By Dan Lieberman
Failure to understand the driving forces in the Middle East violence will lead to disaster. Henry Siegman, in an article, titled: "The Great Middle East Peace Process Scam", London Review of Books, August 16,2007, describes how Israel, which has the power to enable the creation of a viable Palestinian state, has consistently prevented its occurrence and used ‘stalled’ peace processes to increase its expansion. Add to Siegman’s revelations the not well publicized facts that, since 1948, all Israeli governments have promoted polices of gaining more territory, subduing antagonists and suppressing Palestinian aspirations. Before the start of the 1956 Sinai war, Israeli Prime Minister David Ben Gurion solicited French and British approval for Israel to incorporate all of the Sinai, the straits of Tiran and Lebanon to the Litani river into little Israel’s territory. It’s no coincidence that Arab/Israel wars enabled Israel to fulfill all of these objectives. However, earlier United States administrations and later Hezbollah tactics forced the nullification of the conquests.
With a policy of expansion, will any Israeli leader want to be perceived by history as interrupting Israel’s self-chosen destiny? Leaders might pay lip service to an independent Palestinian state but will they allow a viable Palestinian state they fear will harbor militants or grow sufficiently strong to challenge Israel’s expansion plans? The past history and present declarations of Israel’s leaders indicate that, despite the olive branch rhetoric, the only peace that Israeli leaders will embrace is one that trades desolate Israeli territory for legal incorporation of the West Bank settlements into Israel, legalizes all Israel’s gains and opens a dialogue for the transfer of Israeli Palestinians into either a non-viable Palestinian state or a home in Jordan. They impolitely talk around the fate of the Palestinian refugees.
Doubts that Israel will allow a viable Palestinian state guide the behavior of many Palestinian leaders. They perceive grave injustices have been committed against them and don’t expect those, who, in their perspective, have committed and continue to commit the injustices, will subscribe to admitting the crimes and compensate the victims. Israel might offer some compromises in the present, but these compromises can be compromised in the future; Israel could attack Palestinian life, which will provoke Palestinians to retaliate. Israel’s propaganda machine will then accuse the Palestinians of perfidy and find excuses to disregard agreements. These Palestinian leaders suspect that Israel will eventually want all of the West Bank and its aquifers. They consider they have no choice but to battle until events force Israel into inviolable compromises.
So, where does this recalcitrance from both antagonists leave the international community in its pursuit of a peaceful settlement of an endless conflict? It reinforces the necessity for the ‘makers’ and ‘shakers’ to approach the dispute in a logical manner; determine the real causes of the conflict, what is and who are perpetuating the conflict, and what are the consequences of a non-solution?
The Palestinians have had their lands appropriated from them, have been turned into a substantial refugee population and are suffering deprivations. The West Bank remains occupied despite several UN resolutions contradicting the occupation. Israelis are not having their lands appropriated or their lives severely disrupted by Palestinians. Israelis are living comfortably on land that belonged to their adversaries. Aren’t the injustices against the Palestinians the real cause of the conflict and don’t these injustices demand a just solution? The erratic terrorist actions against Israel, including relatively ineffective rocket shelling of Israeli border towns, seem to be the result of punishing actions against the Palestinians and are minimal in intensity when compared to the almost daily killings and mayhem committed against the Palestinian community. Two of almost daily reports, which point to a slow genocide of the Palestinian people, demonstrate who is perpetrating the violence that the world carelessly ignores.
HAARETZ, August 15, 2007, IDF kills 6 in Gaza, including at least 4 militants:
At least six Palestinians, including three Hamas militants and the 70-year-old mother of one of them, were killed and at least 20 were hurt in an IDF operation in the Khan Yunis area of central Gaza yesterday, Palestinian sources said.
HAARETZ, 19:02 25/08/2007, IDF kills Israeli boy in West Bank raid:
An 11-year-old Israeli boy from Rahat who was visiting his mother’s family near Tul Karm was killed Friday during a Border Police arrest raid. A wanted Islamic Jihad militant was killed in the same arrest raid in Kafr Saida, northeast of Tul Karm, and a second was seriously wounded.
Fantasies, fictions and irrelevant propositions peppered with emotional concepts of Jews returning to their homeland, Israel born from the Holocaust, and Israel the Jewish nation have deterred rational thinking on the conflict. A worldwide army of Israel supporters circulate reports that counter charges against Israel and provide a verbal smokescreen for Israel’s aggressive actions. Public relations for the Israeli state is a worldwide industry, generating repetitive slogans such as: “special relationship, “only democracy in the Middle East,” and “America’s best and true friend.”
