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The Yom Kippur War Today

Stars and Symbols. Illustration by Nerosunero, courtesy of nerosunero/Flickr

MADRID – The approach of the 40th anniversary of the Yom Kippur War has been marked in Israel largely by the recurrent debate about the failures of Israeli intelligence in detecting and thwarting Egypt’s surprise attack. But Israel’s blunder in October 1973 was more political than military, more strategic than tactical – and thus particularly relevant today, when a robust Israeli peace policy should be a central pillar of its security doctrine.

The Yom Kippur War was, in many ways, Israel’s punishment for its post-1967 arrogance – hubris always begets nemesis. Egypt had been so resoundingly defeated in the Six-Day War of June 1967 that Israel’s leaders dismissed the need to be proactive in the search for peace. They encouraged a national mood of strategic complacency that percolated into the military as much as it was influenced by the military, paving the way for the success of Egypt’s exercise in tactical deceit.

“We are awaiting the Arabs’ phone call. We ourselves won’t make a move,” Moshe Dayan, Israel’s defense minister, said. “We are quite happy with the current situation. If anything bothers the Arabs, they know where to find us.” But when Egyptian President Anwar Sadat finally called in February 1971, and again in early 1973, with bold peace initiatives, Israel’s line was either busy, or no one on the Israeli side picked up the phone. » More

Israel Wants the Dowry – But Not the Bride

Protests in Tel Aviv last fall

Protests in Tel Aviv last fall. Photo: Or Hiltch/flickr

Voices critical of Israel’s role in the Middle East sometimes argue that its occupation of the West Bank, much of the Golan Heights and the Gaza Strip is imperialist in nature.  Such criticism draws a parallel with 19th and 20th century European imperialism, casting the Palestinians as the indigenous inhabitants of the region and the Israelis as a hostile ‘foreign’ power.  Another implication of this characterization, however, is that the occupation is economically motivated, or is best understood in economic terms. Today, to complement our discussion of ‘Economics, Politics and War’ last week, we examine some aspects of the political economy of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Specifically (and with the help of Miriam Qamar’s recent essay “Thoughts on the Dialectics of Revolution and Palestinian Nationalism”), we do so through a Marxist lens. » More

A new State on the Horizon

The Times They Are A-Changin. Photo: Rusty Stewart/flickr

Following the breakdown of direct peace talks last autumn, the Palestinian Authority (PA) ruling the West Bank has now come to adopt a new diplomatic strategy: its aim is securing United Nations’ recognition of a Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital. And chances are that this plan will succeed.

Israel and the United States both oppose such a move, arguing a real solution can only be reached through negotiations. However, if no changes are made between now and September 2011, the UN is almost certain to declare a Palestinian state. And if a state of Palestine is declared, Israel will inevitably be put into the uncomfortable position of being considered an occupier of another UN-member country.

Hardly surprising, therefore, the Palestinian march towards statehood is unnerving both Israel and the United States. As a result they have come out with new peace plans to act as counterweights: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is to travel to Washington next month, where he will present his initiative, has not yet spelled out the content of his plan. However, it is said to include a repositioning of Israeli occupation forces in parts of the West Bank, as well as some improvements of Palestinian daily life. Furthermore, Israel is said to transfer some of the territories classified as Area B and Area C to Palestinian control. But not a single Jewish settlement will be dismantled. » More

Where Is Tony?

photo: Emanuele / real desert storm  / fotosensibile 2.0

photo: Emanuele / real desert storm / fotosensibile 2.0

I don’t see any reason to be optimistic about a possible revival of serious peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. US special envoy to the Middle East George Mitchell is busy trying to arrange a meeting between Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to be held on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York next week. But, what happened to the ‘Quartet’ – made up of the US, Russia, the EU and the UN – which was supposed to be an active peace broker? » More

The Rise and Fall of “Obamaism” in Israel

Imitation may be the greatest form of flattery, but flattery currently is not an attribute of the Netanyahu-Obama relationship.

Do you remember last winter, when Netanyahu imitated Obama’s campaign strategy?

Netanyahu...Obamafied

Netanyahu...Obamafied

The imitation did not end with the Netanyahu campaign’s copying of the color and design of Obama’s website. The same way the Obama campaign linked Republican presidential candidate John McCain to then president George W Bush, the Netanyahu campaign sought to portray Tzipi Livni as the status quo candidate while portraying Netanyahu as the candidate of change. Last November, Ron Dermer, one of Mr Netanyahu’s top campaign advisers, went as far as to state that “Netanyahu is the real candidate of change for Israel.”

But while Obama actually sought to break with his predecessor’s foreign policy, Netanyahu has so far not given a new direction to Israeli foreign policy.

Obama may have served as a role model of how to conduct a successful election campaign, but that was pretty much it. Netanyahu merely copied the shell of “Obamaism,” but certainly not its content.
» More

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