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It was a Sunday, bloody Sunday – with no uplifting U2 anthem to “celebrate” it. In Palestine, Syria and Lebanon, tens of thousands of Palestinians marched to the borders with Israel to mark the anniversary of the 1948 Nakba – the displacement that accompanied the creation of Israel.
The Israeli response, with “maximum restraint”: killing 10 people in Lebanon, eight in Syria, two in Gaza and one in the West Bank, and injuring over 200. The Anglo-French-American consortium waging war on Libya because Colonel Muammar Gaddafi allegedly kills his own people was thunderously mute.
The United Nations urged “restraint” (compare it with the official Israeli “maximum restraint”). The Israeli daily Ha’aretz, oblivious to the irony, ran a headline “The Arab Revolution is knocking at Israel’s door.” Yeah baby, it is, and that’s why you’re freaking out.
Always on target
Israel – master practitioner of targeted assassination – can always get away with killing Arabs wholesale because it fears no UN Security Council resolution; the US always blocks them. Even if there were any, the US administration of target executioner-in-chief Barack Obama would not, for instance, instruct UN ambassador Susan Rice to abstain from a UN condemnation. That’s the kind of abstention that could also help the UN, for instance, to force Israel into accepting a two-state solution with Palestine.
Forget about the UN Security Council – so eager to send the North Atlantic Treaty Organization on an attacking rampage on the side of a dodgy bunch of Libyan “rebels,” effectively taking sides on a civil war – even considering dealing with Israel as it treats Iran, slapping it with economic sanctions until it starts complying with international law.
Forget about the Obama administration supporting the UN Security Council into giving Palestine a formal seat as a nation-state at the UN; over 100 nations, including, recently, Brazil, Argentina and Norway, already recognize the legitimacy of Palestine. If that would ever happen, the Palestinian nation could sue the hell of Israel in international courts of law over the systematic theft of Palestinian territory.
Would Nobel Peace Prize winner Obama lose anything with this move? No. The powerful Israel Lobby in Washington – led by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) – is already campaigning against him in 2012. Anyway, he won’t do it – and on top of it will address the upcoming AIPAC annual meeting in Washington. If there is a Washington consensus, it’s its complicity in the Israeli regime.
Israel pays for over 100 illegal settlements in the West Bank plus over 100 others that are considered “illegal outposts” even under Israeli law. The US supports them all via a complex network of Jewish and ultra-right-wing Christian “charities.” Visa, Mastercard and PayPal all enable donations funding illegal settlements.
And yet this regime is in serious trouble. Prime Minister Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu – for all his bluster – is scared to death. He badly needs the secular Russians of Yisrael Beitenu (“Israel Our Home”) and the fundamentalist ultra-Orthodox Jews of Shas to remain in power. Former Moldavian bouncer turned Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, the leader of Yisrael Beitenu, eats Bibi for breakfast and routinely humiliates him (and then Bibi regains his self-respect by humiliating Obama). All one needs to know is that Lieberman is the top political dog in Israel.
On top of it, Hebrew University demographer Sergio Della Pergola recently told the Jerusalem Post that Jews are already under 50% of the population in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza combined. In an enlightening comparison with ultra-repressive Bahrain, where a Sunni minority rules over a Shi’ite majority, a Jewish minority rules over 1.4 million third-class Palestinian citizens of Israel; 2.5 million occupied Palestinians in the West Bank; and 1.5 million under siege in that gulag known as Gaza.
Even Human Rights Watch (HRW) has been forced to recognize that “Palestinians face systematic discrimination merely because of their race, ethnicity, and national origin, depriving them of electricity, water, schools, and access to roads, while nearby Jewish settlers enjoy all of these state-provided benefits.”
State-bound is the way to go
Surveying the tragic landscape, Palestinians came to the conclusion there were only three possibilities on the table; the apartheid continues forever; in the unlikely possibility of a one-state solution, the apartheid would continue for a long time until a lot of Israelis, faced with a global boycott, would decide to emigrate or vote for citizenship for the Palestinians; or Palestine could force its international recognition as an independent state.
By finally getting their act together and trying to unite Fatah and Hamas, Palestinians came to the grips with the fact there can possibly be no meaningful negotiations with a weak, ultra-right wing, fractured Israeli government essentially controlled by a bunch of squatters (aka “settlers”).
Thus the new Palestinian strategy; a relatively unified Palestine going all out for widespread recognition, during the next UN General Assembly in September, of a Palestinian state based on the West Bank and Gaza under the 1967 borders. There’s no question they will win the vote.
The next step would have to be a UN Security Council resolution forcing Israel into serious negotiations – if the US does not block it. If Tel Aviv still said no, soon the bulk of the world would start applying economic and diplomatic sanctions to Israel similar to those applied to apartheid South Africa.
Israel lost two wars in less than three years. Whatever didn’t kill its enemies – Hezbollah and Hamas – made them stronger. And then a new Ankara-Tehran-Damascus axis strolled into the neighborhood. And then “valuable ally” Hosni Mubarak was booted out of power in Egypt (significantly Israel and Saudi Arabia, against the will of the Egyptian people, supported the dictator until, and even beyond, the last minute).
