangen en probeert nu bijna wanhopig ‘het beest’ waar ze eeuwen op gereden heeft, gunstig te stemmen. Turkije zal echter nooit de alliantie met de Moslim Broederschap opgeven, net zoals Egypte nooit de Broederschap zal steunen.

Het beest dat de hoer haat

Enkele jaren geleden schreven we dat Turkije een geheim samenwerkingspact gesloten heeft met Iran. Beide landen hebben historische vendetta’s met de Saudi’s, die de Ottomaanse Turken verrieden met Lawrence van Arabië. Ook de vijandschap tussen het Wahabitische huis van Saud en de Iraanse Shi’iten bestaat al eeuwen.

Bizar: ISIS is oorspronkelijk een ‘uitvinding’ van de Wahabieten en niet de Shi’iten, maar streeft desondanks toch naar het einde van het Saudische koninkrijk. Hetzelfde geldt voor de Moslim Broederschap, Hezbollah en andere islamitische terreurgroepen. Dit is exact zoals de Bijbel het voorzegd heeft: de volken en landen van ‘het beest’ zullen ‘de hoer van Babylon’ haten, zich omkeren en haar verscheuren / met vuur verbranden.

Arabische media kiezen kant van Netanyahu tegen Obama

De Arabieren vallen zelf Israël echter (nog) niet aan omdat de Joodse staat een onverklaarde bondgenoot is tegen Iran. Onlangs zouden de Saudi’s zelfs hun luchtruim hebben opengesteld voor de Israëlische luchtmacht, nadat bekend werd dat de Amerikaanse president Obama vorig jaar dreigde Israëlische vliegtuigen boven Irak neer te schieten toen de regering Netanyahu op het punt stond Iran aan te vallen.

Diverse toonaangevende Arabische media kozen afgelopen week openlijk de kant van de Israëlische premier, nadat hij in diens toespraak voor het Amerikaanse Congres de toenadering van Obama tot Iran impliciet fel bekritiseerd had. Netanyahu’s woorden onderstreepten dat er de facto een breuk tussen Amerika en Israël is ontstaan, die zolang Obama president is niet meer zal worden geheeld. Dit brengt een Israëlische aanval op Iran dichterbij dan ooit tevoren (4).

Het is al jaren bekend dat Obama Netanyahu haat, en andersom is er eveneens sprake van groot wantrouwen en minachting. Net als in Jeruzalem ziet men ook in bijna alle Arabische Golfstaten, maar vooral in Saudi Arabië, Obama liever vandaag dan morgen verdwijnen.

In Iran wordt nog steeds ‘dood aan Amerika’ geschreeuwd

Wrang genoeg voor Washington geldt dat ook voor Iran. ‘Allahu Akbar! Khamenei is de leider. Dood aan de vijanden van de leider. Dood aan Amerika. Dood aan Engeland. Dood aan de hypocrieten. Dood aan Israël!’ schreeuwden Iraanse officieren begin februari toen Khamenei vol trots verklaarde dat Iran uranium tot 20% verrijkt had, terwijl hij Obama uitdrukkelijk had beloofd dit niet te doen.

Deze oorlogskreet wordt al sinds 1979 dagelijks gebezigd in Iran. In dat jaar liet de Amerikaanse president Jimmy Carter toe dat de hervormingsgezinde Shah van Iran werd afgezet door de extremistische Ayatollah Khomeini. Het onmiddellijke gevolg was een bloederige oorlog met Irak, waarbij meer dan één miljoen doden vielen.

Al 10.000 Iraanse troepen bij grens Israël

Zodra het door Turkije en Iran geleide rijk van ‘het beest’ Israël aanvalt, zullen Sheba en Dedan, de Saudi’s en de Golfstaten, enkel toekijken (Ezechiël 38:13). Dat we snel deze laatste fase van de eindtijd naderen blijkt uit het feit dat er op dit moment in Syrië al zo’n 10.000 door Iran gecommandeerde troepen – ‘vrijwilligers’ uit Iran, Irak en Afghanistan- op slechts 10 kilometer van de Israëlische grens staan. Dat zouden er in de toekomst 100.000 of zelfs meer kunnen worden (2)(3).

Het Vaticaan ‘de hoer’ en vervolger van christenen?

Terwijl de Bijbelse eindtijdprofetieën overduidelijk voor onze eigen ogen in vervulling gaan zijn veel Westerse christenen hier nog steeds blind voor, omdat hen geleerd is dat ‘de hoer’ het Vaticaan is, en de ‘valse profeet’ een toekomstige paus is die de grote wereldreligies met elkaar zal verenigen, daar het evangelie voor zal opofferen en katholieken en andere christenen (!) zal laten onthoofden omdat ze dit zullen weigeren.

Als ‘de hoer’ het Vaticaan is, dan zou dat echter betekenen dat de katholieke/ christelijke landen waar zij op ‘zit’ haar zullen aanvallen en verbranden. Denken mensen nog steeds serieus dat andere landen in Europa Rome zullen aanvallen, terwijl moslim terreurgroepen zoals ISIS regelmatig openlijk dreigen om in de nabije toekomst Italië binnen te vallen en het Vaticaan te vernietigen? Terwijl christenen in Irak, Egypte, Syrië, Nigeria en andere moslimlanden nu al worden vermoord en onthoofd vanwege hun geloof en omdat weigeren zich te bekeren tot de islam (= het beest te aanbidden)?

Moderne ‘Torens van Babel’ in Mekka

In eerdere artikelenstudies (zie hyperlinks onderaan) voerden we uitgebreid Bijbels bewijs aan –en geen giswerk theorieën- dat ‘de hoer van Babylon’, ‘dronken van het bloed der heiligen en van het bloed der getuigen van Jezus’ zich precies daar bevindt waar Johannes haar zag: in ‘de woestijn’ (Openbaring 17:3). Alleen al hierom kan het nooit om Rome, New York of Brussel gaan. De 7 gigantische torens bij het Ka’aba complex in Mekka –het grootste ter wereld- worden plaatselijk zelfs letterlijk ‘De berg Babel’ genoemd.

Eindtijd: Niet Europa of Amerika, maar Israël centraal

Niet Europa, niet Amerika en ook niet Rusland staan centraal in de Bijbelse eindtijdprofetieën van zowel het Oude als het Nieuwe Testament –al spelen zij natuurlijk wel een rol-, maar het Midden Oosten, Israël en de omringende moslimwereld. Pas als de coalitie van het (moslim)beest Israël aanvalt –bedenk dat de islam zichzelf omschrijft als ‘het beest uit de afgrond’!- met de bedoeling de Joodse staat weg te vagen en de laatste resten van het christendom in het Midden Oosten uit te roeien, zal de Messias, Jezus Christus, in eigen persoon neerdalen, tussenbeide komen en alle vijanden vernietigend verslaan.

Xander

(1) Reuters via Shoebat
(2) American Thinker
(3) The Christian Monitor
(4) KOPP

lundi, 09 mars 2015

Die unheimliche Allianz

Die unheimliche Allianz hinter 9/11

vendredi, 06 mars 2015

Book Reviews from http://www.atimes.com

   

livres, pacifisme, bellicisme, bellicisme américain, bellicisme pakistanais, postsionisme, sionisme, ilan pappe, israël, puritanisme, politique internationale, géopolitique, califat, islam, islamisme, palestine, monde arabe, monde arabo-musulman, états-unis, pakistan, asie, affaires asiatiques,

Book Reviews from http://www.atimes.com

To read full review, click on title

  Pakistan's proclivity for war
The Warrior State: Pakistan in the Contemporary World
by T V Paul

Author T V Paul adds to the numerous unflattering descriptions of Pakistan with his depiction of a "warrior state" whose security forces have outgrown all other institutions and activities and where radical Islamization and its attendant obscurantism have been the consequences of state policy. His explanation for why this continues is elaborate and thought-provoking. - Ehsan Ahrari (Jul 28, '14)

 

  The US-Pakistan ties that bind
No Exit from Pakistan: America's Tortured Relationship with Islamabad by Daniel S Markey

The author argues that even as Pakistanis grow increasingly hostile to the United States', America's interests in South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East mean that Washington can ill-afford to disengage from Pakistan. Maneuvers by the Obama administration such as managing anti-Americanism sentiment by keeping a lower profile ring true with the policy prescriptions presented, yet the book suffers in places from simplistic reasoning. - Majid Mahmood (Jun 20, '14)

 

  US stuck between dispensability and decline
Dispensable Nation: American Foreign Policy in Retreat
by Vali Nasr


While offering a harsh critique of the President Barack Obama's policies in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and across the Arab World, the author argues that the United States is not declining. This ignores that while the United States became an "indispensable nation" by implementing its stimulating post-World War II vision, it has failed since to develop a comparable vision for the future that is both realistic and doable.
- Ehsan M Ahrari (Jun 13, '14)

 

  A struggle against Israeli soft power
The Battle for Justice in Palestine by Ali Abunimah

The author believes the Palestinian struggle will benefit from a growing awareness of Israeli actions brought about by a "boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement" similar to that which increased international isolation of apartheid-era South Africa. One of the more interesting parts of the work is its exploration of how neoliberal economic patterns have been imposed on Palestine. - Jim Miles (Jun 6, '14)

 

  Re-imagining the caliphate
The Inevitable Caliphate? A History of the Struggle for Global Islamic Union, 1924 to the Present by Reza Pankhurst

A forceful and authoritative attempt at elevating debate over the Islamic caliphate beyond Western elitist perceptions of extremism and radicalization, this book offers a clear-sighted analysis of the movements that have placed the caliphate at center of their revivalist discourse. The book's biggest flaw is arguably the author's reductionist approach toward the potential constituency of the caliphate.
- Mahan Abedin (May 23, '14)

 

  Keeping peace with total war
To Make and Keep Peace Among Ourselves and With All Nations by Angelo M Codevilla

White Anglo-Saxon Protestant interpretations of history are central to the argument this book propounds: that the US needs constant, decisive warfare to ensure its own interests and security. While the thesis suffers because the author fails to recognize that a Washington focused on maintaining control doesn't share his populist values, it offers useful insights into the thinking of the American conservative right. - Jim Miles (May 16, '14)

 

  Shaking the pillars of Israel's history
The Idea of Israel - A History of Power and Knowledge by Ilan Pappe

This exploration of how Israel shaped a historic narrative to create a sense of nationhood and political direction recounts the attacks on historians in the 1990s who challenged the traditional Zionist discourse. The takeaway from this complex book is that issues surrounding the manipulation of victimhood have the potential to erode the foundations that the modern state is built on. - Jim Miles (May 2, '14)

 
 
 

mercredi, 04 mars 2015

Today's news on http://www.atimes.com

news2.jpg

Today's news on http://www.atimes.com

To read full article, click on title


Tackling Tehran: Netanyahu vs Obama
As negotiations over Iran's nuclear program continued in Europe, Israeli Premier Netanyahu told US Congress he feared the White House was close to striking a "very bad" deal. The absence of dozens of Democrats and the cheers that greeted his warnings of a "nuclear tinderbox" demonstrated the divisive nature of the issue in Washington. - James Reinl (Mar 4, '15)

Obama's nuclear squeeze
Netanyahu's address to the US Congress will have no effect on the future modalities of US-Iran nuclear negotiations. But if he can nudge Congress not to relax sanctions on Iran, even after a nuclear deal, then Tehran might retaliate by reversing some agreed upon issues of those intricate negotiations. - Ehsan Ahrari (Mar 4, '15)

Iran squashes IS, US seeks cover
An operation by Iraqi government forces to recapture Tikrit, north of Baghdad, from Islamic State militants, has resulted in fierce fighting around the town, seen as the spiritual heartland of Saddam Hussein's Ba'athist regime. This hugely important development has three dimensions. - M K Bhadrakumar (Mar 4,'15)

Israeli ex-generals condemn Netanyahu
In an unprecedented move, 200 veterans of the Israeli security services have accused Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of being a “danger” to Israel, their protest coming on the even of his visit to address a joint meeting of the US Congress against the wishes of the White House. - Jonathan Cook (Mar 2, '15)


The Middle East and perpetual war
There is a popular idea in Washington, DC, that the United States ought to be doing more to quash the Islamic State: if we don't, they will send terrorists to plague our lives. Previously, the canard was that we had to intervene in the Middle East to protect the flow of oil to the West. So why in fact are we there? The only answer is: "Israel". - Leon Anderson (Mar 2, '15)



A Chechen role in Nemtsov murder?
For many in Russia and the West, the Kremlin is inevitably the prime suspect in the assassination of opposition leader Boris Nemtsov. But the possibility of a Chechen connection should not be dismissed out of hand, given Nemtsov's repeated criticism of Chechen Republic head Ramzan Kadyrov. (Mar 4, '15)

Obama, Shell, and the Arctic Ocean's fate
Despite the glut of new American oil on the market (and falling oil prices), not to mention a recent bow to preservation of the Arctic, the Obama administration stands at the edge of once again green-lighting a foray by oil giant Shell into Arctic waters. - Subhankar Banerjee (Mar 4, '15)


Germany's future lies East
Germany, sooner or later, must answer a categorical imperative - how to keep running massive trade surpluses while dumping its euro trade partners. The only possible answer is more trade with Russia, China and East Asia. It will take quite a while, but a Berlin-Moscow-Beijing commercial axis is all but inevitable. - Pepe Escobar (Mar 3, '15)

 

mardi, 10 février 2015

Du Golan au Sinaï, les takfiristes sont des alliés d’Israël

groupesarmes.jpg

Du Golan au Sinaï, les takfiristes sont des alliés d’Israël

 
Par Samer R. Zoughaib
Ex: http://lesmoutonsenrages.fr

Dans son discours charnière du vendredi 30 janvier, le secrétaire général du Hezbollah, sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, a démontré, par un raisonnement logique, la collusion entre Israël et les takfiristes actifs sur le terrain en Syrie, notamment le Front al-Nosra, la branche syrienne d’Al-Qaïda. Ainsi, explique-t-il, l’entité sioniste s’est-elle sentie menacée par six membres de la Résistance, en tournée d’inspection dans la province de Quneitra, mais ne semble nullement préoccupée par la présence, le long du Golan occupé, de plusieurs milliers de combattants d’al-Nosra, armés jusqu’aux dents.

«Le Front al-Nosra a déployé près du Golan des milliers de combattants dotés de chars, de roquettes, de missiles antichars, de casernes, de positions et de fortifications militaires», a déclaré sayyed Nasrallah, en rappelant que cette organisation est inscrite sur les listes internationales des organisations terroristes.

Malgré cela, souligne-t-il, «Israël» ne semble pas inquiet ou inquiété le moins du monde par cette présence massive d’hommes armés prétendant combattre sous un étendard islamique.
Depuis plus de deux ans, nous publions sur ce même site un grand nombre d’articles, basés sur des informations sûres et fiables, faisant la lumière sur les relations étroites qui existent entre «Tel-Aviv» et les groupes les plus extrémistes en Syrie. C’est ainsi que plus d’un millier de combattants extrémistes ont été soignés dans les hôpitaux de Safad, Haïfa et Tibériade, après avoir été transférés des champs de bataille du sud syrien avec l’aide directe des «Israéliens». Mais le soutien va au-delà de ce qui est présenté par la propagande israélienne comme un «geste humanitaire». La couverture aérienne et les barrages d’artillerie fournis par l’armée «israélienne» ont joué un rôle crucial dans l’avancée -toute relative- des groupes extrémistes dans le Golan, dans le but d’instaurer une ceinture de sécurité large de 5 à 7 kilomètres, le long du Golan occupé.


Pour éloigner les témoins gênants, les groupes terroristes ont enlevé, l’été dernier, 45 Casques bleus de la force internationale d’interposition déployée depuis 1974, la Fnuod, qui a décidé, après cet incident, d’évacuer de nombreuses positions, laissant le terrain libre à Al-Qaïda.

Transfert de matériel et 59 réunions

Aujourd’hui, même les médias occidentaux ne peuvent plus passer sous silence le soutien multiforme apporté par «Israël» aux extrémistes. Dans un article publié le 7 décembre 2014, le quotidien français «Libération», pourtant proche d’«Israël», fait état d’un grand nombre de rapports des Nations unies évoquant «un dialogue et des transferts de matériel aux rebelles syriens». Ces documents, basés sur des observations directes faites par des Casques bleus présents dans le Golan révèlent des «contacts suivis» entre des officiers sionistes et «certains groupes rebelles (…) parmi lesquels des islamistes du Front al-Nosra, la branche syrienne d’Al-Qaïda».


«Libération» ajoute que les rapports de la Fnuod adressés aux quinze membres du Conseil de sécurité révèlent que les rencontres entre militaires israéliens et rebelles syriens sont quasi-quotidiennes depuis au moins dix-huit mois. Ces notes d’observation démontrent qu’un dialogue s’est instauré entre les deux parties le long de la ligne de séparation entre la Syrie et la partie du Golan occupée par «Israël». Du 1er mars au 31 mai 2014, les Casques bleus ont ainsi comptabilisé 59 réunions, précise le journal français.


Et ce n’est pas tout. Les observateurs de la Fnuod ont constaté qu’en certaines occasions, l’armée israélienne transfère des caisses aux rebelles, comme ce fut le cas le 10 juin. «A deux occasions la Fnuod a aussi observé que des officiers israéliens faisaient pénétrer des rebelles en bon état de santé sur le territoire de l’Etat hébreu. Où se rendaient-ils? Pour discuter avec qui? Dans ce cas également, il n’y a pas de réponse», poursuit «Libération», qui ajoute que la majorité des contacts observés se sont déroulés à proximité d’un poste de la Fnuod surnommé «Point 85», qui a depuis été évacué après l’enlèvement des 45 Casques bleus.
La date de ces transferts de caisses et de ces contacts suivis coïncident avec la vaste offensive lancée par les extrémistes et qui leur a permis d’occuper un certain nombre de positions de l’armée syrienne dans la province de Quneitra. A cette même époque, le ministre «israélien» de la Guerre, Moshé Yaalon, qualifiait le Front al-Nosra de «branche la plus modérée d’Al-Qaïda» tandis que le ministre Français des Affaires étrangères, Laurent Fabius, estimait qu’«Al-Nosra fait du bon boulot en Syrie».

Dans le Sinaï aussi

La collusion entre l’entité sioniste et les extrémistes prétendant se battre sous l’étendard de l’islam ne se limite pas au Golan mais englobe également le Sinaï, où «Ansar Beit al-Maqdess», qui a prêté allégeance à l’organisation terroriste de «Daech» a mené un série d’attaques meurtrières sans précédent contre l’armée égyptienne, qui ont fait, la semaine dernière, des dizaines de morts.


Quel meilleur service peut-on rendre à «Israël» sinon d’attaquer et d’affaiblir les armées syrienne, égyptienne et libanaise, les forces armées des pays dit de «l’étau». Il est intéressant de noter, dans ce cadre, la réaction iranienne aux attaques du Sinaï. Le chef d’état-major interarmes iranien, le général Hassan Feyrouz, a estimé que «ceux qui attaquent l’armée égyptienne servent les intérêts d’Israël». La même position a été exprimée par la porte-parole du ministère iranien des Affaires étrangères, Marzieh Afkham, qui a affirmé que «l’objectif des attaques du Sinaï est d’éloigner le monde musulman de son but qui est de défendre le peuple palestinien».

 

Source : French.alahednews

samedi, 07 février 2015

El sionismo cristiano: La nueva herejía que domina Estados Unidos

Por Stephen Sizer*

Ex: http://www.elespiadigital.com

El sionismo cristiano es una teología que apoya un régimen político basado en el apartheid y la discriminación – sin embargo, millones de personas en los EE.UU. expresan su apoyo al mismo. ¿Cuán peligroso es, dado el papel de EE.UU. en el Medio Oriente?

1. Introducción

“Sólo una nación, Israel, se encuentra entre… la agresión terrorista y la disminución total de los Estados Unidos como potencia mundial democrática … Si Israel cae, los Estados Unidos ya no pueden seguir siendo una democracia. … El dinero árabe se utiliza para el control y la influencia de las principales corporaciones de EE.UU., por lo que es económicamente más y más difícil para los Estados Unidos hacer algo en contra del terrorismo mundial “. [1]

Mientras que muchos de ellos no necesariamente van tan lejos como Mike Evans, sin embargo es asumido por una gran parte de los cristianos en Gran Bretaña y Estados Unidos que es su responsabilidad bíblica apoyar al Estado de Israel y que la bendición de Dios sobre ellos está condicionada a la bendición de Israel. Dale Crowley, en una emisora ​​religiosa de Washington, describe este movimiento como el “de más rápido crecimiento en Estados Unidos“:

“No esta compuesto de locos” sino por estadounidenses de clase media-alta. Que dan millones de dólares cada semana a los evangelistas de la televisión que exponen los fundamentos de la secta. Ellos leen a Hal Lindsey y Tim LaHaye, quienes difunden un objetivo:. “Ayudar a la mano de Dios para flotar hasta el cielo libre de todos los problemas, desde donde verán el Armagedón y la destrucción del planeta Tierra” [2]

Definición del sionismo cristiano

El sionismo cristiano es esencialmente el apoyo cristiano al sionismo. El sionismo es un sistema político basado en la exclusividad étnica judía dándoles derechos políticos preferenciales que se les niegan a los palestinos. Las Naciones Unidas han definido al sionismo como una forma de racismo y de apartheid. Sin embargo, en palabras de Grace Halsell el mensaje esencial de los sionistas cristianos es el siguiente: “todo acto adoptado por Israel está orquestado por Dios y debe ser tolerado, apoyado, e incluso ensalzado por el resto de nosotros“. [3]

La importancia del movimiento cristiano sionista

Las estimaciones sobre el tamaño del movimiento en su conjunto varían considerablemente. Mientras que críticos como Crowley afirman: “Por lo menos uno de cada 10 estadounidenses es un devoto ‘, es decir, entre ‘25 a 30 millones“, los sionistas cristianos por su parte, como Pat Robertson y Jerry Falwell, afirman tener acceso semanal a 100 millones de estadounidenses simpatizantes [4 ]. Cualquiera que sea la cifra real, todos están de acuerdo en que el número está creciendo en tamaño e influencia [5]. Ellos son guiados por 80.000 pastores fundamentalistas y sus puntos de vista difundidos por 1.000 emisoras locales de radio, así como 100 canales de televisión cristiana [6]. Doug Krieger dio una lista de más de 250 organizaciones pro-israelí fundadas solamente en la década de 1980 [7].

