The Cold Realities of US Policy in Israel-Palestine

by Mitchell Plitnick | published October 15, 2014

During the summertime war in Gaza, the two most progressive members of the US Senate stirred up controversy among their backers with expressions of uncritical support for Israel. At a town hall meeting, Bernie Sanders of Vermont, the lone Senate independent, responded to a questioner that Israel had “overreacted” with its 52-day bombardment and ground incursion, but then proceeded to justify Israel’s actions with the usual pro-Israel talking points about “missiles fired from populated areas” and “sophisticated tunnels.” [1] An audience member began to shout objections, to which Sanders said, “Shut up.”

From the Editors

by The Editors
published in MER272

In the last week of August, after several false starts, a ceasefire finally halted the summertime slaughter in Gaza. Israel’s bombs stopped falling, Palestinians stopped dying and the world media stopped its round-the-clock coverage. And, just like that, Gaza was again yesterday’s news.

From the Editors

published in MER110

The massacre at Sabra and Shatila camps was an episode that immediately transcended the brutal war it was part of. The Israeli commission of inquiry seems almost a distraction from the obvious responsibility of the Begin government in this affair. Many of Begin’s critics regard the massacre as an inexcusable error of criminal proportions, but its implications are more ominous than this. It was a piece of a larger campaign, beginning in the south of Lebanon in early June, that killed more than 17,000 people. The carpet bombing of the camps in the south, the artillery pounding Beirut -- all this the Palestinians survived and the world tolerated.

From the Editors

by The Editors
published in MER123

One of the great achievements of the capitalist class in the United States has been its ability to enlist the enthusiastic support of the trade union leadership in this country for a foreign policy of intervention and counterrevolution, a policy clearly against the interests of the organized working class here. One recent instance was AFL-CIO President Lane Kirkland’s presence on the panel headed by Henry Kissinger which endorsed the Reagan Administration’s war against Central America. The interest of US corporate leaders in a policy supporting rightwing oligarchies and juntas is directly related to the preservation of low-wage, unorganized labor havens for their “runaway” shops and factories. These in turn are used as levers to wrest concessions from workers in this country.

From the Editors

by The Editors
published in MER127

This issue examines the political impact of the economic crisis that has wracked Tunisia and Morocco over the first half of this decade. Even as we prepared this issue, the combustible recipe of austerity decrees and popular desperation exploded into violence in neighboring Egypt, in the industrial town of Kafr el-Dawar, near Alexandria. The decision in mid-September to double the government-controlled price of bread touched off the seething resentment of poor and working class Egyptians at the galloping price increases of uncontrolled market items over the last year. The final blow was a three percent increase in payroll deductions for all state workers.

Brenner, Zionism in the Age of the Dictators

by
published in MER129

Lenni Brenner, Zionism in the Age of the Dictators (Westport, CT: Lawrence Hill, 1983).

Lenni Brenner has written a singular book about “the interaction between Zionism and Fascism and Nazism.” It is one of the many ironies of history that Zionism, a movement that claims to be dedicated to assuring the survival of the Jewish people, should have developed in symbiosis with the most murderous Jew-haters of our (or perhaps any) era. Ironies, however, have their logic, and this is what Brenner explores.

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Sifting the Berkeley Left

by Jock Taft
published in MER129

On June 5, 1984, voters in Berkeley, California, by a margin of almost 64 percent to 36 percent, defeated a ballot measure calling for the United States to reduce its aid to Israel by the amount Israel spends on its settlements in the occupied territories of the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and Golan Heights. What’s going on here? Since the 1960s, Berkeley has had a reputation as the most politically progressive urban community in the country. Civil rights activism on the University of California campus spawned the Free Speech Movement, which in turn set the stage for the early protests and organizing against the US war in Vietnam. When Ronald Reagan was elected governor in 1966, one of his main campaign targets was UC campus radicalism.

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Israel's Political Formations

by Joel Beinin
published in MER129

Alignment: The dominant party in the Labor Zionist movement was the right social-democratic Mapai. In 1965, a group loyal to Mapai’s historic leader, David Ben-Gurion, split and formed Rafi -- a formation characterized by an “activist” military policy and a technocratic/statist outlook. This group included Shimon Peres, Moshe Dayan and Yitzhak Navon. The same year the first Alignment, an electoral coalition and not a merger of forces, was formed between Mapai and Ahdut ha-Avoda, a kibbutz-based party with a tradition of military activism and close links to the military establishment (best represented by Yigal Allon, Deputy Prime Minister under Golda Meir and author of the “Allon Plan” for the occupied territories).

Israel's "National Unity"

by Zvi Schuldiner
published in MER129

Israel’s latest elections, for the eleventh Knesset, have certified the state of paralysis and polarization that has gripped the country since the Lebanon invasion of 1982. The results of the election, and the failure of the Likud bloc to maintain a decisive plurality, certainly represent one consequence of the Lebanon war. When Menachem Begin resigned as prime minister in the fall of 1983 without any public explanation, many Israelis attributed this move to the Lebanon “tragedy,” as Begin himself referred to the continuing war in a Knesset speech just before his resignation. Clearly a great many Israelis consider the war a failure -- even a nightmare.

The Cold Peace

by Joel Beinin
published in MER129

March 26, 1985, will mark the sixth anniversary of the peace treaty between Egypt and Israel, brokered and signed in Washington, the culmination of the “Camp David process.” What have been the consequences of this pact, and where is the peace it was supposed to usher into the region?

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