If Hamas Did Not Exist – Israel Has No Intention of Granting a Palestinian State (A MUUST READ!!!)

Let us get one thing perfectly straight. If the wholesale mutilation and degradation of the Gaza Strip is going to continue; if Israel’s will is at one with that of the United States; if the European Union, Russia, the United Nations and all the international legal agencies and organizations spread across the globe are going to continue to sit by like hollow mannequins doing nothing but making repeated “calls” for a “ceasefire” on “both sides”; if the cowardly, obsequious and supine Arab States are going to stand by watching their brethren get slaughtered by the hour while the world’s bullying Superpower eyes them threateningly from Washington lest they say something a little to their disliking; then let us at least tell the truth why this hell on earth is taking place.

The state terror unleashed from the skies and on the ground against the Gaza Strip as we speak has nothing to do with Hamas. It has nothing to do with “Terror”. It has nothing to do with the long-term “security” of the Jewish State or with Hizbullah or Syria or Iran except insofar as it is aggravating the conditions that have led up to this crisis today. It has nothing to do with some conjured-up “war” – a cynical and overused euphemism that amounts to little more the wholesale enslavement of any nation that dares claim its sovereign rights; that dares assert that its resources are its own; that doesn’t want one of the Empire’s obscene military bases sitting on its cherished land.

This crisis has nothing to do with freedom, democracy, justice or peace. It is not about Mahmoud Zahhar or Khalid Mash’al or Ismail Haniyeh. It is not about Hassan Nasrallah or Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. These are all circumstantial players who have gained a role in the current tempest only now that the situation has been allowed for 61 years to develop into the catastrophe that it is today. The Islamist factor has colored and will continue to color the atmosphere of the crisis; it has enlisted the current leaders and mobilized wide sectors of the world’s population. The primary symbols today are Islamic – the mosques, the Qur’an, the references to the Prophet Muhammad and to Jihad. But these symbols could disappear and the impasse would continue.

There was a time when Fatah and the PFLP held the day; when few Palestinians wanted anything to do with Islamist policies and politics. Such politics have nothing to do with primitive rockets being fired over the border, or smuggling tunnels and black-market weapons; just as Arafat’s Fatah had little to do with stones and suicide bombings. The associations are coincidental; the creations of a given political environment. They are the result of something entirely different than what the lying politicians and their analysts are telling you. They have become part of the landscape of human events in the modern Middle East today; but incidentals wholly as lethal, or as recalcitrant, deadly, angry or incorrigible could just as soon have been in their places.

Strip away the clichés and the vacuous newspeak blaring out across the servile media and its pathetic corps of voluntary state servants in the Western world and what you will find is the naked desire for hegemony; for power over the weak and dominion over the world’s wealth. Worse yet you will find that the selfishness, the hatred and indifference, the racism and bigotry, the egotism and hedonism that we try so hard to cover up with our sophisticated jargon, our refined academic theories and models actually help to guide our basest and ugliest desires. The callousness with which we in indulge in them all are endemic to our very culture; thriving here like flies on a corpse.

Strip away the current symbols and language of the victims of our selfish and devastating whims and you will find the simple, impassioned and unaffected cries of the downtrodden; of the ‘wretched of the earth’ begging you to cease your cold aggression against their children and their homes; their families and their villages; begging you to leave them alone to have their fish and their bread, their oranges, their olives and their thyme; asking you first politely and then with increasing disbelief why you cannot let them live undisturbed on the land of their ancestors; unexploited, free of the fear of expulsion; of ravishment and devastation; free of permits and roadblocks and checkpoints and crossings; of monstrous concrete walls, guard towers, concrete bunkers, and barbed wire; of tanks and prisons and torture and death. Why is life without these policies and instruments of hell impossible?

The answer is because Israel has no intention of allowing a viable, sovereign Palestinian state on its borders. It had no intention of allowing it in 1948 when it grabbed 24 per cent more land than what it was allotted legally, if unfairly, by UN Resolution 181. It had no intention of allowing it throughout the massacres and ploys of the 1950s. It had no intention of allowing two states when it conquered the remaining 22 per cent of historic Palestine in 1967 and reinterpreted UN Security Council Resolution 248 to its own liking despite the overwhelming international consensus stating that Israel would receive full international recognition within secure and recognized borders if it withdrew from the lands it had only recently occupied.

It had no intention of acknowledging Palestinian national rights at the United Nations in 1974, when –alone with the United States—it voted against a two-state solution. It had no intention of allowing a comprehensive peace settlement when Egypt stood ready to deliver but received, and obediently accepted, a separate peace exclusive of the rights of Palestinians and the remaining peoples of the region. It had no intention of working toward a just two-state solution in 1978 or 1982 when it invaded, fire-bombed, blasted and bulldozed Beirut so that it might annex the West Bank without hassle. It had no intention of granting a Palestinian state in 1987 when the first Intifada spread across occupied Palestine, into the Diaspora and the into the spirits of the global dispossessed, or when Israel deliberately aided the newly formed Hamas movement so that it might undermine the strength of the more secular-nationalist factions.

