Backtracking From the Brink in Ukraine

By Jay Ogilvy

Jay Ogilvy joined Stratfor’s editorial board in January 2015. In 1979, he left a post as a professor of philosophy at Yale to join SRI, the former Stanford Research Institute, as director of research. Dr. Ogilvy co-founded the Global Business Network of scenario planners in 1987. He is the former dean and chief academic officer of San Francisco’s Presidio Graduate School. Dr. Ogilvy has published nine books, including Many Dimensional Man, Creating Better Futures and Living Without a Goal.


If ever there were a flashpoint —  Ukraine is it. The fragile cease-fire now in place in eastern Ukraine is the pilot light to a new Cold War between the United States and Russia as their proxies poise to reload.

At this critical moment, American media have been fanning the flames of this flashpoint. While Russia has hardly been innocent of violating international law in its annexation of Crimea, it is worth taking stock of some history, near and distant, to temper the narratives that could escalate into a shooting war that should be entirely avoidable.

Ever since the lead-up to the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, the American media have been filled with Vladimir Putin bashing. For Americans, Putin is an easy target with his KGB background, bare-chested bravado and anti-gay policies. But this obsessive focus on Putin’s personality obscures much more important geopolitical realities.

False Parallels

The dominant U.S. narrative for Ukraine is that Ukraine is simply one more Eastern European country trying to pry itself out from under seven decades of Soviet oppression. This narrative is profoundly misleading. Ukraine is not Poland, and it is not Latvia or Romania. These countries are each largely united by a shared language and culture. They are also further fused through suffering from prior Russian incursions.

Ukraine is different from most of its neighbors in Eastern Europe. It is both deeply divided, culturally and politically, and its eastern half is strongly bound to Russia.

Just look at the maps of the presidential elections of 2004, 2010 and 2014.

Note the similarity between these electoral maps and the distribution of Russian speakers:

Eastern Ukraine is not equivalent to the former East Germany artificially divided from the whole. “Rus,” the identity that is the root of the Russian identity, was born in Ukraine’s capital, Kiev, centuries before Moscow’s more recent accession to the central role. During the civil war that followed the Russian Revolution of 1917, some of the fiercest fighting over the founding of post-revolutionary Russia took place in Ukraine. Crimea, which was part of Russia until it was ceded to Ukraine after World War II, has long served as Russia’s equivalent to Florida — a vacation destination for the elite to escape winter’s cold or enjoy summer at the seashore.

In addition to these historical and cultural realities that go back centuries, the U.S. media also ignore more recent history. The Soviet Union gifted Crimea to Ukraine in 1954, shortly after the death of Josef Stalin in 1953. The new leader, Nikita Khrushchev, felt a strong attachment to his favorite province of the Soviet Union. He had worked in a Ukrainian mine as a young man and took a Ukrainian woman as his wife. Shifting Crimea’s attachment from Russia to Ukraine was like moving money from his right pocket to his left. Khrushchev could hardly have imagined that his beloved Ukraine would cease to be part of the Soviet Union in less than 40 years.

Moving still closer to the present, an amnesiac American media forgets that, after the fall of the Soviet Union, in the words of the last U.S. ambassador to the Soviet Union in a Feb. 20 address at the National Press Club, “first President [George H.W.] Bush, at a Malta meeting in 1989, and then later, in 1990, almost all the Western leaders, told Gorbachev: If you remove your troops from Eastern Europe, if you let Eastern Europe go free, then we will not take advantage of it.”

Despite that admittedly controversial “promise” — controversial because it was only verbal and never put in the form of a written treaty — the United States and NATO have moved steadily eastward toward the Russian border. Never mind juicy details like U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt getting caught on tape discussing the imminent coup of elected Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich. Never mind the dark shadow of anti-Semitism in groups like western Ukraine’s nationalist Svoboda party, or the out of control militias responsible for some of the worst of the fighting. There is plenty of blame to go around on both sides of a very messy reality. The important thing is to appreciate that this mess has many hues other than black and white before righteously arming those poor Ukrainians against the vicious Putin.

