יום רביעי, 29 בפברואר 2012

Who will rule Turkey

Prime Minister and his Head of Intelligence
The arguments in the Turkish parliament about intelligence service seem to be taken from television mini series. War against terror involves agents, who infiltrate a terrorist organization. Occasionally such agents, believed to be loyal and true terrorists are ordered to commit acts of terror. Refusal may lead to exposure, consequently even if the agent remains alive, he or she becomes an useless spy. Now, if an agent engages in terror, is she immune from prosecution? Who grants the approval to act in this way and who is in charge of control? These dilemmas are usually discussed in close doors, certainly in a country like Turkey, not exactly a paradigm of government transparency. 

The public prosecutor opened a criminal investigation against no less a figure than Dr. Hakan Fidan, the head of national intelligence service (MİT), an appointee of Prime Minister Erdoğan with a rank of Undersecretary and against several other officials under him. The subject matter has been the Kurdish PKK, which is considered by Turkey a terrorist group and CKK its political arm. In response, the parliament enacted a new law, which allows the Prime Minister to grant immunity to MİT agents in exercise of their approved duties. The main opposition BDP stated that it will ask the Constitutional Court to cancel the new law.

The debate is much more than a legal bickering between factions in Government and Parliament. It represents deep power struggle among important forces that have shaped modern secular Turkey ruled by an Islamic party.

Fethullah Gülen
Fethullah Gülen is the head of a movement that exerts considerable religious, social and political power over Turkey and Turks over the world. He was the architect of making the Islamic AKP the ruling party in Turkey, and subsequently nominating Erdoğan,  its leader, the Prime Minister. Gülen followers are well established in AKP and in the Government. Presumably they maintain a forceful presence in the judiciary system.

Erdoğan's Turkey is a rather strange amalgam of nationalistic state, alliance with secular business, and moderate Islam. The state vision in its strict ethnic and language definitions is closer to right wing Poland between the wars than to Ottoman's Caliphate or even Ataturk conception of the country. Like Poland at that time, Turkey has difficulty in dealing with its sizable 20 percent minority, with facts of its recent history, and again like Poland it has imperialistic dreams toward small and weak neighbors. The alliance with business community is based on crony capitalism with ever growing disparity in distribution of national income. The Islamic foundation are more a political tool than real life force changing the secular Turkey into a religious country.

After the last elections, Turkey's relations with most of the countries around it, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Israel, Cyprus, Greece deteriorated significantly. Yet in the media an impression arose that Turkey became a regional – a word that probably Mr. Erdoğan dislikes – power and its Prime Minister a charismatic leader. It seems that Mr. Erdoğan believes that this is indeed the case and that support of Mr. Gülen is not crucial anymore. Mr. Gülen, a resident of Pennsylvania, is less impressed with the image of the Prime Minister. He probably considers him arrogant and unnecessarily argumentative. On the face of it, though, the difference in style and even minor opinions do not warrant such a grave step as public summoning and criminal investigation of the Head of Intelligence who is also a loyal confidant of the Prime Minister.

It may well be that a more important development is the reason for the recent showdown. The health situation of Mr. Erdoğan in detail is unknown. Officially he does not have cancer. Yet a second operation is not an event which necessarily implies excellent health. It may well be that a succession struggle is taking place. Ahmet Davutoglu the Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Abdullah Gül the President are so far the best known contenders. Fethullah Gülen supports Abdullah Gül. He wants to remain the eminence grise who determines who will be the next Prime Minister. During the visit of Ahmet Davutoglu in the US, several American journalists wrote critically about the Gullen foundation. It appears that the timing and leaks are also a part of the ongoing struggle.

Fethullah Gülen was the only prominent Turkish religious leader who opposed to Gaza flotilla. Prime Minister Erdoğan and Foreign Minister Davutoglu aggressive stance against Israel proved to be a failure. It did not improve the relations of Turkey with other Muslim neighbors, in fact it worsened them. In maintaining good relations with Israel, Turkey had a leverage which it lost. Even the Palestinians did not become more eager to look for support under the wing of Turkey. After severing the ties with Israel Turkey became of no value to them. Israel used to have excellent relations with the Turkish military, because of that it probably did not maintain contacts with the Gülen foundation. Times are changing, it my be useful to consider this foundation a bridge for improving contacts with the AKP and the next Prime Minister.