Israel had no intention of granting a Palestinian state at Madrid or at Oslo where the PLO was superseded by the quivering, quisling Palestinian Authority, too many of whose cronies grasped at the wealth and prestige it gave them at the expense of their own kin. As Israel beamed into the world’s satellites and microphones its desire for peace and a two-state solution, it more than doubled the number of illegal Jewish settlements on the ground in the West Bank and around East Jerusalem, annexing them as it built and continues to build a superstructure of bypass roads and highways over the remaining, severed cities and villages of earthly Palestine. It has annexed the Jordan valley, the international border of Jordan, expelling any ‘locals’ inhabiting that land. It speaks with a viper’s tongue over the multiple amputee of Palestine whose head shall soon be severed from its body in the name of justice, peace and security.

Through the home demolitions, the assaults on civil society that attempted to cast Palestinian history and culture into a chasm of oblivion; through the unspeakable destruction of the refugee camp sieges and infrastructure bombardments of the second Intifada, through assassinations and summary executions, past the grandiose farce of disengagement and up to the nullification of free, fair and democratic Palestinian elections Israel has made its view known again and again in the strongest possible language, the language of military might, of threats, intimidation, harassment, defamation and degradation.

Israel, with the unconditional and approving support of the United States, has made it dramatically clear to the entire world over and over and over again, repeating in action after action that it will accept no viable Palestinian state next to its borders. What will it take for the rest of us to hear? What will it take to end the criminal silence of the ‘international community’? What will it take to see past the lies and indoctrination to what is taking place before us day after day in full view of the eyes of the world? The more horrific the actions on the ground, the more insistent are the words of peace. To listen and watch without hearing or seeing allows the indifference, the ignorance and complicity to continue and deepens with each grave our collective shame.

The destruction of Gaza has nothing to do with Hamas. Israel will accept no authority in the Palestinian territories that it does not ultimately control. Any individual, leader, faction or movement that fails to accede to Israel’s demands or that seeks genuine sovereignty and the equality of all nations in the region; any government or popular movement that demands the applicability of international humanitarian law and of the universal declaration of human rights for its own people will be unacceptable for the Jewish State. Those dreaming of one state must be forced to ask themselves what Israel would do to a population of 4 million Palestinians within its borders when it commits on a daily, if not hourly basis, crimes against their collective humanity while they live alongside its borders? What will suddenly make the raison d’etre, the self-proclaimed purpose of Israel’s reason for being change if the Palestinian territories are annexed to it outright?

The lifeblood of the Palestinian National Movement flows through the streets of Gaza today. Every drop that falls waters the soil of vengeance, bitterness and hatred not only in Palestine but across the Middle East and much of the world. We do have a choice over whether or not this should continue. Now is the time to make it.

Ref: Counterpunch
Jennifer Loewenstein is the Associate Director of the Middle East Studies Program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She can be reached at amadea311@earthlink.net

Also read How Israel’s extremists midwifed the birth of Hamas,

Why Barak is wrong (a MUST read)

In an interview last week, former Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak laid the blame squarely on Yasser Arafat for the breakdown of the peace process. Here, Robert Malley and Hussein Agha counter his claims

The Camp David summit ended almost two years ago yet the various interpretations of what happened there and its aftermath continue to draw exceptional attention both in Israel and in the US. Ehud Barak’s interview with Benny Morris makes it clear why this is the case: Barak’s assessment that the talks failed because Yasser Arafat cannot make peace with Israel and that his answer to Israel’s unprecedented offer was to resort to terrorist violence has become central to the argument that Israel is in a fight for its survival against those who deny its very right to exist.

Barak’s central thesis is that the current Palestinian leadership wants “a Palestinian state in all of Palestine. What we see as self-evident, two states for two peoples, they reject”. Arafat, he concludes, seeks Israel’s “demise”.

On the question of the boundaries of the future state, the Palestinian position was for a Palestinian state based on the June 4, 1967 borders, living alongside Israel. At Camp David, Arafat’s negotiators accepted the notion of Israeli annexation of West Bank territory to accommodate settlements, though they insisted on a one-for-one swap of land “of equal size and value.” The Palestinians argued that the annexed territory should neither affect the contiguity of their own land nor lead to the incorporation of Palestinians into Israel.

