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Home arrow Blog arrow October 2009 arrow October 18, 2009

October 18, 2009
October 18, 2009: War and Peace and Slippery Slopes


Omar Barghouti, a  political and cultural analyst, human rights activist, founding member of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel/PACBI provides the commentary for the Haaretz article by
Ari Shavit.

In regards to
Ari Shavit's claim about Iran, I add:

In 2006, Virginia Tilley, Professor of political science wrote:

"In his October 2005 speech, Mr. Ahmadinejad never used the word 'map' or the term 'wiped off.' According to Farsi-language experts like Juan Cole and even right-wing services like MEMRI, what he actually said was 'this regime that is occupying Jerusalem must vanish from the page of time.'

"In this speech to an annual anti-Zionist conference, Mr. Ahmadinejad was being prophetic, not threatening. He was citing Imam Khomeini, who said this line in the 1980s-a period when Israel was actually selling arms to Iran, so apparently it was not viewed as so ghastly then.

"Mr. Ahmadinejad had just reminded his audience that the Shah's regime, the Soviet Union, and Saddam Hussein had all seemed enormously powerful and immovable, yet the first two had vanished almost beyond recall and the third now languished in prison.

"So, too, the "occupying regime" in Jerusalem would someday be gone. His message was, in essence: "This too shall pass."




Israeli writer, Uri Avnery, founder of the Gush Shalom peace movement, was a member of the Irgun as a teenager and member of the Knesset for 11 years; concludes today's offering.



Another ardent Zionist journalist -- quite a senior one -- deeply concerned about Israel's ability to survive as an apartheid regime that is packaged and presented smartly enough to be viewed as a "democracy" is reading the writing on the wall: despite its immense power, Israel is failing to convince the world that it has the right to maintain its colonial and racist regime over the Palestinians. 

Concern about the effectiveness of the global BDS campaign is clear throughout the article.

He repeats the Zionist mantra that the 1967 occupation corrupted Israel and Zionism, as if the ethnic cleansing of 1948 and the very construction of a racist, ethno-centric state on top of the ruins of Palestinian society was a normal, moral act! Still, he is another voice in a growing list of Israeli Zionist commentators sounding the alarm at the seemingly irrecoverable demise of Israel's image as a pariah, apartheid state that commits war crimes with impunity. Like UN Rapporteur Richard Falk, and despite the obvious differences between them in political orientations and motives, Ari Shavit admits that it boils down to who wins what Falk has termed the battle for legitimacy.

What Shavit misses completely in his analysis is that ONLY the Palestinians, despite our "leadership's" pathetic powerlessness and complicity in Israel's system of oppression, hold the power to grant Israel such a keenly sought-after but forever elusive legitimacy. Being minimally rational, however, Palestinians cannot possible grant legitimacy to a colonial, apartheid regime that has oppressed them for over 61 years and whose self-definition -- not just laws and policies -- by necessity negates them and their rights.

Whether one supports the two-state "solution" or the decisively more moral single democratic state solution, one cannot accept the right of any state to maintain a system of racial discrimination and colonial hegemony over an indigenous population or a national minority. Every state must abide by international law and respect human rights principles, above all the right to unmitigated equality.

The power of the BDS Call lies exactly in its focus, not on political solutions and formulas, but on the three basic rights of the Palestinians that must be accommodated to achieve a just peace in any solution.-Omar



Haaretz  15/10/2009

Israel needs legitimacy to wage war and peace

By Ari Shavit, Haaretz Correspondent

It seems as if everything is fine. Israel's borders are quiet, the state is stable, the economy is recovering. Hezbollah and Hamas have been deterred, real estate prices are skyrocketing, and chemist Ada Yonath is on her way to Stockholm to pick up the Nobel Prize. Even Ra'ad Salah's attempt to ignite Jerusalem has thus far not succeeded: Palestinian sanity and Israeli discretion are still maintaining order. So it is not surprising that according to a recent comparative survey, Israel is one of the 30 countries in the world in which life is just fine.

With a strong shekel, relative security and temporary calm, life here really is good. Corruption and cynicism have both been hit hard, and today's Israel is cruising on still waters. Without major achievements and without major failings, without peace and without war, it seems as if things are all right. Not great, but all right.

