Bibi’s Con: “Economic Peace”

My new article on Benjamin Netanyahu’s new platform of “economic peace” appears in Ha’aretz today. For those who read from right to left, the original Hebrew is here. The English translation is here. A taste:

When Benjamin Netanyahu speaks about “economic peace,” his new, brilliant diplomatic platform, which will postpone any diplomatic moves far into the unforeseeable future, I see his face shrink, his chin sharpen, a patch cover his eye. Moshe Dayan is speaking, just as he spoke in a cabinet meeting 40 years ago, in early December 1968.

The Eshkol government met then to discuss Dayan’s proposal for a policy on the occupied territories. Dayan’s plan had three pillars: large-scale settlement on the West Bank mountain ridge, permanent Israeli rule of the territories without Israeli citizenship for the Arab residents, and economic integration of the territories with Israel. Arabs would work in Israel, Hebron would get its electricity from the Israeli grid, and Israel would raise the standard of living of the residents of the territories. As a result, Dayan argued, they would become dependent on Israel, maybe even grateful to it.

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Col. Gibli, He Dead. (Dirty business lives on.)

Gershom Gorenberg

Col. Binyamin Gibli took his secrets with him to the next world when he died this week – unless, as historian Tom Segev forlornly hopes, the old spookmaster left instructions to publish the ghost-written manuscript of his autobiograhy, and it explains what really happened in the Dirty Business of the 1950s. The hope is forlorn because it presumes that we would have reason to trust Gibli’s version.

Gibli was the head of Military Intelligence back in 1954, when MI recruited a handful of Egyptian Jews to bomb American and British cultural centers and other places frequented by foreigners in Egypt. (Yes, you read that correctly.) The idea was that the attacks would look like Egyptian fury against the West, and would derail any improvement in relations between Western governments and Cairo.

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Parallels for the Occupation? Colonialism, More or Less

Gershom Gorenberg

My friend John showed up in South Jerusalem. Long ago and far away, John and I slouched in the back of high school classes together in Los Angeles, mumbling snidely about what was being left out of American history (women, blacks, slaughter of Indians, lynch mobs, poor folk…). Eventually I went into mumbling snidely as a profession. John, by contrast, is gainfully employed in high-tech, working for an Israeli firm that kindly brought him for a visit to the home office.

In late afternoon we walked out to the promenade. Some Palestinian kids were playing soccer on a stretch of lawn despite the ferocious heat. In front of us was the Old City and the Dome of the Rock. On the east, I pointed out to John, was the high concrete wall dividing the Palestinian side of Jerusalem from the Palestinian towns of the West Bank.

“So,” John asked me, “is there anything parallel to Israel’s control of the West Bank? What do you think of Jimmy Carter calling it apartheid? Is it like Jim Crow?”

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