A Warmer Cold War

Today it is almost hard to recall the warmer relationship between the United States and Russia before and immediately after the fall of the Iron Curtain. As part of a decadeslong effort at citizen diplomacy, I traveled to Russia in 1983, 1985 and 1991. Those were heady days with talk of a “peace dividend” and “a new world order.” Our tiny group — Track Two: An Institute for Citizen Diplomacy — numbered fewer than 50 individuals. Nevertheless, we managed to sponsor then-President Boris Yeltsin’s first trip to the United States, during which he experienced an epiphany. Faced with dozens of different brands of mustard in a Houston, Texas, supermarket (he loved mustard), he broke down in tears at what 70 years of communism had denied his people. He returned to Russia, quit the Communist Party, and the rest, as they say, is history.

I tell this story to heighten the contradictions between what could have been, what is now and what might yet be. When I returned to Russia again in 2005, feelings were much cooler. I had the opportunity to conduct 28 high-level interviews over a period of 10 days and, time and again, what I heard was a message that said, in effect, “No, we are never going to go back to the old centrally planned economy; we renounce Marx; we embrace the market; but we want to do it our way. You Americans are overbearing and arrogant. Back off!”

What had happened in the intervening years? In retrospect, I would say the United States simply got distracted around the time of the first Gulf War. We took our eye off the Russian ball. Various advisers and consultants confused Russia with Poland and advocated a sudden transition to a market economy. Lacking the requisite institutional infrastructure for managing a fair marketplace, many of Russia’s treasures fell prey to asset grabs by the now infamous oligarchs.

When runaway inflation led to the devaluation of the ruble in 1998, millions saw their precious pensions evaporate overnight. Many Russians were not at all happy with their transition from a centrally planned economy to a market economy. Perhaps the jokes had been true — “All Russians are equal: equally poor” and “We pretend to work; they pretend to pay us.” Nonetheless, those pensions had provided something of a safety net, however meager. The new world order was considerably more brutal — economically speaking — than the old regime.

Further, as former President Mikhail Gorbachev has remarked, Americans indulged in what he calls “triumphalism,” which was all the easier to do when the Russian economy fell so far down. But as former U.S. Ambassador Jack Matlock argues vigorously in his book Superpower Illusions, the United States did not “win” the Cold War. Matlock was there with President Ronald Reagan and Gorbachev when they achieved what both sides regarded as a negotiated settlement that was to the advantage of both nations — at least at first. Only later, when the promise of Russian wealth did not materialize, did that negotiated settlement come to appear to the Russians to be every bit as punitive as the Treaty of Versailles had been to the Germans in the wake of World War I.

The American media, with a few exceptions like Stephen F. Cohen, neglects these geopolitical realities. Instead it repeats over and over its cartoons of a demon Putin, its tales of unwarranted Russian aggression across Ukraine’s eastern border, its sympathy for a nation mistakenly believed to be united in its fear of Russia. But Ukraine is not united. It is riven by wounds that run deep. No winner-take-all solution to its problems is likely to succeed.

What chance is there that Russia will use military force to achieve a winner-take-part solution? An earlier Stratfor three-part series began by gaming Russia’s options via several scenarios; then, in part two, considered possible responses by the West. Part three, Russia Weighs the Cost, wrapped up with the following paragraph:

“The conclusion reached from matching up these scenarios with Moscow’s strategic imperatives is that no obvious options stand out. All of the scenarios are logistically feasible, though some would come at an incredible cost, few of them actually meet Russia’s needs, and none of them can be guaranteed to succeed as long as the possibility of a U.S. or NATO military response remains. If the prospect of such a military engagement deters the West from taking direct action against a Russian offensive, the West’s option to subsume the remaining parts of Ukraine significantly minimizes the benefits of any military operation Russia might consider. As Joshua, the computer in the 1983 movie WarGames, observed, ‘The only winning move is not to play.'”

