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All the world wondered

by on July 2, 2011

Half a league, half a league,
Half a league onward,
All in the Sea of Greece
Sailed the several hundred.

So begins the epic journey long awaited for, conducted by the citizens of the world.  Half a league was the distance they went ere they were turned back by Greek coast guard.  Anonymous sources of the government declared the “boat had set sail without the permission required of all boats to leave port;” the boat turned back uttering protestations.

After the Turkish-based convoy in Greek waters is allowed to sail the destination of Gaza, to which Israel has said it “will thwart any effort to breach the sea blockade of Gaza,” it will either repeat or will not repeat the incidents of a year prior, when death and condemnation occurred.

The convoy is not new in coming; it is late and intentionally and accidentally delayed.  “On Thursday, an Irish ship, the MV Saoirse” docked in the Turkish town of Gocek, said “it had to abandon plans to set sail because of what it called Israeli sabotage. Earlier this week, activists said Israeli agents damaged the propeller of a Swedish ship in the Greek port. Israel has refused [to] comment on the allegations.”  Sabotage is nothing new; one option Israel could have considered last year was disabling the rudder of the MV Mavi Marmara and towing it to port for examination.  That option was not pursued.  Blunt force, apparently, is the solution to all of our problems.

On a related by peripheral issue, in which Israel required loyalty oaths from Arab, non-Jewish citizens, and banned non-Jews from renting property from Jews (a kind of reverse Feudal Europe), “when even the secret police suggest that a measure goes too far, elected panels might find occasion for pause.”  There was no pause.  On pressed Israel in its belief that through oppression comes peace – against all evidence of its own diaspora history.  History repeats itself surprisingly often, even for those who remember history and are not doomed to repeat it without knowledge.  “Even inside Netanyahu’s coalition, minister Benny Begin, the arch-conservative son of Menachim Begin, told Israeli Radio that the measure broke from the conservatism he knew: ‘This decision sends a warning signal — here is darkness.'”  Israelis suggest this is a return to the 1930’s in a different place.

While there is a reason for a convoy to loudly and against much protest try to enter Palestinian Gaza there will be a reason for Israel’s “enemies” to support anti-Israel behavior.  While Israel feels threatened by what it sees as anti-Israeli views, Israel will not feel safe and will think the solution is to occupy Gaza.  Despite Iran’s probable lack of nuclear weapon capability Israel continues to view Iran as a threat, and claims Iran is close to nuclear capability, because Iran supports what Israel sees as anti-Israeli.  Iran’sprogress in science, medicine and technology outpaces most developing nations — whether in AIDS research, nanotechnology, biotechnology, genetics, nuclear technology or aerospace.”  In addition, “the Islamic Republic of Iran has crafted such a creative healthcare system to deal with critical problems like infant and maternal mortality that the state of Mississippi has requested special permission from the US Department of State to bring in Iranian experts to teach them how to do the same.”  Let us fear them, clearly.

Meanwhile, “Turkey defies all stereotypes as a Muslim-majority country on the edge of the Middle East.”  It is a secular country with a progressive, Islamist-leaning political party.  Turkey is friends with the US, the EU, Russia, and Israel, and the Arab world.  Neither Turkey or Iran is Arab, yet “the Arab has been [so successfully] defined by the Other,” that inescapably they are part of the Arab narrative, which the Other writes.

Regarding the Peace Process, “participation in the debate is limited only to those who prescribe to the tenets of the discourse — in this case, it is the Palestinian Authority led by Mahmoud Abbas, the Jordanians, Egyptians, Saudis, and a smattering of other ‘defeatist’ Arab leaders who are happy to serve our (Western) interests over theirs.”  It is required to accept Israel, its qualitative military edge, it’s claim to Palestine, and the acceptance of only certain other parties.  The rule of the authoritarian ideologues is alive and well.