יום שישי, 24 בפברואר 2012

Cultural Capital of Leftist Apartheid

Few days ago, Norman Finkelstein, a well known anti-Zionist activist,  denounced the Boycott, Divestment andSanctions (BDS) movement against Israel. Here is how Wikipedia summarized his criticism:
Finkelstein "launched a blistering attack" of the BDS movement, saying it was a "hypocritical, dishonest cult" that tries to cleverly pose as human rights activists while in reality their goal is to destroy Israel. In addition, he said: "I'm getting a little bit exasperated with what I think is a whole lot of nonsense. I'm not going to tolerate silliness, childishness and a lot of leftist posturing. I loathe the disingenuousness. We will never hear the solidarity movement [back a] two-state solution." Furthermore, Finkelstein stated that the BDS movement has had very few successes, and that just like a cult, the leaders pretend that they are hugely successful when in reality the general public rejects their extreme views.

Finkelstein did not suddenly change his views and became an ardent Zionist. He has been and remains a strong pro-Palestinian voice. He slams the one state solution, not only because it is impractical, or because Israel will never agree to it, but, because, if realized, it is the worst outcome of the Palestinians.

One-state solution implies that Palestinians do not have a culture of their own, that they are not a vibrant society with its own values. It assumes that by stroke of pen one can transform the Palestinians into a sort of mini Jews and that granting them equal legal rights will make them indeed equal. For all communities and societies the path into modernity was, and to many of them still is a difficult struggle. The 1,500 hundred years long persecution of Jews under Christianity, could be considered as a sort of  apprenticeship for modern age success of the Jews. The belief that Palestinian aspirations for statehood could be achieved by becoming citizens in a state Jews created is a complete nonsense. In such state, notwithstanding equal legal rights, they would become refugees in alien culture.

The so called radical Left, which on the face of it supports multi-culture, in fact uses the existence of other culture only for its political ends. The other culture itself is never of any interest. In terms of the social scientist Pierre Bourdieu, the Left sees itself the owner of all cultural capital just like the colonial powers considered themselves in the past owners of all economic capital. The continual attack on America and Israel to certain degree stems from the Left's absolute lack of interest in what takes places in cultures it is unfamiliar with.

Edward Said was mostly right in his Orientalism, when he criticized the prejudices of the well known historians and sociologists of the Orient. Nietzsche, Bourdieu and many others had a similar views about social scholars and philosophers in general. Interestingly, every psychoanalytic practitioner is required to undergo analysis of himself or herself, but no such requirement for analysis of inbred preferences, and prejudices takes place in other areas of intellectual work. The orientalists of the past were however immensely superior to self declared present day intellectuals of the Left. The orientalists, even if prejudiced and non reflective, still were very much interested in the subject matter of their scholarship. 

Every "progressive" blogger apparently knows what democracy is and how it should be implemented in Egypt, or Syria or Libya, or any other Arab country. Such blogger is also  able in several hours to prepare a dratt constitution for those countries. She assumes that her own culture, politics and opinions are equally valid for places, cultures and people she knows nothing about. It is worthwhile to consider what G.W. Hegel thought about the attempt of leader he adored, Napoleon, to compose a constitution for Spain. The differences between Spain and France were minute in comparison to those between US and any Arab country. Here is what Hegel writes in paragraph 274 of Elements of the Philosophy of Right:
The state must in its constitution penetrate all relations within it. Napoleon, for example, wanted to give Spaniards an a priori constitution, something that went quite wrong. For a constitution is not something simply made; it is a work of centuries, it is the idea and consciousness of the rational, to the extent they have developed in a nation. ... The nation must have for its constitution the feeling of its right, if granted externally it has no meaning and no value. ...

The attempt of the Left to tell Arabs what is "good for them", is a sort of low level cultural imperialism. No wonder that the more America portrays itself as "pro democratic Islam," the more its support on the Arab mainstreet declines. The support for President Obama there is much lower than it was for the hated George Bush

By itself, constant bashing of Israel by the radical Left does little damage. It may even be the main reason for the growing from year to year support of Israel in America. When main street America hears and reads what haters of Israel have to say, it likes Israel even more. The attitude  of the Left however is damaging to Palestinians and to peace effort. For the Left, Palestinians exist only as victims of Israel. They do not have any existence of their own. Apart from being victims the Left has nothing to says about them, neither good or bad, as if they do not exist. It certainly keeps silence about peace. 

