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Home arrow Blog arrow November 2007 arrow November 29, 2007

November 29, 2007
WAWA Blog November 29, 2007: Six views on  Annapolis, Israel, Palestine
The following is excerpted from the November 27th, 2007 Democracy Now broadcast: Not Through Annapolis: Noam Chomsky Says Path to Mideast Peace Lies in Popular Organizing Against U.S.-Israeli ďRejectionismĒ


Listen/Watch/Read Bishop Tutu:
http://www.democracynow.org/article.pl?sid=07/11/27/1547230

Listen/Watch/Read Chomsky:
http://www.democracynow.org/article.pl?sid=07/11/27/1547221


    NOAM CHOMSKY: Before saying a word, Iíd like to express some severe personal discomfort, because anything I say will be abstract and dry and restrained. The crimes against Palestinians in the Occupied Territories and elsewhere, particularly Lebanon, are so shocking that the only emotionally valid reaction is rage and a call for extreme actions. But that does not help the victims. And, in fact, itís likely to harm them. We have to face the reality that our actions have consequences, and they have to be adapted to real-world circumstances, difficult as it may be to stay calm in the face of shameful crimes in which we are directly and crucially implicated.

      Well, Iíve been asked to talk about the apartheid paradigm and the proper response here, so Iíll do that, though not without some additional reservations. We have to recognize that there will be no clear answer as to the question of whether the apartheid paradigm applies in Israel or in Boston, right here, or elsewhere. The genre has, after all, only one example: South Africa. And there are similarities elsewhere in many dimensions, and itís fair enough to bring them up, but there's very little point debating whether they are close enough in one or another case to count as apartheid, because that will never be settled, we know that in advance.

      Iíve brought up similarities in the past, when I thought that they were appropriate. Actually, the one time I recall clearly was exactly ten years ago. That was at a conference at Ben Gurion University in Beíer Sheva. It was on the anniversary of the thirtieth year of the military occupation. And in the talk there, I quoted from a standard history of South Africa on elections in the Bantustans, which Iíll read; and just change a few words, and you'll know what itís about.

      ďSouth African retention of effective power, through its officials in the Bantustans, its overwhelming economic influence and security arrangements, gave to this initiative of elections elements of a farce. However, unlikely candidates as were the Bantustans for any meaningful independent existence, their expanding bureaucracies provided jobs for new strata of educated Africans tied to the system in a new way and a basis for accumulation for a small number of Africans with access to loans and political influence. Repression, too, could be indigenized through developing homeland policy and army personnel. On the fringe of the Bantustans, border industry growth centers were planned as a means of freeing capital from some of the restraints imposed on industrial expansion elsewhere and to take advantage of virtually captive and particularly cheap labor. Within the homelands, economic development was more a matter of advertising brochures than actual practical activity, though some officials in South Africa understood the needs from their own perspective for some kind of revitalization of the homelands to prevent their economies from collapsing even further.Ē

      Well, I wonít waste time expressing the similarities to the Occupied Territories, but you can do that quite easily. Ten years ago, that was the optimistic prospect for the Occupied Territories. By now, even thatís remote, and reality is far more grim than it was then. Thereís no time and, I presume, no need to review the harrowing details.

      Weíre now approaching George Bush's historic Annapolis conference, as itís called, on Israel-Palestine, so we can anticipate a flood of deceit and distortions to set the proper framework. And we should be prepared to counter the propaganda assault, which has already begun. Just to pick a couple of examples, Bostonians could read in the Boston Globe a few days ago that at the Taba Conference in January 2001 -- now quoting -- ďIsraeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak accepted ideas floated by President Bill Clinton that would have produced a Palestinian state in 97 percent of the West Bank and 100 percent of Gaza,Ē but these forthcoming gestures failed. The evil Palestinians refused Israel's generous offers, keeping to their time-honored insistence on seizing defeat from the jaws of victory and proving theyíre not partners for negotiation.

      Well, thereís one fragment of truth in this conventional fabrication: there was a conference in Taba. And, in fact, it did come close to a possible settlement, but the rest is pure invention. In particular, the conference was terminated abruptly by Prime Minister Barak. The truth is completely unacceptable, so the facts are either suppressed, as they generally are, or, as in this case, just inverted. And we can expect a good deal more of that. Actually, the truth about the Taba Conference merits attention. That week, in one week in January 2001, that was the one moment in thirty years when the United States and Israel abandoned the rejectionist stance that they have maintained in virtual isolation until the present.

      And that may suggest some thoughts about another familiar fairytale that you could read about a couple of days earlier in the New York Times, where the respected policy analyst and former high government official, Leslie Gelb, wrote that every US administration since 1967 has privately favored returning almost all of the territory to the Palestinians for the purposes of creating a separate Palestinian state. Note the word "privately." Crucial. We know what the administrations have said publicly. Publicly they have rejected adamantly anything remotely of the sort ever since 1967 -- í76, when the United States vetoed a Security Council resolution calling for a two-state settlement on the international border, incorporating all the relevant wording of UN 242 -- itís the basic diplomatic document to which Washington appeals when itís convenient. The US veto -- itís worth bearing in mind -- is a double veto. One part of the veto is that the actions are barred, of course. And itís also vetoed from history, as in this case, so youíll work really hard to find it, even in the scholarly literature.


