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Another ten wasted years

May 16, 2021

It will soon be a decade since Barack Obama said this.

That was the last time a US President (or any other government official) had the audacity to say what every sane person knows: that the best chance of permanent peace in the Middle East is the creation of two states based the on the pre-1967 borders “with mutually agreed swaps.”

A deal is a deal.

Once upon a time there were Israeli leaders who accepted this. Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated 25 years ago by a rabid (yes, I said rabid) Jewish “settler” for agreeing.

And so the cycle of violence continues.

There is nothing, not a damn thing, anti-Semitic about denouncing the actions of the Israeli government in the Palestinian territories. Nor is any Jewish person who dares to question these actions “self-hating” as Jon Stewart was accused of being seven years ago for saying this.

Watching it all unfold again over the past week is heartbreaking.

Four Palestinian families in East Jerusalem, who’ve lived for many years in homes built by the Jordanian government in the late 1940s to house refugees are facing forced evictions by rapacious Jewish settlers. An Israeli court is scheduled to rule on this dispute. Past experience suggests the ruling will go against those families. This is not a foregone conclusion. Indeed, a ruling in favour of these Palestinian families could prove there is some justice to be found through Israel’s courts.

Of course there are many other festering factors involved in this current round of violence, but the fate of these four families is at the heart of the matter.

Should a state of Israel exist? Yes, of course it should. The creation in 1948 of Israel was the right and proper response to the Holocaust. Should the United States and other western nations have done whatever they could to help this nascent state survive and prosper? Yes, in those early days I believe they should have done so. Was the displacement of millions of Palestinians fair? No, but if there was to be a state of Israel it was necessary. Does it suck? Yes.

For many years I was at a loss to understand why successive US governments were so uncritical of the actions of the Israeli state, why quite so much military support was provided, why, whenever yet another one of these awful David and Goliath (with David being Palestinian) confrontations exploded, the only thing most US politicians could be relied upon to say was, “Israel has a right to defend itself.” Does might always equal right?

It was a mystery. After all, somewhere in the region of 2% of the US population is Jewish. And, I thought, don’t Jewish voters tend to cast their ballots for Democrats? So, why was unquestioning support for Israel even more essential for Republican politicians than Democratic?

And then a few years ago I discovered the answer: Fundamentalist (yes, I said fundamentalist) Christians believe the second coming cannot happen until Jews occupy all of Biblical Israel. And these wingnuts make up 25% of the US population.

Several weeks ago Israel was being praised for its vaccination roll out. What about providing vaccines to the Palestinians struggling to survive in the occupied territories? Fuck them. Any international outcry about this? None I heard.

And now this. Homes levelled. Palestinian families wiped out. The building which until yesterday, housed the Gaza-based journalists of Al Jazeera and the Associated Press, flattened with an hour’s warning to evacuate. And a Muslim congresswoman quickly vilified for screaming bloody murder.

Benjamin Netanyahu (who should be awaiting trial for war crimes in addition to the corruption charges he is facing) remains defiant. And what did Joe Biden say this week? “Israel has a right to defend itself.” (Taking exception to this narrow stance in the New York Times, it was the turn of Bernie Sanders to be labelled a “self-hating” Jew.)

It took another Daily Show host to challenge this narrative.

Yes, proportionality.

Ten years since a US President dared to mention the 1967 borders. Almost as long since any US President has seriously discussed the need for – let alone done anything to advance – a two state solution.

And lost in it all, this.

Jesus wept.

From → Columns

2 Comments
  1. John Galpin permalink

    I don’t have a solution either but the events of last night on the streets of North London left my blood running cold.

    “Fuck the Jews, rape their daughters” is not a message I’d ever dreamt of seeing openly promoted in St. Johns Wood or anywhere else in my lifetime.

    As England continues its decline into full-blown fascism with anti-semites on the Right now emboldened adding weight to the traditional anti-semites amongst the Corbynista Left I have nothing but despair at the way this country is going.

    With the effects of the disastrous Brexit deal being masked by the pandemic, with our old and dysfunctional electoral system producing a huge majority for the right despite achieving a minority of the popular vote I seriously believe there will be an exodus of talented, educated young people from this island very soon.

    • Bloody hell. I hadn’t heard about north London. How awful. I’m certainly not suggesting that there aren’t rabid Muslims as well as rabid Jews.

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