This scenario-based analysis reflects a disciplined effort to weigh the options from the perspective of Russian strategists: what is to be gained or lost for Russia, not for a cartoonish Putin.

The point of this column is to overcome the simplistic narrative of Ukraine that has been painted in the U.S. media. If we fail to appreciate Russia’s real interests, if we obscure geopolitical realities with glossy dramas about Putin’s bare chest, then we are in danger of fanning the flames of old enmities at this critical flashpoint.

Crimea was, is and will be part of Russia. Get used to it. For Donetsk and Luhansk this will also very likely be the case. But Russia (not Putin) has no real interest in advancing more deeply into eastern Ukraine: “The only winning move is not to play.” Unless, of course, the West — NATO urged on by the United States — presses needlessly for a winner-take-all solution. In that case many Russians, if not the strategists in the Kremlin, would almost surely be motivated to engage in a “humanitarian intervention” to protect their Russian friends suffering under “oppression” just over the border in eastern Ukraine. In this Western-pressured scenario, there will be blood.

Pressure for a winner-take-all solution by the West would be unreasonable and totally in violation of those verbal assurances made when Reagan and Gorbachev negotiated the conclusion of the Cold War. Such pressure could build upon media-fed delusions about an undivided Ukraine. But a deeper understanding of the geopolitical realities, seen in the context of history, near and far, should give us pause before foolishly giving in to calls to arm the Ukrainians against an unlikely Russian offensive.

War Over Ukraine – Prelude to WWIII/Armageddon?

Ukraine war

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I am pleased to re-post this article that appeared in Pravda Today, and in other on line news outlets, written by someone I have known for many years. We both arrived at the same conclusion independently. It is the US, with it’s aggressive anti-Russian attitude, that has precipitated this crisis to further it’s Babylonian Imperial hegemonic control of this world and it’s resources. Since the US took over the Imperial Mantle from England after WWII, it has attacked and invaded only poor, 3rd world countries, Korea, Vietnam, Grenada, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and other impoverished places. What it has done covertly via the CIA, Navy Seals or other groups operating in secret remains to be exposed. In it’s major invasions, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan, the US wanted out in a hurry with it’s tail between it’s legs. Perhaps this is an example of Divine Justice? Few remember it was the US in 2002 that unilaterally abrogated the 1st Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty (SALT I) signed in 1969 with the Soviet Union. That Treaty banned the deployment of anti-missile missiles and a new arms race. The US then proceeded to deploy those anti-missile missiles in a ring around Russia in the former Warsaw Pact Countries. This US action would have made US intentions suspect in Russia for legitimate reasons. The US engineered putsch/Coup D’Etat in Ukraine is only the latest aggressive action by the US to contain Russia, the last remaining obstacle to US world domination and hegemony. It’s all about the money and power.