      NOAM CHOMSKY: Sometimes the public rejection of a separate Palestinian state is more articulate and considerably more extreme, so it takes a George Bush no. 1, who is reputed to be the most hostile to Israel of US presidents. In 1988, as you know, the Palestinian National Council formally accepted a two-state settlement, and the Israeli government responded. This was the coalition government of Shimon Peres and Yitzhak Shamir. They responded by issuing a formal declaration that there can be no additional Palestinian state between Jordan and Palestine -- ďadditionalĒ because for Shimon Peres and his Labor coalition, Jordan already was a Palestinian state. Itís a view thatís attributed to the right wing, but thatís mistaken. This is Shimon Peres. The United States reacted to that with what was called the Baker Plan -- James Baker, Secretary of State. The Bush Baker Plan endorsed Israel's position without qualification and went on to add that any Palestinian negotiators would have to accept that framework, namely no second Palestinian state in addition to Jordan. Thatís Bush no. 1, the alleged critic of Israel, and the respected diplomat James Baker. Again, the truth is inconvenient, so virtually none of this was reported, and youíll have to work -- search hard to extricate it from the web of self-serving propaganda that dominates commentary and reporting, of which Leslie Gelb's article in the New York Times is a typical, but not unusual, example.

      Well, Iím not going to go on with that, but the diplomatic record is one of uniform rejectionism, apart from the week in Taba, and unilateral rejectionism, increasingly so. By now, virtually the entire world agrees on the two-state international consensus of the past thirty years, pretty much along the lines that were almost agreed upon at Taba. That includes all the Arab States, who actually go beyond to call for full normalization of relations with Israel. It includes Iran, although you wonít find that published here, which accepts the Arab League position. It includes Hamas; its leaders have repeatedly endorsed, called for a two-state settlement, even in articles in the US press. That also includes Hamas's most militant figure, Khaled Meshaal, whoís in exile in Syria. And it includes the rest of the world. Israel rejects it, and the United States backs that rejection fully, not in words just, but in actions.

      Bush no. 2 has gone to new extremes in rejectionism. Heís declared the illegal West Bank settlements must remain part of Israel. Thatís in accord with the Clinton position, expressed by his negotiator Dennis Ross, who explained that what he called ďIsrael's needsĒ take precedence over Palestinian wants. Thatís Clinton. But the party line remains undisturbed. Facts donít matter. Bush, Rice and the rest are yearning to realize Bush's vision of a Palestinian state -- somewhere, someplace -- persisting in the noble endeavor of the longtime honest broker.

      Well, whatís happened in the past is -- of course, rejectionism goes far beyond words. It includes settlement programs, the annexation wall, closures, checkpoints, and so on. Settlements increased steadily right through the Oslo years, peaking actually in Clinton's last year, the year 2000, right before the Camp David Accords. And the story is now being repeated before our eyes -- shouldnít surprise us.

      So to take just one example, with the Annapolis conference approaching, Israel has just confiscated more Arab land to build a bypass road from Palestinians -- Iím quoting now -- ďin order to push the Palestinian traffic between Bethlehem and Ramallah deep into the desert and effectively bar Palestinians from the central part of the West Bank." Thatís part of the so-called E1 project, which is designed to incorporate the town of Maíale Adumim within Israel and effectively to bisect the West Bank. ďWith such policiesĒ -- continuing to quote -- "With such policies enacted by the government, the famous Annapolis conference is emptied of all meaning long before it convenes." This is quotes from the Israeli peace organization Gush Shalom. All of this is backed by the honest brokers in Washington and paid for by US taxpayers, who, incidentally, overwhelmingly join the international consensus, in opposition to their own government. But thatís not what weíre going to hear.

      Well, in fairness, it should be added that there is occasional public criticism of the settlement programs. So in the New York Times a couple of weeks ago, there was a favorable review of a very important study, which has just been translated into English, Lords of the Land by Idith Zertal and Akiva Eldar, which bitterly condemns the US-backed Israeli programs in the West Bank and the takeover of Israeli political life by their advocates. Itís a strong and important book.

      The review, however, goes on with conventional fairytales. Among them, it tells us that within the Green Line in Israel itself, Israel is what it calls a ďvibrant democracyĒ in which non-Jews have equal rights and, unlike the West Bank, there are no Arab villages made inaccessible, because their roads have been dug up by army bulldozers. Well, again, thereís a fragment of truth in the description. So take, for example, the village Dar al-Hanoun in the so-called Triangle, Wadi Ara, itís older than the state of Israel, but itís one of the innumerable unrecognized villages in Israel. So itís true that thereís no road dug up by bulldozers, and the reason is that thereís no road. No road is permitted by the state authorities, and no construction is permitted. No services are provided. Thatís not an unusual situation for Palestinian citizens, who are also effectively barred from over 90% of the land by a complex and intricate web of laws and administrative arrangements. Technically, that was overruled by the high court seven years ago, but, as far as I can determine, only technically. And we may recall that in the United States it took over a century for even formal implementation of the Fourteenth Amendment, guaranteeing equal rights to all persons, and actual implementation of it is still remote a century-and-a-half later.