The language parameters that come into play to shape the discourse are largely based on these three tenets [listed above], although undoubtedly there are others. Words like dove, hawk, militant, extremist, moderates, terrorists, Islamo-fascists, rejectionists, existential threat, holocaust-denier, mad mullah determine the participation of solution partners — and are capable of instantly excluding others.

Then there is the language that preserves “Israel’s Right To Exist” unquestioningly: anything that invokes the Holocaust, anti-Semitism and the myths about historic Jewish rights to the land described as Eretz Yisrael. This language seeks not only to ensure that a Jewish connection to Palestine remains unquestioned, but importantly, seeks to punish and marginalize those who tackle the legitimacy of this modern colonial-settler experiment.

Change comes as a surprise to those who look to the past, but do not study it. The Arab Spring was an astounding surprise to the ‘think tanks’ of the West, and caught the old guard – often in the Arabian, or otherwise changing, countries – by surprise.  A single act of self-immolation overthrew a government in Tunisia, which led to The Great Movement in Egypt, Yemen, Libya, Qatar, Syria, gave cause to other Movements in England, Portugal, Greece, and America, which protest against different, but similar causes.  The cause is not hidden.  While there is despair, a complete lack of hope (Orwell would call it unhope), there will be protestations against the leadership.  Israel is not immune, and Israel includes more than just Jews, and more than just Israelis.

Some 24% of Israelis are non-Jews. About 20% are either Muslim or Christian; some 4% are people who identity as officially vague – they are not Palestinians, but the rabbinate, which in Israel largely determines such matters, refuses to acknowledge them as Jews….
The fact that American Jews, for the most part, are unaware of these issues, shows they are not really in love with Israel: They are in love with a vague notion of it, a phantasm of a family. They simply cannot see how dysfunctional that family is.

PALESTINE AND THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY

Decisions bold made by Israeli-US alliance to isolate Palestine has real consequences for what we generally think of as cute.

Israel lay siege to the zoo during the Second Intifada, and many of the animals died. Some were tear-gassed and choked to death, some were shot, others died in more gruesome ways; this particular (pregnant) giraffe panicked at the sound of combat and ran into a wall, breaking her neck. Her partner died of what the director labels “heartbreak.”
A zoo depends upon an international zoo union for access to animals, feed and medicine. The Israeli zoo in Jerusalem has repeatedly prohibited Qalqilya from joining the union. Since the zoo is unable to import more animals—its finances are either depleted, woefully “mismanaged” (code here for PA embezzlement) or, likely, both—an enterprising veterinarian decided to stuff and mount many of the dead animals so that the zoo could keep its attractions on display. The result is a sub-zoo of animal corpses.

Claim is made that we help the Other through oppression; the zoo is not mentioned.

On a broader, more human-focused impact, Palestine – and the convoy to Gaza is about Palestine – grows weary of oppression and lack of recognition. Abbas would rather negotiate than act unilaterally and appeal to UN for statehood, making him rare among the annals of statesmen.  Perhaps he knows his own worth and position.  From Abbas:

Israel’s perception of the statehood initiative as being unilateral was incorrect, and that it is in fact multilateral: led by the Palestinian Authority and more than 100 other countries. Abbas said he was going to the UN due to a lack of choice, because he understood that no diplomatic progress is likely to be made with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, and because he wants to fulfill his promise to his people for a state to be created, in his lifetime….
He promised his people three things: security, economic well-being and an end to the occupation. He noted that the first goal has largely been reached; life in Ramallah is now safe and the Palestinian police have been working to ensure the safety of local and foreign tourists as well. Moreover, in comparison to recent years, he noted, the Palestinian economy is flourishing today.

Flourishing economies, more than flowery words, are of great importance, and if the economy is doing comparatively well that is of great importance, but not perhaps sufficient when a foreign power can alter that at any time.

