Uri Avnery Was No Hero

Following the death in August of the Israeli journalist and politician Uri Avnery, many Israeli public figures—even those who had once been or would seem to be his ideological opponents—have praised him for his dedication to peace. President Reuven Rivlin, for instance, commended Avnery’s “ambition to build a free and strong society” in Israel. Yet, writes Raphael Bouchnik-Chen, we should not forget the destruction wrought by Avnery’s most significant achievement: his unofficial and unauthorized diplomacy with Yasir Arafat, which would eventually lead to the Oslo Accords:

On July 3, 1982, [Avnery met] with the Palestine Liberation Organization’s leader Yasir Arafat in West Beirut in the midst of the first Lebanon war. Arafat himself admitted that Avnery was the first Israeli he had ever met, making him the pioneer who “broke the dam” for the many Israeli left-wing activists who followed. . . . The event was utilized by Avnery, [who was then a reporter], as an international scoop as well as an opportunity to show Arafat as a human being rather than a demonized monster. . . .

While praising Avnery’s meeting with Arafat in Beirut, his admirers intentionally ignored, or at least omitted . . . the fact that the PLO leader [was being trailed] by Israeli intelligence. . . . Though Avnery, who most likely knew this, claimed to have risked his life by attending the meeting, he knew he could rely on the restraint of the Israeli military not to attempt an assassination of Arafat in such circumstances.

Avnery used a similar tactic when visiting Arafat at his headquarters in Ramallah, [in which he] operated as a human shield for Arafat. Striking evidence of this can be found in Avnery’s article entitled “Human Shield.”

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Read more at BESA Center

More about: Israel & Zionism, Israeli left, Oslo Accords, Peace Process, Yasir Arafat

Will Tensions Rise between the U.S. and Israel?

Unlike his past many predecessors, President Joe Biden does not have a plan for solving the Israel-Palestinian conflict. Moreover, his administration has indicated its skepticism about renewing the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran. John Bolton nevertheless believes that there could be a collision between the new Benjamin Netanyahu-led Israeli government and the Biden White House:

In possibly his last term, Netanyahu’s top national-security priority will be ending, not simply managing, Iran’s threat. This is infinitely distant from Biden’s Iran policy, which venerates Barrack Obama’s inaugural address: “we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.”

Tehran’s fist is today otherwise occupied, pummeling its own people. Still, it will continue menacing Israel and America unless and until the internal resistance finds ways to fracture the senior levels of Iran’s regular military and the Revolutionary Guards. Netanyahu undoubtedly sees Iran’s growing domestic turmoil as an opportunity for regime change, which Israel and others can facilitate. Simultaneously, Jerusalem can be preparing its military and intelligence services to attack Tehran’s nuclear program, something the White House simply refuses to contemplate seriously. Biden’s obsession with reviving the disastrous 2015 nuclear deal utterly blinds the White House to the potential for a more significant victory.

To make matters worse, Biden has just created a Washington-based position at the State Department, a “special representative for Palestinian affairs,” that has already drawn criticism in Israel both for the new position itself and for the person named to fill it. Advocated as one more step toward “upgrading” U.S. relations with the Palestinian Authority, the new position looks nearly certain to become the locus not of advancing American interests regarding the failed Authority, but of advancing the Authority’s interests within the Biden administration.

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Read more at 19FortyFive

More about: Benjamin Netanyahu, Iran, Joe Biden, U.S.-Israel relationship