Por ejemplo, Unity Coalition for Israel, que es la más grande, reúne a 200 diferentes organizaciones sionistas judías y cristianas, incluyendo la International Christian Embassy, Christian Friends of Israel y Bridges for Peace . Ellos reclaman tener una base de apoyo de 40 millones de miembros activos [8]. Estas organizaciones conforman una amplia coalición que no sólo ayuda a mantener al gobierno racista de Sharon en el poder, sino también, como veremos más adelante, ayudan a dar forma a la postura agresiva de la política exterior de EE.UU. en el Medio Oriente.

El aumento del sionismo cristiano contemporáneo se remonta a la fundación del Estado de Israel en 1948, que llegó a ser vista como la realización más importante de la profecías bíblicas [9], de hecho, para muchos, “la mayor noticia profética que hemos tenido en el siglo XX ” [10]. Después de la Guerra de los Seis Días en 1967, Billy Graham, suegro de Nelson Bell, editor de Christianity Today, expresó los sentimientos de muchos evangélicos estadounidenses, cuando en una editorial de la revista, escribió: “por primera vez en más de 2.000 años Jerusalén está completamente en manos de los Judíos, lo que produce a un estudiante de la Biblia una emoción y una renovada fe en la exactitud y validez de la Biblia” [11].

christian-zionism38.jpgEn 1976, una serie de acontecimientos llevaron al sionismo cristiano a la vanguardia de la política dominante de EE.UU.. Jimmy Carter fue elegido como el “renacido” presidente que marcaría el apoyo de la derecha evangélica. En Israel, Menachem Begin y el ala derecha del partido Likud llegaron al poder al año siguiente. Una coalición tripartita emergió lentamente entre la derecha política, los evangélicos y el lobby judío. En 1978, Jimmy Carter reconoció cómo sus propias creencias pro-sionistas habían influido en su política en Oriente Medio [12]. En un discurso, describió el estado de Israel como “un retorno al pasado, a la tierra bíblica de la cual los Judíos fueron expulsados tantos cientos de años atrás… El establecimiento de la nación de Israel es el cumplimiento de la profecía bíblica y la esencia misma de su cumplimiento ” [13]. Sin embargo, cuando Carter vaciló sobre el agresivo programa del Likud y propuso la creación de un estado palestino, se distanció de la coalición de judíos pro- israelí, lo que condujo a que los evangélicos cambiaran su apoyo a Ronald Reagan en las elecciones de 1980. La elección de Reagan como presidente dio un impulso considerable a la causa sionista cristiana. Don Wagner explica: “La elección de Ronald Reagan marcó el comienzo no sólo de una tendencia aun más pro-Israel en la historia de la administración, sino que además dio importantes puestos en el gobierno a varios prominentes cristianos sionistas. Además del Presidente, quiene se suscribe a una teología premilenarista futurista y al sionismo cristiano, podemos mencionar al Procurador General Ed Meese, al Secretario de Defensa Casper Weinberger, y al secretario del Interior James Watt” [14].

Los White House Seminars se convirtieron en una característica regular de la administración Reagan, por los cuales se trajeron a sionistas cristianos como Jerry Falwell, Mike Evans y Hal Lindsey para tener acceso directo y personal con los dirigentes nacionales y el Congreso. En 1982, por ejemplo, Reagan invitó a Falwell para dar un informe al Consejo de Seguridad Nacional sobre la posibilidad de una guerra nuclear con Rusia [15]. Hal Lindsey también afirma que Reagan lo invitó a hablar sobre el tema de la guerra con Rusia para los funcionarios del Pentágono [16]. En una conversación personal publicada por el Washington Post dos años después, en abril de 1984, Reagan elaboró ​​sus propias convicciones personales con Tom Dine, uno de los principales lobbistas israelí que trabajó para la American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC): ‘Como saben, me dirijo de nuevo a los antiguos profetas en el Antiguo Testamento y a las señales anunciadas del Armagedón, y me pregunto si – si somos la generación que va a ver que esto se acerca. No sé si usted ha observado alguna de estas profecías últimamente, pero créanme, ciertamente describen los tiempos que estamos viviendo ” [17].

Mientras que George Bush padre, Bill Clinton y George W. Bush no parecen haber compartido los mismos presupuestos acerca de estos designios que Jimmy Carter y Ronald Reagan, sin embargo han mantenido, aunque sea a regañadientes, la fuerte posición pro-sionista de sus predecesores [ 18]. Esto se debe principalmente a la influencia del lobby sionista considerado por muchos como el más poderoso de los Estados Unidos [19]. Aluf Ben, un portavoz de Shimon Peres, fue citado por el diario de mayor circulación en Tel Aviv, Ha´aretz: “el 60 por ciento de toda la ayuda económica a los demócratas provenía de fuentes judías” [20]. Según el Informe de Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, “la mayoría de los recaudadores de fondos pro-Israel estiman que al menos del 60 al 90 por ciento de la campaña demócrata es financiada por fuentes judías, también suministran quizá el 40 por ciento del financiamiento republicano” [21]. Tal vez por eso es difícil encontrar a un solo político electo estadounidense dispuesto a criticar a Israel en público.

Tres líderes cristianos en particular, cada uno de ellos instalado en la Casa Blanca por Reagan, probablemente han logrado más que cualquier otro en los últimos treinta años en lo que respectaa a asegurar que la política exterior estadounidense sigue siendo pro-sionista. Son Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson y Hal Lindsey, quienes se convirtieron en fervientes partidarios del Estado sionista. Grace Halsell describe la conversión de Falwell:

“La victoria israelí fue un hecho impresionante de gran impacto no sólo en Falwell, sino… para muchos de los estadounidenses. Recuerden que en el año 1967, los Estados Unidos estaban sumidos en la guerra de Vietnam. Muchos sintieron una sensación de derrota, impotencia y desánimo. Como estadounidenses, nos hicieron muy conscientes de nuestra disminuida autoridad, de no ser capaces de ser la policía del mundo o incluso de nuestros propios vecindarios… Muchos estadounidenses, incluyendo a Falwell, volvieron su mirada de adoración hacia Israel, viéndolo militarmente fuerte e invencible. Ellos dieron su aprobación sin límites a la toma de posesión de Israel de tierras árabes debido a que percibieron esta conquista como de poder y de justicia… Cristianos machos y musculosos como Falwell atribuyen al general israelí Moshe Dayan un “aura de héroe” por esta victoria sobre las fuerzas árabes y le llama el hombre de los milagros de la era, siendo invitado por el Pentágono a visitar Vietnam y decirnos cómo ganar esta guerra “. [22]

En 1979, el mismo año en el que Falwell fundó Moral Majority, el gobierno israelí le dio un avión Lear para que le ayudase en su defensa de Israel. Un año más tarde, en 1980, Falwell también se convirtió en el primer gentil en recibir la medalla Vladimir Ze’ev Jabotinsky por su excelencia sionista, de manos del Primer Ministro de Israel, Menachem Begin. Jabotinsky fue el fundador del sionismo revisionista y sostuvo que los judíos tenía un mandato divino para ocupar y colonizar “a ambos lados del río Jordán” y que no debían dar cuentas al derecho internacional [23]. Cuando Israel bombardeó la planta nuclear de Irak en 1981, llamaron por teléfono a Falwell antes de llamar a Reagan. Llamó a Falwell para preguntarle cómo “explicar al público cristiano las razones del atentado” [24]. Durante la invasión de Líbano en 1982, Falwell igualmente defendió las acciones de Israel:

“Cuando las masacres ocurrieron en los campos de refugiados palestinos, Falwell sólo imitó la línea israelí: “Los israelíes no están involucrados”. Y aun cuando el New York Times estaba dando testimonios de bengalas israelíes enviadas para ayudar a los falangistas a entrar en los campos, Falwell decía: “Eso es sólo propaganda” [25].

En marzo de 1985, Falwell habló ante la conservadora Asamblea Rabínica en Miami y se comprometió a “movilizar a 70 millones de cristianos conservadores por Israel” [26]. En enero de 1998, cuando el primer ministro israelí Benjamin Netanyahu visitó Washington, su primera reunión fue con Jerry Falwell y con The National Unity Coalition for Israel, en una gran reunión de más de 500 líderes cristianos fundamentalistas, en vez de con el presidente Clinton. De acuerdo con Donald Wagner, la multitud aclamó a Netanyahu como “el Ronald Reagan de Israel.” Esta vez Falwell prometió ponerse en contacto con 200.000 pastores y líderes de iglesias que reciben su National Liberty Journal [27], y pedirles que “digan al presidente Clinton que se abstengan de presionar a Israel para cumplir con los acuerdos de Oslo” [28]. En una entrevista con The Washington Post en 1999, Falwell describe a la ribera occidental [Cisjordania] como “una parte integral de Israel“. Ante la idea de presionar a Israel a retirarse, añadió, “sería como pedirle a Estados Unidos dejarle Texas a México, para lograr una buena relación. Es ridículo” [29]. En el 2000, Falwell reanima Moral Majority bajo el nombre de People of Faith 2000, “como un movimiento para recuperar América como una nación bajo Dios“, el cual también tiene una fuerte posición pro-israelí [30]. Falwell ha tenido éxito, probablemente mejor que cualquier otro líder cristiano estadounidense, en convencer a sus seguidores a reconocer que su deber cristiano consiste en proporcionar un apoyo incondicional al Estado de Israel.

Mientras que Jerry Falwell podría ser uno de los cristianos sionistas más influyentes, también es un mascarón de proa, junto con Pat Robertson, de una alianza mucho más amplia de más de 150 influyentes líderes fundamentalistas cristianos, que incluyen a Oral Roberts, Mike Evans, Tim LaHaye, Kenneth Copeland, Paul Crouch, Ed McAteer, Jim Bakker, Franklin Graham, James Dobson, Chuck Missler y Jimmy Swaggart, que han adoptado una postura pro-sionista en sus escritos o emisiones [31]. Estos líderes cristianos y sus organizaciones tienen acceso regular a más de 100 millones de cristianos, más de 100.000 pastores y a unos presupuestos conjuntos que alcanan cifras por encima de los 300 millones de dólares anuales. Ellos forman una coalición amplia e inmensamente poderosa que influye en la formación y la conducción de la política exterior de EE.UU. en el Oriente Medio, así como en el apoyo cristiano a Israel hoy en día.

El desarrollo histórico del sionismo cristiano

Si se desea explorar con más detalle las raíces históricas o la base teológica del movimiento, se debe echar un vistazo a la librerías, en las cuales hay algunos recursos útiles.

En su lugar, voy a centrarme ahora en seis aspectos de la agenda política del movimiento cristiano sionista, y a demostrar por qué los cristianos sionistas se oponen implacablemente al proceso de paz en Oriente Medio. De hecho quiero mostrar cómo pueden estar contribuyendo al holocausto que ellos predicen en el Medio Oriente .

La agenda política del sionismo cristiano

Vamos a examinar las seis formas en que la teología cristiana sionista ha sido traducida en acción política: Este esquema ilustra la correlación entre los movimientos de las doctrinas características y su agenda política.

Vamos a considerar cada uno de ellos:

1. El pueblo elegido: Apoyar el colonialismo israelí

La convicción de que el pueblo judío permanecerá como el “pueblo elegido” de Dios de alguna manera separado de la Iglesia, está profundamente arraigado en el sionismo cristiano. Una encuesta reciente de la revista Christianity Today sobre la opinión evangélica sobre Israel da una indicación de la fuerza del sionismo cristiano en Estados Unidos. La encuesta reveló que el 24% cree que “el mandato bíblico para los cristianos es apoyar el Estado de Israel” [32]. Esto se expresa en una variedad de maneras:

1.1 En pie con Israel

Después de la Guerra de los Seis Días en 1967, además del apoyo brindado por el gobierno de Estados Unidos, Israel ha estado en gran parte aislado de la comunidad internacional. Hal Lindsey se lamenta: “Hasta el momento de la Conferencia de Madrid de 1991, a los árabes se les llamaba “a” cumplir “,” desistir “,” abstenerse “, etc cuatro veces; en cambio a Israel se le “exigía”, “ordenaba”, etc, a cumplir la voluntad de la Asamblea General en trescientas cinco oportunidades. La ONU votó seiscientas cinco resoluciones entre su creación y la Guerra del Golfo. Cuatrocientas veinte y nueve de esas resoluciones, o el sesenta y dos por ciento del total de las resoluciones de la ONU fueron contra Israel o contra sus intereses ” [33].

Citando a Isaías 40, los cristianos sionistas consideran que su papel es “aliviar a Israel.” Así, por ejemplo, en octubre de 2000, pocos días después de la visita de Ariel Sharon al Haram Al-Sharif, que se programó deliberadamente para socavar al gobierno de Barak con miras a negociar con Arafat sobre una Jerusalén compartida [34], lo que provocó la segunda Intifada, se público un anuncio en el New York Times titulado “Open Letter to Evangelical Christians from Jews for Jesus.” En ella se hizo un llamamiento a los evangélicos para mostrar su solidaridad con el Estado de Israel en dicho momento crítico: “Ahora es el momento de apoyar a Israel. Queridos hermanos y hermanas en Cristo, nuestros corazones están tristes, mientras vemos las imágenes de violencia y derramamiento de sangre en el Medio Oriente … Amigos cristianos, “Los dones y el llamamiento de Dios son irrevocables” (Romanos 11:29). Por lo tanto nuestro apoyo a la supervivencia de Israel en esta hora oscura es irrevocable. Ahora es el momento para que los cristianos apoyen a Israel ” [35].

1.2 El lobby israelí en el Capitolio

Hasta la década de 1980, para EE.UU., Oriente Próximo fue en gran parte una instancia periférica de la amenaza global más amplia que planteaba el comunismo soviético. La protección de la Europa Occidental a través de la OTAN era una prioridad más importante. El colapso del comunismo, sin embargo, creó un vacío de poder en el Oriente Medio, que los EE.UU. han llenado. Después de la Guerra del Golfo para “liberar Kuwait” y luego, más recientemente, Afganistán de los talibanes y, a continuación, Irak del partido Baath de Saddam Hussein, los EE.UU. han aumentado considerablemente su influencia en el Medio Oriente. Muchos sostienen que la política exterior de EE.UU. se ha desviado por la influencia desproporcionada del lobby sionista. Michael Lind – analista político – resume la forma en que el lobby israelí ha distorsionado la política exterior de EE.UU.: “la ocupación israelí de Cisjordania y Gaza, habilitado por las armas y el dinero de EE.UU, inflama las actitudes anti-estadounidenses en los países árabes y musulmanes. La expansión de los asentamientos israelíes en territorio palestino es una burla del compromiso de EE.UU. a la autodeterminación de Kosovo, Timor Oriental y el Tíbet. Más allá de la región, la política de EE.UU. sobre la proliferación de armas nucleares es socavada por la doble moral que le ha llevado a ignorar el programa nuclear de Israel mientras condena los de India y Pakistán ” [36].

La derecha cristiana llegó a conformar la política exterior de EE.UU. en gran parte a través de la elección de Ronald Reagan en 1980. Su victoria sobre Jimmy Carter dio un impulso considerable a la causa sionista cristiana. Su elección, “marcó el comienzo no sólo de una tendencia más pro-Israel en la historia de la administración, otorgando varios importantes puestos políticos a sionistas cristianos. Los seminarios de la Casa Blanca se convirtieron en una característica regular de la administración Reagan, a través de la cual se instalaron líderes sionistas cristianos como Jerry Falwell, Mike Evans y Hal Lindsey, permitiéndoles contacto personal con los líderes nacionales y con el Congreso. En el mismo año, la International Christian Embassy of Jerusalem, fue fundada con el propósito de coordinar directamente las actividades del lobby político en cooperación con el gobierno de Israel” [37]. Junto con otras organizaciones que integran la Unity Coalition for Israel, tienen como principal estrategia presionar a los medios de EE.UU. y a la clase política, cuestionar lo que ellos llaman “la desinformación y la propaganda “, y expresar “la verdad acerca de Israel. “

Real.Americans.Defend.Israel.jpgEl poder del lobby pro-israelí asegura que Israel siga recibiendo entre 3 a 8 millones de dólares anuales de los EE.UU. en subvenciones, préstamos y subsidios, y ayuda militar. Este poder se puede medir por el hecho de que George Bush padre fue el último Presidente de los EE.UU. en criticar a Israel en público. Durante la Guerra del Golfo, causó disgusto en el lobby israelí que presionara a Israel para no tomar represalias contra los ataques de Irak, y prometió a los socios de la coalición árabe que él se ocuparía de la cuestión palestina. En septiembre de 1991, se quejó de que “hay 1.000 lobbystas en la colina del Congreso, presionando por las garantías de los préstamos para Israel, y soy un tipo un poco solitario aquí pidiendo al Congreso retrasar el examen de las garantías de préstamos por 120 días” [ 38]. Lind señala que el lobby pro-israelí también fue responsable de fomentar, “el mayor abuso del poder de indulto presidencial en la historia estadounidense“, cuando Bill Clinton, en su último día en el cargo, dio un polémico indulto a Mark Rich, el multimillonario fugitivo que en la lista del FBI figuraba como el “más buscado“. En un artículo del New York Times en febrero de 2001, Clinton explicó que lo había hecho por Israel:

“Muchos antiguos y actuales funcionarios de alto rango de Israel de los dos principales partidos políticos y los líderes de las comunidades judías en América y Europa me pidieron el perdón del señor Rich por sus aportaciones y servicios a los israelíes a través de causas benéficas” [39].

El lobby pro-israelí es también acusado de participar en la selección, nombramiento y despido de funcionarios del gobierno de EE.UU. [40]. En 1980, el ex embajador de EE.UU. en Qatar, Andrew Killgore, escribió en el Informe a Washington sobre Asuntos del Medio Oriente, críticas sobre el lobby israelí: “Es erróneo y perverso por parte de elementos fanáticos dentro del dos y medio por ciento de nuestra población que son de origen judío, mantener como rehén al Congreso … Estados Unidos debe considerar la evolución y penetración de la influencia de Israel en la dirección de la política exterior de EE.UU., como el trabajo de un maestro criminal ” [41].

Los cristianos sionistas también han influido en la creación de una relación más estrecha con Israel, facilitando visitas de solidaridad a Tierra Santa.

1.3 Viajes de Solidaridad a Israel

Desde 1967, tras la captura de la mayoría de los sitios importantes relacionados con las peregrinaciones bíblicas de Jordania y Siria, Israel ha explotado sistemáticamente lo que ha sido descrito como un lucrativo negocio, una “mina de oro” [42], siendo este turismo también una herramienta de propaganda [43 ]. Sin embargo, el mayor de los éxitos de Israel ha sido el contar con líderes evangélicos estadounidenses, tales como Pat Boone y Jerry Falwell, como aliados en la promoción de sus tours de solidaridad pro-israelíes. Por ejemplo, los Friendship Tours de Falwell incluyen no sólo reuniones con el gobierno de Israel (a alto nivel) y con oficiales militares, sino también … incluyen “paseos” a lugares y campos de batalla de Israel… Visita oficial a una instalación de defensa de Israel… a posiciones militares estratégicas, además de experimentar de primera mano la batalla que enfrenta Israel como nación [44].

Los sionistas cristianos no se contentan sólo con apoyar al Estado de Israel, política y financieramente. También son activos en convencer a judíos a emigrar a Israel y cumplir su destino.

2. Restauracionismo: Facilitar la Aliyah desde Rusia y desde Europa del Este

Los sionistas cristianos están convencidos de que es la voluntad de Dios que el pueblo judío regrese a Israel desde que éste fue dado a perpetuidad a los descendientes de Abraham. Con la caída del comunismo en la ex Unión Soviética (URSS) y Europa del Este, los cristianos sionistas han sido cada vez más activos en facilitar emigrantes judíos para hacer la aliyah [45].

Desde 1980, una coalición de agencias cristianas sionistas ha tomado la iniciativa para alentar a los judíos a emigrar a Israel, viendo esto como el cumplimiento de la profecía. Exobus probablemente fue la primera agencia sionista cristiana sionista en implantar la doctrina del Restauracionismo como una realidad y ayudar a los judíos en la antigua Unión Soviética (URSS) para hacer la aliyah. Fundada en 1984, han ayudado a más de 56.000 judíos a emigrar a Israel, en estrecha colaboración con la Agencia Judía. Exobus es también, probablemente, la mayor agencia cristiana en facilitar la aliyah, comprende 80 grupos procedentes de 13 países, y trabajan con 40 vehículos que transportan aproximadamente 1.200 judíos por tierra desde 16 bases diferentes en la antigua Unión Soviética, cada mes [46].

