On January 21, President Obama telephoned the King of Jordan, the Prime Minister of Israel, the President of Egypt and Mahmoud Abbas, President of the Palestinian National Authority, before dispatching former Senator George Mitchell to spearhead peace negotiations. He excluded Hamas leaders from his phone tree, although they had won the 2006 election to represent the people of Gaza. Obviously, Hamas has also won the label "terrorist" and, as Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni proudly if not smugly assured members of the National Press Club in Washington DC, Israel would not talk with Hamas. 'We do not negotiate with terrorists," she asserted, moral indignation dripping from her words. (January 16)
Her father, Eitan Livni, proudly served as chief operations officer of the Irgun, a right wing Zionist gang that in the post 1945 period sent letter bombs to the British occupying authorities and in 1946 blew up the King David hotel in Jerusalem. Some Jews died in that terrorist act along with others who had no relationship to the issue of an Israeli state. Some British intelligence officials also got blown away.
Livni's ops dressed up as Arabs. Who would suspect benign Arabs? "People who looked like they might be violent Zionists would have attracted suspicion," wrote Juan Cole. "Later generations of rightwing Zionists have attempted to convince the rest of the world that the Arab kaffiyah is an icon of terrorism; but their parents were perfectly willing to display it as a sign of innocence (and perhaps with the intention that the Arabs should take the fall)." (http://www.juancole.com/2007/09/tzipi-livni-aboutface-now-against.html)
In 2006, Likudnik and former Prime Minister Benjamin "Bibi" Netanyahu commemorated that bombing, also honored by surviving Irgun members. In 1948, Irgun members also participated in what Arabs call a massacre of Palestinian civilians at Deir Yassin. Israeli historians differ as to whether the more than 100 dead, including many old people, were shot or died as a result of the battle. Tzipi has not repudiated her father's actions, but feels no apparent sense of shame or even contradiction when she labels her current foes as terrorists with whom she will never negotiate. Well, maybe she never negotiated with her father! Oh, he wasn't a terrorist; he was an Israeli patriot!
As a supposedly anti-terrorist action, Israel dropped thousands of tons of bombs on Gaza in December and January. It had tried a similar "anti-terrorist" tactic against southern Lebanon in 2006. Unlike the relatively primitive explosives used by the old terrorists, like Eitan Livni, Israel today employs white phosphorous and cluster bombs -- anti-personnel weapons originally designed for use against large numbers of troops on a battlefield, but not to be deployed against civilians. Israel dropped these people killers on Lebanese farms just before its army withdrew. Deterrent or child killer? Let¹s not quibble over definitions!
If President Obama's inner sensitivities correspond to what the world witnessed on January 20 as his external sensibilities, he too will recoil from "terrorist" rhetoric and also reject the angelic facade that fits Israel like a fine leather glove on the hoof of a pig. "Change is coming in the Middle East as it is in the United States," Obama might tell Israeli leaders, "and Washington will play a role over there. So make the necessary concessions to facilitate a viable Palestinian state. And include Hamas -- or else!"