Israel & Palestine: Not Negotiable

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After the recent Annapolis ‘peace’ conference between the Israelis and the Palestinians, a group in Israel showed citizens of the country what they really thought of the negotiations in the US:

Over
10,000 posters warning of a power outage were plastered over
residential doors and public locations in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Haifa
by Left-wing activists in protest of the Government’s decision to
cut-back the power supply to the Gaza Strip.

Dozens of
activists participated in the overnight operation which was organised
by ‘The Front for the Liberation of Gaza,’ a coalition of anarchist
organisations who oppose the Government’s decision to cut power
supplies to Gaza.

According to the poster, the power outage is
scheduled for next week. ‘The power outage is a step we must take since
there are army headquarters in your city which are responsible for war
crimes in the West Bank and Gaza,’ the poster read.

‘For
humanitarian reasons, the cuts will not be absolute, and we will allow
you to use some power for hospitals, the water and sewage systems or
residential homes,’ the poster read.

It is believed that the
activists do not plan to perform any real power cut in Israel, but
rather aim to raise public awareness of civilian life in Gaza.

It
was a fitting response to the media’s embrace of renewed peace talks
between Israel’s weakened Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian
President Mahmoud Abbas. Annapolis was yet another example of the
impression of a ‘peace process’ while the dispossession of the
Palestinian population, and the ever-growing occupation of West Bank
territory, continues unabated.

Many
Jews believe that mouthing empty platitudes against the settlements is
enough, while remaining silent when colonisation continues apace. Just
days after the end of the one-day photo opportunity, Israel announced
it was building yet more
illegal homes in East Jerusalem. Must we continue to suffer the Jewish
State’s insistence that it’s serious about reaching an agreement with
the Palestinians? One leading US neo-conservative simply preferred to
call the Bush Administration’s Annapolis conference the epitome of
appeasement. ‘Ms [Condoleezza] Rice’s conclave,’ wrote Frank Gaffney, a former Reagan-era official, ‘is shaping up to be a gang-rape of a nation on a scale not seen since Munich in 1938.’

Olmert
made an intriguing statement recently that fooled some gullible
observers into believing he accurately understood what was at stake. He
warned that the ‘State of Israel is finished’ if a Palestinian State
was not established and feared that the alternative was a South-Africa-style struggle.
Many hardline Zionists were upset with his comments, chastising him for
appropriating the kind of symbolism frequently used by critics of
Israel. In fact, Olmert was simply trying to charm a world that now understands that present-day Palestine is already remarkably reminiscent of apartheid South Africa.

The
law of the jungle operates in the occupied territories — Peace Now
announced last week that only 3 per cent of demolition orders in the
West Bank over the past 10 years have been carried out — with leading Zionist commentators in Israel continuing to refer to the land in the West Bank as Judea and Samaria, descriptions that include all of the land further colonised every day.

Despite the rhetoric wafting from the Zionist camp that most West Bank settlements would be abandoned in a peace deal, a recent poll
found that the vast majority of these settlers would not leave
voluntarily if offered cash incentives. After decades of supporting
these fundamentalists, Israel has created for itself a situation — if
they are ever forced to evacuate the settlements — that is likely to
end in a civil war between secularists and religionists. Young settlers
continue to flout the rarely enforced laws.

But
perhaps the most interesting development of the Annapolis conference,
little discussed in the mainstream, was the reaction of US Jewish
groups to even the idea of negotiations between Israel and the
Palestinians. Remarkably, a major donor of the country’s leading
Zionist lobby, AIPAC, chastised
the group for supporting a letter in the Congress that would have
increased aid for the Palestinians. This is what being pro-Israel truly
means for many in the Zionist community.

The leading US Jewish newspaper, Forward, targeted
the Zionist groups for remaining silent during Annapolis. Although the
publication, on the Zionist Left, seemed to believe that the conference
was a positive step forward, its chastising was startling and
significant:

When
the story is told, though, no one will have more explaining to do than
the organised American Jewish community. For 40 years, the major Jewish
organisations have taken on as their most important task the defense of
Israel in the American public square. They’ve placed a taboo on
questioning Israel’s actions publicly, and those who do raise questions
have been taken to task, publicly humiliated, hounded from jobs and
community positions. Israel, we’ve been told over and over, has the
right to decide its own security needs. Roadblocks throughout the West
Bank? Not our business. Inadequate safeguards for enemy civilians? We
can’t judge, but Israel knows what it’s doing.

The
newspaper rightly challenged Zionist commitment to peace in the Middle
East and wondered if they in fact preferred war and constant conflict
with the Palestinians. With the power of the Zionist lobby now
challenged in the wake of the recent best-selling book
by two American academics, many in the Jewish community are starting to
wonder whether Zionist spokespeople really care about Israel’s future
or simply future fund-raising prospects.

Typically, the Australian Jewish News issued a predictably bland editorial after Annapolis, once
again ignoring the elephant in the room, the ever-expanding occupation
in the West Bank, while local Zionist mouthpiece AIJAC managed little
better, arguing
that Israel was truly sincere in its push for peace. Surely the
mainstream media that continue to publish AIJAC’s facsimile of Israeli
Government talking points should ask whether the organisation — proven
disastrously wrong over the Iraq War and Iran’s non-existent nuclear
weapons — truly understand anything about the Middle East.

The
recent release of the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) that found
Iran was not currently pursuing nuclear weapons has forced worldwide
Zionist organisations on the back-foot to defend their policy of bomb
first, ask question later.
An Israeli poll taken in the days after the report suggested that a
majority were opposed to unilateral military strikes against the Islamic Republic (though Israeli society itself is becoming more racist
by the year, according to a new study, with only half the Jewish
population believing that Jews and Arabs should have equal rights).

But
the focus should remain on Zionist groups that have spent the last
years issuing apocalyptic warnings against Tehran (when, in reality,
their real concern is a regional threat to Israel’s nuclear hegemony).
Once again, Forward articulates what few others have:

As
sticky as Israel’s situation is right now, that of its American Jewish
advocates is doubly so. Though they hate to hear it, the big Jewish
agencies are in the hot seat. Their judgment is doubted, their loyalty
under a microscope, their credibility paper-thin even within their own
community. Now is not the time to go to war against the world’s
opinions.

New Matilda

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