Desde 1991, la ICEJ [International Christian Embassy Jerusalem] también ha pagado por el transporte de otros 40.000 inmigrantes, 15.000 de los cuales fueron llevados a Israel en 51 vuelos patrocinados por la ICEJ [47]. Los miembros rusos de la ICEJ son especialmente activos en las regiones más remotas de la antigua Unión Soviética. Localizan a judíos, los persuaden a emigrar, y les ayudan a obtener los documentos para probar su origen judío, distribuyen paquetes humanitarios y pagan los permisos de salida, pasaportes, pago de deudas de transporte y alojamiento [48]. Una vez en Israel, la ICEJ ayuda a los emigrantes con los costos de reasentamiento, el suministro de alimentos, ropa, mantas, cocina y útiles escolares, así como equipos médicos [49]. Creyendo los judíos que siguen siendo el pueblo elegido de Dios y que Dios los está trayendo de vuelta a la tierra, es imperativo que sepan que retornan a la tierra que Dios prometió a sus antepasados.

3. Eretz Israel: Mantenimiento de los asentamientos en Cisjordania


usjews1.jpgPara el sionismo religioso, judío y cristiano, las fronteras legítimas de Israel son considerablemente mayores que las que actualmente se disputa con Siria, Jordania y la Autoridad Palestina. La participación cristiana en la realización de la Tierra de Israel incluye la justificación militar de la ampliación de estas fronteras, la adopción de políticas del programa de asentamientos, y el apoyo económico para el movimiento de los colonos. Por ejemplo, David Allen Lewis, presidente de Christians United for Israel, sitúa las reivindicaciones territoriales de Israel en el contexto más amplio del Oriente Medio. Observa que “Los árabes ya tienen el 99,5 por ciento de la tierra… esto no puede ser tolerado” [50]. En respuesta a los llamamientos internacionales para que Israel devuelva la Ribera Occidental, Bridges for Peace hace la siguiente pregunta retórica: “¿Qué es tan sagrado con respecto a la línea establecida el 04 de junio 1967?” Nada, dice, ya que históricamente esto era parte del Israel bíblico y “justamente ganado en batallas defensivas en 1967 y 1973” [51]. Esta convicción de que toda la Ribera Occidental es parte integral de Israel ha llevado a muchos cristianos sionistas a “adoptar” los asentamientos judíos para reforzar su derecho a la tierra.


La adopción de los asentamientos


Desde 1967, con diversos incentivos económicos y fiscales, así como apelando a la retórica bíblica, Israel ha animado a más de 400.000 judíos a colonizar Jerusalén Oriental, Cisjordania, Gaza y los Altos del Golán, a través de 190 asentamientos ilegales [52]. Varias organizaciones cristianas han dado su pleno apoyo a esta judaización de los territorios ocupados. The Christian Friends of Israeli Communities (CFOIC), fundada por Ted Beckett en 1995, trabaja en colaboración con Christian Friends of Israel (CFI) definiendo los asentamientos como: “Un pedazo de tierra donde los valientes pioneros judíos han establecido su residencia. En la mayoría de los casos es una colina rocosa estéril creada para establecer una comunidad judía que no había existido desde hace miles de años ” [53].Hasta ahora, el CFOIC afirma que 39 asentamientos israelíes ilegales han sido adoptados por 50 iglesias en los EE.UU., Sudáfrica, Alemania, Holanda y Filipinas. Por ejemplo, Ariel ha sido adoptado por Faith Bible Chapel, Arvada, Colorado; Hevron por Greater Harvest, Tallahassee, Florida; Alei Zahav por Calvary Chapel, Nashville. Para fortalecer la demanda de los colonos de la tierra, CFOIC publica mapas en su página web que muestran las pocas áreas de Cisjordania devueltas a la Autoridad Palestina. Lamentablemente, el CFOIC describe la “partición” de la tierra como “la realidad del “proceso de paz” para los que viven en la tierra que Dios prometió a los descendientes de Abraham, Isaac y Jacob para siempre!” [54]. La realidad es que Palestina ya no existe más. El muro de separación ha arrojado en forma de hormigón la realidad de que todos los palestinos sólo pueden esperar unos bantustanes aislados y empobrecidos, similares a las reservas indígenas de América del Norte, aunque en la Ribera Occidental también se les niega la libertad de movimiento entre ellos.

Los sionistas cristianos no sólo han mantenido una posición clara de justificación de los asentamientos ilegales de Israel en Cisjordania. Su programa de “adopción” también pretende ser un medio por el cual se entrega ayuda financiera así como apoyo práctico a los colonos.Financiación a los colonosAdemás de facilitar la emigración de los judíos a Israel, algunos cristianos sionistas son los organizadores activos del financiamiento ilegal de los asentamientos judíos en Cisjordania. Por ejemplo, durante la fiesta de celebración del Tabernáculo de 1991, representantes del ICEJ de 12 países dieron cheques al primer ministro israelí, Yitzhak Shamir, para ayudar a financiar los asentamientos [55]. A través del “Programa de Asistencia Social” del ICEJ “también se ofrece apoyo financiero a proyectos en los asentamientos judíos, incluyendo chalecos antibalas para fortalecer la resolución de los colonos, que viven entre lo que describen como ‘3 millones de palestinos hostiles ” [56]. El ICEJ, a través de su programa “Bulletproof Bus for Efrat”, ha recaudado 150,000 dólares para comprar un autobús blindado para el transporte de poblaciones dentro y fuera de la Ribera Occidental desde los asentamientos de Efrat [57]. Bridges for Peace (BFP) tiene un plan similar llamado “Operation Ezras”, que financia más de 50 proyectos de otra manera no sostenibles, como el establecimiento de granjas, Sde Bar, cerca de Beit Jala y de Herodes [58]. Parte integral de esta estrategia es la judaización de Jerusalén y la progresiva ocupación y asentamientos de Jerusalén Este y de la Ciudad Vieja. Para el sionismo no puede haber ningún compromiso, ya que el control de Jerusalén ha sido siempre un barómetro de su existencia como nación.


4. Jerusalén: Lobby para el Reconocimiento Internacional


En el corazón de los cristianos sionistas, con respecto al apoyo para el establecimiento de Israel en los territorios ocupados, se encuentra la convicción de que Jerusalén es y debe seguir siendo la capital judía exclusiva e indivisible. Los intentos de llegar a un acuerdo en el más amplio conflicto árabe-israelí hasta el momento se han estancado o se han tambaleado acerca del estatuto definitivo de Jerusalén. Los cristianos sionistas se oponen firmemente a cualquier propuesta de soberanía conjunta o a la creación de una capital palestina en Jerusalén Este.


Ya en febrero de 1984, el ICEJ envió a un representante, Richard Hellman, para dar testimonio ante el Comité del Senado de EE.UU. de Relaciones Exteriores en Washington, para instar a los EE.UU. a trasladar su embajada de Tel Aviv a Jerusalén y reconocer la ciudad como capital de Israel [59]. Jerry Falwell y el lobby de la AIPAC también hablaron a favor de esa medida. El senador Bob Dole, más tarde, introdujo en el Senado estadounidense la ley que busca que la Embajada de los EE.UU. sea reconstruida en Jerusalén el 31 de mayo de 1999, y autorizó 100 millones de dólares para gastos “preliminares” [60]. En octubre de 1995 declaró, “la capital de Israel no está en la mesa en el proceso de paz, y trasladar la embajada de Estados Unidos a Jerusalén no hace nada por alterar el resultado de cualquier negociación futura” [61]. Lamentando el hecho de que el Presidente de EE.UU. ratificara la decisión del Senado, Dole comentó: “Jerusalén es hoy como lo ha sido durante tres milenios, el corazón y el alma del pueblo judío. También es, y debe seguir siendo siempre, la capital eterna e indivisible del Estado de Israel… Ha llegado el momento… de ir más allá de las letras, de las expresiones de apoyo, y el sentido de las resoluciones del Congreso. Ha llegado el momento de promulgar la legislación que conseguirá que el trabajo sea hecho” [62].


En 1997, el ICEJ también dio apoyo a un anuncio de página completa en el New York Times titulado: “Christians Call for a United Jerusalem”. Fue firmado por 10 líderes evangélicos como Pat Robertson, presidente de la Christian Broadcasting Network y presidente de la Christian Coalition, Oral Roberts, fundador y rector de la Oral Roberts University, Jerry Falwell, fundador de la Moral Majority; Ed McAteer, Presidente de la Religious Roundtable, y David Allen Lewis, Presidente de Christians United for Israel: “Nosotros, los abajo firmantes, líderes espirituales cristianos, comunicamos que semanalmente más de 100 millones de cristianos americanos se sienten orgullosos de unirse en el apoyo a la soberanía continuada del Estado de Israel sobre la santa ciudad de Jerusalén… creemos que Jerusalén, o cualquier porción de ella, no será negociable en el proceso de paz. Jerusalén debe permanecer unida como la capital eterna del pueblo judío ” [63].


Los lectores fueron invitados a “Únanse a nosotros en nuestra misión santa“. “La batalla por Jerusalén ha comenzado, y es hora de que los creyentes en Cristo apoyen a nuestros hermanos judíos y al Estado de Israel. Es ahora el momento de la unidad con el pueblo judío” [64].


En 2002, Falwell ligó polémicamente los ataques terroristas contra el World Trade Center con el derecho exclusivo de Israel sobre Jerusalén. Hizo un llamamiento a sus partidarios a acatar la petición del Presidente de los EE.UU. para “mantener a Jerusalén libre” [65]. Los cristianos sionistas están resueltos en sus esfuerzos para lograr que la comunidad internacional reconozca a Jerusalén como la capital de facto de Israel. Sin embargo, más criticable todavía es la lectura cristiana sionista de la profecía de la necesidad de reconstruir el Templo judío.


5. El Templo: La identificación con el sionismo religioso [Ver vídeo: Reconstrucción del Tercer Templo, la Vaca Roja y el Arca de la Alianza]


Los cristianos sionistas, en particular, están convencidos de que el Templo judío debe ser reconstruido, ya que, en base a su escatología futurista basada en Daniel, el anticristo debe profanarlo justo antes de la venida de Cristo. David Brickner afirma que los preparativos para la reconstrucción del templo comenzaron en 1967 con la captura de la ciudad vieja de Jerusalén [66]. Lindsey está igualmente seguro de que, “ahora mismo, mientras usted lee esto, se están haciendo preparativos para la reconstrucción del Tercer Templo” [67]. Actualmente, cristianos sionistas están trabajando para lograr este objetivo.


La promoción del movimiento del Monte del Templo


Randall Price es el principal experto sobre los planes inminentes para reconstruir el Templo judío. En las 735 páginas de su libro The Coming Last Days Temple, ofrece detalles completos de todas las organizaciones judías implicadas en los intentos por apoderarse del Monte del Templo, destruir la mezquita de Al Aqsa y la Cúpula de la Roca, reconstruir el Templo judío y volver a instituir el culto del Templo, el sacerdocio y los sacrificios. Estas incluyen el Temple Institute y Temple Mount Faithful [68]. Gershon Salomon es la figura controvertida del movimiento y fundador de The Temple Faithful. Zhava Glase,r de Jews for Jesus, alaba a G. Salomon por su valentía al hablar sobre “el tema más importante en la religión judía“. Hablando como invitado de la ICEJ, en el congreso cristiano sionista en 1998, Salomon insistió:
“La misión de la generación actual es liberar el Monte del Templo y quitar – repito, eliminar – la abominación y profanación efectuada allí… el pueblo judío no se detendrá ante las puertas de acceso al Monte del Templo… Vamos a hacer flamear la bandera de Israel sobre el Monte del Templo, nos encargaremos de la Cúpula de la Roca y sus mezquitas, y sólo estará la bandera de Israel y nuestro Templo. Esto es lo que nuestra generación debe llevar a cabo” [69].


Entrevistado por el Times de Londres, Salomon insistió en que el santuario islámico debe ser destruido: “El Gobierno israelí debe hacerlo. Debemos tener una guerra. Habrá muchas naciones en contra de nosotros, pero Dios será nuestro general. Estoy seguro de que esto es una prueba que Dios espera de nosotros, que movamos el domo sin temor de otras naciones. El Mesías no vendrá por sí mismo, habrá que llamarlo por la lucha” [70]. Desde 1967 ha habido más de 100 asaltos a mano armada en el Haram Al-Sharif por parte de militantes judíos, a menudo dirigidos por rabinos. “En ningún caso el primer ministro israelí o el gran rabino han criticado estos ataques” [71].

 

israelmap.jpg


Facilitar el Programa de Desarrollo del Templo


A fin de mantener el Templo en pleno funcionamiento, también es necesario identificar, capacitar y consagrar a los sacerdotes que van a servir en el mismo. De acuerdo con el Libro de los Números, las cenizas de una vaquilla roja pura sin mancha, debe ser previamente ofrecida por un sacerdote ritualmente puro, deben ser mezcladas con agua y rociadas sobre ellos y sobre el mobiliario del Templo. Con la destrucción del Templo en el año 70 las cenizas usadas en la ceremonia se perdieron y los judíos de la diáspora han permanecido por lo tanto ritualmente impuros desde entonces.


En 1998, sin embargo, Clyde Lott, un ganadero Pentecostal de Mississippi, formó Canaan Land Restoration of Israel, Inc. con el propósito de criar de ganado apto para el sacrificio en el Templo [72]. Según la revista Newsweek, en 1997, la primera vaca roja desde hace 2000 años nació en el Kfar Hassidim kibbutz cerca de Haifa y fue llamada ‘Melody’ [73]. Por desgracia, con el tiempo le crecieron pelos blancos en la cola y las ubres. Sin desanimarse, Chaim Richman, un rabino ortodoxo, y Clyde Lott, el ganadero pentecostal, se han unido para inseminar a las vaquillas rojas en el Valle del Jordán, con la esperanza de producir un espécimen perfecto para el sacrificio [74].


El trabajo de diseño y construcción, mobiliario y utensilios, la formación de sacerdotes y la cría de los animales para los sacrificios requiere de fondos y en gran medida, al igual que la vaca roja, éstos están siendo proporcionados por los sionistas cristianos. De acuerdo con Grace Halsell, Stanley Goldfoot elevo a 100 millones de dólares al año las aportaciones para la Jerusalem Temple Foundation a través de la American Christian TV, las estaciones de radio y las iglesias evangélicas [75]. “El anhelo judío del templo, las esperanzas cristianas acerca del Rapto y la paranoia musulmana sobre la destrucción de las mezquitas [es lo que] agita una ebullición apocalíptica” [76].


6. El futuro: la oposición a la paz y el aceleramiento del Armagedon
La Alianza de Estados Unidos e Israel


Jerry Falwell ofrece una explicación simple de la estrecha relación entre Estados Unidos e Israel. Dios ha sido bueno con Estados Unidos porque “Estados Unidos había sido amable con los Judíos” [77]. Gary Bauer, presidente de American Values, se expresó de esta manera. “Los terroristas no entienden por qué Israel y Estados Unidos se unen en el corazón” [78]. Mike Evans, fundador y presidente de los Lovers of Israel Inc. describe la relación especial entre Israel y Estados Unidos: “Sólo una nación, Israel, se encuentra entre… la agresión terrorista y la disminución total de los Estados Unidos como potencia mundial democrática… Sin duda, la presión demoníaca se esforzará en alentar a traicionar a su Israel… Israel es la clave para la supervivencia de Estados Unidos… Ahora que nos encontramos con Israel, creo que veremos a Dios realizar una obra poderosa en nuestros días. Dios va a bendecir a los Estados Unidos e Israel, así… Si Israel cae, los Estados Unidos ya no puede seguir siendo una democracia ” [79].


Para los cristianos sionistas como Falwell y Evans, Estados Unidos es visto como el gran redentor, el papel de la superpotencia en el mundo anunciada en las Escrituras [80] y providencialmente ordenada [81]. Las dos naciones – América e Israel – son percibidas como hermanos siameses que se enfrentan contra un mundo dominado por el mal del comunismo y del Islam, la antítesis de los valores democráticos judeo-cristianos de Estados Unidos e Israel [82].


La antipatía hacia los árabes


Ramon Bennett ilustra cómo estos prejuicios siguen siendo comunes en la actualidad al describir a las naciones árabes modernas como “bárbaros” [83]. “Las costumbres de hospitalidad y generosidad han cambiado poco en 4.000 años“, afirma, “ni tener la costumbre de asaltar (el robo, el robo de ganado), guardar las apariencias o el salvajismo” [84]. Bennett sostiene que el árabe “es, ni un vicioso, ni, por lo general, un mentiroso calculador, sino natural” [85].


Franklin Graham, presidente de Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, hizo comentarios similares pero imprudentes en una entrevista para el diario Charlotte Observer en 2000: “Los árabes no serán felices hasta que cada judío este muerto. Ellos odian al Estado de Israel. Todos odian a los judíos. Dios dio la tierra a los judíos. Los árabes nunca aceptarán eso ” [86].
El odio hacia los árabes se personifica en las actitudes con respecto a Yasser Arafat. En febrero de 1999, por ejemplo, Arafat fue invitado a asistir al 47 ª Congreso anual patrocinado por National Prayer Breakfast en Washington. Al desayuno suelen asistir cada año más de 3.000 líderes políticos y religiosos, pero en esta ocasión la invitación de Arafat generó una considerable controversia. La Traditional Values Coalition, fundada por Pat Robertson y que representa a 40.000 iglesias, instó a los congresistas a boicotear el desayuno [87]. El ICEJ dijo que la asistencia al desayuno con Arafat sería “como orar con el mismo Satanás” [88]. A pesar de una considerable presión de los grupos pro-israelíes la invitación no fue retirada. La Casa Blanca a través del secretario prensa, Joe Lockhart, defendió la invitación. Se lamentó, “se hace cada año con espíritu de reconciliación. Y lo lamentable es que hay algunos que no entienden completamente el espíritu de reconciliación e inclusión “. [89] Pero me temo que esto se pone todavía peor…


Justificando la limpieza étnica de Palestina


Frecuentemente, la defensa de los cristianos sionistas de Israel lleva a negar a los palestinos los mismos derechos humanos básicos de los israelíes. Algunos incluso son reacios a reconocer la existencia de los palestinos como un pueblo distinto. Dave Hunt es el ejemplo típico de aquellos que equiparan a los palestinos con los filisteos antiguos, y el uso de la palabra Palestina es utilizado en un sentido totalmente peyorativo.


“El conflicto central en el Oriente Medio es hoy el problema del llamado pueblo palestino… ¿Palestinos? Nunca hubo un pueblo palestino, nación, lengua, cultura o religión. ¡La reivindicación de descendencia de un pueblo palestino que vivió hace miles de años en una tierra llamada Palestina es una broma! [90].


Basándose en la lógica de Hunt, presumiblemente los mismos argumentos podrían ser utilizados contra el derecho a la libre determinación de los ciudadanos de los Estados Unidos o incluso de varias docenas de naciones fundadas en el siglo XX. La historia de la persecución de los judíos ilustra la facilidad de denigrar un grupo “inferior” de personas o la negación de su existencia como pueblo diferenciado, pudiendo dar lugar a la racionalización de su erradicación.


En mayo del 2002, Dick Armey, el ex líder de la mayoría republicana, fue noticia al justificar la limpieza étnica de palestinos de los Territorios Ocupados. En una entrevista con Chris Matthews en la CNBC el 1 de mayo de 2002, Armey declaró que: “La mayoría de las personas que ahora pueblan Israel fueron trasladadas desde todas partes del mundo para que esa tierra se convirtiera en su hogar. Los palestinos pueden hacer lo mismo y estaremos contentos de trabajar con los palestinos en ello. No estamos dispuestos a sacrificar a Israel por la noción de un estado palestino… me conformo con que Israel tome toda la Ribera Occidental… Hay muchos países árabes que tienen cientos de miles de acres de tierra; la tierra, la propiedad y la oportunidad para crear un Estado palestino ” [91].a


Matthews dio Armey varias oportunidades para aclarar que él no estaba defendiendo la limpieza étnica de los palestinos de Cisjordania, pero Armey no estaba arrepentido. Cuando se le preguntó “¿Alguna vez le dijo a George Bush, el Presidente de su estado natal de Texas, que cree que los palestinos deben irse y abandonar Palestina y que esa era la solución? “, Armey respondió: “Probablemente estoy diciéndoselo en este momento… me conformo con que Israel ocupe esa tierra que ahora ocupan ellos, y que esas personas que han sido agresores de Israel se retiren a otra tierra” [92].


El punto de vista de Armey sobre que los palestinos deben ser “erradicados” es sólo el último de una serie de llamadas, en la corriente principal de EE.UU. y en los medios de comunicación del Reino Unido ,a la limpieza étnica de los palestinos de los Territorios Ocupados [93]. Mientras que tales actitudes racistas entre los cristianos sionistas hacia los árabes son comunes, como lo es la imagen de los palestinos como terroristas, más especialmente demonizados son los musulmanes.


Demonizar el Islam


Los sentimientos anti-árabes y la islamofobia se han convertido en lgo aún más ampliamente tolerado desde el 11 de septiembre de 2001. Estos puntos de vista han sido recientemente descritos como una forma de nuevo “Mc’Cartismo” [94]. En febrero del 2002, por ejemplo, Pat Robertson causó considerable controversia cuando describió al Islam como una religión violenta inclinada a dominar el mundo. También afirmó que entre los musulmanes estadounidenses se estaban formando células terroristas con el fin de destruir el país. Robertson hizo estas acusaciones en su club cristiano Broadcasting Network ‘700 ‘. Después de mostrar clips que mostraban a los musulmanes en Estados Unidos, el locutor, Lee Webb le preguntó a Robertson, “En cuanto a los inmigrantes musulmanes Pat, deja que te pregunte, si tienen tal desprecio por nuestra política exterior, ¿por que querrían vivir aquí? Robertson dijo: “Bueno, como misioneros, posiblemente, para difundir la doctrina del Islam… He discrepado con nuestro Presidente con respecto a su postura de decir que el Islam es una religión pacífica. Puesto que no lo es. Y el Corán lo deja muy claro, si usted ve a un infiel, usted debe matarlo… el hecho es que nuestras políticas de inmigración son tan sesgadas hacia el Medio Oriente y alejadas de Europa que han introducido estas personas entre nosotros y, sin duda, hoy hay células terroristas por todos lados” [95].