Often the land between Egypt and Gaza is closed, an agreement between Israel and Egypt.  “At present most goods and people enter and exit Gaza through Israeli land crossings,” has been the case even after the recent time that Egypt has opened the land for human crossing.  Among interesting plans, “the Israeli Transportation Ministry is working on a plan to build an island off the coast of Gaza, where an Palestinian-run airport and seaport would be located. Ministry spokesman Ilan Leizerovich said this would allow Israel to cut all ties with Hamas-ruled Gaza.”  It would take several years and more than $5,000,000,000 to build the island three miles off the coast.

ISRAEL AND PALESTINE

Given it is that countries, all of which have armies, have military leaders that rule from behind, or sometimes in front of, the curtain of power.  These men of brass seem to have supernatural power – so think those who are lead but are not military.  President Kennedy trusted his generals for the Bay of Pigs, later saying he thought they must know something ordinary men don’t.  So it always is; unless the military speaks against the common sense of power.  What response to leader of the IDF speaking against notion “that Israel must retain parts of the West Bank for its defense?”  His view

of course it is possible to defend Israel from the 1967 borders. After all, we managed to defend the state even during the War of Independence, in the 1956 campaign and in the Six-Day War, when the balance of forces between us and the enemy was much worse, and we did a pretty good job. What are we being told today? That it is impossible to defend ourselves against Hamas, Hizbullah, and the Palestinians, from the 1967 borders? What are they compared to the armies with which we fought?

is not unique. Responds another general, to the query of possibilities after Palestine requests statehood from UN, that America may abstain and or vote against, and vote will succeed in Security Council, but “basically there is another problem here: the Palestinians are liable to be left, after this vote, without any horizon. The meaning of this is that the overflowing lava that led to the earthquakes that we saw in Egypt and in Tunisia, are liable to also erupt here.” It has been clear for a long time that oppression does not lead to peace; before, during, or after the convoy Israel must choose another method.  One general fears that Israel is not aware of what type of ‘volcano’ it sits upon.

We have had many occasions to see recently that legitimacy in the international realm comes from the international community.  To wage legitimate, acceptable, war, there must be approval from the international community.  Israel “did not have a problem with legitimacy in 1948 or in 1956, not in 1967 and not even in 1973. But now, if we do not ensure legitimacy, we will lose our ability to use our military might,” says a general.  While the comment is on Israel, the comment applies to all those who engage in war.

It is written that “the UN vote will be bitterly isolating and destabilizing, but a country with 150 nuclear warheads, the best military in the region by far, and a willingness to kill countless civilians as collateral damage in a war with Hamas is not going anywhere.” For those who fear change, it is not the loss of a strong country that is worrisome, but the acceptance of the Other.  Such writing was in response to Goldberg noticing that “the settlement movement, its supporters, and its apologists (in Israel and in America) have successfully conflated support for their movement with support for Israel and for Zionism itself. They have created a reality in which criticism of the settlement movement has come to equal criticism of Israel.”

Just as there is a discussion between nature versus nurture, and the chicken or the egg, there is discussion of whether good or bad is the inherent action of man.  Certainly people are more likely to fight against a cause than for one, and are more likely to share bad news than good.  There is also more rationality involved  in ending a conflict than beginning one.

To achieve a resolution, parties in conflict must believe that continuing their dispute provides diminishing returns. That is, they must exhaust all possibilities to improve upon their positions and recognize that the situation of both sides can only be improved through compromise and cooperation. Recent developments indicate that neither Israel nor the Palestinians have come to this conclusion.

Classic examples of World Wars I and II, Americans leaving Vietnam, and end of Cold War, agree with the supposition that when parties agree compromise and cooperation solve problems better than war, the war ends. To date those examples, and many others, have produced what humans consider ‘good’ results, such as nice products and living conditions. While Alon Ben-Meir, who wrote the quote above about the law of diminishing returns, continued “today, each side has contributed to preservation of the status quo: Israel through settlement construction and arrogant intransigence in recognizing any merit to Palestinian positions; Palestinians th rough their refusal to return to the negotiating table and insistence on the right of return of the Palestinian refugees, which Israel will not accept,” I have cited in an earlier article that Abbas and Olmert had a plan in 2008 regarding right of return. Like the rest of the peace process, it has never been implimented.