The ideas put forward by President Clinton at Camp David fell well short of those demands. In order to accommodate Israeli settlements, he proposed a deal by which Israel would annex 9% of the West Bank in exchange for turning over to the Palestinians parts of pre-1967 Israel equivalent to 1% of the West Bank. This proposal would have entailed the incorporation of tens of thousands of Palestinians into Israeli territory near the annexed settlements; and it would have meant that territory annexed by Israel would encroach deep inside the Palestinian state.

The suggestion made by some that the Camp David summit broke down over the Palestinians’ demand for a right of return simply is untrue: the issue was barely discussed between the two sides and President Clinton’s ideas mentioned it only in passing.

The Palestinians can be criticised for not having presented detailed plans at Camp David; but, as has been shown, it would be inaccurate to say they had no positions. It is also true that Barak broke a number of Israeli taboos and moved considerably from prior positions while the Palestinians believed they had made their historic concessions at Oslo, when they agreed to cede 78% of mandatory Palestine to Israel; they did not intend the negotiations to further whittle down what they already regarded as a compromise position.

Barak claims that the Palestinian position was tantamount to a denial of Israel’s right to exist and to seeking its destruction. The facts do not validate that claim. True, the Palestinians rejected the version of the two-state solution that was put to them. But it could also be said that Israel rejected the unprecedented two-state solution put to them by the Palestinians from Camp David onward, including the following provisions: a state of Israel incorporating some land captured in 1967 and including a very large majority of its settlers; the largest Jewish Jerusalem in the city’s history; preservation of Israel’s demographic balance between Jews and Arabs; security guaranteed by a US-led international presence.

The former prime minister’s remarks about other Arab leaders are misplaced. Arafat did not reach out to the people of Israel in the way President Sadat did. But unlike Sadat, he agreed to cede parts of the territory lost in 1967 – both in the West Bank and in East Jerusalem.

Barak claims that “Israel is too strong at the moment to defeat, so [the Palestinians] formally recognise it. But their game plan is to establish a Palestinian state while always leaving an opening for further ‘legitimate’ demands down the road.” Here Barak contradicts himself. For if that were the case, the logical course of action for Arafat would have been to accept Clinton’s proposals at Camp David, and even more so on December 23. He would then have had over 90% of the land and much of East Jerusalem, while awaiting, as Barak would have it, the opportunity to violate the agreement and stake a claim for more.

Barak focuses on the Palestinians’ deficiencies, and dismisses as trivial sideshows major political decisions crucial to the understanding of that failure. When he took office he chose to renegotiate the agreement on withdrawal of Israeli forces from the West Bank, signed by Benjamin Netanyahu, rather than implement it. He delayed talks on the Palestinian track while he concentrated on Syria.

Barak’s apparent insensitivity to the way his statements might affect the other side is revealed. He characterises Palestinian refugees as “salmon” whose yearning to return to their land is somehow supposed to fade away in 80 years in a manner that the Jewish people’s never did, even after 2,000 years. When he denounces the idea that Israel should be a “state for all its citizens” he does not seem to realise that he risks alienating its many Arab citizens. Most troubling of all is his description of Arabs as people who “don’t suffer from the problem of telling lies that exists in Judaeo-Christian culture. Truth is seen as an irrelevant category”. It is hard to know what to make of this disparaging judgment of an entire people. In the history of this particular conflict, neither Palestinians nor Israelis have a monopoly on unkept commitments or promises.

He rejects entirely the notion that Ariel Sharon’s visit to the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif on September 28 2000, played any part in setting off the subsequent clashes. When we consider the context in which the visit was taking place – the intense focus on the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif at Camp David and the general climate among Palestinians – its impact was predictable.

Barak suggests that Arafat had planned as his response to the Camp David summit a campaign of violent terror. That is a curious assertion in view of the fact that the Palestinians had argued that the parties were not ready for a summit and that Camp David should be understood as merely the first of a series of meetings. In contrast, as he knows well, Barak conceived of Camp David as a make-or-break-summit. He made clear early on that he foresaw only two possible outcomes: a full-scale agreement on the “framework” of a settlement, or a full-scale confrontation.

Barak’s broad endorsement of Israel’s current military campaign is cause for perhaps the greatest dismay. He appears to have given up on the current Palestinian leadership, placing his hopes in the next generation, but is there any reason to believe that today’s children will grow up any less hardened and vengeful?

The Camp David process was the victim of failings on the Palestinian side; but it was also, and importantly, the victim of failings on Israel’s (and the United States’) part. By refusing to recognise this, Barak continues to obscure the debate and elude fundamental questions about where the quest for peace ought to go now.

Ref: Guardian

· Robert Malley was a member of the Clinton team at Camp David. Hussein Agha is a senior associate member of St Anthony’s College, Oxford. This is an edited version of their response to Benny Morris’s interview with Ehud Barak. Both articles are published in the current New York Review of Books.