En el 2002 en la Convención Bautista del Sur [96] , celebrada en Florida, el ex líder de la convención nacional, el reverendo Jerry Viñes, pastor de 25.000 miembros de la First Baptist Church de Jacksonville, se llevó aplausos de varios miles de participantes de la conferencia de los pastores cuando describió a Muhammad como “un pedófilo poseído por el demonio” [97], tal inquina hacia los árabes, la denigración de los palestinos y el odio hacia el Islam, conduce invariablemente a los cristianos sionistas a oponerse también a cualquier solución pacífica del conflicto árabe-israelí que podría requerir u obligar a Israel a ceder territorio o a comprometer su seguridad.


Oponerse al Proceso de Paz


Mientras que los cristianos sionistas aprueban la reclamación unilateral de Israel de los territorios ocupados, se oponen a las aspiraciones de los palestinos a la autodeterminación, ya que creen que los dos son intrínsecamente incompatibles. Los sionistas cristianos han sido los más vociferantes en su oposición a la Hoja de Ruta para la Paz, iniciativa del gobierno de EE.UU., de las Naciones Unidas, de la Comunidad Europea y de Rusia. Hal Lindsey, por ejemplo, se lamentaba de “Yo tengo el corazón roto por la última etapa de la” hoja de ruta para la paz “, y lo describió como un lugar “odisea hacia el Holocausto ” [98]. Luego pasó a reprender al presidente de los EE.UU..


“Yo me sentía enfermo al ver a un bien intencionado presidente de Estados Unidos cristiano hablar incesantemente sobre su visión de un Estado Palestino y de un Estado Judío viviendo juntos en paz” [99]. En la Cumbre Interfaith Zionist Leadership, celebrada en Washington, en mayo del 2003, judíos y líderes sionistas cristianos se reunieron para estudiar la forma de convertir la “hoja de ruta” en una barricada. Gary Bauer llamó a la iniciativa del presidente “un plan satánico” [100]. Para muchos cristianos sionistas, las conversaciones de paz no son sólo una pérdida de tiempo, demuestran ser un desafío rebelde ante los designios de Dios. Tales certezas infalibles llevan a algunos cristianos sionistas a anatemizar a aquellos que no comparten sus premisas.


Forzar la mano de Dios


Los sionistas cristianos a menudo tratan de silenciar a los críticos con la amenaza de un castigo divino. Por ejemplo, recientemente Hal Lindsey dijo: “Mi gran temor es que el presidente Bush por ignorancia, conduzca a los Estados Unidos ante el juicio de Dios. Dios nos ha advertido que ha de juzgar a todas las naciones que han contribuido a separar a Israel de vivir en la tierra sobre la cual les dio su soberanía” [101].


Los cristianos no dejan ninguna duda sobre de qué lado hay que estar. En la edición del 1 de enero del 2002 del CBN 700 Club, Pat Robertson advirtió que si los EE.UU: “Quieren interferir con la profecía bíblica y quieren entrar y arrebatar Jerusalén Este a los Judios y dársela a Yasser Arafat… que el cielo ayude a nuestra nación… Si Estados Unidos toma Jerusalén Este y la convierte en la capital del Estado Palestino, entonces estamos pidiendo que la ira de Dios caiga sobre esta nación ” [102].


Robertson sugiere que incluso el asesinato de Rabin fue un acto de Dios, un juicio por su traición a su propio pueblo: “Esto es la tierra de Dios y Dios tiene palabras fuertes acerca de quien separe y divida su tierra. Los rabinos enviaron una maldición sobre Yitzhak Rabin cuando comenzó a dividir la tierra ” [103].


Tales pronunciamientos provenientes de los líderes cristianos de gran influencia parecen poco diferentes de los de los fundamentalistas musulmanes que piden una “guerra santa” contra Occidente. Karen Armstrong señala que el sionismo cristiano occidental evidencia el legado de las cruzadas. Fundamentalistas, según ella, “estamos volviendo a una cruzada religiosa clásica y extrema” [104].


7. Conclusiones: Las implicaciones políticas del sionismo cristiano


Hemos visto cómo el sionismo cristiano es un movimiento que tiene consecuencias políticas profundas y destructivas. El sionismo cristiano ha mostrado diferentes grados en su entusiasmo por la aplicación de seis convicciones teológicas que surgen de su lectura literal y futurista de la Biblia:


1. La creencia de que los judíos siguen siendo el pueblo elegido de Dios lleva a los cristianos sionistas a justificar la ocupación militar israelí de Palestina.
2. Como el pueblo escogido de Dios, la restauración final de los judíos en Israel es por lo tanto, fomentada y facilitada activamente a través de alianzas entre las organizaciones cristianas y la Agencia Judía.
3. Eretz Israel, como se expone en las Escrituras, pertenece exclusivamente al pueblo judío, por lo tanto, la tierra debe ser anexada, los asentamientos adoptados y reforzados.
4. Jerusalén es considerada como la capital eterna y exclusiva de los judíos, y no se puede compartir con los palestinos. Por lo tanto, estratégicamente, los gobiernos occidentales se deben de colocar bajo la presión de los cristianos sionistas para trasladar sus embajadas a Jerusalén y por lo tanto reconocer el hecho.
5. El Tercer Templo aún no se ha construido, el sacerdocio no se ha consagrado y los sacrificios no han sido restituidos. Los cristianos sionistas, en particular, creen que esto está profetizado, por lo cual, ofrecen distintos grados de apoyo a las organizaciones del Monte del Templo judío comprometidas a lograrlo.
6. Puesto que los sionistas cristianos están convencidos de que habrá una guerra apocalíptica entre el bien y el mal en un futuro cercano, no hay perspectivas de una paz duradera entre los judíos y los árabes. De hecho, defender el compromiso de Israel con el Islam o la coexistencia con los palestinos es identificarse con aquellos destinados a oponerse a Dios y a Israel en la inminente batalla del Armagedón.
Evidentemente, no todos los cristianos sionistas aceptan estos puntos de vista con el mismo grado de convicción o participación. Sin embargo, las consecuencias generales del apoyo incondicional al Estado de Israel, especialmente entre los evangélicos, es inherentemente patológica y destructiva.
En la primera gran conferencia internacional y ecuménica para examinar esta cuestión, celebrada en Jerusalén en abril de este año, bajo los auspicios de Sabeel, más de 600 delegados afirmaron una declaración que incluía lo siguiente:.
“Rechazamos las enseñanzas heréticas del sionismo cristiano que facilita y ayudan… una forma de exclusividad racial y la guerra perpetua en lugar del evangelio del amor universal, redención y reconciliación enseñado por Jesucristo“.
En lugar de condenar al mundo a la destrucción del Armagedón hacemos un llamamiento a todos a liberarse de las ideologías del militarismo y la ocupación, y en su lugar, seguir la curación del mundo…

Vamos a defender la justicia. ¿Podemos hacer otra cosa?. Sólo la justicia garantiza una paz que conduzca a la reconciliación y a una vida de seguridad y prosperidad para todos los pueblos de nuestra tierra. Al estar en el lado de la justicia, nos abrimos a la obra de la paz – y el trabajar por la paz nos hace hijos de Dios “.


Garth Hewitt ha escrito muchas canciones sobre la situación de la comunidad cristiana en Israel y Palestina. Uno de ellas, sobre la base de algunos versículos del Talmud judío, se llama “Ten measures of beauty God gave to the world“. Me gustaría terminar con una parte de esta oración.


“Que la justicia de Dios caiga como el fuego
y traiga un hogar para los palestinos.

Que la misericordia de Dios se derrame como lluvia
y protega al pueblo judío.

Y que los bellos ojos de un Dios Santo
que llora por sus hijos

Traiga la esperanza de curación para sus heridas
para los judíos y los palestinos.


Notas


1.- Mike Evans, Israel, America’s Key to Survival, (Plainfield, NJ: Haven Books), la última página, p. xv.
2.- Dale Crowley, ‘Errors and Deceptions of Dispensational Teachings.’ Capital Hill Voice, (1996-1997), citado en Halsell, op.cit., P5. Grace Halsell define al sionismo cristiano como una secta. Ver Halsell, op.cit., P. 31.
3.- Grace Halsell, ‘Israeli Extremists and Christian Fundamentalists: The Alliance’, Washington Report, December (1988), p31.
4.- Christians Call for a United Jerusalem’ New York Times, 18 April (1997)
5.- Halsell, Forcing, op.cit., p50.
6.- Halsell, Forcing, op.cit., p50.
7.- Grace Halsell, Prophecy and Politics, (Westport, Connecticut, Lawrence Hill, 1986), p 178.
8.- www.israelunitycoalition.com
9.- Stanley J. Grenz, The Millennial Maze, (Downers Grove, Illinois, InterVarsity, 1992), p92; Hal Lindsey, The Late Great Planet Earth, (London, Lakeland, 1970), pp43, 53-58; Hannah Hurnard, Watchman on the Walls, (London, Olive Press, 1950), pp11-12.
10.- Louis T. Talbot & William W. Orr, The Nation of Israel and the Word of God!, (Los Angeles, Bible Institute of Los Angeles, 1948), p8.
11.- Donald Wagner, ‘Evangelicals and Israel: Theological Roots of a Political Alliance’ The Christian Century, Noviembre 4, (1998), pp1020-1026.
12.- Jimmy Carter, The Blood of Abraham, (London, Sidgwick & Jackson, 1985).
13.- Speech by President Jimmy Carter on 1 May 1978, Department of State Bulletin, vol. 78, No. 2015, (1978), p4, cited in Sharif, op.cit., p136.
14.- Donald Wagner, ‘Beyond Armageddon’, The Link, New York: Americans for Middle East Understanding; Octubre-Noviembre, (1992), p5.
15.- Halsell, Prophecy., op.cit., p47
16.- Ibid.
17.- Ronnie Dugger, ‘Does Reagan Expect a Nuclear Armageddon?’ Washington Post, 18 Abril (1984).
18.- George Bush, Speech to the American Jewish Committee, Mayo 3, (2001)
19.- Michael Lind, ‘The Israel Lobby and American Power’ Prospect, Abril (2002), pp22-29; Halsell, Prophecy., op.cit.
20.- Israel Shahak, “Ability of U.S. Jewish Groups to set Clinton Agenda Depends on Media.” Washington Report, Junio 1995, pp. 10, 94.
21.- Publisher’s Page, Washington Report, Junio 1995, pp. 122.
22.- Ibid.
23.- Allan C. Brownfeld, ‘Fundamentalists and the Millennium: A Potential Threat to Middle Eastern Peace’ The Washington Report, Junio (1999), pp82-84.
24.- Donald Wagner, ‘Evangelicals and Israel: Theological Roots of a Political Alliance.’ The Christian Century, Noviembre 4, (1998), pp1020-1026.
25.- Brownfeld, op.cit., pp82-84.
26.- Wagner, ‘Evangelicals’, op.cit., pp1020-1026.
27.- www.nljonline.com
28.- Wagner, ‘Evangelicals’, op.cit., pp1020-1026.
29.- Brownfeld, op.cit., pp82-84.
30.- Jerry Falwell
31.- Las reuniones regulares entre los líderes cristianos sionistas y los funcionarios israelíes tienen lugar en Harvard Business School. En algún lugar a principios de 2002, los participantes incluyeron a Avigdor Itzchaki, el Director General del Gabinete Israeli, James Watt, ex-Secretario del Interior, Mike Evans y Richard Hellman de CIPAC. Entre los invitados también estaban Tony Campolo, James Dobson, Kenneth Copeland, Robert Schuller, Chuck Smith, Joyce Meyers, E.V. Hill y Marlin Maddoux.
32.- Citado en Prior, op.cit., p143.
33.- Hal Lindsey, ‘The UN & Israel’ International Intelligence Briefing, 29th Octubre (1998): Énfasis en el original.
34.- En Julio del 2001 el Consejo Rabínico de Judea, Samaria y Gaza, pidió a todos los rabinos a llevar a sus comunidades a visitar el Monte del Templo. Esta fue la primera vez que un grupo de rabinos que representan una proporción significativa de la comunidad religiosa judía había decidido que era permisible para los judíos ascender al Monte del Templo. Anteriormente esto había sido prohibido por los judíos ortodoxos. Los rabinos también pidieron al Consejo Yesha de asentamientos judíos de organizar visitas masivas al Monte del Templo de los judíos de la derecha más religiosa de los asentamientos . . Ver N. Shragai, ‘Rabbis call for mass visits to Temple Mount,’ Ha’aretz, 19 July (2001).
35.- ‘Open Letter to Evangelical Christians from Jews for Jesus: Now is the Time to Stand with Israel.’ The New York Times, 23 Octubre (2000).
36.- Michael Lind, ‘The Israel Lobby’, Prospect, April (2002).
37.- Wagner, Anxious., op.cit., p107.
38.- Lind, op.cit.
39.- Ibid.
40.- Ibid.
41.- Ibid.
42.- Shirley Eber, ‘Getting Stoned on Holiday: Tourism on the Front Line’. In Focus: Tourism Concern. 2, Otoño (1991), pp4-5.
43.- Glen Owen ‘Tourists warned to avoid flashpoints.’ The Times, 14 Agosto (1997), p2.
44.- Don Wagner, ‘Beyond Armageddon’. The Link (Americans for Middle East Understanding) Vol. 25 No. 4 Octubre/Noviembre (1992) p. 3.
45.- ‘Aliyah’ significa ‘subir’ y se utiliza para describir la peregrinación a Jerusalén. El gobierno de Israel resta importancia a la participación de los cristianos en llevar judíos desde la antigua Unión Soviética. Brearley afirma que sólo el 2% del presupuesto de la Agencia Judía de ‘puente aéreo’ para los inmigrantes soviéticos ha sido aportados por los sionistas cristianos. Esto sólo incluye las donaciones hechas directamente a la Agencia Judía. Margaret Brearley, ‘Jerusalem for Christian Zionists’ in Jerusalem, Past an d Present in the Purposes of God, edited by P.W.L. Walker (Croydon, Deo Gloria Trust, 1992), p112. Ver www.christiansforisrael.org
46.- www.christiansforisrael.org
47.- Patricia Golan, ‘On Wings of Faith’ Jerusalem Post, 20 Diciembre 2001.
48.- Ibid.
49.- Wagner, op.cit., p108; Golan, op.cit.
50.- David Allen Lewis, ‘Christian Zionist Theses’, Christians and Israel, (Jerusalem, International Christian Embassy, Jerusalem, 1996), p9.
51.- Bridges for Peace ‘The Golan Heights Déjà vu’, Despatch from Jerusalem, Septiembre (1999), pp10-11.
52.- ‘Israeli Settlements in the Occupied Territories’ Foundation for Middle East Peace, Marzo (2002). FMEP da una lista de 190 asentamientos con una población total de 213.672 en Cisjordania y Gaza; 170.400 en Jerusalén Este, y 17.000 en los Altos del Golán, lo que hace un total de 401.072 colonos basado en cifras de 2001.
53.- www.cfoic.com
54.- Ibid.
55.- Wagner, Anxious, op.cit., p108.
56.- International Christian Embassy; ‘Life in the Settlements’, Word from Jerusalem, Mayo (2002), p7.
57.- International Christian Embassy, ‘Bulletproof Bus for Efrat’ appeal, Word from Jerusalem, Mayo (2002).
58.- Bridges for Peace, ‘New Life on the Farm’ Despatch from Jerusalem, Enero (2000), p5.
59.- Donald Wagner, Anxious, op.cit., p108.
60.- ‘Bill to re-locate the United States Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem’
61.- Middle East Realities ‘Lie of the Week’ MiddleEast@aol.com , 01/11/95
62.- Donald Neff, ‘Congress has been irresponsible on the issue of Jerusalem’, Washington Report, Enero (1998), pp90-91.
63.- ‘Christians Call for a United Jerusalem’ New York Times, 18 Abril (1997)
64.- Ibid.
65.- Jerry Falwell Ministries, ‘Keep Jerusalem Free Petition,’
66.- Brickner, Future, op.cit., p137.
67.- Lindsey, Planet, op.cit., p156; Final, op.cit., p103.
68.- Rich Robinson, ‘Israeli Groups Involved in Third Temple Activities’ Jews for Jesus Newsletter 10, (1993).
69.- Nadav Shragai, ‘Dreaming of a Third Temple’, Ha’aretz, 17 Septiembre (1998), p3, citado en Price, Coming, op.cit., p417.
70.- Sam Kiley, ‘The righteous will survive and the rest will perish’ The Times, 13 Diciembre (1999), p39.
71.- Grace Halsell, ‘The Hidden Hand of the Temple Mount Faithful’ The Washington Report, Enero (1991), p8.
72.- Randall Price incorrectamente atribuyó la historia al Time cuando realmente apareció en Newsweek. Él también escribe mal uno de los nombres del contribuyente. Price, Coming, op.cit., p375. ‘Red Heifers’ New York Times, 27 Diciembre (1998), citado en Halsell, Forcing, p65.
‘Poco después de esto, el Rev. Lott (que también es un ganadero de profesión) llegó a poseer una vaca roja que cumplió con todos los requisitos bíblicos del capítulo 19 de Números. Desde ese momento histórico, 11 de noviembre de 1994, Dios milagrosamente dio a conocer su plan divino para la restauración de Israel, a la Iglesia. El Espíritu Santo ha trabajado durante este tiempo para revelar a los ministros apostólicos y laicos la necesidad de unificar sus esfuerzos con el fin de ver este movimiento hacia adelante, tanto en Espíritu como en lo material. El 11 de agosto de 1998 Israel estaba a la espera de recibir de Canaan Land Restoration, 500 cabezas de novillas registrados por Red Angus Heifers.’ Joe Atkins, ‘Biblical mystery of the red heifer affects farmer in Mississippi’ The Daily Mississippian, 23 de julio (1998), Ethan Bronner, ‘Portent in a Pasture? Appearance of Rare Heifer in Israel Spurs Hopes, Fears’, The Boston Globe, Sunday, Abril 6, (1997), pp1, 22.
73.- Kendall Hamilton, Joseph Contreras & Mark Dennis, ‘The Strange Case of Israel’s Red Heifer,’ Newsweek, Mayo 19, (1997).
74.- Jeremy Shere, ‘A Very Holy Cow’ Jerusalem Post, Mayo 25, (1997).
75.- Halsell, Prophecy, op.cit., p106.
76.- Lawrence Wright, ‘Forcing the End’, Frontline.
77.- Cited in Halsell, Forcing, op.cit., p100.
78.- Julia Duin, “Zionists meeting brands ‘road map a heresy’ The Washington Times,.
79.- Mike Evans, Israel, America’s Key to Survival, (Plainfield, New Jersey, Haven Books, 1980), back page, xv.
80.- Noah Hutchings, U.S. in Prophecy, (Oklahoma City, Hearthstone Publishing, 2000); Arno Froese, Terror in America, Understanding the Tragedy, (West Columbia, Olive Press, 2001); Mark Hitchcock, Is America in Prophecy? (Portland, Oregon, Multnomah, 2002); Hal Lindsey, Where is America in Prophecy? video (Murrieta, California, Hal Lindsey Ministries, 2001).
81.- Michael Lienesch, Redeeming America: Piety and Politics in the New Christian Right, (Chapel Hill, North Carolina, University of North Carolina, 1993), p197.
82.- Simon, op.cit., pp71-72.
83.- Bennett, op.cit., p23.
84.- Ibid., p21.
85.- Ibid., p23; John Laffin, The Arab Mind, (London, Cassell, 1975), p70.
86.- Charlotte Observer, 16 Octubre (2000).
87.-Christian Daily News, 4 Febrero, (1999)
88.- Ibid.
89.- Ibid.
90.- Dave Hunt, ‘O Jerusalem, Jerusalem.’ TBC, Septiembre 2000.
91.- Dick Armey, ‘Hardball with Chris Matthews’, CNBC, 1 Mayo (2002), citado en ‘Republican Party Leader calls for Ethnic Cleansing of Palestinians on Prime Time Talk Show’ The Electronic Intifada.
También ver ‘Rep. Dick Armey calls for Ethnic Cleansing of Palestinians’ Counterpunch editado por Alexander Cockburn y Jeffrey St. Clair. Dick Armey and his family are members of Lewisville Bible Church, Lewisville, Texas.
92.- Ibid.
93.- Charles Krauthammer, ‘Mideast Violence: The Only Way Out’, Washington Post, 15 Mayo (2001); Emmanuel A. Winston writing in USA Today called for the ‘resettling the Palestinians in Jordan’ USA Today, 22 Febrero (2002); John Derbyshire, ‘Why don’t I care about the Palestinians?’, National Review, 9 Mayo (2002); Clarence Wagner, ‘Apples for Apples, Osama Bin Laden and Yasser Arafat’, Dispatch from Jerusalem, Mayo (2002), p1, 6, 17.
94.- Un término acuñado por William Safire, un ex redactor de discursos de Nixon y republicano conservador que pensaba George Bush padre no era lo suficientemente pro-Israel. Citado Lind, op.cit.
95.- Alan Cooperman, ‘Robertson Calls Islam a Religion of Violence, Mayhem.’ Washington Post. 22 Febrero (2002), pAO2.
96.- The Southern Baptist Convention es una coalición de 42,000 iglesias con 16 millones de miembros. Desde 1980 se han ido convertido cada vez en más fundamentalista. Ver www.sbcannualmeeting.org
97.- Richard Vara, ‘Texas secession rumor, attacks on Islam mark Baptist meeting’, Houston Chronicle, 10 Junio (2002); Alan Cooperman, ‘Anti-Muslim Remarks Stir Tempest’, Washington Post 19 Junio (2002). De acuerdo con Cooperman, el recién elegido presidente de Southern Baptists, el Rev. Jack Graham defendió discurso Vine como “exacto’.
98.- Hal Lindsey, ‘If the blind lead the blind.’ WorldNetDaily.com 5 Junio 2003.
99.- Ibid.
100.- Duin, op.cit.
101.- Lindsey “Blind” op.cit.
102.- Howard Mortman, ‘Don’t ignore Pat Robertson’, The Frontline, 7 Enero (2002).
103.- Pat Robertson, ‘Pat answers your questions on Israel,’ 700 Club, Christian Broadcasting Network.
104.- Karen Armstrong, Holy War, The Crusades and Their Impact on Today’s World, (London, Macmillan, 1988), p377.
*Stephen Sizer es pastor anglicano, autor, productor de tv y reportero gráfico.

jeudi, 05 février 2015

Comment Washington, Tel-Aviv et Riyad travaillent à la création d’un Etat Islamique docilisé

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Comment Washington, Tel-Aviv et Riyad travaillent à la création d’un Etat Islamique docilisé

Auteur : ef 
Ex: http://zejournal.mobi

Le fameux croissant chiite qui va de Téhéran au Sud-Liban, en passant par Bagdad et Damas, reste plus que jamais la bête noire des Etats-Unis, d’Israël et des pays du Golfe. Aujourd’hui, ce triumvirat et leurs laquais travaillent d’arrache-pied à la création de facto de cet Etat islamique qu’ils prétendent combattre. En réalité, la campagne de bombardements en cours ne sert qu’à en fixer les futures limites géographiques. Ensuite, la zone ainsi créée sera «docilisée» par un océan de pétrodollars et l’extermination des récalcitrants. But final de l’opération: créer un ventre mou régional sunnite qui permette enfin de casser physiquement ce diable d’axe chiite et affaiblir ainsi à la fois l’Iran, le Hezbollah et par ricochet le Hamas palestinien.