      Well, letís turn briefly to the important question, the most important question: what can we do about it? Here, itís useful to think about the apartheid analogy, and itís useful to remember a little history.

      In 1963, the UN Security Council declared a voluntary arms embargo on South Africa. That was extended to a mandatory embargo in 1977. And that was followed by economic sanctions and other measures -- sometimes officials, countries, cities, towns -- some organized by popular movements. Now, not all countries participated. In the United States, the US Congress did impose sanctions over Reagan's veto, but US trade with South Africa then increased by various evasions, along with concealed support for South African terrorist atrocities in Mozambique and Angola, which took a horrendous toll. Itís about 1.5 million killed and over $60 billion in damage during the Reagan years, the Reagan years of constructive engagement, according to UN analysis. In 1988, the Reagan administration declared Mandela's African National Congress to be one of the world's most notorious terrorist groups -- thatís 1988 -- while it described RENAMO in Mozambique merely as an indigenous insurgent group. That was after it had just killed about 100,000 people, according to the State Department, with, of course, US-backed African support. Thatcher's record was similar or maybe worse. But most of this was in secret. There was just too much popular opposition.

      And the popular opposition made a difference. There was a very significant anti-apartheid movement decades after the global decision of the Security Council to bring apartheid to an end. In 1965, boycotts and other measures would not have been effective. Twenty years later, they were effective, but that was after the groundwork had been laid by activist, educational and organizing efforts, including within the powerful states, which is what matters in an ugly world.

      Well, in the case of Israel-Palestine, the groundwork has not been laid. The quotes that I just gave are perfectly representative examples; you can fill them out in books, yeah. The kind of popular measures that were effective against apartheid by the late 1980s are not only ineffective in the case of Israel-Palestine today, but in fact sometimes backfire in harming the victims. Weíve seen that over and over. Itís going to continue until the organizing and educational efforts make real progress. Itís not just the United States; the European Union is hardly different. So, for example, the European Union does not bar arms deliveries to Israel. It joined the United States in vicious punishment of Palestinians, because they committed the grave crime of voting the wrong way in a free election. And there was very little internal protest in Europe. Populations support the international consensus, but they donít react when their governments undermine any hope for its realization.

      Well, in the coming weeks and the longer term, there's plenty of educational and organizational activity that will have to be carried out among an American population that happens to be largely receptive, though deluged with propaganda and deceit. And itís not going to be easy. Itís never been easy. But much harder tasks have been accomplished with dedicated and persistent effort.





Five views on Annapolis


Following is an excerpt from the transcript of the discussion at the Gush Shalom Forum, on the subject "Is Annapolis Relevant?" held on Nov. 21 Evening at The Kibbutz Movement House, Tel Aviv, with the participation of Gideon Levy, Moria Shlomot, Uri Avnery, Gadi Elgazi and Netta Golan and with the moderation of Teddy Katz

Teddy Katz (Moderator, Gush Shalom): Thanks to all the people who came on such a rainy night. Before I let the speakers take the floor, I would like to put some brief questions which the speakers might refer to.

Is Annapolis purely a George Bush event, which everybody else comes merely to provide a background, in face of Bush's present and future fiascos in Iraq and Iran?

There is no talking about the core issues, nor a timetable for the next stages after the conference, and it is not sure who would come and for what purpose, other than to be photographed. Is the aim of getting photographed worthy of making of so much fuss?

There is so much disastrous between the Israeli and Palestinian bridegrooms and brides, that even small differences would loom large. And if the worst happens and there will be no agreement achieved, what then? We already have bitter experiences of earlier occasions.

Gideon Levy ("Ha'aretz"): Yes, Annapolis does have an importance.The importance is that Annapolis exposes, and will further expose, things which we have swept under the carpet, truths which we know but have covered with carpets of lies. It is in fact very simple: Israel does not want peace. There is no other way to describe what is going on. 

For decades already, the State of Israel faces a clear choice between peace and occupation and prefers the occupation.

In the case of Annapolis there are two very clear pieces of evidence: first, the refusal to negotiate on the "core subjects", another farce taking place right in front of us. The media gives credibility to the idea that you can go to peace talks without discussing peace. The Government of Israel says it explicitly: they donít want to talk about peace, only about marginal issues. There is an importance to Annapolis, because it lays bare clearly the fact that the state of Israel does not want peace.

The other proof: forty years of settlement. Olmert declared a "Settlement Freeze" - but why should anyone take it seriously? The settlers met with Olmert and afterwards announced that it was "A very difficult meeting" - a cynical ritual which is good for them and good for Olmert, nothing more than that.

