Even if I welcome Prof. Bernard Wassertein’s piece about the situation in Gaza and the need to stop this “war” now, I could not disagree more with the core of the article. I will now talk about the main points that Mr Wassertein raises. Firstly, how can the bloody stalemate by broken?
To start with I think that this is the wrong question. Stalemate means that there are two parties, fighting on equals terms, with the same power to change the situation. Anyone knowing a slightest about the situation in Israel/Palestine knows that this isn’t the case.
Israel is a regional nuclear superpower (with more than 200 WMD in its arsenal), has the fourth army in the world and enjoys the total support (financial and material) of the world most powerful country, the US. On the other hand, Hamas (we are nowadays talking about Hamas as something distinct from the rest of the Palestinian resistance) has no tank, apache helicopter or fighter jets in its possession.Even if it receives support from Iran and the Hezbollah, it is not comparable from what Israel’s receives from the US and Europe.
This is something that has to be clearly stated. Israel’s PR machine being immensely more powerful and well run than the one of its enemies could lead people to believe that Hamas is armed to the teeth, has the full support of Arab states and could push Israeli Jews into the sea at any minute and therefore destroys Israel (remember the propaganda and media lies about Saddam’s fearsome republican guard before the Iraq war…). We are here in propaganda land. Very far from reality.
Let’s try to answer this flawed question anyway. How to stop all this bloodshed? How to solve the Israeli/Palestinian conflict?
Mr Wassertein proposes… Oslo with a few changes (a clear picture of the ultimate objective never appeared at Oslo). An agreement which has dramatically failed, led to the second intifada, more Israeli settlements in the West Bank, the Jenin massacre, more suicide bombings, the separation/annexation/apartheid wall, more blood, more violence and more death, on both sides.
On the matter of borders he proposes, “The frontier must be the 1949-67 armistice line, with minor agreed adjustments”. Let us talk about those “minor agreed adjustments”. Who do you think is going to agree on those? Do you really think that the Palestinians will have a word to say? The strong occupying power will write the agreement and impose it on the weaker party. Let us focus on the word “minor”. The annexation of East Jerusalem to Israel, an adjustment of just over 1 percent, will rob the Palestinian state of its political, cultural, religious center and its economic heart. Israel retaining some settlements near the green line will only be a minor adjustment of 7-10 percent but eliminates the possibility of a Palestinian state. Also, is exchanging 10 percent of the West Bank’s richest and most fertile land against 10 percent of the Negev desert equitable?
Agreed upon means strictly nothing is there is no parity between the sides.
Regarding the refugees, I think that this problem is not as unsolvable as people want us to believe. Some polls suggest that only 10 percent of the refugees have a desire to come back to what is now Israel. The rest will either stay in the country they have been living in for the last 60 years, accept compensation or move to a Palestinian state. Before anything, what the refugees are asking for is an apology. Israel should do what Germany did for the Jews after the Second World War and what Australia recently did with the Aborigines. Apologize and accept full responsibility for creating the refugee problem in 1948.
Mr Wassertein goes on saying that, “The international community should help ensure that peacemakers on each side triumph over warmongers”.
This is a very odd thing for Wassertein to say. When was the last time the international community help ensured that peacemakers triumph over warmongers? This one leaves me speechless. Do you mean helping Suharto coming to power in Indonesia? Pinochet and the Generals in the Southern Cone of South America? Israel and the USA have always made sure that the peacemakers never stood a chance of succeeding.
Israel has either dismissed Palestinian leaders as terrorist (Haniyeh-Arafat) or as too weak (Abbas). Another option was found for the most dangerous ones. The ones that could really have brought the Palestinians together, like Marwan Barghouti, have been sent in jail (anytime Fatah or Hamas make a list of prisoners they would like to see freed, Marwan Barghouti is in the top three).
The assumption that Tzipi Livni the best hope for a moderate force is simply baseless and I will not go further on this. Kadima is surely not centrist and Mrs Livni is another right-wing Israeli politician.
To briefly talk about the “Man of the Year” and his possible positive influence, let’s just say that 400 Palestinians have died so far and Mr Obama only reaction at this time has been: “No comment”.
For Mr Wassertein, the ultimate objective will be the creation of “two national states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side, at peace, without territorial or other claims on each other.” But the facts on the ground have rendered a two-state solution impossible a long time ago. Anyone who has been to the West Bank and Gaza in the last few years will tell you so. History has proven that Israel will never agree on a totally independent and contiguous Palestinian state with common borders with its Arab neighbors. Israel controls the whole of historical Palestine. There is already one state Mr Wassertein. The struggle is now to change the nature of this state from an apartheid one to a truly democratic one.
You seem to believe, Mr Wassertein, that Israel wants peace but unfortunately historical facts tell us otherwise. Israel has always chosen war over peace. Always. What has been happening in Gaza in the last few days is another bloody reminder of this.