Le triumvirat des peuples élus autoproclamés…

Avant d’entrer dans le vif du sujet, un petit détour par notre fameux triumvirat, histoire de présenter les acteurs du dernier jeu de massacre géopolitique en cours.

On connaît par cœur l’alliance indéfectible qui unit les Etats-Unis à son 51ème Etat israélien, et qui permet à l’entité sioniste d’accumuler en Palestine et au Liban les pires boucheries et crimes de guerre depuis 60 ans sans aucun souci du lendemain.

On connaît aussi la révérence humide (1) de Washington et des pays du Bloc atlantiste pour la monarchie saoudienne, même si cette dernière est l’une des plus brutales théocraties du monde arabo-musulman; même si son wahhabisme rétrograde est la matrice idéologique des terroristes d’al-Qaïda, Daech, al-Nosra et Cie.

On connait moins en revanche l’axe Riyad-Tel-Aviv puisque, instinctivement, on aurait plutôt tendance à classer la Grande Mosquée saoudienne dans le rang des ennemis «naturels» d’Israël. Sauf que, comme on dit, les ennemis de mes ennemis sont mes amis. Or dans sa course effrénée pour conserver le leadership du monde musulman, Riyad n’a qu’un seul véritable ennemi: l’Iran chiite et ses alliés (2). Et il se trouve que pour des raisons sécuritaires cette fois, c’est exactement le cas pour Tel-Aviv qui craint par-dessus tout l’Iran et l’arsenal du Hezbollah.

Avec l’axe Washington–Tel-Aviv–Riyad, qui regroupe l’«exceptionnalisme» américain, l’Etat-juif militarisé et la Mecque du salafisme: c’est un peu le triumvirat des peuples élus autoproclamés réunis dans la plus improbable et effrayante des coalitions.

Alimenter mais circonscrire l’incendie

Au plan opérationnel, l’idée est donc simple et complexe à la fois. Simple car il s’agit d’un côté d’alimenter l’incendie(argent, armes, combattants) des djihadistes de Daech, al-Nosra et consorts mais aussi, de l’autre, de circonscrire ses contours pour qu’il ne ravage que la zone voulue (>>voir la carte).

Au nord, pas question ainsi de s’approcher de la zone kurde et d’Erbil, chasse-gardée à la fois des Américains et des Israéliens pour lesquels le clan Barzani roule à tombeau ouvert si l’on ose dire.
Pas question non plus d’exercer une trop forte pression sur la frontière turque, pays membre de l’OTAN par où nombre de djihadistes étrangers passent. Les frappes US se concentrent d’ailleurs majoritairement sur ces deux zones pour fixer de facto la limite nord de l’EI en Syrie, et sa limite Est en Irak.

En Irak toujours, la limite Sud de l’EI se dessinera naturellement en venant buter contre la partie chiite du pays où il n’a aucune chance de s’implanter.
Pour la limite Ouest irakienne, elle devra nécessairement être fixée assez loin des frontières du grand allié des Etats-Unis qu’est la Jordanie, où nombre de mercenaires font escale en ce moment pour y être formés par des instructeurs américains avant de partir semer la terreur en Syrie.

Hezbollah-armée: le binôme gagnant

Enfin, reste le problème de la frontière Ouest de l’Etat islamique en Syrie, frontière qui longe les zones particulièrement sensibles que sont le Liban et Israël.
S’agissant du Liban, il est évident que c’est grâce à l’engagement du Hezbollah, puis de celui de l’armée libanaise, que le Pays du Cèdre a pu éviter d’être aspiré dans la spirale de la guerre. Notons aussi à ce stade que c’est l’entente entre le Courant Patriotique Libre du général chrétien Michel Aoun et le Hezbollah qui a permis actuellement la stabilité du pays dans son versant politique. Mais la pression reste très forte et des attaques sanglantes occasionnent de nombreuses pertes dans l’anti-Liban par exemple.

A l’heure où nous écrivons ces lignes, plusieurs milliers de terroristes de EI et al-Nosra sont coincés dans un chaudron dans le Jurd, entre le Liban et la Syrie, pris sous les feux croisés de l’armée loyaliste de Bachar el-Assad, de l’armée libanaise et des forces du Hezbollah.
Inutile de dire que l’hiver aidant, l’espérance de survie des djihadistes pris dans la nasse fond comme neige au soleil…

Quand Israël parie sur al-Nosra

Plus au sud, Israël a engagé une partie particulièrement perverse en soutenant clairement les bouchers d’al-Nosra.«Nous savons qu’Israël accueille des blessés d’al-Nosra dans ses hôpitaux pour les renvoyer ensuite au combat», nous confiait hier une source libanaise très bien informée.
Pour l’Etat hébreu, l’objectif est en effet de tisser des liens étroits avec le groupe salafiste dont il entend se servir ensuite comme d’une force supplétive pour tenir une zone tampon qui courre le long du Golan. Un peu comme il l’avait fait en son temps avec l’Armée du Liban Sud (ALS).
«Lorsque vous avez aidé des combattants, précise notre source, négocié avec ses chefs et fait en sorte qu’ils vous doivent finalement beaucoup de leur succès et de leur survie, il est facile ensuite de traiter l’après-guerre avec eux en bonne intelligence.»

Ainsi, pour Israël, une chute de Bachar el-Assad – qui ferait voler en éclat le croissant chiite et casserait les lignes d’approvisionnement en armes du Hezbollah et du Hamas – représente ainsi un bénéfice bien supérieur au risque encouru par la présence de djihadistes aisément manipulables.
Et puis, souvenons-nous que l’éclatement de l’Irak et de la Syrie figure au programme de l’Etat-major israélien depuis les années ’80.

Iran et Russie en embuscade

En résumé, l’Etat islamique ainsi créé avec les garde-fous adéquats – dont pourquoi pas des casques bleus pour faire tampon –, pourrait même devenir à terme un partenaire officieux tout à fait convenable pour le Bloc atlantiste et Israël, une fois la poussière de la bataille retombée; les tribus sunnites achetées et les cadres djihadistes récalcitrants exterminés lors d’une opération de nettoyage inspirée de celles conduites au Vietnam (Phoenix) ou en Amérique latine (Condor).
Reste qu’évidemment tout cela est très joli sur le papier, mais l’affaire est loin d’être pliée.
Car hormis le risque de perte de contrôle de l’incendie par le Bloc atlantiste, l’Iran, la Russie, la Syrie légaliste et la résistance libanaise sont également à la manœuvre et sont loin, très loin, d’avoir dit leur dernier mot.

PS : Une attaque du Hezbollah dans la zone des Fermes de Chebaa occupée par Israël a fait deux morts et des blessés dans les rangs de l’armée sioniste mercredi.
Il s’agissait d’une riposte attendue à l’attaque perpétrée par Israël en Syrie il y a une dizaine de jours, et qui avait provoqué la mort de six combattants du Hezbollah et d’un général iranien. Mais le Hezbollah a aussi clairement voulu dire à l’entité sioniste qu’elle n’avait pas les mains libres dans la région du Golan. Israël a riposté à son tour, tuant… un soldat espagnol de la Finul.
Il est peu probable qu’Israël prenne le risque de déclencher aujourd’hui une nouvelle guerre contre le Hezbollah qui lui avait déjà infligé l’humiliant revers que l’on sait en 2006, alors qu’à l’époque, la résistance libanaise disposait d’un arsenal bien moindre que celui qu’elle détient aujourd’hui (env. 100’000 roquettes).

Notes

1 Cette révérence est bien évidemment liée au ciment nauséabond du pétrole, mais pas seulement. Les USA se sont en effet toujours appuyés sur les sunnites pour conduire leur conquête du Moyen-Orient. Le sunnisme est en effet un pouvoir de marchands. Il préconise d’obéir au prince, fusse-t-il corrompu, puisque l’on ne saurait présumer du jugement final de dieu sur le bonhomme. A l’inverse, le chiisme ne fait pas de compromis avec le prince si celui-ci est perverti et préconise dès lors son renversement. Comme le souligne François Thual dans sa Géopolitique du chiisme: «Vivre dans l’attente du retour de l’Imam en luttant contre l’injustice sur cette terre est, très globalement, le programme de cette religion dans son aspect profane.» La pire des hérésies pour l’Occident qui, comme la Sunna, est un pouvoir de marchands qui veut bien traiter avec n’importe quel prince, tortionnaire, dictateur ou despote on s’en fout, pourvu qu’il ait le même dieu que lui, la Grande Calculette donc.

2 Depuis la première guerre du Golfe, jamais les pétromonarchies n’ont été plus éloignées de leurs références islamiques et leur soumission aux intérêts américains, voire israéliens, est très mal perçue par la rue arabe. Avec des positions (anti-israéliennes, anti-américaines) aux antipodes de ses voisins du Golfe, Téhéran s’affirment donc de plus en plus comme une référence religieuse plus convaincante malgré le fossé qui sépare les branches sunnites et chiites de l’Islam. Au demeurant, on constatera aussi que les pays du Golfe sont en proie à des troubles souvent liés à leurs très fortes minorités chiites, sans parler de Bahrein dont la population est à 70% chiite. Pour les puissances du Golfe, la priorité absolue est donc la chute de l’Iran chiite, dont la déstabilisation du régime chiite alaouite de Bachar al-Assad est un préalable.


- Source : ef

mercredi, 28 janvier 2015

DIVORCE NETANYAHU / OBAMA

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DIVORCE NETANYAHU / OBAMA
 
Intérêts divergents sur l'Iran avec la France en entremetteuse
 
Michel Lhomme
Ex: http://metamag.fr

Mercredi dernier, la Maison Blanche a exprimé son exaspération après avoir appris que le Premier ministre israélien, Benjamin Netanyahu avait été invité par les Républicains américains à venir « débattre » au Congrès sur l'Iran. 


Le président de la Chambre des représentants, le républicain John Boehner, avait en effet annoncé que Benjamin Netanyahu avait été invité, pour la troisième fois, à prononcer le 11 février un discours devant les deux chambres du Congrès. La Maison Blanche a semble-t-il été prise de court, n'ayant été informée de ce rendez-vous que peu avant le communiqué républicain. En termes diplomatiques mais sans aucune équivoque, le porte-parole de Barack Obama a fait part de l'agacement américain à l'encontre du Premier ministre israélien : « Le protocole classique est que le dirigeant d'un pays prenne contact avec le dirigeant du pays dans lequel il se rend, c'est certainement la façon dont les voyages du président Obama à l'étranger sont organisés, et cet événement semble donc être un écart au protocole », a déclaré Josh Earnest. « Les Israéliens ne nous ont pas informés du tout de ce voyage », a-t-il ajouté.


Les deux dirigeants américains et israéliens se seraient parlé au téléphone le 12 janvier. Ils auraient parlé beaucoup de la France et des attentats de Paris. Outre l'incident protocolaire, la venue du Premier ministre israélien intervient en fait en plein débat américain sur le nucléaire iranien. Or, une bonne partie des élus républicains est favorable à l'adoption préventive de sanctions contre l'Iran, pour contraindre Téhéran à signer avant la date-butoir du 1er juillet un accord sur le nucléaire. Mais Barack Obama ne veut rien céder de son pouvoir de négociation, et a promis d'opposer son veto à une telle législation. Aussi, les propos de John Boehner justifiant l'invitation ne laissent guère de doutes quant à son but : ajouter la puissante voix de M. Netanyahu à celles des nombreux parlementaires qui veulent défier l'administration Obama. John Boehner a en d'ailleurs rajouté : « Le Premier ministre Netanyahu est un grand ami de notre pays, et cette invitation est la marque de notre engagement sans faille en faveur de la sécurité et du bien-être de son peuple », pour insister ensuite : « Face aux défis actuels, je demande au Premier ministre de s'exprimer devant le Congrès sur les graves menaces que l'Islam radical et l'Iran représentent pour notre sécurité et notre mode de vie ». Une bonne concordance avec Charlie. 


De plus, le discours de M. Netanyahu est non seulement attendu à Washington mais aussi à Tel Aviv car il aura lieu à un peu plus d'un mois avant les élections législatives israéliennes du 17 mars, lors desquelles Benjamin Netanyahu espère être reconduit.


L'incident diplomatique de la semaine dernière illustre en tout cas la mésentente notoire entre les deux dirigeants, américains et israéliens dans les dossiers iranien mais aussi palestinien, notamment sur la construction de logements à Jérusalem-Est. Assis dans le Bureau ovale près de Barack Obama en octobre dernier, Benjamin Netanyahu l'avait mis en garde devant les caméras contre un accord faible qui mènerait l'Iran « au seuil de la puissance nucléaire ». Netanyahu, parfaitement bilingue, est d'ailleurs régulièrement invité dans les grandes émissions politiques américaines du dimanche, en duplex de Jérusalem, pour peser sur ce débat américain sur l'Iran. La visite de M. Netanyahu est donc clairement partisane, organisée par l'APAIC et soutenue par les néo-conservateurs, le Congrès étant passé sous contrôle républicain en janvier. Mais Israël dispose aussi de solides alliés à l'étranger avec surtout son allié de poids : Paris. Et c'est là que l'on retrouve indirectement l'attentat de Charlie Hebdo et un certain agacement américain dans les services secrets contre la France et Israël mais là, on avoue ne pas trop comprendre pourquoi et que quelque chose nous dépasse !

 

dimanche, 28 décembre 2014

The Myth of Abraham and America’s Allegiance to Israel

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“We Ought to Support Israel because God Said So”

The Myth of Abraham and America’s Allegiance to Israel

by GARY LEUPP
Ex: http://www.counterpunch.org

Karl Marx once observed that ancient Greek art, rooted in Greek mythology, still constituted for modern people “a source of aesthetic enjoyment and in certain respects prevails as the standard and model beyond attainment.” He asked: “Why should the social childhood of mankind, where it has obtained its most beautiful development, not exert an eternal charm as an age that will never return?”

(In other words, even though Marx’s beloved Homer and Aeschylus were products of a society long extinct, its slave-owning class structure abhorrent to the modern mind, Greek myths still retain profound meanings for us in the age of industrial capitalism. Sigmund Freud, who posited the Oedipus and Elektra complexes, would of course agree.)

The story of Prometheus, for example, delighted the young Marx. Recall that Prometheus was the Titan who, having sided with Zeus and the gods of Mt. Olympus in the epochal battle with the other Titans at the dawn of time, later steals fire from Mt. Olympus and gives it to humanity. That, at least, is Hesiod’s account written about 700 BCE.  In punishment for this generous act, Zeus and the other gods punish Prometheus by chaining him to a rock on a mountain in the Caucasus where an eagle visits daily to chew on his liver.

In his doctoral dissertation Marx declared this god “the most eminent saint and martyr in the philosophical calendar.” He quoted the words of Prometheus in Aeschylus’s play Prometheus Unbound: “In a word, I hate all the gods!” He interpreted Prometheus as a revolutionary boldly defying cruel, oppressive authority. I would say it’s a positive myth, promoting altruism and self-sacrifice.

The ancient Chinese myth of the winged “thousand-li horse” who gallops too swiftly for any man to mount, has been embraced by the North Koreans (in the form of Chollima) as a symbol of rapid economic development. I have no problem with this myth either.

I don’t really have a problem with the ancient Sumerian myth, as found in the Epic of Gilgamesh, in which the gods are so annoyed with human noisiness that they decide to wipe them (and all other life) out by a global flood. Fortunately the god Ea warns the righteous man Utnapishtim about what is going to happen and orders him to build a huge boat. Utnapishtim does so, and has his relatives and craftsmen, and “all the beasts and animals of the field” board the boat. Seven days and seven nights of rainfall follow. The boat lands on Mt. Nimush. When the rains end Utnapishtim sends out a dove to search for dry land; the bird returns. But the third bird dispatched does not return, signaling that the crisis was over.

Sound familiar? It is surely an early version of the myth of Noah and the Ark (Genesis 6:5-8:14), which is at least 1000 years younger. (The earliest Sumerian references to the flood myth appear during the Third Dynasty of Ur, ca. 2100-2000 B.C.) The biblical myth differs significantly in adapting the story to a monotheistic framework and making the issue human sin as opposed to boisterous clamor.  The myth causes one to think about human vulnerability to natural disasters, and has of course been the inspiration of much western art and cinematography.

Dangerous Myths

But the Hebrew version includes a spin-off myth that is not so charming. This is the myth of Ham, one of Noah’s three sons, who after the Flood receives his father’s curse. Noah tells him that he (and by implication, his progeny) will be enslaved by his brother Shem (Genesis 9:20-27).

Why? Because Noah—“the first to plant the vine,” introducing wine to the world—was found passed out drunk and naked in his tent by Ham, who told his brothers, who covered Noah with a cloak. When Noah sobered up and realized what had happened, he (for some reason) declared that Ham will henceforth be “the meanest slave” of his brothers Shem and Japheth.

For centuries many Jews and Christians believed that all the world’s peoples were descended from these three brothers, who supposedly with their wives repopulated the planet beginning around 4300 years ago. Japheth was seen as the father of Europeans, and maybe some others; Shem, the father of Semites, and maybe Asian peoples in general; and Ham, the peoples of Cush, Put and Sheba among others—which is to say, black African peoples (Genesis 10:6-7).

abraham.jpgThe Jewish Midrash texts (composed from the fifth through fifteenth centuries) explained that the curse of Ham only applies to eldest son Cush and his descendents in sub-Saharan Africa. Among Muslim thinkers, the Persian Muhammad ibn Jaririr al-Tabari (839-923) and the famous North African world-traveler Ibn Khaldun (1332-1406) both repeated this myth linking Han to black slaves (although it doesn’t appear in the Qu’ran and plainly enters Islamic lore via medieval Jewish tradition).

For centuries he myth helped justify the traffic in African slaves of both Jewish and Muslim merchants in the Islamic world and beyond. (Some of these were referred to as Zanj—as in “Zanzibar”—and rose up in a great revolt around Basra in the ninth century.) By the early nineteenth-century, in the U.S.A. the Ham myth was part of the standard arsenal of arguments in support of slavery. It strikes me as a bad myth. It’s hard to think of one more pernicious.

But here’s another one: the myth of Samson, as we find in the Book of Judges, chapters 14 through 16. Samson is the last of the “judges” chosen by Yahweh (God) to lead his chosen people before the advent of the monarchy. He supposedly lives around 1000 BCE, although this account is composed maybe four centuries later.

You may know the story, if only from Sunday School, the 1949 Cecile B. DeMille film Samson and Delilah, recent novels by David Grossman and Ginger Gerrett, and countless artistic depictions.

Samson, according the Bible, is born to a hitherto barren woman and her husband after Yahweh appears to the woman in a dream and announces she will have a son who will “start rescuing Israel from the power of the Philistines” (Judges 13:5). (As you may know, the word “Philistine” is related to the word “Palestine.”) But she is to make sure that no razor ever touches his head; it becomes clear that his long hair is the source of his superhuman strength. God appears repeatedly to both husband and wife in dreams, and then in the flames of an altar sacrifice (13:20). The boy is born, given his name, and Yahweh blesses him.

This boy Samson grows up to be an extremely violent man. He craves a Philistine bride, refusing his family’s appeal that he wed a fellow Israelite. (They don’t realize that “all this came from Yahweh, who was seeking grounds for a quarrel with the Philistines, since at this time the Philistines dominated Israel,” 14:4.) En route to her home near the vineyards of Timnah, Samson is attacked by a lion that he tears apart with his bare hands. He visits the Philistine woman and while returning home revisits the lion carcass. He discovers that a swarm of bees has settled inside it and produced honey He takes some of this and presents it to his parents.