Three agreements to which we have obliged ourselves as a state, a formal obligation of a state by its heads, included a settlement freeze.

In Oslo we have taken the obligation not to effect a change in the situation on the ground until the definite solution - and in the ten years after Oslo, the number of settlers was doubled. These were the first harbingers of peace.

Then, Barak as Prime Minister vowed to "turn every stone" on the way to peace. On his way to Camp David 6445 housing units were built for settlers, during a term of one and half year altogether. If they really wanted peace, would they have have added even one balcony in one settlement?

Afterwards, one more great year of peace, the year of Sharon's "Disengagement" from Gaza, the year in which most Israelis are still sure that Israel has done a giant step and evacuated with enormous fuss the Gaza Strip settlements. And nobody noticed that in precisely the same year there were added 12,000 settlers, by several thousands more than the number evacuated from Gaza.

And now, we go to Annapolis. At the same time that the plane takes off for the US, cranes are standing and intensive construction work goes on at eighty-eight settlements.

The Defence Minster says that this construction cannot and should not be stopped. The heart of Defence Minister Barak is with the inhabitants of the illegal settlement outposts. "The Illegal settlement outposts" - as if the other settlements are legal!

Forty percent of the "legal" settlements were built on private land without the consent of the owners - a criminal acts by all criteria, a crime committed by a state.

Continued settlements and the refusal to talk of core issues expose a situation which causes a loss of hope. Very simple, unwillingness to make peace and very creative talent for the invention of excuses.

The first excuse which the Government of Israel had was the demand that there would be a direct - and only direct - negotiations. But direct negotiations, not with the PLO, because the PLO were at that time terrorists. Afterwards, yes with the PLO but not with Arafat. We were told that the moment Arafat disappears, on the same day we will have peace. Arafat was the stumbling block because he was too strong, a dictator. Afterwards Abu Mazen is the stumbling block because he is too weak. And with Hamas, of course not.

And after all that, are there people who really believe that Israel wants peace, an Israeli who sincerely believe that his country wants peace and all the blame is on the other side? I hope Annapolis will help expose the truth.

I have greater respect for those who say openly that they don't want peace, and that's that. I prefer that to the disgusting masquerade, as if since the creation of the state until now we are the peace- seekers and the Palestinians are the war-mongers.

It is twenty years that I am constantly going around in the Territories. I rarely meet there with politicians. Since Arafat is gone, I don't do it at all. There are enough others who do that. I am going from house to house, at least one family every week. Not that I am conducting a scientific anthropological research, but I can claim to have some acquaintance with the Palestinian grassroots. And I can say that the Palestinian people really want peace.

Among Palestinians, the real longing is for living together, while among Israelis the desire is for separation - let them separate, disappear, vanish, let us see nothing of them any more behind the high wall. Among the Palestinians, and precisely among the families of the most terrible victims, there is the wish to live together. The best years, which they remember with longing, are "when we lived together, visited the homes of Israelis, participated in parties".

Sometimes I find it difficult to understand where this comes from. I was in the home of a family in Sa'da Village when the son Luay was released from imprisonment, with one leg paralysed from Shabak torture. A very fascinating young man, optimistic, speaking in Hebrew of the wish to live together despite everything. I saw on the wall an oil painting of prisoner holding his head in his hands, the young son Munhammd who was still imprisoned at the time of the visit.

This was three months ago. I came back there this week because the son Muhammd was killed, shot in the head in the Ktziot Prison riots. Another event which was hardly given any publicity, 550 prison guards brutally raiding the prisoners' tents. And the son Muhammad was shot in the head and killed. And I come to the house of the family a few days later, they mourn him and they still want to live together with Israelis. If a Palestinian journalist would have come to the home of a family bereaved in terrorist attack, what would he have heard?

So, we go to Annapolis. Needless to say, in the situation which I tried to describe, my expectations are at most to prevent another terrible disaster and even more bloodshed.

I think that we have to come out of this meeting with a greater realization and understanding of the fact that we live in a country which does not want peace.

Moria Shlomot (Peace Now): I have to admit that Gideon has confused me a bit and forced me to change what I intended to say. I would like to refer to what you said and ask myself if I share this assumption, that Israel does not want peace - this very pessimistic position.

I have a strong feeling that very many Israelis do want peace, even if the leadership and government do not, and that in many Israeli homes you would hear the wish to live in peace and not to "separate".

When Adam [Keller] asked me a few weeks ago to speak in this event I asked him what was the general idea, and he said there were three basic positions: those who oppose Annapolis, the sceptics, and those who have some of hope of this conference - and the last are those which I am supposed to represent here.

At that time, Peace Now launched a campaign, jointly with the Geneva Initiative, with posters showing a bullet and pen facing each other, and a call upon Olmert to choose for peace. Now, with the conference just ahead of us, the situation seems very different.