Still, Israelis and Palestinians must engage in new thinking of their own and find ways and means for a discourse that will support their national interests. Perhaps a solution as defined by UN 181 resolution, two states with minority in each of the other is a possible answer.   Israelis should learn more about their neighbors. Unfortunately newspapers in Israel ignore Palestinians, except in context of conflict. Reading Sari Nusseibeh might be a good start, not because he is an elitist moderate intellectual, but because he understand his community better than most. On personal level dialogue may be helpful too.  

יום רביעי, 22 בפברואר 2012

Who Occupies Palestine

If a visitor from another planet with rudimentary knowledge of Hebrew or English had landed in New York or Jerusalem, he would have found that apart from Coca Cola, McDonald, Humus and Falafel, one of the staple words is occupation. After reading the New York Times and Haaretz on the web he, she or it would have come to the conclusion that there is a country called Palestine, which another country called Israel occupies.

Although facts are not necessarily the most important factor of postmodern life, and possibly lies, because of strange definition of freedom of expression, have an upper hand over truth, considering the real state of affairs may still have some value.

Following the defeat of the Ottoman Empire in the WWI, the British Army occupied major parts of the Middle East. In the agreement executed before the war ended by Britain and France with assent of Imperial Russia, the Sykes-Picot agreement, the parties decided what belongs to whom. One of the regions under British control was Palestine which included initially the area of present day Israel, West Bank, Gaza Strip and Jordan. Those areas became the British Mandate of Palestine under a resolution of League of Nations in 1921. Shortly thereafter in 1922 the area East of the river Jordan became the Emirate of Transjordan, still under the British Mandate. Transjordan became an independent kingdom in 1946. It changed its name to Jordan.

In 1947, the UN resolution 181 called for establishment of two states on the remaining area of the British Mandate, one Jewish and one Arab. The Jewish state included a minority of Arabs, and the Arab state minority of Jews. Palestinians and Arab states did not accept the UN resolution 181. They waged a war at the soon be proclaimed State of Israel. The newly born Jewish state was able to defend itself against the Arab attack, and even to increase the area under its control over the one prescribed by UN 181. In 1949 after the military operations had ended Israel executed armistice agreements with Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon.

Following the armistice agreement with Israel, Jordan occupied the West Bank and annexed it as an integral part of the kingdom, proclaiming East Jerusalem and the Old City as its second capital. West Bank Palestinians were not allowed any political expression of their national goals.

In 1967 Egypt, Syria and Jordan waged once again a war against Israel. They lost. The West Bank came under control of Israel. If Israel indeed became an “occupier,” it occupied a part of Jordan. In fact, since annexation of West Bank to Jordan was probably illegal, and since Palestinians refused UN 181, Israel might have occupied a part of British Mandate of Palestine, an entity not existing any more.

In 1995 Israel and Palestinians executed the Oslo Interim Agreement. Strange as it seems, Israel was the first state which controls the ground that recognized the national aspirations of Palestinians. The Oslo  agreement defines the relations between the parties. It could have called Israel, an elephant, a tiger, a horse, an occupier or anything else, but it did not.

As long as the parties and most of the “international community” consider the Oslo agreement as the document defining the relations between the Israel and the Palestinians, Israel is not and cannot be seen as occupier of Palestine.

יום רביעי, 15 בפברואר 2012

Israel, Iran, Diplomacy and Deniss Ross

One of the arguments of Dennis Ross for giving another chance to diplomacy with Iran, is the decline of the Islamic Republic. The pro-Iranian lobby of experts of sorts, almost by definition, cannot argue that its client is in decline. Interestingly, the experts who usually cherish democracy, when discussing "engagement" with Iran, voice a strong opinion for the US guaranteeing the regime of the clerks.   

The Arab spring, or awakening or revolt – dictionaries and vocabularies are at loss in trying to suggest the right word – is certainly not a harbinger of Jeffersonian, or God forbid, Israeli democracy. It is still unclear, notwithstanding the chorus of journalists, experts and politicians, what its outcome is going to be. However, be that as it may, and even if Islamist parties or tyrannies will become the rulers, it is clear that religion, in Iranian, or al-Qaeda or in any other mantle has not been the reason for the events. Plausibly, Iran, al-Qaeda and many others are trying to jump the bandwagon, a fact which proves once again their weakness. Furthermore, the events have shown that no regime is immune against possible winds of change. a principle which does not please the ears and eyes of any ruler, and even more so of a dictatorship.

