Israels Failed State Strategy Cole In

Israel’s Failed-State Strategy: Cole in Salon

My essay on the crisis between Israel and the Gaza Palestinians is out in


The actions of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert seem intended to create a failed state in Gaza and the West Bank, thus rendering the Israeli claim that “we have no one to talk to” a self-fulfilling prophecy and allowing Israel to continue with its unilateral, annexationist policies, free of the need to even pretend to negotiate.

This shortsighted “strategy,” which both the United States and, to a slightly lesser degree, the strangely docile Europeans have signed off on, is a recipe for continued hatred, extremism, bloodshed, injustice and festering grievances. Unless Israel and its patron summon the wisdom to take the long view and hammer out an agreement that will give the Palestinians a viable state, rather than simply trying to smash them into submission, the world’s most dangerous conflict will continue to rage, with dangerous consequences for all.

All the metrics I have for measuring these things find that my readers mostly aren’t very interested in Arab-Israeli issues, certainly as compared to how interested they are in Iraq or in US party politics.

I think ignoring it is a big mistake. It is part of what got the World Trade Towers and the Pentagon bombed, and it came into the Fallujah crisis in Iraq in 2004. A lot of Iraqis think of US troops in their country as essentially Israelis and call them al-yahud, “the Jews.” Like it or not, this conflict helps shape our lives and our image in the world. I know that rightwing Zionists are typically ruthless in trying to squelch any discussion of the topic, and I’ve had lots of readers write me that they are afraid of being labelled “anti-Semites” for speaking out. But if you aren’t a bigot, why be afraid of being called one? The charge would be self-evidently untrue to anyone who knew you, and why should we care what people think of us, who don’t know us? The irony is that the virulence of the racism of most rightwing Zionists toward Arabs is mind-blowing.

Anyway, I know– all too well– that taking a position on this matter is costly in American society. But after 9/11, we cannot continue to go on allowing ourselves silently to be caught in the cross-fire between the followers of Jabotinsky and the followers of Sayyid Qutb. So please read the article. And do progressive people a favor and subscribe to Not very many magazines in the US would have been willing to publish this essay.

In the course of commenting on the Mearsheimer/Walt controversy, by the way, Philip Weiss makes some fascinating comments on how the internet is replacing the book as a nexus of public debate. He points out that Stephen Walt had published in a book many of the same points he made in the “Israel Lobby” paper that went up on the London Review of Books web site, but the book went unremarked while the online version provoked a fire storm.

PS: See Robert Bryce in Counterpunch on the Israeli destruction of the Gaza power plant and its dire consequences for the Palestinians there.

See also the discussion of the silence of the blogosphere on this issue by Robert Wright and Matthew Yglesias at

And here’s a link to Vermonters for Just Peace in Israel and Palestine.

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