Nail Down the Goal Posts to Israel-Palestine Peace The following editorial was first posted as a comment to New York Times columnist Roger Cohen's November 15, 2010 piece, 'Madam Secretary's Middle East'.
By Diane V. McLoughlin, November 22, 2010
The problem, in politics as in life itself, is that, infuriatingly, the goal posts move while we're busy digging-in at what we thought was something approximating a finish line. If Bill Clinton can be the historic fundamental force that hammers out a two-state agreement that Right and Left in Israel will abide by, and that Hamas and Fatah believe is just - great. Equally historic will be the hangover - mine - from celebrating the anticipated rippling outward of peace in the world.
But many are coming around to the view that the goal posts have in fact moved way beyond the possibilities of a two-state solution now, and it's not just the 500,000 Jewish colonizers occupying Palestinian space that makes this so. One bi-national state with citizenship, equal rights and the vote for all - this is where the goal posts are being moved to and we need to catch up to the reality of the situation.
An article published just yesterday in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz states flatly that South African apartheid 'is already here'. (1)
There is a less-than-subtle discriminatory tone in this NYT piece that does nothing to elevate the discussion: '...self-pitying, self-dramatizing Palestinian psyche, with all the cloying accoutrements of victimhood' - zounds! If there's one thing we find intolerable it is the expression of pain from victims of occupation and ethnic cleansing - puts us off our tea, eh what? To say this as a generalization of Jews would be considered beyond the pale...rightly so; a double standard by any measure.
Helpful hints on Israeli apartheid laws: the proposed 'Loyalty Oath' (2); giving Israeli neighborhood community groups the power to vet and reject prospective residents (3); the land laws that the state utilizes to ensure to this day that only Jews reside on land that was wrenched from the indigenous Palestinians (4); the marriage laws (5); Jews-only roads (6); military order 1650 empowering the expulsion of Palestinians from their homes in the West Bank (and making them actually pay a fee to cover their expulsion's expense) (7); etc.
With the exception of Gaza, the truth of the matter is that Jews and Palestinians do not live apart. One group is the preferred group with full rights of citizenship; the other does not have equal rights. In the West Bank and Gaza Palestinians have no rights at all, including the right, it seems, to be represented by those they would democratically choose if given the opportunity. Fayyad and Abbas have no mandate and it behooves Clinton to acknowledge that Palestinian elections are long-overdue.
Anyway, the U.S. shot the Palestinians in the foot when it made this latest deal: to block any Palestinian proposal with the U.N. security council to unilaterally declare its statehood, in exchange for an Israeli promise to halt - for all of three months?! - expansion of illegal settlements in the West Bank. This is a complete non-starter guaranteed to deliver a still-birth of a peace deal. No one could blame the Muslim world for thinking that was the aim all along. (8)
Speaking of feet, there are quiet efforts afoot to move the goal posts of what meets the definition of anti-Semitism. Some would like it to be categorized as hate speech to suggest that Israel is not a 'Jewish collectivity' when over 20% of Israel's citizens are Arab-Israeli. Include Palestinians in Gaza, the West Bank and the refugees and the numbers are closer to a 50-50 even split. That's right. I said it. (9)
I read today that USAID helps fund with our tax dollars settler roads in the West Bank. (10) And of course that hardly tells the whole tale of the annual billions in U.S. tax dollars that enable Israel.
All gold carrot and no stick is a poor policy when applied solely to one side of a two-sided dispute.
(3) 'Knesset panel approves controversial bill allowing towns to reject residents Israeli Arab MKs al-Sana and Tibi walk out on committee discussion, calling it a 'criminal law' aiming to prevent Arabs from joining Israeli towns'; By Jonathan Lis and Jack Khoury; Oct. 27, 2010; Haaretz; [*FTA: 'The committee's chairman, David Rotem (Yisrael Beiteinu), responded to claims the bill was meant to reject Arabs from joining Israeli towns. "In my opinion, every Jewish town needs at least one Arab. What would happen if my refrigerator stopped working on a Saturday?"] http://www.haaretz.com/news/national/knesset-panel-approves-controversial-bill- allowing-towns-to-reject-residents-1.321433 ;