My first worry was when they started to talk of "The Road Map", which is not relevant and its timetable is long past. Nowadays, "The Road Map" is a code word for those who want to sabotage any advance. Every step in the Road Map is dependant on the previous step, and since no one fulfils their assigned part there is just no advance whatsoever.

Then came the issue of "recognizing a Jewish state", of which Lieberamn wants to make a precondition for negotiations. A Jewish state is a core issue. In the same time and place where Jerusalem, the borders, the refugees and the settlements will be discussed, that is the right forum for discussing also the issue of a Jewish nation state - that is the time and place, not as a precondition.

The problem is more fundamental than George W. Bush and Annapolis. The American nation as a whole did not yet decide what are its interests in this region - to solve the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict or to aggravate the situation. And as long as the American nation did not decide, they will not impose a solution on us, as people on the Left here used to think and hope.

Six days before the conference, like before Camp David, there is a worry about negative dynamics. When the risks are so bad, is it worthwhile to go there? We have a justified distrust of Olmert, and I have to say - even more of Barak. Perhaps it is naןve, but with me Olmert is gaining some points. Barak is perpetrating a disaster and his conduct is a political crime.

With all these weighty doubts which I expressed, I share the decisions of Peace Now. At present I hold no position in the movement [she is a former Secretary-General] but I participate in some of the meetings, including the meeting where the Pen and Bullet Campaign was decided upon.

As an extra-parliamentary movement, Peace Now is concerned with trying to influence the atmosphere on the streets. Peace Now has the obligation to tell Olmert: you have a mandate to go as far as possible. If we don't say it, nobody will - and it it important that it would be said. This is a public responsibility, both short- and long-range.

Does Israel really not want peace? One reason to feel a bit optimistic is exactly the reasons why Sharon put the "Disengagement Plan" on the table precisely at the moment when the corruption investigations against him became intensive.

Yossi Sarid of Meretz and Tzvi Hendel from the extreme right both claim credit for the saying "Sharon's withdrawal is as deep as the investigation against him". What this means is that when an Israeli political leader feels that his political survival is in danger, he goes in the direction of ending the occupation and dismantling the settlements. He thinks that this is what give him popularity and an immunity from media hostility. So, this means that these are the things which public opinion demands from its leaders!

One last thing: who is against Annapolis? Iran, Lieberman, and more than everybody else - the military complex in Israel. And if the military complex is against, I want to be in favour!

Gadi Elgazi (Hithabrut-Tarabut): To those who asked, Tarabut is a project in the process of being created, an organization which - unlike other organizations in which I was and am involved - is trying to formulate political positions, among other things against the Annapolis Conference.

The singer Muki once sung about "Everybody speaks of peace, nobody speaks of justice". We are trying to speak of justice, of how much justice is needed in order to achieve peace.

The most substantial thing is that there is no symmetry between the sides. Every diplomatic game is based on fictions, like the UN General Assembly where every state has a single vote, a superpower and the smallest and weakest of states. From afar a fiction is produced of two parallel sides, Israelis and Palestinians, who are told to sit down and talk.

Israel is capable of causing the Palestinian an unimaginable anguish. Even if we put aside the balance of bloodshed, this is a colonial conflict in which one side can change the basic conditions under which the other side lives: land, water, work, family. Not just the physical force of tear gas, bullets and shells, but changing the basic conditions of life. An enormously powerful state facing a disintegrated people.

Therefore, I oppose the symmetry of depicting two pens which should meet somewhere in the middle. One side can bend the hand of the other and say "now come and make peace". Under conditions where one side can impose colonization, with its own forces and the forces which support it, there is no way ensuring the long-term future of both peoples.

When thinking about the future, you should look beyond the short range of ten to fifteen years where Israel has an assured military superiority with its settlement project, but to a range of fifty to seventy years where it could no longer rely on the status of a regional power with nuclear bombs in the basement.

And moreover, the view should be widened beyond looking at Israelis and Palestinians, look at the entire region and contemplate what is the future of an isolated fortress in the Middle East. To understand that there is no future to an outpost linked to outside forces, there is a future only to a country integrated in a democratic Middle East.

We should find the way to mediate between the situation that in the long range the occupier and settler has no future, and the present situation of military superiority. It is not possible to turn back the clock sixty years, but a certain degree of justice is vital in order to counterbalance Israel's enormous power. To look beyond the Israeli superiority in the next five, ten or fifteen years to a future where integration in the region is the only solution.

The Palestinian people are after an Intifada which has cost an enormous amount of blood and ended with a disaster. Its main achievement is the creation of forms of non-violent struggle, but except for that the Palestinian people is disintegrated and divided between Hamas and Fatah. Nobody can now lead, they can now only play with a pen like the Indians who signed agreements - interim agreements which only increased the power of the white settlers of North America. Such agreements bring war upon us, agreements of bloodshed - as the right-wing says. And we must say the truth, because it is the truth of what is behind Annapolis.

