Thursday, May 25, 2006

[ePalestine] Sharon's Legacy (A MUST READ) / NYT: Viable Palestinian State / The misbegotten labeling... / Reposts

Dear friends, 

Yesterday's victims were: Milad Abu-Aris, Jaafer Khaled, Aysar Kasam and Ra'ad Rabakh. 

As I write, I can hear heavy and loud gunfire coming from the Al-Amari Refugee Camp next to our home.  It is the funeral for one of the 4 Palestinians that were murdered by the Israeli military yesterday.  He lived in the camp.  I can hear the wailing of the family as the body is brought home for the family to bid farewell to their fallen loved one.  This is extremely difficult! Hundreds of demonstrators are chanting, "To the checkpoint, To the checkpoint," which is exactly how the 2nd Intifada accelerated deterioration of events, one funeral after the next.  Ramallah/El-Bireh were closed today in protest of the rampant Israeli killings. 

The attached photo caption is: "A man prays next to four dead Palestinians in the morgue of the hospital in the West Bank town of Ramallah, May 24, 2006. Israeli troops killed four Palestinians and wounded at least 50 others on Wednesday in clashes that erupted during a rare daylight raid on the occupied West Bank's main city, witnesses and medics said."   

Below are some readings.  Two by Israeli/Jewish writers.  Both are superb.  Also, a rather bold, for the NYT, editorial.  Consider sending them a brief letter to the editor. 

Lastly, at the end of this message, I also repost yesterday's last post.  Due to some technical difficulty, not all received it. 

I'm off to bury our fallen...all in their 20's...hoping not to repeat today, tomorrow,


especially if you heard Olmert's speech to the US Congress yesterday

Sharon's Legacy in Action 

By Tanya Reinhart

Tanya Reinhart is a lecturer in linguistics, media and cultural studies at Tel Aviv University and the University of Utrecht. She is the author of several books, including Israel/Palestine: How to End the 1948 War (Seven Stories Press, 2002). 



May 25, 2006
A Viable Palestinian State

It's long been clear that getting a workable, feasible Palestinian state out of two geographically separate masses of land in the desert will be an uphill battle. Now, because of two culprits and one enabler — Hamas, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert of Israel and President Bush — that hill is becoming a mountain. 

Mr. Bush handed Mr. Olmert the perfect welcome-to-Washington gift on Tuesday: conditional support for Israel's plans. Mr. Olmert wants to go ahead with Ariel Sharon's misbegotten plan to unilaterally redraw the borders of what could eventually be Palestine. The key word here is unilaterally, because the Israelis are prepared to do this without any input from the Palestinians. They would be left to try to cobble together a country out of whatever remained behind. 

To a significant degree, the Palestinians put themselves in this spot by electing Hamas to run their government, and the Bush administration is right to refuse to legitimize a government dedicated to the destruction of Israel. But Mr. Bush should not punish the Palestinian people by endorsing any unilateral proposal — doing that would punish them for exercising their democratic right to vote. 

Mr. Olmert's proposal has two parts, and the first one is fine: to withdraw Israeli settlers and troops from vast areas of the occupied West Bank. That's a worthy goal, and one that has been way too long in coming. 

The problem is with the second part of the proposal: to retain several large settlement blocs in the Palestinian West Bank. That's a recipe for disaster. 

Anyone who has ever really looked at a map of Israel, the West Bank and Gaza can see how hard it will be to form a Palestinian state. Even a future Palestine that includes all of the West Bank and Gaza is still going to be in two pieces with Israel in the middle, separating Gaza from the West Bank. 

To get an idea of this, imagine a map of Manhattan. The West Bank would be, very roughly, East Harlem and the Upper East Side. Gaza would be Battery Park City, far to the southwest. Now imagine trying to create a fully functioning city with its own economy out of those pieces while an entirely independent, antagonistic city remained in between. 

