Yesterday’s CounterPunch featured a short piece by Norman Finkelstein where he argues,
Now I have plenty of respect for Finkelstein, but I have to disagree – those are not the only things that matter. As a matter of fact, by enclosing ‘peace process’ in scare quotes, I think he is himself indicating that there are more fundamental things at issue than just an impasse. Israeli policy in the West Bank is certainly very important, but not, I would argue, more important than Israeli policy in Gaza, in Lebanon, in Jerusalem (if that’s separate from the West Bank), than Israeli policy towards Iran, or Palestinian citizens of Israel, or the 1948 refugees.
A lot of people seem to be rushing to Carter’s defense. But I can’t say I understand why they would want to.
I suppose it must be to Carter’s credit that there was only one such Security Council veto exercised during his administration, against draft resolution S/13911 on 30 April 1980. That draft, moved by
US Ambassador McHenry concluded his statement explaining the Carter regime’s objection to the draft resolution,
I know that in many quarters there is skepticism that negotiations in this [
…It is to the end - the attainment of a just and lasting peace in the
Thanks in large measure to the cynicism of Carter, his predecessors and successors, twenty-six years down the track, the results he obtained in this way are no peace and certainly no justice. But it seems he no longer wishes to be judged on that basis. As the old saying goes, ‘Embarrassing a politician with accusations of hypocrisy is like embarrassing a dog with accusations that he licks his own balls.’
Thursday’s (7 December) NY Times reported that former Jimmy Carter aide, Kenneth W. Stein, a professor of Middle Eastern history and political science at
In a two-page letter explaining his action, Mr. Stein called the book “replete with factual errors, copied materials not cited, superficialities, glaring omissions and simply invented segments.”
It’s hardly surprising that a book with a title associating
At the same time, admittedly without reading the book myself – just based on what Carter himself says about it, it is plausible that it is indeed ‘replete with factual errors’, as Finkelstein acknowledges, although perhaps not the ones Stein and Dershowits identify.
Last Thursday (30 November), Democracy Now! broadcast Jimmy Carter’s 28 November speech ‘at an event in
I’ve never and would imply that Israel is guilty of any form of apartheid in their own country, because Arabs who live inside Israel have the same voting rights and the same citizenship rights as do the Jews who live there.
And for another thing, as this quote illustrates, the poor old guy is so inarticulate that it’s embarrassing to listen to him, quite apart from the substance of what he has to say. I don’t recollect whether he was always so tongue tied, or whether advancing age has taken a toll. I feel safe in assuming he and his editors exercise greater care with his written work, but still, perhaps not quite enough.
More importantly, the thrust of his talk was to identify ‘three options that Israelis face’. It’s significant that his sole concern is apparently with Israelis’ choices. But he’s right to think that ultimately this is likely to be a determining factor in the feasibility of any outcome.
For reasons that elude me, he ascribes the first option to Olmert,
a forceful annexation of
He rejects this for a number of reasons. First and foremost, in his view, ‘This would directly violate international standards and the Camp David Accords’.
The second rejected option is ‘the taking of substantial portions of the occupied territory with the remaining Palestinians completely surrounded by walls, fences and Israeli checkpoints’, the position I associate with Olmert’s ‘disengagement’ plan, under whatever the currently fashionable name might be.
What he’s advocating is more or less exactly the
I was involved, in some ways, in the preparation of the Geneva Initiative, and I was there and made the keynote speech in
This is the only option he can characterize as ‘acceptible’. I’m going to resist the temptation to quote him at length, but here is the rationale he articulated on CNN,
To incorporate the
On 28 November, Amy Goodman did a 25 minute interview with Rashid Khalidi, identified on the Democracy Now! site as ‘Edward Said Professor of Arab Studies and the Director of the Middle East Institute at
This was the first time I’ve heard Khalidi speak, but Abunimah is a frequent guest on KPFA’s Flashpoints program. They both have new books out (The Iron Cage: The Story of the Palestinian Struggle for Statehood and One Country: A Bold Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse, respectively) which are on their way from Amazon and I definitely intend to read them soon, although I might have to prioritise Ilan Pappe’s new Ethnic cleansing of Palestine, and I have enough trouble keeping up with what I think I need to read on the web.