Ukrainian crisis: We didn’t get here by accident

By Recalcitrant Hippy The Ukraine crisis started on Nov. 21, 2013; today we have a cease fire agreement. President Viktor Yanukovych had refused to sign a free-trade agreement with the European Union which included the same austerity measures that have nearly destroyed Greece. It was not in Ukraine’s best interest and Moscow was proposing a deal that was. Given the historic relationship between the two countries, the decision to choose Moscow’s deal seems obvious. Thousands, who had hoped to join Europe, descended on Kiev’s Independence Square. It was a peaceful and spontaneous protest dubbed the EuroMaidan, that went on for several days. There were no altercations. They sang nationalistic songs chanting that Ukraine was really European. Kiev received a much needed financial bailout from Russia totaling 15 billion US dollars. Moscow wrote off billions of dollars of unpaid gas debt. This story should have died at the end of that first news cycle but there was a subtext already in play. neonazis-ukraineAs soon as the bailout was announced, senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham denounced Yanukovych for denying the democratic rights of the protesters to join Europe? They said it was a Russian plan to reclaim the country and start rebuilding the USSR? They called for the people to rise up against the government and told them the American people would support them. The Right Sector and the Svoboda, recognized neo-nazi terrorist groups according to both American and European watch lists, appeared on the Maidan in number. They were masked, carrying Molotov cocktails, axes and guns. Under Yanukovych’s orders, the police showed heroic restraint night after night. Their shields were repeatedly whipped by chains. Petrol bombs thrown behind their lines sent many to hospital with severe burns. Officers who were isolated by the mob were brutally beaten. McCain exploded when people ukraine far rightsuggested that these were rioters. He championed them as fighting for democracy against despotic regime; although Ukraine was actually a democracy and elections would have happened in less than 2 years. Yanukovych could easily have been replaced by someone more favourable to the European Alliance. But something else was at stake. McCain turned up on the Maidan, cheering on the violence. He made contact with the leadership of Right Sector and the other neo-nazi groups involved. He told them America would help them in their cause. Victoria Nuland, American Deputy Secretary of State for Europe, turned up in Kiev with cookies and words of support for the rioters. Both of their actions were a direct violation of international law and the conventions of diplomacy. Before leaving the country, Nuland was caught in a telephone conversation with the American Ambassador to the Ukraine. They were discussing the State Departments choice of Arseni Yatzinuk for Prime Minister in the interim government. Yanukovych was still in Kiev, still president and he was negotiating with Right Sector to restore order. Even the United States refuses to recognize regimes that take power in this manner. If two Soviet era officials, had turned up at a Martin Luther King rally to offer him Moscow’s support; well… it’s easy to imagine what the Americans would have thought about that; most likely the same thoughts Ukrainians and Russians had while watching it actually happening in their backyard, and with neo-nazis.

After Snipers assassinated several people including police on the Maidan, Yanukovych struck a power sharing deal with Right Sector to end the violence. That night he learned that they were coming to kill him instead of keeping their word. He fled the country. In unprecedented scenes of violence, the neo-nazi groups seized the parliament, physically beating and ejecting members from the house. Many officials were terrorized, threatened and forced to sign false statements. The police department was disbanded and some of them were assassinated. The United States pronounced the Right Sector under Arseni Yatzinuk, the legitimate government of Ukraine. No investigations were ever carried out.
Fast forward and Petro Poroshenko has become President. He declares that Russian is no longer an official language, despite a third of the population, mostly in the Donbass, all being Russian speaking. Right after the coup, the neo-nazi groups had sent militia into the Donbass destroying vital infra structure, dragging people from their homes, threatening and terrorizing the population. The people resisted and conflicts began to turn ugly. People were dying. Armoured vehicles from the Russian military base in Sevastopol blocked all of the entrances to the city to protect it, after local authorities refused to recognize the new Ukrainian government and appointed a new head of the city. Attempts at attacking the city were pitiful and fruitless. Kiev offered to hold national elections so that the Donbass could elect its own representatives to his government and he restored the status of the Russian language. He had promised to go to the Donbass but he never went. The people felt betrayed and decided to hold a referendum before the elections. The Crimea decided to ask if they could join Russia. The rest of the region voted to stay in Ukraine and resolve the situation by negotiating a Federation within the country. Russia agreed to repatriate Crimea. Much of the population are Russian and it has been the site of one of the most important ports for the Russian navy since 1783. Ah… a prize worthy of deception and corruption to attain, perhaps? Those Ukrainians remaining, from the old Ukrainian army, at the time the regions began defending their territory, were unceremoniously disarmed and escorted out of the region. Anyone who wished to leave with all of their belongings was allowed to do so and many did, some to Russia, some to Ukraine. A humiliating defeat for Kiev and its supporters. Then they began bombing the Donbass and blaming Russia for invading Ukraine. The lies and the carnage have gone on for 14 months. The Americans continue to spearhead rhetoric without any evidence to support their allegations and without contributing towards a solution in any meaningful way. The Russians have been coy but they certainly have some involvement, the stakes are too high not to. The Europeans bear the brunt of the sanctions. They are also the ones who live under constant threat of another war on their soil. The Americans have so far given the Ukrainians barely 5 million dollars worth of flack jackets, first aid kits and ration packs. Now that a deal is at hand Congress suddenly approves 3 billion dollars in military aid. The US has a long history of both regime change and of torpedoing peace deals. The Normandy 4 have accomplished the near-impossible and we have a formula that might help bring an end to this conflict. The Americans have no stake in this fight; so why am I waiting to see what they will do? Secretary John Kerry said that the US may roll back sanctions if the agreement is enacted, no mention of curbing arms shipments though. There are many things the Americans say they may do. I was amazed at how little information remains on the search engines. I had to use stories that I wrote at the time for some of these details. All that is left is the vilainization of Vladimir Putin and the ever more vitriolic rhetoric. Never forget what happened people; confronting the truth of how this all began is where the key to a lasting solution is.

