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The U.N.'s only progeny.

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Message Bahija Reghai
As the fires of Gaza subside, the Israeli PR machine is working double shift. When all else fails, conflate Judaism and Zionism to shield  Israel from legitimate criticism.   Accusations of antisemitism - old and "new" - are doled out as a means to shut down dissent, and instill intellectual terror. This dishonest misuse of "antisemitism" trivializes the word, and is manna to real anti-semites.

It is not antisemitic to condemn the murder of Palestinians, the expulsion of an indigenous civilian population, the destruction of homes, the expropriation of agricultural lands, the uprooting of trees, the restriction of freedoms of circulation, education, work, health, food and right to security and more.

It is however racist not to deplore and condemn, as forcefully as one does Israeli losses, the Palestinian deaths killed by Israeli bombing. The framing of the conflict reeks of racism. The Palestinians, the occupied people – those who are protected by humanitarian law and should therefore enjoy the protection of the international community, those who have no army, no state, no freedoms and no rights – are turned into the aggressor. The occupiers, those who boast being the 4th military power in the world, who have a nuclear arsenal and total control over the lives of Palestinians, are made out to be the victim. How Orwellian does this sound? Innocence is guilt, guilt is innocence. And still, because this is Israel, we do not dare challenge this Israeli Newspeak lexicon.

Israel is indeed special. As the only state brought to the world by the international community, Israel has received a lot of attention, has been taken care of and gotten everything it wanted whenever it wanted it. Israel believes – and the world accepts - that everyone else’s needs or rights should be subjected to its own. 

Since the partition of Palestine by a U.N. resolution, Israel has rejected all UN decisions and, like a spoiled child, has consistently challenged and undermined the U.N. ‘parental’ authority with impunity.

We are told that Israel needs security, and who doesn’t?  But to assume that Israel’s security must come at the expense of another people is unacceptable. The wars it has initiated have not brought any security to Israelis, but just the opposite.  The state of Israel has become a fortified garrison. However high its walls, they will never provide security. The violent route has shown that it leads to a cul-de-sac.

Since the Oslo Peace Accord, Palestinian living conditions have greatly deteriorated: while during the first Intifada, in spite of the harsh conditions, Palestinians were able to feed themselves, a great number now relies on humanitarian aid to survive. The reason? Israel used the period since Oslo to double its settler population – illegally – and consolidate its control over the Palestinian Occupied Territory through what Israeli Jeff Halper calls a Matrix of Control.

The options that Israel has not tried yet are: to seriously consider treating Palestinians with due respect; to abide by the rule of law; and to make way for the creation of a sovereign and viable Palestinian state. Currently, the Knesset website states that:

“The Government of Israel flatly rejects the establishment of a Palestinian Arab state west of the Jordan river.
 The Palestinians can run their lives freely in the framework of self-rule, but not as an independent and sovereign state. Thus, for example, in matters of foreign affairs, security, immigration and ecology, their activity shall be limited in accordance with imperatives of Israel's existence, security and national needs.”

The first act of good faith should be to change the above statement. Then, instead of pitting Palestinian against Palestinian and taking unilateral actions, consider justice as one key element to ensuring security for both Israelis and Palestinians.

If Israel maintain its me, me, and me first attitude, the answer should be less pampering and more tough love towards the U.N.'s only progeny.

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Bahija Reghai is a Canadian Human Rights activist and a former president of the National COuncil on Canada-Arab Relations (NCCAR).
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