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Remi Kanazi: Prism of Peace

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    The Failure of the Israeli Left and the Two-State Solution Prism of Peace by Remi Kanazi
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 7, 2007
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      The Failure of the Israeli Left and the Two-State Solution

      Prism of Peace
      by Remi Kanazi
      http://www.amin.org/look/amin/en.tpl?IdLanguage=1&IdPublication=7&NrArticle=40834&NrIssue=1&NrSection=3


      Time and again one is told of the Israeli "left," the many number of
      Israelis, ranging from members of the Knesset to shop owners,
      dedicated to peace. The 40 year occupation is of particular concern to
      putative peace activists and purported individuals of conscience. "The
      burden of occupation" and its ugly realities, as many so-called dovish
      Israeli politicians have pointed out, tear at the moral fiber of the
      Jewish state. Yet, even when one looks at the horrors of the
      occupation in the Israeli media and political circles, it is at best
      through the Israeli prism, which juxtaposes the pain of Israel in
      equal magnitude to the pain of the Palestinian people. This Israeli
      pain, without its counterpart's suffering, is transferred to the
      papers of the US press and is ultimately exponentially magnified,
      giving the American people a distorted awareness of the Israeli narrative.

      Nonetheless, there must be a clear understanding that only one people
      is living under occupation—many after being dispossessed in 1948 and
      again in 1967. By even phrasing today's climate as a conflict, it
      lends support to the assumption that this is a dispute between two
      equal sides, with equal grievances. The complexities of the Palestine
      question is further complicated by issues beyond the 40 year
      occupation, including the Palestinian right of return, the Israeli
      settler movement in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and the third
      class status of Palestinians living in a Jewish state.

      Supposed peace activists find solace in verbally condemning the
      settlement movement and the harsh conditions that emanate from
      occupation. Yet most aren''t doing anything to actively stop it, and
      when moral fiber is truly urgent, as was the case during the Lebanon
      war or the continuing debilitating sanctions and bombardment on the
      Palestinian people, they remain silent. Condemnation after a war
      isn''t moral reflection, it's cowardice. There is no difference
      between hawkish and dovish policy in Israel, only a divergence in the
      approach to implement it. Those on the "far left," who are the brink
      of being classified as "self-hating Jews," including self-styled
      humanitarians such as Meretz MK Yossi Beilin, only serve to massage
      their own egos and consciences by portraying an image that they are
      fighting for peace. In reality, these people assign themselves to the
      same racist and exclusivist ideology that came into form long before
      the creation of the state of Israel.

      The discourse that frames the parameters of debate pertaining to the
      Palestine question is disturbing on multiple levels. Take for example,
      the recent fighting in the Gaza Strip. Nine Israelis have been killed
      in Palestinian rocket attacks over the last seven years, while last
      year alone, 700 Palestinians—half of them unarmed civilians—were
      killed throughout the occupied territories. Reading the news columns,
      be it in Israeli or Western newspapers, one would think it was the
      Israeli people who were occupied and being indiscriminately killed.
      The opposite remains true: when one woman is killed in Sderot, it
      consumes the Israeli media and immediately becomes headline material
      for nearly every Western newspaper.

      The cease-fire between occupied Gaza and Israel is another case in
      point. Hamas eventually ended its unilateral recognition of a
      cease-fire because of continued attacks by Israeli forces inside of
      Gaza and the West Bank. The demand for a Gaza/West Bank cease-fire by
      Hamas is seen by Israel as the same old story, where "conventional
      wisdom" suggests that the obstinate, overreaching Arabs insist on the
      fulfillment of unreasonable demands, when they are in no position to
      do so. Yet, calling on the Palestinians (including Hamas, Islamic
      Jihad, and Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade), to accept a truce localized to
      the Gaza Strip, giving Israel impunity to act within the West Bank, is
      tantamount to asking Hamas not to fire rockets at Sderot and the
      Negev, while remaining free to bombard Tel Aviv and Haifa. The
      Palestinians are a people, no less than the Israelis are a people, and
      a death in Ramallah is as significant as a death in Gaza City.

      Every problem afflicting Palestinian society, be it the expansion of
      the Apartheid Wall, checkpoints, flying checkpoints, curfews, or the
      restriction of goods and access to education, is characterized as
      necessary measures for Israeli security. Nonetheless, many
      non-partisan organizations, including the World Bank, the United
      Nations, the Hague, Amnesty International and a number of other
      institutions have condemned Israel and its tactics on levels of
      morality, legality, and effectiveness. Logically, if one is looking
      for peace with a society, economic strangulation and imprisonment will
      not create an environment conducive to peace. The Wall is not being
      built on the internationally recognized green line and encroaches so
      far into the West Bank that thousands of Palestinians have been kicked
      out of their homes, lost their land or have been split from their
      towns, workplaces, and schools. Even if one were to justify the Wall,
      which the Israeli Shin Bet has called an ineffective means of
      protection, why not build the Wall on Israeli territory? "Punishing"
      the Palestinian people by creating a greater refugee problem and
      economic deprivation is hardly an incentive for Palestinians to resort
      to more preferred tactics of resistance. Furthermore, settlements
      continue to grow, far surpassing the number of settlers that were
      removed from Gaza, and even with the basic cessation of suicide
      bombings, restrictions in movement have markedly increased in the West
      Bank.