Inability of Iran with  Revolutionary Guards, with Basij, with Quds and with Hezbollah to assist quickly and effectively its embattled ally, Bashar al-Assad are not a sign of strength. The attempts to assassinate Israeli diplomats in Asia prove that Iran is unable to conduct such operations elsewhere. It had to use Iranians because apparently Hezbollah was unwilling to perform the operation out of fear of provoking Israel. The events in Syria have weakened Hezbollah too. It fears that any provocation of Israel might enrage Lebanon too. Hamas physically left Syria and virtually is distancing itself from Iran as well. 

It is difficult to figure out what is the economic situation in Iran. Those who want to dissuade Israel from attack, are trying to describe Iran's economy in grim terms. Rial on the black market is falling in value, inflation rises, but probably the situation there is still far from crisis. On the other hand the strategy of survival of the Islamic Republic, like that of many other dictatorships, is based on relative middle class freedom and large private sector. Economic fears, justified or not do play an important role in the decisions of the regime.

Almost frantic declarations and their subsequent withdrawals point to nervousness of the Iranian leadership. They are about to close the Hormuz strait, and then decide not to do it. They decide to stop partial shipping of oil, and then say the shipping will continue. They say that they develop nuclear energy for peace and then brag about progress in armaments, and so it goes on and on twice or three times every week.

Mobilizing the huge pro-Iranian lobby of experts who are trying several times a day to convince the world that sanctions against Iran are harmful, because Iranian response would be irrational, and certainly that military attack by Israel is unwarranted, also show that Iran fears both.

The main problem with byzantine courts of dictators is reliable information. Nobody, perhaps even not the clerks, eunuchs and other courtiers know for sure what is in the cards. Everybody likes to blame Western and Soviet intelligence for failure in Hitler's wars, but at least in the beginning, most Generals were against war, eventually Hitler had his way. It was not an easy task to determine whether Hitler or the Generals will win the argument. It was natural to assume that the “professionals” know better. This was a wrong, but not trivially wrong, assumption. It seems that the question mark about Iran's intentions still looms large.

Israel trusts nobody about its security matters. The country still remembers,  that, not now, but in 1948, when the new state was the darling of the whole world, when CIA and the State Department believed Israel is about to loose the war, they recommended to the President to abandon Israel. Still, there are various degrees of Israeli trust,  perhaps lack of trust is a better phrase. Israeli leaders believe that Dennis Ross is a professional whose intent and integrity are to be respected, and who will not knowingly deceive them. There are very few American officials whom they regard in similar light. Still, Deniss Ross will have to work very hard to convince the Israelis that diplomacy should be given a chance. If Iranians are serious about doing business, they will have to show something new to Ross, whom they rejected in 2009 because he is a Jew. Then there is the Obama obstacle. The President likes to hear the opinions of zillion of advisers, and usually choses the worst among them, thus spoiling a possible solution. Fortunately, election politics, might discipline him.

In any event the crack opening of the window of diplomacy and engagement -- perhaps a word better suite for premarital relations -- is short lived.   

יום שני, 13 בפברואר 2012

We the (Jewish) people -- Hatred and Success

Individuals, groups and communities, who enter the space-time of modernity from premodern state, experience a stressful and difficult struggle. The whole personal and societal stance, structure and way of life are subject to change. The concept of time in rural agrarian age was a homogeneous flow of events based on natural phenomena:   day, night and seasons. In the urbanized, industrial, capitalist, secular world the tempo changes constantly in a non-linear, non-homogeneous manner. Similarly, existence in physical space, in kinship relations, in politics, in making a living and in every other social field changes dramatically. Furthermore, the number of  social roles of individuals increases immensely in comparison to the few more or less constant and fixed he or she had in premodern society.

Jews in the Christian World posed a threat and challenge to Christianity. Jesus Christ and most of his early followers were Jews. The refusal of Jews themselves to accept the tenets of Christian religion constituted a question mark as to the validity of the of the new faith. The Christian response was that the attitude of the Jews stems from grave error for which they must pay by persecution and restrictions on residence and earning rights. The Jew became a pariah, subject to constant threat of deportation, of murder and conversion to Christianity by force. To survive Christian antisemitism, Jews had to be always ready to change their residence town, country or even continent. Many times such changes entailed learning new language, customs and way of life on very short notice, or no notice at all. Only few professions were open to them, trade, money lending and few others.