But things are not all right - they really are not. Why? Because underneath those still waters on which Israel's ship is sailing lurks an iceberg.

The Goldstone report marked the iceberg's first appearance. Turkey turning its back on Israel was the second. Attempts by European courts to try Israel Defense Forces officers were the third; the boycott of Israeli products and companies in various places round the world was the fourth; and global indifference to the nuclearization of a regional power that threatens to wipe Israel off the map is the fifth. Every week, almost every day, the iceberg peeks above the surface. And when one takes a good look over the railing of this pleasure cruise, one can see exactly what it is: The iceberg is the loss of the State of Israel's legitimacy.

Ninety-two years ago, Lord Balfour sent Baron Rothschild a letter in which he recognized the Jewish people's right to create a national home in the Land of Israel. Sixty-two years ago, the United Nations recognized the Jewish people's right to establish a Jewish state. The 1917 Balfour Declaration and 1947 UN partition resolution gave Zionism the diplomatic foundation on which the Jewish state was established and perpetuated.

But over the past decade, that foundation has been worn away, and the idea of a Jewish state is now open to attack. The Jewish people's right to sovereignty and self-defense is now controversial. Paradoxically, as Israel gets stronger, its legitimacy is melting away. A national movement that began as "legitimacy without an entity" is becoming "an entity without legitimacy" before our very eyes.

The right is the primary culprit of Israel's legitimacy crisis. With the occupation, the settlements and brutality, religious nationalism has fed the destructive forces that seek to trample the natural rights of Jews and Israelis. But the left has also contributed its part to the legitimacy crisis. Those on the radical left did not always make certain that opposition to Israeli policies would not turn into reservations about Israel's very existence.

The right sinned by contaminating Zionism with the occupation, and the left sinned by abandoning the campaign over Zionism's justice. As a result, Israel lost not only its way, but its voice. The fundamental truths that brought us here, and which justify our existence here, have been lost and forgotten.

The campaign to renew Israel's legitimacy is a vital one. Without legitimacy, Israel will be unable to contend with Iran in any way, shape or form. Without legitimacy, Israel will not achieve peace, nor will it be able to wage war. Nonetheless, to give Israel back what it has lost, the prime and defense ministers need to do more than deliver speeches. They need to act.

On one hand, there is an urgent need for a creative, daring diplomatic initiative that would prove that Israel is truly and genuinely striving to end the occupation. Without such an initiative, the world will not listen to Israeli justice, which today remains a concept largely invisible to the world. On the other hand, there is a need to enlist Israeli and Jewish elites in the struggle to once again strengthen the foundations of Israel's legitimacy.

This diplomatic and moral effort is no less important than the struggles that produced the Balfour Declaration and the UN partition resolution. If such an effort is not launched immediately, and does not soon succeed, Israel will become an international pariah.

http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1121263.html





The Slippery Slope 

By Uri Avnery

It is, of course, all the fault of Judge Richard Goldstone. He is to blame for it, as he is to blame for all the other ills that are befalling us now.

He is to blame for the trouble we are having at the UN, both in New York and in Geneva. For the conspiracy to bring our political and military leaders to trial in The Hague. For the ongoing crisis between us and Turkey. For the many initiatives throughout the world to organize a boycott of Israel.

Now he is to blame also for the existential danger facing Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen).When the Goldstone report was submitted to the UN Human Rights Council, our government decided to do all it could to prevent even a debate about it.

The debate was, of course, demanded by the Palestinians. When the report was published, the Palestinian representative in Geneva did the obvious: he demanded that the report be debated with a view to submitting it to the Security Council, which in turn would submit it to the international court in The Hague.

What came next could have been foreseen. The Israeli government exerted heavy pressure on the US. The US exerted heavy pressure on Mahmoud Abbas. Abbas gave in and instructed his representative in Geneva to withdraw his request for a debate.

In any other matter, this would have passed quietly. But since the subject was the Gaza War, Palestinian public opinion exploded. Throughout the war, every Palestinian in the West Bank saw on Aljazeera and the other Arab networks every day, every hour, the atrocities of the war, the mangled bodies of women and children, the destroyed schools and mosques, the white phosphorus bombs.