McCain with Ukraine neo NazisU.S. Senator John McCain, center, speaks between Democratic senator from the state of Connecticut, Chris Murphy, left, and Oleh Tyahnybok, right, Opposition Leader and head of the neo-Nazi Svoboda Party, Independence Square, Kiev, Ukraine, December 15, 2013, inciting the crowd to overthrow the Democratically elected government before it happened.

CIMG5387  Gord Cowie, 57, is the Recalcitrant Hippy in Montreal, Quebec. He has traveled to India, parts of East Africa, Bangladesh and the Caribbean volunteering to help orphaned children and single mothers survive in their own country. He has internationally adopted children. Self employed and doing residential construction and renovations for the last 20 years, Gord reads online news for about 4 hours every day and comments frequently. His diverse hobbies include history, temporal physics, cosmology and writing.       The Kansas City Times published the marker of TIME below. If you expand the image, you will read during the American celebrations of the Revolutionary Spirit of ’76, I was warning about the “idea being put out subtly and deceptively” inciting for war with Russia. It is TIME! Gentlemen! Kansas City Times, September 13, 1976 (2)


The following article by Professor Richard Falk is clear, incisive, objective and Righteous.Richard Falk

Richard Falk is an International Law and International Relations Scholar who taught at Princeton University for forty years. His term as UN Special Rapporteur for Palestinian Rights recently ended. He is the Jew the Israelis love to hate.

I first learned of his being long before Charlie Hebdo, reading in the news The Secretary-General of the United Nations, The US Ambassador to the UN, and the Canadian Government were calling for him to be fired from his UN position for expressing his Rapporteur’s Freedom of Speech in the framework of his Legal Experience and Knowledge of International Law. Even though I knew nothing about him except his UN title, I instinctively knew if all those powerful people wanted him fired, he must be doing something right, and did some research. I discovered a man with a beautiful mind and soul.

The Irrelevance of Liberal Zionism

settlement buildingFrustrated by Israeli settlement expansion, excessive violence, AIPAC maximalism, Netanyahu’s arrogance, Israel’s defiant disregard of international law, various Jewish responses claim to seek a middle ground. Israel is criticized by this loyal opposition, sometimes harshly, although so is the Palestinian Authority, Hamas, and activists around the world. Both sides are deemed responsible in equal measure for the failure to end the conflict. With such a stance liberal Zionists seek to occupy the high Palestinians on the way to work in the Settlementsmoral ground without ceding political relevance. In contrast, those who believe as I do that Israel poses the main obstacle to achieving a sustainable peace are dismissed by liberal Zionists as either obstructive or unrealistic, and at worst, as anti-Israeli or even anti-Semitic.