Good and bad is not the only consideration; often the dichotomy is short-term interest and long-term interest, applicable in both an economic and a political sense.  In the political sense, short-term interests often dominate; this is especially true in Ramallah and Jerusalem, in which short-term political gain hinders (as so often happens) long-term opportunities.

Without calculated risks, or efforts that begin to mitigate the conflict, it is impossible to move forward toward a resolution — and today in Israel-Palestine, there is neither. Furthermore, the cost of maintaining the conflict today is currently acceptable to both sides. The economy in Israel and the West Bank is thriving, and it is even improving in the Gaza Strip, where Hamas’ relationship with Egypt is improving with the renewed open border. From each side’s perspective, today’s conflict is manageable in the immediate-term, even if both parties appear headed off a cliff in the not-too-distant future.

Naturally, that doesn’t take into account the long-term human cost of maintaining the status quo.  “Successful conflict resolution also requires a non-zero sum approach based on mutual compromises and mutual gains;” however, Israel and Palestine are stagnant and believe that any ‘gain’ for the other is a ‘loss’ for the self.  Both sides must feel like winners; sometimes, diplomacy is just an advanced child’s game.

There are also times when diplomats – and heads of state – are unusually candid.  Several days ago “Netanyahu said the number of Palestinians and Jews between the Jordan River and the sea ‘is irrelevant’ and that it’s more important to “preserve a solid Jewish majority inside the State of Israel.”  Relevant comments at a conference on demography, but unusual nonetheless.  The Prime Minister said “‘it does not matter to me whether there are half a million more Palestinians or less because I have no wish to annex them into Israel. I want to separate from them so that they will not be Israeli citizens. I am interested that there be a solid Jewish majority inside the State of Israel. Inside its borders, as these will be defined,’ Netanyahu explained.”  When that is the attitude of the prime minister, change is difficult.

Israeli leadership is not bereft of ideas.  A group – consisting of ex-army chief Amnon Lipkin-Shahak, former Mossad head Danny Yatom and Shin Bet directors Yaakov Perry and Ami Ayalon, as well as ex-general and Labor Party chief Amram Mitzna, a prime ministerial candidate in the 2002 election – proposed

possible financial compensation for Palestinian refugees and dividing control over Jerusalem, with largely Palestinian neighborhoods being put under their control while Jewish areas would be governed by Israel.
Palestinian refugees could be offered compensation and a small number may be permitted to return to former homes in Israel.
The plan also calls for a complete withdrawal of Israeli forces from the Golan Heights, land captured from Syria in the1967  war, in exchange for guarantees of regional security and economic projects, the spokesman said.

Like many other proposals, this is one of self interest. The Israeli leaders fear isolation on the world stage following a UN vote on Palestinian statehood. “‘We think we are in the right, but many other countries in the world don’t seem to see our point of view, which is devastating,'” said one minister, who declined to be named.

ISRAEL AND THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY

Ben-Meir joins many others in contending that a lack of international pressure is unhelpful to the cause of peace.  “For Israel, the image of over two dozen members of Congress giving a standing ovation for Prime Minster Netanyahu’s diatribe of preconditions and insults confirms the unhelpful and even harmful laissez faire attitude the American Congress has taken with regard to Israel’s self-destructive policies.”  I once again disagree with Ben-Meir; he says that there is a lack of outcry for American Jews.  I fear the topic shall be beaten to death before it dies, but there is certainly more than one type of “American Jew.”  The classic one, to which Ben-Meir refers, has money and supports AIPAC, which claims to be the voice of all American Jews, and has great influence over both US and Israeli policy.  The other kind of Jew may or may not have money, and does not support AIPAC – perhaps supports J STREET – and is probably as ardently Zionist as the Zionists are, but in exactly the way the Zionists think are anti-Zionist.  That is, one thinks: short-term gain, oppression is good while I am oppressor; the other thinks long-term hope, oppression is not good.

