The news dump day for Israeli papers is often Sunday here in the US, where their AM edition is many hours earlier than ours. Oh my, what an interesting dump this morning.
First, two papers, Ma'an here, and Ha'aretz here, are both reporting that the United States government has reported in its annual 2011 report on Terrorism that various acts which we here associate with settlers, including price tag attacks, and attacks on mosques, are terrorist acts. Just sit and chew on that one for a moment.
And THEN, Vice Prime Minister and Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe Ya'alon of the current Israeli government has here labelled two recent horrible incidents, a firebombing of a car full of a Palestinian family, and an attack on three Palestinians by Israelis, arrests now pending as reported elsewhere, were 'terrorist attacks.' The magic word again, on two different but apparently related groups of matters involving settlers and terrorism by official voices. The firebombing incident, was especially interesting in the treatment as Israeli papers also reported that PM Netanyahu was in touch with WB President Abbas to assure him that the firebombing was appalling and would be very diligently investigated. here. The assault on Palestinians in West Jerusalem is now being described in press shorthand in the Israeli papers as the "Jerusalem lynch', offensive though that phrase is in other circumstances, and reports have already appeared as to arrests in that matter.
JP did not report this but had an article in which it asserted that Mr. Abbas in the same article charged that IDF was not doing anyting to prevent these attacks, and, deep breath and a pause. . . was going on with its new September application to the UN general assembly for non member state status, and that as 133 countries/members recognized them, they expected to do well.
This set of developments are in their own way thrilling, to those for whom human rights are a very important issue. As we all know here, the term 'terrorist' is currently used politically in a number of areas, including matters in the US alone, to designate a class of crimes and doers who are beyond the legal pale, with whom NO occasionally friendly dealings can ever be acceptable. Far beyond mere criminals. And here it is, in enough reporting that, unlike the Israeli reporting on the US allegedly setting up a claim in its annual Human Rights Report from Department of State, that Israel was violating religious freedom by not setting Jewish worship schedules on Temple Mount/Haram al Sharif, which was denied promptly by the US, it appears to be accurate.
First, the US recognition of settler acts in WB as terrorist acts, places those terrorists and their supporters in a substantially different and more ambiguous position, given the tendency of some, but not all,supporters of Israeli governmental policies, both in the US and Israel, to label Palestinian bad acts and bad words as significations of their status as terrorists, but have said nothing about the various price tag attacks, mosque attacks and other similar events when the doers are apparently settlers, and prosecuted and even used administrative detention without charges for some Palestinians said to be associated with them, but have done virtually nothing in the investigation and charging of those settlers who have done bad acts, sometimes even seen doing them in Friendly Stranger's videos. That distinction is now toast, and US remedies and policies applicable to 'terrorists' may now have effect on both sides, not just one. This is IMO an excellent
Second, whether as a result of the US stand or otherwise, we are now looking at the Israeli PM calling on Abbas to assure him justice will be done or at least the processes of law cranked up to find the doers of the firebombing and the 'Jerusalem lynch', and arrests are being made in the Jerusalem lynch matter AND the deputy Prime Minister is now calling thefirebombing at least, a "terrorist attack," contrary to Jewish values, intolerable and to to be dealt with, as well.
This translates to me as a material change in the politics of the situation, as heretofore there have not been systematic investigations and resolutions of such matters, but now with the new and highly prejudicial reclassification of them, by both the US and the Israeli government, there is at least a probability that these matters will be treated with more seriousness as the massive violations of rights by the use of illegal force, which they are and always have been.
I take the deputy PM's statements as authorized by the proper authorities and a signal of the change in status, despite the huge pr pressure from settler political supporters in recent times, in favor of the Levy Report and related matters, either as a matter which the US change in position requires or at least a serious move on the settler violence issue of sufficient strength that the government itself must admit the terrorist character of at least the firebombing and act accordingly. Heretofore, one could not have the word 'terrorist' used in connection with any Israeli governmental act or any settler act. That is a huge change which suggests a huge need to force it into existence.
It also suggests IMO a change in the political combat over settler issues and framing domestically in Israel, as the current government's position on settler misconduct has consistently been a version of "Who, us? You must be kidding or antisemitic or both."
I do not think it is merely this weekend's nine day wonder PR change, so that the release of the Department of State report is being matched with the I government's verbal agreement, avoiding the PR damage in a US election period which a public conflict of this kind might create, and the damage of it for other goals of the I government such as the Iranian conflict, and the upcoming UN session. Avoiding the perception of a genuine gap in human rights issues between the US and Israel is a priority for Israel, as their close relationship with the US is their first line of defense in issues more important even than this one in which no exceptional gap can be tolerated, for fear others will also appear. And the suggestion that any settlers might be terrorists and not merely faithful patriots will have political consequences and costs in Israeli politics which may get truly, truly ugly, a problem of its own when that plate in Israel is unusually full of divisive matters. Of course, it also has the political effect here of not allowing this US finding, with which the I government is making a form of public agreement, from further fiddling with the US elections in the same way silence would have done - it's harder for AIPAC and the Neocons to object to the US saying what the official Israeli government is prepared to say and has now said.
A third effect is that the official quality of the US position is such that one can no longer say without exceptions that the US is unprepared to act at all on such terrorism matters, nor be entirely blind to what an otherwise important ally is doing. For those of us who don't like Obama's terrorism inflexibility and/or question Hillary's conduct as to Israel, this is a good day.
I have no idea whether this will last beyond the week, but even the fact of this confluence is a major alteration of the conversation worth noting and discussing. The occurrence of the issue at all, even if it doesn't last, is a sea change. And given the way the conversation arose, I also do not think this is a violation of DKos Godwin for IP matters.
It's actually a quite nice Sunday news dump.
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