For the Hamas leaders, Abbas’ order to withdraw the request was a gift from Allah. They fell over Abbas with unabated fury. “Traitor”, “Collaborator”, “Subcontractor of the Zionist murderers” were the more moderate epithets. They found an echo with many Palestinians who are not necessarily Hamas supporters.

Abbas’ legal standing is shaky. According to one version, his term of office expired long ago. According to another, it will expire in a few months. Whatever the case may be, he will be compelled to hold elections soon. In this situation, he cannot remain indifferent to an upsurge of public opinion against him. So he drew the logical conclusion: he instructed his Geneva representative to renew his request for a debate on the Goldstone report. This ended yesterday with a resolution to refer the report to the UN General Assembly.

Our frustrated government reacted angrily. The orchestrated media declared Abbas an “ungrateful” person, even a hypocrite. After all, didn’t he urge the Israelis during the Gaza War to intensify their attacks on the Gaza population, in order to topple Hamas? This accusation poured oil on the flames. For Palestinians, it meant that Abbas was not satisfied with the atrocities perpetrated by the Israelis and demanded more. It is hard to imagine a more damaging allegation.

As if this was not enough, the Israeli media reported that Jerusalem had delivered an “ultimatum” to the Palestinian Authority: if the request for a debate were not withdrawn, Israel would not authorize the frequency allocation for a second Palestinian cellular telephone company, “al-Wataniya”, whose partners, it was gleefully reported, include Abbas’ sons. Such a frequency allocation is worth hundreds of millions of dollars. Even in such a matter, the Palestinians are totally dependent on the Israeli occupation authorities.The whole affair starkly illuminates the impossible situation in which the Palestinian Authority finds itself. They are between hammer and anvil – indeed, between several hammers and an anvil.

One hammer is Israeli. The Palestinian Authority is completely dependent on the occupation masters. As the telephone affair illustrates, nothing can move in the West Bank without Israeli approval.

Binyamin Netanyahu speaks about “economic peace” as a substitute for political peace. Economic benefits instead of national independence. This, by the way, shows how far removed he is from the teachings of his idol, Ze’ev (Vladimir) Jabotinsky, who 85 years ago made fun of the Zionist leaders for entertaining the illusion that the Palestinian people could be bought off. No people, he said, sells itself for economic advantages.

The Palestinian Authority’s Prime Minister, Salam Fayad, has fallen into this trap. He points to the economic progress that has been made, according to him, in the West Bank. Several road blocks were removed. An imposing shopping mall was opened in Nablus. Within two years, he said, the Palestinians will be able to establish a Palestinian state. He is ignoring the fact that the Israeli army, the de facto sovereign in the occupied territories, can put an end to all these efforts at a moment’s notice. The road blocks can be put back and doubled, the towns put under curfew, the mall demolished. Indeed, every new mall in the West Bank increases the dependency on the goodwill of occupation authorities.

Another hammer is American.

The Palestinian Authority subsists on money donated by the US and its European sidekicks. The security forces of the Palestinian Authority are being trained by the American general, Keith Dayton. Washington treats Mahmoud Abbas as it treats the Afghan President Hamid Karzai and the Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki. He is “our son of a bitch”.  He exists as long as we want him to, he disappears if we let go.

In a clash between Washington and Jerusalem, Ramallah would benefit. But as the Goldstone episode shows, the US and Israel are, for the time being, fully coordinated. Abbas has no choice but to dance to the tune of the Israeli flute.

The anvil is Palestinian. At the moment, the Palestinian public is passive. It is tired, worn down, frustrated, in despair. But the Goldstone affair shows that below the surface, a volcano is brewing.

Hamas spokesmen liken Abbas to Marshal Petain, the French hero of World War I, who was the idol of the people and the army. In World War II, when the German army destroyed the French military in a Blitzkrieg that stunned the world, the political establishment in Paris disintegrated. In its hour of misery, the people called on the aged marshal, who capitulated to the Germans in order to save what could be saved. He was, without doubt, a French patriot.