This is not a situation from which the Palestinians go to even the smallest measure of justice, but to further crushing, a further exacerbation of the internal Palestinian division. The "experts" say: Let's give Abu Mazen a some more freed prisoners, some more arms, a few more CIA advisers, and everything will be all right. The "moderates" will fight the "extremists". This is part of the process of crushing the Palestinian leadership, the weak Abu Mazen instead of the terrible Arafat. Weakening him and than saying he is too weak and cannot fulfil his promises.

Going to Annapolis forces Abu Mazen to ignore a million hungry Gazans, and makes the fissure in the Palestinian leadership unhealable. This is not a true Israel interest. As Israelis we have a an interest in having a united Palestinian leadership, including Hamas.

The present situation will lead to one of two results. Either Abu Mazen would not fulfil the promises he will be forced to make, and then they will say "We told you so, he cannot be relied upon". Or he will try to fulfil these promises, and then there will be a lot of bloodshed and a further disintegration of the Palestinians.

Who does have an interest in going to Annapolis? Condoleeza Rice has. You should look at this form the perspective of the entire Middle East, of the training and preparations going on already for months towards war with Iran, the breaking of European opposition to that war. The Annapolis party is aimed at including Egypt and Saudi Arabia in this war.

We, too, will pay the price for this coming war. We will pay simply because we have decided to live here, to link our fate with this region. In the American war in Iran and Afganistan, we are a forward outpost which can get a lot of the fire intended for the US.

Nowadays, even people who are not exactly radicals realize that there is such a thing as Imperialism, and that there are empires - at least, there is one empire, and there is another empire arising (which some people still consider to be Socialist).

I wanted to tell Moria that peace and left-wing people definitely take a risk in supporting Annapolis. The risk is that this process will end in disappointment, and then people will fall into the right- wing's arms. When you take from people the hope for peace they could become beasts.

About "A Jewish State" - a Jewish state means, among other things, the demolition of [Arab] homes in the Negev and Wadi Ara. Also in the internal Israeli arena this has grave consequences. The alternative to Annapolis is calling for ending the siege of Gaza.

Neta Golan (International Solidarity Movement): The moderator [Teddy Katz] presented me as a replacement for a Palestinian participant who could not be brought to Tel-Aviv. I was already introduced in worse ways. Once, when I was interviewed in Ya'ir Lapid's TV talk show, concerning my presence in the Mukata'a [Ramallah Presidential Compound] during the siege on Arafat in April-May 2002, he introduced me as someone whose acts arouse disgust. This is certainly worse than being a "Surrogate Palestinian".

The fact that I live in Ramallah and raise these my daughters does not mean that I can speak for the Palestinians. But it is true that I have much in common with the people who live in Ramallah, and I can present a view from the angle of living on the ground. If by chance somebody who does not live on the ground and does not see things first hand will claim he did not understand where things are going, than at least I can provide a personal testimony.

To understand what happens is not possible from Annapolis, but on the ground you can see buildings and roads being built and paved, and see exactly the direction things are taking.

So, for your information - on the ground, Apartheid is being built. Since the early years of the Intifada, a system of roads for Jews only is being created. Now, this is being completed with roads for Palestinians which put them in the places which the system defines for them. The borders of the cantons are defined - "cantons" is Sharon's word, the right and precise word is ghettos.

Near Ramallah, where I live, there are two ghettos which are already finished and completed. Let me present the Bir Naballah Ghetto: a ghetto surrounded by walls on all sides. One side is what is called officially "The Separation Wall". On the other three sides it is officially called "Roadside Fences", beautiful fences which are supposedly intended to prevent noises. That is the official version. On the ground, the meaning is that these walls surround Bir Naballah on all sides, there is only one exist - through a tunnel under the road which is for Jews only. Of course, this tunnel is also under the control of the army, which can close and block it at discretion.

The Palestinian Authority wanted to connect Bir Naballah to the Palestinian water system. The Israeli authorities did not allow this, it insisted upon linking Bir Naballah to the Israeli water system. Of course, the one who has the hand on the tap can also close it at will. And close by the Bir Nabllah Ghetto there is the Bidu Ghetto, which is more or less the same, I will no go into details.

The point is that even if all the Annapolis dreams come true, this ghetto will remain. Because what defined and divides it to the north is Route 443, the road against which we [the ISM] have recently launched a campaign. This road will be annexed to Israel, because it goes through Giv'at Ze'ev, which is to be annexed to Israel and recognized as "a Jerusalem neighbourhood". This is what they call "settlement blocks" which were built in such a way that once they are annexed to Israel they make the whole of the West Bank into a cluster of ghettos.

There is a movement of ideological settlers. They, I think, will be eventually evacuated. Even from Hebron the settlers will be evacuated - here, I am very optimistic, I think that the settlers will be evacuated from Hebron! But this does not make a difference. There are the other settlements, the strategic settlements which are sponsored directly by the state. People don't go there for ideological reasons. Even people who are considered to the left of people who live inside Jerusalem. In the settlements of Ma'aleh Adumim and Nili there are Meretz supporters.