To keep their religion alive they had to maintain among themselves social solidarity and education system, which was based on their holy books. Most important among them was the Talmud. The Talmud is a compendium of legal opinions by Rabbis, one can consider them legal scholars, between 200 and 800 C.E. At the beginning of the first millennium commentaries by Rabbi Shlomo Ytshaki known as RASHI and his students, called the Masters of Additions (TOSAFOT) became for all practical purposes part of the Talmud. It is a very demanding text, which deals with torts, religious rituals, contracts, marriage and divorce laws, legal jurisprudence and almost every other aspect of Jewish life. To make it even more difficult, the language is mostly Aramaic. Pupils, later to become students, started to learn the Talmud at the age of nine for about ten hours a day and continued to do so all their life, becoming Rabbis, Judges and teachers of their community. Contrary to religious masterpieces of other religions, Talmud is a practical treatise. It does not discuss abstract terms like God, nature, justice and so on. It speaks, for instance, about prayers as something to be done so many times a day in particular sequence, how and when rather than about the proper intent and personal relation to God. Both the religious obligations and those between people are treated legally in the same manner.

All modern commerce relies on law for solving disputes that may arise between the parties. In this respect Jews enjoyed, long before judicial systems in the community of nations were perfected, a clear advantage. They had their own autonomous jurisprudence which they trusted. If a Jew from Poland had a dispute with his colleague, say in Morocco, he knew that the local Rabbi in Morocco will investigate the matter on similar principles that his Rabbi in Poland would have done. Knowledge of the law and Jewish courts all over the world were a key factor in promoting trade by and between Jews.

When modernity broke out many disadvantages that Jews had because of Christian antisemitism and persecution, suddenly became an entry card into the new era, as if they had a thousand years long apprenticeship for entering the highway to success. The intense practical scholarship became a staple too. Some Jews were better than non-Jews prepared for modern science. Even luminaries like Marx and Freud were distinguished by being, or at least trying to be practical. Das Kapital still today is a practical attempt to analyze capital in modern society, starting from facts and not from preconceived principles. Freud insisted all along on practical therapy and phenomena such as dreams and jokes, before providing general structures. His dispute with Carl Jung may be considered as an argument between a practitioner and a thinker who prefers to follow abstract generalities.

The sudden success of some, relatively many Jews, evoked feelings of anger and further enhanced the preexisting religious antisemitism, thus transforming it into a new modern variety. The rise of nationalistic and racial ideas made this state of affairs much worse. The terms nation and race are meaningless unless one has a dialectical non-nation or non-race. Nation and race need the other as a condition for their validity. Jews are a ready made other for validating them. In fact, there is no need for physical Jew for this purpose, a memory of Jews can do the same job, perhaps even perfect it. Memory is a figure of imagination, which can be easily mellowed into a shape, which is an improved fancy, in comparison with  physical people, who may demand looking into facts and reality. Consequently, with practically no Jews in Poland and Germany today, antisemitism is flourishing among radical right wing groups.

Interestingly, the more Palestinians are building up their national narrative, the more frequent are antisemitic statements among them. 

The story of the state of Israel, in certain sense, is also a reflection of the paradigm of hatred and success of the Jewish nation. 

יום ראשון, 12 בפברואר 2012

Why the radical Left is anti Israel

The Israeli Palestinian conflict in terms of number of people involved, area and casualties seems insignificant in comparison with other conflicts in the Middle East, such as the Kurds in Turkey, and also in Syria, Iran and Iraq, sectarian division in Iraq, massacres in Syria, human rights violations in Iran and Saudi Arabia, killings in the two states of Nigeria, rapes and killings in Somalia, religious cleansing of Christians in Arab countries and host of other issues. It is certainly minor when compared to conflicts in other regions of the world, for instance Tibet, Nepal, Pakistan, human rights in China and Russia and  many other places. Yet, as far as radical Western Left is concerned the Israeli or Jewish Palestinian question is much more obsessively central than any other of these matters. Irrespective if criticizing Israel is justified or not, its  importance to the radical Left, merits consideration. Why the Jews and their state are so important to the radical Left? Is it because of antisemitism?

The question is not new. In 1967, still before the Six Days War, Maurice Blanchot, one of the leading French intellectuals and member of the organizing committee of what was later called May Student Revolt resigned from the committee. Later he explained to his friend the philosopher Emmanuel Levinas that he had done so because of the attitude of his colleagues to Israel. When asked whether the reason for this attitude   was antisemitism he replied that he does not know, but the result is the same, the  antisemites found respectful allies. This took place when Israel was still a darling of many left intellectuals, notably the legendary Jean Paul Sartre and many others.