Hitler respected the marshal, and initially treated him well. For a year or so, he even considered taking him on as an ally, in preference to Mussolini. A large part of France remained “unoccupied”, as a kind of German protectorate, and there the Vichy regime (after the name of its capital) was installed. But soon matters deteriorated and Petain became a full-fledged collaborator with the Nazis, even taking part in the annihilation of the Jews. “Vichy” became a synonym for treason, and after the war Petain was condemned to death. In consideration of his glorious past, his sentence was commuted to life in prison.

I don’t think that this is a fair comparison. Ramallah is not Vichy. Khaled Mashaal in Damascus is not de Gaulle in London. But Vichy serves as a warning, and the Palestinian Authority is on a slippery slope. A regime under occupation is always in danger of becoming a collaborator. The verbal attacks of Hamas only increase the misery of Abbas and his allies.

Abbas' initial order to withdraw the request for a debate on the Goldstone report also obstructed the efforts to overcome the split among the Palestinian factions.

The Egyptians are spreading news about a forthcoming internal Palestinian agreement and leaking its contents. It is hard to believe that anything will come of it. Hamas is supposed to relinquish its sole rule of the Gaza Strip, and it is hard to believe that they will do so. Abbas is supposed to confront Hamas in free elections – and this, too, is hard to imagine. It is even harder to believe that the Americans would risk allowing such elections. They have already announced that they are doing their best to prevent the reconciliation.

The Israeli media gleefully report that the hatred between Fatah and Hamas is stronger than their hatred towards the Israelis. That is not a unique phenomenon. When we were fighting against the British regime in Palestine, David Ben-Gurion gave orders for Irgun fighters to be turned over to the British police, and only the almost inhuman restraint of Menachem Begin prevented a fratricidal war. The Irish freedom fighters killed each other with abandon when the British offered a compromise. Such things have happened in many places.

If the Palestinians will have to choose, they are not to be envied. On the one side, Hamas is seen as an uncorrupt movement, true to the fight against the Israeli occupation. But the fundamentalist religious restrictions that they are now imposing on the Gazans, especially on the women, are abhorrent to many Palestinians. On the other side, while the Palestinian Authority is seen by many as corrupt and collaborationist, it is also seen as the sole body that can attract American support for the Palestinian cause.

Today Hamas does not offer any real alternative in practice, since they, too, are observing a cease-fire with Israel. Yet the hope that Abbas could bring peace is fading.

How does our government treat this situation?

Innocents may say: Israel is interested in the elimination of the extremist Hamas and the strengthening of the moderate Abbas, who is working for peace with Israel. That is self-evident.

If so, why is the Israeli government preventing Abbas from attaining any political achievement, even a symbolic one? Why did Ariel Sharon call him a “plucked chicken”?  Why do the Israeli media repeat every day that Abbas is “too weak to make peace”?

What is stopping Netanyahu from freeing a thousand Palestinian prisoners as a gesture for Abbas, while he is negotiating with Hamas about the release of a thousand prisoners in return for the captured soldier Gilad Shalit? Why does he present Abbas with conditions whose acceptance would mean political suicide? (For example: to recognize Israel as “the state of the Jewish nation”.) Why is the enlargement of the settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank proceeding at a frantic pace, under the nose of Abbas?

The political and military leadership of Israel is not composed of stupid people. Far from it. When they do things whose consequences can clearly be foreseen, one has to assume that it is these results that they want, even when they maintain the opposite. When so many of the government’s actions reinforce Hamas and weaken Abbas, isn’t that why they are doing it?

And indeed: Abbas is dangerous to the present Israeli policy. He enjoys the support of President Obama, who is pressuring Israel to start negotiations for “two states for two peoples”, which entails withdrawal from the West Bank and the dismantling of most settlements. That means an end to 120 years of Zionist expansion and a fundamental change in the very essence of Israel itself.

Hamas in power over all the Palestinian people would deflect these “dangers”. No American pressure for a compromise. No need for negotiations. No need for ”restraint” of settlement activity or for a compromise over Jerusalem. The occupation could go on undisturbed.

This may lead to disaster in the future. But who cares about the future?  


http://zope.gush-shalom.org/home/en/channels/avnery/1255784867/

   
 
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