False Messiahs (Barnett R. Rubin, January 4, 2024, Boston Review)

Neither the British nor the Zionist movement considered the views of the people who lived in Palestine, 96 percent of them Arab. By Herzl’s own account in his diary, he did not speak to a single Arab during his 1898 visit to Palestine.

As historian Rashid Khalidi documents in The Hundred Years’ War on Palestine (2020), Balfour wrote in a 1919 memo to the British cabinet that “in Palestine we do not propose even to go through the form of consulting the wishes of the present inhabitants of the country. . . . Zionism, be it right or wrong, good or bad, is rooted in age-long traditions, in present needs, in future hopes, of far profounder import than the desires and prejudices of the 700,000 Arabs who now inhabit that ancient land.” Winston Churchill, in his 1937 testimony to the Peel Commission appointed by London to make recommendations on Palestine, was more emphatic:

I do not admit that the dog in the manger has the final right to the manger even though he may have lain there for a very long time. I do not admit that right. I do not admit, for instance, that a great wrong has been done to the Red Indians of America, or the black people of Australia. I do not admit that a wrong has been done to those people by the fact that a stronger race, a higher grade race, or, at any rate, a more worldly-wise race, to put it that way, has come in and taken their place.

Why did Zionism and many Jews accept this bargain? As Europeans, even if oppressed ones, they largely shared the virtually unchallenged assumptions of European colonial thinking. Circumstances also provided them with little choice. Given the opportunity, many—perhaps most—of the Jewish refugees from Hitler would have gone to the United States rather than Palestine. But by the 1930s, the tightening grip of anti-Semitism on the Western world convinced even erstwhile Jewish opponents of Zionism that they had no choice. Zionism’s claim that Jews could never be safe among other nations was proving true, not only in Nazi Germany but also in the “liberal” west. Jews trying to flee Nazi anti-Semitism butted up against anti-Semitic immigration laws in the United States and UK. The British—indeed Home Secretary Balfour himself—had enacted the Aliens Act in 1905, introducing immigration restrictions. The U.S. Immigration Act of 1924 was explicitly intended to stop the massive immigration of Eastern European Jews, among others. In July 1938, thirty-two nations assembled on Lake Geneva at the Evian conference to consider what to do about the mounting tide of Jewish refugees. Every delegate expressed sympathy for the refugees, but only Ecuador and the Dominican Republic offered to admit any of them.

The Mandate for Palestine given by the League of Nations to Britain in 1920—which came into effect in 1923—gave the Zionist organization legal status as “a public body for the purpose of advising and co-operating with the Administration of Palestine in such economic, social and other matters as may affect the establishment of the Jewish national home and the interests of the Jewish population in Palestine.” It also provided that the mandatory authorities “shall facilitate Jewish immigration under suitable conditions and shall encourage . . . settlement by Jews on the land.” The mandate forbade discrimination by the British in Palestine against other members of the League of Nations but offered neither protection nor any form of representation to the Palestinian Arabs.

As colonial subjects, the Palestinian Arabs, unlike the Americans or British, had no sovereign power to regulate immigration into their territory. The combination of the Nazi regime, the exclusionary consensus expressed at the Evian conference, and the British mandate on Palestine together imposed a disproportionate burden of accepting Jewish refugees on the Palestinians, whose tiny country had nothing to do with the origin of the crisis and was deprived of any means of self-government.


The Clean Energy Transition May Be Cheaper Than We Thought: Cost estimates leave out some of the savings of using less fossil fuels, new analysis says. (DAN GEARINO, 1/19/24, MoJo)

The global transition to clean energy has a cost, but it may be a lot lower than the figures that sometimes get thrown around. The differences are large, amounting to trillions and even tens of trillions of dollars.

A new analysis from RMI, the clean energy research and advocacy group, identifies what its authors say is a basic flaw in many of those estimates: They don’t fully take into account the decrease in fossil fuel spending.

“This kind of narrative that there’s a massive surge in capital that’s required is simply incorrect,” said Kingsmill Bond, a co-author of the report and an analyst for RMI whose work covers the financial side of the energy transition.

The report finds that global capital spending (money used for equipment and property, among other things) on energy supply is on track to be about $2.5 trillion in 2030, up from $2.2 trillion in 2023.

“It’s 2 percent per annum growth,” Bond said. “On a net basis, it’s not much.”

And then starts paying for itself.


Could Barghouti be the Palestinian to make peace with Israel? (Alain Catzeflis, 1/19/24, the Article)

For decades the international community has clung to the idea that peace in the Middle East could be imposed from the outside: essentially by American power and Arab money. Time and again this has proved a dangerous illusion. A go-between can, well, go-between warring parties. But, as every peace initiative in history shows, all you can do is take a horse to water.

Ami Ayalon is a straight-talking Israeli war hero with the ageing good looks of a combat veteran from central casting. Ayalon headed both Shin Bet, Israel’s security service, and the country’s navy. He thinks he has the answer.

Ayalon believes the Palestinian who ticks all the boxes has been sitting in an Israeli jail for 22 years. He’s talking about Marwan Barghouti, the most senior Palestinian leader behind bars and by far the most popular, though not a man widely known to the world beyond.

A veteran of the 1987-93 and 2000-2004 intifadas or uprisings, Barghouti is serving five life sentences for his role in the death of Israelis during the second intifada.

Ayalon told the Guardian recently, that Barghouti is the only leader who can lead Palestinians to a state alongside Israel “because he believes in a two-state solution and because he won his legitimacy by sitting in our jails.”