Although the obsessive bashing of Israel by the radical Left has antisemitic shadows, antisemitism, in my mind, is not the primary motive. 

In the first half of twentieth century the radical Left supported Lenin, Stalin, Trotsky and later Mao. Following the failure of the Soviet Union, the Left was unable to bring to the table any new original ideas. In fact explicitly or implicitly it accepted neo-liberal or even crony capitalism as an unchangeable  fact of life. Characteristically, the radical Left has not provided any intellectual leadership to the Occupy Wall Street movement. With social justice out of the way, the radical Left chose other ideologies: continuing wish for decline of America and the West, and cult of freedom of speech and human rights. For main street America whether an Imam can proclaim his hatred of Jews or not, although disgusting, does not seem too important. The real danger of excessive freedom of speech is the monstrous lobbying power of business, improper use of advertising and political campaign financing. Similarly, the idea of America in decline is unacceptable to majority of America, but here again the unholy alliance with globalisation works for both the radical Left and the highest 0.01 percent of wealthiest Americans.

Israel is an absolute contradiction to the title of the book of Oswald Spengler (Der Untergang des Abendlandes). It is a tiny Western democratic state created in 1948 with a well defined ethos or in postmodern intellectual jargon - narrative, inside a huge region of Arab Middle East. Its population grew from less than one million to 7.5 millions. It is probably the strongest military power in the region, its Air Force strength is only second to that of the US and Russia, its economic growth is among the highest among OECD nations, its unemployment is among the lowest. Tel Aviv  has been recently called the high tech hub of the world. In 2011 it was the safest place for Muslim Arabs anywhere in the Middle East. In fact the greatest miracle for any Arab country would be imitating Israel, thus defying the politically correct belief that all civilizations were born equal. The radical Left cannot accept that; in addition, because of similar values to that of the US, strong Israel enhances the idea of “exceptional” America. Consequently, the radical left is dreaming about weakening of Israel and perhaps unmaking of the Jewish state.

The Jewish community in America plays an important a role in the discourse between the two countries. Antisemites and other detractors of Israel played all along the card of “double loyalty,” of American Jews. Nothing can be further from truth and reality. America always cherished the ties of its people with their ethnic origins and it saw in such ties a feature of being an American. From the point of view of Israel, the stronger American Jews in America are, forgetting Israel, the better it is for Israel. Many people are shocked by recent poll, according to which every fifth German is an antisemite. Between the two world wars this percentage in the US was much higher. After WWII the number declined dramatically. One of the reasons was the establishment of the State of Israel, which led the Jews in America to become not only prouder Jews, but better Americans too. Their new standing in the community led them to become the vanguard of equal rights for Afro-Americans and later of the feminist movement. With Eichmann Trial and with Six Days War, Israel grew stronger, as did the stance of American Jewish community.

Almost naturally, American Jews play also a prominent role in the radical Left. Ironically, the stronger is the perception of Israel in America, the stronger are American Jews there, and those among them who are in the radical Left voice “anti-American,” or for that matter anti-Israeli statements, which their fathers and grandfathers would not have dared to make. Anti-Jewish statements by Jews always had special importance for non-Jews. Israeli anti-Zionists have even more special place in this respect. Professor Yankl Shmerl in the University, say, of Afula (there is no such professor and no  university there …) whose paper would have never been published in any respected scholarly paper, suddenly becomes a celebrity because he bashes Israeli “occupation,” or “apartheid” or whatever. An Israeli Jew writes it, really? How splendid!

The agenda of the radical Left, apart from being noisy and annoying, has little influence on any of the parties to the conflict. In fact the radical Left ignores the Palestinians and Arabs altogether. It says nothing about them, neither good nor bad, as if they do not exist. It only slams Israel. This hardens of course the attitude of the Palestinians, but they think that the radical Left is in their pocket under all circumstances and do not have to take their opinion into consideration. The main street of Israel regards them one sided and marginal; it does pay attention to what they have to say. Actually, whenever the radical Left says anything, Israelis reject it, many times only because of the preconceived nature of the the party, which voices it.

There is nothing for Israel to argue about with the radical Left. Israel should have its discussions with mainstream America and, to the extent practically possible with Palestinians and Arabs. The intellectual conventional wisdom changes as frequently as the length of women skirts. One still remembers quite well that when the Iraq war was launched, as long as America was winning fast, its staunchest supporter was the Left. In more distant past the same situation was with the Vietnam war. Sooner or later the length of skirts, so would the fashion of intellectual conceit.