It is incorrect to say that American Jews, or, indeed, Jews in general, are passive on this subject.  “According to The New York Times, a quarter of the passengers on the upcoming US Boat to Gaza are Jewish,” including an 86 year old Holocaust Survivor.  Writes an author, who is aboard The Audacity of Hope Boat: “what does it mean that the US Boat to Gaza is a quarter Jewish? Maybe it means that the Israeli authorities will have some compunction about shooting up our boat. After all, isn’t the official story of Zionism all about making a “safe harbor” for Jews in Palestine? We’re not trying to make aliyah. We just want to visit. Should we be shot for trying to do so? Wouldn’t it be a mitzvah to let us pass unharmed?”  A J STREET poll found that 60 percent of American Jews opposed Israeli expansion, and 76 percent supported a peace agreement based on 1967 borders, which Obama later suggested, the result of which was gasps that he dare reiterate a long-standing US policy to Israel.  Clearly, American Jews are not as disinterested as Alon Ben-Meir thinks they are.

The media, interested in producing content that will attract attention, gasped when Obama had the audacity to suggest, face-to-face with Netanyahu, that the 1967 lines are a starting point (not an ending point) for negotiations.  Mostly, it was not mentioned that this has been a long-standing US policy and that other projects to create peace which were mostly successful started at the same point.  Also, “a few Jewish Congressional Dems have stepped forward to defend [Obama]. What’s more, these courageous souls, who are considered good on Israel, are also characterizing Obama’s stance accurately, noting that Obama did not call for a return to pre-1967 borders.”  The number, however, literally is a few, demonstrating again that short-term and long-term interests result in different actions.

AIPAC controls Israeli policy and American policy toward Israel.  When Netanyahu spoke at AIPAC, then, he received about 55 standing ovations for policy which included the following:  “Netanyahu is trying to cement Israeli policy of endless land seizures with a diversionary tactic – insisting that Palestinians acknowledge Israel as the national state of the Jewish people,” despite being aware that “he well knows that in the Oslo agreement of 1993, Palestinians formally accepted Israel’s existence and agreed to their own painful compromise: giving up 78 per cent of historic Palestine in exchange for establishing a state on the remaining land in the West Bank and Gaza.”

It is a given that changes in the Peace Process will result in changes in regional stability.  As mentioned, regional protests do not leave Israel immune.  Although, or perhaps because, Ben-Meir writes well, some points are contentious.  He says that the “Arab world is blindly supporting the Palestinians, rather than encouraging them toward a historic peace agreement. Even worse, Iran is serving to encourage continued conflict through its support of its proxies, Hamas and Hezbollah.”  The Arab world is a large and confusing place, in which the Jordanians give refuge to the Palestinians and are supportive of them, but have peace with Israel and work with diligence toward regional peace; outside-Arabia states such as Egypt, which have long had peace with Israel, which recent events have called into question, but have also long supported Palestine and worked to open borders when it could be done; Lebanon, which is indeed an Iranian proxy; Syria, which is in turmoil and is trying to distract its citizens by having them attack the Israeli border; and the Arab League, which includes some of the aforementioned countries and which has provided solutions that have not been adopted, perhaps because they take effort.  It is more likely that the “Arab world” supports that which it sees as right, and it has seen enough oppression to know that it has done the Palestinians no good.

A British national considers possible courses of action for the British government:

The interesting question for me is what the Cameron government will do when the UN vote on Palestine comes around in September. Cameron has no interest in giving Netanyahu any comfort right now, and suggesting a possible yay vote from the UK would maximize his and Obama’s leverage to persuade Israel to sign on to a viable two-state solution. But when push comes to shove? I really don’t know. An abstention?

The same author considers, at a different time, what the US and Israel will do. “The Arab Spring is not just a reckoning for Irsael; it is a reckoning for the US-Israel relationship.  If and when an Egyptian democratic government insists on a two-state solution, the US will have to choose between Israel and Egypt. We will just as starkly have to choose between Israel and Iraq, and between Israel and Jordan.”  Further, there is evidence that we, the United States, will have to choose between Israel and Saudi Arabia.