Listen to the funding appeals of J Street or read such columnists in the NY Times as Roger Cohen and Thomas Friedman to grasp the approach of liberal Zionism. These views are made to appear reasonable, and even just, by being set off against such maximalist support for Israel as associated with AIPAC and the U.S. Congress, or in the NY Times context by Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu attends a news conference in Jerusalemcomparison with the more conservative views of David Brooks (whose son currently serves in the IDF) who published a recent ‘balanced’ column lionizing Netanyahu, “The Age of Bibi” [Jan. 2, 2014]. Of all the deformed reasoning contained in the column, perhaps the most scandalous was comparing Netanyahu to Churchill, and to suggest that his story has the grandeur that bears a resemblance to Shakespeare’s MacBeth, an observation that many would find unflattering. Of all Netanyahu’s qualities remarked upon, Brooks astoundingly finds that “his caution is the most fascinating.” According to Brooks, Netanyahu deserves to be regarded as cautious because he has refrained from attacking Iran despite threatening to do so with bellicose rhetoric. I would have thought that Netanyahu’s inflammatory threats directed at ISRAEL-NETANYAHU-BOMB-IRAN Iran, especially as combined with covert acts including inserting viruses to disable its nuclear program and assassinating Iranian scientists, would seem reckless enough for most observers. Since Brooks fails to mention the murderous attacks on Gaza, there is no need to reconcile such aggressive behavior with this overall assessment of caution.

At the core of liberal Zionism is the indictment of the Palestinian leadership for “never missing an opportunity to miss an opportunity” to recall the self-serving quip of the Israeli diplomat, Abba Eban. Roger Cohen would have us believe that prior to the collapse of the PLO-Hamas LeadersApril negotiations the U.S. Government had presented a framework agreement, acceptable to Tel Aviv, that the Palestinian Authority irresponsibly and unreasonably rejected. And not only rejected, but the PA behaved in a manner that was provocative, signed some international agreements as if it already was a state. [“Why Israeli-Palestinian Peace Failed,” Dec. 23, 2014] This spin comes from Netanyahu’s chief negotiator, Tzipi Livni, who is presented by Cohen as the voice of moderation, as the self-proclaimed champion of ‘two states for two peoples.’

Livni who is the leader of a small party called Hatnua, which is joined in coalition with a T Livnirevamped Labor Party headed by Isaac Herzog, contesting Likud and Netanyahu. Cohen never inquires as to what sort of state she would wish upon the Palestinians, which on the basis of her past, would be thoroughly subjugated to Israeli security demands as well as accommodating the bulk of settlements and settlers while rejecting the rights under international law of Palestinians in relations to refugees.

When Livni was asked by Cohen whether she would suspend Israeli settlement expansion so as to get direct negotiations started once more, she indicated that she would “at least outside the major blocs.” Cohen calls her party ‘centrist,’ which is one way of acknowledging how far Israeli politics have drifted to the right in recent years. A reading of the leaked documents of the secret negotiations between the Palestinian Authority and Israel represented by Livni showed how disinterested Israel seemed to be in two states for two peoples at that time of far less extensive settlement encroachment, as well as her overt rejection of the relevance of international law to the diplomatic process. [For a collection of the leaked documents showing Livni’s role see Clayton E. Swisher, ed., Palestine Papers: The End of the Road (2011)]

241_cartoon_us_arms_aid_middle_east_largeThis expresses a second element of liberal Zionism, that despite everything the two state solution is confirmed over and over again as the only path to peace. As such, it should be endlessly activated in accordance with the Oslo formula that keeps the United States in the absurd role of intermediary and continue to insist that any Palestinian reference to rights under international law is an obstacle to peace. After more than 47 years of occupation and over 20 years of submission to the Oslo approach it would seem that it is past time to issue a certificate of futility, and the failure to do so, is for me a sure sign of either bad faith or extreme denial.

What is baffling is that those like Friedman and Cohen who surely know better play this game that never even raises the concrete question of how to reverse a settlement process that now includes as many as 600,000 settlers many of whom are militantly opposed to any kind of solution to the conflict that challenges their present situation. Conveniently, also, this liberal advocacy finesses the claims of the four million or so Palestinian refugees, including almostIsraeli Gaza Ghetto two million that have been confined to miserable refugee camps for decades, some since 1948. How can one possibly imagine a sustainable and just peace emerging from such a blinkered outlook!

