Cutting through the bullshit.

Friday 15 December 2006

Just sign here

Every couple of months or so, Jewish Voice for Peace sends me a petition to sign. Sometimes I think I’d like to sign, if only they weren’t so lame. Sometimes I think about writing back suggesting a redraft or something. The last one was just a couple of weeks ago,

We call upon Israeli leaders to end the siege of and war on Gaza. We call upon world leaders to end the political and economic sanctions of Palestine.

The siege and sanctions are sowing chaos and death in Gaza. They must come to an end.

As if ‘Israeli leaders’ and ‘world leaders’ had no idea about the chaos and death they were sowing in Gaza! It doesn’t appear to have penetrated as far as Oakland that Israeli leaders want to sow chaos and death and that world leaders are quite happy to do their bit.

But this time, it’s just insulting. Mitchell Plitnick asks if I can sign a petition that says,

The new Congress should heed President Jimmy Carter's leadership in crafting a Middle East policy leading toward a just peace.

But as I wrote in a recent blog, what Carter is advocating is nothing resembling a just peace. He has made it quite explicit that he does not want Palestinians to have democratic rights and that he insists on Israel remaining a sectarian apartheid state, although he does deny that it is one because the Israeli Arabs get to vote.

Carter is getting more and more support. And not just from the JVP wankers. From people who you’d expect to know better, like the usually antiZionist Jews sans Frontieres.

Meanwhile back on Telegraph Ave, JVP appear to have forgotten that the Democratic Party is just as committed to blinkered US imperialism and to the Zionist project as the Republicans.

Carter's book and the new Democratic majority represent an unusual opportunity for a change in U.S. policy in Israel-Palestine. Congress can pressure Israel to end the siege on civilians in Gaza, halt the construction of the separation wall inside the West Bank, and stop expanding the settlements. Congress can make military aid contingent on restarting peace negotiations in good faith.

Congress can certainly do that, but only if it wants to, as it never has before regardless of which party controlled it. Millions of Americans willing to strike or take action on the streets could force the issue, but not only are they not there, JVP isn’t even suggesting it.

Most Americans believe the U.S. must take an active and even-handed role in resolving this conflict. Yet while AIPAC and other groups lobby for support of the Israeli occupation, we in the silent majority have not mounted a successful challenge. Our voice is not reaching Congress. Unless we join together, Congress will keep ignoring the real obstacles to a just peace.

The US has taken sides in this conflict all along, but now, all of a sudden, it should turn around and be even handed. I assume by ‘even-handed role’ JVP don’t mean the pretense of acting as arbiter, as they did so successfully in Angola. Of course even genuine evenhandedness wouldn’t be good enough if we were interested in a just peace. A balanced approach to the oppressor and the oppressed never has and never can deliver fairness.

Anyway, the silent majority’s voice definitely reached congress on the question of bringing the troops home from Iraq, but it appears to have fallen on deaf ears. So why would anyone in their right mind expect those bastards to be more receptive to this appeal? In any case, I’m not expecting Congress to stop ‘ignoring the real obstacles to a just peace’ at least until JVP comes to the party and realizes that there’s no justice in a bunch of European colonists driving the Palestinians off their land to, in Herzl’s words, ‘form a portion of a rampart of Europe against Asia, an outpost of civilization as opposed to barbarism.’

Jonathan Cook’s new article on Counterpunch explains why Hamas cannot in good conscience recognize ‘Israel’s right to exist’. I was delighted to find that I am no longer the only one rude enough to mention the security of the corridor between Gaza and the West Bank in public.

Israel refuses to demarcate its own future borders, leaving it an open question what it considers to be the extent of "its existence" it is demanding Hamas recognise. We do know that no one in the Israeli leadership is talking about a return to Israel's borders that existed before the 1967 war, or probably anything close to it.

Without a return to those pre-1967 borders (plus a substantial injection of goodwill from Israel in ensuring unhindered passage between Gaza and the West Bank) no possibility exists of a viable Palestinian state ever emerging.

And no goodwill, of course, will be forthcoming.

I’m not actually sure what Jonathan’s position is on the desirability of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza. Where we differ is that I don’t think there was ever a realistic possibility of a viable Palestinian state confined to those enclaves. And one of the principal reasons for this was precisely the impossibility of securing passage between them.

In another departure from the standard discourse on Palestine, Jonathan makes some very sensible points about the impact of the right of return on Israel’s precious demography,

In demanding recognition of its right to exist, Israel is ensuring that the Palestinians agree to Israel's character being set in stone as an exclusivist Jewish state, one that privileges the rights of Jews over all other ethnic, religious and national groups inside the same territory. The question of what such a state entails is largely glossed over both by Israel and the West.

For most observers, it means simply that Israel must refuse to allow the return of the millions of Palestinians languishing in refugee camps throughout the region, whose former homes in Israel have now been appropriated for the benefit of Jews. Were they allowed to come back, Israel's Jewish majority would be eroded overnight and it could no longer claim to be a Jewish state, except in the same sense that apartheid South Africa was a white state.

I read a lot of stuff about Palestine and at this stage I reckon Jonathan is producing the most interesting analysis I see. Anyone who thinks its worth knowing about Palestine should make a point of reading his articles in full. I’d recommend his website, but he’s pretty slow about updating it. I usually find his stuff first on CounterPunch.

1 comment:

  1. For the record, Mark Elf at Jews sans frontieres was kind enough to link to this post from his blog. When I followed the link from here back to his site to see what it was I was criticising, I couldn't find anything relevant and I have no idea why I thought he was defending Carter. I suppose I must have been reading something else around the same time and thought it was the post I linked to? Anyway, I want to apologise for misrepresenting him.