There will be disastrous consequences for U.S.-Saudi relations if the United States vetoes U.N. recognition of a Palestinian state. It would mark a nadir in the decades-long relationship as well as irrevocably damage the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and America’s reputation among Arab nations. The ideological distance between the Muslim world and the West in general would widen — and opportunities for friendship and cooperation between the two could vanish.

ISRAELI INTERNAL AFFAIRS

Many are the reasons for peace, which is difficult to attain.  Is my way best, or is yours?  Yield to the negotiators or to short-term political gain? “Yossi Beilin, a dovish former Israeli negotiator, said Netanyahu does not have a peace plan, so ‘such an invitation [as issued in February] (to nonstop talks) is hollow.’ Beilin told the AP that Netanyahu ‘is very, very far from the demands of the most pragmatic Palestinian leadership ever.'”  Meanwhile, “Netanyahu, for his part, continues to blame the Palestinians for the paralyzed peace process.”  As often happens, the US is involved in Israeli domestic politics; “senior advisers to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama feel that for more than a year and a half, [Defense Minister Ehud] Barak misled them about his persuasive powers with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu regarding the peace process.”

The US, which at this time may genuinely want peace for both short-term and long-term reasons, was mistakenly led to believe that Ehud Barak could influence Netanyahu.  “‘The entire [Obama] administration bet on Barak because he said he could nudge Netanyahu toward an agreement with the Palestinians, but he deceived us and led us down the garden path.'”  Barak, unable to persuade Netanyahu, lost favor within his Labor coalition.  Ministry of Minority Affairs Avishai Braverman said to Ehud “‘it’s time for us to stand up for ourselves and make a clear statement.  If we don’t do that, then Netanyahu will remain chained to a right-wing forum of seven [senior cabinet ministers] and will submit daily to the extortion of Shas and [Avigdor] Lieberman on every significant matter”.

Israel is not weak, and is not likely to lose any favor or reputation by working to genuinely create peace (a repeat of last year’s response to a convoy to Gaza will not further efforts toward peace).  “Israel is driving to become a world leader in alternative energy, with the government throwing its support behind cutting-edge technologies.”  Project Better Place aims next year – as of January, 2011 –  to activate a network of charging stations for electric cars across Israel, which would be one of the most extensive such grids in the world.  American cities are copying the idea of a “system of tile-like generators, which are installed under roads and convert the weight and motion of passing vehicles into electricity.”  Israel looks to expand this; a kilometer-long (0.6 mile) project could power 200 homes.  It is predicted that “that about half the cars in Israel will be electric by 2015.”

Israeli leaders have been lulled ” into complacency”, and “refuse to be aroused. If things are quiet, why take the initiative to disturb the calm?”  Unfortunately for those who are content with the state of neither peace nor war, “both a long- and short-term view of history teach that the status quo is always followed by the status quo ante.”  Violence comes again if its reasons for coming are not removed.  ” The moderation of the Palestinian Authority was not reciprocated and its battle against murderers was not rewarded” by Israel.

We the West walked into Iraq proud, sure, and haughty, convinced that change would be easy and conflict would be mitigated by democracy our way.  We gave those we have dubbed our enemies the rhetoric they needed to rouse the sentiment.  In like form, ” Hamas and Islamic Jihad have been following recent events and cannot believe their good fortune – that the Israelis are doing their bidding by strengthening Israel’s enemies and weakening its partners.”  Thoreau tells us “I know of no rule which holds so true as that we are always paid for our suspicion by finding what we suspect.” Let us not suspect that the other side does not want the same good that we seek.  “We regularly split the world into ‘good guys’ and ‘bad guys,’ ‘friends’ versus ‘foes.’ As a result, from time to time, our projections get seriously out of hand as when, for example, one views all Muslims and immigrants as inherently dangerous, and far worse, as evil.”  It is natural both to suspect, and to believe in, humanity.  It is concluded “one couldn’t reason with psychotics. In an even more general sense, [Wilfred] Bion also discovered that there was a psychotic part of everyone’s personality.”  Which will you choose?

