Posts Tagged ‘borders’

The Guardian’s Misleading Editorial

November 20, 2014

 Nasir Khan, November 20, 2014

The Guardian’s editorial on 18 November 2014 (http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/nov/18/guardian-view-on-jerusalem-killings) deals with the violent killing of four Israeli worshippers at a synagogue in a Jerusalem neighbourhood on Tuesday 18th November 2014. On hearing the news the PA President Mahmud Abbas condemned this act of violence by two Palestinians, who were immediately killed by the Israeli police. The American rulers and media condemned these brutal killings vociferously. But as far as I am concerned I have always condemned and opposed any acts of violence against anyone because all bloodshed is wrong, unacceptable and indefensible no matter who the perpetrators of such crimes are, Israelis, Palestinians or someone else.

In the last two short paragraphs of the editorial, the editor raised some  fair questions about the policies of the Netanyahu government. But the editor’s portrayal of the gory acts in the first three paragraphs is much flawed and misleading. If the writer has some inkling of the forces that created Israel, not as espoused by the hasbara, but by historians of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict then he would have seen and wrote about them otherwise.

However, it is quite common to see amateur journalists who can easily skip facts to push a story on their readers. But we expect an editorial of the Guardian to present facts in a sober and judicious manner to help readers to understand the issues involved. Melodramatic and emotive language used here hides the facts more than it enlightens. All acts of violence, killings, desecration or provocation in a place of worship are reprehensible. We all readily agree on this. What the two killers did at Bar Nof synagogue was a crime.

At the same time we should also keep in mind what the Israeli authorities and righting Jews have been doing for quite some time at Al-Aqsa Mosque are also crimes and incessant provocations. In fact, the Israeli state and Zionist provocateurs bear the full responsibility for their criminal actions surrounding at Al-Aqsa Mosque for the last few weeks while such provocations by Israeli leaders have a long history. No wonder if such actions lead to their anticipated or unexpected fallout. The killings at the synagogue and the desecration of Al-Aqsa Mosque are not isolated incidents; they are interrelated. Obviously, it does not suit hasbara to admit any such connection.

The editor writes, “Attacks like this were precisely what the creation of the state of Israel was meant to prevent. Israel was to be the one place in the world where Jews could pray in peace and safety. Synagogues in London, Paris or New York have grown used to having a security presence on the door. Now there are calls for the same precaution to be taken in Israel, a bleak thought for a country established to be a safe haven.” Here the whole narrative becomes untenable in the light of history. The state of Israel was not created, as the editor asserts, to provide a country to Jews where they could pray in “peace and safety”.

The British imperialists laid the foundations for such a state in 1914 many years before the Nazis under Hitler gained political power in Germany. After the Balfour Declaration in 1917, the plans for the expropriation of the Palestinian people of their land were in place. During the inter-war period, the growing Jewish migration to Palestine and subsequently at the end of the Second World War, the Zionist terrorist organisations in Palestine lost no time to force the British as the mandatory (colonial) power to run back to the British isles. Now the Zionists were in full control. This was the creation of Israel and the start of the process of the Zionist colonisation and ethnic cleansing of Palestine.

What started in 1948 is still going on. The West Bank has gradually been devoured by Israeli settlements and in East Jerusalem the pace of settlements has increased. Whereas the Gaza strip remains a virtual concentration camp. After the 51-day Israeli war on Gaza, the Zionists have devastated Gaza from which it may take years to recover. Moreover, it is Israel that tells PA President what to do or not to do. Living under Israeli occupation, he has few options. He is a nominal figure operating under a colonial power. As a result he conforms to Tel Aviv’s edicts.

Obviously, the creation of Israel was not to provide a safe place of worship to the Jewish believers. In fact, there was no restriction on Jews going to their synagogues. That was so in Europe, Asia and America. The present-day safety measures in the synagogues of London, Paris or New York, as the editor erroneously explains, are not due to any inherent hatred against the Jews but rather due to the genocidal policies of the state of Israel and its brutal oppression of the Palestinians.