He contracts the marriage deal with the woman’s relatives, and arranges a great wedding feast. He is given an entourage of 30 Philistines, with whom he makes a sort of wager at the feast. He proposes that he give the men a riddle, and if they can solve it within seven days he will give them thirty pieces of linen and thirty festal robes. If they cannot, they will have to give the same to him. They agree, and (alluding to his recent feat, which he has kept secret) he asks them to explain this:

Out of the eater came what was eaten,
And out of the strong came what was sweet (14:14).

Unable to solve the riddle, the men go to Samson’s new wife and threaten to burn her and her father’s family to death if she doesn’t wheedle out the solution to it from her husband. She does so, and an enraged Samson, accusing the thirty of having “ploughed with my heifer,” goes on a rampage. He kills 30 innocent Philistines, stealing their clothes to pay the debt he’s incurred. When he returns with the loot, the father declares that in the interim he’d given his bride to another, Samson in another rage incinerates the Philistines’ cornfields, olive orchards and vineyards, using 300 foxes whose tails he sets on fire to achieve this task (15:5).

Philistines blaming the woman’s family for this disaster burn her and her relatives to death. They ask the Israelites to turn Samson over to them for punishment for the burning of their property, and the Israelites comply. But Samson using the jawbone of an ass he finds on the roadside kills 1000 of them, escapes, spends a night with a Philistine prostitute in a Gaza brothel, then destroys the gates of the town before leaving (16:1-3).

He then “falls in love” with another Philistine woman, Delilah. This character has of course has long been a popular culture trope for the back-stabbing woman (as for example in Tom Jones’ 1968 hit Delilah.)

Delilah famously betrays Samson to the Philistines by telling them the secret of his superhuman strength: his long hair. A barber shaves him while he’s drunk; the Philistines apprehend, blind, imprison, and humiliate him. But once his hair grows back Samson regains his strength and, when called to appear in the Philistines’ banquet hall in Gaza, stands between the pillars upholding it, pushes them apart and brings down the building. He thereby kills 3000 revelers as well as himself.

It is hard to find any redeeming quality in the story;  it’s a celebration of a Yahweh-supported terrorist suicide attack against a people who had inhabited Canaan before the Israelites appeared on the scene. It depicts in the most favorable light the Israelite man’s usage of Philistine women to achieve God’s goal of destroying the Philistines to “rescue” Israel from their presence in the land. If seen through a modern lens, it’s a racist, misogynist celebration of egregious violence against humans, animals (the poor foxes!), and trees (the incinerated olive groves). It’s a horrible myth.

Military analysts in Israel today use the term “Samson Option” to refer to the use of Israel’s nuclear weapons in a future conflict. Perhaps some of them actually believe the story actually happened, and think what Samson did was totally cool. That should scare you.

And then there’s the very mother of destructive biblical myths: that of Abraham, and God’s vow to him that his descendants as the “Chosen People” (Deuteronomy 7:6) would inhabit what came to be called (by English Christians by the 1580s) the “Promised Land.” It is in some communities a deeply beloved myth. But it is a myth, and it has been used to justify intolerable cruelty.

A Comparison: the Japanese Creation Myth

Let me suggest a comparable myth. The Bible myth of the Promised Land is somewhat comparable to the Japanese creation story, according to which the Japanese islands were created by the god Izanagi and his consort Izanami, pacified by the grandson of the Sun Goddess Amaterasu, and governed thereafter by his descendents, a line of divine emperors unbroken from the dawn of time—or to quote the text of the Japanese constitution in effect from 1889 to 1945, a line “coeval with heaven and earth.” (Yes, the fundamental legal text of the country asserted that the Japanese imperial line had existed from the very dawn of cosmic time.)

For over six decades the official Japanese ideology of kokutai (national essence), built upon this mythology, stressed the unity between the state, the “pure” Japanese people, and the divine monarch descended from the Sun Goddess ruling over the divine islands and extending his benevolence to what for a time was called the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere. Is that disturbing?

The myths as they appear in the eighth century chronicles seem harmless enough. The primordial divine pair stands on the Floating Bridge of Heaven, stirring the waters below with a jeweled spear. As they raise the spear, the brine dripping off it solidifies into an island. They descend to the island, construct a pillar, walk around it in opposite directions, then meet and greet one another. The female Izanami asks the male Izanagi how his body is formed. He explains that it’s just as she sees, but there is a part formed to excess (his penis). He asks her the same question; she replies that there is a part of her formed insufficiently.

Izanagi then casually suggests that they unite the extra part of him with the insufficient part of her and thus “create the land.” She immediately agrees. Their copulation produces two islands that they consider failures. They return to heaven where a council of deities, consulting with diviners, conclude that things went wrong because the female spoke first.

abraham-isaac.jpgThey pair are commanded to return to the island and try again. This time they produce islands and all manner of things, mostly from their limbs. But Izanami’s genitals burn as she gives birth to the fire-god and she dies, winding up in the Land of Yomi, a type of netherworld. An enraged Izanagi chops off the head of his newborn son, whose blood becomes volcanoes. After visiting Yomi and trying in vain to return his now maggot-ridden wife to the land of the living, Izanagi returns to earth and bathes in a river to purify himself after exposure to great defilement. He produces the Sun Goddess from one of his eyes and her mischievous younger brother Susanoo from his nose.

Susanoo gets expelled from heaven after hurling excrement around the palace and throwing the skinned carcass of a pony through the roof, causing the startled Heavenly Weaving Woman to ram her genitals against her loom, dying on the spot. Susanoo descends to Japan, slays a dragon, and sires 80 sons, one of whom becomes Master of the Land. However, the Sun Goddess decides to dispatch her grandson Ninigi to rule the land, and Susanoo defers to her decision. (He is enshrined at Izumo as a reward for this cooperation.) One of Ninigi’s grandsons, Jinmu, establishes his rule from the southern island of Kyushu to the middle of the main island of Honshu, supposedly in what in our calendar would be 660 BCE.

Charming myths!—like the Hebrew ones. Absurd myths! But perhaps dangerous if taken seriously, as they once were by tens of millions of devout Shinto believers. For example: there was surely no unified state in Japan until the late third century CE at the earliest; the 660 BCE date was invented in the eighth century CE to make it appear that Japan was unified before China. You might call it an early assertion of ethnic superiority. And an assault on historical objectivity.

Of the official list of Japanese emperors, ending with the current Akihito (the 125th), at the least the first fourteen—with some reigns lasting 70, 80 or 100 years—-are thought by serious scholars to be fictional. But there was a time when the state promoted this mythology in the public schools. And there was a time when Japanese historians refrained from a scientific critique of the list, lest they be charged with the serious crime of lèse-majesté (a variant of “heresy”).

Today, few Japanese take the myths, with all their charming scatology and unproblematic sexuality, seriously. (But you notice, whenever anything pertaining to the Japanese imperial family is reported in the western press, this idea that the imperial line dates back over 2500 years is part of the routine, clueless coverage.) If religion constitutes belief in immortal souls, deities, and an afterlife, Japan has become one of the most irreligious countries in the world. The Japanese example shows that it is possible for a sophisticated modern people to disabuse itself of its traditional mythologies!

If the modern promotion of the Japanese myths in the service of nationalism has been largely destructive, this is true with the myth of Abraham too. The former posited a special relationship between the Japanese, their land, their emperor and the gods that justified any number of acts of aggression against neighboring peoples. The latter posits a special relationship between God and the Jews that justifies not only the existence of the present Jewish state but its actions against its neighbors in what it inevitably describes as “self-defense.”

The Myth of Abraham

We speak of the “Abrahamic faiths” as a positive phenomenon, because belief in Abraham (whom Muslims call Ibrahim) shows common ground between Judaism, Christianity and Islam. (Arab Muslims see themselves as descendents of Ishmael, son of Abraham by his wife’s Egyptian slave Hagar, half-brother of Isaac.) I suppose this common reverence for the patriarch can in some instances be a unifying factor. But I think in the main the Abraham myth is dangerously divisive.

Why? Because much of the U.S. public and political class believe it, and it deeply influences their views of Israel. These views in turn assure Israel of unlimited U.S. support, and cause the entire Arab and Muslim worlds that are appropriately enraged at the abuse of the Palestinian people to view the world’s only existing superpower with deep antipathy.

The decisive support for Israel in this country (which is often virtually unconditional) is rooted among religious Jews who believe that God gave Israel to the Jews, and among Christians who believe the same thing. But of these, the Christians are by far more numerous. (Religious Jews only number about 1.7% of the U.S. population. If you add the non-religious Jews the figure rises to 2.2%).

According to a recent Pew Research study 82% of Protestant Christian evangelicals (who believe that the Bible is  “the Word of God” to be understood literally) believe that God made this eternal gift to the descendents of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. (Evangelicals as of 2007 accounted for about 29% of the U.S. population.)

One must stress that only 40% of U.S. Jews believe this. That includes 47% of self-defining religious Jews and just 16% of non-religious Jews. In the U.S. general public, 44% believe it; among the Christian population, 55%. (But there are major differences between denominations; fewer than 40% of Catholics do.) Christians who literally believe the Bible are unquestionably the driving force behind the routine UN vetoes, the predictable Congressional resolutions, the ironclad votes for annual Israel aid.

Many politicians are swayed by Christian Evangelical Protestant teachings. Texas governor and presidential candidate Rick Perry told the neocon Weekly Standard in 2009: “My faith requires me to support Israel.” He added that the very idea that a U.S. president would ask Israel to return to its 1967 borders “sent a chill” down his spine.

In May 2011 Sarah Palin addressed the Republican Jewish Coalition where she acknowledged the religious basis for her allegiance to the Jewish state: “I am convinced in my heart and in my mind that if the United States fails to stand with Israel, that is the end of the United States . . . [W]e have to show that we are inextricably entwined, that as a nation we have been blessed because of our relationship with Israel, and if we reject Israel, then there is a curse that comes into play. And my husband and I are both Christians, and we believe very strongly the verse from Genesis, we believe very strongly that nations also receive blessings as they bless Israel. It is a strong and beautiful principle.”

(For those of you who need reminding, that verse is Genesis 12:3 and runs: “The Lord said to Abram: ‘Go forth from the land of your kinsfolk and from your father’s house to a land that I will show you. I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you. All the communities of the earth shall find blessing in you.’”)

Congressman Doug Lamborn, Democrat from Colorado, also invokes
Genesis 12:3 to explain his deference to Israel. In other words, politicians from both parties believe God will curse the U.S. if it seriously challenges Israel to stop its illegal settlements, demands it withdraw from occupied lands, criticizes its attacks on its neighbors or withholds part of the $ 3 billion plus annual subsidy.

Senator Ted Cruz recently spoke before a conference on the plight of Christians in the Middle East, and was booed when he referred to Israel as a friend of the region’s Christians. “If you will not stand with Israel and the Jews,” he retorted, “I will not stand with you” as he retreated from the stage.

Republican Senator from Oklahoma James Inhofe has unashamedly declared, on the floor of Congress: “I believe very strongly that we ought to support Israel, and that it has a right to the land, because God said so. In Genesis 13:14-17, the Bible says: ‘The Lord said to Abram, ‘Lift up now your eyes, and look from the place where you are northward, southward, eastward and westward: for all the land which you see, to you will I give it, and to your seed forever… Arise, walk through the land in the length of it and in the breadth of it; for I will give it to thee.’ That is God talking. The Bible says that Abram removed his tent and came and dwelt in the plain of Mamre, which is in Hebron, and built there an altar before the Lord. Hebron is in the West Bank. It is at this place where God appeared to Abram and said, ‘I am giving you this land’ — the West Bank. This is not a political battle at all. It is a contest over whether or not the word of God is true.”

Or listen to Senator Bob Menendez, Democrat from New Jersey: “…There is no denying the Jewish people a homeland for which they have thousands of years of history going back to Abraham and Sarah. And, if together we continue to stand with Israel, Israel will have centuries ahead of that reality.” Really? No denying?

Biblical myth-based support for the Israeli Jewish settlers on the West Bank runs deep in U.S. politics.  To achieve a breakthrough—to encourage the U.S. public and electorate to adopt a less knee-jerk, pro-Israel position and to reasonably empathize with the reality of Palestinian oppression; and to encourage a firm stance against illegal settlement—one should focus on challenging the Christian Zionist mindset. This is more of a significant political phenomenon than (even) American Jewish Zionism and its coffers.

Challenging the Myth-Centered Mindset

But how to challenge that mindset? It is hard; probably as difficult as breaking someone from a drug habit. Religion is, as Marx put it, “the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people.”

The figure of Abraham figures prominently in Negro spirituals like “Rocker my soul in de bosom of Abraham” that dates from at least the mid-nineteenth century. Rock as in rock a baby in a cradle, to put the baby to sleep. But how to wake people up? One option: try to promote historical objectivity. Question the believer’s reasoning. Mention that, according to the Old Testament timeline (as reckoned by the seventeenth-century Irish bishop James Ussher) Abraham lived from around 1996 BC to around 1821 BC.

(While “BCE”—“before the Common Era” has become standard terminology in the historical field, alongside “CE” or “Common Era”—I recommend that you use the traditional “BC” and “AD” if in dialogue with Christian friends who might be put off by the now-standard academic terminology. They may see the latter as a disparagement of the role of Christ in world history.)

Mention that the very oldest inscriptions in the Hebrew language such as the Siloam Inscription date (only) to the 800s BCE. There are some passages in the Old Testament (Tanakh) that may be older, written down originally in a Canaanite script preceding both Phoenician and Proto-Hebrew. (The Song of Deborah in Judges 5 may have been composed in the twelfth century BCE. But the most prestigious scholars of Jewish history at Israel’s Tel Aviv University, such as archeologist Israel Finkelstein, believe that the Old Testament scriptures were for the most part written from the seventh through fifth centuries BCE and that Abraham was a fictional figure.)

So there is a time gap of a thousand years between the time of the biblical Abraham and the first written account of his life. Maybe driving that point sharply home, repeatedly, might jar the consciousness of some.

Of course this doesn’t clinch the argument. The believer might say, well, whenever the scriptures were written they were written by scribes under the direction of the Holy Spirit.  Or they can say, these stories were preserved by oral tradition for a thousand years before they could be written down (even though we know that oral traditions are never passed down without alteration and embellishment over centuries). So end of story.

Still, even modest efforts to sow doubt can have a constructive impact ultimately. You don’t kick an opiate addiction overnight. But therapists can use various means to encourage withdrawal.

Summary of the Abraham Narrative

Sometimes it’s good for the believer to hear a familiar Bible narrative summarized matter-of-factly in modern language. That can sometimes underscore the surreal nature of the story and sow slow-germinating seeds of doubt.

So let us review the biblical account of Abraham’s life. Abraham (originally Abram) hails from Ur (Tell el-Muqayyar in modern Iraq), the site of the Tower of Babel. This is where Yahweh (God) had created the variety of human languages to thwart the then still monolingual human race from building a structure that would reach heaven. (This is probably an allusion to the Mesopotamian ziggurats that were first built during the third millennium BCE, when there were surely many human languages.)

Abram’s father Terah forces his son, along with his (barren) wife Sarai, nephew Lot and his entourage, the family flocks and an assortment of dependents to depart for the land of Canaan.  (This was more or less, modern Israel/Palestine). They get as far as Haran, in what is today southern Turkey, and remain there for a time. Terah dies there at age 205 (Genesis 11:32).

Abram then receives a message from Yahweh, “Leave your country, your kindred and your father’s house for a country I will show you” (Genesis 12:1). Yahweh had spoken to people before—-to Adam, Eve, Cain, Noah—but this is the first time he speaks to Abram. He tells him that he will make of him a great nation, bless those who bless him, and curse those who curse him.

Having  purchased  slaves and livestock in Haran (Genesis 12:5) Abram proceeds to Canaan, proceeding “stage by stage” to the Negev desert. At the “holy place at Shechem” (today’s Tell Balata on the occupied West Bank) Yahweh speaks to Abram again, saying “I will give this country to your progeny.” Abram builds an altar to Yahweh there, and another in the mountainous district east of Bethel, where he pitches his tent. (This is also located in the central West Bank, where the illegal Jewish settlement Beit El has been established.)

But there is a severe famine in the region, so Abram and Sarai go down to Egypt. (The text doesn’t say this, but the Nile River Delta was in fact the breadbasket of the Mediterranean at this time. This narrative anticipates Genesis chapter 42 in which Joseph’s brothers during a famine also visit Egypt seeking grain.)

Arriving in Egypt Abram tells Sarai that since she’s a “beautiful woman” Egyptians might kill him but leave her alive (presumably as a sex-slave?). So he urges her to tell people she’s his sister “so that they may treat me well because of you and spare my life out of regard for you” (Genesis 12:11-12).

Indeed the Egyptian officials who receive these visitors find (the 65-year-old) Sarai beautiful and sing her praises to the pharaoh, who takes her into his household. The pharaoh treats Abram well “because of her” and awards him flocks, oxen, donkeys, cattle and camels, as well as male and female slaves. But then severe plagues afflict Egypt (anticipating the plagues we find in the myth of Moses and the Exodus from Egypt we read about in the Book of Exodus), and somehow the pharaoh realizes that this is divine punishment on him for housing Abram’s wife as he had. (It’s not clear from Genesis 12: 15-20 what exactly the reader is supposed to think about the relationship between the pharaoh and Sarai.) In any case the Egyptian ruler orders the couple to leave the country, allowing Abram to leave with all his new possessions.

Abram, now rich in livestock, gold and silver acquired during the Egyptian sojourn, returns to the Negev and then back to Bethel, accompanied by his nephew Lot. The herdsmen of the two men fall to quarreling, and so Abram proposes that the two separate to avoid such discord. Lot leaves for the Jordan plain and settles in the town of Sodom (where there are “great and vicious sinners against Yahweh,” Genesis 13:13). (This town was likely located on the southern coast of the Dead Sea.) Yahweh then again speaks to Abram, telling him to look around in all directions because all the land he sees will belong to his descendants forever. He orders him to travel the length and breadth of this land. Abram moves to Hebron to set up his tent, and build yet another altar to Yahweh.

Meanwhile, war breaks out among nine local kings, including the king of Sodom. Sodom is looted and Lot and his people are carried off as captives. Abram amasses a force from his own household—318 men—and tracks down Lot’s people and their captors to a place near the city of Damascus (in Syria). He defeats the enemy and recaptures all the goods and people taken from Sodom. Approaching Sodom with Lot and the reclaimed captives, he’s met in the Valley of Shaveh by the kings of Salem and Sodom. Salem’s king Melchezedik, while not a kinsman of Abram, is described as a “priest of God Most High.” He pronounces a blessing on Abram, and Abram gives him one-tenth of the loot from his victory. On the other hand, when the king of Sodom asks Abram to return the retrieved people to him but tells him he can keep the goods for himself, Abram refuses to take anything lest it be said that the king of Sodom had made him rich (Genesis 14:24).

Later, Yahweh appears to Abram again and promises him a “great reward.” Abram asks—since he remains childless and has no offspring—what great reward Yahweh could give him. God tells him to look up at the night sky and see the multitude of stars; his own descendants will be as numerous. He tells him that his descendants will be enslaved and oppressed for 400 years (a clear reference to the tale of the enslavement in Egypt between the generations of Joseph and Moses in Exodus chapters 1 through 13), and declares that he will give to the descendants of Abram all the territory between the Nile and the Euphrates Rivers (Genesis 15:18).

Then Sarai suggests to Abram that, since they have no children and she is way past childbearing age, he sire a child by Hagar, a slave girl she’d acquired in Egypt. Abram agrees. After Hagar conceives, she takes on airs. Her “mistress [counts] for nothing in her eyes” anymore. An indignant Sarai protests to her husband who tells her to treat the slave as she sees fit. Sarai abuses Hagar so badly that the pregnant woman flees into the desert, where an angel of Yahweh assists her, assuring her that her descendants will be too numerous to be counted, and that her son (who should be named Ishmael) will be a “wild donkey of a man” at odds with his kin (Genesis 16:12). Hagar returns to Abram’s tent and gives birth. Abram is at this point 86.

(For what it’ s worth, the Qur’an describes Ishmael [Ismail] more positively as “a keeper of his promise, and he was a messenger, a prophet. He enjoined upon his people worship and almsgiving, and was most acceptable in the sight of his Lord.” See Sura XIX: 54. This depiction of course is set down at least 1200 years after Genesis was composed and over two and a half millennia after the events it purports to depict.)

Thirteen years later, God speaks to Abram again, promising to make him the father of “many nations” and conferring the entire land of Canaan to his posterity. He tells him he is changing his name from Abram to Abraham, and Sarai’s name to Sarah. He informs Abraham that he will sire a son by Sarah (now 90). Abraham laughs incredulously.

Yahweh also orders him to circumcise the flesh of his foreskin and to do the same for all the males in his household. “That will be the sign of the covenant between myself and you” (Genesis 17:17:12). Those who refuse to submit to this procedure are to be cut off from his people. Abraham personally circumcises all the men of his household, including slaves “bought from foreigners.” (This practice, of African origin, most commonly applied as an adolescent rite of passage, probably passed into the Levant from Egypt some centuries before the Greek historian Herodotus mentions it in his fifth century work.)