The – reflexive – Israeli solution in times of trouble is to launch another war; until recently, it would be simultaneously on Lebanon and on Gaza, as revealed earlier this year by WikiLeaks cables published by the Norwegian newspaper Aftenpost (see here In practice this would be a total war on civilians, as in “Israel cannot accept any restrictions on warfare in urban areas.” All “collateral damage” would be of course “unintentional.” That was a startling case of the Israeli military announcing in advance its plans to commit a war crime.
So the question the whole world is asking is inevitable; what’s wrong with these people?
Get rid of those Arabs
Whenever they are in geopolitical trouble, Israeli elites cannot but react with a feeling of being victimized; Mubarak’s case is exemplary, as he conveniently followed Washington’s and Tel Aviv’s orders and duly obeyed the Camp David accords, repudiated by the overwhelming majority of Egyptians.
Over the years, this Israeli attitude has engendered widespread paranoia – as in repeated attempts to unmask a possible, internal, Fifth Column. It was mixed with virtually total desensitization concerning the daily tragedy in Gaza; the stealing of West Bank land; and the arrogant swagger increasingly displayed by radical settlers. Plus equating any criticism of the Israeli government with advocating the “destruction of Israel.”
Yet all this paled in comparison with the growing consensus among Israelis that it’s all right to “transfer” – code word to expel – Israeli Arab citizens to a possible future collection-of-Bantustans Palestinian state or, better yet, Jordan and Egypt (after Tahrir Square, forget about the Egyptian gambit).
Already by early 2009, according to the Israeli Association for Civil Rights, 55% of Jewish Israelis said that the state should “encourage Arab emigration”; 78% opposed Arab parties in the government; and 56% were sure that “Arabs cannot attain the Jewish level of cultural development.”
Another parallel trend has also been visible over these past two years. Jews who are fond of Israel but are too critical of the government’s agendas are in fact being “excommunicated.” Some of these have been talking to Asia Times Online.
Dr Oren Ben-Dor, born in Haifa and professor of political philosophy at the University of Southampton, has analyzed in detail this Israeli pathology of trying to provoke a permanent state of violence against itself. There’s got to be a huge element of self-satisfaction involved, conditioning such a self-destructive drive to be hated – as a matter of fact globally – at all costs.
Ben-Dor found the answer in the “incapacity of Israelis of questioning the discriminatory foundation of their own state.” Only to seriously question the Israeli apartheid, this famous “right of Israel to exist in security as a Jewish state” could end the cycle of violence; otherwise the “self-defense rhetoric” will reveal itself as a “chronicle of a suicide foretold.”
There’s no evidence the “self-defense rhetoric” is going anywhere else – not with 2.4% of the Israeli population hijacking what is referred to as the “peace process” by continuing to build settlements in stolen land. And it’s not even religion that drives them; it’s a good deal. The cost of living in settlements can be infinitely lower than in Israel’s big cities.
Netanyahu’s master plan is basically to say “No” – a tactic he learned from his mentor Yitzhak Shamir. Under this framework even the Obama administration had to admit there’s nothing left to Washington except to cajole – and beg. “No” always translates into a very good deal – for Israel, not for the US.
One of the latest examples: for a minimalistic, one-off 90-day freeze on illegal settlement expansion in the West Bank (excluding East Jerusalem), Israel got 20 F-35 stealth fighter jets worth $3 billion, plus a lot of other goodies. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had to spend no less than eight hours cajoling Bibi Netanyahu to accept the bribe. He agreed only to submit it to his security cabinet. And then he said No.
The Obama administration also knows that Israel’s refusal to negotiate with Palestine is the heart of the matter in Tel Aviv’s relentless denunciation of Iran as an “existential threat.” The minute there is a real peace deal between Israel and Palestine, Iran ceases to be an “existential threat.”
No, no, no
As it stands, every additional house built in any West Bank settlement means only one thing: No. No to peace. No to negotiations. No to Palestinian rights. Israeli peace activist and author Uri Avnery defines this behavior as “moral insanity.”
As usual, it gets worse. Israel never defined its borders. When it was created, Zionists dreamed of an Eretz Israel from the Nile to the Euphrates. As the Euphrates is not in the market, why not settle for the whole, former Palestine mandate? That’s the meaning of the Bibi gambit according to which Palestinians must recognize Israel as “the Jewish state”. The Obama administration has never complained.
Were this recognition of a Jewish state ever to happen, 1.5 million Palestinians – already infra-citizens in Israel – will be instantly denationalized and set to be expelled en masse to the Palestinian Bantustan configured as the solution to the “demographic problem” as Zionists see it, a problem created by the fact that the Palestinians simply exist.
So in the Israeli narrative the Israel Defense Forces could have pulverized Gaza to dust – but it didn’t, because it respects human life. Thus destroying “only” 15% of Gaza’s buildings and killing “only” 300 of its children in late 2008, early 2009 could be sold – and accepted – by Israelis as a “humanitarian” act. As for East Jerusalem, it should be “purified.” None of this, of course, ever arouses the ire of the UN Security Council.
The world knows that Israel has gotten away with killing and torturing tens of thousands of Palestinians over the past 63 years because of the unconditional support of Washington. Perhaps the next UN General Assembly in September will be a game-changer. A new, really representative, really sovereign Egyptian government will definitely be a game-changer, because – to Tel Aviv’s horror – it will be the absolute opposite of Mubarak.
Yet what is already certain is that as long as the apartheid enshrined at the very core of Israel is not questioned by Israelis themselves, there is no evidence the “moral insanity” of the “pathological state” is abating.