 Liberal Zionists also oppose as irresponsible and unhelpful all efforts to challenge this framework, especially any call for holding Israel to account under international humanitarian law for its excessive violence. Alternative futures based on the equality of the two peoples, such as some kind of living together within a single political community are dismissed out of hand, either because of colliding with Zionist expectations of a Jewish state or because after decades of hatred any effort at social integration would be bound to fail. Intriguingly, my experience of many conversations with both Palestinian refugees and Gazans is far more hopeful about peaceful coexistence within shared political space than are the Israelis despite their prosperity, prowess, and far greater security.

In a similar vein, liberal Zionists almost always oppose as counterproductive, activist initiatives taken under the auspice of the BDS Campaign. Their argument is that Israel will never make ‘painful sacrifices’ when put under pressure deemed hostile, and without these, no peace is possible. What these painful sacrifices might be on the Israeli side are never spelled out, but presumably would include disbanding the isolated settlements and maybe security wallthe separation wall, both of which were in any event unlawful. The real sacrifice for Israelis would be to give up the completion of the maximal version of the Zionist project, that of so-called Greater Israel that encompasses the entirety of the alleged biblical entitlement to Palestine. For the Palestinians in contrast their sacrifice would necessitate renouncing a series of entitlements conferred by international law, pertaining to settlements, refugees, borders, self-determination, sovereignty. In effect, Israel would sacrifice part of its unlawful dominion, while Palestine would relinquish its lawful claims, and the end result would be one of the inequality of the two peoples, not a recipe for a lasting peace.

A final feature of liberal Zionism is to make concessions to the Greater Israel outlook along the following lines—Israel should be allowed to control the unlawfully established settlement blocs; Israeli security concerns should be met, including by stationing military forces within the West Bank for many ears, while any Palestinian security concerns are treated as irrelevant; Palestinian refugees would be denied the right to return to their pre-1967 places of residence; Jerusalem would remain essentially under Israel’s control; no provision would be made to ensure non-discrimination against the 20% Palestine minority living within pre-1967 Israel; no acknowledgement would be made of the past injustices flowing from the 1948 dispossession of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from their place of residence and the destruction of hundreds of Palestinian villages, the catastrophe that befell the Palestinian people, the nakba, nor the recognition that the nakba is a process that has continued to afflict Palestinians to this very moment.

Despite its claim of reasonableness and practicality, the liberal Zionist approach is an increasingly irrelevant presence on the Israeli political horizon, paralleling the decline of the Labor Party and the peace movement in the country, as well as the ascendancy of the Likud and the politics of the extreme right. The Israeli end game is now overwhelmingly based on unilateralism, either imposing a highly subordinated and circumscribed Palestinian state confined to parts of the West Bank or establishing Greater Israel and giving up any pretense of implementing the formula of two states for two peoples. The fact that liberal Zionism and the diplomacy of the West largely plays along with the discarded scenario of two states for two peoples is nothing more than subservience to a cruel variant of ‘the politics of delusion.’

The denigration of liberal Zionism is not meant to belittle the effort of Jews as Jews to find a just and sustainable solution for both peoples. I strongly support such organizations as Jewish Voices for Peace and Middle East Children’s Alliance, and hail the contributions of Noam Chomsky, Norman Finkelstein, Ilan Pappe, and many others to the struggle for Palestinian empowerment and emancipation. 

Fortunately, Palestinian resistance will likely stymie the two variants of the Israeli end game mentioned above, but much suffering is almost certain to ensue before sufficient momentum builds within Israel and throughout the world for living together on the basis of equality and even solidarity, accompanied by the necessary acknowledgement of past injustices via some kind of truth commission mechanism. After such knowledge, anything will be possible!