Settlement Blocks mean that the Palestinians live in ghettos, of which passage from one to the other is under Israeli control, and it can be suffocatingly closed as they is already done in Gaza, if Arafat or Abu Mazen or whoever does not fulfil his role. This is a way to crush all resistance.

What is not taken into account is that the peace agreement was already signed, only that it was signed between Sharon and Bush. In 2004 there were negotiations and an agreement was signed, saying that the Israelis will keep the settlement blocks and the refugees will return only to their state. Bush agreed to that when Sharon set out to him the "Disagreement Plan" - "You disengage from Gaza, I approve your settlement blocks". And this was signed and approved by Congress.

Annapolis is, among other things, aimed at torpedoing the Saudi Initiative. The Saudi Initiative stated that there will be first an agreement about the end of the occupation and only then there will be normalization. The Americans demand that first the Saudis and other Arabs should come and meet with Olmert and thus implement normalization, and only later - if at all - there will be an agreement.

I would like to tell the people in this room, you deserve great credit for having introduced the concept of Two States into the consensus. Such a great success that Bush and Olmert and Sharon understood that you can't beat it and therefore decided to join it, and thereby changed the entire meaning. Nowadays, if you say -Two States- without saying a complete control of water and land and a free access to Jerusalem without walls, than you support Apartheid.

There are those who say that they support peace and in fact they support Apartheid. This is the whitewashing of the occupation, controlling the ground and the borders and "getting rid" of as many Palestinians as possible. That is what was done in Oslo. The Palestinians then had great hopes of Oslo and did not realize that this was what was done in practice - a plan to absolve Israel of responsibility for the Palestinians and keep control in practice.

I remember that I did not come out against the Disengagement Plan, because the right wing was against it, and who wants to stand together with the Right? And so it happens that I, too, share in the responsibility for the hunger of the people in Gaza. Everybody who supported the Disengagement shares in the responsibility for the hunger of the people in Gaza.

The second thing is that the Convergence Plan of which Olmert talked at the beginning of his term did not disappear and is not forgotten. And this plan talks clearly of going out of part of the territory, but not from the Settlement Blocks - as I said, this means Apartheid. Dov Weisglass, Sharon's confidential adviser, that even if in ten years somebody comes to Israel with a demand to evacuate the Settlement Blocks, it would be possible to produce the Bush Letter and say that the Master of the World has already given his stamp of approval.

In the beginning, Olmert wanted to do it completely unilaterally. The Americans and Blair came and told him that Convergence should not be carried out his way, but "you should be able to say that you tried". And indeed, Olmert said that "we will try", but if the Palestinians don't agree, he will implement it anyway - unilaterally.

Inside the "Road Map" there is the option of "A Palestinian State in Temporary Borders" and that is what the Palestinians are afraid of, of being left stuck in a "temporary" situation in a situation where they have no real control over their lives. And this is exactly what is being talked about on the israeli side as "a safety net", which if negotiations fail a temporary state will be created. "Temporary", like everything to with the occupation.

So, if you understood what I talked about here, I expect to see you in the demonstration on Route 443 next Friday.

Uri Avnery (Gush Shalom): Somehow in the course of this debate the focus moved to the question whether the state of Israel wants peace. This is quite a complicated issue, and there are different views also among people who agree about other issues.

This problem is derived from a more fundamental issue, which is that we are involved in a special kind of conflict which has no parallel elsewhere in the world or in history, and that is why I don't agree with the historical analogies. For example, Gadi thinks this is a colonial conflict. I wish this were true, than the solution would have been far simpler.

A colonial conflict ends with a War of Independence, in which the oppressed people pays a heavy price but in the end the colonial master departs - certainly ceases to maintain direct control, even though there is sometimes a continued economic domination and neo- colonialism. But the settlers go out and away, like in Algeria and Kenya. Or Apartheid - I wish it were Apartheid. In South Africa there was struggle, true and long and difficult one, but it ended with the oppressed taking power. I agree that we have here elements of Apartheid, but it is not fitting as an overall description.

I choose to define this conflict as the collision between an unstoppable force and an immoveable mass. The Zionist movement, with the enormous force it accumulated, attacks and continues to attack the Palestinian people - and the Palestinian people is still there.

The first part of this equation is clear. The Zionist movement becomes stronger, the disparity in strength becomes greater and greater. But the other part is not sufficiently appreciated. The Palestinian people hold on. This enormous force is deployed against them, and after 120 years they are still there. The Palestinian steadfast attachment to the land and the soil deserves admiration.

Despite all that happened, the internal divisions verging on civil war, the Palestinian people hold on. Every time I come to the Territories I am filled with admiration for the villagers who hold on under these conditions. And now the brutal siege of Gaza, and also there the people hold on. If there was in Israel some hope that the pressure will break them and they will disappear, this did not and will not happen. Some weak people and some rich people who live in luxury moved aside, but the people remain. On the background of this perspective what happens these days is nearly unimportant, the banner headlines lose much of their impact.