Soon afterwards, according to the Bible story, while sitting outside his tent on the hottest day of the year, Abraham is approached by three men who turn out to be angels. They tell Abraham, as Sarai listens in the tent, that she will have a son by the following year. She, too, laughs. Yahweh later asks Abraham—since all things are possible with Yahweh—“Why did she laugh?” Sarah, participating in the exchange (and “lying because she was afraid”), denies having laughed. But God replies to her: “Oh yes you did” (Genesis 18:14-15). Neither she nor Abraham are punished for their laughter, however.

The three strange men depart for the town of Sodom, and Abraham accompanies them part way. Yahweh tells Abraham that he is “going down” to Sodom and Gomorrah to see whether or not the people’s actions are as evil as reported. (In other words, the three angels are an investigative team.) Fearing that God will wipe out all the residents of Sodom, where Lot lives, Abraham appeals for him to relent if there are 50 righteous men in the town. Yahweh agrees, and even agrees when Abraham proposes a minimal figure of just 10 righteous men.

The three angels arrive in Sodom where Lot insists on hosting them in his home. But the young and old men of the town surround his house and cry out for him to send out the men so that they can have sex with them. (This is of course the origin of the term “sodomize.”)

Lot begs the mob to back off, offering his two virgin daughters to them instead of the men (see Genesis 19:8-9). This proposal fails and the men of Sodom attempt to storm the house to bugger the angels. The angels however avert the assault by blinding the attackers. They urge Lot and his family to flee for their lives, and not to look back as they run. God rains down fire and brimstone on the town, killing everyone. Lot’s wife as she flees forgets the angels’ counsel, looks back and turns into a pillar of salt.

(It is unclear in Genesis why she was punished in this way. The Midrash explains that Sodom was a town especially hostile to outsiders, and that Lot’s Sodomite wife opposed his kindness to the strangers. When Lot sought to offer salt to his guests—along with unleavened bread, staples of Middle Eastern hospitality— she declared that she had none. Therefore, Yahweh turned her into salt.)

When Abraham is 100, and Sarah 90, she gives birth to Isaac. She again asks that Hagar be expelled from the household, along with her son Ishmael. Abraham agrees, and sends them into the desert of Beersheba where they nearly die of thirst. When their water jug runs out, Hagar places Ishmael under a bush for shade. Not wanting to see him die, she walks away anguished by his cries. (Following the chronology, he should be around 15 at this time, although you get the impression he’s still an infant. Some commentators suggest that there are some editorial problems here.)

Yahweh hearing his cries asks Hagar what’s wrong. She explains her plight and he causes a well to appear. (Abraham and King Abimelech later sign a covenant that includes this well as part of Abraham’s property.) God is with Ishmael (Genesis 21:20), who grows up in the desert, becomes an archer, and marries an Egyptian woman whom his mother finds for him.

Yahweh again speaks to Abraham, suddenly demanding that offer his son Isaac as a human sacrifice to himself. Abraham without asking any questions sets about the task. He prepares a sacrificial altar on a mountain (believed by many to be the Temple Mount in Jerusalem). As he is about to slit his son’s throat, God commands him to stop. He has passed the test, showing absolute obedience. “All nations,” Yahweh declares, “will bless themselves by your descendants as a reward for your obedience” (Genesis 22:18).

Shortly after this Sarah dies at age 127.  Abraham buys a plot of land for her burial, from the sons of Heth the Hittite in Hebron. (Some identity this as the Tomb of the Patriarchs.) Abraham then sends his chief steward to Upper Mesopotamia, where his kin still live, to find a wife for Isaac. The steward goes to a well intending to choose the first young woman willing to serve him and his donkey water. This turns out to be Rebecca, a great-grand-niece of Abraham. She returns with the steward and becomes Isaac’s wife, mother of Esau and Jacob (whom Yahweh eventually renames “Israel”).

Abraham remarries, and has six more sons by his new wife Keturah, and more by concubines. All the latter are sent east. He dies at age 175 and his sons Isaac and Ishmael bury him alongside Sarah in Hebron.

Rational Questions

The unusual events here—which you will perhaps agree stretch normal credulity, and require ”faith” to be taken seriously—include the talking with God, the visits from angels, the fire and brimstone on Sodom and Gomorrah, the miraculous appearance of a well in the desert of Beersheba, and the turning of Lot’s wife into a pillar of salt.

About the first, the believer can say either “God did talk directly to people back then,” or “The communication wasn’t literally talking, but psychic communication.” Or you might hear, “God talks to people now too, in different ways.” (To the latter you can reply that lots of mentally ill people claim to hear God talking to them. But I’m not sure that’s the best or most useful argument in this context.)

Ridiculing the aspect of Abraham’s chats with God won’t be effective. Nor will the question of the existence of angels. You can point out that angelic beings appear in many world religious texts (I think of ashuras in Buddhism, and similar beings in Zoroastrianism) but your Christian friend will likely say, “See, that just strengthens the case that they exist!”

You can question the story that Yahweh punished the people of two towns for their sins by raining down fire from the sky. (And you might note sadly that the story of Sodom and Gomorrah and the townsmen’s supposed inclination to sodomize visitors has been used historically to justify the vicious executions of gay men.)

But if you say the story’s a myth, that it never happened, you’re likely to hear about the 2008 Fox News story about how “scientists” have concluded that it was probably an asteroid that did it. Certainly the believer can say that the event described in Genesis 19 really happened and that there’s scientific evidence for the means God used to make it happen! As for why a woman might turn into salt during an asteroid attack—well, I suppose someone can devise a theory about that too.

No, it’s not good enough to just point out that these stories seem as fanciful as Greek or Hindu or Norse myths—although that should be said and emphasized. There has to be more.

You can point to the implausible life spans. The Book of Genesis indicates that Abraham was a descendent of Noah’s son Shem, who died at age 600. Here then is his supposed linear ancestry, with the ages of his ancestors when they died:

Shem (600)
Arpachshad (465)
Cainan (460)
Shelah (433)
Eber (464)
Pelug (239)
Reu (239)
Serug (230)
Nahor (148)
Terah (205)

These are supposed to have lived between around 3000 and 2000. But the archeological record for the Neolithic Middle East suggests that the great majority of people only lived into their 30s. (See Mark N. Cohen and George J. Armelagos, Paleopathology at the Origins of Agriculture, 1984.) If there has ever been a discovery of human bones thought to belong to someone dying after 200, I think we would have been front-page news. But again, the believer can say, radiocarbon data is all a hoax. Maybe even something designed by Satan to challenge faith.

One could point out that the biblical references to Abraham’s camels (as in Genesis 12:17 and 24:10) don’t square with archeologists’ conclusion that camels didn’t actually appear in the region before around 900 BCE. In the end you want to ask—having perhaps planted a little doubt here or there in your Christian Zionist friend’s mind—should this ancient story really shape your attitudes towards things happening in the Middle East today?

What’s Likeable about Abraham?

Then finally there’s the question of the mythic figure’s character. One could ask the believer: Why does he deserve your reverence? He is hardly a compassionate Jesus-prototype. (In the much later Muslim tradition as reflected in the Qu’ran, however, he is actively compassionate.)

In the Old Testament, Abraham is a slave-owner. He buys people or receives them as gifts from a pharaoh and king. He is married to his half-sister, and whether that is right or wrong (or whether it was either before Yahweh set down the Law to Moses, as found in Leviticus 18:9 and Deuteronomy 27:22, supposedly written by the thirteenth century BCE—although one must repeat the Hebrew written language did not exist until 500 years after that time) he repeatedly presents her in public as his sister rather than his wife. He does so thinking men coveting her might kill him and make her their own. (This is obviously the literature of a society in which women had little agency and were at the mercy of violent men.)

Twice Abraham accedes to Sarah’s stays at royal courts where she is vulnerable to rape, even as he accepts gifts from her hosts. In both instances he profits when the host realizes the marital relationship and is terrified to discover Abraham’s closeness to Yahweh. Twice Abraham banishes the slave-girl Hagar from his tents into the desert, once while pregnant with his own child, and again—with the boy—after Ishmael is born.

What are we, as we read the Bible, supposed to imagine Yahweh found so exemplary about this man from Ur, such that he would, in his infinite wisdom, decide to make his descendents eternal rulers of the land of Canaan?

The fact that he cared enough about his nephew Lot to go to battle to release him from captivity? The fact that he remonstrated with his holy self in arguing against the annihilation of Sodom? Because those are the only two (possible) instances of moral courage that I see in these Bible stories about Abraham.

Or does he—one should ask the true believer—deserve your reverence because of his quiet, automatic acceptance of Yahweh’s command that he sacrifice his son Isaac as a burnt offering? (You might raise at this point the whole concept of burning animals, including people, in different religious traditions, and “offering” them to deities as though they somehow needed them in order to be happy or placated.) Or that he’s willing to personally cut off the foreskins of all the males in his household? Is his moral integrity best reflected is his willingness to obey what he thinks is the voice of God—even so far as to cut his son’s throat and immolate the body?

Maybe the Christian Zionist should be asked that question. And maybe also be asked: Is your willingness to support the modern state of Israel—as it offers countless Palestinians as sacrificial lambs to its Bible-based vision of “Eretz Yisrael” rooted in “faith”—compatible with reason and morality?

(The Palestinians, you should know, also trace their ancestry to Abraham through Isaac, who buried Abraham at Hebron alongside his younger brother Isaac. And it is very likely that many Judeans who remained in Roman Judea after the Diaspora converted to Christianity by the fourth century and/or to Islam after the seventh century Arab conquest. In other words, if bloodline is so important, shouldn’t these descendents of Jews who lived in Judea at the time of Christ have as much right to the land as European Jews with their rich admixture of Gentile blood?)

Or does your faith in the myths of Abraham, the Chosen People and Promised Land trump such considerations as apartheid, Palestinian property seizures, brutal attacks on Gaza and Lebanon that Israeli officials positively boast about as “disproportionate,” laws against Israeli-Arab married couples living in some housing developments, and the culture of racism that results in half of Israel’s Jewish high school students opposing the presence of Arabs in their midst?
Are you really willing to embrace that sort of racism, based on your religious faith in what—you must surely realize—is a view of history that many reasonable, thoughtful, informed, well-educated people seriously dispute?

* * *

Of course I have no real ”faith” in this approach. The situation is grim. Ignorance and irrationality prevail. The “History Channel” to its eternal shame markets Bible tales as “history.” Even National Geographic capitalizes on religious gullibility. It’s easy to do in a country where 60% of the people believe in the charming myths of Noah and the ark, and the parting of the Red Sea.

Still, just as the first step in overcoming a drug addiction is to acknowledge that there is a problem, the first step in overcoming the Abraham myth—and associated delusions stemming from religion, the opium of the masses—is to recognize it for what it is.

It is not a question of religious intolerance. (I am happy to accept my octogenarian Japanese mother-in-law’s naive acceptance of Shinto myth, although should she start to deploy it to—say—justify a Japanese attack on Chinese territory I would have to say, “Don’t you realize this is all nonsense”?) In world history, few things have proven more destructive than religion in the service of aggression. But that’s what the myth of Abraham is all about, in the minds of Israel’s U.S. Christian allies: the justification of Zionist aggression.

Those serious about challenging the default-mode Israelophilia that pervades U.S. policy ought, in my humble view, to hone in on this myth—this fountainhead of racism, colonialism, and messianic End Times craziness—and challenge it at every turn, urging their deluded friends to wake up.

GARY LEUPP is Professor of History at Tufts University, and holds a secondary appointment in the Department of Religion. He is the author of Servants, Shophands and Laborers in in the Cities of Tokugawa JapanMale Colors: The Construction of Homosexuality in Tokugawa Japan; and Interracial Intimacy in Japan: Western Men and Japanese Women, 1543-1900. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, (AK Press). He can be reached at: gleupp@granite.tufts.edu

samedi, 27 décembre 2014

Fighting ‘Islamic State’ is Not the Israeli Priority

 

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The Bullet in Their Rifles

Fighting ‘Islamic State’ is Not the Israeli Priority

by NICOLA NASSER
Ex: http://www.counterpunch.org
 
Defying a consensus that it is a priority by the world community comprising international rivals like the United States, Europe, Russia and China and regional rivals like Iran, Syria and Saudi Arabia, Israel, like Turkey, does not eye the U.S. – led war on the IS as its regional priority. Nor fighting Israel is an IS priority.
 
The Israeli top priority is to dictate its terms to Syria to sign a peace treaty with Israel before withdrawing its forces from the occupied Syrian Golan Heights, Palestinian territories and Lebanese southern lands.
 
For this purpose, Israel is determined to break down the Syria – Iran alliance, which has been the main obstacle preventing Israel from realising its goals. Changing the ruling regime in either Damascus or Tehran would be a step forward. Towards this Israeli strategic goal the IS could not be but an Israeli asset.
 
“To defeat ISIS (The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria as the IS was previously known) and leave Iran as a threshold nuclear power is to win the battle and lose the war,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the UN General Assembly last September.
 
Therefore, “it should not come as a surprise that the (Benjamin) Netanyahu government has not yet taken any immediate steps against IS,” according to Amos Harel, writing in Foreign Policy on September 15.
 
However, information is already surfacing that Israel is “taking steps” in the opposite direction, to empower the IS and other terrorist groups fighting and infighting in Syria.
 
Israeli daily Haaretz on last October 31 quoted a “senior Northern Command officer” as saying that the U.S. – led coalition “is making a big mistake in fighting against ISIS … the United States, Canada and France are on the same side as Hezbollah, Iran and [Syrian President Bashar al-] Assad. That does not make sense.”
 
Regardless, on September 8 Israeli daily The Jerusalem Post reported that Israel has provided “satellite imagery and other information” to the coalition. Three days later Netanyahu said at a conference in Herzliya: “Israel fully supports President [Barack] Obama’s call for united actions against ISIS … We are playing our part in this continued effort. Some of the things are known; some of the things are less known.”
Obama’s call was the green light for Israel to support Syrian and non- Syrian rebels. Syrian official statements claim that Israel has been closely coordinating with the rebels.
 
Israeli statements claim theirs is confined to “humanitarian” support to “moderate” Syrian opposition, which the U.S. has already pledged to train and arm in Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Turkey. A significant portion of the $64 billion earmarked for conflicts abroad in the budget legislation signed by Obama on December 19 will go to these “moderates.”
 
Both Israel and the U.S. have no headaches about whether the “moderates” would remain as such after being armed with lethal weapons or whether it remains appropriate to call them “opposition.”
 
But the Israeli “humanitarian” claim is challenged by the fact that Israel is the only neighbouring country which still closes its doors to Syrian civilian refugees while keeping its doors wide open to the wounded rebels who are treated in Israeli hospitals and allowed to return to the battle front after recovery.
 
IS close to Israeli borders
 
The Israeli foreign ministry on last September 3 confirmed that the U.S. journalist Steven Sotloff whom the IS had beheaded was an Israeli citizen as well. In a speech addressed to Sotloff’s family, Netanyahu condemned the IS as a “branch” of a “poisonous tree” and a “tentacle” of a “violent Islamist terrorism.”
 
On the same day Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon officially outlawed the IS and anyone associating with it.
 
On September 10, Netanyahu convened an urgent security meeting to prepare for the possible danger of the IS advancing closer to the Israeli border, a prospect confirmed by the latest battles for power between the IS and the al – Nusra Front on the southern Syrian – Lebanese borders and in southern Syria, within the artillery range of Israeli forces.
 
On November 9, Ansar Bait al-Maqdis (ABM), which has been operating against the Egyptian army, released an audio clip pledging allegiance to the IS to declare later the first IS Wilayah (province) in the Egyptian Sinai Peninsula, south of Israel.
 
On last November 14 The Israeli Daily quoted Netanyahu as saying in a private defense meeting that the IS is “currently operating out of Lebanon … close to Israel’s northern border. We must take this as a serious threat.”
 
However, “in truth, as most of Israel’s intelligence community has been quick to point out, there are no signs that anything of the sort is actually happening,” according to Amos Harel, writing in Foreign Policy five days later.
 
Moshe Ya’alon told journalists in September that “the organization operates far from Israel” and thus presents no imminent threat. Israeli peace activist Uri Avnery, on November 14, wrote: “The present and former generals who shape Israel’s policy can only smile when this ‘danger’ is mentioned.”
 
Israel “certainly does not see the group as an external threat” and the “Islamic State also does not yet pose an internal threat to Israel,” according toIsraeli journalist and Associate Policy Fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations,  Dimi Reider, writing in a Reuters blog on last October 21.
 
What Netanyahu described as a “serious threat” in the north does not yet dictate any Israeli action against it because “we must assume that Hizballah,” which is allied to Syria and Iran, “does not have its house in order,” according to the Israeli premier.
 
The presence of the IS Wilayah on its southern border with Egypt is preoccupying the country with an internal bloody anti-terror conflict that would prevent any concrete Egyptian contribution to the stabilization of the Arab Levant or support to the Palestinians in their struggle to end the Israeli occupation of their land, let alone the fact that this presence is already pitting Egypt against Israel’s archenemy, Hamas, in the Palestinian Gaza Strip and creating a hostile environment that dictates closer Egyptian – Israeli security coordination.
 
Therefore, Israel is not going to “interfere” because “these are internal issues of the countries where it is happening.” Israel is “informally … ready to render assistance, but not in a military way and not by joining the (U.S. – led) coalition” against the IS, according to the deputy head of the Israeli embassy in Moscow, Olga Slov, as quoted by Russian media on November 14.
 
Jordan is another story
 
However, Israel’s eastern neighbours in Jordan and Syria seem another story.
 
“Jordan feels threatened by IS. We will cooperate with them one way or another,” ambassador Slov said. Jordanian media has been reporting that more than 2000 Jordanians had already joined al-Qaeda splinter the IS, al-Qaeda’s branch al-Nusra Front or other rebels who are fighting for an “Islamic” state in Syria. Hundreds of them were killed by the Syrian Arab Army.
 
The Daily Beast on last June 27 quoted Thomas Sanderson, the co-director for transnational threats at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, as saying that Israel considers the survival of Jordan as “a paramount national security objective.”
 
If Jordan requested Israeli assistance in protecting its borders, Israel would have “little choice” but to help, the Beast quoted the director of the Israeli National Security Council, Yaakov Amidror, as saying.
 
As a precaution measure, Israel is building now a 500-kilometre “security fence” on its border with Jordan.
 
While Israel is willing and getting ready to “interfere” in Jordan, it is already deeply interfering in Syria, where the real battle has been raging for less than four years now against terrorists led by the IS.
 
A few weeks ago The Associated Press reported that the IS and the al-Nusra had concluded an agreement to stop fighting each other and cooperate on destroying the U.S. – trained and supported rebels (The Syrian Revolutionaries Front and the Hazm movement) as well as the Syrian government forces in northern Syria.
 
But in southern Syria all these and other terrorist organizations are coordinating among themselves and have what Lt. Col. Peter Lerner, a spokesman for the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) called “a gentleman’s agreement” with Israel across the border, according to Colum Lynch in Foreign Policy on June 11.
 
Last October, Al-Qaeda branch in Syria, al-Nusra, was among the rebel groups which overtook the only border crossing of Quneitra between Syria and the Israeli – occupied Golan Heights. Israel has yet to demonstrate its objection.
 
“Many Sunnis in Iraq and the Gulf consider ISIS a bullet in their rifles aimed at Shiite extremism, in their bid to restore their lost standing,” Raghida Dergham, a columnist and a senior diplomatic correspondent for the London – based Arabic Al-Hayat daily, wrote in the huffingtonpost on September 19.
 
A political public agreement between Israel and the Gulf Arabs has developed on a mutual understanding that the dismantling of the Syria – Iran alliance as a prelude to a “regime change” in both countries is the regional priority, without losing sight of the endgame, which is to dictate peace with Israel as the regional power under the U.S. hegemony. The IS is “the bullet in their rifles.” From their perspective, the U.S. war on the IS is irrelevant, for now at least.
 
Nicola Nasser is a veteran Arab journalist based in Birzeit, West Bank of the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories (nassernicola@ymail.com).     

vendredi, 28 novembre 2014

Is Israel Losing the Battle to Wage War on Iran?

 

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On the Long-Term Agreement Between Iran and the P5+1   

Is Israel Losing the Battle to Wage War on Iran?

by SASAN FAYAZMANESH
Ex: http://www.counterpunch.org

The world’s attention is focused once again on the negotiations between Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany, commonly referred to as P5+1. Many are speculating about whether these negotiations will bear fruit by November 24, 2014, and reach a long-term agreement on curtailing Iran’s nuclear activities in exchange for removal of sanctions imposed on the country. Whatever the outcome, however, one thing is certain: the role of Israel in these negotiations has diminished considerably.

Last year’s short-term Joint Plan of Action (JPA), which was signed between Iran and the P5+1 on November 24, 2013, was a milestone in the US-Iran relations. As I analyzed it elsewhere, the JPA resulted in limiting some of Iran’s nuclear activities—which allegedly would enable her to make nuclear weapons—in return for a minimal reduction in certain kinds of sanctions. But this was not the real significance of the agreement. After all, and contrary to popular belief, the dispute between the US and Iran has never really been a technical dispute over nuclear issues. The dispute has always been a political clash; and the clash started in 1979, following the Iranian revolution. Since then the US has refused to accept the independence of Iran and has tried, using various excuses, to subdue a political system that would not fit the American vision of “world order.” These excuses, as I have shown elsewhere, have included, among others, issues such as Iran not accepting a ceasefire offered to it by Saddam Hussein in the 1980s Iran-Iraq war, Iran’s support for “terrorist” groups opposed to Israel and pursuit of weapons of mass destruction in general, Iran destabilizing Afghanistan, harboring Al-Qaeda, lacking democracy, being ruled by unelected individuals, violating human rights, not protecting the rights of women, and Iran not being forward-looking and modern. It has only been since 2002, when an Iranian exile group working hand in hand with the US and Israel made certain allegations against Iran, that the issue of Iran’s nuclear program was added to the list of accusations and became the cause célèbre and even casus belli. The JPA removed, at least for six months, the most major excuse for the US to wage a military attack on Iran.