Let’s examine the record:
Israeli archaeologists at Tel Aviv university, as well as other archaeologists and historians, have refuted biblical stories of the kingdoms of David and Solomon. The scarcity of pottery shards and artifacts from the tenth century before the Common Era demonstrate the area was sparsely inhabited during the periods of the supposed monarchies. No chronicles from the tenth century mention the Israel monarchs. No history confirms the David or Solomon Biblical narrative.
Although enormous evidence of Canaanite, Crusader, Greek, Roman and Arab cities and monuments in the Levant have been uncovered, verifiable evidence of extensive Biblical Israel constructions, administration and monuments in the Middle East, even in Jerusalem, are lacking. History does not describe a Biblical Israel civilization of art, literature (other than the Bible), engineering, agriculture, military, commerce, construction, transportation or architecture. History reports a Middle Eastern area that contained a significant number of Hebrews, mixed with other ethnicities, but not with a population greater than other Jewish concentrations throughout the Greek and Roman empires.
The City of David, built on a hill outside of the city walls is a small settlement area, and its relation to the mythical David, except for some possible tenth century artifacts, is unclear There might have been a great Temple, as noted by historian Flavius Josephus, but no stone of that Temple has been uncovered in Jerusalem’s Temple Mount/Al-Haram al-Sharif. The Western Wall, often mistakenly called the ‘wailing wall,’ which is a contrived 19th century term and not used in Israel today, is considered to be a bearing wall for Herod’s platform and not a wall of the Temple. According to historian Karen Armstrong, Jews did not pray at the Western Wall until the Mamluks in the 15th century allowed them to move their congregations from a dangerous Mount of Olives and pray daily at the Wall. At that time she estimates that there may have been no more than 70 Jewish families in Jerusalem. These historical pronouncements create doubts of the Western Wall being the most revered monument in Jewish life and instead shift it to the category of revered by default – there is no other in Jerusalem – and ignores many others disbursed throughout the Jewish world. Although historians have attributed David’s Tower and Solomon’s Pools to Greek and Roman times, the designations lead persons to believe these constructions are related to the Biblical Israeli monarchs.
Archaeology and history deny the proposition that people today, who are indirectly related to people who wandered a land three thousand years ago, are owed the land. How can unproven religious myths replace legal rights; who actually owns the land, who inhabited the land for past generations, who succored the land during modern history? These persons were Palestinians and certainly not refugees from the Holocaust.
Does the creation of Israel have any direct relation with the Holocaust? After all, the thrust to create a state occurred decades before the WWII Holocaust. In 1951, the number of Israelis who could be directly identified with the Holocaust was estimated at about 240,000, less than 20% of the Israel population and a small portion of world Jewry at that time. It has not been publicized that many of these persons used Israel as a temporary station and eventually left for the United States and other countries. After 1950, Israel’s population growth came primarily from North African, Ethiopian, Yemen, Middle Eastern and Russian (Jews and non-Jews) immigration. Ben Heine/ MWC NEWS
In an article, The Course of History, which appeared on several Internet sites, the writer described the difficulties of characterizing Israel as a Jewish nation.
Avraham Burg, former Knesset speaker and former head of the Jewish Agency has been quoted as saying, “to define the State of Israel as a Jewish state is the key to its end.” The term ‘Jewish nation’ has never been adequately defined and there is nothing exceptional in Israel that identifies a specific Jewish morality, culture or Judaic atmosphere. There are some, but relatively few foods, architectural styles, songs, dances and landscapes in Israel that are not related to the Arab Mediterranean Twenty percent of Israel’s population are Arabs and a portion of the citizenry, such as the Ethiopian Falasha and Russian immigrants, have dubious relation to world Jewry. Many of the Mizrahim immigrants to Israel, who constitute a great part of Israel’s population, can be considered Arab – having previously spoken Arab, adopted Arab customs and culture and lived for generations in Arab nations. Many Israelis, although technically still considered Israelis and recorded in the population statistics, have citizenship and residency in other countries. Although exact figures are not available, Israel’s Absorption Ministry estimated in 2006 that about 600,000 Israelis had left the country to live abroad. Since many Israelis carry dual citizenship and return to Israel only for brief interludes, that total can probably be doubled. It has also been shown that Israelis of Arab nationality, who trace their heritage back more two generations, might be comparable in numbers to Israelis of Jewish nationality who also trace their heritage back two generations.
