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THE RIGHT TO EXIST March 16, 2009

Posted by wmmbb in Israel-Palestine.
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Life in general, and people in particular, have an inherent right to exist and to live with decency.

Nation states are institutions, and their right of existence is conditional and questionable. By any criteria, the existence of the state of Israel is more questionable than most, which is probably the reason it is more strongly proclaimed. 

Of course, in these matters, I tend to be an extremist, suspecting  human survival  depends on end of violence, and furthermore that both the environmental and economic crisis are violent in their origin. Should the final accounting be made for human civilization on Earth by some more enlightened and distant surviving civilization, violence and greed will be shown to be our final undoing.  The fact that justice and reason have not been brought to bear on the Israel-Palestine problem is a cause of concern for all humanity.

Barack Ravid in Ha’aretz reported:

Some $900 million pledged by the United States to the Palestinians will be withdrawn if the expected Palestinian Authority coalition government between Fatah and Hamas does not recognize Israel’s right to exist, Western and Israeli diplomats said Wednesday.

During her visit to the region last week Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas against forming a coalition with Hamas that will not meet the expectations of the Quartet.

Paul Woodward, War in Context, rejoined:

According to the official narrative presented by the American and Israeli governments, a crucial sticking point in the stalled peace process is the intransigence of Hamas. Specifically, Hamas’ unwillingness to agree to three eminently reasonable conditions: that they recognize Israel’s right to exist; that they renounce the use of violence; and that they agree to abide by existing Israeli-Palestinian agreements.

This formula has been repeated ad nauseum and presented as the test and absent any such agreement the proof that Hamas is not interested in peace. At the same time, when Israel resorts to violence we are reminded that Israel has the right to defend itself.

And the Palestinians, because they are not the beneficiaries of American arms, do not have the right of self defence. Gideon Levy notices how in the mind of many Israelis the world is against them. There is evidence to the contrary:

For decades now, the world has been buying the Zionist narrative almost in full. The occupation and settlements have been going on for more than 40 years with no serious impediment.

. . .

When I was interviewed once by a reporter from the France 1 channel, a commercial channel, at the doorway of a house in Gaza – where the army had killed the only daughter of a paralyzed mother – and I said that it was these sorts of moments that made me feel ashamed to be an Israeli, my words were not broadcast. The reporter phoned me the next day and told me his editors had decided not to include the quote, for fear of viewer response. When I once published an article in the German paper Die Welt, which is part of the publishing group of Axel Springer, where all writers had to sign a pledge that they would never cast doubt on the State of Israel’s right to exist, the editor told me: “If this critical article about the occupation had been written by a German journalist, we would not have published it.”

Despite mounting criticism of Israel, Europe is still very cautious. With Europe’s Holocaust guilt, its anxiety in the face of Islam and its readiness to blindly follow the United States anywhere, Israel still enjoys preferential status in the world. Very preferential.

Personally I feel no quilt for the Holocaust. It is a sad and painful part of history with a need to understand what went on and why with lessons to be drawn. Staying quiet about the suffering and dispossession of the Palestinians would be equally wrong to doing nothing in the face of the consignment of Jews, Gypsies and others to the concentration camps.

Why is it that Israel appear to have no remorse or quilt about its treatment of Palestinians? Do they (and we) have more in common with the “good Germans” who stood by as others were sent to their deaths?

And surely Rachel Corrie had a right to live, although it is now six years ago she was killed (via David Wearing). Whatever happened to the rule of law?

ELSEWHERE:

Writing in The LA Times novelist, Ben Ehrenreich, argues that Zionism is the problem and the solution now lies in “establishing a secular, pluralist, democratic government in Israel and Palestine”.

At the same time, Judea Pearl, I think implausibly, argues that anti-Zionism is hate.

Robert Dreyfrus at Tom Dispatch suggests the Israel Lobby is running scared. For the foreseeable future the United States will remain beholden to Israel and the murder of Palestinians as the world witnessed in Gaza.

In General:

The argy bargy of adversarial political contest and discussion is one thing, but those of us who are not in Holy Land (a nice name, I think) need to be aware the possibility both Palestinians and Isrealis my both to some degree be traumatized by violence.

That said, the blockade of Gaza, combined with the sonic booms from the overflying jet aircraft is violence and collective punishment, and needs to have stopped and not resumed. The rest of the world, through such means as we have, must insist that this change is made.

If we accept the presence of Jewish people in that part of the world, and I hope that the Palestinians will so as part of the process of reconciliation, then Isrealis have a opportunity, like Australia and New Zealand, to fulfill their historical potential. I think in the case of Israel that might be as the link between Islamic and European civilization. In that outcome, peace as usual benefits everyone.

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