Sunday, October 10, 2010
A shameful spectacle is infolding in the Middle East and Washington. Much lauded by the press, President Obama's round of peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians is near collapse. The issue is simple, these surrender negotiations whereby the United States is trying to force the Palestinians to accept a neutered microstate in a tiny portion of historic Palestine in return for eternal gratitude to the U.S. and the abandonment of international law and any Palestinian aspirations for justice and civil rights, are being jettisoned by the Israeli refusal to stop stealing more land from the people it already enslaves in a vice-like Apartheid-style grip. President Obama and his Secretary of State Hillary Clinton are making truly embarrassing entreaties to Israel's Prime Minister Netanyahu, offering lavish arms deals with thrown-in free jet fighters and all sorts of other perks to Israel not for peace, but just to extend the "settlement" construction moratorium for a few months. Netanyahu and his racist foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman can't be bothered watching America crawl around at his feet, they're discussing instituting new loyalty oaths for Israeli citizens--including non-Jewish ones like the Palestinian Arabs who remained within Israel's pre-1967 borders as second-class citizens--demanding recognition of Israel as a Jewish entity. Lieberman would rather expel all Arabs from all of Greater Israel, but hey, what are you gonna do. Lieberman is all about population transfers, codeword for the ethnic cleansing of as much historic Palestine as he can reach.
Meanwhile the accommodationist Fatah/PLO leader Abu Mazen is meeting with Arab leaders in Libya trying to strike the right militant posture while avoiding doing anything that might actually either help the Palestinians nor jeopardize the relationships of the corrupt Arab regimes with the United States. Israel and the U.S. have so poisoned this whole process that the alleged defiance of the Palestinians and Arab leaders is not about substantive issues like the rights of Palestinians to determine their own future or about land or about refugees or about justice or about occupation but about begging the thieves to take a brief pause in their thieving. And meanwhile Mazen's corrupt rump Palestinian Authority has already cut loose the people of Hamas-ruled Gaza, turning a blind eye to Israel's blockade and repression. There's speculation that whatever deal Mazen the U.S. and Israel are cooking up it won't apply to Gaza at all.
Abu Mazen took a mildly principled stand at the beginning of the negotiations that if Israel let its construction moratorium lapse, the Palestinians would walk out. The moratorium lapsed weeks ago and while nobody's talking, nobody's walking out either. This is not a negotiation it's a route, with Israel leading the charge. Whatever comes out of this thieves' charade is most certainly not going to be actual peace.
Obama spoke at the United Nations General Assembly session and devoted a large portion of his speech to his peace efforts. "When we come back here next year, we can have an agreement that will lead to a new member of the United Nations -- an independent, sovereign state of Palestine, living in peace with Israel." But what he is talking about in such exalted terms isn't an independent sovereign state according to the definitions anybody would recognize. It's a rump demilitarized fragment of an already small country with its best land, its resources, and its capital city clawed away by the Zionist state.
Here's the harsh truth. There can be no real peace while the State of Israel exists. It is a fundamental injustice in the landscape of the Middle East. Let it be said, it is not the presence of Jewish people in historic Palestine that is the problem, it is the presence of a racist, colonialist state. It is this state with its loyalty oaths, with its ethnic cleansing, with its brutality, with its racist laws, with its core rejection of secular law, with its murderous intent against its neighbors, that must go. As long as it stays there will be injustice. The dismantling of the state of Israel in favor of a democratic, secular nation where people of all faiths and ethnicities live together under the rule of law would be a blow against not only the colonialist holdover of Zionism but against the authoritarianism and corruption of neighboring countries like Egypt, Syria and Saudi Arabia, and crucially, against terrorism; removing the emotional resonance that allows reactionary terrorists to capitalize on injustice for their own anti-democratic ends.
Obama is still giving lip service to the cause of peace and justice for Palestinians, but ironically he redefines peace and justice to be near meaningless. The two-state solution is no longer a solution, but a posture that allows the Israeli State, the PLO leadership, the Arab regimes, and the U.S. all to pursue their own ends while solving absolutely nothing at all.
It's time for the charade to end.
(Top photo shows an IDF soldier confronting a demonstrator during protests this July over ethnic evictions in Israel from Yossi Gurvitz' blog "Wish You Orwell." I saw it first on the excellent information/opinion site on the Middle East Mondoweiss.)