The troubling fiction that has characterized the Israeli/Palestinian struggle has also characterized all of the negotiations. And that will probably not change – expect calculated ambiguity. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas ‘ present proposals and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s responses to them have been unofficially reported by correspondent Shimon Schiffer in the August 16 issue of the Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth and by Akiva Eldar in the August 22 Haaretz journal.
Mahmoud Abbas wants Israel to return to the 1967 borders. This will allow a Palestinian state to be established in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
Olmert proposes an Israeli withdrawal from what he defines as “more than 90 percent of the West Bank,” but maintains the settlement blocs under Israeli sovereignty. Israel will give the Palestinians territory in the Negev, adjacent to the Gaza Strip.
Mahmoud Abbas wants Israel to recognize the right of the refugees to return to their homes, in accord with the resolution of the Security Council. Implementation of the right of return will be by agreement between the sides.
Olmert offers the Palestinian refugees a return only to the territory of the Palestinian state which will be established in the future, and not within the borders of the State of Israel.
Mahmoud Abbas wants a safe passage, entirely under Palestinian control, between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
Olmert has the West Bank joined to the Gaza Strip by bridges or tunnels. The ground will remain in Israeli sovereignty.
Mahmoud Abbas wants East Jerusalem as the capital of the Palestinian state. The Temple Mount/Al-Haram al-Sharif. will be under full Palestinian control.
Olmert concedes neighborhoods on the edge of East Jerusalem to Palestinian sovereignty. He recommends joint control of the Temple Mount/Al-Haram al-Sharif. with international participation.
Can the aggrieved Palestinians ask for less? Don’t justice and reason support their negotiated positions? Will the prosperous Israelis, who are satisfied with the status quo and have the power to acquire more, be willing to concede anything? If the Israel military can kill Palestinians with impunity and without protest, why would their government take any negotiations seriously? Negotiations will continue endlessly until the world’s peoples recognize the cataclysm that awaits them and take action.
We have already witnessed severe destruction in several Middle East wars and the consequences to the Israeli, Palestinian, Lebanese and other Middle East peoples. The violence has reinforced world terrorism. Now, we have the destruction of Iraq, a nation that was no proven threat to the United States, but was considered to be Israel’s most serious antagonist. U.S. government neoconservatives, many of whom have shown excessive loyalty to Israel, were instrumental in promoting the U.S. invasion of Iraq. In effect, the U.S. fought, and is still fighting, Israel’s battle.
Extrapolating from these atrocities, what is a predictable scenario in the near future? We have, as one outcome of the Iraq occupation, the accusations that Iran and Syria, two other serious antagonists to Israel, are threats to world peace – similar to Hussein’s Iraq – and both of them, without any firm evidence for confirmation and much evidence to the contrary, are accused of busily assisting Iraqi insurgents. Iran, the latest number one antagonist, is viewed as the next nation to be liberated and decimated. With that done, what will be the fate of those allied with Hezbollah and Hamas? Annihilation? Will the battles end then? There will still be Syria, Sudan and other nations viewed as too antagonist to Israel. Millions killed, horrific terrorism, economic catastrophes, tens of millions of refugees and possible uncontrollable worldwide epidemics. And for each death, new grievances, new converts to battle and new antagonists to one another. Present day Iraq has highlighted that story. If the battle does not end soon, it will be a battle for eternity.
In a November 2003 European Union poll, 59 percent of Europeans selected Israel as the greatest threat to world peace, in the top position, ahead of Iran and North Korea. So, what’s the problem? Can’t the United Nations force Israel to recognize the rights of the Palestinians and satisfy Mahmoud Abbas’ negotiation proposals? Apparently not, because there is another problem: the forces which manipulate the information concerning the situation, guide the discussions of the situation, control the decisions to ameliorate the situation and have the military muscle to counter any attack on their roles in the situation are the forces which prevent a logical approach or a just solution to the conflict. A logical approach and just solution to a deadly conflict don’t favor the policies of Israel and the United States. Their road to peace leads to a world shattered into pieces.
-Dan Lieberman has been active in alternative politics for many years. He is the editor of Alternative Insight , a monthly web based newsletter. Dan has many published articles on the Middle East conflicts.