While We are Speaking Truth and Betrayal

I was prompted to write this brief note from Israel, by Dr. Abbas Bakhtiar’s recent article about the real situation in the Middle East, while Gaza is being crushed. In fact, a few days ago I posted a rather similar analysis of the “operation” in my Hebrew blog. Bakhtiar points out correctly, that the mainstream media generally depicts the “conflict” in the Middle East in terms of Israel vs. the Arabs; whereas, for a while now, Israel has very loyal allies in the region, Egypt, Jordan and some of the rich Arab emirates and principalities. Bakhtiar also correctly points out that all those allies share one trait in common, a strong divide between the government, which serves as puppet of US-Western interests, and the people, who are generally oppressed and not allowed to share the wealth of their country or their indigenous aspirations and culture. Most of them have therefore drifted towards religious popular politics, such as the Muslim Brotherhood.

Israel, under US guidance, successfully pushed the Palestinians to the same desperate social structure, the “westernized and corrupt Fatah” or “evil Hamas,” without any choices between. Therefore, it successfully enlisted the other Arab states to join its war against Hamas, namely, against the Palestinians. Up to this point, I am in full agreement with Bakhtiar’s analysis. But this is precisely where the story begins for me and ends for Bakhtiar (and American readership).

The missing part in this analysis is obvious, and that is the domestic structure of Israel, and its own response to what is correctly described as the American-Western interest in the region. Bakhtiar falls into the banal trappings of denial and propaganda that stretch a parallel between Israel and “the US-West,” as if we, the Israelis, are a bunch of Marine soldiers stationed in the Middle East. The sad truth is, however, that the bright analysis of the situation of Egypt and the Ibn Sauds, applies verbatim to Israel. We, much like are neighbors, are a product of colonialism, new state that emerged from an artificial “Chess Board” of western looting. Does Bakhtiar assume that Israels’ cooperation (and in fact, faithful representation), with American oil interests is something we carry in our genes? Does it not occur that the somewhat unpleasant political realities in Egypt or Jordan apply here? Now we reach the taboo, the one behind which the Israelis bleed and suffer, as if they do it willingly. We also carry the moral condemnation.

I know this is a big taboo here, but if we decided to talk suddenly the truth, that of betrayal, let’s do it properly. The reason Israel is spared the analysis applied to Egypt is not coincidental, rather a product of another betrayal, one which is buried under mountain of unholy interests and social, economic divides, within Israel, and more so between Israel and the American Jewish community, progressives included. Do we not have the same Ibn Sauds over here, who make sure we serve western interests, while those who make sure it happens are nicely compensated? The fact of the matter is that nothing else can be true, because there is no difference between us, the Israelis here, and our neighbors, except the presence of a large Jewish diaspora in the USA, that does the job, not only economically, but by obscuring the realities of Israeli society, the poverty, the death toll, the mental toll and the political abyss we live in. Under that economic structure, language and consciousness are the first victims. So when Bakhtiar, or others here, have the decency to deconstruct the term “Arabs” to the real tokens of reality and suffering, he is able to pass the hurdle, without doing the same about “Israel.” So, I have to pose the question to him and others: what is the “Israel” that appears in the nice and righteous articles here? And where do I find my reality in the situation? And is it a coincidence that no authentic Israeli voice is allowed to challenge the spin?

Iris Yaar Edelbaum, LLM, is an Israeli jurist and blogger, former legal academic and civil rights lawyer/activist. She is now residing in the northern periphery. Read other articles by Iris, or visit Iris's website.