      The issue of the 400,000 settlers in the West Bank and East Jerusalem
      is particularly startling. Policy in the United States has slowly
      shifted from a two-state solution on the basis of the green line, with
      no Jewish settlers within Palestinian territory, to the vast majority
      of settlers staying in place, with effective Israeli control of half
      of the West Bank for an indefinite period of time. The prevailing
      truth that Israel and America want people to accept is that time
      creates "indisputable" facts on the ground, meaning: if a crime is
      committed for a long enough period of time, the international
      community and the victim must recognize the crime. It is to the
      bewilderment of the Palestinian people that they are seen as the
      uncompromising ones when they are asking for no more than
      international law provides. Sadly, it was the Labor party—the party
      that many purported peace activists are members—that propped up and
      legitimized the settler movement, leading to one of the many disputes
      Palestinians and Israelis find themselves in today.

      Many so-called Israeli peace activists point to Camp David 2000 as the
      quintessential example of Arab rejectionism. One is told that Israel
      offered the Palestinians 95 percent of the occupied territories,
      including a grand compromise on East Jerusalem. Let us suppose this is
      true and forget the Palestinian narrative, that by engaging in Oslo,
      the Palestinians had effectively relinquished the right to 78 percent
      of historic Palestine (a "generous" compromise in their minds). Even
      looking through the Israel prism, one should ask themselves, if Israel
      was interested in peace (added to the fact they are the occupying
      force with the upper hand), would it not be reasonable with peace at
      the forefront of one's mind, to give up all of the occupied Gaza, the
      West Bank and East Jerusalem, as well as 5 percent of the Negev? While
      Israel has much empty land, an abundance of resources, power and
      capital, an Israeli could claim that on principle alone, the state
      could not commit to such a plan. But is principle really an option
      when peace could be just over the horizon or even a remote
      possibility? If the offer failed, the Israeli left could point out
      further Arab rejectionism, could it not?

      The way in which one is expected to digest the so-called "facts" of
      the Israeli occupation and the Palestine question hinders any
      rationale debate and demonizes any individual calling for an end to
      Israel's racist and hegemonic policy, as was the case with former US
      president Jimmy Carter. If there were a 100 suicide bombings in Tel
      Aviv tomorrow, it would not diminish the Palestinian right to see an
      end to the occupation, nor would it minimize the urgency. Furthermore,
      Israel is not occupying Palestinian land as a punishment. It is not as
      though a suicide bombing struck Tel Aviv 40 years ago by a Palestinian
      group and the Israel army decided it was time to clamp down on
      Palestinian society. Rather after a preempted strike on neighboring
      states, Israel colonized a land that the international community,
      including the United States, insisted it had no business occupying.

      A quick and just two-state resolution to Israel/Palestine may sound
      like an oversimplification, but if supposed steps towards peace were
      made and "offered" at Camp David 2000 and at the following talks at
      Taba, the same type of directive could be taken today. But let's be
      honest with ourselves, the two-state solution is dead. It is a figment
      of the imagination of the Israeli left and of the multitude of
      Palestinian leaders and diplomats who have gone enormous lengths to
      sell out the Palestinian people. That is the danger of looking at the
      two-state solution and Israel/Palestine through an Israeli prism: it
      draws the parameters of practicality, affecting even those who support
      the Palestinian plight. Israel does''t want peace, not under a Barak
      government, a Sharon government, an Olmert government or a Peres
      government. It's been forty years, and yet Israel has become married
      to the settlements and to an ideology that sees a Jewish state with
      inherent rights over its non-Jewish citizens, but more critically it
      as an expansionist state that believes in the right to permanent
      domination of the lands it controls.

      The only way to break down a racist and exclusivist structure is to
      chip away at its base and force an alternative reality. This would
      require not only ending the occupation, but looking internally at the
      Israeli state, a Jewish state, a state which does'''t and can''t
      function as democracy for all its people. Many Palestinians leaders
      and supporters within Israel have come to realize this and have been
      ostracized for bringing this notion to light, namely Azmi Bishara,
      while many more will be undermined and attacked in the future. Yet,
      divestment, boycott, and sanctions coupled with a movement forward for
      both Israelis and Palestinians to live as equals in a shared society
      is the only hope for true peace. This new path must run counter to the
      Oslo mentality of submissiveness and acquiescence: a model much like
      South Africa, Northern Ireland and Belgium. It is time for an end to
      the occupation, but more importantly, it is time to look through a new
      prism, one that sees a better solution for Israel/Palestine.


      * Remi Kanazi is the co-founder of the political website
      www.PoeticInjustice.net . He is the editor of the forthcoming book of
      poetry, Poets for Palestine, for more information visit Poetic
      Injustice. He can reached via email at remroum @ gmail.com

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