Cutting through the bullshit.

Friday, 16 March 2007

Israel's struggle for peace

Israel's struggle for peace is a sincere one’, writes Columbia University lecturer Joseph Massad in this week’s Al Ahram. ‘In fact,… Israel's desire for peace is not only rhetorical but also substantive…’

If the name is unfamiliar, he’s the one targeted by a vicious campaign by the frightening David Project for Jewish Leadership in 2004 when they produced their video ‘Columbia unbecoming’. Indeed, as recently as January 2006, they were making accusations that he had bullied students into leaving the university altogether.

Anyway, we have it on no less authority than the American Jewish Committee itself, which released a new pamphlet this past January with the intriguing title, Israel’s quest for peace. The AJC are the nice folks who brought us Alvin H Rosenfeld’s ‘”Progressive Jewish thought” and the new anti-Semitism’ in December, which I mentioned in a post last month.

One event evidencing this quest is that in 1982

Significantly, Israel agreed to dismantle its large, sophisticated air force bases in the Sinai, forfeit the oil resources it had discovered there, and relinquish the territory’s strategic depth. Israel’s desire for peace trumped all other considerations.

Some cynics might think it’s not such a big deal for Israel to relinquish territory it had conquered by force, considering that countries aren’t supposed to do that to each other anymore, even if they do discover oil on the conquered territory, even if it provides ‘strategic depth. In fact, as I recollect, setting up large sophisticated air bases on occupied territory is supposed to be a serious no-no in international etiquette. But of course it goes without saying that those were air force bases committed entirely to peace.

Just eleven years later,

Israel was hopeful that peace between the Israelis and Palestinians would follow the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993. But hopes were dashed when terrorism continued unabated.

Those Palestinians are so unfair, wantonly dashing hopes like that. It transpires that the Oslo Accords, otherwise known as the ‘Declaration of Principles On Interim Self-Government Arrangements’, don’t actually say anything about terrorism. Basically, all they do is divide the West Bank into three types of zones and establish the Palestinian Authority with the privilege of policing the occupied Palestinian population and collecting the garbage in two of those zones. Oh, and the withdrawal of Israeli troops and final status negotiations, to be held within five years, to discuss everything of substance – the future of the facts on the ground – I mean ‘settlements’; the refugees, who had already enjoyed 45 years in exile; and of course, Jerusalem, which Israel had permanently and officially annexed thirteen years earlier in the 1980 Jerusalem Law, just as a sign of good faith.

Not only that, seven years later, long before the final status negotiations that were to have started within five years,

To diminish tensions and advance peace prospects, Israel withdrew from its security zone in Southern Lebanon in 2000. Since 1982…The government of Lebanon considered the Israeli presence an occupation

Just imagine the chutzpah of the Lebanese government considering it an occupation for Israeli forces to control a big chunk of its territory for eighteen years! After all, Israel was just trying to enforce UN Security Council Resolution 425 (1978), because it always wants to ensure that the letter and spirit of international law are complied with.

And finally, to add insult to injury, also in 2000, ‘Arafat flatly rejected Prime Minister Barak’s proposal.’ Yes, the famous ‘generous offer’, the offer he couldn’t refuse, the opportunity he couldn’t miss an opportunity to miss. So generous was that offer that nobody has ever seen the map. Barak wanted to give the Palestinians ‘a viable Palestinian state on the entire Gaza Strip and 91 percent of the West Bank’. That’s right 91 whole percent of the 22% of Palestine that Israel had left to Jordan in 1949. You don’t see an offer that generous every day! And what had the Palestinians done to deserve it?

Anyway, Massad has finally untangled Israel’s quest for peace,

Israel's struggle for peace is a sincere one. In fact, Israel desires to live at peace not only with its neighbours, but also and especially with its own Palestinian population, and with Palestinians whose lands its military occupies by force. Israel's desire for peace is not only rhetorical but also substantive and deeply psychological. With few exceptions, prominent Zionist leaders since the inception of colonial Zionism have desired to establish peace with the Palestinians and other Arabs whose lands they slated for colonisation and settlement. The only thing Israel has asked for, and continues to ask for in order to end the state of war with the Palestinians and its Arab neighbours, is that all recognise its right to be a racist state that discriminates by law against Palestinians and other Arabs and grants differential legal rights and privileges to its own Jewish citizens and to all other Jews anywhere. The resistance that the Palestinian people and other Arabs have launched against Israel's right to be a racist state is what continues to stand between Israel and the peace for which it has struggled and to which it has been committed for decades. Indeed, this resistance is nothing less than the "New anti- Semitism".

Today, Israel and its Western defenders insist, genocidal anti-Semitism consists mainly of any attempt to take away and to refuse to uphold the absolute right of Israel to be a racist Jewish state.

It’s not that Israel endorses racism in principle.

Remember that Zionism and Israel are very careful not to generalise the principles that justify Israel's need to be racist but are rather vehement in upholding it as an exceptional principle. It is not that no other people has been oppressed historically, it is that Jews have been oppressed more. It is not that no other people's cultural and physical existence has been threatened; it is that the Jews' cultural and physical existence is threatened more. This quantitative equation is key to why the world, and especially Palestinians, should recognise that Israel needs and deserves to have the right to be a racist state. If the Palestinians, or anyone else, reject this, then they must be committed to the annihilation of the Jewish people physically and culturally, not to mention that they would be standing against the Judeo- Christian God.

There’s no possibility of compromise on this because,

Jews are always in danger out in the wide world; only in a state that privileges them racially and religiously can they be safe from gentile oppression and can prosper. If Israel removed its racist laws and symbols and became a non-racist democratic state, Jews would cease to be a majority and would be like Diaspora Jews, a minority in a non-Jewish state.

But it’s not just a question of need.

Jews are carriers of Western civilisation and constitute an Asian station defending both Western civilisation and economic and political interests against Oriental terrorism and barbarism. If Israel transformed itself into a non-racist state, then its Arab population would undermine the commitment to Western civilisation and its defence of the West's economic and political interests, and might perhaps transform Jews themselves into a Levantine barbaric population.

Under the circumstances how can Hamas be so unreasonable as to refuse to recognise Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish and demographic state? It’s only fair that every Palestinian starve in the dark.

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