In response to Amy Goodman’s question about the one state solution in the context of the clip from Carter I just quoted, Abunimah responded, quite accurately,
He’s saying that the reason to oppose a one-state solution is because it would be democracy. That Palestinians would have an equal rights, one person, one vote, and an equal share in deciding the future of the country.
What he left unsaid, probably out of a concern for diplomacy, is what could possibly motivate Carter’s cavalier attitude to democracy. Why would he support a ‘solution’ as ‘the best approach’ explicitly because he believes it precludes a Palestinian majority? As I have no stake in diplomacy, I’ll call it by its name. Carter’s objection to democracy in
Rashid Khalidi’s response pointed out that on the one hand,
anybody who wants to talk about a two-state solution has to talk about how how you would reverse the trends that have been ongoing for at least four decades. The annexation of Palestinian land, the usurpation of Palestinian property in order to create the settlements, the chopping up of the
On the other hand, however, ‘both Palestinians and Israelis are very attached to the idea of having their own state’. I agree that it is particularly significant that the vast majority of Israelis would utterly reject the idea of a secular state with even the potential for a non Jewish majority. These are the same people 65% of whom just a few months ago were willing to admit to a pollster that they would not live in the same building as an Arab. As far as I’m aware, the poll didn’t ask about whether respondents would embrace an Arab son in law, but I think it indicates a very high level of racism.
On this basis, I am inclined to agree with anyone who suggests that a unified democratic secular state between the Mediterranean and the
That said, Rashid Khalidi has summarized some of the obstacles to a two state ‘solution’. In my view, the principal arguments against a two state arrangement are that its intent is to entrench one racist, sectarian ethno-religious state and to create yet another. But on a more concrete level, there are two specific issues that I think decisively show that it is not a realistic possibility.
To give credit where credit is due, Carter is one of the few who even mentions the little matter of the corridor between
And remember that
Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately, that’s all he has to say about it. The Geneva initiative envisaged ‘engineering solutions’, presumably causeways or tunnels, so that the corridor would ‘not disrupt Israeli transportation and other infrastructural networks’ (Article 6.i.d.). It goes without saying that there is no question of Palestinian sovereignty over the corridor – that would disrupt
The other issue, which Rashid Khalidi mentions in passing, is ‘the expulsion of a majority of the Palestinians from their homes’ in 1948. Estimates tend to range between 750,000 and 900,000 Palestinians who became refugees in the ethnic cleansing operation that created a long yearned for Jewish majority for the Jewish state. I hasten to add that it doesn’t matter whether they left ‘voluntarily’ or not – most refugees are not literally driven out at gunpoint - they are still entitled to return. The survivors and the descendents of those refugees now number as many as 5 million. From what I’ve heard him say, Ali Abunimah’s parents are 1948 refugees and Rashid Khalidi’s parents may very well be too. So it could be because they feel they have a vested interest in the refugee issue that they don’t raise it.
Any solution to the so called Israeli Palestinian conflict worthy of the name must provide for the refugees’ right to return. The
As I read it, therefore, any two state arrangement that provides the minimum just redress for the 1948 refugees would create a non Jewish majority in the Jewish state, which is precisely why the Zionists reject the right of return as ‘national suicide’. The inevitable outcome of two states in historic
But of course, since the purpose of the two state ‘solution’ from the 1947 UN partition resolution to the Geneva initiative and the Road Map is precisely the creation or retention of a sectarian racist ethno-religious Jewish state, the question of justice - for the refugees or anybody – doesn’t arise. And in the absence of justice, there will not be peace.