Yet that is what the Palestinians will have to do if they even manage to get back to the 1967 borders. (If the Sharon-Olmert plan, now tentatively blessed by Mr. Bush, goes into effect, they won't achieve that.) If Mr. Olmert moves forward with his plan to retain large settlement blocs in the West Bank, the Palestinians may well lose huge parts of their "Upper East Side" and be left trying to form a country out of what's left, and their "Battery Park City." 

Speaking to Congress yesterday, Mr. Olmert said Israel was willing "to negotiate with a Palestinian Authority." He added, "In a few years they could be living in a Palestinian state, side by side in peace and security with Israel." 

We'd like to see that, too. We only hope that Mr. Olmert and Mr. Bush realize that there will not be peace in the Middle East unless the Palestinians have a say in creating a state that can function. 

Copyright 2006 The New York Times Company 

Consider sending the NYT a brief LETTER TO THE EDITOR thanking them for standing against unilateralism:


Chicago Tribune


The misbegotten labeling of reality in the Middle East 

By Emily L. Hauser
Published May 21, 2006

American-Israeli Emily L. Hauser has written about the contemporary Middle East for more than 15 years. She spent most of April traveling through Israel; she lives in Oak Park. 


REPOST from yesterday...

Why Israel cannot always rely on America's helping hand 

By Tony Judt
Published: May 23 2006 03:00 | Last updated: May 23 2006 03:00
Financial Times

By the age of 58 a country - like a man - should have achieved a certain maturity. After nearly six decades of existence we know, for good and ill, who we are and how we appear to others, warts and all. And though we still harbour occasional illusions about ourselves, we know they are, for the most part, just illusions. In short, we are adults.  

But the state of Israel, which has just turned 58, remains curiously immature. The country's social transformations - and its many economic achievements - have not brought the political wisdom that usually accompanies age. Seen from outside, Israel still comports itself like an adolescent: confident of its uniqueness; certain that no one "understands"; quick to take offence, and to give it. Like many adolescents, Israel is convinced - and aggressively asserts - that it can do as it wishes; that its actions carry no consequences; that it is immortal.  

That, Israeli readers will say, is the prejudiced view of the outsider. What looks from abroad like a self-indulgent, wayward country is simply an independent little state doing what it has always done: protecting its interests in an inhospitable part of the globe.  

Why should embattled Israel even acknowledge foreign criticism, much less act on it? Because the world and its attitudes have changed. It is this change - largely unrecognised in Israel - to which I want to draw attention. Before 1967 Israel may have been tiny and embattled, but it was not typically hated: certainly not in the west. Most admirers (Jews and non-Jews) knew little about the Palestinian catastrophe of 1948. They preferred to see in the Jewish state the last incarnation of the 19th century idyll of agrarian socialism - or else a paragon of modernising energy, "making the desert bloom".  

I remember in the spring of 1967 how student opinion at Cambridge University was overwhelmingly pro-Israel before the Six-Day War - and how little attention was paid either to the Palestinians or to Israel's collusion with France and Britain in the disastrous 1956 Suez adventure. For a while these sentiments persisted. The pro-Palestinian enthusiasms of post- 1960s radical groups were offset by growing public acknowledgement of the Holocaust. Even the inauguration of illegal settlements and the invasion of Lebanon did not shift the international balance of opinion.  

But today everything is different. We can see, in retrospect, that Israel's victory in June 1967 and its occupation of the territories it conquered then have been the Jewish state's very own nakba: a moral and political catastrophe. Israel's actions in the West Bank and Gaza have magnified its shortcomings to a watching world. The routines of occupation and repression were once familiar only to an informed minority; today, computer terminals and satellite dishes put Israel's behaviour under daily global scrutiny. The result has been a complete transformation in the international view of Israel.  