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  1. bozh said on January 11th, 2009 at 11:38am #

    iris yaar edelbaum, respectfully,
    i am not aware of any tabbos on DV. many ‘jews’ post on DV defence of all israeli crimes. most of these, as i call them, cutists, mainly dwell on how bad other people are, while at the same time, list israelis virtues in order to show israel as once again a victim.
    there is taboo in haaretz. i have been removed from posting there.

    also much of what iris had written is to me ununderstandable or can’t deduce what she is driving at. so, i’m guessing now as to what she wants us to know or discern.
    some of us know that ashkenazim are the master people and sephardic/mizrahic folk second class.
    we know there is discrimination there also. we know about ‘jewish’ cult and its intolerance of the goyim.

    and it is quite probable that most israelis know just about 5% of what they shld know and of which 99% may be in error.
    and if my guesses are only near true, we can’t hold sephardic/mizrahic voelken equally responsible for israeli/US/euro crimes against pals. thnx

  2. Paul Meyer said on January 11th, 2009 at 12:05pm #

    Brilliant!! Ms. Edelbaum is fquite correct, that Israelis also live under a corrupt “leadership”. The principle difference, I think, is that so many Israeli Jews (at least according to the poles) “buy in” to the myth of victim-Israel. Arthur Neslen’s book, “Occupied Minds”, reveals the 48 out of 50 Israeli Jews, interviewed in depth, understood the reality that the root of the conflict laid in “Western” (Jewish) colonization of Palestine, starting in the last quarter of the nineteenth century. Tragically, too many also believe that ethnic cleansing is the solution to the problem. It may EVEN be that elites in both societies are preserving this model for their own interests. At least some Isaeali Jews, and some Americans, see the problem as colonialism in a post-colonial time.
    And, true to the model of de-colonialism in Africa, some indigenous “leaders” choose to enrich themselves rather than seek freedom for all their people. Mahmoud Abbas is a laughing stock in the West Bank.Thank you Iris!

  3. Rahb said on January 11th, 2009 at 4:04pm #

    People tend to be so concerned about our own “truths”, desires, and suffering, that we think that we have a monopoly on those things. It “justifies” our actions, so as to artificially negate or undermine the suffering etc. of others. The suffering caused by violence afflicts all people though, it knows neither culture nor faith. A child is a child and to say that 1 Jewish child suffering is less disgusting than 30 Palestinian children suffering, actually devalues all 31 as humans. If we don’t look past the 30 vs. the 1 to see the 31 are we any better than those causing the problems? We have no right to sit by and condone or accept the actions of Israel, but blowing up Israeli’s steers things in the wrong direction, so we cannot condone violence by either side. Why should any of the 31 have to know that level of abuse at all? Hatred ceases only by not hating (this is often presented as, hatred only ceases by love or by a certain god or whatever the person wants to be true but, I think, that misses the point).
    Those in “power” only claim to care about what you care about, so that they can continue their abuses for the sake and interests of the systems that they represent (after all they too have a monopoly on truth, suffering, etc.). Of course, it is always those most subservient to the interests of the wealth and/ or power elite that physically tend to suffer most and wander endlessly in confusion. It is the average people (regardless of being one religion or another, Jew or Goya) who despite being in the majority, suffer; while, believing themselves incapable of making real change. That same majority is also often oblivious or too afraid to accept the level at which we are manipulated and controlled by those that “inform” us (Those “informing” us being well aware that we are so focused on our own suffering etc.). This is partly owing to our failure to evaluate the source that our information sources get their information from, coupled with our trust in the source that we get the info’ from (including, press, religious or political leadership, scientific associations, educators, gossip, and so on). The information, or lack thereof, that we receive (believed or discounted) creates our model of the world. Our world model tends to be vastly different from the model that the elite have, they tend to know no more borders than suffering does. Outside of superficial remarks in the public eye made by their representatives, the elite don’t tend to stick to one country, faith, ethnicity, or cause (for instance, certain western “humanitarian” groups work with/ help western corporations rape African and Middle Eastern resources, both sides working well out side of continental borders). The elite convince us that there are a limited number of possibilities, views, and sides (often reducing it to 2, i.e. good and bad). They can then play both/ all sides of any situation, essentially guaranteeing themselves increase in wealth or power or both. Giant corporate systems (machines in which one cog doesn’t knowing the function of the next but, in self interest, supports the over all materialist goal) may superficially placate the views of the home that they are pillaging, the people that they are devaluing and “proving” as non-industrious, but it’s just words/ whatever gives the elite more clout… (that’s something Africa and the Middle East have both suffered immensely, especially at the hands of “western” interests). Also, particularly with the extreme capitalistic profit/ materialist motive now ruling the world, which directs even those who claim to be the directors, we are all subject to increasingly potent forms of propaganda and it’s misdirections (Yes, I am saying that, while humans endorse it, the wealth and power elite are mostly systems/ idea structures supported and enforced by law as something more, rather the the elite being humans). Sadly the impoverished majority are largely limited to information access. Poverty reduces our access to higher learning (this is true even in societies where education is “free”. That’s only useful if you can survive and if you have to work 3 jobs there is no time for school. If you have no food or sleep learning is impeded… look to anemic children in Gaza suffering brain damage from malnutrition as an example – there is no chance for them to be informed). Even us fortunate enough to access internet don’t have access to the full global perspective, as Prof. Chomsky has mentioned often, the majority of people in the world have never made a phone call or commented in their own press much less used the internet. Adding to the problems, and stemming partly from subtle awareness of our own ignorance, there is an acceptance by the majority that we are somehow inferior to the extremists/ extremist ideals, that tend to gain power (squeakiest of wheels…), completely disregarding their ignorance and short-sightedness. They are very certain that they are best informed to “handle”/ control things and so, we buy into that certainty. Yet, clinging to those unchanging self righteous extremes, limits our adaptability and adaptability is necessary in a constantly changing world… All that said, is it really any wonder that these situations become nearly irresolvable?
    krap! Sorry I blathered on so long/ just started typing… did it even make any sense in relation to the article?