The Zionist movement has a kind of genetic code, a kind of rails which were laid down when the movement was founded and on which the train still moves. The basic position is that we want the country to ourselves. The borders had never been defined precisely. In the document presented by the Zionist movement to the 1919 peace conference after the First World War it claimed the territory until the Litany River in the north, until El-Arish in the south, and including the eastern side of the Jordan River.

This is the hidden code which continues to motivate people who think that they have no ideology - and in fact, their ideology is take up this territory, but without a non-Jewish population. What is now called ethnic cleansing is in the genetic code of Zionism.

The settlement movement is completely compatible with this genetic code. There was no need to adopt a cabinet resolution in order to start settling. This is inherent in the nature of the Zionist movement. The fact that the settlement outposts are called "illegal" because all the settlements are manifestly illegal under International Law.

Every day you can read in all the papers - including the liberal enlightened paper which I read - a debate about whether or not to evacuate the "illegal settlement outposts", and the disputants say that this is what Israel is obliged to do according to the Road Map. But in this document the term "illegal settlement outposts" does not appear at all. What is written there is that Israel must evacuate all settlements created since Ariel Sharon came to power in January 2001. The question if according to inner Israeli definitions this is "legal" or "illegal" is completely irrelevant. But the journalists just parrot the terminology they hear from the politicians. Which journalist bothers to read agreements, look at the original document? Very few of them.

Anyway, the most illegal of outposts can arise, and it would be immediately connected to water and electricity (not to mention the army stationing troops to defend them). Every government official and army officer knows instinctively that this is his job. Our job is most difficult - to change the basic perception of Zionism and its manifestation, the State of Israel.

I agree with Gadi about integration in the region. With a lack of modesty I will note that already sixty years ago I said that we have to be part of the region, which I call the Semitic Region - I used this term because it has the same meaning in Hebrew and Arabic.

Unlike the basic perception of Zionism, we are not the advance guard of Europe. If we regard ourselves this way we will never get to peace. If we see ourselves as part of the region, everything changes - like in a kaleidoscope, when you turn it around you get a completely different picture, though it is composed of the same elements, but arranged differently according to a different logic. If we understand that we are part of this region and that this is our future, than we will be on the way to peace.

About Annapolis, I can't feel very strongly either in favour or against. I think that after a month nobody will remember this event, like nobody remembers Shepherdestown or Wye Plantation. Only people with a morbid memory remember these places and what kind of meetings took place in them.

Annapolis is in fact not an Israeli-Palestinian meeting at all. It an an event of George Bush, for George Bush and by George Bush, and everybody who comes there knows it. It is not completely clear what is Bush's purpose. I agree with Gadi that this might be a cover for preparation for the war with Iran. I am very much afraid that there is really going to be a war with Iran, that the preparations might already be complete. One of the scenarios is that Israel will attack Iran, Iran will respond by bombing Israel, and than the US will come to Israel's help.

It is also possible that the purpose of Annapolis is more modest, simply to distract attention from the Iraq fiasco. Or simply to fill with content the last year of this ridiculous man. The main thing is it will be photographed, the success being defined by the number of photographers.

The Egyptians go there because Congress under the influence of of Israel's emissaries threatens to cut the two billions per year on which the Mubarak Regime is based. The Jordanians, for similar reasons. Syria, in order to safeguard itself against an American attack. Abu Mazen, in order to get help against Hamas, which is at the moment the only thing interesting hi,. And Olmert simply wants to gain time and remain Prime Minister for another month or year. The real war continues to take place on the ground, regardless of what happens there.

I hate the new terminology which are introduced in the media, like "Core Issues". What is hidden behind this term - rather, behind the refusal to talk about them - is simply the refusal to make peace. Those who don't want the real and concrete peace, which is on the table long before Annapolis, calls it by all kinds of names, and delays it in order to gain another half a year or a year for a bit more of building settlements and taking over lands.

Teddy Katz: With the end of this round of speakers, I open the floor to questions and remarks from the audience.

(Second part will be available soon).


http://zope.gush-shalom.org/home/en/events/Annapolis%201194777329


   
 
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The Paradoxical Commandments
by Dr. Kent M. Keith

People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered.
Love them anyway.

If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.
Do good anyway.

If you are successful, you win false friends and true enemies.
Succeed anyway.

The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.
Do good anyway.

Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable.
Be honest and frank anyway.

The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds.
Think big anyway.

People favor underdogs but follow only top dogs.
Fight for a few underdogs anyway.

What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.
Build anyway.

People really need help but may attack you if you do help them.
Help people anyway.

Give the world the best you have and you'll get kicked in the teeth.
Give the world the best you have anyway.

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The age of warrior kings and of warrior presidents has passed. The nuclear age calls for a different kind of leadership....a leadership of intellect, judgment, tolerance and rationality, a leadership committed to human values, to world peace, and to the improvement of the human condition. The attributes upon which we must draw are the human attributes of compassion and common sense, of intellect and creative imagination, and of empathy and understanding between cultures."  - William Fulbright



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