Ran HaCohen

Keep Israel out of elite economic club

Israel’s ruling elite now has a major aspiration: to join the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) as a member country. For the sake of the Israelis and of their neighbors, this aspiration should be thwarted by an international campaign of all supporters of peace; and, in fact, by supporters of the free market as well. EI contributor Ran HaCohen comments. 

Beware of Barak

The person who destroyed the Oslo process and initiated the second intifada, the person who demolished the Israeli peace camp from within, by spreading legends about a “generous offer” rejected by the Palestinians, by persuading the Israelis that he “unmasked” Arafat and that there was no Palestinian partner — this person still calls himself “the leader of the Israeli peace camp.” That’s one of Israeli “Defense” Minister Ehud Barak’s most dangerous traits: his inherent untruthfulness, his presenting himself as the very opposite of what he actually is. 

The Legend of the Removed Checkpoints

Let’s refresh our memory. It all started last December, when Olmert met Abbas. Olmert promised to remove checkpoints in the West Bank: “I intend to personally supervise it,” he told Abbas, “so that the Palestinian society would feel the relief” (Ha’aretz, Dec. 24, 2006). The same day, Ha’aretz reported that Defense Minister Amir Peretz and his deputy Ephraim Sneh were actually working on a plan to facilitate Palestinian movement in the West Bank. The two must have spent the whole night in their office, devising a plan for dismantling not less than “45 out of approximately 400 checkpoints.” 

How to Live with Hunger

When I was a child, a popular argument in favor of the Israeli “liberation,” i.e., occupation, of the Palestinian territories was its being a blessing for the Palestinians themselves. “When we took it over,” I was told at school, “there were just a couple of cars in the entire West Bank. And look how many they have now!” Indeed, in the first decades of the Israeli occupation, the Palestinian standard of living was on the rise — not because of Israeli investments (Israel never invested a cent in Palestinian welfare or infrastructure), but mainly because Israel exploited the Palestinians as a cheap labor force, and even a cheap labor force gets paid. 

The Embarrassment of the Wretched

A recent call for a cultural boycott against Israel by John Berger and others has elicited one of its more wretched responses in the Guardian (Dec. 22), signed by Anthony Julius and Simon Schama. A recurrent theme in anti-Palestinian propaganda (usually misnamed “pro-Israel”) is “Don’t Single Out.” The idea is that evil should be addressed everywhere; the greater the evil, the greater the protest against it should be; and since there are worse cases of evil than Israel’s, Israel should not be criticized. Not now, at least: perhaps after all other evils have been eradicated. 

The End of Lebanon?

The UN Security Council resolution draft on Lebanon reflects a new stage of Western colonialism in the Middle East, and perhaps a historic precedent: for the first time, the UN Security Council - should the resolution draft be endorsed - breaches the fundamental principle of the right of people under occupation to resist, and in fact legitimizes the violent partition of the sovereign state of Lebanon. The American-French draft reflects the interests of three central colonial powers in the region: the U.S., Israel, and France. No wonder that the draft, which pays lip-service to Lebanon’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, in fact suggests a partition of this small land. 

Israeli Intellectuals Love the War

All generalizations are wrong, except this one: Israeli liberal intellectuals are against war. They have always been against it, and they even suffered greatly for their critical views, as they stress proudly. They were against the previous war, they will be against the next war, they are against all wars. There is just one minor exception, though: the present war, every present war, which they always support. Because the present war - well, that’s something totally different from all those other wars! How can you even compare?! The present war is always inevitable, and necessary, and just, and worthy of support. 

The Army Wants Action: The great fiasco

What is Israel’s running wild likely to achieve? Not much. As for the captured soldiers, any action other than negotiations is gambling with their lives, as their families now start to say out louder. As for the missiles shot from Gaza, the military could not stop them when it was sitting inside the Strip - obviously, it cannot stop them by casual incursions and air bombing. As for Lebanon, the disproportional Israeli reaction made Hezbollah fire missiles at the whole of northern Israel, both at communities that had enjoyed relative quiet since 2000 and at places that had never experienced any Lebanese missiles before. 

The Ideology of Occupation Revisited

“The history of occupation is not just that of Palestinian suffering and Israeli aggression; it is also the history of its ideology, the history of the fictions the Israeli society fabricates in order to justify its major colonial project which has just entered its 40th year. These fictions do have a history: one can trace their career from birth to maturity, their shifts from the margin to the center and vice versa, their rise and fall among definite segments of the Israeli society or media, sometimes their (reversible) death.” Dr. Ran HaCohen, an occasional contributor to Antiwar.com where this commentary was first published, was born in the Netherlands in 1964 and grew up in Israel.