  4. Iris Y E said on January 11th, 2009 at 10:06pm #

    Thanks for comments, just to clarify the obvious, i am totally opposed to this war/operation from day 1.
    Someone mentioned here that – notwithstanding – many or most Israelis profess to support the government, and adopt the “victim narrative”. Victims they (we) are, but not always do we know who victimized us, neither is it always possible to point to that direction. In the same manner that Bakhtiar correctly described the limited options in the Arab world to vent legitimate popular dissent. Eventually, though, one can easily say “they voted for Mubarak”…etc., same should apply to why Israelis eventually support those who do not serve their best interests, and who have vested – sectorial social and economic – interests in the cotinued armed conflict. What i am saying is, that while we choose to employ the quasi “false consciousness” analysis to Egypt, for example, we must be consistent, for the sake of integrity, in same application with respect to the Israeli *population* (as opposed to Israeli governing elites, or American Jewry). What stands in the way of consistency, is the spin i am pointing to, which is somewhat of a taboo.
    This facade, how Israel is portrayed as a cohesive unit (left to right, in and out of Israel) is a hurdle in the process of genuine dialogue and peace or solidarity, between the peoples of the region, who actually live there.

  5. MrCynic3 said on January 12th, 2009 at 6:01am #

    Hosni Mobarak is not a collabrator but he is a realist and care about the
    wellbeing and safety of Egypt.
    What can he do if all the power centers of the world with their military
    and economic powers are supporting Israel. Do you want him to
    subject Egypt to an attack or an economic boycott.
    Life is already hard enough for most of the Egyptians where getting bread is a daily struggle and standing in long lines.

  6. MrCynic3 said on January 12th, 2009 at 6:20am #

    The Moslem Brotherhood was created by the British in Egypt in 1928.
    The British created it with the help of the feudal land oweners as counter-balance to a nationalist movement that might go in a leftist direction.
    It was a typical British “divide and rule”.
    Hamas was created and nutured by Israel to counter-balance the PLO
    and Yassir Arafat knowing that there will be conflict between the two
    Again it is the classic “divide and rule.”

  7. Phil said on January 13th, 2009 at 10:46am #

    I have to pose the question to him and others: what is the “Israel” that appears in the nice and righteous articles here?

    When people here (and in most discourse) use the name of a nation in such a way, they presumably mean its leaders/government. I imagine it’s similar to the way you used “Egypt, Jordan and some of the rich Arab emirates and principalities” in that article, while really referring to their regimes.

    It’s a simple time-saver. I guess not all of us take as many pains to distinguish between a state and its regime as, say, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad does.