PALESTINIAN SEPTEMBER

As surely as there will be an August, there will be a September.  “Neither [Ehud Barak] nor anyone else decides when September will come, it being the month which follows August and precedes October,” nor is Barak in a position to do more than issue a report that a political tsunami will occur following a vote on Palestinian statehood.  Zvi Bar-El foresees that Israel will not recognize Palestine.

What will Israel do? Boycott countries that send ambassadors to Palestine? Not allow them to enter Palestine via Ben-Gurion Airport?

As a member of the UN, the state of Palestine will have a new legal and international status, one which allows it to make claims against Israel in international criminal courts, or establish an airport without Israeli authorization. And the status will allow Palestine to demand international action against Israel’s occupation – not just paper denunciations but genuine sanctions, and perhaps even the deployment of UN troops to protect the security of Palestine’s citizens.

An Israeli and an advocate for those beyond himself, Zvi Bar-El suggests that the future world which includes Israeli non-recognition of Palestine is at the point where “international anger with Israel has reached the point whereby the internationalization of the dispute will solve all the Palestinians’ problems.”  Or, “there is another possibility. In this scenario, Israel could join the international community, recognize the Palestinian state, cease to view it as an enemy and existential threat, and even take part in a meeting of donor states that the Palestinians are sure to organize after their state wins recognition. September does not have to be a threat; it does not have to be a gladiator ring in which only one contestant remains alive.”  There is the hope of alliance and cooperation, and the despair of continued subjugation in any form.  America may find itself virtually alone on the question of Palestine, far less able to influence events in the region, and as September approaches, and talk of a third intifada builds, it may find itself virtually alone on the question of Palestine, far less able to influence events in the region.

Many continue to ask what Israel will do come September.

Come September, after the UN recognizes [Palestine], [Palestinians] will march inside the 1967 lines, thousands of them—from Nablus, say, into the nearby settlements and army bases, asserting their own sovereignty and territorial integrity. And what will Israel do then? Many Israeli rightists would, almost certainly, prefer a new terrorist campaign, which would put the Palestinians once again in the wrong. That is certainly possible, but it is, suddenly, less likely than peaceful protest.

What will the United States do?  “There is no likelihood that the US will do the logical thing and vote for Palestinian statehood in the UN this fall. The US position will remain that peace will only come from the two parties with the US or the Quartet facilitating.”  That is a long, drawn-out, fruitless game to be engaged in.  However, “when the US exercises even a smidgen of even-handedness, as in Obama’s speech [in March], the pro-Israel fanatics have a cow.”  Andrew Sullivan suggests that, rather than creating bovine madness with predictable frequency, the US abandon mediation efforts.  “We have become an enabler of Israeli intransigence, and the last two years have proven nothing except that Obama’s hands are tied and that Israel and the US Congress run this relationship, as Netanyahu has memorably bragged about in the past.”  If the UN vote comes and the US is one of very few countries backing Israel’s continued occupation, “then the Jihadist blowback will be just as serious. It is well past time for us to acknowledge the obvious: Israel’s current intransigence is posing a serious threat to the interests of the US and the security of its citizens.”  The United States has an option.  “Ideally, as a warning sign, the US should abstain in September’s vote, unless settlements are frozen and talks begun. The US has a foreign policy with the whole world, not just one tiny country. Netanyahu needs to compromise on settlements or risk the US being forced to choose between the two.”  What will the United States do?

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One Comment
  1. Hillel Cohn permalink

    Billy – give me your email address. I have a comment on your blog but do not want it posted there. prefer to email it to you since it is for you to read, not for general distribution. Email me your address. Mine is rabbihcohn1@cs.com

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