The editor pushes his/her line of thinking even further and along the same lines as before and comes up with an explanation that many observers may find amusing: “By attacking men as they pray – not, it is worth stressing. In the occupied West Bank or in annexed East Jerusalem but inside the boundaries of pre-1967 Israel proper – . . .” No one from Israeli ruling class has ever defined where Israel’s borders and boundaries lie or would lie. To have done so would have meant to forego the Zionist objective of creating Greater Israel. Consequently, the easiest thing to do was better served by keeping the question of ‘Israel’s borders’ a matter in the grey zone, where nothing was definite and all was subject to change as the chances arose.

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What Kind of Two-State Solution?

June 15, 2009
Agence Global, June 15, 2009
by Immanuel Wallerstein,   Commentary No. 259, J

Now that President Obama has put his weight so openly and publicly behind the concept of a two-state “solution” for the Israel-Palestine controversy/struggle, such a “solution” may well be achieved in the coming years. The reason is simple. Stated abstractly, such a solution has overwhelming support in world political opinion. Polls show a majority of Jewish Israelis favor it, as do a majority of Jews elsewhere in the world. Support among Arab leaders is strong and wide. Even Hamas indicates it is willing to accept the concept of two states on the basis of an indefinite “truce” in the struggle. Some “truces” in the modern world have lasted four centuries. And more recently, there has been “truces” on the Korean peninsula and in Kashmir for more than a half-century. Some “truces” seem pretty permanent.

What seems to be left out of the discussion these days is what does the expression “two states” mean? Quite diverse definitions exist. We should remember that the last real negotiations, those between Yasir Arafat and Ehud Barak in 2000, foundered at the last minute at Taba over diverse definitions.

What are the issues in these contrary definitions? There are at least six different issues which the mere slogan of “two states” hides. The first issue is the definition of sovereignty. The Palestinians of course think that sovereign means sovereign – a state with the same powers as any other sovereign state. Even those Israeli political leaders who have accepted the terminology of two states have been thinking of a limited version of sovereignty. For example, what kind of military apparatus would such the Palestinian state have? Would it control completely overflight permissions? Would it have unlimited control of its borders?

The second issue is of course the borders of such a state. Both the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and Hamas feel that accepting the 1967 borders is already an enormous concession on their part. They certainly do not expect to obtain anything less. But such borders of course do not include the post-1967 Jewish settlements in the Occupied Territories, nor east Jerusalem. Tiny adjustments in these borders might be acceptable. But tiny means truly tiny.

The third issue is  internal democracy  in Israel. Will non-Jewish Israelis continue to have fewer rights than Jewish Israelis? This is a central and very little discussed question.

The fourth issue is whether the two states will be defined as secular states or religious states. Will the Palestinian state be a Muslim state? Will Israel continue to be a Jewish state?

The fifth issue is the so-called right of return. Israel was founded on the unlimited right of return of any Jew who wishes to come to Israel. The Arabs who fled from Israel (or were forced out) demand a right of return. This has been the knottiest issue in the entire historic debate. It is a question of both demography and land. The Palestinians might accept a merely symbolic gesture on this question, if all other issues were resolved in ways they considered appropriate.

Finally, of course, there is the question of what would happen with the existing Jewish settlements in the Occupied Territories. It is conceivable that the Palestinians might say that some of them could remain where they are. But it seems hardly likely that the settlers would agree to stay in a Palestinian state, or would willingly accept evacuation to Israel.

Now what has Obama done? He has taken a strong position on two questions the present ultra-right Israeli government refuses to accept: no further expansion of any kind of the existing settlements and a commitment to a two-state solution. This is unquestionably positive and courageous in the context of U.S. internal politics.

However, it risks being dangerous in terms of any real solution. For consider the following possibility. Under severe twisting of the arm of Israeli Prime Minister Netanhayu by Obama, Netanyahu concedes both points, and reshuffles his cabinet in the light of this shift in position. Will he then not turn around and say to Obama that now the Palestinians must make comparable concessions? But he would not really be talking about “controlling violence” by the Palestinian Authority – the usual Israeli governmental mantra. He will mean concessions on all the issues I have listed above – on none of which any Palestinian leadership can today make any significant further concession.

Obama’s courageous gestures will then turn out to be a mode of distraction from the real underlying issues.


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