In its clash with Iran, the US has always had a very close partner, Israel. The partnership started in 1979, but it took different routes. Up until the end of the Iran-Iraq war and the first US invasion of Iraq, Israel’s attention was primarily focused on Iraq, which was viewed by Israel as the most immediate obstacle to achieving its goal of annexing “Judea and Samaria.” Thereafter, Israel turned its attention to Iran, the other main obstacle in fulfilling the Zionist dream of Eretz Yisrael. Starting in the early 1990s Israel not only joined the US in its massive campaign against Iran, but it actually took over the sanctions policy of the US. With the help of its lobby groups, Israel pushed through the US Congress one set of sanctions after another, hoping that ultimately the US would attack Iran, as it had done in the case of Iraq.

Israel and its lobby groups also installed influential individuals in different US administrations to formulate US foreign policy toward Iran. This included the first Obama Administration. Various Israeli lobbyists shaped President Obama’s policy of “tough diplomacy,” a policy which, as I have analyzed elsewhere, meant nothing but sanctions upon sanctions until conditions would be ripe for military actions against Iran. Among these were Dennis Ross and Gary Samore. The first, Ross, well-known as “Israel’s lawyer,” was Obama’s closest advisor on Iran. He came from the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP), an offshoot of American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), and when he retired in 2011 he returned to his lobbying activities through WINEP and JINSA (Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs). The second, Samore, who served as Obama’s advisor on “weapons of mass destruction,” was one of the founding members of the Israeli lobby group United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI), an establishment that has been lately in the news for receiving classified US government information on Iran and is being protected by the Obama Administration in a law suit. Samore left the Obama Administration in 2013 and returned to UANI to become its president. He also became the executive director of the Harvard University’s Belfer Center that is also linked to UANI, according to some investigative reports.

The policy of “tough diplomacy” pursued by the Israeli lobbyists did not produce the desired result. The harsh sanctions imposed did enormous damage to Iran’s economy. But, as Samore himself admitted in a talk at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London on March 11, 2014, there were no “riots on the streets” and no “threat to the survival of the regime.”

With the departure of the most influential Israeli lobbyists from the Obama Administration, the policy of “tough diplomacy” started to wither away. The disintegration of policy was also helped by John Kerry replacing Hillary Clinton, the most hawkish Secretary of State who often mimicked the belligerent language of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu when it came to Iran. Kerry—who, as the Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, had once stated in an interview with The Financial Times that Iran has “a right to peaceful nuclear power and to enrichment in that purpose”—abandoned the policy of “tough diplomacy.” In the P5+1 meetings in February of 2013, Kerry offered the Iranian government a deal that it could live with. However, the Iranian government under President Ahmadinejad hesitated, haggled over the deal, and ran out of time as the Iranian presidential election approached. The new Iranian President, Rouhani, accepted the deal and ran away with it. The result was the JPA.

Israel, which had hoped that a military attack on Iran by the US would follow the tough sanctions imposed by the Obama Administration, was quite unhappy with the JPA. Even before an agreement was reached, Israeli leaders and their US allies led a massive campaign against it. For example, according to The Times of Israel, on November 10, 2013, Netanyahu sent an indirect message to French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, telling him that if France did not toughen its positions, he would attack Iran. Netanyahu also asked his supporters around the world to stop the deal. A news headline in Haaretz on November 10, 2013, read: “Netanyahu urges Jews: Rally behind me on halting Iran nuclear program.” Surrogates of Israel in the US Congress followed suit. The title of a news item on Reuters on November 10, 2013, read: “U.S. lawmakers seek tighter Iran sanctions before any deal.” Among the lawmakers were Senators Mark Kirk and Robert Menendez, as well as Representatives Eric Cantor, Ed Royce and Eliot Engel. Israeli lobbyists, too, went into action. This included former advisor to Obama Dennis Ross. “We must not let Tehran off the hook, says Dennis Ross at Jewish Agency for Israel’s 2013 Assembly,” was The Jerusalem Post headline on November 10, 2013. Yet, in the end, the short-term agreement between Iran and the P5+1 could not be stopped.

Failing to stop the JPA, Israel then tried to nullify it by passing a new and severe set of sanctions through the US Congress. The move was led by Kirk and Menendez, two senators who often appear on the list of the biggest recipients of campaign cash from pro-Israel public actions committees. The Kirk-Menendez bill, titled “Nuclear Weapons Free Iran Act,” was introduced on December 19, 2013, with the sole purpose of ending the agreement between Iran and the P5+1. The bill gained momentum as various Israeli lobby groups, particularly AIPAC, exerted pressure in the Senate. On January 4, 2014, AIPAC had a summary of Kirk-Menendez bill on its website and was instructing its members to “act now.”

The number of senators signing the Kirk-Menendez bill rose from 33 in early January to 59 in mid-January, 2014. This was despite the fact that some officials in the Obama Administration, including Secretary Kerry, referred to the bill as an attempt to push the US into a war with Iran. This was also in spite of Obama’s threats to veto the bill. On January 28, 2014, in his State of the Union Address, Obama reiterated his stance on any congressional bill intended to impose a new set of sanctions on Iran and stated that “if this Congress sends me a new sanctions bill now that threatens to derail these talks, I will veto it. ”

Israel, its lobby groups and its conduits in Congress, nevertheless, pushed for passing the resolution. However, they could not muster the strength to get the two-thirds majority in the Senate to make the bill veto-proof. They threw in the towel and AIPAC declared on February 6, 2014: “We agree with the Chairman [Menendez] that stopping the Iranian nuclear program should rest on bipartisan support . . . and that there should not be a vote at this time on the measure.” As many observed, this was the biggest loss for Israel, its lobby groups and its conduits in the US Congress, since Ronald Reagan agreed, contrary to Israel’s demand, to sell AWACS surveillance planes to Saudi Arabia. Subsequent attempts to nullify the JPA also failed. This included an attempt by some Senators, a few days before March 2014 AIPAC policy conference, to include elements of “Nuclear Weapons Free Iran Act” in a veterans’ bill.

In the end, Israeli lobby groups had to settle for a few letters written by US law makers to President Obama, telling him what the final deal must look like. The AIPAC-approved letter in the House of Representative on March 3, 2014, was circulated by Eric Cantor and Steny Hoyer. The Senate letter was posted on AIPAC website, dated March 18, 2014, and, as many Israeli affiliated news sources joyously reported, the letter gained 82 signatures. Finally, 23 Senators also signed the Cantor-Hoyer letter, as Senator Carl Levin’s website posted it on March 22, 2014. If some of the harsh measures proposed in these letters were to be adopted by the Obama Administrations, no final deal could be reached with Iran.

The JPA was supposed to lead to a final settlement in six months, and, consequently, there were many rounds of negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 before the deadline. The final and the most intense negotiations that took place behind closed doors in July 2014 lasted for more than two weeks. However, in the end there were “significant gaps on some core issues,” as a statement by EU Representative Catherine Ashton and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif read on July 19, 2014. It was therefore decided to close the so-called gaps by November 24, 2014.

We are now approaching the 2nd deadline for reaching a long-term agreement between Iran and the P5+1. It is unclear whether the gaps can be bridged. It is also unclear how much of these gaps are due to the relentless Israeli pressure that is still being exerted even on the Obama Administration and its team of negotiators. We know that these negotiators, as they have readily admitted, consult Israel before and after every meeting with Iran. Indeed, even after the latest round of meetings between Iran and the US in Muscat, Oman, Kerry called Netanyahu to “update” him on the negotiations. Yet, we also know that Israel does not have the clout that it once had in the White House. The most influential Israeli lobbyists have left the Obama Administration and their policy of tough diplomacy is in tatters. Israel has also been unable to stop the short-term P5+1 agreement with Iran, it has failed to nullify the agreement after it passed, and it has not even been able to garner the two-thirds majority in the Senate to make veto-proof a Congressional bill designed to start a war with Iran. In other words, in the past two years Israel has been losing the battle to engage the US in another military adventure in the Middle East. But has Israel lost the war to wage war on Iran? The newly configured US Senate is already seeking a vote on another Israeli sponsored war bill called “Iran Nuclear Negotiations Act of 2014.”

Sasan Fayazmanesh is Professor Emeritus of Economics at California State University, Fresno, and is the author of Containing Iran: Obama’s Policy of “Tough Diplomacy.” He can be reached at: sasan.fayazmanesh@gmail.com.

dimanche, 31 août 2014

Spirale des sanctions entre Russie et UE: Israël grand bénéficiaire

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Spirale des sanctions entre Russie et UE: Israël grand bénéficiaire

La réaction de Moscou à l’absurde politique de sanctions dans laquelle patauge l’Union européenne cause dès à présent à certains pays-membres un manque à gagner significatif. Par exemple, l’économie grecque qui était bien partie pour enfin engranger une petite croissance en 2014 restera vraisemblablement engluée une année de plus dans la récession du fait du préjudice infligé à son agriculture par les mesures de rétorsion russes. De son côté, l’Allemagne est également vouée à payer le prix fort pour l’aveuglement et/ou l’asservissement de ses dirigeants à la puissance américaine. En effet, le Comité oriental de l’économie allemande (organisation représentant les intérêts des sociétés allemandes opérant dans les pays de l’ex-URSS et en Europe de l’est) prédit pour cette année une chute de 20 à 25 % des exportations de la première économie européenne vers la Russie, ce qui affecterait 50 000 emplois en Allemagne. Se montant à plus de 36 milliards d’euros en 2013, les exportations allemandes s’étaient alors déjà réduites de 5,2 % par rapport à l’année précédente.

En face, il est bien évident que les produits agro-alimentaires que la Russie n’importera plus d’Occident, elle les produira elle-même – ce qui constitue une aubaine pour doper la modernisation et l’amélioration de son agriculture – ou elle se les fera livrer par d’autres pays qui ne manqueront pas cette occasion en or. Et parmi les heureux bénéficiaires de la situation figure incontestablement l’Etat d’Israël qui a déjà commencé à s’engouffrer dans la brèche ouverte par les stupides sanctions européennes. Le ministre israélien de l’agriculture Yair Shamir expliquait récemment : « C’est une occasion unique pour nous et pour le marché russe. En effet, nous pouvons lui offrir une gamme de produits beaucoup plus large que celle sur laquelle il pouvait compter. Plus de fruits tropicaux et d’autres produits. En outre, nous disposons déjà d’une bonne expérience. Au cours des dernières années, nos exportations vers la Russie de pommes de terre et d’autres productions agricoles ont été multipliées par trois. Cela montre que les clients russes apprécient nos produits. Donc, c’est pour nous une chance inespérée. » Concrètement, les Israéliens sont d’ores et déjà impliqués dans le nouveau complexe de transformation de produits laitiers Petrovski, dans la région de Saint-Pétersbourg ; les pommes de terre polonaises seront partiellement remplacées sur le marché russe par des israéliennes ; un projet russo-israélien de construction d’une ligne de transformation de lait de chèvre est à l’ordre du jour dans la région de Vologda. Enfin, le ministre de l’agriculture de la république de Crimée a communiqué que la production de volailles allait être relancée dans la péninsule grâce à des investissements israéliens.

L’Union européenne osera-t-elle faire pression sur Israël comme elle essaie de le faire sur les pays d’Amérique latine afin qu’ils ne lui prennent pas ses parts de marché qu’elle a très intelligemment renoncé par soumission aux Etats-Unis ?

lundi, 28 juillet 2014

Gaza, il gas nel mirino

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Gaza, il gas nel mirino

L'arte de la guerra

 
carte_gaza_gaz.jpgPer capire qual è uno degli obiettivi dell’attacco israeliano a Gaza bisogna andare in profondità, esattamente a 600 metri sotto il livello del mare, 30 km al largo delle sue coste. Qui, nelle acque territoriali palestinesi, c’è un grosso giacimento di gas naturale, Gaza Marine, stimato in 30 miliardi di metri cubi del valore di miliardi di dollari. Altri giacimenti di gas e petrolio, secondo una carta redatta dalla U.S. Geological Survey (agenzia del governo degli Stati uniti), si trovano sulla terraferma a Gaza e in Cisgiordania. Nel 1999, con un accordo firmato da Yasser Arafat, l’Autorità palestinese affida lo sfruttamento di Gaza Marine a un consorzio formato da British Gas Group e Consolidated Contractors (compagnia privata palestinese), rispettivamente col 60% e il 30% delle quote, nel quale il Fondo d’investimento dell’Autorità ha una quota del 10%. Vengono perforatidue pozzi, Gaza Marine-1 e Gaza Marine-2. Essi però non entrano mai in funzione, poiché sono bloccati da Israele, che pretende di avere tutto il gas a prezzi stracciati. Tramite l’ex premier Tony Blair, inviato del  «Quartetto per il Medio Oriente», viene preparato un accordo con Israele che toglie ai palestinesi i tre quarti dei futuri introiti del gas, versando la parte loro spettante in un conto internazionale controllato da Washington e Londra. Ma, subito dopo aver vinto le elezioni nel 2006, Hamas rifiuta l’accordo, definendolo un furto, e chiede una sua rinegoziazione. Nel 2007, l’attuale ministro della difesa israeliano Moshe Ya’alon avverte che «il gas non può essere estratto senza una operazione militare che sradichi il controllo di Hamas a Gaza». Nel 2008, Israele lancia l’operazione «Piombo Fuso» contro Gaza. Nel settembre 2012 l’Autorità palestinese annuncia che, nonostante l’opposizione di Hamas, ha ripreso i negoziati sul gas con Israele. Due mesi dopo, l’ammissione della Palestina all’Onu quale «Stato osservatore non membro»  rafforza la posizione dell’Autorità palestinese nei negoziati. Gaza Marine resta però bloccato, impedendo ai palestinesi di sfruttare la ricchezza naturale di cui dispongono. A questo punto l’Autorità palestinese imbocca un’altra strada. Il 23 gennaio 2014, nell’incontro del presidente palestinese Abbas col presidente russo Putin, viene discussa la possibilità di affidare alla russa Gazprom lo sfruttamento del giacimento di gas nelle acque di Gaza. Lo annuncia l’agenzia Itar-Tass, sottolineando che Russia e Palestina intendono rafforzare la cooperazione nel settore energetico. In tale quadro, oltre allo sfruttamento del giacimento di Gaza, si prevede quello di un giacimento petrolifero nei pressi della città palestinese di Ramallah in Cisgiordania. Nella stessa zona, la società russa Technopromexport è pronta a partecipare alla costruzione di un impianto termoelettrico della potenza di 200 MW. La formazione del nuovo governo palestinese di unità nazionale, il 2 giugno 2014, rafforza la possibilità che l’accordo tra Palestina e Russia vada in porto. Dieci giorni dopo, il 12 giugno, avviene il rapimento dei tre giovani israeliani, che vengono trovati uccisi il 30 giugno: il puntuale casus belli che innesca l’operazione «Barriera protettiva» contro Gaza. Operazione che rientra nella strategia di Tel Aviv, mirante a impadronirsi anche delle riserve energetiche dell’intero Bacino di levante, comprese quelle palestinesi, libanesi e siriane, e in quella di Washington che, sostenendo Israele, mira al controllo dell’intero Medio Oriente, impedendo che la Russia riacquisti influenza nella regione. Una miscela esplosiva, le cui vittime sono ancora una volta i palestinesi.  

Manlio Dinucci

Israël recourt à la violence

 

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Bernhard Tomaschitz:

Israël recourt à la violence

Des centaines de civils palestiniens massacrés

 

L'objectif? Les gisements de gaz face au littoral de la Bande de Gaza

 

Du point de vue israélien, il fallait rendre coup pour coup: d'abord, on a annoncé qu'en Cisjordanie occupée, trois jeunes étudiants d'une école talmudique avaient été enlevés puis assassinés. L'Etat d'Israël part alors du principe que les auteurs de ce triple assassinat sont des membres du Hamas, un mouvement palestinien, islamiste et radical qui gouverne la Bande de Gaza. En guise de vengeance, des extrémistes juifs assassinent un jeune Palestinien de manière particulièrement cruelle: l'adolescent de seize ans a été brûlé vif. En représailles, le Hamas tire en direction d'Israël des roquettes bricolées au départ de la Bande de Gaza, considérée comme la plus grande prison en plein air du monde. Israël est en mesure de les détruire grâce à son système de défense "coupole de fer". Pour l'Etat sioniste, pourtant, ces tirs de roquettes de mauvaise qualité suffisent pour déclencher une attaque aérienne contre la Bande de Gaza.

 

Entre-temps, ces bombardements ont causé la mort de près de mille personnes, la plupart n'étant toutefois pas des membres du Hamas mais des civils, femmes et enfants. Comme le souligne le "Centre palestinien pour les droits de l'homme", 47 Palestiniens, dont 43 civils, ont été tués entre le 9 juillet, 10 h, et le 10 juillet, 10 h. "Les victimes civiles comprennent 16 enfants et dix femmes, dont huit membres d'une même famille. A cela s'ajoute que 214 Palestiniens, majoritairement des civils, ont été blessés; ce chiffre comprend 58 enfants et 29 femmes. Les avions de combat israéliens ont frappé et détruit 41 maisons sans avertissement préalable".

 

La colère du gouvernement israélien du premier ministre Benjamin Netanyahu s'explique par la fait que les Palestiniens, auparavant divisés entre militants du Hamas et adeptes du Fatah (qui gouverne la Cisjordanie), ont fini par se réconcilier, suite à de longues négociations, et ont constitué un gouvernement unitaire. Le nouveau gouvernement palestinien serait dès lors responsable "de toutes les actions qui nuisent à Israël" et qui partent du territoire palestinien, estime-t-on à Tel Aviv.

 

gisements_petrole.jpgL'animosité de Netanyahu n'est pas dictée, en fin de compte, par le fait que le Hamas refuse obstinément de reconnaître le droit d'Israël à l'existence. La réconciliation entre le Hamas et le Fatah élimine ipso facto le principal obstacle à la solution dite de "deux Etats" et donc à la naissance d'un Etat palestinien indépendant. Ce dernier, s'il ne se limitait pas à la seule Cisjordanie mais comprenait aussi la Bande de Gaza, serait économiquement viable. En effet, devant les côtes de la Bande de Gaza, on a découvert en l'an 2000 d'énormes gisements de gaz.

 

D'après le consortium britannique du gaz, British Gas, ces réserves de gaz naturel s'élèveraient à 40 milliards de m3 et auraient une valeur de quelque 4 milliards de dollars. De surcroît, on estime que d'autres réserves sont encore susceptibles d'être découvertes, surtout si un Etat palestinien indépendant obtient le droit d'exploiter une zone économique maritime devant le littoral de la Bande de Gaza, s'étendant jusqu'à 200 miles marins (370 km). Les Palestiniens disposeraient alors d'une part à eux de ce qu'il est désormais convenu d'appeler le "Bassin du Levant", en Méditerranée orientale. L'importance économique de cette zone, à peu près aussi grande que le territoire autrichien, a déjà été maintes fois soulignée, notamment en 2010 par une agence officielle américaine, US Geological Survey: "Nous estimons, sur base de méthodes d'évaluation géologique, que, dans la région, on pourrait aisément pomper une moyenne de 1,7 milliard de barils de pétrole ainsi qu'une moyenne de 122 billions de pied3 (soit 3,45 billions de m3) de gaz naturel".

 

En 1999 déjà, British Gas, flanqué de deux partenaires, avait signé un contrat avec les autorités autonomes palestiniennes, permettant l'exploitation des réserves de gaz (qui, à ce moment-là, n'étaient qu'estimées). Aussitôt, Israël avait lorgné vers les "bijoux de l'économie palestinienne": c'est ainsi que s'était exprimé le Lieutenant-Général Moshe Yaalon, aujourd'hui à la retraite, devenu un spécialiste des questions de sécurité auprès de la boîte à penser israélienne, "Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs".

 

Michel Chossudovsky, expert canadien très critique à l'égard des processus de globalisation, rappelle que l'élection d'Ariel Sharon au poste de premier ministre en 2001, a constitué un "tournant important": "La souveraineté de la Palestine a été contestée par le Tribunal Suprême d'Israël. Sharon a déclaré sans ambiguïté que jamais Israël n'achèterait du gaz aux Palestiniens", ce qui revenait à dire que "les réserves de gaz situées devant le littoral de la Bade de Gaza appartenaient à Israël". Yaalon le concède sans circonlocutions inutiles: "Bien sûr, Israël a besoin de réserves de gaz complémentaires". Yaalon poursuit ensuite son raisonnement: les recettes que les Palestiniens engrangeraient suite à leur exploitation du gaz gazaoui, si du moins les Palestiniens parvenaient à le faire eux-mêmes, tomberaient entre les mains d'islamistes hostiles à Israël. C'est pourquoi, estimait Yaalon en 2007 déjà, qu'Israël doit "d'urgence contrôler les effets à long terme (de cette situation) pour sa sécurité, s'il décide un jour d'acquérir du gaz de Gaza". Par voie de conséquence, pour Yaalon et Israël, d'autres Etats ne devraient pas, suite à des contrats signés avec les Palestiniens, injecter de l'argent dans les caisses d'un éventuel futur Etat palestinien".

 

La guerre menée par Israël contre les Palestiniens est donc dictée prioritairement par des considérations d'ordre économique.

 

Bernhard Tomaschitz.

 

(article paru dans zur Zeit, Vienne, n°29/2014; http://www.zurzeit.at ).

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