The universal shorthand symbol for Israel, reproduced in political cartoons, is the Star of David emblazoned on a tank. Today the universal victims, the emblematic persecuted minority, are not Jews but Palestinians. This shift does little to advance the Palestinian case but it has redefined Israel forever. Israel's long-cultivated persecution mania no longer elicits sympathy. The country's national narrative of macho victimhood appears to many now as simply bizarre: a collective cognitive dysfunction. Israel, in the world's eyes, is a normal state; but one behaving in abnormal ways. As for the charge that criticism of Israel is implicitly anti- Semitic, this is in danger of becoming a self-fulfilling assertion: Israel's reckless behaviour, and its insistent identification of all criticism with anti-Semitism, is now the leading source of anti-Jewish sentiment in western Europe and much of Asia.  

If Israel's leaders have been able to ignore such developments it is because they have counted on the unquestioning support of the US - the one country where the claim that anti- Zionism equals anti-Semitism is still echoed by mainstream politicians and the media. This confidence in unconditional US approval may prove to be Israel's undoing. For something is changing in America. Israel and the US appear increasingly bound together in a symbiotic embrace, whereby the actions of each party exacerbate their common unpopularity abroad. But whereas Israel has no choice but to look to America, the US is a Great Power - and Great Powers have interests that eventually transcend the local obsessions of even the closest client states. It seems to me suggestive that the recent essay "The Israel Lobby" by John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt, published in March in the London Review of Books, provoked so much debate. It is true that, by their own account, the authors could not have published their indictment of the influence of the "Israel lobby" on US foreign policy in a major US-based journal. But the point is that 10 years ago they probably could not have published it at all. And while the ensuing debate generated more heat than light, it is of great significance.  

The fact is that the disastrous Iraq invasion and its aftermath have set in train a sea-change in America's foreign-policy debate. It is becoming clear to prominent thinkers across the political spectrum - from erstwhile neo-conservative interventionists such as Francis Fukuyama to hard-nosed realists such as Mr Mearsheimer - that in recent years the US has suffered a catastrophic loss of international influence and degradation of its image. There is much repair work ahead, above all in Washington's dealings with economically and strategically vital regions of the world. But this cannot succeed while US foreign policy is tied by an umbilical cord to the needs andinterests of one small Middle Eastern country of little relevance to America's long-term concerns - a country that is, in the words of the Mearsheimer/Walt essay, a strategic burden. That essay is thus an indication of the direction of debate in the US about its peculiar ties to Israel. Of course, it generated fierce criticism - and, just as they anticipated, the authors have been charged with anti-Semitism. But it is striking how few people now take that accusation seriously, so predictable has it become. This is bad for Jews as it means that genuine anti-Semitism may also cease to be taken seriously. But it is worse for Israel.  

From one perspective, Israel's future is bleak. Not for the first time, a Jewish state is on the vulnerable periphery of someone else's empire: wilfully blind to the danger that its indulgent excesses might ultimately push its imperial mentor beyond the point of irritation, and heedless of its own failure to make any other friends. Yet, modern Israel still has options. Precisely because the country is an object of such universal mistrust, a truly statesmanlike shift in its policies (dismantling of big settlements, opening unconditional negotiations with Palestinians and the like) could have disproportionately beneficial effects.  

Such a radical realignment of strategy would entail a difficult reappraisal of every illusion under which the country and its political elite have nestled. Israel would have to acknowledge that it no longer has any special claim on international sympathy or indulgence; that the US will not always be there; that colonies are always doomed unless you are willing to expel or exterminate the indigenous population.  

Other countries and their leaders have understood this: Charles de Gaulle saw that France's settlement in Algeria was disastrous for his country and, with outstanding political courage, withdrew. But when de Gaulle came to that realisation he was a mature statesman, aged nearly 70. Israel cannot afford to wait that long. The time has come for it to grow up.  

The writer is director of the Remarque Institute at New York University  


REPOST from yesterday...

Electronic Intifada

Crushed by Gate of Occupation

Sam Bahour writing from El-Bireh, Occupied Palestine, Live from Palestine , 24 May 2006 

You may also read the same article at the link below and leave a comment, please do:


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