By Agustin Velloso in Madrid
Special to PalestineChronicle.com
Last week end (14-16 December), the Forum for a Just Peace in the Middle East, one of the longest running plays in the world, was once again performed, this time in Alcorcon (a town close to Madrid). The plot was written by the Partido Socialista Obrero Español (PSOE) and directed by Miguel Angel Moratinos, the Spanish government’s Foreign Affairs Minister. The cast was mainly made up of some people who should not have been there and some people who rather wish the earth might have swallowed them up.
This performance has taken place in Madrid at least twice in the last few years: same script, similar actors, same results. The first took place in one of the elegant halls of the Agencia Española de Cooperacion Internacional, the Spanish Cooperation Agency. The man in charge of the "meeting" between Palestinians and Israelis, decided that a mural map of Palestine would be a great background for the event. He chose an Israeli map, which served well to show off Spanish mediating skills in the conflict between a powerful country and an occupied destitute nation.
The second took place in a town close to Madrid. Again, outstanding Israeli speakers were invited, a former minister amongst them. When he realised that this time there was no map, he pulled one himself out of his pocket to fix the problem. Then he proceeded with his presentation detailing what Israel planned to achieve through the peace process. It was so unbearable that I could not help but interrupt him: why do not you take Al Aqsa mosque as well together with the rest? He remained silent for a while gauging the idea, and when he decided it was good he tilted towards his colleague at the table to find out if the building was cherished by the Zionism movement, and finally answered that it was something to be negotiated with the Palestinians.
Lesson no 1: Zionists by themselves are well able to organise their own meetings, conferences and international summits and get benefits at the end of them. Corollary: There is no need for a Minister, director general, mayor, PSOE’s foreign affairs department head or even king’s counsellor, to help them.
Some might argue that this is not so, since the Forum for a Just Peace in the Middle East web site says: "we are part of the civil society and include as many players as possible". Palestinians and other non-Spanish participants may fall for this, but those who know gypsy Spain, are quite aware that that civil society is mostly under occupation by the same player who created it: the PSOE.
This political party established the Foro Social, the forerunner to the Foro por la Paz, so as to arm itself with another weapon against the right wing Popular Party. But it lacks the moral strength, let alone any real ability to "give an answer to the loss of human rights, peace and solidarity taking place around the world", as it proudly announces in its web page.
When the theater curtain of the PSOE "peace encounters" falls and real political life continues, the PSOE shows its true commitment with human rights through its international policy, especially with regard to the Middle East. The socialist government supports Israel in several efficient ways, in and out of Spain, officially and extra-officially, by itself and together with the European Union, in the UN and even in Eurovision.
Recent statements by Moratinos about Spain’s unconditional support for Israel, and the 2007 Principe de Asturias prizes awarded to Zionist institutions and individuals, are but an obvious sample of the sizeable group of actions – less notorious but more important- in favour of one State that has violated human rights unremittingly since its establishment back in 1948. Amongst those actions, arms and intelligence exchanges, joint military exercises, preferential economic, cultural and scientific agreements stand out.
Lesson no 2: The Socialist Party has a consistent policy towards Israel, which not only is rightist, but also runs against international law. UN member States are obliged to ensure that all States comply with the UN Charter. Corollary: meetings, conferences and forums organised by invisible civil societies, are just children games, something already denounced by Hamas in 1987 in its charter.
Senior Socialist Party officials are able to wave their reactionary international policy before Spanish public opinion as if it was a leftist one, without blushing and without investing too much brain work. They do not even need to put forward strong arguments, since they feel confident that some staple magic sentences will do the trick: "no to terrorism", "building up confidence amongst the partners", "steps in the right direction" and the recent and most stupid discovery: "civilisations alliance". This is so because the average Spaniard does not understand the Palestinian problem and, more importantly, he/she does not care about it, so long as Arabs and Muslims do not put bombs in our train stations and carriages.
What happens when a few leftist Spaniards do not put up with the PSOE supporting a country that unremittingly violates human rights and launches aggression wars against its neighbours? Nothing, because the PSOE foots the bill for them to organise a Forum for Peace in the Middle East and then seizes the day.
The Socialist Party does not have any problem with giving some love to the symbolic left wing. Did not the government’s president, Mr. Zapatero, pose in front of the cameras with a kufiya around his shoulders to show how far he will go in order to defend human rights in Palestine? If the leader does so as a sign of a firm compromise with the damnes de la terre, his own party can well organise a Forum and make sure all participants get their sandwiches.
It would be a different matter if the government – as it should do – withdrew from the European Union-Israel Association Agreement. For this stipulates its cancellation if a member state violates human rights. Or the government might end its military and intelligence cooperation with Israel, because its army is a relentless aggressor of Arab countries and its security services are involved in several conflicts and dirty wars all around the world. However, the only thing the government feels compelled to do in order to help solve the Palestinian conflict is to organise a Forum from time to time.
Lesson no 3: The Socialist Party takes advantage of its support for Israel in the international arena, because in exchange it receives the blessing of the mafia-like cartel known as the "international community". The price it pays at home is a bargain, because when the leftists open their mouth, it puts a sandwich inside and they keep quiet. Corollary: As the PSOE gives up its leftist ideals, it acquires – in inverse proportion – the techniques of the double game to hold on to power.
The Socialist Party organises as many Forums as necessary, as long as it retains its right to choose the participants: who pays the piper, calls the tune. The PSOE also asks civil society to help with the Forum. What is civil society? A curious mix of committed people, both poor and largely unknown, plus several groups trying to live up to leftist ideals while enjoying government grants, plus some official and quasi-official institutions: trade unions, institutes, think tanks, charities and the like, plus some non governmental organisations, plus a bunch of informers, spies and the usual go-getters of the political realm.
In the meantime, Zionists, both domestic and foreigners, do not sit about, arms folded. Phone calls, messages, meetings and lunches pile up in the Foreign Affairs Ministry, the Party headquarters and many private and public offices and rooms. Some months later the Ministry is unable to resist the pressure, but it is too late to stop the whole thing.
The only way out is to keep on working according to the plan and to include some last minute participants who by chance happen to be Zionists. These took pains to make sure that the PSOE included them to "balance" the Forum. Surely because at Annapolis Zionists felt isolated and in Palestine they feel helpless with 300 nuclear war heads against millions of stones.
For some members of the civil society, the reminder that there is no such a thing as a free lunch came also too late, and they were left with only two options: either to share it with the Zionists or to quit the Forum. Consistent – national, Israeli and other – leftists quit, Palestinians refused to be humiliated once again and the rest did what they could. Since then, statements, counter-statements and press releases pile up, all of them with even less meaning than the Forum, if this ever had any.
The good news about it all is that all participants have shown their cards, from high officials down to modest activists. The bad thing is everything else: Zionists had their day once again, Palestinians won nothing once again, and the Spanish solidarity movement came out debilitated and with a damaged image before the Palestinians.
Lesson no. 4: Pro-Palestinian activists should neither join nor work together with those who are not pro-Palestinian, whether government or non-government actors. Their respective positions are as far apart, as Palestinians and Zionists are. What is the point of trusting people who support Zionism? Corollary: Solidarity with the Palestinian people should take place either in Palestine or in Spain against the PSOE policy and its related groups and media outlets.
– A regular contributor to PalestineChronicle.com, Agust