The Stalled UN Bid – A Story With an Ending Foretold
In an Op-Ed published in the New York Times today, former Prime Minister and war criminal Ehud Olmert plays the good cop to Netanyahu’s bad cop by publicly denouncing Netanyahu’s policies and calling for a Palestinian State. The piece titled “Peace Now, or Never” conveys Israel eternal longing for peace, which can be achieved, according to him, with a two state solution. The online edition of the article even has a beautiful image of a dove attached to it, to visualize Israel’s eternal struggle for peace in the face of Arab intransigence, in case The New York Times readers had any doubts.
Sounds like sweet words coming from the mouth of the person with blood on his hands (Israeli politicians frequently use this gory imagery to describe Palestinians) who was responsible for Israel’s invasion of Lebanon in 2006, the destruction of its infrastructure and the killing of one thousand civilians, who also commanded the Gaza onslaught against a defenseless civilian population locked in an open air prison. But we’ll take him, given that the choice we are presented is between a peace loving war criminal and a peace refusenik such as Bibi.
Olmert describes his vision of a Palestinian state alongside Israel and even reminds us that he “presented a far-reaching offer to Mr. Abbas”, according to him, in 2008. But as the readers of this blog know, what is “generous” in Israeli terms is what a harsh prison warden would consider generous improvement to his inmates’ conditions. A closer inspection of Olmert’s “Peace Now” proposal reveals that this good cop is there to mollify America’s liberal Jewish readers of the NYT, to counter the erosion in Israel’s public image during Netanyahu’s reign. Thus Olmert presents to his American readers his vision of the two state solution, to show them that they can still latch on to their image of peace loving Israel, an image that suffered a temporary setback during the reign of Bieberman (the Israeli nickname for the unholy duo of Bibi and Lieberman).
The former Prime Minister calls for the establishment of a Palestinian state with a “size equivalent to the pre-1967 West Bank and Gaza Strip with mutually agreed-upon land swaps that take into account the new realities on the ground”. Sounds as good as you can expect from any Israeli peacenik. The devil however is in the details, as anyone who has ever dealt with Israel’s “peace making” process would tell you. Of course, by taking into account “realities on the ground” Olmert awards Israel all the land on which it has built illegal settlements and their surroundings, thus turning the Palestinian “state” into a chain of enclaves surrounded by Jewish settlements and Jewish access roads. He also opens a can of worms that will allow for five more decades of negotiations over these ‘mutually agreed upon land swaps’, during which time either the horse or the Tzar will die, as in the famous Jewish parable about the Jew who committed under pressure to teaching the Tzar’s horse to speak Russian. Olmert does not propose to dismantle settlements or make any significant changes to those “realities on the ground” because for Olmert peace is simply a linguistic exercise and the idea of a Palestinian state is taking the existing occupation and renaming it a “state”.
Although the peace loving Olmert acknowledges as self-evident that a Palestinian state will be de-militarized and will not be allowed to form alliances, what Olmert prefers not to tell his readers is that this Palestinian state will not have control of its borders, air, sea or water. They will be allowed however, according to Olmert’s far reaching plan, to collect their garbage, compose a national anthem and absorb Palestinian refugees. The latter of course is the equivalent of allowing Jews who were expelled from Germany in the 1930’s to return to Poland but not to Germany because that would threaten the Aryan character of Germany. In short, the peace loving Prime Minister urges the world to acknowledge the Palestinian Bantustans in order to preserve Jewish rule over the land.
And that is roughly where the boundaries of Israeli discourse lie (and by proxy, American political discourse, which is even more limited), if you are not yet familiar with them. While the bad cop Netanyahu and his ethnic cleansing cohorts prefer to enlist their servile US golem to veto and dismiss a Palestinian state, the Israeli peace camp calls for the creation of Palestinian bantustans to preserve Jewish control of the land. Neither one is talking about peace or co-existence because for them the “peace process” first and foremost is about preserving Israel’s Jewish identity and relieving themselves of the Palestinian population while continuing to control the entire land from the sea to the river.
And this is what I say to my Palestinian readers: do not hang your hopes on the UN, Abbas or the Israeli peace camp. The good cop (including Rabin, which for some strange reason has become a symbol for Israel’s extinguished peace movement) and the bad cop never intended at any point to relinquish control or award you anything remotely resembling a state. The ever expanding settlements and the confiscations of lands that you can see every day are a proof of that. Do not rejoice when Israeli soldiers move from inside your cities to its surrounding barbed wire. Yes, that may be slight improvement in your imprisonment conditions but that is hardly an achievement and a prison is still a prison.
Your future is in Israel – the country in which you were born and lived all your life – living as equal citizens, rather than an imprisoned oppressed and segregated population. You should start your struggle for equal rights now.
Yes, some of you may have fallen in love with a flag, still clinging to the independent Palestinian State mirage and abhor the thought of living alongside your tormentor. But this has been done throughout the world and is the only solution to discrimination by a colonial entity: the descendents of the slaves in America live as equals with the descendents of the slave owners. The descendents of the conquistadors live alongside and intermarry the children of the Inca and Maya and countless of other indigenous tribes and kingdoms that existed on that land. Even the blacks in S. Africa live peacefully alongside their former oppressors from only a couple of decades ago. The struggle for equal rights has been successful in every part of the world and there is no reason to assume that it will not be the same in Palestine. After all that has always been the only viable long term solution.
For whatever historic reasons brought Jewish immigrants to your shores, you will have to live as equals on that land and create a common future for your children under a forged common identity, like it has been done throughout the rest of the world. No overbearing state for the immigrants and Bantustans for the natives – that is only a recipe for continued conflict and eventual disaster. The struggle for equal rights should start now. Do not waste another 20 years.