Thursday, January 22, 2009

Israel Declares A Cease-Fire Just In Time For Obama’s Inauguration.

Israel’s breach of the previous cease-fire, when it invaded Gaza and killed 6 Palestinians, was also conveniently timed, in that case to happen on election day in America, November 4th, when people all over the world were preoccupied with more momentous matters.

Why take a chance on Obama pressuring Israel to derail its lust for revenge, just when it’s so strongly approved of by the general population – nearly 90% at one point. Do those Israelis who stand behind the Gaza attack understand that their country has been enforcing a sometimes brutal military occupation of Arab land for 42 years? That large parts of Arab land has been “confiscated”, read stolen, so it could be colonized by Jews? And that the process of settling conquered land is against all international rules and norms?

Are they aware that many of the Palestinians who were ejected 60 years ago from what’s now Israel, who now number in the millions after 3 generations, are refugees living in refugee camps? Do they feel no responsibility for the plight of the descendents of those Arabs who were forcibly driven from their lands; in some cases from properties that were in their families for centuries? Do they have no ethic in their society that stands for justice and fairness on a human level? Or is there one rule for Jews and another for Gentiles, i.e., everyone else?

Do they really believe, when the UN General Assembly votes 189 to 4 against their country (US, Israel and two tiny Pacific countries) that everybody else in the world is wrong?

The offense against Gaza, it can be argued, was undertaken to bolster the chances of the centrist Kadima party to win February 10 elections against right-wing Likud with hard-line Netanyahu as its head. So maybe PM Ehud Olmert of Kadima really had the best interests of the Palestinian people at heart; thinking if he killed and wounded enough innocent terrorists his centrist party would defeat the rightists and eventually make a better deal with the Arabs.

But obviously not a good deal, certainly - based on their actions over the last few years - not one any self-respecting Palestinian could accept. Israel wants the Palestinians to accept a West Bank divided into three cantons, each completely surrounded by Israeli territory: a scenario that would require Palestinians to sometimes go through Israeli road blocks to go from one village to another. Considering how Israel blockaded Gaza because it didn’t approve of their democratically chosen government, how could any Palestinian accept that?

Even as Olmert, to the surprise of many, said recently that Israel will have to leave almost all of the West Bank to make peace, he’s presided over a large-scale expansion of Jewish colonies there. No country is stupid enough to spend billions building gleaming new cities in places it plans to abandon in short order. In other words, from Israel’s side, there’s no possibility of a negotiated peace. Only a powerful push on the part of Obama, who’s until now held his cards close to his chest, so is a largely unknown quantity, can change the dynamic.

However, no amount of political pressure or voice of reason or appeal to fairness will remove the majority of settlers from the West Bank. When you look at the resistance put up by the mere 8000 Jewish settlers who were removed from Gaza, a place that has no historical significance for Jews, you can imagine the gargantuan task of uprooting half a million people: 60% of that number are religious zealots who will resist removal by force. It would take Jews killing Jews to make it happen.

In that context, a one-state solution would be no harder to achieve. It would be equally impossible to imagine happening but, in context, no more difficult to contemplate.

The great irony of Israel’s policy of purposely pauperizing the Palestinians, in the vain and vague hope that they will somehow leave or disappear or willingly accept permanent subjugation, is that it has massively increased the Arab birth rate. While it’s true that Muslims around the world tend to have more children, it’s also axiomatic that the wealthier a population becomes the fewer children they have. Israel’s policies have, in effect, accelerated Palestinian population growth to the point where the two peoples have about the same numbers.

If Jews want to live in the West Bank, that’s fine, a one-state solution provides for that. The only change is that they’d have to purchase the land rather than steal it.

On the Palestinian side, they should be compensated richly for their pain and suffering, enough so that if they really want they can return to their ancestral communities and purchase presences there.

It could be like Belgium or Bosnia where there are individual parliaments for two separate groups of society – in Belgium there are the Dutch speaking Flemish and the French speaking Walloons; in Bosnia there is a Serb republic and a Muslim-Croat federation - and a single parliament for the country as a whole.

And what’s the problem with treating everyone equally? Is there anywhere else in the world where it’s okay to give special privileges to one group? It happens in many places but can it ever be considered a progressive idea? An idea that belongs in the 21st century?

The time is long past when Jews needed a dedicated homeland for self-protection. Jews live freely and comfortably and safely in many countries in the world, and can do so also in Israel/Palestine if they treat their neighbors honestly and fairly and respectfully.

In fact, the Palestinian people are among the most advanced and modern of all Arabs. In addition, they’ve had free and fair elections and shown themselves to be more democratic than Israel itself, considering the Jewish state has discrimination built into its very fabric.

It’s time for Israelis and blind supporters of Israel to get over their persecution complex. The Holocaust is history, there’s no need to wallow in its grotesqueness. The IDF (Israeli Defense Force) has not been used to defend Israel for a long time, but solely to enforce a brutal occupation and to collectively punish a people who’s only crime is to legitimately seek their freedom and demand their right to live normal lives.

Yes, they have used terrorism, but so have Israelis in the past and so would they today if they were in the Palestinians’ shoes. Tzipi Livni, Israeli Foreign Minister and candidate for Prime Minister in the coming election rails on about Arab terrorism. She should know about the practice, her father played a central role in Jewish terrorism of the 1940’s.

Time for Israel to grow up and join the family of modern civilized nations. That can only happen with a strictly secular government based on justice and equality for all.


Anonymous said...

Lots of very in depth stuff. What I'd like to be addresse somewhere is this: when western news media report Palestinian civilian casualties, how can they be sure who is and who is not civilian. If you are carried into the hospital unarmed (in the sense of not having weapons, mind you) are you then and there a civilian. Is it not true that many of the militants and even police in Gaza were ordered by Hamas to remove their uniforms, which would be the only truly accurate way to determine whether or not a person is a civilian or a militant? And that therefore a lot of people killed and wounded might appear to be civilians but really aren't. All I'm saying is that militants and civilians are easily muddled in war-time and the western (read: anti-Israeli) media are quick in their assessments and usually round up. Plus, from my view, if Hamas orders families to stand atop a known militant hideout or safe-house to ward off an Israeli missile strike, who is really to blame?

Stan Kahn said...

Always a bit murky but police for instance are classified as civilian. They took off their uniforms because many were killed on the first day.
If the Western media is anti-Israel it's because for the first time they are telling the whole story.
When white phosphorus shells are targeted on a UN compound where hundreds of people are sheltering it's a war crime, no matter the circumstances. Which only points out the impossibility of a regular army defeating a guerrilla insurgency without causing massive civilian casualties.
One thing you can know about civilian vs. combat is that women and children and elderly are rarely or never combatants. If large numbers of them are killed it's an indicator of wrongdoing.

Mark Roy said...

"It’s time for Israelis and blind supporters of Israel to get over their persecution complex."
I agree. One problem is, if you or i criticise the Israeli invasion, we are immediately branded "anti-Semitic" or something akin to Nazis.